October was a fun month in Kindergarten. Every month is fun, but some are more fun than others.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Sieur de Monts Nature Center. Ranger James taught us to be scientific observers. We were quiet and respectful of the animal and plant life. We were able to act out various animals in their habitat. Above you see a student acting out a beaver, building his lodge.
On Thursday, the day after our visit, we composed a thank you letter to Ranger James. Everyone had a part in writing some of the sounds we heard in the words.
On Friday, October 27, we had our October Birthday Celebration. Kindergarten recited performed the poem,
The Three Verses of Hickory Dickory Dock. Those of us who dared, enjoyed a snack of green grapes, raisons, candy corn and mini marshmellows inside a clear cup with a monster face imposed on the front. These were made by our hosts, the second graders. Next month, Kindergarten will be the hosts of the Birthday Celebration.
We had another celebration in our room that day. We invited a third grader, Lucy Rogers, to our classroom for a celebration of completing our first unit of Reading Workshop.
In the bottom photo, you see two of us raising our glasses in honor of all we've learned. Lucy observed our workshop and recorded all she noticed on a sheet. Here's what she saw:
"Good thinkers. Voice levels very good. (Readers) Noticing important details. Telling stories bit by bit. Picking just right books. Good bubble gum stretching (of words)."
Don't you love our owl glasses? I save them for very special occasions. Some of us enjoyed a drink of organic cranberry juice and some of us chose cold, filtered water.
A Reminder For Halloween
Students should bring their costumes to school, not wear them. Please no face paint or other distractions in class. Parents may come to school to help their child get ready for the parade.
The parade begins at 2:15. We'll get dressed near the end of Choice Time, at 1:50 or 1:45 depending on the atmosphere! I'll read them some Halloween stories while we wait, if we're ready early.
Please no "weapons" or full masks as part of costumes.
Upon return to school, Kindergarten will meet in the classroom where we'll enjoy some cider and donuts. Parents may take their children home before dismissal, but must check out with teacher first. Thank you for that (the checking out).
Last week I began introducing proper formation of lower case letters. Parents, be on the lookout for a paper from me with diagrams of how we form all letters in our Handwriting program: Handwriting Without Tears. I'll try to send it out this week.
Field Trip Reminder
Even though the weather forecasts rain for Wednesday, we'll be going to Acadia National Park in the morning. Please be sure to dress your students in layers and water proof clothing and footwear.
Later this week, I'll begin assessments for Unit 2: Counting Quantities, Comparing Lengths. Next week, we'll begin Unit 3: Make a Shape, Fill a Hexagon. This will be the first of two geometry units we'll cover this year. Expect to see a new math newsletter in your child's folder early next week.
It's early in the year, but we're ready to read. Directly above you see some high frequency or sight words we already know. You may add go and went to the list and this week we'll add is. Learning these words will help your kindergarten student become solid readers. They are "anchors" by which an emergent reader, such as your child, will use to help her decode other words in context.
At the top you see my friend holding a blue book bag. Inside is the first little book we've read together in a small group. The first strategy we're learning is to get our mouth ready with the first sound when we come to a word we don't know. We also look at the picture for clues. It's exciting to watch your children use these strategies early in the school year.
My next friend in the light green sweater is demonstrating what beginning readers do in order to focus on the word. We're learning 1 to 1 correspondence: one point, one word.
Here's a connection (or two...). We use 1 to 1 correspondence when we're counting. When we count we begin at the top and move from right to left with return sweep, such as when we're following an one hundreds chart. It's a lot like reading. When we form our capital letters (and many lower case too), we start our letters at the top...just like when we read.
Back to the book bag. When your child brings home a book in a bag like this it's her homework. She (or he) should read the book to a parent or family member and return the envelope with book inside, to school the next day. No worries if you don't get to it the first night, but try to return as soon as possible.
To start, I'll try to send home two books each week if all goes well.
Have fun and stay tuned for more ways you can help your child in Kindergarten.
Our First Birthday Celebration! Here you see some of our students with August-September birthdays. Following some performances, we sang "Happy Birthday" to our friends, and then enjoyed a snack mix back in our classrooms. Thanks to those of you who have signed up already for Parent-Teacher conferences on line. You should see a link to sign up in your newsletter. Please be looking for a permission slip for our first field trip this school year. It will be on Wednesday, October 25 in the morning. We'll be going to Sieur de Monts Nature Center.
In Handwriting, I've introduced the Frog Jump Capitals. On Friday, we learned the Wet, Dry, Try method on slates. We always start our capital letters at the top. F E D P B R N and M are all Frog Jump Capitals. We also learn the sounds and key pictures that begin with that sound. Next week we'll start the Corner Starter Capitals.
