Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Classroom News

What an exciting time we had leading up to Winter Break! I cannot believe we fit it all in, but we worked hard and accomplished so much. Here are a few of the highlights:


We wrapped up our reading workshop comparison of gingerbread stories, and during writing workshop, we worked on a couple of pieces about gingerbread. We wrote about what would happen if a gingerbread man jumped out of our ovens, and later wrote about who or what we would run from if we were gingerbread men. I love seeing each child's creativity shine through in their writing ideas. The book Gingerbread Baby lent itself nicely to a summarizing activity where we completed a flip book, identifying the characters, setting, problem, and solution. This was a nice way to conclude our gingerbread study and review the overarching theme of identifying and comparing those story elements across all of the gingerbread stories.

Jolly Phonics is now complete. We have introduced all of the sounds, and will begin applying those sounds to decode words during guided reading groups. When we return from break, I will begin assessing all students to determine their appropriate reading level, and once all of those assessments are complete, guided reading groups will begin! This is when I will meet with small groups of students to do word work, read a short book together to focus on decoding and comprehension skills, and discuss the book as a group. A letter will be coming home to explain guided reading groups a bit more on the first day I meet with each group.


During math, we've been focusing on the idea of same and different. We read the story, The Ugly Duckling, and identified similarities and differences. We also used math manipulatives to practice demonstrating the concept of one more, or one less. Finally, we worked on comparing sets of items and identifying which set had fewer items, and then how many fewer objects there were. This is a concept that is often tricky to grasp, but it was impressive to see these kindergarten mathematicians think through the problems using their manipulatives.

All About Me Week

We loved learning more about Elan last week! We learned that he loves superheroes, and Captain America is his favorite one. We also learned that he loves skateboarding! He shared with us a couple of things that are special to him, including a slingshot he made himself, and a figure in disguise that goes with a dinosaur toy he got for Christmas. We enjoyed having Elan's mom join us to read the story, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend.


Our kindergarten computer programmers had a fantastic time using the Kodable app to develop their coding skills. I was so impressed with their problem solving approaches and teamwork when they encountered an issue.

Cardboard Challenge

Another special activity we spent time on over the past two weeks was the Cardboard Challenge! We worked in groups to design gingerbread houses out of cardboard. Our first step was to identify what features a gingerbread person might need in a gingerbread house. Next, we worked together to come up with our design on paper to accommodate our gingerbread person's needs. Finally, we moved on to construction! We had 5th grade buddies join us to assist with all of the cutting and taping, and our designs came to life! I was thrilled to see our kindergarten friends giving each person in their group a voice, and including ideas from each person in their designs. We learned important lessons in teamwork and compromise during the building and decorating phase.

Once our gingerbread houses were complete, we carefully transported them to the gym where we held a celebration amongst grade levels. We were able to share our creations with our older peers, and walk around the gym to see all of their cardboard creations! It was such an exciting experience, and the kindergarteners were so proud to show off their hard work.

Winter Wonderland

The PTA, Mrs. Sessler, and Mrs. Beane put on a fabulous Winter Wonderland experience for the students to enjoy on the last day before Winter Break! They made cards for patients at Northwest Community Hospital, and enjoyed playing bingo. They were cozy in their pajamas the whole time, as the excitement for Winter Break was building!

I sincerely hope that everyone has a fantastic break with their families! This is such a sweet group of kindergarteners, and I feel so lucky to spend my days with them! They have already grown and learned so much, and I am eager to see them continue to progress in 2018. I also want to thank you for the sweet cards and gifts for the holidays, you are all to kind! Thank you for sharing your most precious gifts with me- I absolutely love working with them. See you in January!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Classroom News

We are walking in a ginger-wonderland, just in time for the snow to begin falling! The excitement this week was the transformation of our hallway into a gingerbread house, as we began studying and comparing different versions of The Gingerbread Man. We are using what we have learned during reading workshop time to discuss and analyze these stories to determine the main character, setting, problem, and solution. The gingerbread stories also have an added element of a repeated phrase throughout the book. We have already made some fantastic comparisons and look forward to comparing all of these gingerbread stories and more!

It is so neat to hear the identification of story elements carrying over into students' conversations during independent reading time as well! 

Our centers are also tied into the gingerbread study, as we practice simple addition with gumdrops and gingerbread men, as well as the game, Gingerbread Bump. We are getting extra sight word practice in with a sight word color by number, as well as shape identification with a color by shape gingerbread house. Finally, we are enjoying listening to the book, The Gingerbread Bear at our listening center.

Writing Workshop

During writing, we recently worked on a piece where we highlighted something we did over Thanksgiving break. We practiced each step of the writing process and included a detailed picture, then stretched out the words in our labels and our message. Next, we focused on the very important, yet sometimes left out, step of labeling as we labeled a gingerbread man. Often times when I check in with our kindergarten authors, I discover that they went straight from drawing their picture to writing their message. Continued practice with labeling will make this good writing habit stick with them! We also continue to work on correct letter formation of uppercase letters during handwriting instruction.


Recently we have been focusing on composing and decomposing numbers to give us a better foundational understanding of addition and subtraction. Next we spent time ordering numbers to form a number line, which we then used to solve "one more" problems to practice "counting on" from a particular number on the number line. We also learned that using our fingers (and toes!) can be a quick and effective strategy when working with numbers. One of our favorite activities was working with partners and two different colors of cubes to find all of the combinations to make 5. (For example: 1 blue, 4 red; 2 blue, 3 red; and so on)


As we wrapped up the fall season, we took a look back at the weather we have been tracking since September. It was exciting for the kindergartners to identify patterns in the weather as we have watched the sky patterns change, windy days increase, and temperatures drop as the seasons begin to change. We also used the Nearpod app in LMC to learn about seasons!

Cardboard Challenge

Thank you so much for sending in all of the cardboard donations for our cardboard challenge! Kindergarten is taking a bit more structured approach to the challenge in order to give our youngest participants some direction as they begin to work together on such a large engineering project. The kindergarten groups will construct gingerbread houses. We started with our group planning sessions, where we made decisions about what things our gingerbread people might need in a gingerbread house, and then worked together to create a design. The next step will be the most exciting- the building of the gingerbread houses! I cannot wait to see how they do once construction is underway!


During LMC, we had a ball using the Nearpod app to learn about Digital Citizenship. We learned how the Dryden Do's carry over into technology use, and how we can be safe, be respectful, and be responsible online.

Me Bags & Guest Readers

Jason was our student of the week when we returned from Thanksgiving, and we were excited to learn that he loves building legos and playing Minecraft. He also enjoys the Smurfs, and spending time with his family. Finally, he shared a pinecone Christmas ornament that is special to him because he made it. 

Jason's mom joined us to read Trusty Tried and True about Trusty the Train, and the classic, A Charlie Brown's Christmas.

Next up was Josie, who shared (and wore!) one of her favorite accessories, a Jo Jo Bow. She also displayed a dance skirt because she takes hip hop classes, and a sweet picture of her sisters and her dog Willy. Her other favorites included the Hatchimal she received for her birthday, and a blue pencil to represent her favorite color!

Josie's mom surprised us with the cute story, One Winter's Day!