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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nashville was fantastic!

A big thank you to the whole Kindergarten Stepping Stones Team for the hard work and great presentations at the national convention in Nashville TN!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I AM...

I am a Christian Teacher
By Denise Curnutt
January 11, 2011
I am a Christian teacher.
I cry with them every year when Jesus dies on the cross in the Bible story.
I pray for lost mittens and sick dogs and grandpas who have smoked for 40 years and need to quit.
I try not to laugh while reviewing the Trinity, “God the Father, God the Son and..”when someone pipes up, “Hey-what about God the mom?!”
I do all the voices in the Bible stories.  Or…(I can be Aunt Sue and Uncle Dan in the Bible stories.)
When they point excitedly at the My Bible Friends book and say, “ I HAVE that book!!!” I say, “It’s because your parents want you to know about God.”
I know 39 ways to teach a Bible verse.
I go to the Spanish church and the Korean church and the All Nations church and the Phil-Am church because someone special invited me.
Yes, there are cool things I want to do in Heaven, too!
I am a Christian teacher.
I steer the conversation in another direction when there’s debate whether thunder is God rearranging furniture or bowling.
I know when someone’s eyes are open during prayer without opening mine.
I know 93 Bible action songs.
I collect small bathrobes for Bible costumes.
I know the difference between Elijah and Elisha-usually.
I say it’s not good to love one of your children more than the other, like Jacob and Esau’s mom and dad.
I am a Christian teacher.
I pretend to be God blowing the breath of life into Adam.
I pretend to be Jesus calming the storm.
I pretend to be the Holy Spirit giving them good ideas.
I get ideas for Bible class in church, in the car, and at Walmart.
I say it’s not good to let your kids do whatever they want, like Eli.
Yes, I feel like saying or doing mean things, but Jesus is helping me, too.
I explain that the picture of Jesus on the wall is a painting, not a photograph.
I am a Christian teacher.
I say God loves us when we’re good or bad, nice or mean.
I wonder what manna tasted like, too!
I explain that Baby Jesus did not have blond hair and blue eyes.
I try not to cry when someone prays for Walter’s mom to be alive again.
I attempt, with God’s help, to make the invisible God visible.
I am a Christian teacher.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Math: The goal of the math strand in Stepping Stones is for the children to develop an understanding of mathematical patterns through the use of meaningful, hands-on materials. In Stepping Stones the children will be actively involved with a variety of math experiences which will help enable them to internalize concepts as a result of their interactions with concrete materials and each other.

Math work in kindergarten is designed to be hands on—the children begin with concrete experiences using manipulatives, and progress to pictorial/graphic representations before ultimately working at the symbolic/abstract level as they mature and develop greater understandings. In math, concepts are addressed in large group settings through calendar activities, direct lessons, everyday routines such as graphing, sorting, counting rhymes, etc.; in small group settings at “center time” as they work with activities in relation to the theme or literature being studied; and independently to practice and reinforce skills.
In each Daily Lesson Guide, you will find numerous suggestions and activities for large group instruction that focus on daily math routines —using the calendar, literature, songs/fingerplays, and whole class presentations to help build mathematical thought in the children. Each Daily Lesson Guide also has work suggestions for the children to do in small groups at “center time”. In addition, activities are also included that can be completed independently. These math activities are related to each literature selection and are tied to the theme. To further build mathematical understanding in the children, choose to do as many activities as time permits during the week.

ROUTINES- Language Arts: Writing Workshop/Fine Motor Skill

Use the following framework to plan a balanced literacy experience for your class.
Writing by Children: Independent “writing” gives the children the opportunity to write for different reasons and provides insight into the level of each child’s understanding of print concepts. The children begin writing when they first scribble something meaningful to themselves. Once they are able to write letters, they begin to use letters instead of the scribbles because it is more like conventional writing. When the children are able to hear individual sounds in words, they write one or more letters per word based on the sounds in the words. The final stage is conventional writing. Invented spelling allows all children to write independently at their developmental level.

Fine Motor Skills are essential when children are involved in school activities, developing an understanding of the world, and learning how to care for themselves and their environment. These activities are designed to help children strengthen the muscles in their hands and practice hand-eye coordination. As they grow and mature, strength and dexterity develop naturally when they practice fine motor skills such Writing Workshop is an integral component of a balanced literacy program and is a meaningful extension of the monthly theme. Writing Workshop is a teaching technique that invites children to write about ideas, concepts, and discoveries they have made during the unit theme. Writing, in a variety of ways, is an expected daily activity. Children are exposed to the organization and thought required to create a story or write about a favorite topic. Because they are often allowed to choose the topic, children are motivated to create and complete works to read to their classmates. The Writing Workshop format includes story planning, revision, teacher editing, and direct instruction in the mechanics of grammar. In kindergarten, Writing Workshop incorporates writing with children and writing by children.

