The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.  

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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….

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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!

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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.

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Book Nook: The Salmon and the Orca Whale in First Nations Stories

FullSizeRender-5We’ve just finished learning about the salmon and the orca whale in our on-going study of animals in The First Nations culture.  Our Teacher-Librarian, Mrs. Kennedy, has recently read and discussed some beautiful books with our classes during their Library time.  

Common themes such as learning from family members, passing on knowledge and ways, and an appreciation and respect for animals and the natural world form a basis for storytelling as part of the First People’s Principles of Learning, “Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.”

We’ve decided to collect a variety of titles, from First Nation stories to other well loved favourites, and highlight a few of them for you.  You might wish to consider them as additions to your own home library.

Sharing Our World:  Animals of the Native Northwest Coast is beautifully illustrated and written in clear and simple language.  Each of the animals represented is described by its individual qualities.  For example, “Salmon have always been our most important food source.  We can protect salmon by keeping our rivers and oceans clean.”

Good Morning World (artwork by Paul Windsor, Haisla, Heiltsuk) is a pattern book, focusing on the beauty of our natural world and the positive energy we have from starting a brand new day.  “Good morning salmon swimming up the stream.”

More titles:

  • Waiting for Whales (Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Ron Lightburn)
  • Sockeye:  The Adams River (Adam Lewis)
  • Salmon Stream (Carol Reed-Jones, illustrated by Michael S. Maydak)
  • P’esk’a and the First Salmon Ceremony (Scot Ritchie)
  • Dip Netting with Dad (Willie Sellars, illustrated by Kevin Easthope)
  • Orca Chief (Roy Henry Vickers, illustrated by Robert Budd)
  • A Salmon for Salmon (Betty Waterton, illustrated by Ann Blades)

To learn more about the Bear in First Nations Art and Stories, click here.

This Week in Our Room:  March 29-April 1, 2016

Welcome back to school!  How wonderful it has been to teach the children this week, more mature than ever, and watch them quickly settle down to familiar routines like a well-oiled machine.  They were very excited to see each other, play together during Centre Time and at recess and get back into their school groove.

We had a very fun first day back on Tuesday with a school assembly right after the holidays!  We got to see Dreamrider Productions’ presentation of “H2Whoa,” an excellent play about the importance of water conversation, and brought to us by the Municipality of West Vancouver.  Our children watched and learned to be a Planet Protector, just like the heroine, Esmeralda Planet Protector, as she foils the (Water) Evaporator.  There was a lot of singing, fun and jokes as the children learned about the water cycle; the three main concepts of evaporation, condensation and precipitation; and practical ways to reduce water consumption at home.

We’ve wrapped up our Penguin Inquiry this week by reflecting on the penguin life cycle and comparing it to our own human life cycle.  Next week we will have a fun Black and White Day to celebrate!  Please wear your black and clothes on Monday and feel free to bring your stuffed penguins, or other polar animals to school.

We also squeezed in one more post-Easter project, our beautiful patterned eggs done in wax crayon and watercolour resist.

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Many of you have probably noticed our beautiful recently paved playground with new painted lines for fun activities like Four Square and hop-scotch.  We’re really looking forward to more outdoor play as the weather continues to improve.

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Upcoming Dates and Events

We start Badminton in PE on April 4.  Our classes will be taught Anna Rice, former Olympian and sister to our own Ridgeview teacher, Ms. Rice.  We’ve had the good fortune to be instructed by Anna in the past.  The children are going to receive excellent instruction and have lots of fun!  We will continue to have high expectations for student safety, listening and participation so that all students can learn.  Children must wear running shoes for PE days for the next two weeks.

PE for Division 15:  Tuesday and Thursday

PE for Division 16:  Monday and Friday

Wednesday, April 6, has been scheduled as the Vancouver Coastal Health finish-up day for those students who were absent, or did not have their screeners completed for Kindergarten vision, hearing and dental check.

