Thursday, September 27, 2018

October Dates at a Glance!

Sunset over Columbus. Saturday, September 21st

Kindergarten Theme:  "Impressions!"

Wednesday, October 3rd  Composting at Normal Park Garden, 9-11
Friday, October 5th          K-2 EB (Exploratory Block) classes begin-10/12, 19 and 11/2
October 8th-12th             Kindergarten Parent/Teacher Conferences
Monday, October 15th      No School. P/T Conference Write ups
Wednesday, October 17th Harvesting & Trip to Food Gatherers w/ Jessica F.
Friday, October  26th       Three Cedars Pumpkin Orchard, 9 A.M.-2 P.M.
Wednesday, October 31st Home-Made Halloween. Wear your recycled/reused ! 

Do something you love and you will never work a day...

What does it mean when you don’t even realize it’s Friday already?  Probably that you were involved in some really engaging activities.

It appeared so in the K room as everyone seems to have settled into our new routines.  It’s also possible it is because our week began in such a lovely way.

On Monday, Lynn’s Grandma happened to assist Dad with drop off and graciously agreed to read our Circle Time story.  (Former Kindergarten Teachers can always perform at the drop of a hat!:)  She shared the gorgeous book, I Know An Old Man Who Painted the Sky by Teri Sloat that tells about a mysterious painter who leaves a gorgeous memory inside of the walls of a cave. Grandma also shared some of her teaching memories and donated a lovely book about Kindergarten to our class!

During Language Arts, Kindergartners participated in their first brainstorming session on project ideas.  It was interesting to see that they were more interested in the “cave” idea than I initially thought (in other words, they never bring it up on their own) but all had the idea for caves in their suggestions.  A delivery of piles of large boxes (thanks to our very resourceful parents) piqued some curiosity.

The designing of a  bunch of pastel cave drawings to decorate to the cave walls developed. Serious attempts at problem solving cave construction was observed later in the week as two friends attempted to assemble one very large crate with a glue stick. “It’s not workin’” was overheard in the process.  Try, fail, try again, ask for help, try are all a part of the process during project planning and development. It is sometimes difficult to step back as a teacher and patiently wait to be brought into the process of planning. It is, however, very rewarding when children create their own ideas and nurture them, enthusiastically tackle problems and run with ideas… and tape…. and markers…. and scissors….(well, maybe not “run” with scissors), and receive subtle suggestions and hints from big people and then do what they do best! 

During another Circle Time, our class was tasked with creating the SK weekly “chalkboard prompt” located at the front entrance of the school. Several ideas were offered.

How does the pollen get from flower to flower?”
“Is Uranus hot or cold”
“How are Legos built?”
“How does the Sun keep hot”
“How does the Earth turn to night time?”
“How  are the planets lined up?

We talked about the difference between an open-ended question versus a short answer version when trying to engage others. We also discovered that there is a possible need for our class to have an upcoming  “Space” theme unit. We are also planning to study flowers and other plants as well to compliment our activities about gardening and the Harvest! 

During Math, Ks worked on teamwork and collaboration as they took turns tracing each other’s bodies. It was fascinating to watch each child wait diligently in order to connect their line to the former.  It was also fun to see the finished and unique human body figures. Later in the week, Kindergartners worked in pairs with their ⅞ Buddies Mark, Lucas, and Ramsey, to measure the length of their figures using standard (rulers and yard/meter sticks)  and non standard methods (unifix cubes.) Our figures' next destination was up on the ceiling of our classroom thanks to Graham’s Dad!  And on his birthday at that!

Recess times were filled with jumps off of the big log, scooter riding, chase games, and the mixing of potions.  The Kindergartners scraped chalks into powders and sought out all collections of rain water from buckets and pails to stir into many odd concoctions. Later, a mysterious  sprinkling of glitter appeared in the sand (i will have to remember to take the rest of it out of my pocket before i wash my dress:) and was added to the brew. We are spending increasing quality time with our Preschool Neighbors in the warm and sunny remnants of Summer.

Our Wednesday morning included a visit from Graham’s Dad, Mike, who tested our knowledge of our senses.  Ks had a smell and taste test to differentiate between salt and sugar, had their ears checked by a device attached to Dr. Mike’s phone (he’s an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor),  and  later graduated us to the role of surgeons for various and spontaneous conditions like  broken bones and appendicitis.  We, of course, suited up in scrubs, gloves and gowns after pretending to wash our hands very well.  (Kindergartners sometimes know about the pretending part, and back to the restrooms they go!)  Ks saved our Madeleine doll’s life several times and she has the stuffed scar to prove it! Our presentation also included a fun craft project of identifying the major parts of the lung and then building a healthy “lung” using a paper bag and a straw.  The children also used their healthy and strong lung power to inflate and deflate its air sacs.

