Monday, December 10, 2012


We have been thinking about patterns for a month. This is the first unit of many in the Investigations curriculum that scaffolds the children's exploration of the foundations of Algebra. The children begin sorting and describing patterns constructed from repeating units. As the years at Sabot continue, the children connect these patterns to numbers and then finally describe the functions based on the sequences.....Algebra.

As the Kindergarten  sort, classify and describe repeating patterns the children are building a foundation to analyze regularities  in math.

We are wide eyed and alert to the patterns that surround us.

N: There are patterns in lightening. and in numbers like even, odd, even and odd.

T: 123,123 and then 123. This is a pattern

T: Doggies squirrel, doggies, squirrels...I did it by animals.

A: I know that patterns can be anything like nature, words, animals and even color patterns but it has to repeat.

We notice the patterns on clothing worn by our friends each day.

ES: Patterns repeat. You have to think what comes next in the pattern.
 When you start a pattern you have to think about what you are going to do. The pattern is in your head but when you write it sometimes it gets mixed up.

We begin with an analogy that the children will understand. A pattern train repeats the same car more than once. 
The children are asked to build onto the pattern train.
Describe the repetitive car? What color cubes are used to build the car and does the order of the color cubes matter?
How many cars are on a particular train?

We then play many games that involve the same concepts.

Finally we ask the children to build trains and record the pattern train, circling the cars in the train.

E: Yeah, if you use a white pop cube it gets messed up (when you record a pattern)

As a way of stretching the children's thinking we set up several provocations. We ask the children to photograph their work so we might notice the progression of their understanding of the materials throughout the weeks.

The children constructed and added color to tessellations 
any regular pattern that consists of identical areas, which repeat without overlaps or gaps). 

It appears after several weeks of documenting that the opportunity to observe the possibilities for the materials slowly promotes a visual propensity and organization that propels the sophistication of the images created and designed.

Relationships with Trees

G and E visited New York City with their parents last weekend. When they returned they brought a book  to share with their classmates. The book told the story of a pear tree found alive at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 tragedy. The tree was unearthed and driven to a nursery outside of the city.The story is told through the eyes of the tree. The personification of the tree is appealing to the children. Children perceive all living things as being capable of having feelings, sensations and thoughts.

This year our Umbrella Project is Relationships. Learning is initiated, established and executed through relationship so the possibilities are endless. A child comes to this Earth with a natural curiosity for all that is living.   It seems as if our responsibility as parents and adults is to accept with reverence their approach to the living world and not begin to dissect it into facts or preempt the personification.

 As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.” -Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth

We explained very little regarding the 9/11 event that occurred before the children's birth but changed the world as we knew it.  It was a story of hope not history. A story that emphasized the restorative powers of nature.

These are some of the thoughts that the children voiced as they listened to this very poignant book.

M: My Mom was alive when 9/11 happened and my brother Tristan was just a little baby.

N: I am surprised that the tree survived after a building feel on it. 

ES: It was interesting that the tree kept remembering NYC and its life there.

T: I'm surprised that so many people took care of it like water, fertilizer and soil.  And then the bird nested it in

N: Its funny that the tree has feelings.

P: Do you think that the tree talks? Or do you think it can think?

N: When they moved the tree they were very careful to take the tree out and wrap her toots in burlap.

AC: The burlap has holes and  lets the tree breathe

DC: I like how they call the tree the survivor tree.

A: Why didn't they show the bad guys in the book?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writing Samples

The marks on the pages, the "squiggles" as Merlot referred to them arranged themselves into shapes. The shapes arranged themselves into words and the words spelled out a delicious and wonderful phrase: Once upon a time. 

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

 The Key for the Writing Samples
The first line is the child's writing. Mary and I rewrite the child's sentence as the child wrote it, honoring their phonetic spelling. The author is then asked to rewrite the sentence. This is an authentic way to practice handwriting.

I have collected many quotes throughout the years that relate to children's writing. The  quote at the start of this  blog entry is from a beloved read-aloud. It conveys the magical transformation that occurs as a child's scribble evolves into words and then sentences  conveying meaning.   It is a thing of great beauty and yet the process behind one sentence written by the child is often layered and fraught with apprehension. I have another quote but unfortunately am unsure of the author....Learning to write is not brain surgery. It is harder.

The beginning weeks of school involve convincing the children that writing is "talk written down".  We agree that their writing will not be perfect and that risk is involved. We ask the children to write the letters that they hear as they stretch each word.  

What will happen if I spell it wrong?

But I don't know how to write! (said with a confused look that seems to say "but you seemed so nice and sane a few minutes ago".)

We slowly move through this anxiety, insisting that each child is a writer. Challenging them to choose the best word to depict their thoughts rather than choosing the easiest word to spell.

Meanwhile we practice stretching words. We consider that most words begin with consonants and use glue in the middle (the vowel sound). We assure them that there are schemas in our language----a method to the madness.

We suggest that they use illustration to provide additional background to their writing. These young authors receive feedback from the readers.

I notice that you are not using vowels.

Your sentence doesn't match your illustration.

I also have made a snowman.

The children begin to understand that the written word can be used to express the ideas and stories that fill their minds. Writing is a chance to be still and create but also a way to connect to others as the children share and react to each other's words.

Note to parents: I could not include all of the children's writing BUT all of the work is beautiful. Please stop by whenever you have a moment and take a peak.


I am going shopping.


Me I am counting.


Santa's reindeer

Cat going for a walk

Dinosaur is running.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Perfect Symmetry

A Culture of Literacy

One of the best parts of our Kindergarten year is the time spent with our eighth grade reading buddies on Friday afternoons. It is  a reciprocal relationship of mutual benefits.

We watch the Kindergartner's faces as they gaze upwards with  awe, respect and affection. The eighth grade for their part take the responsibility for sharing a story and connecting with a five or six year old very seriously.

As the year continues, there is a familiarity between the classes. The Kindergarten will rush the eighth graders as they walk across the garden for a hug or a high five. The children look to the big kids for social cues and the eighth graders know that they are being watched.

Last week, Renee shared that the eighth graders will join the Kindergarten during their PE  class on Tuesdays. This was met with many happy exclamations. 

It feels like  perfect symmetry for the youngest class in the lower school to cherish the graduating class. A circle beginning and ending at the same place.

 “We make a living by what we get, we make a life  by what we give.” -Winston Churchill