Erin Biddle enters her third year at The Cooper School as the Kindergarten teacher. Erin brings fourteen years of classroom experience in Connecticut, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Erin received her BA in Education at Mercyhurst University. She is a certified early childhood and elementary educator. Erin believes her mission is to instill the love of learning. She is thrilled to be a member of The Cooper School team! Erin enjoys spending time with her husband, Chris and daughter, Abigail exploring Charleston and going to the beach.
Atam is originally from Evansville, IN but lived in Memphis, TN prior to moving to Charleston. This will be his 2nd year at TCS as the Kindergarten Assistant Teacher. He previously worked as an assistant in a Junior Kindergarten class at Immaculate Conception Catholic School. Outside of the classroom Atam has a passion for teaching as a summer camp administrator, theater teacher and private swim coach. Atam is so happy to be in Charleston working with Miss Erin.
Kindergarten readers were thrilled to start a new reading unit on informational texts. They compared fiction books to non-fiction books and discovered several key features of non-fiction books. Readers noticed when looking at non-fiction books that they found real pictures, diagrams with labels, bold words, and facts & information that are true. Readers learned to examine book covers as a strategy to activate background knowledge before diving into a non-fiction text.
This week, Kindergarten mathematicians have had “fun” learning math skills by playing lots of different games. Kindergarteners have learned how to play Monster Squeeze, Top It, Teen Frame Game, Card Games, Buzz, and Race to the Finish. Games are an integral part of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum because it gives students opportunities to explore fundamental number concepts, such as the counting sequence, one-to-one correspondence, and computation strategies. Engaging mathematical games encourage students to explore number combinations, place value, patterns, and other important mathematical concepts. Furthermore, they afford opportunities for students to deepen their mathematical understanding and reasoning. Ask your Kindergartener what math game is their favorite!
On Wednesday, building enthusiasts got the opportunity to meet Graydon’s dad, Brent, who is a community developer. Kindergarteners learned that to create and build a development you must work as a team and have good communication skills. Our visitor brought in a modeled scale of the development to share with the children. Kindergarteners learned where the roads, parks, and houses go. Building experts were delighted to see and touch wood models of houses of all sizes that they got to place in the neighborhood. Mr. Brent then had the children pick one wood model for them to keep and bring home. Ask your Kindergartener what they learned from Mr. Brent.
This week building experts investigated what is special about our building and drew a picture of TCS. Kindergarteners enjoyed having guest speakers come teach about the process of building a home, including the materials that are used and how to draw a blueprint. Students have enjoyed many hands-on experiences with tools that builders use and examined tools that designers use when designing buildings.
During learning centers, your Kindergartener has built famous buildings and structures using a variety of wooden blocks. Building enthusiasts have pretended to be construction workers in the imagination station and loved digging in sand with toy construction vehicles. Ask your Kindergartener what they liked best about learning centers.
Growing Our Independence
This week scholars began looking at the many ways that we can be independent at school. Kindergarteners started the discussion of independence by brainstorming what independence looks like and sounds like. They discussed ways they can be independent by completing personal tasks like putting their shoes on or hanging their tote on their hook. During Morning Meeting, brave learners shared ways they can be independent both at home and at school. These were stated in “I can” statements. These independent scholars now know they can demonstrate independence in the classroom by referencing charts on the wall for information, using snap rings to write tricky words, and using the strategy “Ask 3 Then Me.” Ask your independent Kindergartener how they are independent at school.
Writing For Readers
This week, your Rainbow Writer was busy learning to write true stories. Kindergarteners learned that a true story has to have three elements, who is in the story, what happened, and where does the story take place. Writers learned different strategies to help make their writing more readable. These strategies tie in with our theme of independence. Kindergarteners can now use a checklist to see if their writing has all the elements it needs, a vowel chart to help make their writing more readable, and snap ring words to help write those tricky words.
