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I am amazed every year when my class finally starts getting the confidence to write on their own. They start out the year exhausted from just having to write their names on several papers a day! Then comes the struggle of replacing capital letters with lower case ones and fitting all of these letters in the correct space between two lines. Once we finally reach the point where we have learned the technical aspects of writing and have quite a bit more stamina I ask them to start trying to sound out words on their own and give me their own thoughts rather than just copying down what someone else has written. The whole process can be quite draining on little five and six year old minds and takes up most of the kindergarten year. But guess what? We are there! These guys have learned how to gather their ideas through brainstorming and making idea webs. They can identify ideas that aren't on topic and don't support their idea. They can get a rough draft on paper and then edit any mistakes with a partner AND, their favorite, they can present their ideas in front of an audience! Every one of these steps is important in the writing process and while their writing will mature a lot in the next few years, they already know how it works in KINDERGARTEN! Last week my class had the chance to present some of their writing about Animal Habitats to a younger class. Just look at these professionals!
We've made it through 100 Days of school here at St. James! We worked hard all year to get to this point and really enjoyed our celebration. The class wrote 100 words, made necklaces out of 100 Froot Loops, counted how far 100 steps would take us, and even imagined what it would be like to be 100 years old. 5 and six year olds don't always have a realistic grasp of how big a larger number like 100 is. To help build that number sense we have practiced putting items into groups of 10. 10 is a very manageable number and 10 groups of 10 does make sense to a kindergarten level student. So while we have fun stringing cereal to wear as a necklace, making trail mix out of 10 kinds of snacks, or putting stickers into groups of 10 we are also building the foundation for higher level math skills later on! Everything you needed to know you learned in kindergarten.
We love to cook in our classroom! The students get so excited when they come in to find the slow cooker, blender, or toaster oven sitting out because they know they are going to get to make, and taste, something that day. But cooking in the classroom isn't just a fun distraction from all of our other work; it is our work. When we follow a recipe the students are practicing their blending skills, learning how to communicate information through a list, and realizing the importance of correct sequencing. When the students use a cup, half cup, and quarter cup they are learning fractions. They learn to solve problems through visualization when they need to remember how much of an ingredient they have already added to the recipe. And they learn cause and effect when they follow a recipe through to completion. That's a lot of learning! This year we have already made apple pies, apple sauce, homemade bread, and hot cocoa. Last week we added trail mix to our list. Some students were relieved when they realized they could pick out the ingredients they didn't like- they have also learned the difference between a mixture and a solution!
As a teacher, some years are more momentous than others. 2016 seems to be one of those years. With the Summer Olympics and now the United States Presidential Election our class has had a lot to talk about! This year we read the book Duck For President by Doreen Cronin. The students discussed and charted the character traits of Farmer Brown and Duck and then voted in their very own election. I am pleased to say that Farmer Brown was the winner by a landslide because the students recognized that "he stayed to do the work even when he wasn't in charge anymore." Pretty intuitive for a group of kindergartners! After the election was over we graphed the results and got our very own "I voted" stickers to wear.
We have been working hard on learning our sight words! Sight words are the most commonly written and spoken words in the English language. These 300-500 words (depending on which list you reference) make up almost 70 percent of our written language. Efficient readers recognize these words quickly and are able to focus their decoding skills on the rest of a sentence. Most sight words follow phonetic rules but as kindergarteners those rules haven't been learned yet. We want our students to build a large sight word vocabulary so that they can quickly expand their reading vocabulary and build confidence as a reader. We try to practice our sight words in multi-sensory ways such as writing in sand, crossing the midline activities, writing words while lying on our backs, and rolling them out with play-doh. Last week our classroom recognized 100 percent of their first 20 words! To celebrate we had a Crazy Sock Day- this is a very big deal in a school where uniforms are the norm. The students loved it and are hard at work on their next 20 words!
Being able to listen and accurately interpret spoken language is an important communication skill. We must be able to correctly hear what others are saying and process that information to function well both during our school years and long after we are out of school. In kindergarten we practice our listening and speaking skills in fun and sometimes very silly ways. A favorite game of ours is "Telephone" or "The Whisper Game". I whisper a 3 to 5 word phrase to the first student then they pass the phrase around the room. Often the phrase is a nonsense one with several words that sound alike. The class has already learned that they have to be good listeners to understand it! Some of our more mischievous friends have also learned that the class isn't very happy if they change the phrase on purpose! All you really need to know you learned in kindergarten! Not only are the students learning about good listening skills but they are also learning the importance of strong speaking skills. The whisperer has to speak in a clear voice, not slurring their words or giggling through the whole event. They are also learning that it is okay to make mistakes. In this game it is actually more fun if the last person gets the phrase a little wrong!
I forget how young 5 and six year olds are at the beginning of kindergarten; I forget how much movement they need, how little they know about elementary school routines, and how much reassurance they need about seemingly everything. This forgetfulness is good because it is also a reminder about how much my students grow in a year, in academic and social abilities as well as physically! So much of this learning and growing takes place not in the big lessons we teach but instead in the day to day routines like our Morning Meeting. In the first hour of our day we learn about civic duty and American History through reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the National Anthem. We practice counting the days we have been in school (eventually we will be counting by 10's, 5's, and 2's), graphing the weather and recording the temperature, writing the date in long and short form. We practice sight words and recite one of Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup With Rice poems. One of the students' favorite Morning Meeting activities is the Estimation Jar. In less than three weeks of school the class knows that an estimate is an educated guess regarding the amount of an object. They can tell you the best way to count the objects (groups of ten of course), that their estimate should change based on the size and shape of an object, and that a good student always checks his counting for mistakes! Speaking of mistakes, we also know that the point of an estimate is not to be exact but to be close to the right answer. Students today need to be told that it is okay to be wrong as long as they are trying. The students can not wait to get in the classroom in the morning to see what is going to be in our Estimation Jar. A few students have even gotten a little worried when I have hidden the jar so that they don't try to count the objects ahead of time. The Estimation Jar will be phased out over time to allow for new skills to be practiced but for now we are enjoying it every day!
