Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Holiday Breakfast and Celebration

Our Holiday Pictures and Party - December 2011 on PhotoPeach
Our Holiday Party was all it could be. We started off with a wonderful breakfast. Students brought in everything from orange juice to pancakes and sausage. After the breakfast, children participated in making holiday crafts. Snowflake ornaments, reindeer food bags, snowman buckets, and decorating sugar cookies were some of the activities. After lunch, a student from last year shared Hanukkah traditions with the class and taught them how to play driedel.
Coach Hall visited and read "The Polar Express" to the children. It all culminated at the end of the day with second grade students running in and singing "Feliz Navidad" - a super ending to a terrific day. The Mall-ards will be back in January, 2012 - Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Very Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh Where is the Gingerbread Man?

The Gingerbread Man on PhotoPeach

For some reason, this year, this class has been into the "The Gingerbread Man" series of stories. We had read "The Gingerbread Man", "The Gingerbread Boy", "The Gingerbread Friends", "The Gingerbread Pirates" and other gingerbread folktales. In order to add to that excitement, today we made our own Gingerbread Man. The children stirred all the ingredients: cake mix, oil, eggs and water and we poured the batter into our gingerbread man mold. The smell was delightful in the room and the students couldn't help but stare at him baking in the oven. Then we had to leave the classroom for lunch. When we returned to class, the Gingerbread Man was GONE!! He slipped out of the oven and the children where determined they were going to find him. We went outside, to the Media Center, up to the second floor and we finally found him in Mrs. Alvarado's kindergarten classroom! We took him back to the classroom and decided to lock him in the office while we made a few more for the class to share. It was such a fun time and one the children will remember for a long time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Houses on PhotoPeach
It is a tradition in our classroom that we make Gingerbread Houses in Kindergarten. Parents supplied the needed sweets: candy canes, graham crackers, Skittles, cereal, pretzels, ice cream cones, gum drops, and icing. The children had a wonderful time creating their very own Gingerbread House!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Christmas Tree

The lobby Christmas tree is decorated with a string of pictures from every classroom in the school. We just had to get a picture with the kids all around the tree.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Don't Forget About Books!

This is a great video that just had to be shared. "It's a Book" was written by Lane Smith. In this digital age of laptops, iPads, Nooks, and other technology, it's just great to sit back and read a book. During the holidays, remember to read to your child and add a few books under the tree. They don't need batteries!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bulletin Board: "Hear the Pitter-Pattern"

Our bulletin board this month, "Hear the Pitter-Pattern" features our work in Writer's Workshop, Science, and Math. In Writer's Workshop, we have been creating pattern books much like the books they bring home each night to practice. They feature a general topic and then each page refers to that topic in some way. The books on this board were written after our nature walk a few weeks ago. The students described the items they collected by writing a pattern book about it. For instance, "I found a leaf." "It is pointy." In Math, they completed a pattern, created a pattern with stickers, created a hopscotch pattern and labeled these patterns, such as AABB, ABCABC, etc. For the past few weeks, we have been able to refer to patterns across the day in Reader's, Writer's and Math Workshops. The students are getting a true sense of what a pattern is and how they are found in the world all around us.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Better Not Pout Bags

Here's one way to keep the holiday excitement in check -- it's our "Better Not Pout" bags. Each day in December the children are awarded a special treat in their bag for good behavior. The treats may include lollipops, stickers, pencils, candy canes and other miscellaneous goodies. The bags serve as a constant reminder that we are still in school and we have to adhere to our class promise. If there is someone who does not make good choices on a certain day, then the treat is not put in the bag (just for that day). The students are so excited with these bags and can not wait until the last day before winter break because that is when they receive their you "better not pout!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trimming the Tree

It has been a tradition at our school for every class to decorate the enormous tree in the front lobby. We put each child's picture on a strand of stars that go around the Christmas tree. Today all of us went to the front lobby to add our decoration to it. When it is completely adorned, we will be taking our holiday class picture in front of it. Now we will start our countdown to the big day!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pow Wow Video 2011

Below is a video (thank you Melanie Holtsman) of our Pow Wow day. This will explain the tradition and also show some of the happenings during this celebration.

