The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

This Week in Our Room: June 18-22, 2018

There’s always some uncertainty around this time of the year.  We’re trying not to talk too much about Grade One, as not all the children are really ready to think about what’s ahead.  They are having so much fun in Kindergarten, solidifying friendships, maturing steadily and managing the demands and expectations of the full-day program more easily.  For some children, they are not ready to leave the coziness and safe feeling of their classroom.  They’ve expressed their feelings, often with tears, a few times this spring.  We’re trying to be sensitive to their needs right now and focusing on the positives of good weather and a summer break to spend with their family and friends.

Our big event this week was preparing for, and participating in the Grade 7 Promotion Ceremony.  True to form, the Kindergarten children outdid themselves again.  They were perfect.  Thank you to all of our parents for dressing the children so beautifully.  The Kindergarten looked lovely and we were so pleased with their composure as they walked their Big Buddies down the aisle.  They really took everything in stride, from carefully handling the roses (thorns and all), some taking two or three turns all the while maintaining the careful order to ensure each Big Buddy walked with his or her Little Buddy.

We’re not sure who had to practise more self-regulation, the Kindergarten or their five teachers.  Special thanks to Mrs. Brady for the delicious snack of cookies and lemonade we enjoyed in the afternoon.

Sarah Donald from the West Vancouver Public Library came to visit us on Wednesday afternoon.  We heard about many new books at the Library, all available for us to borrow this summer holiday!  Don’t forget to enroll your child in the Summer Reading Program.  

We wrapped up our Fairy Tales study with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and talked about what does a happy ending mean for the storybook characters.  We furthered our discussion on magical characters and objects and made connections across many fairy tales events that occur in three.  We started this theme with Once Upon a Golden Apple and finished with reading The Balloon Tree, both written and illustrated by Phoebe Gilman.  The children were delighted with the number of common elements they recognised in a modern, classic Fairy Tale.

This is our last classroom newsletter of the school year!  We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our Kindergarten community and felt well-informed of your child’s schooling.  We’ll publish our good-bye letter to our Kindergarten children next week.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Monday, June 25 is a Fun Day for Kindergarten.  We’re calling it our Beach Day, but we’re not going to the beach.  Instead, we will have some fun activities at school.  We will bring out our water table, sand trays, and blow bubbles.  This will take place from morning recess until lunch.

Thursday, June 28 is our last day of classes.  We’re going to take some time enjoying being together and talking about our favourite parts of Kindergarten.  Dismissal time is as 12 pm for Kindergarten only.

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Big Buddy Promotion Ceremony

Image from Google

It occurred to me this week that this was the first time in three years I have not had a child graduating from high school.  I’ve been pretty busy until this last school year with teaching Kindergarten full time, layered with a busy home life of my own children playing sports and performing in the Fine Arts. I was in a non-stop graduation mindset for 24 months.  My daughter graduated in 2016, then Christy and I had the double whammy of her daughter and my son graduating in 2017. There was a lot of shopping for special occasion clothing, graduation events and University and Scholarship Applications.

I can put it all behind me now until University graduation.  This year no one from my home is graduating.  Christy has a year of reprieve until her youngest graduates two years from now so we’re taking a deep breath of relief for this spring.  But we do have our Kindergarten children’s participation in the Grade 7 Promotion Ceremony to look forward to on Thursday, June 21.  

So you are not rushed next week, here are our expectations for Kindergarten attire for the big event:

Girls– dress or skirt, dress shoes or sandals (no flip flops)

Boys– a button-up shirt with a collar and tie if you have these items (please do not go out and buy them) or a t-shirt/long sleeve shirt withouta large logo on the front, pants or shorts, dress shoes or cleaned up runners.

At this time, we are still trying to fix the exact time our children will be walking the Grade 7s down the aisle.  We know for sure it will be in the morning, around 11:25 am.  You are welcome to come and watch and shed a few years with us as we realize how quickly this magical year has gone by.   We suggest you arrive for 11:15 am and wait for us in the hallway to pass you. Then follow us in.  As soon as more details are shared with us, we will inform you.

 

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Cinderella Story…This Week in Our Room: June 11-15, 2018

Well, our dear friend is back in town and her name is Cinderella.  This is our favourite Fairy Tale of all and we’ve enjoyed reading many different versions of the Charles Perrault classic.

We’ve been talking about all things magical, including the magical people and icons that appear in Fairy Tales.  When we think about reading as comprehension, we are activating our prior knowledge to “hang” the new knowledge and ideas we learn.  We need to have the appropriate prior knowledge in order to make sense of what we are reading for understanding (comprehension).  We always recommend reading and talking about stories with your child at home.  If English is your second language, then we encourage you to speak with your children in your home language where they can use their high level vocabulary, language structures and questioning skills more fluently.

