Friday, September 27, 2013

A Big Goofy Grin

We started off the day with Addison's sharing—a black boy bunny that Addie took on as a rescue project.

Addison and her mom showed him to us and allowed all who wanted to give him a pat on the head.

It is hard to photograph a black furry creature.
Addie lead us in Skidamarink before we went off to centers.

We used chalkboards to practice writing the letter U today. The curve at the bottom of the letter is tricky to get just right.

Done right, the uppercase U looks like a big, goofy grin.

For me and some others, the outdoor classroom was a highlight of the day. We took the rainstick out there and sent our best wishes to a member of the classroom community. After that we took a hike around the field behind the school. I had hoped there would be time to look at the tractor parked in the trees by the creek, but, alas, that will have to wait until Tuesday.


There is no school Monday. The teachers will be at the County Office of Education getting inservice training. See you Tuesday.

On Tuesday KIDS Club begins.
Leilani, Keila, Julie, Iris, Addison, Ava, Mackie, and Audrey are invited to stay until dismissal at 2:25.

Be well.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

KIDS Club & Daily News

By now most of you have seen the invitation to KIDS Club. (There was an invitation on goldenrod paper in your child's cubby today.)

You may wonder what KIDS Club is all about.

Very simply, it's a longer kindergarten day for every kindergartner* with enrichment & smaller groups. A relaxed and curious zone.

In KIDS club your child will take part in kindergarten enrichment activities art, science, math, music, and language arts. There are four sessions, each lasting two weeks. This will make it possible to divide the class into four groups—smaller instructional groups of about seven students.

With smaller groups it is easier to offer enrichment activities, for example beginning ukulele instruction.

I hope to make KIDS club as fun and as interesting as possible for your child.

*If your child is in Transitional Kindergarten, he or she will have to wait until next year.

Daily News

Wyatt brought in a snack and a book today. He was the line leader. We enjoyed bikes & the garden in perfect fall weather.

Lexi, who has learned all of her classmates names, showed us that fact during snack yesterday. At first she was a little hesitant about speaking into the microphone, but warmed to the task before she was through. Here she is yesterday just after telling us everyone's names.

Way to go, Lexi!

Tomorrow will be Addie's day. She's going to share a rabbit at the beginning of school. Don't be late!

Be well!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Quiet/Safe Place Tool

from the Toolbox Program—

When life gets stressful, each of us needs a place to feel safe—a place with some space between ourselves and what is happening around us. The Quiet/Safe Place, whether a real location or a place in the imagination offers your child awareness that a quiet/safe place is available.

This tool is about learning to focus on a memory of our safe places, which triggers our body to relax. We ask children to locate both an actual physical place that feels good the them, and to create one in their imaginations that can be visited again and again. We teach them how to "go to" their quiet/safe place in their minds whenever the feel the need for comfort or to reduce stress.

Here are some suggestions for using the Quiet/Safe Place Tool at home:

  • Talk about your own quiet/safe place.
  • Ask your children about theirs.
  • Ask your children to explain the Quiet/Safe Place Tool tag line, "I remember my quiet place," and the hand gesture that goes with it.
  • During times of stress, suggest that your children use their Quiet/Safe Place Tools.

By practicing the Toolbox tools at home, you are helping your child develop resiliency and helping us create a happier, healthier school community together.

Here's a photo taken last weekend at one of Mr. Gurney's Quiet/Safe Places—Teacher's Beach on Tomales Bay.

I love being outdoors, alone in nature. This beach on Tomales Bay is a place of refuge for me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday News

Thor at the climbing structure after school

Today was Thor's day. He brought in a story for me to read to the class which his classmates seemed to really enjoy.

The snack he brought was very popular as well. It was a guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips, and frozen gogurt. Thor chose the ever popular "Popcorn" for the dance.


If your child would like an introduction to the martial arts, please be aware of an after school opportunity on Tuesdays. Noah from our class is taking it. Here's Noah jumping over a rope that his teacher is spinning.

Noah clears the spinning rope. Several kindergartners are interested in taking this Tuesday class.

No bikes, no PE tomorrow. We will see Andrew our music teacher again tomorrow.

Be well.

Monday, September 23, 2013

More New Riders

Two more kindergartners joined the ranks of the two wheel riders. First Sophia learned. Mrs. Zell says she had very little to do once the training wheels came off. She just started riding! Sophia is brave, unafraid of falling. In fact, a few seconds after the end of the video clip below, she fell off the bike. She wasn't really hurt. Most of all, she was not discouraged at all. She was up on her bike soon after the fall and rode the rest of the morning.

Not long after, Mackie learned to ride on two wheels as well. Educators will tell you that students learn as much from their fellow classmates as they do from their teachers. This is a good case in point. Learning is contagious. Here's Mackie's video, taken by Mrs. Zell on her iPhone.

Nicholas P. enjoyed working with the modeling clay this morning. I think this image came to mind as his hands worked the clay

The sculpture in Arlington, VA

In any event, here's what he came up with:

Semper fi
Finally, the kids who sit at Table 3 asked me to take a photo of the clean up work they did. Gladly!