Pow Wow 2011 from Chet the Eagle on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

More Pow Wow Pictures

These pictures will give you a glimpse into our wonderful Pow Wow day. Thank you to Melanie Holtsman, our school photographer, for capturing the spirit of the day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkeys and Happy Wishes

With only two days of school this week, we decided that it would be a great time to talk about the Mayflower, Pilgrims and make hand-turkeys. We talked about all the people and things of which we are thankful: our moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, friends, our houses, the food we have to eat and the great school we attend. During this time time of giving thanks, we want to thank the Mall-ard parents. Sharing your child with us is our greatest joy. Thank you for all you do for our class. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday...and see everyone next week!! gobble, gobble :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pow Wow - The Best Ever 2011

We were so excited that Friday was finally here...the day of our Pow Wow. We have learned about the Lenape tribe, practiced our dances, and had our attire ready to put on. After the the ceremony, students enjoyed a day of activities including: music, art, taste-testing and outside activities. The day was superior in every way and one that the children will remember for a long time. To read more about our Pow Wow and the history behind the event visit

Pow Wow Kindergarten 2011 on PhotoPeach

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Night - Making a Wigwam

On Tuesday night families were invited to come into the classroom and make a wigwam. For several weeks we have been collecting plastic gallon milk and water jugs. The containers were cut off at the middle and it left us with a base to build the wigwam. Paper towel strips were cut up and glued to it. This represented the bark to cover the wigwam. It was a great night to have parents come in and work with their child on this project.
Making a Wigwam - Family Night on PhotoPeach

Lenape Family Project

Lenape Nation on PhotoPeach

Students and parents were invited to research the Lenape tribe for homework. They were given a card board cut out to dress their Native American accordingly. Students presented their project to the class and told how they created it. Our Pow Wow is fast approaching. The children are learning so much about the "Original People."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Independent Reading in the Wigwam

Each day we invite a few students into the wigwam for "Wigwam Reading". This special place at the entrance to our classroom is a great place to have a few benches for the kids to enjoy their books. Our "wigwam readers" love their books even more with the quietness inside the tent. Sometimes a little change of scenery and a comfortable spot makes a book a little more enjoyable. I wonder who will be our "wigwam readers" tomorrow :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Learning About the Lenape

If you were to enter and exit our classroom, you would be going through our wigwam. The children just love it and they are getting more excited by the day with our Pow Wow next Friday. Parents are helping with getting the Lenape dress and accessories ready. Students are also working on painting colorful shakers for the various dances we will be performing.

Today we read a wonderful book called "Rainbow Crow" (a Lenape Legend). This is the story symbolizing the value of selflessness and service to others. We love this story so much we want to share it with you - just click on the link - and we know you will also find this Lenape legend touching and heartwarming.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writing Like Scientists

Today for Writer's Workshop we went outside to observe and collect some of the world around us. First we adopted a tree which we will watch change as the seasons go by. The class chose the tree (above) to be "our class tree". Then we gathered leaves, flowers, bark, shells, stones, and sticks in large zip lock baggies. They picked up anything they found to be interesting. Tomorrow we will be observing our collection with magnifying glasses to really notice all of the special characteristics of the objects we found. Our researchers will be writing about how these items look and feel. They will be noticing the world around them and writing about it like never before. We can't wait to read all about their findings.

Children are proud of what they have found.

