Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cold Springs Kindergarten wins National Grant

Cold Springs Kindergarten wins national grant

 Cold Springs Kindergarten has received a $500 mini-grant from the National Center for Family Literacy and Better World Books.
It is one of only 20 winners nationwide to receive the award, which will promote creative ideas for using Wonderopolis® with families. was created by NCFL in 2010 to provide free, family-friendly content that is practical, easy to use and designed to engage children’s natural curiosity and transform it into a lifelong love of learning. It was one of only five family websites that TIME Magazine named the 50 best websites in 2011. 
The funding will be used to purchase an iPad and implement a Wonderopolis Literacy Center in the classroom.  Here is a brief snippet of what we hope to accomplish with our funds:

Daily learning with Wonderopolis takes place kindergarten via a classroom blog as a "morning meeting"/whole-group activity to stimulate literacy rich learning via communication, imagination, and movement. In this upcoming school year, Wonderopolis-learning will be extended to the students with the use of an iPad to blend literacy and technology learning at an active and engaging classroom learning center called the "iWonderoplis Center".

The iPad would be able to deliver learning through a variety of hands-on, audio, and visual activities that lends itself nicely to the naturally inquisitive theme of Wonderopolis. Content will include, but not be limited to, electronic books (e-books), instant access to rich video media, educational apps for supporting literacy, digital storytelling capabilities using video/imaging camera, as well as connecting with authentic outside audiences using the unique mobile video chat capability. The device will further allow us to explore the full learning (digital and hands-on) that Wonderopolis has to offer while providing the capability to remain current with 21st Century Learning trends.

Wonderopolis is a free resource for families and schools, so hundreds of educators across the country already are using it to generate excitement for learning in schools, libraries and homes across the country. But this mini-grant will help Cold Springs Kindergarten magnify the reach and impact of this 21st century online learning tool. Other programs and communities also will learn from Cold Springs Kindergarten on how they can maximize the use of Wonderopolis.
"I would like to extend a rousing Cold Springs kindergarten THANK YOU to our friends at Wonderopolis, National Center for family literacy (NCFL), and Better World Books for helping us to bring more Wonder into our classroom".

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Puppets Rock!

Puppets...they never get old.  I've seen a resurgence in puppet play in the last few weeks in the classroom. There may be a correlation between "doing stories" and the idea of acting things out.  It's such a great way to encourage communication literacy.  The kids have no problem acting things out with one another. Walls are let down and confidence is boosted. Kids do and say things with a puppet on their hand or fingers that they wouldn't normally do on their own.  They're playing...and learning too. I love that!

We had "inside-recess" today, and of all the choices they had in the room - a bunch of them flocked to the puppet stand.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Doing" Stories

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend the National Association for the Education of Young Children annual conference in Orlando, Florida. My mind is still spinning from the take-aways from this incredible conference which hosts one of the largest contingents of early childhood educators in the country.

The opening keynote was by Vivian Paley - who is well known in the realms of early education. I was refreshed and inspired.  Vivian shared her thoughts and ideas through the art of storytelling. One idea she shared was that of "doing stories".  She shared an example of a students' dictated story and bringing it to life through theater. She simply gathered the author and a few players (actors) for the story. While she narrated, they acted it out.  The entire process took only a couple of minutes. I was eager to use this technique with the kids. I modified it slightly by using stories that the children had already written. The results were magical.

I less time than it takes to make popcorn in the microwave, I was able to lift up and encourage the entire class through this process of "doing stories". It was so simple. The entire class - author, actors, and audience - was empowered by the physical act of sharing a story.  Every child was engaged. Every was included. Awesome!

