Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Birthday!

We celebrated a kindergarten birthday with a Pokemon-style crown and the fantastic book The Book With No Pictures.

This popular book is becoming a kindergarten birthday staple!

Happy birthday to you and we hope you enjoyed your special day!
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Citizenship Book

Last week, we introduced a new element of our C.A.R.E. curriculum, our Citizenship Book, which will be used by the children to record their or their peers’ acts of citizenship. While introducing this idea, we reviewed what we think being a citizen means in our classroom. Here are some of their children’s definitions of our key words:

Participation means: “sharing our ideas”, “taking turns”, “cleaning up even though you didn’t play there”

Responsibility: “sharing materials”, “helping people”, “asking for help”, “being nice”, “cleaning up trash”

 Tolerance: “being different”, “noticing differences and similarities”, “being yourself”

Over the past few weeks, we have encouraged the children to report their acts of citizenship or those of their peers. Here are some examples:

·  “Someone was walking in line and helping her peers by not distracting them” (Responsibility)
·      “Someone helped pick up the stickers at clean up time”  (Participation)
·      “Someone asked a friend to play the gumball game”  (Participation)
·      “We all wait in line”  (Participation)

We are recording these acts for a variety of reasons. First, by encouraging children to highlight their acts of citizenship for recognition by their peers, we are harnessing the intrinsic motivation of the students. Alfie Kohn has done significant research on this topic, which is explored in more detail in an article link at the bottom of this post. Additionally, we are recording these acts of citizenship in order to give importance to the voice of the children. It is essential that they learn that their voice and actions matter. By recording their thoughts and actions, we are empowering their voices. Lastly, creating a place for children to document their emotional interactions with peers creates a scaffolding for reminiscing. Research has shown that reminiscing assists children in socio-emotional development: "Through shared reminiscing, we re-interpret and re-evaluate our past experiences in ways that create new meaning” (Fivush – link below). Autobiographical narratives, or retellings, are linked to children’s self-awareness, and we intend to capture moments that allow the children to reminisce and build this self-awareness. 

We are very excited about our Citizenship book – ask your students about what they added to the Citizenship book!

The Heart

This week we began our study of the circulatory system. The children learned how our heart pumps blood around our body, and carries oxygen to all different areas. We also discussed how blood gains oxygen from our lungs when we breath and becomes oxygenated blood. After this oxygenated blood travels throughout our body and all of the oxygen has been used, it is called deoxygenated. The children then created their own scientific model of the heart, with different colored yarn acting as the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood throughout our body.

After our discussion of the heart, we worked together to create our own “blood” in the sensory table. We discussed how blood is actually made up of many different parts, that each have a different role. The red blood cells carry the oxygen, and other parts of the blood play different roles in keeping our body healthy.

We look forward to sharing our understanding of the circulatory system with our biobuddies in few weeks!

Readers Theater: The Mitten

Each of our Readers Theater groups enjoyed reading their version of The Mitten to a captive audience today!  Thank you to Mrs. McCool's preschool class for making time this morning to hear our readers.

Everyone worked hard on reading with expression, reading with enthusiasm and keeping pace with the story!

Friday, January 20, 2017

S.T.E.A.M.: The Pom-Pom Catapult Challenge!

For our latest S.T.E.A.M. inquiry, we discussed what we thought we knew about catapults.  One student knew that they are used to throw boulders, while another recognized that they were used to send things over walls.  We watched a few videos of catapults in action, and then sent off the students in groups to imagine, plan, try, fail, try again and ultimately test a homemade pom-pom catapult.

Catapult supplies

Exploring supplies
Trying out tape with materials


The goals for catapult-making were that the pom-pom must travel without the child touching it, and it must travel the length of your arm.  The teachers were so proud of how the children demonstrated a growth mindset and worked to collaborate.  During the project, the students problem-solved, talked to one another, listened to each other, and were willing to keep on trying!

We added short videos of everyone's successful launches to their Seesaw.  Look for a display and short movie of our catapult action next week!  We are also going to continue making catapults on Monday for the friends who missed making one today.  The children are looking forward to sharing their catapults, and the thinking behind them, on Monday.

