Friday, January 31, 2014

Way Off Topic

This one is way off topic, but I thought it would be of interest to the youngsters in my class to see a video of cars and engines being crunched for recycling. I know the little guy inside me was mesmerized.

Last Day of January 2014

We finished up the month of January today. Here are a few glimpses of what we have been up to in kindergarten.

We began the day with our 3-D linking cubes. At this point most of the kinders are making linear patterns like they do with the linear linking cubes. But a few are beginning to think in three dimensions. Their insight will spread. Mackie made a humanoid robot capable of standing up.

One of the centers has material for making Valentines cards. Using his Soundabet knowledge, Evan made this one.

That first person pronoun got the Soundabet spelling. I see this a lot in mid kindergarten. No worries.

Iris mastered the Soundabet today. That makes for a happy teacher, a happy aide—Mrs. Zell helped her a bunch—and a happy class that got some extra bike time today. We're all happy for her.

She finished with plenty of sand in the upper chamber.
Earlier in the day, Iris had her hand in helping to decorate our room with some kinder paintings. Here she is at work at the easel.

Others have painted before her and their works are on the wall.

Jacob's blue painting, upper left corner, looks like a bike popping a wheelie.
Finally, we're making God's Eye weavings. They are coming along well.

I hope you enjoy the weekend.

Be well.

Late Breaking Friday Morning News

No PE today—Mrs. Campbell is sick.

Bikes instead.

Bring a bike & helmet to school if you get this message in time.

Oh yeah.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day #100

It was day #100 of kindergarten today.

We kept the celebrations relatively mild. There were no centers today due to not enough center leaders so we spent a little more time with the Zoobs than usual. Then we talked about doing 100 laps around the track collectively.

Mrs. Zell helped the kids figure out that if each of the 26 kinders went around the track 4 times we'd get to 100 laps, 104 actually.

Here she is counting our unifix cube model of 4 laps per kid.

She led the class in counting aloud to 104.

Then we went outside to actually walk or run around the track 4 times each, dropping a unifix cube into a bucket each time we went around the track. We also kept track on the giant counting frame.

We did 100 laps in a little more than 15 minutes.
The rain that had been forecast for today never really materialized, so we got a nice long bike time.

A few kinders are getting close to getting their names on the Soundabet Masters chart. I am excited so many are interested in achieving this.

Be well.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday notes

First thing I noticed when I opened the door this morning was Kaden's missing front tooth. He showed me how loose his tooth was yesterday afternoon, wiggling it back and forth so much that it grossed out the daycare teacher.

I told Kaden that I thought his tooth would be gone before the start of school today and sure enough I predicted it right.

The fact that we don't have PE on Wednesdays allows for a something of a footwear fashion show. Here's a selection of the boots that came walking into kindergarten this morning.

We had buddies today. A few pictures of what happened on my side of the connection:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Another Soundabet Master

Today Martin showed his classmates that he knows the whole Soundabet.

Here he is standing beside the chart in the classroom that shows his accomplishment.

So now there are twelve: six girls, six boys.

Martin earned his classmates some play time. He and I worked on a tall block tower.

Who is next, I wonder?

Have a good afternoon.

Be well, and hope for some rain.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Last Monday of January

Several people told me today how good they felt to see something other than (dry) blue sky overhead this morning. Even cloudy weather feels welcome in our prolonged drought. There's some rain in the forecast for Thursday, and, even though it is a bike day, I am hoping the rain comes in for real.

With that in mind, I was happy to be able to get out today for a short bike time before our drama lesson with Miss Dana. Cash is putting some good two-wheel practice on the Zootr scooter I brought in here. A few more days of gliding around the playground on those two wheels will give him the skills he needs to balance a bike without the help of training wheels.

We used the part of the morning usually used for centers to provide a little directed drawing lesson. Julie got to choose the subject of the lesson. She wanted me to teach the class about how to draw a cat.

I showed the kids how to draw a cat from a few simple shapes they already know how to draw—rectangle, a circle, some straight and curved lines, some dots, and upside down V's.

Here are the drawing of some of the class. They (and I) were quite pleased with the results.

I wanted the kids to bring their drawings home today.

