Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Last Day of February

No homework this week—well, the homework is to make sure that you come to the Pasta Night on Saturday at the Petaluma Veteran's Hall. Please dress students in dark pants—blue jeans are fine—and white shirts. The show starts at 5:00 and the kindergarten class in the first act. YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS IT!!

Pasta Night
Petaluma Veterans Hall
4:45—don't be late!
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Dress: dark pants, white shirt

Today was the final day of February. I like how it's ending in rain. I hope it continues. We could use more rain in California. Here's our kindergarten class record of February's weather:

As you can see, sunny weather won the race with cold and rainy weather a distant tie for second place.

In our work with the Toolbox project, we've been talking about feelings. Words to describe emotions are really worth discussing, especially with boys because, well, most boys seem to need a little more help navigating emotional realms than most girls do. We read a book called How Are You Peeling? Food with Moods by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers, published by Scholastic. This book sparked some good discussions about feelings.

We also sang the Toolbox Project song about feelings, a good update of an old classic, "If You're Happy and You Know It."

A good somewhat rainy day in kindergarten.

Be well. See you in March!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pasta Feed is this Saturday,
March 3, 2012 at 4:45
Be there!

Today the first grade class came by here to share snowman stories they wrote earlier this month. According to Ms. Buckner, these stories were written and illustrated independently by the first graders.

Rieley, the reader

I got a picture of Rieley's story and Rieley reading it to a kindergartner.

I am monitoring the progress of the kinders in preparation for the next report card that will come out the middle of March.

Drew, who won the perseverance award last month, showed me he knows the Soundabet. So I gave him the Queen's cards to work on and will give the class some extra time tomorrow, courtesy of Drew's effort. Way to go, Drew.

Yay, Drew!!

Two proud moments recorded on wall

 Be well.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2011

Pasta Feed is March 3 @ 4:45
Mark your calendar.
Be there!

We began the Toolbox Project by talking about tools—regular tools that help us do things in the world. 

I asked students to bring tools from home and got a variety of tools.

We also have "inside" tools that the Toolbox Project will teach us about and help us use more skillfully and more frequently to help us work more effectively in our social and emotional worlds. We're already using the breathing tool quite a bit.

Our cooking center this week is involved in making popcorn the old-fashioned way in a pan over a stove top. It was Michelle Higgins' first time to try making popcorn this way, and she really liked it.

It got the kids approval as well!

We've had super-fully charged batteries as we arrive in the morning, so the first move is to go outside for five minutes to blow off steam. The girls play hopscotch or even stay inside.

The boys, most of them anyway, charge around the playground yelling and running enough so we can sit inside and sing a song a few minutes later. Geez, I wish I had that much energy!

Ian brought a lemon juicer. We used it to make orange juice at lunch.

Three boys have learned everyone's names: Cale, Jake, and Tyler. Way to go!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Toolbox Handout

Today's Friday folder includes the snack calendar for March as well as a sheet of paper titled, "Homeconnection Poster." It lists the tools we will be talking about in the Toolbox Project in the coming weeks and months.

My suggestion and hope is that you will find a place to display this Homeconnection Poster somewhere in your house where it will be easy to refer to.

Click to enlarge

Have a good weekend.

Be well.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dunham Charter Website

To make it easier to visit Dunham Charter School's website I have added a link on the sidebar that will take you there.

When you have a question about a school function, I recommend visiting the school website and visiting the school calendar. It is the place to look for the most up-to-date and complete listing of what's going on here.

With that in mind.... please mark March 13 on your calendar. The kindergarten will perform for the school board that night, singing three songs at 6:30 to open their meeting. I hope everyone can attend. With this fine weather, I was thinking it would be fun to have a simple BBQ dinner here before hand, roast some hot dogs. I'll bring my Weber. It'll be fun!

So put that date on your calendars, and plan to make it. We'll be done by 6:45 and you can keep pretty close to your regular bedtime routines.

Food for Thought

From Rob Brezsny:
There are many examples of highly accomplished people whose early education was problematical. 
Thomas Edison's first teacher called him "addled," and thereafter he was homeschooled by his mother. 
Winston Churchill did so poorly in school he was punished. 
Benjamin Franklin had just two years of formal education. 
As for Einstein, he told his biographer, "My parents were worried because I started to talk comparatively late, and they consulted a doctor because of it." 
What all these people had in common, however, is that they became brilliant at educating themselves according to their own specific needs and timetable. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Toolbox Project

Friday, as you may know, the Dunham staff was given our initial training in the Toolbox Project.

