Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Even trees are happy!

This afternoon's brilliant sunshine and exhilarating breezes mirror the feelings I have as I see the astonishing progress that the students are making in KIDS club. This was another day of achieving milestones along the road to reading.

 Aidan demonstrated his mastery of the 18 sight words and Jackson showed his mastery of the Kings Soundabet cards.

Bianca did it!!
Bianca got through the Kings cards before the sands in the hour glass ran through to the bottom chamber.

Both Bianca and Jackson went home with decks of the Queen's Soundabet cards today.

Tomorrow my former student teacher, Ms. Shuhmacher, (I think I spelled it with enough h's!) will be standing in for me. I'll be across the playground meeting next year's kindergarten class.

Be well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Today my brother, the artist, emailed me to tell me about giving a lecture at Rhode Island School of Design. After the lecture a young woman student, Liz Mooney, came to the front to tell my brother of her memories of kindergarten fourteen years ago when Jim came here to this classroom to do a drawing demonstration.

It always cheers me to hear from former kindergartners who are living their dreams. It is my hope, too, that each of your children live their dreams. Here is a picture of that event:

Liz and Jim in Rhode Island

I sent home a home practice book for you to USE and keep. I hope it inspires many a conversation about numbers and other math ideas in your home.

We are working for our next play time reward. I am hoping that tomorrow four more kids can show mastery of the 18 sight words.

One more note:

Friday and Monday I will be meeting next year's kindergarten class. There will be a substitute for me.

Be well.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday 4/24/12

Caleb was the person of the day today. He brought snack and a story to share, this one a retelling of the movie Cars 2. The only person not familiar with the storyline seemed to be me. I liked the message about the importance of friends. However I would rather the importance of friends be contrasted not to lifetime achievements (as with this plot) and instead contrasted friendship with the desire for lots of possessions. Be that as it may....

Diana turned 6 today. Two nicely decorated cupcakes found their way into kindergarten thanks to a sixth grader, Hannah, who shares this birthday. Diana and Caleb got to share the cupcakes with their friends. Here's what her cupcakes looked like:

These are cupcakes, not goldfish bowls.

Tuesday is library day. We posed this picture to give you an idea of what it looks like when they're listening attentively to one of Ms. Burger's stories. She read a story today about a Great Dane dog called Pinkerton and a penguin.

This picture was posed.

The students in KIDS club are rapidly making progress in early reading skills. I am VERY pleased with their academic growth.

Be well.

Monday, April 23, 2012


This is a favorite time of kindergarten. The class moves steadily along learning at incredible speed. Even after 30 years, I am astounded by the quick progress that five and six year olds can make. They change and grow so quickly, seemingly unaware of their own remarkable development.

One student was blithely pedaling her bicycle around the playground as if she's been riding bikes for years. Actually she learned to balance on two wheels less than two weeks ago. In her young life, two weeks is ages ago.

Kayla K. showed me that she has mastered her Queen's cards today. There was plenty of sand left in the hour glass when she read the last card. She's on her way.

Tanner struggled to learn all 18 sight words. "Is" and "here" were the last ones to come on board but I think he's got them now. He knew them when we tested him so he could get our bike time back after a NOISY snack.

When Tanner read them all correctly, the class cheered. They were happy that Tanner was able to get their bike time back into the schedule. Tanner was happy, too. He remarked, "I got our bikes back. I'm glad I got the sight words. Now I don't have anything more to learn."

We'll see what Ms. Buckner has to say about that!
Nothing more to learn...

Aidan nailed his King's cards. He's got his own deck of Queen's cards now.
Way to go, Aidan!

Dominic, did what Aidan did. Check out the sand left in the hourglass. Because of Dominic's success, I allowed him to choose what we did for the last ten minutes of KIDS club.  "Can we look for ladybugs?" he asked.

"Sure, no problem. The garden?" I replied.

"Yes," came Dominic's answer.
Dominic is making quick progress.

Dominic has earned a reputation as being the guy who can find bugs, especially ladybugs. You would be amazed.

No sooner had we unlocked the garden gate than Dominic had found them.

One of Dominic's ladybugs.

We found many snails, too. I'll bet we found 100.
Tyler finds a snail

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

It looks like we'll have a nice warm weekend. It will be ideal weather for a parade.

If you're in the mood for a parade, come to Sebastopol tomorrow for the Apple Blossom Parade. I'll be near the beginning (entry 13) marching with the Sebastopol City Council. Yell and scream loudly enough for me to hear and I'll give your kindergartner a "high five."

