Week 18: Back From Break And Ready To Rock(et Into Space)!

Mark Those Calendars!

  • Martin Luther King Junior Day: No School THIS Monday January 15, 2017.


    Science: Learning the purpose of a ‘model’ and what it represents!

  • Bring Items for Homelessness Care Kits: Please bring in any of the following items listed below this for Jenell to help children assemble the homelessness kits between, next week. We’re collecting to sort everything this week. Our goal is to make about 10 bags at least filled with the 16 items to be purchased, plus bookmarks of local resources and notes of encouragement made by the kids. Please help us accomplish this by contributing what you can. Thank you!
  • PSC Meeting: 6:30-8:00pm  (D2 Campus)
  • D2 Family Movie Night: Friday January 20, 2017 6:009:00pm
  • Lunar/Chinese New Year Kinder Pod Celebration & Parade: The teachers will provide a pod-wide celebration and parade for kinders to learn more about Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) on Friday January 27, 2017  10:30am-12:00pm.
  • 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,

    This week was RAINY! Cameron, Jada, and Maddie K. enjoy some puddle fun!

    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.

  • D2 Campus Work Day: Saturday January 28, 2017 9:00am3:00pm
  • 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 Blake family. Please, use the snack signup genius here to sign up for a week to

    Morning Message: Identifying vowels!

    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 Carroll family 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: Monday January 30th we are going to the Second Harvest Food Pantry in San Jose, as an extension of our homelessness unit. Details to come. Thanks for your patience!

Homelessness Care Kits

We talked a lot about community and how sometimes you feel caught off gaurd when you see someone who is homeless. You hesitate to give money, because you don’t know where its coming from, but you still want to help and model for our kids how to do that. Jenell (jenellnunan@gmail.com) and Byron are spearheading the Care Kits as a way to be and feel prepared, if we see someone homeless and we want to offer them something

. Kinders are assembling care kits next week, before our field trip to the pantry. Please, help us to meet this goal by bringing in items we need. You can find fairly inexpensive versions of most items at the dollar store, and food items and other things at CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. We will put our items in a gallon-sized zipper lock plastic bag and “present it” within a gift bag. Children will write and draw little pictures and notes to include, as well, for encouragement. Thank you so much for helping us making this project come into fruition. Please contact Jenell for any questions at jenellnunan@gmail.com!


Help us provide for the needs of others!

A typical Homelessness Care Kit consists of items like:

  • Water bottle
  • Socks
  • Tuna and crackers
  • Granola Bar or cereal bar
  • Fruit snack or applesauce cup
  • Crackers with peanut butter or cheese
  • Gift certificate to fast food
  • Hand wipes
  • Pack of Kleenex
  • Maxi pads (for women)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Nail clippers
  • Band Aids/first aid kit
  • Chapstick
  • Comb or small brush
  • Mints, cough drops or gum
  • Bookmarks with local resources and centers that can help (Amber)
  • Notes of encouragement (from kids and/or parents)

Weekly Highlights

  • Civil Rights Unit: We began talking about the climate surrounding two important key

    Art: Mixing colors together to make the SUN!

    players: Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks (better known as the ‘mother of the civil
    rights movement.’) They’re fascinated with this topic and the idea of fairness!

  • Science: We talked about the sense of smell  and the solar system! We discussed what a model is and why its helpful when trying to understand something larger. Hope you enjoyed our yummy Marshmallow replicas of the solar system and specific planets!
  • Art: We read a book about the solar system and how the planets orbit around the sun.

    Art: Sthanika’s finished product!

    Then, they made the Sun using paint, cellophane, and our fingers to blend red, yellow, and white together! The squishy, yet minimally messy, sensory piece was well-received 🙂

  • NEW Phonics Games: We played 2 new phonics game called Spelling ladders and Hang Man. For the Spelling Ladders game, children guessed how to spell a word and we wrote the letters in as they guessed. Correct guesses got to lay down on the floor and become a part of the ladder that stretched from the library to the door, and incorrect guesses to become branches on the ladder wherever they liked. This was a real crowd pleaser for gross motor purposes and learning!
  • Movie: As a treat, we watched The Magic School Bus episode Lost in Outer Space on a rainy recess day to compliment our learning of the solar system (and to keep dry!)
  • 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

    Angela helps George, Cameron, Oscar, and Logan with the Addition Dominoes game!

    in the proper bins!

