The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

Digital Literacy in Kindergarten: Next Step

In the past few years we’ve had an exciting time integrating and focusing on two of the pillars of the West Vancouver School District: digital literacy and inquiry. The third pillar is self-regulation which for us, in Kindergarten, is not only a pillar but our foundation and the arch (or rainbow, depending upon your perspective) which reaches over and encompasses everything we do. (Rainbows have reached almost cult status this year in the Kindergarten…we pattern “in rainbow,” we colour “in rainbow,” we organise our blocks “in rainbow.” All true….you cannot make this stuff up.)

Each year we choose one digital literacy project for the Kindergarten, under the guidance of our West Vancouver District Support and Innovation (Technology) Teacher, Ms. Cari Wilson (@kayakcari). We have always completed these projects with the assistance of our Grade 7 Big Buddies. For the Kindergarten, it means we can raise the bar a little higher by creating a complex, multi-step assignment; and for the Grade 7 students, it’s an opportunity to mentor and be a positive role-model to younger students. Both grades benefit from a special connection across the years; the Grade 7s are also our recess and lunch monitors and help us out on the playground.

This year, Mr. Russ Patterson is our Grade 7 Buddy Teacher. He teaches both Grade 7 classes during Buddy Time and meets with my class (Division 2 Big Buddies) and Christy’s class (Division 1 Big Buddies) in back to back blocks on Wednesday.

Big Buddies are a vital part of Kindergarten Life.

From the Kindergarten Science Big Idea “Plants and animals have observable features,” we decided to focus on animals (we’ll study Plants in Third Term) and we selected the beloved penguin as our animal of choice. A full-grown Emperor penguin is about the size of a Kindergarten child and for that reason alone, we’ve always had great affection for the penguin.

In the past few years we’ve used the app Book Creator on the iPad to create digital books about penguins, their habitat, young, appearance and food sources. Our Big Buddies would work with us to gather images from Google, write a brief descriptive sentence using a sentence frame and the Little Buddies would do a voiceover, reading the text aloud. This year we decided to take the same topic but use the app iMovie as our presentation platform. In her role as Technology Support Teacher, Cari also joined us on our first day of movie-making.

Our Penguin iMovies were a five week project. Christy and I completed a Mystery Box Inquiry before each Buddy class. The Mystery Box allowed us to teach questioning skills using the 5Ws in an interesting, game-like format and to introduce the penguins topics we were going to investigate.

Weeks 1 and 2: Research

The Big and Little Buddies used this graphic organiser to record their research in specific categories. From pictures and text, students would read and discuss their findings; and all information was duly noted.

Week 3: Image Collection

The Buddies searched through Google Images to collect a minimum of three images for each fact. They would not necessarily use every image they found but they needed a bank of pictures to draw from for their movie.

Each Buddy pair was assigned an iPad which they needed to use for the duration of the project.

Weeks 4 and 5: iMovie creation
Each Buddy pair had specific criteria to fulfill: an opening image with a title; images of the specific topics (habitat, appearance, young, food); Kindergarten voiceover describing the images; end photo of the Buddies with Kindergarten voiceover naming the Buddies and credit to Google Images.

This was a really fun project for our children. We love that they are using technology to create something, starting with the planning sheet to help organise thinking and then using it as a stepping off point to make an iMovie. We did have a few technical glitches, including iPads which refused to power on and movies which wouldn’t run. Fortunately, students demonstrated a can-do “the show must go on” attitude (grit and perseverance), pulled out another iPad…and started again. Ah…show biz.

We’re going to premiere our iMovies at Student Led Conferences on April 20, 2017. Families will have an opportunity to sign-up for a Conference led by their Kindergarten child and viewing your child’s iMovie will be one of the Centres you’ll visit.

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 »

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 »

A Huff and a Puff

FullSizeRender-21This week in our Fairy Tales study, we focused on “The Three Little Pigs,” illustrated by Georgien Overwater.  We’ve read several versions now, as a few children brought this story in for Sharing, and their choice has been our daily read-aloud book.  Each time we have a different retelling of a fairy tale, it’s been a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast the characterizations and plot lines of the individual books.  In “The Three Little Pigs,” we read how the pigs are either eaten by the wolf, or safely club together in the brick house; different ways in which the wolf meets his end (each of them gravely acknowledged by the children) and observed additional details provided by the illustrator to enhance that particular version.  We’ve also read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig (Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury), a reversal of the characters’ roles, to enhance our knowledge of the original story.

