Week 17: Holiday Wrap Up!

Mark Those Calendars!

  • Classroom Workdays: I’m planning on going into the classroom and would love holidaysome help to fix some things up, get more organized, take down holiday decorations, steam clean the carpets (anyone willing to lend one?), and string up the lotus lights (anyone tall and handy???). Dates I’m looking at are the following: Wednesday December 28, Thursday December 29, and Monday January 2. Will you please email me if you’re available for any/all dates?  I will notify the kinder email list by the end of this week, hopefully, which dates are chosen (NOTE: January 3rd is a definite date, as kinder teachers are meeting that afternoon and will be onsite). Thanks!
  • Progress Reports Coming! Winter reports are due January 27, 2017 and I’ve already started writing them. They are a different format than D2 parents are accustomed to, because the D2 changed the template, this year, to make all the reports the same school wide. If you have any questions or concerns you’d like to address while I’m wading through your children’s assessments and work, please feel free to email me! I will respond within 48-72 hours, during break.
  • Mid-Year Reflection Meetings: In January, I’ll have mid-year reflection meetings with children to look at our goals for the year, discuss progress made, and next-steps to take. It is a time to get children’s feedback before finalizing their reports. Please sign up HERE for a time slot for your child to meet 1-on-1 with me! Thanks!
  • Community Snack Schedule:  The week back from break is the Carroll family. Please, use the snack signup genius here to sign up for a week to bring snack. Let the Snack Coordinator  Kudsana (kkizaraly@yahoo.com) know if you need special accommodations or are unable to fulfill your commitment. And a BIG thank you to the Stitt and Johnson families for snack last week!
  • FUTURE Parent Meeting Dates:  Wednesday Jan 25th, Skipping February (short month, too many conflicts), Wednesday March 22nd, Wednesday April 26th, Wednesday May 24th, and Wednesday June 14th.
  • Winter Break: December 19th-January 6th…see you next year!
  • Field Trip #5: We are working with Steel’s dad, Alex, to make this happen. We’re hoping to go to the Second Harvest Food Pantry in January, as an extension of our homelessness unit. Details to come once we have worked out a date for the trip with the site. Thanks for your patience!

Field Trip to Christmas in The Park

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Weekly Highlights

  • Parent Meeting #4: We had a very successful parent meeting discussing what body safety in kindergarten means as well as the activities and conversations kids have had at school and at home regarding the homelessness unit. Please visit the Welcome & Downloads page to see the meeting minutes. Thank you!
  • Field Trip #4:  Wednesday December 14, 2016, we took the Light Rail to Christmas in

    Cooking: Latke prep peeling potatoes!

    the Park in San JoseAlso, our class sponsored a tree to decorate and we visited it! The children walked around exploring and looking for different objects with their scavenger hunt booklets. Then, we enjoyed a nice to-go snack with some hot cocoa (thanks to Jada’s dad, Tommy!)

  • Cooking: Arielle helped kids make YUMMY latkes on Monday and then we fried them up in the classroom on Tuesday! Christine G. helped us make FRESH apple sauce, too. Children peeled potatoes and diced apples like experts 🙂 They also ALL tried and devoured the latkes we made!
  • Kinder Holiday Party: Fun filled activities in every K/TK classroom for kids in class on Thursday December 15th 10:30-12:30pm. Children made cotton ball snowmen pictures, played dreidel games to win gelt, played with fake snow, made paper reindeer hats, decorated cookies, made picture frames, and play ring toss on Rudolph the cardboard box reindeer! It was a festive event with holiday music and happy children!
  • Friday’s PJ & Movie Day: The whole kinder pod dressed up in PJs and enjoyed Curious

    One student’s Snurtch!

    George: A Very Monkey Christmas, complete with popcorn!

  • The Snurtch: We read The Snurtch which is about an invisible monster that seems the cause of the character in the story making poor choices in school with her body and words. She learns to control her impulses, though, and teaches the snurtch how to be better to herself and others. In the end, everyone has a snurtch and the reality is we all have moments where our body makes a choice without thinking and it feels like we’re out of control. However, we are still responsible for our actions even when they may not have been intended and we have the power to control “the snurtch” in all of us 🙂 Children broke up into small groups to talk about times when they felt a “snurtch moment.” Then, everyone had a chance to draw their snurtches. Many illustrated moments when they felt the “snurtch” was around (wrestling,

    Holiday Party: Cookie decorating was in Room 7!

    yelling at someone, not listening, throwing things, etc.) We had to have a reflective conversation post-recess, though, reiterating that we were still responsible for our actions and couldn’t just blame the snurtch (…I’m sure you can imagine how putting the onus on an imaginary being might happen at this age!)

