The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

This Week in Our Room:  June 20-24, 2016

On Monday we were fortunate to have Kathy Nowak, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and School Nutrition Educator for Kin’s Farm Market and COBS bread, come to our classrooms to speak to the children about nutrition.

FullSizeRender-9Kathy covered a wide variety of topics, including the Canada Food Guide’s four food groups, healthy food choices and the dangers of pop.  She also discussed with the children why they should eat a good breakfast, and the class shared some of their ideas for the first meal of the day.  Kathy emphasised how important it is to have protein with breakfast as it helps them with their energy and alertness in class.  Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, nuts and leftover beans or fish were some of the suggestions she gave us.

One of the most fun things Kathy did was explain the importance of eating a rainbow of colours, as each of these foods provide different nutrients.  Kathy brought along sliced fruits and veggies to sample, and yes, many of the children enjoyed eating the raw purple cabbage and took seconds!

We’re sending home an Activity Book to follow-up from our healthy food presentation.

IMG_1285We had an amazing day at the Vancouver Aquarium on Wednesday!  The sun was shining, the sea animals were swimming and we were ready for a wonderful day out with our classes.  We’ve been every year for the past five years with the Kindergarten, yet we continue to be amazed with this incredible teaching facility.  We learned so much from each exhibit, from the frog displays, to the beluga and porpoise training, to the beautiful Amazon area where the caiman had surfaced to greet us.

IMG_1300

The children loved the new Sting Ray pools where these fast moving swimmers glided among our outstretched hands.  For many of the children, this exhibit was their absolute favourite.  They were able to use two fingers to gently touch the Rays, an experience they will never forget.

 

FullSizeRender-7

 

Who can imagine that eight short years ago, Christy and I taught the current Grade 7 students?  Now these young people are leaving Ridgeview as they continue their schooling at various high schools.  But before they do, the Grade 7s, our Big Buddies, will attend their Promotion Ceremony on Monday, June 27.  When the Grade 7s were in Kindergarten, they presented flowers to their Buddies.  Now, it is our children’s turn to give a flower to each of their Big Buddies.  We were asked, how long has the flower ceremony been a tradition at Ridgeview? It has been a tradition for at least 13 years, 3 years while we were teaching Grade One and the past ten years since we’ve been in Kindergarten.

We had a rehearsal on Thursday so the children know what to expect.  Please refer to the information letter we sent home on Thursday for appropriate attire for your Kindergartener.  You are welcome to join us to watch your child and see us with our Buddies.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Monday, June 27:  Grade 7 Promotion Ceremony. We sent home a letter earlier this week with detailed information about this event. Please let your teacher know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, June 28: Kindergarten “Beach Bubbles” Party. We’re going to have a fun day for our students with summer themed centres and a special snack. Our party takes place in both Kindergarten classrooms and the playground area between our rooms.

Wednesday, June 29:  Kindergarten students will be dismissed at 12 pm (the last day of school).

Leave a comment »

If the Shoe Fits…..

IMG_1171It was Cinderella’s turn to make an appearance last week in the Kindergarten….She left a little glass slipper amidst a flurry of fairy dust on the Special Helper chair in the meeting area.

 

FullSizeRender-3The children entered the classroom and walked to the meeting area as is their usual routine.  We believe that establishing, maintaining and reinforcing classroom routines is an essential part of the children’s self-regulation as routines create predictability about what might happen next, and reduces anxiety about the unknown.

 

As they settled themselves on the carpet with a book and quietly greeted their classmates, there was a beautiful silence as the children happened upon this provocation in a moment of sparkle.  Truly, you could hear the children’s brains trying to make sense what they were seeing with what they know about magic.  And then came the flood of questions.

Who did this?

Is that Cinderella’s slipper?

Did you (the teachers) do this?

How did this get here?

We could not have asked for a better reaction.  The children were buzzing with excitement, trying to logically figure out how this occurred (we had left tiny trails of glitter around the classroom the day before and denied our involvement), verbalising what they already knew about the story and some were very much convinced we had been visited by fairies.