We’re still collecting Tombola Goodie Bags for Mayfair, which takes place on Saturday, May 7 from 11 am-3 pm.  This is definitely the hottest ticket in town and we encourage all of our families to come out and support our school.  It’s really fun and the children will have a fantastic time.  Our organizers will be looking for donations for the booths soon, and we will you updated.

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Celebrating the Family:  Kindergarten Social Studies

Bookmarks English.inddIt’s Family Day today and we’re enjoying some time with our families here at home.  Although it’s been mostly centred around homework, we’ve also been in Victoria with my extended family because it’s Chinese New Year’s weekend as well and we usually gather together for at least one big dinner.

Although our kids aren’t little anymore, we’ve remained diligent over the years in planning and organizing time to be with them which can be challenging because of our busy after school and weekend schedules.  We eat dinner together late most week nights, one of our few constants where all of us are sitting down and talking (and reviewing who will be driving which car with whom on the way to school and home again).  Our kids are both musicians and love to sing and play their instruments with their Dad.  And we really enjoy travelling just as family of four to experience new places and foods and activities to create those common bonds and memories.

FullSizeRender-4During this term, our focus in Social Studies has been on the Family.  As always, we try to integrate as many parts of our day into a theme to deepen the learning and view it from as many perspectives as possible.  We started off with a Sharing Special Helper theme of “Our Family’s Favourite Activities.”  This is certainly one of the most fun Sharing activities we do because the children are able to talk about the most important relationships they have–that of the family unit.

FullSizeRender-12We posted the information outside our classrooms, created the Sharing and Special Helper calendar, and continued to use the Remind texts to follow-up with our expectations for Sharing.  It’s been so wonderful to see the love as the Special Helper names the people and pets in his or her family photo.  Then, our parents have assisted with some writing for their child to read, or with prompts from us, about the things their family enjoys doing together.  

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Everybody illustrated one of their favourite family activities, then we sorted and classified those activities into broader groupings.

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In class, we’ve been reading aloud from our collection of books on Family.  We’ve brainstormed the various roles of the family, trying to work through the connections of grandparents, aunts and uncles (Mom’s sister?  Dad’s sister?  Mom’s brother?  Dad’s brother?) and who are the nieces and nephews.  We were really surprised at how well the children could explain which aunts and uncles were their parents’ siblings, and those who were related through marriage. The children drew and labelled these beautiful portraits of their immediate families:

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We’ve collected quite a few books which talk about different aspects of the family, and grouped them below here for you in case you’re looking for more titles to read.

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Family:

  • The Great Big Book of Families (Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith)
  • The Family Book (Todd Parr)

Home:

  • Alison’s House (Maxine Trottier and Michael Martchenko)

Working Parents:

  • Mommy Works, Daddy Works (Marika Pedersen and Mikele Hall; Deirdre Betteridge)

Needs and Wants:

  • A Chair for My Mother (Vera B. Williams)

Brothers and Sisters:

  • Julius, the Baby of the World (Kevin Henkes)
  • Peter’s Chair (Ezra Jack Keats)
  • Revenge of the Small SMALL (Jean Little and Janet Wilson)
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz)`
  • Big Sister and Little Sister (Charlotte Zolotow and Martha Alexander)

Grandparents:

  • Oma’s Quilt (Paulette Bourgeois and Stephane Jorisch)

Happy Family Day, from our families to yours!

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Countdown to Christmas…

IMG_4717As we enjoy another clear, crisp and sunny day in Vancouver this last Sunday in November, our thoughts have already turned to…Christmas.

We’re well past Remembrance Day now, so we’ve allowed ourselves to indulge in thinking about Christmas at home and school.

We’re both early decorators at home for the holidays. Christy has earned

The adorable Christmas Village...

