Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Festivities

We had a full day of Halloween festivities today.

We began with a concert in the school community room. We had a good turn out. Mrs. Amador's fourth grade joined the audience.

 It was our first concert of the year and it went well.

There was time to play afterwards. At the end of the day we enjoyed a party put on by a bevy of volunteers. There were pumpkins to decorate, pumpkin cookies to adorn with toppings, and slime to make.

Photo by Janelle Petersen

There was a parade at 12:30. A good many of the kindergarten class took part in the parade even as the weather began to turn cloudier and cloudier.

I had lots of photos which I accidentally deleted. Ah well, I saw that many of you had some good group photos. If anyone would like to email me a photo of the kids in costume, send it along and I'll put it up here.

Photo by Brooke Tester

Thanks, Brooke!

Be well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Special Kindergarten Halloween Notice

Tomorrow is Halloween.

Please send your child to school in their regular school clothes.

Kindergarten will have its own party in the morning from 11:00 to 11:45. 

We will dismiss at the regular kindergarten dismissal time, that is, 11:45


There is a school wide Halloween costume parade in the afternoon that is OPTIONAL for kindergarten students. 

If you would like your child to participate in the parade, you may take your child home, dress him or her in a costume, and return to school by 12:30. The parade is scheduled from 12:30 to 1:00 or so. Other classes will have their parties from 1:00 until their regular Wednesday dismissal at 1:30, but kindergarten will have already had the party. Kindergarten students will go home after the parade.

Daycare students may bring their costumes in a bag. Please remember daycare isn’t staffed to handle this, so please, please keep the daycare costumes super simple... ideally needing very little outside help from the staff.

With my sincere apologies for giving you such late notice....

Thank you.

Be well.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Buddy Day

This day between centers included a math lesson offering the opportunity to estimate the circumference of a pumpkin.

Students cut yarn to the length they thought would encircle the girth of a pumpkin. We then arranged the lengths of yarn on the mat according to length. By trial and error, we found closest guess. Jayson came within three and a half inches or so—a good guess, indeed.

We had the help of our fifth grade buddies toward the end of the lesson.

What are fifth grade buddies, you ask?

Each year we pair kindergartners with fifth grader buddies to enhance of feeling of belonging and protection for our youngest students.

Today was our first meeting with our Buddies. We got to know each other through some choice time activity. I think the fifth graders are as appreciative of playtime as their younger peers.

 Right after buddies we went outside to the garden to plant nasturtium seeds. Nasturtium seeds look strikingly like little brains.

It was another fine day in kindergarten.

Be well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Math Patterns

Math in kindergarten may look like math to adults. Today we were making patterns with geometric shapes like triangles, squares, rhombuses, and trapezoids.

But to kindergartners, it was just fun.

We started out with simple patterns. I asked everyone to begin with one yellow hexagon and six matching pieces to go around it. I got many different results some of which are pictured here:

Once most of the students got this much done I encouraged them to elaborate their designs and we got some much more interesting results.

Some added figures outside the main design.

Others added a one-color border to their original design.

And others really went to town. Taea's design was one that everyone thought was nice. If you look at Nora's design (next to Taea in the orange jumper) you'll see that she began with a false start.

Look at Nora's do-over at the top of this picture:
Pretty remarkable!
Other stuff:

We had Andrew for music today.

There will be no centers tomorrow. We're going to do some math with a pumpkin.

Here's something to put on your agenda for Halloween:

(Go Giants!)
Be well!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wear Red Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Wednesday, is a school spirit day. If you can, please have your child dress in something red tomorrow for the spirit day.

Taea knows everyone's names. She took the mic at the end of the day and went right round the room. She made it look easier than it actually is.

Way to go, Taea!

Thanks to all who've volunteered to help at the class party on Halloween. Looks like we could use 2 more to sign up to volunteer from 10:45 to Noon on the big day....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sing, Sing, Sing!

