Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays

We have been so blessed with all of the gifts we have received this week. The biggest gift we get everyday is your children. We cherish them and give them our all. Thank you to all families for everything you do to help your child grow. Please have a fun and safe holidays. Try to read some everyday and practice counting your presents under the tree. See you in January!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Party

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chet went to Oregon

Hi, Ms. Cothern and Ms. Ellis

Chet and I had a wonderful time in Oregon. We went to Portland, Newport, the Pacific coast, Eugene, Bend, Sisters and back to Portland. We landed in Portland.
We went to Powell's, the world's biggest bookstore. It was Chet's first time to see that many books! Next stop was Newport. There were so many sea lions just laying on the dock!! Chet and I made friends with them.

In Eugene, We met our relatives. Playing with uncles, an aunt and a cousin was lots of fun. We left Eugene and went to Bend. We had so much fun hiking at the Deschutes river surrounded by nature and animals. The water fall was beautiful.
On the way back to Portland, we stopped at Sisters. The snow capped three sisters' mountains were such an awesome view. Chet and I saw and did so many amazing things. It'll be a life-time memory for me.

A and Chet

Rekenrek - Mental Images

Today we had another lesson using the rekenrek. We talked about making mental images of things we see. For example if you close your eyes and think of an elephant a large gray animal with big ears comes to mind. You can see that image in your mind because you have seen one before. Well in math we want students to also create mental images of numbers. If we say the number 4 to students, they should have a mental image of what that would look like. We use the rekenrek to help with that image.

Today each student had a blank paper divided into four squares. I had 9 rows of our rekenrek covered, so only the top row could be seen and used. I held a paper in front of the rekenrek and pushed 4 beads over to the other side. With all eyes on the rekenrek, I flashed them the beads. They only saw it for 2 seconds before I covered it again. The students next wrote what they saw. It should have been 4 balls. They could have also written the number four. The students next had another chance to see the beads before we check their thinking.
With the beads still hidden, I asked "What did you see?" Bryce raised his hand and said he saw 4 beads. I asked him, "How did you see them?". He said, "I saw two red beads, then two more red beads. I know that two and two more is four."

Next I asked, "Did someone else see something different?". Courtney said she just saw four red beads because she counted them.

Finally I asked Lainey, "What did you see?" Lainey explained that she noticed that not all of the red beads were used. She saw one left on the other side, so she knew that there were only four beads. Each student was correct. They all had the right answer but saw the beads in different ways.

We continued to follow the same routine with the numbers 5, 7,10, 11 and 15. The conversations continued to sound the same, with students seeing the same number but having different mental images of those numbers. With the numbers 11 and 15 we used two rows of beads. Even though you would think the higher numbers would be more difficult the students said it was easy because you don't have to count the first row if you see that all the beads have been moved over, you only have to count how many beads are on the second line. Because you just add the second row with 10 from the first row. Already the students in our class have a clear understanding of numbers and how the rekenrek works. When we finally get around to introducing addition the concept will have deeper meaning since the students will have a deeper understanding of numbers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Auction

It is time for the annual Holiday Auction here at Chets Creek. Each class makes a decorative item to be autioned off to the hightest bidder. They are hanging in the lobby. We are very proud of our wall hangings this year. They have been lovingly made by hand. We hope that you will be able to stop by to see our fabulous creations. Here is a sneak peak at them.

Two Vowels Walking

Did you know that when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking? Now your child knows this valuable language rule. Two vowels are side by side in words like rain, read, coat, pail and seat. The first vowel says the long sound and the second vowel is silent. Thinking about this language rule or pattern will help children begin to read. Here are two pages in a "B" level book from our leveled library.

The students have been taught lessons that support this text and they should be able to apply what we have learned in class and read the text. There are 3 sight words that we have introduced in class - I, and, my. There is one word with a bossy "e" - take. There is one word with two vowels walking - pail. There is one word that does not have a bossy "e" or two vowels walking so the students have learned that the vowel must be short - net. Because the kids have learned all consonant sounds, all vowel sounds, and these important language rules, they should be successful reading books at this level. Ask your child to show you examples of these kind of words when you are listening to him or her read the book-in-a-bag each night.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chet went to the Blue Ridge Mountians

B. and Chet had about a 8 hour drive up to Blue Ridge, was a long ride but they had a good time. We arrived at our first cabin but it was infested with wasps but everyone in the family survived no wasp stings and was moved to our new cabin which was located in TN. B. and Chet had a great time playing with B's sister, A. and hanging out in the cabin. B. and Chet also went to an Apple Picking Farm where they got to pick apples and purchase them and at the Apple Farm got to run around in the field. Also, while in TN got to go to some really cool shops where they had tons of Native American stores and they thought that was really cool since it is being discussed at school. When we were leaving B. and Chet were upset they had to leave the really cool cabin but were excited to come back to school.

