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!

Friday, October 13, 2017

October 13, 2017

We had such a busy, exciting week in kindergarten! This week we had our first lockdown drill, a fire drill and a bus safety evacuation! We are feeling very safe and prepared in Room L51! There was a bit of trepidation surrounding our lockdown drill, but when the actual event occurred, we realized it really wasn't scary or loud at all. We had talked quite a bit about the purpose of lockdowns in class last week. In kindergarten, we like to tell a (mostly) true story about how a deer crashed into one of the windows at Breck School. Deer aren't scary animals, but if one was hurt and inside the school, the people that need to help it would need the hallways clear, and we would want to keep inside our classrooms to let them do their jobs and not scare the deer. And during our actual lockdown, we all enjoyed counting how many times the recording played "This is a lockdown...". We counted 29 times! We will see if that record gets smashed for our next lockdown. Focusing our thoughts on things like an injured animal or rote counting makes a safety drill much less scary.

We have also been talking about how we want our class to feel and look like. We created a list that we turned into a poster, "The Ways We Want Our Class to Be..." and we all signed it.
 What a great conversation!

We've also watched some great videos with Mrs. Heurung on what to do when we feel full of big feelings. Our favorite was Elmo's "Belly Breathe". Find a link to it below:

We've also been talking about The Power of Yet. We read the book Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae. Whenever we think "I can't" we remember to add "YET". We've been watching a series of Growth Mindset videos about a little monster named Mojo. As we've been following Mojo, he's learned that his brain grows, that mistakes are okay, and that it's okay to ask for help. He also learned about the Power of Yet. It has been so fun to hear the children gently reminding each other of this if someone should say, "I can't".  If you're interested, here is a link to the short video clips we've watched so far:

We are writing like Scientists! Thank you so much for all of the lovely nature collections that you helped your child gather for our classroom. We have been having a great time looking closely at nature items, sketching what we notice, and writing down our observations. We are adding labels, diagrams, and arrows to highlight some of the interesting things we have noticed. Using the magnifying glasses has been a huge hit!

We read a lovely book by Lois Ehlert, Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf and noticed all the features of non-fiction that she used in her writing, as well as how closely she must have observed her maple tree to write and draw all that she included in her book! Several students were inspired to write multiple-page books of their own about a single leaf!

Our biggest excitement this week came when we met our STEAM buddies for the first time. These 4th graders from Mrs. Schafer's class will partner with us once a month to complete a STEAM challenge. This month's challenge:  Can you build a structure to support 5 Little Pumpkins?

Each partnership was successful, and each one was unique! We LOVED it! The kindergartners walked in the next day asking if we would have STEAM buddies again today.

Friday, September 29, 2017

September 29, 2017

This week we had two fun (and tasty!) five senses experiments. On Monday afternoon, we read I Hear a Pickle by Rachel Isadora. Did we ever LOVE that book! After we read it twice through, we made refrigerator pickles. We got to use all of our senses EXCEPT taste as we were making them. We used our other four senses to explore the ingredients: cucumbers, fresh dill, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, whole peppercorn, garlic and two kinds of vinegar ("Stinky!" was the general consensus).  They had to be refrigerated for six days, but we checked on them every morning to see what had changed and recorded our observations. This afternoon, we finally got to taste those pickles. I was pleasantly surprised how many children opted to try them. Many children in this class already knew they liked pickles, which I think encouraged others to give it a try. While not all of us ended up liking the pickles, we all enjoyed the experience!

On Wednesday, we used our senses again with another tasty treat--we popped popcorn! As we observed the oil heating up and the kernels sizzling, we described what we noticed using all of our senses. Did you know that popcorn tastes "popcorn-y"?

In math, we are pattern ROCK STARS! We are actually doing first grade math with our patterning. We learned that you can label a pattern (for example, a blue-yellow-blue-yellow...pattern would be labeled an A B pattern). We can circle the part of the pattern that repeats over and over. This afternoon, we worked with a partner to create a pattern. We had to cooperate and take turns with our partner. Ms. Kuusisto and I were very impressed with how well this activity went (not the patterning- we knew they'd rock that--the teamwork!). Next week we are going to do some very cool projects with patterns!

We heard a very sweet story Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills. Rocket the dog loves books, and wants to write his own, but he can't think of a story. Encouraged by his teacher the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way, he discovers details he has never noticed before. After we read this (the children were positively spellbound!), we thought about what inspires us. Off we went to do our own writing, and it was a spectacular writing workshop! We can't wait to show you what wonderful writers your children have grown into during parent/teacher conferences next week!

We met another reading buddy, "Stretchy Snake". Stretchy helps us with both reading and writing! Stretchy reminds us to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the sounds we hear, and then blend them together. We practiced with our own individual stretchy snakes during our literacy stations. So much fun!

We are looking forward to meeting with all of you for conferences next Thursday or Friday! There is much to celebrate, as well as goals to set. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

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!