American College of Building Arts
This week, Kindergarteners had the opportunity to visit the American College of the Building Arts. Kindergarteners learned that the new campus building used to be a trolley barn and has been sitting vacant for over thirty years before the college recently renovated it. Kindergarteners observed students drafting blueprints for houses and learned that everything that is going to be built needs to be drawn first so they know what to do. Building enthusiasts toured the library and looked at a pop-up Gaudi architecture book. There were a lot of OOH’s and AHH’s as our tour guide showed us each picture. Kindergarteners were then shown various tools like an ax, a paver, a saw, and a hand screw.
Kindergarteners then toured the different parts of the college. Students were introduced to plaster molds, brickwork, and intricate woodwork that had pegs to connect them or that looked like jigsaw puzzles. Kindergarteners learned how stone is shaped with a mallet and chisel and that it is a very slow process and tedious process. Kindergarteners were able to watch blacksmiths forging different metals into nails and hammering them into shapes. They loved seeing the sparks fly and thought it was cool to see how big the fire got. Ask your kindergartener what they learned at The American College of Building Arts.
Holiday Collaborations with First Graders
Kindergarten students have been busy working with First Grade and Fifth Grade to prepare decorations for our tree in Marion Square. Fourth Grade friends helped teach the lovely art of finger knitting to Kindergarteners. Students collaborated to finger-knit garland and to prepare pinecone bees for the tree. Students were excited for our festive outing Thursday, to decorate the tree! We are so excited and proud to have a holiday tree in downtown Charleston’s majestic Marion Square!
Discovering More About Donald Crews
Kindergarten readers continued exploring their author study on Donald Crews. This week, Kindergarteners explored the many ways that good readers approach books. Kindergarten readers used Donald Crews books to examine how authors use different fonts that make readers pay attention. Readers practiced reading and then retelling the major events from the beginning, middle, and end of their books to sequence events. Students learned that good readers use picture clues to read words and tell the stories and that sometimes books can teach us about numbers and math! It has been a lovely week exploring the joys of reading and learning about Donald Crews’ collection of books.
Pondering the Pilgrim Experience
This week, curious Kindergarteners took a look into the lives’ of brave pilgrims. Students have been busy discovering reasons why the pilgrims came to America, where they came from, how they got here and what their long journey may have been like. Kindergarteners listened to a read-aloud of The Thanksgiving Story during our “Family Time”. We celebrated this exciting study topic by sharing what they learned about pilgrims. Kindergarteners have been busy writing and illustrating facts about pilgrims and reading pilgrim books during learning centers this week. Ask your Kindergartener what they have learned about pilgrims this week!
Meet Donald Crews
Kindergarten readers are exploring a new author study on Donald Crews. This week they have learned that Donald Crews is not only an author, but also an illustrator! In fact, he is such a great illustrator that he has won a special award that is awarded annually by the American Library Association to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Kindergarten students are enjoying discovering more about Donald Crews through his vast collection of books.
What is Gratitude and How Do We Show It?
Students have been exploring the topic of gratitude during our Morning Meetings. We discussed what it means to feel gratitude, how to accept it, and the many ways to express it. Students shared ideas on ways to receive gratitude and why it matters. Kindergarteners love participating in these “grateful” activities!
Building our Knowledge
Kindergarteners were delighted to launch our Buildings unit in Science and Social Studies this week. They offered diverse background knowledge based on individual experiences and unique wonders, as we began to discuss local buildings, buildings that are far away, and buildings that are far, far away. Student pairs compared photographs of buildings near and far and shared observations during a class discussion. Our learning centers reflected the wonderful world of buildings through building and constructing with the blocks, illustrating their home and writing their address in the art center, and designing then constructing a building in the tinkering center. Students also examined parts of the Kindergarten classroom to record how many windows and doors we have. Ask your curious Kindergarteners what they have learned about buildings this week.
I am the BOSS of my body!
This week, Kindergarteners learned strategies to help them regulate their emotions. These brave scholars learned steps they can take to help identify warning signs of when they are feeling frustrated, annoyed, angry, or scared. They know to watch out for hot cheeks, pounding hearts, or sweaty hands. Kindergarteners know to pay close attention to these signs in their body! These feelings are a signal to them to stop, wait and reflect, thinking to themselves, “How can I solve this problem?”. Kindergarten friends are learning to be problem-solvers. They know that problem-solvers think of a plan and always use a calm tone, instead of reacting to a problem.