We got the day off to a rousing start with some music that was spiced up with some nice bass playing by Andy Tester, Curtis's dad. Making music with others greatly enhances the pleasure. There will be more....

In only four days by week's end we dispatched (and tallied) 108 flies. That's fewer than last week's 126, but more per day than last week. Typically the fly season ends with the first good frost, usually not too long past Halloween. Then for the rest of the year the flies will be few and far between, something of a memory....

Along the way we're learning about tallying, and getting some practice counting by 5's and 10's. Applied math in a good way.

We had another day in the garden and another day's practice playing the ukulele for the November 2 concert. I hope many of you can come and bring your kindergartner. It will be fun.

No school tomorrow. Ms. S will fill in for me Monday.

Have a good long weekend.

Be well!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Doctor Dan The Bandage Man

This morning Nora showed up to school with a book to share on her day for sharing. She brought A reissued Little Golden Book first published in 1950, the year before I was born. It was titled Doctor Dan the Bandage Man. I hadn't seen this book since I was about 5 years old myself.

I remembered this book far more vividly than I expected. The story's the main character, Dan, has the same first name as me, so I probably locked this story away in my long term memory with a stronger lock than regular memories from early childhood.

Anyway, Dan hurts his finger while playing a cowboy game. He cries, goes to his mom, and receives some care and a bandage from his mother. She tells him he's better than new and sends him out to play. The rest of the book tells about Dan passing along the kindness his mother showed him. He goes out and puts bandages on his little sister, her doll, and his dog. All in all, a lovely little tale.

I was not surprised that he receives a "Cowboys don't cry." message from his mom when she's tending to his wound. That's definitely how it was back in the day. I'm sure it is still like that now for many boys. For others, perhaps they would receive something else.

I have seen many scrapes and scratches. I give kids lots of bare attention and say something like, "Show me where it hurts." I have a look, ask questions, and if there's a bit of blood, "Do you want a bandage?" A lot like Doctor Dan in the story......

I was surprised that I had forgotten that she tells him he's "better than new" with his new bandage. I think that what his mom told him is true, actually. Sure, he hurt his finger. But his feelings of inclusion and his feelings of being worthy of attention and care outweigh a hurt finger.

He's better than new because he received care and attention from his mom and he goes out to share that caring energy with his world, multiplying it. A simple story, and a good one.

After snack today Leland picked up the whisk broom and dustpan without anyone asking him to. He got the whole floor clean. He knows how to make Mr. Gurney happy!

It was a great day in kindergarten. Good days often start with good things, and this one was no exception. Andy Tester joined me in singing with the class. We sang Down by the Station, a song that can be sung as a round with Andy leading one half the class and me the other. He's bringing his string bass tomorrow, so..... I'll bet tomorrow gets off to a great start as well.

Thanks Andy!

Finally, if you like documentary movies that will lift your spirits I recommend one playing now at the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol called Searching for Sugarman. It's about the rediscovery of a musician. Gee, it will make you feel good.

Well it did for me.

Here's a link to a page where you can see trailer:  Sugarman

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mark Those Calendars

Some dates for your calendar:

On Wednesday, October 17 at 6:00 there will be an informational meeting for parents about the Toolbox Program. Childcare will be provided for this meeting, so.... hey, come on take advantage of this!

There are three dates coming soon that you really won’t want to miss. 

Come and see your child perform for you at all of the following events.

Wednesday, October 31 at 8:00 AM we will have a HALLOWEEN CONCERT. Not all our songs will themed to Halloween, but you’ll enjoy hearing the class sing. I expect we’ll be finished by about 8:20. Please come and hear the kindergarten sing. We may even have a professional musician (Curtis’s dad, Andy, on bass) play with us.

