Thursday, January 28, 2016

Finishing up January

We had a wonderful week of play!

Working with our cool homemade "snow"
Building playdough letters
Pop-Up Characters
Designing a City
Of course everyone is almost done with their medallions.  Everyone worked SO hard--each one of our children has mastered the roughly 20 concepts/skills for medallions.  

Such concentration!

We will be publishing our latest personal narratives next week, and getting ready to celebrate Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day.  A note regarding Valentine's Day will go home this Friday with details about valentines.

What a wonderful winter we've had so far!

Writing with Stop Signs

This week we learned about how we can use special stop signs, or punctuation, in our writing.

We matched sentences to different kinds of punctuation as well.

As we keep writing this year, we will try using our special "stop signs" to support our writing.

Get ready for the Boxtop Challenge!

The Lower School starts its "Boxtop Challenge" next week.  Each grade will compete to see who can bring in the most boxtops between February 1 and February 5.  If our grade wins, we will have a special afternoon to be announced later.  Please bring in as many boxtops as you can--the boxtops support charities in need!

For a list of products with boxtops on them, check here.
Friday, January 22, 2016

Medallions Update

We are so close to finishing our medallions!  Look at all how full our ribbons are with skills our students have mastered!

One of our students even got to press the easy button!  The easy button is our silly button that, after working and persevering on a skill or concept or project and finally getting there, we can press the easy button that says "that was easy."  The children are so excited to press the easy button, since it's a reminder that in reality they worked really hard to master something and they should feel proud!
Pressing the button after writing his last name--with seventeen letters!  Well done!

Writers Workshop: Focus on Illustrations

During Writers Workshop this week, we focused on how to use illustrations to show characters' feelings.  We used Mo Willems' books like Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! as mentor texts for drawing people with expressions.

We started with a guided drawing--how would you draw a pigeon?

Afterwards, the children brainstormed different ways Mo Willems shows emotions through drawings of the pigeon.  When his eyes are big and open, he is capturing the feeling of being surprised.  When his eyes are droopy, then he is showing how the pigeon feels tired.  The children then began to use their understanding to enhance their own illustrations in their personal narratives.

Feeling excited
Feeling sad


We delved into subtraction this week with the book If I Were a Minus Sign.  The book comes from a series of great books introducing math concepts to children.  A video reading of the book is below.

The children began building their own subtraction stories for a class book version of Minus Sign, using whiteboards to practice first.

We also played the SMARTboard game "Hungry Shark."  We followed along with the story problem as the hungry shark ate schools of fish, and used our understanding to write number sentences corresponding with each step.

The children explored the iPad app Mathopolis this week as well.  The app is designed to have the children or teachers choose different levels of addition and subtraction, then gives them quick equations to solve within a ten second (or less, depending on the level of difficulty) frame.  Each time they solve a problem, they are helping the firefighters put out a fire.  The app encourages fluency with math facts in addition and subtraction, something we call "Fast Math" in kindergarten!  For a review/preview of the app, check here.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

MIndfulness Meetings--Save the Dates!

Our counselor Mrs. Heurung, reading a story about feeling silly.
We had a wonderful visit with our counselor Mrs. Heurung this past week to explore feeling silly with a read-aloud story. We also practiced a mindful moment with our jar--such a wonderful tool that Mrs. Heurung showed us how to make. For more information on mindfulnes, how to make mindful jars and more, check here for Mrs. Heurung's blog.

Save the dates! Mrs.Heurung will also be facilitating two parent meetings coming up:

“Mindfulness in Education”  January 21st (this Thursday)

“Mindful Parenting” February 18

Both sessions will be from 6:15-7:45pm in the Lower School Library, and light appetizers will be served. We hope you can make it to these insightful get-togethers!
Friday, January 15, 2016

Breck Summer Programs

It is cold outside... brrrrr.  But we can think summer with Breck Summer Programs!  Click the picture below for more information!

Breck Summer Programs Registration is NOW OPEN! Please check out the BSP web page for registration information. 

BSP 2016 Dates: 
Session One: June 20-July 1
Session Two: July 5-July 15
Session Three: July 18-July 29

Shoe Tying

This week was that special time of year when we gear up for shoe-tying!  We read this adorable story about a little girl who is very worried because she wants to learn how to tie her shoes before the start of kindergarten!
Since shoe-tying is one of our medallion skills, we teach the students a few ways to tie their shoes, read a story about it, and even watch a short video!

