Week 21: Second Harvest Food Bank Field Trip!

Mark Those Calendars!

  • Field Trip #6: Thursday February 9th we are going to the Montalvo Arts Center in

    They made an obstacle course during exploration!

    San Jose, to see the Chitresh Das Dance Company. See the field trip car pool list, below, and remember their GREEN shirts!

  • Community Snack Schedule:  The week back from break is the Kerbey 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 Ramos family for snack last week!
  • 100th Day Celebration Party: Kindergarten will celebrate the 100th day of school
    together in our pod on Tuesday February 7th! Details were emailed by Ale 🙂
  • Valentines Day Potluck: We will have a small Valentine’s Day potluck on Tuesday February 14th at 12pm. See sign up genius here for more details.  Children can bring in healthy RED foods (pink counts, too, though!) and we will exchange valentines together. Please, bring valentines for everyone in the class. You can get the list of children’s names from the sign up genius! Thanks!
  • Sub for Kate: I will be absent Friday February 10th, so there will be a sub.
  • Field Trip #7: We will visit De Anza College Planetarium on Wednesday February 15 at 11:30 a.m. to see the Magic Tree House Show. My guess is we’ll leave for De Anza at 10:45,  and we’ll be back by 1:30pm.
  • Board Meeting: Wednesday February 15th, 6:30 PM – 9 PM (Discovery 1, Rm 2)
  • PSC Meeting: Thursday February 15 6:30 PM – 9 PM (Discovery 1, Rm 2)


    We have Guided Reading Groups for mid-high range readers!

  • FUTURE Parent Meeting Dates:  Skipping February (short month, too many conflicts), Wednesday March 22nd, Wednesday April 26th, Wednesday May 24th, and Wednesday June 14th.
  • President’s Week Break: No school February 20-24th
  • Kinder Performs for Community Sing! All families are welcome to join us on the last Fridays of each month for the sing. However, the kindergarten pod will be performing Friday April 28th for the school. Click here to see all the dates and who’s performing!

Montalvo Arts Center Field Trip Carpool Listfullsizeoutput_5d2a

Please do not share this with your children, yet, as it is subject to change based on a myriad of variables. We don’t want disappointed little ones!

  1. Nicole (Genevieve’s mom) – 2 kids – Genevieve, Nakiya
  2. Colleen (Cameron’s mom) 2 kids – Cameron, Jada
  3. Christina (Dominic’s mom) 4 kids- Dominic, Byron, Donovan, Quentin
  4. Doreen (Maddie S’s) mom 2 kids  -Maddie S., Sadie
  5. Jen (Logan’s mom) 4 kids – Logan, Steele, Nicholas, Oscar
  6. Akiko (Nadia’s mom 2 kids – Nadia, Ellie Luz
  7. Deepa (Pranav’s mom) 4 kids – Pranav, Henry, Tyler, Maddie K
  8. Sheila (Claudia’s mom) 2 kids -Claudia, Sthanika

Weekly Highlights

  • New Clean Up Agreement: I grew tired of finding toys left behind after clean up

    Pumpkin, the goat, visited us on Friday!

    and wasting valuable time after school picking them up and putting them away, instead of prepping and setting up for the following day. So, this week, I told the kids that I would keep anything left on the floor after transitions or found after school in my office, until further notice. This turned out to be a  very effective strategy! On Friday, I gave them back what I’d collected and they were very surprised at how many random and important things I kept. Now, they’re expert
    picker-uppers! Let’s try and keep the streak this week!

  • Pumpkin the Goat: Jolan’s first graders came with her to introduce their baby goat! She was very cute and we found out a lot about her. Although she pooped on the rug, we still enjoyed her visit!
  • Goodbye Cards to George & Guido: We made and gave/sent our goodbye and good luck cards to our friends George and Guido. The children and I wish them well and send them much love!
  • Book Clubs Started! We have 9 book-clubs up and running, so far! Take a look at

    Our new book clubs!

    the topics and see if your child would like to join one of them 🙂 You will notice their bins in the library on the shelf. Children chose a topic, asked others to be in their group, made a sign for their bin, and then went with an adult to look in the school library for related books or in my library for related books. During Quiet Time, groups have gathered on their own to look at books from their book club bins and talk about their topics. It’s very exciting!

