Friday, November 30, 2012

Meet Pete the Cat

James Dean, the illustrator of the Pete the Cat series of books will be at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma tomorrow, Saturday, December 1 at 2:00. Word is, they're planning to serve their famous "kitty litter" cake.

It rained like crazy this morning. Often rainy days pass rather slowly in kindergarten, but today flew by. Here's a couple of photos taken at the beginning of the day.

Leland's multistory tower

Wyatt's tree
Be well. And stay dry.

Monday we start the day with an assembly.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Three High Points & Some Other Stuff

One suggestion for enhancing family life is to ask each family member to think back on their day and to share a high point or two or three with other members of the family. You can do it at dinner time or during the drive home from school, at bath time, or just before bed.

One of the reasons I like to keep this kindergarten blog is that it offers me the opportunity to reflect on the day's events. Knowing that I will type out a short report before I leave school prompts me to look for—and take note of—those shining moments that always there but easy to miss. For me, the hardest part of this blogging project is winnowing it down to just a few moments. Otherwise I'd be pecking at the computer far too long.

So here are just three (of many many more) moments from today, listed chronologically:

Singing with Andy & the class at the beginning of the day, and then following that up with some ukulele lessons during centers. The class sounds good already and we still have three weeks to hone our performances.

Story time after snack. William brought a mystery book from the "Nate the Great" series. We read the whole thing. Many of the kindergartners figured out the mystery before it was revealed at the end of the book. It's great to see their story comprehension skills develop so naturally.

William Z. and his book
He brought an awesome snack, too.

Third: A Happy Surprise in KIDS club
Noah learned the whole Soundabet. He progressed really quickly in the past month or so, quickly enough to surprise and delight me.

The other stuff:

Tonight is the performance of the Little Mermaid that Dunham students are putting on. It's a Liberty School and begins at 6:00. I plan to be there.

We need some materials for holiday art projects:

Empty cereal or cracker boxes.
Tofu containers. You know, like this:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First Longer Schedule Day/Homework

Today was our first longer Wednesday and everything went smoothly.

We began the day singing "This Little Light of Mine" with Andy Tester bringing in the bass. We opened up a new round of centers. Madilynn's mom brought in a new gecko for us to learn about. Here it is walking up Madilynn's right arm.

We've begun decorating the room the the coming holiday season. Taea showed me these ornaments she made with Mrs. Everson.

It was Nora's birthday today. She brought in a treat which we enjoyed at the end of snack. She also marked the day by taking the microphone in hand and showing us she knows the whole Soundabet. Her mom was so happy that she got up the courage to do it that way. I was happy, too. Way to go, Nora, and happy birthday, too!

William P. brought in his sharing story, a wonderful book called, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? 
It talks about prosocial behaviors using the metaphor of filling invisible buckets and contrasts those behaviors with antisocial behaviors which it calls "bucket dipping." It fits hand-in-glove with the messages of the Toolbox program and with my guiding rules of "Be Safe. Be Happy. Be Kind." The class enjoyed a good discussion about it. Ask your child about what happens when you fill someone else's bucket. Hopefully, they will answer that when you do something to make another person happy that you will also feel happier as well. It does work that way, in my experience.

When I began the reading the story it was dark outside. Rain fell from the sky in sheets. It was crazy rainy weather. Story time was to be followed by some indoor play time—indoors due to the rain. Having play time indoors disappointed many of the children who had been hankering all day to get outside.

As if by some heavenly intervention, the clouds parted to reveal a big blue sky with late November sunshine spreading across the playground.

The class had not been outside at all. I decided to take the class to go outside to play even though there were some deep puddles to work around, or through, as the case may be. It was good to get outdoors, if even for just a few minutes. Their pent-up energy found release in the wide open playground.

As deep as puddles get around here

A well-washed world
What a beautiful day.

I hope that you and your child will enjoy the homework. Please keep in mind that most of the kindergarten homework this year will involve parents or other family helpers. This is by design. Part of what makes homework fun in kindergarten is connecting with the elders. When that happens it is usually a win-win. Be sure that homework is enjoyable for all concerned. If it is not enjoyable, let me know, we'll figure out what we need to do to fix that.

Be well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Snowman Paintings

We were between sets of centers today, so we slipped in a whole class painting session to help bring the wall decorations up to date.

