Friday, December 16, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Newsletters Back Online

To see past and present newsletters online, please click on the link for the new page, "Newsletters", in the menu above. 

The Activity calendar for the week is on the page with the calendar.  Every nine weeks, the students attend one of the Activity classes twice.  This nine weeks it has been music.  A new schedule will start in January.  The only class that should change should be the class that the students attend twice.

For those of you that ordered books, the order was placed last Friday.  When the order arrives, I will contact you to see if you want me to hold onto them until you can pick them up, or if you want me to give them to your child.  (Or you can send me an email.)

Cat Stanley has been contacting parents regarding the donations needed for the crafts and parties coming up.  She is also looking for parent volunteers on the last day.

IF your child does not plan to be at school on the last two days of school, could you please send me a note or email so that we can plan (for numbers) accordingly?  Also, if you are going to be gone on vacation, please be sure it won't cause your child to exceed nine absences during the first semester which is the district limit on unexcused absenses.  (Doctor's visits with notes do not count towards the nine.

Today the children decorated our class "evergreen" tree and learned about the legend of tinsel.  Ask your child to tell you about that legend!  Also ask what the old woman in the story did with Christmas.  Hint:  First, she had to "fetch" Christmas.  Then she had to "make" Christmas.  What did those things mean?  What did she do next?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Parents, the December calendar is up.  Please click on the link above (Calendar).

The roommoms will be contacting you soon regarding volunteers for the Holiday Party on the 20th.  It will run much like the Pumpkin Centers/Party in October.  We will need six volunteers, but more are welcome.

A newsletter will go home tomorrow with what we will be covering this week in class.  We will be starting our holiday activities in class this week, so please encourage your child to try to stay calm and to use the lifeskills of PATIENCE, CARING, and RESPONSIBILITY.  Amidst all of these activities, I will continue to do the literacy and math testing required by the district.  (Keep your fingers crossed for  us!)  :-)

Thursday:  Please have your child wear Christmasy colors - nothing fancy, just holiday-ish, for a project I am doing.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mars Science Laboratory Launch: Successful Launch!

Phew! I am so glad it launched on the weekend and not during the week!  I didn't want to have to worry about putting our "safety plan" into place in the event the launch wasn't successful.  (Basically it just involved getting indoors, making sure all doors and windows were closed and shutting off the AC.)

I wasn't able to see the launch from my backyard because of the clouds, but I did hear it.  To see a great video of the lunch, see below.

NASA Video of the launch:

Christmas Craft Ideas

Parents, if you are looking for some fun craft ideas....or would even like to come to class one day and do one with the class, here's a great site:

Notes about Today's Email

I received a strange email that said something about my message being "truncated" so am not sure if you even were able to read it. 
If not, it basically said:
  1. The Lewis Carroll Kindergarten website has a general calendar up through January.
  2. This blog tells what I will be testing the children on in the next 2 weeks.
  3. Scholastic book orders are due on the 28th (not the 22nd as on the original letter).  I did not receive a "hard copy" of the December catalog this month, so it, along with about three more catalogs are available online for you to order from.  Here is a letter telling how to order online.  The books are a fraction of the cost you would pay in the store or at a Book Fair.  In addition to books are games, toys, etc.  So, this is a great opportunity for some online shopping for the holidays!  Email me if you would like the books to be a surpise and I can put them aside for you to pick up without your child's knowledge!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks, Mrs. Stanley!

Thursday when you set your Thanksgiving table,  your child has a perfect decoration for your table: a Thankful Turkey.  Mrs. Stanley came to school yesterday and made the Thankful Turkeys with the children - from start to finish.  We had done a bit of brainstorming before she arrived on things the children were thankful for, but then they narrowed down their lists for the turkey's feathers. 

I hope the turkeys may be a good lead-in to a discussion about thankfulness at your tables this holiday.  I personally am very thankful for the children in my class, the unjaded, fresh eyes through which they see the world and help me to see mine; I am thankful for the help and support I've received from 'my' parents this year; I am thankful for the great school I work at and the family we have here; and I am so very thankful for my family.  Without family, we have nothing.  That goes for a "Class Family", as well. 

Happy Thanksgiving, my Class Family!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish all of my families a very happy Thanksgiving Holiday!  Enjoy the time with your family and friends and I'll see all my little ones back on Monday morning!  Please check out the Lewis Carroll Kindergarten website for a calendar for all of kindergarten.  Details about activities in December will come home next week in your child's folder. 