Then, the following Saturday, April 28, I'll be in the Butter and Eggs parade to march with the Kala Ukulele group. No "high fives" for the crowd on this one, but still fun and maybe easier for Petalumans to get to.

Enjoy the warm afternoons.

Be well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

They Did It!

The kindergarten fulfilled my hope that 10 students master the 18 sight words before April 18. The most recent two to reach this achievement, Vanessa and Olivia, did it this morning. So the group has earned a day off centers for some choice time activity. Even better: there is a good number on the bench or in the on-deck circle whose eyes tell me, "I KNOW all 18 words." So we'll soon be on our way to earning another playtime. I am loving the way the class supports each other in learning and celebrates each classmate's success together. It makes it a joy to be here.

Tomorrow will also be our April day with our fifth grade buddies. So it will be a nice Wednesday.

Raegan showed me that she knows all the Queens cards. She finished with plenty of sand in the glass:

[I took photos, but for some reason cannot get them to load.]

Raegan also can read all her classmate's names. Good for you, Raegan!!

Be well.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, April 16, 2012

One Fine Day

What gorgeous weather! Eight kindergartners have mastered the 18 sight words. We need two more go-getters to nail them to earn some play time on Wednesday. I am pretty sure we can do that.

Keep working on them at home.

Tool of the week is "Using Our Words" Tool. The idea is using words to ask for what we need and what we want.

We got outside briefly to enjoy the sunshine.

Kade brought his new bike... an Easter present.

Stasia learned to ride on two wheels today. Bella, too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tumbling into the Weekend

Because of a weather forecast that called for rainy weather, Mrs. Campbell set up the Community Room as a mini-gymnasium. As it turned out, the rain really didn't materialize. We saw as much sun as rain today. But the kindergartners got the tumbling lesson anyway. I got a few photos to share with you here.

Backward somersaults

Balance beam work


Putting shoes back on

On another note, five kindergartners have shown that they've mastered all the kindergarten sight words. Three added themselves to the list today: Nathan, Raegan, and Kayla Sue. Five more and we'll have ten who have cleared that milestone and that will be cause for a celebration which I hope to enjoy on Wednesday next week.

These three helped us towards a playtime reward...
Keep practicing those 18 sight words!

Have a good weekend.

Be well.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Art Thursday...

Sixth graders helped out with set up and clean up.

Mark came in for another art lesson, this lesson exploring color with watercolor paints. Mark encourages students to explore the process of painting focussing more on the activity than the end product. This approach avoids frustration and discouragement that can result from other approaches. It yields more diverse results.

Here is Tyler's painting.

And here is Rocco's painting.

Two students have already mastered all 18 sight words. When 10 scholars achieve this milestone, we'll mark the occasion with a tasty popcorny celebration. Congratulations, Caleb and Kade.

That teacher card indicates mastery of the sight words.
Be well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Personal Space in Line

Toolbox Project

Our lesson from the Toolbox today was about how to ask for more personal space when you need it. The kindergartners saw a puppet show and did a role play to bring the point home.

Here's a couple of photos that show the role play:

Olivia crowds Tanner in line....

Tanner asks politely for more personal space...

And Olivia moves back to give him more space.

On another note, a student today told me confidentially, "You know, Mr. Gurney, I really, really, really like using my Quiet Place Tool."

I smiled, pleased to know that this little person finds some comfort, safety, and solace in his life thanks to the Toolbox. I replied, "You know, I like using my Quiet Place Tool too. It sure feels good to go there, to your Quiet Place, doesn't it?"

"Yes, like Christmas Eve in April."

Outside the Box

We talked today about a Tool that, were I an author of Toolbox, I would add to the Toolbox Project: THE ATTENTION TOOL. Knowing how to direct your attention to the instructor is totally key to success in school and in life. This is a tool that successful kindergarten kids have in spades and it's the tool that's missing from the skill set of kids who struggle in school.

The Attention Tool is akin to the Listening Tool, but it's a power tool in my opinion.

Over Easter

Over Easter weekend (on Easter Day itself, actually) I brought to school a couple of nice chairs from my house to go in our Quiet Room. The kids love it. As you can see, when you're happy and with friends, you don't need to have so much Personal Space.

Some Reading Practice

Here's a photo of the pocket chart that opened the day. Can your child read the words on it?

I said the King misspelled "Mall." He should have spelled it "Moll."
What "word" is not really a word? First one to leave the correct answer in the comment section gets to pick a song or a dance tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Lesson Gone Wrong

It's so easy to have a lesson backfire on you. Here, watch poor Mr. McFeely as he introduces his friend, Purple Panda to a group of Pennsylvania preschoolers!

These things happen.

