Friday, September 28, 2012

Four Windows... & a reminder

Here are four photos showing you a glimpse into kindergarten....

 In centers Jennifer Toguchi is introducing the kindergartners to a praying mantis. The students have an opportunity to hold it if they wish. I really appreciate the work Jennifer is doing to enrich the kindergarten this year.

 On Thursdays, Jennifer also helps in the Dunham garden. The kinders go out half a class at a time. The other half stays inside with me to play in the classroom band.  They get a choice of instruments to try: ukulele, drums, maracas, and tone bells. We have fun and make some pretty good music.

At the end of center time, the kids get out books to look at (or in some cases, read) as classmates from the other centers finish up their work. Here is a picture I took today with William Z.'s mom, Rachel, and Jaelyn's mom, April sharing books with the kinders on the green mat.

Wyatt knows the names of all his classmates.
Wyatt took the microphone today to try to name all of his classmates. Like many a boy, there were some girls' names he wasn't too sure of, and even though he wracked his brain, one name eluded his memory. The same thing happened yesterday. In spite of working really hard on this, he brain froze with the mic in his hand and the whole world watching. I am sure someone out there can relate to this situation.

In any event, his mom was there, and, after a few tears, I brought him into the inner office where my computer where I have everyone's photo in iPhoto album, and Wyatt was able to show me that yes, true to his word, he DOES know everyone's names. As long as "stage fright" isn't getting the better of him. His stage fright will lessen as he gains experience using the microphone. It just takes time.

So up on the wall pinned by his name is the red paper heart attesting to the fact that he has learned everyone's name.

I admire his courage—for that is what Wyatt showed, courage—in taking the microphone in hand again today and giving it his best try. Moments like these making teaching a rewarding career.


The following students do not have an emergency kit here at school. Please supply one, just in case. Thank you.

Robert, Noah, Mary, Leland, Jayson, Grace, Carley

Enjoy the weekend, wherever you are, and

be well.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everyone's Names

To help you practice everyones names, here is a post with a picture of each class member taken near the first day of school. You can use it to help your child learn the names of everyone in kindergarten.


















William Z.


William P.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Voicebox Books: Snuggling the Sounds into Words

In kindergarten this week we will make skill-building books called Voicebox books.

Voicebox Books are designed to help kindergartners learn the sounds and to learn to snuggle the sounds together into words. Many teachers call this process of snuggling one sound into the next (so that the sounds come together to make a word) "blending" but for these books I call it "snuggling." It's warmer, and what kid doesn't like to snuggle?

I want the children to glue the little sounds on the paper so close together that they snuggle with each other—both on paper and in their mouths.

Voicebox books collect words that are organized according to their VOWEL sounds. This is because the vowels are rascally devils that don't behave themselves very well. Whatever I can do to make vowels appear to be under control, I'll do. These books serve that purpose.

This center rotation, the kids will be bringing home a book carrying the title, "MY OO BOOK." Please hang on to these books and collect them. A collection of Voicebox books has more value than single books seen one at a time.

This week's book emphasizes the "OO" sound. Every page has that "OO" sound on it. Some children will come home reading the book with ease. If that's your child, have him teach the book to a younger sibling or to your dog or whatever.

At the other end of the spectrum, if your child has almost no clue about how to read the book, offer tons of help. The point is to help your child feel supported and successful. Okay?

Remember to "snuggle" [blend] the individual sounds into words. Say them as if you were singing them—without any pause—from the word's first sound to its last sound.

Here is a look at this week's book. (Your book may vary.)

Be well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jokes, Math, Writing

We started the day with a couple of jokes. The person of the day, William Z. had one ready:

Why did the cow cross the road?  [Answer at end of post.]

And Caroline had a follow up joke:

What has four eyes but cannot see? No one could guess the answer to Caroline's joke [Mississippi] so I spelled out MISSISSIPPI on the pocket chart, but even with that help, her joke seemed to escape a good number in the audience. Lots of the class could not see (I should say, HEAR)  anything that might connect four eyes with four I's. 

So, for them, the joke was "ungettable" and I know that's not really a word, but you know what I mean.

I thought to wonder if Caroline had any idea of what Mississippi might be, so I asked her, thinking she might say "It's a river." or "It's a state." or something like that. 

