Off to a great start!

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We have had a wonderful start to our Kindergarten year.

Our cute little class is small in number but big in enthusiasm and spirit!

Here we are on the first day of school with our Solar Eclipse hats!

It has been a joy to get to know the children better as we have been working on establishing our “school family” culture. Making the investment of time to explicitly teach social skills is a big part of that process. Learning the routines, procedures, and how our school works is no small feat for five year olds and they have risen to the challenge beautifully. Having a culture where children feel safe to take risks in their learning, make mistakes and keep trying, see the best in each other even when we have upsets, and value the contribution of each child, is what we are working towards. It is an important ongoing process.

Each morning we “wake up our brain” to be ready for learning by singing songs that involve crossing their mid-line. We have learned one different song each week since school has begun. We then sit in a circle and greet each other to unify our class and establish  connections with each other. Having eye contact and a pleasant greeting is something we are practicing.

On Mondays they have the chance to share something they did over the weekend with the class, and on Fridays we have “Shabbat Sharing” when they can talk briefly about anything of interest to them. This is something parents can help the children by having a conversations that can generate ideas for sharing. It can be something that happened to them, something they were involved in, something they are interested in, or something they know a lot about. This strengthens their speaking and listening skills, as well as helping the class to get to know each other better.

Following this we talk about what our schedule is for the day, sing the Days of the Week and Months of the Year songs, record the weather, keep track of how many days we have been in school, and figure out how many days left until “Zero the Hero” comes again! For those whose children might not have informed them about Zero the Hero- he is a phantom character who leaves a zero shaped surprise for the children every ten days of school.

We have recently begun Writer’s Workshop and they are enjoying this. Our first mini lessons have been focused on how writers think before they write and then they try to picture it and get the whole story down on paper. For most of the children this story is told in illustrations. In the weeks and months ahead, we will encourage labels, speech bubbles, beginning and ending letters of words in their stories, and writing a complete sentence with a capital and ending punctuation. The important thing for them right now is to learn that they can write about anything, from spilling their breakfast cereal to what they know about bugs! Helping them to see that there are stories all around us, will be a big focus for the mini lessons. As things happen with your families, help them notice the details and suggest, “Wow, that would be a great story to write about in Writer’s Workshop. Let’s think about what you could say!” Once again, for the first while they will be telling their stories by including lots of details in their illustrations and then I conference with them and try to nudge them forward by writing letters and words to go with their illustrations.

In Math we have been exploring and getting to know numbers. We took a number walk around the school and discovered that numbers are everywhere! Their favorite math game so far is called “Count and Sit” where they pick a target number and count around the circle until they reach the target number and then that person has to sit down. They try to predict which person will be next to sit. Other lessons have included introduction to five frames, number stations, describing shapes and shape patterning. Here are a couple of students on our number walk:

 

In Language Arts we have been focusing on “All About Me,” starting with books about people with intersting names like Tikki Tikki Tembo, and Chrysanthemum. In response to that we graphed how many letters are in our names, made “nature names,” and name flip books.  We have been discussing things that are the same and things that are different about us, things that we like and things we can do after reading Mercer Mayer’s book All By Myself. Our first class book will be a compilation of their responses to that book about things they are good at doing all by themselves.

Also in Language Arts, we are beginning to work our way through the lower case alphabet, learning the keyword and sound for each letter and becoming acquainted with the verbalization of how to form each letter. We are learning about how letters make up words, words make up sentences, and other concepts of print like parts of a book, capitalization, and ending punctuation.

The students have had fun getting to know their third grade buddies. They worked on a Venn diagram together where they tried to discover things about themselves that were the same and different. They also enjoyed making Rosh Hashana cards for their buddies.

Here are some pictures with their buddies:

   

The students worked to decorate a huge box and then asked the school to bring in donations to help people in need from the hurricane. They handed some of the supplies to the people working at the truck that was going to the Jewish Community in Houston.

      

When our class decided to do a Bake Sale to benefit those affected by the hurricane, they enjoyed surveying the school to find out what two treats students would want them to bake. Mrs. Rubin helped them find out the results of their survey in Technology and then they worked hard to make the Bake Sale come to fruition.

           

We decided we needed to advertise so they worked with a partner to make colorful posters to put up around the school.

Then came the two days of baking when parents and fifth grade came to help.

   

           

The children were busy cleaning the picnic tables so we could put the food on them.

The culminating event for our Mitzvah project for those affected by Hurricane Harvey was our delivery of the toys we were able to purchase with the $427 profit from the bake sale. It was a long drive just to drop in their bag but hopefully they will remember how they helped other children. By coming full circle from surveying the school for favorite baked items, baking, frosting and packaging brownies and cupcakes, selling the items and collecting the money, picking the items they wanted to donate to put in their bags, and then dropping them in the receptacle,  hopefully they will understand that giving time and effort is really giving a part of ourselves. The only piece missing was actually seeing the smile they might have put on a face of a child and we can always imagine that!

Here we are at the donation center!

     

Coming up will be the beginning of our big project about water. We will start with water in our bodies as a bridge from our All About Me introductory unit.

This was a long post because I wanted to give a more in depth picture of our Kindergarten routines. In the future, it will be more streamlined with mostly pictures telling the story.