Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In Grand (and Charlie Brown) Style!

Our class was honored with visits by Grandparents and Parents, an Aunt, an Older Sister and Friend for this year's "Grand Friends" Day!

We made introductions and interviewed our guests about their own Kindergarten experiences and heard some familiar, funny and surprising responses.  When we asked, "What was it like when you went to Kindergarten?"  We learned that:

"I remember blocks... art. We did a thing called 'finger painting.' We ate cookies and milk. We read early. I remember eating the paste."

"It was fun! I don't remember. There were  lots of friends.  I came from the old country... it was simple...  I remember good times." 

"Kindergarten was so much fun!  I even remember my teacher's name, Mrs. Smith! She was tall, had blond hair and wore really fun glasses!  She was really, really nice.  We painted with our fingers and with brushes.  My Mommy saved something (from my days at kindergarten), a hand print in plaster  and just gave it to me recently.  We would come home for lunch." 

"I had the same Preschool Teacher, Elaine (Neelands) as (Thomas') sister and brother!  We would play in the sand box and dig for rocks at recess.  I was really shy too.  I still read!"

"I didn't go to Kindergarten. I think that my Mom wanted me to stay at home. In first grade their were friends.  We learned our letters.  Reading was fun. I felt kind of small in comparison to the older kids in the school."

"I didn't go to Kindergarten.  I had two years of Preschool.  My Dad insisted I was ready for 1st grade so I had to answer questions in the Principal's office.  I was in a play in front of everybody.  I remember wearing pajamas. I also remember running around at the playground."

Our class listened to a funny and wacky Thanksgiving story, There Was an Old Woman who Swallowed A Pie during Circle Time. 

Afterward, Our Grand Guests were challenged with tackling one of our favorite Math activities-problem solving how to stack up a pyramid of plastic cups.  We shared how Kindergarten Math  may look differently than our Friends might remember.  Kindergartners then demonstrated their ideas for completing the same task.

"Choice Time" included some of our favorite past times-drawing, playing with small cars, browsing through books, and recess.   We also sampled an abundant snack time complete with meat pies, cole slaw,  potato salad, a variety of fruits and veggies, pumpkin bread, and jambalaya along with the usual 'Charlie Brown' fare of pretzels and jelly beans.  We remembered later, however,  that we forgot the toast and popcorn!

Even a Grand Sibling and SK Teachers Elaine and Chris made an appearance that morning! 

Two sets of our Grand Parents even visited us from Colorado via Skype!  This was a fabulous example of use of technology in the classroom.  We were thankful for tech support from Lexi's Mom and Rachel!

Reflecting back on the day, this was one of the most delightful, heartwarming days of the school year so far!  We are so grateful for the many "Grand" families, friends and community partners who impact the lives of our Darling Kindergartners!  Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks so much! 

December Dates at A Glance!

Photo of our 1st snow by the Hubby during his morning walk at Gallup Park

Theme: "Systems"

Tuesday, December 1st     School Resumes
                                    Every Tuesday is "Sharing Day"
                                    Yoga with Dom 2 P.M.  (also December 15th)
Friday, December 4th       Friday Coffee with Joanna
                                    Trip to Wild Swan Theater-Pooh's Honey Pot, 9:30 A.M.
Monday, December 7th     1st Day of Hanukkah
                                     Kindergartners present at Morning Meeting, 8:40 A.M.
Tuesday, December 8th     Trip to the Planetarium and Nat. History Museum, 9 A.M.
Friday, Dec. 11 & 12th         SK All School Play "A Sort of Complete U.S. History"   
Friday, December 18th       Last Day of the Semester, dismissal at 11:30 A.M. 
                                     K-2 Pajama Party & New Pajama donation day  
Monday, December 21st-Monday, January  4th  Winter Break.  School closed

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!              

Friday, November 20, 2015

Flat Stanley is on the Move!

Our study of  "Identity" in Kindergarten includes communication with our extended family and friends.  "Grand Parents," "Grand Friends" and others provide a wealth of experience, knowledge and insight into the "Who We Are."  One way we reach out to loved ones is through our "Flat Stanley" project.  We first read a book titled Flat Stanley:  His Own Adventure by Jeff Brown.  

