Ms. LaTocha’s Kindergarten

Kindergarten December Newsletter

Dear Kindergarten Families,

Thank you for all of the hot cocoa kit donations coming in to school.  Again, please know that kindergarten classes are working toward a goal of 150 kits.  Of course you are welcome to make donations of other food items, but our kindergarten focus is to reach our hot cocoa kit goal.  We would like to have enough kits to place one in each of the 150 food boxes. We have a long way to go in order to reach our goal.  Please let your child’s teacher know if you are available to assemble hot cocoa kits on December 7th at 9:30!


  • During the month of December, we will be taking a break from the Lucy Calkins literacy curriculum to study various versions of the story The Gingerbread Man.  We will compare and contrast different versions of the story.  We will also be reading other fairy tale classics. Along the way, students will learn about the basic elements of a story.  
  • When you see a paper “decodable reader” book come home, please have your child read it to you until they can do so fluently.  These are good practice for the reading skills we are learning at school.
  • Technology information went home during parent/teacher conferences, but as a reminder, please do not do Lexia at home.  This program is being done at school and will generate lessons for the teacher as your student moves along independently. It’s important that we teach those lessons before the children forge ahead, possibly leaving gaps in their reading skills work. MyON and IXL are the programs we want you to use at home.  There are over 1,000 books in MyON online for your child to interact with!


  • In December, students will build upon previous work and use their reading powers to edit their work with a reading partner to make their writing more readable.  
  • Students will complete writing activities related to their literacy work and The Gingerbread Man.  
  • We will also continue working on narrative writing and adding details and adjectives to our stories and descriptions.


  • As we continue to move forward in mathematical concepts, we would like to take this time to remind you of what can be done at home to help your child develop strong math skills.  Playing board games at home as a family can greatly improve your child’s one-to-one correspondence. One-to-one correspondence is important because it is a precursor for almost all mathematical concepts. Simply put, without well developed one-to-one correspondence skills, young children will struggle with basic math concepts.  
  • Check out our mathematical counting strategies on our Hot Cocoa Kit bulletin board!  We have been visiting it daily to count by 5’s, 10’s, and 1’s using both ten frames and tally marks.  It is a great practical math experience for the students and they love visiting the bulletin board each day.
  • We continue working on graphing and patterns.  November’s calendar pattern focused on directional differences (to the left, to the right, right-side up, upside-down).  December’s pattern will continue to deepen this concept, by adding: inside, outside, in-front of, behind, to the side. When making observations in the world, ask your child to describe the position of things. “Is it to the right? Is it above? Etc.”

Science/Social Studies

  • December’s Word of the Month is: INCLUSIVE
  • Students will learn about various winter holidays such as Kwanza, Christmas, and Hanukkah.  
  • We are working on habitats, hibernation, and animals in the winter. We will also touch on electricity and how lights work.  Over winter break, feel free to observe animals outside during winter, perhaps birds feeding at a feeder or squirrels gathering nuts.

Important Upcoming Dates:

  • Dec. 7th – Snowflake Winter Dance (Fundraiser for Lincoln H.S. Club)
  • Dec. 7th – Hot Cocoa Kit Volunteer Project 9:30 a.m.
  • Dec 14th – Winter Break classroom celebration.  We will be watching a short film, eating popcorn, and drinking cider!  * If you would like to contribute popcorn, plates, or cider to your child’s classroom, please let your child’s teacher know.  Thank you!
  • Dec. 17 – Jan. 1: Winter Break – no school


  • CLASS PHOTOS were sent home.  If you are missing a class photo, please email your teacher asap.


Your Kindergarten Teachers

Deborah Crews:

Koren LaTocha:

Laura Sandgren:

Kindergarten November Newsletter


We are beginning a new unit in our reading curriculum. We are going to focus on using our super powers to look and point and then read everything. Our students can already do so much! There are many things in our world that they can already read– names, labels, signs and words from our favorite books that we know by heart. We are working on pointing at words when we read them, using our reading partners to help us be better readers and rereading books to build comprehension and fluency. We are moving into conventional reading where we match our reading voices with the print, trying to make the word they say match the letters they see. New super powers are on the way!  