Clean as a whistle

Friday, September 20, 2013

Paper Cup Parachutes

My son, James, is teaching an undergraduate course in the Education Department at the University of Georgia.

Yesterday we were talking on the phone about gender issues in education. He wanted to know what ideas I might have that he could pass along to the college students in his class with regard to making early childhood education more interesting for boys.

One of the ideas I offered to my son was to include activities that involve flying objects.

Here's one we're doing right now in kindergarten—paper cup parachutes. All you need is a small paper cup, a paper towel, string, and scotch tape. Inside of ten minutes you've got a flying machine that is cheap, handmade, and fun to fly.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Aubrie's First Ride

Can You Help Tomorrow?

Tomorrow morning we could use one or two more parent volunteers during centers from 8:00 to 8:45. If it's possible for you to be that helper, please let us know in the morning. You'd be working with children at tables with paint and clay.

News Today

Lots of good moments today. We began a new round of centers that include parachutes, pizzas, and painting with sponges. The quality of the handwriting in the class as a whole is improving rapidly.

But today's finest moment was undoubtedly when Aubrie decided it was time to shed the training wheels. Mrs. Zell got them off and ran alongside as she rode across the playground on two wheels. I ran inside to grab the camera to capture her second ride.

Tomorrow is a PE day.

Be well.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Report from Wednesday

Early this morning Evan told his classmates about flying over Dunham School with his dad and his brother and a pilot friend of the family. It sounded like flying in a small plane was a lot of fun.

Evan flew over his house and the B pool as well.

We also had our first session with Andrew today. Every Wednesday just before dismissal Andrew plays the guitar and bass drum while he sings with the kindergarten and first grade classes. We sang "My Body Makes Music," "You Sing a Song," and "This-a-way, that-a-way" with Andrew. I forgot to bring my camera to music, so I asked him to swing by on his way home so we could take a photo to share here on the blog.

Andrew's a wonderful music teacher!

At the end of the day, many of our correspondents said that singing with Andrew was the good part of the day.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Between Centers Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we will be between center rotations. That means parent volunteers will have the morning off on Wednesday. A new set of centers will come up on Thursday.

Thanks to all the parents who responded to the call for room parent. We have a solid team now comprised of a half dozen moms.

Tomorrow is not a bike day. We will have our music teacher Andrew for the first time tomorrow.

Be well.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Room parent update. PE tomorrow

Room Parent—

Vivianna, Noah's mom has graciously stepped up to volunteer to be our room parent this year. She would really like to have some company in that role. I would rather see a small team of four or so share the responsibility. Being a room parent is a great way to get more involved in the Dunham School community. You don't have to be available every week as with parent center volunteers. I hope others will step forward to help Vivianna.

Tomorrow is a PE day. Send sturdy play shoes. Also look for another book that is yours to keep.

Here's some of the work accomplished in the science center this morning.

Goldfish as seen in the eyes of five year old observers.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Life is musical, and the point's to dance.

Here's a short video that makes the point that life's a musical thing, and the point is to dance.

Kindergarten at its best is about kindergarten, and not "getting ready for first grade."

Bring the bikes tomorrow. It's bike day.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Room Parents & Keeper Books

Room Parent

Would like to be a kindergarten room parent this year?

Room parents (often a team of parents) organize the classroom parties—low key in my room—to celebrate the following events:

1. Halloween

2. Winter holiday

3. Valentines Day

4. Spring Egg Hunt

It's a good way to get involved in school. It is helpful if you can also attend the PTO meetings after school on the first Tuesday of each month. 

Please let me know if you'd like to be our room parent.

Thank you.

Free Books

Over the decades I have collected so many books that my bookshelves are literally jammed with books.  

In the days and weeks ahead from time to time I will be sending home free books from the classroom. Please keep them. I need to make room for new titles.

Here's a photo of the class taking home the first books of the year. 

Please keep the books that say keep on the cover!

If your child has been hankering for homework, please be sure to read and discuss the books they bring home.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lexi's First Ride on 2 Wheels

It was Lexi's day today. It being a bike day, she wanted to ride her bike. At the beginning of our bike time, her bike had training wheels. But about halfway through she asked us to remove them from her bike. In no time at all Mrs. Zell had her successfully riding on two wheels.

Here's a short video:

More good things happened too.

Dunham's resident bass player, Andy Tester, dropped by kindergarten this morning to help out with our morning singing. His bass playing adds a noticeable punch. The class sang much better today that before. After singing, a bunch of the kids wanted a closer look at his bass.

Andy will be back on a weekly basis, usually on Tuesday mornings.

I always wake up happy to come to school when Andy's scheduled to come.

Mr. Hansen, our gardening teacher was on hand to show the kindergarten kids where the potatoes were. For Aileigh, digging out the potatoes was a highlight of the day.

Kinder Garden at its best.
Some pretty amazing work is coming out of the center groups.

Leilani painting

Nick carefully putting the cars away

Jax's pattern block design

More designs from table 2

Addie's painting

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Everyone's Names

Here are pictures of the people in kindergarten this year. Use it to help you learn the names of the people who make up the class.

Mrs. Zell




Mr. Gurney


Nicholas P.






















Mr. Hansen

*any omissions are to honor parents who prefer that their children do not appear online.