We had a wonderful time at Mommy Spa this year! Students (and teachers) often say that this is their favorite event all year. We worked hard in the week leading up to Mommy Spa learning how to paint nails, how to massage shoulders, necks, and arms, and most importantly learning how to take the emphasis off of ourselves and put it upon someone else. Moms and grandmothers were treated to nail painting, massages, hair styling, snacks, reading, a photo booth, and a Mommy and Me questionnaire that they filled out together.
This week kindergarten studied rainbows. We learned that a rainbow is made when light is refracted, or bent through water droplets. Most often this happens with sunlight and rain but rainbows can also form when you are washing your dog or car or from the mist of a waterfall. Rainbows can't be touched because they are just an optical illusion. We watched ROY G BIV by They Might Be Giants to learn about the color spectrum and how to list the seven colors of the rainbow. The class estimated the number of Skittles in a jar. Hadyn had the highest estimate at 118 but their were really 395 Skittles! We put the Skittles in groups of 10 to make counting them easier. The students also sorted and graphed their own cup of Skittles.
Kindergarten celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2, We learned that Dr. Seuss wasn't really a doctor; he just added that to his name to sound more important. His real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel and he wrote more than 40 children's books. Some of the students have discovered that the Dr. Seuss books in the library are great for new readers. I love hearing comments like, "I read this whole page!" We read My Many Colored Days this week and painted a representation of our emotions that day. We also read The Cat in the Hat and made "Things" while practicing our shape, size, and color recognition skills. The class was excited to have a "Crazy Sock Day" on Wednesday. We love Dr. Seuss!
We celebrated 100 days of kindergarten in February! We are so proud of all we have learned. To recognize all of our accomplishments the class participated in several fun "100" activities. The day started off with finally making it to 100 in our daily counting. We count while doing the movements to the Macarana. Movements that cross the midline (middle of the body) are a great way to involve both sides of the brain; this helps to store knowledge in long term rather than short term memory. The class isn't always enthusiastic about counting but they were thrilled to be able to shout 100! We followed with going on a hunt for 100 candies hidden around the room and then put them in order on our 100 number chart. Five and six year olds are still learning to "read" two digit numbers so it took a lot of brain power to determine whether they found the number 18 or 81! We also worked on writing 100 words. In the beginning they were anxious and frustrated because they didn't think they knew 100 words but soon realized that they know so many more! In the afternoon our wonderful parents came and helped us with our 100 Day centers. We made necklaces out of 100 pieces of cereal, built structures out of 100 blocks, dressed up like we were 100 years old, and even did 100 exercises! 100 Day is always a lot of fun and this year was no exception.
A few pictures with Santa!
During the month of November we study Pioneers. The class had a great time making edible log cabins and paper bag tipis as we learned about Pioneer dwellings. We found that being a pioneer was hard but fruitful when we made our own bread and butter.They have enjoyed playing in "The General Store" during center time and love getting to write their work on chalkboards. This week we will culminate our study with Pioneer Day where the class will enjoy several hands on activities and a picnic lunch. We also had a visit from a World War II veteran! Daddy Feck was kind enough to pose for a picture after the Veteran's Day Chapel Service.
This week we have been learning all about pumpkins! I have to confess that I think pumpkins are absolutely beautiful and I always look forward to this week. Our Dramatic Play center is set up as a Pumpkin Patch this month and the class has enjoyed getting to sort and organize all shapes and sizes of pumpkins and gourds. A scale nearby allows them to weigh their pumpkins and they have been able to "sell" their pumpkin smoothies and pies that they have made. We couldn't stop at pretend smoothies though. We made real pumpkin smoothies in the classroom! Some of the students were skeptical when we put a banana in the blender but when it came time to graph whether we liked or disliked the smoothies the class unanimously said they liked the smoothies! We also had a chance to use mini pumpkins in our pumpkin investigations. The students worked in pairs to measure their pumpkins, count the ribs, or lines, on their pumpkins, and predict whether their pumpkins would sink or float. Spoiler: pumpkins float! Now that we have studied our whole pumpkins we will cut into them to see what is inside and watch them decompose to observe a pumpkin life cycle up close!
This week we played the "Telephone Game" to work on our listening skills. Being able to isolate separate words and eventually individual sounds in a single word is an important pre-reading skill and games are a great way to work on that skill. We had so much fun giggling at the silly results. I enjoyed watching the students get very focused and serious about hearing the phrases. A few even thought they were being sneaky by watching the other's students' mouths to catch what they were saying but I let them do it anyway because paying attention to what your lips, teeth, and tongue are doing when forming a sound is a great way to do it correctly! This class is learning so much just by playing a game!
We also had a lot of fun on our field trip to the Christmas Tree Farm here in Texarkana. Ms. Melanie told us all about how she takes care of the trees, how to tell how old they are, and even a little about the animals that make their homes on her farm. A big thank you to the Cook family for letting us visit them.
Did you know that children that spend time outdoors are less likely to be obese, less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, and more likely to be focused and attentive while in the classroom? The nice weather this week certainly allowed us to move some of our learning time outside. We took our paper and pencils down to the beautiful amphitheater to do a letter assessment and made some lovely tree creatures out of clay and fallen acorns, twigs, sweet gum balls, and leaves. The class is looking forward to a visit to the local Christmas tree farm next week to see how the information they have learned about trees this month applies to the real world (and just maybe pick out a Christmas tree a few months early). We also made some delicious applesauce in the classroom and made a class graph on our applesauce preferences. I love cooking in the classroom and getting to see reluctant eaters trying new foods and finding out they like it! This week we will be celebrating Johnny Appleseed's birthday so we will get another chance to cook when we make apple pies!
Kindergarten is back!
We have spent our first three weeks back at school learning expectations, procedures and routines. It is hard to not jump into our curriculum right away but taking this time to set up our classroom early in the year will make things go smoothly for the rest of the year. This class is really rocking it!
