FIVES / KINDERGARTEN / FIRST GRADE
Hours: 8:45-2:45 (approximately)
Our Fives and Kindergarten/First Grade are a community of enthusiastic learners and the oldest children in the school.
New families visit with their children in the spring. On Visiting Day, children come after school in a small group to play with new friends and teachers so they can get to know Elmwood and our class. In the fall, children return for Orientation Day, when they play again with teachers and a small group of classmates for a short period time. Later in the week school starts, with all our daily routines in place.
For over thirty years Elmwood has offered a transitional pre-kindergarten “Fives” class for children born late in the year. This class is a mix of Elmwood children and new to Elmwood children. It is designed to give them another year to grow, learn, and play together. They are part of a larger group for all social experiences and split into small, differentiated learning groups to work on Literacy, Math, and Thinking Skills. Sports, Music, Science, Drama, and Art experiences are a part of their regular curriculum.
Our Kindergarten-First Grade class is composed of Elmwood children and new to Elmwood children. The class comes together for social experiences that build mature play, relationships, and a strong sense of community. We break into small, differentiated learning groups throughout the day, where children learn Literacy, Math, and Thinking Skills, all taught in accordance with New York State early education standards. Children have regular opportunities to build speaking and listening skills, through planned experiences where they share ideas with a partner, present to a small group, engage in building challenges, and put on a class play. Sports, Music, Drama, Science, and Art experiences are a part of their regular curriculum. We strive to know each child individually and support their emotional, intellectual, and social growth. We partner with parents, helping them understand their child’s progress and next areas of development.
A Typical Day
We gather each morning to play, read books, and talk with friends and teachers. We clean up, sing our class song and transition to meeting.
Children lead much of our morning meeting, taking increasing ownership throughout the year. We sing hello, work with the calendar, count the days in school, and engage in an interactive writing of our morning message to find out about our day. We have time for energetic games, songs, and a share activity in which children talk with one another or the whole class.
Children are usually part of a small, differentiated group. During Literacy time, children get explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, handwriting, vocabulary, and writing.
Lessons are designed with scaffolded support, helping children feel successful and independent. They generally follow an “I do”, “We do”, “You do” approach. The teacher clearly defines the skill, providing examples. She demonstrates the skill with a teacher model, involving lots of “think alouds” so that students understand her process. Children have time to make observations, ask questions, and participate in guided practice of the skill just taught, benefiting from teacher feedback. Then, they get to try out the skill during independent practice.
The Fives follow the Building Blocks Math curriculum, which we enhance with fun games and activities we’ve built up over many years. Our Kindergarten and First Grade use Eureka Math and Problem of the Day, which engages children in thinking about a story problem and uses their math intuition to guide the share/lesson at the end. Our First Grade also enjoys the rich discussions we have during Number Talks and Problem of the Day.
We use the Amplify Science curriculum, which engages children in a relevant, real-world problem. They investigate science phenomena like light and shadows, sound, animal and plant defenses, and so on. Students collaborate with peers, develop models and explanations, and arrive at solutions.
We generally play outside twice a day, making our way to all the playgrounds throughout the week. We have free play time as well as opportunities to play Elmwood games. Games are fun and social, build athletic skill, and develop group cohesion. If the weather keeps us inside we play active games inside or have more Choice Time.
We enjoy reading books across many genres. Children have frequent opportunities to share their thinking and understanding through turn and talks with a partner and whole group discussions before, during, and after reading. In Kindergarten and First Grade, read alouds often integrate science and social studies content related to current learning projects.
Children choose which room to play in and move freely about our choice time rooms. Available daily are blocks, dramatic play, painting, play dough, artistic projects, the light table, card games, board games, Legos, puzzles, and sand or water.
In Kindergarten and First Grade, Social Studies gives children a sense of their place in a community and expands outward from there. They have frequent opportunities to read and write informational texts, to collaborate on group projects, and to present knowledge. In Kindergarten, the class often explores social studies concepts through play, opening a grocery store and taking on different roles, for example. Favorites in First Grade, include reading and writing lots of biographies and opening a “First Grade Economy” in the spring, where children make, sell, and buy goods from one another at weekly market days.
Love of Reading
In the Fives, Love of Reading is spent playing fun centers that work on fine motor development, letter recognition, sound-symbol relationships, segmenting, blending, etc. Love of Reading is also an opportunity to build up children’s independence, responsibility, and sense of how to further their own learning.
In Kindergarten and First Grade, Love of Reading time also includes reading with a teacher, 1:1 or in a differentiated small group. Children engage in orthographic word mapping, read decodable and irregular high frequency words, practice dictation, and work with decodable texts.
We talk about our day and invite children to share how another child was a good friend and “filled their bucket”. Children often lead the class in favorite songs and we end by singing goodbye.
PM Honey Bees
Like the morning, we begin our afternoon with a meeting, a shared writing of our message, some games, and a plan for the rest of our day together.
The Fives have a thematic group each day such as Makerspace Mondays. The K-1 students work on math and phonics.
Love of Reading
We come back together for Love of Reading. Children enjoy literacy centers with a partner, participate in guided reading groups, and spend time with books.
We use the spotlight to build a friendly culture in our class. It is a time when we celebrate values and take time to acknowledge children who have been working hard to develop and demonstrate that value.
We end the day with active sports and strategy games, developing a vast repertoire throughout the year.
We dismiss from the main hallway. Parents drive around the loop to the front of school and teachers escort children to cars or buses.
*Music with Anne
We enjoy Music and Movement with Anne each week (morning and afternoon). We sing along to the music of her guitar, play musical games, dance, and act out songs and nursery rhymes. In the winter our Music curriculum builds toward a dance party, which families attend. In the spring we work together to write and star in our own class play.
At different points in the year our children enjoy a Young Artists enrichment, when we look at a famous work of art and make our own in a similar style. This is in addition to the daily open-ended art opportunities.