Before painting each student spent a minute imagining their own snow people and the results were wonderfully varied. I was pleased, and we've posted them around the room. Here are a few photos to give you an idea.

Taea's "Sponge Bob Squarepants" Snowman

A wide variety of images came out of their imaginations

Noah's snowman warming himself by a fire.

Leland's snowman rushing to work

Jaelyn's snowperson wants a hug.
Be well, all.

Mr. Happy Man

Here's a movie that might give your day a lift.

This guy has the right idea about how to invest your life energy, don't you think? Maybe we ought to add another tool to the Toolbox—the "I Love You!" tool. It could fix a lot of the problems we human make for each other.

Mr. Happy Man from Matt Morris Films on Vimeo.

Mr. Happy Man from Matt Morris Films on Vimeo.

Video is from

Thank you, Becky Jaine, for sharing this video with me so I can pass it along.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Five Mr. Gurneys!

Last Thursday while visiting my brother in Rhinebeck, New York,  five Mr. Gurneys sat around the Thanksgiving table and enjoyed a fine meal and conversation. The one you know plus four others (from right to left): my son, my brother, and his two sons, my nephews. Completing this photo, there were two Mrs. Gurneys and one Dr. Gurney, my daughter.

I hope your Thanksgiving festivities were enjoyable for your families.

Just a reminder: starting on Wednesday, November 28, we will dismiss kindergarten every Wednesday at 1:30, the same time as the rest of the school. Dismissal time for the other days of the week remain as before.

We will also start having homework on Wednesdays starting on that day. Tomorrow's posting will have more information about homework.

Be well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Longer Wednesday Schedule starts November 28

Wednesday, November 28 will mark the first Wednesday of the second trimester. 

That is when we begin the longer Wednesday school day. For the rest of the school year, kindergarten will dismiss on Wednesdays at 1:20. Your child will stay for lunch, so pack a lunch or arrange with the office to order a hot lunch for your child. 

For everyone’s safety, please come a little bit early—1:15 would be good—park your car, and come to the classroom to pick up your child. Please arrive in the kindergarten class promptly at 1:20. If you don’t have older siblings to pick up, please try to leave ahead of the 1:30 crowd  when grades one through six get out of school.

Please hold hands as you walk out to your car. The parking lot can be crowded, confusing—and dangerous. 

On alternate Wednesdays I am assigned to parking lot patrol starting at 1:30. So please be on time. If you’re late, please look for your child in the school office.

The other days of the week dismiss at the same time as before—at 11:45. 


I hope everyone will enjoy a restful and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Be well.

Monday, November 19, 2012

KIDS Club for Late Fall & Early Winter

Tomorrow I will send home with some of your children invitations to take part in the next round of KIDS club which will begin on Thursday, November 30 and run until January 31, 2013.

If your child brings one home, please sign the permission form and return it early next week.

Thank you.

Be well.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Classroom Book

I did not get a photograph of the finished book, but today we took time out to make a book for Grace who broke her arm yesterday in a fall from the monkey bars. Just one of those things.

We all felt so badly for Grace that we wanted to do something to cheer her up. Here's a couple of pictures of some of the pages that went into the book.

Happily, we saw Grace at the end of school today when she came with her mom to pick up her older brother in fifth grade. She looked good and we were glad to see her and give her the book we made.

Enjoy the (rainy) weekend.

Be well, everybody.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Three New Biker Riders

We had a lesson on a tool that's not exactly part of the Toolbox Program, but might easily be thought of as one of the basic tools: The Hello/Goodbye tool. I had noticed that some of the kindergartners don't say hello or goodbye on a consistent basis yet, especially with each other. So we had a lesson about that today, and we ought to see more hellos and goodbyes from now on. Saying hello and goodbye to the people you meet is one of those habits that can make your world a friendlier—and happier—place.

Here, as promised to some of you, is a short 6-minute video introducing the Toolbox Program we use at Dunham. It's a charming video featuring mostly the voices of school age children who have found the Toolbox tools of real help in negotiating the challenging moments of growing up. I hope you find the time to watch it.

Toolbox Project Introduction (2012) - 6:30 from Peter Hwosch on Vimeo.

Kylie earned us a little bit of extra time at the end of the day for bicycles by being the second girl to master the Soundabet. Thank you Kylie!

