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March Newsletter

Dear K-218 Families, 

As we approach our spring break, it is hard to believe we are reaching the final months of the school year. Our class has been hard at work this March, and I am excited to share with you what they have been doing:

Writing

In writing, we have been learning how to write true stories about things that have happened to us. Through this process, we have been working both on creating a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end, and on making our writing easier to read by using conventions such as capital letters, spaces between words, and periods. When we first started this process, many children found it challenging to think of true stories from their lives. We talked about how a time that you had a “big feeling” can often be a good story, and generated ideas for stories centered around different feelings. We are now finishing up our true story books and are excited to share them with you!

Reading

In reading, we have been working on sustaining focus on our independent reading books for longer periods of time. We are also learning how to choose our own “just right” books to take home in our baggies each week. I hope that you and your child have been enjoying reading together at home. Please remember to return your books each Friday and reach out to me if you have any questions.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

As part of our social and emotional curriculum, our class met the characters Superflex and Rock Brain. Superflex is a character who has a very flexible mind, and Rock Brain has a hard time being flexible. We talked about how when your body is flexible, it can bend in lots of different ways, and when your mind is flexible, it can bend away from an old idea towards a new idea. Since Superflex knows how to be flexible, he still has fun even when he doesn’t get his first choice. If Superflex gets assigned a partner who isn’t his best friend, he knows to be kind and cooperate with that person. If Superflex doesn’t get his preferred center at work choice, he can pick a different center. Rock Brain, on the other hand, might make a fuss about not getting his preferred partner, or might choose to do nothing rather than play in a different work choice center. We have been taking turns playing the roles of Superflex and Rock Brain in different scenarios, and have been talking about why it’s important to be flexible. During these conversations, I have also emphasized that Rock Brain is not a “bad guy,” and that everyone is like Rock Brain sometimes. The important thing is to recognize when you are being Rock Brain and try to find a way to be Superflex instead.

Math

This month in math, we worked on measurement by measuring our own bodies with unifix cubes. This project naturally led to discussions on how to keep track of large numbers when we count, as some children wanted to measure their entire legs or the lengths of their entire bodies. Many children found and hard to keep track of counting so many cubes. We began coming up with strategies such as breaking up the cubes into sticks of 10 and counting by 10s.

We have also been working on learning math games that support us in learning addition. We have been playing a new version of roll and record where we add two dice together and record the sum. We have also been playing add and compare, where we add two sets of two cards together, and compare the sums to see which is bigger. If you did not get a copy of these games as conferences, I am happy to send them home in your child’s folder.

Pet Study

This month, we embarked on a new content study about pets! In this study, we will focus on the interdependence of pets and humans. We will learn about service animals and therapy animals, and will also learn about the businesses and services that support pet owners in caring for their pets. In this early phase of our study, we have focused on defining pets, listing what we know about pets and their needs, generating questions about pets, and coming up with interview questions to ask pet owners. We have also been drawing pictures of pets, and sorting pets into different categories, such as animals who live in a cage and animals who don’t. Over the next few months, we will have an array of exciting trips, visitors and art projects.

I will be sending out a google doc with information on how parents can contribute to our pet study by volunteering time and materials. Please stay tuned!

Lesley

January Newsletter

Dear K-218 Families, 

Welcome to our first newsletter of the new year. It has been a busy month, and we are so excited to share what we have been doing in class:

Butterfly and Moth Study

Admiring our work on our butterfly mural!

Writing about the parts of a caterpillar

This month, we have been working on finding different ways to communicate what we have learned about butterflies and moths. We have been writing books, creating many pieces of artwork, working on collaborative posters, and making a shared mural. We have continued to read books about butterflies and moths together, and have played movement games to help us remember what we have learned. Ask your child to teach you how to play “Butterfly and Moth: True or False,” and “Is it a butterfly, a moth, or a human?”

Math

Playing “Build a Hexagon.”

This month, we have been learning about 2D and 3D shapes. We have learned the names of different shapes, and have been working on using words such as sides, points, corners, curves, and lines to describe and compare different shapes. We learned the game “Build a Hexagon,” which asks us to fill in a hexagon by combining different shapes.

Literacy 

In writing, we have been working on creating non-fiction books to teach others about butterflies. We learned that non-fiction books communicate information through both words and pictures. Some of us are now beginning to write non-fiction books about a new topic!

In reading, we have been working on using strategies to help us during independent reading. We are working on doing a picture walk when we first open the book, pointing to each word on the page, and using the first letter of a word and the clues in the picture to figure out a tricky word.