We finally did explain we had created that little scenario as a special surprise for the children to get them to start thinking and talking about what they knew about Cinderella.  And they most certainly did.

We read three different versions of Cinderella.  The first was beautifully written and illustrated by Barbara McClintock.  We loved this story because it is very traditional, explains how Cinderella got her name and has a very happy ending for all the characters.

IMG_5396

Next, we read Cinderella by Cynthia Rylant with paintings by Mary Blair.  Mary Blair’s original paintings were for the “Cinderella” animated movie by Walt Disney Studios.  This is a lovely and romantic retelling of the story Cinderella, probably unlike other versions the children have heard.

“Who can say by what mystery two people find each other in this great wide world?”

Now, if those words do not set your heart aflutter, we don’t know what will….

As for the children, who felt the pictures were not at all like the movie, they still did very much enjoy our reading of the story.

FullSizeRender-4

Our final Cinderella story was a bit of a twist, similar to The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugenios Trivizas and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.  We read Cinderella Penguin or The Little Glass Flipper by Janet Perlman.  The laughter when we read aloud the title was almost hysterical.  After all, we had already completed our Penguin Inquiry, so the penguin references made complete sense to the children.  The children’s knowledge from learning about penguins made a very tidy integration with this book.

FullSizeRender-3

We’ve spent some time discussing story structure (beginning, middle, end), characterization and setting.  Now, we’re getting into some of the interesting elements about fairy tales, specifically the pattern of 3 and magical objects and people.

The children have a lot of knowledge to draw upon; even if they were not really familiar with fairy tales previously, we’ve read a wealth of them at Storytime (the Sharing item every student had to bring in for the past four weeks was a fairy tale and we thoroughly enjoyed a wide range of books), and used some specific books to teach about the story elements.

We brainstormed all the magical people, objects and words we could think of from all the fairy tales we’ve read so far, and selected a few objects from Cinderella to draw and label for our literary response.

We also decorated some gorgeous shoes for our story craft and made our Fairy Tales folders during Art.

FullSizeRender-5

All in all, it was a magical week at school, and not just because of Cinderella.

IMG_5392

There’s a change in the air.  We’ve noticed in the past two weeks the change in our students.  They’ve become more self-assured and self-confident.  Many children are showing an independence that was not observable even a month ago.  Self-regulation strategies, which we have diligently worked on all year, are being used by the children as they are mindful of themselves and their social context.

Suddenly, everyone has fallen into the routines.  They’ve developed a social awareness of, and flexibility for, the constant changes that happen at this time of the year.  There’s an indescribable ease with which they move around the class, talking, negotiating and sharing with their classmates.  The children are getting ready to move on.  But for now, we can only think of our classes as our Kindergarten children…we’re not quite ready to let go.

 

Leave a comment »

May the Self-Regulating Force Be With You!

We often wonder how our teaching of self-regulation strategies fare outside of the specific lessons.  For us, the overriding question is whether or not the children are able to transfer what they know to a context outside of classroom instruction.  We’ve been practising our deep breathing; creating calm, peaceful scenes in our minds while meditating; listening to soft music and focusing on relaxing and breathing when using the Zenergy chime.  We’d have to say this was a pretty good week to test out the effectiveness of our teaching.  Would the children be able to manage their energy during the long presentations this week?  What would they do if they were feeling restless and wiggling in their seats?  Do they know how to ignore distractions? Would they be able to self-regulate their own learning by reflecting on what their task was in each new situation?

IMG_1186One of the most exciting things we did this week was to welcome Kathleen, a scientist leader, from “High Touch, High Tech” to our classrooms to present the “Newton in Nutshell” workshop which focuses on Force and Motion.  As physicists, the children would study things that moved and how they moved.

The children learned that scientists can do lots of things.  They conduct experiments which are done in a laboratory, and for this special day, our classrooms were the labs.  Kathleen reviewed the important safety rules such as wearing safety equipment like goggles and lab coats; walking in the lab and keeping things out of our mouths.  Students must listen to instructions, note the order in which tasks are to be completed and take precautions in using equipment.  

