Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27, 2017

I cannot believe I'm starting to gather things for February lessons.  The months are just flying by!

Kindergarten writers have been immersed in How Tos this week.  Next week we will pick a piece to publish. As part of our celebration, we will each take our published how to to Ms. McCool's preschool class and share it with a preschooler.  We have been trying to write with that audience in mind this week, and the pieces they've produced would make you chuckle:  "How To Count to 100", "How To Get Your Snowpants On By Yourself", "How to Learn the Colors of the Rainbow" and "How To Be a Good Kindergartner" are a few of our favorites!

We are such awesome skip counters!  We've all learned how to skip count by 5s and 10s to 100--I think everyone has earned that medallion.  Ms. Moran and Mrs. Wegner cannot believe that this class has set two world's records for playing the game "Hot Dog":  1:55 seconds for counting by 10s and 1:56 seconds for counting by 5s.  Amazing!  We have begun learning about skip counting by 2s, something Mrs. Wegner has never taught kindergartners before--it was tricky to teach this skill to many first graders way back when, let alone kindergartners!  We started with our own mittens, which we brought into the classroom and put in a big pile.  We learned that our mittens are paired up.  We also learned that a lot of our body parts come in pairs:  eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc.  By pairing up our mittens, we could count them by 2s.  We circled the numbers on a 100s chart that you need to say to count by 2s, and noticed all kinds of patterns.  We talked about even numbers.  And odd numbers.  When you skip count by 2s, you are saying all of the even numbers.  These kids love to talk about math!  We learned that it's pretty easy to count by 2s at first:  "2, 4, 6, 8, 10..." but then it gets tricky pretty quickly.  We will continue to practice with manipulatives to help us for awhile before we tackle Hot Dog by 2s.

The biggest excitement this week was learning that we will have a new student join our class!  We will welcome Amelia Cain and her parents Tara and Rob to Room L51 on Monday!  Amelia was a visitor in our class last week, and will now be a wonderful addition to our classroom community.  Her big sister Ella is a freshman here, so the family is familiar with Breck, but are newcomers to the Lower School.  I have been so proud of our children, preparing for her arrival.  They want to make certain she has everything she needs when she enters the classroom.  They dictated a list with over 14 items they felt I needed to prepare for her.  I think they've covered all of the bases--they definitely thought of many little touches I hadn't considered.  They are showing such thoughtfulness and kindness.

Valentines' Day is right around the corner, and some of you (or your children) may already be planning your valentines.  We will be sending home a class list and directions for valentines early next week to help in your planning.

Just a reminder--this coming Friday is our next skating day.  This time we are skating in the afternoon, from 2-3.  Please help your child to remember their skates, helmet and bag on Friday! Remember, even if you did not sign up to help tie skates, all are welcome to join us--the more, the merrier!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 20, 2017

January is my favorite month to teach kindergarten!  The children bound back into our classroom ready to tackle new challenges.  For many students, January is a time for enormous growth--both socially and academically.

That is why the Medallion project is so perfect for this time of year!  The medallions have served as an incentive for many children to practice skills they have been working on this year, or to give something brand-new a try.  We have been thrilled to observe children independently practicing skills on their own during choice time, or asking one of us (or a peer) to help practice a skill.  By design, several of the medallions are easier.  Some children need to observe and see what the "lay of the land" is for anything new.  These simpler medallions allow these students to participate in a safe way.  And, if a child has attempted to earn a trickier medallion and needs more practice, they can select an easier one to do for the day while they continue to practice the skills that are still coming.  Interestingly, some children prefer to start with more challenging tasks, and save the ones that are easier for them for the end.  We will extend the chance to earn medallions into February, to give us all a chance to practice and earn all of the medallions we hope to garner!  If your child is one of the many who are working hard to earn the shoe tying medallion, there are lots of great youtube videos that can help. Check out one of these:

In math, we have been busy learning about those tricky teen numbers!  Most two-digit numbers make sense when you say them:  74 is 7 and 4.  89 is 8 and 9.  But when you say 17, you say 7 first!  The teen numbers make no sense to someone just learning them.  But we've been playing lots of games. By showing teen numbers with "ten sticks and extras" (sticks with ten sections connected together and individual sections), the children could see that in the number 17, the 1 is for one ten, and the seven is the seven extras.  Now the children are quite adept at interpreting and creating "fast fingers" numbers.  We flash all of our fingers for tens and then show extras with that many fingers.  We can show fast fingers for any number up to 99!  Next week we will move into numbers beyond 20 up to 100.

In writing workshop, we are writing How-tos, or procedural writing.  We think of something we know how to do, and write a teaching piece so that we can help someone else learn how to do it, too! We are writing pieces that teach how to swim, how to play soccer, how to ice skate, how to make an ice cream cone and a peanut butter sandwich, how to draw cute animals and how to skip count to 100 to name a few!

We are so impressed with the progress each child is making in reading skills.  We continue to focus on the middle (vowel) sounds in words.  Vowel sounds are so tricky!  We are also learning about word families and how they can help us read and write other words.  For example, if we can read/write "cat", then we can also read and write fat, hat, chat and splat!  In reading workshop, we have added another reading strategy buddy:  "Scoopy Whale".  Scoopy reminds us that after we have practiced a book or sentence a few times, we can go back and read more smoothly.  Instead of reading word-by-word, we "scoop" the whole sentence and use our finger in a smooth line.  Eventually we will encourage the children to eliminate using their fingers while reading, to enhance fluency.

Germs are everywhere!  In science, we are learning that 1000 germs can fit across the top of a pencil! They are too tiny for us to see with our eyes alone.  We now know that there are two kinds of germs: bacteria and viruses.  Germs are what make us sick, but there are good germs, too.  We are practicing better hygiene by covering our coughs and sneezes with our elbow and washing our hands more carefully.  We are in the middle of a germ-growing experiment, using bread.  Each child got a piece of bread.  Some of us washed our hands the best way we knew how.  Some of us washed our hands with water only.  And some of us didn't wash our hands at all.  We touched our slice of bread and then placed it in a baggie.  We are watching the slices to see if anything changes this week.

This week we learned about Martin Luther King Jr and the values he worked for.  We created a "people poster", sang a song about Martin, read stories and wrote about keeping his dream alive.  We watched a short video by "Kid President".   The children really enjoyed the video--watch it here!

We have been hosting many student visitors this month, and will continue to do so over the next several weeks.  We have been so proud of how friendly and helpful the children have been to our guests.  By creating such a welcoming environment, our visitors have had very positive experiences!

We also said goodbye to our friend Allison.  Allison is now attending her neighborhood school.  We miss her a lot, and mailed her cards to tell her so.

Here is a message from Mrs. Z:

Calling all BOXTOPS!  Please bring in boxtops by February 14th.  Containers are located in classroom or near door D in the Middle School, .  The money raised by boxtops supports student led Philanthropy Projects.  They do expire, so please bring them so that we can redeem them.  Thanks!