This guidebook has been a very helpful guide for many children to practice in school.

Everyone made a cool practice shoe too!

Many children worked hard at their shoes and tied them!  Great effort everyone!

Daily Five

We have started incorporating our literacy stations, "the Daily Five," into more of our days since the turn of the year!  The children are so enthusiastic to work on writing sight words, counting syllables, identifying beginning, medial, ending sounds, and much, much more.  During this time in the morning, the children choose reading on their own from a "just right" text, writing, word work, working with literacy apps on the iPad or working with a teacher.

Creating letters and sight words with playdough
Finding rhyming items around the room
Building sentences and sight words with velcro letters
Building consonant-vowel-consonant words
Beading words
Building word family pizzas
This has also been a great time for us to work on our medallions.  Everyone is doing a terrific job and we have a feeling we will be ready for our in-house ceremony to celebrate medallions in just two short weeks!

Scoopy the Whale

This week, the children met "Scoopy Whale" as part of our reading strategy series.  We looked at some words and read word by word.  Then we tried "to be like Scoopy" and read the words together "in a scoop" to help us understand the text better.

The idea behind Scoopy is to encourage children to read with fluency--to read not just word by word or even phrase by phrase, but in chunks that make sense with the text,  When children read in longer phrases, then they are able to read more and gather more information from what they are reading.  As the year continues into the spring, we will focus more on fluency both in reading and math!

Here are some of our reading strategy buddies we've met this year!

American Leaders: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We talked about the upcoming holiday to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As we read the story Martin's Big Words, we talked about how Dr. King stood up for fairness and equality even in times of trouble.  We talked about how we can speak up with our words when we see something unfair and how we can make the world a better place with our own two hands.  Each child wrote about how they could make the world a better place--their wonderful work is posted outside the classroom.

We also watched the video from Kid President on Dr. King.  Kid President does such a wonderful job of reminding us that even when times are tough, we can dream and work towards that dream!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Small Moment Writing

We picked up with our Writers Workshop again this week.  Our students are revisiting "small moment writing" or personal narrative writing.  To help us think about pulling out one moment from an experience and writing as many details as we can about it, we read the classic The Snowy Day.

We also watched a wonderful video about a man and his elderly mother stopping in the snow.  It is less than two minutes long, but so powerful in the details it provides and the emotions it stirs up.  The children were enchanted with it and took to it as a guide to help "add more" and capture details in every moment of writing.  Please watch and enjoy!

January Ice Skating

We had a blast today on the ice!  Our students proved determined to get out there and try their best. Thank you to our parents for taking the time to come out to tie skates and be on the ice.


We practiced mindfulness after our skating session this morning.  It was great to have some time to relax and calm ourselves after working so hard on the ice!


Mrs. Heurung read a story about coping with frustration, and many of the children had great tips on how they deal with things that are hard.  Their ideas including counting to ten, breathing, asking for help and more.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reading Strategies

We kicked off the new year in kindergarten by looking deeper at some of our reading strategies.  We use animal cues to help children remember some of the ways they can "attack" a new book.

Earlier this week, we recalled that we can use our "Lips the Fish" and "Eagle Eye" when reading.  Lips the Fish helps the children remember to get their mouth ready to say a beginning sound in a word.  Eagle Eye is a crucial skill which we practiced as a group on the board.

First we read the sentence and examine the first sound of a word (in this case, the last words).  We try to imagine what the word might be based on context, what makes sense, and the beginning sound.
Then we look at the pictures and use our "Eagle Eye--"cross-checking the picture to see if it makes sense with the last word.
Last we examine the rest of the word and check it against the picture using that keen "Eagle Eye!"                                      
In the coming weeks, we will reexamine some familiar reading strategies and introduce some new reading strategies, including "Flippy Dolphin" and "Scoopy Whale!"  

Happy Birthday!

We celebrated another wonderful kindergarten birthday this week!

We had a great reading of a personalized birthday book and sang Happy Birthday!

Peef the Bear joined the class too and loved the book!  We hope you enjoyed your special day!