Monthly Learning Updates

Beginning this month, you will receive two learning updates each month concerning your child’s progress. One learning update will be about important math skills, and the other about important literacy skills. This Friday you will receive the math monthly learning update. Each learning update will include information about your child’s progress as well as ideas for practicing the skill at home. I hope the learning updates help you feel more connected to our classroom and empowered to make a difference in your child’s learning!

Talking is Learning Too!

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In kindergarten we do a lot of talking! Now some of it is not helpful, productive talk and from time to time we do have to put our heads down on the table and pull ourselves together.
But talking is such a natural inclination for us human beings.
In our class I do believe we have managed to harness the power of talking for good rather than evil.

One example is a strategy we use called “teach-ok”. It is a call and response( I say “teach” and the kids respond “ok”) and proceed to teach their friends what they know about the topic at hand. The kids might teach their friend a prediction they have about the book we are about to read, or they might teach a friend what our writing mini lesson was just about. Basically it is a strategy to get all kids actively engaged in our discussions and deepen their understanding of a topic by explaining it to others. “Teach-ok” also helps the students build rapport with each other and feel more confident about raising their hand to share with the class after they have had a chance to bounce their ideas off a friend.

In kindergarten we have realized that talking is learning too.

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Experimenting with Force and Motion

Our current science unit is Force and Motion. Last Friday we read Sheep in a Jeep to introduce our unit. Then we got hands on with toy cars and marbles. We were able to figure out how to make objects move in various ways and also how to make objects stop. We connected science vocabulary such as; force, motion, push, and pull to real life examples and actions. Over the next several weeks we will take these concepts deeper.

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Writing and Recognizing Numbers to 20

Our class has been working hard to master writing and recognizing numbers up to 20. We have played a variety of games for extra practice.
Bingo is a fun way to get lots of practice. The kids make their own bingo boards to practice writing the numerals.

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And sometimes we write our numbers, just because.

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Ancient Egypt Behavin’ Raven Celebration

We earned 300 Behavin’ Ravens! That means someone in our class showed safe, respectful, learner behavior 300 different times, certainly something to celebrate! The kids chose to do crafts to celebrate and I of course felt compelled to spice it up. The children have been a teensy bit obsessed with our read aloud book Mummies in the Morning. I thought this celebration would be a good opportunity to teach the kids a little something about ancient Egypt and give them a chance to get a little creative.
We began by watching a video clip that depicted everyday life in ancient Egypt. When I previewed the video I noted the many shirtless men in the video and knew it was time to have our first “let’s-not-judge-other-peoples-way-of-life” talk. In kindergarten this type of talk requires excruciatingly explicit statements such as ” you may not say eeewwww if you see something that seems weird to you. You can think, oh that’s different, instead.” We enjoyed the video with a minimum of “eewws”, as well as many “ooos”, and “awwws”. My personal favorite part was when one child was saying out loud “oh, that’s different” and the person next to them was like “sshhhh, you are supposed to think that, not say it!”
We continued our journey into the ancient world by learning about hieroglyphs. The kids got to type their names in hieroglyphs on the SMART board as well as create scrolls and cartouches with hieroglyphs.

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One child even invented her own hieroglyph!

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We moved onto learning about pyramids and building our own which required some problem solving on the kid’s part. The vertical requirements of the build stumped them at first as I am sure was the case for the ancient Egyptians as well.

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Next we went glam and created our our collar necklaces which turned out super pharaoh-chic!

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And I think this pic of the glitter mess sums up the success of our fun celebration.

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Memorization Promotes Understanding

Kindergarten is all about exploration, play, and discovery. As they say, it is not really about the destination as much as it is the journey and all those amazing things you learn along the way.
I, like most teachers, strive to provide my students with all the tools they need to develop meaningful learning and understanding. In this way, memorization plays a huge role in kindergarteners success. There are certain skills that kindergarteners need to be able to do automatically and fluently. In kindergarten-speak, these skills need to be quick and easy for kids.
Some skills that need to be automatic in kindergarten are:
Counting to 100
Numeral recognition
Numeral writing
Letter recognition
Letter sounds
Letter formation
Reading and writing sight words
Blending and segmenting sounds to figure out words

Here are some pictures of the kids building their automaticity with letter formation. They are playing a great game called “brain and pen”. Ask your kindergartener to teach you how to play!

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