We are all enthusiastic about this new program. I have been hearing about The Toolbox Project from my most respected kindergarten teacher friends from other districts. They all give it their highest praise.

The Toolbox Project promotes social and emotional intelligence. It will benefit not only the students here, but it will have a positive influence on our whole school community.

Over my career, I have spent a lot of time thinking about social and emotional skills because I know that unless a child feels safe and happy, he or she will have difficulty learning.

What makes me so excited about Toolbox is that I've never seen such a sensible and teachable program as this one.

Friday was among the best inservice trainings I've had in my entire career. I spent a good part of Sunday going through the binder and I've most of the day here at school getting ready for our launch of this program in kindergarten starting tomorrow, Tuesday.

Here's a sneak peek at just two parts of the program:

The icons for the 12 tools in Toolbox

The puppets who help teach Toolbox in kindergarten
This week we begin with the first of two introductory units on the Toolbox Project.

I will be posting more about Toolbox in the weeks ahead as we go through the lessons.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Artist at Work

Several Dunham students dream of becoming an artist one day.

For them, I want to share this video my brother, Jim, made.

James, as he is known in the art world, is an artist. This video shows him working on a set of illustrations for Scientific American. I am sure you will enjoy it, and even if you're not interested in becoming an artist, if only to see what Mr. Gurney's brother looks like.

See it full screen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Homework Over the Long Weekend

Ah, what a week! Valentine's Day, Mrs. Everson away for a couple of days, and here we are at the edge of a four day weekend for the students.

I've been so busy both at school and away from school that I haven't had enough time to sleep, let alone blog about kindergarten. Even now I really don't have the time, but I'm going to blog anyway.

We played a game called "Swiper" the other morning. It's part of the homework over the long weekend. Please play Swiper more than once using different objects.

We did a new activity today called "Word Hunt." The idea here is to look at some simple words and see which of them are real words. On the chart below there are 6 regular words and 11 that are not real words. But there are three words that are in between real and make believe words because the sound like real words, but are misspelled. Those in between words are giv, fol, nik.

Can your child read these seventeen real and make believe words? If not, please practice them at home. We'll be doing more like these in the coming weeks.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine's Day will be here soon, Tuesday.

Tuesday coming up is Valentine's Day. On Tuesday we will have a Valentine's Day card exchange.

I invite your child to come to school on Tuesday a Valentine's Card for all the classmates. There are 28 pupils in kindergarten right now...

Please note:

To save countless headaches:

Please do not ask your child write their classmates' names on their cards.

Thank you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I drove to school through a rain shower. I'm grateful for the rain we've gotten and I hope we receive a lot more rain in the coming weeks.

I smiled when I came through the breezeway and saw that I had forgotten to bring in the towels I had hung the day before to dry in Thursday's warm (70 F) breezes. Somehow, they didn't get dry!

I love the fact that our PE teacher Jane Campbell knows that kids are waterproof. Years ago the slightest bit of moisture on the ground would put everyone inside all day long. But Friday we went out for PE. Everyone survived.

We tried to catch up on our story reading... we heard Kayla K.'s story about a Princess Palooza. I was pleased this time that the boys did not express any displeasure (as they have in the past) at having me read a book intended for girls, even though they may have felt some disgruntlement. That's what good manners are all about.

Kayla and her book

Caleb conquered the Soundabet Queen Cards on Friday. Everyone in kindergarten was very happy about Caleb's success because I gave everyone a longer recess (indoors, rainy) as a reward. My hope is to give added incentive for others to follow Nathan's and Caleb's lead.

Caleb now has a Queen's Card up by his name.

Caleb achieved his milestone as the day began. I scheduled it first thing because I had disappointed Caleb the day before by not squeezing in his request to conquer the Queen Cards.
Caleb's dad, Joe, who brought him to school Friday, looked like he was about to leave. I asked him to stick around and witness Caleb's attempt to vanquish the Queen Cards. So Joe stood by the classroom door to see it all unfold, not that he needed to be asked.

Unbeknownst to me, Joe had an iPhone and took a movie of the event. Had I known he was filming, I would have asked him to come closer for a better view. What I like best about his movie is that I can hear the happy chuckling of a father videographer.

