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!