Tomorrow we will start a new round of centers. Until then,

Be well.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday's Notes

We finished this round of centers and will begin the next round on Tuesday next week. If you're a parent volunteer Monday, it's okay to take the day off. We'll be doing a directed drawing lesson instead of centers.

The 100th day of kindergarten falls next week on Thursday, January 30. We will observe this 100th day informally—the regular parent-led centers will happen.

Mrs. Zell has begun to transform the room from a January theme to give our kindergarten a February flavor. Here's the first taste of Valentine's Day.

Don't ya love the green, yellow, and pink hearts in the middle of the left panel?
Today went by in a flash. Soon after enjoying Jax's story and snack we went out to PE and then Ms. Dana came for our drama lesson.

Mark your calendar: March 1

As you may know, there is a school-wide pasta night with performances by all the Dunham student body on Saturday, March 1. Please mark your calendar for this fantastic event. Our drama classes are preparing the students for that performance.

After school today a trio of fourth graders came by to ask if they could help me with anything. I put them to work for twenty minutes or so.

Thanks, you guys.
Have a great weekend.

Be well.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jacob's Snack

It was Jacob's day to bring in snack today, and it came packed in two cardboard boxes. Inside were his hi-tech robot snack. It was well received by the class.

A robot assembled from a juice box, raisins, a fruit roll-up, and a cup of fruit.
Earlier that day we had centers. I was impressed by the careful observations and drawings of our budding science investigators.

We did have a nice time out on bikes in this warm, dry, winter sunshine. Then we got back inside in time to see the Traveling Lantern Theater's production of Greek mythology.

Two actors cover many roles. It works.

I love how the actors get the audience up on stage to assist.

Evan and Ella on stage with King Midas
Kaden lends a hand on stage

And so does Sophia

It was a fun day and it flew by fast.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Teaching Styles

Among teachers you can find a wide variety of teaching styles. Teaching styles reflect the personalities and outlooks of the teacher.

Over the years a teacher's personal style may change. It may become more patient, more forgiving, more willing to wait for the learner to be ready. And the opposite can occur.

If we look into the natural world we can see examples of different teaching styles that can be observed among animals. In this video, you can see how dogs and cats approach the same lesson.

Watch it. It'll only take a little more than a minute. I think you'll enjoy it. (I don't recommend that you click on the pop-up advert.)

Mid week class notes

Iris's day to bring snack and story. She brought a book for story time and a good snack.

Waylon had a big day today. He's mastered the whole Soundabet and showed his classmates by saying them all with the microphone in hand. Way to go, Waylon!

We enjoyed being with our buddies from fifth grade today. I really love the way the kids interact with each other. It seems the buddy system brings out the best from both the kindergartners and the fifth graders.

Blocks on the green mat

Fancy bracelets being woven together
Tomorrow is a bike day. We had a good bike day today, so that makes it two in a row.

Be well.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

No Centers Tomorrow. There will be BIKES.

First thing tomorrow morning we will have our music lesson with Andrew, the music teacher. That means we won't have centers tomorrow. If you are one of our regular volunteer center leaders on Wednesday, you have the day off.

We will have buddies and we will have BIKES.

Please bring in bikes and helmets for tomorrow.

Dismissal of kindergarten is our usual Wednesday time: 1:25.

Now, on to the news of today.

After PE today we went out to the outdoor classroom to make some pictures for Cash. Once we were done with the pictures, we had a chance to play in the creek.

Mrs. Zell got this photo of Noah's creekside tipi. He made it out of sticks he found nearby.

Tipi is in lower right-hand corner of the frame.

Cash and his family lost one of their family dogs, Ellie Mae, over the weekend. Cash wanted to turn the rainstick in Ellie Mae's memory.

Cash remembering his family dog, Ellie Mae, his Bassett Hound-mix who passed this weekend.

I hope you enjoyed the long weekend.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Towering Math

We started off the day working with 1-inch wooden cubes at the tables. Today the class was interested in seeing how high they could stack them. It takes careful placement of the blocks one on top of the other and a steady hand to add blocks on top once your stack reaches 18 inches high.

