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.
On Friday we took part in an exciting presentation by the New England Aquarium all about tide pools. We learned about what tide pools are as well as about the creatures that can be found living in tide pools. We were lucky enough to be able to see these creatures up close and continue our learning through touching and seeing!
This week in writer’s workshop we kicked off our new writing unit: Teaching Books. We are learning that there are different types of books that authors write. Some books are written to tell a story and others are written to teach. As writers we have begun learning that we can teach others about things that we know a lot about. To help us get started we wrote a class book to teach our readers about tide pools based on what we learned on Friday. Ask your kindergartner to tell you about the page they added to our class book!
Things are continuing to roll along in kindergarten! Students are becoming increasingly more independent and are really starting to show their learning in lots of different ways. This week we started talking about winter holidays as the first night of Hanukkah was on Sunday. Thank you to Shylie and Olive for bringing in a menorah to share with the class! We enjoyed looking at them and learning about how the eight candles stand for the eight nights of Hanukkah.
Fundations: This month in Fundations we will learn the following letters and their sounds: Gg -game-/g/, Dd-dog-/d/, Ss-snake-/s/ and Ee-Ed-/e/.
Writing: We will soon begin our next writing unit: teaching stories. Students will choose a subject they know a lot about and write about it to teach others. For example if a student chooses to write about soccer they might add details like: When you play soccer you need a ball, you kick the ball, there are 2 teams. We will be working on adding sentences and labels to help teach our readers about what we know.
Word Wall Words:
We have started to add words to our word wall this fall. Each word that is added to the wall is a word that we read and write frequently. With practice students are able to use the word wall as a tool to help them when they are writing. Some of those words are a, at, go, I, me, my, see, the. When you are reading or writing with your child at home you can ask him/her to try and find a kindergarten word wall word.
Read Alouds, Shared Reading and Poems: In December and January we will read several folk tales. We focus on retelling. Kindergartners will learn several different strategies for retelling including oral retelling, dramatic retelling, and puppet retelling. Retelling is an important comprehension strategy. One strategy that students will soon be introduced to is called "Stepping Stones". This strategy specifically targets the comprehension skills of retelling. This strategy teaches students to think of each page of a book as a part of one whole story. When they "step" through the book page by page they can use the pictures and their memory to retell the story from beginning to end. Our folktale unit is a perfect unit that gives students many opportunities to use and practice this strategy because we will read several versions of the same folktale. Kindergartners will learn to retell familiar tales like The Three Billy Goats, The Three Little Pigs, The Little Red Hen and The Gingerbread Boy.
Many of the stories we are reading are traditional folktales. If you have a folktale that reflects your culture or heritage we would love for you to share it with kindergarten! Please, let me know.
We have started our study of Living & Non-Living Things. Ask your kindergartner to tell you three things that living things need and three things that a living thing can do. In January, we will investigate the question: Is a bulb a living thing? The students will participate in various experiments in order to answer this question. Each kindergartner will plant and care for his or her own bulb. As scientists, we will observe, record, measure and compare our plants using a variety of tools. You will have a chance to learn more about this investigation at our K Family Drop-In on Thursday, January 24th . Save the date!
Our first K Family Drop-In will be Thursday, January 24th, from 8:20 to 8:45 AM. We will be sharing our learning from our science unit with you! We hope you can make it!
This month in math we will begin to learn about numbers in the “tricky teens” remembering that the digit “1” always comes first. We will also continue to practice counting strategies: lining objects up and moving objects to keep track. You and your kindergartner might like to practice counting objects around the house. We will begin talking about number stories and integrate math into our science unit, as we measure the growth of our bulbs.
Please keep in mind that all kindergartners go out for recess daily! Unless the weather is extremely cold or our playground is very icy, we will go outside. Please send your child with appropriate clothing each day. This includes; jacket, hat, and mittens/gloves. If there is snow on the ground, students also need boots and snow pants. Please be sure to label all of the winter clothing that comes into school. It is also very helpful if you practice zipping and fastening the winter clothes at home so students can have more success getting ready independently at school. Also, our classroom temperature varies a great deal. It is most often hot, but some Monday mornings it is cold…Kindergartners should dress in layers all season long, and all the layers should be labeled with names. And again, any practice with putting on and removing layers independently that you can do at home would be very helpful.