Getting Ready for Christmas…This Week in Our Room:  December 4-8, 2017

It’s been a very busy time and the children are very much in the blue zone.  We know they are feeling tired and a little sleepy by the end of the week.  We’ve had a lot going on, Christmas is in the air, hanging from the ceiling…it’s everywhere.

We’re working extra hard on practising our Winter Concert songs, completing Christmas and Bear projects and dutifully practising our self-regulation strategies.  We’ve been meditating on our beautifully decorated Christmas tree, listening to gentle music and breathing deeply.

This week is “L is a letter.”  We had a lot of fun searching for the letters in our name, the differences between uppercase and lowercase and which way the letters go.

We’ve been focusing on subitizing (recognition of a number set without counting) with familiar (dice patterns) and unfamiliar number arrangements to develop the children’s concept of number.  We had some candy cane fun when we counted a box of 100 mini candy canes (it turned out to be 104) to share with our Big Buddies by using the 10 frame as another way to organise a set and count by 10s.

 

We read a beautiful Christmas counting poem and created our own versions.

The last story for our Bear Literary Theme was a familiar favourite, Goldilocks and The Three Bears.  It’s always fun to read different versions of the same story and to compare the similarities and differences; this is a great literary activity you can do at home which promotes discussion about the story elements (plot, character, theme, setting) and encourages engagement with books.  

We’ve been working on recalling the main events and sequencing them in the correct order.  A fun culminating activity for us was to read the The Three Bears Christmas and make our three bears stick puppets.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Please return report card envelopes next week.  The report and inserts are for you to keep.

The rehearsal schedule for our upcoming Winter Christmas Concert has been announced for teachers and it will mean our regular school days will not be quite as predictable as in the past number of months. We will all have to be more flexible (Christy and I keep saying this over and over again to each other).  However, this is another opportunity for us to see how well the self-regulation strategies we’ve been teaching in class are working for the children.  

At home, the children should be getting a proper night’s rest (10 hours), eating healthy and getting as much fresh air and exercise as possible.  They will need a lot of stamina and resilience to cope with the next two weeks, combined with the excitement we all call Christmas.

Library Book Exchange will be on Wednesday and it will be the last one before the holidays so please return our library books.

 

Autumn Potpourri…This Week in Our Room:  November 27-December 1, 2017

Like all good elves at this time of the year, we’ve been working very hard in our classroom finishing a myriad of projects.  Christmas activities are woven throughout our day but we’re managing our self-regulation pretty well.  The Advent Calendar we started on Friday, December 1, nudged us from the green zone to the yellow zone; however, a few calming breaths with the smell of chocolate Santas in the air seemed to bring down the energy…sort of.

This week “K is for Kite” and we made some colourful kites to go along with our beautifully printed Ks – no easy task with all those lines sliding back and forward.  We’ve noticed steady improvement and independence in our class’ printing and cutting skills.  We can also see all that monkey bar swinging and hanging paying off for a strong upper body, shoulders, arms and hands necessary for good fine motor control.

We read one of our favourite books, Time to Sleep, by Denise Fleming, and completed some fun activities with a focus on how seasonal environmental changes affect animals, such as migration and hibernation.  Recalling the main ideas and sequencing story events are two of the comprehension skills we are currently teaching in class.  With our buddies, we completed a torn paper hibernating bear art project.

In Math this month, we’re reviewing counting sets, including one to one correspondence, subitizing (recognition of a number set without counting), recognising number patterns on a dice and printing numerals with the correct formation.

During PE we’ve spent a lot of time working on basic locomotor movements and following signals and commands.  Signals and commands include following whistle signals (one whistle means freeze, two whistles means sit down on the spot) and verbal commands such as “find your personal space,” “listening line” and “listening circle.”  We practise these every time we go to PE to ensure everyone is moving safely in the gym.

The children are learning the difference between walking, jogging and running (we will focus on sprinting in the spring when we can go outside for PE).  While jogging and running, the children are working on remembering to use their arms (“hip to lip”) as well.

