It's been a busy start to the month, between conferences and field trips and the end of the trimester! We've been continuing to learn and work hard, and it seems like we master new skills everyday.
The last two weeks have brought an assortment of weather, and the students got their first taste of indoor recess in the cafeteria. Using the aftercare toys, we got to play some new games that we'd never seen before. The students had a blast!
Time spent indoors wasn't all seatwork, however. In gym class, we held a relay race where the students had to work together to get a ball from one side of the room to the other. We played in three teams, each learning what it took to get the ball moved quickly through the cones and how best to communicate with their teammates. The students had a lot of fun, but they also learned the important lesson of being a good loser, and how to celebrate the wins of their friends. It was a good lesson in being Reflective and Balanced, and they did a very good job!
It was a very exciting day in kindergarten this week, as we broke out paint in our classroom for the very first time! We make starfish out of air-dry clay, then painted them to put on our class snowman. The snowman, along with many others from local schools, will be displayed at Kingwood Center Gardens during the holiday season. Our snowman - which we made with Mrs. Sidders' class - is ocean themed. If you have a chance, be sure to check it out!
We've officially started our second Unit of Inquiry into personal histories. This unit, Where We Are in Place and Time, will take us through winter break. We looked at baby pictures and tried to guess who was who, drew pictures of who lives in our homes, and looked at old photographs to spark conversation surrounding the word 'history.' Next week, we'll be exploring the ideas of 'past' and 'present' through self portraits and sorting activities.
During centers, some of our students have been exploring the use of their names as a way to learn letters and sounds. Using letter cards, they practice putting their name in order, then spelling while identifying the letters. These can also be used as flash cards to practice letter naming, and your name is the best place to start!
In kindergarten, building names is just the beginning. We also build with blocks, and this student made some incredible spaceships using our Lincoln Logs!
We also had some very special visitors after conferences - some friendly local deer stopped by for a munch on some leaves and berries. I hope they come back when our students are here to see them!
Thank you to everyone who came out for our Veteran's Day assembly today, and thank you of course to all of our veterans. To show our gratitude, our class wrote this letter and recorded ourselves reading it to play at the assembly. I was so proud of how collaboratively everyone worked to create this letter together!
We're learning and growing every day here in kindergarten, and I can't wait to see what things we create next!
This week was exceptional! Not only did we take our very first field trip, but we also celebrated Halloween with Trunk or Treat and our Halloween Parade. We wrapped up our first unit of inquiry, and student-led conferences are coming up before you know it. It's an exciting time of year to be in kindergarten!
For our first field trip, we visited the Buckeye Imagination Museum. The purpose of our field trip was to give the students a chance to practice the IB Learner Profile traits they've been working so hard to master - and they did not disappoint! Before we left, we brainstormed some ideas of how we could show the various traits. Then, after returning to school, we reflected: How were you principled today? Balanced? What did you inquire about? The students wrote and drew their responses, and those books will be available to look at during conferences.
The students had an amazing time exploring the Buckeye Imagination Museum, and it was wonderful seeing how creatively their minds work when presented with their own little world.
This week also included our Halloween Costume Parade! The students had SUCH a good time, and we even connected it to some academics - students wrote about what Ms. Sycks should be for Halloween, and sounded out some fall words like 'pumpkin.'
Although we've had some students out sick, the students who were present had an absolute blast. It's always a good day when you get to have a Halloween dance party!
As we head into next week, students will be preparing to lead their own conferences. This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to be reflective, and helps them to see the progress they've made so far. We're also starting a new unit of inquiry regarding the students' personal histories, so I'm looking forward to getting that started as well. Happy Halloween!
It's been another full week of kindergarten, and our inquiries continue to grow. Recently, the students have developed an increased interest in dinosaurs, so we've been researching that topic during Genius Hour. We've also been working hard on our letters and sounds, and math this week was full of fun and games!
In math this week, we explored the idea of length. During our daily attendance, we graph how many students are present and decide if it looks longer or shorter than the previous day's attendance. This made a great segue into the lesson, and the students were quick to pick up on the concept. To wrap up the lesson, every student got to pick one object from our classroom. We then lined up, shortest to longest, to show off what we'd found. They found some great lengths!
Also in math, we've started to develop the concepts of written numerals and one-to-one correspondence with counting. Today, the students got to make their own game boards to practice! Using a pencil and a paper clip as a spinner, the students moved their game piece down the game board from start to finish. Each spin indicated how many spaces to move, so the students got to practice recognizing numerals and counting out that many spaces.
