Christmas Cheer

     SMART START students thoroughly embraced our extensive Christmas unit here at school!  December was full of stories, songs, toys, crafts ,games, dress up, yummy treats and outside play! We are grateful to have spent this time with your child(ren) and hope you enjoy our Christmas Medley!


    Santa Claus is the cornerstone of Christmas and was warmly welcomed into our classroom. The children expressed their adoration for Santa by sharing stories, modeling best behavior and anticipating what may be left in their stockings at home. We know our students here at SMART START were at the top of the "Nice List!" 

     Our classroom was filled with many traditional decorations. Nutcrackers, porcelain dolls, dresses and bows, light up jewelry, reindeer antlers, stuffed animals and more! Festive friends were full of joy and wonder!

      Students loved engaging in dramatic play while using our toy kitchen- baking sugar cookies for Santa! 

     Christmas is a time for giving and receiving. We discussed and experienced the importance of both through our gift exchange. Each student selected the name of a classmate and bought and wrapped an age appropriate book to give. Presents were eagerly placed under our Christmas Tree to be opened at our holiday party!

    Holiday artists decorated a foam Christmas tree. Each drizzled red and green glue using a popsicle stick, sprinkled sparkles, placed stickers and added a foam star on top!  Each tree unique in it's own way!

     Miss Francesca gathered our pupils and sat them together in our outdoor classroom as she read the classic, "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Freshly fallen snow and holiday dΓ©cor greatly added to the Christmas ambiance. The children sat attentively as they listened to the timeless story!

    Students and their families generously participated in the giving opportunity of our "Friends In Need" box. Our goal here at SMART START is to nurture and develop the whole child in all that we do. We discuss and demonstrate the importance of the S.M.A.R.T. character building blocks: Service, Mindfulness, Achievement, Respect and Trust. We thank you parents for collaborating with us to instill these values in your child(ren). 

     Santa's Elves looked adorable in their elf hats and smiles while creating wrapping paper for their parent's surprise gift. They used markers, bonkers, crayons, glitter, glue, stickers, pieces of holiday paper and curling ribbon. Songs filled the workshop, a favorite being "We Are Santa's Elves!"  

     Nutcrackers are a Christmas staple and fill the homes of many. During circle time, we read the classic, "The Nutcracker Ballet" and listened and danced to Tchaikovsky. They were delighted to see, hear and act out the magical characters of this beloved tale!

     As part of our on-site field trip program, we invited Maureen from The Lazarus House to be the guest of honor for December. Maureen was amazed that we created a "Friends in Need" box and all  we collected here at SMART START. She thanked the children for their donations and enlightened them on community service. All were engaged, curious and asked intelligent questions. This experience was memorable!

      Classmates were thrilled to pass out gifts to their friends. All joined together to watch one another open. Each child happily received a book for their home library-the gift of reading is a tool for success!

     Our talented crafters designed a tablecloth for our holiday celebration!  Trays were filled with markers, crayons and stickers and dispersed throughout the table as the children got right to work!  

     Pilot, Caroline and Barney loved spending Christmas time with all of our SMART START friends. The children learn so much from our classroom pets. We have witnessed their love, compassion, level of responsibility and confidence grow tremendously! 

     Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is Santa's quintessential reindeer. The children created a Rudolph handprint ornament for their parent's Christmas gift. We helped paint their hands brown and pressed each on paper to create two handprint antlers. Red paint and their thumb was used to make a red nose, put on two googly eyes and added sparkles for a finishing touch. Afterwards, a picture of themselves was placed on the back.

   Our Gingerbread group was excited to make their own gingerbread man craft! Each designed a foam gingerbread magnet by drizzling red and green glue with their popsicle sticks, sprinkling sparkles and adding stickers. We hope you enjoy these festive crafts and hung them on your refrigerator at home!

    Cooperative cooking was underway as gingerbread cookies were baked and decorated. Festive aprons and chef hats were worn while bakers shared, took turns and encouraged each other. The older children, with our supervision, carefully removed the cookies from the oven. Next, green icing, holiday M&M's and sprinkles were used. What a tasty treat!

      Santa's helpers gathered eggs from Charlotte and Caroline for a surprise gift for our student's families. We placed the eggs in cartons with a holiday sticker and bow. From all of us here at SMART START, Merry Christmas!

     Christmas Freeze Dance was a favorite activity at our Holiday party! Once the jingles commenced, along came dancing, smiles and laughter. The children played "Santa Says" (a Christmas rendition of "Simon Says") and "Red Light, Green Light" with tree lights. 

