The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

Hallowe’en Fun in the Kindergarten: Part 2

FullSizeRender-12We’re going to share our Hallowe’en booklist for you in case you missed it.  It was buried deep in last week’s post.

A holiday post from us would not be complete without a booklist.  Here’s the best of what we’re reading to the Kindergarten for Hallowe’en.

  • Franklin’s Hallowe’en (Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark)
  • The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin (Margaret Wise Brown and Richard Egielski)
  • Harriet’s Hallowe’en Candy (Nancy Carlson)
  • Ten Little Beasties (Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley)
  • Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie (Jill Esbaum)
  • A Day at the Pumpkin Patch (Megan Faulkner and Adam Krawesky)
  • The Pumpkin Book (Gail Gibbons)
  • It’s Pumpkin Time (Zoe Hall and Sheri Halpern)
  • The Littlest Pumpkin (R.A. Herman and Betina Ogden)
  • Little Goblins Ten (Pamela Jane and Jane Manning)
  • The Biggest Pumpkin Ever (Steven Kroll)
  • From Seed to Pumpkin (Wendy Pfeffer and James Graham Hale)
  • 10 Trick-or-Treaters (Janet Schulman and Linda Davick)
  • Big Pumpkin (Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler)
  • One Spooky Night (Kate Stone)
  • Too Many Pumpkins (Linda White and Megan Lloyd)
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything (Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd)
  • The Pumpkin Blanket (Deborah Turney Zagwyn)

IMG_0435This Week in Our Room:  October 25-29, 2015

With everything that’s been going on for Hallowe’en, we did not work on our next letter, “F.”  We will be back to working on the alphabet next week.

Both of our classrooms had the protective film on our windows replaced this week.  It helps to reduce the light and glare off of our whiteboards which can make it difficult to see when the sun is shining really brightly.

We sent home the November homework calendar.  Please bring back October’s homework calendar next week for a sticker.

IMG_0437Hallowe’en Centres Party

We had a really fun and exciting time at our Hallowe’en Centres party on Wednesday!  First of all, we must say a big “thank you so very much” to the parent volunteers who helped to make this special event possible.  The children had a truly enjoyable morning making their bat craft and decorating their spider cupcakes, creating a Hallowe’en Math pattern, sculpting with play dough and drawing in their Hallowe’en colouring books.

IMG_2069Hallowe’en Parade and Assembly

The Kindergarten led the way through our school hallways as we led the Primary students in our costume parade.  Thank you so much for helping your child to prepare for our fun day!  The children all looked so wonderful.

During our Assembly, we sang Hallowe’en songs and reviewed the safety rules for trick-or-treating:

  1.  Light your way-make sure you can be seen.
  2.  Let’s talk about the route-be certain you know where you are going.
  3.  Don’t touch that-if you don’t know what it is, back away.
  4.  Follow the rules of the road-walk on the sidewalk and wear reflectors if necessary.
  5.  Don’t run-walk carefully so you don’t trip on your costume.
  6.  Get home safely, stay together-being safe is the most important part of the Hallowe’en night!
Party's over....

Party’s over….

Well, Hallowe’en celebrations are finished at school for another year.  We wish everyone a safe and happy Hallowe’en!

 

 

Upcoming Next Week:

Library Day for Division 15 is Monday, and Library Day for Division 16 is Tuesday.

We’re looking forward to seeing our Grade 7 Buddies next week and getting started on our Peace Doves and other art projects for Remembrance Day.

Dates and Reminders:

Wednesday, November 11 is Remembrance Day.  School is not in session.

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Parent Volunteers in the Kindergarten Classroom

IMG_2041-1Our planned Hallowe’en Centres party for this week has generated a lot of excitement not just among the Kindergarten children, but for our classroom parents as well as it’s the first opportunity for them to volunteer for a classroom activity.

Most Kindergarten parents are very keen to volunteer in their child’s classroom.  They seem to have an innate sense that teaching a Kindergarten classroom can be very busy and wish to able to support their child’s teacher in any way they can, even if it’s just cleaning paints and brushes (and that is very much appreciated).  Many parents come from Parent Participation Preschool backgrounds so they are used to volunteering frequently in many capacities.  Sometimes parents wonder how their child is doing and wish to see them in action.  Although we know that everyone has different reasons for helping, what is most crystal clear to us is this:  parent volunteers can improve the quality of their child’s education, support the classroom teacher and the school, and model the importance of giving back to their community to their children.

