How To Get Kindergarteners To Eat Vegetables

Some of you may be wondering what it would take to get your Kindergartener to eat vegetables.  Well, I've found the secret!  

Here are the steps:

1. Meet with Judy to look at a variety of seeds in seed packets.  

2. Choose seeds to plant.

3. Allow the children to do the planting.

4. Water and wait, then wait some more.

5. Watch the young kale, Swiss chard and lettuce plants grow.

6. Encourage the children to weed the garden.

 7. Help the children pick young, tender leaves off the plants.  Avoid the weeds!

 

 

8. Wash the plants and spin them dry in a salad spinner.

 

9. Allow the children use butter knives to cut up bowls of carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.

 

10. Serve everything "salad bar style" so children can choose which veggies to eat with the greens.

 

11. Add cheese, Italian dressing and croutons.

 

 

 

12. Watch the amazing consumption of vegetables by the Kindergarten class!

 

 

 

 

Have fun cooking and gardening with your adorable and capable children this summer!  

Love,

Sharon

Bunnies, Gardens....and Whales!

During the end of April and into May, the Kindergarten class studied rabbits and rabbit habitats.  We compared wild rabbits and their habitats to our resident domesticated bunny, Oscar.  We read lots of fiction and non-fiction rabbit books, drew and painted rabbits that were used as Fun Fair decorations, built fanciful rabbit habitats and observed Oscar in our classroom and as he dug and ate dandelions out in the Peace Garden.  We shared what we had learned about rabbits at Meeting for sharing, too.  We also had the opportunity to observe baby rabbits grow large enough to leave their nest--it was built right in the middle of Judy's kitchen garden!  It was all very exciting! As a culminating activity the children stuffed and sewed eyes on small felt bunnies that were sent home as a momento of this theme.  Thanks to the grandparents and friends who helped us with the sewing! 

  
                    
 

 

 

 

With all members of the class able to read books with confidence, we shared our skills by partner reading with the Bumblebee and Firefly classes.  The younger children enjoyed having books read to them by the "big kids" and the Kindergarten had the opportunity to practice newly learned skills.  It was wonderful seeing the class reading and sharing "just right" books with younger school friends!

Kindergarten also spent a lot of time working in the class garden.  We read garden books, learned how seeds form, made a garden sign, planted kale, lettuce, tomatoes and sunflowers, weeded our garden regularly (and other garden beds around the campus), and created a garden mural in the school's dining area (see article in the May/June newsletter).  

As interest in the gardens/rabbits waned, I asked the class what they wanted to learn about in our last two weeks of school.  After just a little bit of discussion the class decided they would like to know more about whales! I brought in my large collection of whale books and a whale poster I had at home, then we were off on a short ocean adventure to end our school year.  We measured the length of a blue whale (over 100 feet!) in the school hallway, learned quite a bit about marine mammals and the defining characteristics of mammals in general, and watched videos of whales spy-hopping and tail flipping. The class also created a small ocean poster and shared whale facts (that they wrote all by themselves) at Fairville's final Meeting for Sharing.  

During the last week of school, we had a final publishing party so the children could share one of their fictional stories (either a bunny or an airplane story) with their families.  I was happy that so many of you were able to attend so you could see just how far our young readers and writers have come during the school year.  It has been a year of tremedous academic growth!  I have enjoyed every minute of working with your children and watching their skills develop.  Thank you so much for sharing them with me!

 

Fantastic Flying Machines

When asked where they would like to go on a journey, the Kindergarten class had difficulty thinking of a destination.  It was my plan to study some geographic area, but that was not what appealed to the children---they wanted to study airplanes and things that fly---it didn't matter where the flying machines were going, it was getting there that intrigued this class.  So, off to the library I went in search of a collection of books on airports, airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons and other objects that fly or float in the air.

We began our study by talking about air currents and air pressure and how understanding the way air moves was important when humans were trying to develop the first aircraft.  We learned about the Wright Brothers and conducted some experiments with air pressure and air currents. We figured out how to create objects that could float or glide along on the air (e.g. parachutes, kites, paper airplanes).  We read books about airplanes and airports, learned the names of the parts of a commercial airplane and created our own miniature wooden aircraft. We painted a sky mural in the dramatic play area and filled it with child created paper flying objects.  We built an airport in our classroom using blocks and set up an air traffic control station and a ticket desk that was used regularly to schedule flights to wherever our imaginations could take us! We found a bunch of cardboard boxes in the recycling and used them to make our own flying machine (although in the end the process was more fun the product). We read about helicopters and how rotors are designed to allow helicopters to fly vertically, and then spent a couple of afternoons flying whilygigs and flying discs all over the playground. Later, we made two varieties of paper kites and tried flying those around outdoors as well.

