Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sharing the Traditions of Hannakah

We had two special guests visit our class today. One was a former student and the other was her father. They shared with our class the traditions of Hannakah and how they celebrate it with their family.
First she told us about the history of Hannakah - how it began over 2,000 years ago when the Syrian-Greek leader, Antiochus IV, attempted to force the Jews in Israel to renounce their religion and culture. There was a revolt led by Judah Maccabee and the Jews were victorious, despite the fact that their army was outnumbered. The Hannakah celebration of lighting the menorah traces its origin to a miracle that occurred after the victory of the Maccabees. It was a tradition to light a special lamp in the Temple, called a menorah, with olive oil, but all of the vials of oil were made impure with the exception of one. According to Hannakah history, the one vial of oil burned for eight days until pure oil could be obtained for the holy Temple. In gratitude, the Jews began lighting small menorahs in their homes to commemorate the miracle.
Her father explained how to light the candles and volunteers had the chance to come up to the menorah and light a candle using the "helper" candle. They told us of the traditional food they eat during this time including latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly donuts! The children liked the idea of the donuts!
Next, she taught the students how to play a game with a dreidel. It is a toy (like a top) that is played while the menorah is burning. She explained the four different Hebrew signs on the dreidel. Then students had a chance to play the game with a partner and they used chocolate kisses as their coins. Each child was gifted a dreidel and ten chocolate kisses.
Finally, she read a book to the children and answered any questions they had. It was a wonderful way for the students to learn about a different culture and holiday tradition.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

We Can't Forget Our 4-Legged Friends

Every year our "pet" project is to give needed items to our local Humane Society. We learned that at any one time, the shelter has over 400 animals including pigs, birds, goats, and hamsters. During this month, we learned about the care of dogs and cats and how important it is to feed, walk, and keep them healthy. For two weeks we have been collecting bowls, toys, blankets, bleach, and towels. They don't need food because Purina donates all they need. Each morning, the students share what they have brought in and add it to our collection. We know there are a lot of good causes to give to around this time of year...but our classes' favorite is this one...the one that takes care of all the animals that are homeless.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"You Can't Catch Me...I'm the Gingerbread Man"

During our read alouds this week, the children have been listening to many different versions of the classic folktale, "The Gingerbread Man." In addition to that book, they've heard "The Gingerbread Boy" and "The Gingerbread Baby." We have been discussing and charting the similarities and differences of each book via a Venn Diagram. This was the first time we have used a Venn Diagram in Reader's Workshop. They will see them a lot more as the year progresses. We also had two Reader's Theater sessions this week. One on "The Gingerbread Boy" and one on "The Gingerbread Man." It was noted that only during our plays are the students allowed to run in the classroom!! Homework included a gingerbread man cut out which students were to decorate and tell how they created them. Today we made a gingerbread man. We shaped the dough in a gingerbread cooking stone and baked him till he was ready. While he was cooling off, the children went to lunch. Upon their return, one student shouted, "The Gingerbread Man is missing!!" This launched the students into a mad hunt to find him. We searched Mrs. Johnson's room, we went through the front office, we visited the library, and scoured the cafeteria. "There was only one place left," we shouted, "Miss Thomson's room is next door - maybe he ran over there." We barged in on Miss Thomson and much to our delight, she found him!!! They were sooo excited when he was found. We brought him back to our classroom and took turns icing the Gingerbread Man. Afterwards, we celebrated with mini-gingerbread cookies brought in by Mrs. Dillard. This was a wonderful kick off to the holiday festivities next week. We are off and running -- catch us if you can!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Vocabulary is Alive in Reading and Math

Learning and using new vocabulary is emphasized in our classroom daily. Whenever I read a new book, I try to pull out a few words that may need some clarification before we start. I find that this is valuable in that the children hear me talk about the word before I read the book, and then they recognize the word when they hear it. We have a wonderful vocabulary unit that my fellow teachers and I worked on during the summer under dayle timmons' guidance. We use these books daily (fairy tales, folk tales, and various other fiction books) to read and teach vocabulary. The students love to hear the words learned from these books and repeat them often during conversations and are starting to use them in their writing - words such as clever, delighted, cozy, and adventurous.