Your role in helping develop your child’s oral language and building upon his or her understanding of the stories by making connections with other stories and experiences you’ve shared is developing prior knowledge. Looking for patterns and common elements in stories is really important as our children are building their foundation knowledge about story structure which contributes to their ever-growing knowledge base of literature.

We’ve started to explore measurement in non-standard units this week in Math.  We’re using words such as “longer” and “shorter” when comparing lengths and “taller” when referencing heights.

High Touch High Tech gave an excellent Science Workshop on “Newton in a Nutshell.”  Our children were physicists, scientists who like to study movement or motion, and forces, in the classroom laboratory.  They learned about safely in the lab, talked about gravity, performed several experiments in small groups and then were able to visit five different activity Centres during which they tested Newton’s Three Laws:

  1. Objects in motion stay in motion.  Objects at rest stay at rest.
  2. The bigger the force the faster the motion.
  3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Thank you to everyone for your contributions to make amazing educational programs such as these possible.

We had another Science program visit Kindergarten to Grade 4 on Thursday, “H2Whoa,” from Dreamrider Productions.  H2Whoa is a play about water conservation, starring Planet Protector Esmeralda and her playful companion Goober.  Together they teach the children about the water cycle, strategies to reduce water consumption and ultimately, to overcome the evil Evaporator from stealing all of the Earth’s water.

We also had a massive growth in our bean seeds last weekend.  We decided to send them home to transplant into the ground, or at least a larger pot.  The pots we’ve used are compostable so you can transplant the entire plant, pot and all.  Next week is supposed to very hot, great for bean growth.  The beans still need a lot of regular watering.

It’s been five years now since my own Dad has passed away (1928-2013).  I’m a tremendous reader today because of the love of books he fostered within me and my sister.  My parents have always supported me in my schooling and career, my Dad in particular, to follow my passion and love of what I’m doing.  31 years later, I’m teaching your child in Kindergarten, still very much enjoying this delightful age group and working with Christy, my amazing teaching partner, because of my Dad’s love and belief in following my heart.  So to all of our Dads, Happy Father’s Day with love.  We’ve made you a little gift in class that we know you’ll want to share with your little one.  And thank so much to our parent helpers who help us to make all things possible in the Kindergarten!

 

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It’s More Than Just Fairy Tales: Jack and the Beanstalk, Self-Regulation and Some Thoughts on Curriculum Integration.This Week in Our Room: May 28-June 1, 2018

This was a fun week of curricular integration for Literature, Science and Art in the Kindergarten.  We do a lot of integration of subject areas in our classrooms; it allows us an opportunity to create layers of meaningful content and greater depth, as well as helping the children to see the connectedness of what they are learning.  Our students come to realise that everything they learn is not in isolation, but instead connected to structures, or frameworks, and understandings that help them to make greater sense of their world.

We’re on to our third Fairy Tale, “Jack and the Beanstalk.”   We read several versions, including this sweet one by Mara Alperin and Ag Jatkowska.  We’re continuing to explore story structure by recalling what happened at the beginning, the middle and the end of the story.  We’re beginning to think about the characters beyond who is good (expected behaviour) or bad (unexpected behaviour) and reflecting upon their role in the story as either a main or secondary character.  We’ve been teaching and reteaching story structure because that literary understanding will always be a key to reading comprehension, the goal of reading any text.

You might have noticed we are referring to the “good” and “bad” behaviour of story characters as “expected” or “unexpected” behaviour.  Those are the terms we use in class, as part of our Zones of Regulation vocabulary, whenever we are reflecting on our own conduct.  Leave it to us to always find a way to view all teaching and learning through the lens of self-regulation.

It’s interesting for us to make reference to the literary characters of Little Red, the Woodsman, the Wolf in “Little Red/The 3 Little Pigs” and Jack and the Giant in terms of the Zones as the children are very insightful into the characters’ energy levels and motivation.  This discussion can pave the way for the class to talk about our own behaviour.  For example, the Kindergarten know that the Wolf is in the Red Zone because he wants to eat the Little Red/3 Pigs thus, his body is out of control.  It’s safe for the children to talk about it because the Wolf is far removed as a storybook character; however, they all understand chasing and eating someone is not ok.  What’s most important for the children is they know the Wolf needs to down-regulate back to the Green Zone; it’s their thinking about the strategies for calming which tells us what they have learned.

For our Science integration we are learning about Growing Things.  The week’s lesson was on the parts of a seed:  the embryo (baby plant), seed food (part of the seed until the plant forms leaves to make its own food) and the seed coat.  Our fun craft for Jack was the planting of bean seeds – real life integration and a connection between our environment and what we’re currently reading.  We had lots of fun playing in the soil and making our plant markers.  Thank you to our parents for digging in the dirt with us!  We are waiting with excitement for the first baby sprout…we watered the seeds well to get through the weekend.

