Friday, May 30, 2014

Beginning to Wind Down

We had both PE and music this morning, the last Friday of this kindergarten year. We jiggled the schedule because Andrew had been down with springtime allergies on Wednesday, his usual day. Our music session was an all-request day.

We will have one more bike day on Monday and our last PE day with Mrs. Campbell on Tuesday. Yes, the year is beginning to wind down.

In centers today we had some dads help out. Evan's dad made this crayon-resist watercolor using a white crayon and watercolor paints.

We'll do more of these on Wednesday.

At the game center, kinders are playing "Up the River." Aubrie's dad, Paul, helped in that center.

Next week we'll finish up centers on Tuesday. Wednesday we'll take home a lot of the room decorations that the class has made. Thursday, of course, is the PTO's End of the Year Carnival.

Have a good weekend.

Be well.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Introducing the Calculator

In our math program we're asked to introduce the calculator in kindergarten. We did that today. If you want to follow up at home, I suggest you use counters to work simple addition and subtraction problems and then check the work using a calculator. Work within your child's existing level, aiming for easy problems, not hard ones. Remember our intent at this point here is to introduce the calculator, not explore the outer edges of what they might know about arithmetic.

In this "take-away" example, illustrated below, Kaden starts  his subtraction problem with 10 counters.

10 sticks to start with. He counted the sticks and entered 10 on the calculator.

Take away 7 sticks.

Entering "take away"

(take away) 7

Here, Kaden counts the remaining sticks of which there are 3

And he presses the "equals" button to check the answer he got by counting the sticks.

 Most six year old children benefit from doing problems like these "hands on" by which I mean using actual counters and moving them together (for addition) and apart (for subtraction) and getting their answers by counting. The calculator is a fun way to check their work.

If you have a tablet computer, consider using one of the free calculator apps instead of a regular calculaor. They're bigger and brighter.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014/ TED talk

It was Ivan's day today, and he brought a very nice snack for the class—drinkable yogurts, meat and cheese sandwiches, apples, strawberries. It was also Jacob's birthday and he brought in brownies to share. Tomorrow will be Jacob's day for sharing.

Our music teacher, Andrew was ill today so we used the time to watch an instructional animated video about blending words. Most of the class really knows how to blend CVC words now.

We talked about the vowels they mentioned in the video (A, E, I, O, and U) as well as the vowel they failed to mention: Y. I wanted the kids to know that every word (with very rare exceptions) has to have one of those vowels in it.

During centers I'm working on report cards. They'll be done within the week.

As you know, I talk a lot about being safe in kindergarten. I recently ran across this TED talk which discusses how leadership involves keeping people feeling safe and included. I hope teachers who read this blog will find 12 minutes to watch it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What a nice way to begin the week to sing with the whole school one of the songs we do in kindergarten, Deeply Beautiful. I was touched.

It was Iris's day to bring snack and story. She made this with the 1" wooden cubes and she wanted me to take a photo of it.

Noah was proud of his new shoes. They light up when he steps. Noah pointed out to me that they are Star Wars shoes.

Both of them lit up
Tomorrow is a bike day. There will be no Fifth Grade Buddies due to the fifth graders overnight field trip to Angel Island where they will re-enact the Civil War era with some marching, flag waving, and cannon-firing. I am sure they'll have a good time.

Be well.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday in Pictures

Just a few pictures from this morning....

Zoobs to start the day.....

Cooking some biscuits and putting freshly made butter on them in centers....

Great to have so many dads involved in kindergarten.

We visited the second grade to see the dioramas that they made for Open House Night. They're also hatching meal worms into beetles.

With the dioramas were written reports about animals.
Remember that the Dunham School Talent Show is tonight on the playground at 5:30.

Have a great long weekend.

Be well.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Set of Centers Tomorrow, Friday

We are bringing up a new set of centers tomorrow. Two of them will be cooking centers.

Mrs. Zell thought we might be one parent volunteer short tomorrow, so if you would like to volunteer to lend a hand tomorrow morning, please do so.

We are so close to the end of the year that this will be the final set of centers we will run this year. Hard to believe that only 9 days of kindergarten remain, and that's counting the big carnival day at the end of the year.

See you tomorrow.

Be well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Open House Tonight

Tonight the school will keep its doors open from 6:00 to 7:30. We invite you to come and visit the school and see inside the other classrooms. Be sure to visit first grade across the luncheon patio for an advance look at what's to come in the fall.