The adorable Christmas Village…

the illustrious nickname of “Christy Christmas” so you can imagine how fun and cute everything is at her house. Me? This picture from my Twitter profile gives you a clue as to what my Christmas obsession has been for the past 15 years.

 

Some of my favourites from my vintage Christmas ornament collection

Some favourites from my vintage collection.

Some favourites from my vintage collection.

Besides planning for the festivities (we’re both cooking Christmas dinner this year), decorating (Christmas tree, outdoor lights, decorative touches around the house, fresh floral arrangements), baking (cookies, cookies and more cookies for the teenagers) there is the final and inevitable task of…Christmas shopping.

We don’t enjoy Christmas shopping like we used to. When our kids were much younger, Christmas shopping was a lot more fun: we would buy what we, the parents, wanted to give them. We would be able to visit one or two wonderful toy stores and cover the majority of our lists. Now their Christmas lists are very specific, from far-flung stores and might we say…expensive?

Here’s a little poem about Christmas gift-giving we came across a few years ago from a comment a reader left in a personal finance blog….

Something you wish for
Something you need
Something to wear
And something to read.

When we proposed this to the teenagers, it didn’t go over particularly well (“What? Only four gifts?”) But they did understand the sentiment behind it, that perhaps simplifying gift-giving at Christmas might be something to be considered when we reflect on what Christmas is truly about on a personal level.

However, the one gift that we haven’t changed too much is the Christmas Book Bag.

The Self-Regulated Teacher

blogA Christmas tradition from our homes has been to give a book bag every year to our children (thank you to Dianne W. for this wonderful idea).

When they were young, we bought mostly picture books, activity books and comics; and although it’s changed to reference books, novels and magazines as they’ve grown older, it’s a gift our kids still look forward to every year. It’s the one present they can open while they’re waiting for the parents to get up. We have to admit it’s pretty funny to walk down the stairs on Christmas morning and see your kids sitting quietly reading around the tree! But it’s extremely gratifying as well.

We thought we’d share with you some of the Christmas books we’ve selected over the years. All of these books are beautifully written, rich with language and charming illustrations. We hope that you might find one (or more)…

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An Introduction to the Bear in First Nations Art and Stories:  Kindergarten Social Studies

One of things you quickly learn as a classroom teacher is that there is never enough time to teach everything you want, and have to, cover every year.  In addition to the mandated curriculum, there’s also the holidays (for us, an essential part of Kindergarten, and it also ties in with Social Studies) and just the curious and interesting things that you want to do with your class because of your personal interests, ideas you learn about from other teachers or activities you think your class will just enjoy and have fun doing.  Therefore, the process of integration, combining two or more subject areas, comes into play.

We integrate a lot, because it’s the only way we can fit in everything we have to do, and want to do, with our Kinders.

So here’s what’s going on with us this year.

In the new Kindergarten Social Studies curriculum, Aboriginal Education and learning about the First Peoples’ culture, will be an integral part of our teaching and learning.

We wanted to focus on the symbolic meaning of specific animals according to the First Nations.  We were thinking about the salmon, bear and eagle as our starting point as they are familiar animals here on the Westcoast.  The animals are a topic the Kindergarten children will be interested in, understand and make a connection with in their own lives.

At the same time, we are beginning our study of local animals in the Natural World (Science), and we have taught within the theme of Bears because not only are bears local and relevant to our area, but we can tie in a literature focus on well-known Bears in stories, such as “The Three Bears” and Corduroy by Don Freeman.  This also allows us to have a discussion on the differences between fiction and non-fiction stories.

In order to fit everything in, we’re going to have to integrate Reading, Language and Literacy (stories and literary activities on the bear theme), Community (Social Studies) (the bear, and we will extend to include other animals and their symbolic meaning in First Nations teaching), The Natural World (Science) (bear behaviour) and Art activities.