Two days later, on Friday, November 2 at 7:00 PM the kindergarten is invited to perform onstage at the Sebastopol Community Center’s Ukulele Night. Admission for kindergartners & their families will be FREEthe $10 admission will be waived for us. We’ll be done before 7:30 so you can stay reasonably close to your regular bedtime schedules if you wish.... or stay later and see Sebastopol’s Love Choir perform. Various ukulele groups that are springing up around here will be taking the stage, including my group. I hope many of you will be able to come. There will be a reporter from the local paper there. (Arrive by 6:45 PM 390 Morris Street, Sebastopol)

And on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM the kindergarten will perform at the school assembly for all students grades one through six. Kindergarten parents are invited to stay to see that, too. This one will be straight singing with no ukuleles.



Monday, October 15, 2012

Color Words

We learning to read and to spell some color words this week. To help with spelling we learn songs & dances created by a kindergarten teacher in Southern California, Heidi Butkus.

Here are the color words we are focusing on. How many of these eight color words can your child already read?

How many can she or he spell?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Letter Sisters

The week flew by. One kindergartner after another astonishes me with how much they've learned since the beginning of the year. Everyday something delightful happens. I keep bringing forward the reading and math lessons that I usually teach later in the year because this class just seems to be ready for more. It's fun for me.

Today didn't start out as if it would be a great day. I learned that Mrs. Everson would not be in due to her daughter's being down with one of the bugs going around. But Jennifer Toguchi and Rachael Zell stayed all day to stand in for Mrs. Everson, so we had plenty of hands on deck. We made little drawings that would be included in a thank you book to Mark Sell from Sebastopol Hardware for providing us the apple press free of charge. Some of the children learned how to put a highlight on an apple by leaving a little rectangle uncolored.

The day unfolded according to our constantly revised scheduler here:

We went off on a discussion about how the letters have some family connections. Specifically, there are a bunch of sister pairs:

T & D, 
S & Z, 
K & G, 
P & B, 
F & V, and two we didn't talk about
J & CH, and
 the twins, TH (from with) & TH (from them).

The older and quieter (unvoiced) sisters are listed first in these pairings. Notice that when you say these pairs of sounds the mouth stays in the same place and the only difference is you add voice to the second member of the duo.

In math we've been working on tallying and telling time this week.

We tallied more than 126 flies this week and two bees. (For readers who live some distance from here, our school is a little ways out in the country—pasturelands north of Petaluma, California with dairies and dumps not too far away.

In the fall it's a fly paradise outdoors. Indoors, they'd better say their prayers.)

The class voted to tally bees separately, a sensible decision.

At the end of the day, Aidan showed how he knows all of his classmates by first name. For his efforts I put a heart up by his name.

For your calendar, here are a couple of reminders:

I encourage you to attend an evening meeting next week that will be held here at the school.

On Wednesday, October 17 at 6:00 there will be an informational meeting for parents about the Toolbox Program that we employ school-wide here at Dunham Charter School beginning in kindergarten and extending all the way up to sixth grade. Childcare will be provided for this meeting, so.... hey,

We adopted Toolbox last year and have found it to be a very useful program. Some of the parents last year reported that they found ways to use the the Toolbox tools at home too. There is a link to their website, Dovetail Learning on my blog here. I hope you will be able to attend.

There is no school for children on Friday, October 19 which is a staff inservice training day.

Be well.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Squeeze Play

When I was a youngster growing up in Altadena California I was a member of a little YMCA group called "Indian Guides" that engaged fathers and sons in projects once a week. One of my clearest memories was of seeing a hand-powered apple press make juice from apples.

You don't see such machines all that often these days, but if you were here at Dunham today you would have seen just that as part of the garden program. A hand powered apple press—this one provided by Sebastopol Hardware to Dunham School free of charge (it normally rents for $50) because, well, the owner of that store, Mark Sell, is a nice guy. Thanks, Mark!

Jennifer Toguchi, Madilynn's mom, did the leg work in getting it from Sebastopol Hardware to here.

Mr. Hansen provided the arm power and teacherly oversight. Local families provided us with apples to juice.