Pow Wow

Native Americans from Melanie Holtsman on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BJ's Adoption

Did you know that BJ's Wholesale Club has adopted Chets Creek this year. We are so honored.
This Friday night at BJ's they are selling hotdogs, chips and a drink and all proceeds are going to our school. Our Chets Creek Recorder Club will also be performing.
Also during the holiday season from December 1st - 19th our school is having a can food drive. If our school receives 1000 cans, BJ's will give our school $1000. Please help our food drive by sending in cans from now until the winter break. Our class goal is for everyone to send in 2 cans a student.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pow Wow

We have been very busy making our costumes for Friday's Pow Wow. Please make sure you look in your child's folder for important information regarding the Pow Wow. We could not have finished everything without help from some wonderful mommy's. Thank you to Chase S., Grace, Jordan, Emma, Courtney, Brandon, and Ashley for letting their moms help us. Thank you to everyone else for bringing in all the supplies. We can't wait for the fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Hi, I’m Chip! My brother Chet was already travelling with one of his class friends, so I got to take a trip to Colorado with T and her family! We flew on a big jet to a place called Atlanta, which is in Georgia. I learned that is a state next to us in Florida. From there, we took another plane to Colorado. It was so far away, we had to set our watches back two hours because we got there before the sun did.

It was pretty cold in Colorado, partly because it is North of Florida, but also because it is at a higher elevation. Jacksonville is at sea level because it is right next to the ocean, but when we landed in Denver we were 5,280 feet – or a whole mile – above that. Thankfully I have a thick coat, and I really needed it for our first adventure: a visit to a town called Estes Park. Initially I thought we were going to play in a park, but that’s just the name of the town. It’s even higher (and colder) than Denver – 7,522 feet – because it is even closer to the Rocky Mountains. While at Estes Park, we saw wildlife just walking around the town! There were elk white-tailed deer and even bighorn sheep (though I thought they should have been called smallhorn sheep!)

Next to Estes Park is the Rocky Mountain National Park. Here we actually got to drive up into the mountains and saw snow flurries during the drive. T and I climbed up a rock at one of the scenic lookouts and with beautiful snow-capped mountains behind us. Unfortunately so much snow fell the previous day that they closed off part of the road for the rest of winter, but where the road ended we were at a place called Many Parks Curve at an elevation of 10,829 feet. The air was so thin up there, it was hard to catch my breath!

Near the end of the road were more scenic lookups and some signs that showed us what mountains we could see and T and I also read how the mountains and valleys were formed by large glaciers, which are solid blocks of ice, cutting through the land over many, many years The adventures of the day really tired out my good friend, T.

The next day we went to a place called the Butterfly Pavilion. I thought we were just going to see butterflies, but they had exhibits of insects and fish, too! We saw some creepy critters, like bees , scorpions, fiddler crabs, Madagascar cockroaches and they even let T’s daddy hold a live tarantula EWWWW! Of course, we also saw a wide variety of butterflies including some that hadn’t been hatched yet. These butterflies were in things called pupa where caterpillars change into beautiful butterflies. According to the sign we read the Pavilion gets these pupa from all over the world for their collection – they even had some from Florida
Even in all this excitement, T and I were feeling a little homesick and missing our friends back at school. On our last day, we said goodbye to T’s great-grandmother and braved the freezing cold to journey back home, bringing with us treasured memories…

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chet Goes to the Hospital

Wow, was I a lucky bear. I got to go to work with E’s. mom. She works at a hospital and helps little babies being born. When I visited the hospital, I got weighed. Then I warmed up underneath the heating lamp. I felt like I was just being born like a real baby. Next they took my vital signs, meaning they checked my heartbeat to make sure I was healthy. After all of this I was tuckered out so I snuggled into my new blanket to take a nap. It was a fun day.