Caroline knew the answer, of course. She had her answer ready.

"Mississippi is another planet," she informed us.


Today's between-the-centers lesson came out of a book and song called "Driving My Tractor." 

In the story/song a farmer loads 1 cow, 2 donkeys, 3 pigs, 4 lambs, and 5 hens into a trailer. I saw here an opportunity to show a very concrete method of solving a problem about numbers. 

So we did a math inquiry as to how many animals were in the trailer. We would find out how many animals were in the trailer by drawing all the animals and counting them. 

But before I started drawing, I asked for everyone to guess. Guesses ranged from 7 to 110. 

Once the guesses were all in, I drew pictures of all the animals and we counted them. There were 15.

Robert correctly guessed the answer. I asked him if he knew the answer was 15, and he told me, "No, it was just a guess." 

All this drawing led to an interest in doing some drawings in the art center.

[Note to teachers reading this blog: One way to cut way down on paper waste is to have kids draw on little pieces of card stock cut to the size of business cards. The small size of the business card format matches the attention span of the student. They fill up the space with ease. They can try lots of different drawings in one session. This will cut down on waste and expense.

I got a large supply of cards donated to the classroom. You can too. Also, try mixing wet watercolor brushes with your marking pens. The washable ink in the marking pens runs into nice washes.]

Jaelyn's artwork. Okay, I drew the pink pig.
 Of course not all kids want to write and draw. Some would rather build. So we got the blocks out too and some pretty amazing buildings went up. Here's a detail of a city that a bunch of kindergartners worked on together.

 In KIDS club today we wrote on chalkboards. Writing is a great way to reinforce reading. Here some KIDS clubbers showing their chalkboards with FOX written on them.

What else?

We had PE. We visited the library. Mrs. Burger read a book about Corduroy visiting the library. We had William Z.'s tasty turkey sandwiches, cheese, and cherry tomatoes. We missed Jayson all day and Ryder most of the day. I am certain he'd have rather been in school today. He got three shots at the doctor's office! We were glad to see him when he got here late in the morning.

See you tomorrow.

Be well.

[Answer to William Z.'s joke:

Why did the cow cross the road?  To see the Mooooovies.]

Monday, September 24, 2012

Taea's Birthday, 100 Laps, No centers tomorrow.

Only the most abbreviated post today because I am due at a meeting that starts in less than 10 minutes.

We finished a round of centers tomorrow. If you are a Tuesday parent volunteer, you can have the day off tomorrow, as we will do a group art lesson tomorrow as we reload for a new round of centers that will start on Wednesday.

Today was Taea's birthday. Her mom brought in mini cupcakes which we enjoyed with snack. She is five years old today. Happy birthday, Taea!

We went out on the track to run 100 laps. We'll do this several times this year to practice using larger numbers. William P. who was the person of the day kept track of our laps. The fastest boy in kindergarten this morning was William Z. The fastest girl was Jaelyn. Each of them ran six times around the track, quickly enough to lap me twice, but I'm among the slowest in the class.

Sorry for no photos today. I kept forgetting to grab the camera. That's okay; I don't have time to post photos anyway....

A good day.

Remember, tomorrow is PE day. Sturdy playground shoes.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lots of Helping Hands

When I got home late last evening from my ukulele club meeting, I checked my email messages and found out that Mrs. Everson would not be in Friday because she'd be taking her son in to have his arm looked at—and that no substitute could be found for her. The old me would have lost sleep over news like this, but I trust the world to bring me what I need and I slept soundly. I had already talked to Jaelyn's mom and Madilynn's mom, and William Z.'s dad about my usual crew being there tomorrow, so I knew I had a solid team to get through the first part of the day.

To make it through the first part of the morning, I asked some moms to stay on board overtime on to help me through recess, and, thanks to the powers that be, Madilynn's mom and both of our Williams' moms offered to stay on and help the kindergarten class carry on as usual. With all of their help, we got it done. Thank you, April, Janelle, Jennifer, and Rachel for being there today to help me.

Rachel, Janelle, & Jennifer—thank you!

Mrs. Everson's son's X-rays were encouraging, and the doctors gave him and his mom clearance to come to school, so the whole crew was on deck and the SS Kindergarten back on course by recess time.

It takes lots of helping hands to keep things shipshape around here.

