Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Candy wrappers are Environmental Print

We made "candy books" with our wrappers after we counted and sorted them. Each student picked their favourite candy and then had to draw what came inside the wrapper. The write Their name and what they like! (I scribed for many of the Juniors). We love our books -- they are the first books that are taken off the shelf each day.

Environmental Print

Definition: Environmental Print is the print of everyday life: The symbols, signs, numbers, and colors found in McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Exxon, Pizza Hut, 7-Up, and on websites, for instance. They offer excellent entry points for young children to begin to learn to read, write, and do math.

Resources for environmental print are: Books, billboards, calendars, catalogs, comics, containers, coupons, flyers, greeting cards, grocery stores, journals, labels, magazines, menus, newspapers, office supply packaging, posters, recipes, road signs, snack bags, telephone books, and websites.

The reasons to use environmental print: It is everywhere and, because it is, it is a natural starting point to teach young children to read, write, and do math. Children have a concrete connection to everyday print. They "read" it within the context of their everyday experiences--their interests and backgrounds. It bridges the gap between the functional print of school and the print outside. It doesn't cost a lot of money to use.

(this information was from sharonmacdonald.com)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Candy Math

First we sorted. Then we talked about more and less. "Do you think that there are more salty snacks or chocolate snacks?" Then we estimated which group had the most. Then we counted each group. Chocolate won in both the morning and the afternoon! Sorting, understanding quantity and estimating are important math skills -- who knew that candy was so important?(Using the candy wrappers was a big hit, and really motivated the students too)(don't forget that you can click on any picture to look at it larger)
I'm wondering if the trick or treaters got mostly chocolate, or were our findings a bit skewed because they ate the chocolate first, so those were the wrappings that they brought in? Are there lots of those molasses taffy candies left at home still?
(we did another activity with the candy wrappers -- it will be on the blog later in the week)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Looking for something to do this weekend?

I'm passing along some information from the owner of Little Footprints -- who happens to have a child in our morning class...... and I am a big proponent of shopping locally and supporting stores that I have a connection to!

"The Children's Trunk Show is a shopping event featuring high-quality fashion, jewellery and art made by moms and geared exclusively towards kids and families. 50+ vendors are hand-selected to ensure a wide variety of goods—so you're sure to find unique and useful gifts for all the children in your life in one place. We're kid-friendly!"
Friday November 6 9:30am-4:30pm
Saturday November 7 from 10 am -3pm
The Distillery
In the Fermenting Cellar
Buildings 6 & 7
55 Mill Street, Toronto
Lots of parking available.
For more information click here

Our favourite (and local) planet-friendly kid's store, Little Footprints, will be there with a selection of their best Eco-Friendly toys and games for kids of all ages along with over 50 other wonderful businesses offering wonderful clothes, art and gear for kids and their families and some fabulous free indulgences too! Little Footprints will be bringing their Top 10 Eco Toys for The Season so come and get a head start of your gift list this year!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Our school is on the Tribes path. You can read more about Tribes here: www.tribes.com/
We follow the 4 Tribes agreements in our class (and in the school)
1) Mutual Respect2) Attentive Listening3) The right to participate, and the right to "pass"
4) Appreciations only -- no put downs
We are learning how we can respect ourselves; each other; our own belongings; other people's belongings; our school; our outside environment, etc.

We have read the book The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper
It is likely that the most basic everyday guideline for human behavior is to treat people as you would want to be treated if you were in the other's position. In the United States, this guideline has been known as the "Golden Rule" since the 1800s.

Many human troubles, conflicts and tragedies involve situations in which people could have acted according to the Golden Rule but, to their sorrow, they did not. Cultural examples of this in American history include the treatment of African-Americans, Native Americans, other minority groups, laborers and women. Most people can think of personal situations that would have been less stressful if the Golden Rule had been used. (from The Scarboro Missions website)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Milk Bags for Beds

I have asked parents to send in milk bags (the outer bag with the logo on it)
Like this one:
(By the way, this information below is from the Earl Beatty Library Blog! check it out!)

Canadian Food For Children is making sleeping mats for children out of milk bags. The material used in milk bags resists mildew and bugs, is washable, and provides cushioning for children who sleep on the ground or on bug infested leaves. They prevent 75% of diseases from parasites and hookworms. It takes 250 to 400 milk bags to weave one mattress. They are shipped to Haiti and Africa.