     Friends opened their holiday goody bags that consisted of yummy treats, a singing toy and play dough. Also included was magic reindeer food for Santa's reindeer. We explained that they must sprinkle it on their lawn on Christmas Eve to guide Santa's sleigh full of presents to their homes! Other delicious holiday treats included: cupcakes, peppermint ice cream sandwiches, Santa fruit snacks and holiday M&Ms. Oh what fun!

     While the children were nestled and snug on their mats, Santa made an early stop at SMART START. He brought new aprons, homework folders, books, games and more. All were excited for the new additions at school! The joy of Christmas at this young age is priceless and we are grateful to have shared this with your child(ren)!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 Highlights from a fun-filled Christmas Season here at SMART START!

Click below to see Christmas Fun at

πŸ’š Mary and Francesca πŸ’š


Holiday Fun

     Christmas spirit has filled the air at SMART START! We feel honored to share in festivities and traditions with your child(ren). Bringing smiles and excitement to them through our teachings is our priority. We are off to a spectacular start and hope you enjoy learning about SMART START'S holiday activities! 

      SMART START Carolers have been learning some all-time favorite songs such as, "Here Comes Santa Claus", "Up on the Housetop", "Jingle Bells", "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." and more. They love these jingles and light up as they sing and dance during music time. Puzzles and magnets which promote fine motor, cognitive, hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills have been Christmas themed as well. During group story time, the children are filled with good cheer as we read many holiday classics.  

     Nutcrackers are a traditional decoration during Christmas.  We have many different sized and themed nutcrackers that the children enjoy.  Our wide assortment of Christmas stuffed animals, dolls and dress up have our imaginative pupils busy at play. 

     Holiday helpers worked diligently as they decorated our "Friends in Need" box. They used wrapping paper, ribbons and stickers to cover the cardboard.  It came out wonderful and all were proud of their cooperative work.  Prior to decorating, we discussed the importance of giving to others that are less fortunate. The children were very receptive to the topic and had great questions and commentary.  This season our box will serve to collect canned goods, along with special items brought in by each student for a child in need.  Even at a young age their hearts can understand what a kind action it is to help others. We are honored to work on this community service project with your child(ren). 

     Trimming the tree!  A Christmas tradition loved by many. SMART START decorators were full of joy while decking our halls and Christmas tree. Each child received a lace board holiday shaped ornament to weave string through holes and hang on the tree when finished. A great way to add in some festive fine motor skill development!

     Our SMART START Christmas tree would not be complete without homemade garland!  Yuletide Students helped by cutting red, green and white construction paper into rectangular strips and glued them while interlocking the pieces together. Teamwork was in full swing and our young crafters did a marvelous job. The garland was hung just perfectly on the Christmas tree.  

         While making spirits bright, Santa's helpers were eager to work on their next project. Each colored two paper ornaments. One is for our "Friends in Need " box with an item listed on the back. Towards the end of the month, a Service Worker will come as part of our on site field trip series and collect these items, as well as our canned goods. In addition, they will explain where and how the items are delivered. The other ornament has a student's name listed on the back.  We are asking that you shop for and wrap a book to add to this friend's home library.  The gifts will be placed under our SMART START Christmas tree to be opened during our holiday party.

     Our Christmas decorating included our chickens. Charlotte and Caroline were pleased having festive friends decorate their home with silver and gold garland and ribbon. The coop looks merry and bright in our outdoor classroom!

     Jolly as ever in their chef hats and aprons, SMART START Bakers decorated their own gingerbread house. Each had a tray of ingredients: icing, gumdrops, red and green M&M's and blue and rainbow sprinkles. Oh what fun to create, build and design with this sensory approach. The gingerbread houses also served as a great tool for pretend play as each child had a different method and thought process allowing  personalities to shine. We hope you enjoy their unique creations as a decorative piece in your home this holiday season.

   SMART START elves put on their smocks and headed into their workshop. Each received a clear plastic ornament, paint brushes, red paint, glue, sparkles and white ribbon. We helped take off the top piece of the ornament while they put red paint inside. They used their paintbrushes to swirl the paint around to cover the inside of the bulb.  The outside was painted using glue, covered in sparkles and lastly added a white ribbon finish.  All beamed holding the ornament they created and were excited to bring home to hang on their Christmas tree. It is extra special when a Christmas tree displays handmade ornaments made by your child(ren). We hope you treasure their masterpieces now and for many years to come. 

Click below to watch SMART START'S Holiday Happenings!

     Wishing you all a joyous holiday season filled with love and memories to last a lifetime!  Thank you for your support and participation in our community service projects and celebrations here at school.

