Friday, October 12, 2018

Spirit Week!

Twin Day
What an exciting and energetic week we had! Things kicked off on a SUPER note on Monday, with many of the kindergarteners sporting capes and funky socks. Tuesday was twin day, Wednesday was crazy hair day, and on Thursday, the kids rocked life with Stuffies and Onesies/Pajamas! It was so fun to see all the different outfits and costumes and crazy hair; what a fun way to show Creekside pride!

Tomato Soup Sampling
In the midst of Spirit Week enthusiasm, we still had plenty of other things going on. Kindergarteners had the opportunity to sample tomatoes in various forms through our Harvest of the Month program. One of our parents made delicious tomato soup, we tasted tomato wedges, and delicious caprese toothpicks with homegrown basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Thank you to our parents who stepped in to help with this for October!

We also experienced our first full Shirley Canyon hike with no rain (yay!). Our project this week was to create nature bracelets by collecting different leaves, rocks, moss, sticks, etc. and attaching those items to the sticky side of duct tape "bracelets". Our hike was perfect--cool weather, partly sunny skies, and fresh air, while the students' excited voices floated along the path. Our focus this week in Social Emotional Learning was to create an "Imagination Frame", which students definitely applied to our hike this week. I overheard students creating their own languages, zapping things with sticks attached to their bracelets (DNA detectors) to discover the DNA of the animals in our region ("We're looking for tigers in the area, Ms. Maryn!"), and creating nature bouquets and magic wands with sticks, leaves, flowers, and moss. The kinders' creativity blossoms on the trail, and I can easily foresee our Shirley Canyon expeditions as the highlight of the week for all of us. Thank you to all the parent volunteers who came along, helped with students along the trail, and took pictures! It was a fun and crazy week, and we look forward to more fun next week. Until then!

Friday, October 5, 2018


This week began with exploring water in one avenue--through artistic expression with watercolors--and ended with another--hiking through nature in the sprinkling rain. These kindergarteners are QUITE the artists! We read one of my favorite books by Philip Reynolds, The Dot, which talks about how children can take pride in doing their best on work and how that ownership and pride affects the beauty of what they create. Then we discovered how to use watercolors and painted our own dots on official watercolor paper. Watercolor paints are also a new option for students to use during Choice Time at the end of the day; many students chose to paint this week in the afternoons.

I love seeing how each piece turned out differently, and it was also encouraging to see how each child enjoyed exploring watercolors. One student discovered how to create new colors: "Look Ms. Maryn! If I mix blue and yellow, I got green!" Another child turned to me and said excitedly, "Look! The water turned brown!" When I asked why they thought the water turned brown, they replied, "Because! When you mix ALL the colors together, it just kinda turns to brown." I loved seeing how their questioning and curious natures emerged through a simple watercolor activity.

Another highlight from this week was the rain! On Thursday, the kids spent most of snack recess and all of lunch and lunch recess inside, so it was a relief when the precipitation tapered off enough for us to do a short, quick hike by Shirley Canyon. Hopefully the weather next week will allow for lengthened time outside, but the time we spent out in nature was beautiful. Kids were each given a paint swatch and were tasked with finding colors in nature that could match their samples.

They eagerly scampered along the trail, exclaiming, "LOOK! This pink matches the rock!" or "I found a leaf that matches the yellow! Now I need to find one to match THIS color!" A giant thank-you to all the parents who helped out with this. An idea to further extend this activity at home would be to have the kids create a picture or nature collage that places the grass, leaves, sticks, etc., next to the paint color swatches. I can't wait to see what next week brings! :)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Farmer's Market Fun!

A giant "Thank You!" to all of our parent volunteers and helpers with our North Lake Tahoe Farmer's Market excursion on Thursday morning! It was a highlight of the week and a huge success! I really enjoyed seeing the students get excited about the Farmer's Market experience, and dive into the scavenger hunt for the morning. They greatly utilized the giant playground space that's available as well, spending their time playing zombies and tag and pirates and climbing the rock wall with adult help. What a fun and active way for us to grow our community closer together, both amongst our parents and the students.

Special Me project
In addition, this week we began celebrating our first Special Me! Our first Special Me student brought in lots of pictures, and his parents came in to read a book and do a special craft--making popsicle-stick tigers. The kids loved it! We're excited to learn more about another student with a new Special Me next week.

Finally, we welcomed autumn with an art leaf project. Students traced out different kinds and shapes of autumn leaves and learned about warm and cool colors. They used warm colors in oil pastel to decorate their leaves, which are now proudly displayed in our classroom windows. One of the kids' favorite books this week was called Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. In this story, Molly Lou Melon learns to stand tall and proud in the world with her uniqueness and inspires kids to stand tall by being kind to others, no matter how others treat them. It was a great way to wrap up our Social Studies unit on classroom rules; I encourage you to ask your child about the story!

Thank you for all your hard Independent Study work with your students as well! It's been amazing to see students already increasing independence in their work and relationships. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fun-CENTERed Learning

Enjoying Morning Meeting together
"Look Ms. Maryn! I made a C!"
What a fantastic week of beautiful, fall-ish weather and lots of fun learning! This week, we focused a lot on centers-based learning. This is a fun way for the kids to stay engaged in their learning in small groups, and it helps them practice communication, cooperation, and builds stamina. Students got to stamp the letters of their names, roll out alphabet letters using Playdoh, explore pattern blocks and puzzles, and got to pick out new books for their book boxes. They also reached the 3 minute mark for sustained silent reading time! Our goal as a class is to be able to sit and read for 15 minutes. Once the kids reach this goal, they will get to decorate their book boxes with special markers. They are very excited!

