Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22, 2017

We had our first STEAM lesson today. We learned a bit about this beautiful stained glass window by Frank Lloyd Wright. We talked about the shapes and colors we saw in the design. We noticed that there were two American flags, and that some of the shapes overlap each other. We found out that Frank Lloyd Wright was a famous American architect, and that he designed many beautiful houses and other buildings around the United States. Then we each got to design our own "stained glass window". Some of us had a plan right from the start of how we wanted our window's design to look. Others of us just enjoyed laying out shapes and seeing what kind of design took shape. All of them are unique and look so pretty hanging in our classroom window. Then we took pictures of our windows and recorded ourselves described our design in SeeSaw.

We are learning that good readers have a "toolbox" of strategies that they use when they come to a word that they don't know. We have some Reading Buddies that will help remind us of those strategies. So far, we have met "Eagle Eye" and "Lips the Fish". Eagle Eye reminds us to look at the picture, to see if that will help us. Lips the Fish tells us to get our mouth ready to read the word, by looking at the first letter and making that sound.

Some of our favorite books this week are Mrs. Wegner's favorite books. This week we heard Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes and Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. We even acted out Caps for Sale, and had so much fun pretending to be the naughty monkeys. Those books have joined all of the versions we've heard of The Gingerbread Man in our Reading Workshop book bins. The children gravitate towards these books they've heard read, and love telling the stories in their own words across the pages. In addition to telling these stories across the page, some children are looking for words they know in the text, others are reading the stories themselves. All are engaged and love our workshop time. I have actually heard groans when it is time to put our books away! Be still my heart!

In writing workshop, we were excited to add a new tool to our writing toolkits:  a stapler! We know that just like telling a story across the page in Reading Workshop, we can stretch out our stories and tell them across several pages in Writing Workshop, too. With more than one page, we need to staple those sheets together!

Here is an announcement from both Mrs. Zosel and Mrs. Bailey:  (Felix was in my class several years ago, and has organized a fundraiser for Hurricane Relief all on his own!)  

Hurricane Help . . . thank you to all for posting the fundraiser on your blogs and reminding and encouraging students to bring change for the Hurricane Relief project that Felix has spearheaded!  He is SO excited that his efforts are school-wide, and is so optimistic about reaching his goal ($1,000) to help all who have been impacted by the hurricanes.  Just a note . . . adults can participate, too! :)  The collection runs this week.

We hope you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Stay cool!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

What a Week!

Whew! We had a VERY exciting week in Room L51! We loved hearing more and more versions of The Gingerbread Man this week, and were SO excited to learn that we were going to get to decorate and eat our very own gingerbread men! Thursday was the big day, and there was definitely something special in the air around our classroom that morning. Unfortunately, we had a new recipe for our dough, and it was a bit stickier than years' past. It got stuck on our hands, fingers, and everywhere but where it was supposed to be! But it didn't dampen our spirits much, especially when the toppings were passed around. After we finished decorating them, we took them down to the oven and went to Music. We could smell the delicious gingerbread scent as we headed back to the kitchen, only to discover they were GONE! They left us a note and gave us clues as to where they had headed. We ended up chasing them all over the school, until we ended up back in our classroom, and there they were! Although they didn't look much like gingerbread men after they had baked (the dough really spread out, and they were pretty much gingerbread blobs), we didn't care and enjoyed every last bite!

After we took our first bite of that gingerbread blob man, we each got a little picture of a gingerbread man and we put an x on it that matched our first bite. After we finished eating, we created a graph of our first bites. We noticed how colorful the graph was, and how each one was decorated differently--just like our cookies! We noticed that the graph looks like steps, and that lots of people had bitten off a leg first. Then we noticed that less people had bitten off an arm. And more people had bitten off the head than an arm. We made a prediction about how many gingerbread men there were in total on the poster. We had lots of guesses, and then someone explained their thinking and we all changed our predictions to match that person's: "There are 15 kids in the class, and everyone made a gingerbread man for the graph. So there will be 15 of them." We counted to be sure, but we were delighted to discover it was an accurate prediction!

We also made paper gingerbread men. The best part was making the paper. We fingerpainted with CHOCOLATE PUDDING! We could not get over that--not paint, but pudding! That was the funniest thing this class had ever heard! If we wanted to, we could lick our fingers afterwards. After the paper dried, we got to cut out a person shape and decorate it any way we wanted with the supplies provided. Ms. Kuusisto and I saw lots of creativity!

After all of that excitement, we wanted to talk and talk about our experience chasing those naughty cookies around the school. We started writing a class story about it. We are working together to dictate the story--thinking about what happened first, next and last. Everyone is helping to write the words we know--as a class we have learned to read and spell the and and, so whenever they came up in our story, we took turns writing them. Each child will also get to help illustrate the story. Here is just the first page!

On top of all of that excitement, it was also Homecoming on Friday! We were so excited to wear our blue and gold! We decorated our lockers and made pompoms to help celebrate. We decided to have an impromptu parade, and marched around the classroom chanting, "We love Breck!". Pretty cute!

In the afternoon, we had our own mini-homecoming celebration (for preschool and kindergarten, who do not attend the actual coronation). The Upper Schoolers who were nominated for Homecoming King and Queen came down and we got to see them and hear what their favorite Breck lunch is and who their favorite cartoon character is. We learned the Mustangs cheer and gave everyone high-fives! Yay, Breck!