Children’s literature is of primary importance to us and so we always like to begin with a good book.  As Kindergarten teachers, we need to revisit the classic children’s stories with our students through the Primary years to build a broad knowledge base of literature.  We make constant references and cross-references to Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes, and other well known books, in our everyday discussions.  We discussed schema theory in a recent post, and the importance of building a common understanding when developing a new topic or idea.

We asked our teacher-librarian, Mrs. Kennedy, to help us with the Aboriginal Education resources, and other Bear books, and she had some wonderful treasures waiting for our classes during Library this week!

FullSizeRender-10We Greet the Four Animals (Terry Mack and Bill Helin) This book describe the four animals, Eagle, Wolf, Bear and Buffalo, and the gifts or teachings that are offered to us.  The children look to the East to thank the Eagle for the teachings of truth or honesty; when they face the South, they greet the Wolf and are thankful for the gifts of being brave and having courage.  The children look to the West to thank the bear who Bear teaches about love; and they face the North to thank for the Buffalo for the gift of being able to listen to others.  

Explore the Animals:  Northwest Coast First Nations and Native Art. FullSizeRender-9 This book has beautiful black and white drawings for the children to colour and a brief explanation of the animals.

FullSizeRender-8Black Bears (Tammy Gagne)  In keeping with learning about many types of bears, our children began with this book.

As the children are learning about the First Nation’s people, they are learning about the similarities and differences between our cultures.  In this way, they can develop an appreciation of themselves and others as individuals, but also how we all work and live together in the broader community.

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

IMG_4073School’s out, our classrooms are tidied up and we’re officially on holiday, and that includes writing for our blog! But we’re reposting some great articles over the next two months that you may have missed, to read and catch up with the website.

With the summer break and the hot weather we’re having right now, we love to spend some time out of the sun doing one of our favourite activities: reading. Just the thought of freedom to read whatever we want, for as long as we want, is a delicious moment to savour! It’s a great chance to visit your local library, favourite book stores, or even peruse old favourites from your home library, for reading material.

Exploring secondhand bookstores is another fun thing to do with your family. We both love to buy old books to complete collections of series we started in childhood (I own every copy of the original 65 Nancy Drew books; and Christy, the entire A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh series); or old copies of a favourite English series, Thrush Green by Miss Read, wonderful books about a fictional Cotswold village. The two schoolteachers, Miss Watson and Miss Fogerty, remind us that although our methods and curriculum might have changed, the sheer delight in working with young children remains the same.

Visiting new and used bookstores while we travel is a must. If you’re in Victoria, British Columbia, you must visit Russell Books, on Fort Street. It’s just up a few doors from the delectable Dutch Bakery where you can indulge your sweet tooth.

If you’re going down the coast, Village Books in Fairhaven, Washington, is a great destination. They have a wonderful children’s book section, and a lovely gift shop with an old fashioned candy area.

IMG_4067For those travelling through Oregon, you have to go to Powell’s Books in Portland Oregon. Go upstairs to the coffee bar for a coffee and cookie–absolutely fabulous! Warning: we spent only a morning at Powell’s and felt rushed. If you have a family of book lovers, you’re going to need time as it is takes up an entire city block! We bought 18 books on our last visit, and Christy’s family a mere 14, and getting down to those numbers was a huge challenge at best.

So now that you’ve bought all your books, time to start reading at home.

The Self-Regulated Teacher

sunshine readersA few weeks ago we started a Home Reading Program for our Kindergarten classes.

It’s just a simple program of emergent books and readers, where the children independently select a book to take home to read with their parents three times a week.   We have our book exchange during Centre time.  We call the children over to choose their book by our “bookkeeping” method of the ziploc bags where we’ve written their names and keep the individual books.  After the children select their new book and put it into the ziploc, they place the book inside their backpacks to go home.

Home Reading is a fun opportunity for our students to read aloud books appropriate for their reading level to their parents. But it’s not meant to replace the nightly bedtime story.

The cozy and comforting routine of a bedtime story is one of our strongest memories. We still have…

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