We read tons of non-fiction and fiction books about flying machines and flights of fancy during this unit. We wrote our own fictional air travel stories, too! It was a fun unit and one that proved difficult to bring to an end---there is just so much to learn and so much to do!  

Eggs and Chicks

The last two weeks before Spring Break were filled with many, many hands-on opportunities to experiment with and observe eggs and record the life cycle of baby chicks.  In the Kindergarten class we began by exploring chicken eggs (unfertilized of course) as we waited for our fertilized chicken eggs to hatch.  We rolled and spun hard-boiled eggs and raw eggs to observe which type of egg rolled/spun more quickly.  We cracked eggs to look at the yolks and albumen, experimented with floating and sinking eggs, and plunked an egg in a glass of vinegar to see what would happen.  We used observation journals to record our findings and make predictions, and we spent time in the Meetingroom watching and waiting for the chicken eggs to hatch.  We predicted which egg would hatch first based on subtle movements we noticed during our observations.  As we all know, nature can be a bit unpredictable and although our eggs were expected to hatch on Monday, all twelve baby chicks decided to arrive on Sunday evening!  We came in on Monday to an incubator filled with exhausted little chicks in the process of recovering from a difficult evening!  

Since we missed this year's miracle, we located a video of the hatching of our spring 2012 chicks and shared it with the children during Meeting. Kindergarten was fascinated by the process of egg to chick, so we created a life cycle poster to help us remember how quickly the chicks grow.  We also drew, painted and crafted chicks during art time. We used plastic eggs for counting and to practice adding combinations of coins during math. We also wrote and then tucked messages of kindness inside the eggs before they were hidden in the play yard. The children enjoyed finding the eggs and then reading the messages inside them.

We also visited the baby chicks every day to watch them grow stronger and to observe their white wing feathers start to grow!  To end our study, we acted out the story of The Little Red Hen, with impromptu chicken costumes created by the children. 

All in all, it was a fantastic hands-on and integrated learning experience for the Kindergarteners---and for all of the children at Fairville!

   

It's a Mystery!

Thoughout the school year on Thursday or Friday afternoons, the Kindergarten students have enjoyed having mystery readers arrive at the door of the classroom with exciting books in their hands! Mothers, big brothers, Fairville teachers, and grandparents have all volunteered to be classroom Mystery Readers this year. Some readers have arrived equipped with a special project, others have come in costume, others have come with books to donate to the classroom library, and others have come just for the pleasure of reading a favorite story to the willing listeners in our class.  The Mystery Reader program is not my original idea; it is however an idea which I believe works very well for children this age. The Kindergarten students love trying to guess who the reader will be and have learned to asked great questions to uncover the reader's identity. In fact, it is getting increasingly difficult to keep the Mystery Reader a secret until the end of the school day!

The Mystery Reader program is another way in which we make books, reading and listening to stories come alive for the five-year olds in our program. If you are interested in being a Kindergarten Mystery Reader, please let me know! The children and I would love to have you come in and read to us!

Woodland Animal Project and Publishing Party

During the months of January and February the Kindergarten students were hard at work on a woodland animal project as part of their language arts and science learning. Each child chose an animal to study and then developed questions to guide their learning, such as: "What does a squirrel eat?", "Do snakes come out at night?", or "Where do foxes live?" Teachers helped the children search through a large collection of non-fiction library books to find the answers to their questions. The students then drew an illustration and added words to their drawings to answer whatever question they had asked. Each child asked at least four questions about their animal of choice. When all four questions were answered, the questions, illustrations and answers were assembled into an "All About" booklet. The children loved being animal expers and the authors of their own factual booklets. When all of the books were finished, we invited the parents into the classroom for a publishing party. The parents got to hear children read their books, then everyone celebrated with a snack of muffins that were baked by the children with help from Judy.  Building excitement for the reading and writing processes is one of the primary goals of our Kindergarten language arts program. The children are very proud of their developing skills and delighted when they have the opportunity to share what they are learning in the classroom. We are looking forward to our next opportunity to invite the families or others in the school community into our classroom!