Guest Reader
In addition this week, we enjoyed celebrating one of our students' birthdays, and the kids readily welcomed his mom into our classroom community to have her read a story to us called Here We Are. We read more books that focused our attention on what kinds of classroom rules we want to have in order to keep our community safe, welcoming, and kind. The kids especially like the book No, David!, and I loved hearing them discuss the themes of kindness and celebrating differences while we read the book The Cow that went OINK!.

Our mini books of the poem "White"
Finally, this week we started what will be a morning routine: learning a new poem/song that we sing each day and do activities that build up throughout the week. Ask your student about the poem we learned this week, about the color white! They especially loved the line "Ghosts are white and they say 'Boo!'"

Letter 'A' Crowns with friends
Have a beautiful weekend, get outside, and enjoy independent study! See you all on Monday!

Hard at work!

Playdoh letters

Friday, September 14, 2018

Three for Three

We've done it! Week three, and our first very full week of very full days, is complete! The kids are definitely hitting their stride (and so is their teacher :)) It's been so enjoyable watching them care for each other and get excited about our learning. This week's highlights included extra outside activity time, doing pattern block puzzles, counting activities in math, starting our read-to-self time with the help of Ms. Monkey and Mr. Fox, and experiencing our first Reading Buddies time with the 8th graders! We are hoping to make this a weekly tradition this year. It's so fun to see the kindergarteners come alive with excitement when they see their buddies, and it's so precious to see how the 8th graders embrace their time and leadership role with the younger buddies.

The students also learned how to use playdoh responsibly and constructively this week. We will be using playdoh for lots of different things, including forming letters and numbers and using it as a calming tool if the kids feel upset.

Finally, we delved more deeply into our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) this week, through the reading of Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days and doing daily check-ins of how we are feeling. This builds self-awareness in the kids, gives them concrete tools to attach to abstract concepts, and also encourages empathy in our classroom community. I'm excited to keep working with this curriculum this year and see how they embrace it further! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Math Centers

Reading Buddies!

More Reading Buddy time!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Full-day Kinder is here!

Whew! First week of full days: complete! The kids fully embraced this change and are settling into our routine for each day. They were most excited about earning CHOICE time at the end of the day on both Wednesday and Thursday! This is a guided exploration time for the students, where they are given 3-4 choices of different activities to take part in, from working on artistic pursuits, to puzzles, reading books, games and building with blocks.

The kids especially seemed to enjoy their first Spanish lesson with Ms. Monica, our Spanish teacher. She taught them how to say "Me llamo" and "Como se llama" with a clapping and rhythm-oriented song. They loved it.

This week, the students also met our resident puppets, Mr. Fox and Ms. Monkey, the two superhero readers who will teach the kindergarteners about how to read to self, read to someone, and work on sitting in one spot during our quiet reading times every day. Once the whole class can make it up to 15 minutes of reading time, Ms. Monkey told the kids they will get to decorate their individual book boxes with special markers!

At the end of the day on Thursday, students got to meet with their 4th and 8th grade buddies (they LOVED this!) to circle up for Appreciation Thursdays. What a wonderful tradition at Creekside, and a fantastic note on which to end this week. Enjoy the weekend and the beautiful weather, and I look forward to seeing everyone next week!

Exploring at Choice Time
Pizza Thursdays was a hit!

Our very first Creekside Community Appreciation Circle!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Planting Seeds for Success

Wow! This first week flew by--it was a wonderful chance to start getting to know all of you wonderful families and kids with whom I get to learn and grow this year! Our first two days were spent mostly learning what a day in kindergarten will be like! We start each morning with a Morning Meeting, complete with greeting each other, sharing something about ourselves, an activity to get some wiggles out, and a morning message. Next week, we will also add our "calendar time" to the morning routine, complete with a "Days of the Week" song, and we'll also start to keep track of how many days we've been in school.

We learned how to circle up with our "Time for us to Circle up" song, how to sit in our "Rug Rows", and how to use quick, quiet, and safe feet to line up or come to the rug. So much of kindergarten is about learning how to follow directions quickly and quietly to set the stage for success in the rest of their school careers! I can tell these students were proud of their accomplishments when they were able to follow directions; they all especially seem to love the "Freeze Game"--if you want to have a special school conversation, have your child tell you about that this weekend!

I think our favorite times this week were snack, recess, and when we got to explore math counters and read the story Red, about a blue crayon whose name is Red. After reading the story and connecting with the character,
students used crayons to draw 5 different objects, just like Red did when he found out his special ability to draw BLUE things!

Thank you again for a wonderful week, and for entrusting me with these young minds! This week I got a glimpse of the gifts, knowledge, and uniqueness that each student brings to our classroom community, and I loved getting to see that. That's my favorite part of my job--uncovering the talents and individual abilities each child brings, and encouraging them to grow and develop over the year. Have a fantastic and relaxing weekend, and I'll see you all bright and early at 8:30am on Tuesday next week!

Spirit Week!

Twin Day What an exciting and energetic week we had! Things kicked off on a SUPER note on Monday, with many of the kindergarteners sport...