Parents, the winter holidays are just around the corner, but we will be working hard the next three weeks. The end of the semester tests are upon us! I am going to keep the really exciting topics for the last week before school is out.  Please help your child stay calm during this time period.  Remember that little five and six year olds do not have a very clear understanding of time.  So saying something is in "three weeks" is like saying it is tomorrow to them. 

Enjoy your holiday and please know that the Homelearning packet I sent home is NOT due Dec. 2nd.  It is also not mandatory (homework) to work on throughout the holidays.  If you CHOOSE to work on some skills during the holiday, great!  If not, that's fine, too. 

For your information, your child will be expected to know (MINIMAL expectations):
  • the first 16 sight words by the winter holidays (end of the semester)
  • blend together words (3 letter - CVC) using M, A, S, P, T, I, N, C
  • identification of letter names (upper case and lower case) of 22 letters, including the letters above)
  • sounds of the letters listed in the second "bullet"
  • how to compose/decompose the numbers 0-10  (all combinations of numbers to make the number, for example: 10 is the same as 9 and 1, 8 and 2, 7 and 3, 6 and 4, 5 and 5, 10 and 0).  One great way to practice this is through playing games using dice or dominoes.  The card game WAR is great for understanding MORE and LESS.  The website, Illuminations is wonderful for building this skill.  There is a link to it from the KIDS' page or my Sitehoover page.
  • how to write the numbers 0-10; identify numbers 0-10
  • know names of the shapes and be able to describe using words like "sides" and "vertices" (corners).  (We will be doing a lot of work with this in December.)
  • how to build and extend AB, AAB, ABC patterns, and growing patterns

Friday, November 18, 2011

After the Feast

Thanksgiving Feast

Our Tipi

During journal writing today, one of the students wrote about the "hi-low-glifics" that he had painted on his Native American vest for the Thanksgiving Feast.  (Gotta love that 'kid-writing'!)  His journal writing led perfectly into our next activity which was to make "skins" with picture writing storytelling.  Each student wrote a story on their "skin" using pictures and then shared the story with the class.  (Some were better at telling 'stories' than others.  Some just wanted to say the names of the pictures they drew.)  After sharing, we put the "skins" on the outside of the tipi.

We learned that not all Native Americans lived in the same types of homes.  The Wampanoag tribe which was the tribe in Plimoth at the time of the Pilgrims, lived in round topped wetus.  They were made of dried reeds/plants that had been tied together.  The tipi was used by tribes that had to follow the animals in order to survive.

As the Wetu Turns: A Plimoth Plantation Blog
The First Thanksgiving: Daily Life: Housing
Building a Home - Plimoth
Native American Homes (This site shows many types of homes of the various tribes.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homelearning Assignments

Parents, you should've received a Homelearning packet for your child yesterday afternoon.  Every child received one on his/her level.  You may have noticed a Dec. 2nd due date.  Actually, the due date is the Friday prior to the Winter holidays.  Please try to do the activities on this Homelearning packet on a regular basis.  It includes the skills we are working on in class.


Thanksgiving Feast Information

Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving Feast at 11:45 - 12:15.   You may join your little Native American in the hallway outside the cafeteria at 11:45.  You may sit wherever you like, but families tend to sit close together because the children know each other and they like to sit together.  But if you have other children eating in the cafeteria at the same time, by all means, please sit together as a family.

Please know that ALL of the students have been taught that they are not to get up and go back to the cafeteria line for any reason.  On a regular school day, one or two students who get up to go back to buy something, puts the cafeteria behind schedule because it involves the cashier logging out of one class and logging into a different screen, and then having to go back into the previous child's class screen.  All transactions are recorded in the computer.  Please understand that if ONE child is permitted to get up, then all the other students say, "Why can she/he get up and I can't?"  Even getting up to go back to get forgotten utensils creates unnecessary traffic in the cafeteria which increases the chances of food being spilled or someone knocked down.  (The first year I was at Lewis Carroll, a kindergarten student, in true kindergarten fashion, was not looking forward when his class' line was departing the cafeteria.  Also, in the most-preferred style of kindergarteners, he was running rather than walking.  He collided with one of the teachers on duty in the cafeteria, knocking her down.  An ambulance had to be called, as she fractured multiple bones in her arm and hit her head.) 