πŸŽ„  Mary and Francesca πŸŽ„


Happy Thanksgiving

   SMART START felt fortunate to have had the privilege of sharing Thanksgiving with your child(ren). This festive time of year allows us to focus and reflect on the many things to be grateful for. Our young learners were educated about the meaning of this holiday with an array of educational lessons, activities, hands on learning experiences, arts and crafts and a traditional meal. 

     Our library hosted a wide assortment of books for our young readers to look at in a group, with a friend or on their own. Miss Francesca, the children and Barny all joined together in our outdoor classroom for Thanksgiving story time. Students listened, asked questions and shared stories from home. The children also had fun working on different Thanksgiving puzzles and magnet boards. Their problem solving and matching skills are getting better each day!


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     SMART START clean up crew waited for the perfect day for a traditional fall activity...leaf jumping!  They put their muscles to work raking leaves in our backyard. After several piles were formed, they jumped right in! Laughter, chatter and leaves filled the crisp autumn air as our energetic group ran around and jumped in and out of the leaf piles. 

     Arts and crafts for Thanksgiving consisted of a cut and paste turkey craft.  SMART START artists had their caddies on hand with supplies needed to decorate their project. The children worked on scissor skills while cutting out the pieces followed by gluing the pieces on construction paper to create their final product...a Thanksgiving turkey!

     SMART START chefs had the opportunity to participate in a traditional Thanksgiving recipe. Making butter! This is a fun, hands on learning experience. Activity supply list includes: glass jars (of any size), whipping cream (fill 3/4 of jar), salt (seasoned to taste) and a marble. The children combined the ingredients in their jars and shook them until butter formed into a mass surrounded by buttermilk. Our students were very proud to have made their very own homemade butter. What a treat!

     For a science sensory experiment, we taught our students about the pumpkin life cycle and the insides of a pumpkin, seeds and flesh. Each child wore safety goggles and used a magnifying glass to explore the inside of their pumpkin.  SMART START scientists scooped out, touched and examined their subject matter. They were surprised by the look and texture. Afterwards, we used the pumpkin flesh to make homemade pumpkin bread!  Our SMART START bakers put on their aprons, hats and mixed up the ingredients. All were fascinated that their science experiment helped them bake a tasty treat!  

    Beginning the week of November 7th, we began our collection for SMART START's "Friends in Need" box.  The children brought in nonperishable food items and were happy to help those in need and offer their donations.  Our young artists worked together to paint colorful paper leaves that they used to decorate our "Friends in Need Box."  We appreciate your generosity during our collection period.  We enjoyed working on this community service project with your child(ren).

     We gathered in our SMART START kitchen to celebrate the holiday with a Thanksgiving feast!  The children were eager to help prepare the meal and join together to eat. Each shared something they were thankful for. "Mommy" being the unanimous vote! Friends passed around each food item to one another and enjoyed our special dinner with all the trimmings. 

    Click below to view our Thanksgiving videos!

     Happy Thanksgiving to our SMART START families and friends.  We are thankful for all of you and grateful for your kindness and support. 

πŸ¦ƒ Mary and Francesca  πŸ¦ƒ

Fire Safety Week

    October was Fire Safety and Prevention month which we celebrated here at SMART START! We addressed the many different aspects of fire safety from a wide variety of interesting and fun angles.  Learning and attaining this knowledge and acquiring certain skills is extremely important even at a young age. Not only did we teach our pupils about the importance of fire safety, the Andover Fire Department visited us here at school.  It was an honor to have the firefighters here with us and learn from the experts!

   πŸš’ Fire Safety at SMART START πŸš’

     Our bookshelves were lined with an assortment of books about firefighters, fire engines and fire safety. Our students enjoyed listening to these books during circle time and it was apparent that they were intrigued by the content. We were impressed at their insight and ability to comprehend the information and ask intelligent questions.  A highlight for our SMART START friends was having circle time in our outdoor classroom.  Miss Francesca, along with the children, wore plastic firefighter helmets and took turns holding the fire extinguisher and megaphone. They certainly looked like the most adorable firefighters in town!

     SMART START Firefighters were delighted to incorporate the theme of fire safety into their magnet and puzzle repertoire.  These hands on fine motor activities served as a great tool for discussion about fire safety topics.  It was reassuring to hear the children conversing about the fire station and what it entails, what to do if there's a fire in your home, etc.  It is evident that the  pertinent information was absorbed as they put it into action in the classroom.

     Arts and crafts was a group effort project that SMART START Artists had so much fun creating. They designed their very own fire truck out of a large cardboard box and painted it using rollers and sponges.We helped with the finishing touches and added a wheel so the children could drive!

