Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Happenings in Kindergarten

Halloween is a very busy day in kindergarten. This one was no exception.

After centers we went out to ride bikes and work in the garden. The kindergartners found a butterfly and a frog.

This butterfly was sitting on the chard. The frog was camera shy.

Mr. Hansen inaugurated the worm bin to make compost for the garden. In my garden I use worms to make compost and they do a great job. Here, some of the kinders are looking inside the worm bin and asking how it works.

Shredded paper helps give the worms a place to hide

 Ella learned how to ride on two wheels today. Ella credits Lexi with having taught her how to ride. Lexi learned how to ride a bicycle earlier this year. The best teacher is often the person who themselves just learned the skill being taught.


I'll try to upload the video from which this picture was lifted.

Here's the video:




Way to go, Ella. I know your mom and dad are happy with your new accomplishment.

Waylon brought snack today. (He traded places with Noah.) Jolene, Waylon's mom, made fruit kabobs.

The kabobs that Waylon brought were presented in a jack-o-lantern.
There was another treat that Mackie's mom, Bonnie, made for our enjoyment—tasty deviled eggs decorated with sliced black olives to look like spiders. Those spiders got all eaten up! Yum. Mackie also brought a little bag of goodies for each of her classmates.

After snack we went outside so the room parents (there were 11 parent helpers in all) could set up the party that ran from 11:00 to 11:45.

I took some photos to record the party, but I actually missed a lot of it. Too much fun.

Thanks to all the parents who made the classroom party such a success.



Painting little pumpkins







At least 11 parents were on hand to help run the party. I thank each and every one!

We also decorated cupcakes and made Halloween wreaths. Somehow I didn't get a photograph of the cupcake decorating activity. We were pretty busy. Here's a photo of the wreath making.




Audrey, Noah, and Lexi all had something to give all of their classmates at the end of the day.


Audrey's gift for each classmate was a bucket of fun.

Lexi brought breadstick ghosts


A number of kindergartners came back for the Halloween parade at 1:30.

We marched around the school and then took two laps around the track.

Round we go

Before departing for the night of trick or treating ahead, we gathered by the east wall of the classroom for a group photo.

Cute kids!

Have a safe and fun Halloween tonight.

See you tomorrow morning.

Be well.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Day Notes

Some reminders:

1. Tomorrow is Halloween. We keep a normal kindergarten day until about 11:00 when the classroom party begins.

2. Do not send your child to school in costume.

3. There is a costume parade that begins at 1:30. This is optional for kindergarten kids.

4. The Halloween costume parade preempts KIDS club. There will be NO KIDS club tomorrow.

An adjustment to the music schedule meant that we could get out on bikes today. It was fun.


5. Tomorrow will be a bike day. We will ride bikes earlier in the day than usual.

6. At 8:00 AM on Monday, November 4, we will sing at the school-wide assembly in the Community Room .
Kindergarten parents and family members are invited.
It will likely be a standing room only concert.
Please stay if you can.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Goodbye Fifth & Sixth Grade!

Right after centers a shiny white tour bus pulled up right outside the kindergarten classroom window. The curious kindergarten kids just had to know all about it. (Some had family members onboard.)

There was no point in trying to forge ahead with the next lesson I had planned.

Instead, I took the class outside to bid the upper grades farewell as they leave for a week in Yosemite National Park.

Photo credit: Mr. Schaible

It was also Mrs. Zell's birthday today. We sang her our birthday songs.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Zell

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Explaining a Video Store

This probably resonates with most of you. Some ukulele music in the background, too.



Camping Weekend

Just back from a weekend of camping on the river. Reading Friday and Saturday nights by a fire blazing in the lodge's wood stove; paddling most of Saturday on the lower Russian River in perfect fall weather; Sunday brunch with friends in camp—yum! And a couple of soaks in the hot tub to boot.

Making tea Saturday morning

The river between Monte Rio and Duncans Mills



So nice.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Roll 'n Record and Symmetry

We took time out to do two activities from the math curriculum this morning since we were between center rotations.

First we did an activity called "Roll and Record" where students rolled a single dice and kept a record of the result. We did this in a large group setting with each student taking a turn.

This is the chart we made to display the results of our 28 rolls. The kids recorded their own roll.


To increase interest, I had each child pick a number to root for.

The second lesson on symmetry was one we explored with paints.

Children slathered on paint on one half of a folded piece of paper and then folded it over so that the paint they applied printed on the other side.

Here are some pictures showing them at the task:





And here's a finished picture:


Both activities will appear in small group center tables in the weeks ahead.

Off to camp for me!

Be well, everyone.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Standardized Tests for Kindergarten In New York City

Take a look at what standardized tests look like for kindergartners in New York City. If you're like me, you'll be outraged by what you see.  I guess there are some people who think that kindergartners (and their teachers) can be evaluated by tests such as these:

Standardized Tests for Kindergarten

I, for one, cannot believe the people behind these tests aren't behind bars. Or locked up in institutions for the insane.

In New York City, parents banded together to be sure that their children would not have their educations reduced to test prep:

Check out the article here:

Parents Opt Out

I must say, I am proud of those parents for standing up for their kids.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Midweek Notes

We're nearing the end of this round of centers. The next round of centers will mark the beginning of my efforts to prepare for our conferences next month.

Audrey came over from Mrs. Zell's Boo Bubbles center to show me her very long lasting bubble. It remained in her gloved hand for some minutes gradually getting smaller and clearer as time ticked by.

