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!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

November 4, 2017

What a great week to be a kindergartner! There was MUCH excitement for Halloween, of course! We had a fantastic time, parading, singing and partying!

At the party, we played Halloween/Fall bingo...

Created our own "Dirt Dessert" for a snack...

And designed beautiful fall luminaries.

That afternoon, we met with our STEM buddies again! This time, we went to their classroom. We had two challenges--to design a "Bone Bridge" that would be sturdy enough to support some weight and a monster design that needed to have legs strong enough to stand up and support its own weight. It was a great way to cap off an awesome Halloween!

This week we also wrapped up our second writing unit of study, "Looking Closely: Writing Like Scientists". We had been learning about pattern books in both Reading Workshop and our guided reading groups. We know that a pattern can help us to read a book, and now we know it can also help us write a book! We took all of that scientific writing we had been doing and turned it into pattern books! The published pieces turned out so well, we asked Ms. McCool's preschool class if we could come to share them! That turned out to be a very motivating activity--we overheard many students saying they needed to add more details to their illustrations or rehearse their reading aloud "so that the preschoolers would enjoy it more". Before we took our books on tour, we practiced reading to our classmates. We practiced being listeners as well as readers--as listeners, we keep our eyes on the book, listen carefully to the reading and look closely at the illustrations. That way, we can give a thoughtful compliment when the reader is finished. This was adorable!

Then we took our show on the road! The preschoolers were a very receptive audience, and the preschool teachers were impressed with our writing!

Important Reminder!!!

Our week ended with lots of excitement about the snow falling outside of our windows. Families, please make sure your student is coming to school with all of the items needed for winter play--snowpants, boots, mittens or gloves, a hat and a warm coat. We go outside every day (unless the temp drops below -10), and we need to get in the habit of having all of our winter gear at school, even if there's no snow on the ground. At this time of the year, the weather and temperature can change so quickly, and we want the children to be able to participate fully at recess no matter what the weather throws our way. Thank you for your help with this!

Snuggle in this weekend!

Friday, October 27, 2017

October 27, 2017

We were able to bring a lot of joy to the residents of Walker Care Center. We sang, performed poems and fingerplays and entertained them thoroughly! Each of us made a cheerful card to present to one of the residents before we left. We understand the difference between a field trip and a service trip now. We know that we were there to brighten the day of the residents, many of whom are lonely and miss their families. We know that our songs and cards made a difference to these senior citizens. We are already asking when we will return (in May!)

Super Reader Man came to L51! He had learned that we are working hard using our "Reading Super Powers" to read everything around us. He left us each a gift--super power pointers! They give us POINTING POWER, to help us make sure that we are pointing under each word as we read it. He also left us little super reader bears that listen to us read. For those of us who are already reading well, our power pointers can help us to smoothly read each sentence (we are working on fluency). Even though Super Reader Man was really just Mrs. Wegner in a mask and a cape, and we giggled about how silly she looked and sounded, we wondered if it really WAS Mrs. Wegner, or if it really was Super Reader Man (this is one of the reasons I love kindergarten so much--we really WANT to believe in the magic of kindergarten!).

Mr. Bones has come to visit Breck Kindergarten! We have begun studying the skeletal system in science, and this model skeleton has been fascinating the children all week. 

We have read several great books about skeletons, but if you are REALLY into learning about the skeletal system, then this is the book for you--

We learned that adults have more than 200 bones in their body, the upper leg bone (femur) is the largest, strongest bone in your body, that your bones are alive and can change and grow, and that some of them have a spongy, jelly like center called marrow. That is where blood is made! We know that the skeleton gives our body its shape, protects important organs like the heart, lungs and brain, and helps you move! This week we made a peek-inside bone to show where the marrow is, and we each got to make our own "Mr. Bones". We saw a video about Bones on BrainPop Jr. It was great!

This afternoon, we had a STEAM challenge:  build a structure using jelly pumpkins and toothpicks. It was so much fun to see the problem solving and creativity of these students. We all loved our structures so much, we decided to create "Pumpkin Town" in our classroom. These probably won't make it home in one piece, so enjoy the photos here and on SeeSaw! Of course we enjoyed snacking on a few, too.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 19, 2017

Wow! For such a short week, we sure packed in a lot of fun and learning!

We had a gorgeous day for our field trip to The Landing.  Costumed docents led us through the pioneer village of Eagle Creek. We learned how people of this time (approx. 1889) lived, worked and played. We learned that pioneer children had many chores, and we got to experience a few:  carrying buckets of water, bringing in the firewood, feeding the chickens and gathering eggs.

Then we enjoyed playing with some old-fashioned toys. We made some connections to toys we still play with today (but they are made of plastic now, and not wood). We learned that one of these toys was actually designed to teach children how to milk a cow!

Our last stop was at the general store, where we saw all sorts of interesting old-fashioned items and tools. The most fascinating thing was a contraption that we discovered was an apple cider press. We each got to drop in some apple pieces and then turn the crank. After all of the juice was pressed out, we each got to dip in a finger for a taste. Yum!

On Wednesday, we finally got to meet our Bio-Buddies! We have been waiting for this day for such a long time! These middle-schoolers (7th and 8th graders) have, as their community partnership service, chosen to work with Breck's kindergarten once a month. They are a wonderful group of students, and such positive role models for the kindergartners! 

This month, after some getting-to-know you activities, our Bio-Buddies weighed and measured us and charted the information on a graph in our individual bio-buddy books. They will do this each month, so that we can each chart any growth or change over the school year. 

Our October activity was a culmination of our study of the five senses. We each got a mini-pumpkin to explore using our five senses. We even got to taste roasted pumpkin seeds. We already love our Bio-Buddies and are looking forward to November's gathering!