Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hanukkah - The Festival of Lights


Today we were fortunate to have "S" (a former student), assisted by her brother "J" (a current student), and father, Chip present the "The Festival of Lights" tradition to our class. "S" told the class that the festival is observed by lighting the nine-branched Menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. An extra light called a shamash (Hebrew: "guard" or "servant") is also lit each night for the purpose of lighting the others. Hanukkah is a wonderful holiday of renewed dedication, faith, hope and spiritual light. It's a holiday that says: "Never lose hope." "S" told us the story of the victory, thru the miracles of Hashem, of a small band of Maccabees over the pagan Syrian-Greeks who ruled over Israel. The children loved hearing the story but, moreover, loved learning a new game "dreidel". Students were given eight Hershey Kisses and a dreidel and learned the symbols and how to play. A big "thank you" to the Chip, S and J for sharing this tradition with the class.

Time for Celebration - December, 2009


Today was our Holiday Breakfast and Gingerbread House Making Day! Students enjoyed a beautiful brunch which included bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, bagels, fruit and hot-griddled pancakes! After the breakfast, it was time to make our Gingerbread Houses. Parents manned each table and assisted the children in creating their very own Gingerbread House. It was surely an experience they will remember! Thank you Melanie for all of the great pictures! At this time, we would like to thank all of our parents for a fantastic year, filled with wonderful memories of their child. We wish all of you a very merry Christmas and Happy 2010!

Polar Bears, Foxes, and Birds -- Oh My!!


Each year around the holidays, our school participates in another Chets Creek tradition called the "Holiday Auction." Each class is invited to make something "holidayish" and display it in the front lobby. In past years, parents and visitors placed a bid on an item and the money raised went to the child's classroom. This year, we decided, as a school, to give back in some way to our community and/or the world around us. Our class is animal loving so we decided to donate our wreath money to adopt three animals (of the student's choice) from the World Wildlife Fund. The class chose a polar bear, arctic fox and...

...a blue-footed booby.

We will soon get a picture and literature sent to the class of our adopted animals and hope to raise more money for these special creatures at next year's auction. The picture below is the wreath that Mrs. K. Morris bid on an won together with a small decorated tree. The children are very excited to call these animals "their own" and hope they are around for a very long time!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December Writing - Holiday Excitement


With holiday excitement in the air, we thought it would be a good idea to funnel that energy into an art project combined with Writer's Workshop. Students were shown a sample of different size present boxes (see above picture) and asked to recreate them. They were given the construction paper, cut out the different shapes and glued them on the black paper. Then they were asked to write about each gift - who it is for and what is inside each one. This was a wonderful way for students to use their imagination and writing skills. Enjoy reading a sampling of the "present" writing!

Madison wrote:
"On Christmas, the red gift would be for Megan. The green gift is for my dogs, In the box was balls. The yellow box is for the Humane Society. The blue box is for Miss Karen."


Jack wrote:
"On Christmas, the big blue present is for Chatfield and it is going to be a Hess plane and a Hess train. The little green box is for Emmy's stuff - and a My Little Pony house. The yellow present is for my dad. My dad's present is a new Lo book. The red present is for my (mom) Coach Hall - a new pair of earrings."


Josey wrote:
"On Christmas, I would give the blue box gift to Chase. It would be a spy tank. The green box gift would be for Lily. It would be a rose. The red box would be for Lexie. It would be a crown. The yellow box would be for Lauren. It would be a new puppy."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Tis the Season


It is already that traditional time at our school where we decorate the holiday tree in our front lobby. Each class creates a string of garland with each classmates picture on the strand. Snowmen, hands, ornaments, and musical notes are adorning the tree this year. We added a string of beautiful Christmas stockings. Thanks to JB for putting up the tree every year and placing each strand on it so perfectly. Another tradition that we do (a classroom project) is collect pet supplies to give to our local Humane Society. We have collected dog bowls, towels, bleach, detergent, and pet toys for the animals waiting adoption to a good home. This year we are having a representative from the Humane Society come and speak to the children and he is bringing his dog. We will then present them both with the gifts to bring back to our animal friends. After all, ...'tis the season!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast - Remembering the Pilgrims