For our class activity, we recalled the main story events, illustrated each one, then cut apart and sequenced the pages in our mini-books.  Everyone was able to share their drawings and read their book aloud (from memory) at the carpet.

IMG_2836

We also each made a pig and hung them up with our wolves from “Little Red Riding Hood.”

IMG_2835

All of these stories create a rich and diverse understanding of Fairy Tales, which we consider an essential building block in the foundation of a child’s knowledge of children’s literature.  In the ensuing years, many books the children will read will make references to fairy tales, and they need some basic knowledge of the stories to understand at a deeper, more complex level.  The universal themes of good versus evil; the triumph of courageous, valiant young people over older, wicked archetypes (wolves, foxes, witches, uncles wishing to take over the throne); patterns of 3 (The Three Pigs, Goldilocks and The Three Bears) and “home is best” are ones that occur repeatedly in books.

We have a few more fairy tales to read over the next few weeks, and look forward to sharing our love and knowledge of these timeless, classic stories with our students.

This Week in Our Room:  May 24-27, 2016

Always after the Victoria Day weekend, the days just start to fly by.

IMG_0945Our bean plants really took off while we were away, and some had reached significant proportions.  We sent home the beans earlier this week as they were definitely ready for transplanting.  The pots are compostable so can be planted directly into a garden bed.  The beans could also be planted into a larger container at home.  But regardless of location, the plants should be staked so the vine does not get twisted on itself.  Happy growing!

Sports Day is now just a week away.  We sent home an information letter for you on Thursday this week.  Division 15 is on the Red Team and their letter was on red paper; Division 16 is on the Blue Team and their letter was on blue.  Please note that dismissal for Kindergarten is at 12 pm.  If your child is going to Camp Ridgeview for 12 pm, we ask you to please notify them as soon as possible so arrangements can be made.

A special Hot Lunch can be ordered for Sports Day. The link for this was in the Ridgeview Bulletin last Thursday, May 19.   If you decide to order lunch for yourself and your Kindergarten child, you can pick up your lunches at the kitchen (near the gym).  Please feel free to picnic on our school grounds as our classrooms will be closed.  The children know the location of the waste sorting bins on the playground to sort your lunch packaging after you’ve finished eating.

As we informed you last week, today we sent the children home with their first Home Reading book to read aloud to you.  Your child may find the book is too difficult;  in that case, please read the book aloud to your child, focus on a few specific skills (eg., look for words that begin with the same letter as your child’s first name, what is the letter name and the letter sound?).  Your child can tell us on Monday if the book was too hard, too easy or just right, and we can adjust.  There is further information for you in a letter in your child’s Home Reading ziploc.

 

Leave a comment »

Kindergarten Home Reading Program

FullSizeRender-19We’re going to start our Kindergarten Home Program next week.  This will involve your child independently selecting a book from our Home Reading book collection to read at home with you.  We will be doing the book exchange on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s.

We will start by selecting a book for your child which we think is in their reading range.  Your child can let us know at the next book exchange if it was too hard, too easy or just right.  We’ll do our best to adjust the books.  A letter will be included with your child’s first book, with more details and our expectations of the program.

Every child reads at his or own own level, and develops reading skills with practise and as they are developmentally ready.  At school, we have directly taught phonological awareness.  We’ve taught the alphabet letter names, alphabet sounds, identifying beginning and ending sounds and blending and segmenting skills.  These are skills which can all be reinforced at home.  Some of the children are continuing to learn their sounds, some know the basic sight words, and some are already reading.  We have found that this is the nature of the Kindergarten child:  as a class, their reading ability is pretty much all over the map.

We do know that daily reading aloud at home, where you are reading to your child, does make a difference.  They are learning literacy awareness, but more importantly, you are fostering a love of literature and reading that will stay with your children their entire lives.  When we consider what gifts we can give to our children, we’d say that one ranks near, or at the top of, the list.

