Erin Biddle enters her fourth year at The Cooper School as the Kindergarten teacher. Erin brings fifteen 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.
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-alouds 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 now 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!
This week, Kindergarten storytellers worked with their “Peanut Butter and Jelly Partners” to retell story books! 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 popular story, “Three Billy Goats Gruff.”
This week in math Kindergarten mathematicians have been working on numbers 6 through 10. We have mastered the ability to sort by count using numbers 6 through 10. Your Kindergartener has the ability to write out these numbers and count them using objects.
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 gives 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.
On Tuesday, Kindergarteners had a short field trip around the school. Kindergartener’s visited First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth grade classrooms to ask them the question, “Have you picked a Pumpkin?”. Each Kindergartner had a special role as we went to each class. Half of the Kindergarteners asked the question to the older kids, while the other kids took count and wrote down tally marks for each raised hand. We then came back and used the information we gather to create a bar graph. Ask your Kindergarten student what part of this mini-trip was their favorite part!
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.
High Touch High Tech
Kindergarteners analyzed the world of insects and monarch butterflies on Tuesday afternoon. Mrs. Jennifer from High Touch High Tech came to share fascinating facts about insects, brought in real worms for us to touch and inspect, and informed us all about the amazing life cycle of the butterfly. Kindergarteners participated in centers where they stared through goggles like a bug, touched bug exoskeletons, created life cycles and completed puzzles. Ask your Kindergartener what their favorite part of High Touch High Teach was!
Kindergarteners have been learning all about Phonics. We have been studying other friends’ names and learning how to write them. We are mastering the difference between vowels and consonants. Kindergartners are able to pick a name out of the star jar and we then pronounce the name, clap the number of syllables and stomp the number of syllables also. Each Kindergartener will have their named pulled out of the jar and have a special cheer while we study their name. Ask your Kindergartener to sing to you our class star jar song!
All About Math
Kindergarten mathematicians have been working on numbers 1 through 5. Young mathematicians have been introduced to order and how to write numerals to answer questions. We have mastered the ability to sort by count using numbers 1 through 5. Your kindergarten has the ability to write out these numbers and count them using objects. Now we are on to explore numbers 6 through 10.
Kindergarten had an exciting week filled with dramatic expression as they used their creative minds to act out skits and perform with our fabulous coaches from Charleston Stage! During drama, students truly enjoyed exploring their space with creative movement, playful songs, and imaginative dance (especially the activity called “Boppity-Bop” and “Baby Shark”). Ask your young actor or actress what they enjoyed most about drama class with Charleston Stage.
Animals 2 by 2
Young Kindergarten scientists were “thrilled to the gills” to meet their new friends this week. We welcomed our new goldfish and guppies to our classroom. Fish enthusiasts learned that goldfish come in a variety of colors; that they need water, food, and plants to live and strive; and the different structures of their body. Kindergarteners are excited to observe their behavior, create goldfish in art, and compare the goldfish to our guppies. Ask your Kindergartener what we named our new friends.
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 3 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 Minds 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, positive self-talk and 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.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Go Hand and Hand
This week during our Reader’s Workshop, Kindergarten readers were quite busy working with their “Peanut Butter and Jelly” partners to take turns reading, listening to partners read, and retelling stories to their partners. “Peanut Butter and Jelly” partners practiced placing a book in the middle as they sat knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder, and took turns reading.
At the end of each day, we engage in various studies and activities during learning centers. Students start each day in a “have to” center (i.e.: math, science, writing, reading). When they finish that activity they rotate around the room to various free choice centers. Centers are an important way we individualize instruction, and allow for student inquiry.
All About Me
Kindergarteners have been busy learning all about themselves and their families. Young learners shared their favorite object from home, named many favorite things, and discussed their favorite thing to do. Kindergarteners have learned what makes up a family, how families are special and different, talked about their family traditions, and how a family is a community. As a culminating activity, your child is working hard to create their recycled family. We can’t wait for you to see these creative and innovative crafts.
Kindergartners are learning what good writers do as they use pictures and words to write stories from their lives. Young writers have been busy writing across several pages. Students are brainstorming topics that interest them or things that they know a lot about. Writers are brainstorming ideas in order to keep writing more and more. Stay tuned for this great work!
Kindergarteners are learning all about what Reader’s Workshop looks like and sounds like. They now know the five parts of Reader’s Workshop: set up, mini-lesson, solo reading, partner reading, and share. Kindergarteners have been practicing each part so that they can be ready to accomplish it independently. Students are learning to read using their whisper voices and build their prior knowledge by looking at the cover and pictures of their books.
Each morning, Kindergartners gather on the carpet to learn more about themselves and our classroom. They practice using eye contact to track the speaker and using their “loud and proud” voices. Students are finding friends with similarities and differences during these games. How many friends can your child name?