Word Study

We are continuing to learn new sight words each week. We have been practicing finding sight words in our morning message, and clapping when we hear the sight word. Be sure to practice the sight words at home!

We are also learning how to write capital letters, and practice making their corresponding sounds.

Upcoming Events

We have a special family day to celebrate the culmination of our Butterfly and Moth study on Wednesday, February 7th. The event will take place from 8:50-9:20. The children have learned so much and are so excited to share their work with you!

On Monday, February 12th, the Kindergarten team is conducting an information session to help you understand our March report cards. The meeting will take place from 3:00-3:30. You can sign up below:

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0445adaf22aaff2-information

 

K-218 November Newsletter

Dear K-218 Families, 

November has been a busy and exciting month for our class. Here are some of the things we’ve been up to:

Butterfly and Moth Study

These caterpillars will become painted lady butterflies!

Observing our caterpillars.

Our chrysalises hanging in their new home.

This past month, we launched our first of two content studies for this school year. We will be learning about butterflies and moths by observing them in our classroom and reading about them together. Before our painted lady caterpillars arrived at school, we discussed what we already know about butterflies. Here are some of the things we think we know, and some of our questions:

If butterflies don’t eat milkweed, they will die. 

Some people think cocoons are for butterflies, but chrysalises are. 

The butterfly sleeps, and when it wakes up, it can fly. 

After butterflies come out of the chrysalis, they are wet. They fly when they dry. 

They need to eat before they can fly. 

They need some air. 

A chrysalis is like its home. 

They are caterpillars before they are butterflies. 

How do the chrysalises hang?

Can some butterflies camouflage?

How does it morph into a chrysalis? 

What will they eat when they are butterflies?

After our painted lady caterpillars arrived in the classroom, we created observational drawings of the caterpillars. Now that they have transformed into chrysalises, we are observing them again. We are looking forward to learning more about the life cycle of our painted lady butterflies, and to learning more about our luna moth cocoons.

Literacy

Independent reading

Shared reading

In reading, we have been working on building more stamina to stay in our independent reading bubbles and look closely at books. We have also been reading fairy tales as a whole class, and have been working on doing choral readings of the repeated lines in the fairy tales.

We have also been working on creating many of the types of writing that we see in the real world, such as lists, menus, signs and letters. Children have been excited to work on these pieces of writing both during work choice and in our formal writing time. We have been particularly interested in creating menus and in learning how to write dollar signs to show prices.

Math

This month, we have been learning strategies to stay organized when we count objects, and have been learning to play counting games. During the past few weeks, we have been focused on “grab and count,” where we grab a pile of materials, count the pile, and represent what we grabbed. Children have come up with a variety of ways to represent how many cubes they grabbed, such as drawing the cubes, drawing dots or slashes to represent the cubes, and drawing a ten frame with circles to show how many cubes. At the end of our math workshop, we share some of our ideas so that we can learn from each other.

Work Choice

In the past month, we have added a wider variety of sensory choices, such as sand and play dough, to our work choice period. We have also been working on building the stamina to play in one area without switching, and on playing with new groups of people. In order to support this process, I have been assigning choices a couple of days a week. “Teacher choice” allows me to create new groupings of playmates and send children to areas where they don’t always play. The remaining days of the week are still “kid choice.”

Social and Emotional Learning

Flower Power

In our social and emotional curriculum, we have been focusing on ways to solve a problem with another child. We have been learning a tool called “flower power,” where each petal of the flower is a different strategy for solving a problem. Children can go up to the flower and try out the strategies themselves. It is always exciting to hear young children say, “We had a problem together but we already fixed it ourselves!” Or, “I used my words to tell him ‘I don’t like that,’ and my words worked!”

Upcoming Dates, Reminders and FAQs

Our next Family Days are Thursday, November 30th, and Friday, December 15th. 

Home toys must stay at home! They are very distracting, even when they are in backpacks.

At our parent teacher conferences, some families asked if email is the best way to reach me. The answer is yes! Email is the best way to initiate a conversation with me, and I will schedule a phone call or an in-person meeting when necessary.

 

Lesley 

Mid-October Update

Dear K-218 Families,

We have had a busy and exciting start to October. Here’s a closer look at some of the things we’ve been doing:

Teddy Bears

Our Bear Apartment Building

A safe magnatile home.

Our teddy bears have come down to join us and are quickly becoming part of the life of our classroom. At the beginning of the month, we met our bears, named our bears, and designated an apartment for each bear in our “bear apartment building.” During work time, children have been building safe homes for their bears with blocks and magnatiles, and have been drawing decorations to tape inside their bears’ permanent homes. Children often ask to say goodbye to their bears before they leave at the end of the day, and reassure their bears that they will be back in the morning.