Here is an example of our class doing one of our young authors story.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We are thankful for 5th brade Buddies

One of the highlights during my year of teaching is to have a mentor (or buddy) classroom. We typically join forces with our neighboring 5th grade classroom down the hall. Several times each year we meet to do projects together, read to each other, or play some games and team building activities. Today we met our buddies for the first time to create our "I am thankful for..." books.  It is wonderful to for our littlest ones to have older kids to look up to. This relationship encourages confidence and self-esteem as kindergarteners proudly wave and give "hi-fives" to their buddies in the hallway and on the playground. It is also great to see our 5th grade students, in their final year of elementary school, take a little one under their wings while reminiscing about their days-of-old. I've never met a group of older students who didn't love spending some time with a kindergartener. The big-brother/big-sister instinct is strong, regardless of whether or not they have siblings themselves. I love the special memories we create throughout the year. Thank you 5B!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Several weeks ago we read a book in our Reading Street program called Plaidypus Lost. Each year we supplement this fun-filled week of learning with a silly song and video by Steve Axtell called P-P-Platypus.  The kids think it's pretty hilarious. This year it, Steve Axtell held a contest in response to the video. An authentic, professional Platypus puppet (as seen in the video) would be given to the group with the most people singing/performing the Platypus song.  Mr. Schaefer, fellow kindergarten teacher, spearheaded this plan for our entry into the contest.  Cold Springs School kindergarten (4 classes, approx 20 in each) and our neighboring Chief Charlo school kindergarten (4 classes, approx 20 in each - and a 2nd grade class) Skyped each other to record the entire group singing the song.  It worked out to about 180 students in total. We won! Here is is picture of the KF Dragons with their new friend.

Here is our winning video. Click here to see the Steve Axtell P-P-Platypus video on Youtube.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

a-MAZE-ing adventure

It's wonderful to live in a community that offers so much for family to do.  As fall rolls around a popular attraction for families makes it appearance.  What was once a 45 minute drive down the Bitterroot valley, now makes it's home in Missoula, only a few miles away from Cold Springs.  Here are some memories of our recent field trip to the Missoula Maze.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Squirelling" Pennies

Building fine motor skills is (should be) a vital part of any kindergarten classroom.  We expect a lot from those tiny little hands - cutting, gluing, writing, creating, lifting, squeezing, pinching - particularly during a time when the muscles of the hand are still developing and strengthening.  A few times throughout the week I like to do table activities of fine motor skills.  I place activities at each of their tables and have them rotate through.  Little do they know, these "fun little activities" are actually helping them to strengthen and develop the muscles of their hands.

Squirreling pennies is one of the fine motor activities that I enjoy leading. Instead of roaming the classroom, I'll camp out at this table and lead them through some hand exercises.  I learned about this fine motor activity from a teacher in our district several years ago.  I'm still not sure why it's called "squirreling".  Maybe its because the kids look like squirrels trying to pick things up with their tiny little hands, or maybe because those little pennies are so darn "squirrely".

I love squirreling pennies with the kids because it gives me a chance work with them in small groups on fine motor skills. It's also a great time to informally assess the students in other areas like math (counting, one-to-one correspondence) and literacy (communicating, using vocabulary).  First I have the kids pick ten pennies. I think its just the right amount for their little hands. When working with pennies, or any small objects that tend to be noisy on the table-tops, I use felt squares that we call "quiet mats".  I have one for each student. They're pretty inexpensive at a local craft store.  From there I lead them through a set of random exercises that challenge their brains and fingers.  I have them work with one hand at a time. The temptation to use both hands is strong - so I tell them to put one hand behind their back. I mix-up (and sometimes make up) the activities as we go along, but some of the standard exercises are: lining up pennies, flipping them over as fast you can, making a pattern (heads/tails), picking up the pennies with thumb & finger and gathering them in the palm of the hand, dropping the penny between the thumb & finger and placing them back down, and stacking pennies.  Keep in mind, all of these exercises are done with one hand - usually the dominant hand, but we practice with the opposite hand as well. I add a little light competition by timing the kids. My absolute favorite is to see the look of concentration (and contortion) on their faces as they get-in-the-zone. I love it!