The children have been practising their skipping (step, hop on alternate feet), hopping (one foot) and jumping (two feet) and building endurance.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Library Scholastic Book Fair and bought books.  We receive a portion of the funds to buy new books and resources for our own library.

Our big event this week was making our Christmas Marshmallow Balls with our Buddies.  The sweet and delicious aroma of marshmallows wafted throughout the classroom, and this was another opportunity to strengthen fine motor skills as the children were threading sequins onto pins, through a mini marshmallow and into a styrofoam ball.  We won’t say anymore as these ornaments will be a special Christmas gift for your Christmas tree.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

We did not take out Library Books last week due to the Book Fair.  We will be back on the regular schedule this week.

Wednesday is our Christmas Cracker project with our Big Buddies.  We’re all looking forward to making some sweet treats to give to those less fortunate in our community.

All children should have runners to wear indoors and for PE, and rainboots for outdoor playtime during the rainy days. We’re expecting dry weather this week, but please be mindful of the cool temperatures; a toque and gloves help keep your child warm and cozy for these end of Autumn days.

Seasonal Changes…This Week in Our Room:  November 20-24, 2017

Well, the weather this week certainly indicates we’re deep into Autumn.  There are leaves everywhere on the ground, it’s pouring rain, the children are wearing their boots (mostly) and raincoats and many are bringing their gloves and toques.  Autumn is here and it looks like Winter is on it’s way.

Inside the Kindergarten classroom, all is warm and cozy, particularly as we’re starting to talk about Bears.  Through studying Bears (real and literary) and the environment around us, we’re also learning how seasonal changes affect animals, local plants and ourselves.

We’re reading some lovely classic stories about Bears during Storytime, including Corduroy by Don Freeman and the Old Bear series by Jane Hissey.  

 

We also made our own Corduroy Bear and dressed him in these lovely green overalls.  The children loved using a paper crimper to crimp the paper and give it that “corduroy” effect.  Everyone couldn’t wait to select their own buttons to help the “straps” stay up.

 

Inspired by Corduroy’s lost button, we have been teaching about sorting and sorting rules using buttons.  We’ve been sorting by size, shape and colour, one rule at a time.  The children were fascinated with four hole versus two hole buttons.  Now, they also know that some buttons have a shank on them and are sewn on differently than buttons with holes.  Of course, that led to everyone checking out their clothes for buttons and the kind they have.

Sorting and classifying, and patterning are excellent Math activities to practise at home with your child.  Your child probably has lots of little things which can easily be used as a collection to sort; you can take turns deciding on the sorting rule.  Using the same collections, you and your child can pattern them together.  We’ve completed AB, ABC and AAB patterns in class.  We have been learning about creating, copying and extending patterns.  Patterns in our environment exist everywhere:  take a look for them the next time you are out and about.

Our little bonus art activity this week was finishing our owlets.

 

Our Alphabet letter this week was “j jumps.”  But our craft was “j jewel.”  It was very much appreciated by all those who love glitter and sparkle, and can never get enough.

Our children are learning two songs for the Christmas Concert, “Frosty the Snowman” and “The Bells on the Sleigh.”  We’re sending home the words for you to practise with your child.  When we find out our costume requirements, we will let you know.  Remember to save the date, Tuesday, December 19, for our Primary Christmas Concert.

Christmas Sharing and Special Helper starts next week.  We will send home the calendar with the date of your child’s Special Helper through Remind.  Not everyone participated in last month’s Sharing so we are hoping that you will be able to help your child prepare for this next round.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Please let us know if you are leaving early for the Christmas Holidays.  This helps us with our planning, and we need to let Ms. Sanford, our Music Teacher know before she begins to organise the standing order for the concert.  Thank you.

Scholastic Book Fair:  November 27-29, 2017.  Please note that the Scholastic Book Fair is just three days this year.  Kindergarten children must have a parent in attendance before making any book purchases; the teachers cannot buy any books on your child’s behalf.  We’ve listed the Book Fair times below.  It’s always a very fun event and a great way to get a head start on your Christmas shopping.  We sent home the preview catalogue earlier this week.