We are looking for the outer milk bags only. The bag that says Neilson or Beatrice or whatever, that holds the 3 smaller bags. Currently, the City of Toronto does not recycle milk bags. Instead of going to the landfill, milk bags can be dropped off at the Earl Beatty Library.

For further information click

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Pumpkin Patch

Although we didn't visit a pumpkin patch, the read about them and talked about them. We don't do a class trip this early in the year because some of the juniors are still learning our routines, and aren't quite ready yet.So we made our own pumpkin patch! It's flying in the air above our tables! If you look closely, you will see some bats flying up there too!We talked about how pumpkins come in many sizes and shapes, and how some are for Jack-o-lanterns and some are for eating.
We read books about the life cycle of the pumpkin too.
I learned new things too -- did you know that the reason the pumpkin is cut with a long stem is because it helps keep the pumpkin from getting moldy? So if you buy a pumpkin with no stem, it will get moldy much faster. You shouldn't carry your pumpkin by the stem either, because it might break off (and the whole pumpkin will rot faster)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October and math

I've talked alot about reading and writing on the blog -- but what about math? Our first (formal) exposure in the day to numbers is at the calendar. The helper of the day holds the pointer and points to the numbers and the whole class says the numbers. This helps us match the written number to the number that we say. It also helps the helper learn that we read the numbers from left to right, and then do a "return sweep" at the end of the line and go back to the left again. This month we have added a basic abab pattern to the pictures (leaf, apple, leaf, apple) The person who is chosen (by the helper) to put up the missing number (today's date) also has to choose the correct picture (apple number 6 or leaf number 6). I keep notes on who "gets it" and who needs a bit more practice.

We have been working on matching numbers with quantity in the math centre. We have begun to estimate and independently make patterns too!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


We are having lots of fun with black!

We are also learning about the letter B. If you are helping your child learn the letter B -- please remember to focus on the sound that B makes. (the morning class poster is on the left, the afternoon is on the right)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Here are some of the Fall books we're reading. Now we're focusing on:
Changes (daily weather, seasonal, temperature, how we cope with these changes, how animals cope ....)

Monday, October 12, 2009


We're talking about the colour orange -- and this week we'll talk about the word family _at -- and rhyme words with fat (cat, sat, hat, etc). Understanding of word families and a good sense of rhyme helps children read and write. If you can spell cat, you can spell mat!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Turkey time!

What do you get when you mix a handprint with lots of collage materials? A turkey of course! We had so much fun making these. Everyone loves playing with feathers, but the leaf punch was the biggest hit! Many punches are too hard for little hands, but this one worked quite well. I usuallly use the lever type punches, but I couldn't find a leaf shaped one. Click on the pictures to get a close up!
We talked a lot about Thanksgiving, fall and the harvest. We talked about how some people celebrate Thanksgiving -- and some people don't. Some people might eat turkey -- and lots of people don't! We made some hand print turkeys and read lots of books about Thanksgiving.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend with your families! Gobble Gobble!

*** feel free to add comments in the comment section of the blog! I have "enabled" the comments so you can leave them even if you don't have a blogger account. Hopefully there won't be any "spam" ***

Friday, October 9, 2009

Suns and Stars - Learning Letters and more

S is for sun. S is for star. We practiced writing an S in the air, printing an S and making them out of play doh.
These are some of the S words that we came up with as a class:
(pm is on the left, am is on the right)

In our S books, we drew 3 things that started with the letter S and then printed the words. We did it as a group, so most words in this activity were copied. We will start "inventive spelling" (writing what you hear) in our journals soon (Most of the SKs and some JKs who are ready) (I scribe for the JKs and read them the words that they have dictated to me -- then they "read" it back to me while they point to the words).
Here are some examples of our Ss Books:
Some parents have asked about the order in which I teach the letters of the alphabet. We talk about many letters every day. We talk about them in context when we are sounding out words or talking about words and letters in our messages and poems.

In general we teach the most frequently used letters first. S, T, M, P, N. I taught A first because most children know A ( but it really is confusing because it makes more than 2 sounds!) But if we know A than we can write many rhyming words.

