Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy Snow Day!

I hope you had fun today. See you tomorrow and you can tell me all about your snowy adventures.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Are you ready for some football?

Yes! We had tons of fun with our football theme this week.

Reading Workshop: We have graduated to more challenging books. We have learned so many new strategies to decode new words and have earned our super strength reading power. We look for sight words with endings, make predictions, and ask ourselves, "Does it make sense?". We have also increased our reading stamina.

During guided reading groups we practice reading and writing our sight words. We typically review the words that will be in the book we are reading. Then, we whisper read our books, while Mrs. Hepfer listens to each child individually. After we read, we practice retelling the events from the story. You can practice this at home, too. After reading a book, ask your child to retell the main events from the story.

We point to the words we read. We look for sight words while reading.

We played a really fun sight word game called "Where's Football Freddie?" All of our sight words were placed in a pocket chart. A small football player was hidden behind one of the players. The children had to read a word in order to come up to the pocket chart. If he was not behind the card we yelled, "FUMBLE", but when we found him we all yelled, "TOUCHDOWN!". You can download this game below. I suggest that you glue the sight words onto construction paper so you cannot see Football Freddie underneath. Rather than a chart, you can simply place the cards out on a table. Have fun!

Where's Football Freddie?

Writing Workshop: We continued our informational unit writing How To Books. Each book has a title. The title tells the reader what the author will be teaching. We also have writing goals. We have three bins in the writing center. Each child must select a writing goal. For example, one of the goals is to add more details to our writing. If a child chooses this as his or her goal, then the writing folder is placed in this bin. When it is time to begin Writing Workshop, I simply say the writing goal. The children then come up to get folders based on goals. It is another way to reinforce the concept. Ask your child if he or she can remember the three goals we are focusing on currently in our classroom.

We used our handwriting books this week, too. At this point of the school year, I am encouraging the use of lowercase letters as much as possible. I will be sending home a sheet to practice writing first and last names soon. We really focused on proper formation and we need to remember to always start our letters at the top. We even sang a fun song!

Phonemic Awareness: We talked a lot about word endings this week. We also learned about consonant blends and digraphs. When playing our hula hoop game, the first hoop was a digraph. We practiced spellings words like chat, shop, and smile.

 We practiced identifying rhyming words. Words were written on footballs and the children had to match the rhyming pairs.

Math: We love our new addition unit! We practiced the concept of part/part/whole and used white boards to reinforce the concept. We completed a few sheets fork our Envision booklet and learned a new game on the Smart board.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Exploring the Polar Regions

We have been busy exploring the polar regions and the animals that inhabit these areas.

Social Studies/Science: We used a globe! The children loved looking at the globe and examining the oceans and landforms. We located the equator and then looked at the northern and southern hemispheres.

First, we studied life in the Arctic. We learned about polar bears, walruses, and other animals. We read a non-fiction book about polar bears and wrote several facts about this amazing animal.

Then, we studied life in Antarctica. The children had a lot of fun learning about penguins. We studied several types including the Emperor penguin and the Macaroni penguin. We read several non-fiction books about penguins and listed facts about them.

We learned that Emperor penguins fathers balance the penguin eggs on their feet. We thought this sounded really cool so we tried to do it, too. Enjoy the video!


Finally, we compared both regions using a Venn Diagram. We realized that although some animals are different, both areas are extremely cold!

We even learned a fun penguin dance and enjoyed it during our penguin party on Friday. Here is the video:

Reading Workshop: We continue to be super readers! We have reading super powers such as pointer power, sight word power, partner power, and pattern power. Although it is a good strategy to look at the picture and beginning letter to decode a new word, we also learned to look at the entire word, too. Ask your child to tell you about Mrs. Hepfer's donut story!

We discussed the importance of looking at each page and examining the words before reading. Sometimes there are words that you can read in a snap (sight words), and do not have to decode. If you know these ahead of time, your reading will be much easier.

We now have super strength reading power and we have graduated to more challenging books. Some children are still comfortable reading books with predictable patterns, but others have decided to try to read books that no longer continue the same pattern through the book. It is an exciting time in our kindergarten reading workshop!

Writing Workshop: Wow! We have so many clever "How To" stories and your children are teaching me some really cool things. I have learned how to swim, how to make homemade pizza, how to play hockey, and how to do several other awesome activities. We looked at some mentor texts and tried to model or include some of the features in our own books. The children have learned to use diagrams in their books and started writing warnings. For example, one child is writing a How To book about swimming. She told her readers to, "Use the steps but be careful not to slip!" We will continue this unit for the next month.

Math: Your children have been learning so many new things in math! We have practiced the hundreds chart, counting by tens, and used ten frames to create large groups of 10 (50, 60, 70...) Our next unit is addition. First, we will begin the concept of part/part/whole and then move onto practicing our facts. Kindergarten students are expected to master addition facts up to the sum of 5.

Next week: We will finish some of our penguin activities and then...

Are you ready for some football???? 