In writing kindergarteners will continue with narrative writing.  We will launch our second unit of study, Writing for Readers. Students will use pictures and words to express ideas about themselves.  Students will reread their own ‘story’ (pictures, words, letters, scribbles, etc.). The kindergarteners will also use phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle to write (including using resources such as word wall, picture/sound cards, family word chart, etc.).  

Here is how we do it:  First, students think about what they want to say.  Then, they make letters for the sounds in the word. We call this “kid writing”.  Children spell their sight words the “adult” way. Then the teacher writes “the adult” way below the “kid writing”.  This helps build independence and confidence, which in turn, motivates the students to write!


Some of the math we are working on this month includes:

Comparing sets (more than, less than, equal)

Counting by 2’s


Counting forwards and backwards by 1’s

Exploring number operations

Ordinal Positions

Compose and decompose numbers from 2 to 10

Observing, describing, and creating patterns

Counting with 1-to-1 correspondence

Calendar Math:  In November we will continue to chart the weather each day.  We will continue to track how many days we have been in school this year, and practice counting by 5’s and 10’s.  Our calendar pattern focuses on the use of directional words and making predictions about the pattern (up, down, to the right, to the left).  

Math concepts spiral and we will see them again throughout the year, but at a deeper level.

Science/Social Studies

In November students will learn about Thanksgiving and being thankful.  We will also focus on needs vs. wants. In science we will continue our study of trees with a fall focus.  We will be looking closely a variety of leaves and the fall foliage.

Upcoming Important Dates

November 12: No school

November 19 & 20: Parent/Teacher Conferences

November 19-23 Thanksgiving Break (no school)


Your Kindergarten Teachers

Deborah Crews:

Koren LaTocha:

Laura Sandgren:



Kindergarten Team Monthly Newsletter – Coming Next Month!

Dear Kindergarten Families,

The first of what will be regularly scheduled monthly kindergarten newsletters will be sent home to you by all three kinder teachers as a team beginning next month.  We work as a team to plan, prep and reflect on our teaching practices and wanted to combine our efforts to let you know what’s happening in all of our kinder classes!

Meanwhile, here are some updates for our class:

  • We enjoyed learning all about our Star Students, Colbie and Edoardo! Happy birthday to Lotta (10/16) and Ellie (10/23)!
  • Our first FIELDTRIP to the PUMPKIN PATCH went very well!  Everyone was on their best behavior and the students had a fun time learning about the farm and pumpkins.  Thank you to all of our chaperones!
  • Class Harvest Parties are happening on October 31st.  Thank you to our room parents for organizing this culminating event for our children.
  • Monday, October 29th is a teacher planning day.  That means no school for the students. November 12th is also a no-school day.
  • Conferences are November 19th & 20th. Be sure you know your time and day to meet with your teacher.
  • Thank you too for all the wonderful books donated to all the kindergarten classrooms during the book fair!  The teachers appreciate it so much!

Have a great long weekend!

~ Ms. L


October 11, 2018

Dear Kindergarten Families,

It has been a short, yet enjoyable week in kindergarten!  We had fun learning all about our Star Student, Claudia, this week!  Thank you Nicola (Claudia’s mom) for the fun read aloud!  We had a special visit from Katherine, of Friends of Trees this week!  Children learned about the difference between coniferous trees and broad leafed trees.   Mid-year she will return to make paper with our class.  At the end of the school year we will take a walking field trip in the forest behind FPE.

If you have any extra plastic grocery bags, please send them my way.  We will need one for each student on our upcoming field trip!

Here is what we worked on this week:


  • Readers reread old favorites, remembering to say more of the story
  • Twinkle, Twinkle
  • Visit to the Scholastic Book fair:  Students brought their wish lists home today.
  • Read Alouds: The Word Collector, The Biggest Apple, Three Billy Goats Gruff
  • Three Billy Goats Gruff: Students made stick puppets and a set to retell the story.  It was so cute and they did such an awesome job meeting with friends and telling the story on the carpet.  Please ask your child to tell the story using their props at home.  I think you will be very impressed!
  • Sight words:  the, I , am, little, to (practice & review)


  • Making stories
  • Stretching out sounds
  • Using sound charts
  • Looks like, sounds like, feels like…


  • Numeral Writing
  • Assessments
  • Math Work Places (counting, ten frames, patterns, predicting, shapes, symmetry)
  • Calendar Math


  • Friends of Trees
  • Choice Time (The children definitely earned it this week! Wednesday and Thursday were our best days so far this school year!)
  • Scholastic Reader: School Rules

Enjoy the extra day!