The first time we ask for Kindergarten parent volunteers is at the end of October, although it can be later depending upon the children.  We’ve tried several times to ask for helpers in September; but the truth is, not all children are ready to have their parents come into the classroom in the early days of school.  We monitor separation issues between children and parents, and observe how the children interact with you before and after school.  We want your volunteer experience in the classroom to be positive one, and it can be hard if your child is clinging on to you and you are unable to fulfill your role.  We need to feel secure knowing that your children understand that when their mom or dad volunteers in the classroom, their parents are there to help the teacher.  The teacher is the one who is in charge and the class expectations are still to be followed.

There was a time when the classroom teacher needed parent helpers, she would post a sign-up outside the classroom.  But the problem with this method, as we found out both as teachers and working parents, was that the same parents would always get to volunteer as they would drop-off and pick-up their children so they could sign up first.  Back in our job-share days, when our children were still in elementary school, we often missed out ourselves to volunteer in the classroom because we happened to be teaching when the sign-up was posted.

We understood that the dates for classroom events might conflict with a teaching day for us; that’s just reality of the working parent.  It’s far easier for the teacher to hang up that sheet of paper, but the “first come, first served” model just doesn’t sit well with us.  We want to make volunteering more equal for all parents if we can.

When we plan a classroom event and require parent volunteers, we ask our classroom parents personally.  For each group of volunteers we have, we’re consciously trying to create a balance of new and former parents (of children we’ve taught previously), and parents with a second language to support the children who are learning English.  We try to accommodate parents’ work schedules, childcare for siblings and utilize parents’ talents, and we can only learn this through talking to them.  We try to give as much notice as we can for working parents so they can try to switch workdays if necessary.

Ridgeview, like many other elementary schools, has volunteer Room Parents for each division.  The Room Parents can support the classroom teacher in a variety of ways:  preparing teaching materials, sorting craft supplies for activities, asking for volunteers in the classroom or a field trip, or organizing the classroom parents to sponsor a school event (this last one is more for the older grades).

Because we speak to the parent volunteers ourselves, Christy and I ask our Room Parents to keep track of which parents have come in so we can be certain that each family has had at least one opportunity to volunteer for a classroom event during the school year.  Although we realize everyone would love to volunteer more, as long-time experienced professionals, we are quite accustomed to and truly enjoy planning, preparing and teaching everything ourselves.  But when we have a special activity for our students, and need more support, then we are able to provide an opportunity for parents helpers.

It’s important to remember that it’s a privilege to volunteer in your child’s classroom.  For many children, the classroom is a safe and special place, typically inhabited by just the teacher and the students.  We have our own rhythm, our own little jokes, our own way of doing things and an established set of expectations.  We’re like our own ecosystem where everything is in balance and it’s the classroom teacher’s responsibility to maintain that balance for each and every child.  But we also understand and value that parents want to, and should be, involved in the learning that happens in the classroom, and we want to include you.  

We expect that you will be involved with all the children you are working with, not just helping your own child.  It can be challenging because the teacher will probably have a task she wants you to accomplish with everyone and your child may want all your attention.  But as a classroom volunteer, your child will need to understand that you are there to assist everyone so that might be a conversation you have ahead of time at home.

Your classroom teacher is depending upon your discretion.  Sometimes the children in your group may have difficulty with their self-regulation.  Perhaps it’s hard for them to listen and follow your instructions.  Working with a small group of children in the classroom setting is not the same as having a play date at your house.  We are watching all the groups and will intervene as necessary.  But we’re trusting you not to talk about the children’s behaviour, nor their schoolwork, to the child’s parents or other parents.  

Please remember that in your role as a classroom volunteer, you are not there to compare your child to the other students.  It goes without saying that every child is unique, from a different background and a different set of early learning and parenting experiences.  As Kindergarten teachers, we love and accept every child where they are in their growth and development and try to nurture each one along from where they are through this special year in school.

