Swoop into Kindergarten

life in kindergarten at Laguna Blanca

STEM Buddies Update

The third grade and kindergarten STEM Buddies have been meeting weekly for the past month to work on creating Bee-Bot mats. Some of the themes include colors, pet vs. wild animal, living vs. nonliving, and number recognition. The progress is exciting!

The mats and game pieces are almost complete. Students will present their mats when we return from break.

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What is a Good Citizen?

Being a good citizen is an important part of being a part of Laguna Blanca School. We strive, campus-wide, to be the best citizens we can be. Positive character traits are discussed weekly at our Tecolote Tuesday meetings, as well as during our Swooper Citizens lessons. Last week, the kindergarten and first-grade class had the chance to see a good citizen in action in the community of Santa Barbara. We were invited to visit the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol and were treated to a very special tour of the Harbor Patrol boat.


While the first graders toured the boat, the kindergarteners enjoyed snack down by the waterfront.

I also read the book, Officer Buckle and Gloria. “Officer Buckle is a roly-poly bloke, dedicated to teaching schoolchildren important safety tips, such as never put anything in your ear and never stand on a swivel chair. The problem is, Officer Buckle’s school assemblies are dull, dull, dull, and the children of Napville just sleep, sleep, sleep. That is, until Gloria the police dog is invited along! Stealthily pantomiming each safety tip behind Officer Buckle’s back, Gloria wins the children’s hearts. Meanwhile, Officer Buckle assumes the cheers and laughter are all for him. Children will be highly entertained by the laugh-out-loud, adorable illustrations in this 1996 Caldecott Medal winner while learning the value of teamwork and a pawful of nifty safety tips.” (Ages 4 to 8) –Gail Hudson

The students thought the book was hilarious!

When it was our turn, we made our way to the Harbor Patrol boats and were greeted by Officer Nathan, who spoke to us about what it means to be a good citizen.

Then it was time to board the boat and learn about what Officer Nathan and the other members of Harbor Patrol do and the tools they use.

The students were very impressed with all the tools on Officer Nathan’s tool belt.

Each student took a turn “driving” the boat.

Then they were able to use the water hose!

This field trip was truly a “hands-on” learning experience for the kindergarteners. Thank you, Officer Nathan and the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol!

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November Morning Exploring

The new Morning Exploring tubs are a hit, with nine fall themed fine motor, math and reading activities for the children to explore.

Using playdough and a ten frame, students complete equations.

Students extend complex patterns using acrylic leaves.

Students build high-frequency words using links and letter cards.

Students match numbers, items, and tally marks, and link them together.

Students count items and record the number. This activity works with the teen numbers.

Greater than or less than….students choose a pumpkin that has a two digit number on it. They spin the spinner to choose greater than or less than….and then they compare numbers. The winner gets both pumpkins.

Pom pom counting: Students roll a die and use chopsticks to move the number of pom poms to their turkey bucket. The winner is the person who has more in their bucket.

Students choose a card with a number on it and fill in a tens frame using acrylic leaves. Next, they write the number that comes before and after.

Using tongs, students pull out leaves and read the high-frequency words that are on each leaf. They then match the leaf to their game board.

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Our Swooper Citizens theme of the week is Understanding. We defined Understanding as being empathetic and tolerant. To drive the theme of understanding home, I introduced the kindergarteners to one of my favorite children in the world….my friend Andrew.  I started by displaying a picture of Andrew and asking the children what they would do if they met Andrew in a park.

The children offered many conversation starters like, “What is your name? How old are you? Would you like to play with me? Do you like to swing?” It was that last question that caught some students’ attention. “Mrs. Delwiche, Andrew is missing a hand! Can he swing?” one student asked. “Oh yes,” I answered. “In fact, Andrew can do just about anything you can do,” I continued on.

I went on to share a little more information about Andrew. He loves to swing and play basketball. He is an artist, like his mother. Andrew is in first grade at a local school, and his smile lights up a room!

The students began to understand that though Andrew is missing a hand, he plays the same games and loves the same activities that the kindergarteners do. Next, I played a short video from a few years ago when Andrew’s mom visited our class.

We then discussed how showing understanding also means being empathetic. Two big ideas! Here is a video we showed to help clarify the meanig of empathy:

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November Sensory Table Fun

I brought out the newly restocked sensory table this morning. What could be better for November than feathers?!

For this morning’s activity, I added CVC word puzzles to the feathers for the students to dig out and match. (CVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant.)

Getting these puzzles out of the feathers proved to be trickier than I had originally imagined!