Happy New Year!

Math

In math this month, we continued working on number identification, 1 to 1 correspondence and proper number formation with numerals 11-20.  We enriched the math curriculum by reading fun math literature such as, Ten Black Dots, 12 Ways to Get to 11, One Moose, Twenty Mice and The Twelve Days of Kindergarten.  Your children love being read to! The children practiced finding compliments of ten by playing various partner games with dice and fun manipulatives (animals and cars).  They counted 11 blocks on a number line and then made their own sculptures out of these blocks.  The children were so proud of their sculptures.  Taking a photo of these designs increased the excitement factor of this activity! The class practiced correct number formation by creating their own unique playing cards.  They will be coming home soon for all to enjoy a fun and educational game of “go fish”. We have continued to send home an estimation jar with a child to fill with small objects.  If you have not received the jar home yet, it will be coming home soon. 

Art

Oh boy, your children are creative! They absolutely love anything and everything that has to do with art.  It is such a joy to watch their creativity bloom! This month we created popsicle stick snowflakes by assembling, painting, and decorating them.  They are adding sparkle to our classroom as they hang from the ceiling.  We were hoping these snowflakes would help bring some snow for us to play in and enjoy.  We also enjoyed the story Snowballs and created our own unique snowperson.  We thoroughly enjoyed all the materials available to make it our own. 

Science

Our focus this month was on snow, ice and salt.  We learned all about what happens to water when it freezes by conducting a hands-on science experiment.  We filled water bottles with water and set them outside over night to observe what happened to the water when it froze.  We were all excited to gather those water bottles and use our senses to observe the results of our experiment.  Ask your child, “What happens to water when it freezes?" We also learned about what salt does to ice.  We conducted two experiments. We observed how fast ice cubes melted in our classroom, one sprinkled with salt and one without.  The children were amazed how ice cubes attached to a piece of yarn after salt was sprinkled on them.  They all took turns lifting the yarn and attached ice cubes out of the water.  The excitement was evident by the expressions on their faces and the oohs and aahs. The salt experiment carried over into art.  The children sprinkled salt on their watercolor paintings.  We watched with amazement as he salt reacted with the watercolors and made our paintings amazing!

Literature Based Activities

Our playground has been so muddy this month, that we thought we should talk a bit about mud.  The children enjoyed reading Mrs. Wishy Washy together.   We practiced reading and spelling simple text from the literature.  The children illustrated their own Mrs. Wishy Washy book.  By reading these books aloud, the children gained confidence in their reading abilities. They were so proud of the words they could read all on their own.  Have your child read books with simple text repeatedly, even if it is memorized.  This activity will build his/her confidence as a reader. 

The children enjoyed a poem and book about Groundhog Day. Every child made a prediction and we tallied the results.  The children made groundhog puppets.  Scenes for their groundhogs were created.  These scenes allowed their groundhog to “pop out” of his burrow.  This is where their creativity flowed.   Homes with pop out doors, underground tunnels and clothing were created for these groundhogs.  They truly amazed me with their creativity!!  

 

A Busy End to 2012!

The Kindergarten classroom was abuzz with activity in late November and December. We welcomed seven teacher applicants into the class to teach sample lessons. All of the candidates were very friendly and demonstrated their skills and talent for working with young children. Near the end of December we hired our new Kindergarten teacher, Susan Holland, and invited her to spend the last three days of school with us. Susan and I planned a three-day mini-unit on bread to make those three days both fun and engaging. We baked cinnamon bread, taught the children about the properties of yeast, and then shared our delicious bread with the rest of the classes. Susan read several bread-related stories (Walter the BakerThe Gingerbread BoyThe Gingerbread Baby) and then we complemented the reading and baking activities with literacy and math activities.  It was a wonderful way to end my temporary teaching assignment in the Kindergarten! I am delighted that Susan will be here full time beginning in January and happy that I will still have the opportunity to teach each morning during the language arts block.