Yes, we will have lots of football fun as we get ready for the Super Bowl! Children are invited to either wear BC school spirit attire or a football jersey to school on Friday.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone! I was so happy to see all of those smiling faces on Monday morning. It sounds like all of you have a wonderful December break.

Reading Workshop: Exciting news! I am piloting a new reading unit for Teachers College at Columbia University. It was written by Lucy Calkins and various members of her amazing team of staff developers. I will be sending home a release form for all of you to sign. I have been asked to send work samples from our class. Please be on the lookout for the form this week.

We continue to be super readers and use various reading super powers to figure out challenging words. We have been meeting with our reading partners to practice important reading skills and discuss the books we read. We learned a new game and I will be sending home the directions with your child so you can play it at home, too. I will also send home a special bookmark to use at home.

Ask your child about the new tool we use for our piles of books we have read during independent reading time.

Writing Workshop: We started a new unit! We are writing how-to books. The children are experts at so many wonderful things. We are learning how to write the steps in order and make the books and/or directions easier for our readers to understand. I was amazed to see how many Lego experts we have in our classroom :)

Phomemic Awareness: We will focus on the short vowel sounds. We practiced short a and identified word families. Since we already had a letter a expert, we did not have a new expert.

Math: The children are using the hundreds chart to help them identify larger numbers. We look for number patterns also. We practiced counting by tens and played some fun games to reinforce this skill. We also used several ten frames to build larger numbers and practiced counting on from a given number.

Our theme for next week: Arctic Animals

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Gingerbread Adventures

We enjoyed more gingerbread fun this week and continued to spread kindness throughout Hamagrael school. We also have a new door decoration for the winter. The children went wild for this chilly friend!

Olaf greets us everyday!

Reading Workshop: We read several versions of the gingerbread man including, The Gingerbread Kid Goes to School, The Gingerbread Girl, and The Gingerbread Cowboy. The children were able to identify the refrain in each book and described how it changed to fit the theme or setting of the specific story. We completed story maps and listed the characters, setting, and ending to the books.
We also have a new flannel board activity. The children put the gingerbread story events in the correct order by placing them on the flannel board.

Sarah completed the flannel board.

The children loved reading club this week because we played Sight Word Candy Land! We played it using the traditional rules, but each card had a sight word on the front. When the children picked cards they had to read the sight word before they turned it over to get the color(s). Many of the children continued playing the game during centers in the afternoon.

Sight Word Candy Land

Writing Workshop: Exciting news! We picked our pieces to publish and began the revision and editing process. Our partners help us make our stories easier to read by giving suggestions and feedback. Our publishing party will be next week.

Phonemic Awareness: We played a lot of rhyming games and practiced spelling CVC words using a fun gingerbread theme.

Math: We practiced numbers in the teens this week and completed math tubs. For one of the tubs, the children practiced area and perimeter. Although the students have a very basic understanding of these concepts, they were able to gain additional practice counting objects up to 20. The also completed a missing number activity and put gingerbread numbers in order from 10-20.

Area and Perimeter of gingerbread men

Number order

Social Studies: We talked a lot about traditions this week. We do not talk about the specifics of certain holidays. Instead, we learn about families and the traditions they have when celebrating together. Our latest issue of Let's Find Out talked about family traditions and the use of lights in many December holidays.

We helped collect cans of cat and dog food for the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. Thank you to Mrs. Fusco for organizing this wonderful activity! The children loved helping the dogs and cats!

We have learned a lot about the geography of our country through our gingerbread exchange.We have received gingerbread men from states such as California, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, and North Dakota! We learned important facts about each state. The gingerbread men are proudly displayed on a large map in the hallway for all of the students to enjoy.

Our gingerbread map

Center/Free Choice Time: The children love centers! They are able to choose from several activities such as iPads, blocks, painting, Legos, etc. So, I was really excited when a few of them asked if they could form a writing club. Several of the children brought in notebooks and used some of their free choice time to write stories together. The "club" started gaining more members throughout the
week :)

Here are a few boys enjoying Writing Club.

We found a fun game for the Smart Board. The children were able to decorate a gingerbread man from Candy Land!

Elijah makes a gingerbread boy.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Run, run as fast as you can!

That's right! We enjoyed a gingerbread theme this week and we will continue to have lots of gingerbread fun next week.

Reading Workshop: We read several versions of the gingerbread man. First we read The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone. We identified the characters and setting. Then, we found the refrain. The refrain is a verse or phrase that is repeated throughout the story.

We also discussed the ending of the story - poor gingerbread boy. We read The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski. After reading this version we compared it to the first book by Paul Galdone. The setting was different. In fact, it took place in New York City. We found the refrain, too. The ending to this book was also quite sad. We have a large chart in the classroom and we write down important information about the books in order to compare the story elements.

All of our guided reading groups met for book club. We practiced sight words on white boards and read books together. We used our Eagle Eye and Stretchy the Snake. Next week, we will play Sight Word Candy Land. The children are so excited!

