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.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

From the Sock Hop to the Turkey Trot!

What an eventful week! We had a blast on the 50th day, celebrated American Education Week, and ran in our first Turkey Trot. It really was an amazing week.


Reading Workshop: We had two new sight words this week. We now have 20 words on our word wall. We also completed the Alphabet Board.
One of our favorite read-alouds was Cranberry Thanksgiving. As you know, we have been talking a lot about the characters in the books we read. This week we explored how characters can change from the beginning of the story to the end. For example, the grandmother in Cranberry Thanksgving did not like the character, Mr. Whiskers. She really judged him by what was on the outside, rather than the inside. As the story developed, several things happened that caused the grandmother to change her opinion. In the end, she liked Mr. Whiskers! We also read The Ugly Pumpkin and discussed how the pumpkin changed in the story. Later in the week, we started learning about the settings of the stories we read. We read The Scarecrow's Hat by Ken Brown and the children were easily able to identify the setting as a farm.

Writing Workshop: The children continue to make excellent progress with their writing. We talked a lot about vowels this week. We have our own vowel strips glued to the inside of our folders to remind us to use vowels when we write. We also talked about the "power tools" we have when we are writing. We have alphabet charts, anchor charts hanging in the room, the word wall, and our new vowel charts. We also learned that there are some words we just know in a "snap". We brainstormed words that we use a lot in our writing and made a list. We added words like mom and dad. We decided that we should add these words to our personal word walls and place them in our writing folders.

Gabrielle uses the word wall to help her with her writing.

I am so proud of their writing. I am also excited because many of them are choosing to write during center/choice time. In fact, this week Nuala thought we needed a welcome sign for our door so she made us one during center time. Thanks Nuala!
Nuala standing next to her welcome sign!


Math: We continued our unit about comparing numbers. We also had a lot of fun with Thanksgiving math!  We completed Thanksgiving Ten Frames, completed subtraction problems using turkey counters, counted Thankgiving foods, and played several Thanksgiving math games.

Social Studies: We read our latest issue of Let's Find Out and learned about the pilgrims. We talked a lot about the first Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims and Native Americans. We read a book about a Pilgrim girl named Sarah Mortin and learned about the chores Pilgrim children did long ago.

50th Day: Wow!!! We had so much fun rocking and rolling all day long. We completed several math activities with the number 50. The children loved doing Dance Dance Revolution to some great 50's songs. We read a collection of stories from the Dick and Jane series. We had a sock hop in the gymnasium and we have some experts at the hula hoop! We took our pictures next to a pink Cadillac and finally, enjoyed root beer floats. Mrs. Svare, Nuala's mom, took a lot of great pictures and will be emailing them to you.  Thank you!







Sunday, November 16, 2014

Preparing for Winter!

Yikes! It is definitely colder outside and we saw our first snowfall this week. It was the perfect week to learn about animals preparing for the winter. We also talked about hibernation.

Reading Workshop: We loved the book The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. In fact, we read it a few times! After the first reading, we talked about the characters and setting of the story. Then, we looked at the vocabulary in the book. We noticed the author used the word lair instead of cave. We discussed why the author chose this word instead of cave. Some of the children thought it sounded scarier while others said it just sounded more interesting! We also talked about the important events from the book.

We had fourth grade buddies this week and it was very exciting! Usually the fourth graders read to us, but this week was different. Every kindergarten student had a book they could read independently! They were very proud to be able to read to their buddies and the fourth graders were impressed.

Reading buddies

Having fun reading together

We met with our guided reading groups, too. Some of us played alphabet games, and others reviewed sight words. All of the groups read a book and practiced using our Eagle Eye and stretching out new words like Stretchy the Word Snake.

Writing Workshop: We continue our unit called Writing for Readers. We want our books to be easy to read so all of our friends can enjoy our work! This week, we looked at a story Mrs. Hepfer wrote and used post it notes to label the parts that were easy to read. Then, two kindergarten friends volunteered to use their pieces as models and we labeled them, too. We also met with our writing partners and used a checklist. We learned that checklists can help us while we are writing to make our work easier to read.

Writing partners listen.

Writing partners help us make our writing better!
Writing partners use checklists together.

Our story with post-it notes

Math: We compared numbers from 0 - 10. We watched several videos from our Envision series and completed a few pages. We also enjoyed math tubs. We found missing numbers, counted animals form the Bear Snores On, played on the iPads, and learned a new Thanksgiving math game called More or Less.

Phonemic Awareness: We had a new letter expert! Our board will be complete by next week! The children are very excited. We played several letter games this week, too.

Social Studies: We talked about Veteran's Day while reading the latest issue of Let's Find Out. We watched a two-minute video from the Scholastic website. We made cards for veterans, too.