We have stretched our vocabulary word wall to include a vocabulary math word wall. This is a portable chart that we use to review each new word learned in math. This has proved to be an excellent way to review math concepts learned from the first week of school. On this chart are the words: pattern, arrange, more, least, representation, compare, inventory, and equal. Before the math workshop begins, students are asked to tell what they know about 2 or 3 words from this word wall. This chart has kept all the previous lessons taught in math current and serves as an wonderful way to jump start a new lesson.

A word wall (any kind of word wall - vocabulary, word family, math, sight word, theme-based, science, etc.) is only good if you use it. The more you use it, the more the children will look to it as an indispensable tool. You will be delighted at the results!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Our Room Mom is Volunteer of the Year

Our very own Room Mom is our school's Volunteer of the Year. She has two sons at our school. One in fifth grade and one in kindergarten. Last week we celebrated with the fifth grade teachers and students. Our room mom checks with us every morning and afternoon to see if there is anything we need. She takes pictures of the kids, helps with class projects, works on computer projects, to make sure that her children's teachers have what they need to help students learn. She works behind the scenes to make sure things are running smoothly, especially in organizing parents during the school's weekly WOW days and manning the front desk in the lobby. We are very lucky to have her and we are very proud of our VOY.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Time for Pilgrims and Hand Turkeys

How can we have Thanksgiving without doing hand turkeys? We were busy yesterday and today making Pilgrim placemats (listing what we are thankful for), hand turkeys, turkey cookies, and turkey hats. With so much time and effort going into the Powwow, the Pilgrims are relegated to the two day short week before the holidays. The children did learn about the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, and the big feast. Did you know the Mayflower was as long as a school bus and the children hated the food on the ship (old salted beef and fish and hard, dry biscuits)? They couldn't bring their toys, but two dogs and a cat made the trip! We have a lot to be thankful for: our family, our homes, and our friends. Our class wishes all of you a very festive Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Our Powwow...a powerful learning experience

Today was the culminating event for our unit on Native was our Powwow. We prepared for weeks learning about our Lenape tribe - their food, shelter, clothing, and culture - and today we celebrated what we learned and saluted our Native American brothers and sisters. Represented at our Powwow were the nations of the Sioux, Inuit, Hopi, Iriquois, Seminole, Nez Pierce, and Nootka. The ceremony started with the tribes being introduced individually and processing onto the field. Our principal, Mrs. Phillips, gave background about each tribe and decribed our clothing and culture. We performed "The Grass Dance" and several other traditional dances. Parents lined the boundaries catching a glimpse of their Lenape child. Afterwards, pictures were taken and we processed off the field. The children had a day of exciting activities ahead of them including: storytelling (in a teepee), natural-dye painting, food tasting, music, clay pottery, outside games, and animal artifacts. This day will be remembered for a long time with great fondness by parents, teachers, and especially the children ...we are grateful to the Original People and to all of our Native American tribes whom we celebrated with today.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Powwow Family Project Homework

Family projects are always a great way to get home and school working together and staying involved. Last week a cardboard "person" cutout went home and the family project was to dress it according to our Native American tribe, the Lenape. Attached to the cutout was researched pages from the internet as to the dress of the tribe during the 1600's to present day. The results were amazing. We learned so much from the children sharing their projects. We learned that this tribe only used one feather in their headbands. Also, if the feather was pointing downward they were not in a war, but if it faced upward, then they were at war with another tribe. The women wore shell necklaces because a lot of the Lenape were from the New Jersey shore line and they spoke a language called Urami. Moreover, we were able to tie-in Writer's Workshop (How-to writing) because the students explained step-by-step how they made their Lenape Native American project. Our family night is tonight. Parents and students are invited to have dinner in the cafeteria and at 7:00 p.m. come into the classroom and make a wigwam. More about that tomorrow...wanishi (Urami for thank you) for visiting our blog spot!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Week to go until Powwow

