Week at a Glance

Becky's 2-Year Kindergarten Class...December 4, 2015

MINDFULNESS

For some time now, we have been exploring the basic elements of mindfulness and establishing a routine in the classroom. We have practiced breathing deeply and focusing on our breaths. We have practiced mindful movements and yoga. We have learned about the parts of our brain and how mindfulness helps these parts work in synchronicity with one another. We have experienced mindfulness bringing a calm feeling to our bodies and focus to our learning. This week we settled into a practice that we will use several times a day for the remainder of the year. We will continue with additional elements and learning, but this simple routine will be the foundation that we return to again and again.


PAUSE. LISTEN. BREATHE. This is the cue for our mindfulness practice.


At the sound of the chime, we close our eyes and listen to the resonating sound, beginning to focus on our deep breathing. We continue to focus on our breathing until hearing the chime again, a couple of minutes later. When we can no longer hear the resonating sound, we open our eyes, bringing our attention back to the group and our learning. This is an incredible practice...just taking a couple minutes here and there throughout the day makes quite an impact on our focus and interactions with one another. We are strengthening our neural pathways for deep breathing and calm, focused attention, making this a practice that will be much more easily called upon when we need it most.

COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION

In addition to our work with mindfulness, I have noticed a need for us to more directly focus on compassionate communication. We focused on this at the beginning of the year, but I have been noticing an increased amount of "bickering" (as my grandma would have said) lately and want to empower students to resolve issues peacefully. When I say "bickering" I am referring to things like arguing over who will go first in a math game...or arguing over who gets to put away the last block. These things that may not seem like big issues to us adults, but in the moment are of huge imprtance to the kids involved.


We had a very fruitul discussion Tuesday morning about some of the issues I've been noticing. We talked, brainstormed and role played and came up with several ideas to put into action, with concrete plans for what to say and do. We moved into math with the intention of working together to peacefully work through issues, and I am happy to report that things have been going smoothly. Not to say that there haven't been issues, but instead of arguing or complaining, there are kind requests and compromises taking place and we are doing our best to practice being flexible!

One important component of compassionate communication is understanding our own feelings. We began the discussion on feelings with a reading of the book Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis. The aspect of this book that I like the most, is that it introduces the idea tha feeling are fluid. Each day the main character describes the different feelings she's experiencing. We all had so many examples of times when we've felt similarly...and also had intriguing questions like what's the difference between being grumpy and angry? Check out this fun version of this book with music to match each feeling!

Digital Story- Today I feel Silly



We have begun the practice of choosing a feeling card to focus on each week. This week's feeling is surprised. In our discussion, we discoverd that feeling surprised can be both a good feeling and a scared or not so good feeling. This would be a great thing to discuss with your child...when do you feel surprised? Is this a feeling you enjoy? We will continue to discuss this feeling as we move through the next week.

MATH

Number senses continues to be a topic of focus. This week we worked on fine-tuning our counting skills with Collect 10/20. Roll a die and add chips to your 10 or 20 frame. How many chips do you have all together? How many do you need to fill your frame? Racing Bears was an immediate favorite...race your bears down the track to collect chips until you get 10! Fun!


Some of us worked on sharpening our base-10 skills with race to 100. Roll the die, take some ones. Is there enough to switch for a 10? What number is represented by your blocks? Play until you reach 100! This same group explored place value with Take Your Places Please. What's the largest number you can make with the 3 number cards you drew? Read your number to the group. Who's is the greatest?


We all worked on the strategy "counting on" (beginning to count from a number other than one). We practiced writing the 3 numbers that follow a number when counting and some of us even worked on including the three preceding numbers! This will prove to be a very handy we move into adding and subtraction this winter. This is a great one to practice in the car!

LANGUAGE ARTS

Writing Workshop: We continue working with endmarks and sentences. In a shared writing experience, we discovered that some sentences are actually longer than an entire line, continuing on to the following line (we are working on writing top to bottom, left to write). So, if a sentence continues on, there is no need for an endmark at the end of each line. Endmarks are only for the end of sentences ("or for adding excitement to your name!", one student corrected me!)!


We are also beginning to explore the concept of writing stories with a beginning, middle and end. Together we planned and wrote a collective story about our field trip to see the salmon. We discovered that any one part of the story could be made up of several pages and that having a plan before writing reallly helped us know what to write about next!


