Friday, September 25, 2009

Let It Shine!

 The students enjoyed our math activity today. We made "trains" out of linking cubes by rolling dice. When the blue dice was rolled, we added links; when the red dice was rolled, we took links off. A very similar activity will be one of the centers next week.

Here's the video of our final rehearsal on Friday....

We'll sing at Monday's whole school assembly, and we'll be great!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23, 2009

Today Isabella rode on two wheels. Here's her venture across the playground this morning.

I also enjoyed a meal at Sebastopol's Pasta Bella Restaurant. Dylan and Justin made it over.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Celebrating the Fall Equinox

To celebrate the beginning of autumn, I brought in my button accordion to play a little waltz for the kindergartners. If you have a minute, take a look.

(OK, I admit it, I added the applause!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Meet Mr. Gurney for Dinner on Wednesday

Wednesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00, Mr. Gurney will be eating out in Sebastopol at Pasta Bella Restaurant as the featured guest in the Dine Out Sebastopol series. Sebastopol Citizen of the Year and Dunham School music teacher "Mr. Music" will be there too. (796 Gravenstein Avenue, Sebastopol CA 95472 tel: 707.824.8191)

If you come before 7:00, you'll have the chance to meet the Mayor of Sebastopol (Mrs. Gurney) as well.

I am publicizing this on the Mr. Kindergarten blog only.

Oh, and, here's something you might want to know. On Wednesdays, kids eat FREE at Pasta Bella.

I hope to see you there.

The Next Level, after bikes.

My brother, Jim, the artist would have made a fantastic kindergarten teacher. First of all, he loves art, and art should rightfully sit near the center of a kindergarten curriculum. On top of that he likes riding bikes...and unicycles.

He's the world-champion Unicycle Painter. Have a look:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Buddies and Bikes

We enjoyed meeting with our fifth grade buddies again today, as we shall each Thursday morning. I love this program for many reasons, the most selfish of which is the opportunity it gives me to be with my kindergartners from six years ago. They keep asking me to do an Archy show for them. But Archy gets shy....

Two kindergartners took their first rides on two wheels today, Alissa above, and

Sabreen, shown here at the very end of our time outside. It's always a big day when kids get up the courage to learn this skill, a skill that will last a lifetime. How come there's no California standard for this milestone???

As I get ready to turn in at night, I like to think about successes like these. It's things like this that make teaching so satisfying.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Homework and Animal Show

Today's homework includes a page of math and this survey. Please fill out both sides of the survey for your child and return it and the math page tomorrow morning. Thank you.

It was Justin's birthday!

He brought in Bonnie's Wild Animal Show for Schools.
She showed us a baby alligator....

An albino Burmese Python.....

A Hedgehog....

a Fennil Fox, who lives in African deserts....

An arrrgh! I forgot what this animal is called....
(no, are my notes... a genet)

An ocelot....

and a lemur.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday News

We drew our caterpillars for the Original Art project today. Here's my second effort...

Tomorrow will be Tribes Day. Pick up time is at 1:00. Ice cream will be sold by the sixth grade at dismissal.

We start a new round of centers tomorrow morning. Parent volunteers, please check in with Mrs. Frech for your assignment. If you have any suggestions to improve the centers, let either Mrs. Frech or me know.

Justin turns 5 tomorrow. His mom is planning an in-class birthday celebration for the class. It will be fun.

Music with Andrew, too.

Tomorrow, in addition to the math homework, I will send home a survey for your child to respond to. Of course your child will need your help in reading it and filling it out. We plan to use the survey results to help gauge the effectiveness of our Tribes program. Please complete the survey and return it Thursday, as part of the Wednesday night homework. Thank you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday: Bikes, Art, and A Look at the word, "Tooth"

It's Monday, so that means we rode bikes. Kailee learned how to ride on two wheels over the weekend and was eager to show off her new abilities to her classmates. Here she is riding on the playground. A bit later she took a spill and got a scrape on her hand, but I hope she'll be back in the saddle on Thursday.

For homework tonight, please encourage your child to draw a caterpillar. We drew caterpillars today as practice for tomorrow. Tomorrow the students will draw a caterpillar again. That image will be sent off to a factory where it will be made into a refrigerator magnet. You will be able to order the image on a number of other items, too. It's all part of a PTO fundraiser.

This chart shows how the Soundabet works. The word at the top is (obviously) "tooth." The next level down shows the three sounds in "tooth" broken apart into pieces. "Tooth" has three sounds: /t/ /oo/ and /th/. The Soundabet makes that very clear by showing each speech sound on its own card.

The lowest level shows the letters. Here, are five sounds that don't add up to "tooth." Instead, since there are five cards, each must sound separately: /t/, /o/, (as is octopus) /o/, (as in octopus) /t/, and /h/ (as in house). Students who were listening closely to our discussion to day will be able to read you each of these three levels: the whole word, "tooth"; the word broken in three parts, /t/ /oo/ /th/; and each of the five letters sounded separately /t/ /o/ /o/ /t/ /h/. Each level will sound different.

