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! 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 11, 2017

It was a nice, normal week in kindergarten...well, as close to normal as we get, anyway! We loved being able to dig deep into our reading, writing and math curriculum.

We began a new unit of study in writing, "Writing for Readers". We began with oral storytelling, focusing on something that has happened to us in our real life. We heard a beautiful book, The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli. The girl in the book wants to tell the best story, and embellishes her story with monkeys, pirates, and rollercoasters. But in the end, she discovers that the best stories come from the heart. The children really embraced this message, and have written wonderful stories from their lives this week. We are learning to stretch out our story across three pages--a beginning, a middle and an end. We got new paper, with lots of lines on each page. We have had no trouble filling up those lines with our stories!

In reading workshop, we met a new reading buddy, "Chunky Monkey". Chunky Monkey reminds us to look for little words we know inside of bigger words. For example, inside the big word scatter, you will find the little word scatter. This is by far our favorite reading buddy to date--we love finding little words--like Wegner and Kuusisto (even though we know those two little words don't help us read those two bigger words--we love it anyway)!
Super Reader Bear also introduced to a new superpower--ways to get ready to read a new book. Taking a "picture walk" through a new text helps prepare us for what happens in the book, what kinds of words we might find in the sentences, and boosts confidence. We've been thrilled to see several children really embrace this strategy--it really is a powerful tool.

Super Reader Bear also told us about a Bad Guy--"The Distractor". The Distractor tries to take our focus away from our reading or writing--or really just about anything we should be keeping our attention on. But--we each have the power within us to defeat The Distractor. This has been a terrific motivator--we love to defeat The Distractor!

On Friday afternoon, we had a fun skeletal system activity--we got to sort, graph and then build and label a skeleton using special Cheetos (Bag o' Bones).  Many of us enjoyed snacking on them after we completed the activity!

Thank you for helping your child be prepared for recess each day! The weather is so unpredictable at this time of year, it really is better to be over-prepared than have a shivering student on the playground! While we do have spare outdoor gear for the occasion time something is forgotten or misplaced, it is a good habit to get into now to have your child pack their backpack in the evening before going to bed, rather than trying to hunt for everything in a panic in the morning (believe me, there were many tearful mornings spent searching for a missing glove in my house!). If you have an extra pair of snowpants or boots, you might want to consider sending them to school so your child doesn't have to haul them back and forth. Or try what I did--my daughter kept her school and gym shoes at school, and just wore her boots back and forth every day--that way we didn't have to worry about forgetting either boots or shoes.

Happy weekend!