The move from preschool to kindergarten is a big one academically, physically, and emotionally. Five and six year olds are ready to tackle reading and writing but still aren't able to sit for extended periods of time. They are capable of carrying on deep conversations and making connections between world events and their own lives but are not always able to wait their turn to speak or play nicely on the playground. Here at St. James we believe in teaching every aspect of the child. We won't sacrifice the chance to move and play in order to complete more worksheets. We don't ignore social development so that we can score higher on a test. So you might find us practicing our reading skills by working with play-doh or sand. We might learn the parts of speech and public speaking skills by putting on a play. And you will very frequently see us on the playground working our muscle groups and hear us singing our hearts out because music is beautiful and beauty helps us learn! Don't be fooled by all of our fun though, we are still learning lots! These guys LOVE learning new sight words (we already have 15 under our belt) and are improving their handwriting every day. Math journals have been a big hit with this group; they can't wait to hear the story problem and are getting really good at writing number sentences. I can not wait to see what the rest of the year holds for us!
Turtle release and a few Mommy Spa pictures
Kindergarten has been so happy to see signs of spring! A little bit of sunshine goes a long way toward helping us stay focused.
We have finished our study of rainbows and can tell you how a rainbow is made as well as the seven colors in a rainbow. Did you know a rainbow is refracted, or bent, light? Rainbows are really optical illusions because it doesn't exist in a specific spot in the sky. That means that no two people can see the exact same rainbow because they look different depending on where you are standing and depending on how light is hitting the raindrops! Kindergartners are so smart!
Here at St. James, we love to learn through hands on activities. That means you might walk into our classroom and see us playing with cards. It may look like we are goofing off but really we are learning advanced math skills like greater than/less than and dividing! Manipulatives like tangram pieces help build our spatial reasoning and rolling dice teaches us about probability!
In Mrs. Orr's Technology class we are using Bee Bots to learn simple programming skills and the Handwriting Without Tears keyboarding program is a great way to work on our manual dexterity.
Kindergarten is doing a great job identifying the three types of sentences: telling, asking, and strong emotion and putting the correct punctuation mark at the end of each one. Speaking of sentences, we have begun to write down sentences from dictation. The students are doing a wonderful job of listening to a sentence, sounding out the words, and using their best handwriting to get the sentences onto paper. Next up-original sentences!
This week we have the sight words will, run, and out. That makes 76 sight words in all!
Our class Easter party will be on Wednesday, April 1.
Parent Teacher Conferences are on Thursday, April 2. School will dismiss at 11:30 that day.
What a busy week! We started things off by celebrating 100 days of school on Monday, February 9th. The day was filled with fun activities. We wrote 100 words, found and ordered 100 Hershey's kisses, made a design with the digits in 100, and even built a structure out of 100 marshmallows! Parents came in the afternoon and helped us make 100 Day trail mix, string a necklace with 100 Fruit Loops, and explore how much it takes to make 100 pounds. If you make it by the Morriss building you can still see some of our "When I am 100" art in the hallway.
Valentines Day was a small affair in our classroom this year but the students still learned a lot about name recognition and social skills while they passed out Valentine treats.
Grandparents Day was a huge success. Thank you to all that helped out and all that came to see us perform. Don't forget that the Book Fair is open until this Friday.
This week we are continuing to review the 9 letter sounds we have learned so far. The class is getting the hang of blending sounds into words. We try to use a variety of techniques to reach all learning styles. We use the traditional lecture/paper method to reach auditory learners and sand, letter cards, and whole body techniques to reach visual/kinesthetic learners. Try varying up the way you review skills at home. Use items that they can move and manipulate, such as wooden letter blocks and letter magnets, when blending at home. Early reading books are good for some but their limited vocabulary can quickly become boring for others. Don't be afraid to think out of the box!
In math we are really getting into counting by fives/nickels. Try counting fingers and toes by fives. Draw pictures to compare which families have more fingers and toes. 5 and 6 year olds are a very silly group, anything that is ridiculous will be extremely appealing to them.
We know ALL of the Presidents! Get your child to sing them for you. I am sure they can also tell you some pretty silly facts about a few of the presidents. We also know that Lincoln is on the penny, Jefferson is on the nickel, and Roosevelt is on the dime.
The sight words one, two, and three will go home this week. Keep working on your old words.
We had fun graphing our Groundhog Day predictions on Monday. Sadly, most of they class was wrong. Six more weeks of winter for us.
In Language Arts the class will be reviewing the sounds of S, M, and T in the initial and final positions and A in the initial and medial position. We will also work on action words (verbs) and sequencing stories verbally and with pictures.
We learned the rule "when you add 0 to a number, the number stays the same" to help us with the 0 facts we will start on this week. Watch for that homework on Thursday. Nickels will be introduced and we will begin counting by 5's. With 100 Day just around the corner the students will try to write to 100 this week (with a model to look at for help if they need it). We are also counting to 100 while doing the Macarena! Did you know that repetitive motions, especially those that cross the midline of the body work wonderfully to help cement information into a child's brain? What a great reason to dance! We will be stressing that we write a number just like we say it (twenty one is a 2 and a 1) except for the teen numbers where "the one always comes first". Watch your child to make sure they are writing the numbers left to right and not writing the ones number first and adding the tens number after. Left to right progression is an important skill for reading both numbers and letters. We will also be telling stories to illustrate addition and subtraction problems. You can help your child with this at home by calling out stories for them to illustrate. "Ms. Sarah gave two prizes, then she gave 3 more prizes. How many prizes did she give altogether?"
Don't forget to work on the new sight words help, away, and little.
We are working on learning the names of ALL the presidents! We are to the second Harrison so far. Get your child to sing them to you.
100 Day is Monday, February 9th. Check out the Sign Up Genius page to see what you can do to help.
Kindergarten is back in full swing after Christmas break.
We have begun to blend sounds into short vowel words and the students are loving it! They were so excited to see how many words they are able to make from the 5 letter sounds we have learned so far. Using several multi-sensory techniques such as letter cards, vowel sticks, magnets, blending boards, and even our own bodies helps to make phonics instruction fun. Learning to break a word into its individual parts (syllabication) is helping the students when they write. We are also learning beginning grammar terms like action words (verbs) and position words (prepositions) by playing charades. Learning really is fun in kindergarten!