1.      Writing with Children: In kindergarten, writing is designed to be active, engaging, and social. Writing with Children can be an opportunity to integrate phonics and a window into their understanding of it. Daily Writing with Children also helps them understand how reading works. Incorporate the following strategies:
·         The Daily Message is an interactive writing experience that includes modeling by the teacher and active participation by the children. This activity can be used as an introductory lesson before the children begin their independent writing. Model the writing process for the children on the board or a large chart. Include the children in the discussion about the process you are going through. This helps the children learn the vocabulary to think about their own writing. Talk about the strategies being used.
Creating Predictable Charts is a time to interact with the children in a shared writing experience. Because they are predictable and repetitious they are multi-level and most children experience success. Ideas come from the monthly theme books, classroom activities, and school events. Predictable Charts can be turned into class books and then placed in the class library for as buttoning, snapping, tweezing, pouring, eating, and turning pages in a book. Organization, coordination, concentration, and independence are also developed while doing these activities and give children a sense of personal satisfaction. After showing children how to use the materials in these activities, demonstrate how to replace them on a tray or other container. Show children where they will be stored in the room. Let them know times during the day when they can choose this work to do independently. Explain that when they are finished with the work it is important for them to put it back ready for the next person to use.

Listening and Speaking is an important part of oral language development. Speaking in front of the class (Show-n-Tell) will encourage the children to share information, ideas, sequence events, and add details while communicating clearly in coherent sentences. Learning why listening is important and how to listen carefully and politely is also taught in this authentic setting. See Teacher’s Manual page ____for more information and ideas.

ROUTINES- Language Arts: Reading Workshop/Sign In

Use the following framework to plan a balanced literacy experience for your class.
Reading Workshop is a daily routine that provides times for children to enjoy literature and discover how reading helps them learn new concepts and explore different ideas. Whatever their prior knowledge, children also expand their phonemic awareness skills and increase their sense of rhythm and rhyme while listening to stories, poetry, and repetitive or predictable text. During this time children also practice print concepts such as tracking words from left to right and reading from the top to the bottom of a page. A wide variety of literature and activities are introduced during reading workshop to develop the child’s desire to read. Their vocabularies are enlarged while auditory discrimination and comprehension skills are fine-tuned. The primary goal of reading workshop is not to master skills, but build on their prior knowledge and establish a strong foundation for literacy learning.

1.      Reading to Children (Daily Read Aloud) every day is a crucial part of their scaffolding as they construct their knowledge about words, ideas, and how we use them to communicate with others. Along with the theme books, children need to have a variety of books read aloud to them everyday—including alphabet books, rhyming books, predictable books, information books, and story books. Invite the children to bring favorite books from home about _____________ to share with the class. Choose literature available to your classroom from your school or public library. Tailor your selections to meet the needs and interests of your class. The bibliography at the end of this Daily Lesson Guide provides suggestions corresponding to the theme.

2.      Reading with Children (Thematic/Guided Reading) is the balanced literacy component where children “read” and talk together about a wide variety of text include rhyming books, big books, predictable text, favorite books, and interactive charts. The children may interact with print by touching and moving the words and phrases of poetry, songs, and Bible verses written on sentence strips and displayed in a pocket chart. The print materials used in this shared experience may be more difficult than some children can read by themselves and require guidance. Guided Reading incorporates four components found in the language arts section for each theme book.

A.  Before Reading: Introduction of book
·         Read the title of the book, title page, and dedication
·         Discuss author/illustrator background; other books by same author available to class
·         Make predictions: Look at the cover of the book.
What is the story about?
Is the story real or fiction?
·         Connect book to prior knowledge, unit study, concept development

                                    B.  During Reading
·         First Reading: Read through the whole book without stopping. Allow children to enjoy the book without interference.
·         Second Reading: Allow the children to chime in, comment and ask questions naturally while you read.
·         Compare predictions with story.

C.  After Reading
·         At the end of the second or third reading, start working on comprehension:
·         Who? What? When? Where?
·         Name the main characters.
·         Is there a problem?
·         Help the children go to the next level of thinking by asking: What would you do? What could happen next? Why do you think that happened?
·         Toss a beach ball with general comprehension questions.

D.  Future Reads: Third, Fourth, Fifth, etc.
·         Start paying attention to specifics:
·         Find rhyming words in the text
·         Ask the children to spell words with big letter cards
·         Echo reading: This is essential to help understand the flow, rhythm, and emphasis of the book.
·         Choral read: Mix up ways to choral read. Groups can rotate pages as they read. One group can read all but the last word, then the other group reads the last word.
·         Practice the Cloze technique or Guess the Covered Word by using “stick–on” notes.
·         Act out the story.
·         Use other Kindergarten Literacy Strategies

3.      Reading by children (Independent Reading and Conferencing) is a regularly scheduled part of the day where the children choose literature to enjoy independently. Provide a wide variety of books you have already read together for the children to enjoy at their leisure. The repeated words, refrains, choruses, pictures, patterns, and rhymes in predictable books you have read repeatedly to and with the class allow the children to “pretend read” their favorite selections. Also make available seasonal picture books, books about the arctic, Antarctica, and other subjects you observe the children enjoying. Some children may begin to independently read predictable books, rhyming books, and leveled phonetic readers during this time.