See if your child can do this.

Questions? Leave a comment in the comment section.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Room Parent

Jacob's mom, Michelle Lorenz, has stepped up to fill the role of room parent in kindergarten this year.

As room parent, she will head up the effort to provide classroom parties for Halloween, the Winter Holidays, Valentine's Day, and the Spring Holiday. She will welcome assistance and contributions from the rest of you, so please make a mental note of it.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

4, 5, and 6 (And Happy Birthday, Sam!)

Here's a chart we made on Thursday in math showing the ages of the students in my kindergarten. As you can see, we have mostly 5 year olds. Click on image to enlarge it enough to read the names.

If your kindergartner is nearby, call 'em over and ask some questions:

How many students are 4 years old?

How many are 5 years old?

How many are 6 years old?

This chart will have to be updated on Monday, as Sam's name will have to migrate over to the five year old columns. His 5th birthday is today. And later this month, two more students will follow. And next month, Patrick will join Angelie over there on the right.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Homework and Home discussion of chart

Tonight's homework looks like this:

(Click for a larger view.)

Counting things reinforces the counting sequence and is an easy way to investigate the world using numerical concepts like "greater than" "more" "less" "smallest" and so on.

Tonight's homework gets your child going in an easy way. Encourage your child to take larger or smaller steps (we did this in class) to see how it affects the final count. If you miss the due date, I encourage you to do it anyway.

Savannah's dad, Spencer, taught Savannah how to ride a bike over the weekend. She showed off her new skills today. She rode with poise and confidence. Congratulations to both Spencer and Savannah.

(Click for a larger view.)

We made this chart of birthday months today. Help your child discover the answers to questions about the chart to help him or her learn to interpret information shown on chart like this. Suggested questions:

(Remember, your child will probably need some help—like reading the names of the months—to answer these questions.)

Which month has the most kindergartners birthdays?

Which two months are tied for second place?

Three months have three kindergarten birthdays. Which are they?

Which months have only one birthday in them?

Mr. Gurney added his card after school. What month is his birthday?

Look at the word, "August" on the chart in the photo. What's the third letter?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Homework Tomorrow

I will assign the year's first homework in kindergarten tomorrow, Wednesday. Look for a paper coming home tomorrow. I'll mention it here, on the blog, too. It's connected to the math book I sent home with you on Back to School night last Thursday. If you missed that event, the book will be in your child's cubby in the morning.

Picture day went very smoothly. The kindergartners posed for Shelby's grandmother who happens to also be the professional school photographer we've used at Dunham for years.

Enjoy filling out tomorrow's date. 09/09/09. Cool dates like that don't happen all that often.

Give your kid a "high five" from Mr. Gurney. The class is a stellar group.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Picture Day

Remember, it's picture day Tuesday, Sept 7. My apologies for the fake photo.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Body Makes Music

Two days ago, on Wednesday, Andrew, our music teacher, taught the kindergarten a song called "My Body Makes Music. I promised we'd practice it, and we have. Here's how we sound now. I think pretty good. What do you think?

Thanks to Dan McCann (Sam's dad) for doing the camera work.

Link over to the Soundabet blog to see the video of the Soundabet as we sang it 12 days into the year (yesterday, Sept. 3).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


We began Dunham "Tribes" today.

Tribes provides a brand new (to us) way for your child to belong to Dunham. He or she is already a member of his or her class. Kindergartners are also paired with a fifth grade buddy.

Tribes adds a new and additional layer of belonging to the school.

Each student is assigned to a small group (we call them tribes) of about 9 students. Each tribe has members ranging in age from kindergarten through sixth grade. The idea is that the "tribal olders" (students in grades 4 through 6) will look after the welfare of the "tribal youngers" (students in grades K through 3). Tribes will meet on alternate Wednesdays to do a variety of activities to build character and social intelligence. Each tribe includes a "Tribal Elder," one of the adults in our school.

The groupings shall remain stable over time with changes only when the sixth grade older graduates and is replaced by a new kindergartner in the fall.

I expect all students to benefit from this new feature of our program.

Sitting in the HOT sun at the kick-off assembly for Tribes.

Today we had lunch with our tribes and did a quick get-to-know-you roundtable discussion. For the kindergartners the first few meetings may be a bit confusing, but once your child is recognized and supported by one of his or her tribal olders, I know he or she will understand what Tribes is all about and will feel safer and happier and kinder.....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to School Night, Ee and Ff, and Cars....

Quick notes to you before I close up my computer...

We're doing back to school night on Thursday. Be sure to come. I'll go over the kindergarten program for 2009-2010 and hand out some materials for home support of our math and reading programs.

As your child why the King and Queen didn't get along on the day they made E and e.

Ditto for the letters F and f. Why didn't they get along?

Finally, it appears we're playing a bit too roughly with the cars, so they'll be put away for a while.