This Week in Our Room:  May 15-19, 2016

Our beans have sprouted, and like any good gardener, we take so much joy in the small things.  Naturally, this generated a lot of excitement so we pulled out the magnifying glasses so we could get a closer look at exactly what’s going on with these tiny seedlings.

FullSizeRender-17

 

We read “Little Red Riding Hood” this week for our Fairy Tale study.  We enjoyed reading several versions and looking for the common elements across the stories.  One of our favourites was the from the fairy tale collection, Yummy by Lucy Cousins.

FullSizeRender-16

 

We’re continuing our work in Geometry, focusing on circles and spheres, squares and cubes.  Next week we explore rectangles.  

FullSizeRender-18

As part of our unit, we read Shapes That Roll (Karen Sagel and Steve Wilson), Perfect Square (Michael Hall) and Mouse Shapes (Ellen Stoll).  

We really try to take advantage of the excellent children’s literature available to us as a way to enhance our lessons.  It provides us with another opportunity to model a love of reading and reading behaviour (what does a good listener do?), oral expression (a chance for us to use a variety of voices when reading aloud, pacing, statements versus questions) and a shared understanding of vocabulary and concepts.

Reminders and Upcoming Events

We are collecting donations of $2 or more between May 16-27 to support Cops for Cancer. West Vancouver Schools are partnering with the West Vancouver Police Department to support Cops for Cancer’s Tour de Coast ride, taking place in September 2016. Donations made to the Canadian Cancer Society through Cops for Cancer are used to fund life-saving research and support programs for children suffering from cancer.

There is Professional Day tomorrow, Friday, May 20th.  School is not in session.  Monday, May 23rd is Victoria Day.  We wish all of you a wonderful long weekend and look forward to seeing the children back at school on Tuesday!

On Friday, May 27th we will be starting our home reading program. Each Kindergarten child will be bringing home a home reading book in a Ziploc bag and a letter outlining how the program will work.

Friday, June 3 is Sports Day! We will be dismissing the Kindergarten at 12pm that day. You’ll be receiving your information letter on Thursday. Division 15 will be on the RED TEAM and Division 16 will be on the BLUE TEAM.

Leave a comment »

Mystery Box Inquiry: Plant Edition

IMG_2819We’ve had a busy time working on our current Inquiry study on local plants.  It’s been beautifully timed with the gorgeous early summer weather we’re having right now in the Lower Mainland and so many flowers are in bloom.  This is one of our favourite units to teach as Christy and I are both avid gardeners ourselves, and we love to share our passion for plants and growing things with our students.

We try to teach by theme and connect as much across the curriculum as we can to give a rich learning experience for our students.  We love it when the vocabulary and content can be tied together within the curricular competencies.  So for our most recent round of “Sharing and Special Helper,” we asked all the children to bring in a “Sign of Spring” and many of them brought their favourite plants or flowers from their gardens.  Our students brought in rhododendrons, azaleas, tulips of all colours, daffodils, bluebells, wild poppies and a huge blossoming branch from an apple tree.  By the time we started our plant study, our class had all been exposed to a great variety of flowers and shrubs.  This is particularly important so that we have some similar experiences to refer to during our lesson discussions in the days to follow.

As we’ve mentioned earlier in our previous weekly newsletters, we started our Inquiry with a walk around our extensive school grounds. We stopped to name and discuss some of the plants we have growing in our school garden, and if the children had those same plants at home.  We listened for birds and the sound of our creek.  We also heard the springtime sounds of construction and lawnmowers.

Back in the classroom, we read  Living Things, by Melvin and Gilda Berger, to help reinforce the idea that living things grow, need food and often look like their parents when they grow up, as opposed to non-living objects.  We recalled the things we had seen on our walk, looked around for everyday things in our classroom and sort and categorised those items into living and non-living things, which the children recorded on their charts.