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Hallowe’en Fun in the Kindergarten: Part 1

FullSizeRender-13Five years ago was the beginning of a changing lens on Hallowe’en for Christy and I at school.  Our school hallways are traditionally decorated, and a grotesque figure in the main foyer one year upset a Kindergarten child.  She refused to walk past it, and we had to shield her view to usher her into the library which was our destination.  We’ve never forgotten that incident and it continues to shape much of what we do today.

Outside of school, the children have lots to be excited about on Hallowe’en. The idea of dressing up as your favourite character and collecting candy is very appealing.  But Hallowe’en has become noticeably scarier over the years, with more gore and hints of creepiness evident in costumes and commercial decorations.  We struggle every year as we try to focus on the best and most appropriate parts of Hallowe’en for our young students in the classroom.

Reconciling a calm, self-regulated learning environment and Hallowe’en has required some thoughtful planning and reflection on our part.

IMG_2027We’ve added some beautiful orange fairy lights along some of our bulletin boards. With the cloudy days being a little darker, the lights are warm and welcoming. We’ve actually just been enjoying looking at the lights and listening to a little Charlie Brown jazz music.  (True story:  as I was hanging up the lights during lunch, one of my students asked, “Mrs. Daudlin, why are you putting up Christmas lights already?”  While I was pondering my response, another student replied, “Oh, those are for Hallowe’en.  She’s going to put up rainbow lights at Christmas.”  How cute is that?)

IMG_2026We’re putting up far less Hallowe’en “stuff” on our walls.

Instead, we brainstormed some familiar Hallowe’en vocabulary and created a Hallowe’en word bank with pictures and labels to support the children in their drawing and writing.

We’ll be learning about the life cycle of the pumpkin and the names of the various stages.

And we’re providing more opportunities for oral language as we sing FullSizeRender-15Hallowe’en songs and chant poems.

We’ve created some fabulous Hallowe’en themed art to decorate our classrooms.

FullSizeRender-14We drew and coloured our beautiful monthly self-portraits.  We love looking back at the growth in maturity as the children’s drawings of themselves become more sophisticated over the school year.

Deep Space Sparkle Pumpkins. We introduced warm colour mixing with red, yellow and orange on pumpkins we had drawn with white pastel. We mixed the paint right on the paper.  Then we were inspired by a photo of some pumpkin art from our Principal. We found ourselves cutting out our pumpkins to mount on black paper, then added painted paper stems, leaves and grass.  We’ve hung them up quilt style, and next week, we will add the Jack-o-lantern features for some Hallowe’en fun.  These are our favourite kinds of art projects as we love creating the anticipation for completion.  We will have taken three weeks from start to finish, and our children are learning the valuable lessons of patience, perseverance and delayed gratification.

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Hallowe’en Wreaths.  Our wreaths are in progress as we make them with our Grade 7 Buddies.  Each Big and Little Buddy pair use tracers to trace and cut out the four shapes of pumpkin, bat, moon and ghost.  These are decorated simply with crayons, and glued onto a wreath shape.  Bows and stickers are the final details to complete our sweet project.

FullSizeRender-12Of course a holiday post from us would not be complete without a booklist.  Here’s the best of what we’re reading to the Kindergarten for Hallowe’en.

 

  • Franklin’s Hallowe’en (Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark)
  • The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin (Margaret Wise Brown and Richard Egielski)
  • Harriet’s Hallowe’en Candy (Nancy Carlson)
  • Ten Little Beasties (Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley)
  • Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie (Jill Esbaum)
  • A Day at the Pumpkin Patch (Megan Faulkner and Adam Krawesky)
  • The Pumpkin Book (Gail Gibbons)
  • It’s Pumpkin Time (Zoe Hall and Sheri Halpern)
  • The Littlest Pumpkin (R.A. Herman and Betina Ogden)
  • Little Goblins Ten (Pamela Jane and Jane Manning)
  • The Biggest Pumpkin Ever (Steven Kroll)
  • From Seed to Pumpkin (Wendy Pfeffer and James Graham Hale)
  • 10 Trick-or-Treaters (Janet Schulman and Linda Davick)
  • Big Pumpkin (Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler)
  • One Spooky Night (Kate Stone)
  • Too Many Pumpkins (Linda White and Megan Lloyd)
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything (Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd)
  • The Pumpkin Blanket (Deborah Turney Zagwyn)

One of the benefits of a simpler Hallowe’en has been to downsize our decorations.  We’ll be making the drive to the Salvation Army this weekend.

