Jumping into January

Welcome to the Meadows Kindergarten blog!

Our class this year has picked a class name:  The Dino-Hearts!

With 5 boys and 3 girls total they did a great job coming up with a “compromise” name.

I am very pleased to be teaching at Meadows this year. My name is Elaine Luers and I live in Dublin, Ohio. The kids in class call me Mrs. Luers but Mrs. L is okay too! While I first came to know the children in this class in late December, I am really starting to get to know them all now. They have been so warm and welcoming to their new teacher! I want to thank everyone at Meadows for being so kind and welcoming as I begin my new year with the Dino-Hearts! They are a precious group of kids and I enjoy seeing them every day.

I have taught Kindergarten for 13 years prior to coming to Meadows. I have always enjoyed this age the most.  Like most Kindergarten classrooms we have a wide variety of ages and levels in one classroom. We have a very special small class size, however, which makes it super fun for this teacher to work with each individual child to ensure they grow emotionally, socially and academically in our school.

We have been working in class on getting to know each other. The children have been teaching me what they know and what has been done before. I have been busy ordering supplies needed for the kids and working with the children’s interests to formulate our unit for January.

Now that we are up and running this week, there are several fun things going on in general that we would like to tell you. First, our theme at Meadows Academy this January is: Winter/Snow. In Kindergarten, we are doing a Jan Brett Author Study which has led us to discover how many animals Jan Brett uses as characters in her stories. Therefore, our class will be taking a look at “Animals in Winter” as a theme. Each child will be choosing an animal to discover and learn about in class. They will learn what they eat, what parts of the world they live in, what types of homes they build and answer some of their own questions they might have about their animal. We will be painting our animals and writing about them. As you visit our classroom, you will begin to see our animals on the walls of our classroom as decorations for our Winter Animals theme.

While we are working on our classroom theme together, we will each be working on reading, writing and math along with our theme. Our classroom has only the afternoon together so we will be getting a lot of work done in the few hours we have together. We will be working on “stations” or centers that we will rotate through every day. By the end of the week, each child should have rotated through all our academic stations. Our stations will be reading & writing-based from 1:15-2:00 and they will be math-based from 2:15-3:00.

Our academic day looks like this:

12:45 Free Choice (transition time)

1:00 Hello Chain & Calendar
(The “Hello Chain” is simply a greeting passed around from child to child. It teaches us eye contact and connects us as a class before we begin. On some days, we will follow this with a *Responsive Classroom activity before calendar.

1:15 Story or Mentor Text

1:30 Reading & Writing Workshop Stations

2:00 Snack

2:15 Math (whole group)

2:30 Math Stations or whole group math activity

3:00 Free Choice (Work must be finished!)

3:15 Recess

This will be the structure for our every day routine. This being our first full week back, I am sending you this weekly update. Going forward, I will be updating this blog daily so that you can discuss with your child things they did in their classroom that day.

*Any healthy Kindergarten classroom is going to have a solid academic program in place with the foundational support of a great community classroom curriculum as well. In other words, the academic pieces do not work well at this age group unless there are several community classroom activities that we do together. In my training as a teacher, I enjoyed learning about the Responsive Classroom and have learned how important it is for teachers to help children learn to work together and get to know each other well before the academic work begins. In essence we are building on their emotional intelligence and creating a classroom environment that helps them feel safe to take risks and learn together. We will be doing several Responsive Classroom activities in the classroom to help us build trust, responsibility both as individuals and as a classroom, kindness, empathy, self-control, assertion and cooperation. These activities will help us deepen our understanding of the Meadows Academy virtues.

Here is a look at what our Dino-Hearts accomplished this week:

Monday, January 13th 

We will always have a 5 minute silent Journal Writing time on Monday’s. We will begin at 5 minutes and work our way up to a 15 minute silent writing time. Children who are already in a Kindergarten program in the morning are expected to write at least 3 sentences in their journals with a “detailed” picture. Children currently enrolled in a preschool program outside of our classroom, will be expected to work their way up to 3 sentences with a “detailed” picture. We will all be discussing doing our “our best” work and showing lots of “details” in our pictures.

Calendar Leader this week: Advay

We read the book, Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett.

Reading & Writing Stations:

Build-A-Book Station: Ana & Amaan

ABC Puzzles: Abhay, Jack, Addie, Pritha

1:1 Read with Mrs. L & matching pictures to words book center: Advay & Arjun

 *Thank you to Advay’s family for providing snack for our class! Yum!!!

 Math:

Making math equations using fingers. Make an equation and partner must write it down and solve it. Children worked with a partner and wrote math equations along with pictorial representations of equations. This was our first page of our Math Journals.