With all of the previous weeks devoted to learning about our tribe, the Lenape, today we shared a few books with the children and talked about the first Thanksgiving and the story of the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. Students had lots of questions and they knew lots of answers, especially how the the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn. They heard the story of dropping a fish in with the corn seed from our own Miss KK during their visit to the tee pee during Powwow. Thank you to our wonderful parents and grandparents who made this day possible. Mr. Buddy and Mimi (Josey's grandparents) fried two turkeys which was our main course. Our classroom moms came in with mac and cheese, potatoes, corn, fruit, brownies and cookies and helped us so much. We have so much food, we decided to make tomorrow "Thanksgiving Day #2" and we will have a repeat of today's feast. After all, the first Thanksgiving lasted three days - so we're just trying to make this as authentic as possible :) !! The students and teachers of the Mall-ard class wish all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Powwow: The day finally arrived !!

The day of Powwow finally arrived. The children were so excited saying how they hardly slept the night before. The slide show will tell the story of a truly remarkable event! Thanks to Melanie H. for the great pictures!

Lenape -- "Oh Did You Know...?"

As we have been learning about our tribe, we have put together a song that helps the children remember fun facts about the Lenape. The yellow sheets in the video are their song books. Each morning they would learn something new about their tribe and draw a picture to go with the words. Below is the result of the song - we are so proud of young Lenape!

Lenape - "Oh, did you know ... song." from Maria Mallon on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wigwams and Family Fun

Last night families had the opportunity to come to school and make their very own wigwam that represented the dwellings of the Lenape nation. Students painted a plastic jug (that was cut in half) with glue and placed felt pieces on it that represented bark. Our wigwam village is sitting outside our classroom and will be taken home after our Powwow on Friday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lenape Nation - "The Original People"

Homework was a family project this week. Students and parents were invited to create their own Native American Lenape tribe member. Families were asked to research the tribe on the internet and dress the cardboard cut out accordingly. We were "WOWED" by the representations of original dress that came in. Children also put their chosen Native American name on the cut out. Students had the opportunity to share their Lenape boy or girl with the class and tell how they made it. We have received numerous comments on how much fun this family homework project was and how much each family has learned about our adopted tribe - "The Original People."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pow Wow Preparation



THE EVENT of the Kindergarten year is fast approaching...it's time for the annual Powwow. Each Kindergarten class is learning about a specific Native American tribe. The tribes include the Inuit, Hopi, Nez Perce, Seminole, Sioux, Iroquois, Nootka, and our very own Lenape tribe. The Lenape come from the areas of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Students are not only learning about their food, clothing and shelter, but also, how much the Lenape are so similar to them. The Native Americas loved to play games, fish, and help at home. The students have been working on the turtle shakers and shell necklaces that they will be carrying and wearing during our Powwow. Homework has included storytelling, picking a Native American name, and decorating a Lenape girl/boy on a cardboard cut out. We read a wonderful book called, "Rainbow Crow" that was an authentic story past down from the Lenape tribe. In Reader's and Writer's Workshop, we are making our own "All About the Lenape Tribe" book that we will soon share with you. In Reader's Workshop, the class learns about nonfiction conventions (labeling, captions, headings) and in Writer's Workshop, we are modeling the overall look of an "All About" book. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to visit a 5th grade class that was also studying the Lenape tribe and they shared their diorama and information with us. Upcoming events include "Make and Take" night, where parents and children are invited back to the school to
make their own wigwams (see below).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shared Reading: The Little Yellow Chicken by Joy Cowley


