Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday, Sept. 30. 2011

The final day of the month we had some catching up to do, especially in the "story time" department. MacKenzie, Phoenix, and Raegan all had brought books on their sharing days for me to read that I had only time to read part way. Rocco also brought a book for me to read to the class today being his day.
So we finished all but Phoenix's book which is a longer one.

We got through all 5 chapters of MacKenzie's book.

We're working our way through this one.

We finished this one that Raegan brought.

And Rocco's book we finished.

And there was still time to play.
We didn't have PE today or there would have been no way to find time to play. It's all good.

Monday Morning, October 3, 2011

There will be a whole school assembly from 8:00 to 8:15. The kindergarten will perform briefly at our assembly. I hope many of you can stay for our first performance in front of a large audience.

Have a great weekend.

Be well.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scenes from Kindergarten

I pulled out the camera a couple of times today to catch the students in action. Have a look.

From the Farmer in the Dell: The cheese stands alone

Nathan's the first to learn everyone's name.

Plyaing Duck-Duck-Goose

Bike day in splendid autumn weather
Rocco's dad bought him some new wheels for the kindergarten year. Got a good Jamis Laser from a local bike shop. Nice machine, proud rider.

Here are some words your child might be able to read to you. Provide help sounding them out as needed.

It was another fine day in kindergarten. The students are really moving along well—it's fun to teach them!

Tomorrow we'll have a day off centers for an art project for a PTO fundraiser. It's also PE day so please send your child to school in sturdy, stable play shoes. It's also wear red day (for me) so if you want to send your child to school in the Dunham school color RED, she or he can have his picture taken with me. (I forgot to do that today.) I'll be wearing my Georgia Bulldog polo shirt with a "G" emblem sewn on it.

See you tomorrow.

Be well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Before getting to the news of the day, here are three things worth noting:

1. As I did last week, I forgot to put the homework notes in the cubbies by pick up time. The usual day for homework is Wednesday. So here's a photo of the slip of paper that is now in your child's cubby. It's not due till Friday anyway.

2. Please be aware that we have two maladies making its way through the classroom: (a) Pink Eye, and (b) Hand and Foot and Mouth Disease. Believe me, we've seen both of these before and we'll see them again. I want you to know this because knowing might help you figure out what's going on if your child seems off. Here's a little more information about the latter disease from the web:

What is hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a common childhood illness. It causes sores in the mouth and on the hands, feet, and sometimes the buttocks and legs. Mouth sores can be painful and may make it hard for your child to eat. The disease is not serious, and it usually goes away in a week or so.
It can occur at any time of year, but hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most common in the summer and fall.

There is link for more information about hand and foot and mouth disease at the end of this post.

3. Thank you to Alicia Petersen for volunteering to serve as room parent this year as well as lending a hand on Tuesday mornings. Support from parents make it possible for us to do what we do around here.

Now, then, on to

News from Kindergarten.

Your children continue to delight me with little touches of care for their world.

Today Bianca showed me how—all on her own—she decided to neaten up the plastic container of eraser-towels for the chalkboard slates.

Rocco remembered yesterday's review of the shapes we've discussed—triangles, squares, rectangles—and assembled those shapes into a drawing of a house similar to the one we did yesterday.

It was Phoenix's day today. His picture of Michael Jackson adorns the wall near the front of the classroom. There's power in that stance. He looks like he could Moonwalk right off the page.

Stasia's abstract concentric painting on the other side of the room is just striking.

We did a little reading magic by blending these sounds into words. I wonder if your child is able to read the words to you. (Provide help as needed.)

We earned a few minutes for play time indoors for the first time in quite a while. Students enjoyed using the newly available linked roadway.

Dominic was fascinated with the process of making balls from playdough. He made quite a few.

Be well.

Link to more information: Web MD

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Volunteers on Tuesday?

I'm hopeful that we can find someone willing to help us out on Tuesday mornings. We were two tables short today, so we had to delete some of the center activities in favor of activities the students can do independently.

Room Parents

The PTO would like me to identify two people to be room parents for the kindergarten this year. With help from other volunteers, room parents organize and lead four 45 minute classroom celebrations each year: Halloween, Winter Holidays, Valentine's Day, and Spring Break. Typically these celebrations include some sort of decoration of the room, a craft activity, a game activity and a snack connected to the season. I help with a story and some singing. It's fun, and a nice way to support the classroom if weekly volunteering is more than you can manage.

Today in Kindergarten

One of our activities was related to geometry: putting shapes into a container and seeing if the students could identify the shapes by touch alone.