Language Arts

This month the children listened to many picture books and one chapter book about woodland animals. Favorite stories were Those Darn Squirrels, Stranger in the Woods, Little Owl's Night, and Lulu and the Brontosaurus. We acted out several versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, created our own story ("Goldie, Goldilocks and the Bears") and then turned it into a play that we shared with our families and the rest of the school. Each child also made their own "beginning, middle, end" woodland story, helped write several thank you notes and holiday cards, and continued to add pieces of writing to their writing workshop folders. We also reviewed strategies already learned and learned a few new strategies to help the children along in their journies toward becoming independent readers and writers:

 

  • Readers make "movies in their minds" as they read to help them follow story content; writers plan out their stories (with beginnings, middles and ends) before they write.
  • Readers reread a sentence if it doesn't make sense; writers reread what they have written to make sure they have put all of their words on the page.
  • Readers and writers are brave; they try new and more challenging books and try to write more words independently during writing time.

 

In phonics we added several new words to our trick word wall and added digraphs (th, sh, wh, ch, ck), bonus letters (f,l,s) and our first three glued sounds (am, an, all) to our letter board.  We practice trick words and letter board sounds several times each week. Many children are beginning to transfer what they are learning in phonics to their independent reading and writing. Please be mindful that transferring skills takes time and patience; please support your young reader/writer no matter where they are in the learning-to-read process. 

There were other literacy-related activities that took place during the month. For example, the class made blueberry muffins with Judy using a recipe from one of our Goldilocks and the Three Bears books. We read a version of The Nutcracker and watched a short video clip of the ballet, then took a class trip to see a performance by local ballet students. Were were also fortunate to have several Mystery Readers join the class to share a favorite book: Jason Astle read Put Me in the Zoo, Jennifer Cottone shared The Paper Bag Princess, Taryn Sutch read The Lorax, and Jennifer Astle shared The Mitten. The class really enjoys having Mystery Readers and are quite clever at asking questions that will help them figure out who will be reading. Please let me or Susan know if you would like to read any Thursday or Friday afternoon around 2:45. We would love to have you!

Math

We spent most of our time in math this month working on number identification and one-one correspondence with numbers 11-20 and working with number combinations for numbers 0-10 (and beyond where appropriate). The children practiced finding all of the complements of 5 in several activities, then moved on to finding the complements of 10. The class created patterns with a defined number of tiles, counted forward and backward on a number line and played various number counting and sorting games. We also learned how to play several board games to practice numbers, counting dice, taking turns, sharing and following simple rules. We sent home an estimating jar with two students this month so they could fill the jar with small objects that we could first estimate and then count. The jar will be sent home with students on a rotating basis.

Art

The entire Kindergarten class worked together to plan the woodland mural that is hanging on the classroom wall. The mural served as a backdrop for our plays, both formal and impromptu, and will provide a habitat for the woodland creatures the children will create in conjunction with our January non-fiction writing unit.

Mary Merkle taught several art lessons on painting with acrylics this month. Then each child made his or her own painting on canvas as a holiday gift, wrapping it with love in homemade wrapping paper that the class created. 

Given the option to choose an activity, this class almost always chooses drawing or painting. It is so much fun seeing what the children will create!

Outdoors

The K's love playing outside and use all areas of the campus.  Some favorite areas are the farm yard (especially the farm house) the bike path, and "hideouts" in the taxi yard.  We have done some of our math and writing work outdoors as well, using the Peace Garden benches as a gathering spot.

Thank You

Special thanks to all of the K parents for your support during my search for a new Kindergarten teacher and for being willing to help out in a mulititude of ways during the time I spent teaching in the classroom. You were there with kind words, helping hands, and always with a positive attitude. I appreciate all you do for the school, for me personally, and for your children. You are a wonderful group of parents and I feel blessed to know you!

A Visit from the Worm Lady

Hetty Franke came to Fairville on Thursday morning to teach the Kindergarten more about recycling and composting. She explained how important it is for us to do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle in order to keep the earth a healthy place for all.  She explained that recycling is just like any other habit: The more you do it the easier it becomes! Hetty brought her indoor worm bin with her.  She dumped it out onto the table so the children could see the worms and the organic material the worms in her bin are currently eating. We learned how to find the mouth on a worm and how to determine what can and cannot be tossed into the worm bin.  At the end of the morning we had the opportunity to make our own worm bin to keep at the school.  We always have plenty of fruit and vegetable scraps at Fairville so vermi-composting seems like a natural step for us! We are currently awaiting a delivery of 500 red wigglers---our worm bin should become a lot more active this week!