Personal Space Tool

This week we'll introduce the Personal Space Tool. In kindergarten we will keep our discussion of Personal Space pretty simple and concrete. We talked this morning how the personal space on the mats is defined by the squares upon which they sit. We talked also about how personal space may change according to circumstance. It's one thing in a crowded elevator, something else again on a deserted beach.

As adults, the idea of Personal Space can be useful to keep in mind when someone steps on your toes metaphorically speaking. For example, if someone offers you advice you didn't ask them for, that's an intrusion into your personal (mental) space.

We all have a right to our personal space and others have a right to their personal space.

The Toolbox uses a length of yarn as the image for personal space.

We started off this morning with a familiar table top building material. We saw some familiar stair step designs....

As well as a reproduction of the Macintosh Welcome smile by Stasia.

Looks like we're in for a rainy week.

Be well.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Loans for Kindergarten

Here's a spectacularly bad idea: taking on debt to pay for a private kindergarten.

"It used to be that families first signed up for education loans when their child enrolled in college, but a growing number of parents are seeking tuition assistance as soon as kindergarten."
Source Smart Money.

More here: Link

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Bunny Day!

Ian's dad sent along this video. I thought I'd share it here with you.

See you Tuesday. Remember: it's class (group) photo day.

Have a good Easter.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Awards, Tribes, Egg Hunt & Party, Photos Tuesday


Raegan was awarded a certificate for using her Listening Tool. She was home with a fever on the day of the awards assembly, so she was given it yesterday when she returned to school after her illness. It can be difficult to choose just one student from the many deserving children when it is time to select someone to be recognized for outstanding behavior. Raegan exemplifies the qualities of listening with ears, eyes, heart and mind. She thinks about what the speaker is saying and looks and listens to the speaker when talking.

An important part of listening in school is learning to be still and quiet while a speaker is talking to the whole class. Wiggling can make noises and can be distracting visually. Talking or touching a neighbor makes it very hard for other students to focus on what is being said. Raegan knows how to be still and be quiet while listening during group instruction. So do many other students. But the March award went to Raegan.


Yesterday we had Tribes. Each Tribe was asked to illustrate one of the Toolbox Project Tools. Today Mr. Hanson stopped me in the halls to show me one of the illustrations made for his tribe whose task it was to illustrate the Courage Tool. He told his tribe members to think of a time when they had the Courage to speak up for what was right. "MacKenzie's illustration was particularly striking," Mr. Hanson told me. I would agree.


Thanks to all who contributed to our Egg Hunt and Spring Party. It went off splendidly.

We went over the ground rules for the egg hunt before sending them off looking for plastic eggs hidden in the turf.

Off they ran in search of four bright plastic eggs.

They soon came running back so we could enjoy a party at the tables.


As you know, there is no school tomorrow, Friday. The teachers will be given a follow-up training in the Toolbox Project among other things.

There is also no school Monday. When we return on Tuesday the photographer will be here first thing (Don't be tardy on Tuesday!!!)  to snap a whole-class group photo.

Please dress accordingly, and if fancy shoes are part of your plans, please remember to send along those sturdy and stable playground shoes for the PE lesson that will come later Tuesday morning.

Again, thank you to all who helped make that fun for all of us here.

Happy Trails to you,

Be Well!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Another day in kindergarten with many happy moments.

We learned about empathy. We read and discussed the book I mentioned yesterday and will read another book about empathy tomorrow. The main idea of our study of empathy is learning to understand and relate to your own and other people's feelings. We like people who understand our feelings. So learning empathy will connect us with the people in our lives.

Mrs. Burger read Olivia's book about Fancy Nancy. The class enjoyed learning some new words that appear in that book.

Kayla Sue returned to school today. She got the Soundabet Boy by her name by reading all the names on the wall.

And of course that made her happy.

Tomorrow we will take home the second set (of three sets) of sight words. Add these to the first set so that 12 sight words are mastered by a week from tomorrow when the third set will come along.

Remember that there is no school for kids on Friday or Monday.

Be well.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Empathy Tool

We enjoyed a nice Monday morning today. We began the week with monthly assembly for April. The fifth grade performed The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Awards were given (but I'll say more about that at a later time).

Nathan brought us our snack and story. The first grade class put on a play about the Three Bears for us in the Community Room. We rode bikes as usual on Mondays.

This week we will be discussing the Empathy Tool. This is the book we will read tomorrow to open the talk about the meaning of empathy:

Some timely reminders:

Go to the school website (link above near top of right column) to find out more.

Tribes is Wednesday.
No school Friday or Monday.
School group photo day a week from tomorrow, April 10.

That's all for now.....

Be well.