Thursday, October 18, 2012

Language Arts

We apologize for the lack of photos in the current blog. We'll try to get the camera out more often in the next month. Some of these photos are from the first month of school or show the same activity many times.

Children continue to learn new sounds in Jolly Phonics and are writing new letters in Handwriting without Tears. We are learning sight words as we read pre-decodable stories, reading them and learning to write them. So far the words are a, my, the, I, like, we and go. We practice sounding out words and spelling words using boards with magnetic letters (depicted). Children keep copies of the words they have learned in their word envelope and play concentration games matching the sight words.

We have different activities to promote phonemic awareness (hearing the sounds in words). Thumbs up if these words start with the same sound! Stamp two words that have the same sound in them (train and pen end in the same sound). Roll the ball as you say a word that rhymes with bees!

We recently visited 2nd grade to watch a play they wrote about a pumpkin patch. The children learned that the "different looking" pumpkin was just fine and in fact won the prize. We also used the Smart Board for activities connected with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. There are several pictures of free time activities.


We have learned a variety of math games that we will build on throughout the school year. One game, called Build It, had children draw number cards from a deck and then place that number of pennies on a ten frame (a frame with ten squares in it). They learned Roll & Record, a simple game of rolling a die and recording their answer on a sheet. We also spend time practicing number writing, using handwriting without tears and number poems. We have worked with concepts of longer than and shorter than, measuring objects with a stick of cubes. We will move into building sticks that measure the length of each person's name. We will also use these to compare the length of everyone's names. The photos show children doing inventory bags. Children counted the objects in the bags and recorded their answers in their books.

The Pictures of Motor Activites

Motor Skills

Children go outside a couple of times a day for play time. Running around, climbing, swinging, digging in the sand and riding bikes all provide excellent opportunities to grow and develop. In addition we take walks; collecting leaves for a project with our buddies recently, searching for salamanders several weeks ago and/or playing in the back field.

In addition to these large motor activities, we seek opportunities to provide children with sensory motor activities. These activities stimulate children and/or calm children down. Some children need spinning activities that provide them with proprioceptive feedback. Some children benefit from fidget toys to help them keep their hands busy, while their attention focuses on the task at hand. We have a large standing desk that we borrowed from another classroom that allows a child to swing their legs or stand up while they do their work. In the photos, a child is walking down the hallway inside a large piece of stretchy fabric that provides a workout while walking, or a way to pull and stretch muscle groups. The hanging swing is a comfortable, nurturing space to enjoy or the chance to swing in a circle for more proprioceptive input. These activities all lay a foundation on which we build academic skills.

Apple Store and Book Fair

Kindergarten participated in the Apple Store this past week. The 5th/6th grade classes picked apples and baked them into delicious treats (with help from their parents). Children brought 50 cents or $1.00 from home and purchased snacks from the store. This money will support field trips in the upper grades. The children were delighted with the bounty!

Beginning October 29th, the Book Fair will be set up in the library. Children can browse with their class at the beginning of the week. There will be a family night on Tuesday, October 30th, during which the fair will be open in the evening, so children and their families can look over the selection together. Some children bring money from home to select their own books when the class visits. Parents can also drop in during the day throughout the week. The book fair offers many fine selections for children and supports the purchase of books for our library. We hope to see you there.

Book Club

Thanks to the Library Apprenticeship program, the kindergartners are able to take advantage of lunch time book clubs. We started book club today. Kindergartners have the choice to eat in the lunch room or go to the library and listen to stories. The 5th and 6th grade library apprentices read to small groups of children, allowing the children to participate in story selection. Almost the entire class participated in Book Club and seemed quite enthused about it.

Second Steps

We began implementing Second Steps, the Preschool-Grade 2 anti-bullying curriculum, which teaches kindergartners ways to build relationships with one another and ways to develop pro-social skills. The initial unit in Second Steps teaches children ways to focus their attention. They learn good listening skills, how to ask for help when they don't understand what they are doing, self-talk, which helps children remember the steps in the task they are working on and other good learning habits. You may have heard about Impulsive Puppy, Slow-Down Snail and Be-Calm Bunny.