Swoop into Kindergarten

life in kindergarten at Laguna Blanca

Dinosaur Creative Writing

We have been working on creative writing this week during reading centers. I asked students to imagine they woke up and there was a dinosaur in their backyard.  What would they do? Here are some of their answers. I continue to be excited about the progress the students are making with their writing skills. Many students are writing using beginning and ending consonants with a vowel in the middle. They use their best guess spelling….and are not shy about taking a risk and spelling really challenging words! Take a look:

“I would close the window.”

 

“I would make it my friend. I would feed it plants.”

 

“I would scream and I would go tell my mom.  I would tell my dad.”

 

“If it was a carnivore, I would run away, and if it was a herbivore, I would keep it! As a pet!”

 

“I would run away. I am scared.”

 

“Well, if it was a T-Rex I would be scared. But it is a Sauroposeidon so I will make friends with it.”

What would you do?!

 

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Kindness

With all that has happened these past six or so weeks, I continue to feel grateful for the acts of kindness my family and I have received. Additionally, Girl’s Inc. has been very kind in sharing their space with us. The acts of kindness go on and on!

Students do kind acts all the time, and I really want to point out to them how much even the smallest act of kindness means. I have made a special spot in our classroom to record acts of kindness. Students can “tattle” on a friend, telling me when they witness an act of kindness. I then write the students’ name of a heart sticker and place it on our “Kindness Counts” heart. From pushing in a friends chair without being asked, to helping up a peer after he fell, I am proud to say these students are full of kindness! Look at all the acts of kindness I have caught these past few weeks!

I think this heart will be full by the end of February!

Students also have been writing compliments to one another based on the book How Full is Your Bucket? This book shares the story that we each have an imaginary bucket of water over our heads. As we make mistakes, are teased, or maybe forget something, the drops of water fall out of the bucket. But, when we receive or give a compliment, or something positive happens, the bucket refills! So during these past few weeks, we have been working to fill each others’ hearts. Remember this bulletin board?

Our writing activity culminated at the Valentine’s Party, where students read each of their love notes with their family members. Here are some examples of the compliments the students wrote.

Students were encouraged to spell each word using their best guess spelling. This means they spelled each word using the sounds that they hear. As the school year progresses, spelling in kindergarten will transition from best guess to more conventional. It is always fun to watch this transformation!

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Dinosaur Mania!

The kindergarten class is fully immersed in the land of dinosaurs. Last week, students browsed an online database called Pebble Go! They selected a dinosaur of which they had never heard. This week, students have been researching their dinosaur, discovering its habitat, body type, food choices, natural defenses, and more. Students are recording this information into their Dinosaur Report booklets that I created.

They sketched their dinosaur.

 

Students painted Dinosaur Pop Art. The colors the students used really brighten up the classroom.

Next, students will begin sculpting their dinosaur from clay and painting a habitat. All of this will be put together into a presentation using the app Shadow Puppet that we will showcase to our parents at the end of the dinosaur unit.

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Swooper Citizens: Consideration

The Swooper Citizens topic of the week is Consideration. Consideration means showing concern for the rights and feelings of others. We shared an article from the Huffington Post that outlines a list of seven habits that considerate people have.

1. They practice empathy.

 

2. They smile often.

 

3. They sense other peoples’ needs.

 

4. They mind their manners.

 

5. They put others first when possible.

 

6. They are patient – even when they don’t feel like it.

 

7. They apologize when they need to.

 

Click on the link below to read the whole article.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/habits-of-considerate-people_n_5710033.html

 

After we discussed these habits, I read the book It’s Mine by Leo Lionni aloud.

Three selfish frogs live together on an island in the middle of Rainbow Pond. All day long they bicker: It’s mine! It’s mine! It’s mine! But a bad storm and a big brown toad help them realize that sharing is much more fun. With characteristic clarity, simplicity, and exuberance, Leo Lionni makes it possible for kids to see themselves through the antics of others who share our world.

We asked students to discuss ways they can be considerate at home (“Walking quietly when my sister is napping.”) and at school (“Listening when my friend is talking.”) We have observed students being extra considerate this week!

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Subtraction: Dinosaur Style!

We began exploring the concept of subtraction last week using the song Five Green and Speckled Frogs. I had frog volunteers help me sing and act out the song. When it was time to jump into the pond, my helpers jumped back to their spot on the carpet. We revisited the song again today.

