Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Break

Yesterday was Mary's birthday, and by coincidence, also her birthday. She brought her 4-H guinea pigs to share and her mom brought one of the rabbits she's been raising since she was, herself, a youngster involved in animal husbandry.

We all got a chance to give the rabbit a pat on its head.


Today was the first day of winter. The days begin to lengthen ever so slightly starting tomorrow.

We had our Winter Solstice Concert this morning in the Community Room. The Principal, the sixth grade and many parents came to see it. I thought the kindergartners did very well. (I was not able to take photos as I was playing the ukulele during most of the concert.)

After, we had some well-deserved time to play, then we went through our usual routines and story time (Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas) before the classroom party began.

Santa came by to give everyone a little candy cane.

He brought me a wooden sign, just like the one I had written him about.

As I read the story, the room moms and the volunteer helpers got the tables set up for making gingerbread houses with milk carton armatures covered with graham crackers and decorations affixed with white frosting. Here are some photos showing the works in progress.

It's getting pretty close to Christmas. My adult children are both traveling to be with us this Christmas, the first time in some years when we've been all together, the four of us, for the holidays. We pick them up in SFO tomorrow. I am looking forward to it.

During the holiday I am sure that I miss my kindergarten friends.

We will gather back together in January 2013 first thing Monday morning.

Until then,

Be well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

News of Kindergarten in Brief (Staff meeting tonight!)

Just a few captioned photos today... gotta go to a meeting that starts minutes from now.

Taea knows the Soundabet!!!

Rachael Z. made it possible to have some
choice time this afternoon. I wouldn't dare try this
without some extra help.
Thanks, Rachael.

Maranda made a whole city.

Wyatt made a cool mosque-like building

Robert made symmetrical paintings.

The sign up sheet on the classroom door
has some space for more names.... 

Another brimming day.....
Be well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Post # 1000

I guess 1,000 posts is a milestone worth noting. You cannot get to that number without having been at it for quite a while. I started this blog about 5 years ago, so I'm averaging some 200 posts per year, not bad when you consider that a school year has only 180 days in it.

Anon left a link to a brief video of one of my heros, Mr. Rogers, talking about how to talk about tragic news with young children. I cannot embed the video here, but you can see it by following this link and clicking to view it:

It's worth a look. Thanks, Anon.

In other news of the classroom, I saw a lot of great things going on today....

Mary has mastered all of the Soundabet and is going on now to master the Queen's cards.

Ryder and Noah did some impressive mental math. Ryder started us off by knowing what 32 + 32 makes. We went on with the powers of two until we got to 512.

Some of the Lincoln log buildings done at the end of centers.

Noah and Taea helped clean up the floor after our pretzel stick snack.

Leland filled Mrs. Campbell's bucket at PE today and Jayson filled up Mrs. Burger's bucket at library time by being such a good listener and thanking her for the story with a spontaneous hug. Just another great day in school.

See you tomorrow.

Be well.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good day today.

 Here is a photo of the Poinsettia plant that Jaelyn and Carley brought in on Friday morning as a "random act of kindness & beauty" which in light of events later in the day is especially touching.
Thank you. Thank you.

 Madilynn brought in snack and a book to share.... and her mom to read it to us. How nice! It's a story about Santa Claus and the spirit of the holiday season. It is based on a true story of a little girl's letter to a New York newspaper asking if Santa is real and getting a reply printed in the newspaper about the very realness of kindness and generosity. Again, a wonderful, life-affirming message welcomed here.

Grace learned the Soundabet and went home with a deck of the Queen's Cards to master. Way to go, Grace!!

Post Script for Parents:

We did not discuss current events in kindergarten. I do not plan to initiate any discussion.

If questions do come up, I'll answer them in the most reassuring and matter-of-fact way that I can. I'll be as brief as possible and then move on the kindergarten activities at hand.

Mr. Shaible sent a message from the Association of School Psychologists suggesting guidelines for handling your child's concerns. I read it and recommend you read it too. It's got very good suggestions.

For more info: National Association of School Psychologists

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012 (with a PS for parents)

Yesterday morning was a happy day in kindergarten. Lots of things happened to "fill our buckets" with happiness. Jaelyn and Carley brought in a Poinsettia plant to decorate our room. Leland and Maranda joined everyone else in learning all the names of all the classmates—a first in my more than thirty years in the classroom here at Dunham. Aidan showed mastery of the Soundabet and Robert demonstrated his ability to zip through all the sounds in just over half a minute. Finally, Wyatt & Jaelyn took care of a sink drain that had clogged up with debris without anyone asking them to. Their initiative is just the kind of thing I love to see in school.

Sometimes you'll see "names on the board" for behavior problems; yesterday in our class you saw it's complement: names of the board for exemplary behavior. It feels good to highlight behavior we like to see.

In the morning message we hoped to hear from Santa Claus. We've had some correspondence with him lately.

And we were not disappointed. Near the end of the day, Lori from the office brought us this letter.

Post script for parents:

After school let out I learned about the events in Connecticut that happened yesterday morning. I was stunned, numbed, and depressed by the news.

Sadly, senseless violence has become more frequent in America. We as a people need to take this problem seriously, think well and deeply about it, and figure out how to respond helpfully and sensibly.  I do not know the answers. Together we must find our way out of this mess.... and denial isn't going to get us there.

For now, may I respectfully suggest a few things for your consideration.

  • Please reassure your children. Events like these are still rare.
  • Limit your child's exposure to the news, the internet, and news radio. We don't need to know every detail of these events. 
  • Avoid having adult discussions about about Newtown in the presence of your child so as to avoid provoking needless worry and anxiety. 
  • Find things to do with your child that are enjoyable and distracting. I like being outdoors personally, and that's how I spent Saturday morning.
  • And finally, give your children priority ahead of computers, iPhones, texting, etc.  Look your children in the eyes. Give them ALL of your attention. Tell your children that you love them. Hug them.

Be well.

Be well.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Fun

Leland decided to impersonate Rudolph in centers the other day.

 Kinda goofy, and lots of fun.

Jaelyn, Mary, Carley, and Mariana have added hearts to their names on the wall. Almost everyone has learned all of their classmates' names.

Mary, Carley, and Mariana did it today.

I'm really pleased at how many students have mastered the Soundabet. Thirteen of twenty two have mastered at least the King's Cards. Another half dozen students are within just a few of this goal. That's pretty good. As always, the way to success is regular practice using the known cards and letting the learner choose the cards to add to the mix. If you see a confident kid, you're doing it right.

As we move from letter names and letter sounds to whole sight words and to blending words we begin to enter the realm of reading. It's exciting for me to see the class blossom into early readers.


Today we ran through all of our songs for the Winter Concert on December 21. The class sounds very good.

I hope you will be able to come to that early morning concert.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

News Photos for 12/11/12

The look of Soundabet success.

Tomorrow is Sport Spirit Day.

Got his Queen's Cards today

Same goes for Noah

Leland got his Kings Card today....

As did Jayson

I hope you can come tonight...
Arrive at 6:15. We'll be done by 6:45

Started the McDuff stories today.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two Soundabet Masters & A New Two-Wheeler

Another stellar day in the Childlife Refuge.

Both Jackson and Wyatt demonstrated mastery of the Soundabet in lowercase letters.

That earned us some extra time on bikes and Aidan apparently decided to enter the realm of riding on two wheels.

Be well!