Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Traditions

This week we focused on our final tradition for this unit; Christmas. All the friends in our class celebrate Christmas in one way or another. It is always really great to hear students discuss the deeply rooted traditions that each student holds so close. 

We made the symbol of Christmas, a Christmas tree using a variety of different sized strips of paper. Students had to use measurement to compare the lengths and then put them in order from smallest to largest to construct a Christmas tree. The result was a gorgeous field of decorated Christmas trees that adorn our hallway.

Also this week we have been studying the different Gingerbread Man stories. We talked about what a "folk tale" is and analyzed the different characters, songs, and endings in each story. The students also  discovered that a gingerbread person could also be a symbol for Christmas. We labeled a gingerbread man, created a class book, and did a variety of themed activities like "Write the Room", "Rhyming Roy" and next week we will be writing our own stories. 

Mr. Charltray also spent some time in our classroom this week working on our presentations. I am so excited to share these fantastic examples of 21st century learning with you. I am hoping to download them and send them off next week; a truly special project to treasure. 

Guiding Our Emotions

Mrs. G came in to our classroom on Monday and we worked through a variety of strategies for dealing with tough feelings. Having read Mouse Was Mad last time, we had a frame of reference for how we would deal with our own difficult feelings. Mrs. G had set up four different centers to practice these awesome skills. First was a center where students drew his/her favorite place. The next was a place to "make our monster" out of Play Doh. When we were done we got to smash that monster back into the container. The next center was focused on breathing. We used "lazy eight" breathing and blowing a pin wheel to focus our breath. The final center was designed so students could curl up with a book (all centered around emotions) and read. The students were pros at moving from center to center and really practicing. I have implemented a few of these strategies into our "Take a Break" space, too.

Friday, December 11, 2015

St. Lucy's Day

Today we had the privilege of having Ms. Lucy Beirne come in to discuss her family tradition of St. Lucy's Day. This wonderful tradition combines the magic of light with the winter solstice. We learned a lot from Ms. Beirne. Our students had prepared a variety of questions to help generate a strong conversation. From those questions we learned:

-St. Lucy's Day is celebrated on December 13th.
-It is celebrated in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Italy.
-Traditionally pink, purple, red, green, and white candles are lit to celebrate the coming of longer days.
-Families eat cookies, drink cocoa, and celebrate early in the morning hours while is still dark out.
-The symbol for St. Lucy's Day is a wreath crown with candles.
-Legend has it that the first person to celebrate it was a little girl named Lucy who wanted to bring happiness back to her family during the darkest and coldest time of the winter in Sweden.
-The name "Lucy" means "light".

The crown that Ms. Berne brought in for us to try!

Following Ms. Beirne's awesome lesson, we made of very own St. Lucy's Day crowns. Your student will be coming home with these awesome crafts today. Ask your student about St. Lucy's Day and the different pieces that make this tradition special. It was such an awesome learning experience and we are so lucky to have such a dedicated group of families so ready to share their traditions!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Tradition of Hanukkah

This week was truly an awesome exploration of learning. Amidst a very diverse and ever changing world, I strongly believe in the well-roundedness of our students. Even at the young age of five, developing a sense of empathy, understanding, and awareness for other cultures is so important. This week we dove into the family tradition of Hanukkah.

We defined "tradition" to be "something a family does over and over again." While more complex than just that, this allows students to understand there is a family component and a ritual component to something being a tradition. Hanukkah was our first stop on this journey. Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is celebrated for eight days and eight nights. In our research we learned that people of the Jewish faith practice Hanukkah. They have lots of traditions during these eight days. For example, play dreidel, earning "gelt" (chocolate coins), and enjoying tasty latkes.

One of the biggest pieces of a tradition is a "symbol" for that tradition. A symbol represents the tradition.  We discussed the importance of a menorah as a symbol to the Hanukkah celebration. We also learned that there are nine candles, not eight. The middle candle is the helper candle that lights all the others at night. We created our own menorahs as a part of our studies.

As a culminating activity we had a traditional celebration where we enjoyed latkes, read a new story, and played "subitizing dreidel". As I am sure you have already heard the latkes were a huge hit! The students loved them with the traditional applesauce for dipping. While we waited for our latkes to cook we continued reading more about the tradition. We then graphed our class results. All students (and adults) agreed they loved latkes! For the record, I did not prepare them myself. I purchased these tasty potato pancakes at Trader Joe's if you are interested!

My hope is that through our study of Hanukkah students are starting to develop an understanding of the cultures and traditions of other families. However the common thread is always family.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Number Writing

Our current math goal got upgraded this week! We have been focusing more heavily on writing our numbers. I let the kiddos in on a little secret... If you can write 0-9 you can write ANY number! This exciting fact came with great enthusiasm. In our classroom we have been doing a lot of activities that help us to meet this goal. Not only that but Math Club was all about number writing this week. Mrs. Butterworth and her incredible energy brought number writing to the next level. Although reversals are appropriate at this age, transposures (21 as 12) are not. We are working on taking our number recognition to the next level. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Stretchy Snake

A major goal in kindergarten is blending and segmenting sounds to both read and write words. This week has been all out sssstttttreeeeeettttchhhhinggggg out our sounds. 

In reading we use Stretchy Snake as a strategy when we come to unknown words. If Eagle Eye and Lips the Fish can't do it for us then we take it to the next level level and stretch (segment) out the sounds then blend the sounds back together. This is a long standing goal and we will work on this all year. Some friends are working on two phoneme (sound) words while others are working on three or some digraphs or blends. This is a great strategy for beginning and later readers. 

In writing we have been using stretchy snake to have our writing be easier to read. We are trying our hardest to write down as many sounds as we can in each word. With the help of our vowel chart we have been trying to slowly stretch out and listen closely for sounds. 

This is a great skill that you can continue to work on at home. 

A very focused reading group working on segmenting. 

These red/white "chips" help us plan our sentences one word at a time. This helps us focus on stretching an individual word. Anything can be used as a "chip" when working on writing at home. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Our December Calendar

Handwriting without Tears

Our hard work with our handwriting is truly evident!  Ms. Moe is so impressed with our continued progress and growth. Here are a few things you can do to help at home:
1) We start our letters at the top. 
2) Pinch your pencil
3) The none writing hand holds the paper. 
4) Tilt your paper to help you.