Social and Emotional Curriculum

A number of parents have mentioned that they find it helpful to know the language we use in our social and emotional curriculum at school. I am more than happy to continue sharing that with all of you throughout the year.

I feel _____, so I can ______.

During the past few weeks, we have been talking about what to do when you have a big feeling, like sadness, anger, frustration or disappointment. Children came up with a list of strategies such as “hugging a bear,” “taking a break,” and “taking a deep breath.” We then began practicing using our “I feel____, so I can______” chart during role plays with our puppets, piggy and skunk. After each role play, the children would try to identify what the puppet might be feeling, and then suggest some strategies that could help the puppet feel better. Our “I feel ____, so I can ______,” chart will be available in the peace corner throughout the year for children to use by themselves.

Personal Boundaries

As children learn to share space in the classroom, and experiment with different ways of interacting with their peers, they often do things that bother each other. In our conversations about personal boundaries, we have been talking about “listening to people’s rules about their bodies” and “stopping right away when someone says ‘stop.'”

Math

 

During the past few weeks, we have been making patterns out of different materials, and have been discussing what makes something a pattern. We have talked about how patterns repeat again and again, and how not all patterns are repeating colors. We have tried making shape patterns, people patterns, and movement patterns with our bodies.

We are now beginning to work on learning math games, both individually and with partners. This week, we are learning “Roll and Record,” where each child rolls a dice and records the resulting number until he or she reaches the top of the column and that number “wins.”

Literacy

In reading, we have been working on taking a “picture walk” to gain clues about what is happening in a book. We have been learning how to sit with a reading partner and take a picture walk together.

In writing, we are working on telling stories through pictures. Children are working on coming up with stories, and drawing clear, expressive pictures that match their stories. As we continue this unit, we will work on adding labels to our pictures.

Work Choice

Our first block structure of the year!

Work choice continues to be a rich and exciting part of our day. Last week, we opened the unit block area for the first time this year. In kindergarten, each “building group” gets to stay in the unit block area for the week so that they can add on to their block structure, add signs and labels to the structure and play in their structure before cleaning up. This process allows children to collaborate thoughtfully and expand on their ideas over the course of the week.

News and Announcements

– Our class photo day will be this Thursday, October 19th.

–  Our first Family Friday of the year will be Friday, October 27th at 8:50 A.M. Family Fridays are a chance for parents to spend some time with their children in the classroom and learn more about what we do in kindergarten.

– Please keep jewelry at home. Necklaces can be very distracting when you’re four and five!

Wishing everyone a great week!

Lesley

End-of-September Update

Our teddy bears, waiting to come down.

Dear K-218 Families,

It’s hard to believe that September has already come to an end. We had a busy month of getting to know each other, establishing the rules of our classroom community, and learning classroom routines. Here are some of the things we’ve been doing in K-218:

Teddy Bear Curriculum

As many of you already know, this year each child in K-218 will have his or her own teddy bear. The bears will live in the classroom throughout the year and will be integrated into our writing and social and emotional curriculum. For the past week, our bears have been snuggled in their hammock on the bulletin board watching our class. They are paying close attention to everything we do so that they can decide when to come down. Last week, we discussed, “What kinds of things are making the bears feel excited about coming down, and what kinds of things are making the bears feel nervous about coming down?” The children thought that the bears might feel excited about getting to play with kids, receiving gentle hugs, having their own kid to snuggle with, and having the kids take great care of them. They thought the bears might feel nervous about kids getting too loud and kids getting too rough. We hope our bears will feel ready to come down and meet us soon!

Making Rules for Recess

In Kindergarten, many children are interested in superheroes and like to play superhero games at recess. While it is normal and healthy for young children to explore their ideas about good guys and bad guys through play, this type of play can get rough. Children also may feel  upset when someone tells them they have to be the bad guy. I have found that it is important to establish parameters for this type of play to keep everyone having fun and feeling safe.

Last week, we sat down as a class to create rules for our superhero play. Children agreed that it’s not safe to really fight each other, and that when we have kid bad guys, we have a hard time remembering that they aren’t really bad guys. Here are the rules they came up with:

  1. No real fighting. That means no hitting, punching, kicking, pushing or slapping.
  2. Just pretend there is an invisible bad guy. Don’t fight real people.

Learning to follow these rules takes ongoing reinforcement, and we will continue to work on it throughout the year.