  • Story Workshop Prompt: What would you do with $100?  The answers were mostly practical: go to college, buy a house, get a job, buy a car to go to a job, help the homeless, buy food, etc. Then, some fun ones: go to the super bowl, buy toys, buy a pony, etc.
  • Field Trip: We had an amazing experience at the Cathedral of Faith Reaching Out program, partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank. It was an excellent extension to our study of homelessness! See more highlighted in the this post, later.
  • Science: We talked about the sense of smell making special scent potions with

    Story Workshop: In honor of the approaching 100th day of school, I asked…

    Amber on Monday. On Tuesday, we played with gak and talked about its properties compared to play dough. Super messy and fun! Then, we tried to figure out how to make foil sink and made some hypotheses about whether a ball or tightly folded flat piece of foil would sink or float. Then, children tried to replicate the results.

  • 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!
  • 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, and both mid-range readers (H-K) and high readers (L-N, and above) will go with TK teacher Carol for guided readings group 1-2x a week. I also read 1-on-1 with children who ask during exploration, as well.
  • img_1987

    Art: A beautiful sensory experience!

    Math:  Kids made their February calendars and chose from 5 differentiated options for filling in the numbers!

  • Math Stations: Children played different games and practiced computation skills with subtraction and addition.
  • P.E
  • Art: Christine helped us make beautiful art designs with shaving cream and water colors.
  • Buddies: Outdoor time with 4th grade!
  • Phonics Word/Picture Match Game: Children loved playing this game and

    Giant tangrams open up design possibilities!

    sounding words out. It was a challenge for a few, but really wonderful practice and fun for most!

  • Fill-In-The-Blank Phonics Stamps Game: A mystery for which letter is missing. I put this out as an exploration choice and children liked it, but we will use it as a more focused literacy activity during literacy stations next week!
  • Giant Tangram Shapes: Children know the small version of these, but the larger portion allows for most gross motor and ‘bigger’ ideas.
  • Sharing: Byron and Logan brought in their lego models as an extension of our science discussion on models. So cool!

Story Workshop: 100th Day Themed!

We brainstormed ideas and then children began writing. Most children didn’t finish, but came up with some wonderful things to do with $100 and some pretty interesting stories for how they acquired $100!

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Second Harvest Food Bank Field Trip: Volunteering!


Alex with Jim Gallagher

We visited Second Harvest Pantry’s partner organization, Cathedral of Faith’s Reaching Out Program, last week. Alex Blake, Steele’s dad actually works at Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. So, he was proudly donning the sweatshirt, seen on the left, and served as an excellent resource in helping us plan everything. When we got there, as a sort of hospitality gesture, we donated 4-5 bags of lettuce heads that we grew in our garden plot at school, and introduced ourselves!

The field trip was truly an unforgettable experience for children and adults, alike. I already heard from the class that this was their “favorite” field trip! The trip experience was so well planned, onsite. When we


Yummy lettuce!

arrived, Jim Gallagher told us about the organization and how it services the community while we ate snack. “We’re like a safety net for many families trying to make ends meet with the harsh realities of expensive housing costs.”  He also told us some basic facts about the organization itself, which I’ve put down in bullet points:

  • Started in 1993
  • Handles mostly families who are priced out of the Silicon Valley housing market
  • Started with 400 families a week to 1000 and it’s  based on income for up to Family of 7- $75,000
  • Feeds families at schools in the area, about 350 families per school
  • Spends zero $$ – it’s all donated food!
  • Reaching Out partners with Second Harvest, $ from google, Cisco
  • Trying to move families from processed to more fresh foods


    A typical box assortment of food

  • 1 bag has 8-10 pieces of fresh food
  • Families can get up to $250 of groceries x2 a month
  • Gave away almost $15 million worth of food, but it was all donated (Frito lay, Trader Joe’s, luckys, Safeway, foodmax)
  • Discussed the term “volunteer”, because they have about 75 volunteers, several hours each shift open 1-4pm.
  • Kids asked if he recycled all the boxes: Yes, they recycle all the card board and big wooden pallets and get about $12-15,000 for recycling, which pays for all their gas to drive the food delivery vans
  • Kids asked what he does with bad food: Moldy, bad food and spoils is given to a local farm for pigs
  • Kids asked how they give the food to the people: USDA food card. They load five cars worth of food every minute, using rollers outside. “Someone just donated $20,000 and we bought the rollers to help us become more efficient.”

img_1759Throughout the process Jim interwove personal stories that built empathy and understanding among the kids as they listened. He discussed families that he worked with and how much this organization meant to them, and how rewarding his work felt to him. The first story he told was about a little girl named Marguerita. She was a kindergartner, like our students, in an inner city school his organization served. “I saw you guys just had snack. Was it good? (Yeah!! MMM HMM) Yeah, it’s nice to have something to eat when you’re feeling hungry, the same time every day. I bet it’s easier for you to concentrate, when you’re full, right? (lots of nods) How did you get to school? (we


