Friday, December 28, 2018

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.

We also continue to work on our letter formation of lowercase letters utilizing the Handwriting Without Tears tools. We love taking turns practicing on the whiteboard before our individual practice time!


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.


Our kindergarten computer programmers had a fantastic time using the BeeBots 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! In Kindergarten, we do a modified version with a bit more structure, just to introduce the youngest students to the process of designing and building their project. Next year, they will have the freedom to create anything they can dream up! First, we used our imaginations 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 came up with our design on paper to accommodate our gingerbread person's needs. Finally, we moved on to construction! With a little cutting, taping, gluing, and a whole lot of glitter, our designs came to life! I was thrilled to see our kindergarten friends coming up with such creative ideas and executing them with the materials we had on hand. They loved sharing their cardboard creations with the students in Mrs. Schindler's 5th grade class. The 5th graders, in turn, shared with our kindergarten students the narratives they wrote to go with wordless picture books!

All About Me Week

We loved learning more about Jack! He shared with us a picture of his beautiful family, and told us about them. We discovered that his favorite sport is football, and he also loves to play Mario Kart! One thing we already knew about Jack is that he loves Star Wars, and he shared with us a couple of his favorite Star Wars figurines. He also brought an UNO card, because he enjoys playing UNO games!

We were excited to welcome Jack's mom as our guest reader! She made us giggle with the Elephant and Piggie book, I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems. She also came at the end of a building session for our cardboard challenge, and graciously volunteered to help us clean up. We so appreciated her jumping in to assist us!

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 honored our Facilities Operations Manager, Mr. Bob, on his last day at Dryden before retirement. Each table group shared a word to describe Mr. Bob. Afterwards, they worked on coloring pictures and letters to go into a book for Mr. Bob, along with other winter fun! They were cozy in their pajamas the whole time, as the excitement for Winter Break was building.

Speaking of the excitement for Winter Break building, we enjoyed the 5th graders and Mr. Deptula surprising us one day with a festive winter sing along!

When we return from Winter Break, we will be celebrating the filling of our behavior board again! We took a vote to decide how we would celebrate, and apparently we cannot get enough of pajama day, because they chose to have a pajama and (short!) movie party. We will do this on Thursday, January 17th. I will send home a reminder as the date nears!

I sincerely hope that everyone is having 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 2019. I also want to thank you for the sweet cards and gifts for the holidays, you are all too kind! Thank you for sharing your most precious gifts with me- I absolutely love working with them. See you in January!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Classroom News

We are walking in a ginger-wonderland in kindergarten! The major 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 between these versions, and look forward to comparing more!

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 number identification practice in with a 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.

This week in the LMC, we enjoyed the book, The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School, and explored some fun gingerbread themed activities online. Click here to check them out!

During math instruction, 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.

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. I am currently assessing all students to determine their appropriate reading level, and once all of those assessments are complete, our official 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, practice our reading fluency, and discuss the book as a group. Feel free to keep the Jolly Phonics notebook at home to continue to review the sounds, and any blank pages that remain in the notebook can be used for writing practice! 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 loved learning more about our friend, Mattias! We learned that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are his favorite, and he also loves the Flash. He showed us his action figure as well as a slap bracelet he's showing off in the photo below! We also learned that he has a favorite blue car, and he displayed a special sand art creation that his sister made for him when they were on a road trip together as a family. 

We loved hearing the story of Adam Raccoon and Bully Garumph, and had many giggles as we listened to Mattias's dad do his best British accent for the narrator's lines!

Next up was Liliana, and we loved seeing a photo book of her family, and hearing who everyone was! She shared her two favorite dolls that she enjoys playing with, and a book with her favorite characters, Elephant and Piggie. The proudest moment was when she shared the special sign from when the announcement was made that she had become a big sister, complete with a picture of her with her mommy in matching robes when she first met her baby sister!

Liliana's mom joined us with two special guests, Elephant and Piggie, to read us the funny story, We are in a Book! by Mo Willems.

Thanks for reading! Here we go, sliding into another great week!