Sunday, November 30, 2008

Smiley Face in the Evening Sky

Tomorrow right after the sun sets look up in the western sky.

There you will see the smiley crescent moon next to 2 eyes: the brightest planet, Venus, and the next brightest planet, Jupiter. This trio, the moon, Venus, and Jupiter, the three brightest objects in the night sky, come together to make a face.

A smiley face, you know, like kindergarten teachers draw all the time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Walkathon Awards Assembly

On Tuesday morning we held the Walkathon Awards Assembly. Several kindergarten students were recognized. The picture above shows students whose good sportsmanship and attitude won recognition. I was particularly pleased that the four recipients were boys: Conner, Quinn, Matthew, and our own Luke.

Two of the top five fundraisers came from our class. That's Jack Bandy in the burgundy shirt and Rylee standing to his immediate left. Rylee's older brother, Logan, in the Yankee's cap was the school's top money earner.

Congratulations to all students who took part in the event. Each participant won a gift certificate from Round Table pizza and Applebee's.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dirt Road to Wildcat Beach

Saturday my wife and I rode bikes on a dirt road across the Point Reyes National Seashore from Five Brooks Trail Head to Wildcat Beach. We enjoyed every minute, taking it slowly, as we were riding skinny tires.

Just the thing to be refreshed before two long days of parent conferences....

The Best Thing about DIBELS assessments...

The best thing about DIBELS assessments is that I have to administer them to one child at a time. That means that I must find activities that keep other pupils occupied while I'm testing.

Blocks are one activity that I can count on to hold their attention. Look at the nice tower that a group of students made while I wasn't looking.

The only problem with towers like these is that knocking them down can be quite disconcerting to a child who feels they had a hand in building (but not knocking down) the building.

My digital camera to the rescue. I pull it out from my bag and tell them I want to get a picture of the tower coming down. Everyone gets a small block and tosses it lightly into the tower. With luck I get a picture of the blocks on their way to the floor:

Everyone wants to see if the picture I snapped caught the action.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Proposition 8

We don't discuss politics in kindergarten, especially touchy subjects like the recent ballot initiative in California, the anti same-sex marriage Proposition 8.

But after class the other day, one of the mothers told me that she and her kindergarten daughter saw some coverage of Prop 8 on television. Gay and lesbian couples must have appeared on the screen arguing against the same sex marriage ban.

"Can men marry men?" her daughter wanted to know.

"Yes." her mom answered. Her daughter pondered this new idea for a moment and then asked a follow-up question.

"Can women marry women?"

"Yes, women can marry women, too." came the reply. Again a moment's pause as her daughter considered her options.

"Well," she announced, "I'm going to marry a woman, and she can have the babies."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DARTS: Teaching Sounds

Researchers have discovered what separates strong readers and writers from those who struggle: it's the ability to HEAR the SOUNDS in words. The kids who can accurately tell you the sounds in words will find reading and writing much easier than those who can't.

For example, if you ask a child to tell you the sounds in word "lake" kids who will become good readers will be able to say its three sounds: /l/ /ay/ /k/.

Kids headed for difficulty will say something less, perhaps the whole word, "lake" or maybe just two bits of it: /l/ /ake/.

Luckily, this is a skill that can be taught.

The trick is finding ways to practice the skill (it's called phoneme segmentation) that are fun and that get the body involved.

Today I asked volunteers to come to the front and throw darts at the dart board while saying the sounds of words as they tossed the darts.

Here are ten practice words to do at home:

mop /m/ /o/ /p/

late /l/ /ay/ /t/

mouse /m/ /ou/ /s/

eight /ay/ /t/

red /r/ /e/ /d/

ink /i/ ng/ /k/

time /t/ /igh/ /m/

count /k/ /ou/ /n/ /t/

knee /n/ /ee/

bees /b/ /ee/ /z/

More to come later.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Here's a math activity you can do at home. Ask your child to guess how many things they might find and then count to see how accurate their guess was. They suggest raisins in a small box of raisins. You might rummage through your Halloween candy and ask your child to guess how many M&Ms they might find in a "fun size" bag. Search around, find something to estimate and write it down on a piece of paper.

We'll talk about it on Friday.


We gather for a group photo before we begin.

Walkers in action about halfway through the event.

We held the Walk-a-Thon today under cool cloudy skies. The weather may have been chilly for the onlookers, but it was favorable for the participants who walked briskly for an hour without any worry about dehydration.

Many thanks to all who volunteered to help make this event a great success, but in particular to Kristen Robbins who took the leadership role in making this event run so smoothly from start to finish.

November Snack Calendar

Here, a little belatedly, is November's snack calendar: