Kindergarten Weekly Note

Dear Kindergarten Parents,

Wow! There is a lot of exciting things happening in our classrooms this week.

Our project work for both classes overlapped as we began the week with a discussion of how to classify life - first around what is alive or not, what is animal, which animals are vertebrates/chordates, which vertebrates are mammals, and finally which mammals are classified into rodents. Ask your child what characteristic makes a rodent a rodent.

Both classes had experts come visit us this week to enrich our mice and squirrels projects and did lots of other.

The Riddles and Clues were joined by Amelia’s dad, Ray. He is an endocrinologist and shared his experiences using mice in a laboratory setting to help learn more about obesity in humans. The children learned more about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, as well as the role DNA plays in our physical makeup. The children were amazed to learn how similar our bodies are internally to mice. We also worked as a class to construct a paper model of a mouse’s external body later in the week - taking time to highlight different parts of their anatomy and their purposes. We were also lucky to have Sophie’s mom, Tatiana, the TPS voice teacher, come in to teach us a song about mice! We finished our first chapter book, Mouse House and constructed a mouse house that the children are now playing in. We also voted on and began our second chapter book, A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King Smith.

The Investigators and Detectives were joined by Chris, our music teacher, who showed us photos of the drey (ask your child what that is) in her backyard and how she discovered what lived in it. She showed us photos of some baby squirrels as they grew up in her yard. As a class, we read a lot of nonfiction about how to distinguish the two main types of squirrels: ground and tree. We also read that tree squirrels can jump up to 20 feet. We measured out 20 feet and the children who wanted to try jumped as far as they could. Ask your child how far s/he jumped and if squirrels or humans are better jumpers. Many students have already started to write their own nonfiction books about squirrels during Activity Time (our free-choice play time in the morning and afternoon). Kindergarten A completed its first chapter book of the year, Gooseberry Park, in which one of the main characters, Stumpy a red-tailed tree squirrel, is separated from her children and ultimately, thanks to her pals, is reunited with them. We plan to read the sequel as our next chapter book.

We spent this afternoon doing another exciting community-building event: meeting our third grade book buddies for the first time. Each kindergartner is partnered with a third grader to spend time together, get to know one another, and read together. We will meet every month or so for reading or other joyful activities together. The third grade teachers shared how much their third graders remembered about being kindergartners in a Book Buddy partnerships and how much that relationship meant to them.

In language arts, we took some time to focus on becoming even more “independent” as readers. Kindergarten is a huge year of independence, and the children were excited to put their new reading strategies to use and take some time to quietly sit alone with a book. We also started our “Writing Workshop” this week. Each child was given a Writing Journal and decorated its cover. Our first entry was “Writing the Pictures,” where each child “wrote” a picture that tells a story. This empowers children who are not yet comfortable writing words to recognize that you can “write” stories without knowing how to write words. Soon, children who are comfortable will begin to write words along with their illustrations in their journals. In preparation for writing words in our journal, we spent time this week practicing how to hold a pencil so that one’s hand muscles don’t get too tired and the proper way to sit when writing – with two feet on the floor and one’s back straight. We also talked about how we need to learn how to form the letters of the alphabet so that others can read our writing, as we often write for other people (cards, letters, lists). Next week we will begin to learn how to form some lowercase letters, along with the sounds those letters make.

In Seed to Table this week, the children harvested swiss chard, kale, arugula, and chives to share with those in need. We read a book called Uncle Willie’s Soup Kitchen and had a discussion about being grateful for having more than we need, as well as the importance of helping those in need. We will donate this harvest to People’s Emergency Center.

Next Friday, October 30 will be our Halloween Parade/Alternate Mystery Activity. Children may come to school in costume, if they choose. We will take part in a parade at 8:30 am, after we get settled in our classroom. We will march around the garden, and parents are welcome to watch. Please bring a change of clothes so that after the festivities, costumes can be safely stored in cubbies for future celebrating. If your family does not celebrate Halloween, please email us, and we will be sure your child participates in an alternate activity.

Thank you to kindergarten parents Alina Dan and Lauren Harel for making a photobook documenting our year of kindergarten together. They will be taking photos of different events all year long for a photobook that will be available for purchase near the end of the school year. You may see them at dismissal time taking candid photos of all of the kindergarten children.

Questions to ask your child this week:

  • What story did you include in your Writing Journal this week?
  • What books did you read with your Book Buddy? What is your Book Buddy’s name?
  • What did you learn about squirrels/mice this week?
  • How was the mysterious pirate Family Circle event today? What did you do?

Activity suggestions for this week:

  • “Write the Pictures” of a story with your child - a story about something you did together that you’d like to keep as a memory.
  • Go to the library or go on-line and do some research together about squirrels or mice.
  • Talk to your child about how it felt to read “independently.” Ask if there is something else s/he wants to learn to do more independently this year (and help her/him with that goal!)

Warmly,

The Kindergarten Team