Our First Published Work
Kindergarten writers have been so busy writing and illustrating, as they prepare to publish to Fifth Grade friends this week! These brave writers selected their very best piece of writing to revise, edit, and prepare for publishing. Scholars spent the week putting finishing touches on their pieces by carefully illustrating pictures to match the words on each page using true-life colors. Ask your Kindergartener how they felt publishing their work to their Fifth Grade buddies!
Wrapping Up An Exciting Pumpkin Unit
This week, Kindergarten pumpkin experts shared all of their pumpkin knowledge with their families during our beautiful Pumpkin Feast! This festive event was truly special for Kindergarteners, as they have been working quite hard to prepare their pumpkin facts, create a unique pumpkin necklace, learn pumpkin songs, and practice speaking in front of an audience. Kindergarten pumpkin experts did a fabulous job sharing all they know about pumpkins! Parents did a lovely job supplying a fabulous spread of pumpkin foods, and we thank you!
Halloween Carnival Fun
Kindergarteners were thrilled to participate in their 1st Annual Halloween Carnival. Kindergarteners lead our costume contest in which they paraded around the backyard showing off their costumes. Kindergarteners were then free to participate in the various Halloween booths that were created by the lovely Fifth Graders. These included a Cake Walk, Haunted House, Tattoos, Face Painting and many more…. TCS students got together at the end and received prizes for their costumes. It was a fun day for all!
Natural Dyes With Rose Wirtz
On Thursday, Kindergarten students experienced a beautiful lesson in painting with natural dyes, by local artist and former Cooper School parent, Rose Wirtz. Rose visited with Kindergarteners under the oak tree to demonstrate the process she uses for creating a rainbow of dyes using items found in nature. Stay tuned for the unfolding of this exciting project!
Honoring our Amygdala
Kindergarten students have been exploring Mindful Awareness during our Minds Up lessons this week. They have learned about the functions of the three parts of the brain; the hippocampus, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. This week, we focused on the amygdala and how our minds work.
Kindergarteners learned that the “security guard”, or the part of their brain that keeps them safe, is their amygdala. The job of the amygdala is to protect us and to process danger quickly and efficiently in order to keep us safe. When faced with danger, or a stressful situation, our amygdala tells us to fight, flight, or freeze.
The Mind Up curriculum empowers students and provides them with the knowledge to understand how their minds work. Kindergarteners discussed ways to deal with our minds when we have very strong emotions or stress. Students learned about calming techniques such as deep breathing and positive self-talk and then shared their own strategies with peers. This allows students to feel a sense of control and ownership over the decisions they make. As we dive deeper into mindfulness, Kindergarteners will build on what they know about the brain.
Preparing to Publish
Brave writers have been quite busy preparing their best piece of writing for a very special audience! Students sorted through their writing folders to find their most interesting and detailed piece to take through the publishing process.
Writers met with their “Strawberry and Banana” writing partners to share their best piece, and to give and receive feedback about how they could make their writing even stronger. Partners helped support each other in deciding what kind of details would strengthen their stories.
We are so proud of all the hard work our Kindergarteners have put into their very first published piece!
This week Kindergarten readers have started a new reading unit called Predictable Patterns and Characters. Students have learned that to be strong readers they can get ready to read by looking at the pattern and saying what repeats. Brave readers are listening to how books have rhyme, rhythm, and repetition. Kindergarteners are using patterns in their books to predict what will happen next. Your young reader can’t wait until next week when they learn to use patterns in books to figure out the tricky parts.
Kindergarten students and teachers were thrilled to have parents join us to participate in Morning Meeting on Tuesday. Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting is an engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically. Morning Meeting has four components: Greeting, Sharing, Group Activity, and a Morning Message. Students practice social skills in structured ways during our daily greetings. They learn the valuable life skill of greeting another person while making eye contact and saying the person’s name. During the sharing part of Morning Meeting, students learn to articulate their thoughts and feelings in a positive manner. During the group activity portion of our meeting, students build community with classmates through active participation. Finally, academic skills and community building are both embedded through class discussions about our daily Morning Message.