We found out that the main character, "Stanley," was an ordinary little boy who was accidentally flattened by a bulletin board that happened to fall on him while he was lying in his bed.  He was okay though, and found that his two dimensional state made him just right for traveling by mail. His family began sending him via envelop to different parts of the world. Stanley had extraordinary adventures and then was mailed home after each trip to share his escapades with his family.

Kindergartners are being strategically introduced to Flat Stanley right before the holiday breaks with the hope of Stanley traveling with them to create some new adventures!   Stanley can also be sent to loved ones and friends with the hope that it will be sent back to SK so his/her adventures could be shared with our class on its return.  And who doesn't like receiving a letter in the mail?

In the past, Our Stanleys have traveled to Paris, Japan, the 2nd Inauguration of President Obama, Upper Michigan and the list goes on.  It has had photo ops with the Stanley cup, famous monuments, and lots and lots of friends and relatives and has returned with numerous postcards, souvenirs, and other fun memorabilia.

The Flat Stanley project is a great way to extend our learning about each other, our families, our country and our world.  This activity is perfectly suited to our weekly "Global Experiences" activities and gives us an opportunity to not only increase our understanding of geography and practice our writing skills,  but also allows us to explore our differences and increase our understanding of how much we are actually alike.  It even affords us an opportunity to have adventures that may not otherwise be possible!  Kindergartners can not wait to hear where Stanley travels and have already announced perspective destinations!

Please look for your child's "Flat Stanley Project" envelop in the backpack before Thanksgiving break!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November Dates at a Glance!

November Dates at a Glance!

Monday, November 2nd    No School!  Conference Reviews
Tuesday, November 3rd     No School!  Election Day!
Friday, November 6th        SK Friday Coffee with Joanna!
                                     Ks Field trip in search of "Geometric" shapes, 9:30 A.M.
Tuesday November 10th    YOGA with Dom. 2 P.M. (Also 11/17)
Friday, November 13th      SK MUSIC CAFE, 6:30-8:30 P.M.
Monday, November 23rd   Kindergartners present at SK A.M. Meeting, 8:40 A.M.
Tuesday, November 24th   GRAND FRIENDS DAY!  8:40-12:30 P.M.
Wed.-Fri., Nov. 25-27th      School Closed for THANKSGIVING Break!
Monday, November 30th   School Resumes!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

From Alpha to Heidelberg: Our Search for Shapes!

During several of our Math classes these past weeks, Kindergartners  have been exploring shapes- in particular, three-dimensional shapes.  We compared these types of shapes with our prior knowledge of two-dimensional shape figures and determined that 3D figures not only have height and width but also depth and volume.  We erected several 3D models out of paper and found this activity to be a very challenging (at times) endeavor.  We were pleased, however, when our skepticism was dispelled after our paper (when positioned in the right place) actually turned into something recognizable.  

We also discussed the mathematical terms for these three-dimensional models and had fun saying "rectangular prism, triangular prism, pyramid, cube and sphere".  We decided to seek out examples of these and other shapes.  So on last Friday, Kindergartners took a bus trip excursion around town in search of these elusive geometric wonders.  We passed several possibilities as we meandered through campus including an "oval" rock (that, believe it our not, several of us have painted at varying times),  a very large home with several "cylindrical" pillars as supports, a kiosk,  and a house labeled "Alpha Delta Iota." We determined that the "delta" looked a lot like a 2D triangle shape.

Our trip came full circle when we discovered that this (above) steel sculpture titled, "Daedalus" was named just like the character from the myth Madame told us about in Latin class recently.  Upon close investigation, we noticed that this piece looks a lot  like a broken wing.

We weren't quite sure if we had permission to climb this sculpture but then decided, as Lexi stated, "If they did not want kids to climb on it, they probably wouldn't have put it there."  We liked her answer.  It suited us. 

Our class just had to crunch through all of those yummy fall leaves!  On later investigation, we found at least six different leaf shapes in that one area in front of the Art museum!  The trees that they fell, however,  were not so easy to locate.  In the background and below, we admired  Artist Mark di Suvero's orange sculpture titled Orion.  Suvero is said to use the disciplines of  mathematics, physics, music, and astronomy in his work.  His brightly colored steel structures are sometimes mistaken (even by me) for his predecessor Alexander Calder.  Another piece of his stands watch at the side entranceway.

