Sunday, May 21, 2017

Final Week

Hi Kinder Parents,
YOU MADE IT!  One of the most important years in your child's school life is about to be complete.  This year taught your child so many things but mostly that school is a great place to be and that they are completely capable of "doing school."  This foundation for happy learning will carry them through the next few years as they continue to learn and grow.  

This week will be crazy!  Here are a few of the items on your child's schedule:
Monday - Junior Achievement will be teaching our littles about financial literacy.
Tuesday - our most "normal" day.  We will practice with the 8th graders for graduation. There will be an awards ceremony in the morning and a talent show in the afternoon.  We will also attend our second grade friend's Reader's Theater.
Wednesday - We will help our 8th graders graduate.  We will walk them in and help them get seated and watch them graduate.
Thursday - Field Day!

Some points to consider for Field Day:
Check the weather.  We have had hot frying pan days, and freezing cold rainy days, for Field Day in the past.  Please make decisions based on the weather as much as possible.

Have your child wear water clothes.  Boys can wear swim bottoms and a shirt, girls can wear a one piece swim suit with shorts and a Tshirt over it.  Children can also wear shorts and a T shirt that can get wet and is comfortable.  You can send a towel but be sure to mark it with a name.  

No socks, please!  The kids will be moving from water activities to bounce houses or other dry activities.  Socks tend to get lost at the stops along the way.  Also, it works better if your child is able to wear shoes that they can slip on and off easily so that they don't lose a lot of time between activities trying to manage their shoes.

Please send in a snack.  We will stop for a snack break along our journey to keep them from getting hungry.

Please send in a plastic bag that we can put extra wet items into at the end of the day.

****MOST IMPORTANT!  Please sunscreen your child very well before sending them in to school on field day.  By the time I notice they are getting pink, it is too late!  Additionally, I won't know if a child does or doesn't have sunscreen on.  I don't want anyone's day to be ruined by a painful sunburn.

Several Questions about summer have come up.  If you have questions, please let me know because others are likely to have those same questions too!

A parent asked about the summer bridge books that I recommended in the last blog.  These are readily available at Barnes and Noble and even Costco.  However,  I found a large amount on Amazon.  The only drawback is that you can't look through the book to see what it contains.  An example, not an endorsement, can be found at this link: 

Additionally there was a question about children's reading levels and how to find good books for summer reading.  Your child's reading level will be reported on their report card, however, I find that this information is very limited help in choosing books.  At school, we have been using a reading website call Epic!  Here is the link:   Children can listen to books or read themselves.  The site is free for classrooms but I think that there is a small fee for home use.  There is a trial subscription that is free as well.  Additionally, I will be sending home a letter from the RazKids site. This will come home on Wednesday with the report card. You can access free reading books on that site.  The kids can read right on the website, and at some levels, can even take a comprehension test to see how well they read.  I know this doesn't sound like fun but the kids really like it! I have set the site up with a level for your child to start reading. The level is on the easy side as they learn to use the site.  They can just move up as the reading becomes easier for them. Finally, one of the best ways to keep your child reading is to join the County Library's Summer Reading Program.  They have incentives and fun extra activities to keep your child interested and moving forward over the summer.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve your family this year.  Together we have made an amazing group of enthusiastic learners that are ready to go on to first grade.  However, the summer is LONG.  Please be diligent in helping your child to maintain their skills.  Let me know if I can be of help to you or answer any questions that arise.  

Happy last week,
Sue Marsh

Sunday, May 14, 2017

May 15th

Hi Kinder Families,

Can you feel the end of school looming in your thoughts?  The time will go quickly and be somewhat chaotic with end of year events.  We will spend a lot of time assessing this week and will finish our study of weather.  Thank you to those who sent in a picture of their child making a shelter from the sun.  If you haven't gotten to do this, it isn't too late!  

Lemonade sales went well last week.  We had very little drama, only a few tummy aches, and no wetting accidents!  Success!  The lemonade stands will run this week as well and will finish up on Thursday. The kids have been keeping their quarters in their backpack pockets, lunch boxes, or snack pockets.  If they are kept in clothes pockets they have a tendency to fall out and get lost at recess while they are playing.  Last Thursday, we went to visit Mr. Lewis and saw his very cool coin counting machine.  