This Week in Our Room:  October 19-22, 2015

This week we learned the correct formation for the letter “E.”  As we are brainstorming ideas, segmenting words and labelling our pictures, the children are solidifying the sound/symbol relationship of each of the alphabet letters.

In Math, we’ve been creating AB, AAB, and ABC patterns using manipulatives during our Math rotations.  This week we represented our learning by choosing a pattern and creating a patterned frame around our name.

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Our school watched our first Cultural Event, “Marimba Muzuva” on Wednesday.  We were delighted with the children’s audience behaviour; they sat politely and listened for almost an hour in a very hot gym.  The children were able to enjoy some of the songs, stories and dances of Zimbabwe and participated with clapping, chanting and dancing with the rest of the student population. Thank you very much to our RPAC for sponsoring this event.

Reminders

It’s a Professional Day tomorrow and students are not in session.  We are attending the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative Leadership Roundtable tomorrow, “Building School Capacity to Support Student Success:  Creating Quality Learning Environments Through a Self-Regulation Lens.”  We look forward to learning more about creating the best self-regulated learning environment we can for our students.

Library Day is Monday for Division 15, and Tuesday for Division 16. Please return your Library Book so you may borrow a new one.

Our classes are starting to catch colds and coughs and some children have had fevers.  It’s probably a good time to review the use of Kleenex, hand washing and coughing into your elbow at home again with your child.  If your children are sick, please keep them at home.  We know the children want to come to school but they simply do not have the stamina and energy required for the full day.  As their parents, you can and should make that decision for them.  The children need to stay at home, and come back to school rested and in good health.

Next Wednesday we are holding our annual Hallowe’en Centres party for our children, from 9-10:30. The children do not need to dress up in their costumes, but they may certainly wear their Hallowe’en t-shirts, black and orange, headpieces and jewelry.  They will be very busy participating in Hallowe’en themed activities!

All next week Ridgeview will also be collecting non-perishable food items for the “We Scare Hunger” Campaign, sponsored by our Grade 7 Me to We team.  Please send the donations to our classroom and your children will deliver them to the collection area in the main hallway.

Friday, October 30, is another great Ridgeview tradition:  Our annual Hallowe’en Parade and Assembly.  All students are invited to dress up in their Hallowe’en costumes.  Please remember not to send in any items that resemble weapons.  Our Principal will lead our costumed students through our hallowed hallways as we make our way to the gym for a fun assembly of Safety Information, songs and stories.  This will take place from 9:15-10:00.

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Waste Management Revisited

We’re attending the Leadership Roundtable presented by the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative, (@CSRI_SelfReg), “Building School Capacity to Support Student Success:  Creating Quality Learning Environments Through a Self-Regulation Lens,” on October 23, the Provincial Professional Day.  We’re looking forward to a day of shared learning on exploring meaningful change and the best teaching practices, supported by emerging research, in the area of self-regulated learning environments. We’ll be tweeting from @selfregteacher throughout the day to keep you informed.

Well, we’re back again to talk about garbage and waste management in the classroom.  This is an updated version of our original post, Waste Management, Kindergarten Style.

We find ourselves thinking and talking a lot about garbage because we do create some in our classrooms.  Nothing unreasonable, but certainly enough to give us pause and remind us to address this always timely topic.

For parents new to Ridgeview, here’s a brief overview of how we handle garbage at our school focusing specifically on the Kindergarten.

When we returned to school in September 2014, West Vancouver Municipality, like the rest of Metro Vancouver, had declared anything from plants and animals (and biodegradable) to be considered as organic waste and not garbage.  Therefore, organic waste must be separated from the regular garbage collection.

Similar to last year, we have 21 students in each of our Kindergarten classrooms, eating two to three times a day when you consider snacks and lunch.  However, we have increased the number of packaged hot lunches from four to five times a week this school year.  As you can imagine, we create a fair amount of waste.