Monday, September 3: Labor Day – No School
Tuesday, September 4: Parent Coffee (TCS Backyard-8am)
Tuesday, September 18: Kindergarten Curriculum Night
Getting-To-Know Each Other
This week was all about getting to know the classroom, specific routines, and getting to know each other!! Kindergarteners participated in various energizers to build community and friendships. These energizers included, “Just Like Me”, “When the Warm Wind Blows”, “Would you rather?”, “Collaborative Musical Chairs”, and “A Tangled Web”. Kindergarteners enjoyed doing a classroom scavenger hunt to get familiar with the classroom. Ask your Kindergartener what their favorite Get-To-Know-You activity was this week!
This week, Kindergarteners not only got to get to know each other, but they also got to know friends from another grade. On Friday, we had lunch buddies with First Grade and we will partner up with them again on Tuesday for Movement. This buddy time is a great way to make new friends. Students love this time when they get to branch out and play with students from other grades. This leads them to feel more comfortable playing with other students later on. Lunch buddies is something we will return to throughout the year.
Hopes and Dreams
Every year at The Cooper School, students create and display their hope or dream for the school year. This stays up for the entire year, so that at the end of the year we can look back and reflect to see if our hopes or dreams came true. This week, we started our discussion by brainstorming, “Why do we come to school?” We wrote these responses on chart paper. Some things your children said were: to learn new things, to learn to be kind, and to challenge themselves. We will use this later to help each other create hopes for the year.
Saying Goodbye to our Fifth Grade Buddies
On Tuesday morning, we had the opportunity to get together with the rest of the school to watch the Fifth Graders practice their special performances for graduation. Kindergarteners delighted in hearing their friends sing various songs, play instruments, read poems, and share their artistic abilities.
On Thursday, Kindergarteners had so much fun playing with bubbles, taking pictures, playing games, and enjoying treats while celebrating our fabulous Fifth Graders. It was a great party.
We Have Word Power
Kindergarteners have been busy all year learning lots of new words every week during our vocabulary curriculum. Since the beginning of the year, your kindergartener has learned a total of 131 words to expand their vocabulary in speech and in their writing. This is amazing and we hope that they take this new knowledge, put it into their hippocampus and have it for a lifetime. Ask your Kindergartener what their favorite vocabulary words were.
Fourth Grade Buddies
On Wednesday, we paired up with our Fourth Grade buddies to read books outside under the trees. It was a beautiful peaceful morning of reading and sharing stories with friends.
Fourth Grade buddies then ate lunch together, played Thunder Tag, and Kindergarteners got to show their Fourth Grade buddy a special game or activity that they love the most. Kindergarteners loved bonding with these buddies and are thrilled for them to be Fifth Graders next year.
Becoming First Grade Mathematicians
This week Kindergarten mathematicians spent time practicing a variety of ways to practice their addition and subtraction skills. Mathematicians used their smart brains to not only complete these problems, but to also expand their knowledge into solving word problems. Kindergarten mathematicians are quickly marching their way towards becoming First Grade mathematicians!
Investigating Diverse Cultures!
Young scientists spent time discovering the wonders and uniqueness of the Yanomama people of the Amazon Rainforest! Brave scientists took a peek at the different aspects of this traditional tribe’s culture including: clothing, food, shelter, transportation, and celebrations. Scientists enjoyed learning about this tribe’s traditional ways of living off the land and their ways of respecting nature to protect the rainforest. One of our favorite discoveries included the fact that the Yanomama don’t eat sloths!
Friends Helping Friends
This week Kindergarten writers rallied support from classmates by writing letters, petitions, and signs to call for help in solving classroom and school concerns. Young writers deepened their understanding of persuasive writing by addressing their audience and offering solutions. Kindergarteners shared ways to solve problems such as messy cubbies, cleaning the art center and litter on our playground. Young writers were introduced to greetings, salutations and correct letter formats to make their letter writing even stronger! When writers see a problem, they think of how to fix it, decide who should hear the message, and then they write about it! Ask your youngster what they learned about letter writing this week.
Non-Fiction Avid Readers
This week Kindergarteners learned to be avid non-fiction readers. They learned that to be an avid reader they need to “think wow”, ask questions, and use fancy words to teach what they have learned. Kindergarteners spent time with their “peanut butter and jelly partners” teaching each other all about various non-fiction topics. Enthusiastic voices, words, and exclamations were heard throughout the classroom. Ask your Kindergartener about a nonfiction topic they learned about this week.
Wrapping-Up Swim Lessons
Our brave swimmers completed their last swimming lesson today! Kindergarteners have gained confidence through their weekly swim lessons and their helpful swim coaches. Students set swimming goals and participated in their lessons with brave and happy hearts. During Close of Day and Learning Centers this week, they helped compose a shared writing thank you letter to swim coaches. Kindergarteners are grateful for their swimming lessons!
We Are Problem-Solvers
This week brave writers explored persuasive writing by finding problems and writing in many different ways to reach their readers. Inspired by The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, students have been searching for ways they can make our classroom, school, and world a better place. Kindergarteners shared ways to solve problems such as messy cubbies, dried up glue sticks and litter on our playground. When writers see a problem, they think of how to fix it, and then they write about it! By making signs, letters, songs, lists, or petitions, our students are eagerly convincing their audience into action!