Music and Movement: We sang Going on a Bear Hunt by Dr. Jean. The link to the song is now under Music and Movement.

Science: We have a new wall in our room called... The Wonder Wall! Throughout the week, the children can write things they are wondering about on a post-it note and place it on the wall. It is completely independent and they write them by themselves. We will try to choose one per week to research. The purpose of the wall is to develop and nurture your child's natural curiosity. We will also have a new observation table soon! The question this week comes from Brendan:

Why do sharks use small fish as a toothbrush?

Here is what we found out:

Pilotfish often travel with sharks. This relationship may be due to the natural schooling behavior of pilotfish. Pilotfish also eat small amounts of food scraps that are released as a shark feeds.
Several species of small fishes, like the cleaner wrasse and remora, are "cleaners" that pick debris or parasites from sharks.

We found this information from this site:  http://www.sharkfriends.com/sharks/info6.html

We also visit a site called Wonderopolis. It is great! You may click on the link on the left side of this page to visit the site. 

Other exciting news:

As of Monday the children no longer have "assigned seats" at the tables. By this time of the year, the children know the classroom rules and expectations. We had a discussion about privileges and responsibility. These are "big" words for little ones, but they really understood their meaning. I told them that being able to choose their seats every day is a privilege in our classroom. In order to earn this privilege, they must be responsible and follow all classroom rules. Also, all children must be included and no one can be told they cannot sit at a certain table. If they are unable to be responsible then they will not earn the privilege of choosing their own seat every day. 

I have done this for years, and the children love being able to sit somewhere new every day (although some are creatures of habit and try to sit in the same spot all year). In fact, rather than running to tables or fighting for a specific seat, the children are usually engaged and work together to figure out a plan. 


Monday is our 50th day of school! Don't forget to have your child dress up for the occasion. Mrs. Hepfer will certainly wear a special outfit :)



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Spinning Spiders

Spiders are really amazing. We spent the week learning some cool facts about spiders.


Reading Workshop: We continue to talk about the characters in the stories we read. Our big book was called I Love Spiders by John Parker. We learned the term "narrator." After reading this book together, we realized that the narrator was actually a spider. We discussed why the author decided to have a spider narrate the story.

One of the favorite books this week was The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. Many of the children were already familiar with this story. We identified the main character as the busy spider. We learned that the main character is who the story is mainly about. We charted character traits for the busy spider and we drew pictures of what happened in the beginning, middle and end of the book. The children also identified the other characters in the book. We also loved the book Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham.

We read several non-fiction books about spiders, too. On Monday we made a chart about spiders. Before making the chart, we talked about the word schema. Schema is like a mental file cabinet. It is all of the information stored in our brain. The children realized that they are "thinkers" as they are reading. Our schema can often help us better understand what we are reading.

Before reading Spiders by Gail Gibbons we listed all of our schema we have about spiders. They already knew a lot about spiders! Then, after reading, we charted our "new learning." Finally, we listed some of the misconceptions people have about spiders. Some people think all spiders are dangerous - not true! Also, some people think that spiders are insects. They are actually arachnids.

We reviewed several sight words with our Itsy Bitsy Spider project. The children were even able to attach their very own spider to go up and down the water spout!

Phonemic Awareness: We played the hula hoop game! This time, we practiced substitution. Substitution is when you substitute one sound for another to make a new word. For example, we first made the word bat. Then, I said the word rat. The children had to tell me which student needed to sit down to make the new word. All of them were able to tell me that that the first letter had to switch to R in order to make the word rat. Later in the week, we practiced this skill using our white boards. This is a fun activity you can do at home.

Exciting news! We have graduate students from the College of Saint Rose coming in to work with our students on several phonemic awareness skills. They will visit our classroom until December.

Writing Workshop: We started our new unit this week! We talked about how we don't just write stories for ourselves. We write them for other people to enjoy - we are writing for readers. So, we need to make sure that our stories are easy to read. We sorted the stories in our folders into two piles. The first pile had stories that were easy to read and the other were those that were difficult to read. The children did a great job with this activity. Then, we charted the reasons why a story may be either easy or hard to read. For example, it is hard to read if our letterers are "smushed" together or we don't stretch out all of the sounds we hear in the words. Then, we decided our stories are easy to read if we use spaces, stretch out the sounds, and try our best to use neat handwriting.


Math: Our new unit teaches us to compare numbers. We learned about the terms more and fewer and compared numbers up to 10. We also used our own ten frames to make several number comparisons. The children had lots of spider math fun too! We completed an activity called spider ten frames and made a spider graph.

Music and Movement: We sang There's A Spider on the Floor by Raffi and The Itsy Bitsy Spider.


Don't forget...

We do not have school on Tuesday next week. 

I will be sending home an invitation for American Education Week and you will be invited to visit out classroom.