Fundations

Last week, we began our work with fundations, which is the program we use to learn letters and letter sounds. For each letter, we practice saying its name, saying its sound, and writing it. Last week our letters were t, b and f.

Reading and Writing

During the past few weeks, we have been working on establishing our routines for reading and writing. Children have been working on taking care of books, selecting books, and looking at books at their table spots in their quiet reading bubbles. We have been talking about what writers write about, and have been make drawings (and sometimes adding words) about what we know, what we love, and about things that have happened to us.

Matching Greetings

Our morning meetings can serve both as a time for us to connect each day as a community, and as a fun way for us to reinforce skills. This past week, we have been practicing sorting and categorization through matching greetings. Each child holds an object and greets a child with a matching object – sometimes someone with the same color, sometimes someone with the same size, and sometimes someone with the same shape!

Exploring Literacy Through Play

Our work choice centers often provide rich and exciting opportunities for literacy development. As children create imaginary worlds together, they often want to create signs, menus and labels. When I see children express an interest in integrating writing into their play, I provide them with the appropriate materials. Recently, children in our class worked together to create signs and tickets for the puppet show happening in our puppet theatre. Many children worked together to create posters, and to write “names and addresses” to show whose ticket was whose.

Notes and FAQs

  • Please remember that children may not bring home toys into the classroom. These toys create a considerable distraction. If your child is saving a toy for after school, remind him or her that the toy may not leave his or her backpack.
  • Many of you have asked me about what to provide to snack. Some families prefer to drop a big load of snacks off at the beginning of the week, and some prefer to drop a snack off each day. Both ways are fine. If you would like to provide fresh fruits or cheese sticks, please drop them off with your child the day of. If you are sending in dry foods, please check the serving size on the box and make sure there is enough for 24 children. Some boxes contain less food than the size would suggest.

Have a great week!

Lesley

Welcome to K-218!

Dear K-218 Families,

Welcome to our first newsletter of the school year! We have had a busy and exciting first full week of school. Here are some of the things we have been doing as we get to know each other and our classroom:

Star Name

In the first month and a half of kindergarten, each child gets a special day called their Star Name day. This project helps us get to know each other, learn letter sounds, identify syllables, and practice writing and figure drawing. On a child’s Star Name day, we interview that child about his or her favorite food and activity. We count and say the letters in the child’s name and clap the syllables. Then each child traces the star person’s name and draws a picture of that person to be bound into a book. Expect your child’s star name book to make its way home in the coming weeks!

Learning Our School Rules

At the Peck Slip School, we have a school wide set of rules: be safe, be kind, be helpful, and be your best. This week, children talked about being safe and being kind. We came up with ideas for how to be safe and kind, drew pictures, and acted out puppet shows about making safe and kind choices together. Children had a wide range of ideas, including, “I can be kind by saying ‘Will you play with me?'” “I can be safe by holding hands in the hallway,” and, “I can be safe by running away from a wild beast.”

Math Routines and Materials

This past week, we have been learning our daily math routine of counting the days of school and the number of children in attendance. We have also been exploring the manipulatives that we will use in our math curriculum, such as pattern blocks, unifix cubes, geoblocks, and colored tiles. Children have enjoyed making patterns and designs, sorting and categorizing shapes, and building bridges between their tables with unifix cubes.

Meeting Our Specials Teachers

As of this week, we have had class with each of our enrichment teachers. This year, our class will have Big Blocks with Francesca on Mondays, Gym with Gabriella on Tuesdays (remember sneakers!), Science with Ashley on Wednesdays, Music with Michelle on Thursdays, and Art with Melanie on Fridays.

Other Notes and Announcements

This week was also our first week of drop-off outside the school, and I know it was hard for some families. Please know that it is very normal for children this age to have a hard time separating from their parents, even if it was not an issue in preschool or daycare. Kindergarten is a big transition, even for children who have been in school before. Children typically stop crying and settle in within a few minutes of arriving in our classroom. I will most definitely let you know if your child ever does not settle into the school day.

In the coming weeks, our class will begin a social and emotional curriculum that utilizes teddy bears. Each child will have a teddy bear that lives in the classroom and becomes part of our community. We will name our teddy bears, decorate our bears, and  write and draw about our bears’ likes and dislikes. We will also use the bears to discuss and act out scenarios that require problem solving and conflict resolution. If you would like to make a small donation to help cover the cost of the bears, you can send it in an envelope in your child’s backpack.

If your are interested in being a class parent, please let me know.

Have a great weekend,

Lesley