FullSizeRender-14

 

In our next lesson, we read the delightful chapter, “The Garden,” from Frog and Toad are Friends (Arnold Lobel) which sent everyone, including the teachers, into hysterical laughter as Toad tries to grow his garden as beautifully as Frog.  After yelling at his seeds to GROW, Toad thinks he has scared his planted seeds so they are now afraid to grow.  Toad reads stories, poems, plays music and keeps the seeds company in the evening with candlelight.  The children concluded (and knew) that water, air, soil, food, time and love are essential plant needs.

FullSizeRender-15

Time for a Mystery Box Inquiry!  We placed a variety of seeds in the Mystery Box.  The children asked some great questions to determine what was inside.  Even better, we had the first “checking questions” being asked…questions the children asked to confirm whether their idea was correct, or not.  Wow!  Talk about amazing curiosity and wonder.  The children loved sorting the seeds into groups and then matching them to the seed envelopes.

IMG_2818

We made our own seeds from a National Geographic learning resource we had on seeds.  We are enlarging our vocabulary to include seed coat, plant embryo, roots, stem, seedling, leaves, blossoms, germination and pollination.  

IMG_5302

The most exciting part of learning about plants, of course, is to plant our own seeds.  We’re growing Scarlet Runner beans because we can count on them to sprout (favourite word in the Kindergarten right now) quickly.  We purchased small compostable pots and brought in a trug full of potting soil and a small potting trowel.  After a few mishaps …lots of soil on the table and floor… we quickly realized a quick lesson on how to handle the trowel was needed.  Here are our beautiful little pots with their bean plant markers.  

IMG_2797

 

That’s Miss Pink, by the way, our trusty snail watering can, looking on.  We’ll follow up in a newsletter with how our beans have grown.  When thinking about the integration of curriculum, our bean plants will be a useful reference point when we teach “Jack in the Beanstalk” from our Fairy Tale literature unit, so the children can imagine where the giant’s castle is located.

By the time you read this post, we will have taught our last lesson on how seeds travel.  We’ve learned over the past few weeks from a variety of books that seeds can travel by air, water, on our clothing or dropped by animals after eating the surrounding fruit.  We were fortunate to have dandelions which had gone to seed brought in for Sharing and the children were all very familiar with what happens when they blow on those “puffballs”  and how the seeds travel.  Some of the children also knew about seeds clinging to their clothes after forest and meadow walks.

Here’s our current book list of plant books that we’ve been reading aloud to our classes, and some other beautiful stories with gardening and plants as interwoven themes.  We’re hoping you and your little gardener enjoy many happy years of gardening and reading together!

  • Once There was a Seed (Judith Anderson and Mike Gordon)
  • Living Things (Melvin and Gilda Berger)
  • Seed to Plant (Melvin and Gilda Berger)
  • All About Seeds (Melvin Berger and Anna DiVito)
  • Linnea in Monet’s Garden (Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson)
  • Grow Flower, Grow! (Lisa Bruce and Rosalind Beardshaw)
  • Flower Garden (Eve Bunting and Kathryn Hewitt)
  • Flowers (Vijaya Khisty Bodach)
  • Leaves (Vijaya Khisty Bodach)
  • Roots (Vijaya Khisty Bodach)
  • Seeds (Vijaya Khisty Bodach)
  • Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney)
  • In My Garden (Ermanno Cristini and Luigi Puricelli)
  • Growing Vegetable Soup (Lois Ehlert)
  • Planting a Rainbow (Lois Ehlert)
  • From Seed to Plant (Gail Gibbons)
  • Round the Garden (Omri Glaser, Byron Glaser and Sandra Higashi)
  • Nora’s Roses (Satomi Ichikawa)
  • How a Seed Grows (Helene J. Jordan and Loretta Krupinski)
  • The Carrot Seed (Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson)
  • Frog and Toad are Friends (Arnold Lobel)
  • Who is in the Garden (Vera Rosenberry)
  • This is the Sunflower (Lola M. Schaefer and Donald Crews)
  • Tops and Bottoms (Janet Stevens)
  • A Tree in a Forest (Jan Thornhill)
  • My Garden (Kevin Henkes)
  • Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt (Kate Messner)

 

Leave a comment »

Just Another Week in the Kindergarten

We’ve had a really busy few weeks so it’s wonderful to get back to our regular timetable and everyday routines.  We appreciate structure, knowing what’s going to happen next and a certain amount of predictability.  It helps us personally with our own self-regulation and we know our students thrive on it.  Although there is excitement in the unknown, being flexible (one’s ability to self-regulate, cope and manage changes in a day) is a skill that is learned over a lifetime and one that we most certainly teach in the Kindergarten.  But we need to teach those concepts within the context of what familiar days and patterns look like so when our schedule is stable, we can accomplish a great deal.

