November 26, 2019
Dear Kindergarten Families,
I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the joy that your children bring me each day. Your children bring me happiness and laughter and it is an honor to be their teacher. Here are just some of the quotes I have written down since the start of the school year:
- “My dad is 60’ 7…my dad is 6’ 100.”
- “OMG __________, this early in the morning? I just woke up.”
- “Ms. LaTocha, every day I get owies on me, and I have pimples too.”
- (one student to another) “It’s okay, you’re still learning.”
- “Guess what? Sometimes ya’ gotta’ do what ya’ gotta’ do.”
- “But I wanna’ stay here, but not give Ms. LaTocha a headache.”
- “Oh gosh, this is rough. This is a dark book.”
- “She said I’m a liar and I have fire in my pants.”
- “Like my mom said, have courage and be kind.”
- (Pointing to a boy)”That guy, I think he’s handsome.”
- “I like your eyelashes.”
- “I have an apple, but I’m allergic to apples.”
Now for some academics, here is what we have been up to lately:
This month we have focused on our Super Powers: Reading with Print Strategies and Sight Word Power unit of study. In this unit of study students learned about all of the different “super powers’ that they have to make them strong readers. Students learned to point to each word as they read, tackle hard-to-read words, and how to bring a story to life. Students learned to look out for sight words, punctuation, word patterns, and how to read with expression.
In writing students have been building confidence with their “Kid Writing” and sight word knowledge. We continue to focus on printing neatly, using lowercase letters, and leaving spaces between words. As we progress, students will continue to build their stamina for writing. We will focus on writing stories with more words, and a beginning, middle, and ending. Students will learn to create stories that they can share and friends can read.
Students have been exploring some new math work places recently. The work places focus on the following skills: more than, less than, probability, 2D shapes, exploring relationships between shapes, and addition within 10.
* For the month of December we will be taking a break from our regular literacy curriculum to focus on a variety of winter holidays and traditions. We will also read many different versions of The Gingerbread Man. Students will complete some associated activities such as comparing and contrasting different versions of the story, retelling the story, and sequencing.
*We are hoping to reach our goal of 150 Hot Cocoa Kits for our annual food drive! Please bring any donations to me directly (see informational sheet in purple folder). The kindergarten classes will be keeping track of our goal on a bulletin board in the kinder hallway. We will use ten frames and tally marks to keep track of how close we are to reaching our goal. Please let me know if you would like to volunteer to assemble our kits on December 10th at 1:00 pm in our classroom!
Lastly, thank you for taking the time to meet with me for parent teacher conferences. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to work together to support your child. Have a great week!
October 18, 2019
Dear Kindergarten Families,
We are enjoying the beauty of fall in kindergarten. The children made gorgeous watercolor pumpkins with Ms. Nelson when she subbed for me recently (hanging in our classroom). We have also read many books about pumpkins such as Pumpkins, Pumpkin Pumpkin, and Pumpkin Jack. Children read and colored booklets to learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin in anticipation of our October 31st field trip.
Our class just started a new unit of study in reading. It is called Super Powers and focuses on reading with print strategies and sight word power. Children will use their “superpowers” to look and point, and then read text. As we progress through the unit students will be asked to take on more challenging words. In the final bend of the unit children will practice bringing books to life by using their voice, paying close attention to punctuation, and retelling stories. We continue to work our way through daily phonics instruction to practice blending, segmenting, and isolating beginning and ending sounds in words. We are lucky to have Mr. Scott, Educational Assistant, to support our learning during Reading Workshop three days a week. I have assembled a basket of fun, interactive literacy activities for students to work with him in small groups during this time. The children really enjoy the hands-on learning. Activities rotate periodically and eventually students will be able to use these materials independently during choice time.
We are working on concluding our first unit of study in writing. You may have seen your child’s work come home recently. Students are working on stretching out the sounds in words, and hearing and recording sounds in sequence. The sight words that have been introduced in class so far are: I, am, the, and, no, to, and a. If your child does not know how to read and write these sight words, please give them an “extra scoop” of instruction at home. We have a range of abilities in our classroom and I work to meet each child at their individual rate and level of learning.
In math children continue to learn through hands-on activities and games. As we conclude our unit of study for the remainder of October, we will focus on the numbers 0-10, counting by 1’s, instant recognition of quantities to 5, matching sets and numerals, recognizing and naming shapes, understanding how some of the common shapes are formed, adding 1’s, subtracting 1’s, counting forward and backward, tally marks, and making predictions. We recently read the book The Shape of Things. Students then chose a shape to transform into something new. You can see their work displayed on the bulletin board outside our classroom.
I know a few parents have expressed interest in volunteering in the classroom. We are not quite ready for volunteers yet! There are a lot of ongoing student behaviors that need work. Many students continue to use unkind words or “tattle” on classmates for small problems instead of using Kelso’s Choices to solve small problems. The class is also very chatty during work times, even after several reminders. All of this can be very disruptive to learning. I am sure you can imagine the challenges that come with getting a group of 26 five and six year-old children to all settle into learning :-). I would appreciate it if you could talk to your child about something they think they could improve on to make learning times run smoothly each day and to help get along with others. It is most helpful to focus on how your child can react in certain situations, rather than to focus on the behavior of other students. I am hoping we will be ready for volunteers soon. In the meantime, I do not have a room parent at this time. Room parents help me organize and plan for special events in the classroom as needed. Please let me know if you are interested in being a room parent.
Enjoy your weekend!
~ Ms. LaTocha
September 20, 2019
Dear Kindergarten Families,
Happy Friday! Your children have been busy little bees in kindergarten and I wanted to take a moment to let you know what we have been working on in class. We have been spending a considerable amount of time working on classroom routines and expectations. Our class talked about our class rules: Be Kind, Be Responsible, Be Safe, Be Respectful. We then made class books for each rule, in which each child contributed a page. Another area of focus has been that of Kelso’s Choices. Children are learning how to solve small problems independently and come to an adult with big problems. Furthermore, we have talked about filling each other’s buckets with kindness.
In Reading Workshop children are learning to build stamina for both independent and partner reading. Students have learned that when they partner read they should sit side-by-side, put one book in the middle, see-saw read, reread to learn more, and that they should read the pictures and the words. We are also working on appropriate voice volume for Reading Workshop.
During Writing Workshop we have talked about how “when you’re done, you’ve just begun”. Students should add to their pictures, and to their words, or start a new piece. Students are learning to use sound charts to help them find the sounds they need to write their words phonetically, or, “the kid way”. Students were introduced to the sight words I, and am. Once a sight word is introduced students are expected to spell it “the adult way”. In addition to Kid Writing, we have begun our work with Interactive Writing. Once child holds the pen and writes on a shared piece of writing at the front of the carpet area. All other students work with a clipboard and paper at the carpet. The expectation during Interactive Writing is that words are spelled and printed correctly. If we make a mistake, we fix it. Finally, students started their Handwriting Without Tears workbooks today! Children will keep their Writer’s Workshop writing at school and I will send it home all at once during the end of each unit.
In math children have been exploring the math manipulatives that we will use throughout the school year for our math workplaces. They have been practicing the routine of cleaning up one activity before they go to a new math workplace. Math is very hands on and therefore you won’t see a lot of papers coming home. In calendar math we have focused on shapes, patterns, colors, days of the week, how many school days we have had this month, and how many days until the 100th day of school celebration.
During choice time children are exploring their friendships and how to share and problem-solve together. Children are working on using kind words and indoor voices as well. This is a time for creativity, making choices, and making friends.
Have a wonderful weekend!
~ Ms. LaTocha