The children have a new favorite big book, "The Little Yellow Chicken" by Joy Cowley. It is a story based on the folk tale, "The Little Red Hen." It was introduced on Monday as a shared reading. Shared Reading is an interactive reading experience. We use a big book because it has enlarged text so that all the children can see. During the reading, we involve the children in reading together by pointing to or sliding below each word in the text. This provides children the opportunity to participate and behave like a reader. Shared reading models the reading process and strategies used by good readers such as moving from left to right, word-by-word matching, and using intonation. Shared Reading creates a risk-free environment, allowing children to focus on the enjoyment of the story. Every day a new skill and focus was added. The first day the book was introduced. Questions such as, "Does this book look like fiction or non fiction?"; "Does the chicken look happy?"; and "What other books have we read by Joy Cowley?" The next day, we picked up on fluency and intonation. Sight words were discussed and located in the book. The third reading focused on locating groups of words in the book. Today, we used the letter combination chart which lists vowel combinations (ou, ee, ea, ay) and blends (fr, bl, gr) as a guide to help find these pairs of letters in the words of the book. We used Wikki Stix to circle the letter combinations in the book. We enjoy shared reading of big books because it brings the class together as a reading community and provides us with a shared love of reading...thanks Joy Cowley for the wonderful story!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Glogging - Is That Really a Word?


Our goal this year is to introduce more technology into our school day. We are preparing children for a world that is now run on technology and we can not afford to have our students lagging behind in the global marketplace. What better place to start but in Kindergarten? Most students have already been introduced to the computer and computer related games: PSP, DS,I-Pod, Wii and X-Box. They have used lap tops, cell phones, understand texting, and of course, the Book Log Wiki. They are surrounded by technology. So, why should it stop when they enter the classroom? With the guidance of our expert technology coach, Melanie Holtsman, the students have created our first official word family glog. A glog (refers to a graphics blog or in other words an online rich media poster. Our first class-made glog was incorporated into the Skills Block work session of our day. After brainstorming "at" family words for a few days, students were invited to come up to the laptop, download a picture from Google Images (for example, a cat) and upload it onto the glogster. Check out our first "Made by Mall-ard's Students Glog" and see what the students have designed. Our goal is to make a new glog for the rest of the word family words we encounter this year (ap, ip, ot, etc.) You can now officially add "glog" to your technology vocabulary!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fun Friday Treats - Halloween Style



Every Friday in our class we celebrate a week of learning with something we call a "Fun Friday Treat." Parents sign up at Orientation and Open House to bring a treat for the whole class on Friday. It can be anything from ice pops to cupcakes. Students love when it's their Friday to bring in the treats for the class. Today's treat had a Halloween twist that the children just loved and I'm sure Mrs. Smith just loved making! Aren't they just spooktakular?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Literary Characters - Dressed Up for the Parade


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
One of our favorite traditions at Chets Creek is the Literacy Character Parade. Students dress up as their favorite literary character and parade around the halls of the school for all of the older students to enjoy. We had pirates, fairies, angels, GI Joes, Star Wars, cowboys, cowgirls, and Scooby Doo represented. Enjoy the pictures that our official class photographer, Melanie H., has taken for us!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fun at Fall Centers


After the Fall Literacy Parade, students and parents were ready to join in the fun and create some holiday crafts. Making spider bags, decorating picture frames and cookies, designing ghoul bags, monster head bands and candy corn people were all some of the delightful projects that entertained the children. This was a great ending to the traditional parade and one that the students will remember! Special thanks to our parent volunteers who expertly ran each center!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fire Safety with Fireman Chris


Everyone was excited today because they knew that Fireman Chris was making a special visit to the Mall-ard's today! Fireman Chris talked about not playing with lighters and/or matches; having family fire drills, and the importance of stop/drop/and roll. He showed a slide show and video clips. Students loved the clip of the fire truck speeding down the highway to put out a fire. They also watched another clip of firemen putting out a fire and hearing the heavy breathing in a smoke filled room. Fireman Chris wanted children to see him dressed up in fireman gear so they would not be afraid and hide if they ever were in a fire. We had the lights turned off in the classroom and he came in, crawling on the floor asking, "Is there anyone in here?" His gear was "glow in the dark" and he was easy to spot. Afterward, the students asked him questions and told him some of their related stories. Then, Chris read the book, "Fireman A to Z". It was a wonderful experience for the students to see a fireman, ask him questions, and learn so much about the importance of fire safety -- thanks Fireman Chris!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Diamond D Ranch - Our First Field Trip