  • 1-on-1 Reading: From now on, I will take emerging and beginner readers (Fountas & Pinnell level A-G) 1-on-1 to practice reading and work on sight words during Quiet Time.
    Also, we began our new guided reading groups on Mondays and Fridays for mid-range readers (Fountas & Pinnell Level H and above) and high readers (Fountas & Pinnell Level N and above).  Teacher Carol will take them into the TK room during Quiet Time. Book Clubs are coming soon for all levels!
  • img_1082

    Donovan plays Dozen Domino Dilemma…and quickly figures out it’s better to be Player 2!

    Handwriting: More practice with Handwriting without Tears and writing letters with curves and lines, as well as numbers 1-31 for January’s calendar and some math computation

  • Math: We marked off our own January calendars started Math Workshop using 20 piece and 100 piece abacuses. Children generally cycled through the tables at their own pace and chose where they wanted to explore next. We played 3 new domino games called Clockominoes (matching domino sums to the hours on the clock), Domino Addition (adding dots to find the sum and filling in numbers to complete equations), and Dozen Domino Dilemma (using greater than >, less than <, and equal sign = to determine a domino’s relation to the number 6).  Children also started a new math computation puzzle series called Kakooma math, in which children have to find the numbers that add up to a sum available in each of the 4 boxes and then bring all 4 sums down to add together for the final answer. Additionally, on Friday, they had a ‘bonus’ table of Addition Bingo which was a big hit!
  • P.E.

Kindergarteners Wrestle With Big Ideas: Civil Rights, Fairness, and A Myriad of ‘Why’ Questions


We began the week with books about diversity, caring for others, loving ourselves, and MLK.

Resources: Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr. by Jean Marzollo, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport , Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, Song –Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, MLK Tribute Video Shown and Explained during Kinder Sing

This week, I wanted children to begin to understand the weight and magnitude of the upcoming day off and why we celebrate this one famous person called Martin Luther King, Jr. I started priming them for the language they would hear (black only, white only, segregated)  by framing the socio-cultural climate of these historic times. I reminded them of when they did their handprints and we had a chance to see how different our skin tones were and name them ourselves. Then, I said there was a time when everyone was lumped together by either light skin or dark skin and they called people ‘white’ or ‘black’. Then, they used that separateness to separate people unfairly, and children piped in remembering TK conversations about who could use certain water fountains, libraries, schools, bathrooms, etc.

We read several books throughout the week and discussed (at length!) the bravery and courage involved in people of color and white allies mobilizing to boycott and peacefully protest using our words and not our fists.  We talked about how they got their strength through song and marched and did sit-ins. As we read more books about this topic, kids started to guess when the boycotts would happen and chant “BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT!” I taught them the meaning of boycott, which when you protest something unfair by not buying that product, or going to that store, or riding that bus. We did some examples with our classroom to make it concrete. I would say something and they had to guess if it was unfair. If it was unfair, they could say “BOYCOTT!” It worked well, because they boycotted against me taking away recess, water fountains, and having only kids with brown hair sit up front on the rug.
IMG_6102Children asked A LOT of questions about the laws, the people, segregation, children back then, protesting risks, and more. I told them the truth in an appropriate way and provided a safe space for them to unpack all their questions. My mantra is always ask ‘why’, and I have told them this repeatedly.  This is a topic that forces one to ask just that – because it doesn’t make sense to them (and it shouldn’t)! At one point, kids were so enthralled with a story about Rosa Parks that I tried to stop for lunch and they loudly refused to go. We had a picnic lunch on the rug, instead, and they sat for almost all of lunch recess listening to the end of the story and asking questions. If you’d like me to elaborate on any specific conversation points that came home, please email me.

Questions that came up (that I can remember!) and answers I gave or kids figured out:

  • If this is boycott, what’s a girlcott? There isn’t one 🙂
  • Why didn’t all the laws change at once? The laws were different from state to state and the Supreme Court had to knock one law down at a time, even after they said in 1954 that “separate was not equal” they still had to say later in the Brown vs. Board of Education that schools needed to be integrated. It took a really long time -10 years! (I’ll explain Jim Crow Laws later)
  • When the law changed that kids could go to school with each other, no matter what skin color they had, why would white people be so mean to Ruby Bridges and other kids like her? Because the law may have changed, but the people didn’t change – not right away.
  • Why did MLK get shot? People wanted to stop him from changing things (kid answer).  People didn’t like that he was black (kid answer). They thought if they shot the leader theyIMG_5914would stop the cause, but it wasn’t called the MLK movement. It was the civil rights movement, that means it was a lot bigger than one person. It was a lot of other people standing up together. So, they thought they could stop people of color from protesting for their rights by killing Dr. King, but the movement was bigger than him.  (my answer).
  • Did MLK’s family get killed? No, but people did bomb his house. No one was hurt, luckily.
  • Who bombed his house? Why did they bomb it?  White people part of a group that didn’t like what MLK was saying and tried to stop him.
  • Why did Rosa get arrested, she wasn’t doing anything wrong? She broke the law. She was sitting in the whites only section and refused to get up when the bus driver and officer asked her to. She was ‘tired’, she said. Tired of being mistreated.
  • Why did they stop riding the busses? Oh! They were boycotting! (kid answer) Yeah, because IMG_5906if you don’t ride then they don’t get money and then the business will close! (kid answer)
  • What does mobilize mean? It means to organize people, to get them into position to do something very important. (Kid response: Oh, I know what organize means! My mom helps me organize my room. I put everything where it needs to be.)
  • Why would the police help these mean people do this to black people? I’m going to say this many times, the job of the police officer is to uphold the law -even if the law is wrong.  There are always good people who make bad choices and bad people who make bad choices. I know some officers who actually quit the police force during that time because they didn’t think it was right what police were asked to do during the protests. Because police can’t change the law when they’re job is to protect it. (Kid response: My dad is police officer! Oh, I know this!  If you wanna change the law then you have to go be a lawyer and argue in court.)
  • Wait, wait who is that Emit Till boy? Why did he die? (His funeral came up in a book about Rosa and what inspired her to take a stand) He was a young boy from Chicago where I’m from who went to visit family down south. He whistled at a white woman in a store, which was okay back then in Chicago but it wasn’t okay in the south. It was disrespectful -and it’s also considered rude, now. (Kid response: Oh no, he just didn’t know the rules!!!) You’re, so 3 white men used their fists instead of their words and he didn’t getIMG_5908 help in time. So, he died. But that wouldn’t happen, now, because people can call for help for you and everyone can get help, now. (Kid response: Yeah, because the ambulance will come for you, now, no matter what color you are.)
  • Why was she tired of waiting at counters? What does that mean? Rosa Parks was referring to the custom back then in white only diners and restaurants. If you were black, even if you got to the counter first, they would serve all the white people behind you first and you last. Or some wouldn’t serve you at all. (Kid response: THAT’S SO UNFAIR! I WOULDN’T EAT THERE!) It was very frustrating. AND you couldn’t even sit at the counter, you had to go around back to get your food. So, people started to boycott by doing sit-ins at the counters, and not moving from the counter even when angry white people yelled, spat, and poured food and stuff all over them. They sat there for their rights, in protest. (Kid response: I think I’d be one of those people to go first because my skin is light -My answer: Well, you’re right would probably go first…or you could choose not to. You could take a stand by doing the right and fair thing -let the person of color ahead of you go first. A lot of white allies or friends of blacks did that in protest. You could choose to do that instead, too. -Ruby Bridges cam up here.)
  • Why did they sing that song Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around? They sang it because when they were marching or protesting, and often times the police and angry white citizens would try to stop them.   (Kid response: Yeah, they needed to sing to feel strong and brave, because they might get hurt.)

It’s never too early to teach children to think critically about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion as it pertains to current events, as well as its origins in history. These topics are palatable and digestible even at young ages, as long as the conversations and information is scaffolded appropriately and we ask the right questions. Framing the conversations is half the battle! The issue isn’t the content, necessarily, but how prepared we are to cover it and whether we can push past our fear or discomfort to do it. Together, I hope we continue to facilitate the critical and courageous conversations!

Science- Solar System Exploration!


Current Unit Science Books: Resources on space and weather for kids to reference at leisure


Sadie grabs a book to help her color in her solar system, accurately.

We began talking about the solar system! This week, we introduced the concept of a science model and how scientists use them to learn and share information.  We had a couple of physical models for the kids to look at, and we talked about how a model was different from the thing it was supposed to represent.  One child pointed out that the solar system model I had was super tiny, but that the solar system was very big.  They also discussed differences between the model of Mr. Bones (the skeleton) and their own skeleton system (“you can’t really see bones on a real person”) as well as a model of a lollipop vs. a real lollipop. The kids then had a chance to create their own solar system model using different sized marshmallows, food dye, and toothpicks/skewers.  There was also different styrofoam bases to choose from.  We provided research maerial (non-fiction books and the plastic solar system model).  The kids were responsible for choosing what size marshmallow to use to represent each planet, what color to paint the marshmallow, and where to place the marshmallow relative to other marshmallows.  When kids were finished, we asked them to explain their models and adults labelled their models.

Guided Activity #1 –  Building Marshmallow Solar Systems 

Tyler, Nakiya, and Henry trying to make the earth!

We had mini, large and jumbo size marshmallows, food dye ‘paint’, some toothpicks/skewers, and a couple styrofoam pieces.  We passed out different books with pictures of the solar system for kids to use as references while they worked together to re-create the solar system using marshmallows.