This is the last week that I will post homework.  I think next week would be the perfect time to set up a home study area for your child.  If you get some special pencils and paper and make an "office" they will really enjoy using it.  Next, choose a time of day that will fit well with your summer schedule and try to really stick to it.  It will only take a small portion of the day but if it is scheduled it is so much easier to make it happen.  You will receive information about summer reading expectations and math work on IXL from the school-wide email.  Additionally, some parents like to purchase "summer bridge" activity books for their child to work in to keep their skills sharp.  One caution would be to look through the book to be certain it is an appropriate level of work for your child.  They can vary widely and you want to be sure you child isn't bored by too easy, or frustrated by material that is too difficult for them.

Next week will be a bit crazy with extra activities planned on each day.  One of the most important for you to keep in mind is field day on the last day.  It takes MANY volunteers to make field day work!  Information about how you can help will come from school-wide email.  It is fun, fast and fantastic so come out and enjoy this time if you can.

Thank you for all that you do to send in a happy, rested, and well fed child.  I enjoy them each day!

Marvelous in May,
Sue Marsh

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May 8th

Hi Kinder Families,

This week the middle school math lemonade stands will begin.  Lemonade will be sold on the playground during the lunch period.  Stands are able to set their own price but it is normally about 25 cents a cup.  The lemonade stand project is a competitive business experience.  I like to encourage our littles to ask for jobs in order to earn lemonade money rather than to just ask for it.  Please take a moment to think of a few jobs that your child can do to earn a few quarters.  Also,  it is very difficult for our little ones to manage their money.  If they bring a dollar they will frequently spend the whole thing by either buying multiple cups of lemonade or buying for all of their friends.  It is up to you how you want to encourage or limit their buying.  I usually encourage bringing a quarter a day rather than more.  Additionally, if you do not want your child to participate there is no pressure to do so!

This week we will be learning about the weather.  All year we have checked the weather daily and have created graphs to show our results.  Each grade level has an "observation over time" science standard and in kindergarten the standards require that this observation is about weather.  This week we will complete our final weather graph, look for patterns in those graphs, and discuss the importance of weather prediction in planning our daily lives.  We will also participate in a science experiment to build a structure to keep the sun from striking the Earth and finding the result (cooling). This will allow us to work within our final science project and the science standards that are included in this.  ***I like to encourage the kids to make a structure at home to shade the Earth.  In the past kids have used a tarp over their swing set or building a fort.  Have fun with this and send in a picture if you participate.

This week we will begin to study very basic fractions.   We will use paper along with folding and cutting to make halves, thirds, and fourths.  The homework objectives on Wednesday and Thursday will be on fractions.  We will continue daily to practice our math facts and I will be assessing these during the week.  Our kinder standards for facts are to be able to figure out any addition or subtraction fact within ten and also to be "fluent" in facts within five.  The fluency standard is assessed orally and I look for a child's ease in answering.  We will reassess the ability to take any number and tell how many more make ten.  

The remaining time will go very quickly.  While the children are becoming tired and ready for a break, they also may become anxious about becoming a first grader.  This is very normal!  I tell them that just as they love me, their hearts will stretch right out to love their first grade teacher too.  If your child expresses concern just encourage them that just as they adjusted to kindergarten, they will adjust the same way to first grade!

Marvelous in May,
Sue Marsh

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It's May!

Hi Kinder Parents,
Unbelievably, May has arrived.  What glorious weather it has brought with it!
I feel great when I say that we have four weeks left but terrified when I realize it is only sixteen days! Our summer break this year is VERY long.  The skills that are developed in these last weeks will be very fragile and easily lost without practice.  It will be imperative that your child reads, writes, and does some math each day.  It seems to be most practical to just set aside a specific amount of time, at the same time each day, for "office hours."  IXL will be available for your child for most of the summer but it will be updated at some point and they won't be able to log in.  Remember that they can just go in and practice without a log in for a bit each day.  The library has an amazing summer reading program.  This can really help to keep your child inspired to read and explore throughout the summer.  An idea to keep writing alive this summer is a summer journal.  Your child can take a few minutes each day to record things that they did and things that they want to do.  Using fun writing instruments and unusual items to record on makes writing more fun.  I once received a summer journal that was written entirely on adding machine tape!  Additionally, if you set up a fun learning area, like a desk or small table, they can  compile a word wall and resources that they want to use.  Have fun with it and make it special and they will find it special to work there!