No matter what age, the students still remember how much fun it was when they had their Powwow. It's hard to believe that our Powwow is only a week from today. Parents have been busy cutting, hemming, fitting, and adding bead work to the costumes that the girls and boys will be wearing for our Powwow. Students have been called out in the hall by parents to decorate their headbands, necklaces, bracelets, and berry pouches. Our tribe is the Lenape which means "The Original People." They came from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. During the day, through read alouds and in Reader's Workshop, the students are learning about our tribe. They learned that the Lenape were farmers in the summer and hunters in the winter. They lived in wigwams, some with only one family and some with up to ten families living in them - then it was called a "long house." The wigwams had a hole in the middle of the roof to let the smoke out. When they slept, they had their feet pointing to the fire to keep warm. All of these facts about our tribe make learning about the Lenape fun and interesting. Our classroom entrance is decorated as a wigwam. When we enter it, we have to duck to get in the door. Inside the entrance there are chairs, benches and a mock fireplace to represent the inside of a real wigwam. During Reader's Workshop, students are allowed to go in there for partner reading. It is such a treat for the children and they love reading their books in the wigwam. For the next few days, we will be practicing our songs and dances. On Tuesday, we will have a family night, whereby parents are invited into the classroom to make a wigwam. A week to go...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Safety Patrols are our Rockin' Readers

Each morning our class is greeted by two wonderful patrols. The girls make sure that when the students enter our hallway that they find a book from book basket, sit quietly against the wall, and read it until 8:45. At that time, the patrols have the students enter the classroom, put their backpacks at their tables, and sit on the floor quietly until they read the book. The patrols will read any book that I place on the rocking chair the night before (hence, my rockin' readers)! The books are usually a "Star Book" and/or a seasonal book. For instance, today the girls read "A Chair for Peter" and "The First Thanksgiving." Because "Star Books" should be read several times a month, having the patrols read them is a great way for the children to hear the books from a reader other than myself. Star books include such great classics as, "The Three Bears", "Caps for Sale", "The Gingerbread Boy", and "The Three Little Pigs". These are just great stories that the children love to hear over and over again. Hearing these books multiple times helps them in their retelling of the stories when it comes time to test them on their Sulzby reading level for pre-emergent readers ( .

After reading two books, the patrols have the students put their backpacks in their cubbies, place their folders in the basket, and return to the floor for the pledge. I love having my rockin' readers in my class everyday and so do my students!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ask Us "How To" Make Chocolate Milk!

In our Writer's Workshop for the past two weeks, we have been talking and writing about what we are experts at. The children came up with all kinds of things they are experts at: making waffles, walking the dog, brushing their teeth, and carving a pumpkin. To write a "How To" book, children think through a procedure, step by step, starting from the beginning to the end. Then they draw the sequenced events on special "How To" paper which had three small boxes on the side to draw the picture and lines on the other side to write the directions. I thought it would be fun to have a shared class exper-ience for a "How To" - and that was making chocolate milk. I sat in front of the class and had all my "ingredients" lined up - the milk and the chocolate. Then I had the cups and spoon ready for stirring. I poured the milk, squeezed in the Hershey's syrup, and stirred vigoriously...voila chocolate milk! (Some critics suggested more chocolate and some wanted more stirring.) After doing this a few times, students went back to their seats and wrote the steps of "How to make chocolate milk." At the closing time of Writer's Worshop, some students shared their "How to" and all of us had some really tasty chocolate milk!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fire Safety Is What I'm Talking About!

Our kindergarteners were taught about fire safety today when three local firefighters came in and did a "demo" lesson for them in the cafeteria. They were dressed from head-to-toe in their fire gear and explained the dangers of fire and what to do if they see or are involved in one. A fog machine was set up and pumping out "smoke" as the firefighters came in to rescue Mrs. Harbour while she was "sleeping." Afterwards, children were given a tour of the fire engine and they were able ask questions about all of the "stuff" on it. It was a wonderful opportunity for our kindergarten students and they really enjoyed learning about fire safety. Thank you to our fantastic firefighters for all you do and for giving the children such a great experience.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Preparing for Pow Wow

Kindergarten classes are getting ready for our biggest event of the year. We are fast approaching our Pow Wow. Each Kindergarten class (there are eight) is representing a Native American tribe from various regions of the United States. Our tribe is the Lenape which means "Original People." The Lenape are from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. They were a peaceful tribe that helped early settlers learn how to hunt and fish in the new world. Students will learn how the Lenape children lived, what they ate, and what their homes were like. As they learn more about our tribe, they will see that they were not much different than we are today. They had chores to do, played games, and even ate popcorn!!