Signing-In: This is an authentic way to teach children how to recognize their names in print and practice forming each letter correctly.

ROUTINES- Language Arts: Phonemic Awareness

Use the following framework to plan a balanced literacy experience for your class. These routines work together to help the children enjoy literature and take their first steps toward becoming lifelong readers and writers. Choose to use as many activities each day as the children’s needs and time permits. The framework of Phonemic Awareness, Sound-Letter Awareness Reading Workshop, Signing-In, Writing Workshop, Fine Motor Skills, and Listening/Speaking will help the children take pleasure in the language surrounding them as they begin their journey of literacy development.

Phonemic Awareness: Activities in this routine will help children discover how oral language works. It is essential for children to hear and manipulate oral sound patterns before they relate them to letters. Children need to understand spoken language before they can recognize words in print. Phonemic awareness is a precursor to phonics instruction which associates sounds to the alphabet. The objective is not for the children to recognize the differences in sounds but to know how sounds can be manipulated. These stepping stones of phonemic awareness are sequential. After the children are aware of the words they speak, they hear syllables, followed by chunks (onsets and rimes) and then the individual sounds “inside” words. There are 4 phonemic awareness activities corresponding to each theme book. Mastery of these levels is not expected in kindergarten. Phonemic awareness is an ability that takes time to develop. Children learn best by being exposed to a variety of experiences rather than repeated drills.

ROUTINES- Worship/Bible

Worship/Bible Routine: Young children learn best through active involvement. When planning, include the following components to help the children experience the Bible story and understand the key concept. This routine is designed to help the children get to know, love, and follow Jesus.

Singing: Choose songs that are appropriate for your classroom and relate to the lesson’s key concept. Some suggested songs might include:
Theme Song:

Experiencing the Story: Each Bible story is presented in interactive ways to help the children experience the story and apply it to their lives. Not all the activities need to be done. However, the progression of “Experiencing the Story” is important in helping the children understand the key concept in each Bible story.

Introducing: This activity builds on shared experiences that are common to most young children and helps activate prior knowledge. The activity helps introduce the Bible story and begins relating the lesson’s key concept to their every day lives.
Presenting: Use the Bible story lap book to tell the story. Read the story with enthusiasm. You will find that many of the Bible stories have interactive suggestions for the children to participate in while the story is being read or told. The Bible verse is introduced and related to the Bible story.
Reviewing: Use the Bible story lap book, role-playing, and questions to help the children start talking about the Bible story. The children may want to help you tell the Bible story if they already know it. The Bible verse is reviewed and related to the Bible story.
                        Practicing: This component allows the children to practice what they’ve been learning. The suggested activities provide the children an opportunity to reteach the Bible story and key concept to each other before going home and sharing the Bible story and key concept with their families at the completion of the lesson. The children interact with each other and may make something to take home to further apply and share the key concept with their families.
Applying: By the end of the lesson the children should be very familiar with the Bible story, the Bible verse, and the key concept. Use the individual Bible story books for the children to “read” the story to themselves or to a friend. A closing activity allows you to repeat the lesson’s key concept and provides the children something to do with the concept. The children will practice how they will share the Bible story, Bible verse, and key concept with their families when they go home.

Bible Verse: Spend a few moments every day reviewing the Bible verse with your children. Find the verse in your Bible, even if your version is different from the one used, and point to it to help children understand that the verse they are learning comes from the Bible. A variety of activities are provided with each lesson to help children learn the Bible verse and understand its meaning on a personal level.

Prayer: Close your worship every day with prayer.

Kindergarten Stepping Stones - Philosophy

Kindergarten is an important time of transition for young children—a stepping stone between home, early childhood education, and the primary grades of school. It is a “children’s garden” where young ones, uniquely created in God’s image, are nurtured to think, learn, choose, and grow. It is imperative to be responsive to individual differences in developmental stage, ability, and interest. Strive to achieve a balance between guiding children’s learning and following their lead, honor prior knowledge as new concepts are developed, and celebrate the intrinsic worth and value of each child. Children bring to the classroom different sets of beliefs, customs, traditions, values, and experiences. The goal of Adventist education is to guide kindergarten children into a loving relationship with God so they, through service, may reflect His love to others.

Writing Workshop

Video Example:
Kid Writing Video #1              Kid Writing Video #2
Children use kidwriting to write before they are able to write conventionally.  Although they understand that adults can’t read all kidwriting, it allows children to feel independent and successful as writers because they can read it.  Kidwriting is everything that children use to write their stories including scribble marks, random letters, and letter/sound correspondence.  Kidwriting is very individualized because children may be doing as little as labeling different parts of their pictures or as much as writing several sentences.  They may be using scribbles or writing complete sentences with readable invented spelling.