Friday, August 27, 2010

Math Exploration

Here are a few photos of our exploring time in math.  We will use these manipulatives throughout the year to learn about various math concepts, so we’ve been spending some time having fun and getting used to them this week.


What materials do you use at home to practice counting?

Have a good weekend,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Morning Meetings

Our school follows the Care for Kids model, which focuses on enhancing academic, social, emotional, and ethical learning.  Although not technically a part of the Responsive Classroom curriculum, we do use The Morning Meeting Book as a reference when planning our morning meetings.

We hold a Morning Meeting each day in our classroom, right after attendance is taken.  Students know this will happen and are excited for the time to converse and share with friends.

Our Morning Meetings consist of four parts: a greeting, an activity, a share time, and a message.  This is a consistent routine, and one that helps students start the day confidently. 

At the beginning of the school year we do the same greeting each day for a week.  This helps students become confident in their knowledge of classmates’ names, their speaking ability, and the routine of the meeting.  A favorite greeting already this year is our Brown Bear greeting.  I introduced this greeting after we read the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?  The greeting, which can be an easy one to do at home with your family uses the same repetitive text: The first person says “Name, Name, who do you see?” and the named person responds with, “I see Name2 looking at me.  Name2, Name2, who do you see?” and the greeting goes around the circle until all who are present in the room have been greeted.

After the greeting, we participate in an activity.  Every activity during this time promotes collaboration and communication.  There is never an option to have a winner or a loser because this time is focused on teamwork and building community.  We enjoy a variety of activities, from making a rainstorm with our hands to playing Hot and Cold to creating a team-built monster. 

The third part of our meeting is a share time.  At the beginning of the year, every child shares every day.  I use a Lightning Round method and teach children to answer the question or prompt quickly—and with a complete sentence—so each person gets time to share.  During this part of the year, some of our favorite prompts and questions are: What is your favorite _____, What did you eat for dinner last night, Would you rather be a police officer or a doctor, and I like to _____.  I keep the prompts easy because students are just learning to share information and because we have 21 eager students who all want to share.  Later in the year, I introduce a sharing time where only one or two students get to share.  The other students must listen to the shared information and, as a group, respond with three comments and a question.  This share time helps students continue practicing listening to their peers, and also develop questioning skills.

The final part of our Morning Meeting is a greeting.  Each day, the teachers write a message to the students.  Because we must leave the message in a visible location all day, I generally write the message on a large piece of chart paper and then hang it on the wall.  In the message, I include the date (written in a variety of ways during the year), a greeting (which changes based on skill or theme, a message (generally tied to an area of learning that will take place during the day), and a closing.  Many literacy skills are practiced during the

reading of the morning message and other classroom content is reviewed.  There is always an important vocabulary word from one of our lessons in the message as well.

The message concludes our Morning Meeting and after that, students are set to go for the day.  We also wrap up our day with an afternoon check-in meeting where we discuss what went well during the day and plan for something we need to work on the next day to help our classroom run smoother.


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Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome to Kindergarten!

We’ve completed four days of kindergarten and we’re going strong!  School started bright and early Tuesday morning.  With students and drivers learning the new bus routes, we waited for all our new friends to make it to class, but we had a great time coloring and chatting during our morning work time.

We have 19 adorable students in our class.  We are an ESL classroom, so we have students from a variety of countries with us. 

100_3798 - Copy   100_3800

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was one of our favorite stories this week.  We can all now ‘read’ the story together.  We tied the story in with letter identification, printing practice, and building community.  The bulletin board in our hallway reads, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look who’s in our room” and the little poster has a poem about 2 of the teachers in our room.  Ms. S. is with us now also, but we haven’t written a verse for her yet.  Interestingly, in all the years I have taught Chicka Chicka at the beginning of the school year, I have never been asked why I don’t have a tree in my room.  Not only was I asked this year, but I’ve been challenged to build one.  It won’t happen this week, but we may just see a Chicka tree in our room soon…

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was another favorite story.  We read the story and then took a tour of our school, looking for the animals we’d read about.  Each time we found an animal in the hallway, we learned about the room he was ‘guarding’ and met the person who could be found there.  We met the custodian, the cafeteria workers, the office staff, and the counselor, along with the librarian, art teacher, phy. ed. teacher, and computer lab teacher.  We had puppets we brought with us to help us remember the sequence of animals we’d read about so we could make sure to find all the animals and important people in our school.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

What We’re Reading - August

Each month we will highlight some of the books we are reading in class.  Since school is starting in just over a week, today we’ll highlight some of our favorite back-to-school and kindergarten books.Chicka Chicka book cover

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a wonderful book to teach with at the beginning of the year.  We work on letter recognition,  rhymes, and ABC order.  We also discuss capital and lowercase letters, the physics of all the letters climbing the tree, and picture cues.  The repetition in the story makes it easy for new readers to remember the words and “read” along, enhancing confidence in their abilities from the first day of school.


