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Saturday, August 3, 2013


Graduation has come! Our kids looked so excited in the graduation caps they decorated themselves.

Each child received a special award honouring their unique talents at a ceremony attended by parents, grandparents, and siblings. A special treat was the poem we prepared; even the shyest kids said their lines loud and proud.

Here is the dress rehearsal of our graduation poem:

In case you missed some words:

We practiced writing our names and played math games.
We went on field trips along the way and read every day.
We're going to miss our friends and our teachers too.
But we're going to kindergarten soon!

It's been an amazing 5 weeks! We can't wait to see all our friends on the first day of kindergarten!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Week of Special Activities

We've had so many fun, special activities this week!

Tuesday, we got to go to the fire station. We met a number of different firefighters, got to see the inside of a fire truck, and saw a firefighter slide down the fire pole. We even got to meet the fire chief!

Wednesday, we had a few special visitors. Our friends from Sycamore Farms brought us a goat, a sheep, a rabbit, and some one-month old chicks. We got to hear all about the animals, pet them, and even got to feed them a little bit!

Thursday, we got to go see the circus! Oddfellows Playhouse runs an annual circus camp at Macdonough School, and their final performance is Friday 8/2 at 5 p.m. We were lucky enough to get to see part of their dress rehearsal.

Friday is graduation! Expect pictures of the graduates tomorrow!

Our Day

We've started something new at circle time this year, and it's been so much fun! We've always known it was very important to make sure everyone knew our daily schedule, but Ms. Crissy had the great idea of prompting the kids to put together our schedule every day.

Ms. Crissy made a felt board and felt strips with our regular activities, and our kids pick out the activity that will happen next. We started with two choices: we would put out "breakfast" and "rest" for the first activity of the day, and one student would pick out the correct option. We would then ask them to trace the first letter in the word.

Over the course of the program, we've expanded to three or four options, and now ask students to trace a letter in the middle of a word. For example, we may ask a student to trace the "l" in "Free Play" or the "r" in "breakfast".

It's been a fun morning activity, and we're confident everyone's letter recognition has improved!

The GSAC Kickstart Reading List

In our 21 days at Kickstart so far, we have read all of the following books (in no particular order):

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Dinner at Panda Palace by Stephanie Calmenson
Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
There's a Wocket in my Pocket! by Dr. Seuss
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee
The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss
Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner by Amy Schwartz
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. 
The Jazz of our Streets by Fatima Shaik
Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
Baby Animals by Robert Garlock
F is for Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
Ms. Kate shows us around Russell Library during our first week
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Oscar's Grouchy Sounds by Constance Allen
Corduroy's 4th of July by Don Freeman
The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Suess
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Heroes of the Vegetable Patch by Ulf Stark and Charlotte Ramel
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss
The Sounds Around Town by Mario Carluccio
Drum City by Thea Guidone
I'm Your Bus by Marilyn Singer
The Lost Music by Kathryn Meyrick
Lyle and the Birthday Party by Bernard Waber
The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds
Dr. Seuss's ABC by Dr. Seuss
Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
Play, Mozart, Play! by Peter Sis
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Jake Johnson, The Story of a Mule by Tres Seymour
Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle
Macdonough and GSAC kids read together after a visit to the BookMobile

we love to read!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Have I mentioned that Kickstart loves...


All of our friends here at Kindergarten Kickstart love reading and listening to stories, so it was very exciting to receive a visit from the Middletown Reads Book Mobile on Wednesday morning. Everyone got to take home two books from the many boxes of books donated by Middletown families.

Check out some pictures!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Update from Macdonough!

It's been a long break since I last posted from Macdonough, but I'm back with a vengeance! Expect at least 2 more posts before the week is through.

A lot has happened since I last posted! We had a great third week and are already nearing the end of the fourth. Amazing how time flies! All the kids (and teachers) are just getting into the grove of the Kickstart schedule, but we'll be done before we know it. Then it will be off to kindergarten with the lot of them!

Both fortunately and unfortunately for us, we're now in one of Macdonough's kindergarten classroom rather than the preschool classroom in which we started. This meant the third classroom change in three weeks, but it also meant that the kids would be gradually eased into what will be some of their classroom when they start school on August 29. Extra special thanks to Mrs. Lenihan for letting us use her room while ours is being cleaned out, de-flied, and fixed up! There are only two kindergarten classes at Macdonough next year, which means about half our kids will be in this classroom, while the other half will be in Mrs. Spaeman's room across the hall.