Our first field trip was to the Diamond D Ranch. The children enjoyed a nature walk where they saw a tree hit by lightening, maple trees, and pine trees. At the end of the walk, they were given fish food to throw in a lake. When they did that, all at once catfish sprang through the water! It was quite a surprise! Then we went on a tractor ride through the cow fields and fed some cattle (almost got stuck in the mud). After, we stopped to feed the goats, deer, and baa baa black sheep who was there with her 2 day old lambs. The children rode ponies, played in the bounce house, and got turned upside down in a spinning barrel. We had great parent chaperones who helped make the trip a huge success! We had a lot of tired kids on the bus ride back to school, so we're sure they had an early night's sleep! Thank you to Melanie H. for the wonderful pictures for all of you to enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin: Fruit or Vegetable? - Ask the Kindergarteners!


Fall is in the air...especially at the Mall-ards with our room resembling a pumpkin patch. The Pumpkin Science Unit started last week and students were invited to bring in their own pumpkin. We have all sizes and weights represented which made for some great lessons on sorting and classifying. The 5 E's model is being used to plan the unit: engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate. We engaged the students by having them share their background knowledge and charted what they know about pumpkins and then asked them what they want to know about them. We had lessons on what "Same" and "Different" means so that students can build on a common knowledge base. In this way, they can explain what they see when they examine their pumpkins. They explained by sharing their data and extended their knowledge by making connections and then evaluated by reviewing what they had learned. In this specific lesson, students were given an apple slice and pumpkin slice. They explored then using their five senses and magnifying glasses. They noticed what was the same and different about them. They noticed that both had seeds which raised the question, "If an apple has seeds and a pumpkin has seeds, is a pumpkin a fruit like an apple?" Then we researched our question on the computer (Glogster) and found out that, "Anything that has seeds on the inside or outside is classified as a fruit." We then cut up a few items and had the children decide if it should go in the fruit or vegetable tray remembering what they have learned. So, believe it or not...a pumpkin is a fruit...just ask a kindergartener!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hopscotch Paths - Enhancing Patterns


A fun and exciting way to enhance the learning of patterns is one of our favorite lessons in Math Investigations - Hopscotch Paths. At first the students are very curious when they see us drawing on the carpet with chalk! Not only is this is an excellent way to get their attention, but it also extends patterns to a physical activity. Surprisingly, some children have never played hopscotch or have ever seen it, so this was a great game to enhance schema and have them learn a new game. After a demonstration, students were invited to give it a try - one square for one foot and two squares for both feet. The one-two-one pattern was quickly learned and the children had a lot of fun with it. Then they went back to their seats to find squares of paper for them to construct their own Hopscotch Path. They could get as creative as they wished, however, it had to show a pattern. They loved using their fingers to hop down their path. Next week, we'll be bringing out the chalk during recess. I wonder how many different hopscotch paths we'll find...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Celebrate the Joy of Reading With VHC


Today we celebrated reading with children and teachers from around the world by reading Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". A program named Jumpstart Reading for the Record started in 2006. It is an international campaign whose goal is to bring preschool children together to read the same book, on the same day in communities all over the world. Today, Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar was read aloud in classrooms, libraries and homes from Japan, Germany and Brazil to cities and rural communities across America. While it was being read, props from the book (apples, plums, and oranges) were being munched by a sock puppet caterpillar (thanks Lee)! We know that reading aloud with children lays the groundwork for strong literacy skills and future success in school. We love The Very Hungry Caterpillar, enjoyed being part of this worldwide event, and can't wait for our Eric Carle Author study to read more books by this beloved author!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Baa Baa Black Sheep... Wool and So Much More!


