April 4, 2017

We have been having so much fun learning about the continents. We've started our study of Asia with a visit from Mrs. Raukutam, a native of India, who shared lots of facts about India, offered a bindi to each of us, and brought clothes that many of us tried on. She also brought us rangoli designs ( for us to color. Her visit has excited us to learn more about India and create our own artwork inspired by this culture. We are starting the next unit in Fundations. We have learned 5 digraphs, 2 letters that combine to make one sound. We have learned ch, sh, wh, th, and ck. Ask your student which digraph is never at the start of a word. We have also added 3 new words to our trick word list: he, she, we. We're working on the unit 3 assessments this week. I'll be able to share those with your during conferences next Wednesday. I've sent out a Sign Up Genius invitation to sign up for conferences. It appears to have gone off without a hitch to the email addresses provided to the school. If you haven't received it, please let me know and we'll sort it out and get you signed up. We'll be working with our first through fourth grade friends again this week. We'll be in small, multi-age groups working with pattern blocks again. There will be new challenges and opportunities to learn more with the pattern blocks.

March 28, 2017

We are going to be learning about Africa this week. We'll read a nonfiction book about the continent, a folk tale, and Mother Goose nursery rhymes that have been rewritten to help us learn some new things. We'll be journaling about what makes Africa unique and making mosaic tiles inspired by the gorgeous mosaics found in Morocco. We are planning to showcase all of our learning and art from the continents during a World Exposition on Friday, April 21 (the day before vacation). Details about that event will come home closer to the date. We are finishing up unit 3 in Fundations this week. We now have 10 trick words: the, a, and, are, to, is, his, as, has, was. Next week we'll be working on unit 3 assessments as well as starting unit 4. Unit 4 introduces digraphs. We continue working on measurement in math, focusing on capacity and informally comparing area. We have started using iPads during math as a way to improve our fluency. Our apps focus on skills such as counting by ones and tens, adding and subtracting within 5, comparing two numbers, and classifying objects into categories. On Wednesday after lunch, we have been invited to watch second grade's play that reflects on how music can affect a person's emotions. As a reminder, dismissal is at 1:20 on Wednesday. Every other day dismissal is still at 12:00.

March 22, 2017

This week in our study of the continents we will be learning about South America. We will focus on Peru, listening to traditional music, reading a folk tale, creating artwork inspired by the Incas, and counting to 10 in Spanish. Next week we will be learning about Africa, focusing on Morocco. The following week, we will be learning about India. I'd like to repeat my invitation to all family members to join us in our quick exploration of the continents. Two families have offered to share their knowledge and experience with us which will make this study so much more meaningful and fun for all of us. Thank you!

In our Fundations work, we continue to work on recognizing short and long vowels, tapping out words to read and spell them, and reading our trick words. We have been working on dictation, listening to a word, tapping it out to spell it, and writing the word with proper letter formation.

In math we are continuing to work on measuring weight. We are comparing 2 objects and making their weight equal. We also are going to weigh objects using non-standard units of measurement (how many pennies does the marker weigh?) and comparing multiple non-standard units (if it weighs 10 pennies, how many Legos does it weigh?).

Our long anticipated collaboration with first through fourth grades is expected to happen this Wednesday. We will be exploring and learning with our older friends in multi-age groups using pattern blocks to build, create patterns, play games, and graph.

March 7, 2017

Welcome back from vacation. March and April should prove to be very exciting in kindergarten. We continue our work in Fundations by adding 3 new trick words this week. In addition to "the" and "a", we are learning "and", "are", and "to". We will also continue to work on short and long vowel sounds. Every week during Daily 4, we use our magnet boards to tap our words and spell them - words like yes, quit, and wet. Dictation is another one of the drills we use each week. I dictate a word, we tap it out together, then write it on a white board, focusing on letter formation as we do it. In math we are comparing weight using a balance scale. We will predict which of 2 objects is heavier and check our hypotheses using the scale. We'll also measure the weight of objects using a standard unit of measure (pennies). We are adding a new thing to our morning mind work routine. Now that Mrs. Able is with us for this time of day, she'll be facilitating fluency games with students each morning. These games will be to help develop the automaticity of addition within 5 and 10, subitizing (perceiving at a glance the number of items presented), and being able to count on from a known quantity (I have 5 pennies, I get 3 more. I can count 6, 7, 8, instead of starting over at 1). This week we start a very exciting unit of study in literature and social studies. Each week during March and April we will be learning about a different continent, focusing on one country in that continent, and reading a selection of literature from or about that continent, learning to count to 10 in its language, creating visual art based on the art of the culture, and listening to and creating music from the culture. We are starting our study this week with North America. We'll be focusing on native peoples of the US, Canada, and Mexico. This unit will be tons of fun and offer the opportunity to learn so much about the world. The order in which we'll be studying the continents is as follows: Europe (Ireland), South America (Peru), Africa, Asia (India), Australia, and Antarctica. We would welcome any volunteers during this study (as always) to share any family stories, history, or culture during this study. Please let me know so we can put you on our calendar.