  • NEW Bathroom Agreements: We discussed these at kinder sing as a whole pod. Unfortunately, children have been abusing the bathroom space by peeing on the floor, pushing all the soap out of dispensers onto the flor, unrolling all the toilet paper onto the floor or clogging toilets with it, flushing toys down the toilet and flooding the bathrooms, writing on the mirrors or soaping up mirrors, and other inappropriate behaviors. We were running poor Salvador ragged and it was so unfair and disrespectful to everyone in the pod! So, teachers had to come up with some new rules. Please review them with your child.
  • BUBBLE SPACES – A Body Safety Reminder: We continued our bubble space language from the book we read called  51ui8ihmrrl-_sy446_bo1204203200_Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook.  We continued practiced personal space bubbles in line, on the rug, and during games. They learned that the bubble can be bigger or smaller depending on the situation and who we are with, but no matter what we never want to “pop” someone’s bubble space. Please help my efforts by talking with your child about appropriate ways to use his/her body in class, respect body boundaries of others, and to speak up or tell a grown up if he/she experiences any uncomfortable behavior. Thanks!
  • Just-Right Reading! Each morning, parents can help kids choose leveled books to take home and practice reading with children. Please be sure to return the books and put them in the proper bins!
  • Homelessness Unit: We continued exploring the topic of homelessness this week

    Story Workshop answered this question about homelessness: How can we help?

    and we asked the children how we could help. Many children wanted to give money, donate clothing or food. Byron came up with the idea of making a kit for the homeless of items needed and having it ready to give to them.

  • Story Workshop: How can we help the homeless? This was the question and I asked
    children to draw a picture of what they would do if they had unlimited resources. Many came up with stories where they bought the homeless a home or gave them money or food or clothing. Some even let the person sleep at their house. The innocence of their age is so visible in these stories and pictures. I actually asked
  • Science: We further explored solids vs. liquids with the ingredients that make play dough. We also continued with salt dough and completing circuits.
  • img_0320

    Lego Robotics exploration!

    1-on-1 Reading: I continued taking kids 1-on-1 to practice reading and work on
    sight words during Quiet Time. It’s been going well so far! I can take about 2 kids a day.

  • Lego Robotics: Thanks to Julie (Sadie’s mom) for bringing in lego robotics kits for children to explore and helping them understand some of the engineering elements involved with gears and pulleys!
  • Handwriting: More practice with Handwriting without Tears and writing letters with curves and lines, as well as numbers 1-30.
  • Goodbyes & Hellos: Children are still thinking about what to give Guido as a goodbye. However, we will have a new female student come January. So, I’m hoping we can get some much needed closure for the kiddos in time to warmly welcome our new friend!
  • Double Bubble Map: We used our double bubble map to continue comparing and

    Math: Dice games and number practice

    discussing WANTS vs. NEEDS in our conversation about homelessness. I showed pictures of various items and children would talk about why their arguments for the items being wants or needs and then vote on which way to sort them.

  • Math: We marked off our own December calendars, played a dice game from last week called Connect Four, played two new dice games called Roll & Draw A Gingerbread Boy or Girl and Roll-A-Snowman, and practiced handwriting and number recognition with numbers 1-30.
  • P.E.: Talked about bubble space in sports and the classroom using hula hoops to compliment our classroom focus on body boundaries and personal space awareness.
  • Thank You! Thank you for the lovely tokens of appreciation many of you gave this week. I love teaching your little ones and felt very honored by the generosity of heart that I encountered in honor of the holidays!

Social Awareness: Discussing Homelessness

What do we know? What do we want to know?

What changes our thinking?

Two weeks ago, we began talking about homelessness. It was so interesting what children


Logan’s ideas for how to help

thought about homelessness, what causes it, where they see it, what they wondered about. If you’d like to refresh yourselves with their ideas, please see last week’s blog HERE and if you’re curious about their discussion on WANTS vs. NEEDS please click HERE.

This week we continued thinking about examples of WANTS vs. NEEDS (family, job, money, toiletries, etc) and we began the more important topic at this point, advocacy. I asked them point blank how knowing all of this information made us feel.  “It makes me feel sad,” “Disappointed,” “Kinda mad,” “It makes me wish I could give them $100 and they could go buy a house and not be homeless anymore.” So, this kick-started our discussion: How can we help?

Byron was so excited to share his idea. He talked with his parents talked about homelessness at home and wanted to think of a way to give back. Many children said they


Thinking about our story: How would you help a person less fortunate?

wanted to donate clothing, food, or money. Byron wanted to make a little kit of things they needed to give them whenever he saw someone homeless. The class LOVED that idea and I happened to already have a video of this exact idea, to show them!