You might be surprised to learn that about half the time a child selected the wrong one.  It takes practice to learn how to identify shapes by touch alone.

Life continues to be very good in kindergarten.

Be well.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another great day in kindergarten. We opened with a little bit of pattern making with linking cubes. Almost everyone's got the ability to make the good old AB pattern in colors, so we moved on to AAB patterns which proved to be an appropriate challenge. Many kindergartners stumbled in making AAB patterns with colors, but most can produce the AAB pattern with body movements (slap knees, slap knees, clap). We will work more with AAB as time goes on.

White, white, blue

Nathan brought snack today—goldfish crackers, organic apples, and something new—sugar snap peas. Almost everyone tried them, and many children discovered that they like this new food.

Good going, Nathan! It is fun and educational to try a new food.

Today was Monday, bike day. Six boys decided to wear green shirts as I do. Here they are:

Drew, Aidan, Tanner, Nathan, Jake, Rocco & yours truly
Life is good in kindergarten!

Tomorrow is PE with Mrs. Campbell. Be sure to wear sturdy, stable shoes. We will also visit the library with Ms. Burger.

Be well.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ed Emberley

I am a big fan of Ed Emberley who has written a number of books about how to draw. Each year I use his books and ideas for teaching drawing and use them in my kindergarten.

I was pleased to run across this video of Ed talking about his work. If you don't already know about Ed Emberley books, do yourself a favor and find out about him.

Here's a little video to introduce you to him.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

The week zipped by, and already it's Friday.

We talked about getting more skillful in saying goodbye to parent volunteers.

Our discussion focused on thinking about how family members feel when the goodbye is tearful versus when it's smiling. We discussed how family helpers volunteer in kindergarten because they care about and love the kindergartner.

Then I asked them to imagine how a mom would feel if a departure looks like this:

It wasn't hard for the class to understand that the mom would feel embarrassed and disappointed to endure this sort of goodbye. [Bella in the photo here isn't really sad. She's only pretending for the camera. She's a good actress, I think, and we chose her because her mom was handy and willing to pose for the camera as well.]

Once the student has come to understand that the family volunteer came into class because they love their child, the student will be motivated to learn how to say a more skillful goodbye.

Here's Bella smiling and waving goodbye in a way that would make any mom proud and happy to have come in.

All went well in school today—another in a string of good days.


For your calendar:
Please plan to stay until about 8:15 on Monday morning, October 3.

The kindergarten class will perform a few songs and a dance for the Dunham School Assembly. We have been rehearsing for this event, and I think you will enjoy our very brief performance.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We started off the day stacking 1-inch wooden cubes to build desktop towers. Some kindergartners were able to stack towers higher than they can count; others can count higher than they can stack. Here are some pictures of the opening activity.

MacKenzie's tower

Tanner has a careful hand.

Jessica made a double tower.

The highest towers would fall, like Anthony's did.

Stasia made an ABC pattern with natural objects in the math center this morning. Like Phoenix did yesterday, she made a pattern using her own imagination. Way to go Stasia!

In the science center where students are studying fish, Jackson drew this remarkable picture of a fish. Notice the scales and the eye. The details he caught in his drawing of the fins and the tail are quite remarkable. If you really want to develop your ability to see, practice drawing.

It was Thursday, and of course Thursdays are bike days and on bike days I wear a green shirt. Drew has this all figured out and he knew what color shirt he wanted to wear today. That's the spirit, Drew. I thought I'd feature a picture of all the kindergartners wearing green shirts on Mondays and Thursdays to build up a little school spirit for the classmates who like that sort of thing.

One of the centers we're doing this time around is to fly paper cup parachutes. Here's one in flight. This is the sort of project that would've made kindergarten more exciting for me when I was five years old.

After lunch I worked in first grade as they engaged in self-chosen activities. A group of boys got to building a tall tower. Pretty neat, huh?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two days until Fall begins. Fall is my favorite season in California. The weather along the coast is at its very best and the work here in kindergarten feels so important. We finish the process of getting the class together and moving in the direction of learning... and then the progress towards literacy and numeracy begins to accelerate. It's especially satisfying to watch "the lights go on" as kids get how reading works.

We began new centers this today. The math center has an activity about making patterns from natural found objects. Here are two done this morning. Olivia did two ABAB patterns: the top one, leaf, eucalyptus button, leaf, eucalyptus button. the bottom pattern goes: eucalyptus button, juniper, eucalyptus button, juniper, eucalyptus button, juniper. Good job Olivia.