One of the ways we prepare for our Pow Wow is to integrate homework with what we are doing in class. The book, "Knots on a Counting Rope" will be read a few times this week. As the story goes... a Native American boy requests his favorite story from his grandfather --- the story of the special night when the boy came into the world. Though he was born blind, the boy has learned from his grandfather many ways to see without needing his eyes. Each time Grandfather tells the boy's tale, he adds another knot to the counting rope. Once the rope is full, the boy will know the wonderful story by heart, able to tell it himself.

For homework, a piece of twine will be sent home and each time a story is told, another knot will be tied in the rope. Each time the child is told a story, hears a story read to him/her, or reads a story, a knot will be tied. Children will love hearing stories about their childhood and about other family members.

Our Pow Wow is on Friday, November 16th. I can't wait to share our many activities leading up to this wonderful day during the next few weeks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Making Kindergarten Memories

Today was a very exciting day for our Kindergarten students. It was the Fall Literacy Parade. Students were invited to wear a costume and bring the book that represented their costume to school today. This morning we were buzzing once again, sharing our books and outfits. After parading around the first floor of the school with other Kindergarten and first grade students, we came back to the classroom and had some great activities to work on. Parents were busy at each station, assisting the children with the crafts. The children decorated sugar cookies, made Halloween magnets, designed picture frames (which they got to take home today with their picture in it), and made "creepy fingers" - a pen wrapped in modeling clay with nail polish on the nail. That was a very popular center. We read books, played bingo, danced and sang. It was a great day to be in Kindergarten.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Homework Can Be So Much Fun

Last week was one of my favorite homework activities so far this year. Students were invited to choose their favorite nursery rhyme and make stick, bag, or hand puppets to go with the rhyme. They also had to be able to retell the nursery rhyme using their props. On Friday morning, the classroom was buzzing with excitement as children unloaded their backpacks and shared their creations. We enjoyed retellings of Humpty Dumpty, Hickory Dickory Dock, Five Green and Speckled Frogs, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and There Was a Crooked Man (featured in the picture). The children loved directing their friends in helping with the characters - placing them just right for the audience. I received a lot of positive feedback on this homework assignment and I'm looking forward to see how creative my students and parents can be on their next project!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Native American Wisdom

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day
"We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees." (Nuxalk Nation)

As our Kindergarten classes are preparing for our annual Pow Wow celebration, we should acknowledge the Native American wisdom of understanding and preserving our finite resources. The Nuxalk Nation, and other Native American tribes, understood what very few modern Americans can comprehend -- that once our forests, lakes, and streams are gone, they are gone forever. It is our responsibility to be the caretakers of this precious planet, Earth, so future generations can share it's wonder and magnificent beauty. As we study the culture of our particular Native American tribe, we will learn of the reverence for Mother Earth and its' creatures held by the aboriginal people of our country.

"Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you." (Huron Tribe)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Writer's Sharing Writing

We had a grand time in Writer's Workshop today. Students were sitting down in anticipation of the new mini-lesson when I told them that today was a very special day. "Today for Writer's Workshop, you will have the opportunity to share your favorite stories with a partner." Children were paired off and scattered throughout the room anxious to share their stories with a friend. Students admired each others writing and asked, "How did you know how to write that?" or "That picture looks great - Can you teach me how to draw it?" Pencils were coming out and children were "editing" their work as they were reading it. It was fascinating to watch!Afterwards, the pairs shared what they liked about their partner's writing with the rest of class. This led to a marvelous burst of enthusiasm and confidence in these young writers who were then excited to write a new story.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mrs. Wishy Washy is Queen of our Class

Another one of our favorite classroom books is "Mrs. Wishy Washy" by Joy Cowley. The children love hearing the stories of her farm animal's adventures. The books she writes not only have a great story line but also are loaded with sight words, sentence patterns, and clear punctuation. The above picture shows our Reader's Theater today with the narrator, Mrs. Wishy Washy and her farm animals: the duck, the cow, and the pig. Other books that we have read by Joy Cowley include "Wishy Washy Day," "Splishy Sploshy," "Mrs. Wishy Washy's Farm, and "The Scrubbing Machine." These are books that I use daily in the shared reading portion of the morning and also throughout the day as read alouds. Children often choose these big books as a literacy station activity. They can "read" the books because they have heard them repeatedly and they can practice using a beginning reading strategy "Look at the picture" to help with the word. Joy Cowley has written numerous children's books and from the reaction I've gotten from my class when I say, "...the author is Joy Cowley" I will be reading many, many more!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Our Bulletin Board is Bursting with Writing