We Know Letters, Sounds...and Shapes!

Language Arts

The Kindergarten class was very excited when we added the last few letters to our alphabet board. The children are now able to recite every lower case letter, along with all keywords and short letter sounds. We celebrated by spending last week looking at a large collection of alphabet books, which allowed us to put our skills into practice. Knowing short letter sounds is important and is helping the children begin to decode simple text.  Each week we also add new words to our trick word board.  When the children memorize trick words and also know how to decode many CVC words, they become more confident in their abilities as beginning readers.  In reading workshop, we are now ready to start teaching more strategies for decoding:

  • Good readers take a book walk to look at the illustrations for clues about story content.
  • Good readers study illustrations and use what they learn to help decode difficult words.
  • Good readers take their time and s-t-r-e-t-ch out words letter by letter to see if they can figure them out.
  • Good readers look for trick words that they already know when they are reading.

In writing workshop we use many of the same skills to encode the sounds we hear within each word when we write.  Last week the class made a memory book for Anne Marie.  They wrote heartfelt messages to accompany their illustrations.  All the children were proud to show Anne Marie the book, and she was delighted to receive this very sweet and personal gift.

Math

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For the past two weeks we have been focusing on shapes.  We drew and cut out shapes to make our own shape pictures (They are hanging in the classroom).  We used templates to draw shapes and searched magazines and catalogs for shapes that matched the shape of our posterboard cutouts. We played shape attribute games and used a variety of manipulatives (Magna-tiles, blocks, geoboards and rubber bands, etc.) to learn or refresh our memories regarding the numbers of corners and sides various shapes contain.  We also continue to focus on number order and number recognition with numbers 0-20.

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Science updates in the Kindergarten

The Kindergarten was excited to choose and befriend a "class tree" that they would be studying as Scientists through the school year. The first task was to draw its portrait from life in the late summer (September), before the leaves changed. That artwork is exhibited in the slide show. The students enjoyed noticing details that were specific to this unique and quaint tree in the barn yard.

Also, as part of the Science unit "Friends of Nature Through the Year," the students received their official "Science kits." Ready with magnifying glasses, journals, crayons and investigative minds, the students have explored outdoors in teams of two. We have paid special attention to the fact that Scientists observe details!! So, the students have been excited to seek out the details of the natural world around them, with the help of those magnifying glasses, and a more patient eye.

The slide show depicts the students sharing their discoveries, with everyone getting a turn, and everyone truly interested in the findings!

The Still Life was set up for the students to draw with the goal of including as much detail as possible. The students were up to the challenge, and it was a first-time challenge, but they as ever gave genuine effort.

Beginning Mindfulness in the Kindergarten

Step by step, the Kindergarten has been introduced to the practices and ideas of Mindfulness; an area that is increasingly meaningful to educators and administrators as it pertains to childhood education. The students have been very receptive to a daily practice of quiet time, deep belly breathing, and occasionally listening to a guided meditation on CD from Linda Lantieri's Building Emotional Intelligence. The narrator walks them through a whole-body relaxation exercise.

We have explored the ideas: What do our bodies feel like when we are relaxed, worried, happy, tired?

What can we do when we are angry, sad; what can help us?

The books by Gail Silver, Anh's Anger and Stepping Stones, have been received with enthusiasm and curiosity. In Anh's Anger, the main character, Anh, actually spends time with his anger, which is visually represented. As they spend time together, stomp, breathe together, the anger slowly shrinks and disappears. The students made their own visual representations of an "angry anger" and a more "calm/no anger," which you will see in the slideshow. 

This has been a positive beginning for everyone to a practice that will be of life-long benefit.

First Publishing Party a Success!

On Friday morning the Kindergarten class held a publishing party to celebrate the writing they have been doing during Writing Workshop. Each student chose a piece of writing to share with the class and then read their work from a special author's chair.  The audience practiced attentive listening and/or participated by asking the authors questions about their writing or illustration.  A round of applause was given to each author to show appreciation for their hard work. 

