Friday, October 19, 2018

Kindergartners practiced their spatial awareness skills after listening to the book Grandfather Tang’s Story: A Tale Told with Tangrams by Ann Tompert. During Math class, they cut out pieces and arranged their own tangram character or one from the book. Cutting skills, composition, story recall and imagining were all a part of this activity.
Another geometric shape identification task added a “parallelogram” to our list.  The next day, the book The Greedy Triangle provided a cautionary tale for those who are dissatisfied with how they look. This polygon, with some help from a shape-shifter, experienced what is was like to evolve into something else. Serendipitously, Madame’s Latin class introduced characters who experienced one or more metamorphoses of their own as well.

Our theme of “changing” and blended animals was carried through to our Art lesson. The children were asked to  combine attributes of two or more animals to create a new species. Some final critters included a "Reindeer- Dog" (below).

"Giraffe Lizard" 

"Cat Purple Lion"

"Cat Unicorn Squirrel"

Eagle Bat Turkey

"Spider Roli Poli"


Rabbit Dog Fox

A follow up activity with tangrams involved following step-by-step directions to create simple origami. A more complex origami shape, however, was featured in our Circle Time story, The Paper Crane.  It was interesting to hear how many Kindergartners were very suspicious of the stranger that walked into a poor man’s restaurant one day, even after we read the part about the stranger’s kindness toward him. The children predicted that the stranger would rob the proprietor and were pleasantly surprised that he gave the restaurateur a valuable gift instead.

This week’s Science/P.E. class included a trip to Saline Park for a scavenger hunt. The Ks used their handiest scientific tools- their senses to locate a list of items such as colors in nature. They also made time to enjoy its beautiful and large play structure.

Friday Morning, Kindergartners had a change of pace as they ventured to their first Exploratory Block EB classes. These electives are designed to offer K-2s and opportunity to participate in one particular area of interest for 4 one hour sessions. Topics are generally selected from the adults' areas of interest or expertise such as Mrs. Carpenter loves cooking and baking, Grace has a special passion for Music, and Shan’s enjoys engineering and science. Other sessions include stretching the adult into an area they feel that they are not good at or want to learn more about like refurbishing old tee shirts.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Doing Some Good in our Own Neighborhood!

On last Wednesday morning, the Kindergartners ventured out to Normal Park Community Garden in nearby Ypsilanti to weed one of its plots and compost the debris.

Our first stop was to check out the composting bins.

The sunflowers were so burdened with beauty, they could no longer stand erect.
Bursts of color from many types of flowers dotted the garden landscape.

A grasshopper sighting!

Ks also used their entomology skills to identify several other bugs like Monarch caterpillars and crickets found among the plants.

Next, we perused other plots to locate nature's bounty like this bunch of onions. We also made some predictions about what could have used the community garden for its personal salad bar.

Then, it was literally all gloved hands on deck to pull weeds and extra grass.

Some of the children also accepted the role of photographer and documented nature’s finds while using keen eyesight and careful hands.

Phantom in the Garden.- by J.J.

Cutie (caterpillar).- by Alex

Pepper. - by Augustus.

s.y.n.c.o.p.a.t.e.d accordion. -by val

During the entire community service project, Ks were careful to pick only what was needed and tread lightly past other plot areas. Proud Mamas stood like sentinels as they paraded by.

The deed done and off to the compost heap!

A romp in the grass to let off some energy and a victory lap.

A special Thank You to all of the parents who joined us on the trip, captured some of these beautiful photos, and extended high fives as the children ran the bases on the diamond to celebrate all of their hard work!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Let's Pretend....

At the end of last week, Walter, our Head of School, stopped by the K room to share an interesting discovery that he had made. While inspecting the repairs to our south roof of our building, he spied a single gourd nesting among the ivy just outside of our window!  We went out and pondered how it got there then were allowed to pick it for our classroom.

The pumpkin became a very useful prop for our “weighing” activity in Math class. We compared its weight to several of our snack items such as an apple and a red pepper.  We also contrasted its weight to some autumn gifts of an acorn squash and a  tiny pumpkin. Other Math activities included working with a partner to determine a high card/low card otherwise known a “High/Low”.  This game of strategy turned out to be more of a game of chance as the children took turns selecting whether the high or low card would reign before its reveal.  We are practicing number recognition, number value, sequencing, and good sportsmanship as well.