Bulletin boards are a fantastic way to showcase your classes' work. At our school we use bulletin boards as a teaching tool for students, parents, and other teachers. For example, in our class, we visit other boards to see what students are doing in other kindergarten classes. The children get very excited when they can "make a connection" to the student's work that is put up. Parents like to come by and visit boards so that they can learn about the tasks, standards, and work that is highlighted. Finally, teachers visit bulletin boards on a monthly "board walk," not only to get new ideas, but also to learn and grow from them.
The bulletin board in the above picture showcases four student's writing from the past few weeks. There are some beginning sounds, but the point of the mini-lessons of these early writing workshops was to instill confidence in my young writers. From there, they learned that a story is more than one page (just as in the books they hear and see everyday). Their writing is planned, talked about, sketched, and shared with their classmates. Our bulletin board this month is bursting with the seeds of great writing -- I can't wait to see how my young writers bloom!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We are Stars - Reading Star Books

Every day since the first day of school, kindergarten students have been listening to and acting out a series of books that we call, "Star Books." Star books are a collection of great classic stories that the children like to hear over and over again. In fact, they hear them and love them so much, that they can retell these stories (almost word for word) after a short while. They can look at a picture and "read" it because they are very familiar with it. Some of our Star books include: "Caps for Sale", "The Three Billy Goats Gruff", "Where the Wild Things Are", and classic fairy tales such as "The Three Little Pigs", and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". During our partner reading today, the children in the picture were very much "reading" "Caps for Sale" and enjoying every minute of it!! For more information about partner reading, please visit Mrs. Timmons blog at

Monday, September 10, 2007

Adding Technology to the Mix

In todays Math lesson, we were working on patterns and discovering all the different ways to make them. At the end of the work session, students were invited to share their patterns with the class. By integrating an ELMO machine with projector, students were able to come up to it, place their drawing under the light, and explain to their classmates each of their pattern drawings. The ELMO shows exactly what is under the light. It is excellent for sharing books, drawings, and items that are sometimes hard for the whole class to see. Gone are the days of the overhead projector and welcome ELMO -- my class loves it!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Patterns, Patterns Everywhere!

Being able to recognize patterns is an important tool in mathematics. In Math, students are given many opportunities to copy, create, and extend patterns using materials such as pattern blocks, color tiles, and interlocking cutes. For the past week, we have looked for patterns on our clothes, in books, and around our classroom. Today students compared what they noticed about two different pattern trains and predicted what they thought came next. On a chart, I listed student responses to the question, "What is the same and what is different about these two pattern trains (8 interlocking cubes of varying colors)?" Then the children went back to their seats and created their own pattern trains and afterwards,shared their pattern creations with their classmates. Patterns, patterns, everywhere in Room 104!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Who Said Kindergarteners Can't Write?

Our Writer's Workshop is another one of my favorite times of day. It begins with the children coming together for a mini-lesson on the floor. I always start out with a review of the lesson from the day before. Then I model a new specific learning point. A sample lesson might be, "How do writers decide on a topic?" After the lesson is taught, the students turn-and-talk to each other for a few minutes to discuss what they learned. Then I "link" the lesson back to the learning point. Students then go to their seats where they have their writing folder. They can either work on a piece that was started the day before, or start a new piece of writing. They have about 40 minutes to practice what they have learned during this workshop period. It is important to keep the lesson very specific in order for the children to stay focused in their writing. A few writing samples are shared with the class during the closing of the workshop.
Right now children are are drawing pictures to tell their stories. Soon they will be labeling their stories with a letter or two. Then it will emerge into words and soon sentences.
Every bit of progress is monitored and celebrated from orally telling a story, to adding random letters, to letter strings, to that magical moment when a sentence comes together. Who said, "Kindergarteners can't write?" Please don't tell them that!!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who's Happier Than Us?