After all of the children finished reading, we met for a special snack of banana muffins, tangerines, and orange juice or sparkling apple juice.  We celebrate the children's writing throughout the school year to show our appreciation for the developing skills of our very young writers and to give the children an opportunity to practice public speaking skills.  As the school year progresses, parents will be invited to join us for our publishing parties. The Kindergarteners are eager to learn more about writing and are already looking forward to our next publishing event!

Math and Language Arts Updates

Reading Workshop

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Our Kindergarten readers are making nice progress during individual reading practice. We have been learning good reading habits such as:

  • protecting our precious reading time by staying focused during individual reading time
  • remembering that good readers read all the time and share their reading with others
  • using one-to-one correspondence when reading to ensure that we are reading only the words that are actually on the page
  • stretching our "reading muscles" so we can read for longer time frames

When the children are able to accurately read a book that they have chosen, they are given the opportunity to bring the book home to share with family members. We trust that you will encourage your emergent reader by providing positive feedback for their efforts, and that you will return classroom books promptly so they can remain in circulation. Thank you!

Writing Workshop

We are in our initial phase of teaching writing workshop strategies. The children are learning that they need to rely on their understanding of letter sounds to add words and/or labels to their illustrations. Writing words on thier own, using invented spelling, will become easier for the children once we have covered all vowel and consonant sounds in our phonics lessons. The entire class enjoys sharing their illustrations and writing when we offer a sharing session at the end of the morning.  Next week we will have our first official publishing party, which is a small celebration of the children's work.  Later in the year, when we expect to have more words on the paper, we will invite you to join us for our publishing parties.

Phonics

We have introduced the following letters/keywords/letter sounds:  t-top-/t/, b-bat-/b/, f-fun-/f/, n-nut-/n/, m-man-/m/, c-cat-/c/, a-apple-/a/, i-itch-/i/, r-rat-/r/, o-octopus-/o/, g-game-/g/.  We practice the letters, letter sounds and keywords nearly every day and expect that all children will memorize them with repeated practice. In addition to the white boards discussed in an earlier blog, we also use alphabet letter trays.  The children are getting good at matching letters to the alphabetized key on the tray and at pulling letters to the bottom of the tray according to directions ("Find the letter that says /f/" or "Find the letter whose keyword is itch"). Forming the letters correctly takes repeated practice; we are working on this each week using dry erase boards and a workbook.  We notice progress every time we include this in our instruction. 

Math

For the past two weeks Kindergarten has been using the numbers 0-20 in a variety of math activities and games to help develop number recognition, counting, ordering, graphing and for telling number stories.  For now we are focusing more intently on numbers 0-9, especially for number formation.  A favorite activity was graphing our class pets---we learned that we have more dogs among the members of our class than any other species, with a total of 10.  We were surprised to learn that we also have 3 frogs living in the homes of our class members--which I suspect is atypical!

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Science in the Kindergarten Class

Science in the Kindergarten Class:
The first topic of science in the Kindergarten class was the ocean. We explored many children's books on the topic, and we shared our own experiences of being by the ocean, the sea, or some type of water-related-fun experiences.

This felt board helped us in our exploration of matching living things with their appropriate habitats ("homes").

After the students considered what creatures live in the ocean, they decided on their own to add to our class ocean.

The students' fine motor skills were very impressive as they made a large (or small) version of their chosen creature, cut out the shape, traced the first shape, and cut out the second identical shape. Then, they chose their colors and designs; independent of adult input. After the drying process, I did the stuffing and stapling. Then, the students put their final touches on their creations before they were added to swim in the ocean.

As a whole class, the students shared "something their ocean creature knows that we don't!" in addition to any other scientific or imagination-filled information.

 

Social Studies Unit: Caring for Ourselves and Each Other

Social Studies in the Kindergarten Classroom: The opening Social Studies unit topic in the Kindergarten classroom focused on "Caring for Ourselves and Others," and the ground-up creation of the class rules.


The creation of the class rules was a process that spanned over two weeks. It began with exploring children's literature in which the characters had hopes that they pursued. Then, the students expressing their uniques hopes for the school year during a formal class segment. The chart in the slide show is the product of that shared experience.

