Friday, April 21, 2017

Kindergarten Fun!

Kindergarten holds a special place in my heart and always will. This is the grade I completed my student teaching in and the grade where I started my teaching career.  Kids of all ages are sponges and will learn anything that a teacher is willing to teach them, but in Kindergarten, their sponges are in full force and absorbing any and everything! Kindergarten is where kids learn what school is all about, essentially this is the beginning of their “school career” and where teachers get to show kids how much fun school can be while learning!  Although I was sad for my friend and co-worker, Mrs. Tammy, to leave last year, I was excited to get a chance to be back in kindergarten teaching and we have had a blast learning this year! 

Here are a few highlights of some practices that were implemented this year and will continue to be implemented at CDS in kindergarten and other elementary grades in the future…

Coastal Day School has plans to expand in the very near future and a goal that we have at CDS is to implement the practice of “looping.”  This is the idea that teachers will teach their same group of students two years in a row.  So if your child is in kindergarten with me one year then the following year they would also be in first grade with me and then move onto a new teacher for 2nd and 3rd grade.  You might ask, what are the benefits of looping?  Well, I actually got to do this with 3 of my students this year because I had them last year in pre-k and they stayed at CDS for kindergarten!  I got to pick up where I left off with them and I already knew their strengths and areas they needed to improve.   The growth I have seen in each one of them is tremendous.  All of us have really grown to understand each other.  They knew what I expected and came in from day one ready to learn!  For example, last year one of my students absolutely hated school and would not hesitate to tell me this and told me multiple times that what we were doing was not fun.  After working very hard for their approval and having things turn around towards the end of last year, I was excited to be able to see this child continue to flourish in kindergarten. I didn’t give up and neither did the child.  Now, after two years of hard work, this child comes in with a smile on their face, eager to learn, has fun every day, and doesn’t hesitate to give me a hug in the morning!  I would consider this a huge success and the growth that all teachers want to see!  And I would also say that if that child started completely over with a new teacher that knew nothing about them then the child probably would not have grown by leaps and bounds like they did! How awesome would it be to implement this successful practice at CDS in the future that forms strong bonds between a child, their teacher and the parents!

Have you ever heard of S.T.E.M.?   Well S.T.E.M. stands for science, technology, engineering and math.  Often times these areas can get overlooked in education especially in early education because there is such a big emphasis on literacy.  Now don’t get me wrong, literacy is extremely important!  However, we can integrate all of the subjects and still be very successful when teaching.  I have had the opportunity to implement many S.T.E.M. activities and teaching methods this year in kindergarten and the kids have really enjoyed this.  S.T.E.M. activities and teaching methods are hands-on and many are inquiry based.  These activities challenge the kids to think in ways that worksheets or sitting at the carpet, listening to me teach, do not. Often times S.T.E.M. activities keep the kids engaged longer and allow them to have more in depth discussions with each other of what is going on in front of them.  Currently, I am in a master’s program at UNCW and conducted an action research project on the effects of S.T.E.M. teaching methods and activities in the classroom versus the traditional ways of teaching and the results were astounding and showed that kids were more successful and less likely to get off task when presented with activities that were hands-on and S.T.E.M based.   I have really enjoyed watching how the kids interact with these activities this year and look forward to continuing to implement S.T.E.M. based learning at Coastal Day School in the future!  I will include some pictures below on some of the S.T.E.M. activities throughout the year!

Overall, I would say we have had a very successful year in kindergarten.  I sure did have a smart, sweet, and caring class that kept me laughing every day and I am going miss all of them!  Next year, Mrs. Caitlin will be taking over teaching kindergarten because my child will be in that class and I will be going back to pre-k; however, I am very excited for Finley to have Mrs. Caitlin again and be able to “loop” with her!  And I am very excited to teach the upcoming 4-year-old class! I know Mrs. Kalyn and Mrs. Stephanie have them well prepared for pre-k!  I hope everybody has a great rest of the school year and a FUN and relaxing summer!

~Mrs. Natalie

 Building shapes with toothpicks and marshmallows!  The toothpicks represented the sides and the march mellows represented the vertices!

 Learning to work together and make shapes by using one piece of yarn! Team building was in full effect!

  We had some LEGO lovers in class so for the 100th day of school they had a challenge to build anything of their choice with 100 LEGOS!

  How many cups does it take to make a tower from the floor to the ceiling of the classroom?

 Each group had 100 cups and had to design a tower!  We had lots of variety!

  What happens if we take and drop colored water on ice?  Will the colors mix when the ice melts?

 How does it rain?  Well we decide to experiment and make our own cloud and rain! The class saw that once the clouds can’t hold any more moisture they burst and the rain starts to fall!

 Examining glitter tornadoes during our weather unit!

  What can you do with a bunch of empty Easter eggs?  Their imaginations were at work here!

  Painting with marbles and learning how to make different lines (horizontal, vertical and diagonal) to get the result that they wanted! 

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