What have we been up to?

IMG_2785Well, we officially finished our Alphabet Books last week with the “Z” page and painting zebra stripes for our “Z” craft.  But many children had missed out on some alphabet pages due to travel, sickness or a late start at Ridgeview.  So we had three days of finish-up for all the pages missed.  You can see from the photo that we had our alphabet charts displayed on the wall (and on the floor) for children to fill in their pictures, labels and printing.  The children were meticulous in diligently going through their books to figure out what pages were incomplete.  

This massive undertaking was taking place alongside preparations for Welcome to Kindergarten (Parent Information Evening on April 25; new Kindergarten student participation on April 27 and 28), our fabulous Student Led Conferences (May 4), Mother’s Day paintings (May 5) and classroom preparation (May 6) for our school’s Mayfair (May 7).  Our classrooms usually looks like this:

IMG_2817

But for the Silent Auction (my classroom) and Book Sale (Christy’s classroom), our classrooms looked like this:

IMG_2789

We want to thank the Kindergarten children and Grade 7 students for helping us to not only take down the classroom on Friday for Mayfair, but also for restoring the classroom again on Monday morning.

This Week in Our Room:  May 9-13, 2016

Our big excitement this week was taking our class photos and our school panorama photo!  It’s a special moment for us and our students to gather together for a photo the children will always remember as “my first school picture.”

IMG_2797We’ve been working hard on our Inquiry study on local plants.  We learned about how plants grow (germination, roots, stems, leaves, pollination) and we crafted our beautiful Plant folders.  We also had a Mystery Box Inquiry where we placed a selection of seeds in the Mystery Box and asked ten questions before guessing.  Then, we sorted and classified the seeds and matched the seeds to the plant envelopes.   We finished our last lesson today with “How Seeds Travel” and planted our bean seeds.

 

IMG_2807-1We started our next Math unit in Geometry.  We brainstormed all the geometric shapes we know and read Brown Rabbit’s Shape Book by Alan Baker.  We’re now starting to learn about the individual two and three dimensional shapes and their properties, beginning with circles and spheres.

 

We also launched our Fairy Tale literature study with Once Upon a Golden Apple by Jean Little, Maggie De Vries and Phoebe Gilman.  This delightful story makes plenty of references to nursery rhymes and fairy tales and we had lots of fun reciting the nursery rhymes we recognized and identifying the fairy tale titles from the hints in the story.  

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Friday, May 20, is a Professional Day for teachers.  Students are not in session.

Monday, May 23, is Victoria Day and school is closed for everyone.

Friday, June 3, is our Ridgeview Sports Day.  Please note that Kindergarten students will be dismissed at 12 pm that day.  If your child attends Camp Ridgeview, please be sure to let them know we will be dismissing early.  We will send out more information about our student expectations for Sports Day in the next two weeks.

 

Leave a comment »

West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Meets Ridgeview Kindergarten

 

We had a very exciting day early on in March when West Vancouver Fire and Rescue (@WestVanFireDept) came to visit us at Ridgeview with a special presentation called “Stories from the Firehall.”

As part of the Kindergarten Social Studies Content, our students are expected to know about “the people, places, and events in the local community, and in local First Peoples Communities,” so meeting with our local firefighters is a tremendous opportunity.  In the Kindergarten we consider the firefighters as one of our community helpers, and we want our children to know and become familiar with the roles and responsibilities they fulfill.

We welcomed Captain Marcia James (Fire Prevention) and Assistant Chief Jeff Bush (@WestVanFireDept) (Fire Prevention/Investigation) to our classrooms to speak to the Kindergarten.