Very soon after taking this photo the bubble burst.

Conference Sign Ups Online


Be sure to visit the Dunham website to schedule your conference. An "Alert Now" message ought to have arrived in your email inbox yesterday. That email has a link to follow to get to the online sign up page.


Lining Up

Our class has been working to get in line more quickly.  Some weeks ago, Mrs. Zell and I noticed that lining up was a rough part of our day. The usual problems plagued us—pushing, taking cuts, not getting in line with the end of recess. Lining up was taking too much time and energy.

We instituted a new way to line up. Now the line forms in alphabetical order (no need to push, no need to cut).  The line rotates with the person of the day a month leading the line and yesterday's person of the day being the line ender.

We decided to use a stopwatch to time how long it takes us to form that line. At the beginning it took about 120 seconds to line up. We've done as poorly as 144 seconds. Today we set our new record of 26 seconds. I think we can even improve on that

Be well.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Red Ribbon Week & Halloween Schedule (No KIDS Club 10/31) & Classroom News

Red Ribbon Week

A few of you have wondered about Red Ribbon Week (RRW) at Dunham. RRW is a long-standing anti-illegal drug program aimed at upper elementary students.

Down here in kindergarten we steer clear of RRW.

I am confident that our 5 year olds are not in any immediate need of such a program. On top of that, I am concerned that discussing the dangers of illegal drugs may needlessly provoke anxiety and worry, or even worse: curiosity about drugs. Some kids are going to wonder why....

So when kindergartners ask me what's up with all the ribbons decorating the school, I just say it's for a contest called Red Ribbon Week. The winning school gets some money from RRW. And I leave it at that.

Halloween Schedule

The Halloween party on Thursday, October 31 in kindergarten goes from 11:00 to dismissal. Later that afternoon there is a costume parade around the track. The afternoon parade is optional for kindergarten kids whose parents wish to bring them back in costume for the parade. Typically about two-thirds of the class will take part in the parade.

KIDS club on Halloween day is preempted by the parade.

Classroom News

Tuesday is the day we invite Andy to join us in the morning to begin the day. We're beginning to practice for our first performance at 8:00 AM in the morning Monday, November 4 at the school assembly. You might want stick around to see us sing that day.

The kinders give Andy high 5's.
Here's the completed schedule we followed today:

Four absent today: Dario, Leilani, Martin, and Waylon—get well everyone

We're getting the classroom looking more Halloweeny by the day. Here's the dancing skeletons on display in the northeast corner of the room.



Each one has its own personality

Finally, in reading we noted similarities between two books we read recently: Mr. Gumpy's Outing and Duck on a Bike. We made this simple Venn diagram to show what animals appeared in both stories and which appeared only in one story or the other.

Both stories are good ones for kindergarten.
Be well.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Volunteer Substitute & Boo Bubbles video

KIDS club fun
Parent Volunteer Substitute
Addison's mom, Laura Bach, is available to substitute for a parent volunteer on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. If you cannot volunteer on one of those days, please let her know and she can be there for you.

I got a little bit of video of Mrs. Zell's Boo Bubbles center. I hope it plays okay—well, it's pretty poor quality on my computer here at school. I'll see if I can make at better upload at my home computer.
Till then, Be well.



Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Tidbits

More news in pictures from the kindergarten classroom.

Mrs. Zell made this decorative bulletin board for the area above the sink.

The spirits  floating in the sky are made by tracing a kindergarten foot and adding the facial features—with googly eyes.

Great moon & tree.

I like the message on the gravestones, too!!
Today was Sophia's birthday so we sang her our three birthday songs near the end of our snack time.

It was Julie's day to be the line leader. She brought a Barbie book for sharing and some apples and grapes to share.

The Boo Bubbles center just gets better. Mrs. Zell thinks that the glycerin and Joy dishwashing liquid need some time to set up before they make a bubble liquid with good lasting quality. Whatever it is, they did seem to sit longer in the kindergartners hands before bursting into swirls of cottony air.


Addie and her bubble

Three bubbles at once



Gloves help keep the bubbles from bursting
One of the kindergartners came up to Mrs. Zell to inform her that this kindergarten has the coolest centers in the whole world.






Thursday, October 17, 2013

Drills, Cider Making, and Civil Engineering

At snack time, about halfway through the morning, Dunham School practiced our first earthquake drill. Our class did a fantastic job getting under tables and promptly ducking and covering. Here's a photo of Table 3 waiting for the all clear signal.


Clockwise from bottom-left: Julie, Kaden, Nicholas P., and Davey.
Today was bike and garden Thursday.

Our garden teacher, Mr. Hansen, brought out an apple crusher to make juice. Mrs. Zell got my camera and took some photos to give you an idea of what it was like.






The juice coming out of the spout

Apples going in the chopper.



Garden photos by Rachael Zell


In KIDS club today we went down to the outdoor classroom but spent most of the time doing some kindergarten level civil engineering, you know, driving tractors, building log bridges and other fun stuff.

Wyatt drives the tractor

Noah hauls a big log

Noah and Nick G spanned the creek with this log bridge.


It's been said that play is the work of childhood.

In kindergarten I often think of my lessons as being "a math activity" or "language arts lesson" or "a science activity." I am simultaneously aware that the kids do not see the activities as belonging to separate subject areas. The activities are just what they are. The most engaging activities are those adults might call imaginative play.

Tomorrow is a PE day.

Be well!