February 21, 2017

This is a very exciting week in Fundations. We are not only going to learn about long vowel sounds, but we are going to learn our first trick words! Trick words are words that cannot be tapped out because they don't follow "the rules". We'll be learning 27 between now and June. This week's words: "the" and "a". Fundations has been adding new drills and exercises in recent weeks. Included in these is tapping out words to spell, dictation, and alphabetical order. The first 2 require similar skills: isolating the sounds in a word and associating those sounds with the appropriate letter. In math we are continuing measuring length with non-standard units. We are also building on our earlier discussion of hidden numbers and identifying what 2 numbers equal the total, i.e. 2 cubes and 3 cubes equal 5 cubes. We are looking forward to working with our friends in grades 1-4 tomorrow to explore pattern blocks. Similar to how we structured our 100th day time with first and second grade, we'll be working in multi-aged groups to solve problems and explore properties of pattern blocks. Darth Beta, our fish, continues to live. He is thriving and his garden is growing so fast. We are tracking the growth of each time of plant. We have found that the wheat grass is growing almost an inch a day and the sprouts about half an inch a day.

February 15, 2017

We're so happy to be back together after so many snow days. We are picking up where we left off as a result of Mother Nature's interruptions. In Fundations we continue working to tap out words. We are now practicing tapping out words to spell them, so we are adding encoding words to our previous skill of decoding words. We sometimes use nonsense words to practice these skills; this gives us the chance to focus on sounds rather than focusing on the words they create. In math we continue to compare length of different objects using non-standard units of measure. Currently we are using unifix cubes in different lengths to compare (we call them 5 sticks, 3 sticks, etc, based on how many cubes there are). I am happy to report that Darth Beta is alive and well. He survived the week and is thriving. Our water garden is flourishing; our sprouts and wheat grass have grown to several inches tall since last Monday. We will be tasting them before the end of the week.

January 31, 2017

We are wrapping up the second unit in Fundations. We have practiced all of the upper case letter formations and have pretty well mastered the art of blending 3 phonemes to make a word. We will be working our way through the end of unit assessments this week and starting on unit 3 next Monday. In math we have started our new module, "Comparison of Length, Weight, Capacity and Numbers to 10". Our first few lessons focus on comparing length and height. We learned that end points of 2 objects need to be even in order to accurately determine which is taller. Our second male veil tail beta fish, Darth Beta, has come to kindergarten. He seems to be a bit feistier than his predecessor so we are optimistic about his chances of surviving us. We have set up his tank and settled him in and will be planting sprouts by weeks end. The month of February will be a very busy one in kindergarten. There will be a note coming home soon regarding the 100th day of school, Friendship Week, and Valentine's Day.

January 24, 2017

Believe it or not we are already wrapping up the second unit if Fundations. We have learned the proper formation of all the upper case letters and have had lots of practice blending the sounds of letters to read words. We identify the sounds and blend them by "tapping them out." Ask your student about it. We are also finishing up our geometry module in math. Please check your child's folder for our shape exposition this Friday, January 27, at 11:30 am. This is a chance to check out what we've been learning about flat and solid shapes and to see our shape inspired artwork. Our first foray into the study of living things has not started out well. We set up our water garden (a self-sustaining ecosystem involving plants and fish) only to have our fish die less than a week after we got him. However, this did give us an opportunity to reflect on what life needs in order to be sustained and to learn that life does not always flourish, even with the basic needs met. We will give it another shot to see if we can find a beta (fish) that can handle the rigors of kindergarten. As we approach the midpoint of the school year, I just want to thank everyone who has volunteered in our classroom. Students are so excited to have a family member spend time in "their" space. Mrs. Dinbergs and I are appreciative of the extra set of hands and the other learning opportunities we can provide with that support. So, THANK YOU, and we look forward to welcoming you back, or into the classroom for the first time.