We have had quite the last two weeks at the Kindergarten. The first Friday in June the special Tatar summer holiday of Sabantui. To celebrate the coming of summer in our own special way all the children of the Kindergarten sang traditional songs and played Tatar games outside; This more casual than usual pageant was enjoyed by the kids and their parents alike.
The end of the school year is beckoning near---but that doesn’t mean that Miss. Samantha and the two English language student cohorts have taken their summer holiday just yet! The most important aspect of our Kindergarten beyond genuine student enjoyment and learning is being able to generalize our knowledge outside and within many contexts. It is also important, especially for our younger cohort, to keep subjects studied practical and relevant to their everyday experiences. What a better subject to end a great school year with then the five senses and parts of the human body?
The first week both classes focused on the upper half of the human body. The Kindergarten group truly love colouring and worksheets and so for them flashcards which they could take home and share with their families. Focused on vocabulary included: hands, arm, face, hair etc. While the pre-school cohort was exposed to the flashcard vocabulary their learning came directly through our song of week one: “Hands, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” To say students enthusiastically and quickly learned this song would be an understatement!
In an effort to put this song (or part of it) into a tangible form each student in attendance did a cooperative drawing with Miss. Samantha individually…what does this mean? Miss. Samantha drew their portrait (the pre-k crowd has neither the fine motor skills or the attention span yet to do the entire thing alone) but the student dictated what colours, drawing styles they wanted their portrait to include. They also indicated different parts of their drawn face in English. The Kindergarten cohort, enthusiastic, drew their own and with only a little help from the teacher copied the English words for themselves! Needless to say these drawings are adorable and will be a keepsake for families.
Our second week in this unit found us focusing on the lower half of the body. Here vocabulary included foot, leg, toes, hips etc. Our song of the week: “The Hokey Pokey.” Defying the expectations of Miss. Samantha all students appeared to love and pick up the language and motions of this song quickly. What is perhaps more impressive, is that the younger cohort learned right from left whereas the older cohort did this too and began singing the song to themselves! This indeed is learning for meaning in action. There is no need to pressure children into learning within the confines of timeframes or absolute expectations.
Taking a cue from Reggio Emilio learning framework earlier in the week after learning and practicing the lower half of the body parts, students were asked to trace their own foot and decorate it anyway they want. Paints and markers were provided without any ‘artistic borders.’ The point of this project beyond simple creativity was to allow the student to engage with their work while also being open to teacher ideas/suggestions. For the younger cohort this also gave us a chance to practice our counting.
Two members of the Kindergarten cohort took a huge step this week! During a combined levels class they became a great example to their younger cohorts by taking on the teaching and instructing role during circle time! It was truly wonderful to see students helping and sharing with one and another in their learning! Great job Malika Z and Amina!
To say that staff and students prepared for our final end of the year pageant and Kindergarten graduation would be an understatement! Students rehearsed no less than fifteen Russian, Tatar and English songs, poems and monologues for this special occasion and their arduous work is very appreciated! What follows in this journal entry is a summary of the show that took place on June 1, 2012.
Among several Russian and Tatar songs students in the Kindergarten and Pre-K cohort sang “Old MacDonald” had a farm. For our younger students the focus here was on learning the phonetic sounds associated with each animal such as ‘Quack Quack’ for ducks or ‘moo’ for cows; older students to gain a natural, comfortable fluency in singing.
Three of our wonderful students this year are graduating from Kindergarten and all their achievements had to be acknowledged. For their English language sector students received a diploma, big bar of chocolate and rose. They also received wonderful gifts from all staff at Sadek.
Malika S, Malika Z and Amina you are all wonderful students and we all wish you the best in the future!
Welcome to another journal entry at last! In this special two part entry we will review what both the Kindergarten and Pre-K classes have been up to since mid May from an academic standpoint and our final school pageant.
In short the three following weeks before our end of the year celebrations saw a massive review in all classes covered up to our current unit. For the older cohort this meant paying particular focus on the family, pet and animal based units. A great deal of time was also spent checking phonic comprehension. As is illustrated by our weekly lesson plans each week we focus on a new letter.
While it is true a few students in the Kindergarten class do know their Russian and English alphabet from A-Z---they merely know the order not the various sounds each letter can not create nor can they name many words that begin with any particular letter outside of what we have studied thus far. This tendency is simply not good enough and an example of the pitfalls of rote memorization over learning for meaning. Much to the enthusiasm students, however, we began using special sensory flash cards (a gift from a great parent) and matching them to their corresponding first, second and last letters. This encouraged a deliberate thought process and attention to detail.
As we are in a state of review in regards to vocabulary students in the Kindergarten section were also allowed to apply what they had learned to their favourite past-time: colouring. It was particularly important during the high tension weeks before the pageant to give students a space to enjoy their school day and learn at a reasonable pace.
Students in the pre-K cohort also took this time to review materials. It should be noted however that their review went at a much slower pace and focused on only few key topics rather a wide breadth of information. Topics reviewed included: the shapes, immediate family member names, pets and familiar songs such as ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘Mary had a Little Lamb.’ It became a priority in their English language time spent with Miss. Samantha to allow this group to experience as much pressure-free, free choice play in possible due to the fact that in their Russian and Tatar sections they were memorizing whole dialogues and several songs (quite the feat for any three year old!)
Remember our beautiful indoor garden? With the full transition to summer and the reality that our little plants were growing leaps and bounds outside of their containers, together with staff, our little flowers made their big debut in an outdoor garden where they can continue to thrive in nature and be enjoyed by the children everyday.