After seeing the video, I asked children to write and/or draw how they would help the homeless if they could. These fictional story depictions really illustrate the childlike innocence kindergartners have, which highlights the most ideal version of helping: letting them borrow your car, inviting them over for dinner, giving them the top bunk of your bunk bed. We actually haven’t covered all the causes of homelessness,  like drugs/alcohol for example, in an effort to maintain a bit of this innocence. However, I have made it clear that for their safety they shouldn’t approach a homeless person unless they’re with an adult and that adult says it’s okay. One child brought up how some people might spend the money on bad things and when I said, “Well, sometimes people put things in their body that aren’t good for them and can affect their brain and make them not think so clearly,” before I could go forward a child interrupted, “OH I KNOW! LIKE CANDY!” and I just left it there. That’s where they’re at in terms of this concept. I figure, when they’re older and they find out the truth. They’ll look back and fill in the blanks themselves and figure out, “Oh, she did NOT mean candy!

Later on, I asked if anyone wanted to make a list of items the homeless would need for the kits they wanted to do and Genevieve spearheaded this charge, wanting to write down her ideas and look up ideas with me online. We also asked people in class during exploration what they needed to feel healthy and taken care of to increase our list. Many said they thought we should donate things that make them feel good and some had very practical


Brainstorming ideas together and writing their stories, with illustrations first!

ideas, too, “Watermelon…an iPad with an energy pack charger…a first aid kit…oat bars…clothing…socks…*various kinds of fruit*…a phone…croissants, etc.” One child said, “I only want to help their brain, to help it grow. I don’t want to give them money.” This was an interesting statement that sparked a
wonderful conversation among peers about what it means to ‘help your brain grow.’ Was it by having conversations with homeless people? Was it by giving them games or tools to help them think? Was it by giving them healthy food to help their brain think better? Was it encouraging them not to have so much candy (hah!)? So many possibilities!  We never really settled on one.

Although we are still taking donations into late January for the Second Harvest Food Bank, children are excited to make these kits for the homeless, when we return. PLUS, Jenell (Byron’s mom) has agreed to spearhead this provided we help by collecting needed items. A list will go out soon as to what those will be. Maybe you can talk with your child over the break about things he/she thinks your family could donate 🙂  Thank you!


Science- Solids, Liquids, and Engineering–Oh My!

We continued talking about solids and liquids as we continued our topic from last week: play dough!

Guided Activity #1 – Liquid to Solid (Christine) 
Last week, playdough making was more open-ended and designed to allow the kids to img_0344really explore the materials.   This week, www tried to have a bit more structure.  We started with three of the ingredients (water, oil, and salt) already added to a cup and have the kids add spoonfuls of flour – one at a time.  Before adding the next spoonful, Christine had the kids make observations on the consistency.   The idea was that the kids would be able to see the final product move from a liquid state to a solid state.  We would then record their observations on a simple graph.

Our liquids to solids chart!

The results: Christine originally tried to get the kids to record their observations after each spoonful regarding whether the mixture in their cup was a liquid or a solid.  For the most part, this didn’t work well.  A bit of it was probably because some weren’t sure how to define a liquid/solid (which we talked more about after P.E. with diagrams and a video).  But, also, at least half of the kids just wanted to add spoonfuls of flour into their cup.  It’ll be hard to get the kids to do focused analysis at this age, as they’re just really excited to explore the materials, which is ok.

With that said, there were definitely some kids she felt could do mid-experiment analysis if they had one-on-one attention.  This might not be possible to do at school, but may be something that parents could do at home (similar to how we have kids bring a book to read at home every night since I obviously can’t do 1-on-1 reading with everyone, everyday).

Guided Activity #2 – Playdough and conduction (Sheila)


Circuits and salt dough!

This is a repeat of last week’s activity, but not all the kids had a chance to do it.  We had
two circuit boards that were set up to help demonstrate how playdough conducts electricity.  One of them used an LED light and the other used a buzzer.  Kids could try to determine whether different shapes of playdough work better (e.g. what if you make a long skinny noodle of dough vs. a short fat noodle).
Guided Activity #3 – Play Dough Engineering Challenge (Kate)
NOTE: At this stage, the focus is more on the create and improve steps (vs. the planning/brainstorming steps).  Children continue to be exposed to the engineering process. We want to encourage kids to test and make focused changes to their designs if they don’t work at first.  Although children were encouraged to make a story from their exploration, this particular challenge was so thought-consuming that students focused far more on the idea of trial and error in their building than creating a story line.

