Our "Person of the Week" unit continues to be an exciting opportunity for students to share about themselves with their peers. Students are getting the hang of asking thoughtful and meaningful questions to each "Person of the Week" as a way of learning even more!
Thanks to all of you for coming in and meeting with me to discuss the progress that your child is making in kindergarten! It was a true pleasure and I'm looking forward to seeing them to continue to grow and learn throughout the remainder of the school year!
The 3 kindergarten classes will go to the Harvard Museum of Natural History on Tuesday, May 7th. Parents are welcome to chaperone. If you are interested in coming with us, please be sure that you have filled out a CORI application. If you aren't sure, you can check with Mrs. Mariano.
For your planning, please note that there is not room for chaperones on the bus so chaperones will need to drive (or carpool.) Also, chaperones will need to pay for their own admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. We also ask that you find childcare for younger siblings, as your field trip group will need your full attention.
Be on the lookout for permission slips coming home in your child's Friday folder soon!
Here's what's coming up!
Phonics: This month we will focus on reading and writing consonant-vowel-consonant words (CVC words).
Sight Words: We will continue to learn and practice word wall words. Below is a list of the words that kindergartners are expected to know by the end of the year. Be on the lookout for these words in books you read at home or on signs in your neighborhood.
a, am, and, at, can, do, for, go, he, I, it, in, is, like, me, my, said, see, she, the, this, to, was, we, you
Last week we began a new unit on Opinion Writing. Through this unit students will be introduced to the idea that their words matter and can elicit change. We will explore problems that we see in our classroom and school by making posters, signs, and books to persuade others to make positive changes for the better of our school community. Some problems that we're working on making signs and posters for are: kids running in the hallway, kids being too loud in the bathroom, forgetting to cover the markers, leaving pencils on the floor, kids putting books back in the wrong bins in our classroom library. Be sure to ask your kindergartner what kinds of problems they are trying to help change. We will also write pieces that express an opinion, emphasizing the reasons for the opinion. For example, we might write about our favorite kind of pet and why it is our favorite.
Towards the end of the month we will go back to writing personal narrative stories. The kindergartners will write their stories based on their true experiences and happenings from their lives. It would be very helpful for families to talk about which of their many adventures, large and small, might make a good story. We will focus on adding details to make our stories more interesting for our readers.
In math we will begin working on activities about Apple Boxes. We will focus on composing and decomposing numbers up to 10. We will use games and story problems to work on the idea that numbers can be combined to make a new total, and that a given number can be broken apart in different ways. We will also continue to become more familiar with important math symbols-plus sign, minus sign, and equal sign as well as writing math sentences.
This month we will learn about the Sensational Season of Spring. The children will draw their spring self-portraits and will make a careful observation of a tree in spring.
EXTRA CLOTHES AND OLD WINTER GEAR:
Please be sure your kindergartner has a full set of extra clothes at school. We have experienced many spills, puddles, and accidents lately. Label everything!
If you are all done with your kindergartner’s boots, snow pants, or gloves and you don’t have anyone at home waiting for hand-me-downs, please consider donating them to the classroom for next year. We always need extras! Thank you!
Last week we also stared a new science unit: The Properties of Sand. We are exploring different types of sand and their properties. We are also comparing wet and dry sand and learning where sand comes from. The class is especially enjoying exploring sand in our sandbox and building sand structures!
During math we have been focusing our learning on our Bunk Beds unit. As mentioned in previous posts, this unit supports our learning about combinations. We are learning that combinations are all of the different ways we can break apart a number into 2 parts. For this unit we are trying to find all the different ways we can have a certain amount of kids on a bunk bed. For example: When working with the number 4 we can put 1 kid on the top bunk and 3 on the bottom OR 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom OR 4 on the top and 0 on the bottom, etc. Recently, we started learning about strategies that we can use when trying to find all of the combinations for a number. We will continue to explore with different numbers to see if these strategies will work with any number.
Here is 1 combination for the number 5. Ask your kindergartner to tell you the number sentence that would match this combination (5 + 0). How many more ways can you find? In school we use cubes to represent the number of kids. If you don't have cubes at home, you can use 5 of anything (buttons, Legos, goldfish crackers, blocks)
Below are some other pictures of our learning in action. Here we are each working independently to try to find as many combinations as we can for the number we are working with.
Balanced Literacy:Phonics: This month in Fundations we will learn the following letters and their sounds: Ww-wind-/w/, Yy-yellow-/y/, Xx-fox-/x/ and Zz-zebra-/z/. We have also been working on tapping out words to hear the individual sounds (segmenting) and blending them back together.
Writing: This month we will be finishing up our “How to” unit. We will soon start writing our own books that will follow a simple, patterned structure. These books are also great for practicing sight words.