As experienced teachers, Christy and I know, and greatly value, the importance of routines.  We cannot underestimate the power of how routines will affect us in our daily lives, from our organization, ability to be productive to our sense of accomplishment.  For our students, having routines provides them with a feeling of security, increases their confidence and contributes to their overall happiness and independence when they can say, “I know what to do and I can do it by myself!”  Truly, that is the sweetest song for their ears and our own.

So when we start any routines with our new class each year, we want to ensure we’ve done it right.

It is an expectation that our entire student body at Ridgeview, from Kindergarten to Grade 7, learn to separate organics, dry paper recyclables, and garbage/waste items at school.  

Under our Principal’s leadership, our school has implemented three main systems in our classrooms:  an Organic Waste can, the blue Recycling Bin and a Pack In/Pack Out Initiative for recess and lunch.

In our classroom there are two sorting bins:  

FullSizeRender-7Organic Waste Can 

In the Organic Waste can, only four items can be thrown in:
•Paper towels
•Wet paper
•Pencil shavings
•Tissue

We don’t have a monitor for our Organics Garbage Can, as our children are typically checking with us first if something can go in.  They are learning this routine well,
developing independence and looking to the other students if they are uncertain about what to do.

FullSizeRender-8Blue Recycling Bin for Mixed Paper 

We’ve noticed the children are very used to the blue recycling bin.  So much so that they are often asking if they can put plastic containers in it like they must do at home.  Unfortunately, we cannot do that at school.  It’s only for dry paper, paper scraps, and charts we’ve finished using in class.

Recess and Lunch–Pack In/Pack Out Initiative
This has been the most challenging of all the waste management initiatives because it’s one where all of us must work together.

Students are responsible for all food items that they bring into Ridgeview.

Essentially, any waste our students create from the food they’ve packed into school (food packaging, peelings and cores, napkins, leftover food) must be packed out at the end of each school day.  All waste must go home to be sorted.

We need you, the children’s parents, to support your child (and the classroom and school routines) by sending a ziploc, or plastic bag, everyday to school for your child’s pack out.  

Some parents have arranged with their children to simply put the food waste and packaging from the day’s food loose in the lunch kit and so far, that seems to going well.  If you do not send a lunch kit to school with your child, then you must send a ziploc or plastic bag for the food waste.

Other parents send snacks and lunch in reusable containers, thereby eliminating the food packaging, and any uneaten food stays in the container.

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Here’s what your children are doing with the pack out of the food waste and packaging.

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We have to say that the Kindergarten children have taken quickly to this system and are very proficient at getting their food and packaging waste into the ziploc.  They have shown considerable improvement at getting the bags “zipped” closed.

Hot Lunch
The Hot Lunch days have proven to be trickier.  There is a lot of packaging associated with this program.  

As you can see, sending your child with a large ziploc is better if he or she receives a hot lunch.

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Food containers and paper wrapping are sent home everyday.

TCBY frozen yogurt and Max Frozen fruit bars, if not finished, are disposed of in the sink, and the packaging sent home.

Milk cartons, juice boxes and soup containers, if not finished, are disposed of in the sink, and the packaging sent home.

If the soup has not been open, and your child brought a ziploc bag, we try to tape the container closed and place it in the bag to go home.

We’re extremely proud of the Kindergarten.  The children know their lunch routines well; they know them as the only way to manage their food waste at school. The Kindergarten is also the only grade in the entire school which does not have to change habits of old because they are able to start fresh every year.

Change is healthy, but we all know change can be hard as well.  Therefore….we won’t comment specifically on how the teaching staff is coping with food waste and sorting in the staffroom, but let’s just say that old dogs can learn new tricks….albeit slowly.

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The Card Project

We’ve been hard at work for the past two weeks on a very special assignment.  For the past few years, our Ridgeview Parent Advisory Council has had as one of its fundraisers, The Card Project.  Our classes participate by creating unique art work which is then turned into cards, journals and sketchbooks.  Each child creates a piece; in a few weeks you will receive a sample card with your child’s artwork and from there, you can make purchases where the proceeds benefit our school.

Christy and I spend a lot of time pondering what we should choose as an art project for our classes.  The Kindergarten students have only attended school for a few weeks when we are called upon to create something that is not only wonderful and something you will want to purchase, but that is also manageable and appropriate skill-wise for their age:  four and five years old.