Here's a little video of our activity.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dragons at the PEAS farm

A little over a week ago we took our first "official" field trip to the PEAS farm. We enjoyed romping around our local community garden, soaking in the beautiful Montana fall weather while tasting some fresh, hand-picked fruits and vegetables. Mmmm - tasty! We also had a chance to see some chicken, pigs, and horses (in the nearby fields).  In the end we learned that we can grow and eat our own healthy fruits and vegetables either from our own backyard or from a nearby community garden. What a great way to keep things local and give back to our community.  Here's a little video slideshow of our visit.

Monday, October 3, 2011

We're Baa-aaack!

Greetings KF Dragons, fans, families, and friends.  Welcome (or welcome back) to our kindergarten blog.  It's been a while since I've been back here, but I'm excited to engage our visitors with highlights of the coming year.  Last year I was excited to introduce my kindergarteners to the blogging world.  What a great way to share the  things that are happening in the classroom. Blogs can serve a variety of purposes.  They come in all shapes and sizes. Some blogs are informative and rich with resources for learning, while others are simply an online journal.of thoughts and ideas.  I hope to offer a little-bit of both here.  I like to think of it as a window into our classroom that gives visitors a glimpse of kindergarten life here at Cold Springs Elementary.  So here's to a magical year...follow along and enjoy the show.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Poems in our Pockets

I started to begin this post with "last Thursday" until I realized it was actually the Thursday before that. Oh my - time certainly does fly.  I admit it's been a crazy couple of weeks since returning from Spring Break.  I've managed to take some pictures and video of some of the fun things we've been doing, but the time keeps slipping away from me. So...let me take you back.

Two Thursdays ago we celebrated "Poem in Your Pocket Day" as part of National Poetry Month.  Our goal was to have each of the dragons choose a poem that they could write on an index card that fit nicely into their back pockets. Poems could be short, sweet, about any topic, and come in any form.  It was so great to see the kids come in with poems in their pockets. It was an excellent experience in literacy.  Many of the kids wrote their poems, and all of them could read their poems. Still, another handful had their poems memorized - which only encouraged the remainder of the class to memorize theirs as well.  I encouraged our teachers to pull any of  the dragons aside and have them read their poems. I've never seen them so excited to share. At the end of the day we lined up to read them to the fourth and fifth grade classes. They were so encouraged and amazed by our bravery to speak publicly in front of the "big kids".

The highlight of our day was our Skype visit with Mrs. Caplin's fifth grade students in Ohio.  I met Mrs. Caplin at the NCFL 20th Annual Family Literacy Conference in Kentucky only a week before and we agreed to have our students meet via Skype.  What a great experience for the dragons to see other students also celebrating poetry. We took turns reading original poems, silly poems, and beautiful poems.  We laughed and applauded, cheered and "wowed' each others poems. We were so thankful that our fifth grade friends in Ohio had their audience (us kindergarteners) in mind when they selected their poems.  They read us poems that we could understand and enjoy.

We had such a great time. Thank you Mrs. Caplin and your students for sharing and learning with us! Here are a few quick video clips of some of our dragons practicing our poems, and a few of our fifth grade friends sharing their poems with us via Skype. Enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Welcome Back KF Dragons!

Greetings KF Dragon families and friends & welcome back. It has been while since our last post. In the blink of an eye, March has come and gone and we find ourselves coming out of spring break and already a week into April. That leaves us a precious nine weeks (but who's counting) to squeeze every last bit of fun out of our final trimester. During the break, Mr. Fines did a little bit of digital spring cleaning and found some of these images on my camera. I seem to have found a few from our Valentines party in February (seems like yesterday doesn't it) and some random St. Patricks day pictures (seriously, where has the time gone?). Enjoy the quick slideshow that I threw together at the last minute!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Antarctic Animal Survey

Greetings KF Dragons and Families. I'm trying out something new this week to gather some responses from our learning last week. The Web 2.0 tool I'm using is called Pindax. It is a message board service that allows visitors to create a  note and "pin it" to the wall. If all goes well, I hope to have some responses from the kids by the end of the week.  Hopefully some of you have had an opportunity to visit the link about Antarctic animals on our previous post.  First, read the initial post-it from me. The toolbar to the left allows you to create a new post. Type in your response, and post it to the wall.  You also have some options for viewing, deleting, moving posts around. If you click on a note you can see the entire post.  This is fairly new to me as well, so feel free to experiment.  I'll be monitoring notes to the board closely. Have fun!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Antarctica and Vocaroo

Click on the play button below to hear this weeks message from Mr. Fines.

