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March/April Update

Dear K-214 Families, 

It’s hard to believe that it’s already spring! Our students have been busy delving into our pet study, playing together, and continuing to grow as readers, writers and mathematicians. Here is a closer look at what we’ve been doing:


Our math work is currently focused on working with part/whole relationships; students are learning that big numbers are made up of smaller numbers and becoming fluent in the combinations that make up these numbers.

We began this work using the book The Sleepover, in which a girl and her 7 friends play tricks on her Aunt Kate by rearranging themselves between top and bottom bunk beds. Every time Aunt Kate leaves the room, she returns to find the kids in a new arrangement on the beds. Kids developed an understanding that 8 can be named in many ways, for example as 7 + 1, 5 + 3, or 4 + 4, etc. 

We extended this thinking to combinations of 10 with a unit called “Apple Boxes” in which kids focused on the idea of filling a box with 10 red & yellow apples (e.g. – 9 + 1, 6 + 4, 5 + 5, etc). Students worked to find different ways to arrange and describe a set of objects, figured out how many different combinations of 10 fit into a box, and played a game that encouraged the idea of decomposing a number into parts.


Spring is all about guided reading: small group sessions with targeted texts. We support kids in using reading strategies that are just right for them, such as “mouth & picture,” “tap & blend,” and “chunky monkey.” Emergent reader texts range from whimsical vignettes and fairy tales to realistic fiction and fun facts; they are short, sweet, and instructionally rich. Most of all, they let kids take pride in the stronger readers they are becoming!

Work Choice

Through various worktime activities, students engage in numerous opportunities for collaborative play. Students have been working hard through blocks, puppet theaters, games, and building materials to take on different roles, make up rules, and negotiate with their peers. In our classroom playing together means working together, and that takes a lot of effort, support, and understanding for our kindergartners.

This month be on the lookout to have conversations with your students about the way they integrated pet study themes into their play, building opportunities, and artistic expressions. The pet study not only teaches students about how pets help people, and people help pets, but gives the students an opportunity to collaborate in order to further their understanding about the world.

Pet Study

Pet study is now in full swing in kindergarten. In our pet study, we focus on how pets take care of people and how people take care of pets. In the early part of our study, we learn about pets with jobs (i.e. pets who help take care of people). We had a visit from Ann Marie, who uses a mobility scooter) and her service dog Domino. We learned all about how Domino helps Ann Marie function in her everyday life, and all about the commands he learned in service dog training. We also learned that while service dogs help their owners with everyday tasks, therapy dogs help people with difficult feelings. When we met Audrey and her dog Tank, we learned that Tank used to be a guide dog for Audrey’s husband, and that he now serves as a therapy dog for children in hospitals. As our pet study continues, we will begin learning about the workers and institutions who support pets and their owners, such as pet shops, groomers and veterinarians.

January Newsletter

Dear K-214 Families,

Our first month of the new year has come to a close, and I’m so excited to share all of the work our kindergartners have been doing with you. Here’s a closer look at what’s been happening in class:


In math, we have been learning about shapes. We have been learning about the properties of different shapes, and about how to describe them using mathematical terms such as points and vertices. Children have been practicing this mathematical language by playing partner games such as “Guess my Shape.” We have also been working with games and shape puzzles that ask children to compose shapes in different ways (e.g. making a hexagon by using triangles or trapezoids). After focusing on 2D shapes, we will be moving on to 3D shapes.


Throughout the month of December, we focused on learning strategies to help us decode books, such as pointing to each word, looking for sight words,  and looking at the initial sound and the picture when you come across a tricky word. In January, we continued to implement those strategies, while focusing on building more stamina for independent reading at our tables.

Children have also been working on reading during literacy centers. During centers, small groups of children take turns reading books with a teacher. These books are selected to challenge that group of children and support their growth as readers. While one group works with me, the other groups work on independent literacy-based activities such as listening to books on tape, writing their own comic strips, reenacting fairy tales with puppets, and playing sight word games.