We were given theme of “Nature” so we looked at websites such as Deep Space Sparkle and Pinterest, and our own collection of art books and vast files from over the years for inspiration.  In the end, we choose an adorable owl, one of Christy’s favourite motifs, created with torn paper, from Pinterest.

We drew a pencil oval on the dark blue background paper and tore the construction paper strips of grey and two tones of brown ahead of time.  We demonstrated how to tear the paper, which still proved to be challenging for many children, as it does require a certain degree of fine motor strength in their fingers.

Starting to create our owl's body

Starting to create our owl’s body

Although we suggested to the children that they start by creating a circle, all true artists, as our students certainly are, are motivated by their own desires, creativity and experiences.

 

To create the eyes, we taught the children how to fold

Now our owl has its wings.

Now our owl has its wings.

the rectangular shaped yellow and black papers in half.  Some children chose to draw a circle and cut both eyes at once; while others decided to free-hand cut out their eyes.

 

Our owl now has eyes!

Our owl now has eyes!

We decided, as the due date was rapidly approaching, to cut out the legs ourselves.

And legs!

And legs!

And the final presentation?

Division 15's owls

Division 15’s owls

 

And Division 16's

And Division 16’s

What could be sweeter than this?  Only our Kindergarten children!!

For more information, visit the http://www.TheCardProject.ca

This Week in Our Room:  October 12-16, 2015

We both a fire drill and earthquake drill this week.  The children are listening well and following teacher directions calmly as we practise these emergency procedures.

We finished the letter D and will send home the children “Diamond d” and some alphabet work next week.

We graphed our birthdays in our class during Math this week.

Upcoming Next Week:

Sharing and Special Helper.  The children have been taking turns being the Special Helper the past few weeks. The Special Helper gets to be first in line every time we line-up (which is frequent), take the attendance to the office with a friend and lead the class during the Math Their Way Calendar every morning.  It’s a tremendous privilege to be the Special Helper as the role carries many responsibilities throughout the day, and an opportunity for every child to take a leadership role and set a positive example for others.

It’s time now to add “Sharing” to the role of Special Helper.  Every 4-5 weeks we will post a theme for Sharing and a calendar so you and your child know which day is his or her Special Helper Day.  On your child’s Special Helper Day he or she will bring the “sharing” to school and tell the class about it.  You can support your child by helping them to organize their “sharing” by sending a note with a few key words or picture clues to remind them of what to say.  Of course we will be there encouraging your child, as well.

Our first Sharing and Special Helper begins on Monday in Division 16 and the following week in Division 15.  Our theme will be “I Like Me.”  Please assist your child to find three small objects that tells something about him or her.  These objects should fit into a small ziploc bag.

Some possibilities your child might bring include:

  • a family photo, labelled with family member names
  • a small toy representative of a favourite hobby or activity (eg., Lego, goggles for swimming)
  • a small stuffed cat or dog to represent a pet
  • a souvenir from a family holiday

For this first round of Sharing and Special Helper, we will be in alphabetical order by first name.  We have promised the children we will switch up the order every time (by last alphabetical name, birthday order) after this so children who are at the end of the alphabet by their first name might have an opportunity to be at the beginning or middle of the list for the next time.

Dates and Reminders:

Library.  With the Thanksgiving holiday and other changes to our schedule, some of our children have missed taking out a new library book because they did not return their previous book.  Please assist your child in planning to pack their library book to return to school a day or two ahead of Library Day.

Division 15’s (Mrs. Campbell and Mrs, Cantlie) Library Day is Monday.

Division 16’s (Mrs. Daudlin) Library Day is Tuesday.

Friday, October 23, is the Provincial Professional Day.  School is not in session.

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Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Turkey Day!

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With love from the Kindergarten

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This Week in Our Room:  October 5-9, 2015

A Kindergarten Thanksgiving

It might be cold and rainy outside, but inside the Kindergarten everything is warm and cozy as our thoughts have turned to our first celebration together, Thanksgiving.

We’ve been talking about gratitude and thankfulness this week and it just warms our hearts to listen to these precious words from the adorable children.  We’ve collected some special thoughts from your children to share with you.

“I’m thankful for a great family.

I’m thankful for Sebastian’s love.

I’m thankful for wonderful food to eat.

I’m thankful for having fresh water.