Independent Reading: We are enjoying independent reading every afternoon. Each child is matched up with a collection of books that is “just right” for him or her. Students are learning how to use a variety of reading strategies when they come to a word they don’t know:
*Owl Eyes- Look at the pictures for clues
*Lips the Fish- Get your mouth ready to say the first sound
*Stretchy Snake- S-t-r-e-t-c-h out the word sound by sound
*Skippy Frog- Skip it and then go back and try again
*Tryin’ Lion- Try going back to reread the sentence
*Chunky Monkey- Look for familiar words or chunks within a word
*Flip the Dolphin- Try flipping the vowel sound
We are also working on monitoring our own reading to make sure it makes sense, it sounds right, and that it looks right.
Mathematics:This month we will continue our work on the Bunk Beds and Apple Boxes unit. We will find number combinations for a given total, with an emphasis on finding combinations that add up to 10. We will also explore how we know when we have all the possible combinations. This unit also facilitates learning with how to write number sentences and the use of appropriate math symbols.
Science:This month, we will begin a new science unit: Exploring Properties of Objects and Materials. In this unit we will investigate the physical properties of water, sand and other sediment. We will work on formulating questions to investigate, we will classify objects and materials, and we will use scientists’ tools (hand lens, Proscope with iPads, and pan balance).
Conferences:The spring conferences are beginning. They will begin on March 19th. Please be sure you have signed up for a time online on signup.com. During the spring conferences we will talk about your child’s progress and look at some of your child’s work.
Friday marked the 100th day of school and what an exciting day it was! We started the day by brainstorming all of the things that we have learned in kindergarten so far. We filled a whole piece of chart paper! Then, we spent a good chunk of our morning engaged in activities that revolved around teamwork, problem solving, and, of course, 100!
Center 1: Build a teamwork structure with 100 cups!
Center 2: Writing Center: "I could eat __________" and "I could not eat ________"
Center 3: Use teamwork to build a puzzle with 100 pieces.
Ryker brought this puzzle in as his 100 collection...it made a great addition to our centers!
Center 4: Use teamwork to create a design using 100 pattern blocks!
Center 5: 100th Day Board Game
Center 6: Use teamwork to build a structure using 100 blocks!
Center 7: Use teamwork to build a train with 100 cubes!
Center 8: Estimation Center: Which jar do you think has 100?
We didn't have a chance to count and discover which one actually has 100, but we will next week! Stay tuned!
With January now under our belt, we are moving full steam ahead! Earlier this week marked the half-way point! Expectations have started to see a shift as we begin the second half of the school year. While kindergartners are all progressing nicely, young learners can sometimes feel overwhelmed with learning so many new things. We are learning about the power of the word "yet". We are working on shifting our mindset and the way we approach new things. Instead of saying "I can't do it!" we're practicing saying "I can't do this, yet". We're learning that it's ok to not know how to do something at first, but the only way we are going to get better is by practicing new skills that we're learning. Over time, the things that were once tricky won't feel so hard anymore. We listen to the song below often to help us remember the importance of sticking with it and not giving up! You're never too old for Sesame Street!
Person of the Week!
We continue to enjoy learning about each other through our Person of the Week program. Throughout the week students ask really meaningful questions to the Person of the Week to learn even more about them.
Phonics: This month in Fundations we will learn the following letters and their sounds: Hh (Hh-hat-/h/), Kk (Kk-kite-/c/), Vv (Vv-van-/v/).
Writing: In Writers' Workshop we have begun a new genre of writing: “How-to” books. Students are working on writing clear steps or directions to teach their reader how to do something (how to brush your teeth, how to ride a bike, how to make a paper airplane). Students will also work on adding pictures or diagrams to match each step in their book. It may be helpful to chat with your kindergartner about some things that he/she could write a how-to piece about.
We will soon begin independent reading every afternoon. Each child will be matched up with a collection of books that are at his or her “just right” reading level. Some of the strategies we will be working on during independent reading are: pointing to the words while reading, looking at the first and last letter in a word to help us figure out unknown words, using picture cues, and monitoring our own reading to make sure that what we are reading makes sense. When children are ready they will begin to work on strategies that support their overall fluency and comprehension of books they are reading.
In math this month we will continue working on addition, addition symbols as well as terminology. We are learning that when we add we are putting two numbers together to get a bigger amount. We will tell and solve story problems using objects. We will act out our number stories as well. We will soon learn about subtraction, subtraction symbols and terminology. After vacation we will start our “Bunk Beds and Apple Boxes” unit. This unit introduces the students to the ideas of combinations; learning strategies to help us find all combinations for a number (ex. For the number 4 we can have 4+0, 3+1, 2+2, etc.) We will also continue our work on numbers and counting.
This month in social studies we will continue to study the Sensational Season of winter. Students will also be introduced to historical figures, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. During the unit we will learn important facts about each person. In addition we will discuss important places in Washington DC, like the White House and the Lincoln Memorial.
To complement our social studies unit on the Sensational Season of winter we will be taking a closer look at ice. Students will come up with questions about what happens to water in the cold and we will have the opportunity to create some experiments. Try some water and ice experiments at home with your scientist this winter!