In December, we began our first non-fiction writing unit and learned how to write books that teach people all about something. In January, we applied what we had learned to our content study, and wrote books to teach people what we had learned about moths and butterflies. We talked about what kinds of things our readers need to know about butterflies and moths, about how to draw pictures that effectively communicate what we know, and about how to add on to our words to teach our readers as much as possible.

Butterfly and Moth Study 

Throughout January, we continued to delve into our butterfly and moth study. In December, we received our painted lady caterpillars in the mail, and observed them as they grew larger and ultimately formed chrysalises. Our butterflies emerged during the winter break and were waiting for us when we returned to the classroom. As we observed our new butterflies, we learned about the parts of their bodies, how they eat, and the defense mechanisms that allow them to survive in the wild. We also received Luna moth cocoons and were able to witness their metamorphosis as well.

Throughout this process, we worked on different ways to communicate what we were learning to a wider audience. Many children worked in small groups to create posters that show the anatomy and life cycles of caterpillars, butterflies, and moths. We also created a giant, collaborative mural featuring the stages of butterfly and moth life cycles, the components of butterfly and moth habitats, and examples of butterflies and moths camouflaging to survive in the wild. Finally, children worked on drawing either a butterfly or a moth with the eyes of a scientist, and gave each other feedback so that they could improve their drawings in subsequent drafts. We are so excited to share all of our work with you at our upcoming celebration!

K-214 November Newsletter

Dear K-214 Families,

The month of November flew by in K-214! Here’s a closer look at what we’ve been up to:


For most of the past month, we continued our unit on writing stories. As we worked on our stories, we also began learning more about how to add labels and sentences to our stories. We have learned about tools that can help us write words, and about how to stretch out words so that we can record the sounds they hear. As children begin this process, parents often have many questions about what they should be doing to support their budding writers, and about whether or not they should be correcting their children’s spelling. Here’s a statement from the kindergarten team about “inventive spelling:”

You may have noticed that your children are interested in writing words. They are using “inventive spelling” to do so, which means they are using the sounds they know to form a word. If you notice them doing this, please encourage them to “stretch” out the words, by saying it slowly and listening for each sound in the word. Do not worry about the correct spelling of words. So if he/she writes “prpl” or even “p” instead of “purple,” that’s fine! This is an important developmental step, and proper spelling will come later once children have learned letter sounds and spelling conventions.

Now that we have finished writing our stories, we are begin to write books that teach people all about something. Get ready to read our books about cats, unicorns, race cars, transformers, and even potatoes!


In reading, we spent most of the month continuing our unit about retelling stories and reading stories by looking closely at the pictures. Children practiced making their voices sound just like a storyteller’s voice. This helps children at every stage of the process of learning to read engage with books for deeply.

Now, we are moving on to a unit about reading strategies that will help us decode the actual words in books. We are learning how to point to each word on the page and look for sight words. Stay tuned to see how many new strategies we will have learned by the end of December!


In math, we have been learning counting strategies and playing counting and number recognition games. In kindergarten, many children struggle to stay organized when given a set of objects to count. They will lose track or count the same object multiple times. This month, we have been learning organizational strategies such as lining the objects up and touching them one by one, or scooting the objects to a new pile. Throughout this process, we have been learning and practicing games that support our counting and number recognition skills.

Butterfly and Moth Study

Towards the end of November, the children learned that we will spend the next few months becoming experts on butterflies and moths. One of the first questions we discussed as a class was, “How do we become experts about something?” The children had a range of ideas about how we could learn about butterflies and moths, including field trips, books, and observing real butterflies and moths in class. It was almost like they had read our curriculum! Since then, we have been discussed what we know and wonder about butterflies, and have begun reading butterfly and moth books together. Last week, our painted lady caterpillars arrived in the classroom. We are excited to observe them and watch them grow as we learn about life cycles!

Upcoming Dates and Announcements

Our next Family Tuesday will take place on December 18th from 8:30-8:50. Please send another special grown-up to be with your child if you are unable to attend.

Please let me know in advance if your child will be missing school for holiday travel.



October Newsletter

Dear K-214 Families,

October was a busy and exciting month in our classroom. We opened new play areas in the classroom, began learning new routines for each academic area, and capped off the month with our Halloween parade! Here’s a closer look at what we’ve been doing.


