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Kindergarten is the beginning of a child's life-long journey of learning. At the New School, our kindergarten children have the opportunity to observe and participate in the interests of the larger learning community while having a smaller community of their own.
Kindergartners have opportunities for play, but are also paired with older children for games and projects. Based on a child's natural curiosity and desire to learn, the kindergarten curriculum is grounded in play, choice, and responsibility. A full-day program gives students the opportunity to participate in all the New School events.
Every morning each child has four centers/stations to visit. No two days are exactly alike because we rotate children in groups of 3 or 4 around the stations. On their contract we have used visual icons to show them where to go. At this point of the year we do not expect kindergartners to independently find their stations, though on Friday two groups of children did!
Our math station is called 1+6=7. Here children have played games, like The Dragon Game, where they move playing pieces around the board by adding the sum of two dice, or by using cards (3+1 = ?). They played Compare, an early version of War, where the children each turn over cards and compare the number of dots on each card. Unlike War it is not competitive and children play until they use up all the cards. When they find two cards that are the same, they shake pinkies and yell “iggy wiggy piggle tail” just for the sheer silliness of it.
At the ABC station children play games that involve naming letters, the sounds they make and words that begin with that sound. Games they have played include Hans Solo, ABSeas (where they fish for letters), Jurassic Park and sorting games, where they put plates of letters in ABC order or hang clothes on a clothesline where the pins have letters to match the objects’ beginning sounds.
At the Block station children practice fine motor skills, gross motor skills and enjoy dramatic play. At these stations children played with Legos, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, and played with seaside creatures at the Sand Table.
Finally at the Art/Writing station children explored different themes introduced during snack or read aloud using various art media. Our themes so far this year include the Seashore, Explorers (Ponce de Leon, Mathew Henson, Lewis & Clark and Admiral Byrd) and Fairy Houses! Children created fairy houses in the woods and drew pictures of the fairies.
Some of the stations are being “taught” by older children, which offers them the opportunity to solidify their skills and/or to mentor younger children.
During the afternoon your child’s day looks very much like the day of all the other children. At least once a week we play a whole school gym game. Free time at gym is usually on Mondays and Fridays, and the other days we often split into younger and older groups to play cooperative gym games. On rainy days (and we have had only two) we split into three groups playing games such as Twister, Chinese Jump Rope, Statues and/or Boggle.
Lunch takes place either inside or outside depending on the weather. But if at all possible we all like to be outdoors.
The kindergartners enjoy Investigations, though getting used to the reality that they may not be able to sign up for their first choice is a difficult thing to learn. The children have enjoyed hunting for bugs in the tall grass, playing chess or checkers, building with wooden blocks, playing Banagrams (even non-readers have found a way of enjoying this Scrabble-like game) or watching a video about Ocean life. We have also started “Legacy” where children take turns teaching each other. This week Autumn and Neona had a scrapbooking legacy, and Sam offered Origami. Next week the older children will be teaching everyone to play one of our many, many games.
Your Kindergartner is also part of many classes. On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, during Silent Reading, the kindergartners are part of a math class. In math class they have worked on getting familiar with Math manipulatives, comparing numbers, ordering numbers and numerals in staircases of cubes, and making plates of peas and carrots (thinking about how many ways can we make 7). On Tuesday morning (9:00 – 9:20) they have a phonics class. Here children have been using objects to make/blend words. Did you know a bear, apple and turtle spells bat? On Wednesday during morning snack, children have new and good news where their spoken language is written down and used to teach and reinforce phonics and phonetic awareness as well as the conventions of writing. On Thursday morning (9:20 – 10:00) they have a language arts class where typically a book is read and discussed and later used during the art/writing station. On Wednesdays, during Investigations, the kindergartners have been joined by the 2nd and 3rd graders for their weekly science class. During this time we have been learning about life on the seashore and are close to completing a huge seashore mural.
During Read Aloud at the end of day we have been reading picture books about explorers.