     Students engaged in dramatic play in both our indoor and outdoor classroom acting out an emergency fire and demonstrated how to properly and safely handle the situation. They took turns using fire hats, the fire chief costume, hose and other props while being the fire chief, firefighter or person in distress. We were able to witness them acting out their rendition of a real life fire scenario.  Bravo to our SMART START Firefighters!  Knowledge is key!

     During free play at SMART START, the children have been playing with fire trucks and firefighter figurines. This is a wonderful way to make connections to our curriculum on an independent level and with their peers.  Learning is always happening here at SMART START, even when the kids simply think they are just playing!

     Our mission as your child's caregivers and educators is to provide them with the tools and knowledge they need in their daily lives to remain as safe as possible both here at SMART START and at home.  We read several books about "Stop, Drop and Roll" and how to call 911 in a fire emergency.  Firefighter friends practiced using the "Stop, Drop and Roll" method and calling 911. 

"Stop, Drop and Roll"
  • Stop where you are
  • Drop to the ground and cover eyes and mouth with hands
  • Roll over and over and back and forth until flames are out

     Fire drills!  We held practice fire drills from each classroom at SMART START to our safe meeting spot outside.  After several rounds of fire drills, our young learners are fully aware of the fire safety protocol at SMART START. Nice work, firefighter friends!

     To officially celebrate and recognize Fire Prevention and Safety month, the Andover Fire Department came to SMART START for an on-site field trip. A lieutenant and two firefighters taught and reinforced all our safety learning at school. They were impressed at how much our students already knew and commended them for a job well done!  The children were amazed over a real life fire truck at their own school!  The Andover Fire Department welcomed them onto the fire truck to explore, gave each a safety badge and turned on the truck's flashing lights and sirens. 

     We hope that you enjoyed our celebration of Fire Prevention and Safety and continue the learning process at home. Thank you for all of your support for our on site field trip program here at SMART START.

Click below to see highlights from Fire Safety and Prevention Week!

πŸ’™ Mary and Francesca πŸ’™


Happy Halloween

    Halloween at SMART START is a time filled with dress up, trick-or-treating, pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, decorations, arts and crafts, stories,  games, songs and more!  

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     SMART START's bookshelf  featured an assortment of books about spiders, pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns and bats.  We revisited a favorite titled, Go Away Big Green Monster.  To coincide with the story, SMART START puppeteers put on a show using the green monster puppet. Each put on and removed their Velcro features while quoting lines from the book. 

     Our Halloween project corresponded with the book, Go away Big Green Monster.  The students were eager to create a big green monster of their very own! They painted a paper plate green, glued google eyes, used pipe cleaners for purple scraggly hair, placed on teeth stickers and cut and glued felt bluish greenish noses and red mouths. A job well done, SMART START artists!


     Halloween friends were delighted to play the "Spider Letter Game"  They passed around a bag containing foam spiders each labeled with a capital letter. We used this activity to focus on letter sounds and words that begin with the corresponding letter. Our young learners sounded out different Halloween themed words such as cat, bat and rat.  Some of the older children noticed that these words rhymed.  Incidental learning at its finest!  

     In the spirit of Halloween, our preschoolers enjoyed dressing up in costumes from our dramatic play area.  SMART START actors engaged in pretend play as a pirate, cowgirl, princess, cat, bumblebee, knight and more.  The classroom was filled with sounds mimicking each of the attire worn..."Yee-haw", "Rawwwr", "Arghhh Matey", "Meow"and "Buzzzzz."  We admired the children's imaginations at work and innocence at play.



    SMART START friends were thrilled to celebrate Halloween with a party here at school . Each wore unique and adorable costumes from home. Pilot, our class pet, wore his dinosaur costume along with Barny the Barn Owl dressed as a rabbit! To showcase costumes, we had an official musical parade!  

     Our talented artists decorated their own small goody bag for trick-or-treating at school. They used markers, bonkers, stickers, purple glue and Halloween sparkles.  The children were excited to use something they created! 

     Trick-or-treating was a favorite! Our costumed group filled their decorated bags with goodies from each of the classrooms, as well as the outdoor play structure and chicken coop.  Afterwards, they enjoyed some yummy treats!

     Fun and games included: pin the spider on the web, musical chairs to "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and a special Halloween rendition of "Duck, Duck, Goose".... "Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Jack-O-Lantern!" 

Click below to see highlights from our Halloween festivities!

     Thank you for allowing your child(ren) to participate in the Halloween festivities here at SMART START!

                                                           Image result for preschool halloween quotes
πŸ–€ Mary and Francesca πŸ–€