 

Autumn Days….This Week in Our Room:  November 14-17, 2017

We’re settling down after a few busy weeks of Hallowe’en celebrations, our Remembrance Day assembly and a then few days away from school for the Professional Development Day and Statutory Holiday.

We know the train to Christmas town will be pulling out soon– it’ll be warm and cozy and lots of fun.  We have many special activities planned for our Kindergarten children, and of course our Christmas Concert on December 19.  But before we get there, we’re going to spend some more time learning about, and appreciating, seasonal changes and how they affect us, animals and our environment.

This week’s Letter of the Week was “i.”  We made a cute insect to go with our printing which we’ll bring home next week.  It was nice for the children to have a break and form a simpler letter with fewer strokes, than some of the trickier ones we’ve been learning over the past few weeks.

We’re enjoying shared PE classes in the gym with both classes.  We’ve been working on listening and remembering commands and whistle signals from the teachers while working on locomotor movement (running, skipping, hopping, jumping), and playing simple games.  Safe behaviour in the gym is our top priority as we’re all moving around at the same time, so staying in our personal space and watching out for others is an important part of our teaching and learning.  

We thought we’d step away from our usual routine on Friday and have a special day.  We decided to have a Leaf Morning and take some time to explore our school ground.  It was a beautiful autumn day, cold and sunny, so what better way than to go for a walk and look for leaves?  

We kicked off our day with Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins.  Then, we took a wonderful, lazy stroll through our playground and browsed the different leaves around us.   With a 2 minute time limit we ran back to where we saw our precious leaf and joined the teacher again.  We’re not sure if you’ve noticed, but we have SO MANY leaves on the playground.  From all over the neighbourhood so we have some amazing choices.

Back in our classroom we looked at the shape, texture and colours of our leaf.  Many children were intrigued with the vein designs on their leaves.  Some children traced their leaves, some children copied their leaves, but everyone’s final result was beautiful.  What a lovely way to enjoy the sunshine, feed our senses and create another delightful memory.  

Click here for more Autumn books we have read this year.

 

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Christmas Cracker Buddy Event, December 6.  We’re excited to be making Christmas Crackers with our buddies.  These sweet treats mean a great deal to those in need in our local, and greater, communities.  Thank you again for your generous candy donations.

Primary Christmas Concert, December 19.  We’ll be holding a matinee and evening concert with our Primary children performing.  We’ll let you know further details regarding tickets in the upcoming weeks.  

If your family is planning to leave school early for the Christmas holidays please let your teachers know as soon as possible, particularly if your child is going to miss the Christmas Concert.  

 

Autumn’s Booknook

One of the great pleasures of being a teacher is discovering the many beautiful new story books to read aloud to our students.  This Autumn, we’ve found some fabulous books about that the children have really enjoyed listening to in class.

Wonderfall by Michael Hall.  In this delightful play on words, Wonderfall is told from the perspective of an oak tree.  It takes concepts such as “peaceful” or “dutiful” and changes them to “peacefall” or “dutifall.”  The oak tree goes on to explain what it means by each idea with respect to seasonal changes and the advent of autumn leading to winter.  The pictures are bright and colourful, with repetition of a similar shape (in this case the oak leaves) to other books by Michael Hall (My Heart is Like a Zoo and Perfect Square).   

 

 

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak.  I had originally read this book at Kidsbook in the Village at the end of this summer and was amazed with the watercolour illustrations.  The main character takes a walk greeting the animals and signs of nature such as the wind, flowers and leaves.  In response, each one “greets” her back and explains how they are getting ready for all.  The attention to detail on the animals and small figures is amazing, right down to the coffee sign in the village as our protagonist strolls through her neighbourhood.

Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer, Adam Schaefer and Frann Preston-Gannon.  This is a wonderfully illustrated book that integrates cause and effect in seemingly innocuous natural events.  For example, because of a fallen acorn, a tree grows in its place.  The story continues in this way, incorporating wildlife and and plants, and demonstrates the beauty and harmony of the ecosystem.