Math also made an appearance during centers, during which time the students have the agency to decide what materials to use and how they would like to use them. Without prompting or guidance, several groups of students opted to practice sorting - by both color and shape - and one student used the number rocks to practice one-to-one correspondence, counting, and numeric order.
During reading, we utilized our classroom technology to practice our letters and sounds - and move our bodies at the same time! We also worked on our vowels this week, both segmenting and blending CVC words. Students had the opportunity to dictate words, both individually and as a class, and thoroughly enjoyed using the whiteboards and markers as a medium for writing.
Moving our bodies didn't stop at reading time. In gym this week, students had the opportunity to do center rotations of different activities. They got to practice hula hooping, ball bouncing, and cone racing. These gross motor skills are so important, so we love to get in some good practice!
As no surprise, Genius Hour continues to be a popular time of day. This week, we dug further into our dinosaur investigations by getting out our dinosaur books. For the better part of an hour, the students enjoyed rotating through the different books, looking at the pictures, and discussing what they found. Our collection of dinosaur books includes mostly fictional stories, but some non-fiction as well. It's a fantastic opportunity for the students to compare real knowledge with artistic representation, and the connections they made were amazing!
After spending some time looking at dinosaur books, the students had the opportunity to create their own dinosaurs out of Play-Doh. Some chose to make long-necked dinosaurs, while others made the classic T-Rex. A few even included dinosaur eggs, and one student made the baby dinosaur 'hatch' by using the Play-Doh container as an 'egg.' Their creativity and understanding of dinosaur physiology is astounding! The Play-Doh activity was very well-received, so it may make a reappearance near the end of our inquiries.
Finally, we welcomed three new students to our class! Everyone has been so caring and helpful, and our new members are settling in wonderfully. We're thrilled to add a few more students to our Wolfpack, and I can't wait to see what discoveries we make together!
Autumn is in full swing, and we're taking full advantage of it! This week, we've been applying a lot of the knowledge we've gained so far in new contexts. We've also been enjoying lots of time outdoors, admittedly with a few more layers than before. Still, the students are having a great time exploring nature, playing with their friends, and discovering new learning around every corner.
Over the past few weeks, we've been working on sorting in math. We've discussed what an attribute is, and how we can sort objects by different attributes. This week, the students decided to apply this same knowledge during morning play, sorting the toy animals by both color and type. It's always exciting to see the students applying what we've learned!
In math this week, we've been discussing shapes. Using the geo-boards and rubber bands, we made various shapes together as a class. We discussed how many sides and angles each shape had, and discussed how we could make the same shape in different sizes and locations on the geo-board. Then, students were able to walk around the room and make the shapes they found. It was a hit!
We continued to use shapes during writing, as we delve further into our illustration unit. On this particular day, the students were exploring how shapes can be used to create images. They created spaceships, picture frames, butterflies, houses, cars, and so much more! What can you find?
This week, we learned about the letter Vv. We practiced blending CVC words that use the letter Vv, and then read them as well. Some of the words we read included vet, van, and vat. While reading the word van, one student realized they knew a rhyming word - ran! This started an impromptu brainstorm of rhyming words, followed by the creation of our very first class poem. As you can see, the students helped to write our CVC rhyming words and a few of our heart words as well.
I Love My Van
By: Ms. Sycks' Kindergarten Class
I love my van!
It is tan.
It is driven by a man.
It has a fan.
I have a van!
For our Unit of Inquiry this week, we've been focusing on the Learner Profile trait Reflective. We introduced our stamp system, which helps the students reflect on their work as they turn it in. There are three different colored stamps: the red clock, the blue tree, and the gold star. If a student feels like they need more time with their work or more time with the concept, they'll use the red clock. If a student feels like they're still growing into the concept, they'll choose the blue tree. If a student feels like they've mastered the concept, they'll choose the gold star. Although this system won't be used on all of our work, it will be used at times. Keep an eye out for your students' reflections on their work!
We practiced our balance in gym class this week by hopping first with one foot, then with both. We then timed ourselves to see how quickly we could get our whole class to hop from one end of the dots to the other. We beat our time not once, but twice! The students demonstrated excellent teamwork and collaboration, and they supported each other when the hopping got tricky.