I asked Joe to post the video to Youtube, and he said he'd never done Youtube before. So I asked him to post his first Youtube video. (When he was five 30 years ago, Joe came to my kindergarten, and he's still willing to do little homework assignments from his old teacher.)

So here it is. Please enjoy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Classroom News in Pictures

Very busy lately... little time for posting to the blog. 

Here is a look into some of what we've been up to the past few days in pictures:

Yesterday was MacKenzie's birthday.
She looked like it was her birthday.

We're making an interesting compound from
white glue and borax.

Kade brought the Bug Book.

MacKenzie brought this book for sharing.

This morning we did 116 laps around the track.
That's about 16 miles of walking.

We visited second grade to view dioramas...

and listen to reports about animals.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

For Educators: Rethinking Education Paradigms

Here's an interesting talk by Sir Ken Robinson about rethinking what schooling does and how schooling is organized according to historical views. Times have changed, and schools must change with them to best meet the needs of its consumers: students.

Among the many points he makes is that designing schools around testing regimes is tragically misguided.  It is an error that the Chinese educational system has made, with the result that many Chinese students come to the US for post secondary educations. We would do well to strongly question and seriously rethink our infatuation with standardized tests.

We should rethink, too, our collective refusal to adequately fund schools.

It saw it a month or so and I keep thinking about it.

When you've got a bit more than 11 minutes to watch, come back here and see it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walk Along Glider

This looks pretty cool. It would be fun to make these.

Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Tie Shoes Correctly

I thought I knew how to tie shoes correctly until Mrs. Everson told me about this video about two months ago.

I'm an old dog, but willing to learn some new tricks. I tried the method she described and WHAT DO YOU KNOW? it did work better, much much better.

It's all about which way you wrap the laces when making the bow. I'd been doing it exactly as I had been taught: the wrong way. Once I switched, my laces stayed tied without any need for a "double knot" tying the lace loops again.

Watch this video to learn the secret if you don't already know.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Here's a picture taken early Friday after drawing dump trucks. We'll have another drawing lesson tomorrow between center sets. If you're a parent volunteer tomorrow, you can have the day off.

Vanessa brought in a very impressive collection for 100 day—a button collection sewn into a book. Here she is holding the book and showing its cover.

Inside it looks like this. There are 100 buttons there. We counted them.

Drew's chapter book captivated the kindergarten. We're going to read the second book in this Magic Tree House series beginning tomorrow.

Drew got the award for perseverance. He's tried to get the Soundabet several times, but has come up one or two cards short. He knows how to persevere: he won't give up, and before too long, I am sure he will succeed. Yeah Drew!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day #100

Today, Thursday, February 2, 2012 was our hundredth day of kindergarten. We kept only the bare bones of our usual routines so we look at 100 in some different ways.

We began by looking at our collections of 100. There were so many! Not 100, but quite a few. Here—

To start, we gathered all the collections on the rug.

We put 10 black sqaures around the edge....

and put 10 collections on each sqare

There were 8 collections on the final square
and three squares empty.

We counted 68 collections all together.

We shared each other collections at the end.
Baseball cards are fun to look at.

Dylan was proud of his 100 Lego pieces.

Today we added one stick to the 99.....

and made our first SUPER bundle of 100.
 Microwave popcorn is the most familiar sort these days. But its fun to try popping corn in other ways, too. I never tried popping corn on a griddle before, but it works quite well for a kindergarten demonstration of popping corn.
Protect the floor and cover with clean paper

Crank her up to 350, pour on some oil....

and soon you will see some popping.
This activity delighted the class because so many had never seen corn pop out in the open like this.
(Note to teachers and parents who might try this. Be sure to caution your kids to stay well back from the griddle. It's hotter than it looks and would burn if touched. Also, as you can see from the oil dots on the blue paper, the oil spatters as the popcorn kernals fly off the griddle. The hot oil can cause a brief pinprick of burning ouch on bare skin.)

We juiced 100 baby carrots along with a half dozen apples and enjoyed the juice with our snack today.

We had fun most of the day. But when we were riding bikes trying to collectively ride 100 laps we had some girls hurting each others feelings with the tried and true, "I won't play with you" strategy. Oh, it can hurt.

So we finished the day with a little talk about how many warnings I'll give before issuing them a time out the next time that one comes out of their mouths.