Chet Goes to St. Augustine

C. was thrilled to take Chet on a trip to St. Augustine with her big brother D...better known as "Bubby". Grammie and Grampie took us in their beautiful motor home to a St. Augustine Beach camp site. My parents went on a date weekend to celebrate their 21st anniversary. After setting up camp we took a walk on the beach. The weather was wonderful and Chet enjoyed watching the waves roll in. Luckily my Grammie loves to take long strolls on the beach so Chet and I were able to go on many adventures. Later that day my Bubby and I grilled hamburgers and hotdogs. He thought we were great at cooking. Later that night we played Scrabble and Bingo and even later we made some yummy smores. I tried to get all of the sticky marshmallows off Chet... he really liked that yummy treat!The next day Chet was very sleepy and took a nap on my Grammie and Grampie's bed. When he woke up I gave him lots of love and we took another walk on the beach looking for shells. We had so much fun. I enjoyed being with my family and Chet enjoyed meeting and playing with all of them as well. We made some wonderful memories that will last forever.

Skills Block - Bossy e

All children come to Kindergarten with different phonics knowledge of letters and sounds. We introduce a letter a day. The letters are not introduced to the students in alphabetical order. We begin with the letters that say their sound when you say their name (Tt, Bb, Kk, Jj, Dd). The students learn how to form the capital and lower-case letter when they write it, the name of the letter and the sound that it makes. We might listen to a story, share the reading of a poem or share the reading of a big book that focuses on the letter. We create a student generated list of words that begin with the letter sound. The words are added to our word wall so that the students can refer to it during workshops. Once all of the consonants are introduced, we focus on the vowels. The boys and girls learn songs about the vowels and their long and short sounds.

Now that we have talked about all of the consonants and vowels we are ready to learn language rules that will help the children read. It is not enough to tell a child to "sound it out" because the English language is not that simple. The first language rule we teach the students is the "Bossy e" rule. The following words have a "Bossy e" - bake, kite, nose, cute, & name. The "e" on the end of the word bosses the vowel to say it's name (the long vowel sound), and then the "e" says nothing. "Bossy e" words only have one consonant between the vowel and the silent "e". The children begin to notice this pattern in words which helps them decode words. When reading with your child at night help them find words with a "Bossy e".

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pumpkin Unit

As we begin to learn about the Sioux Native Americans it is time to say goodbye to our study on pumpkins. Mrs. Holtsman who is a parent as well as our technology specialist at Chets has made a wonderful video showcasing many lessons and cute facts the students learned. The one on our blog is a shorter version. Mrs. Holtsman is making a complete disc for every students to have their own copy. Please join us in thanking her for taking her personal time to make each child their own copy, so they will never forget these special memories.

Sioux Native Americans

When the students arrived today, they noticed a transformation of the kindergarten hall. Outside each kindergarten room was a representation of the home their Native American tribe lived in. There was also a flag representing their tribe hanging in the hall. Outside our room was a teepee the students must walk through to enter our room. The students learned the reason why the Sioux lived in a teepee was because it was easy to move the teepee around when they were following the buffalo. We also had our flag hanging on the wall. Please don't forget that all supplies must be in by Friday. If you can send them in earlier it will help us get started decorating early.

Voting Day

Today we had so much fun discussing the election. We talked about the job of President. We introduced each candidate Obama and McCain to the students. We also had a discussion on how important it is to vote. After teaching the students how to choose only one candidate by filling in the bubble, the students went to the polling booth and place their vote. Afterward, they placed their paper in our bucket and received a sticker for voting today. Once all votes were placed we tallied the votes together. It was a great opportunity to teach the students on how to use tally marks to count higher numbers. We also discussed the way we group tally marks, four up and down and one diagonal. When we finished counting our votes the winner was McCain. We can't wait to see if our vote holds up to the actual winner. Please discuss this process with your child and tell them when they wake up who the winner is.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"The Long and the Short"

Last week during Reader's Workshop the students learned a new reading strategy. Because we have focused on the short and long vowel sounds in Skills Block, the kids were ready to "Try Both Vowel Sounds" as they read. When a child decodes a word they should think of the sounds that each of the letters make. When it comes to the vowels they will need to decide if it is the long or short sound. Because all words have a vowel they need to try both sounds to decide which one works in the word. In the word "nine", students should notice that the long sound works, but the short sound does not. Trying both sounds will help them master both vowel sounds. As we begin to introduce language rules the children will begin to notice the patterns in words that make the vowel sounds long or short.