January Math

For the last few weeks, the children have explored teen numbers. As we have explored teen numbers, we are also making sense of what it means to have a set of ten and add ones.  We are starting our venture into exploring numbers to a hundred as well to get ready for the hundredth day of school, which is coming in February!

Using the Montessori Hundreds Board

Exploring tens and ones to make numbers

Making number lines and identifying teen number sets

Germs Part One

We have been thinking a lot about germs this week!  We investigated what a germ looks like up close under a microscope and learned that when you sneeze, germs can travel up to 100 mph from your nose!  

To see germs in action, we started a germ experiment.  One half of the class washed their hands with just water, and one with soap and water.  Each child pressed their hand on a piece of bread, then we place each piece of bread into an experiment bag in the window.  We have a "control" bread, and talked about scientists always want a comparison for their experiments.

We will check to see how our bread grows germs next week, and see if using soap results in fewer germs on the bread! Stay tuned!
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reading How-Tos

The kindergarteners are well into their "How-To" writing unit.  As the students write, they work on telling someone how to do, build, create, or make something that they as authors are already experts in.  One child is writing about how to make a paper mache house, while another is telling us the steps in doing a skating crossover.  Everyone is bringing their unique talents and interests to this writing! Along with that, the kindergarteners continue to focus on making their writing easy to read, adding as many sounds to their words as they can hear, and using words like first, next, last to anchor the steps of their book.

With all the work put into the students' "How-To" writing, we decided that this week would be a wonderful time for the children to shine a light on their writing and read it to a preschool buddy.  Mr. Thayer's class was so excited to hear the children share their writing and expertise.

We are hoping to share our version of The Mitten through a few Readers' Theater performances for Mrs. McCool's class next week. When the kindergarteners read their writing to an audience, or retell a story to an audience, it brings purpose and excitement to what they work on everyday.  Well done kindergarten!
Friday, January 13, 2017

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today we discussed how we celebrate the life of Dr. King on Monday.  Some children knew about Rosa Parks, some knew how Dr. King worked for equal rights for all people.  After a discussion and short video from Brain Pop, Jr. about Dr. King's life, we brainstormed what it means to be able to have freedoms and how we can keep working to make our world better.

After reading the poem With My Two Hands, each child wrote about how they would make the world a kinder place.  Their wonderful words will go into a class book for our library!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Breck Summer Programs

Summer is around the corner (or so we can hope)!

Sun, Happy, Sunshine, Golden, ...Beginning January 17, online registration for the 2017 Breck Summer Programs will be open! Check out the website here for more information.

Literacy This Week

Our Readers' and Writers' Workshops were flowing with lots of new ideas and collaborations these last few weeks!  In writing, the kindergarteners are working on creating their own step-by-step books for teaching someone "how-to" do something.  We are working on employing easy-to-read writing, along with details and words like "first, next, last" to label our steps.  If your kindergartner is interested in trying one at home, Time For Kids has an article for children to help them make a "how-to."

In reading, the children have started with a Readers' Theater version of The Mitten.

Readers' Theater is a fantastic way for children to connect with a piece of literature.  Readers' Theater involves a script of the story, at the developmentally appropriate reading level, that allows the children to read as a character.  As they read as that character, they work on reading with expression and reading with fluency--reading more phrase by phrase rather than word by word.  Once we have rehearsed the script a few times, the children have a chance to play out the theater before the rest of the class!  We will continue to rehearse next week so stay tuned!

Snowflake Study

During exploration time one morning, several children were investigating how to fold and cut to make paper snowflakes.  We decided to extend the investigation, and read the story The Story of Snow.

We talked about rotational symmetry in snowflakes, and how they have six spines, reminding us of a hexagon.  We also learned that each snow crystal starts with a minute speck of dust, and that crystals stick to it as it travels, creating a snowflake.  So then it was time to make our own snowflakes!  Children used a variety of materials and ways to make a snowflake:




The children explored foil and paint this week to make snow scenes as well--they will hanging outside the classroom soon, so please stop by to see them!