Daily Morning Meetings help to create the positive power of community in our classroom! Students are able to fulfill the need to belong, to feel significant, and to have fun! Each day, your child is being taught the skills of friendliness and social interest through sharing, listening, inclusion, participation, and speaking in front of a group. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we do!
Kindergarteners were elated to spend time with their Fifth Grade buddies on Wednesday morning. Fifth Graders read an assortment of spooky Halloween stories and then helped your youngster write a spooky story of their own. Your Kindergartener used their imagination and creativity to produce spooktacular work! Kindergarteners can’t wait for the Halloween Carnival where one of them might win a prize for the best spooky story.
Kindergarteners were thrilled to welcome their first Mystery Reader on Wednesday. Every week, they ask yes/no questions to try to guess who the Mystery Reader is. Then they decide on three people who they think it could be and they participate in a blind vote. Kindergarteners are always so excited about who it will be. Kindergarteners also love that a special person is here to read to them and hopefully hang out with them during snack. We can’t wait for everyone to experience this magical moment of fun!
Young pumpkin enthusiasts are deep into our study of pumpkins. Kindergarteners learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin during Science this week, through read-aloud and class discussions. We read Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, and Pumpkin Jack. Our young scientists learned about the life cycle and parts of a pumpkin. They know that the beautiful yellow flowers that grow from a pumpkin vine are the promise for a future pumpkin. Scientists also observed our “Pumpkin Jack” and recorded daily observations of the changes occurring. So far they have noticed that it is getting “fuzzy” or “furry” and there is a lot of pumpkin juice at the bottom of the container. Stay tuned as we continue to learn more about the decomposing process through our pumpkin unit!
Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin experts were thrilled to go on their first study trip to the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch on Wednesday. Kindergarteners spent the morning jumping in the sun on a gigantic trampoline, going down giant slides, and just having lots of fun! Your child then enjoyed going on a hayride through the plantation. They saw ghosts, spiders, pirates, witches, and so much more!! Kindergarteners learned all about the life cycle and acted it out in movement and song and then picked a pumpkin in a large field. Pumpkin experts then enjoyed eating lunch together among the pumpkins. It was a fantastic time!
Kindergarten scholars have been learning sophisticated words each week during their vocabulary study. These rigorous words come from our Text Talk curriculum. In this curriculum, we focus on one book each week. The book is read aloud to the class on Monday and Tuesday with frequent pauses to scaffold comprehension. Students develop deep understanding through comprehension skills such as summarizing, identifying problem/solution, recognizing story structure, clarifying story ideas, making inferences, and building prior knowledge throughout each story. Wednesday and Thursday’s lessons each explicitly teach 3 new words with robust conversations about the words in child-friendly examples. Students extend their understanding by illustrating examples of our vocabulary words. They have quite a collection of illustrations in their vocabulary journals!
Kindergarteners are so excited to be learning these robust words. They delight in hearing these words outside of our vocabulary instruction and enjoy applying them to different situations throughout our day.
Strawberries and Bananas
This week, Kindergarten writers met with their new “Strawberries and Bananas” writing partners. These helpful partners can give each other support by listening and asking questions about each other’s writing. Forming writing partnerships give students another tool in their tool belt to help prepare their writing for an audience. Kindergarten writers discussed ways to write stories that people will be eager to read. Ask your brave writer what they learned this week in Writer’s Workshop.
This week, Kindergarten storytellers worked with their “Peanut Butter and Jelly Partners” to retell storybooks! Your reader retold stories by looking at the previous page, saying the words first, next and last, and by using dialogue that the characters use. Kindergarteners can’t wait to continue learning how to make facial expressions and voices like the characters so they can act out the poplar story, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
Reading and Lunch Buddies
Kindergarteners were thrilled to the gills to participate in reading and lunch buddies with Third Grade and Fifth Grade this week. This builds a yearlong friendship and community across grade levels. Kindergarteners love spending time with these older friends talking and playing together.