Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shangri-La Cafe & Grill: Naanstop Pleasure!

My wife and I spent the day in San Francisco yesterday. Holiday shopping, a brisk walk in a cold breeze along the marina, and, we thought, dinner at a favorite restaurant overlooking the yacht basin, Greens. But they were closed!

We decided to drive back towards home and stop for dinner along the way. I thought of Tara's family's restaurant, Shangri-La Cafe & Grill.

Oh, boy! We loved the service (Tara's mom and older sister), the food, and the cafe atmosphere. We started out with two appetizers Chilli Chicken appetizer and vegetable Momo. The main courses we ordered were Veggie Masala and Lamb Curry, both delicious, and accompanied by garlic Naan. Dessert was the rice puddling.

We'll be back! Yum!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Happenings

We had quite a festive day.

First of all, it was pajama day. Just about all of us came in our pajamas. But so did many other classes. Mrs. Wilding said that pajama day is our most successful spirit day. I would agree. The whole school seemed to take part.

We tied with first and third grades for having the most people participate by coming to school in their pajamas.

On top of pajama day, we had the opportunity to meet with our fifth grade buddies. They read to us.

In some cases, the kindergartners were reading to their buddies. It was fun for me to see the fifth graders so impressed by kindergarteners' reading abilities that some fifth graders literally raised their eyebrows!

Right after fifth grade buddies, we went next door into the community room to see the sixth grade class perform Sombrero for Santa, which, for decades has been the holiday play directed by Sra. Shimada.

And right after the play, we visited the fourth grade classroom which had been transformed into a Native American Museum. They shared their impressive projects and knowledge.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Important Book

Over the next weeks, I'll send home this soft briefcase with "Traveling Todd," the blue dog, along with a book by Margaret Wise Brown called Another Important Book as well as a blank book for you to add a page about your child.

The kit looks like this:

And inside you'll find guidelines for filling out a page about your child:


 I wrote a little bit about myself to get the ink flowing.

The important thing about Mr. Gurney is that he treasures children just as they

Mr. Gurney first taught young children in 1967, forty-two years ago. He treasured
them then; he treasures them now.

When he’s not teaching school, Mr. Gurney enjoys being home in Sebastopol with
his wife and their friends. He doesn’t have a TV at his house. He finds time most
days for reading, cooking, playing music, and taking walks around his town and
country. His favorite getaway is pretty close to home: Tomales Bay where he
enjoys kayaking and sailing his Laser sailboat.

But the important thing about Mr. Gurney is that he treasures children just as
they are.

If you wish to write your contribution ahead of time, it will help keep the book moving from one family to the next quickly.

In the past I've shared the pages of the Important Book here on Mr. Kindergarten. You can see what those look like by clicking on the "Important Book" label on the sidebar.

I'd like to know how you feel about doing that again this year. Leave a comment if you'd like to weigh in.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

20 Soundabet Masters!

The class I have now is setting new records——at least for me——in Soundabet mastery.

I have 29 students in my class, and 20 of them have mastered the Soundabet in uppercase letters. Many have mastered the Soundabet in both upper and lowercase as well as being able to read all 40 of the Soundabet guide words at the bottom of the cards as well. A number are working to master a list of 100 words from a Scholastic Flash Card set. This is a reading/writing group of students. Not that many years ago I was pleased when only 4 students had mastered the Soundabet by the winter break.... We've come a long ways in teaching literacy in kindergarten.

I'm pleased.

This afternoon one of the students called me "The King of Kindergarten."

I told her, "If I'm the King of Kindergarten, then you're the Princess."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Love and Teaching

Over on my other blog, Mindful Heart, I've made the online acquaintance of some educators and their fellow travelers. steven, a Canadian sixth grade teacher writes a blog, the golden fish, which I enjoy reading. Today Jenny Stevning left a comment that included a quotation from Krishnamurti that I want to share here with my fellow educators.

It's about love. Love resides at the heart of all good teaching. Love calls educators to their profession.

Here's the quote:

"Now, how is love to come into being? Surely, love must begin with the educator, the teacher. If, besides giving you information about mathematics, geography, or history, the teacher has the feeling of love in his heart and talks about it...if in his conversation, in his work, in his play, when he eats, when he is with you or by himself, he feels this strange thing and points it out to you often, then you also will know what it is to love."  —Krishnamurti

Image from rickpdx.wordpress

What I teach about reading and writing and numbers will be soon forgotten.

The activity at the edges of the formal curriculum will endure longer.

What matters more than math, reading, and writing is how I respond to a bicycle crash on the playground, how I listen to a child who's not getting along with others, the interest I show when a child finds a snake in the grass. All these and much more were part of my teaching in the past two days.

And, I would like to add, that a child's first—and most important teachers—are his or her parents and family.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Siena and Jordan learned to ride two wheelers over the weekend.  They showed us their riding skills today at school.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yeah, Maddison!

Maddison has learned the whole King's Soundabet in uppercase! I know that there are many others who are very near to mastering it, too. I can barely keep up with the requests to show me they know it. I'm trying.

Anyway, we celebrated in aftercare with a little herbal tea party, complete with Ritz crackers. Life's simplest pleasure are the finest ones of all.


The Kindergarten Handshake

I like to see kids celebrate each other's successes, so I don't frown upon a pat on the back, a "high five" or just a hug of congratulations passed between students in moments of sympathetic joy.

But lately, we've seen hugs devolve into friendly wrestling matches. I've seen some high-fives that are more like very vigorous hand slaps. (Not that I'm so old that I cannot remember the delight I took in wrestling when I was five years old—I remember really enjoying friendly wrestling, especially with my dad! Are boys so different from puppies in this way?) But enough's enough, so we've developed a Kindergarten Handshake.

Tonight's homework is to teach the handshake to a family member.

It has 4 parts. Parts One and Three are the same: the ordinary, familiar handshake. The whole thing goes like this:

Part One: Regular handshake


Part Two: Soul Brother's handshake


Part Three: Back to the regular handshake.... and


Part Four: Thumbs up!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Planting Trees

We spent the morning yesterday planting trees along a creek near our school.

At the opening we were given instruction in how to plant a tree.
Planting trees ought to be on every school's scope and sequence.

The trees will restore health and diversity to the creek and the many life forms it supports: fish, mammals, birds, reptile, amphibians, fungi, grasses, trees, and shrubs.   The trees will shade the water in the creek. The shade will cool the water and help to keep it from evaporating. The trees roots will help hold the soil in place; erosion will slow.

Patrick clears away the grasses to prepare the ground for digging a hole.

Our project gave us all and opportunity to work cooperatively in the pleasant late autumn morning sun.

By noon we had planted our whole day's allotment of trees; I'm told that we work more quickly than many schools. Focus and concentrate: that's one of my  sayings. We finished two and a half hours ahead of schedule. We had lunch by the creek on the ranch. By midday, we headed back to school.

It was fun to go back to kindergarten and teach without lesson plans—just winging it like a trapeze artists without a net.

Many thanks to Mrs. Buckner for egging us all to get involved and to Lorette over at STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed) for organizing our event.

The closing circle. Lorette, the original STRAW teacher sums up our day's efforts.

By the way, I totally forgot about preparing homework for tonight. Your child didn't forget; I forgot.

Ah well, it was Book Fair Night. I wasn't able to attend, as I had a meeting with the Mayor of Sebastopol to congratulate her on her election to a rare second term as Mayor of our town.