Ava was among the most skillful block builders.

I made my way among the tables holding a yardstick next to the towers to see how high they got.
This tower reached 21 inches into the sky. It wasn't the highest of the morning, but it was close.

There are many other ways to use these blocks. Today's work is a good way to introduce how to measure lengths with a ruler or yardstick.

We had fun singing our "T-E-N" song today. We substituted other letters for the "T" in the song coming up with "D-E-N" "M-E-N" and the like.

Ella brought in delicious snack with cheeses, crackers, and veggies & dip.

She shared a book called "Doggy" about a girl named Lily who found a big furry animal in her backyard. Ask your child to tell you about the story and its surprise ending.

Martin brought in cupcakes to help us celebrate his sixth birthday which falls tomorrow. We sang Happy Birthday to him and also to Mrs. Zell's daughter, Monique, whose birthday is today.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Be well.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Millie & the Blendmasters

Yesterday was Dario's day. He meant to bring in his new puppy, Millie, to share with the class on his day, but we got it done first thing this morning.

Millie is a Jack Russell Terrier mix, a sweet and very lovable 7-month old puppy. Millie was born with just one ear. She's full of love and spunk and happy to have found a loving home with Dario and Drew.

You need a good, fast camera to photograph a Jack Russell without getting some blurriness!

We've been blending up some new and interesting words in kindergarten. We call the game "Blendmaster" and it's a fun game to play. You can play it at home. Get out your Soundabet cards and take a red card (all the red cards are vowel cards) and two black cards (all the black cards are consonant cards) and place them down in a row Black-Red-Black.

Together these three cards will form will form a word—either a word that's familiar, like sun, or shark—or a word that hasn't been "born" yet. All the words will be readable. Just blend them together.

Here's some words I left in the pocket chart after this morning's session.

Ella is a vowel-consonant-vowel word, but her name got up there b/c she was absent today and we were missing her.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tomorrow is Bike Day

Tomorrow there is time scheduled for bikes.

Bring those bikes and helmets.

Be well.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Audrey Masters the Soundabet

We got the ZOOBS out for the beginning of the day.

The kids and some parents sat down and got to work putting them together. In a few minutes Mackie, who had been working with her mom's and dad's help, came up to show me what she'd made—a robot.

I've been waiting/hoping for something like this to come out of the ZOOB time. I hope your kid takes a long look at this guy and tries to remember how he's built. Next time we get out the ZOOBs I'll bet we see more interesting creations.

It was Cash's day today. He brought a book that most of this class loves, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. He also brought a snack food of crackers, cheese, and bananas. Good all the way around.

Audrey made my day by showing me at recess that she knows the whole Soundabet. She took the microphone after recess and showed all her classmates the same thing. She's a Soundabet Master now, the first one to join in 2014. Way to go, Audrey!!

I'm hoping a few more of her classmates will soon join the guild.

Here's a happy Audrey shown with her sister, Glory, taken at dismissal this morning.

Audrey, left, and her little sister, Glory, right

There is a PTO meeting this afternoon. If any kindergarten parents want to offer their time and energy in service to Dunham, please come. It's a very good way to get involved in the Dunham School community.

Be well.

Monday, January 13, 2014


As we approach the halfway point in the kindergarten year we begin to make the change from writing mostly in all uppercase letters to using mostly lowercase letters with the occasional capital letter. 

Our handwriting book goes through all the uppercase letters at the beginning of the year and then, starting about now, halfway through the year it goes through the lowercase letters. At the end of the year our kindergarten handwriting book goes through the numbers 1 through 10.

This morning we put up new names around the room with the conventional formatting of first letter capitalized, the others in lowercase: Joseph. They look good.

Thanks to the parents who helped us get the letters in order. Without your help they wouldn't looks as good as they do.

I had hoped to squeeze in some bike time this morning, but it just wasn't to be. Snack time was noisy and the Quiet Machine had quite a workout.

Four times that red light flashed, "Quiet Please!"
We did manage to get outside to burn off some excess energy before Ms. Dana's Drama lesson this morning.