 Hey KF Dragons "What animals do you know about that live in Antarctica?" Click here to learn about some of the animal we'll be reading about this week.

Monday, February 28, 2011

I Love to Read Week & Missoula Smoke Jumpers

I was browsing through the images on my camera and came across some photos that I originally meant to post a few weeks ago during "I Love to Read Week". I suppose that's what you get when you take so many pictures - I completely forgot to share about this special time with the kids. It is so awesome that our school celebrates I Love to Read Month in February. Among the many wonderful things we do to celebrate, an absolute favorite is the celebrity reader(s). Our PTA does such a wonderful job getting community members to come into our school to read. In years past we've had local news anchors, Montana Grizzly Football players, local business owners/workers, and even the Mayor come in and read to our kindergarteners.

This year we had a special treat - a visit from two "real-life" Smoke Jumpers from the Missoula Smoke Jumpers Center.  A field trip to the Smoke Jumper center is typically one of our field trips in the spring. We learn about what they do and take a tour of the facility, and get to see the inside of  Smoke Jumper aircraft.  I'd have to say that the majority of the kids at this point didn't have a clue what a Smoke Jumper was - but it didn't take long to catch their interest. All they really had to say was that they jump from airplanes to fight fires. Not only did the Smoke Jumpers read a story to the kids, they also brought along their full Smoke Jumper gear-  helmet, jumper, parachute, and other items of interest.  I'll admit - there is quite a bit that a Smoke Jumper must strap on before heaving themselves out of a plane, only to land in the middle of a fire. Wow! Here area few pictures of the kids and our Smoke Jumper (celebrity) readers. Thank you Travis and Ashton, for coming to read and sharing about the exciting work you do. See you in the spring!

Reading a nonfiction book about what a Smoke Jumper does. They are firefighters with the special, and dangerous, job of fighting fires in hard to reach places. There approximately 400 smoke jumpers in the United States.
A Smoke Jumper relies on a buddy to safety-check his equipment before boarding the plane. A smoke Jumpers gear is very heavy.
Suited up and ready to go. But don't forget the reserve parachute!
Travis and Ashton demonstrates that the parachute is automatically opened by a ripcord that is attached to a zip-line on the aircraft. The parachute is released by the ripcord as they jump from the plane.  There is also a secondary "safety" parachute attached to the front.  The kids were very "concerned" about the 1st parachute not opening.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentines Week & AM Stations

We have a lot going on this week at Cold Springs Elementary. Not only is it "I Love to Read Month", but it is also "I Love to Read Week".  In this week alone we started out with Valentines Day and a mini-celebration filled with the usual Valentine cards, treats, and crafts. Each day of the week sports a different theme. On Monday all the kids were dressed in red.  Tuesday was snuggle-up-with-a-good-book day where the kids brought in a favorite stuffed animal.Wednesday was sweats day, today is slipper day, and tomorrow - hat day.  Each morning at 9:45 we have "drop everything and read", otherwise known as D.E.A.R. The entire school literally drops everything and participates in 15 minutes of silent sustained reading. It's pretty cool if you ask me. The dragons are reading like crazy and are being rewarded for reading at home. We have a goal of reading a minimum of 400 books in  February - 20 books per student. When we reach our goal, a pizza and popcorn party is in order.