Brown BBrown Bear book coverear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is another great book for new students.  It is usually a familiar book, so students are comfortable interacting with it.  When they see all the other students know the book too, they know they are  among friends.  This book is great for sequencing, discussing animals and colors, and for talking about questions and answers.  Each year, after reading this book, we take a tour of the school to look for the animals hanging out on the walls near the rooms or offices of people we will need to know throughout the school year.


The Monster Pet is one of the big books in our Rigby literacy series.  The simple text and pictures make it a great Monster Pet book coverbeginning-of-the-year focus book.  With this book, we study the comprehension strategy of retelling, and also color words, rhymes, syllables, and picture cues.  Students read the big book as a whole group during shared reading lessons and then use the now-familiar story when they work at the listening station throughout the year.

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Many more books will be reviewed throughout the school year.  What are some of your favorite books?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Your kindergarten questions

I have already heard many questions from new kindergarten students.  Even though starting school is exciting, it makes us a little nervous, too.  Here are some of the questions we’ve been asked, and answers that will help you know how we do things at our school.

Do we get to play outside?
Of course we will!  We will go outside almost every day.  We only stay inside if it is rainy or too cold.  On really hot days we may go outside for a few minutes and enjoy activities in the shade, or we may choose to stay inside.  We love movement in our class, so get ready to hop, skip, jump, and run!  The teachers will ask that you wear ‘outside-appropriate’ shoes, like tennis shoes, every day so that you can safely participate in all of our activities with us.  Our outside area is fenced in so you don’t have to worry about the traffic around the school.  The district maintenance people put in new sidewalks, plants, and a brand-new fence for us this summer.

What if I get hungry in class?
We plan our kindergarten lunch times so hopefully you won’t get too hungry during the morning.  If you feel that you need something to help you get through the morning, let a teacher know.  We will have a few pretzels or animal crackers that you can munch on to get you through until lunch.

Can I play on the computer?Smartboard in a classroom
We have 3 computers and a SmartBoard in our room.  As we teach students how to log in and use the programs we have, the computers will become a part of workstations during our literacy time.  They will also be available at other times during the day and we will make sure that every child gets to use them.  You may not get to EVERY day, but you will get to!  You will also be able to work on the SmartBoard, which is like a huge computer screen that you can touch.  We will use this every day also.

Will I have homework like my older brother has?
You bet you will!  Our homework won’t be just like your older sibling, but we will have homework.  One piece of homework that we will have throughout the year is to read.  Reading – that is, having an adult read to a child, a child reading to an adult, or a child reading independently – is so important, we will ask you to do it every day.  Aside from that, you will occasionally have math or science homework, and some fun family projects to work on.

Where’s the bathroom and when can I use it?
Each kindergarten room in our school has a bathroom in the classroom.  In our room, our policy is that you may use the bathroom if it is not in use by someone else.  We’ll teach you a hand signal so you can let one of the teachers know you are heading to the bathroom.

What if I don’t make it to the bathroom and have an accident?
First of all, don’t be nervous about this.  It happens to most students at least once during kindergarten.  If it will help you be more comfortable, please keep a change of clothes in your backpack.  If you have an accident, you will be able to change into your dry clothes right away.  We also have a Family Resource Center right next to our classroom.  Mr. Bob has extra uniforms and underwear if you need to borrow them.  He also has a washer and dryer and can wash your regular clothes for you.


Below are some articles for parents that talk about preparing for school.


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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Fresh Start

Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

Image via Wikipedia

After much contemplation on the subject of web sites versus blogs, I’ve decided to start this blog about kindergarten.  In the beginning, it will serve as a composite open blog for my kindergarten families and a resource for teachers.  As we go through the year, I may decide to devote my time to just one focus.

School starts for us on August 17, so watch for information and news about the new school year!

Please check back to see how we are doing as we Start Our Journey.

In the mean-time, check out this blog post about our kindergarten class last year:

and these articles about kindergarten, selected courtesy of Zemant


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