Doug Shivers, Teacher
Kathy Gardenhire, Aide
Some of you may have been wondering what we do during "circle time" each morning. Twenty five little rugs are all set out in a circle for each child to sit on. We use this time when the children first come into the classroom to go over class rules and to learn something new that they can carry over to the individual and small group work time. During the past few months a lot of time has been spent on learning the names of the numbers up to 20, along with addition and subtraction. To make this a fun activity, we often do "cookie math". Two children come up and sit next to a large rug. I spread out 10-15 juice lids of the rug. We pretend that these lids are cookies. I then ask them to guess how many cookies will be left if one child eats three cookies and the other eats four. Lots of hands go up as the children try to figure out the answer. After everyone has had a chance to guess, the two selected children pretend to eat the "cookies" and we then count how many are left over.
In a similar manner, we have also been learning the names of the upper and lower case letters. As the children have become familiar with the letter names, we have also been learning the letter sounds. We take out the moveable alphabet and sound out the names of animals, objects in the classroom, and anything that the children are interested in. This gives them the confidence to try to sound out words to write in their journals every day. After we have done a learning activity together, the children raise their hands to tell me what individual activity they would like to start with. Sometimes I direct them away from an activity that they have been doing for a long time. Other times I suggest something that would be good for them to work on. Often I allow them to do a fun activity first if they can tell me a "hard" activity that they will do later. Most children now realize that each day they need to do several "hard" games mixed in with easy and relaxing ones.
In this way kindergartners are learning very difficult math concepts by touching, carrying, and counting the beads. Ask your child to give you a tour of our bead cabinet in the classroom. You'll be amazed.
You have probably noticed a big difference at home as most of the children are starting to sound out words and add these words to their pictures. For some children writing consists of the first letter of the most important words that they are trying to spell. For instance, if they wanted to say, "A big bear is next to my house" they might write "B B H" for big, bear and house. As they become more sophisticated at sounding out words, they add the last sound. "B B H" becomes "BG BR HS". Slowly, you will see more words as well as more sounds in each word. Eventually you would see "A BEG BAR EZ NAKS TO MI HOWS". As they start reading, these words move closer and closer to standard spelling, so that by the time children are in third grade most words are spelled correctly. Another factor that makes reading children's writing such a challenge for us adults is that most children have not learned to put a space between their words. For instance, the previous sentence about the bear would be spelled "ABEGBAREZNAKSTOMIHOWS". This could obviously be quite a challenge to read. As soon as they seem to grasp the concept of a word, we do try to teach the children to put their finger after each word so that they are forced to leave a space. However, children do not usually really grasp this concept until they are well into the first grade.