Continuing on our Fairy Tale Theme, we started our Royal Kinder Portraits, another great drawing and painting activity by Deep Space Sparkle.  More integration with our umbrella theme of Fairy Tales and providing further learning experiences for fine motor skill development – a must in Kindergarten.  Here, we use a template to draw the crown with pencil, then trace and decorate with pastel.  Next, we draw a “U” for the face; everybody has a good sized, proportional face thanks to the crown template.  We drew in the facial details with the expertise of children who have drawn 9 self-portraits already this year, in addition to many faces and figures just because they love to draw so much.  Next week we will begin painting the portraits in small groups.

We’ve come to the end of Geometry with reviewing the properties of Triangles and reading the fabulous Shapes that Roll by Karen Sagel and Steve Wilson.  We’ll start some fun work on linear measurement next week.

Sports Day 2018

Well, the Blue Bubblegums and Red Ring Pops held their own and competed at a fierce level on Sports Day.  Although we compete for points, a Ridgeview Sports Day is about team spirit, excellent sportsmanship and fun, fun, fun!!  Thanks to all our parents and grandparents who came out and cheered on our mighty athletes, small in stature, but giants in enthusiasm, energy and team loyalty.  The Grade 6 Leaders looked after their Kinder teammates really well.  They ensured the children made it up to the washrooms when necessary and supported them for the more challenging relays.  

In usual Kindergarten fashion, the special Sports Day Snack (iced cookies) and the prospect of face-painting after their participation in the Sports Day relays were the most anticipated events of the day.  We’ve been teaching the Kindergarten for many years, and it reminds us again that our children, while they’ve grown and matured so much emotionally, socially and academically, are still very much little people.

For us, it was a “no tears” Sports Day (children, not teachers) and it didn’t rain so we can’t ask for more than that.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Our Ridgeview Me to We team is selling Ridgeview silicone bracelets.  They are $2 each and we are taking orders for them.  Some of the children have tried it on; it’s a little big but everybody seems to be quite pleased that it’s not slipping off.  

Sharing and Special Helper continues with our “bring your favourite plant” theme.  We’ve been getting some beauties in to class and really enjoy their beautiful fragrance.

All Library Books need to be returned next week.

Please return your May Homework Calendars this week for a sticker.

If you have not made your $12 donation for our High Touch, High Tech “Newton in a Nutshell” Science workshop on Wednesday, June 13, please do so through SchoolCashOnline.  A purple notice was sent home earlier this week with the online link.

 

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Just Breathe…This Week in Our Room:  May 22-25, 2018

We’ve been pretty busy for the month of May and it’s nowhere near over yet.  Since the run up to Student-Led Conferences at the end of April, we’ve worked on our Mother’s Day paintings; completely cleared out (like June) then restored (like September) my classroom for Mayfair; presented to the WV School Board our collaborative work on digital literacy, guided inquiry and the Big Buddy program for “Penguin Movie Magic;” and then held “Welcome to Kindergarten” for the incoming Kindergarten children.  Next week we will be having team meetings for Sports Day which falls on Friday, June 1 this year. It’s probably a fair comment to say we have a lot going on right now. As creatures of habit, we’re certainly looking forward to having a return to our calm and quiet routines so we can just enjoy being with our students in our classrooms for the last few weeks of our Kindergarten year.

There’s no doubt in our minds that the children’s self-regulation has been sorely tested with the schedule changes and upheavals over the past few weeks.  And we’re pleased to say that for the most part, the children have been able to draw upon their knowledge of deep breathing for calming no matter where we are (line-ups, waiting for assemblies, listening during our tennis lessons) and are still taking our practise time for self-regulation strategies quite seriously.  We’ve noticed that the children’s breathing postures have really improved over the school year, they are able to settle themselves quickly to listen to calming music and they are picking up on the social cues for when they need to regulate their own emotional state (the teacher is explaining a difficult concept so they must listen; lessons are getting longer and more complex with numerous steps so they must engage; we had a fire drill last week where they must focus).  

We’ve continued to view our children and lessons through a self-regulation lens where we the teachers act as co-regulators to help our students self-regulate, but we also have been careful to observe, reflect and adjust when necessary, our lessons so that during this busy time our children are not overwhelmed by everything going on around them.

We’re working on our new Science Unit on “Growing Things” now and enjoying the first few Sharings our children are bringing in.  For this round of Sharing and Special Helper, we’re asking everybody to bring in their favourite plant. We’re happy to receive a photo of your garden or of a plant that’s too big to bring in to school.  We had a fun lesson on what plants need (food, fertiliser, water, air, time, love) and made these lovely folders to hold our school work.