We have just finished the sixth Magic Tree House book, Afternoon on the Amazon, by Mary Pope Osborne, and can tell you that every story has a main character, a setting, and a problem to be resolved. We are even learning a little history and science along the way!
In Math we have started working on our doubles facts to 20 and on identifying the numbers 11-20. Games like Bingo make kindergarten eager to do their math. Reading and following a recipe was fun and our hot chocolate was delicious! Now that winter is in full swing we are getting ready to read a thermometer. That becomes an important life skill when your recess depends upon the result!
Kindergarten enjoyed their trip to see the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra perform The Remarkable Farkle McBride on Wednesday, January 14. Thank you to Marc Andre Bougie and his symphony for teaching us about the different instruments in such a fun way!
Can you believe that there are only two weeks left until Thanksgiving?
Kindergarten will be hard at work this week learning to write capital Q and G and the number 9. Please remember to encourage your child to start their letters and numbers at the top when they are writing at home. This helps to fight dyslexic tendencies as well as producing neater handwriting.
In Language Arts we will be reviewing letter order (preparing for the important skill of alphabetizing), blending word parts (this helps with syllabication and also hearing individual parts in words), and recognizing words that tell how many (adverbs!). We will be working on the new sight words "what", "at", and "you". If your child has trouble differentiating between who and what try pointing out the ending "t" sound on what.
In Math we will be paying for items in our "Kindermart" with pennies. We use the rhyme "penny, penny, easily spent, copper brown and worth one cent" to help us recognize pennies. There will be more money rhymes coming later on! We will also be copying and create AB and ABB patterns and using a balance to compare objects by weight.
Of course we are also talking about our Veterans this month. Be sure to invite any veterans you might have in your family to our Veteran's Day Chapel service this Tuesday. There will be coffee and donuts afterward.
This month we will be talking about the lifestyle of the Pioneers and how their lives are similar and different to ours. Our Show and Tell theme this week will be "Something I am glad I have NOW." Once again, try to discourage your child from bringing only toys. I know it is sometimes hard to come up with non toy items but help them think outside of the box and bring a toy only if you can't think of anything else or if it has special significance (I did bring toys my brother in law sent from Germany once). This week I will be bringing my digital camera
I hope you like spiders because kindergarten will be learning all about them this week! Be prepared for your guys to bring home lots of interesting facts about our eight legged friends.
In our Language Arts we will continue talking about statement and question sentences as well as how we start and end a sentence (with a capital and a punctuation mark). Kindergarten also has a secret letter every day. It can be found on the board outside our door along with all of our sight words. Make it a habit to ask your child what the secret letter was for that day and have them give you examples of words that begin with that sound. If they can't give you a word or give a word that ends with that sound, praise the word they did give you and offer an example word. It is okay to use nonsense words! Along with the books we are reading for our Shadows unit we will be reading The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle and Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin.
In Math we will continue patterning and sorting. Many of the lessons we cover in kindergarten seem easy and simple but building a firm foundation in these concepts will help your child in his advanced math classes later on. Kindergarteners love to graph and Spider Week will be no different. We will start the week off with deciding whether they think spiders are creepy or cool. I am interested to see if any of the students change their mind as we learn more about spiders.
Senora Edmonds will be helping us learn The Itsy Bitsy Spider in Spanish! You would not believe how well these guys are doing! They can count to ten, name their colors, and are starting to learn their shapes in Spanish. If you haven't noticed, we like to sing a lot in kindergarten. It really does help us learn!
Thank you all for your book orders! Our order was big enough that we earned a free book for everyone in the class. Watch for those to come home in about a week.
Keep practicing your sight words! I noticed a big improvement in recognition last week. I hope you get to see how excited they are when they recognize a word; at school they are always pointing them out.
Kindergarten really enjoyed our busy week last week! We were able to visit the Christmas Tree Farm, see The Very Hungry Caterpillar at The Perot Theater, and learn some safety dos and don'ts from the Texarkana Fire Department.
We will learn to write the capital letters H and K and the number 6 this week. Encourage your child to use their good pencil grips at home and to remember to start their letters and numbers at the top.
In Language Arts we will begin our Shadows unit. We will find out what makes a shadow, what can change a shadow, and learn to make some fun shadows of our own. We are starting to really focus on sentences. This week we are learning about Statement and Question sentences (they will soon be calling them declarative and interrogative). We will also learn that every sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark. You can reinforce this at home during your reading time by pointing out sentences in books. Children this age are still learning that chunks of letters make words, chunks of words make a sentence, and chunks of sentences make a story.
Two readers will come home this Friday as well as three new sight words. The sight word check went very well last week. Keep working! I can really see a difference when you work at home.
In Math we are working hard on patterning. Most children have no problem identifying a pattern but can sometimes struggle when you ask them to create their own pattern. Just like phonics, make math activities a part of your daily life. Make a pattern out of breakfast cereal or the leftover socks when you are doing laundry. Certainly take advantage of all the beautiful colors you will see outside in the next few weeks to make leaf and acorn patterns! Story problems and ordinal positions (which we will also be working on this week) can be reviewed in the same ways. "Which bicycle is in fourth place? Oh, he is getting faster, now he is in third place!"
The Show and Tell theme this week is Spanish Colors. Help your child find something they would like to show us and review the color word in Spanish. We have learned azure, rojo, amarillo, morado, cafe, negro, blanco, and anaranjado.
Thank you to Cooper for bringing snacks this week. Adler will be bringing snacks next week.
Kindergarten at St. James is well under way!
We will be writing the "Frog Jump Letters" D and P as well as the number 3 in our Handwriting Without Tears workbooks. You can help reinforce proper letter formation and fight dyslexic tendencies by reminding your child to start their letters and numbers at the top and make their strokes in "the direction we read and write" (left to right). There will be very few exceptions to this.