During our morning Skills Block (a time dedicated to learning letters, sounds, (phonics), phonemic awareness, and shared reading), a nursery rhyme a week is introduced. Nursery rhymes are a wonderful way to teach these skills because they are short and easy for children to remember. The bonus is they give numerous opportunities to develop many levels of phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is defined as the awareness of sounds (phonemes) that make up spoken sounds. This includes rhyming, alliteration, ending, beginning sounds, and blending sounds to make words. There is overwhelming evidence that early learning of nursery rhymes and rhythmic poems, songs, and chants enhances early reading skills and phonemic awareness. On Fridays, we like to have a culminating, hands on activity to go with the rhyme. Today, the room was buzzing with the children making the next page in their nursery rhyme book, Baa, Baa Black Sheep. Using paper bags, construction paper and cotton, they made a wonderful keepsake to remember and share all they learned...wool and so much more!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Discovering Patterns


Our class has been working on a mathematics unit called Pattern Trains and Hopscotch Paths. We have explored questions like these: What makes a pattern a pattern? How do patterns give us information so that we can predict what comes next? Being able to recognize a pattern is an important tool in math. The children will continue to have many opportunities to copy, create, and extend patterns using materials such as pattern blocks, color tiles, and interlocking cubes. The above picture came from a lesson called Pattern Snakes. Students used paper pattern block cut outs to create their own pattern snakes. Children are also learning how to name their patterns: ABAB, ABCABC, ABBABB, etc. It is important for students to noticing patterns all around them because it can help in all subject areas: reading, writing, and science. Discovering patterns is a fun and exciting way for children to observe the world around them!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Than One Way to Retell a Story


During Reader's Workshop, we revisited one of the classes' favorite star books, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This classic fairy tale has been retold several times and in several different ways. The first few times it was read, we paged through the story using elaborate, almost exaggerated tones -PAPA BEAR, Mama Bear, and wee little squeaky baby bear voices. Then we brought out the puppets and children had the chance to perform and watch a Reader's Theater presentation (see below post). Another time, a glove finger puppet was added while reading the tale. After a few lessons on beginning, middle and end of the story, students were invited to draw what happened at those different times. Paper was cut in the shape of a house and students drew the beginning, middle and end of the story. The above picture shows the bears and Goldilocks first; the middle picture has the broken chair, the three bowls of porridge and her sleeping in the bed; and the third shows Goldilocks ready to jump out of the window when she realizes that the bears are home. This drawing clearly shows an understanding of the beginning, middle, and end...and that there is definitely more than one way to retell a story!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Goldilocks, Three Bears and Four Kindergarten Students!


Reader's Workshop included an exciting "Reader's Theater" segment, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." Students have heard this story a few times in the past two weeks and were more than ready to put on a play. The book is a "Star Book" and just like "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and "Caps for Sale", it turned into a class favorite by reading these books to the students at different times during the day. Now, children can look at the pictures and retell the story and it sounds like they are reading it. This pre-emergent reading skill is a wonderful way to get children excited about being able to pick up a book and "read" it with confidence. Goldilocks and the Three Bears is now added to our list of classroom favorites and will be retold many times during Literacy Stations via Reader's Theater. Look for this book to come home in your child's "Book in a Bag" and be prepared for a real treat..."Someone has been eating my porridge..."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Literacy Work Stations: Growing Independence


During the past week, we have introduced Literacy Work Stations as an integral component of our hour long Reader's Workshop. Literacy Work Stations allow students time for independent practice of previously taught mini lessons. Literacy stations also allow children to be actively engaged while we work with small groups. Included in our list of activities (so far) are: Read the Room (go around the room and read charts with a pointer); Write the Room (paper, clipboard, and marker - students write words they see around the classroom); ABC puzzles, classroom library, Star names (previously cut up star names are used); and beginning sounds center. The students rotate to a different station a few days a week. The focus is on practice and purpose that is linked to our teaching. We want to provide students with meaningful literacy practice activities during this time. For our emergent readers, these work stations will allow children to develop phonological awareness (the ability to isolate and manipulate the sounds in language), print awareness and concepts of print, and learn about letters and sounds. And, besides all of that, it's fun and engaging for students -- which is exactly what we want learning to be!

