Kindergarten Infusion Classroom
The Schleiereulen (Barn Owl) classroom at the German International School is our Kindergarten Infusion classroom, which is our English-based language program. We asked Frau Harrison, the native English-speaking head teacher of the Schleiereulen to give us a glimpse in to what a day looks like in the life of her Kindergarten students.
Her students are focusing on the IB theme “How We Organize Ourselves” and exploring this concept through Literacy & Writing, Science, Math, German, Second Step and Circle Time:
International Baccalaureate (IB) Monthly Unit
We started out our new unit on “How We Organize Ourselves”. The main focus of this unit is trade and we used a provocation about students “buying” cookies to get them to think about what happens when you want something but you have no money to buy it. We created a mini-economy to produce a cookie sale. We designed our own money (“Caring Bucks” were given out all over the school to students who did spontaneous acts of kindness.) to give out to people so they will have something to spend in order to “buy” our product. Over the next few weeks we explored the basics of the trade process, learning about money, discussing the difference between wants vs. needs, and created a product to sell in the school.
Literacy and Writing
Our main line of inquiry during this unit was, “What is a sentence?” Currently, the students often confuse a line of text with a sentence. Telling the difference between sound, word, phrase, and sentence continues to be a focus.
We have been focusing on simple sight words and certain letter combinations that come up when we read our morning message. Part of reading instruction in English involves teaching students that sounds are not just represented by one letter, but by letter combinations. Overall, students are now able to decode simple 3-4 letter words that are phonetically spelled. Teaching certain letter combinations expands their decoding ability.
Every morning during journal time each student spends about 15-20 minutes just creating text and pictures. During this time I can give individualized instruction and further challenges. This unit of literacy and writing has proven pretty successful - I am seeing more conventionally spelled sounds and words from these emerging writers.
Our science time this unit is all about discovering what kinds of liquids will mix and/or stay mixed. We watched a video of lava lamps and then observed Frau Heckman (one of our German Immersion head teachers) make her own faux lava lamp with water, oil and Alka-Seltzer. Then we combined varying liquids – we chose from water, vinegar, milk, and oil – and shook them to see which would mix and which would not. In our final exploration of water and all its interesting properties, we experimented with absorption and different materials that absorb water.
We examined surface tension with an experiment involving water, pepper, and dish soap. You sprinkle pepper on the water and the surface tension lets the pepper float. You then dip your finger in dish soap and then dip it in the water and the pepper moves to the sides of the dish.
Finally, we furthered this knowledge through engineering by making boats. We all used clay to try to make a boat that would float and hold pennies.
German & Art
While my classroom is English-based, the Infusion students have German lessons throughout the week. In order to accomplish this, my students intermix with the two German-based Kindergarten classrooms in order to receive German instruction from native German-speakers.
During this unit, we focused on the letters Tt through Xx, learning related words and social exchange phrases, as well as learning how to count in German.
In our weekly Art class with Frau Kapela (a German-speaking teacher), students also expand their German vocabulary through hands-on creative projects like creating marketing posters for their cookie sale, figurative and geometric art, learning to mix primary colors, and the relevant German vocabulary.
Graphing was the main math concept we focused on in this unit. We started off by observing a large pile of counters with varying colors and discovered that we couldn’t decide/agree what the majority color was just by looking. So together we sorted, counted and organized. From there we created a large scale graph of colors. We then started doing our own graphs on graph paper using individual sets of different colored counters.
Later, we applied graphing to coins and values of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. By the end of the unit, students were practicing creating graphs independently!
Second Step is social-emotional training for students. In Kindergarten, we use Second Step as a classroom resource to teach children the tools to deal with emotions, learn how to problem solve, and be assertive. This unit, we focused on what we can do when we have to wait, how to talk about anger and how to manage it, and how to calm down when feeling strong feelings.
We begin and end our day with circle time. This time is used to revisit topics discussed throughout the day or monthly unit, build social awareness and communication skills, and foster a sense of connectedness among peers.
This unit, students practiced presenting information during circle time on a topic that they researched. Their presentations featured drawings, graphs, and other visual aids. The students listening to the presentations thought of questions to pose to the presenter to deepen knowledge and verbal exchange.