We did actually squeeze some academics into our week, too. 

We finished up our "Frog Jump Letters" in handwriting, 

read and wrote,

 and played some fun shape puzzle games. 

Our favorite book this week was The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray. It was TOTALLY DIFFERENT than any other Gingerbread Man book we've read. No one is chasing him--he is chasing his class! And he doesn't get eaten at the end. His class makes him a little gingerbread desk and chair and a house to live in in their classroom. We loved it most for that reason!

We also read the book The Listening Walk by Paul Showers. Then we took a listening walk, and wrote down all of the things we heard indoors and outdoors. Some of the things we heard inside were: fans blowing, flip flop shoes flapping, lockers banging, Mr. Dungan whistling, and a beeping noise we were all REALLY curious about! Outdoors we heard: wind blowing, birds chirping and squawking, leaves rustling and crunching beneath our feet, cars on highway 100, a motorcycle and an airplane. It was a great way to end a pretty awesome week!

Kali and I would like to thank you for attending Back-to-School Night. We appreciate the time you take to invest in your children's educations. When parents, teachers and children are a team, success is inevitable!

Friday, September 8, 2017

September 8, 2017

We are Writers!

We are so impressed with the writing that these kindergartners have produced in just 8 short days of school. We have been working on building stamina, stretching out the sounds of words we want to write, and adding lots of details to the words and pictures. We know that, "When We Are Done, We've Just Begun".  When we finish a piece, we have a choice to make--we can add more to the words or the pictures, or start a new piece. We are so proud of writers--many are choosing to revise their pieces by adding lots of additional details to the pictures and the words. Our writers are now able to sustain their attention to the task of writing for 15 minutes! A new record for this early in the school year. Right now we are writing "teaching pieces", which means we write about anything we know a lot about, or something that really happened to us. Our authors have the opportunity to share their writing at the end of the workshop. So far we have heard about getting a shot at the doctor, catching a bunny in the backyard, playing soccer with our dog and many more.

We are Readers!

We are also busy building stamina for reading tasks. We are learning how Reading Workshop goes, and have recently added "Reading Buddies". We will meet with our Reading Buddies at the end of Reading Workshop to share something interesting we read/noticed in the pictures, or wondered about. We were surprised at how long the conversations sustained! These children LOVE to read and talk about what they're reading--how exciting for us as teachers!

We are mathematicians!

Try as I might, I just cannot trick these children! I have gone home and thought long and hard each night of something hard that might trick someone in Room L51. I have been unsuccessful so far! We have been exploring shapes--their names and properties. I introduced a new term:  vertices (corners). I was amazed when the children began using the term on their own to describe the shapes. For example:  "This shape has four vertices. Two sides are short and two are long". Yep, these are amazing students!

We are friends!

We have enjoyed lots of time to play and interact with each other throughout the day--during choice time, recess, stations and this week, fine motor stations. We work with partners or small groups throughout the day in playful ways. We have been LOVING hearing all of the versions of The Gingerbread Man this week. Once we've heard a version, and discussed how it is the same or different from other versions, we add them to our table bins for Reading Workshop. They are always the first books selected, and are wildly popular among the children! We have even had fun acting out the story with our puppets! The most favorite version this week was one we deemed TOTALLY DIFFERENT from the other versions:  The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst. Ask your child what made this version so much different (and a favorite!)

A few "housekeeping" notes...

  • Picture day is coming up. The date for P, K and 1st grade is Tuesday, September 19th. You should have received a picture envelope from Lifetouch earlier this week in your child's take home folder. It has come to my attention that Lifetouch may have sent out emails in error to some families prior to school about Picture Day being on the first day of school. This was actually for Upper School students only, and our picture day is indeed on the 19th. Please follow the directions that were sent home this week for your child's portraits.
  • Back-to-School Night is this Thursday, September 14th at 6:30 pm. The program will begin the chapel and end in individual classrooms. We will share information and answer questions about the kindergarten curriculum and you will be able to learn about volunteer opportunities and how to register for them from our classroom hosts. Childcare is available for children 4 and up, and registration is required.
  • Homecoming is Friday, September 15th! Although as kindergartners we do not participate in the coronation assembly, we do get to have our own mini homecoming court parade and learn the Breck Mustangs cheer. Wear blue and gold that day!
  • The Blessing of the Animals will take place on Saturday, September 16th at 10:30 am on the Chapel green. The homecoming barbecue and games will follow. Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Our first week together

Well, here we are at the end of our first week and despite a few tears and fears we all made it—even Mrs. Wegner and Ms. Kuusistol!  This promises to be a fun and learning-filled school year—one that will never again be equaled in its joy and innocence.

We spent this first week getting to know each other, practicing procedures and having lots of fun!

We are enjoying hearing lots of stories about starting school--Wemberley Worried, by Kevin Henkes, has been a favorite. We have introduced both Reading and Writing Workshops, and our "Handwriting Without Tears" practice books. Ms. Kuusisto and I have learned that this class LOVES singing, movement games and silly books. We can't wait to learn more next week! Happy Labor Day weekend--see you all Tuesday!