Kathleen asked the children to describe how objects move.  They knew they could pull or push objects. Pushes and pulls are the forces to get objects to move; however, the objects have to follows rules or “laws” so Kathleen taught us these laws:

The first law of motion:  An object in motion stays in motion.  An object at rest stays at rest.  Kathleen showed us with a long string of beads in a cup how once we start to pull the strand out of the cup, the rest of the strand would follow and it would not stop until it was finished. This motion stopped when the beads hit the ground.

IMG_1181The second law of motion: The bigger the force, the faster the motion. An object with a bigger force goes faster and further.  Kathleen set up a series of dominoes to demonstrate  what happens when we push hard or push slowly; and that by changing the position of the dominoes (closer, farther apart) it also changes the motion.

The third law of motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.   A reaction happens after the action; for example,  if pushing against a wall while wearing your skates (the action), the reaction is to go backwards.  Using Newton’s Cradle, Kathleen showed how the number of balls she set in motion had an equal reaction in that the same number of balls on the opposite side would start moving.  


FullSizeRender-1Finally, we learned about the apple falling out of the tree. Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity.
If you drop an object, it will always fall to the ground. Gravity pulls everything to the ground.

With their newfound knowledge, our children then embarked on a series of experiments and learning centres to practise what they had learned.  They were able to drop a variety of objects down a vortex, race cars, fling pompoms in catapults, spin felt pen tops to make designs and test out the “spinning wheel” while standing on a moving platform.  It was a very busy and exciting time.

We were happy we’d taught the expectations for centre-based activities and practised this process many times under a variety of circumstances from the regular activity time to Hallowe’en Centres to Math.  The children were all able to rotate well through the stations and participate in their specific learning tasks.  They walked safely from table to table. For the most part, they remembered the instructions to follow through on their activities in the correct order.  For their age, and this being the first time for many of them to receive specific lessons in self-regulation strategies, we were really proud of our students for demonstrating patience, turn-taking and sharing cooperatively most of the time.

IMG_1191

But we’ve also learned that self-regulation instruction is not a series of lessons, or taught only in the early years of Primary.  In the past four years where we’ve made significant changes to our classroom instruction and classroom environment, we know that learning, understanding and using self-regulation strategies is a complex process.  We’ve said before that self-regulation is a way of being, something that we have learned and developed over time.  We know that our Kindergarten students are well on their way in their personal journey of self-regulation.

This Week in Our Room:  June 13-17, 2016

Many thanks to Roseanne from the West Vancouver Memorial Library for showing us a variety of wonderful books and reminding us to register for the Summer Reading Program.

We enjoyed our delicious cookies from the Kindergarten Cookie Sale.  Thanks to Mr. Blackburn and the Grade Six students for organizing this special event.  Funds raised will be donated to Free the Children.

We loved watching our siblings and other Ridgeview Primary students perform at the Primary Talent Show.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Next week is the last week for Home Reading.  Friday, June 24, will be the last day to take home a book.

Wednesday, June 22, is our Vancouver Aquarium Field Trip.  Please return your permission form and cheque on Monday.

Leave a comment »

Elmer the Safety Elephant Returns to Ridgeview

IMG_5390We had a fun visit from Elmer the Safety Elephant on Bicycle Safety.  Thank you so very much to Mrs. Young from the North Shore Safety Council for coming to speak to us.

With our mostly wonderful early summer weather, families are getting into the bike season and everyone needs to be safe.  When shopping for a bike helmet, we need to ensure it fits safely.

We see many people in our community wearing helmets.  The children are very aware of this and were able to think of many times when they wear, or have seen, people in the community wear a helmet.  This includes, but is not limited to, cyclists, hockey, football and baseball players, motorcycle riders, race car drivers, construction workers, skiers and skaters.  We should wear a helmet in any activity where your head might get hurt or banged, such as scooters and pogo sticks.

Mrs. Young explained that we don’t just wear a helmet:  we have to wear a helmet correctly.