In Language Arts we are still rhyming and learning about words that name people, places, and things. We will read the short poem, "I Brought A Worm" which is about a student that doesn't bring the typical show and tell! I hope you have had a chance to sit down and listen to your child read "The Park." The predecodable books we use this year will always include sight words we have already covered and picture clues for any other words. A new book will come home every Friday. Feel free to let your child color them - they do not need to be returned.
Math will find us graphing, counting to ten with corresponding manipulatives, and creating and covering designs with pattern blocks. We will also cover positional words such as top, bottom, in front of, behind, inside, and outside. We are still reviewing 2 dimensional shapes and rote counting.
We have talked about the parts of a tree and this week we will be learning about the life cycle of a tree and what a tree looks like through the seasons. As we head into fall be sure to talk about the changing scenery with your children. Children learn so much during those informal teaching moments!
We are working on getting a field trip to the Christmas Tree Farm on Richmond Road together. Right now, it looks like the trip will be on Monday, September 29 from around 10:30 to just after lunch. I will send out a Sign Up Genius for drivers so be on the lookout for that.
That week will be a busy week for us! Our trip to the Perot to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be that Wednesday and we will have a Fire Safety demonstration on Friday. So much fun in one week! We will need drivers for the Perot trip but not the Fire Safety demonstration.
Show and Tell this Friday will be anything they want to share with the class (In honor of "I Brought A Worm
I hope you have all enjoyed your weekend. The first five day week always makes it seem like school has officially started.
Our first sight word check went pretty well. Although a few words were missed no one seemed frustrated which is a good sign to me. Most of the class has had very little experience with this kind of work (you should hear how many times a day I get asked when it will be time for play centers) so we try to ease into it. Keep working on all six words and please contact me if your child seems overly hesitant to work on them at home. I can always give more suggestions on how to approach sight word practice. You should be pointing out the words "the", "a", "an", "here", "is", and "I" several times a day when you run across them. The sight words we will work on this year make up a huge percentage of the written words we use so your child will experience a wonderful burst of confidence when they recognize them.
Our first controlled reader, The Park, will come home on Friday. We will read it together in class but you should work on it at home as well.
Language Arts will find us rhyming up a storm as well as learning about the many ways writers get ideas for their work. We will be working with an idea web and drawing pictures of our environment to help get our own ideas. Remember that drawing is a form of written communication. It is perfectly fine for your child to draw the answers in their Weekend Journal! Listening is another skill that is important in learning to read. Kindergarten works on their listening skills ALL YEAR LONG!
In Math we will continue to review how to form our numbers. Backward letter and number formation is still very common at the kindergarten age but it is important to correct as much as possible. We have a little chant for each number that goes to the tune of "Skip to My Lou" . Ask your child how to make each number and see if they will sing it for you. AB patterns and graphing practice will also be worked on this week. Tomorrow we will make a graph to learn if kindergarten likes red or green apples better! I love school work that involves food!
The theme for show and tell this week is "Something that I am proud of". I love hearing what makes 5 and 6 year olds proud. It can be quite humbling to realize how discontent I have been with myself when they say they are proud of how they can blow a bubble or do a cartwheel!
What a wonderful first week kindergarten had! We worked hard on learning our class rules and routines and getting to know each other.
This week we will begin our Language Arts, Math, Handwriting, and Science curriculum while still reinforcing our class procedures. In Language Arts we will be exploring our first unit, School, and working on several activities to boost name recognition and rhythm awareness. Hearing individual sounds as well as noticing patterns in spoken language is a huge step toward learning to read! Be sure you are reading and singing to your child as much as possible. Try playing rhyming games such as "Down by the Bay" (we will do this a lot in class if you aren't familiar with it) to practice rhyming in a fun way.
Math this week will find us exploring several of the math manipulatives we will use in class this year as well as reviewing proper formation of the numbers 1-5 and 2d shape recognition. Because rhythm and singing are such wonderful ways to ensure concepts stay with us you will find that kindergarten even sings about math!
We will also start working on our handwriting program, Handwriting Without Tears, this week. Proper pencil grip will take up most of this week but we will start writing our first "Frog Jump" letter (F) on Friday.
Thank you to Rosie for sending snacks last week! Zoe will be bringing snacks this week.
Don't forget that our first Big Chapel begins Tuesday at 8:30 in the gym. We will leave our room by 8:15. If your child is late to Chapel please escort them to the row of chairs in the back of the gym so that they do not disrupt the worship of others.
Scholastic Book Orders will be placed on Friday. If you would like to order books for your child you may do so at scholastic.com with the class access code MBC6Z.
It was so exciting to meet you all last night! This is going to be a great year! I have just a few reminders for this week. Class starts at 8:00, park on the side of the building if you want to walk your children in, otherwise you can just stop in front of the door and let them out. Wear Chapel uniforms tomorrow and every Tuesday. Pick up is at 3:10 in front of our building. Send me an email or call the office if you need to schedule a meeting. Watch for folders to come home on Thursdays and Fridays with completed work and new sight words for the next week. Enjoy today with your kids and see you tomorrow!
Did you realize there are only about 30 school days left? Where did the time go?
We have officially finished our kindergarten math curriculum which means that we have a month to review and dig a little deeper into some of the concepts we have learned this year! We will be practicing concepts that tend to be a little harder to fully grasp such as telling time, counting money, dividing into equal portions, fractions, and even and odd numbers. We are lucky enough to have the first 30 lessons of the first grade math curriculum and will be working on those for the rest of the year as well. Those sheets are covering concepts that kindergarten knows well but they are longer and the students will have to use their listening skills to get the work done in a timely fashion. We will do the first side together in class. You are welcome to do the back at home with your child but it is not required. I know that some of the students will delight in having "homework" again!
We are also nearing the end of our Language Arts curriculum. We are working hard on blending words and using our whole bodies to present information to a group. This week we will be focusing on adding sensory words to our sentences and on using gestures (hand and facial) to more fully express our meaning.
In Science this week we will be talking about the mysterious octopus! Our caterpillars and ladybugs should be in soon; we will begin studying insects in the next week or two.