I teach upper and lower case at the same time. While it is true that the upper case letters are easiest to print, there aren't many books written all in upper case. If we want our children to read, we have to teach them lower case too! I know that a child REALLY knows his/her letters when they are copying something that I have written in lower case, and they write the whole thing in upper case! That means they have learned both, but are more comfortable printing in upper case. We often play matching games with upper and lower case letters.

I teach letter names and sounds at the same times -- and we focus on the most common sound the letter makes (we focus on the hard C as in cat, for example). I do explain that sometimes the letter makes an extra sound.

But when we are writing I expect the students to write the sound that they hear. If they were writing circle, for example, I would expect them to write something like SRKL (vowels are difficult to hear)This is very acceptable and developmentally appropriate for kindergarten. If your child askes you how to spell somehting -- you should say "Try to write the sounds that you hear" When they ask "Is this right?" say something like, "yay! you wrote all of the sounds!". Then you are supporting them in their writing, but aren't fibbing to them. I often say to the children "In Kindergarten, we write what we hear, and we might hear things differently, but that's okay" We call this 'Brave Spelling'. I say "Be a brave speller and just have a try!" We also strettttch words out so we hear the sounds.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fire Safety Week

This week was Fire Safety Week.
We practiced our fire drills and talked about fire safety at home (never playing with matches, being careful that you never throw toys or clothes on space heaters).

We all practiced Stop, Drop, and Roll! Have your child explain it to you! I wish that I could show you photographs of the students practicing -- we tried for lighthearted seriousness...... but giggled a lot......

We talked about the importance of having (working) smoke detectors at home, and the importance of having a safety plan. Please take the time to explain to your child where you should meet if there is a fire at home. We don't want to scare them, but we do want them to act safely and calmly in an emergency.

We'll keep reading Safety related books throughout October.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I believe in you!

On curriculum night this past Thursday, a DVD was shown to parents in the Gym. If you missed it, here is the YouTube link for it. It is of a boy named Dalton Sherman(I believe he is in Grade 5) giving a motivational speech to Teachers in the Fort Worth/Dallas area.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Self Portraits

This week, we looked in the mirror and painted our own faces!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


This is an aerial view of the math centre. There are counters to put in the muffin tray -- one counter in #1, two counters in #2, etc. The counters are animals and can be sorted by colour or by species (kinds) -- there are cats, bears, turtles, etc. We also have coloured popsicle sticks. Two students made a design around the edge of the table. Next, I asked them to make a pattern with the sticks.
Materials in the math centre change often. We have many math activities that focus on number recognition, number relationships, counting strategies, quantity relationships, one to one correspondence, comparing and ordering, measuring, graphing, patterns, shapes, and sorting.

This is the block centre. The blocks have taken quite a beating in the last few weeks! We start the year with the lighter blocks and then move to different kinds of wooden blocks. Two students built this "house". The living room is the red room at the back.

Monday, September 21, 2009


We're learning this poem:
Through this poem we can learn so many things! Upper case letter, lower case letters; letter spacing; word spacing; punctuation; what is a title?; sight words (is, are, as, can, be). We won't learn them all at once, but we'll learn a new poem every week or two, and keep practicing what we have learned as well as learning new skills. This week we'll be focusing on upper and lower case letters, as well as the word" is".

Sometimes the students tell me stories about their paintings (sometimes they don't). This one says:
"My monster has a snake head and a tornado body"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September Calendar

The helper of the day gets to be the teacher! He or she stands beside the calendar and points to the numbers on the calendar and counts (with the rest of the class). As well as learning the numbers between 1 and 31, it shows students that we count from left to right and sweep back to the left and down a row when we get to the end of a row. It might sound easy to adults -- but at the beginning of the school year it has been confusing when we get to 5 and, WAIT -- where is 6??? Oh, there it is down there!! It takes a lot of concentration to say the numbers and point to the numbers with the pointer at the same time!

The helper also gets to pick the person who is going to say the missing number (the current date). That chosen student has to find the missing number located under the calendar (today it was easy, there is just one number, number 18 -- usually there are at least 5). [The hardest numbers to identify are 11, 12 and 13 -- because they don't say "one", "two" or "three" in them -- if your child is having a hard time with these, practice occasionally when you see these numbers in the environment, such as numbers on houses, on the tv, or in the grocery store]

The calendar will get a bit harder next month when there is is a pattern with the numbers. Check back at the beginning of October to see what this means!