In math this month, we learned all about patterns! We learned that a pattern repeats again and again, and that the part that repeats is called the core unit. We practiced making patterns with a range of materials, and learned that not all patterns have  repeating colors. We also continued counting the days of school as part of our daily math routine, and began to notice patterns in the related math materials. As children observed the alternating 5 red/5 white pattern of the bead string, they noticed, “Every time the day of school has a 5, we finish the red beads,” and “Every time the day of school has a 0, we finish the white beads.”

This next month, we will learn about strategies for staying accurate and organized when we count.


This month in writing, we learned that writers can write about things they know a lot about, things they love, and things that have happened to them. We have been working on writing stories about things that have happened to us by creating a series of clear and expressive illustrations, adding labels to our pictures, and possibly writing a sentence below. We have also been working on sticking with the same idea over the course of many days, adding on to our writing, and keeping our writing organized in our writing folders.


This month, we began learning the strategies and expectations for independent reading and buddy reading. We learned that readers sit in a quiet bubble, look closely at the pictures of their books, turn the pages carefully, and think about what’s happening in the book. We learned that when we read with a buddy, we sit in a quiet bubble together, and discuss what we notice about the book in a quiet voice. We have been practicing reading at our tables daily, either alone or with a buddy.

We have also been learning about how to retell stories so that we remember the important details, but don’t repeat every last detail. We have been reading fairy tales, and have been using a tool called the “Five Finger Retell” to practice retelling those stories. This tool helps us hone in on the characters, the setting, and the beginning, middle and end of the story.

Social and Emotional Learning

This month in our social and emotional curriculum, we learned about identifying feelings and finding strategies to help us when we have an uncomfortable feeling. After talking about different feelings, and sharing times when we’ve felt different feelings, we began learning to use a tool called “I feel ______, so I can ______.” Children use this tool to identify what they are feeling, and to come up with a helpful strategy such as deep breaths, hugging a bear, or drawing a picture if that feeling is uncomfortable. We are continuing to talk about feelings regularly in class meetings so as to keep practicing identifying our feelings, and to learn that our feelings change throughout the day.

We have also been learning strategies to resolve conflicts with friends independently. We came up with a list of the types of problems that happen among children in the classroom (hitting, not sharing, disagreeing on what to play), and brainstormed ways to solve those problems. We then began to use a tool called “Flower Power” to resolve problems with our friends. Each petal of the flower in flower power is a problem solving strategy. When children have disagreements in the classroom, they practice walking over to the flower together and trying to solve their problem.

Announcements and Upcoming Dates 

Our next Family Tuesday will be on Tuesday, November 20th from 8:30-8:50.

Parent Teacher Conferences are coming up on Thursday, November 15th and Monday, November 19th. Remember that on the 15th, the children have a half day.

I am sharing content on SeeSaw several times a week. Please sign up so that you can see your child’s photos, and get additional information on what the class is doing.


Looking forward to another busy month of fun and learning!


September Newsletter

Dear K-214 Families, 

It’s hard to believe that the first month of our school year is already over. We have had a busy month of learning all about each other and about what we do in kindergarten. Here’s a closer look at what we have been up to:

Building Community and Establishing Rules 


At the beginning of each school year, children think of things they really, really want to do in kindergarten. These are their “hopes” for the school year. After sharing our hopes, we talk about how in order to achieve our hopes, we need to create some agreements to help our class have a great school year.

In addition to creating our own set of class agreements, we also discuss how we can live by our school rules: be safe, be kind, be helpful, and be your best. For each rule, our class generated ideas, and drew pictures about how to live by each rule in practice. Some of our ideas included, “I can be safe by wiping up water that I spilled.” “I can be kind by asking someone who’s alone to play with me.” “I can be helpful by cleaning up a book even if I didn’t leave it there,” and, “I can be my best by freezing when I hear the chime.”

Star Name and Word Study

In the first few weeks of school, be began learning about syllables and initial sounds by studying each other’s names. On each child’s star name day, we count the letters in the child’s name, clap the syllables, identify the first letter, and draw a picture of that child. We also interview the child to learn their favorite foods and activities!