Here is the kindergarten class out there this morning:

That's Mr. Hansen and Jennifer with the kinders. Here's what the fresh squeezed juice looked like:

We juiced apples with half the class at a time.

I took the other half of the class indoors to play on their ukuleles. We starting to synch up on the strumming and sound better. We are going to perform for you early in the morning on Halloween.

So mark your calendar and plan on staying till about 8:20 or so.

In centers today, Andy, Curtis's dad helped make paper airplanes. We fly our things from the platform on the play structure for longer flights. Andy is a musician who wrote a song about paper airplanes. If there was ever a guy for this job, it's Andy. He plays the stand-up bass and plans to be part of our Halloween show....

For story time Madilynn brought the familiar Very Hungry Caterpillar, but with pop-up illustrations. The class liked the illustrations a lot.

More of a home run than a pop up.

Okay, that was lame, sorry.

But I just learned the Giants won the Division Series and will go on to play in the NLCS.

Go Giants!

Be well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tallying on the Fly

Today was the 34th day of the kindergarten year. We are locked into a good groove now and learning is happening. Frank Bacon announces the day.

We began the day with some small block building.

Grace made this structure....

And William Z. something quite similar. Leland's got a staircase going.

Kylie, who brought her grandparents along to visit as we unlocked the door, made this apple tree. The blocks on top are red apples.

Curtis made my day by showing me how much of the Soundabet he has learned since I last checked in with him two weeks ago. He has only these four left to learn, and I'll bet he knows them soon. Many kids are making great strides in learning to read, learning to write, and learning to spell.

We also do math, but in kindergarten "doing math" really means using numbers in meaningful ways. We took a close look at the clock this morning and noticed how the long hand moves much more quickly than the shorter hour hand. Here is how the clock looked as we went out to the big bars for morning recess. I had the kids use their imaginations to "see" what the clock would look like when we returned after recess.

And this is how it looked when we came back indoors.

We read Leland's story about quick-thinking mouse who invents a Gruffalo to help him scare away a fox, an owl, and a snake who wanted to eat him. The class enjoyed the book. Thanks Leland!

Wyatt, who took the Important Book home last night, brought it back today. We read in the book that the important thing about Wyatt is this: he likes to help people. And, sure enough, he does. He eagerly took care of floor detail after snack this morning getting the spilled chocolate milk with his floor sponge and bucket. Good job, Wyatt.
 We had music with Andrew again today. Andrew always says that the Dunham Kindergarten is the best group of kindergarten singers in the county, and I think that's true. We will have a concert for you on Halloween Day.

More math. We have been keeping a tally of the flies swatted this week. We are up to 60 so far. It's fly season out here in the pastures north of Petaluma. As thick as they are this year, it's usually worse in October than this, so I guess that's good.

As I write this two volunteers (a dad with one boy through kindergarten and another boy soon to come) is installing a new granite counter top for the kindergarten sinks. You will notice the upgrade tomorrow morning.

May you enjoy the afternoon.

Be well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

PE & Library

Ms. Campbell wanted me to share about her PE lesson today.

She was using a special soft football to teach the youngsters how to throw and catch a football.

She breaks down the way to throw a football into three steps:

  • Scarecrow (student stands with arms fully extended out at shoulder height)
  • Shoulder (student cocks arm with ball so ball is held over the shoulder)
  • Throw (student releases ball)

A good many kindergartners could throw an amazingly good spiraling football pass by the end of her lesson. Here Aidan tosses one.

Kindergartners who came to school in shoes that she deems inappropriate for active playground play have to walk the track and miss out on the PE lesson she teaches. Please remember that Tuesday and Friday are PE days in kindergarten.

After PE we visited the library where Mrs. Burger read us a story about bats visiting a library. The class enjoyed Mrs. Burger's reading. Mrs. Burger enjoys the kindergarten.

Be well.