 

The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose.  Okay, this book brought the house down.  The children were laughing hysterically (we had to call to order at least three times) about the antics of Mr. Peanuts, the squirrel, in this beautifully photographed book.  The author-photographer sets up little vignettes around her home and waits for the curious squirrels to come by and visit.  She’s waiting with her camera to photograph these dear little animals.  Mr. Peanuts, and friends, are among her actors.

All of our books were purchased through Scholastic Book Clubs.

Peace Is…A Time for Reflection and Remembrance.  This Week in Our Room:  November 6-9, 2017

This year we had to quickly change gears as we just celebrated Hallowe’en last week.  Now we find ourselves preparing to observe Remembrance Day.  

We talked a lot about what Peace means to each of us on a personal level. Todd Parr’s excellent book, The Peace Book, helps us to understand peace is all around us.  Our family and friends, our environment, and acceptance and appreciation of others can help us find peace within ourselves. The children were quite reflective, and very thoughtful, as they expressed their ideas.

We focused on several symbols this year as part of our Remembrance Day learning.


We read a Poppy is to Remember and made poppies using an acorn squash and a potato.  One of our art techniques this term was learning about printmaking.  The children were fascinated to watch us cut open the squash, remove the insides, then paint it to make the prints.

We made our small Canadian flags in honour of Canada’s role as a peace keeping nation and read the story Why I Love Canada by Daniel Howarth.

We made peace doves with our Grade 7 Buddies. We always feel peaceful with our beloved Buddies.



We contributed some of our crafts to the displays of student artwork for the Remembrance Day Assembly.


The Remembrance Day Assembly is a formal, serious Assembly.  We are expected to be silent from the time we leave our classrooms, walk down the hall and make our way to the gym. We were very pleased with how our children visibly demonstrated excellent self-regulation throughout the ceremony.  Teachers of the upper grades always observe how calmly the Kindergarten is able to sit, and for a long duration (about 35 minutes).  

Sometimes people think small children cannot sit still, without talking or demonstrating unexpected behaviour, in serious situations. We know otherwise. We know our children can, and do, learn strategies for self-regulation and are able to use them appropriately according to their social situation.  

We knew from the program there would be a long segment where the children would need to really self-regulate their bodies.

The first was the playing of “The Last Post” and “Reveille,” beautifully performed on the trumpet by one of our Music teachers, Mrs. Soderling.  We had asked the children not to cover their ears if the music was too loud; rather, they were to close their eyes and breathe deeply.  We know from our strategy of listening to peaceful music in class that our children would be more than able to manage their energy.

Second, between these two performances is a minute of silence.  A minute can be a long time.  We noticed the children were doing a lot of quiet deep breathing to help them get through, as we had taught them they might need to do.

Before we left for the Assembly we had explained to the children we practise self-regulation strategies every day so that when we need to use them, we’re ready. And we certainly did justice to all of our practise these two months.  

Remembrance Day 2017…in honour of those who have served, and continue to serve, their countries.

Scary or Spooky?  Putting our Self-Regulation to the Test…This Week in Our Room:  October 31-November 3, 2017

We put our self-regulation to the test with an exciting week of costumes, cupcakes and crafts…we’re certainly feeling the aftereffects of a late night and the post-sugar haze of Hallowe’en Week (who really keeps track of all those small chocolate bars left in the bowl?)  

Self-regulation is very much about managing one’s emotions.  The children had a very exciting few days before Hallowe’en, never mind the actual Big Day itself and the anticipation of an evening’s fun with their family.  It would be so easy to let our energy up-regulate from the Green Zone to the Yellow Zone, but we know based on experience we all would not enjoy ourselves in the same way nor is it appropriate for the social situation (the classroom).  Indeed, several times over the past week we discussed with the children how we can all have lots of fun without getting carried away, and the importance of pacing ourselves so we would still have energy for Trick-or-Treating at night.   