In Fairy Tales, we are reading “The Three Little Pigs.”  The children are very familiar with this tale, and able to talk about the story in terms of its beginning, middle and end.  We’re examining the story element of character, and had a lively discussion about the good and bad characters in this story.  We especially enjoyed reading Wolfie’s Secret by Nicola Senior, a twist on the traditional tale where Wolfie actually hides his secret aspirations to become a baker.  He’s treated rather poorly by the three pigs once they find out his true ambitions, but like any good story, everything works out happily ever after for wolf and pigs alike.

This week we finished our work on squares, and will wrap up our Geometry Unit with lessons on rectangles and triangles.  We’ve been having a lot of fun with “shape searches” throughout the classroom and looking around for these familiar silhouettes both indoors and out.

Sports Day

We will take a moment here to review what’s happening this week for Sports Day on Friday, June 1.  Sports Day is a grand tradition here at Ridgeview. All of the schoolchildren are divided into four colour teams.  This year, Mrs. Daudlin’s class is BLUE and Mrs. Campbell’s class is RED.  These are the colours our children should be wearing on Sports Day.  Parents are welcome to dress up in your team colour and watch the fun.

On Sports Day, please arrive on time at your child’s classroom.  We will quickly move to our meeting rooms after attendance so please try not to be late.  We usually perform our cheers on the playcourt so that is a great spot to meet our team and you can follow your child’s individual team around the Sports Day activities.

Our children are placed on mini-teams of students from Grades 1-6.  They will be led by Grade Six children around the activities that are run by Grade Seven students.  

Around 10:40, following the Freezie Break, the Kindergarten children will be brought to the playcourt to meet Mrs. Campbell and myself.  We’ll go back to our classrooms and eat our usual snack. We know the children are often really hungry on this morning so please send a BIG snack.  Then there will be time for Centres and face-painting by our Grade 7s if the children wish.

Please note that Kindergarten children are dismissed at 12 pm on Sports Day from their classroomsIf you have ordered a Sports Day hot lunch, you’ll pick it up from the school kitchen and enjoy a picnic lunch out on the field.  

Upcoming Events and Reminders

This Wednesday is the last Library Book Exchange so please return your book if you’d like to take another one.  Mrs. Kennedy has arranged some fun Library Events for the remainder of our Library Days, including a visit from the WV Memorial Library to talk about the Summer Reading Program.

Sports Day is Friday, June 1.  Please ensure your child has been sunscreen application before coming to school.  We will only be outside until 10:45 at the latest, then moving inside for the rest of the morning.

Our upcoming Science workshop “Newton in a Nutshell: a focus on force and motion” will be taking place on June 13th.  We are asking for a $12 donation to cover the cost of having this mobile science program come to our classrooms. Please make your payment through School Cash online.

 

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Digital Literacy in Kindergarten: Penguin Movie Magic

Every year in Kindergarten Christy and I like to do one digital literacy project with our children.  We always enter into this process with mixed feelings.  We know our children already spend some time using apps and games on iPads and iPhones and more games on computers:  Do they really need more tech time?  However, we are also of the mind that creatingwith technology, rather than consumingtechnology, is something we can teach our children in their school setting.  We have the resources to do so and so this year we’ve made something very special:  Penguin Movie Magic.

We Love Penguins

In Kindergarten, one of our Science Big ideas is plants and animals have observable features.  The penguin is our animal of choice to discuss habitat, appearance, young, behaviour and life cycle. 

Digital Literacy and Technology Support

For all things digital, we draw upon the experience and expertise of our District Innovation Support Leader (Technology), Ridgeview Grade 7 teacher and BFF Ms. Cari Wilson; Grade 7 teacher Mr. Russ Paterson and our Grade 7 Big Buddies.  Cari was instrumental in helping us to establish an internet and social media presence with this website.  Mr. Paterson is our Big Buddy teacher and our Big Buddies…well, they were once our Kinders in the former half-day program, and now they are Grades 7s who are very much loved by their Little Buddies.

Our goal for each Buddy group was to create a documentary movie about penguins using the Green Screen by Do Ink app.  Big and Little Buddies collected information from the internet, and images from Google, for each area of our Penguin Planning Framework.  Our framework helps our Big and Little Buddies to be organised in their research, stay focused on specific topics, read for information and practise the skill of note-taking. 

We wanted the children to tell the story logically so we supported them with a group plan for reference as to how each movie should play out.  We discussed our objectives as a large group and wrote up the group plan together. This was also a good time for the Big Buddies to clarify any questions they might have, and a really valuable opportunity for the Little Buddies to see direct instruction in another learning context:  how teachers, and students of all ages, can collaborate together as a community of learners. 