We have also begun to learn sight words, and lowercase letters and the sounds that they make. So far, we have learned the letters t, b, f and the sight words like, me, can.


In reading, we have begun to discuss, why people read, how reading can help us, and how we choose and take care of books in our classroom. Before we began having a daily reading time, our class generated a list of reasons why people read. The main points that we emphasized were that reading helps us learn, and that it’s also fun! We also generated a list of ways to take great care of our books so that we can all enjoy them throughout the year. Now, in addition to reading together as a class and enjoying books together on the rug, we are working on choosing books from bins at our tables and reading them in a quiet bubble at our tables each day.


In the first few weeks of school, we focused on exploring all of the manipulatives that we will use in our math games and activities this year so that children could begin to explore their possibilities and make observations. We tried using pattern blocks, unifix cubes, colored tiles, attribute blocks, geoblocks, and dice. Children quickly figured out how to make patterns and geometric arrangements, in addition to imaginative structures and designs.

We have also been learning to keep track of how many days we have been in school using a range of visuals. Each day, we place a sticker inside a ten frame, slide over a bead on our bead string, and add a number to our growing number line to represent how many days of school we have had. These structures are designed to help children build an understanding of groups of 5 and 10, and of how sets of 10 make up 100.

Work Choice 

During work choice, children pick a play area and work with the others in their group. We learn to share, take turns, explain and build upon our ideas, and to listen and ask questions about what other people made when it’s over. In the first few weeks of school, we mostly focus on choices that we can use at a table, such as Legos, play dough, and magnatiles. As we learn more and more about how to use our materials and clean up after ourselves, we begin to open larger choices such as block building, pretend play, and sand. We have recently started building in the block area. Every child has signed up for a slot and will get a turn in the next few weeks.

Upcoming Dates

  • Tuesday, October 16th 8:30-8:50 – Our First Family Visiting Day
    • During this morning, parents will come up to our classroom and do an activity with the children. Please do your best to send a special relative or friend if you cannot make it.
  • October 18th-19th – School Photo Days. We will be taking our class picture on one of these two days. Stay tuned!

As always, please reach out if you have any questions. We’re looking forward to a great October!



K-214 Class Policies

Dear K-214 Parents,


Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year. I am so happy to be meeting all of your children and to be starting an exciting year of learning together. I am writing to give you some basic information about general policies for our classroom. I will be providing an overview of our curriculum on September 17th, when we have our back-to-school night, and will send home materials for parents who are unable to attend. I will be able to answer questions about the non-curricular aspects of kindergarten during that evening as well.


Clothing: Kindergartners are active and busy creating things throughout the school day. Please send your child to school in good clothing for running and getting messy. On hot days, it is best to wear sandals that securely strap on to the feet. Flip flops and crocs can fall off on our way up and down the stairs. Your child will need sneakers every Monday as this is our P.E. day.


Kindergartners also tend to lose things, and many of them have clothing that looks alike! Please label your child’s clothing, particularly his or her winter clothing, and removable items such as sweatshirts.


Finally, I want to suggest that you limit flashy and novel items in your child’s clothing, as kindergartners are easily distracted by one another’s belongings. Shirts with detachable capes and rub-able sequins tend to garner attention in the classroom, as do sunglasses, jewelry, and other accessories.


Home Toys: Please do not bring toys from home (including Pokeman cards) to school. They tend to get lost and broken, and are very distracting. When home toys show up in the classroom, I put them on a high shelf for a parent to pick up later.


I am aware that this is a change from the policy that many children had in preschool, and that young children often want to bring toys to school as transitional objects. If you feel that this is what is going on with your child, I am more than happy to talk to you about other ways to help your child feel secure and connected to home throughout the school day.