Looking for anything that looks interesting.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Knots on a Counting Rope - Our Pow Wow Begins

Every November Kindergarten students at our school enjoy a Social Studies Unit on Native Americans. It culminates at our annual Pow Wow. Our class is the Lenape tripe. The Lenape are called the "Original People". They were a peaceful tribe from New York to Delaware. The Lenape helped early settlers learn how to fish in rivers and grow vegetables native to this land. Students learned that they did not have televisions, phones or iPads back then. The art of storytelling was valued as a way to pass history on from one generation to another. The story "Knots on a Counting Rope" by Bill Martin and John Archambault is about an Native American boy who hears the story of his birth from his grandfather. He was born very sick but the grandfather would not let him die. He had named him Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses and the boy did grow strong but the sickness left him blind. The homework this week was for parents to tell a story or stories to their child and then knot the counting rope every time they heard it so that they could one day tell the story. Enjoy listening to story "Knots on a Counting Rope."

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Science of Pumpkins

There are so many activities related to pumpkins. For the past few weeks in Science, the children have been learning about this very special seasonal fruit. Oh yes, it is a fruit. We learned that fruits have seeds in them and vegetables do not.This was a big surprise to everyone. Children were invited to scoop out the pumpkin's pulp so that we could estimate the amount of seeds that were in it.

After all of the seeds were gathered, students wrote their guesses on a sticky note and placed it on the chart. The estimates ranges from 40 to 80,000!

Then they came up and placed ten seeds each onto plates so that we could count by 10's and find out the number. That pumpkin had over 300 seeds! Today our experiment was a sink and float activity whereby the students predicted if they thought various items might sink or float. There was a pen, paper clip, cup, bracelet, water bottle, stapler, gourd, and a few different sized pumpkins in the tub of water. The children were quite surprised to out what actually sank and floated.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fire Prevention with Fireman Chris

Fire Safety With Fireman Chris on PhotoPeach
Every year we are lucky enough to have Fireman Chris come to talk to the children about fire safety. He brought with him all of his equipment and a slide show of the various fires he has experienced. The main focus was centered on having the children see how different he looks with his firefighting equipment on and not to be afraid. The fact is that many youngsters may hide during a fire if they see and hear someone that looks scary - which is the way a child sees a fireman with his gear on. After the presentation, Fireman Chris read a book about fire safety. The students loved having him visit and so did we. Thanks again Fireman Chris for taking the time to teach our kindergarten students about fire safety.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Literacy Character Parade

Literacy Character Parade Oct.2011 on PhotoPeach

It was the perfect time to take a few pictures before the parade started. We had characters from cowboys to Star Wars. After the parade, students came back to the room the enjoyed a variety of center activities. They made orange and black patterned bracelets, spider hats, ghoul bags, boo pops, and decorated sugar cookies. The fun continued into the night when the children came back to school and trick-or-treated through the halls and then outside to the Fall Carnival.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Reading and Rhyming Time

Just before our Literacy Parade (pictures to come), Mr. Hector read a few books to the class. For this book, he had the children name the rhyming words they heard after he read the sentence. It was a great "treat" for our students to once again see someone enjoy reading as much as Mr. Hector. Right after the reading, the children lined up for the parade. They were all dressed as characters from the book they were carrying in the parade. Reading a few books was the perfect way to kick-off our literacy celebration.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mother Goose With Some of Her Favorites

The Mother Goose Pumpkin Masterpieces are on display in the front lobby of the school. Represented are: "Jack and Jill", "Three Blind Mice", "The Old Lady and the Shoe", "Hey Diddle Diddle", "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", 'Little Miss Muffet", and "Hickory Dickory Dock", "Humpty Dumpty", and "Little Bo Peep." The children had a wonderful time creating their nursery rhyme pumpkins. Thanks again to are great parent volunteers for all of their help.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Common Core and More About the Standards

The Mission Statement for the Common Core Standards is:
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
Our state is one of the 45 states that now have adopted these standards. The standards are not a curriculum but they do spell out what students should know and be able to do at the end of a school year. If you are interested in what these standards are, look on the extreme right side of this blog. You will see a tab labeled "Common Core App." Click on this widget and you will find out what the standards are for kindergarten through 12th grade. It is our goal to give our students the tools they will need to become successful in their lives and these common core standards are the first step in attaining that goal.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Discovering Number Worlds