When I see happy faces like this one, I know something is going right!! Today was another very busy day in Kinder-garten. We started the day with our "Good Morning Song," reviewed all our letters and sounds, sang our "Humpty Dumpty" song, and talked about rhyming words. Another feature of our morning is to bring attention to each letter and sound of the alphabet through song. Today I read the book, "Benjamin Bunny" and we listed words that we know starting with "B". Our "Star Names" also reinforce letter names and letter sounds daily. After pictures were drawn of our "star", we went right into Reader's Workshop. Our focus is on book bins. These are plastic magazine holders that each child has his/her favorite books in that were brought from home this week. Practicing how to get the book bin and put it back is worth a few mini-lessons. The children have their favorite books in it and will eventually add "Star Books" which are "Three Billy Goats," "Caps for Sale," and "Where the Wild Things Are," to name a few, after I have read these books a few times. In this way, they will able to tell the story through picture-walking and remembering how the story goes. Level A and B books will soon be included in the book bin. It is in this book bin that children will be picking a book to take home every night for their "Book in Bag" for homework. This will be explained in more detail at Open House (Sept. 20th).
Then we had Writer's Workshop, Lunch, and Math, Resource (Science) and outside and inside play time. The day was packed with lots of fun ... so no wonder we see these smiling faces!!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time for Work and Time for Play

Kindergarten is a time for learning and growing - not only in reading, writing, and math but also learning how to get along with others and in growing friendships. A balance between active and quiet experiences, and between individual work and large and small groups are scheduled in a Kindergartener's day. Some of the best learning is done in Developmental Centers. Each afternoon, the children have about 35 minutes to pick a favorite center. This free-choice time can be blocks, drawing, Play-doh, Legos, cubes, and home-life. Some students love the kitchen and dress-up play. They role-play going out, going to the store and buying things, and just having a good time in active play. With so many PS-2's, DVD's, and computer games, it's so refreshing to see children interact with each other. While at play, they learn to compromise with each other, negotiate scenerios, and use their imaginations. This is a precious time in their lives and Kindergarten should have a balance of work and play - especially play!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Exploding on to the Stage!!

One of my favorite Reader's Workshop activities is to have my students act out a book. It's a great way to have children actively involved in a story and thus remembering not only the beginning, middle, and ending of it but also story elements such as the characters and setting and the problem and solution in a fun way!! A book I love to start out our re-enactments with is called, "Lucy's Boot." It's by Janie Spaht Gill. A fun-loving Kindergarten teacher who presented at a workshop I attended a few years ago. The story goes like this: Lucy had pair of boots on that she wanted to get off. Her father kept saying, "It's stuck," "It won't come off." "I don't know what to do." Then the mother pulled on the father and the father pulled on the boot. It didn't budge. The brother, the baby, and even the dog tried to get the boot off (all tugging at the same time.) Then Lucy shouted, "Wait, what's this?" She found a buckle and the boot slipped off! This story has the students laughing every time. It's already a classroom favorite and will be acted out again tomorrow, I'm sure!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

...and what a great week it was!!!

It was a week of getting used to a new school, new friends, and a new routine. In one week, students experienced their first assembly, fire drill, and flag raising. They also learned the little things that make a day run smoother such as, walking in line, unpacking backpacks, and how to properly put the cap back on a marker. All of these experiences help children learn and grow and become a valuable member of our classroom community.
Our shared reading book today was "The Birthday Cake" by Joy Cowley. It was a simple book that introduced color words. After reading the book several times, the student's attention was brought to the sentence strip chart where each line of the book was written out. Then they completed their own copy of the book by coloring in the various cake colors that matched the words. "A red cake; a yellow cake; a blue cake..." This is a great way for students to see how the words correspond with the picture.
Another book we visited today was "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom." This is always a classroom favorite. A lot of children were familiar with this book and love hearing it over and over. We completed an art activity to go with the book by making a palm tree and using letter stickers that spelled their names going up the tree. This was especially insightful because I had the opportunity to make an informal assessment of noticing if the students knew how to spell their names on an individual basis.
Other activities of the day included two new literacy stations - the stamp center and Play-doh - were students can build fine and gross motor skills creating letters with the clay.
In the afternoon, we revisited Caps for Sale. The students chimed in with,"Fifty cents a cap!" Developmental centers included "dress up", Magna Doodles, and cubes. They also had their first fun Friday treat which was very welcome after coming in from recess.
Our first week is now officially over -- learning, growing, meeting new friends, learning new routines, and having fun ... and what a great week it was!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Day Four and There's So Much More!!