Phoenix made a pattern I don't expect to see as I haven't shown it to the class as of yet. It's an ABCD pattern: juniper, eucalyptus button, pebble, stick pattern repeated twice. Cracking good job, Phoenix.

Yesterday we used tangrams (a special set of 7 geometric puzzle pieces developed as far as I know in China) to make designs and shapes. Some of them are shown below.

A rabbit

A face

A redwood tree

Jackson's penguin

The class found out that Archy can dance and that he loves to dance. He can dance with enough enthusiasm to make it appear that his arms work.

More tomorrow about the days activities.

Be well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Due to a late-running Site Council meeting today and the need to prepare for new centers tomorrow, I don't have time to update the blog today.

Please stop by tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday, September 19

Fall favors our part of the world with some of the best weather all year. Cool, fog-free mornings and golden afternoon sunshine. I hope you enjoyed this pleasant weather we had over the weekend. I was fortunate to enjoy a day on Tomales Bay with my paddling club.

Lunch stop on Marshall Beach

It was pleasant today here at Dunham both indoors and out. We completed all our lessons with enough time to spare to get out the blocks, puzzles, Legos, dwarf house, toy cars, etc.

Puzzles develop spatial intelligence.

Block play promotes social skills like collaboration and sharing.

A parking garage

Clean up after these sessions is going really really well, as it is for snack. As I promised last Friday, we got a full 30 minutes on the bikes today (up from our usual amount) as the natural consequence of doing so well in PE that Mrs. Campbell called the kindergarten class, every one of them, "Awesome."

Jessica rides our trike-bike.

Add Nathan to our list of wheelmen.
Tomorrow morning we'll have art instead of individual centers. If you're one of our regular Tuesday volunteers, please stay to help run a table through the art lesson.

The next round of centers will begin on Wednesday morning.

Be well!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

We are just 17 days into the school year and the class is already well settled into kindergarten class procedures and routines. It is a real pleasure to come to work: your children are a credit to you and to their preschool teachers.

Jake was the person of the day today. His mom sent carrot sticks and some delicious homemade zucchini bread that was very popular with the kindergartners.

Jake brought a read aloud story to school about a world populated with letters called "alphabet rescue."

Today we had PE. When I asked Mrs. Campbell how the kids were for her, she said, "Everybody was AWESOME!!" which was exactly what I was hoping she would say (because they are awesome).

I am teaching our students to cooperate and be polite and respectful and to notice that it is rewarding in  itself: it just feels good. Showing respect and being cooperative help the people around you to feel happier. When you're surrounded by happy people, you're more likely to be happy yourself. It's a positive feedback loop—a good thing to feel and experience.

I know that these ideas are getting across because I am seeing more and more pro-social behavior in the class.

We'll celebrate their awesomeness with more time for bikes Monday.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Be well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hot Lunches, Cool Riders

Call Lunch Orders In 795-5050

If you want to order your child a hot lunch, the best thing to do is to telephone your lunch order into the office in the morning. Five year old children can forget to order their lunch and they also have been known to order lunches they don't need. And, in all fairness, I think sometimes their sixty year old teacher is the reason for goofed up orders. So, now you know the best way to get the orders right. You can call before school and leave a message.

We started the garden program today. Our garden volunteer, Sheila, took half the class at a time to go over the garden rules and tour the kindergartners through the school garden. Here's Sheila standing in the Dunham garden this morning.

Sheila, garden teacher

The other half of the class was with me filling out another chart for our math program. This chart has the children clap their classmates names to discover how many "claps" (syllables, actually) that they have in their names and to compare the number of names that have one, two, three, and four or more syllables in them. If you show your child the photo below can he or she recall which number of syllables had the most names in its column?

How many names are on this chart?

Cool Riders
At the end of the day we went out for bikes. We always leave the playground much cleaner than we find it. Dominic was the most enthusiastic litter gitter in the group today. Here he is bringing in two handfuls of trash.

Way to go, Dominic!

He put the trash in the bucket I carry in the basket on my bike for just this purpose.

Bucketful of clean playground

I made an effort to take a photo of all my two wheeler friends. Did I leave anyone out? If so, please tell me in the comments.

Olivia rides with ease.

Emily's grandpa rides a Harley.

Cale on the two wheeler "trike."

Look! Anthony had his training wheels taken off on Monday.


Drew and Rocco on identical bikes

Tanner on two wheels

Lots of good sharing and taking turns is happening in kindergarten now. It's a joy to be in kindergarten.