Mrs. Everson put that time to good use. She taught THREE kindergartners how to ride on two wheels in just one day, setting a new all-time Dunham School record in that category. Congratulations, Mrs. Everson, Jackson, Nora, and Mariana. You all made my day.

Launching Jackson

Away he goes

Giving Nora a start

There she goes

Mariana wanted in on the fun

And she learned, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Modified Tenzi

Another day in kindergarten!

We tried out a new game called "Tenzi" that I've modified slightly for kindergarten. Simply put, working together, each player rolls one die at a time until it comes up to an agreed upon number.

Players take turns deciding which number to roll for. In the photo below you can see that we  had decided to roll for twos.

There are about 10 die for each player. 
It's a cooperative, team-oriented game. We share the dice. When all the dice are rolled enough times so each one shows the same number, another player chooses a different number to roll for and play begins again.

I am enjoying parent conferences. It is good to get better acquainted with you parents and to share what we know about the kindergartners here.

One mom showed me a shopping list written by her son. I love to see work like this. He is spelling word just as they sound: chyz for cheese, joos for juice, kanddy korn for candy corn. And, of course, he spelled toy exactly right.

Be well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

First Day of Conferences

In kindergarten we're seeing some interest in writing arising among the students. Here are some chalkboards as they appeared at the end of centers this morning.

Some of the words are copied from words posted in the room. Other words emerge from the children themselves like William's terckee. At this point is kindergarten it is very encouraging to see children spontaneously use what they know about the letters and using that knowledge to write down words.

I am often asked whether to correct spelling on words like terckee. The short answer is "no" not yet. Writing practice is helpful in strengthening the brain connections needed for reading.

The time to zero in on conventional spelling is later, not now. Now is the time for practice and play with the letters and their sounds. You want to encourage practice going from letter to sound (reading) and sound to letters (writing).

The only exception I would make at this point in learning is if the child asks for the conventional spelling. In that case, I would provide the correct spelling.

In math today we used to calculator to come up with the total number of laps we did on the walk-a-thon, almost 400. Way to go, kindergarten. Strung end to end, our walking would have stretched 59 miles—more than enough to go from here to AT&T Park, Giant's stadium. That's quite a lot of walking. Way to go kindergarten.

Today we welcomed Maranda back to our classroom. Her classmates were very kind and helpful in trying to make her feel at home and comforted.

We had the first day of conferences today and they went well. I was happy to see so many moms and dads together. Well done, all.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ready for Conferences!

It's been quite a push, but I am now up to date on all the report card assessments, and once I put the final bits of information on the progress reports, I'll be ready for the conferences which will begin Tuesday afternoon.

If you haven't already signed up for a conference, (and a few of you have yet to do so) please visit the school website and sign up online.

Along the way, Ryder showed me that he has learned the whole Soundabet. He was happy to show me that, and we will celebrate a bit on Tuesday.

Way to go, Ryder!

This is a 3-day weekend. Enjoy it!

Be well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Busy times....

I'm having trouble uploading photos to the blog. I can do so only laboriously, so just a few photos today.

Photo credit: Melody White

Today's walk-a-thon, though threatened by morning showers, went off this afternoon under ideal cool partly cloudy conditions.

None of the kindergartners skinned their knees. It went off well.

We had lots of help from kindergarten parents in preparing for and running the event—thanks to all of you who lent a hand to the day. The kids had a good time.

In class we've begun writing a "morning message" to show how writing can record language. Here are a couple of examples....

Janelle Petersen worked on the drum as well.

Jeff and Rachael Zell. Not pictured: Janelle Petersen

We had buddy time with our fifth grade buddies.

Be well.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Walk-a-Thon Notes

Please know:

Kindergarten dismissal on Thursday, November 8, 2012 is 2:30.

Pack a lunch or order a hot lunch for your child.

The weather forecast is uncertain. Please send clothing based on a late-breaking weather forecast. There could be rain. If so, send a raincoat or poncho. No umbrellas because of potential for eye injuries.

Volunteers needed from 12:30 to 2:30. You can help us keep track of the laps walked. It's fun.

There will be a "bake" sale. Bring money if you wish to buy something. You may donate fruit, veggie, cheese, or meat platters as well as baked goods.

Thank you.

Be well.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jaelyn Had a Little Lamb

Another day gone in a flash....

