Monday, December 12, 2016

In Memory of Beverly Locke

The kind lady who helped me launch this blog passed away yesterday. We, at school are very sad. Your kindergarten student probably didn't know Bev, but if he or she did happen to meet her, you may be sure it was a sweet encounter. Please join me with a prayer or positive thought for her as she makes her way to another realm.

Friday, November 11, 2016

We Learn Outdoors Too!
In October Ms. Minot took us to the garden and we harvested the last of our pumpkins as well as some carrots. Earlier in the day, we reviewed the life cycle of a pumpkin.
News Flash
On Tuesday, November 15, Ms. Wheaton will be at a common study for kindergarten and first grade teachers at Pemetic. Ms. Porter will be the substitute that day.
On Wednesday, Ms. Wheaton will be back and we will begin Writing Workshop.
Parents, Christy Seed and Kelly O'Neil have become regular volunteers in our classroom. We're happy to have them spend part of their day with us. They've been willing to do jobs such as: repair books, punch out paper geometric shapes and cut cards from card stock for us. Thank you, Christy and Kelly.
Please e-mail Ms. W. if you want to visit us in Kindergarten. You might like to join us for Morning Meeting someday even if you aren't able to commit on a regular basis.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mindful Life

Ms. McKernan teaches Guidance in our classroom once a week for an half hour. Here you see the breathing sphere being passed around as the students take deep breaths. Breathe in and our diaphragm inflates, much like this sphere. Breathe out slowly.
We are learning to use deep breathing as a tool to calm ourselves.

Another tool we use is sugar free gum. It helps us focus. Students are offered it once a day during a class or activity. The rule is you need to keep your fingers out of your mouth and the gum in your mouth. Otherwise, it goes in the trash.
Donations needed. If you'd like to donate sugar free gum, please send it in with your student. It goes in the basket. Above you see some popular flavors.

Thanks to all families for donating pumpkins. Here we are above after ordering them in a problem-solving activity.

I'm posting photos of some of our students in their costumes at the parade. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Eighth Grade Mentors
Kindergarten has spent time with their 8th grade mentors twice this Fall. On the first expedition, they walked to the park next to the stone church and built fairy houses in the forest.
This week, kindergarten met their buddies in the forum where they played hand-made board games. 
The eighth graders have been exceptional role models. Many of them seek out their young friends on the playground at Recess and play games with them. These relationships are very special to me, as I taught most of the eighth graders when they were five and six years old!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Donations Please!
Now accepting donations of various sized pumpkins for our classroom. At the end of October, we'll begin studying the life cycle of pumpkins. We'll also do a problem solving math activity with the pumpkins on the 28th. If someone could donate a very large pumpkin that a 5 year old could move using two hands, but still be a challenge, that would be much appreciated. We could also use 6 more small and medium sized ones. Thanks so much!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Above, you see our first Birthday Celebration of the school year 2016-2017. Students performed "I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee". Everyone was brave and stood up in front of grades 1-4 as they sang and did the hand movements to the song. Not all students are shown here. One kindergartener was absent and I'm waiting for permission from parents of two others to publish their photo on the internet.
There's a story that goes along with these photos. Kindergarten was expecting to be called up first to perform. Instead, the second graders were hosting and they needed to go first due to some props they were wearing. After the second grade went they called the other classes up to perform but forgot the Kindergarten. Your K students were very polite and patient when it seemed no one was going to ask them to come up. They sat there quietly and probably wondering what was going on. I called attention to the fact that Kindergarten had been forgotten and they were finally invited. Kudos to them!
Stay tuned to a notice from the office on how to sign up for Parent Teacher conferences.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Reading Little Books

A few weeks ago we listened to  I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss. Of course, we all know that isn't true. In Kindergarten, we read with our eyes open and often, we point with our finger under each word. Just like in counting, when we read, there's a one to one correspondence.
When your student brings home a blue envelope, they will take a book out and read to an adult, a sibling, maybe even a pet! Please encourage them to point under the word, unless that doesn't seem necessary anymore. If they get stuck on decoding a word, have them look at the picture for clues. They should look at the beginning letter/sound of the word for another clue. We may not know all our letter sounds yet. At this point in time, the sentence pattern and picture clue may be our best bet.
After they have read the book, ask them questions about the story. Who are the main characters? Why did they act the way they did?
It's early in the school year, yet many children are already excited about learning to read. If they brought home a book to read to you, this means they showed me that they were interested. Have fun!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