We talk about the days of the week, the month, the season and the year. The calendar also shows the passage of time and shows upcoming events such as birthdays and special school events..

Sunday, September 13, 2009

We're all here!

The furniture is all set up, and the children have arrived. Unfortunately, my voice has disappeared. But life went on , and we made it through the first week, with many smiles and very few tears.

This is an example of our daily message. Sometimes our message is just informational, and sometimes we read it more in depth. Many of the new Junior students have already learned to "read" parts of the message. They know that the first line might say "Hi Boys and Girls", or "Hi Girls and Boys". They can look at the icon above the word, and in a month or so we'll drop the icon because they'll know that Boy is the word that starts with B, and Girl Starts with G. Gym has a gym shoe icon above it. Love has a heart. Ms. Brown is written with brown marker. The message usually says who the helper of the day is. The helper will take the message home (in the Thursday folder). It's a great tool to use at home to learn sight words, upper and lower case letters, spacing between words, and punctuation. We didn't make it through all of these books this week (with new students arriving daily, and Ms Brown losing her voice) but we'll have them all read by the end of next week (plus many more!)(don't forget to click on the pictures to see them larger!)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Welcome to my world!

Welcome to my new blog, Ms. Brown's Classroom. I'll be using it to help inform the parents of the children in my classroom what we're doing.

(For readers who aren't parents of current students, I teach split classes of Junior and Senior Kindergarten Students in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I may have 3, 4 and 5 year olds in the class! There is a morning class, currently with 20 students, and an afternoon class of 16).

Over the next few weeks, I'll try to give you an overview of our kindergarten day. I'll be explaining what "centres" we have in the classroom, and what we do in the centres.

I'll also try to give overviews of what we are working on each week. I'll show what books we are reading (and why we are reading them). I'll show our poems and list our songs. I'll show our math and science activities. I'll show some writing examples and I'll explain how to interpret them. And of course, I'll be showing lots of art!

Arriving at school at the end of August, I met this pile of furniture!Even now that the furniture is all set up, the classroom still seems empty. It only comes to life when the children are there. Unfortunately I won't be showing pictures of the students in this blog, but I will show their work. Parents, you will be able to see pictures of your children doing many activities in this classroom when we meet in person on Open house night, which I believe is scheduled for Thursday, October 1.

If you ask a 4 year old, "What did you do at school today?" They usually say, "I don't know" or "I played". Whle we do have structured teaching time each day, research has shown that young children learn best when they are engaged in play based activities.

Just Playing

Author Unknown

When I'm building in the block area,

Please don't say I'm "Just Playing."

For, you see, I'm learning as I play: about balance and shapes.

Who knows, I may be an architect someday.

When I'm getting all dressed up, setting the table, caring for the babies,

Don't get the idea I'm "Just Playing."

For, you see, I'm learning as I play:

I may be a mother or a father someday.

When you see me up to my elbows in paint, or standing at an easel,

or molding and shaping the clay,

Please don't let me hear you say, "She's Just Playing."

For, you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm expressing myself and being creative.

I may be an artist or an inventor someday.

When you see me sitting in a chair "reading" to an imaginary audience,

Please don't laugh and think I'm "Just Playing."

For you see, I'm learning as I play.

I may be a teacher someday.

When you see me combing the bushes for bugs, or packing my pockets with

choice things I find,

Don't pass it off as "Just Playing."

For, you see, I 'm learning as I play.

I may be a scientist someday.

When you see me engrossed in a puzzle or some plaything at my school,

Please don't feel the time is wasted in "Play."

For, you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm learning to solve problems and concentrate.

I may be in business someday.

When you see me cooking or tasting foods,

Please don't think that because I enjoy it, it is "Just Playing."

For, you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm learning to follow directions and see differences.

I may be a cook someday.

When you see me learning to skip, hop, run, and move my body,

Please don't say I'm "Just Playing."

For, you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm learning how my body works.

I may be a doctor, nurse, or an athlete someday.

When you ask me what I've done at school today, and I say, "I Just Played,"

Please don't misunderstand me.

For, you see, I'm learning as I play.

I'm learning to enjoy and be successful in my work,

I'm preparing for tomorrow.

Today, I am a child and my work IS play