I’m thankful for food to eat.

I’m thankful for my mom and dad.

I’m thankful for friends.

I’m thankful for my life.

I’m thankful for the earth.

I’m thankful for people who help us.

I’m thankful for pumpkins.

I’m thankful we have crayons in our classroom

I’m thankful for my dad’s work.

I’m thankful for having schools.

I’m thankful for the teachers teaching in the classrooms.

I’m thankful for my mom’s pictures.

I’m thankful for nature and travelling with my family.

I’m thankful for my pet.

I’m thankful for my grandpa.”

Thanksgiving Books

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As always, we love to read well-written stories to our students and pulled our favourites from our Thanksgiving book collection this week.  We’ve created a list for you in case there are some titles you may want to look for at your local library.

 

 

  • Franklin’s Thanksgiving (Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark)
  • A Turkey for Thanksgiving (Eve Bunting and Diane de Groat)
  • Cranberry Thanksgiving (Wende and Harry Devlin)
  • Countdown to Thanksgiving (Jodi Huelin and Keiko Motoyama)
  • Thanks for Thanksgiving (Julie Markes and Doris Barrette)
  • I Spy Thanksgiving (Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick)
  • Thanks for Thanksgiving (Heather Patterson and Mary Jane Gerber) (a personal favourite)
  • The Night Before Thanksgivng (Dav Pilkey)

FullSizeRenderWe’ve had some great Thanksgiving Fun.  We met with our Grade 7 Big Buddies to make our Turkey centrepieces which we sent home today to decorate your Thanksgiving table.

 

 

We coloured some turkeys and patterned their feathers.

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Thanksgiving is always a big marker for us because we notice significant changes in our classes after the holiday.  The children feel more confident in taking risks in their learning, the language of their social play increases in sophistication and our discussions become livelier as they use their expanding vocabulary.  We see the children more at ease with the classroom routines as they project a sense of self-assuredness that only comes with time and practise.  We have an exciting time ahead of us.

We look forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday, October 13.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Need for Play

It’s another gorgeous autumn day here in Vancouver.  Autumn is typically a favourite season for us, with that magic combination of blue skies, cooler temperatures and the smell of leaves, wood-smoke and comfort foods like homemade soups and stews, all rolled into one. It’s a return to wearing our jeans, cosy wool sweaters and leather boots.  We’re looking forward to spending some time playing outside with our students tomorrow as this amazing weather continues.

There’s been a lot of talk about play lately.

The Vancouver Sun recently reported on a study by Dr. Denise Buote for the North Shore Community Resources Society, that North Shore neighbourhoods are part of a trend that found young children to be at an “increased risk of struggling at school.”  Factors included a lack of opportunity for play, increased time spent on technology and structured activities, and over involvement by parents in activities children can, and should do, independently.  The study revealed that approximately 30% of those children entering Kindergarten were not developmentally ready; thus, did not have the school readiness skills to be fully ready to learn.

“Unstructured play is this natural opportunity for children to engage with others and have opportunities around social skills and exploration and develop curiosity and all those good things that really help children learn and grow,” Buote said. “Play is a big concern and there’s not enough of it going on.”

Since 2011, Kindergarten children at Ridgeview have been attending a full-day program along with the rest of the province.  In the five years previous to that time, Christy and I job-shared two half-day programs. Many of those children in the morning program would stay to play after school with their friends and parents would have an opportunity to chat and get to know one another; others would go home for a nap.  In the afternoon class, sometimes students would come early to play and eat their lunch on the playground before their 12:30 start or stay after school.  Sometimes a play date among several friends might be arranged.  It’s not to say the children and parents do not do some these activities today, but it certainly seemed less rushed.

In an effort to provide more unstructured playtime for our students, we have built it into our program through Centre Time, which we have twice a day, and throughout the subject areas.

IMG_0521Our Centre Time is an opportunity for the children to choose their own activities, form their own groups, let their imagination take flight and use the language of social play.  We observe incredible collaborations between groups of children building with Lego, blocks and creating puzzles.  The children display their natural curiosity whether exploring found objects in nature with a magnifying glass or in their thinking as they learn to ask powerful questions.  They exercise their imaginations writing books and designing artistic creations at the Imagination Station; or creating an elaborate social play with friends in the House Corner.