     The photo you see here is of a birthday celebration from another country, not our school. However, soon our students at Mt. Desert Elementary, will again experience our unique way of celebrating birthdays. For the kindergarteners, this will be an initiation into our tradition.
     Near the end of each month, we celebrate the birthdays of all the children and adults in grades K-3 for that month. Sometimes, for practical purposes, we combine months. August birthdays are celebrated along with September birthdays, for instance.
     At a specified time, we gather in the Forum. Classes often perform. Those with birthdays that month come forward and we all sing the birthday song to them. Classes take turns being the host. Chef Emily and Jan often help by preparing the snack. Some classes prepare the snacks.
     Most importantly, we feel this celebration builds a school community. It's also a way for us to celebrate birthdays in our school equitably. We ask that parents not send in special snacks on their children's  birthday. 
Another note regarding birthdays: we ask parents to only send invitations to school if there is one for every child in the class. Otherwise please deliver personally (not at school) or by mail. Soon, I'll send home a list of the names of all our kindergarten class. Thank you so much.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Volunteer Needed

     Throughout the year, we'll have a need for help with various jobs. One job I can think of right away is "Book Repair". Kids bring books to me that are ripped. I've been putting them away until they build up to around 6 books. I'm looking for a parent volunteer who'd like to repair them. I provide the tape. Right now, I'll ask that you let me send them home with your student and you do this job at home. After 6 weeks have passed and the children have learned the routines of kindergarten, you could choose to come in at Choice Time or some other scheduled time and do the work in our classroom. Thanks for considering and stay tuned for more volunteer opportunities.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hello and Welcome to a new school year in Kindergarten at Mt. Desert Elementary School! Here's what the room looks like on the day before school? Perhaps I'll do an "after" picture tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pajama Day!

It's just too exciting to wear your pajamas to school...but we did it anyway. It was part of our reward for good behavior. Here we are, well, most of us!

Blending is a Phonemic Awareness Skill

When we talk about blending being important for beginning readers we don't necessarily mean the student is looking at a word and blending the sounds. Before a child can do that he should be able to hear the individual sounds (called phonemes) and blend them smoothly together to make a recognizable word. This is a completely auditory activity that doesn't involve print at all.
Below please enjoy the photos of kindergarteners playing a Lotto game. They listened to me stretch a word out s-l-o-w-l-y, and then hunted for a picture on their Lotto board that matched the word I stretched. Each board was custom made by a student the day before with Ms. Patty and a sub, Ms. Jones. 
I'm going to send these boards home and you can play a similar game with them if you like. Make up your own rules and have fun. Perhaps you'd like to reverse roles and have your child do the stretching while you try to find the picture. 
Interestingly enough, this skill of blending and stretching sounds comes in very handy during Writing Workshop. I'm proud of every one of our super duper writers. They've become "professional" recorders of the sounds they hear.

Friday, May 6, 2016

It's Your Day This Sunday

Happy Mother's Day

Check out the Islander or the Ellsworth American. You might find your picture in the paper.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


You're Invited!
Please join us at a Morning Meeting. 
Normally, we'd have you join us at the rug...
But this year, we may offer you a chair.
If you'd like to come, simply send me an e-mail with the date.
First come, first served. Perhaps you could give me two dates, in case the first one is full.
We look forward to seeing you.
We generally begin our meeting at 8:45.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tomorrow is a Big Day!

Kindergarten Screening
Kindergarten screening will take place tomorrow, April 28th. Ms. Patty will be the kindergarten teacher and there will be a sub to assist her.                       

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Math and Science

Children learn best by doing. They learn math skills by manipulating objects. Before they can "fluently add and subtract", they need to understand what it means to add and what does it mean when you're asked to subtract. A child might be able to say, "Five plus five equals ten." but may not be able to explain what that means. 
Before we expect children to memorize math facts, we engage them with materials and lots of opportunities to join sets and take sets away from a given set.
We have been making arrangements of tiles of a given amount and looking for groups within. Later we learn to record the number sentences.

A Few Photos of Arts Week

Most of these photos are of Arts Week, but the class photo is one I took after Art one Thursday when the kids made crowns with Ms. Shutt. It was really hard to get everyone together in one spot, I'm not sure you'll be able to see everyone. Count to see if you can find 22 little people...

These puppets were made with Shira.
Ms. Graves and volunteers helped the class finish their puppets.

This handsome man dressed up for Be Yourself Day!

Here they are in March. One student may have been absent.
Students made fairies with Mary Lyman. The work was intricate and difficult but the kids persevered. I was proud of them.