October 5, 2018

Dear Kindergarten Families,

Happy Friday!  Today you will find a blue paper in your child’s purple folder with information regarding our upcoming field trip to Plumper Pumpkin Patch.   I will need 5 chaperones for the field trip.  If you are interested, please return the bottom part of the blue paper in your child’s purple folder next week.  In addition, please make sure that your background check is current if you are going to volunteer in the classroom or on a field trip this school year.  The background check is good for three years.

I would like to share parent contact information amongst our class to make it easier for families to connect.  I would like your permission first.  Please let me know if you would/would not like me to share your contact information.  Thank you!

We will be having our second annual International Festival on Friday, February 1st.  Each grade level will be focusing on a specific country for this event.  This year the kindergarten classes will be learning about Italy.  Dr. Bob (our music teacher) is looking for some parent volunteers, especially those with a connection to the Italian culture, to volunteer for this event.  If you are interested, please reach out to Dr. Bob.

Star Students:  Annie & Braylin

Here is what we have been working on in kindergarten:


  • Read the World books (non-fiction)
  • Sight words: the, little, to
  • Independent & Partner reading
  • Cleaning out book bags and adding new books
  • Decodable Reader: The Little Toys
  • So Long Summer booklet
  • Room on the Broom (Thank you for the awesome read aloud Braylin and mom Sheryl, complete with props!)
  • Mini-lesson: We make the words and pictures match


  • “Our Favorite Foods” book – Interactive Writing
  • Be Safe class book
  • Stretching sounds
  • Partner share
  • Writer’s Workshop looks like…, sounds like…, feels like…
  • Making a list of topics to write about
  • Noah’s birthday book
  • Handwriting (frog jump capitals continued)


  • Our class quilt (hanging outside the classroom)
  • Math Workplaces (shapes, counting, sorting, patterns, predictions)
  • Calendar Math
  • Numeral Writing
  • Math assessment


  • Read Alouds: Spaghetti in a Hotdog Bun, What Does it Mean to Be Present?
  • Lockdown drill
  • Read Aloud: I Spy Shapes in Art
  • Making shape art
  • October take-home calendar


September 21, 2019

Dear Kindergarten Families,

I hope you are able to attend the kindergarten picnic this evening to celebrate 20 years at Forest Park Elementary!  Unfortunately I will not be able to attend, as I will be picking my children up from their daycare in Beaverton.  I would also like to remind you that the New Parent Social will be held on September 29th at 7:00 pm.  Only a few families have RSVP’d, and they would like to encourage more people to attend.

Thank you:  Elena Foley (Stella), and Sheila Scrobogna (Luca), for volunteering to be our room parents this year!

Please let your child know that we will welcome a new student, Angel , to our class next week.  It might be good to discuss how they can make a new student feel comfortable in our classroom and at a new school.

Here are some ways you can help me with class management:

  • Please do not send your child to school with extra hair elastics or jewelry as it has been very distracting during learning times at the carpet.
  • Please send your child with a water bottle each day so they won’t need to leave the classroom frequently for water. We can keep the water bottles at school and send them home to be washed on Fridays.
  • Please try to send your child with everything they need for school in the morning. If they forget their water bottle, they can use the water in the hallway.  If they forget their lunch, they can eat school lunch.  It can be disruptive to receive a call from the office when I am teaching.  I need to stop my lesson to answer the phone.  When this occurs the students lose their focus on learning.
  • Homework was sent home with each family at BTSN. You may not recognize it as homework as there is a cover letter explaining the homework expectations.  Many students reported that they had not started their September homework.
  • Some children have been peaking under bathroom stalls at other children when they use the restroom. I have talked to individual students when this occurs.  Please talk to your children at home about respecting the privacy of others.

Thank you for helping us to have successful  school days focused on learning with minimal distractions!

Here is what we have been working on this week:


Read Alouds:  Skippyjon Jones, Caps for Sale

*Mini-Lesson:  Readers Reread to Rethink

*Mini-lesson:  Rereadings Helps Readers Learn from Words, Too

*Mini-lesson:  Readers Can Read Stories They Have Heard a Zillion Times (ask your child to tell you the story of Three Billy Goats Gruff)

*Students practices “sounding like a teacher” when they read.