Please help your child to abide by the cafeteria rules tomorrow by staying seated and being ready to leave the cafeteria at 12:15.  It will help Ms.Carpenter stay on schedule which will make a LOT of other grades very happy (!) because their lunch will not be delayed, and will also help keep accidents from happening.

I am looking forward to seeing all of you tomorrow!

Flashcards+ App

For all you iPhone owners, Chloe's mom told me about an app she put on her phone that allows her to create flashcards.  She created flashcards with Chloe's sight words and said it's great because it randomizes the words - the order of the words changes all the time. 

Please remember that the minimum expectation for the students during the second grading period is to know the first  16 sight words.  I emphasize "minimum" expectation.  I encourage you to go beyond the minimum expectations if your child has the capacity to learn the words quickly. 

I highly discourage flashcards for addition and subtraction facts for students at this level.  The children need to have a lot of experiences with hands-on learning to develop number concepts.  Learning facts by rote does not fully develop number concept and in many cases, can hinder learning.  But sight words need to be learned by rote!  That's why they are called "sight" words! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

One little, two little, three little indians.....


Brain Pop, Jr. Subscription & More

Brain Pop Jr. has arrived!  With money made at the Book Fair, Ms. Bosley purchased a school-wide subscription to a website called Brain Pop.  I have used Brain Pop with older students and they LOVED it!  Brain Pop has short little video clips that teach concepts in ways that children can understand.  Following the videos, there is usually a little quiz.  The quiz checks the students for understanding and they get immediate feedback.  The list of topics is almost endless! 

Brain Pop Jr. is for the primary grades and Brain Pop is for the upper grades.  Your child will be given the login information at school tomorrow and can access the site from 7:00 a.m. 5:30 p.m. from home.  It is available for all the students at Lewis Carroll.  Not all the videos will be appropriate for kindergarteners, but there are many that will be.  I can't wait to explore it myself to see what I can use with my class!  If you see Ms. Bosley, be sure to thank her! 

MORE GOOD NEWS:  All teachers will be receiving a piece of hardware called a MimeoTeach that will turn our ordinary white boards into interactive white boards, somewhat like a Smart Board.  The children are going to LOVE it! 

Now all we need is a Mimeo Pad and we'll be all set! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Scholastic Books for New Readers


I am an addict.  Yes, an addict.  I am seriously addicted to books.   In fact, my husband has gotten so tired of seeing new books coming into this house that he bought me an e-reader for my last birthday!  How did this addiction begin?  I don't know?  What I do know is that I can't remember a time when I didn't want to read.  I had an older sister (19 months) who used to "play school" with me every day when she came home from school.  I used to remember waiting at the door for her to come home.  "Teach me, teach me!" I used to say to her. Out would come the Dick and Jane books  and I'd read that predictable text, "Run, Dick, run.  Run, Jane, run."  It wasn't the "interest factor" of the books that stimulated and motivated me, rather it was that I WAS READING!  By the time I entered first grade, I was a very accomplished reader.

Why do I tell you this?  I tell you because the first three years of my schooling were my most exciting, and the years I remember with warmth.  Yes, warmth.  I find myself often going back to those times when I am in need of some pleasant memories.  So what was so exciting about school for me?  Reading.  Reading.  Reading.  It wasn't about fancy lessons the teacher taught.  It was about the books I read.  I learned early on that reading could take you on journeys to places I could never go in real life.  I could "live" experiences I knew I would never have in my lifetime.  After reading, Henry and the Clubhouse by Beverly Cleary, I used to draw sketches of the tree clubhouse and the nooks and crannies I'd dream of having someday.  Reading Ribsy made me long for a dog.  In third grade, I HAD to read a biography and do a book report.  I fought that tooth and nail.  It was NOT something I wanted to do.  Reluctantly I chose a book about Amelia Earhart.  After that book, I wanted to BE Amelia Earhart (well, not the crash).  I loved that Amelia was so brave.  I loved that she did things "girls" didn't usually do - pilot planes.  That biography had such an impact on me that when I was pregnant with my fourth child, I read an adult biography about Amelia Earhart and was set to name my baby, if she was a girl, Amelia.  That is, until my mother told me that I couldn't because it would confuse all the relatives.  (My firstborn is named Emilee, and Amelia is a spanish derivation of the name Emilee.  And since my mother is spanish....Amelia turned into Olivia.  Ha ha!)

Where is all this leading?

