A Peek Into Our Kindergarten Classroom
Have you ever wondered what really happens in your child’s Kindergarten classroom when you are not there? Of course we can’t actually hide you behind the glass so you can peek inside, but we can do the next best thing: share some insights from one of our Kindergarten teachers.
We caught up with Kayte Lenahan, our Half-day Kindergarten teacher, for a peek into her day and some fun facts about her classroom. Kayte is very excited about teaching Kindergarten, and this year she says her students are “aware, thoughtful, and simply amazing.”
Kayte’s Kindergartners arrive after a half-day of public Kindergarten. To ease them into their afternoon, they have recess, followed by lunch. Then they are ready for calendar and read-aloud. According to Kayte: “We just transitioned from quiet rest to read-aloud time. My kids love this time: they can sit wherever they want, and they can bring in books from home for us to read. They love sharing books from home.”
She says that her small class of 16 allows her and her co-teacher to adjust the curriculum according to her students’ needs. Teaching science involves “KWL” for each unit – that’s teacher lingo for “what they know, what they want to know, and what they learned”. Whenever they take on a new subject, say penguins, they cover the animal life cycles, and it is quite remarkable how many facts the children bring in to contribute to the unit. They read a lot of books on the subject, and Kayte often exposes them to extra sensory activities (e.g. making homemade snow in December). Learning what the children know about a particular subject helps us to build upon their knowledge and make connections with what they already know, increasing the likelihood of interest and learning.
In language arts, Kayte’s Kindergartners are working on sight words. They frequently read books that have the sight words in them (everyday words such as “the” and “I”). With the goal of increasing fluency, the children learn not only to use their letter-sound recognition skills, but also to memorize more and more words on sight. They are working on story elements too, differentiating between fiction and non-fiction books: “We ask the children before we read a book if they think it’s fiction or non-fiction, then after they read the story, we ask them to pick out the main characters, the setting, and the message. Their comprehension skills have improved a lot since September.”
The class also works in Centers, small learning groups, almost every day. They work with their group through activities, rotating from one to the next: for example, we might have one math center, a writing center, a technology center, and a play-based center with manipulatives. The classroom offers the children a healthy balance of teacher guided lessons and opportunities for the children to explore through play in small groups.
We asked Kayte to reveal a couple of interesting facts about her Kindergarten class. Here’s what she said:
- “Our Kindergartners end the day with read-aloud: it’s different from how they start the day. This book’s topic follows the curriculum. And here’s the cool part: when we start a new topic, I send all the parents an email announcing the topic and asking if anyone has any books they’d like to share. The children love to bring in books from home to contribute to the lesson.”
- Instead of unhealthy birthday treats, we now have “birthday books”: the class creates a special birthday book for the child celebrating, along with a hat, and the birthday child can invite a birthday guest in to read a book to the class. Kayte says, “It’s more special than bringing in cupcakes, and it aligns much better with what we are trying to do in our program. The children seem to love it so far!”
Do you have a child in Kayte’s class? Be sure to ask about “Drop everything and read” – it was another big hit with the children.