Despite all the incredible things happening inside our classroom, our favorite place to be is still the great outdoors! Highlights from this week include the discovery of tree roots (which the students very responsibly reburied), creating a new 'wolf den' and 'painting' it with dirt, and making nature stew. Their imagination and ingenuity continues to impress me!
We've had another great week here in kindergarten, and I can't wait to see what next week has in store!
Although I've personally been out sick, the learning hasn't stopped here in kindergarten! Over the past week and a half, the students have continued to work hard. Reading groups are becoming more fluid, gross and fine motor skills continue to develop, and recess is still everyone's favorite time of day. Our little learners are just as curious as ever, and the inquiries continue to guide our learning.
During centers, the students rotate through computers, ELA shelf, free choice, and teacher table. While at teacher table, they complete their daily reading group. These students are working hard on singing their ABC's while pointing to the letters, as well as mapping out CVC words using rocks and whiteboards. They love it! Some of our groups are even starting to read simple books, and everyone continues to practice their letters and sounds.
In gym class, we've been learning how to throw and catch. We watched a video that taught us how to throw overhand and underhand, and how to catch using our 'butterfly hands' and 'fruit basket hands,' Then, we went to the gym to practice our new skills! Here, a student is demonstrating how to throw underhand and catch using their 'fruit basket.'
It's hard to believe we're coming to the end of our first unit of inquiry. There are only a few more learner profile traits to discover, and the students are making great connections by using our materials at inquiry table. Student self-portraits are now a part of inquiry table, as we learn more about ourselves and how we can embody the learner profile.
A new addition to the playground has made recess more exciting than ever! A new outdoor kitchen appeared on our playground last week, and the students have had a blast using it. The outdoor kitchen is complete with pans and spoons, and the students are encouraged to use the natural materials around them to make 'food.' Despite the new addition, the old playground equipment is getting as much use as ever. The students are finding new ways to use the materials (such as cone hats!), and are demonstrating what it means to be a Risk-Taker by jumping onto the bars. It was amazing to watch them create a line, encourage each other, and take turns without being prompted.
I hope everyone has a restful and relaxing fall break, and I'll see everyone back on October 10th!
As we wrap up another incredible week in kindergarten, I'm reflecting on all the growth I've seen in just these first few weeks. The students are demonstrating what it means to be an Inquirer, and the questions they come up with are nothing short of phenomenal. Not only that, but they are also embracing the second part of being an Inquirer - finding good answers!
We started the week with a discovery of a tree branch on the playground. The students hypothesized where it had come from, and much vigorous discussion ensued. They also discussed it's size, appearance, and what it could be used for in regards to play.
This discovery sparked an interest in sticks this week, which resulted in many stick creations being gifted at recess. In addition, students were using sticks for drawing in the dirt and gravel, building structures, and pretend play.
The outdoor adventures continued on the playground, as some students discovered that dirt, when thrown from a safe distance, turns into dust and seemingly disappears! Two students had great fun figuring out how the wind and amount of dirt affected the 'dusting.' Another student found an exceptionally tiny pebble amidst the gravel, and hypothesized that it must be 'the smallest rock on the playground.' Upon further inspection, he then discovered that there are many tiny rocks buried underneath the larger ones. Perhaps we'll spend some time researching how size affects how things fall and group themselves together!
Still other students used playground cones to create a funnel system for rocks and mulch. They enjoyed seeing how the gravel and mulch traveled through the cones, and problem solved when it would get stuck. They demonstrated exceptional creativity, communication, and problem-solving to create their funnel system, and even delegated the labor by assigning each person a specific job.
Back in the classroom, we updated our sensory table to include the makings for 'apple pie.' It's been a popular choice during centers, and the students have enjoyed having new materials in the dramatic play center.
During Genius Hour this week, the students were given the following question: Which blocks will give us the tallest tower? Using their interest in the block center as inspiration, I decided to challenge them to create the tallest tower they could using the materials at hand. Each team had the opportunity to use each set of materials, and the creations were truly amazing! We also discovered some sticking points during this activity, including working together to build one tower (as opposed to each individual building their own), and trying someone else's idea before our own. As difficult as these skills may be, they are vitally important - and kindergarten is the place to learn them! After everyone finished building, we reflected on how it went. Although no one was able to give a definitive answer regarding the original prompt, their reflections demonstrated an increased understanding of balance, size, and weight.
