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Saturday, September 12, 2015

The First Weeks of Kindergarten: How Do We Start?

We now have the first couple weeks of Kindergarten under our belts! How do we get started building a community of learners who will wonder, problem solve and work as a team? Academics take a back seat as we get started and we spend our time getting to know each other, building relationships, and exploring the materials and areas of our room that will will be used during their learning journey.

We start by building relationships with the kids and their families. To start this, I set out a basket of ribbons and asked parents to write their hopes and dreams for their child during our Kindergarten Screening process. They tied their hopes and dreams ribbons to a wooden embroidery hoop.



When families came to visit during our open house, materials were laid out for them to create "Peace Beads" together and add them to the hoop. I loved watching families work to create this beautiful chandelier together! 



Our Hopes and Dreams Chandelier looks amazing hanging in our library area near the entrance to our room. 


We learn how to take care of our tools.  I have the tools available all over the room. I separate them by color. This fosters skills in categorizing as they figure out where the colors such as yellow-green fits in the best. It also encourages the kids to be more purposeful when they select colors for their work. All tips are up so they don't break. I don't have to tell them this. At some point, a crayon tip will break off, so we show the class and talk about how we can prevent their beautiful crayons from breaking.  When they come up with the solution, they take ownership of it and follow through. If I has just told them to put the tips up, it won't be as meaningful for them!  Letting your child come up with solutions to problems works at home too! The hard part is letting the problem happen so they can learn from it!


We explore the materials and the different areas of our room. For the first time, I rotate them through the areas to make sure they have a chance to see what is available in each area of our room. We have our library, art studio, building area, engineering area, dramatic play, literacy and math areas, writing and craft areas and science areas. The items in each area are very limited at first. We explore the concepts of responsibility, self control and respect very heavily through books, videos and modeling.  They know they must show all three of these qualities for them to be allowed to use the different areas of our room. As they show they can use these areas, more materials and opportunities are opened for them.






They started amazing me right away! Just through this simple exploring, many common core concepts were already being used and explored!







We are also learning and reviewing one letter each day. Many already know their letters, but now they have a new interest in these letters. They now realize the PURPOSE for learning these letters. They have expressed that they want to learn the mysteries of reading and writing and I have let them know that these letters are the secret for learning how to read and write. They now have a purpose for revisiting these letters and figuring out their relationship with reading and spelling words!


The kids are also learning some reading strategies as we learn the letters. They have learned that when they don't know a word, they can look at the picture for a clue! They also are learning the direction we read print and how to point to each word as they read them. The latest strategy we have learned are to look at the first letter of a word.

We are also getting to know a special friend better each day, but I will save that for another post!

14 comments:

  1. I love reading your posts! These are so helpful!! I will be a new Kindergarten teacher this year and have gained permission to use Reggio principles as much as possible :) Do you have any specific books you would recommend especially for the beginning of the year? Thank you!

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    1. Here are a few!
      Working in the Reggio Way
      Purposeful Play: A Teacher's Guide to Igniting Deep and Joyful Learning Across the Day; Paperback; Author - Kristine Mraz
      The Language of Art: Reggio-Inspired Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings; Paperback; Author - Ann Pelo
      Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Classrooms (Paperback)
      Constructivism across the Curriculum in Early Childhood Classrooms: Big Ideas as Inspiration; Paperback; Author - Christine M. Chaille 
      In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia, Second Edition; Paperback; Author - Lella Gandini

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  2. I have tried hopes and dreams on ribbon in the past and always experience the markers bleeding on the ribbon and becoming unreadable. What type of markers did you use for parents to write on the ribbons?

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    1. I tested out so many markers and they all would bleed into the ribbon, so out of desperation, I tried a regular black ball point ink pen...and it worked absolutely perfectly! Wrote very easily and smoothly on the ribbon with no bleeding!

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  3. What a rich learning experience for these children! What are some of the books you use to teach self-control and responsibility?

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    1. Some of my favorites are My Mouth is a Volcano, Hands are not for Hitting, Words are not for Hurting, Have You Filled a Bucket Today, How to Loose All of Your Friends, What if Everybody Did That, and a social skills pack that came from Scholastic Books with titles such as, I am a Leader, I am Creative, I Can Solve Problems, I Show Respect, etc. Good luck this new school year!

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  4. Your room is so inspirational!!! I am going to have my parents make a chandelier this year for the first time. I feel like this is a dumb question... but, what is the hoop you have them tie the ribbons to? Is it an embroidery hoop? Thank you for all of your ideas - you are wonderful! :)

    Katy

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    1. Thank you Katy! It is an embroidery hoop! I just took twine and weaved a web in the middle of the inner hoop, gen put on the outer hoop and tightened it in place. Have a wonderful school year!
      Sincerely,
      Darla

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  5. Do you have a post about how you do your groups at the learning areas? How do the students choose? How long? How often? How they switch?

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    1. Hi Loralee!
      When we first start the year, the kids are assigned to an area and we rotate through the areas so that they will learn what the areas are about and how to take care of the materials and clean the areas up. After that, they get to choose where they want to go. When they get there, they talk with the others who chose that area about what they are going to explore, create, do, etc. They can stay as long as they like! Our play blocks are anywhere from 30-45 minutes, sometimes an hour. They may not switch until they clean up. If they start leaving stations without cleaning, we go back to a rotation for about 20-30 minutes each rotation, then try again with free choice. I hope this helps!
      Sincerely,
      Darla Myers

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    2. Darla, thank you so much! It is very, very helpful to hear how it unfolds in your classroom.

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