Today every student received a log in name and password to SRA Number Worlds. This program's math instruction is explicit, intense, and supportive. It takes students from where they are and systematically guides them to each new level of mathematical thinking. This is a supplemental activity that can be done at home to enhance your child's math skills. We are looking forward to hearing comments on how your child is enjoying these activities. A link "Number Worlds" can also be found on the side of this blog directly under the "Reading Tip of the Day."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Literary Pumpkins: Stage One

Every year during this time, the lobby is festooned with Literary Pumpkins. Each class picks a favorite class book and they decorate a pumpkin or pumpkins to emulate the cover of the book. Throughout the years, our pumpkins have been "Piggies", "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and the "Australian ABCs". This year our pumpkins are going to be from Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose Book . There will be one big "Mother Goose" pumpkin and various nursery rhyme characters around her, for instance (The Dish and the Spoon, Humpty Dumpty, and Jack and Jill).
Today, we had parents come in to supervise the children's painting of their pumpkins. We can't wait to see the finished products tomorrow!!

Helping with color choices.

Having a lot of fun working with the children.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Llamas, Pajamas, and Dr. Horner

On October 6, 2011, we were visited by a special visitor, Dr. Donnie Horner. He helped us celebrate the "Jumpstart - Read for the Record" campaign just as thousands of other kindergarten students from around the world were doing by reading Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. Dr. Horner is Jacksonville's Education Commissioner. Dr. Horner read Llama Llama Red Pajama like he wrote it! The children were on the edge of their seats with the way he interacted, questioned, and made connections with them and the book. It was a treat to have Dr. Horner in our class and hope he can visit again soon. As for our little llamas, they came dressed in their pajamas and some decided to stay in them all day!! That made for a very comfortable and memorable day at school!

"Llama, llama red pajama feels alone without his mamma." Dr. Horner asked the children if they knew how the llama felt and if they ever felt this way.

A group picture of the class with our guest reader.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Morning Readers

In August, kindergarten students would meet in the dining room to be picked up and brought to their classrooms. Now that the children are familiar with the school and where their classroom is, they have the opportunity to use this early morning time to read a book while they are waiting for school to begin. Starting at 8:30 a.m., students are invited to sit outside their classroom and read and discuss books until the start of the school day @ 9:00. We have a wagon of books for them to choose from at all different genres and reading levels. The patrols that are assigned to our hallway are there to ensure each child's safety, make sure each child has a book, and then collect their blue communication folder and book in a bag. When the bell rings, the students hand back to the books to the patrols and line up to come into class. We are now ready to start the day!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Three Billy Goats Gruff - A Retelling

Being able to retell a book that has been heard several times is a key indicator in a child's readiness to read. The above video is a retelling by "J" of the Norwegian folktale, "The Three Billy Goats Gruff". He confidently tells the story with his own special flare. The details that children include during a retelling serve as a determining factor into seeing if a child may be an emergent reader. From the findings of E. Sulzby, (Professor of Education at the University of Michigan and is best known for her pioneering work in emergent literacy) (1985), states that children eventually move from pointing and labeling pictures in a book, to "reading" a story through the illustrations, to telling the story using book language, and finally to reading conventionally using the text of a story. Enjoy this very well done retelling of Norwegian folktale "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." (It may have to buffer.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Writer's Workshop - Peer Sharing

Our writing folders were jammed packed with all kinds of stories. There were stories about dog walks, visits to grandma's, pool parties, and trips to Orlando. Who knew that kindergarten children had so many "small moments" in their lives to share? On Friday, students cleaned out their folders of all the stories that have been accumulating over the past few weeks and put them into their writing portfolios. These beginning pieces are a wonderful foundation and visual reminder of a child's writing and reading progression. From drawing pictures, labeling beginning sounds, then beginning and ending sounds and finally to writing sentences are all steps in the process. Being able to read the writing back is also very important. Our writers are beginning to feel the power of words and of telling a story that comes from their every day life. The pictures show student's excitement from sharing their works with a writing partner.