2-4-1 Rule

2 – cover your eyebrow with two fingers.  The helmet should rest in the middle of your forehead.  With your fingers, you would be able to feel the edge of your helmet on your top finger.   It is very common to see many adults and children wearing their helmet too high up on their head.

4 – make a “V” with two fingers on each hand and place on either side of your head at your ears, with one finger on either side of your ear; that’s where your straps should be.

1 – you should be able to tuck one finger comfortably under your strap, so it’s not too loose. This strap is tricky so the children will need an adult to help adjust it.

FullSizeRender-4More Bicycle Safety Tips from Elmer:

If you see someone when you are riding and you think there’s not enough room for you or for someone walking by, you may need to stop. We need to be respectful of others who are on the sidewalk, and practise safety.

Stop when crossing a driveway in case a car is coming towards you, either backing out or driving in.

Ride single file, making a line. Cyclists should be one behind the other to make room for the pedestrians.  You need to slow down and be mindful that you are sharing the sidewalk.

To cross a busy street, walk your bike across the street.  Make eye contact with the driver first to be certain the vehicle has stopped before you enter the intersection.

If you come to a busy area, or there are lots of cars or construction, stop and walk your bike.  You are looking after yourself if you slow down and stay safe.

You can’t make other people wear helmets  But, you can wear yours and show others you are keeping your head safe.

If you have a lot to carry, place your belongings in a backpack or a bike carrier so you can keep both hands on the handles.

After a bike ride, you want to keep your bike safe.  You can learn how to look after your bike by putting it away in the garage or other safe place to keep it dry.  A wet bike, left out in the driveway, gets rusty.

This Week in Our Room:  June 6-10, 2016

FullSizeRender-3

It was a week of fairy dust and magic this week in the Kindergarten.  You’ve probably guessed that Cinderella’s back in town.  We will be posting more on Cinderella in the next day or so.

Next week we will read “Snow White.”  “Snow White” will be the last fairy tale we will study in our theme study.  We’ve had a wonderful time sharing so many different stories with the children, building upon their knowledge of the story and story structure with each new version and listening to them compare and contrast key elements of the stories.

IMG_5394

We created these beautiful castles for our fairy tales folders.  This was a fun idea we found in an Usborne art book.  We’re embarrassed to say we cannot find the original book among our resources.  But what we essentially did was pre-cut rectangles and triangles (more integration with our Geometry Math unit) and glued them together into a castle with towers and turrets.  Some felt pen details and a whole lot of glitter (fluffy Christmas sprinkles) turned these simple castles into something very special.  

We love to make special folders for the children’s classroom activities.  We believe it honours the hardwork and diligence of these very tiny people by creating something beautiful, that they can be proud of to show their parents.

FullSizeRender-2

We also made these wonderful geometric creations for our Geometry Shape books. We gave each child a simple construction paper cover and some shapes we found in the school basement storage area (note to self: sort out that pile of stuff growing in the guest room at home). This was a lucky find as they are the pattern block shapes we use in class, with a few leftover squares thrown in as well.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

We have a very, very busy upcoming week with the Kindergarten.

Tuesday, June 14:  High Touch High Tech “Newton in a Nutshell” Scientist visit.  Our children will participate in a variety of activities on Force and Motion, one of the Kindergarten Science curriculum components.

Tuesday, June 14:  West Vancouver Memorial Library Visit to talk about the Summer Reading Program and how your children can participate.

Thursday, June 16:  Primary Talent Show with Grades 1-3 students.  Our children have been invited to the Primary Talent Show in the afternoon.  We will be reviewing appropriate audience behaviour with our classes.

Friday, June 17:  Prince and Princess Day.  Your child is welcome to dress-up if he or she wishes.  Some of the children were concerned about what to wear, but we’ve explained that what they have at home for costumes will be fine.  Princes, Knights or pirates would be fine attire for the boys, but please, no weapons.  Girls may wear their princess gowns if they wish.  This is optional so only if your child wants to participate.