This week our learning will have a butterfly theme.  We will read both nonfiction and fiction books about butterflies.  We will begin a special author study of Eric Carle.  The kids were not ready to put away the Lynley Dodd books so we will have both sets of books out for them.  They are enjoying the author studies so much that I'm thinking we may just use the Eric Carle author study as a theme for the remainder of the year.  

Last week I was trying to be very controlled, and controlling, with our writing.  I passed one of our littles and realized that she was on the third page and was quickly rolling in a different direction than my plan.  I stopped to help and she smiled and said, "I know I was only supposed to tell one thing but I love writing so much I just can't help it!" What a joy to a teacher's heart.  At this age, the desire to write is a beautiful thing that I hope will be life-long for our little ones!

In math, we will continue to develop fluency and conceptual understanding in addition and subtraction.  If you would like ideas for fun fact games for summer just let me know.  We "play" every day to develop fluency but they just think they are having fun!

We will be looking at "r" controlled vowels this week.  As students are sounding out words they are trying to voice the vowel and it makes it hard to figure out the word.  This week we will learn that in "r" controlled vowels you really just hear the /r/ sound.  If they can make the r sound they will usually be able to figure out the small bit of vowel sound attached and read the word.  Are you amazed at what your child can read?  Daily, I remind myself that even though they are right where our standards say they should be, the progress is truly amazing.  They began the year learning the letter names and sounds and working to be sure that they understood numbers to 9!  Wow!  

Thank you for sharing your little one with me!  
Marvelous in May,
Sue Marsh

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 24th

Hi Kinder Parents,
This is our last week in April.  We have five weeks of school left and that time will fly by!  The weather has been absolutely crazy.  Please continue to send a sweatshirt or light jacket with your child each day.

This week we will be studying with an Earth Day theme.  We will look at reducing our waste, recycling, and reusing items. Last Thursday we read a book with many ideas about for caring for our Earth.  Please discuss with your child what your family does to care for the Earth.  Your child can write and draw about this to bring to school.  Please know that we discussed the adopting a pet page and decided that not all families can have a pet.  We decided that a donation of food or a toy would be a good way to help too.

In literacy we will focus on claims and evidence in our reading.  We look to see what the author says is important and then find the evidence that this is true from the reading.  For example, in the We Care For Earth book, we determined that the author believed that caring for our Earth was important.  We gathered all of the ideas that the author gave as evidence that it was important for us to do so.  We have also examined the claim that "plants are a big part of our world," and that "bees feed us."  The kids asked last week if they could write a claim and give evidence for it.  We will be doing that in writing this week.  It is a small break from narrative writing but following the interest of the kids is always worthwhile.  We will be writing about something that we are good at and supporting that with examples as evidence.  This is just one example of why this age is so special to teach.  They just love to learn and are so self motivated and excited about doing what older kids would think of as a job!

In math, we will focus on strategies for adding and subtracting twos.  We will use a number line or hundred chart to notice that we hop over a number when doing this.  We will practice our facts using the games that we have already learned and add a couple of new games as well.  This is another area of strong motivation for our kids.  When I think of math facts, I don't get real excited.  However, the kids ask repeatedly if we have more time for practice.  What a joy to be with them!

This week begins testing for our older students.  We will be extra quiet and respectful of their learning and the importance of showing what they know this week.  We have been working on editing our writing for the past couple of weeks.  This week the 5th graders will be coming in to help us edit for closer spelling.  The kids even enjoy editing their writing!  Crazy, I know!