  • Many kids understood the concept of size/scale.  They would use a jumbo marshmallow to represent Jupiter or the Sun, and a smaller one to make Earth.
  • Likewise, many kids were able to match color by looking at the plastic model or pictures.  Some were very methodical when painting their marshmallows – “I’m leaving this part white because, see, there’s bits of white in the picture of Earth.”…. “This spot I’m painting here is the gas spot in Jupiter.”
  • One thing we noticed is that very few kids were able to match both size/scale AND color.  The ones that were matching the color using the same sized marshmallows while the ones

    Genevieve explains her solar system to me!

    who used different sized marshmallows didn’t have the color accurately portrayed.  Christine noticed it especially when she was labeling the individual planets.  She could see that kids were either using the color as a reference (“This one is Mars because it’s red.”) or size (“This one is Jupiter because it’s big.”)  There were maybe 1-2 kids who had created a model that focused on both concepts.

  • We didn’t see any child focus on the placement of marshmallows.  Those that created a solar system using multiple marshmallows usually put the Sun in the “center” of the styrofoam base, but the other planets would be placed randomly or equi-distant from the Sun.
  • Overall, most kids were focused on trying to create a realistic model of the solar system, referring to the physical model or pictures.  Some preferred to use their imagination and create their own space scene with spaceships and imaginary made-up planets/stars.
  • There was a lot of creative uses of the skewers and toothpicks and styrofoam base pieces.
  • One child made marshmallows to represent Ceres and Eris “

Solar System Discussion (After PE)

Afterwards, I asked the kids what they discovered when making their solar system marshmallow


Maddie K. wanted us to write down/draw exactly what she created, so she could eat it, later 🙂 Priorities!

models.  A few responses Christine documented:

– “I liked using my imagination and looking at pictures to make something.”

– One child learned about a planet that she hadn’t known about before (Uranus)
– One said “I never knew that, from space, you could see white on the earth,” aka the clouds on Earth and that they were white.
– When using red food coloring, it turned the marshmallow pink because “red and white make pink”.  But some colors stayed the same (and didn’t change when coloring the marshmallow)
– “The earth is blue and green, and you can see the water from space.”
– “When the sun comes up and then goes down, it makes changes to the land.
As we continue to talk about science models, we will explain how models are designed and created by scientists to share information.  We touched on that a bit with how the plastic model showed the color of the planets and size of planets, but can also point out the relative distances from the Sun.

Open Exploration! 


Sthanika figures out how to engineer a stable NASA structure!

The second activity we did was an engineering STEM challenge similar to ones that NASA
astronauts use when teaching about physics/structural stability in space.  The kids had to build towers and shapes using mini-marshmallows and toothpicks.   This tied back into the last science activity before the break, when we had an engineering challenge of building with playdough and stirrers.  Activities like this are used by NASA to help teach forces and physics. Kids were exposed to building different shapes and challenging themselves to build higher/longer/bigger, thus learning simple concepts regarding distribution of weight and stability.

Some observations:
  • Before they began building, I asked the kids informally how tall they thought they could

    Logan, Tyler, and Henry work together to create a structure!

    make their structure.  Many were very confident that they could build 5/10/20+ inches.

  • When they started building, a few kids created 2-D shapes (triangles and squares) and tried to stand them up on their side.  Of course, they fell over.  I brought over a sample structure that Sheila had built (“OHHH!!  We have to make it wide.”)
  • As the kids built, they had the chance to measure the height of their structure with a tape measurer.  I recorded their findings in a simple bar chart.  Most of the kids understood how to read the bar chart, and enjoyed comparing the size of their structures with their peers.
  • Most kids found that their structures started to lose stability around 7-9 inches tall.  I didn’t see any kids working to try to improve the stability.  Most preferred to just start another structure or stopped at that point.
  • A few kids preferred to build intricate designs and shapes vs. focusing on the height of their

    Discussion: How many inches TALL was our marshmallow structure?


Overall, I think most of the kids were satisfied with the size/height of their structure; at the same time, they got to see how difficult it was to build a tall structure.  A few kids went and “adjusted” the bar chart to show that they had built a tower that was 100 inches high.  During the post-discussion, Kate asked the kids how tall their structure actually was and, for those kids, asked them how tall they wished their structure had been.  Hopefully, this exercise helps them better appreciate the engineering that goes into towers and buildings.
Next week, we’ll re-inforce concepts of science models and the solar system while tying back into some of the previous science activities we did with playdough and discussions of states of matter (solid and liquids).  I’ll send out more details later this week.

Emergency Parent Sub Protocol:

We all get sick and so do our kids! 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)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s