Alphabetized foods help them to assemble foods quicker on the rollers.

drove) Ahh, okay. Well, these kids have to walk for miles and miles in some cases. And sometimes kids have to go to school without breakfast and not eat until they get
home, sometimes, or at all, if their family can’t afford food. Can you imagine having to think and learn math and reading and listen to your teacher without any food in your stomach? I bet you’d feel cranky, right? Can you do your best thinking on an empty stomach?” Many children commented that they couldn’t do that and would probably throw tantrums!

Jim said he loved visiting Marguerita’s school, because he loved helping children get


His stories definitely struck a chord.

food so they could do their best learning. Plus, she was his little “buddy”, always running up to him and giving him hugs. She loved when he visited, and so did her 11 brothers and sisters. One day, she was absent when he came and Jim was saddened by that. He knew the family really needed the food. The school said she was sick, but since he knew where they lived (four doors down from the school), he decided to just drop off the box after his visit. He didn’t tell the mother he was coming, and when he rang the doorbell she was so surprised! He said, “I’ll never forget it. She opened the door and tears just streamed down her face. She fell to her knees and started to, like, almost kiss my feet! She was so happy to see me. When she finally got up, she said that all 12 kids were sick and she didn’t have enough money for groceries this month, now. She didn’t know how she was going to make ends meet.” After their powerful exchange, she led him into the kitchen so he could help her put things away. What he saw then, he said will forever stay with him. “I opened the fridge, and I’ll never forget it. I opened the refrigerator door and all I saw was the light, and a half empty bottle jug of water. Nothing else. 12 kids and


A volunteer stocking the shelves.

the fridge was EMPTY.” The students in our class could not fathom this and wondered if they had any snacks or anything. It was unimaginable that this situation could happen to a family living in San Jose. “But a lot of people have to choose between food and housing. So, they choose the safety of a roof over their head and then they starve, practically.” He tried to make it very clear that the community they serve isn’t just homeless, but mostly families and the elderly who retired and have been priced out by housing and inflation, in general. “The pension or the money they get now from their job 20 years ago isn’t cutting it, and some of them resorted to eating cat food, because it’s cheap and has a lot of protein.” There was a 99 year old lady who came to them, not too long ago, because she couldn’t afford to eat anymore. “She told me that she honestly hadn’t expected to live that long! But here she was, 99, having served her community reputably for 60 years and, now she had to walk miles just to get her groceries from us. She’s not a bum, you know? She just had to eat cat food to survive, until she found us.”


The stock room!

After this discussion, we went on a tour of the facilities. Children saw the assembly rollers and how the food was organized, alphabetically. Jim showed them the storage space that looked like home depot or Costco, with floor to ceiling shelving and tons of items packaged in bulk, and the giant refrigerator. Kids loved the giant fridge, because the first thing they saw was a multitude of pastries and cakes. Jumping up and down with excitement and anticipation, they were demanding cake! Jim asked them who had a birthday party before. Several hands flew up. “It’s fun right? Everyone coming together to celebrate you, making you feel special. Well, most families who come to us can’t afford to have birthday parties. we have cakes donated to us for the sole purpose of giving them to kids. And we don’t just give them a blank cake or say plain old Happy Birthday on it. We have
piped icing in the back and write their names on it, to say ‘Happy Birthday, Billy (or whoever it is.)’ So, they know that they’re important. Know, why we do this? Well, some kids have never had a birthday party or cake before. I have this story that I’ll


The assembly area they have in back.

never forget. Now, I had this one lady who was the meanest, rudest lady I’d ever met. She was an older lady, from Russia, and she came to us every week.  But she was awful. I mean she would walk in and the volunteers would try to hide from her, she was so mean. Nothing made her happy, always complaining, always angry.

So, one day, she comes in and she with a little boy. I asked her who he was and he says, in front of him, “This is my grandson. His parents died in Russia and now I am



STUCK with him!” Jim couldn’t believe she said this in front of him, so he bent down and asked him how was doing. The little boy said “It’s my birthday, today.” He was turning 7. So, Jim asked her to wait and went into the back. He found a Spiderman cake and after some rummaging managed to find some matching Spiderman plates that were donated.  He wrote “Happy Birthday (his name)” on the cake and even got him some candles. He knew the grandmother wouldn’t do anything for him, so they celebrated his birthday at the center with the volunteers. “That little boy was so grateful. He’d never had a birthday party, before, and you know he came back when he was 11. He told me, (Jim began to tear up). He told me that he never forgot that birthday cake, because for the first time since his parents died, he felt important. That’s such a powerful thing to feel important, as a child.