Snack: Snack is shared communally among the children, and is provided by parent volunteers. You will be able to sign up to bring in snack on our class snack google doc (to be shared by 9/7/18). When it is your snack week, you have the choice of dropping off non-perishable snacks for a whole week on Monday, or of sending in a new snack with your child each day. If you want to send in perishable items such as cheese, yogurt, or fresh fruits and vegetables (which we always enjoy and appreciate), please send them in on a day-to-day basis as I do not have a refrigerator in the classroom. When you purchase snack, please pay close attention to serving size, and make sure that there is enough of each item for all 26 children. For example, we need 3-4 boxes of cheddar bunnies to feed the whole class for one day. In general, we ask that families do not send children with an individual  snack. However, if your child has a dietary need that prevents him or her from sharing typical kindergarten snacks with the class, let me know, and I will make an exception.


Birthday Parties: Each month, our class will have one birthday celebration to acknowledge all of the children born in that month. The parents of the birthday children are welcome to attend the celebration. I will schedule each of these celebrations with the birthday families, but for most months, you can expect the celebration to take place on the last Friday of the month at 1:50 P.M.


When several children have a birthday in the same month, I typically suggest that each family bring 1 item to share with the class for the party (e.g. a small, sweet treat, a savory treat, juice boxes or plates and napkins).


Teacher Email: My DOE email is a great way to reach me to ask general questions, let me know about illnesses or other things that have come up for your child, or to bring issues to my attention that merit a phone call or in-person meeting. I typically respond to email at the end of the school day, and check it before school whenever I am able. At times, I am able to check email during a break in the middle of the day, but this is not always possible. If you need to let me know about a last minute change in your child’s dismissal plan, it is best to call the office, as I may not receive your message in time.


I will announce any changes or new policies that come up throughout the year on our class blog. Be sure to refer to the Peck Slip Parent Handbook for information about school wide policies.






Welcome to K-214

Dear Incoming Families,

Welcome to K-214! I am in the midst of getting our classroom ready for an exciting year of learning, play, fun and friendship. Kindergarten is truly a transformative year in children’s development as thinkers, and it is a joy to witness each child’s growth throughout the year. I am so excited to meet each of your children and begin this year together!

Hiking in Minnewaska State Park this summer.

My name is Lesley Younis and I will be your child’s teacher this year. This will be my fourth year teaching at the Peck Slip School, and my seventh year as an early childhood educator in New York City. I am originally from Amherst, Massachusetts and currently live in Hamilton Heights with my husband, Majid. When I am not in the classroom, I love to read, practice yoga, and spend time with family and friends. I am also an avid home cook, and have a particular passion for paleo baking! I spent my summer traveling to Texas, Chicago, Massachusetts, and Upstate New York, and visiting local museums, parks and beaches here in New York City.

I will be sending out information on classroom policies and procedures, as well as a questionnaire to help me get to know each of you, at the start of the school year. If you have any questions or concerns before then, you can email me at I will begin checking my DOE email on Monday, September 3rd. Expect this address to change early in the school year as I will be changing my DOE email to match my married name.

I hope that you and your child enjoy the rest of the summer. I am so looking forward to meeting each of you on the first day of school!




Week of 6-1-2018

Room 214 News and Announcements

June 1, 2018

Dear Room 214 Families,

Here we are at the beginning of June! We are busy writing persuasive letters, collecting and recording data, perfecting our lower case letter writing and getting all ready for our Pet Village.

Here are some important upcoming dates:

Monday, June 4–Literacy Assessment Day

Wednesday, June 6–FIELD TRIP to Southbridge Towers (1-2). Please turn in permission slips asap!

Thursday, June 7–No School for students

Monday, June 11–No School for students

Thursday, June 14–PET VILLAGE 9-9:30

Friday, June 15–No School

Tuesday, June 19th Music Concert


I hope you all have a nice weekend,


Week of 5-18-2018

Room 214 News and Announcements

May 18, 2018

Dear Room 214 Families

It’s time to talk about end of the year regression

It’s a real thing! For those of you who have older kids you’ve probably seen it before, and may remember it being particularly difficult at the end of kindergarten. If this is your first time, I wanted to let you know about the end of the year and how I will be trying to keep everyone comfortable and happy during these last few weeks.

Kids sense when a big change is about to happen and we have started having conversations about how our time in kindergarten is coming to a close in the next few weeks. You may notice your child is more reluctant to come to school in the morning and separate from you, they may be crying more or having small tantrums. You might feel they are forgetting things they knew a few weeks ago in terms of reading, writing, and math. I am definitely seeing all of these things in class now. It is hard and it is frustrating, but it is completely normal.

