Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The 100th Day in Kindergarten

Image result for 100   in Sabot at Stony Point                  Kindergarten

The number 100 is a landmark number and deserves its own day.

We counted each day that we went to school with the knowledge that when we reached the number 100 we would celebrate.

Our math system was formed using base ten numeration. This means that all digits find their place on the number line using one rule. The value of a digit is 10 times the place to its right (the 3 in 63 is worth just 3 but the 3 in 36 is worth ten times as much).

In Kindergarten, the children notice the sequence of the numbers and the patterns that exist on number lines and grids to 100. As the children become familiar with the concepts of digits they begin to lay the groundwork for understanding place value in first grade.

We have discovered that:

  • The numbers in a column all end with the same number.
  • In each row, as we count left to right the right, the digit goes up by one number but the first digit (the ten) stays the same.
  • In each column. the first digit (the ten) goes up by one as we descend. 
  • We practice counting by tens as we descend the far left column on the hundreds chart.

We have also  considered the neighbors of each number on the number chart. We complete one hundred charts with numbers missing and use our knowledge to identify the missing number.

We use the hundreds chart to practice skip counting by twos and five and tens.
Our celebration began with a story.

As we planned the celebration,  a group of children expressed interest in dressing as a Super Hero 100. Our day included an opportunity to adorn our Super Hero (or princess) capes with 100 designs.

C. counts the flowers that she has carefully sketched on her cape.

T. and T. are the first to attempt to build a structure with 100 red plastic cups. It was challenging from a building perspective. The weight of the cup added to the difficulty.

L is deep in thought customizing her super hero cape.

A super Hero is spinning their web of cold ice cream with the hopes of entrapping the spider. This customized insignia is closing the gap between 0 and 100.
It took some time but the structure is tall, sturdy and erect.

Lira uses a strategy to reach 100 designs...ten circles with ten designs in each circle.

Another partnership forms with the goal of using all of the cups in a standing structure.

L. assembles a 100 piece puzzle.

This partnership is building in the round and is fueled by much debate.

In the afternoon we tested the strength of our body and our endurance.
Are we able to complete 100 exercises?

The Grand Finale! Thanks to some lovely moms we counted 100 muffins and answered the following question.

How do we divide the muffins so each child has an equal amount of muffins?

We used skip counting to discover that  each child  receives five muffins. 

Yet another structure is erected.

Super Heroes and Royalty assemble for a group shot commemorating day 100.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Ritual and rhythm provides stability, predictability and reassurance for children. With ritual, children know what to expect and when to expect it and feel secure in the consistency that it provides. Mindfulness is a practice that embraces these sensibilities.

Mindfulness in children

Mary and I have initiated a very small ritual in our classroom to encourage mindfulness in the transition during recess to our afternoon work and play. The children gather in a circle and are asked to close their eyes. We ring a Tibetan Singing Bowl. The children open their eyes when they no longer hear a ringing tone. We ring the bowl three times but on the third ring we ask the children to let one word float to the surface describing the feelings they experienced during  recess. We limit the palate and give the children  four words to choose from including sad, happy, mad or scared.

Each child shares a feeling and attaches it to a story. For example, "I felt mad because I wanted to play Star Wars but was left out." Often these feelings and stories have been discussed on the playground with teachers but sometimes they are explained for the first time and so we stop and mend strings that have been cut. Sometimes the stories prompt others to share similar stories. The ritual requires that each community member shares without the option of declining  participation. This helps some in our Kindergarten community to find their voice and feel empowered to share their feelings.

As we listen and respond, we practice and model some of the basic tenets of this work. We use these words throughout the ritual. Presence is remaining open and curious to the moment. Understanding includes active listening  and compassion towards others as well as ourselves. Finally, the  tenant of acceptance creates a risk-free environment void of judgement and seeking  truth over perfection.

Is it ok to feel mad? Does everyone need to feel happy all the time?

 "It is ok to be mad sometimes but then you need to talk to someone." Evan

The Happiness Trap is a part of our culture that  makes sitting with discomfort something to avoid. We work hard to protect our children from feelings that bring disappointment or tears but it is through these hard feelings that change is brought about and important social-emotional learning occurs. Happiness feels good but sadness, anger and fear bring reflection.

As Mary and I sit at the end of recess and listen to each child state a feeling we hope to hear the word happy more often than sad, scared or mad but we recognize that it is the hard feelings that offer our community opportunities to learn strategies, resiliency and compassion for each other. In the weeks to come we anticipate children returning home with more questions and concerns about recess. The pot will be stirred but the hope is that with presence, understanding and acceptance students will trust that these moments of discomfort will pass. They will begin to learn the practice of mindfulness and consider it a tool that can be used now and in the years to come.