Writing Workshop: We are almost done with our current unit of study. We focused on revision a lot this week in order to make our stories easier to read. We practiced using periods at the end of our sentences and remembered to look for vowels in each word. The children also started using carets to insert words or phrases.

Writers hard at work!

We try to use story language like "One day..."

Math: We practiced the concept of missing number this week. We looked at sets of numbers and had to figure out what came first, last or in the middle of the set. The children are doing well writing the numbers in the teens. They can practice this skill at home, too.

Social Studies: We started a wonderful new project. Our class is participating in a national gingerbread exchange. That's right! We made twenty four gingerbread people and mailed them to states all across the U.S. In return, we will receive gingerbread people from the other participating classrooms. In fact, we already received our first gingerbread person from Anaheim, California. The children were thrilled and excited to learn that the children from this classroom live very close to Disneyland. We have a large United States map hanging in the hallway to display the gingerbread people as they arrive.

Science: We performed a fun experiment this week. First, we asked a question, "Why was the gingerbread man scared to cross the river?" Then, we decided to test it out and dropped a gingerbread cookie into a cup of water. We recorded our observations after 20 minutes and then 60 minutes. Our conclusion - the gingerbread man was scared because the cookie fell apart in the water!
After we first dropped him into the cup of water

After 20 minutes

After 60 minutes - poor gingerbread boy :(

We have a board in our room called the Wonder Wall. The children are invited to post questions every week and we research some of them. We also visit Wonderopolis. Here is a picture of our wonder wall:

The wonder wall encourages children to ask questions, research topics, and it celebrates their natural curiosity about the world around them.

Random Acts of Kindness: We are still spreading kindness throughout Hamagrael School! We surprised Mrs. Doherty in the main office and gave her a morning break. We gave her a new mug and a box of tea. Then, we collected the attendance envelopes for her.

We gave our kindergarten friends gingerbread cookies as a special afternoon snack.

We dropped by the nurse's office and gave Mrs. Vail a container filled with new plastic treasure boxes for lost teeth!

We also practiced smiling at people in the hallway and remembered to say please and thank you to one another.

Important Reminders:

Please label all of your child's outdoor clothing. We have several children who have the same exact boots, so please label in order to avoid any confusion.

Continue to refer to our five finger rule for outdoor clothing. Since we only went outside to play once last week, I did not send home snow pants.

Snack: If your child is purchasing a hot lunch, please pack  a snack. Thanks!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Kindness is Contagious. Pass it on!

Hello! We have exciting news! We are a very kind group of children. Yes, we started our month long celebration of Random Acts of Classroom Kindness. To kick off this fun activity, we read the book Heartprints by P. K. Hallinan. Did you know that every time you do something kind for someone, you leave a heartprint? Yes, the more kind you are, the more heartprints you give to others!

Every day we will display an act of kindness toward someone at Hamagrael. Here is what we have done so far:

We gave hand warmers to our Noon-Aides. It really gets cold out there at recess. Since they warm our hearts with kindness, we decided to warm their hands! We left a basket of hand warmers in the cafeteria for them at the beginning of the week.

We wrote a letter and gave some treats to Mr. K. We all agree that we are so very lucky to have him as our principal. The children had many reasons why he is the best and they were very excited to give him his Kindness letter, certificate and candy.

We stopped by the Library and gave Mrs. Held and Mrs. Farrell some treats (candy hugs and kisses) and a framed sign to hang up in the Library.

We made posters displaying acts of kindness to hang up around our school.

The children and I decided that you do not always have to give someone something in order to be kind. Sometimes a nice smile, asking a new friend to play at recess, or holding a door open for someone is also kind. I reminded them that they can display these acts of kindness at home, too.

Reading and Social Studies:

Both of these subjects were integrated together to learn about families. We read several books about families including The Snow Family, I Have a Family, and Busy Bear's Family. We identified the members of our families as well as other relatives. We made maps of our homes and chose our favorite rooms in our homes.

Thank you for completing the family rule homework assignment. We loved sharing the different family rules and realized many of us have rules in common.

We also talked about the concept of "Needs and Wants." The holiday season is an especially good time to talk about this topic. We listed several things that are needs and wants. Some of our family needs are shelter, food, water, clean air and clothing. We realized that toys and electronics are wants. The children also decided that although food is a "need", candy and other treats are really "wants."

We also talked about family jobs. Wow! Moms and Dads do a lot for us. We talked about the roles that we all play and how we can share the family jobs. Finally, we made portraits of our families.

Writing: We continue using "story language" to transition our writing from one event to the next. We use words such as "One day", "Then", "Next", "Suddenly", and "Finally." We have an anchor chart listing many of these words. We check to make sure we have a clear beginning, middle and end in every story also. Several children were able to share this week.

Math: The children completed several pages from our Envision series and used manipulatives to explore several concepts.

We also learned a new math game called Mingle. It is an amazing, interactive math game that teaches several concepts at various levels. Take a look at another class enjoying this game:

Next week we will begin a two seek Gingerbread theme and we will continue our Random Acts of Classroom Kindness.