In class I am sticking to the regular routine as much as I can so kids know what to expect and am also increasing the amount of time they have to run around upstairs during snack time and increasing their work choice time. When it’s time for lessons and independent work I am still holding them to the same expectations as the rest of the year. As the days go by we will read, talk and write about how we are feeling as we end of our time together. What we enjoyed and what we are looking forward to in the future.

If you are sensing a change in your kiddo right now, it may be especially important to stick to a normal routine (or give a big heads up if there’s going to be a change) and take some time to talk to them about how they are feeling about the end of K, the summer, and next year. I think it’s very important to acknowledge how your child is feeling, but letting them know that they still have a job at school and need to follow the agreements so that everyone can stay safe and keep learning.

Please let me know if you have any questions or other concerns about anything I’ve just written. I’m also attaching two articles from Rebecca about end of the year regression.


Reading—We are continuing to practice how to sound out words and ask ourselves if they make sense.

Writing—This week we wrote new “how-to” books. Kids will get to finish them up next week and we’ll publish our “how to care for a pet books.”

Word Study—We are practicing our sight words and sounding out words and writing down all the sounds we hear.

Math—We continued to work on teen numbers. The kids seem to really get it! They can talk about them as “10 and” (i.e. 15 is 10 and 5). I’m attaching 10 and bingo to the website.

SEL—We’ve been doing a lot of read alouds about characters who move from other countries to live in the United States.

Content Study—we met a therapy bunny today! And learned about the ASPCA in the process.


  • I will send out one last Scholastic book order form next week. This will be a great chance to stock up on some books to read with your child over the summer. I will highlight some books and sets that are appropriate for readers of this age (i.e. they can read them!)
  • Please take a look at the remaining snack schedule for this year:
May 21 (5)Clark Malvern
May 28 (4)Gabriel Ivanovic
June 4 (4)Asher Kilroe
June 11 (3)Gabriel Ivanovic
June 18 (5)Amalia
June 25 (2)Kai Winbush

Upcoming dates:

Friday, May 25th—May Birthday Celebration 2:00-2:30 (I will email parents of May birthday kids)

Monday, May 28th—NO School Happy Memorial Day

Thursday, June 14th—SAVE THE DATE Pet Village Presentation 9:00-9:30

Tuesday, June 19th—Kindergarten Music Concert 8:45-9:35




Week of 5-11-2018

Room 214 News and Announcements

May 11, 2018

Dear Room 214 Families,

We had a very busy week that flew by. In the last eight schools days we have been on three field trips and the kids have started to build a “living museum” for you so you can come to learn about pets on June 14 (see below for details).

We are also in our final push for reading and math work. I will begin assessments next Wednesday. Thank you for staying on top of the sight words at home and continuing to read with your child.

Have a good weekend,



Reading—We are practicing sounding out words we don’t know and thinking about what makes sense if we’ve sounded out something that’s not quite right…

Writing—We are busy writing how-to care for pet books!

Math—This week we learned another teen number game. I will teach one more next week and then will put both games up on the website for you to play at home.

Word Study—We are doing a lot of work around putting together and taking apart CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant) and changing those words. For example: make the word van. How can you change the word van into the word can? We are focusing on beginning, middle and end sounds.

Pet Study—This week we learned about animal hospitals, pet groomers and pet stores. We are busy writing about how to care for pets and making things for our “Pet Village”

Kids hard at work constructing things for our Pet Village

Learning about cat check-ups from the vet

Meeting Heather from Paws on Pine to learn about dog walkers


Please continue to check your child’s hair for lice/nits and continue to comb out your child’s hair if they have had lice/nits these past few weeks.

Please also continue to send us your empty boxes and containers. Thank you!


Upcoming dates:

Wednesday, May 16—Math Assessment Day

Friday, June 1—Literacy Assessment Day

Thursday, June 14—FINAL FAMILY FRIDAY Pet Village Day 9:00-9:30