The story Stellaluna by Janell Cannon offered us an opportunity to compare and contrast bats with birds. We also found out some differences between fruit bats and other species. Additionally, we discussed the end papers, title and dedication pages, and (sometimes subtle) supplementary illustrations in picture books.  Our first set of “sight words” included “bat” and other “at” words.

K quote of the week said in a rather matter- of- fact way to an apparently over zealous opponent during  a game of Parcheesi, “You’ve gotta have good sportsmanship….(long pause) I’m just sayin.”-J.J.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Caves, Inches, Monkeys and other Things!

Kindergartners began their second week of school with some mixed emotions throughout the week.  Ks are still mostly excited and perky while learning routines and congealing as a group. They are also experiencing some "buyers remorse" and teariness that is very typical during this time as well. I promise that all is well and that your K will let go of your pant legs really soon. When their trusted adult continues to tell and show them that they have faith in them, the children begin to trust in themselves too. It even happened already! We were having so much fun on Wednesday, that we could not believe that the day had gone by so quickly and parents had arrived for pick up in no time at all, it seemed!

Circle Time stories centered around being a Kindergartner, physical growth, and cave art. We found out that children weren't the only ones who had First Day Jitters.  We read a hilarious Mo Willems inspired tale of name calling titled We are Growing by Laurie Keller. Later we used computer technology to access a video about a virtual tour of the Caves of Lascaux and discussed why the cave shown on tours is only a "simulation" or model. We found out that there are many reasons that the actual cave discoveries are reclosed to the outside world- i.e. air, dust, footprint exposure and how our breath, touch, presence, and other elements can impact and alter ancient cave images in significant ways. We will be constructing our own mammoth-sized "caves" and are already talking about what our class' "docents" will present to our impending visitors.

This week's Math activities have included "Games Kids Play" (Fridays) to promote teamwork, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. These activities are a great way to demonstrate that Math is everywhere!  Kindergartners used counting up, logical reasoning, sequencing, visual discrimination, predicting, counting money, and spatial awareness skills in order to problem solve while playing Monopoly, Socken Zocken, Pengaloo and Robot Turtle with partners.

Another day, Ks tried to "Guess Lynn's Mystery Number" (between 1-30) while practicing number recognition and a process of elimination. She stumped the panel, however, even after two rounds of predictions. Yet another day, a game of "21" provided a victory for the Kindergartners against me 'the house' as two friends managed to create combinations of our designated total of 12 using playing cards! Assigning values to symbols like J (Jack) equals 10 is also good practice for preAlgebra classes! One to one correspondence was also used to assist with counting up.

Other Math activities included converting "inch worms" to ruler lengths, a foot to yardstick length and scale models of full body figures. We applied our detail studies of human figures to full length body tracings of each other as a group effort.  Next week, we will be applying both standard and nonstandard methods to measure just how tall we really are.

During Language Arts, individual initial letter (upper and lower case) and letter sound recognition assessments was performed to better serve individual reading readiness needs. We work on this skill throughout the school year as a foundation for and to support formal reading and writing tasks.

A follow up activity for our book selection  Monkey See, Monkey Draw involved creating hand print animal creations like the author/illustrator Alex Beard used.  We researched actual photographs of our desired animal from magazines to ensure realistic depictions of likenesses and features for our sketches. Additionally, during Thursday's K Buddies with Sam and Rachel's 7/8th grade classes, Kindergartners played a rousing game of "Monkey in the Middle" just like in the story!

One Writing activity this week included recording a list of "My Favorite Things." We will be placing the data in a class time capsule and comparing the information at a later time in the school year to see if anything has changed.  Informal drawings and painting, writings, and stamp pictures were in abundance at choice times.  Please check your child's journal/mail box for their treasures.

Global Experiences focused in on, what else, using an actual globe (and a giant map)! We examined our new class tools and identified the Michigan "Mitten." We then dragged our finger "about seven hours," said Henry, across the ocean. We travelled all the way to France, the home of the Lascaux and Chauvet-Pont D'Arc Cave where our art lesson inspirations are located. We also inflated a class collection of beach ball globes to toss around when feeling wiggly.

Speaking of Art, Kindergartners used blends of chalk pastels, pencil, and oil pastels  to create simulations of cave walls.  We also purposefully crumpled our papers to create texture so that our pieces captured the nuances of a real cave wall structure. Later, we studied models of animals then sketched their figures on our facades to resemble those found in major cave findings including, The Caves of Lascaux, that were actually discovered by kids!

Our playground foliage is transforming itself into a cave like cove.  Just right for cozy hiding places!

Our Science classes with Shan consisted of learning about the  "Scientific Method" then practicing this way of acquiring knowledge during a formal experiment. Another Science class session involved identifying and properly using scientific tools- including the Science lab!

Sometimes, Ks are inspired to conduct experiments of their own! A. was curious about how much rice our class collectively created for our sensory table. He and his friends selected a unit of measure (large cups), worked hard to scoop and collect data, then recorded their findings on a chart. Child-led ideas are welcomed, supported, and hopefully nurtured!