Mirror, mirror on the wall - who has the best class of them all? The transformation in the students from Monday to Thursday has been amazing. They are really getting into the rhythm of the classroom routine. Today we started with our Morning Message, alphabet sounds, and Apple Annie book and song. Then the BIG announcement was that tomorrow starts "Star Names." "What are Star Names? ," you may be asking. A child's name gets picked out of a hat and that child is our "Star of the Day." His/her name is written on a sentence strip for the children to see. Then each letter is cut from the strip and scrambled. A student who thinks he/she can put the name in the correct order is called on. Then we think of different words that start like the Star Students' name. The child is interviewed: "What is your favorite thing to do?"; "Do you have any pets?"; "What is your favorite book?' I write the student responses on the board. The class then goes back to their seats and draws a picture of the Star Student and a class book is made and given to him/her to take home. The best bonus of all is that the Star of the Day gets to sit in the front of the classroom in a special chair and is the line leader for the day. It gets no better than that for a Kindergarten student. The educational merit of this exercise is that children start to recognize and read classmates names and start to make the connection with these words to other words. I was the Star Student for today!!
Reader's Workshop mini-lesson was "How to Behave During a Read Aloud." First I read the book, "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." After a short discussion of the book (which they loved), I asked what was the classes' behavior during the reading of the book. I charted responses - and they were right on target - listening, not talk to others, ask questions after the book, etc. This chart will be posted for a few days to remind students of the proper behavior during a read aloud.
We had our first official Writer's Workshop today. Students were shown how to stretch a story over a few pages (by drawing and verbally explaining what is going on in the pictures.) They were able to staple their pages, thus creating their first book. Some students shared their work - thus inspiring others that they can do it too!
In Math I read a book about patterns in nature. We looked at patterns on students clothes in class and drew simple patterns.
Tomorrow is Friday and the close of the first week of Kindergarten. They have already grown so much from the first day. Mirror, mirror on the wall - I don't have to ask you anymore - I already know the best class of them all!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Flying High on Day Number 3

Every day the students are getting more accustomed to the rituals and routines of classroom life. After I pick up the children in the dining room, we go to the classroom, unpack folders, and listen to announcements. Today I posted our first "Morning Message" which is our daily news. After I point to each word in message, I have students circle certain letters and letter sounds. Soon they will be noticing letter combinations (ay, ai, ing) and learning many sight words. Afterwards, we talked about the importance of classroom rules and made up a "Class Promise" chart. This is a listing of things they feel are important to help the class run smoothly. The promise sounds like - "We won't make fun of people;" "We won't run or hurt anyone;" and "We will raise our hand to speak." Then the students decorated a face cut out. It will be placed around the promise. In math, I read "Ten Apples Up On Top" by Dr. Seuss. The children drew themselves with various numbers of apples on top of their heads. They then shared their pictures with classmates. This was a beginning Math Workshop activity where the lesson was taught, the students went back to practice the activity, and then came to the floor to share what they have done. This was followed by recess and free choice center time. Another day of learning and growing - reading and drawing - writing and playing in Room 104!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Settling Down to Enjoy the Show

All of the marvelous Mallon-teers were "all in their places with sun-shiney faces" this morning. We are in our second day of Kindergarten and ready to start to learn the rituals and routines of being in the Primary School of Chets Creek. The children are learning the basics of every day life in Kindergarten from placing the folder in the bin before putting their backpacks away to expected behavior during a fire drill... all of which were properly conducted today. They were wonderful! All of these little mini-lessons make the class run smoother and learning easier. The book of the day was, "Caps for Sale." I will be rereading that book several times this month so that the students will be able to "picture walk" through it and be able to "read" it to you before long. Other books being read this week will be: Chicka, Chicka, Boom Boom, Ten Apples Up On Top, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and Mrs. Wishy Washy. All of these books are in my "All Time Favorites" book bin and my hope is that they will soon be some of your child's favorites.
Literacy Stations started today with three choices: puzzles, white boards, and drawing. Every day the choices will increase as the students learn what they are about and how to manage each one. The choices will include magnetic letters, read-the room, write-the-room, alphabet sorting, and listening station, to name a few.
Even though it was only Day 2 of Kindergarten, the children are learning rituals and routines, hearing excellent children's literature, and working together with their new friends in class. Yes, we are settling down and we are ready to enjoy the show!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The First Day of School Was a Blast!!!