Closing Song: “Good-bye Little Dino-Hearts, I will see you in my dreams.”

 Tuesday, January 14th

After our “Hello Chain” and Kindergarten song using instruments, the children reviewed parts of the Phonics Dance as a movement activity today. In calendar, we added the Days of School count, estimation and making patterns.

Before stations today, we looked at the “detailed” pictures of the book, Rip Squeak and His Friends by Susan Yost Filgate.

We looked carefully at the characters in this book. I demonstrated how to use shapes to draw a person and used different colors for parts of the person, etc. After our whole group discussion about “details” in pictures and using shapes to draw, each child drew a picture of their own self using shapes and many colors to show what they are wearing. We will continue these discussions to work on quality work and taking our time to see details. While this seems like a feature of Art only, in fact, looking carefully at details will come up in reading activities, math activities and writing activities as well.

Reading & Writing Stations:

We added the Make-Your-Own-Book station for kids to do if they finish early and Library time. We are beginning to build a Library nook in our classroom. If you have any books you are interested in donating or pillows or comfy items for our classroom Library please send in! Thank you!

Build-A-Book: Advay & Arjun

ABC Puzzles: Abhay & Pritha

1:1 Reading with Mrs. L & matching pictures and words: Ana & Amaan

Math:

Today we continued to make math equations but added dice. After rolling the dice, children created math equations to write and draw. Hungry Gator is a favorite math game that was out as children finished their math pages.

Wednesday, January 15th

We welcomed back Pritha, Jack, and Addie to our classroom today. Our “Hello Chain” was “What’s the News?” along with the “Hello….” Each child told us a bit of “News” from their day. This is a fun way to learn about each other and get an idea of how everyone is feeling before we start our afternoon.

We are all getting the routine down with calendar and they did a great job today!

Reading & Writing Stations:

Build-A-Book: Addie & Jack

ABC Puzzles: Advay & Arjun

1:1 Reading with Mrs. L & matching pictures and words: Abhay & Pritha

Make-Your-Own-Book: Ana & Amaan

Math:

We reviewed how to write an addition equation and used bears to write an equation. In this activity, children must write the equation, show it with the bears and then draw the bears to match the equation. They also each shared their equations. There was no limit to the number of equations children could make so this was highly individualized. We worked on writing our numbers correctly and learning how to line the picture up with the numbers.

Thursday, January 16th

The children did a great job with “Hello Chain” today and remembered to look carefully at the person they were talking to when saying “hello.” Making eye contact with others is an important part of this activity. Calendar is coming along very nicely with this group.

For Reading & Writing Workshop today, we finished any stations not finished and then went to our new Explode the Code Phonics books. These are leveled Phonics books that teach sounds as well as handwriting. Some of our class will be in Book A and others will be in Book C. Before working on our books today, our  movement activity was on the Letter F. We sang the Phonics Dance Letter F song together. Our Phonics Dance songs will be some review for the kids and some new. We will be following the order of letters that coordinates with our Letter A Explode the Code books. While sounds and letter formation are the basis for these books, we will be discussing other concepts with these books such as “showing our best” and “detailed coloring.” These books are special and we want to really show what we can do. While we only will do a few pages at a time when we work in these books, we are building our abilities to attend to such seat work as they will see when they arrive in first grade. We will build this up as the year goes on and this will also be something I will be working on with individual students as needed.

During Snack, we read the book, The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett.

This story is a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The kids loved this book and have caught on to Jan Brett’s “clues” in all her pictures. They loved predicting what was coming next from their prior knowledge of Goldilocks type stories and finding clues from Jan Brett.

Math:

In math, we went back to our “Pick A Problem” cards from our calendar time. The problem today was: Find something in the classroom that is the same size as your hand. The kids searched the room until they found something that was the same size as their hand. As a math activity, the kids were each given a piece of paper folded into three parts. In the first section, they were to find an object that was “Too Big” for their hand and draw it along with the label “Too Big.” The next section was for the object they found that was “Too Small” and the last for the object they found to be “Just Right.” This was fun way for us to connect our math and our Jan Brett story today.

The kids did a great job!!

Friday, January 17th

Snowman pizza!

We will be keeping our Fridays reserved for some Kindergarten cooking! We will be making Snowman pizza’s using a variety of vegetables and fruits to decorate our snowman pizza before cooking and enjoying together!

Reading & Writing Stations:

Children will have the chance to choose any of the stations they did this week after they have done the following stations:

Read the recipe with a friend at the large paper

Write the recipe on paper

1:1 with Mrs. L making their snowman pizza

Cooking is a great way to learn math, reading & writing in a really fun way!

Looking forward to another fun week next week with the Dino-Hearts!!

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