One of the first things we learned is that the Fire Department works in teams, much like we do at school and in our classrooms. Captain James explained that our Principal, Mrs. Brady, is like Chief Randy Heath, Fire Chief of West Vancouver District.  In his role, Chief Heath is in charge of the entire District, like Mrs. Brady is in charge of the entire school.

Assistant Chief Bush’s role is similar to the teachers’ roles in their classrooms, where we are organizing everyone and letting them know what needs to be done in their working teams.

We also found that firefighters are very busy community helpers.  A lot of people think firefighters just put out fires, but actually, they help people in many different emergency situations.  Our firefighters found they were doing a lot of rescues; hence their name, “West Vancouver Fire and Rescue.”

For example, firefighters might go out to help people who are very sick or were in pain.  Or people who are walking and hiking may slip and fall:  if necessary, the firefighters would come out for those emergencies.  The children said they had seen fire trucks where cars had had an accident. But Chief Bush reminded us a fire truck outside a house or building, or at the scene of an accident, doesn’t necessarily mean there is a fire. It might be for some kind of rescue.

Firefighters also come into our schools and inspect them every summer.  They ensure the sprinklers and smoke detectors are working properly and are not obstructed in any way.

Each year our school must have six fire drills so that all of the staff and students know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Naturally, the children wanted to know more about what happens when there is a fire.  We learned that the first thing firefighters have to do is make sure it is safe to go into the burning building.  The air can be very bad, so Assistant Chief Bush donned some of the special equipment the firefighters have to wear.  Assistant Chief Bush also spoke to the children through his mask so they could hear what his voice sounded like, and how they didn’t need to be afraid.

FullSizeRender-9

Similar to a scuba diver, our firefighters wear a backpack with an air supply attached to a mask for breathing.  We noticed that Assistant Chief Bush was moving and swaying with his equipment on, and that’s because there is a special detector that senses if the firefighter is not moving; it gives a clue that the firefighter may be hurt and signals will come on to indicate something is wrong.  Communication can be challenging in a major fire and firefighters have to always be able to communicate with each other.

And of course following a fire, another responsibility of firefighters is that they have to go into the building and see how the fire started.

Our children asked some very thoughtful questions and received very straight answers:

  • “What do you do when the bottles (air supply tanks) are emptying?”  A bell rings and you have five minutes before it empties.
  • “How do you open an elevator?”  Firefighters have special keys to open it, or special valves to turn to move the elevator car.
  • “If there is a fire, how does the family get out of the building?”  Children need to ask their parents, “What is the family escape plan?”  Everyone needs to listen to the smoke alarm and make a plan to leave the home and meet in your designated meeting place.
  • Some thought they should hide if there is a fire so it was an opportune time to review what children and adults should and should not do in a fire.

It was good reminder for all of us to think about the family escape plan. When a smoke detection device detects smoke, the alarm is sounded so the inhabitants of the building should get out right away.  The smoke will be hard to see through, so we’re to get down low to the ground and crawl; air is heavier than smoke so the smoke would be above us.  Fires can be noisy and dark so it’s important to yell and shout as we’re making our way out.

As well, smoke detection devices need to be tested and checked.  October has typically been Fire Prevention month, so checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors’ batteries around Thanksgiving would be a wonderful way to show thanks and gratitude for our wonderful families.

No firefighter visit is complete without a visit from a fire truck, so you can imagine our children’s delight when this beauty came driving onto the playground!

FullSizeRender-10

The children suspected something was going to happen as we waited for the playground gate to be unlocked:  the fire truck flashed its lights and whistled at us a few times and then the excitement really began!

All of children had a turn to climb up into the truck and sit on one of the seats, and some of them also took the opportunity to wear the firefighters’ headsets.

We saw the yellow hoses, checked out the water valves, learned about the jaws of life and tested out the weight of a firefighter’s helmet.  We engaged in a long discussion about the blocks used to stop the fire truck from moving, or rolling backwards, while the firefighters were working. It was a very wonderful visit!

IMG_2628

We were particularly pleased to know that our students now have some familiarity with the firefighters, particularly when dressed in their uniforms.  We wanted the children to see how firefighters look in their jackets, and with the helmet and shield over their faces.  The children need to know not to be afraid or hide from the fire or a firefighter.  The firefighters come to help and rescue them.