In the second grade you'll have to opportunity to meet the new second grade teacher who will begin at Dunham next year, Ms. Nicole Whitehorn.

And the sixth grade has a Wax Museum of figures from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations—well worth visiting in the portable classroom out by the main parking lot.

On top of all that there will be a Buy One, Get One Free Scholastic book fair in the library and "Engineering for Kids" a supplemental educational engineering program that will be offered next year as interest in it dictates. There will be lots to see and do.

Ava working on her wood structure.

Of course the kindergarten room will be open for you to stop by and say hello. At your child's place will be the handwriting book we worked in all year. There will also be the glued wood structures that your child built in class recently and black bean mosaics that they made quite a while back. You can take all these things home with you tonight.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


For the past few days we've been busy working on some new art—cityscapes—to display at the front of the room. Today just before Mrs. Campbell's PE class we worked on the pictures for the last time before putting them up.

They cityscapes are up for tomorrow evening's Open House Night.

More about Open House in tomorrow's post.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Travel Journal

Each day I try to read a "non-fiction" title to the class. As wonderful as the storybooks for kindergarten children can be, I've found that for some students have more of an appetite for works of nonfiction. (As an adult I'm almost always reading nonfiction titles. Though I enjoy an occasional novel, it's rare that I read them.)

Today we had the treat of reading a nonfiction work by one of our students, Nicholas. He and his family traveled to Disneyland late last week. Nicholas kept a travel journal which will be a real keepsake for his family. I took a few pictures of its pages so you can see what he did.

Later in the morning Jacob pulled out some custom tailpipes for his Harley. We installed them and he roared away.

Loud pipes. Our bikes make quite a racket these days.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Have a Good Weekend!

I hope you enjoy the weekend ahead. We've got some relief from the warm weather.

As for me.....

Paddling on the Russian River

I've got a weekend of camping and canoeing planned.

Be well.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blocks & Bikes

We had some fun at centers.

Kaden wanted to have his Hot Wheels car go through a wood block tunnel that Iris and Addie had made. Problem was we couldn't figure out how to get it to go through.

Then I thought that perhaps the digereedoo might be the ticket, and sure enough, it worked.

We had some fun in the spin art table, too.

Outside at bike time, we literally roared around on bikes with motor sounds made by repurposed veggie 6-pack containers from Mr. Hansen's garden and from discarded plastic water bottles.

I took video with sound which I'll post later from home since YouTube is not available to me at school.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Buddies & Bikes

Today was our first ever Buddies & Bikes Day. We invited the fifth grade buddies to bring their bikes to school and ride with us during our Buddy time. Most of them did and, despite the very warm afternoon sun, we had a good, safe time with each other.

It was the first time in six years that the fifth graders got to ride their bicycles on the playground during school and they were pretty happy about it. Mrs. Schmidt, who is an avid cyclist, brought her road bike and joined in on the fun.

We had a good time.


Today, Wednesday, will be a bike day with our fifth grade buddies. Remember to bring your bike!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Centers Started Today

We started out on the next-to-last set of centers this morning. Here are some of them.

Blocks center is independent

Mrs. Zell's son, William, contributed his marble maze.

We're doing some spin art, always a favorite.

The math center involves recording the results of rolling two dice at a time.

Tomorrow is a spirit day. To participate, have your child wear something sporty—team wear or sporting outfits of some sort.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Whooping Cough

Just to be sure that you know:

A note was sent home today about the fact that a fifth grader has come down with Whooping Cough. It's quite contagious. Since the fifth grade and the kindergarten classes are together as buddies, our class is affected.

Please read the note sent home today.

If it didn't come home, you can read that letter here:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Have a good Mother's Day

This morning we boxed up our Mother's Day things. Please don't open the little box we sent home until Sunday morning.

Have a great weekend!

See you Monday.

Be well.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

No Centers Tomorrow, Friday, May 9

Tomorrow is the day between centers so parent volunteers have the day off. First thing tomorrow morning we're going to be finishing up work on Mother's Day gifts that will go home for Sunday's big day.

Tomorrow is PE day. Remember to send you child to school with sturdy shoes.

Be well.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

More Frosting than Cake

What a day! There was so much extra activity that the regular routines were kind of lost in the mix. Exhilarating, yes, but also leaving us looking for our breathing and quiet place tools.

The day began with a nice presentation to both Mrs. Zell and me of a beautifully custom-painted flower pot filled with seeds to plant. This was to observe Teacher Appreciation Week. They got some nice photos of us surrounded by the class:

There were cards and flowers and other gifts, enough for sure to make us feel showered in warm appreciation. Thank you all!