I'd like to make another shout out to all of our great volunteers.  We typically have ten donated hours each week just for our classroom.  This does not include the whole school volunteers who work on projects, in the cafeteria, and on the playground.  Without this help, our school could not do the important work that we do.  You count!  Research has repeatedly shown that parent involvement in school has wonderful benefits for your child.  Thank you for all of your time and hard work!

Awesome in April and nearly Marvelous in May,
Sue Marsh

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Hi Kinder Families,
I hope that you are having a wonderful family centered Easter weekend!  

This week we will be focused on the theme of plants!  We will read both fiction and nonfiction books about plants.  We will also be doing a planting which will come home on Thursday.  

In phonemic awareness we will be attaching the sounds that we hear in words to the letters that write them.  This becomes our phonics focus.  We will be sure that we are using the correct vowel in the middle of short vowel words.  This is the area that is most difficult for our kids.  I find that they can do this skill in isolation but when we are writing stories, they struggle with the vowels in the words that they want to write.  We will strengthen this skill over the next couple of weeks to be sure that they are able to use it during writing time.  

We will be identifying the main point that an author makes and find evidence in the text that the author uses to support that idea.  For example, last week we read a whole group book called Bees Feed Me.  We decided that the main point was right in the title.  What bees do helps to provide us food.  We found evidence in the book in the form of bees pollinate the flowers that grow on fruit trees and vegetable plants.  We eat the fruit and vegetables that grow from this process.  Of course, we also loved that we get to eat the honey that the bees make as well.  

In writing, we will continue to write narrative stories.  The most challenging aspect of this is the invented spelling that the kids must use to be able to write what their amazing minds think up.  We will be stretching words and being sure that words on the word wall, that are available to them to use, are spelled correctly.  They are making some great stories!

In math, you will notice that we finished the math book!  There is a section in the back called "math at home."  This section has some great ideas for you and your child to do at home to strengthen their math skills.  This week we will focus on addition and subtraction facts.  We will be working to find strategies to quickly learn facts.  We will be writing to record those strategies to post in our room.  Additionally, we will be practicing daily using a variety of fun math fact games.  All IXL objectives focus around counting larger numbers.  

Thank you for all you do every day to help your child be successful in school!
Sue Marsh

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April 10th

Hi Kinder Families,

Wow, what a crazy weather week.  The lost and found is overflowing.  I grabbed a couple of our kids items on Thursday after it was organized.  One of the sweatshirts is a Lacrosse style with no name.  However, it is so tiny, it really must be one of the kinders!  Let me know if your child is missing one and I can see if it is your child's.

I am SO happy to say that the snake theme has ended!  We learned a whole lot about snakes and had some great discussions about them.

This week we move to a short study of bees.  Promoting a healthy bee population is important for our world.  This theme will work naturally into our plant study and flow after that, into a celebration of Earth day.  

In literacy this week, we will listen to both nonfiction books to learn facts about bees and a great fiction book about a greedy bee.  We will be looking at two vowel teams that make a long vowel sound.  We will use the term "vowel team" which is also the term used in first grade.  We will continue to use the idea of flipping the sound.  For example, if you read a word and it doesn't work with a short vowel, try the long vowel sound.  We will be writing narrative stories.  The students have been doing a great job with writing narratives. In order to keep the job from being overwhelming we will focus on a beginning, middle, and end.  We need to work on planning our writing before beginning and on using quality invented spelling for words that we do not know how to spell.  For example,  one student spelled the word badger using the letters "bagr."  This is a quality inventive spelling. While you may need to ask about it to clarify what was said, the spelling makes sense.  

In math, we will work with numbers to one hundred.  However, it is very important that we continue to practice our addition and subtraction equations to help to make this automatic and fluent.  All IXL skills are on numbers from twenty to one hundred.  One way that you can help your child to become highly successful in addition and subtraction is to link it to daily life.  If you see some cattle in the field, make equations to describe how many you see.  In line at the drive through, make equations to show how many cars are in front of you.  Being able to see daily life as a math equation is fun and helps to develop a strong number sense ability in your child.  

Thank you so much for all that you do to help your child be successful.  

Awesome in April,
Sue Marsh