Our “Games Kids Play” Fridays have been wonderful opportunities for the Kindergartners to engage with a classmate that they typically do not play with and to select and learn a different board game than their favorite one, as well as hone counting, spatial awareness, value of money, critical thinking, and one- to- one correspondence skills.

Our Circle Time/Language Arts stories this week have centered around the art of “pretending”. It was interesting to hear the children’s perspectives on this topic. Some were hesitant to suspend belief for even a brief moment. Others stated that pretending was a form of lying, while still others appeared to bask in the thoughts of fantasy and the possibility of 'what if?'.  The books Pretend, The Flying Dragon Room, Ryan’s Quest, and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole all had a central theme of a child’s opportunity to take their adult into the world of make believe!

Speaking of holes, this realm of thought was sparked by Henry who asked an interesting question the other day. “What’s in that (good sized) hole that is located  right outside of our classroom.  I mentioned several critters that I have witnessed scampering across our playground from time to time after hours-a chipmunk, a rabbit, several squirrels, and a family of groundhogs. (None of which, I can say, have I seen in or near the hole, by the way.) As Henry began to speculate, he thought of several ways to find out.  He stated that he would bring in his flashlight from home and take a look.  Later, he and his classmates came up with several reasons why shining a flashlight into the hole might not be a good idea.  We then reflected on those teenage boys, long ago in France, who dropped a torch into a sizable hole, climbed in and discovered the Cave Paintings of Lascaux. (You just can’t plan this stuff, people.) Children have the amazing ability to glean information, ponder it with fresh eyes, and make connections in organic, and marvelous ways. (P.S. We will not be digging and climbing through, however.  Walter’s office overlooks our playground:) 

And while on the subject of the playground, I wish to extend a special Thank You to Lulu’s Mom who weeded our flower bed the other day and gave us mini lessons on cicada’s and their life cycle stages and pointed out invasive plants. She also found the remnant of our rose bush, and cleaned out the debris

from our mulch bed. The Kindergartners will, in turn, be going out on next Wednesday with one of our community partners, Jessica Faul, to do a special gardening service project.

Choice Times were filled with pretend play with babies, “Mommy, Mommy", and animal sounds in the dramatic play area, lounging and tossing soft balls in the quiet corner, puzzle assembly and scrap art frenzies with feathers, scribbles, and lots of tape to decorate our cardboard caves.


Outside, fleets of reigned horses gallop around the  playground.

Individual child/teacher times have included practicing letter recognition, sound identification and beginning sound matching. The children appear to enjoy this one-on-one time to play games and engage in other activities to hone their pre-reading and strengthen reading skills. 

Sharing Day Fridays are opportunities for  the children to bring in a special item from home or to express their thoughts on a topic of interest. This group activity is all child-led and a “facilitator” is selected each week to select the order of participants and move things along. The group has been having wonderful sharings of their treasures such as hand held puzzles, favorite lovies, interesting non-fiction books, and special trains and cool rocks from home collections. Afterward, the Ks take time to allow each other to examine items more closely , if desired. Name recognition, taking turns, and public speaking skills are goals for this engagement.

Homemade Halloween (October 31) was discussed during one group time. This annual event centers around children wearing reused, repurposed or recycled costumes that day versus an expensive or unimaginative new one. The school’s tradition is to parade through the building and out the door over to County Farm Park and back while displaying clever, creative garb that the children make and build at home with their families. It is fun to see what the children come up with as they scour the recycling bin, make trips to the Scrap Box and thrift stores, and come up with something uniquely their own. The Lower School also engages in mini activities in a rotation with the ½ Grade Classes and Teacher Shan. This multi -age exchange is another opportunity to meet and  play with new and varying aged friends in the school. 

EBs Exploratory Block classes will begin this week and for three additional times in the coming weeks. Ks will participate in their same (and ideally first) selection once per week on Fridays and last for one hour. Class sizes are purposefully kept small to allow for better engagement. Other EB Block sessions take place later in the year as well.