The Parent Teacher's Organization awarded kindergarten a grant to purchase bird feeders and supplies. Here you see the feeders which we put out every morning and I take in every night (in order to not attract raccoons, not to mention bears!). How long do you think it will take for the birds to find the bird food? My guess is two weeks. Soon I'll order two pairs of child binoculars and a primary bird book. We're excited to begin keeping a log of which birds come to the feeder. If you'd like to keep data on which birds come to your feeders at home over the winter, visit feederwatch.com. I've signed up for a personal subscription for my feeders at home. It could be a fun family activity.
More shots of our Math work. During Choice time, some of us painted cardboard rolls. Previous to that, we counted a huge pile of unpainted rolls by ones. Then we counted out groups of ten and counted those by tens. We ended up with 67 both times. The next day we added one. Some days during Math class I dump a pile of the painted tubes on the rug. We sort them, estimate which group has most and least. We order the three colors from least to most. Above, you see a colorful structure which is a collaboration of all five students. It's a model of a bee hive, bees and I've forgotten what the green triangles represent.
Big line, little line, big curve, little curve. We use only these lines and curves to form our capital letters. And we start all our letters at the top when making capitals. Be sure your writer does that when he or she writes their letters.
On the first day of school we drew a picture of a man. Today we had a lesson on drawing Mat Man. When you come to Open House on the afternoon/evening of September 12, please look at our cupboard doors for before and after pictures.
Early last week we took a walk on Neighborhood House Road to watch progress at a construction site. I asked students what they noticed and what they wondered.
We had only a short time to spend in observation and unfortunately, were not there for the lifting and placing of modular units. The second graders and Ms. Cullen's first graders did see some of that.
Upon our return, students recorded what they saw and posed their questions. I'm hoping for better weather this week. Perhaps we'll be able to return to the site to note progress. We may also ask the second and first graders to answer some of our questions.
In celebration of filling our Good Behavior Jar with gems, we held a dance party before April break. No worries, we made it a controlled environment with the audience lined up along the sides of the room and two dancers per 4 tables in the middle. Before the dancing we discussed safe behavior on the tables and the children set some guidelines. You can see some really good dance moves here.
I wonder what we'll do the next time the jar is filled? This is hard to beat!
My friend Claire wasn't crocheting a chain on this day I took the photos. But a number of other students (approximately 10 out of 16) now have been introduced and enjoy quiet time with a crochet hook and some yarn, periodically. Parents, you are welcome to join us at Choice Time, and perhaps these children can teach you this first step to crocheting.
This month our kindergarten students returned to school somewhat discombobulated. I believe the week before vacation was too disjointed due to the winter storms, early releases, late starts, snow days and illness. Generally, I've noticed that when students in my class have a week off they return ready to get back into their routine and are able to apply all the skills they've learned.
That didn't happen this time.
So we tried our hardest to do all the things we know can help us. We did Brain Gym and other movement exercises. Ms. McKernan used some Mindful Life exercises with us. We talked about what we could do to help ourselves get ready to learn. And on Friday, we colored mandalas.
In the photos above, you see several shots of us coloring with special markers that we save for "Friday mandalas". You also see Jake and Claire doing a Brain Gym exercise called "The Owl".
Harriet was our Teacher Assistant on Friday. Before Math you see her leading the class in a brain break exercise called Xs and Os. She colored the lovely mandala on the table for our classroom. And last, you see four handsome gentlemen who are waiting for the rest of the class to join them at the rug. They were remarkably silent!
Next weekend I hope to post some photos of Claire and perhaps a friend or two, crocheting a chain.
I'd like to think an unscheduled early release won't happen again this school year, but I can't promise it. You may have read (or surmised) we need an alternate after-school plan for days when children must be sent home early due to extreme weather conditions. If you haven't already done so will you send one in? Some of you may be fairly certain that you'd like your child sent home on the bus. Others may not know for sure about child care until the day it happens. In that case, if a storm has been predicted, please send in your alternate plan on that morning. We appreciate your flexibility.
Thank you. Landon and Abbie are bringing in pretzels for Valentine's Day!
It's coming up! We'll be having a little Valentine Celebration on Tuesday, February 14. I'll buy some organic cranberry juice and raspberry lime seltzer water because the kids seemed to relish it when we served it for a Writer's Celebration toast. I really don't want to serve them sweets as they're so excited on this day, even without sugar! But how about donations of heart shaped pretzels? I know they're not really hearts...but they're close. Please send me an e-mail if you'd like to send in a bag, or if you have any other festive, non-sweet ideas.
Thank you for understanding that when we pass out Valentine cards (or any invitations such as Birthday ones), we include all members of the class.
Below you will find another class list for your convenience.
Last Friday, for the first time in their history, Kindergarten hosted the Birthday Celebration. Some of them were chosen to give the announcements and all Kindergarten students, save the ones who were the January birthday guests, served the delicious snack. Chef Emily and Jan prepared the parfaits with fruit. Unfortunately, I didn't have them practice snack distribution and it could have gone more smoothly. We'll work on improving that when we host again in the Spring.