Inside of the UMMA (University of Michigan Museum of Art), Kindergartners clutched  pin wheels that they had created prior to our trip and commented on various models of Environmental Artist Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project structures on exhibit there.

(Below) A model of one of Guyton's most notable houses-"The Dotty Wotty" house was recognized right away!  (Above)  Kindergartners also noticed that the dot theme carried over to another piece in the exhibit.

A model of one of Guyton's most notable houses-"The Dotty Wotty" house!

Kindergartners and I had a discussion about Artist Tyree Guyton's use of several strategically placed vacuum cleaners over enlarged images of pennies.  I shared how a vacuum cleaner salesman used to go door to door selling their wares and that certain products were known for their quality.  We brainstormed why the artist chose to use the images of  appliances and money.  I predicted that it was possibly due to the fact that vacuum cleaners cost money.  Mr. Guyton's explanation, of course, was  much more profound!

Guess who I met in front of the "Dotty Wotty" House while visiting the Heidelberg Project in 2011? 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

You are cordially invited to Grand Friends Day & Charlie Brown Potluck Feast!

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving *Potluck Feast

Please bring a dish to share and spend the morning with us in the Kindergarten Room 
as we celebrate

 Grand Friends Day on Tuesday, November 24th 2015!
8:40 A.M.-12:30 P.M.

*Please remember that we are a nut free school!

The Grand Friends Day invitation as mentioned in the -"SK News You Should Know"  email sent out recently states that "this event is designed to welcome extended family and friends into the school and celebrate their involvement in your child's life.  Your child's guest may be a Grandparent, but may equally well be a family friend, aunt, or uncle.  Please register your Grand Friends that will be attending at the link provided in the email." 

We hope you can join us or skype in!  Please ask your family to contact me to make skyping arrangements! 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Math Matters Part 2: There is a Pattern to this!

Lila experimented with repeating
 a pattern like one would find in a piece of fabric.
Alex had swords blazing to demonstrate
 his ABBAB pattern.

As stated in a recent blog entry, there are several reasons for and benefits of "hands-on" activities to achieve our Math goals.

Several of our current goals for Kindergarten Math are the ability to:
  • recognize patterns
  • repeat patterns
  • extend patterns
  • apply the use of patterns to another context
 Hands-on activities allow for Kindergartners to experience a math problem in a multiple of ways and by using strength areas.

Ks are still very tactile and can use sensory information to better visualize what is being asked.   Being able to touch and manipulate materials can give a better sense of the problem at hand and allows for safe risk taking for possible solutions.

 Pencil and paper tasks alone may limit the thinking of those children who are somewhat 'perfectionists.'  Hands on problem solving can also provoke creativity and a more relaxed attitude toward Math tasks.

(Right and below) Illustrations and recorded data results of AABC problems invented by two separate  children.

Kindergartners used several household and other materials to   demonstrate a basic AB pattern then more complex patterns.  They also created their own mystery complex patterns for their classmates to solve.  We each recorded our findings and illustrated some of our results.  Some skills applied were visual discrimination, making predictions and logical thinking, discerning spatial relationships, data collection, and risk taking.

One example of the application of "patterning" in another context happened shortly after our lessons. Lila came to school one day and demonstrated to several of her classmates how to make a rubber band chain.   It became quickly apparent that there was a 'pattern' to this technique  and that it was necessary to follow a pattern of execution in order to be successful with attaching the pieces properly.  By the way, the ability to demonstrate a skill to others can be very empowering to a Kindergartner and can demonstrate "true" knowledge and ownership of a concept.  

On another occasion, Kindergartners were individually given the task (with little information as to how) to stack a group of water cups.  They were only given the following prompts-1) the cups must all touch 2) they can be single stacked only 3) all cups of the stack must be used.  After several tries and multiple "patterning" strategies (some inverted every other row of cups) some children settled on a 'pyramid' type of configuration as a solution to their individual  attempts.   The Kindergartners were so intrigued by this activity that they decided to combine their individual stacks to create the (above) structure during their  Choice Time.  This solution took place amongst somewhat heated dialog, failed efforts and retries, and a lot of flying containers.  The Ks appeared pleased with their collective efforts!

During one of our EB (Exploratory Block) sessions, I overheard Oliver state that he was using "AB patterning" to make his Andy Goldsworthy-like nature arrangement.  Another EB'er extended their pattern in a circular design.