We cut and pasted shape people, pluralized words with both /s/ and /z/ endings, searched for circles, and dictated words using our letter of the day. After Assembly, we cleaned up the classroom so it was ready for the upcoming week. It's so important for the students to take responsibility and ownership of their space, and our weekly tidy is a great way to reinforce that concept. Life skills, such as folding and sweeping, were demonstrated and taught among friends. Everyone worked together to make sure our space was kept neat!
Finally, in extremely exciting news... the students are reading! One of our reading groups mastered a decodable text, and even went so far as to add their own page to the story. Each student chose a short /a/ CVC word, drew a picture, and wrote the corresponding sentence all by themselves. It is so wonderful to see some of our students start their journey down the reading road, and I'm so excited to see what things we will read next.
It was another incredible week, and I can't wait to see what next week brings. The students are truly exceptional!
We had another great week in kindergarten! The students are already showing so much growth both academically and socially, and I couldn't be more proud.
Some of our highlights this week included taking a trip to the woods to look for beetles, investigating triangles, and discovering new ways to practice our letters. The students continue to demonstrate the qualities of the learner profile, and I am continually impressed by their inquiries and discoveries!
We kicked off the week with a trip to the woods. Currently, we're spending Genius Hour investigating beetles. We had a beetle make an unexpected visit in our classroom last week, and it sparked some amazing inquiries! Using this as inspiration, we started a KWL (Know, Want to know, Learned) chart to document our learning. Then, we read a book about beetles and created some beetle drawings of our own. Finally, we took a trip to the woods to see if we could find any beetles for our research. While we didn't find any beetles, we did make some amazing discoveries. The students found slugs, worms, spiders, and cool mushrooms. They even found animal bones! The students originally hypothesized that the bones were from a dinosaur, but eventually decided that it was probably a deer based on the skull and size. We used a strict 'look, not touch' policy for the bones, but the rest they explored freely. The excitement was palpable as they presented their discoveries and shared about what they had found.
In addition to beetles and bones, we've been working hard on our letters and sounds. The students have worked together to dictate sentences, listen for the sounds in words, and match the sounds to their letters. The students also noticed that the letters we were learning could be found all over our classroom, which sparked an exciting 'letter hunt' for the letter E. We started in our classroom using whiteboards and markers, but eventually ended up outside making the letter with sticks! A 20-minute lesson turned into an hour-long adventure, and it was all based on the students' observations and ideas for learning.
Finally, we spent some time investigating triangles. The students observed that triangles have 3 sides and 3 corners; that they slide, but do not roll; and that triangles can be different sizes and widths, but still be the same shape. We then practiced tracing and coloring triangles, which now makes up a display outside our classroom documenting our learning.
It was another jam-packed week, and I can't wait to see what the students come up with next!
A significant part of learning in kindergarten involves experiences with daily life. We embrace that by involving the students with cleaning, tidying up, and communicating their needs to their peers. And the best part? They love it! Cleaning our classroom on Fridays has become a new favorite task for the majority of the students. They demonstrate responsibility and pride in their classroom by keeping it neat and tidy.
We've also begun to encounter letters in our environment. Several of the students have made connections to letters we have learned - as well as some we haven't - in both the natural environment and through our open-ended materials.
This week, we've been inquiring into how to find BALANCE. We read "A Bad Case of Stripes" and discussed how being out of balance affected the main character. We also discussed how she found balance again, and how it's important to listen to what our body needs. The students demonstrated their knowledge through a collaborative chart paper drawing.
In the story, the main character loves lima beans, but is too embarrassed to eat them. Because she doesn't listen to what her body needs, it ends up all wacky and out of balance. In the end, she ate her lima beans and found balance - which inspired us to try lima beans as well! Although everyone was a RISK-TAKER, not everyone liked them. We graphed our responses and found that far more people did not like lima beans than those who did.
We found balance in other ways, too. This week, we tried out the Retreat Room and practiced doing some meditation and simple yoga poses to help find balance in ourselves.
We introduced the sensory table this week, and we connected our inner balance to outer balance by experimenting at the inquiry table. The shelf centers continue to be a hit, and the students demonstrate PRINCIPLED choices at every turn.
Although we've had an incredible week overall, I have been most impressed with the students' reading skills. We introduced the glued sounds -am and -an this week, as well as the letters O and D. Not only that, but we're beginning to teach Heart Words (words that we must know by heart) as well. The students have continued to surprise me with how well they're blending and segmenting CVC words, and have even assisted in writing simple sentences using our Heart Words and CVC words that we can sound out.
