Asking Questions

As part of our upcoming unit about The Past students are learning the Research Skill of question asking. To do this students have a question word wall and we have started whole group question asking extravaganzas using the artifacts you sent in as provocations.

Although some students already know what the artifact is called and what it is used for, we only focused on asking questions about the objects in front of us.

As a whole class we first asked questions about an old style film projector. We famed our questions using the question words: do, who, what, when, where, how, can, are, is, and did. We recorded all of our questions without even seeking answers.

Then, each students got a partner and together they looked at an old style telephone. With their partner they used the question word wall to write the questions they had about that artifact. Students questions about the telephone included, “What’s the phone number?”, “What are the numbers for?”, “Why is there a bell sticker on it?”.

Using other artifacts students brought in we will continue to provoke our wonderings. We will then attempt to find some answers to understand the artifacts we have and make the connection to the past.

The old film projector replica used a provocation for our first round of question asking

All the questions students formulated about the film projector

Students wrote their questions about the old phone on a post it. Most students were excited to write more than one question!

R. with her question. As we practice question asking we will also practice sentence structure and how to properly form our questions

T. wants to know, “Why is it black?”

K. using the word wall to write his question



Today’s focus during writing workshop was asking questions about others’ writing. This allowed the audience to practice question formulation and for our authors to think deeply about the choices they made when writing and what they will do next.

Students questioned M. in the photo below and asked things like, “Why did you put Y. as a fairy?”, “What do the bad guys want?”, and “Do the bad guys want to take the magic?”.

This prompting allowed for a rich conversation in which we found out that M. actually modelled her writing on true events! Her and Y. love to play magic fairies during play time. M. pointed out that this was a connection- when reading her story it was connected to something that happened in real life!


Students questioning M. about her story. They were anxious to know, “What do they bad guys want?!”. We didnt let her answer and told them we’d have to find out when she writes the next page!


Last week we focused on 2 read alouds! Both read alouds focused on communication.

The first book is called The Recess Queen. This book is about a playground bully. We talked about her body languauge, the words she used, and her actions that made her “mean” or considered a “bully”. We also took note of the illustrations and how the other kids felt based on their facial expressions.

In the end, “Mean Jean” finds friends and enjoys being on the playground with others. This book served as a reminder of the type of communication we don’t want to have- controlling and unkind and how the positive spirit of the kind class mates transformed the atmosphere. This book is available in the SIS library.

The second book KB read on the topic of communication was “How and Why do animals Communicate?”

This book was fun to read as we looked into how animals use body language, sounds, and even smell to communicate to others. We mimiced their communication and compared the similarities animal communication has to human communication.

In the book it mentions that dolphins all have their own unique sound or voice. As a class we played a game where everyone closed their eyes and I chose one person to say a generic phrase. Then, as a class, we tried to guess who it was based on their voice. (We got really good at it!)

Into this week we continue to reference animal communication to reflect on how we communicate. Here are some questions to help with reflection of our communication:

-What is your body communicating?

-What is the way you’re speaking communicating? (sound, volume)

-Do you need to take a break before communicating in order to communicate more calmy and kindly?

The Stinky Pumpkin!

Over the past couple months a lot of interests have emerged from play! Here is a look into how we are extending our initial ideas to creating deeper meaning around the concepts KB students are interesed in.

Ms. Xiaoman with a small group observing the rotting pumpkin

As seen above we have different kinds of fruit and vegetables that are rotting and waiting to be put into the compost. This rotting pumpkin has served as the object of deepening our thinking skills to see, think, and wonder as described in our previous post. This week Ms. Xiaoman is meeting with small groups of students to fruther the thinking protocol of I see, I think, I wonder and to help build language at the level of each student. These students are also practicing documenting their own thinking through pictures.

Students who are hosting a performance in our classroom on Dec 11th

Our group of students who are interested in performing for others are creating invitations to invite their friends to view their performance. ALst week, sudetns had to choose a date, time, and decide what materials they need to put on their performance. Today we talked about what information needs to go on an invitation and then they set out to make them! We will have 2 performances which will be hosted by two different groups on Dec 11th and Dec14th. Students have decided to invite select classes or friends to view their short performances.

The block structure that is serving as the inspiration for stories.

Above is the block structure which has been evolving over the past couple weeks. There have been multiple iterations and excitingly the small animals added another layer to the story telling that has been happening during play. Yesterday during play J.Y. and I.P. began to draw the details fo their created block land and discussed what was happening on each peice of the block structure. Today, we encouraged others to draw and tell a story as inspired by the structure. Different groups brought different perspectives on what was happening.

S and E worked on their version of what was happening in the block land. They shared this about their story ,” The chicken wanted in the castle, but the dog said no no no no no no no no no”. This gave the whole class a good laugh!

All of the interests above have connections to curriculur areas and highlight approaches to learning such as: thinking skills, social skills, self management skills, and communication skills.

Giving is Better Than Getting

With holidays around the corner and KB fortunate enough to hve lots of things in our classroom we have begun talking about the idea of “Giving”. After watching a video about Clarence the fox who isn’t quite happy until he finds joy in giving, KB students talked about what they have to give.  (click the link to watch the video with your child)

Giving Is Better Than Getting Story

Co-created anchor chart where students broke down the idea of giving into: what it means, when/why we do it/ and later we will talk about how it feels to give.