The fun really begins following completion of our research.  Each of our Big Buddies, with tremendous patience, encouragement and humour, taught their Little Buddies what to say during filming.  

The Green Screen by Do Ink app allowed us to superimpose the computer graphics behind the actors.  Being of the make do with what you’ve gotmanner of thinking, we used the green paper off of our paper rolls for our green screen.  We had several setsdown the Primary hallway so four groups could film simultaneously.  Even better, since the completion of this project, our Principal, Mrs. Brady, has bought us a real green screen!  Thank you, Mrs. Brady!

A great deal of rehearsal preceded the actual filming.  Cari acted as gatekeeperto ensure the Kindergarten children knew their lines before going in studio.  The Big Buddies would count their Little Buddy in with 3, 2, 1, actionbefore filming or the words would be lost.  

Needless to say amongst the laughter, repeated takes and endless heaps of praise, this was a learning process that was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.   We all realized that while showbiz might look easy, it is actually a lot of very hard work.

Mystery Box Inquiry

In Kindergarten, we use the guided inquiry process.  For us, guided inquiry is about play, discovery, exploration and oral language developmentin questioning skills.  The Kindergarten plays a lot, as they should, because that is the Kindergarten child’s work at school:  to play.  We believe that all learning for Kindergarten should be child-centred, hands-on and play focused where their natural intuition for play leads them to discover and explore their world in their own time.  Imaginary play, block play, puzzles, dress-up dolls, Lego, playing with language at the Imagination Station, the Dollhouse –it’s all in a day’s play for Kindergarten.

Now admittedly, to teach questioning skills, we have to do so by direct instruction but we still make it playful for the children.  We begin by placing an object in the Mystery Box.  Then we have the children ask up to 10 questions about what might be in the Mystery Box.  In the beginning, there is a lot of guessing.  But over the 4-5 Mystery Box Inquiries we complete, we notice real change in the sophistication of the children’s questions.  

Our focus is on the 5Ws (who, what, when, where, why and how) and we help the children re-frame their guesses and beginning questions (is it a….?)to questions they can start with the 5Ws (what does it feel like?where does it live? how does it move?)  We also teach them to ask checking questionsto confirm their theory, based on the information we’ve revealed in our answers, about what’s in the Mystery Box.  Our focus is for the children to ask questions that require us to answer with more than just yesor no.  After 10 questions, the children are allowed to make a guess and amid much clapping and fanfare, the Mystery Box is opened when a correct guess is finally made!

Final Cut

At publication time, our Penguin Movie Magic projects are now completed.  We debuted our movies to our Kindergarten families during Student-Led Conferences on April 26, 2018.  Our Big Buddies helped us to upload their Little Buddies movie to FreshGrade so each family was able to access their child’s account during the Conferences.  

We wanted to note that in addition to their movie, our children also completed response pages for each Mystery Box Inquiry to make their own Penguin Research Booklets.   As our children move onto Grade One in a few short weeks, printing their names, colouring and completing frame sentences are important and necessary skills we need to not only have taught, but practised in a meaningful way.  Our integrated learning process of building relationships, digital literacy, guided inquiry, writing and presenting is multi-layered and complex, as all good teaching and learning should be to meet a variety of student needs. 

 

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Bits and Pieces….This Week in Our Room: May 7-11, 2018

We’re shifting gears as we finished up our Alphabet Books and moved onto our big literary theme for the school year, Fairy Tales. We’ll be reading, discussing and comparing similar versions of several Fairy Tales for the next few weeks.  We are learning about the elements of a story (plot, character, theme, setting)and story structure (beginning, middle, end).  If you would like to read some of the stories ahead of us, we will be reading these stories for teaching purposes:

Little Red Riding Hood

The Three Little Pigs

Jack and the Beanstalk

Hansel and Gretel

Cinderella

Snow White

We’re already read so many stories from the wonderful books the children have brought in for Sharing. We’re reading everything from the traditional tales to the Disney version to fun riffs off of familiar stories (we read The Ninjabread Man and that brought the house down with hysterical fits of laughter which was fantastic).  It’s wonderful for the children to learn how writers play with language to create humour.

We started our next Math unit in Geometry.  We’ll be studying 2- and 3- dimensional figures in class, their properties and classifying familiar items in those shape categories.

The weather held up for our nature walk to look at Living and Non-Living things on our school grounds.  This was the first lesson for our unit on “Plants are Living Things.”  Everyone will have a chance to bring their favourite plant or flower to school for our next round of Sharing.  We will let you know when we are ready to begin.