Many of the children are "turning into readers" or are on the verge of "cracking the code".  Now is the time to motivate them with putting a lot of print in their hands.  I remember vividly how excited I used to get when my elementary teachers would pass out a Scholastic (and back then, Troll) Book Club flyers to order books.  Thank goodness my parents were believers in providing me with a lot of books, and consequently, I became a bookworm! 

I seriously believe that the excitement of receiving books from Scholastic made me want to read more.  Why?  Because Mom said she would only buy new books for me each month as long as I read the ones she purchased for me in the previous order.  Each time the books arrived, I felt like it was my birthday!  The waiting was tough, I won't lie to you!  But the waiting taught me to be patient, it gave me something exciting to look forward to, and it was sooo exciting when I walked into the classroom and saw the stacks of books the teacher had laid out from the orders!  Whoo hoo!  When she handed me my order, I had difficulty thinking of anything else.  I couldn't wait to go home and start reading! 

Now that the children are starting to read, I am now going to start the Scholastic Book ordering for my class.  Thankfully, parents can now place their orders online.  Click here for a letter with the directions for how to do this.  The due date for all orders is November 22nd, the last day before Thanksgiving Vacation.

Besides the Scholastic book orders, I am going to begin sending home some readers from my own classroom libraries and from the district's reading program.  I am going to ask each parent to complete a permission form for their child to participate in this lending program.  When your child has returned this form, I will begin the program with him/her.  These readers will be basic readers based on sight words. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  It is my hope that I can help turn your child into an addict - a READING addict, that is.  I hope that through opening up books, I can open up the world to them.

(The pictures in this post are by one of my favorite artists, Mary Englebreit.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank you, Veterans!

On Thursday, we read a book about Veteran's Day that started with the sentence, "Some people think that Veteran's Day is just another day off of school."  To ensure that my students understood WHY they had an extra day this weekend, I invited a veteran to speak with our class.  Jayce's grandfather came to our class and told us what it meant to be a veteran.  We also took a look at some hats and helmets from veterans of many different wars: Civil War, WWI, and WWII, and current day helmets.  The helmets belong to Mr. E, the Quest teacher on short-term contract who is our neighbor.  Thanks to both gentlemen for sharing with our class!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Busy, Busy Week!

Our school day started with our district writing test on which my little kiddos did very well overall, then was followed by a Farm Breakfast!  The breakfast was a nice follow-up to our writing activity, I am SURE the children would say!

My wonderful group of moms donated the food, cooked, and served while the children told me where everything they were going to eat or drink came from:
  • Bacon -  (This one was tough. The children still have a hard time distinguishing the type of meat that comes from each animal.  The safe answer they wanted to give me was "meat".   :-)
  • Sausage - (Also tough for them.  I told them that MOST people ate breakfast meat that came from the pig.  Some people will splurge once in awhile and have STEAK and eggs, in which case that meat comes from the cow and is called beef.)
  • Eggs - that was an EASY one - the chicken
  • Bread - One child said, "The farm."  Yes, that's true.  But from where on the farm?  "A plant."  We were getting closer!  "Wheat."  BINGO!
  • Butter - "The cow."  And before I could ask, "Does butter come out of the cow?", someone said, "from milk".  That was also fairly easy for the students because we shook cream in containers for about 15 minutes and we had yummy butter!
  • Orange juice - "The farm."  <sigh>  "Yes, but what kind of farm?"  "An orange orchard."  <grin>  Close.  Close enough.  "Well, we learned that apples and peaches and many other fruits that grow on trees come from orchards, but we call a farm of orange trees a GROVE."  (Today was NOT the first time the students had heard this, but you've got to admit, it IS confusing.)
I did not hear one child say they didn't like something on the plate.  I also didn't see much waste! 
After breakfast, the children went to Music.  Upon returning from Music class, Mrs. Zari and I served them some more hot bread right out of the .....breadmaker.  The children also did a "taste test" of milks: white and chocolate.  Then they took turns signing their name on the chart under their favorite type of milk. THIS time I did hear, "I don't like it," but it was the type of bread.  The  children loved the wheat bread with breakfast, but they didn't like the sourdough bread.  (I think if I had not told them the name, they might've liked it.  As soon as I said "SOURdough", I saw an immediate reaction!  Lesson learned.

We have had a very busy week already, and it's only Wednesday! 

The Zoo fieldtrip on Monday:

Baby Giraffe - born in August

Python out on  a "slither", as one child said


Notice the pupils in its eyes

The Human Species with "wings"

Flying Fox Bats

Tomorrow we will learn about veterans!