Kindergarten Weekly Note

Dear Kindergarten Families,

Reminder about Halloween: We have reminded our students that there will be no Halloween celebration on Monday, and that no one should come to school in costume. Please do not send your child to school in costume.

Excitement abounded on Tuesday when a scientist from the Academy of Natural Sciences joined us to teach us about hedgehogs and beavers. Kindergarten A learned lots about beavers, got to touch a pelt and skull, and met a live porcupine and rat, two related rodents. Kindergarten B not only learned about hedgehogs but also met a live one, and they had the opportunity to compare and contrast it to the porcupine. The students were able to observe the hedgehog while also asking many questions of our visiting expert!

Both classes are delving deeper into research. Kindergarten A classified a group of creatures, starting with what makes something alive, then categorizing down to animals, vertebrates, mammals, and rodents, which is the type of mammal a beaver is. Some children were surprised to find out that people are not only animals, but mammals. We also focused on the body parts of a beaver and created and labeled large-scale, 2-D models of beavers. We had a wonderful day at The Schuylkill Center. Kindergarten A worked to simulate making beaver lodges and beaver dams and played a predator/prey game. Lodges are typically built partially underwater, which is not a possibility for us, but we did try to find rocks to hold sticks in place to create a dome-like shape for beavers to live in. We realized just how amazing beavers’ building skills are! We also made some dams out of sticks and grass and brought them back to school to experiment with how they affect the movement of water. We talked about how beavers build dams before their lodges to create a “pool” or area where there the river isn’t flowing quickly. This allows the beavers to keep away from predators and creates an area for their food to grow and thrive.

Kindergarten B learned more about a hedgehog’s life cycle by watching a video slideshow of a hedgehog’s development. The students learned about how hoglets, or baby hedgehogs, are born blind and leave their mothers after about a month. In the wild hedgehogs can live up to seven years. We learned that they don’t have many predators except for owls and foxes. The students also learned about hedgehogs’ diets by reading non-fiction books. We then made hedgehog prey, such as insects and slugs, out of Model Magic. We took the student-made prey out to The Schuylkill Center where the students played a predator-prey game simulating a hedgehog’s experience. This week we finished reading Lulu and the Hedgehog in the Rain by Hilary McKay. If your child enjoyed this story, there are more books in this series.

As usual, this week we worked on reading and writing skills. In Writing Workshop, we introduced the idea of “writing the lines,” representing a story by writing a line for each word in the story. This helps the children remember the important skill of leaving spaces between words in their writing and recognizing when one word ends and another starts in their reading. Teachers then write each child’s story under the lines that the child has written, helping the child to recognize and read some words. Many children are still working on what is a word versus a syllable. We have been playing a number of games, clapping out syllables to slowly solidify the idea that one word can have multiple syllables. We are continuing to work on letter/sound correspondence, hand-writing upper-case letters, and recognizing lower-case letters. We also talked about and practiced the third way we read a book -- the one we adults are most familiar with -- by reading the words. Children spent time practicing the three ways to read a book: read the pictures, retell a story, or read the words.

In mathematics this week we played a game that compares quantities to ten, introducing the terms and symbols for “greater than,” “less than,” and “equal to.” We continue to keep track of how many days we have been in school, looking at groups of ten and ones, introducing the idea of place value. It is hard to believe we have been in school for 36 days already!

Ask your child:

Kindergarten A:

  • How do you know something is alive? (It grows and can reproduce, though our focus was on growing.)
  • What makes a rodent a rodent?
  • What is the same and different about a beaver’s body and a human’s? How does a beaver use its tail? Why does a beaver have inner and outer layers of fur?
  • How does a dam affect the flow of water? How did you make your dam at The Schuylkill Center? Which creatures are predators of beavers? How did you play the predator/prey game at The Center?

Kindergarten B:

  • How did it feel to see a real hedgehog? Was it what you expected or different?
  • What does a hedgehog eat?
  • What did you learn about baby hedgehogs? (They are called hoglets, are born blind, and have spines under the skin.)
  • What part did you play in the predator/prey game at The Schuylkill Center?
  • What was your favorite part in the book Lulu and the Hedgehog in the Rain?

Have a great weekend,

The Kindergarten Team