*Word Sort:  animals/not animals

*Decodable Reader:  Am I?

*Sight words:  am, I, a, the

*Independent Reading, Partner Reading, Conferring with the teacher, daily phonics instruction

We read the story Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten.  We talked about characters in a story and then students illustrated their favorite character.


*We made birthday books for Parker and Lukas this week.  Happy birthday!

*I had an OT visit our classroom from the district this week.  If you hear your children talk about how Ms. LaTocha was breaking all the crayons, it is true!  Our OT recommended breaking the crayons as it forces the children to hold their crayons with a proper grip.  I will reintroduce regular sized crayons later in the school year.

*Stretching out sounds

*We started interactive writing this week.  One child holds the pen to work on a group writing project using adult writing.  The rest of the class sits with a pencil and clipboard at the carpet area.  Students take turns holding the pen to write the adult way.  This is a time where we do correct our mistakes and it is different than our “Kid Writing”.  We are making a class book about our favorite foods.  This integrates well with our reading instruction as we make a “Learn about the world” reading connection.

*Students started their Handwriting Without Tears curriculum this week.  We talked and sang about starting our letters at the top.  We also talked and sang about Frog Jump Capitals.  We practiced writing the uppercase F and E.


*Numeral writing

*Matching numerals with groups of objects of the same number.


*Calendar math

*We worked on a fun math project this week.  We read the books The Shape of Things, and Shapes of Things to Come.  Students used their imagination to add details to a shape and turn it into something more.  The project is hanging outside our classroom.


*STOPPS Drills – Students learned how to safely evacuate a school bus in case of an emergency.

*I invited our school counselor, Ms. Lizzie, to our classroom this week to talk about feelings.  Students practiced expressing how they are feeling in a healthy way.

*We talked about how to be safe at school.  Next week we will make a class book on this subject.

Read Aloud:  Germs Make Me Sick

We have been talking about how to stay healthy and not spread germs.  I am encouraging students not to pick their nose, but to get a tissue instead.  We talked about washing our hands frequently.  We also discussed how to sneeze into “our cave” so that we don’t spread germs.  The class talked about not putting hands or other objects, such as pencils, into our mouths.

*Choice time

Have a great weekend!

~ Ms. LaTocha

Dear Kindergarten Families,

Thank you for coming to BTSN on Thursday.  I had so much fun speaking with families and watching your children take pride in our classroom and school!  I am sorry that I missed some of you, as everyone seemed to visit all at once.  Please feel free to email me with any questions after you have read through the handouts.

Reminders:  If you would like to place a Scholastic book order, they are due by the end of the school day on Monday.  At that time I will place the orders.  Thank you!

If you haven’t signed up for parent-teacher conferences yet, the sign up is outside our classroom.  You can also email me and I can help you find a time.  Conferences are on November 19th and 20th from 8:00 a.m. to 7:20 p.m.  Ms. Newlyn has requested that we do not schedule conferences prior to our allotted days.  If you will be out of town then we can schedule a phone conference for one of the available times and I can send any paperwork home after the break.  If that won’t work for you, please send me an email and we can work something out.

Here is what we have been working on in class this week:


Word Sort:  Fruits/not fruits (guided discovery – scissors)

Sight words:  a, the

Read Alouds:  Chica Chica Boom Boom, Chrysanthemum, Three Little Kittens, Giggle, Giggle, Quack, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Rocket Learned to Read

Students have been building stamina for reading this week.  We are practicing both private reading and partner reading.  During partner reading students are learning to sit side-by-side, put one book in the middle, see-saw read, share “wow” pages, and reread to learn more.


We made a birthday book for Braylin this week!

At Writer’s Workshop students continue to learn that when you’re done, you’ve just begun.  Students are working on adding more to their picture, to add to the words, reread their writing, or start a new story.

This week we made a class book about being respectful, and a book about being responsible.

Name writing


Calendar math (continued)

This week students focused on numerals to 10 in addition to math work places.  Students took pride in their counting books and looked forward to completing them each day!


Students continue to practice characteristics of a successful learner in the classroom.  I have already observed many gains in a short period of time.

School Photos

Here is a list of questions to help get more information about your child’s day.  I will also send home a paper copy next week.