Our field trip to the Greathouse farm was wonderful! A big thank you to Dr. and Mrs. Greathouse for letting us visit!
We had a lot of fun learning about rainbows last week! We learned that rainbows are made when light is bent, or refracted, through some sort of prism, usually rain. We know that rainbows have seven colors and learned to sing a song about ROY G. BIV. We made rainbows in a jar by layering liquids with different densities and milk rainbows showed us what happens when we mix the colors red, blue, and yellow. We also had some yummy rainbow snacks!
This week in Language Arts we will introduce our last two letters, Y and V. Watch for two decodable readers coming home in your child's folder. Don't forget to practice those reading skills everywhere!
In Math we will make symmetrical designs with pattern blocks and painted butterflies. We will also learn how to make a general measurement with our feet (this gets us ready to talk about the standard foot and using rulers to measure). We are reviewing two and three dimensional shapes with some real life food examples (my favorite way to learn math) and then we will fill out a chart with our results.
We are going to make tie dye shirts this week to end our fabric unit and review the colors of the rainbow; watch for those to come home next week. Science in April will find us studying animals so start thinking now about all of the cool show and tells your child can bring!
I hope you enjoyed Grandparents' Day; I sure did. It was wonderful to see our school filled with your families!
Dr. Seuss's birthday is on March 2 (Sunday) so kindergarten will celebrate him this week. We will be reading his books all week and have a few special activities on Friday. Dr. Seuss loved hats; he said they got his imagination flowing! On Friday, February 28, kindergarten will be able to wear their own imagination hats. Help your child find or create a hat to wear on Friday. These don't have to be anything special (a plain ball cap will do) but you can add a little extra if you want to turn it into a Seusstastic hat!
If you haven't heard yet, The Silvermoon Children's Theater downtown is putting on Seussical the Musical for the next two weekends. Tickets are $10 and three St. James students are in the show!
We are continuing to work on blending and spelling short vowel words and will introduce short E this week. We have now learned all of the short vowels and will be ready to tackly "silent e" words soon! You can reinforce the spelling of short vowel words at home with manipulatives like letter magnets, wooden letter blocks, letters written on index cards, or even just writing the sounds in salt, shaving cream, or cornmeal.
In Language Arts we are working hard on finding the main idea of the stories we read and on sequencing stories. The Magic Tree House books we have been reading work wonderfully for this because even though each story is different they all have the same plot outline. We are also discussing the pronouns I and you.
We are still using tangram pieces to create designs. Flipping and rotating those pieces helps the students develop their spatial reasoning. Last week we introduced the quarter so now we are able to buy items from our grocery store with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters!
I am so glad to be back with my kinders! 4 days with all adults at a technology conference made me really miss them! I came back to a whirlwind of activities though...
Today is 100 Day! I can't believe we have been in school for 100 days! We have a lot of fun activities planned to celebrate how much these kids have learned this year! You are welcome to stop by and see some of the fun You might also want to plan to stop by Friday afternoon for our class Valentine party.
In Language Arts this week we will be working with the letters J and F, syllables, the pronouns you and I, and the three sentence types (we call them telling, asking, and strong emotion sentences). We are still working on sounding out short vowel words and replacing initial consonants to form new words. You can do this at home with those old wooden letter blocks you probably still have. We have been reading the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne in class and will start the fourth book, Pirates in the Afternoon, this week. Ms. Kandice and I read to the class every day but shared reading time needs to happen at home too. Try to carve out a few minutes every day to read with your child even if it is just reading the back of the cereal box in the morning (I am still a huge cereal box reader)!
In math we are learning to write and read tally marks, exploring tangrams and the designs we can make using slides, turns, and flips, and graphing using pictures to represent information. We will introduce number lines this week which will set the students up to learn the relationship between positive and negative numbers, and help them to understand the concept of addition and subtraction. These concepts all sound easy to understand right now but taking it slowly insures that the students will have a strong mathematical foundation for the harder years ahead.
We will also begin our Fabric unit in Science. In this unit the class will explore the styles and textures of different fabrics, how fabric is made, how it can be taken apart, and some of the useful properties of fabric. This is a very hands on Science unit; exactly what we want in kindergarten! We will get to make a rug with old t-shirt material, learn to weave yarn, and even get to stain some clothes on purpose!
Don'f forget about Grandparent's Day/Open House on Friday, February 22. We will have a family Chapel service at 8:30 followed by class presentations in the gym. Then parents and grandparents can visit classrooms and the book fair. School will dismiss at 11:30 that day.
This week we will be discussing Martin Luther King Jr. (since we didn't get to him last week). and continuing with our study of winter/Arctic animals by learning about walruses. We have learned the difference between the Arctic Circle and Antarctica as well as the terms north, south, east, and west. We have been looking at a globe and noticing how it is different from a flat map. We also talk about some of the ways winter animals stay warm. For example, polar bears have no eyelashes because they would freeze and penguins huddle for warmth.
In math we will continue to count by 5's and use nickels to buy our snacks at snack time. We are starting to combine nickels/pennies and dimes/pennies. This skill can take a little longer for some students so continue working on it if you notice they are having trouble. We are also just beginning to learn about dividing! This skill can be learned at the kindergarten level by sharing items in equal groups (one for you, one for me). It begins with the simple concept of sharing snacks, cards, toys, etc. equally but is setting up their brains for multiplication and division using only numbers in the later grades. Practice this skill at home any time you need to divide something among siblings or family members (my sons used to divide the cherry tomatoes to put on our salads). We are still working hard on writing all of the numbers to 100 because 100 Day is coming up quickly!
In phonics we are continuing to study beginning and ending sounds and will add the "b" and "c" sounds to our repertoire. We have been decoding LOTS of short vowel words and are practicing making new words by changing one of the sounds. This is a skill you can practice easily in the car. You might say the word "mat" and ask them to change the beginning sound to "s". Then they would tell you the new word "sat." We are also learning to classify items into groups based on their appearance (learning adjectives has never been so easy).