We began with an assembly. The kindergarten performed "They All Asked for You" for the rest of the school. William Z. got the "Toolbox" recognition for using his tools in the month of October. He reminded me and the rest of the class to remember our breathing tool as we took the stage before the large audience at Sebastopol's Ukulele Festival last Friday. He's also used his "empathy" tool while out on the playground. Congratulations, William!

Jaelyn's sharing day is tomorrow, but I asked her to bring in her sharing one day early as it would fit better in a day between centers, as today was. The sharing was a lamb.

We went outside because the morning was so bright and the air was unseasonably warm.

Jaelyn with the little male lamb. His mom had 3 lambs.

That's cow's milk in the bottle, same as we give to our two-legged lambs.

Mom wasn't feeding him enough, so Jaelyn helps with the bottle.
Besides the assembly and lamb visit, we talked a bit about fog and where it might go when it "burns off" in the sun. The kids seemed to understand that since fog is really a cloud on the ground and that clouds are made of water, that perhaps they simply disappear in the sun like a puddle of water.

So we went outside and swirled a cup of water on the playground. After taking a mental snapshot of the water, we went inside to start book one of the Magic Treehouse series. When we went back outdoors for recess to see what happened to the water on the playground there was no trace of it left.

We wrote a few words on chalkboards. We used a calculator to add up the flies swatted in recent weeks. Would you believe 342? Flies like fall around here. (You can read that sentence two different ways, and they are both true.) We did the Hokey Pokey.  The class so quiet at snack time that Jackson got to lengthen bike time by deleting something from the schedule. He chose the Soundabet. 'Course he knows the whole thing now.

Jackson brought "Go Dog, Go!" for story time.

We enjoyed a nice late morning ride around the playground on bikes.


I told the class that Thursday's schedule will be extended through 2:30 on the occasion of the Walk-a-thon. Please remember to send a lunch to school with your child on November 8.

Thank you.

Be well.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What Fun!

Dunham's kindergarten opened the show at the Ukulele Festival in Sebastopol last night. The event was very well attended. When we got up on the stage we were looking over a crowd that I would estimate to be between 200 and 300 people. We sang a couple of songs, "They All Asked for You," and "I Am a Pizza." With the ukuleles we performed "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat" and "Down by the Station." Before we finished we sang "Happy Birthday" for Jaelyn, who turned 6 yesterday. The whole roomful of people joined us on that one. It was quite a performance, especially when you keep in mind we've been in school just 50 days.

I was very proud of them. I cannot tell you how many people came up to me after our performance to compliment the children who performed on stage—I lost count—but a great many did.

P.S. If anyone would like to email me a photo of the event, I would be delighted to post it up here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

See You Tonight!

I hope to see many of you at tonight's concert at the Sebastopol Community Center. We are scheduled to open the show at 7:00 tonight. Plan to arrive a ten minutes before if you're coming just for the singing. No special outfits—come as you are, only maybe a little bit nicer. No charge for kids under 12.

Come when the doors open at 6:30 if you enjoy Larry Vito's famous North Carolina BBQ pulled pork. It's been a consistent winner at the local fairs. As good as it gets.

Our class sounded good in rehearsal this morning, so it ought to be fun. I told the class that feeling nervous butterflies before the show is TOTALLY NORMAL and to expect those butterflies to be big and strong. No worries.

Nervous feelings will be smaller when we start singing, and by the end of the first song they should be manageable. As we bow and go offstage, those nervous feelings will be gone. Feelings of elation (or at least relief) will replace the butterflies. Many people love the wash of feelings you get from performing for an audience. Some people even spend good chunks of their lives going back for more.

Update on the class.

Those who've known the Soundabet for a while are getting faster and faster. Our new speed record holder is William P. He can go through the whole deck in 47 seconds. Other leaders are listed on the chart.

Curtis and Jackson added their names to the growing list of the kids who know the whole Soundabet.

At pick up time Wyatt was using his soundabet knowledge to sound out all kinds of words—with great confidence and ease. For a new reader to tackle words like "Handwriting" and "Centers" is just a great thing to see.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Your Kids Are Stars!

We've made the local paper in Sebastopol!

Check us out. Click here:

Sonoma West Times & News

I hope you all can come tomorrow night's Ukulele Festival. Make sure you've signed up so that I bring along a ukulele for your child to play.