Our AM stations this week were centered around a valentines theme. AM stations is the part of the morning reading and writing block where students have independent learning activities. During this time, half of the class is at learning stations, while the other half is reading, writing books, or conferencing with me on the carpet or at their tables.  After about 20-30 minutes, the groups switch. We practice for quite a while to get this routine down, but done correctly it's a very powerful classroom management tool. The quiet buzz in the background is usually "learning in action". Here are a few of the AM stations we did this week.

At the math station - kids counted and placed conversation hearts on a number graph. When they were completed, I gave them a digital camera to take a picture of their work.  It's simple way to incorporate technology (learning to use a digital camera), and it gives me proof that they completed their activity.

At the arts & craft station - the kids worked on filling in a heart with crumpled tissue paper and dots of glue. This is an excellent fine motor skill activity, and keeps our hands very busy.
I hide conversation hearts in the rice table for the kids to find. Next they wrote the messages they found on the hearts on paper.  "Who doesn't love digging around in rice."
Ahh...the rice bottle.  I put  word tiles in a bottle filled with rice.  They shake and shimmy the bottle, just so, to get the tiles to show the words.  The task is complete when they have found and written all of the words on their record sheet and can read them back to me.  There is an exact number of words they must find to get a prize!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

100th Day

On Monday we celebrated our 100th day in school. It's a landmark day that is typically celebrated by elementary teachers and students all around the country (or at least I think).  I personally don't remember celebrating the 100th day when I was in elementary school. It certainly is a fun filled day though, that revolves around all things "100".  Its the perfect opportunity to read books about the 100th day of school.  We sing songs, count to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's while marching, clapping, and doing jumping jacks, as well as a number of other fun hands on projects. In math we practiced sorting objects by 10's to make our counting easier. We also discussed that 100 of one item is not necessarily the same size as 100 of another. In addition, the "hundreds" place-value was introduced. Three digit numbers are "huge"!

In celebration of our 100th day, our Cold Springs Kindergarteners have a 100 Day Museum. Students bring in a project that represents the number one-hundred. Each year I'm always amazed at the creativity of the kids (and parents) in showing 100. We take some time to walk through the kindergarten classes to catch a glance of the wonderful projects.  Here are some photos, from legos to zip-ties, that I was able take along the way. Enjoy - and congratulations to the KF Dragons for making it to this very special day!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friendship, Peace, Love, & Kindness

In January we spent a good week learning about and discussing Martin Luther King, Jr. In essence, we learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the rules to make things fair. In kindergarten we spend so much time learning about character. We talk about and model friendship, peace, love, and kindness in our classroom.   There is something about the lessons of life that we learn during this time of the year that always brings a tear to my eye. It was a powerful moment in our country's history that paved the way for many of the freedoms we enjoy as a nation today. This video is a few weeks late in its production, but the dragons really put their hearts into this one and  I couldn't just let it go. Here is an Animoto that shares some of their thoughts, and illustrations on paper, accompanied by some very poignant words from Dr. King's famous I Have a Dream speech.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Before and After

There a many things we learn in kindergarten beside our ABC's and 123's. The learning is deep, and wide (but mostly wide). I suppose the deep stuff will come down the road. We've learned about how to be kind, how to be a good friend, how to communicate and "use your words", as well as how to make the best choices and  how to pick up after ourselves and to be responsible for our belongings.

The winter months are awesome in kindergarten, especially when there is snow on the ground. It's a time of teeny kindergarteners bundled-up plump and warm. Hats, scarves, boots, mittens, snow-pants, and coats line the hallway at various times of the day; however, lately we've been slacking a bit in keeping our lockers neat and organized. My  kindergarteners share lockers - up to 4 in each. The winter months are particularly crazy with the added gear - but let me just say, from experience, that it can be done.

I've been getting on my dragons' case lately about keeping their lockers tidy, and closed. I even jokingly threatened to throw away any belongings that were spilling out of their spaces.  That was a bad idea as they turned and stampeded back down the hall in one chaotic mess of loudness. On Friday, I had an idea. My dragons love surprises and will obey at any cost for a "surprise". I told them to wait quietly at their desks while I went into the hallway to do a little project. They were so excited.