February is a very busy month at St. James! Coming up first will by our 100 Day celebration. This will take place on Monday, February 10. We will be celebrating the number 100 in all of our subjects that day. We will send home a baggie the week before for your child to collect 100 items and bring back to class on Monday. We will also be wearing special 100 day shirts. You will need to make this with your child. It can have the number 100 on the shirt or 100 items on it (mine will have 100 tally marks). We will still wear uniform pants/skirts that day. 100 day will be a school day not a party day. You are welcome to stop in any time to see what we are doing but please do not think of it as a party that you need to attend.
On Friday, February 14 we will have our Valentine's Day party. An email will go home with all of the student's names in early February. We will decorate our Valentine boxes in class, have a game, craft, and special snacks.
On Friday, February 21, St. James will have Grandparent's Day/Open House. Our chapel service will be on Friday that week (in the gym) with a short program by each class to follow. After that, families are welcome to tour the classrooms to see what we have been learning. School will be dismissed early that day.
We had a great first week back even if we were a little cold! We will be glad to see the nicer weather this week!
Kindergarten had a lot of fun learning about polar bears last week. Did you know that a polar bear's outer coat is really colorless? And it's skin is black to absorb heat? Kindergarten does! We also did a fun experiment with ice and shortening to show us how a polar bear's blubber keeps it warm. This week we will be studying penguins. Guess what? They live in Antarctica so they don't have to be worried about polar bears!
On Wednesday we will take a field trip to the Perot Theater to hear the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra perform. Don't forget to wear chapel uniforms!
I hope everyone had a wonderful break! This week kindergarten will be reviewing all of our previous materials as well as learning some exciting new things. The cold snap is the perfect time to begin reading a thermometer. We will also be graphing our thermometer readings for the rest of the year. Our classroom grocery store items have now been relabeled so that we can buy items using nickels as well as pennies and dimes. Counting by 1's, 10's, and 5's isn't too difficult for 5 and six year olds but switching between those numbers (like in counting money) can be. Practice counting change at home with your child when you get the chance. We will also practice making our own ABC patterns with linking cubes, pattern blocks, sounds, and movements.
In Literature we are covering Jan Brett's books beginning with The Mitten. Ms. Kandice and I will be working with the students on retelling a story. We will discuss that every story has characters, setting, and a main idea. The Mitten is also a great story to help reinforce our knowledge of ordinal numbers.
Science will take us to the northern and southern poles as we study winter animals. This week we will cover Polar bears and begin our study of maps and globes. You can help your child at home by reinforcing the concept of direction (north, south, east , and west) as well as continents, oceans, and hemispheres.
Remember that we will take a field trip to the Perot on Wednesday, January 15. Chapel uniforms will be required on that day.
November 7- Parent Teacher Conferences 11:30 dismissal
November 8- Picture money is due
November 12- School pictures
November 22- Pioneer Day
November 25-29- Thanksgiving Break
December 17- PreK and Kindergarten Christmas Program
Kindergarten had a great time last week playing the African drums with Mr. Z, singing at Alzheimer's Alliance, and celebrating Halloween!
This week we will be exploring initial and final sounds of the letters S and M as well as the long A and long E sound. We will begin our Open Court Phonics unit "The Wind" and use our five senses to help us learn more about wind. Our new sight word for the week is "on." In handwriting we will introduce the lowercase "diver" letters; we are almost finished with the lowercase letters now! Science will have us finishing up our leaf unit by comparing the silhouettes and sizes of leaves the students bring from home and find at school in our "leaf scavenger hunt." In Math we will focus on creating congruent (same size, same shape) shapes on a geoboard and on comparing objects by mass. To get us ready for Pioneer Day at the end of the month we will begin reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Tuesday, October 29: Community Service Project at Alzheimer's Alliance (wear Tuesday uniforms)
Thursday, October 31: Class Halloween Party 1:00
Thursday, November 7: Parent Teacher Conferences (early dismissal)
Friday, November 22: Pioneer Day
This week was filled with excitement for kindergarten! We decorated pumpkins for the Fall Festival and also had a pumpkin investigation. We measured our pumpkins, made predictions on whether they would sink or float, used sensory words to describe the outside of the pumpkins, and we were finally able to cut into our pumpkins to see what was inside! We also talked about the life cycle of a pumpkin. Ask your child to tell you all of the stages of a pumpkin's growth. In the next few weeks we will be watching our pumpkins decompose.
On Wednesday we had a special guest talk to us about Diwali, or Festival of Lights. Diwali is the Hindu celebration of the triumph of good over evil. We were able to watch a traditional Indian dance, make clay lanterns, and even try some Indian treats!
Friday, we traveled to the upper school to visit their Egyptian Bazaar. We were greeted by Indiana Jones (Mr. Primm) and guided through the bazaar by some very helpful Egyptians (fifth graders). Once we were in the bazaar we learned about Egyptian boatmaking, heiroglyphics, architecture, weapons, fashion and makeup, mummification, and alchemy! The sixth grade class did a wonderful job of hosting everyone and kindergarten really enjoyed their hard work.
We also still found time to work on our lowercase letters, word length, rhyming, action words, counting pennies, and telling time to the hour! Next week we will be using our penny skills to buy items from our KinderMart (you can send an empty food box or two to help us have things to buy) as well as doing a short unit on BONES!
Friday, October 18- Fundraisers due and sight word check
Saturday, October 26- St. James Fall Festival
Tuesday, October 29- Community service project and field trip to Alzheimer's Alliance
Thursday, October 31- Kindergarten Halloween party
Friday, November 22- Kindergarten Pioneer Day and Thanksgiving party (tentative)
Can you believe we have been in school for 33 days? Kindergarten is hard at work. We have learned 17 sight words! It is wonderful to see how excited the students get when they recognize words in print! Help your child find the sight words we have learned in everyday print. This goes a long way in showing them how important each step in the reading process is. We introduced the vowels and their sounds last week. This week we will be putting those vowels to use when we start blending. We are still learning the basics of sentence structure by talking about capital and lowercase letters and end marks. Learning to label is helping us to develop into good writers. We are even learning the parts of speech (we still call them actions and things instead of verbs and nouns but they understand the concept)!