Questions to ask your child…

Sample Questions to Find Out What Your Child Did Today in Kindergarten

Can you tell me about your work in your folder?

Did you do calendar today?
What was the date?
How many days have you been in school?
What story did you read?
Who was the main character?
Was the story fiction or non-fiction?

What did you read during private reading time?
Who did you read with during partner reading?
What did you learn from the pictures?
What did you learn from the words?
What words did you practice today?

Did you do a writing activity?
What did you write about?
Did you add details to your picture?
Did you change your words or add more words?
Did you start a new story?
What do you want to work on next time at Writer’s Workshop?
Did you share your writing with a friend?

Did you do GoNoodle today?
What did you do at recess?
Who did you play with?
Did you climb?
Did you run?

Who did you sit by at lunch?
What was your favorite thing to eat today?

What did you read at silent reading time?
What did you like about the book you read?

Did you do a math activity today?
Did you do a science activity?

What was your special today?
What was your favorite activity today?

Did you have choice time?
What did you choose?

How did you help a friend today?
How did you help the teacher?
What did you do that was respectful?
What did you do that was responsible?
What did you do that was safe?
What did you do that was kind?

What was your favorite thing about today?
How can you make it better tomorrow?

Good luck with some of these.  I hope they help!


Have a wonderful weekend!

~ Ms. LaTocha

September 7, 2018

Dear Kindergarten Families,

We are off to a good start in kindergarten!  Students have been spending time becoming acclimated with our building, our procedures, and building a respectful learning community in the classroom.  They have been practicing responding to a variety of listening signals.  The class is also practicing whole-body listening.  Students are learning to take turns talking, and to not interrupt teachers or other students when it is their turn to speak.  We have spent a lot of time talking about Kelso’s choices, and how to solve small problems independently and appropriately.  The class is also learning how to take materials out and put them away, to line up and walk quietly in the hallway, lunchroom procedures, and voice volumes and expectations for different learning activities.

Here is a glimpse of what else we have been up to in class:


Read Alouds: Fox Makes Friends, First Day Jitters, How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?, What Does It Mean To Be Kind?, The Night Before Kindergarten, I Am Truly, How Full Is Your Bucket?, and more!

We started Reading Workshop this week.  Students learned that they are already readers, and that we can read both pictures and words.  We took a walk around the school and read many signs and posters.  Students learned that we can look, we can read, we can think, and we can learn.  We compared story books vs. informational books.  We practiced independent reading expectations.  We practiced reading the sight words I and Am.


The class made birthday books for Luca and Katie!

We also started Writer’s Workshop this week.  Students wrote about what they wanted to learn in kindergarten this year.  The class learned that first we get an idea in our head, then we imagine it like a movie, and finally we draw pictures or write words to tell our story.  Kindergarteners learned that in kindergarten we use “Kid Writing”, except when we are writing a sight word that we have practiced, or a word that we know by heart.  The class talked about how everyone is a writer, and if we can’t find a sound to write a word then we can use a “magic line” so that we don’t get stuck.  Finally, we discussed how at Writer’s Workshop we say, “When you’re done, you’ve just begun!”  We can always add more details to our work to make it better, or start a new story.


Updated Specials:  Monday Technology and PE1, Tuesday Music, Wednesday PE1 and Mandarin, Thursday Library, Friday Music and PE2.

I hope you received our class calendar in your child’s purple folder this week.  BTSN is September 13th from 6:00-7:30.  The time has been changed to better accommodate families.  We have changed the format of BTSN this year.  Parents are encouraged to bring their children.  There won’t be a presentation, but there will be important information distributed at this time. This is a time for me to share general information about our kindergarten program and curriculum with parents.  It is not a time to ask questions about your individual child.  Please feel free to email me with questions specific to your child and I will be happy to get back to you.


Calendar Math: Weather, shapes, colors, days of the week, months in the year, birthdays and special events, counting the days we have been in school, weather report and graph, and counting how many children are in our class each day.

Math Workplace:  Introduction to math manipulatives and free exploration (pattern blocks, unifix cubes, polydrons, A Bucket of Frogs counting) and shape sorting.



*School Spirit Assembly

*Be Kind:  We talked about how to be kind at school and read some good books on the subject.  Students then made a class book.

*Choice Time

Have a great weekend!

~ Ms. LaTocha