So...while they waited in eager anticipation for their surprise, I went into the hallway and snapped some photos of the latest tornado disaster area.  I went back in to the classroom and proceeded to do a little prep work at my computer. In the meantime, kids were shouting "We're watching a movie!", "Yay!", "Awesome", "Sweet!".  Then I showed them the pictures of their lockers on the interactive whiteboard. Silence. 

I wanted to laugh, but it was such a perfect "teaching moment".  You can probably figure out the rest of the story. I took an additional 3 minutes to tell them how fantastic they were, and that they sometimes get so excited when they come in from recess that they forget to hang up their things on hooks and take a minute to organize - the way they learned on the first day of school. We also discussed how our school depends on us to keep our area clear so students and teachers can move safely through the hallways.

It was Friday - and I  challenged them to organize their lockers as best they could. If they could make them look awesome, then they could watch a dinosaur movie (which I had already planned). I told them that I would take the pictures again, and we could compare the "Before and After". And guess what? It worked.  They were so proud. By-the-way, I plan on posting those pictures on their lockers as a reminder of what they are capable of. See the photo evidence below. Parents, your digital camera may be your next favorite tool.  Hmmm...what else can I take a picture of?


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snowman in Citrus County Florida - A Skyping Adventure

A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of Skyping with Mrs.Colier and our newest kindergarten friends at Hernando Elementary in Hernando Florida. Mrs. Colier and her 18 kindergartners were learning about snow in science and wanted to speak with some experts in the field. [Enter - KF Dragons]. Here is a little information about where they are located:

     "We are located on the West Coast of Florida in Citrus County.  We are 13 miles from the Gulf of   Mexico.  We are famous for all the manatees that visit our county in the winter.  They usually come to Crystal River to the natural springs where the water is 72 degrees year round. 
     We are about an hour and a half from Disney World.  Most of my kids have been there.  Myself included.
    Our school is located in Hernando.  We are a rural community.  We have lots of lakes and a several nice rivers for tubing, canoeing, and kayaking along with lots of fishing.  We also have hunting deer, turkey and wild pigs.  I have a little boy that hunts regularly with his Dad and Granddad."

During our visit, our new kindergarten friends wanted to ask us some questions about snow.  They asked; 
1) What kinds of things we did in the snow,  2) How do you make a snowman, and 3) What do we wear when we go out in the snow?  We eagerly shared our experiences, and showed them all of the things that we must have before going out to recess (snowpants, snowboots, coat, scarf, mittens, and cap). As part of the rules on the playground during the wintertime, we also shared that  throwing snowballs, climbing on snow-mounds, and sliding on the ice is not allowed. 

In return, we also had a few questions to ask Mrs. Colier and her class.  We wanted to know; 1) If any of them  had been to the "Magic Castle" (Disney World)?,  2) Is there sand there?, and 3) Is there water there? In short - the answer was "yes" to all three, however I believe we were most excited about their proximity to the Magic Kingdom.

I am still amazed at what technology allows us to do in our classroom.  On a cold snowy day in Missoula, Montana we were able to visit and learn with kindergartners at the complete opposite corner of the United States - much less a location known for sun, surf, and sand! Here are a couple of photos of Mrs. Colier and her kindergartners, and their instant-snowman (a polymer that, when mixed with water, turns into a snow-like material).   

