Sunday, September 13, 2015

The first week of school- 2015!

Hello Kindergarten Families!

What an exciting week!  This is such a sweet group of kids!  We are going to have a fun year together.

Thank you to all the families who have brought in supplies, and who are causing me to get surprise packages off our class wish list!  So fun to get special new items for our year together.There are more spaces, if you are interested in taking a small job!
I wanted to show you a few places you can stop in class to find out more info each day-
The daily class journal is on the information table, by the door.  The class works together to dictate this when we count the day and do the calendar ritual at the end of each day.
When the students have Open Choice Time, Clara and I document who worked on what where, so that you can get an idea of what topics they were sharpening and who they connected with that day.  I try to put this out on a table in plain view, depending on which table is free of saved student work. (This reminds me- there is always great student work out- so PLEASE plan to come in at least once a week to have your child show you around!)

This week's experience was full of getting to know each other and learning how to be at school.  We were taking everything slowly in order to really internalize routines and agreements on how to be in a space and interact with so many new people.

Our first class joke- this week one friend said, "Outer Space" and another friend heard "Otter Space".  It's come up a few times and even inspired Gabe to create a mosaic entitled "Otter Space".  The visual of what "Otter Space" would be like is pretty fun to imagine!  :)

Highlights from this week:
Time to line up for school!

Showing letters we know in the Morning Message- putting the kids in the expert role- teaching each other, or realizing it is fine and expected to ask for help if you want to learn something new!

 See the Reflection Page in our class email for more on this team-building activity!

 Relax and read is a sweet and special time to connect over a love of books!

 Sharing something from our book in meeting after- these kids have been pretty brave to speak and share with the group!

 Tying shoes has been a big part of our week- keep taking quiet moments so your child can practice this important skill, when ever you can!
Day 2- taking a walk around campus to see where everything is!

 Snack time!  The kids are getting used to keeping track of their own items, to choosing what to eat for snack and lunch and to following the list on the window that reminds us of these important jobs: eat, bathroom, drink and play with friends!
 I told a favourite story of mine- Shapetown!  I hope the image below might help your child share a little about it!

 Journaling about our summer and what summer makes us think about.

Day 3- We began with a name game in Morning Meeting- students were finding which letters they had in common.

 Songs and Poems- Each day we practice our songs and poems for the month.  We look at the words in therm and the sounds that make up the words.  The students are internalizing the important reading skill of moving from left to right, top to bottom, while each child gets their turn to be the pointer.
 Open Choice Time- this is where students choose work and join small groups to share experiences.  Here you see the students in dramatic play deciding where they will pretend to go on the map.
 Investigating and drawing bugs.
 Refining our cutting skills.
 The class made a brainstorm of possible places to go in dramatic play.  It is exciting to see what places these students already have a connection with.  We will begin doing research on all of these places throughout the year so that one child's memory of a name and turn into shared experiences and memories of photos and information.

Day 4!
Here is another glimpse into an Open Choice Time.  We encourage students to come back to their work if they are involved in something, and also to look at the week and make sure to get around to different activities that will foster various skills.  Below, these students added to the story that students began the day before (see the beginning of this story in the reflection page that I mentioned above, in our weekly email!)

 Friends returning to their mosaics the second day to follow through with the plans they made on their saved signs.
 The group discussing and making agreements on who will be which character as they work in dramatic play.  This time they are a mom, a big brother, a middle brother and a sister.  The big brother also is a police man.  The family heads to the beach for a picnic.
 First they check the map. (And then practice some map-folding skills!)
 Friends all around the room focusing hard!
 Writing messages to a friend- using the name cards to add their friend's name and their own.  (As well as "I love you!")
 Cutting practice- a dragon egg and some grass.
 Asking a friend about their work.
 Writing our names on the story so that others will know who the authors are.

On the first day of school, I read a story called Widget.  On Friday, some of the students acted this out!  This is a first in many acting experiences.  The children did well trying to be brave in front of new peers!  The audience also had the job of watching and sharing afterward what worked, so that we could make a brainstorm to help new actors next time.  (See below)

One of the most important things in learning is to not stop yourself with self doubt!  In Kindergarten we are all about trying new things, even things we may previously believed we cannot do.  Many of the students shared with me in passing that they cannot write.  I showed them some fun tricks this week to help them see that writing is a fun game of figuring out shapes.  After each shape to lower case example, the students began to get louder and louder with the name of that letter and their amazed and excited exclamations!  They soon began to make predictions of which letters it might be, noticing how that shape could be in many!  By the end, most of the class was also laughing after the fun surprise of seeing how one letter becomes another!

My goal this year is to keep us having fun- laughing while we make discoveries that we cannot help but exclaim about and share with anyone who will listen!  

Maybe your child might show you some tricks we found this week- did you know how many letters have a simple C shape in them?  How many have a lower case l in them?  How many have the simple hump of a lowercase n in them?  :)  It's fun to make so many connections together.

I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of our week!  I try to take lots of photos, since it can help your child show you and tell you more about their week.  I sometimes get in the moment, or when I am alone with the class, I can't take photos and be in the experience, so hopefully as the weeks unfold you will begin to see other types of activities, discussions and experiences we have each week!

And I will leave you with a silly one- just for fun!  Thank you for sharing your lovely kids with us this year! And thank you to Clara for all her help, too! Love, Jennifer

PS- we also watched a short clip on animal nests and then journaled about that, too!  Here's the clip:

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