Friday, June 17:  Kindergarten Cookie Sale.  Our children have been extremely flexible and understanding about not participating in the myriad of bake sales and freezie sales this year.  We’re reluctant to take part in every sale because of our healthy food philosophy, and the fact that the children could be standing in line for a long time during their playtime.  There are many more years at Ridgeview for your child to purchase a treat.

That being said, we voiced our concerns to Mr. Blackburn, our Vice-Principal, and he and the Grade 6 students have kindly offered to have a Kindergarten Cookie Sale just for us.  The Grade 6 students will sell the cookies just prior to lunchtime on Friday.  The final price has not yet been determined, but it will be $0.50 or $1.00 a cookie.  Each child may purchase one cookie only.

 

Leave a comment »

Fairy Tale Fun with Jack, Hansel and Gretel

FullSizeRender-23We’re still having lots of fun with Fairy Tales in our classes. One of the great things we get to do as teachers is share with our students some of the lovely books that have been read aloud to us, or that we’ve acquired over the years as parents to our own children and teachers of our students.

A couple of classic Fairy Tale books we wanted to read were ones that we were given as children.  The Treasury of Fairy Tales is my book that I received when I was five years old.  The Hansel and Gretel pop-up book was a Christmas gift when I was six.  We’ve read Hansel and Gretel to our classes and they just loved the vibrant colours of the pictures and a different version of a familiar story.

IMG_2857A new Fairy Tale classic is The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman.  This sweet story is told in the traditional manner of a young princess whose mean uncle wishes to take over the throne from her Dad, the King.  When the King is away at a tournament, a plan is hatched by Princess Leora’s uncle to destroy all of the balloons of the Kingdom so the princess has no way to communicate with her father.  Princess Leora is locked in her room, but with the help of a wise wizard and a young friend, she is able to find a single balloon and then the magic happens.

We’ve been learning about the story elements (plot, character, setting, theme) and using Fairy Tales as our primary literature source to teach these important concepts.  We’ve talked about a story’s structure, beginning, middle and end (as a prelude to discussing plot) with Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.  

This week we focused on good and bad characters in Jack and the Beanstalk.  We compared the qualities of what makes good and bad characters, and the differences between main and secondary characters.

IMG_2853

We decided to focus on setting in Hansel and Gretel as it’s an excellent example of the literature theme, “Home is Best.”  Although we’ve typically taught this theme with Grade One and Grade Two, we thought that our children would be able to make the connection between the story and how they feel about home in their own lives.  We recall all of the places Hansel and Gretel visit in the story and list them in the correct sequence.  Then, we create a story map by drawing in those locations.  Revisiting the story, talking about the sequence of events and what happened at each of those places enriches the children’s understanding of the story.  They love to look at the pictures for clues and recall the details of each place.  

FullSizeRender-26

After we’ve created the map, we label the locations and then orally retell the story again.  The children have multiple engagements with a familiar story, which in turns enhances their understanding and appreciation of this important genre.

As part of our integration of the subject areas, we decided to create the Royal Kinder Portraits, another fabulous art idea from the website, Deep Space Sparkle.  We give the children a template for the crown which they trace in pencil, then outline in pastel.  With guidance, we demonstrate how to draw the face in pastel and then complete it in watercolour.  The oil pastels help to “hold” the watercolour paints from mixing together.

Presenting their Royal Highnesses….

IMG_2849

This Week in Our Room:  May 31-June 3, 2016

Thank you, everyone, for coming out to support us on Sports Day!  The children had a marvelous time, enjoying their mini teams and participating in the fun relays.  We saw many children love carrying the balloons with their foam chopsticks, jumping in the potato sacks, and pulling with all their might in the Tug of War.  They couldn’t wait to show us their tongues after eating their freezies!

IMG_2856

We had a good snack afterwards, Activity Time and many children also got a little bit of face paint (or arm paint) done as well.  All in all, we had a super successful first Sports Day, and the children can look forward to many more!

Upcoming Events and Reminders

It’s Home Reading Book exchange on Monday so please remember to return your home reading books.

On Wednesday, Elmer the Safety Elephant returns to talk to us further about bike safety.

Leave a comment »