Engineering Challenges!

Children had a chance to try and build with play dough and cut up stirrers. They had two challenges: Build a tower taller than you or a bridge across two chairs. Unfortunately, we think the playdough/stirrers building was actually a bit too ambitious.  The use of play dough as the joint added an additional critical thinking step (how big should the ball of dough be, what shape should it be, etc).  Many children struggled with the play dough being to heavy


Trying to build UP!

and their structures falling apart. However, they came up with creative ways of building up using a higher ratio of stirrers to play dough. I still want to revisit tower building, but maybe we will do something like marshmallows and toothpicks, so that kids can focus and work on structural stability. Live and learn!

We’re looking into the following  list of different structure building activities: http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/best-structure-building-activities-kids/. We think we can still use straws and playdough to create 2-D and simple 3-D shapes (and it still would work to make molecules).
Solid vs. Liquid Discussion (After PE)

As we know, there’s a lot of confusion about what defines a solid and what defines a liquid.  We think most kids see solids as “rocks” and other hard things.  During the post-science


This particular video helped the kids to visualize the properties of matter.

discussion, I heard one child say “Solid things break if you drop it.”  Another mentioned that “yarn was bendy and mushy” (not sure if she was making a case for yarn being a solid or a liquid). After watching a video talking about the states of matter and what properties make a liquid a liquid and a solid a solid, we demonstrated: “A liquid will take the shape of whatever container it is poured into, and a solid stays it’s same shape.”  This was tricky, because things like sand or flour have tiny grains and when many tiny grains are together, they LOOK like they take the shape of the container. So, Sheila helped us think about flour like the marbles we worked with before, for density: “1 marble is a solid or a liquid?


Trying to make a solid structure using solids that ultimately didn’t hold up so well with the smaller stirrers!


Okay, but if I put a bunch of marbles in a cup, it looks like they take the shape of the cup…but do the marbles  keep their shape? (“Yes!”) Do they turn into a liquid? (“No..Yahh…No”) Well, who knows where flour comes from? (“WHEAT!”) Yes! It gets ground into teeny tiny pieces, but it’s still a solid. So, flour and salt and other solids that are ground up from large objects into tiny solids are all still solids when they’re ground down.” This concept was particularly tricky with salt vs. flour, because when you add water to salt, it dissolves and changes form – where as adding water to flour, it still maintains it’s overall structure and becomes more like solid particles floating in a viscous state (kind of hard to explain!)

One thing we are thinking of doing to clarify the whole solid vs. liquid dilemma is setting up a station similar to the one I set up with density.  There was a bunch of items with a piece of tape down the middle of the table and the kids had to sort by those that would float and those that would sink.  Similarly, we can have the kids sort by “liquids” and “solids”.  We can have some obvious options, but then throw in some curveballs.  This might include:


Trying to distinguish when play dough mixture becomes a “solid” after adding so many spoonfuls of flour.


  • yarn
  • sand, flour, grains, anything small that fills a container
  • cotton balls or foam
  • playdough
  • ketchup
  • maple syrup
  • fidget ooze (tactile putty)
(**If anyone has more baby food jars, we could use them to put the items in there.)
 The first four options are all solids, obviously but would hopefully expand the general viewpoint of “solids are hard things like rocks”.  The last three options are all technically non-newtonian fluids and they would be categorized as a liquid, because they all (eventually) take the shape of the container.  We’ll be moving into those after the break.  Also, I want to say a big thank you to Christine for always giving such thorough explanations of science experiences and planning processes!

Emergency Parent Sub Protocol:

You are responsible for finding your OWN sub. Do not expect Deepa, our classroom coordinator, to handle that. Also, parents are not allowed to pay other parents for shifts (because it’s volunteering). Instead, you may swap shifts or offer to cover for someone else on another day. Please follow the steps, below:

  1. Please send an SOS email out to the class on the yahoo group, CCing me.
  2. After sending the email, please call through the emergency sub list, below.
  3. Follow up with me regarding who I can expect in your place or tell me if no one has responded. I plan activities based on the parent support available for each shift. Your absence can completely throw off curriculum plans. Please be responsible and respectful with your shift. Thank you!
  • Jennifer Coscarart (Tuesdays 2nd shift & some Thursdays)
  • Doreen Stitt (Tuesdays 2nd shift & some Thursdays)
  • Akiko Fukuhara (3rd shifts) 408-614-9793
  • Angela Henshall (Thursday 2nd shift)
  • Christine Ging (always around Thursday morning, though I may be in Rm 12)
  • Lonnell Graham (408)-836-0385
  • David Ramos (408) 393-4456 (Thursdays after 1pm)

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