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students

a-remembrance-day-poem

Remembrance Day can be a difficult topic with young students.  In our Kindergarten classroom, we discuss who soldiers are, what they do for our country, what they have done for our country and ways we can show our appreciation and respect for them.  We make a wreath for our assembly.  We also try to make one art project for the children to display for the other students and then take home.

This year, we are doing a poem, Little Poppy: 


Little poppy
Given to me,
Help me keep Canada
Safe and free.

I’ll wear a little poppy,
As red as red can be,
To show that I remember
Those who fought for me.

We are centering the poem at the top of a white paper.  Below, you can have children do whichever form of art you wish.  You can sponge paint/cut & paste/draw, etc…a poppy or whatever symbol you want.  Once the artwork part is dry, you can glue the paper to a piece of black construction paper.

setting-up-the-environment-before-school-begins

Before school starts, educators go in to their classrooms to set up the environment.  Making a list of the centres you want in your classroom is a good place to start.  Then, you can look at the classroom and see where each centre you want will fit, and if it will work in your room.  Think about where you will need space for large group instruction times, and where in your room will suit small group activities.  Also, think about which centres will require a quiet area, such as a reading/book centre, and try to avoid putting those centres next to a centre that can become busy/noisy, such as a dramatic play centre.  The furniture that you will need for your centres will also need to be taken into account when setting up your classroom. 

An important aspect to chosing the learning centres you want at the beginning of a school year is to consider what they children will want to do.  Will the children want to begin with learning words from your word wall?  Or will they be more engaged in centres where they can be hands on?  Some suggestions for centres at the beginning of a school year are an open-ended art centre, sensory tables, blocks, dramatic play, etc…

Once the first day of school arrives, explain the centres briefly to the students.  Take them on a tour of the classroom so they can see what is available for them to play with.  When the children are engaged at the centres, circulate so that you can spend a few minutes with each child and get to know them a little bit and discover their individual interests.  This can also give you some insight into adjusts you may want to make to centres.  You can also model for children while you spend time at each centre.

home-communication

Making the personal connection before school even begins may relieve some anxiety for those little ones entering a formal school setting for the first time.  Sending a hello note or a phone call to introduce yourself is a great way to break the ice. 

Myself and my ECE partner work together to create a JK handbook that informs parents about things like lunch/snack, clothing, communicating with notes, bookbag routines etc.  When they come for their first half day we discuss with parents all this information and answer any questions they may have.  Our board gives every new student a bookbag when they start JK. In this bag we place notes and reading books (started after Christmas) to ensure safe, dry delivery to home.  In the past I used very large ziplock bags with the child’s name on the cover or you can also purchase nylon bags from the dollar store that are more durable.

Regular communication is important for parents and students.  The later part of this school year I changed how I prepared and presented my newsletters.  Firstly, have always sent my letters home in the form of a book  to encourage reading.  The material in the letters no longer tell what we will be doing in the classroom over the month or so, but what we have done in our inquiry projects with authentic pictures and kid writing.  I do however leave a very small space to inform parents of anything like fieldtrips, an important upcoming event, but the newsletter now reflects the students and what they find to be important learning in our classroom.  It is more work, but the students just love it and it gives me an opportunity to sit with children and ask them what they want to include.  It is a good time for me to reflect as an educator on what the children have enjoyed and remembered doing.

making-leis

Next week, we are having a “Beach Day” at our school.  To help our children get in the spirit of summer, we made leis with our kindergarten students.

To begin the lesson, we all met on the carpet as a large group.  We showed them a few pictures of leis, and discussed what they are.  We then told the students we were going to make our own for our “Beach Day”.  Next, we reviewed different types of patterns by using our bodies as well as by drawing shapes in patterns on our whiteboard.  We used yarn, plastic needles, tissue paper flowers (easy to thread through), and straws (all white) to create the leis.  We did a quick demonstration to the large group so they could watch how to create the lei.   Then, we had them create patterns by threading the flowers and straws.  Some children did their patterns as a simple AB pattern (flower, straw).  Some children chose 2 flowers and straws to create an AAB pattern, and others chose 2 colours of flowers and straws to make an ABC pattern. 

It was a fun activity for everyone, and we had the opportunity to review and assess the students’ knowledge of patterns and we can wear them next week to celebrate the beach!

daily-physical-activity

In our school, we do our Daily Physical Activity (DPA) as an entire school.  In the fall, our principal initiated our Morning Walk Program.

Our morning bell used to ring at 9:10am.  Now, it rings at 8:55am.  This signals the entire school that our morning walk has begun.  We use pylons to set out a track and all of our students walk this track until 9:15am.  The yard duty supervisors and our principal assist with this walk, and for the rest of the school staff, the program is voluntary. 

This 20 minute walk not only gives the students, and the staff a chance to stay active everyday, but it also gives all of us a time every morning to talk to each other as we walk.  It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know our students better, including children who are not in our class.  We also have parents who come and walk with us, which builds on the school-family connections.

more-sunflowers

The children are still excited and talking about the sunflowers.  This has been leading to discussing other flowers as well.  Some of the students are even bringing us flowers from their gardens at home.

Because of their interest in flowers, I changed out the math centre to a seed sorting activity.  We have plastic sorting trays and containers of mixed seeds.  I put out sunflower seeds, corn, pumpkin seeds and bean seeds.  These seeds are a little larger and easier for the students to handle. 

Once I sat at the math centre, and began sorting the seeds, the children wanted to know what I was doing.  I had sparked their interest.  They all wanted to show me that they know how to sort the seeds into different groups, especially our new students.  They wanted to do the activity during free play, as well as during our math play time. 

Tomorrow, I am going to incorporate our science centre (while the children are still interested) into something about seeds.