Thank you Mrs. Colier. We can't wait to Skype with you again!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Shapes of Things

Our geometry unit has been a lot of fun. Earlier in the year we learned about some of the basic 2 dimensional shapes, and discussed some of their attributes. Besides the typical square, triangle, circle, and rectangle, we also learned the names of shapes like trapezoid, rhombus (not diamond), skinny rhombus, irregular triangle and hexagon. In our math topic 7 we revisited some of these shapes and added size and line of symmetry to our vocabulary of math words.  We just finished learning about, and discussing, solid figures - spheres, cubes, cones, and cylinders. We learned about which solid figures will stack, roll, or slide - and sometimes a combination of the three. Geometry is so much fun because shapes, 2D and solid, are all around us. In the following activity we read the book Around the Park by Christianne C. Jones, and discussed what our shapes could represent when placed on a mural, or scene, of a park and a beach.  It was so wonderful to see them applying their knowledge of shapes to things we see in real life. As you can see in their murals, a hexagon could be a sun, a rhombus could be a kite. Two triangles when combined also form a kite. Squares when combined formed a beach towel on the sand, and a trapezoid turned "upside down" made a wonderful creative.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Mystery Box

I read a post from a fellow kindergarten Tweep (Twitter-friend), asking for some suggestions for end-of-day activities. Here is one that has been a hit with kindergarteners for the past few years. Most of the parents know about this "Mystery Box", but many haven't had the opportunity to see it in action, so I thought it would be a fitting post

I don't quite know what it is, but there is a fascination to the Mystery Box that brings us to a close at the end of each school day.  With approximately 15 minutes left until the dismissal bell, the dragons have two tasks - 1} pack your backpacks, and 2) get ready for the Mystery Box. We all know that if we take too long doing the 1st, there will be little time for the 2nd. Heaven-help-us if it ever has to go that far.

The goal; to place a "mystery" item into the box (a cheap, or donated, collapsible lunch box that I get at the beginning of the year) and have your classmates try to guess what it is from the 3 clues, written and read by the child (in the beginning of the year, parents help out in the writing process).  The only rule (other than that it has to fit in the box) is that the item cannot be alive. It hasn't happened...yet! But it is amazing what some kids can get to fit into the box. "Who knew that a large stuffed animal can be squeezed into such a tight space?"

It's a great exercise in reading, writing, and cognition - and puts a little twist on the typical show-and-share activities. The elements of suspense, and surprise, are nice too!  At the literacy level, the kids learn to think creatively about the clues, write them down, then share them.  At the social-level, it helps us to build confidence as we share in front of the group. The kids know to show respect, have listening-ears, and raise their hands.  Some kids plan out their mystery item weeks in advance - shutting eyes, crossing-fingers & legs at the chance to take the Mystery Box home. We do a random draw from our name-Popsicle sticks, and each kiddo gets it once every twenty days or so. So here you go...our Mystery Box.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dinosaurs - Take 1

We'll...we've embarked on our prehistoric learning adventure to the time of the dinosaurs.  Most of this week has been building background knowledge, sharing what we know about dinosaurs, then discussing what we would possibly like to know about them.  I used our Flip Video camera to document some dinosaur behavior. This was a rather impromptu video that capitalized on our kindergartners incredible ability to be theatrical, and silly, at the same time.  I give to you, KF Dragons rendition of  "Herbivores & Carnivores".

Monday, January 10, 2011


Greetings everyone! A few days ago we began a new math topic and have been learning about shapes. To date - we've discussed circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles. Those are the basic shapes, I know, but we have been connecting them to shapes we see in real life. We see rectangles in dollar bills, doors, and envelopes. We see squares in crackers, windows, and stamps...and so on. In fact, to day we learned about shapes that, when combined, create other shapes - for example, two triangles make a rhombus. Three triangles make a trapezoid. Two squares, make a rectangle. Those were a little challenging, but we'll keep practicing. For now, here is a quick video of the kids playing a geometry game using spinners, and counters. Being a roving reporter is the best part of the process (besides their learning, of course). You just don't know what you'll get. I do my best to show you authentic examples of learning. If all of our videos were perfect, or edited, that wouldn't exemplify "real" learning in the classroom. Don't mind the noise in the background. In kindergarten, that's what we call "learning in progress. Enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Better late than never, eh? Here's an Animoto that was in the works before we left for the break. It's a small collection of the memories we created during the first four months of kindergarten. There is so much more to come. I love my KF Dragons - I may quite possibly have the best job in the entire world. Here's to a prosperous 2011.