Later he discussed the reasons why giving food vs. money was a better idea. He told


Assembly line for making lunches!

us, “$1 dollar- may get only a soda at McDonalds, hand out bags with healthy snack, and a card with Second Harvest info on it. These bags make a huge difference in people’s lives and the kids actually had a chance to volunteer on a lunch assembly line. We learned how to be efficient, Byron and Quentin spearheaded ‘checking’ the bags, which I explained was a fancy word called, “quality control”. Children excitedly worked together to


Steele and the others were thrilled to help!

make 130 bags of lunches. That’s about 6.5 bags a kid! They learned the value of teamwork and that everybody can do something. He talked about how everyone, no matter their age or ability, can contribute. “We have a paraplegic who gives water to volunteers, his name is sunshine!” He said that generally children 9 years old and up can volunteer, but that kinders could come as long as they were accompanied by families. Lastly, he said that each child could take home one of the lunch bags they made to hand them out with an adult. He emphasized the safety reasons for handing out bags ONLY with an adult present (“always do it with your parents. Be careful. These are still strangers and you want to be sure you’re safe. Your parents will help with that.”)


They made 130 bags in about 15 minutes!

Jim said the future of the Reaching Out organization is to upsize and to teach people recipes for the food they’re given: e.g. how to make a pizza crust out of cauliflower. “I
want to put a cooking show together for the poor onsite. So, they can learn how to help themselves and use seemingly unusual fresh ingredients instead of processed foods.” Also, they’re serving so many people in the community and the need is growing so fast, that the


The kits were complete after adding the info cards!

facilities are not big enough anymore. Before we left, as a parting gift, he gave the children cookies and we donated our 30+ kits that we made in class for those in need. We actually opened each one up to add second harvest information cards, too. Jim said the kits were absolutely wonderful and will go to homeless encampments, older people in need, and a lot of families that had “bad things happen to them and they’re struggling.”

Children learned so much about advocacy, citizenship, volunteering, compassion, and humanity. They have more awareness now that situations of hunger and homelessness can happen to anyone, including families. Most importantly, though, our students learned that they can be the helpers.

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Science with Amber – Making Scent Potions!


The magic of potion making!

The children explored the ancient art of perfumery and made special ‘potions’ in their exploration of smell. Amber taught the kids that the nose can detect millions of smells!  Some people are so sensitive that they can even detect a base, a medium, and a light note to their bottles.  Each kid picked from 3 different smells of 8 fragrances, to create their signature scents in spray bottles (which they were able to keep!).  They LOVED this experiment and couldn’t wait to make their special scent and share it with others. Many children wanted me to wear their creation, and I gladly obliged! “Some kids even named their body mists. Many scientists actually work as perfume chemists, experimenting and mixing scents to create new fragrances.” It’s truly an art, and some children seemed to love this process and said they might want to do it some day as a profession!

Science with Christine – Gak and Buoyancy!

Guided Activity #1 –  Gak Exploration

img_1914This week, we continued exploration of states of matter (solids and liquids).  As a reminder, the difference between solids and liquids is that both have a specific mass and volume, but liquids take the shape of the container.  The kids have explored both conventional forms of liquids (water, oil) and solids (ice).  They’ve also explored materials that may be a bit trickier to categorize, such as flour and salt, which is a solid but, in large quantities, appears to flow like a liquid and take the shape of the container.  Playdough was another example of a “tricky” solid as you can smush it into the shape of the container, but, without forces applied to it, retains its shape.

There were many remarks made on how gak flowed when placed on the table, in a


Many tried to figure out why some colors moved through faster.

funnel, or in a bottle.  Many kids also enjoyed watching how gak flowed when falling from a table or falling from their hands.  The kids also discovered that the different colors did mix together and form secondary colors.  And one group discovered the delightful “fart” sounds when trapped air in the gak is released.

We saw that straws were used, so not sure if kids discovered that you can actually blow bubbles into the gak (you can!).  We don’t know if there were any kids really exploring how gak behaves as a solid (if you maintain force on it via moving/rolling it, it will keep its shape).

Children saw the viscosity level of gak moving through strainers!

