Monday, September 2, 2019

Classroom News

What an incredible first week of Kindergarten we have had! We are getting settled in and feeling comfortable in our classroom! It has been so neat to watch new friendships form and personalities start to shine through as each day passes. We've been working hard to establish routines and build our classroom community.

First Day of Kindergarten from Lauren Glaser on Vimeo.

We spent first couple of days reading and comparing books with the lovable character, Chester the Raccoon. On the first day, we read The Kissing Hand, a story where the mother raccoon shares a kiss in Chester's hand to remind him that her love is always with him, even when he is at school. Chester was feeling nervous about his first day of school, just as many of us were! When we finished the book, we discovered that Chester left us a clue that kicked off a scavenger hunt around the school! We spotted raccoon tracks in the hallways, and followed them to find important places like the LMC, art room, music room, gym, and office. When we returned to the room, we found special hearts that Chester left for each of us. Our special hearts remind us that if we are ever missing someone at home, we can touch the heart to remind us that our grown ups love us!

Over the next few days, we read more Chester stories: Chester the Brave, and Chester and the Big, Bad Bully. Chester helped us learn about overcoming our fears and being a good friend. We also made our own Kissing Hand projects, which we brought home last week. Everyone did such a nice job following step by step directions!

We also compared Chester's school experience to our school experience, and worked together to identify a few differences between the two.

Calendar time is an important part of our day, as we tie in math concepts as well as weather observations, along with establishing a sense of community and starting our day together with a familiar routine. We began introducing some of our calendar routines this week. Each day there will be a different "Hello Helper" who will be our calendar assistant for the day.

During math, we have been exploring the numbers one and two, and will be focusing in great detail on the numbers 1-5 throughout this first unit of our Math in Focus curriculum. We spent time examining objects to identify similarities and differences, and made the discovery that some items can be the same AND different. For instance, the counters and cubes the students are using in the photos below can be the same because they are the same color, but different because one is a cube and one is a counter.

Some other highlights of our week included playing with friends, both at recess and during play centers time in the classroom, as these young friends learn to navigate social interactions and gain independence! 

We took our first steps towards writing this week as we began our Handwriting Without Tears lessons. We began by practicing correct pencil grip, followed by the introduction of Mat Man, a multi-sensory approach to drawing. We learned the Mat Man song and built our Mat Man together, focusing on the types of lines used to make each part of Mat Man's body. Next, we sang the song together again, pausing between phrases to draw each piece of our own Mat Man. I was so impressed with how our drawings turned out! Drawing is the second step to the writing process we will practice throughout the year: "Think, Draw, Label, Write".

The next step of our writing process, labeling, requires us to say the sounds we hear in a word and match them to the letter that makes that sound. We practiced this skill together as we matched letters to the alphabet chart that we keep on our tables. These alphabet charts come in handy as we are trying to match letters to sounds, so it was important to build our familiarity with these charts! 

We put these drawing and labeling skills into practice as we began our Jolly Phonics notebook. Each day, we read a short story about a new letter sound, learn a song and motion to help us remember the sound, and work together to generate two examples of a word that starts with that sound. We work together to stretch the sounds out in the word and try to match the sounds we hear to the letters we need to use to write the word. Next, we draw and label in our notebooks with the two ideas from class, and save the third box for our homework. So far, we have learned the sounds for the letters s, a, t, and i.

We put our writing skills into practice with a project to learn more about something each friend in our class likes to do!

I am looking forward to another terrific week in Kindergarten! We have so many fun adventures ahead!

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