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Ropin' In Kindergarten Writers" Bulletin Board


Our first official bulletin board, "Ropin' In Kindergarten Writers", proudly displays the first "written" works of some of our Kindergarten students. In Writer's Workshop, students are learning how to tell a "small moment" (personal narrative) story by first, planning their story and then illustrating it through pictures. When the children are finished, they are able to staple it and then have created their own book. We make anything in their lives a small moment story. For example, in the first set of pictures, Lauren went in the Jeep to go to Target; shopped for clothes; and then went out of the store with her cart. In the second writing sample, Chatfield was at the beach and saw a live conch in the puddles of water; walked up a sand hill; and then, when leaving the beach, told his dad to "Hurry up!" The third story is from Mackenzie. She was in the back yard; then played hide and seek; finally, another friend came over and they played on the swings. In teaching the children to write stories in this way, we are getting away from the one page drawings and into making books out of our stories. We will progress from this into labeling the pictures, writing sounds down that they hear, and then sentence strings. The children learn that anything can be a story: going to the movies, the store, the park, or having dinner. We don't want stories to be only about going to Disney or Sea World. Every day there is a story to work on and a new one to write...remember "when you are done, you've really just begun" especially in Writer's Workshop!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Caps For Sale: A Reader's Theater Production

A favorite "Star Book" from our collection includes this timeless classic, "Caps For Sale." The children love hearing this story over and over and are now great at re-enacting the story. With a few minor props and lots of imagination, the students had a wonderful time retelling this story. And now presenting...Caps For Sale!

Retelling of Caps For Sale on Vimeo.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kindergarten - Settling Into Week Two


Wow!! Our second week of Kindergarten was loaded with work and fun. We don't have a minute to spare in our Skills Block. We start out with phonics, phonemic awareness, shared reading (morning message and nursery rhymes), and star names activities. Students learn most skills via singing and dancing. It's a great way to start off the day. After Skills block, we go right into Writer's Workshop. Children are learning what good writer's do. Did you know that good writers say, "When you think you're done, you've only just begun?" This is the answer we give children when they say that they're done with their "writing." Of course they are not writing, but they are learning the art of telling a story through pictures. Eventually, they will label their picture, for example, (s) for sun, and (f) for flower. This will grow into letter strings and magically, on one glorious day, they will write their first sentence. Today, we were busy painting self-portraits, sharing homework, and visiting the Library. The homework this week was for students to find items at home that begin with the first letter/letter sound of their first name (see above picture). These bags of items were shared with the class and proved to be a wonderful "getting to know you" activity. The Honky Tonk will be closed for a much anticipated three-day weekend! We will be looking for our little Mall-ards on Tuesday morning to start another great week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Star Names-- Where Everyone Shines Brightly


Another bright spot in our morning Skills Block is a segment called, "Star Names." Each morning a child's name is picked out of a bucket and his/her name is the focus of our activity. The name of the child is written on a sentence strip. The name is written largely on the board and students have the opportunity to notice attic (b,d,f, etc.), basement (g,j,p, etc.), and letters on the line (a,c,e, etc.). They stand and move as each letter is called out. For example, for Victor (a star this week) arms were in the air for "V" and on their hips for "i", "c", "t", "o", and "r". Then another sentence strip with his name was cut into separate letters. These letters were mixed up and Victor had to put his name back in order. Then he mixed it up and called on a friend to put his name back correctly. Next, students are asked to look at the previous names on the chart and asked what they noticed about the other names and the new name. Some say, "I see the word "is", or "Those two names have the same amount of letters." Finally, the star student tells us a little about him/her self. It may be,"I have two dogs"; "I have an older sister"; or "I love the beach". Students then go back to their seats and draw a picture of the star with something he/she has mentioned. Students write the stars name and their name on the drawing. A book of all these pictures is made and given to the child at the end of the day. This activity teaches many skills including phonics and phonemic awareness. Children learn a lot from their friends names and a lot about their friends by doing this daily activity. It is a favorite part of our day!