Today, we added the Heart Word 'and' and the students came up with the sentence 'The mom and dad in the cab,' which we scribed together. The students did all the spelling themselves!
We love to learn in kindergarten!
Genius Hour is a concept started by Google. Simply put, it is the belief that employees (or in this case, students) thrive when given the opportunity to research, learn, and develop projects that are of individual interest. We've taken this concept and applied it to the classroom. Twice a week, students are given the opportunity to conduct Genius Hour projects. These can be on any topic, and can be researched in any way. It truly emphasizes the importance of personal motivation in relation to learning.
In Kindergarten, individual research projects are not developmentally appropriate. Instead, we conduct a group research project surrounding the students' wonders and inquiries. This week, we've been researching the concept of light.
It started with this simple provocation: What is something you wonder about our classroom? We're learning to be good Inquirers during our unit of inquiry this week, so we've been practicing coming up with good questions. But what is a good question without a good answer? To find that good answer, we utilized Genius Hour.
After some discussion, a few of the students developed the following inquiry: Why does the sun blind us through the window? As a class, we discussed how the sun creates light and how we can see that light through our windows. Students then began to wonder why the light was so much brighter coming through our back windows, so we developed a plan of action to find an answer.
First, we created a hypothesis: The sun is brighter coming through the back windows because the sun is on that side of the building.
Then, we developed an experiment: To test our hypothesis, we would go outside and find the placement of the sun.
Finally, we got our results: The sun was behind the building, so that's why the light was brighter.
We got the results we were looking for, but in the process, sparked another conversation about shadows. Students discovered while outdoors that the trees blocked part of the sunlight, and that the light we saw coming through the windows was unblocked.
To investigate further, we got out flashlights, black paper, and white paper. The students then experimented with how light passed through the white paper versus the black paper. They discovered that the light passed easily through the white paper, but that it didn't pass through the black paper. They determined this was due to the color and the fact that the black paper was thicker.
Then, the students began to wonder what would happen if we turned out our classroom lights. They discovered that the flashlights were easier to see, which prompted a search for other light sources and how we could block them. We closed the classroom door, turned out our lamps, and turned out the bathroom light as well. Around this time, one of the students realized that the light can pass through the black paper if the room is dark enough and the flashlight is close enough. The student then observed that this makes the paper look like outer space!
Finally, the students discovered how to create shadows. They observed that the shadows were more visible on the white paper than the black, and that shadows on the wall were bigger than shadows on the table. They experimented with different light angles, number of fingers, and shapes to change what the shadows looked like, and some even created stories to go along with their shadow pictures.
We've had a great time exploring light - I wonder what the students will discover next?
What an incredible first week!
Our days were filled with Play-Doh, sorting, counting, singing, and lots of fun! We practiced writing our names (and even the names of some friends!), as well as learning the letters A, S, M, and T. As part of our Unit of Inquiry, we discussed what it means to be a good communicator, and created visual representations of what that could look like. The students LOVED dramatic play, and have enjoyed quiet time after lunch and recess as a way to reset before the afternoon.
We started the week by creating our Essential Agreement, which reflects what we value and hope to achieve in our classroom. The students brainstormed ideas, and then we connected them to our Learner Profile traits before writing everything out and using our fingerprints to sign.
Play-Doh was a fan favorite this week, with students creating different letters, numbers, and even visual representations of themselves! We started our mornings with the provocation "What can you make?," and the students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to express themselves through Play-Doh.
Another popular choice was the pattern blocks, which we introduced on Wednesday. The students enjoyed creating pictures using the blocks, and blew me away with their shape knowledge! We inquired into how we could use the different pattern blocks to make the same shape as the yellow hexagon, and the students explored before coming up with their own solutions.
We played, made art, and created stories using the shells, rocks, and animals. We even had a special visit from Mr. Simon! Students have started to recognize letters from our language arts station, and are continuing to enjoy creating using materials such as crayons, pencils, and markers. There's so much creativity and talent with this group!
Our students had a great first week of kindergarten, and they're so excited for next week to start! In fact, some of them loved school so much that they decided to play school during dismissal, taking turns being the teacher and singing our morning song as a group. It was wonderful to see!
Today, we read "Our Class is a Family." The students connected to the text, as we have our own 'school family' here as well. This group is going to do amazing things this year, and I look forward to all the wonderful learning that will happen along the way!