Thank you to all the parents who volunteered for Arts Week. We appreciate your assistance!
Here is Kemy holding her bathtub poster of high frequency words. These words, also known as, "sight words", "word wall words", or "words we know in a snap", are a very important tool for emergent readers. Automatic recognition and the ability to read them quickly, builds confidence and aids in the success of decoding the words surrounding them in a sentence.
By the end of the kindergarten year, students are expected to learn 25 high frequency words. I've added a few extra to our list and word wall. Any extra words learned will be an advantage for our readers!
The class had fun making these, partly due to a little inside joke about taking a bath.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Kindergarten Writing Workshop

What does Writing Workshop look like in Kindergarten? Perhaps you'd be surprised how diligently our students work once they've gathered all their materials and tools.
Writers think of a topic first. They often plan their piece by making a quick sketch on each page and then rehearsing what they're going to write orally. Next they write their words. They go back and reread and add details to their pictures and words. This is called editing.

Please take a look at some writing samples from our class. We've been writing easy-to-read books to share with our friends. When they're finished, students put them in a basket for our Class Library. We've been studying the features of mentor books and noticed many of these type of books use a sentence pattern. So our student writers are trying that too. We're learning about the conventions of writing. What makes our writing easy to read? We have a spaceman tool to help us leave spaces between words.
"Baby cousin is crying."
"I like nachos. My brother doesn't. I said Yummy. Brother said Yuk."

Above you can see examples of typical kindergarten writing. These writers are recording sounds they hear in words, spelling high frequency words correctly (for the most part!) and they are beginning to leave spaces between words. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Your Child is Reading!!!  


You might be wondering what you can do at home to help your child with her reading?
1. Continue to read storybooks at bedtime. Picture books are wonderful. They have rich story language and vocabulary. Cuddling up with a parent and listening to the voice of a loved one while they read an adventure, what could be better than that?
2. As you're reading the story, have your child look at the pictures and talk about the details with you. Ask, "What do you think will happen next?" This helps the child make connections and fosters understanding.
3. Discuss the story after reading it. Use the transition words: first, next, then, last, finally. Have him name the characters. Who does he think was the most important character?What was his favorite part of the story? Why? Did the story remind him of anything in his own life, or another story?
4. If your student brings home a little book from school in his blue envelope, have him read it to you. Get comfortable. Before he starts, ask him what will help him keep his eyes on the words? (Point under each word.)
5. Early emergent reading books usually have repeating 
phrases. These books boost the child's confidence. They contain many high frequency words (aka sight words, words we know in a snap, words from the word wall). "Sounding out words" can be a strategy to solve unknown words, but have you ever tried to blend the sounds in the word "said"? It is important for your child to learn his high frequency words. They are the anchors that will give them the confidence they need to decode other words.
Still, getting your mouth ready with the first sound in "said" and looking at the last letter, and thinking what word makes sense here, what sounds right, are very useful decoding strategies.
6. If your reader is stuck on a word, have him check the picture for clues. Any information he gets from the picture plus beginning sound clues will be helpful.
7. You might notice he goes back to the beginning of the sentence and rereads. That too, can be a helpful strategy.
8. If the child is struggling, give him the word and have him move on. In school, I sometimes ask if he'd like some help.
9. Praise your reader when she uses a good story voice. Explain it sounds like music to your ears and makes the book more interesting to you. When she reads smoothly, and not word by word (kind of like a robot), she's reading fluently.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

New Homework Assignment
Inside the blue book envelope there should be a set of word cards. On most cards there will be three words across in a line. The assignment is for the student to point under each word and read them from left to right. If she is unsure, have her "get her mouth ready" with the first sound of the first letter (unless it's the word "the". If she continues to have trouble, read the word for her, then have her read it again on her own, starting at the beginning of the line. Have her notice similarities and differences to known words. For instance "do" looks and sounds the same at then end as "to". The word "on" is often confused with "no" because it uses the same letters, but they're reversed. There are 28 words on this word ring. Students need to read 25 of them with automaticity (quickly) to meet the standard for the end of Kindergarten. I've added 3  words that are not on our list, and may add more words before the end of the year, because they too, are seen often in emergent reader books.
If a student needs to read "he", shouldn't she also be able to read "she"?
Not only should students be able to read these words, but it is also beneficial for them to spell many of them. This should not be difficult because most of them are 2 or 3 letter words. If your child can easily read the 28 words, have her practice writing them or spelling them orally.
Word reading practice and reading books from their book box will occur in school at Rest Time 4 days a week, Monday-Thursday. I'm sending home all stuffed animals. Most children are sitting up and whispering or looking at books or reading. If they are very tired and need to rest, they may certainly close their eyes and rest or sleep. Blankets are welcome to remain in school. 
 You should know me well enough by now, to know that I'm not a "stickler" when it comes to homework assignments. Some students may not need regular practice, others would benefit from reading their books each night as well as practicing their words.
How often should you expect to see the blue envelope come home? You should see it at least one night each week. Some students like to take it home more often and that's great. If you're not seeing it at all, ask your child to bring it home with their most recent book and their word ring.