Some notable happenings from the last two weeks:

  • We went to KidCity last Tuesday! Check out the pictures here!
  • Last Thursday, we were presented with our Early Literacy Grant from Liberty Bank, which meant all the kids got to pose for a picture. It also meant some media publicity here
  • We got to go on a field trip to visit our friends at Green Street! And they came to see us, too (see the next post about the Book Mobile for more info)! We'll be going to see them again tomorrow for a special activity.
  • We continue to try a new fruit or vegetable every day including nectarines, pineapple, mango, grapes, plums, and apricots. We've had cantelope, pears (a huge hit), and celery. We're planning to try honeydew and grapefruits next!
This week is animal week, and we've been doing so many fun activities! We have a class of budding literature lovers: everyone loves listening to stories, so we've been reading at least 3 books each day including The Very Busy Spider, Five Little Penguins Sliding on the Ice, Is your Mama a Llama, Clara Caterpillar, and If I were a Jungle Animal. In art, we've practiced our cutting, made butterflies out of coffee filters, hand print butterflies, and our very own class caterpillar. We've gone Fishing for Numbers, learned about dice and played some games with them, and made certain numbers of bears go dancing in a cave. And of course, made incredible structures out of our Magna-Tiles (thanks Ms. Anna for the recommendation—we concede that they're pretty amazing).

Our writing is improving dramatically each and every day! Everyone can write his or her name, and many of us can write the whole alphabet. Because of rainy conditions this morning, we got to do a very special activity: we got to draw our letters and numbers in shaving cream on the table. Some of our friends were great helpers and reminded us how to draw our letters ("Draw a line down, then a bump, then another bump. That's a B!") Unsurprisingly, everyone got pretty covered in shaving cream (including Ms. Taylor and Mr. Andy—somehow, Ms. Maddy and Ms. Crissy emerged untouched).

We ended the day by going on a bear hunt, which was a lot of fun! Can't wait for Family Friday tomorrow! We're spending the day at Green Street tomorrow after the farmers market!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kickstart at GSAC: week three update

In our class, there are several kids who are what we call "cp-knowers" (which means they understand the concept of a group of items having a total), some who can recite the count list without understanding cardinality (if I ask "so how many are there?" they answer "1-2-3-4!" instead of "4"), and some whose counting skills deteriorate past 3.

I've been playing Monster Math, Panda Palace, and Pizza Math (all from Anna's cognitive development lab and affiliated preschool math endeavors) with the kids at our "Games" (alias "Math") center. The kids love the games, and those whose skills were shaky two weeks ago have begun to show significant improvement.

Panda Palace, a math game based off of the book of the same title, the kids have to count the number of animals in a certain "party" and then find the card with the corresponding number of place settings so that the animals can be seated at the restaurant. For example, a child has to count the five monkeys before searching for the table with five plates. Today, A matched all of the tables and groups perfectly with almost no coaching from me. We finished playing right when her grandmother arrived to pick her up, and she had the hugest, proudest smile on her face. This week, L (who has shown incredible improvement in his math skills just two weeks) has played both Monster Math and Panda Palace and been incredibly proud of himself when he finished each game. He has trouble concentrating, so I've been working with him outside of our classroom to eliminate possible distractions. When he's able to focus, he gets totally excited and engaged in the game.

Yesterday, we joined our Macdonough friends for an amazing field trip to KidCity, a seriously phenomenal local children's museum. The kids had a blast - we played in the spaceship room, the apple orchard, the fishery, the restaurant, the video theater, the lake house, and the music room. Check out Andy's photos at this link!

A favorite story from the past week: I assigned G to Games on the day we were playing Pizza Math. Before we even started, she got teary, saying, "Ms. Sydney, I can't play Pizza Math! (hiccup) "I'm just - hiccup not that kind of kid!" I brought her over to the table and told her that she could watch ME play Pizza Math and join in whenever she was ready. She ended up deciding that the blue, green and red "toppings" (tiny clay circles) were blueberries, cucumbers and strawberries, respectively, and gleefully "baked" several well-counted pizzas.

And finally, one of our biggest successes so far: K, our most bashful kid, has finally begun to get up and dance during our good morning song! Hooray!