We would like to thank Captain Marcia James and Assistant Chief Jeff Bush so very much for visiting and sharing with us the roles and responsibility of one of our most important community helpers, the firefighter!

 

Leave a comment »

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.  

IMG_4957

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

FullSizeRender-5

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:

IMG_4958

IMG_2450

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.

FullSizeRender-6

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!

Leave a comment »

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

IMG_2278We love Christmas, it’s our favourite time of year.  But a Kindergarten Christmas is extra special.

The children have been practising their songs for the upcoming Christmas concert these last few weeks.  This will be the children’s first time on stage with their classmates, singing and performing for their parents.

We’re decorating our classrooms already.  Although it might seem early to some, we’re going into the last two weeks before the Christmas break.  We have some children leaving early and we want to enjoy the feelings of excitement and anticipation with everyone before we go our separate ways.

We’re trying to adhere to some of our self-regulation guidelines for keeping the classroom calm and peaceful, while still making it a beautiful and special Christmas space.

We’ve changed the fairy lights from autumn orange to Christmas multicolour.  We’re still keeping the overhead lights off, except on the darkest days when we turn on just one bank of lights so we can read our books.

FullSizeRender-4We’ve set up a small Christmas tree for the children to contemplate when we’re listening to quiet music, part of our after the morning recess routine.

We’ve downsized the Christmas clutter of figurines and signage.  We’re going to create a Christmas word bank instead so our “decoration” will also be a useful writing reference.

Confession time….we have hung small Christmas stuffed animals from the wires we’ve strung across the classroom which are definitely distracting.  But the little stuffed teddy bears, angels, Santas, reindeer and snowmen are just so cute and the children love them.  Call us old-fashioned Christmas softies, but Christmas comes FullSizeRender-5once a year and you’re only young once.  We clarified our expectations with the children (no jumping up to grab the toys) and so far, things are going pretty well. We’ll talk again in two weeks.

This Week in Our Room:  November 30-December 4, 2015

The big excitement this week was that our Kindergarten classes got to see their Big Buddies not once, but twice!

FullSizeRender-3We made our annual Christmas Crackers with our Buddies for our traditional donation to several local organizations this year, including. The Union Gospel Mission and our sister school, Grandview Elementary in Vancouver.  We fill a paper roll with your Hallowe’en candy donations, and wrap it beautifully in Christmas paper and ribbon.  Our children have learned that there are many children and adults in communities close to us who will receive only this candy as a gift this year.  We are firm believers that if we are able to share some of what we have to bring comfort and a little holiday joy to others, then we should.  Thinking globally begins at a very early age; talking about the gratitude for the privileges we receive, whether through hard work or good fortune, is a discussion a Kindergarten child is able to participate in.

Our other Big Buddy project this year is a secret.  We started working onFullSizeRender-1 our Christmas gifts for our families!

We browsed the Scholastic Book Fair and enjoyed looking at possible gift purchases.  We did not take out a library book this week as the book fair bookcases were blocking access to our storybooks.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

The Primary Musical is called “Toys” and our Kindergarten children will be dressing up as Prince and Princess Dolls.

Girls: please wear a princess costume (Disney Princess is fine) and crown.  No wands, please.

Boys:  please wear a long sleeved green top and black pants.  We will supply the gold garland sash and prepare the crowns at school.  If you already have a crown, please let us know by Monday, December 7.

Wednesday, December 9 is our second annual Reindeer Games Activity Party.  We will be having some fun, reindeer themed activities for our class.  If your children would like to dress up with reindeer or Santa hats, Christmas jewelry and headpieces, or Christmas t-shirts, this would be a good day to do so.

Also on December 9, our Me to We Team (Grade 7) is hosting a gingerbread house evening.  You can make a wonderful gingerbread house with your family.  Please note that children must be accompanied by a parent.  You can order your gingerbread house kit, extra icing and candies, with the form we sent home earlier this week.  Please see the office if you need another one.  Mrs. Daudlin and Mrs. Campbell will also be attending this evening to support the Me to We team, make there own gingerbread houses and look forward to seeing the Kindergarten families who may be in attendance!

 

Leave a comment »