We are well into our Home Reading Book Exchange routine.  The children know we are just going to exchange our books on three days a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  They love to look through the little books and we see growing independence in their remembering to bring in their book bag and choosing their new books.  We’ve seen the children enjoy sitting at the table reading through the little books and it’s a very special and joyful time for us to see their developing love of literature.

We saw our Big Buddies this week and finished the wrapping for our Mother’s Day gifts.  You’ve already had a bit of a preview at your Student-Led Conference but know that the children were very much thinking of their Moms as they created these special gifts from their hearts.

There’s a lot of excitement building around Mayfair, which takes place this Saturday, May 12, 11 am-3 pm.  Daily donations of books, used sporting goods, tombola bags and today’s cupcakes and cakes for the Cake Walk are coming in and will make for some fun stalls and activities.  There is going to be a lot of fun!  The sun is supposed to shine so purchase your tickets early, grab your hat and sunscreen and come and enjoy the day!  

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Library Book Exhange on Wednesday.  We only have three more weeks to exchange books from the library.  On June 1, Mrs Kennedy will be ending book exchange in preparation for her year end library organization.

Friday, May 18 is a Professional Development Day so school is not in session  Monday, May 21 school will also be closed for Victoria Day.

With the warm weather please make sure you child has a non-spill water bottle at school every day.

 

 

 

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Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Ways to Support Literacy at Home

One of our greatest joys as teachers is sharing our love of reading, writing and literature with our young students.  It’s important that we work together, as teachers and parents, to create supportive literacy environments at both home and school.

At school, one of our clues for “where to start” is from our children’s home literacy experiences.  We quickly learn about our children’s exposure to stories and nursery rhymes, and discussion (listening to others and speaking aloud) and book handling skills.   We observe their familiarity with using paper, pencils and crayons and can sense if the children feel that their scribbling, drawing and printed work is, and has been, valued.  We build upon those experiences by providing our children with a myriad of activities where they can use their literacy skills and develop them further.  The processes of reading and writing go hand-in-hand:  Good readers become good writers, and good writers become good readers.

One of the most important things we do is provide as many opportunities for oral languageas possible.  This includes Storytime, chanting poems and singing songs, brainstorming vocabulary, classroom discussions and teaching questioning skills.  In addition to teaching phonological awareness, the development of the children’s oral language is an important part of a balanced approach to reading instruction.

During Storytime and other oral language activities, here’s what we’ve noticed about our Kindergarten children’s story awareness:

-they love to rhyme and predict patterns

-they chime in to read the parts of the story they know (with and without cues from the teacher)

-they ask a lot of questions about the story

-they try to make connections between the story and their personal experiences

-they ”read” the picture clues and any known words in the text

-they show interest in what the words say on a page or a chart

One of the most popular Activity Time Centres in the classroom is the Imagination Station.  Here, the children are encouraged to write, draw and create to their heart’s content.  We supply colouring supplies, scissors and glue.  We add in colourful and patterned paper scraps, stickers, envelopes, small booklets we’ve made from leftover paper, lined paper and any other doodads (scrapbook embellishments) we might have to encourage the writing process.  Sometimes we have to create a secondImagination Station at another table because everyone that day has something important they want to express in print.  This is all in addition to our daily Alphabet and Theme writing activities.  Your children are writing, printing, drawing and colouring a lot in class.  This has been one of our most prolific years in Kindergarten.

During Alphabet and other writing activities, here’s what we’ve noticed about our Kindergarten children’s print awareness:

-they recognise their own name in print around the classroom and love to look for it

-they show an interest in the names of their classmates

-they show interest in reading and copying the environmental print around the classroom  (eg., names, daily schedule, numbers),

-they show interest in printing independently (“I don’t need any help; I can do it by myself”)

-they pay attention to the sounds and sound sequence when printing words

-they enjoys receiving notes with messages from their classmates and parents (in lunch bags)

-they enjoy communicating with classmates by writing messages

So, taking into consideration what we are doing at school, and based on our observations of our children, here are a few more ideas for you to support literacy at home:

Read aloud daily to your child.  As parents ourselves, we can say this is one of the most precious times you will spend with your child.  Enjoy every single story because the time will come when your child wants to read independently.  Besides the weekly Library Book, build a bedtime story routine into your evening so you can enjoy some cosy time with your child.  You can add a little bit of alphabet practice during your story (“Let’s look for the words beginning with the letter S”) and ask questions to develop understanding, but the idea is simply to enjoy reading and the pleasure of sharing a good book together.

Sing songs and listen to music.  Singing songs and listening to music, like nursery rhymes, is very important to develop an awareness of rhyme, rhythms and patterns.  Children learn songs and quickly memorise them; this contributes to their ever-growing oral language base which will help to make them stronger readers.  