New Vocabulary

As an update on our vocabulary study we have 6 new words from the story Where the Wild Things Are to share with you. We want the students to keep an ear out for the words in stories they hear, TV programs they watch or conversations you may have together. We love it when the students use the new vocabulary words in our discussions we have in the classroom or in their writing. The new words are: rumpus, private, tame, adventure, frightened, and longing.

Fall Celebration

On October 31st we had a Fall Celebration in our room. The students had a wonderful time making treats and art projects. Thanks to our room mothers and your donations the students made tootsie pop ghosts, jack-o-lantern flashlights, necklaces, bats and decorated cupcakes. The students also spent time reading fall books together. It was a fun and relaxing day.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Literary Character Parade

On Thursday we had a grand time participating in the parade. All of the students dressed as their favorite character from a book. Everyone was excited and a little scared walking around the bottom floor of our school in front of the "big kids".

We would also like to take the opportunity to thank all of the parents who helped sell pizza at the carnival. It was a wonderful event that the PTA organized. It continues to get bigger and better each year. The money raised will go towards purchasing many important items for the children this year.

Literary Pumpkin Contest

We are so happy to announce that our pumpkin came in 1st Place for the Most Creative. We are proud of our Liberty Bell. It took many tries and the students were excited to see it finished.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A,E,I,O,U Vowel Song

Today during our Skills Block we began to learn about the vowels. The students learned that the vowels make two separate sounds. One is the long sound when the vowels say their name. The other is the short sound like in the words: apple, bed, pit, log, and lung. They also learned a song using the vowels. Please have your child sing it for you. It is sung to the tune of BINGO. As you sing the song again, you will not say "A" you will clap in place of it. The third time through, you will clap twice and only say the I O U. Continue until it is all clapping for the vowels. Then end the song with saying all the vowels again.

I can name the vowels for you
and you can name them to - oo
And you can name them to - oo

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Harry, Harry, Please Come Home!"

Today we went on our very first Kindergarten Field Trip. We started our day by putting on our new Kindergarten T-Shirts so that we would all match. Our shirts are black and white and boy did we look sharp! We had to make sure that we all had a lunch and then we took a bathroom break before we got on the bus to head to downtown Jacksonville. The bus ride was bumpy and fog was in the air. It looked like we were in the clouds as we drove across the big bridge. We arrived at the park. It was right next to the stadium where the Jaguars play. The playground was neat with lots of cool stuff to play on. After we played for a while we sat together to enjoy lunch. We were lucky to find some shade because it sure was a hot day especially for October. After lunch it was time to make our way to the Florida Theatre. It was a really fancy place with lots of seats and a big stage. It is one of the oldest theatres in Jacksonville. We heard that Grandma Ellis once went to the very same theatre to see some famous guy named "Elvis" sing. We were at the theatre to see a play of one of our favorite books, Harry the Dirty Dog. There were four actors in the show who sang and danced as they told the story of Harry. We loved it! Once the show was over, it was time to head back to one our favorite places, Chets Creek. We ended our day with a snack and some playtime on our playground. We were so lucky to have so many moms and dads come with us on our trip. It was just about a perfect day. We wished that Mrs, Ellis (who was at an important math meeting) and a few of our friends (who were sick) would have been there with us. That would have made our day absolutely perfect!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Many Bears Do You See?

The Counting Jar is a Math Workshop activity designed to help students develop strategies for accurately counting and keeping track of quantities. Students also learn to create an equivalent set and represent quantities with numbers, pictures and words. We put a set of blue and red bears in the Counting Jar. The students look at the jar and make a guess at how many bears they think are in the jar. We talk to the boys and girls about making a "good" guess. Once they decide on a number, they record their answer on a sticky note. The children place their sticky notes on a numberline. We discuss which number had the most, least, and equal amounts of guesses. We check our guesses and count the bears in the jar. Once the students learn how many bears were in the counting jar, they can determine how close their guess was. They record their guess and the right answer on paper using numbers, pictures and words.