Kindergarten is a transition period but much of our learning still takes the form of play. Last week we worked on identifying and ordering the numbers 0-20 when we played Bingo. This week we will introduce pennies and monetary value (watch those change jars) as well as telling time to the hour.
We will take a short break from our study on leaves this week to discuss bats and spiders! Now is the perfect time to send in that really cool spider or web you find.
Another busy week for kindergarten! We began our Shadows unit in Language Arts. We tried all week to watch our shadows outside and were finally rewarded with enough sun on Friday afternoon to outline our shadows with chalk. We have been discussing question and statement sentences. Ask your child to point out periods and question marks (or mystery marks as some students like to call them) in the books you read to them. We have also learned about spacing between words in sentences. The students brought home their weekend journals for the first time yesterday. I will send these home every week with a new question for your child. Help them write a response to me in the journal and talk about the spaces you put between words as well as how you start each sentence with a capital letter and end each one with a punctuation mark. We have finished the capital letters in our Handwriting Without Tears program and will begin the lowercase letters next week.
In math we have been estimating (or making good guesses) every morning as well as using what we already know to find a missing number. We are enjoying our new ABB pattern for October and love that we can make a pattern with sounds and movements as well as colors! The class has been practicing story problems with different types of manipulatives to get ready for addition problems.
We had a great week discussing fire safety rules that ended with a presentation by the Fire Department on Friday. In the coming weeks we will be covering personal safety and learning our phone numbers and addresses.
In Science this week we talked about the silhouettes (or shapes) of trees and how we can get a good idea of the type of tree by looking at its outline. Now that the leaves are starting to change we will be studying their shapes as well.
This week was full of excitement for Kindergarten! We enjoyed a visit from Mrs. Fuqua, mom to Ayres, on Tuesday. She brought her two Ball Pythons to show us! The students were able to learn what nocturnal and cold-blooded mean and were even able to touch the snakes (on their tails and bellies of course). We worked more on our rhyming skills and sequencing sounds as well as on initial sounds of words. These activities build phonemic awareness to prepare the students for reading. Speaking of reading, the class did great on their second sight word check. Out of 108 words read (18 students, 6 words), only 3 words were missed! They did almost as well spelling the words. About half of the class spelled all of them correctly and the others only missed a few! I will send home a report on Monday that lets you know exactly which words, if any, your child still needs help on.
In math we are learning to sort by one attribute (color, shape, size). Sometimes we even sort the class based on uniform colors, gender, shoe style, or hairstyle. We painted apple trees with leaves, branches, trunks, and roots as well as studied a cactus this week in Science. Ask your child why a cactus is NOT a tree even though they often look like trees. We visited the upper school where Mrs. Wagy's fourth graders told us about their 1940's project. We learned about some of the toys, candy, and hobbies of the 1940's. St. James Day School was founded in 1948 and this year marks its 65th anniversary!
Today was Western Day and we had a great time despite the nasty weather! A big thank you to all of the parents that made today a success with their quick thinking and cheerful attitudes. We even had Mr. Walker, dad to Joshua, visit us this afternoon to tell us about his job as a cattle rancher. A real cowboy! And by the way, four-wheelers are evidently the modern equivalent of a horse on a ranch!
We are really getting into the swing of things! We have been working hard on rhyming, summarizing, getting ideas for writing, and sequencing the events of a story. We will get to study some live worms tomorrow after reading the poem "I Brought a Worm". By tomorrow we will have learned the correct letter formation for all of the Frog Jump capital letters. In just a few short weeks we will cover all of the capital and lowercase letters. Watch for those names to change as we start using capitals for only the first letter! I will be leaving for the Handwriting Without Tears Conference tomorrow after school and am so excited to share some of what I learn with you. Tomorrow also marks our first sight word check. We made leaf rubbings from our class tree this week and talked about family trees during our poetry journal time. In math we have been covering one to one correspondence and graphing real objects. We are also gearing up for Western Day on Friday, September 20th.
Two weeks gone already? This week we began our Tree unit for Science. Ask your child if they can name the parts of a tree and what some of the characteristics of a tree are. I was surprised to learn that trees smell like cupcakes to kindergartners! We have continued reviewing letters and started our Handwriting workbooks. I am very excited about the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum and even more excited that I am going to a handwriting conference next weekend! In math we have reviewed writing numbers 1-5, graphing, and the proper way to handle the manipulatives we will be using all year. The first set of sight words (a, is, the) should have come home in the green folder today. It is very important that you help your child learn to recognize the words we send home because they occur so frequently in written language. If your child already knows the words we are working on, great! They can work on learning to spell them, orally and by writing them. If spelling them has already been mastered then you can encourage your child to come up with expressive sentences using the words. I will be checking for recognition of sight words every Friday.
This morning we were able to watch Primary II's Teddy Bear Parade. The students that have been at St. James for awhile enjoyed reminiscing about their own Teddy Bear Parade and everyone had fun waving and cheering for Mrs. Diane's and Mrs. Claire's classes! We also enjoyed celebrating Maggie's birthday with a delicious cookie cake!
Kindergarten had a great first day! I don't know about the kids but I am worn out! We had PE with Mrs. Nicole for the first time and half of the class had Spanish with Mrs. Tye. In our classroom we learned some new procedures and got to know our new (and old) friends a little better. We also met Mat Man who will play a big part in our Handwriting without Tears program and read the first book in our Open Court Language Arts curriculum. I am ready for tomorrow! Be sure to send your child in appropriate PE footwear (socks are a must) and a tennis racket if your child is signed up for tennis lessons. We had a very busy day today so I didn't get to all of the things in backpacks. Please leave them in there and I will get them tomorrow. You are free to drop off your child at our front door after 7:45 tomorrow if you are ready for that.
It was wonderful to get to meet all of you last night! Everyone in the class was here and full of energy! I will see you all bright and early tomorrow. Remember that you can wear any uniform tomorrow as Big Chapel won't start until next week. Please try to get here by 8:00. This year is going to be a lot of fun!