Visit your local library regularly.  Does your child have a library card?  Do you visit your public library every week?  In addition to visiting our own amazing school library and our Teacher-Librarian, Mrs. Kennedy, regular visits to your local public library is a great outing for everyone.  Your child can borrow books, audio recordings and children’s magazines, and you can pick up some great new reads for yourself.  Your child will love to see what you’ve borrowed to read!

Model your own love of reading to your child.  Let your children see you reading books, the newspaper, the calendar, recipes, and let them know why you are reading.  They are learning from you that reading is purposeful, as well as fun.  Try sharing aloud funny things from your own reading, and your child will start to do that with you.  Children need to see moms and dads, grandparents and siblings reading.  When they understand reading is an activity valued by the people they love, they will come to love it, too.

Provide a variety of reading materials.  We have a lot of books in the classroom, but we also have a Listening Centre, a Book Nook, reading wands to “read the room,” alphabet puzzles and games and now, Home Readers.  At home, your child can also play board games, read the environmental print on grocery packages, the fridge magnets, your shopping lists, the North Shore News and all of its accompanying flyers.

Spend time just talking with your child.  Respond to your children’s questions, take the time to explain concepts to them and use the correct vocabulary.  We all need to model good oral language.  The children will love to hear stories about your day, themselves when they were toddlers and preschoolers, and they will especially enjoy stories about you when you were young.  Time spent sharing between your child and you, or your child and grandparents, is an opportunity to share the history of your family.  Activities such as crafting, baking, cooking and gardening all have their own vocabulary, skills and processes which are not only fun to do, but doing them together creates shared memories of special times.

Provide a variety of writing materials.  The sky is pretty much the limit for what is available for your child in the way of school supplies and craft materials.  In our classes, Mr. Sketch (smelly markers) have been a huge hit every year.  With the exception of some inky noses, these are great markers for our Littles.  The children are used to using the larger pencils in class, but they do enjoy our fancy pencils, pens, skinny felts, pastels, bingo markers and paints and paintbrushes.  We give them a lot of recycled materials like old cards, envelopes, little notebooks and scrapbook paper for cutting, gluing, creating and writing.  Colouring book pages continue to be very much loved.  The children are very interested in using tape and staplers, hole punches and ribbon scraps to gather their work into booklets.  For outdoor writing and drawing, sidewalk chalk is very fun!

Model that you are a writer, too.  Through your own work, at home or out of the house, you can show your child that writing is an important part of everything you do.  Let your child see you write cards, shopping lists, cheques, or a short email so they understand that writing has a purpose.  You can respond with interest to your child’s writing, and answer the messages they write to you.  We often ask the children what a scribble, string of letters or drawing is all about and they are happy to oblige.  You can also take a moment to label your child’s work for her, show him the correct formation of letters or spelling of some words if he asks.  Your response demonstrates to your child how much you value their literary efforts.

Still looking for more ideas?  For further reading, you can visit these two posts where we describe in further detail additional ways to support literacy at home.

Reading with Your Kindergarten Child:  Establish an Atmosphere for Reading at Home

Reading with Your Kindergarten Child:  Literacy Awareness – A Book is More Than a Story

Sources:  The Phonological Awareness Companion.  LinguiSystems, Inc.1995; Conversation Connections Parent Program, Workshop 2:  Handout M.  The Psychological Corporation, 1993; Strickland, S.D., Mandel Morrow, L.  “Family Literacy and Young Children,The Reading Teacher, March 1989, pgs. 530-531;  Schiller, D., Quigg, J., Wylie, K.  “Stress Free Reading at Home:  A Handbook for Parents.”

 

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This Week in Our Room: April 30-May 4, 2018

We’ve taken a much deserved week to slow down and just enjoy playing in our classrooms and getting caught up on some bits and pieces around the classroom.

We’re just about finished our Alphabet Books.  Some of the children had missed pages due to sickness or travel so they did their best this week to get caught up on at least the printing and receiving their Alphabet stickers!

We read the delightful 10 Black Dots by Donald Crews and completed the sentence frame “___ dots can make a ___” for individual pages to contribute to a class big book.  The children were asking what happens to all the big books we make every year?  Well, we take all the books apart every June, sort out the pages by student and create an individual big book for every child with just his or her own pages. It’s another keepsake from Kindergarten that your child can read over the summer.

Speaking of reading, WOW!  Did we ever have a lot of fun and excitement this week with our Home Reading Book Exchange!  The children diligently read their books each evening and today we had a flood of books returned and ready to be exchanged.  This is such a fun part of Kindergarten for us when the children are eager to read these little books independently.  Remember to return this weekend’s books on Monday for the next set.  