We are also keeping a close eye on the experiments that we started during our bulb unit, particularly experiments B and C. We planted only half of a bulb for experiment B and for experiment C we put a bulb in a cup of water without any soil. It's been exciting to see them actually growing! Check out the latest changes!
Chinese New Year: At the beginning of this month we will celebrate the beginning of the new lunar calendar. This year we celebrate the year of the pig.
100th Day of School
The 100th Day of School is next Friday, February 8th as long as we do not have any snow days! We will celebrate the number 100 with many exciting activities. Each kindergartner will share a collection of 100 things that they will bring in from home. We've been talking about different ways that each kindergartner can make his/her collection. One way is to count 1 by 1 until he/she reaches 100. We also talked about how he/she could make 10 groups of 10 and skip count to 100. Please support your kindergartner in making his/her collection at home over the course of the next week. Collections should be able to fit into a Ziploc bag- any size is ok!
On Valentine’s Day students will be exchanging Valentine cards. Students should bring in a Valentine for each of their classmates on Thursday, February 14th (or before if the Valentines are ready). You might want to start writing cards with your child soon. Remember, kindergartners will vary in their stamina for writing names and signing cards. Encourage your child to do some of the writing, or to read you the names, but it is OK for you to help.
Early last week we measured our bulb plants with unifix cubes. We measured, counted, and compared!
We also began to learn that scientists conduct experiments by asking questions and testing out predictions. As a group we generated a whole list of possible experiments and voted on 4 to actually test out.
Experiment A: What will happen if we plant a bulb and instead of giving it water we give it oil?
Experiment B: What will happen if we plant half of a bulb?
Experiment C: What will happen if put a bulb in a cup of water without any soil?
Experiment D: What will happen if we plant a bulb and put it in a box?
After taking some time to design our experiments we took some time to think about our predictions and if we think the bulb will still grow.
Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed a restful, rejuvenating holiday break! We all came back ready to get back into the action of kindergarten last week. Students started off by doing some writing about something they did over vacation and they did the most amazing job! When you stop and consider where they started as writers, they have really come a long way. It sounds like Mary Poppins was a hit for most!
Kindergarten progress reports will be available for families at the end of January. This will be your kindergartner’s first Newton standards-based progress report. The performance level scores are based on mid-year expectations. Kindergartners will continue to work towards June benchmarks during the second half of the year. We try to balance the focus on objective standards with comments about your child’s individual growth and goals. If you have questions, please feel free to ask!
Fundations: This month we will be introducing several new letters and sounds including Ee (Ee-Ed-/e/), Rr (Rr-rat-/r/), Pp (Pp-pan-/p/), and Jj (Jj-jug-/j/). We have begun taking our phonics instruction to the next level by introducing how to break down words into individual sounds and put them back together (segmenting and blending). For example when students are asked to break down the word "dog" they are learning how to break the word apart into individual sounds (/d/-/o/-/g/) and then identify the letters that make those sounds. Ask them to share with you our "Break it Down" chant.
Read Alouds, Shared Reading and Poems: In January, we will continue to read folktales. We will add several new books to our “Classroom Favorites” collection. These will include, The Little Red Hen, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, The Gingerbread Man, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and The Mitten by Jan Brett. Our “Classroom Favorites” collection provides the children with a solid core of books that they can enjoy and retell independently. Repeated readings of these books are used to teach key comprehension strategies. Students are also encouraged to retell these stories by using the "Stepping Stones" strategy that we learned last month.
This month we will continue to reinforce and work on counting skills as well as number writing. Last week we started to focus our math learning around the "tricky teens" by doing our best to remember that the digit "1" always comes first! We also started building the teen numbers with cubes on ten frames. Check out the catchy tune below that we listened to last week.
This month we will also begin working on putting numbers together and taking them apart as we get ready for our “Bunk Beds” unit in February.
Last week we continued moving forward with our Living and Nonliving science unit by planting our own bulbs. We are investigating the question: "Are bulbs living things?" We talked about how we might know if they are living or not. Ask your kindergartner to share his/her thoughts with you about how we will know if they are living things.
This month we will also study the Season of Winter. We will discuss how we dress in winter, what we celebrate in winter, how the weather changes in winter and how plants and animals are impacted by winter weather. We will work on our winter self-portraits and learn winter poems. We will also read and learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our first K Family Drop-In will be Thursday, January 24th, from 8:20 to 8:45 AM. We will be sharing what we are learning in our Science unit. We hope you can join us!
Valentine’s Day isn’t until next month but you might appreciate advance notice about how we celebrate in kindergarten. On Valentine’s Day students will be exchanging Valentine cards. Students should bring in a Valentine for each of their classmates on Thursday, February 14th (or before if the valentines are ready). When you start working on the Valentines, remember that kindergartners vary in their stamina for writing names and signing cards. Encourage your child to do some of the writing, or to read you the names, but it is okay for you to help. I will be sending a class list home soon!
Throughout the winter months, we will continue to go outside for recess each day. Please be sure to send your child with a complete set of labeled outdoor gear each day. This includes hat, jacket, mittens/gloves.