Speaking of which, we could use one more crew member on Wednesday mornings. If you can add a day to your schedule or know someone (grandma? grandpa) who might like to help us out Wednesday mornings till about 8:45, it would help a lot.

I now have permission slips signed from all the class members, so I can post better pictures.

Yesterday we had time for some more ukulele playing. We are working on how to hold the instrument and on basic strumming skills. They can make a good C chord.

Ryder brought a favorite read-aloud book to share with the class. We enjoyed it.

Taea led us in a dance called "Listen and Move." Here, in response to boing-boingy music, the class hops in line around the room.

 Taea brought a perennial favorite, Cinderella for story today.

I hope you enjoy the first weekend of autumn which will start officially here on the west coast a bit before 8:00 tomorrow morning. For me, I plan to be on my kayak somewhere on Tomales Bay to mark that moment.

Be well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

News Bits

Just a few minutes for some random news notes:

All but three have given permission for the blog, so I'll put another blue note in your child's cubby in case the last one just didn't get back to me.

R. brought a nice snack today: raspberries and cheese. I managed to get a photo before it disappeared:

Our music teacher, Andrew, was not able to be here today, so we filled that opening in our schedule with some bike riding.

We played a game in math about shapes. Noah knows everyone's names. There is a heart by his name.

Off to a teacher meeting.

Be well!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You Never Know...

I just never know when a kindergartner will surprise me by boldly stepping beyond a learning milestone. Not a day goes by without a bunch of kindergartners stringing together achievements like so many pearls.

Curtis, who seemed to have no interest in holding a gecko last week, surprised me by holding the crested gecko today. His dad, Andy, who was in kindergarten to see it for himself was delighted to see. To my mind, the crested gecko is a more fearsome-looking creature, so I just didn't expect Curtis would have any interest this week. He proved me wrong. I grabbed my camera.

Curtis holding the Crested Gecko

I abandoned the early reading center again in favor of the cooking center. We did read a book called Pizza, and William P., William Z. and Wyatt collectively read it cover to cover sounding out words like pour, mix, roll. toss, stir, spread, chop, sprinkle, bake, smell, cut, & eat. There were illustrations to help, but still, I was impressed by their ability to sound out words. Wyatt is doing this all the time.

Wyatt made a pizza that, I think matched how he felt when he was able to read the book as well as he did:

The group as a whole did a good job assembling and eating our mini English muffin pizza creations.

Caroline is able to name all of her classmates, thereby joining the handful who've been able to show me that they know everyone in class. That's what the red heart at the last letter of her name indicates.

Caroline's red heart indicates that she knows everyone's name.

The same holds true of William Z:

William Z knows everyone by name.

With sand left in the hourglass, Caroline demonstrated that she knows the whole of the Soundabet. Now it is a matter of learning the lowercase letters (not a big deal) and then combining those sounds to make words, (yes, a big deal). She's well on the road to literacy.  (Teachers call combining letter sounds into words "blending.")

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crested Gecko, Fish, Parachutes, & Pizza

This morning we began a new week and a new round of centers. The centers include Madilynn's mother, Jennifer's reptile study center. This week we're having the chance to see and study a gecko native to New Guinea, the Crested Gecko. This fellow looks pretty fierce, but this kind of gecko actually eats rotting fruit and the bugs you might find in that fruit.

Mrs. Everson is teaching the next lesson in our kindergarten science curriculum. It is about observing  goldfish. She went to the pet store to buy some goldfish and brought them to school for us to look at closely and talk about what we notice about them.

Mary's mom led the parachute center. She made little parachutes from paper cups, paper towels, string and scotch tape. They float to the ground amazing well.

I pulled myself off my usual reading center in favor of covering the cooking center. We read a simple book about making pizza and then made mini pizzas with English muffins as a pizza crust, some organic tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and, for those who like it, a slice of pepperoni to go on top.

Adding cheese

Folded over, they make calzones.
These can make a great little dinner—custom homemade pizzas made with the help of your kindergartner. More fun and maybe cheaper than a pizza from the pizzeria.

Some new words your child might have heard around kindergarten:

Two words for hungry: "famished" and "ravenous"

A phrase for not seeing something: "escaped my notice"

Finally, thank you to all who've sent back that blue form. Soon you'll see photos with less cropping.