We also explored the concept of subtraction using a number line. I made a number line on the floor using blue painters tape and a sharpie. I wrote the numbers 0 through 12.

Next, I gave students a number on which to start and then a number to take away.  The students then had to walk the number line and solve the equation.

This was great practice for the independent Math Journal activity I had planned where students solved subtraction equations independently and recorded their answer.  To add some dinosaur flair, students used a plastic dinosaur to jump backward along the number line.

There was a lot of thinking going on!

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Friday Fun

Friday Fun is BACK! Keeping in line with our dinosaur theme, students made a dinosaur snack, a dinosaur sun catcher, and played a dinosaur-themed game.

First, using 1/2 and apple, a stick of Colby-Jack cheese, and toothpicks, students created a Stegosaurus. This activity was great for developing fine motor skills as they cut the cheese into cubes and pinched the toothpicks to push into the apple. Healthy and educational!

 

Students also painted dinosaur sun catchers. I found these paint pens that the students gently squeeze to let the paint out. Turns out this was another great fine motor activity!

Look at all these beautiful and bright colors!

Students also played a dinosaur-themed game of Chutes and Ladders called Snakes and Ladders. We focused on working together in a fair way to decide who goes first, taking turns, and having a good attitude if you had to slide down the dinosaur bone. It worked out great!

This game will be available during Choice Time, and I anticipate it will be a sought-after activity.

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TEDx Laguna Blanca School

I had the privilege of attending our first ever TEDx Laguna Blanca School.  I am completely speechless about what I witnessed. TEDx Laguna Blanca School was offered as an elective class this past semester. Students who selected this class were tasked with planning the entire event. I was lucky enough to have a birds eye view of the planning and execution as my oldest daughter was enrolled. The students chose the location, fundraised, booked a caterer, designed the green room, organized swag bags, and researched and booked a wide variety of speakers. They built sets, created promotional videos, and used social media to spread the word. The team decided to book speakers who could touch on their theme of Evolve. They even designed a TedX Laguna Blanca logo. So, all this work that began in a September culminated yesterday. The result was incredible.

First, the design of the event blew me away. Once we registered and received our swag bags, we entered the gym foyer where there was a great photo opportunity.

Our gym was completely transformed with black velvet curtains flanking the walls, a large stage, twinkle lights behind the stage, three huge screens hung above the stage. Look at this!!

The speakers were motivating, intelligent, interesting, and enjoyable. I was most impressed with the Laguna Blanca students and alums who presented. Eloquent. Poised. Brave. Truthful.

The entire event was video taped. I urge you to watch as many of the speakers as possible.

Congratualtions to the entire TedX Laguna Blanca team and to their instructor Anna Alldredge for producing such an informative and incredible event. I am proud to be and OWL.

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Welcome, Ms. Donovan!

With a new week brings our new instructional assistant, Kate Donovan. I am very excited to be working closely with Ms. Donovan to continue to make our kindergarten classroom an exciting, loving, and learning-filled space. Here’s everything you need (or want) to know about Ms. Donovan!

She is originally from Los Angeles, CA and moved to Santa Barbara two years ago.

She graduated from Cal State Northridge and then got her teaching credential.

Ms. Donovan did her student teaching in a kindergarten classroom and fell in love with this age group and classroom setting.

Before joining Laguna Blanca, she worked in a K-6 setting as a behavioral specialist.

Ms. Donovan spends every summer at the Kern River and recently got engaged there.

She loves being outdoors and going to the beach.

Please help me in extending a warm welcome to Ms. Donovan!

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

We celebrated Ms. Stark today with a thank you party! The students shared what they are thankful for and how Ms. Stark has helped them over these past few months.

And every party is not complete until we have had cake!

Best of luck with your new adventure, and thank you for all your help in kindergarten!

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Dinosaur Sensory Table

I rolled out the sensory table today. Thank you, Mr. Surber, for loading it on the U-haul truck and bringing it to our temporary classroom! I filled the table with a new item and thought it would be fun to have the students guess what that item was….

Beans! 50 pounds of beans! What better to dig in for our dinosaur unit, then beans! Today, the students dug in the beans to uncover double tens frames.

They counted the number of squares that were colored in and found the corresponding number on the worksheet.

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