It was wonderful seeing all the new little faces ready for Kindergarten. After meeting everyone in the cafeteria, we lined up and went into class. Mrs. Ellis and I unpacked backpacks as children watched the closed-circuit morning announcements welcoming everyone back to school. Afterwards, the children drew pictures and got acquainted with each other. I read a book called, "Look Who's Going to Kindergarten." They sat and intently listened to every word. I looked up at the clock and it was 9:45 am. - time to get to the "Bounce House" so that we can be at the assembly on time. The "Bounce House" was a lot of fun - and so was getting 25 pairs of shoes (and some socks) back on! We then proceeded to the dining room where a magician performed his magic acts for all the children to enjoy. Then it was back in the classroom for snack time and boy, did they enjoy that! I started to read, "No David," and "David Goes to School." Now it was time for me to get them involved in an adventure. I tiptoed to my "No David Backpack" and opened it. I was astonished. "Where is David?, I asked. "Did you see him running around here." "Oh no," they chanted. "Well," I said, "We have to go find him!" They were so excited - we checked the Media Center and Miss KK said she didn't see him. Then we checked the cafeteria and he was nowhere to be found. Finally, we looked in the office and Mrs. Middleton said she found him running around the school. We brought him (a stuffed David doll) back to the classroom and asked him lots of questions. This "David" doll will be allowed to spend the weekend with each child throughout the year. A journal will be placed in the backpack for you to document what your child did with David and any new adventures he went on. There will be more about this in the newsletter when the "Weekends with David" start.
The children then went to lunch. We did some Math, read some books, made some crowns, and had some free time. Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and go home.
Thank you for sharing your child with me. We had a fantastic day and I'm looking forward to a blast of a Kindergarten year!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Magical Moments During Kindergarten Orientation

It was such a pleasure to meet and greet my new Kindergarten students, parents, and grandparents this morning. It was wonderful to see such a supportive group of family members. I have a few reminders I want to share. Please remember to read the ABC's of Kindergarten packet. It will answer a lot of your questions. On Monday, you are encouraged to walk your child to the dining room. I will be there at 8:50 a.m. to escort your child to our classroom. You will be invited to join the other Kindergarten parents at the Media Center to enjoy a "Boo-Hoo Breakfast" sponsored by our PTA. In class, I will be getting acquainted with your child. We will be reading books, drawing pictures, and having some free time to explore developmental centers. We will tour the school - the library, art room, music room, front office, and cafeteria while we look for our class friend "David" from the book "No David." He is lost and we have to find him!!! At 10:15 to 10:45 we will have a presentation in the dining room called, "The Magic Dream Assembly." Afterwards, we will have fire drill practice and then it will be lunchtime. So much is planned for this exciting first day of school...our first day of fireworks where lots of "ooos" and "ahhhs" will surely be the order of the day!!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bursting with Excitement for School to Begin

Room 104 is bursting with excitement waiting for the 2007-2008 class of Kindergarten students to enter its doors. The fireworks tell the story as the theme for Kindergarten is Fantasy Land and our class theme is "Celebrate the Magic in Mrs. Mallon's Kindergarten!" Our Kindergarten magical year will be a time for children to expand their love of learning and encourage the growth of their self-esteem. The primary focus will be on their individual identities, strengths, and independence. At this stage, children are already eager to learn and possess an innate curiosity. It is my passion to provide your child what he/she needs to grow physically, emotionally, and intellectually this year. We will celebrate the magic everyday in Room 104 at this very special time of their lives. I can't wait to get started -- let the fireworks begin!!!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Summer Fun

What an exciting time of year it is. School is out and children are reaping the rewards of working hard all year. Fun in the sun, visiting parks, museums, and having picnics are all in store for students around the state. Don't forget to make time for book adventures - you can travel around the world, get lost in time, and meet fascinating people by reading and enjoying a good book.

Kindergarten Pow Wow 2019

Our tribe this year was the Inuit. Our students learned about the Inuit culture which included their food, housing and shelter. They sang ...