Word Work: new words: IT and LIKE


Reading Workshop: Our strategy for this week is one that's very important in building foundational skills: practice letter sounds and sight words. We played games and used flashcards to independently practice these skills this week. There will continue to be options to practice these skills for portions of reading workshop.


Phonics Centers: Red group: beginning sounds C and H; Yellow group: beginning sounds vs. ending sounds; Blues group: baby vowels (short vowels) and their babysitters (see picture)

As we move through our phonics work, all groups will eventually encounter the beloved "baby" or short vowels. This week it's the blue groups turn for a refresher. LIke all babies, baby vowels need to be taken care of! We would never leave our babies alone, so we hire consonants to care for them. These babysitters are the sounds that directly follow a short vowel sound. Just like in real life, some babysitters are stellar...you can leave the baby with them and not have to worry. They know just what to feed the baby and will make sure it gets plenty of sleep. These babysitters (see the picture: left column) are able to take care of the baby vowel all on their own, like the t in cat. Other babysitters (see the picture: middle column) are a bit unsure of their skills...what do babies eat? how do I change this diaper? These consonants call a friend to help out. L calls it's twin, like in hill and c calls k, like in sock. Finally, there's a group of consonants that should never ever ever be left to care for a baby vowel (see the picture: right column)...they will give the baby candy, let it play in the yard all alone...you will never find q or w following a baby vowel! These phonics stories are ever so clever (thank you Wired for Reading) and really help us understand and remember phonics rules in a fun and unique way!

THEME

We've wrapped up our study of the body systems and are now focusing on taking care of our amazing and wondrous bodies, so that we can truly be Earth Heroes! We kicked off the week with a discussion of nutritious food verses once in a while treats. This was an interesting discussion, as we discoverd some foods in moderation may be nutritous, but in excess should be considered treats. We could have talked for hours about all of the treats we love, but agreed that in order to take care of our bodies, these should be saved for "once in a while".


Food groups were the second component of our nutrition study. This topic turned out to be a bit tricky and we really worked together to help each other understand what gruops particular foods should fall in. We've been enjoying classifying our snacks each day...I think between all of us, we've managed to represent all of the food groups each day!


When discussing nourishing foods, we talked about the vitamins and minerals present in foods being really important to the health of our bodies. Interestingly, it turns out that foods of a similar color (natural) contain similar vitamins and minerals, which in turn work to support similar parts of our bodies. So, in order to help our entire bodies, it is recommended that we eat a variety of colors...or as it is much more interestingly referred to...EAT A RAINBOW! How many different colored foods can you eat each day? We enjoyed making (and sampling!) a rainbow smoothie and hopefully you are enjoying eating many rainbows at home as you work on this week's homework! Who knew eating could be so much fun!




Eating is fun, but so is singing! We had the wonderful opportunity to sing about nutrition with Mr. Malcolm! We enjoyed his animation and inspiring songs about gardens, the different parts of plants, and even vitamins!
Being healthy includes more than just clean eating! It's so very imprtant to get our bodies moving. Did you know that it is recommended that all kids particpate in 60 minutes of physical activity each day? We created a list of many physical activities that we enjoy. You may want to review this list, as next week's homework will involve getting moving and being physical! Your child should have brought home a die that he or she made today. This can be used to play a game in which you roll the die and do what ever activity comes up 5 times. Roll again. Repeat. This is just one idea for getting physical...what else can you think of?

ART

Although we may still be a few weeks away from the winter solstice, it has been feeling like it's right around the corner! We are beginning to transform our classroom to a winter wonderland with our first winter-inspired art project. Tissue paper, sharpie and paint come together in a unique and beautful way in our snowy landscapes. While working on this project we learned a new vocabulary word...horizon. We shared many tales of times we've seen the horizon! Be sure to point this out the next time you encounter a nice view with your child!

Important Dates

December 16: Board Meeting 6:00

December 18: Portofolio Share 9:00

Winter Break~No school December 21 through January 1

January 6: Parent Meeting 6:00


Upcoming Workshops

Dec 4: Lyla, Calder

Dec 11: Marlo, Elsie

Jan 8: Tessa, Lucy