Thursday, March 1, 2018

February 28, 2018

Hello families,

February just FLEW by! I simply cannot believe we are approaching March (which speeds by even more quickly with Spring Break tucked in there), which means Spring is just around the corner.

As usual, we had tons of fun together this month. There were a couple of BIG celebrations in kindergarten!

We celebrated the 100th day of Kindergarten. We each made awesome crowns decorated with 100 dots, necklaces with 100 beads, a woven placemat with 100 squares, and a snack with 100 pieces. We had a parade through the entire lower school. We shared our collections of 100 items and created a "100 Museum" that people could tour. We played several games with 100 as the goal (roll the dice and color in that many squares until you get to 100; roll the dice and make that many tally marks until you get to 100, stack 100 cups challenge, 100 puzzles, etc). It was a GREAT day!

In the blink of an eye, it was Valentine's Day!

We loved decorating the bags to hold our valentines. It was fun to be the "mailman" and deliver the special valentines we'd made for our friends!
On the day of our party, we played valentine bingo, made 'love bug"snacks, created stick puppets out of hearts, and enjoyed opening our valentines. It is always so sweet to watch them open their cards and thank each other for their little gifts. 

Our Bio-Buddies came to help us learn about the circulatory system and the heart. Together, we created models of the circulatory and respiratory systems. Then we had a fun experiment. We wondered if our heart rates would change if we were active (we thought they would). Our Bio-Buddies listened to our heart beats with stethoscopes while we were at rest. Then we exercised for one minute and they listened to our hearts again, to see if there was any change. There was! Our heart beats were faster when we were active!

In social studies we learned about symbols. A symbol stands for something else (for example, a heart is often a symbol for Valentine's Day). 

There are many symbols for our country. We learned about some important U.S. symbols, and what they stand for--the bald eagle, the American flag, the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty were some of our favorites. We learned how to draw the Statue of Liberty and a bald eagle. We were so proud of our drawings! We especially loved learning about the Statue of Liberty and had a lot of questions. We read several books, and watched a great Brain Pop, Jr. video about the statue. This one was our favorite:

We also learned about two important presidents--George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. We know that these two presidents also have special monuments to honor them in Washington, D.C. This class is such fun to have discussion with--while reading about their lives, several children made connections to Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as to each other. They often pick up tiny nuances that escape most of us adults! They are truly amazing thinkers!

In math, we are becoming rock stars at number bonds! We have been enjoying telling stories using little animals or characters. Then we put them into a number bond and tell the equation.

Scoopy Whale is our new reading buddy. Once we are familiar with a text, we can re-read it, "scooping" the sentence (or phrase) together more smoothly. We are trying to make our reading sound more like talking. We really practiced Scoopy with our most recent Readers' Theater installments! We are also becoming more adept at reading with expression! Those Readers' Theater plays are often so silly, we just HAVE to make our voices match the character! Such fun!

We are wrapping up our latest unit of study in writing workshop. We revisited personal narratives. This time we introduced the concept of a "small moment", where you zoom in on one tiny part of your day. We can compare a small moment to a watermelon seed:  for example, "We went to Florida" would be the whole watermelon; "We went to Disney World" would be a slice of the watermelon; "We saw Mickey Mouse" would be the watermelon seed. We want to zoom in to the "seed", and add lots of detail. We have been delighted with the detail and time the children have put into both their writing and their illustrations!

We are looking forward to sharing all of the growth and progress your child has made during our conferences this week. We appreciate your support so much!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

January 31, 2018

Happy Winter! BRRRRRR...

January is my absolute favorite time of year to be a kindergarten teacher. The children come back from winter break well rested, excited and ready to learn and we have almost an entire month of uninterrupted by craziness (other than our own!). We get SO much accomplished and the growth 5 and 6 year olds make at this time of the year is astounding. Every year I am amazed at what they accomplish!

Our Medallions project has been wildly successful. Even though we are at the end of January, we will continue to invite all to earn medallions until everyone that is still working on those last one or two can achieve their goal. This year, we have been absolutely thrilled by the determination and drive this class has exhibited throughout the project. Many children set a goal and practiced both in class and at home to meet (or exceed) their goal. The medallion ribbons are almost all full (going up front and back of the ribbons!), and are quite pretty. The medallions will be presented to you at conferences. Well done, kids!