Friday, September 23, 2011

We Know Where the Wild Things Are

This week the children created their own "Max" from the book "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. Having an art project go along with a book makes it more meaningful for our kindergarteners. This is always a popular book from our "Star Book" collection of classics. These projects are two-fold - they have the students cutting, pasting and creating which are wonderful kindergarten skills. As they were completed, they went up on the board for all to admire.

PTA Popcorn Party

Our class was gifted a popcorn party from the CCE PTA for 100% participation from our class. Thank you parents for joining the PTA. They do so much for us. For instance, at the beginning of the year every child in the school received a school tee shirt. The PTA replaces the mulch in our playgrounds, buys books for our classrooms, and sponsors numerous other activities and events. All we know is that the Mall-ard class is 100% happy that we have such great parents who joined our PTA. And, as you can see, the children really enjoyed their popcorn!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book in a Bag - Daily Routine

This week we started kindergarten homework. A major part of the homework is reading a book a night and logging it in their Book Log. Every day the children will have the chance to pick a book from their personal book bins that he/she wants to take home that night. They take the one they already read out and exchange it for a new one to take home. It could be a leveled book or "Star Book." A Star Book is a book that has been read aloud several times in the classroom. These may include The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Caps for Sale, Where the Wild Things Are, and miscellaneous fairy tales. They can picture walk through these books and orally retell the story as they are paging through it. The students are very excited to bring home the books they read in school. It is also a great way for families to share the reading together.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Environmental Print Is All Around Us

Environmental print is the print that is all around us. We find it on road signs (STOP), stores (Publix), cereal boxes (Lucky Charms), and snacks (Chips Ahoy). These are often the first words that children recognize and can read without realizing it: McDonalds, Target, Burger King, and Chick-fil-A. Everyday in class, we are celebrating these words. The "print" that the students brought in is changed out everyday on the chart. By changing the logo, wrapper or sign on our "I Can Read" sentence strip holder, they are adding to their lists of words they can read. By reading this chart, students are not only becoming reacquainted with the environmental print but also the sight words "I", "can" and "read". This is such a fun activity for the class and they surprise themselves when they can "read" these words with confidence.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kindergarten Open House

Last night was Open House for Kindergarten. We thought it would be a good idea for parents to see the day in pictures. We created a slide show of "The Day in the Life of a Kindergartener". The day starts out with Calendar Math. We talk about the name of the day, the date, abd how many days until a certain birthday or event. Each day is counted and put on a counting strip in groups of ten. The day is also marked by a straw and bundled in groups of ten as time progresses. Next is the "Good Morning Song" followed by the "Class Promise". The "Morning Message" is printed on the board each day. This is where we find out the highlights of our day and what is planned. The children find letters and letter sounds, sight words, and fill in missing letters. Writer's Workshop, Reader's Workshop, Math and Science round out the day. A few days a week they go to P.E., Music, Art and/or the Library. We also have Developmental Centers where children have the opportunity to work on puzzles, Play-doh, blocks and Legos. The thirty-six students we have grown so much in the eighteen days we have been in school and we are enjoying every minute watching them learn and grow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Humpty Dumpty Sits On Our Wall

An important part of the first nine weeks of Kindergarten is our Nursery Rhyme unit.
When children hear and repeat these rhymes, they are becoming aware of identifying and manipulating sounds in language (phonemic awareness). Research in the past decade has shown that phonemic awareness is a predictor of success in learning to read. Once children have some degree of phonemic awareness and letter knowledge they can begin to decode the letter/sound correspondences that make up our written language. Nursery rhymes provide opportunities to hear rhyme, blend and substitute sounds.
In these pictures, students drew, cut out, water colored and decorated their own Humpty Dumpty's. Now they are sitting up on our wall...we hope they don't have a great fall too soon!

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 ...