We are going to be asking the children to select the books themselves so not to worry if the books on occasion are a bit too easy (excellent to develop oral reading fluency) or a bit too hard (excellent for you to read and teach some new vocabulary and sight words).  We all encounter reading materials of this nature.  But it’s the strategies of using the picture clues, looking for smaller words in big words and context which helps us with our comprehension.

We also wanted to thank one of our Ridgeview families for donating this great stack of home readers to the Kindergarten.  We’ll be adding these to the Home Reading baskets so gives our children even more choices when choosing their own books!

Using our Bonus Bank earnings from the Scholastic Book orders this year, we purchased this set of Melissa and Doug Fairy Tale Castle blocks.  It’s gorgeous and sparking lots of fairy tale vocabulary – the children love the wishing well, the horse and carriage and the archers and creating fun scenes with pieces and acting them out.

As everyone knows from the Reminds, we had a rockin’ day on Friday.

We finished our tennis lessons this week.  The children learned to use a tennis racquet, toss and catch the ball across the net and stay in their court.

We had our class photos taken and were lucky to escape any rain during our panorama photo with the entire school.  

We had some additional schedule changes so Mrs. Daudlin’s class will have their Library Book Exchange on Monday as we were unable to fit it into Friday.  We also moved Forest Friday to Monday as we ran out of steam for an outdoor playtime.

Reminders and Upcoming Events

Library Book Exchange is back to our regular day now, Wednesday.

Forest Fridays continue with the good weather so please keep your rain boots at school.

Keep the Tombola loot bags coming in!  Our goal is to collect one from each student as the prizes from this fun Mayfair event!

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Count On: Counting Picture Books for Kindergarten


We’ve come to the end of our Numeracy Lessons; the last response page has been stapled into our Math books.  It’s been a really busy time.  We’ve focused on exploring numbers from 1-10 by counting sets, creating ways to show a specific number, looking for smaller numbers in the larger number, subitizing, matching sets to numerals and printing numerals correctly.  You can read more about what we do to explore number
here

 

We’ve used the teaching of number as another opportunity to integrate more children’s literature into our units of instruction.  We’re definitely of the “so many books, so little time” way of thinking, and we want to provide as many oral language experiences through stories, rhymes and songs as we can, in every subject area.  For our students, a good picture book is an amazing provocation: it’s a chance to connect our thinking and build common language around what we’re learningand it’s an experience we can all share and relate to no matter what our home language and cultural background may be.

 

There are so many wonderful books available today and the children are really the ones who benefit.  As their teachers, we try to read aloud only the best of what we can find.  It’s our habit to read the entire book before purchasing if we can.  We’re huge fans of Scholastic Books so of course it’s not always possible (we might have to buy sight unseen) unless we’re acquiring a book we’ve already read from the library.

Today’s Counting Picture Books booklist includes classics new and old.  It is the tiniest of booklists compared to what is available for our children today.  How lucky is that?!

What Comes in 2’s, 3’s, & 4’s?(Suzanne Aker and Bernie Karlin)

Gray Rabbit’s 1, 2, 3(Alan Baker)

1-2-3- peas(Keith Baker)

Canada 123(Kim Bellefontaine and Per-Henrik Gurth)

One Grey Mouse(Katherine Burton and Kim Fernandes)

Ten Black Dots(Donald Crews)

Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On(Lois Ehlert)

Zero is the Leaves on the Tree(Betsy Franco and Shino Arihara)

How Many Snails? A counting book(Paul Giganti, Jr. and Donald Crews)

Four Black Puppies(Sally Grindley and Clive Scruton)

Hello Kitty Hello Numbers(illustrated by Higashi Glaser)

The Gummy Candy Counting Book(Amy and Richard Hutchings; photographs by Richard Hutchings)

Pete the Cat and His four Groovy Buttons(Eric Litwin and James Dean)

One Watermelon Seed(Celia Barker Lottridge and Karen Patkau)

A Pod of Orcas:  A Seaside Counting Book(Sheryl McFarlane and Kirsti Anne Wakelin

The M&M Counting Book(Barbara Barbieri McGrath)

Chicka Chicka 1-2-3(Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson and Lois Ehlert)

PJ Bear’s New Year’s Party(Paul Owen Lewis)

One is a Snail Ten is a Crab:  A Counting by Feet Book(April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre; illustrated by Randy Cecil)

1 is One(Tasha Tudor)

Over in the Meadow: A Counting-Out Rhyme(Olive A. Wadsworth; pictures by Mary Maki Rae)

Mouse Count(Ellen Stoll Walsh)

Bunny Party(Rosemary Wells)

Max Counts His Chickens 1 2 3(Rosemary Wells)

Bear Counts(Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman)

 

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