While we definitely want to expose the kids to new science concepts, the high-level goal of science is to link back to the scientific method and get the kids to automatically think in this manner when questioning the world.  We will now be moving into exploration of some “tricky” liquids, starting with gak, a glue/borax fluid/liquid that can behave like a solid under certain conditions.  The kids basically had access to a large amount of gak.  We had four different colors and 2-3 different viscosities (one super ‘thick’ and others more ‘oozy’).

To that end, we plan to do a few of the activities that will touch on different aspects of this method:
Double Bubble Map (“Communicate Results”):
I have used this visual tool before in class, so this was a good way to reinforce how this map can be used as a way to convey results/information in science (this is the last step in the scientific method). The kids filled in the map to share their findings on the diferences between gak and playdough.  They determined that: Gak was liquid, sticky, and gooey; play dough was solid, you can mold it, and it’s soft; and the similarities were that they were both squishy and fun to play with.

From the gak exploration activity, itself, some results that were included:


The double bubble map (in background)

  • state of matter (are they solids or liquids, keeping in mind that liquids take the shape of the container)
  • behavior of matter (do they “act” like solids or liquids in different ways)

One that wasn’t included was color interaction (i.e. Do different colors of the material mix together and form new colors, or do they stay separate?)

As we continue our gak exploration over the next few weeks, we can fill in the map.  A double bubble map is actually very helpful to clear up exactly how gak can behave similar to playdough (solid) and how it behaves differently to playdough.
Encouraging experiment ideas (“Test with an Experiment”, “Check Procedures”):
We want to encourage the kids to come up with their own problem statement/question and helping them set up the experiment to answer those
questions.  During and after the gak exploration activity, we asked the kids if they had any ideas and questions about gak that they wanted to do further experimentation on.  Here are some of the responses captured:
  1. What happens when you add gak to water?

    They loved stretching it!

    (Oscar + others)

  2. What happens if you leave gak out to dry? (Maddie K)
  3. What happens if you freeze gak? (Jada)
  4. What happens if you cook gak or heat it up?  (Nicholas)
  5. What happens if you put _____ on gak?
    1. grass (Cameron)
    2. flour (Donovan, Nakiya)
    3. sticks (Oscar)
    4. oil (Maddie S)
    5. oil AND water (Tyler)
    6. sand (Genevieve)
    7. salt (Henry)
    8. a house (Byron)
  6. What happens when you mix gak with toys? (Steele)
  7. What happens if you put rocks under gak? (Claudia)
We ran out of time to get every child’s experiment idea, but I said I would collect other ideas, as they are brought to my attention.

Maddie K actually decided to start her experiment to answer the question she had


Maddie K.’s experiment began!

(What happens if you leave gak out to dry?).  She put gak in 4-5 different containers on a tray with the intention to check on it to see what happens.  Great proactivity!

To encourage the kids to further think about the best way to set-up an experiment, we can ask the kids questions about how her set-up.  Example:  Why did you choose to put the gak in the containers that you did?  How long will you leave the gak out?  How often will you check the gak?  Are you recording your observations each time you check?  What temperature did you want to leave the gak out when drying?
Questions such as these will reinforce the idea of variables and probably inspire other kids to come up with more unique experiment ideas.  It’ll also show the kids that there’s actually a lot of thought and planning that needs to go behind every experiment.

Guided Activity #2: Engineering Challenge (Buoyancy):

Last week, the kids had an opportunity to use aluminum foil to study buoyancy.  The


Hypotheses options

challenge presented to them was to create boats that could hold a certain amount of weight.   We started with a guided experiment where Christine showed them two pieces of foil.  One had been folded into a small square.  Another had been scrunched into a big ball.  We made hypotheses on whether each foil piece would float or sink, respectively.

Many kids were surprised to discover the small piece of foil sank while the large scrunched-up ball of foil sank.  It’s counter intuitive to think that a small square would sink while a giant 4″ ball would float.  We didn’t get into the full concept of buoyancy with the kids as we ran out
of time. However, the kids were then given their own piece of foil and challenged to shape it in a way that

Discovering properties of buoyancy!

their foil piece would sink.  The kids seemed to enjoy trying to find ways to get their foil piece to sink.

What’s Next?
For the next few weeks, we will move into exploration of some “tricky” liquids, starting with gak, a glue/borax fluid/liquid that can behave like a solid under certain conditions.  We will provide the opportunity for kids to set-up and design their own gak experiments.  The kids  had a strong interest in making gak and wanting to know how it was made, so we will be doing that as well.
(NOTE: Thank you Christine for always giving such a detailed summation of our science time!)

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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)


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