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The children love their outside recess time on our beautiful playground.  We’ve fortunate to have a Principal who understands the need for our little people to have unstructured play time on their own, and has reallocated Teaching Assistant time away from the office to Kindergarten supervision.  As a result the Kindergarten has their own morning recess, with adult supervision, at a time separate from Grades 1-7.  With our school population of 415 students, this is significant.

IMG_1784Our children play with just Grades K-4 at lunch on the playground, and we have our own recess every afternoon, supervised by Christy and myself.  We could never have done this without the support of our staff so naturally we are very grateful.  Although we will eventually join the rest of the school for our breaks later on this year, we are working hard to meet the play needs of our littlest learners.

We know that more and more children every year in Kindergarten are becoming very tech savvy.  We realise this through the information they share such as the television shows they watch, the number of children who have their own iPads and mini-iPads and their familiarity with apps. We can only conclude that with the amount of time they spend using technology, that they are not doing something else.   Although it might seem like they are “playing,” the reality is that the children are being entertained through the rapid stimulation of their brain.  They are not using their brain in the same way they would if they were engaged in outdoor pursuits, dramatic play, reading a book, painting, dancing or listening to music.

We know this is only the beginning of a larger discussion about play and young children.   This could be the moment for everyone, from parents to schools to our community resources, to come together for the betterment of all families.

Some excellent reading on play:

The Secret of Play (2008)  (Anne Pleshette Murphy)

Playful Learning (2011) (Mariah Bruehl)

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This Week in Our Room:  September 28-October 2, 2015

IMG_1902Terry Fox Walk/Run.  We had an exciting day on Wednesday when we ran in the memory of Terry Fox!  Our children looked wonderful in their red and white clothes.  We gathered on the field for a warm-up and ran laps on our own school field with our Grade 7 Big Buddies.

It was a gorgeous day as our students walked, ran, skipped and galloped around the field.  We were thrilled with everyone’s participation in one of Ridgeview’s great traditions.

Our school raised $2005.55 for the Terry Fox Foundation.  Thank you for your generous donations and support.

We are looking forward to seeing our Big Buddies often to build a special connection with the senior students.  Our Buddies will help us with crafts, playing outside on the playground and digital literacy projects throughout the year.

iPals.  IPALS is a free family early literacy/language program designed to support the development of important foundational early literacy skills for children between the ages of 3-5 years.  This is a parent-child education program lead by qualified Early Childhood Educators and trained Cultural/Language facilitators which follows a research based early literacy curriculum.  Families receive free resources at each session for families to continue learning at home between weekly sessions. Permanent resident cards are requested as this is a federally funded immigration program supported and hosted by the West Vancouver School District.  For more information, please see the attached poster or visit http://westvancouverschools.ca/ipals

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If your first language is Farsi or Mandarin, this is an amazing opportunity for you and your Kindergarten child to participate in this program.

Reminders

We sent home the proofs of your child’s photos this week.  Please return your order form by October 9.

We finished our work on the letter B.  We will be sending home our B craft project and some student work on Monday.  Remember to keep your alphabet crafts to build an alphabet wall with your child.

We’re still collecting the Homework Calendars for September.  It’s not too late to return yours for a sticker!

Next week the Hot Lunch Program begins. If you ordered a hot lunch for your child, please assist us with the following:

  1.  Send along an extra snack or two (maybe another granola bar and piece of fruit) in case your child does not like the hot lunch that has been ordered
  1. Send along a large ziploc bag or plastic bag in which your child can place the packaging from the hot lunch.  We are unable to dispose of the organic and packaging waste at school so the children will have to pack everything out in their lunch kits and backpacks.  
  1.  If you child receives a hot lunch, this does not preclude them from eating snacks at recess time.  Please continue to send a snack along, particularly for the morning recess.
  1.  Please send your child’s non-spill water bottle daily.  They are very thirsty by mid-afternoon and we are teaching them that water is the healthiest thirst quencher for their bodies.  It’s cleaner and faster for the children to drink from their own water bottles, rather than waiting in line for the water fountain.
  2. If you have not yet provided a backpack for your child, this would be a good time.  In addition to their lunch, water bottle and notices, the children are now have their weekly library book to take home as well.
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