We found trying to stay as close to our regular routine as possible really helped everyone to stay calm and relaxed throughout the day; it made the day more predictable which in turn can reduce anxiety of the unknown or unfamiliar as this was the first Hallowe’en for some of our students.  The activities themselves may have been all Hallowe’en themed, but we stayed true to our daily structure, our daily deep breathing practise and our self-regulation tools of the Time Timer and the Breathing Ball.  As we compared notes at lunchtime and afterschool, we noticed that there was a happy buzz in the classrooms, the children were cooperative and pleasant with one another and we felt good about how everyone was doing.  Scary or Spooky?  Neither one.  We’d say Self-Regulation passed with flying colours. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves….

We finished our Painted Pumpkins on Monday.  They are so cute, interesting and unique!  The children were really using their cutting skills as they cut out many facial features for their jack-o-lanterns.  They were particularly interested in arranging the eyebrows to give their jack-o-lantern a specific expression.

We thought the children were remarkable on Hallowe’en Day.  After posing for multiple pictures, we walked through the school hallways and classrooms for our annual Hallowe’en Parade on our way up to the gym for the Hallowe’en Assembly.  At the Assembly, we were treated to the Grade 7 Dance performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Hallowe’en songs from the Grade Two/Three Primary Choir and a reading of The Thirteen Nights of Hallowe’en. Our children joined the rest of the school in a rousing rendition of “Dem Bones.”  We saw a slideshow of the first two months of school by Mr. Parslow, our Vice-Principal, and Hallowe’en safety protocol was reviewed.  The Kindergarten children sat attentively and patiently, and were good audience members.  

In case you missed us at the Hallowe’en Assembly, here are Ridgeview’s Primary (K-3), ELL, Music and Library teaching staff.

Next week is our school’s Remembrance Day Assembly.  This will be a very serious Assembly, and much different than the Hallowe’en Assembly.  Please click here to learn more about our school’s expectation for Assembly behaviour.

 

Following the Assembly, our classes had their regular snack and recess playtime.  For the remainder of the morning, we had fun Hallowe’en Centres including playdough, Hallowe’en colouring and a Hallowe’en necklace craft.  Thank you so much to our parent volunteers who helped out with our Centres and made spider cupcakes with all of our students.

 

 

We still went ahead with our Alphabet work, so we made our “g is a garden craft,” in addition to our regular printing activities.

We’ve completed our October pattern of the month, ABC, with these amazing Hallowe’en shape patterns.   

November’s pattern is AAB.  

We’re almost halfway through the current Sharing and Special Helper rotation.  We’re so pleased with the Alphabet sharing the children are bringing to school.  It’s certain given us plenty to talk about!  We want to give you a heads up for the next Sharing theme which will be “Christmas at My House.”  We know we will be asking some of you to open those Christmas boxes far earlier than usual!  We’re asking the children to bring a Christmas tree ornament, Christmas stocking, Christmas family photo or Christmas story from home.  Please do not purchase anything new.  The idea would be to bring something to school which is part of your traditional family celebrations.  Please see us if you have any questions.

In keeping with our Healthy Eating philosophy at school, we’d like to remind everyone that eating Hallowe’en candy is an unexpected snack to have at school; it’s expected the children would bring their regular healthy food.  However, we have it on good authority from the Great Pumpkin that Hallowe’en candy for another day or two next week would be acceptable.  Please do not send any candy to be eaten in class that may contain nuts or tree nuts.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

We’ll be collecting Hallowe’en candy for our Christmas Cracker project in December.  In a school-wide Buddy project, we make decorated Christmas Crackers stuffed with the leftover candy for several charitable organisations.  For some, these crackers will be the only sweet treat they will receive this year.  Thank you for supporting us in teaching your child about the importance of compassion and giving.

Wednesday, November 8:  Library Book Exchange for both classes

Thursday, November 9:  Remembrance Day Assembly for Ridgeview students

Friday, November 10:  District Professional Day (students are not in session)

Monday, November 13:  Statutory Holiday for Remembrance Day (staff and students are not in session)

Tuesday, November 14:  School re-opens 8:50 am start