The thin pieces of laminated paper stuck to the feathers! The students demonstrated persistence and grit as they sifted through the fuzzy feathers.

But, they still enjoyed the sensory experience!

And the classroom is now more colorful too!

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Monster Fingers

Happy Halloween! To make reading more interesting today, students donned monster fingers. We are working on one-to-one correspondence, so it is important to me that students practice touching each word they read. These monster fingers did the trick!

Students enjoyed reading the Halloween-themed guided reading books I chose. And the monster fingers kept them interested just long enough to read them! There is so much excitement in the air in anticipation of this afternoon’s parade and carnival!

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Friday Fun-Dad Edition!

For Friday Fun today we had three dads running the center rotations. What fun they were! We made candy corn parfait, pipe cleaner spiders, and even sewed a squash!

Sewing is such a great way to build fine motor skills. Before beginning to sew, I gave students a tutorial on how to safely use the needle….because we used REAL sewing needles. I was very impressed with how carefully the students were with them and with the seriousness they displayed while sewing. I don’t think there was even one finger poke!

I just love how these turned out!

In the kitchen, students made candy corn parfait….a healthy snack, of course! The chopped pineapple, peeled Cuties, and added them in layers to a clear cup. A dab of whipped cream added a sweet touch to the top!


The final rotation was pipe cleaner spiders. Students added eyes and colorful beads to their spider’s legs. Another great fine motor building activity!

We love Friday Fun!

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The creepy, crawly spider unit has officially begun! During Reading Centers today, students bravely searched the sensory table for spiders!

Each spider was labeled with a capital and a lowercase letter.

Students matched the letters.

They then worked to put the letters in alphabetical order.

After reading centers, I brought the students to their sit spots to record information that they already know about spiders. I mentioned that at times we think we know something about a topic, but once we study that topic, we might discover that our prior knowledge was in fact wrong. We call these items “misconceptions.” I went on to record all the information the students knew about spiders…true and false. I then added their prior knowledege to our spider bulletin board.

Read some of the information that students already know about spiders:

There is so much excitment in the air regarding this unit that I decided to suprise the students with some spider decorations….

….spider garland!


Terrific Ten Frame

In math this week, students have been exploring the ten frame. A ten frame is simply a graphic way for students to see numbers.


This ten frame shows the number eight.

We started the lesson with some fun activities on the Smart Board where students had to build numbers less than ten.

Then students had to look at a ten frame and identify the number of dogs in the frame.

As an extension, I asked students if there were five dogs in the ten frame, how many empty spots were there? Five of course! This paved the way for our next activity that I like to call Spill the Beans. Each student received a cup with ten beans that were white on one side and orange on the other. They were to shake up the cup and spill out the beans, sorting them into groups according to color. Students then recorded how many orange beans they had and how many white beans they had.  They colored in the number of orange beans on the ten frame. Finally, students wrote and solved the addition equation.

So what exactly does a ten frame teach? Ohhhh….so many concepts!

First, students learn number sense. It is through this number exploration that students learn the value of each number. For example, if numbers don’t fill one row, then the number is less than five. If the numbers fill more than the first row, the number is larger than five. Number sense is key to students’ success in advanced math.

Second, students look at numbers as sums including five. Students make the numbers to 10 and write them as composites of 5 and another number: i.e., 8= 5 + 3.

Third, students look at numbers in the context of ten. In other words, by using a ten frame, they figure out how many are needed to add to 6 to make ten. This will later help students decompose addition greater than ten: i.e., 8 plus 8 is 8 plus 2 plus 6, or 16.

In short, a ten frame can be used to build number sense, help students gain “mental math” fluency, and to better understand how to use the math strategies of “composing and decomposing” numbers, to complete operations over places (i.e., from tens to hundreds, or thousands to hundreds.) Go ten frame! Wait until you see the math centers I have planned for the students!

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Rock On!

The kindergarteners brought the musical instruments they created at home as part of the Family STEAM Project this month to music class.

Mrs. Markstrum added some traditional instruments to the mix. What a band!

As I mentioned earlier in the post, these musical instruments were created as part of a homework activity I refer to as “Family STEAM Projects.” Families are given a monthly theme to explore that has a STEAM engineering project focus. Here is what September’s project looked like:

Students also have planning sheets to help guide the engineering process. They may do the writing themselves or have a parent or family member help. Here’s an example of those:

Once the creating was complete, students brought in their instruments and gave a brief presentation to the class. We start working on public speaking early in kindergarten!

I love giving students the opportunity to present their work, as well as the chance to practice asking questions and giving compliments.

We had a wonderful collection of shakers, drums, and guitars.

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