In centers, quite by accident, we stumbled upon a way to improve the quality of the play dough. Somehow, a little bit of the cornstarch and salt mixture that we're using to fill the squeeze balls found its way on to the play dough table. The resulting mixture was smoother and more workable and in every way nicer to handle.

As far as I know, this play dough is the best there is, and invented right here at Dunham School.
After morning recess and snack, our day was filled with "supplementary curricula" better known as the frosting on the daily educational cake.

We had music with Andrew, Fifth Grade Buddies for lunch and our third to last day of activities with them, and our last Tribes meeting of the year. In honor of our departing Sixth Grade tribe members we had a nice ice cream sundae and a game of Heads up, Seven Up.

Imagine a chocolate cake with as much frosting as cake, that's how the day felt to me at dismissal time.

Twenty more days of kindergarten. (Yes, I'm counting.) I want to savor each moment of it.

Be well.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Snapshots of Kindergarten

Here are a few snapshots taken recently.

Nathan helps Kaden drill a hole in a small block of wood.
Happy architects. It's great having fathers help out. I love Waylon's proud smile.

Over in the stress ball center, kids are making really good squeeze balls by packing balloons with a mixture of cornstarch and table salt. Using a funnel and a pencil they pack the powder into the balloon till it is really jammed in there. CL Harry, Mackie's dad, has got this process down to a science.

Mackie's mom and dad have been very generous with their time in helping run our centers.

Jax packs his squeeze ball. The results are surprisingly good.

Noah was able to stay after school yesterday. All by himself he made this. Pretty cool.

Tomorrow will be our last day of Tribes. We'll have a small celebration to send off our sixth grade members.

Be well.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wooden Cities & 300 inch skids

The day started off with a nice breakfast thanks to the Dunham School Board who put together a bacon and eggs and sausage breakfast complete with potatoes, tortillas, and salsa (today is Cinco de Mayo). What a nice surprise!

Then we had our first-Monday-of-the-month assembly where we all sang the new Dunham School song with Mr. Shaible on guitar and me on ukulele. That was fun.

We got to centers a bit behind schedule as is usually the case after the assemblies. In my center we worked on gluing bits of wood into imaginary cities. Noah and Ava made cities and Beck decided on an airplane.

The wooden pegs are inserted into 1/4 holes made with a hand-powered drill.
While the weather looked "iffy" when I arose early this morning, by late morning the clouds scattered away in the wind and a blue sky shone over the school yard.

Evan made the longest skid we've seen this year—300 inches, or 25 feet. That's him at the end of the tape measure.

A long skid for sure
Be well!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hanging Up

Not having a smart phone is one of the smartest moves I've made. Staying off of Facebook is another. Social media does not connect us. It isolates us.

The kids I see in kindergarten know this. Sadly, at this point, kindergarten kids cannot remember a time before smartphones. All their lives they have had to make do with parents whose attention is divided between them and those ubiquitous little handheld computers.

Spending less time online is one of the intentions I have as a retiree. With this in mind, this blog, Mr. Kindergarten, will become dormant in just over a month when I retire. Starting on Sunday, June 8  I'll become an ex-blogger. I intend to spend more time away from computers and technology generally.

Here, watch this:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Daily Review

At the end of the day it is our practice to ask about the high points of the day. Very often P.E. is mentioned near the top of the list.

A game of "capture the flag" played on a green field nestled in emerald hills on a beautiful spring morning it's easy to see why the kids enjoy PE so much.

Enjoy the weekend.

Be well.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hats & Bike Wash

The first day of May brought with it warm spring weather. It was Nicholas P.'s day to bring snack and a story.

The book he brought in for me to read was one of my favorites. Several kinders said that this book is a favorite in their family, too. If you've never read it, get a copy for your book collection. It's a good one.

This is a sentimental tale.....

In math we've been exploring the attribute blocks. Today's block train had several "rules" that made up its pattern. Most of the kinders understood the pattern and could extend it.

This is an extension of yesterday's "thin/thick" pattern, adding shape, size, and color.
Mr. Shaible led the hat parade, a Dunham tradition on the first day of May going back quite a few years. We are the first stop on the day's parade.

By the end of the day, though, most kids seemed to feel that the bike washing station Mrs. Zell was running was the best part of the day. Within a half hour most of the bikes were sparkly clean,

Kinders love "work" like this.
Her center was in such demand that she put up a sign up/wait list.

The wait list

Happy days.

Be well.