Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sam Meets the Mayor

Last Saturday morning was the Apple Blossom Festival and I was in the parade down Main Street, walking with the City Council.

Among the people in the crowd were Sam and his Grandpa Bruce. I was able to get a photo of the three of them together.

Sam's holding a copy of the Sebastopol transit schedule we gave to him. 
We're big on walking and riding the bus, the Mayor and I.

Thanks, Sam, for running out to greet us!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shoes for P.E.

The P.E. teacher asked me to post this picture of shoes that she identified as NOT appropriate for her P.E. activities.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, days that we have P.E., she asks that you send your child to school in shoes that have good support and good traction and provide the support and protection needed for active play on the asphalt playground.

Thank you!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BIG numbers continued.

We began the day by writing the number, 1,000 both as a number and, sounding it out, as a word.

THIS is what I love about teaching the Soundabet.

The kids can write a word like "thousand"  since all the phonemes in that word have been taught and (by most students) learned.

They're now getting practice writing down what they've learned about letters. This is what you want to encourage your child to do at home. Write lists, write notes, leave comments on Mr. Kindergarten. Writing will solidify what they've learned in the first part of kindergarten.

As I said, the word, "THOUSAND," is a writable word in kindergarten, a countable number, too.

To write it, they need only remember the TH in thumb, the OU in ouch, the S in soap, the A in apple, the N in net, and the D in dog. Ordinary reading programs leave out the first two phonemes, TH and OU. How can a child be expected to write and read if given a deficient set of sound/letter links to start off with? It's like giving someone hydrogen atoms without access to oxygen atoms, and asking them for H2O. Won't work, ain't fair.

Click on the photo to see how they did at 8:15 this morning writing the word for the 1,000 eucalyptus buttons we've counted.

Shelby's dad brought in her toothpick and marshmallow construction. I said, "Oh, a little help from dad, I see." But he insisted he didn't help at all. It was done entirely by Shelby and her brother, Matthew. Amazing pyramid, is what I thought. Wow.

Today was a TRIBES day. All the tribes did something connected to Earth Day which is tomorrow. My tribe, the Green Sea Turtles, worked in the kindergarten garden plot removing the remnants of our winter garden in preparation for the planting of our summer vegetables. Following are some photos as we went out in the chill midday weather.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big Numbers in Kindergarten

We've been thinking about large numbers in kindergarten the past few days. Hundreds, Thousands. Big numbers. Numbers that big can be pretty hard to visualize unless the teacher makes an effort to make the numbers real.

We're seeing big numbers. We're talking about big numbers. We're counting by 10's and 100's. We're feeling big numbers with our hands.


We're picking up the eucalyptus buttons that fall onto the handball court from the tree outside the kindergarten. The buttons are round enough and plentiful enough to cause a hazard to the players on the court. So we're picking them up, collecting them, and counting them. We just today counted our 1,000th button. I imagine that we'll count upwards of 4,000, maybe more, before we learn what we need to learn from this activity.

Our process is to pick them up and put them in a blue bucket. When it's time to count (some of) them, I hand each student a little plastic applesauce cup saved from snack. Each student picks 10 buttons from the bucket and puts them into his or her little plastic cup. We arrange the cups full of buttons in rows of 10 and count them by 10s to 100. The 100 buttons go into a plastic bag which, in turn, is pinned to the wall. See, here———

We count the bags pinned to the wall by 100s. This is what 1,000 Eucalyptus buttons collected in bags of 100 looks like pinned to the classroom wall——

To celebrate this milestone, tomorrow we'll eat approxiately 1,000 kernals of popcorn while watching approximately 1,000 seconds of a Tom and Jerry cartoons if our volunteer video supplier (or one of their back-ups) remembers to bring in a DVD. (This is quite a treat, as we haven't had a classroom party like this before.)

For advanced extra credit, help your kindergartner figure out how many minutes 1,000 seconds is. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Todd's Song, I Need to Say Thanks

I have a friend I met online named Todd who likes homemade music as much as I do.

He inspires me to copy him. I'll put some more of my songs up here, too. But Todd's music is too good to hide under a bushel basket, so, heeeere's Todd singing his own song, I Need to Say Thanks.


Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food | Video on

This post is for parents and teachers to view. It's a speech about the need to stop eating foods that you see on TV, processed foods that will kill you and your children before your time.

Having seen this video, I'm going to make sure we do a little more to teach cooking skills in kindergarten. How to make oatmeal from oats. How to make popcorn without a microwave. You know. We already are doing things in the garden, in the classroom. But we can do more. We must do more.

Once you see this video, you'll understand one more reason why I believe that test scores are simply a totally inadequate keyhole through which to view what schools ought to do.

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food | Video on

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Wisdom of Waiting

We tend to rush children along down the road to writing and reading as if there was some benefit from shortening and abbreviating childhood.

I really don't understand why we do that. Childhood could easily be expanded and a whole bunch happier if we adults—and national educational policy makers in particular—just took a deep breath, relaxed, and trusted kids more.

I do everything I can to keep my instruction in reading and writing skills wrapped up in happiness. Our writing center is as interesting as I can think to make it.

This time around, we're using tools—REAL TOOLS, thank you very much—to crush and bend and cut paper clips.

It's fun. And then we write about it.

Look how good the writing is!

Their skill and pleasure in writing is not accidental. And it's definitely NOT because we got a head start on these skills. Quite to the contrary, my students' writing looks this good, and the students take pleasure in writing, because I waited until near the end of kindergarten to ask these skills of them.

And, what's more, because of the Soundabet, the students can READ, that is, sound out what they've written with only a little help, if any.

I'm proud of them and pleased with their work.

More important, so are they.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Important Book: Maddison L.

The Important Thing about Maddison L. is she loves her classmates and her teachers.

Here's a picture of her page in our Important Book:

I want to thank Shelby and Madison and Jordan for leaving comments on the blog. If you leave a comment, I'll try to write you back. I love comments because it helps me know that someone's out there reading the blog.

I'll try to put up another song here on the blog by the weekend. 

(And it's good practice for you to try out reading and writing and how it works!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Painted Lady Butterfly!!

The natural world is full of the most amazing wonders.

Like caterpillars turning into butterflies.

As a precaution, I took home our kindergarten butterfly hotel just in case any of the chrysalises decided to hatch during Spring Break.

And, tonight, Sunday, on the very last evening of the break, the first of them popped out. Oh glory, be! I released her (him? not sure, but with a name like Painted Lady, I'll guess her) into my back yard between rainshowers and took a portrait.

Isn't she a beauty? I feel like a proud papa.

Tomorrow I'll bring the hotel to school. Don't be surprised to see more butterflies.

Don't Worry About a Thing

See you all tomorrow...

And I hope that you've had a wonderful Spring break.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Deeply Beautiful

Here you go, a little kindergarten in the middle of Spring break:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Zero Waste lunches and snacks

Kerri Petersen is promoting the sale of reusable containers for lunches. I think it's a great idea. We no longer need to almost fill up a garbage can of trash every day.

When we get back to school, you'll get a flier that looks like this:

This promotion will not only reduce our trash stream, it will save you money in the long term, (you won't need to buy so many plastic bottles of water, plastic bags, throw-away left over containers) and prompt you to pack healthier, homemade foods.

And it's a school fundraiser. Win/win/win.

Here's a link to the website:

I hope everyone's enjoying the spring break and not missing kindergarten too much.

(I'm missing the kids, the singing.)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring Break

We had a wonderful day on Friday as we got ready for the Spring Break week coming up.

Room mother Michelle Lorenz prepared small cupcakes for a little classroom party. She also put together small cups with packages of wild flower seeds that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. I hope you will find a place to plant them near your house where your child can watch them grow.

We celebrated Shelby's sixth birthday which falls on Monday when we'll all be away from school. Happy birthday, Shelby!

Mollie's mom and aunts brought in baby bunnies for us to pet. Mollie held one of them gently for us to pet.

They are so cute!

I will miss the class during the break. I'll be busy planting my vegetable garden once the rain clears out.

Happy days!

The Important Book: Matthew

The Important Thing about Matthew is that he loves school, his friends, and his family.

Here is Matthew's page in the Important Book.

You can click on it for a close-up view.