Skating is another activity that amazes me year after year. For some children, our skating day in January was only their second time on the ice. And yet, we again witnessed children with fierce determination not only skating with the aid of the trainers, but feeling brave enough to let go and try skating on their own! AMAZING!

We have been studying all about the circulatory system, and how our heart and lungs work together. We learned lots of amazing facts about the heart. Did you know that your heart is a muscle and that it pumps blood all around your body? That in one day it beats about 100,000 times? That you can keep your heart healthy by exercising? And that your blood is made up of red and white blood cells--the white blood cells fight illness? We learned all of those fascinating facts and many more this month!

We learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the values he worked for--fairness, equality, peace and love. These are issues that are very important to kindergartners. We had many lively discussions and read books not only about Dr. King and his life, but tangential topics that the kindergartners were able to make connections to. Some of our favorite books surrounding this subject were:


We made a "People Poster". We searched through magazines and cut out pictures of people. We each had a task of finding at least ten pictures, and each one had to be different in some way from the others. We surrounded it with the lyrics to our favorite song about Dr. King:  Sing About Martin. It turned out great!

With all of the bitter cold, indoor recess days we had in a row, we decided to cozy up and enjoy Jan Brett's The Mitten.

We loved it so much, we created a play and acted it out! It was so much fun!

Our STEAM buddies came and we made habitats for Arctic (and Antarctic) animals together. We used plastic cups (for ice), marshmallows and toothpicks. It was great!

Thank you so much for your support of the kitchen utensil "Bridging Bouquets". The Bridging helps about 100 families a week transition from homeless shelters into their first homes, and helps provide them with furniture and household items. Our Lower School families donated enough supplies to create over 100 bouquets! Our class created four bouquets and had lots of extras left over to tuck into other bouquets for bonuses!

Next up--save those Box Tops! We will be collecting them in February. All of the money that Breck School collects from this project is used for student-driven philanthropy projects.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3, 2017

There's so much to catch up on, since my last post. Lots of BIG goings on in kindergarten! For instance:

We have LOVED learning about life long ago. Although we kicked this study off with our field trip to The Landing back in October, we really dove into this topic during November. Our dramatic play center became an old-fashioned house. We got to practice writing with a real feather quill and "ink" (black tempera paint). And we read many books about life long ago. Our absolute favorites were a beautiful picture book series of the beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" books.

 We loved hearing about "Laura, her Ma, her Pa, her big sister Mary, her baby sister Carrie and their good old bulldog Jack", and comparing her life to ours today. It was fun to overhear children in the dramatic play center re-enacting scenes from the books (and invariably negotiating over who would play Jack the bulldog!) Several titles were standouts among these books. We were fascinated by the Ingalls family's move to the prairie in their covered wagon in the book Going West and how Pa built their new house by hand in Little Prairie House. The children were particularly interested in learning about the chores the family needed to complete each day to survive in Winter Days in the Big Woods. Since there were lots of questions about the butter churn, we decided to make butter ourselves (without a churn!). 

We took turns shaking a container filled with extra-heavy whipping cream. While we shook the container, we chanted a butter-churning song. It took a long time, but we finally made butter! 

Then we baked corn bread muffins. While the Ingalls family was traveling in their covered wagon, Ma cooked corn cakes over a fire. We baked ours in Breck's oven, and enjoyed every bite, slathered with the butter we'd made! Yum!

We ended November with a fun STEAM activity--building a "turkey hideout". Each student (or team) had to think of and write out a plan for their hideout, including what supplies they would use to create it. There were some very interesting ideas, and very proud inventors when they successfully built their structures!

Grandparents' and Special Persons' Day was a wonderful opportunity for your children to be hosts for their beloved guests. We enjoyed getting to meet so many special people, and seeing the kindergartners take on the role of ambassadors. We shared many activities together, enjoyed a snack and chapel and just basked in the joy of being together. It is always a very special day.

We wrapped up the end of the month (well, actually kicked off December) with our first ice skating event of the year. Even though about half of our class had never been on ice skates before, we were all SUPER excited for this outing. With the help of many volunteers, we were out on the ice and attempting to negotiate our way around the arena. It was amazing--by the time we had to go back off the ice, everyone was more confident and comfortable on their skates. Yay, skaters!

As November transitions into December we want to reflect on our many blessings here at Breck. We are thankful for this wonderful school, the support of our families, and most importantly, for these bright, creative, slightly goofy children that light up our classroom and bring joy to our lives. Thank you for the gift of your child!