Be well.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bikes on Monday

We are going to squeeze in some bike time tomorrow. Bring in those bikes and helmets.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Next Monday Morning

Next Monday morning we will be between centers. At center time we will be refreshing the names around the room. Instead of all uppercase letters (MR GURNEY) the names will appear in the more conventional capitalized first letter, then lowercase letters (Mr Gurney).

We took down the names to get ready for Monday morning and the room looks strangely wrong:

It will look better by Monday afternoon.

If you're a parent volunteer, please stay and help if you wish. We could use some help.

Also, we're going to try to restore Monday bike days by sliding bike time up in the schedule just a tad. So.... bring those green shirts and bikes on Monday morning. We'll see how it goes.

Have a good weekend.

Let's hope it rains tomorrow.

Be well.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mackie Rides Again

It has been quite a while since we last got out on bikes—not since December 19 of last year.

So it felt good to go out today on bikes at the end of the day. Maybe the best part was seeing Mackie riding again. Attentive readers of the blog may remember back in the fall (September 23) we featured a video of Mackie riding on two wheels. Soon after that day, she was in a bike collision with another rider. She decided to stop riding bikes for a while.

Over the winter break she practiced with her family. Now her confidence is restored. Today she resumed her riding.

Here's a short video that Mrs. Zell took this morning.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Buddies Day Today-- Bikes Thursday

Today we met with our fifth grade buddies.

Mrs. Schmidt did charades with her half of the class; in kindergarten we gave them time to play together. I love how the fifth graders enjoy some time helping their kindergarten buddies here.

Noah adds a chimney to the skyscraper he and David made.
Tomorrow is bike day.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Review: Saying Goodbye to Lulu

I want to tell you about the book I read at story time today. It's among my favorite books for children, especially when they're in need of comfort at a time of loss.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas (Ard Hoyt, illustrator) tells the story of a girl's grieving over the loss of her much-loved family dog, Lulu. The story is told in first person—the narrator is a early elementary school girl.

The telling does not dodge the poignant sadness of loss. Lots of sensory details that bring the reader right up close to Lulu's decline.

The first page starts out:

"When my dog Lulu got really old she couldn't climb the stairs anymore. She'd wait for me at the bottom and her tail would go thump, thump. Sometimes she didn't hear me calling her, and when we went on walks she stayed closed beside me because she couldn't see well."

It goes on:

"When Lulu couldn't walk anymore I would carry her out to the grass. When she couldn't see or hear at all, she could still smell. She would lift her head to sniff the outside world. I fed her from my hand and held her water bowl so she could drink.

I put all her dog toys—her squeaky and her rawhide chew and my old slipper—nearby her. At night I covered her with my blue sweater, the one she always pulled off my chiar and curled up with when I wasn't home."

The story takes us all the way through Lulu's passing and the sadness and difficulty of saying goodbye.

Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one may find it hard to read this story aloud without spilling some tears.

That's how it is for me. And was for Mrs. Zell. And for several of the kids in class today.

It's a good book to read to any child who is experiencing loss.


Just so you know.... this book ends in hope and new-found love—real love made deeper and richer by the losses described so vividly at the beginning.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tim's Place

It pays to dream, and to follow your dream.

Tim, who has Down's Syndrome, had the dream to own a restaurant that serves up breakfast, lunch, and hugs. With some help from his family, his dream has come true.

I think in our time Americans are more hungry for hugs than for food.

"The hugs are way more important than the food."

2014 A Good Start

On the first day back from winter break in January it is common to have some "back to school" tears at the drop off time. But this morning we had no tears. Whew!

We had a morning assembly and then came back into the room to work at the tables on a familiar math manipulative, Cuisenaire Rods. Beck made an interesting design at his table:

I've never before seen a kindergartner make concentric rectangles with these materials.
There were other designs, too.

Cash built a swimming pool with a diving board.

Three swimmers in the pool and a fourth on the end of the diving board

A flower sprouted up in front of Audrey.

Perky little thing

Miss Dana, our drama teacher came by at the end of the day to teach us our drama lesson. She has a knack for getting everyone to participate in her activities.

She read us Dr. Seuss's story, The Sneeches.

She introduced us to the first moves of the dance we'll perform on Pasta Night.

A good day today.