Since everyday for the past couple months KB students have made juice for themselves, we decided it’s time to make juice for others. Students shared who they would like to make juice for, which ended up being the whole school! We narrowed it down to start with giving to the other KG classes and students set out on a mission to make juice for KC first. Next, we will make juice for KA, KD, and then for our siblings around the school. As pointed out in the co-created chart about, sometimes giving is just about being kind and we’ve also discussed that it doesn’t always have to be an object you give; sometimes you can give a hug or a smile and that’s just as important.

A lot of oranges were used in making juice for KC!

I See, I Think, I Wonder

In the PYP there are a set of skills defined as the Approaches to Learning (ATLs). Today students learned a protocol for honing their THINKING skills.

As a group we observed a rotting pumpkin (that we’ve been waiting to put in our compost).

Together we talked about and recorded what we saw, what we were thinking, and what we were wondering.

Our rotting pumpkin (and a rotting orange on the side )

Below are their answers scribed exactly as they spoke.

Later in the day we practiced our observation (thinking) skills when reading a book called “In The Forest”. On each page students focused on each picture, before the words, and talked about what they saw. This allowed them to share vocabulary with eachother with geared them up for reading words that are challenging. Next, we read each page and used our thinking skills to use what we saw in the picture and the phonics sounds we know to read the challenging words like “grass” or “berries”. To do this what said what we saw in the picture and what the first sound of the word is, then we decided does it match? If not, what’s another word we know for what we see in the picture, does the first sound in that word match what we’re saying? If so, then we continued to read the sounds to make sure the word is what we thought.

The book In the Forest which all students will have in their book boxes.

Your child will have this same book in their book bag tonight. I encourage you to read it with your child similary to what we did in class.

  1. On each page: Talk about what you see in the pictures, together.
  2. You read the first part “What do you see?” while pointing at the words
  3. Your child points and reads “I see a….” together you decided if the sounds, the word, and the picture at the end all match. This is combining picture power and sound power to be a super reader and a thinker.
  4. Extend this skill to other books in the book bag but talking about the pictures before trying to read the words.

*A small group of students did not read this book with the class, because they exhibited the ability to fo this already. That group got new books in their bags today + “In the Forest” and you will be able to happily follow the same protocol as above.

In the next couple weeks we will continue to make connections between science and literacy by focusing on our thinking skills.


Letter Formation

This year KB is focusing on handwriting. Although most students came into KB writing letters or at least their names, the way students were forming letters was incorrect. Proper formation not only prompts legible handwriting, but it also engages the brain and prepares it for recognizing letters when reading.

In this post please take note of the language we use to help kids remember the parts of letters and always take note that letter formation ALWAYS starts from the “up” position and heads down. In the picture shown the arrow indicates where the pencil should start and which way the pencil stroke should go. If there is no number indicated it means that the pencil never comes off the paper for the whole formation of the letter. If there are numbers 1 and 2 it means that there are 2 different strokes during which the pencil is lifted after stroke 1.

When doing writing workshop the paper students are using is lined paper that replicates the lines on the image below as well. Although not necessary for some of our learners at this point, the lines help students become more spacially aware of how and where their marks are being made on the paper and the proportions of one part of the letter to another.

Language used when talking about handwriting:

-BIG STICK- letters that start above the line  (used in letters like b, d, f, h,k,l,t)

-SMALL STICK (used in letters i,k,m,n,r,t,v,w,x,z)

-MAGIC C LETTERS- letters that form a c with the initial movement then change from there (a,b,c,d,g,o,q)

-HANGING STICK- letters that have a tall stick, but the stick hangs underground. Hanging sticks are also BIG STICKS, but the placement is different  (used in letters g,j,p,q,y)

-SLEEPING STICK- (used in the letter t)

-CURVE – refers to the atch in magic C and the tops of letters m,n and the bottom of letter u


If you have any questions about proper letter formation please don’t hesitate to contact me!



Last week KB started exploring the idea of measurement.

In kindergarten the focus of measuremnet is to build mathematical language related to weight, length, and volume. Words such as: balance, heavy, light, tall, short, big, small, empty, full, more, and less are words that we are learning together and using in different areas as we explore comparisons in our play.

Last week students played the game “I am bigger!”. Using number cards each player flipped a card over, then students compared the two cards they have.

As a class we came up with examples of things that might be “heavy” or “light”. For this exercise we pretended that we were going to have to pick up the object and that would help us determine which category the object went in. We drew our ideas:

Students determined things such as: trees, the earth, a body, and giraffes would be considered heavy

Oppositely, students determined that things such as: leaves, strawberries, balloons, and caterpillars would be considered light objects.

Today, we explored the idea that mathematicians measure not only the weight of things, but also the length. Using non-standard tools like links, blocks, and pencils students set out to measure things around the classroom. Not only did they measure the lenth or height of things, but they also recorded their findings in their math notebooks and later shared their findings with a friend.

J. and I. sharing what they measured, how long it was, and what tool they used to measure.

I. demonstrates his ability to count to 20 after measuring the book shelf.

K. explores using a more standard tool of measurement by reading the number and the markings on the meter stick. He demonstrates that he can read the number 93.

S. shows her big knowledge of numbers by measuring the long edge of the table and counting the links to see how many there are.

E. measured different books and found out that not all books are the same size!

K. was extremely proud of his discovery that the diameter and the perimeter of the our circular chair were the same measurement- 48! He also recorded the number with proper formation and a drew a picture that matched what he measured.

In my next post I will write about how were using the idea of balance and big and small to make good decisions about what goes into our class compost and how our language around capacity helps us in the juice shop!