Then, the students spent time expressing their hopes in pieces of art that were displayed on the entry level of Fairville. We held a "gallery visit" to the students' work and each student told us about more about his or her art, and fielded questions. I photographed the artwork and attached the miniaturized versions onto the paper lanterns display that illuminates the classroom with the students' hopes and dreams. They enjoy seeing this every day very much. It is a visual validation of their valued presence, and their collective hopes.

We connected the possibility of their hopes and dreams happening within a class environment in which we care for ourselves, each other, have fun; an environment that is safe and supportive. It became clear that class rules help all of this to happen!

First, we used a formal class segment (these 'whole-class brainstorms' happen within ten minutes) to respond to questions that I posed. The chart in the slideshow reflects less of the outcome than do the illustrations from the chidren! The children illustrated distinct ways that keep us safe and able to learn best.

Finally, as a class, we reflected on the illustrations, and came up with "simple" ways to state important class rules. The rules came directly from the students. I just wrote them!
Each student signed the class rules on the premise that they agreed with each one, and understood their responsibility to follow the rules. We discussed how following the rules shows how we care for ourselves, each other, and to allow our hopes and dreams to happen!
All grown-ups involved in the classroom eventually signed the rule sign too!

We further explore the rules in "Conflict Resolution Theater;" the students act out scenarios that are, or are not, following the rules. This has been a hit! Continued, daily, reflection and application of the student-generated rules are important emotional and social skills to build.

The "Helping Hands" chart reflects how we share responsibilities as a community that cares for each other. The jobs are rotated on a weekly basis.

First Week in Kindergarten

Dear Kindergarten Families,

It is a privilege and a delight to work with your children! I am grateful to be welcomed at Fairville.

Please enjoy the slideshow below from the first week of school.

I encourage you to discuss with your child their "Hopes and Dreams" artwork!

This was the first step in the process of creating student-generated classroom rules. There is more to come!

 

Off to a Great Start!

Dear Kindergarten Families,

I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with your children this week as I introduced them to some of the routines and procedures we will be following for phonics, reading, writing and math.  Here is a synopsis of our first lessons:

Phonics using Wilson FunDations:  This week the children met my stuffed Snowy Owl, Echo, and his friend Baby Echo.  The children practiced echoing the letters, keywords and letter sounds that Echo introduced: t, top, /t/ and b, ball, /b/.  Children had opportunities to be the "teacher" and lead the class through the echo/respond portions of the lesson.  While this isn't much fun when we only have two letters to practice, it gets to be a coveted classroom job when the list of known letters grows longer!  Children also used dry erase writing boards to practice making lower case t's and b's, using the correct pencil grip as they wrote. The routines we established this week will continue throughout the school year.

Reading Workshop: We learned a few things that good readers do in our first Reading Workshop mini lessons. First, we learned that when someone is reading aloud it is important to be an attentive listener. We also learned that when we don't have time to finish a book in one sitting, it's important to look back so we can recall details before we continue reading.  Readers practiced staying in their reading spots and reading quietly while teachers were busy conferring with other students.  The children also learned that everyone will have an opportunity to read with an adult. 

Writing Workshop: Each student was given a writing folder and introduced to special writing paper. Lessons focused on writing about what we know and what we have actually done rather than about things we haven't ever experienced.  Children were encouraged to add words or initial sounds to their drawings. We provided the children with two strategies to use when they think a piece is finished: add more details to their picture or add more words.  When children decide that their piece is truly finished, then their job is to begin a new piece until Writing Workshop ends.

Mathematics:  During our first week in math we focused on attributes of objects, especially determining if two objects were "exactly the same" or "the same except..."  The children played with plastic bugs and plastic dinosaurs, then searched the gross motor room to find two animals that were exactly the same.  They practiced describing the animals to me using attibute words (color, size, shape, etc.).  We also made two-dimensional pictures with mosaic squares.  Children worked with a partner and tried to make their pieces of art look exactly the same.  We also built with a wide variety of three dimensional objects, again in pairs, trying to build exactly the same structures.  We finished the week with matching games and conversation to assess the students' understanding of the topics we studied during the week.  Next week we will be using manipulatives for counting and to play games that will help us assess the children's understanding of one-one correspondence as well as their facility with numbers 1-10.

I hope I haven't provided you with too much information! I promise to be more concise as time passes---I'm just a tiny bit excited that I am able to work directly with your children and in partnership with Anne Marie!

Warmly,

Sharon