“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” – O. Fred Donaldson
At Barnesville, kindergarten children have many opportunities to explore, discover, and play. They learn language arts, math, science, social studies, art, music, and Spanish through hands-on activities, large- and small-group instruction, and individual teacher support.
Children arrive at various stages of academic readiness, but with patience and time, they all experience the joy of reading, writing, and creating. Some children jump into academics with ease, while others need the extra time and attention that experienced teachers and small classes can provide. Likewise, children come with different levels of physical, social, and emotional maturity. During the year, they learn to negotiate, compromise, and empathize through example and role-playing activities. Regular physical exercise is provided to strengthen growing bodies and encourage sportsmanship. As the year progresses, it is wonderful to watch these children flourish in all areas. Every day provides ample time for free play and recess, too. Most of all, in kindergarten we have FUN!
In kindergarten, children are introduced to a wide variety of literature throughout the year in the forms of stories, fairy tales, tall-tales, and even nonfiction. As they listen to stories and begin to read on their own, the children are encouraged to summarize what they hear and read, sequence events, predict and infer, describe the characters and setting, and discuss cause and effect. Children develop oral language skills through retelling favorite stories, making up their own stories, and vocabulary-extending activities.Famous artists are also introduced for each letter of the alphabet. The children learn about the artist, the style of painting or art media used and then in a collaboration with the art teacher. the children create art in the style of each famous artist. At the end of the school year, Kindergarten students travel to the Baltimore Museum of Fine Art to see much of the art they have learned about. We also have a Kindergarten Art Gallery where all of their work from the year is displayed by artist. Families are encouraged to attend the evening opening of the gallery. Kindergarten students act as the docents. This program serves to enrich the student’s learning and to relate the alphabet letters to the real world.
Children begin the writing process with a wide range of readiness and skills. Some dictate their stories, some write initial and perhaps final consonants, and a few write with vowels. Children are introduced to the “Alphafriends,” which teach letter sounds, as well as a range of high frequency words. Children are also introduced to Squiggles, a creative way to encourage writing. By the end of the school year, many children are able to write and illustrate sentences, using correct grammar and punctuation, both in their journals and with Squiggles. The children are taught the correction formation of letters using the Handwriting Without Tears program.
Kindergarten children explore mathematics through guided lessons, groups, and individually. Barnesville uses the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Go Math Curriculum, which focuses equally on understanding, procedural skills, and mathematical fluency. Students practice skills using manipulatives and multiple models to move through a carefully-sequenced arc of learning, developing problem-solving strategies and becoming critical thinkers.
Kindergarten children begin the year learning about themselves and their families. They discover what a family is and the many different kinds of families. Kindergarten students learn about their community, both at school and at home. They gain an understanding of service to others and those people in our communities that provide services. Kindergarten students learn about all of the different holidays celebrated throughout the year and the many ways in which they are celebrated through literature, art, music, guest speakers, and food. They explore maps and globes as they listen to stories from around the world. They explore the commonalities that connect people around the world and develop a respect for other people. Throughout the year the children are exposed to maps and globes and use them to locate countries and places about which they’ve learned and read.
Kindergarten science is integrated into the language arts, math, art, music, and social studies curricula. For example, in the fall, children learn about seasons as they listen to The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree and make an apple tree booklet; they sort, graph, and taste apples; they learn about Johnny Appleseed and trace his travel route on a map; and they count, graph, plant, and observe the growth of apple seeds. Throughout the year, children study seasons, weather, plants, animals, (farm, polar, and wild), machines, and magnets through literature and experimentation. They are encouraged to predict, experiment, draw conclusions, and report on findings.
In Kindergarten, iPads are used to enrich and extend learning across all subject areas. The children learn to navigate their way around the iPad and the many apps introduced. Students use iPads to reinforce, enrich, and extend their learning in reading, math, and writing. Several apps are used to develop collaborative learning. Teachers carefully monitor screen-time as we focus on the very important growth and development of social skills, peer interactions, and group dynamics.
Kindergarten students get very excited to learn new words that are not in English. The kindergarten Spanish program continues the emphasis on the development of a vocabulary base and the enjoyment of the Spanish language through the use of age appropriate activities: songs, rhymes, puppets, stories, movement, art, crafts, and games. Students have Spanish class for 30 minutes twice a week.
The children are expected to respond to Spanish language input with appropriate physical responses and limited verbal output. The first stage in language acquisition is the receptive stage, where input is understood, but verbal output is yet to develop. This holds true for foreign languages too. When verbal output is achieved, young learners produce near-native speech.
Games, games, and more games! Kindergarten focuses on fundamental movement exploration and body mechanics, whereby the techniques of all locomotors and non-locomotors are properly executed. Identification of body parts and their use is taught. Incorporating locomotor skills into simple games and activities enables the children to demonstrate chasing, fleeing, freezing and dodging skills, safe movement in space, change of speeds, and transfer of the appropriate locomotor skill. The transfer of manipulative skills into games enables them to hit targets and spatially coordinate. Fitness and skill acquisition is introduced.
In Art, students have a chance to explore a variety of materials. They learn about some basic elements of art such as line, shape, color, and texture. In conjunction with their letter of the week, students create artwork pertaining to an artist whose name begins with the letter they are studying. For example, "M" provides for lessons on Impressionist artist Claude Monet. All of the students' artwork is saved throughout the year for the year-end Kindergarten Artists Gallery, where the students provide their parents with a gallery tour of all the artists they learned. The students also take a field trip to the National Gallery of Art or The Baltimore Museum of Art in the spring to view original paintings and sculptures learned about in class. Kindergarteners have art once a week for 45 minutes.
Singing and song repertoire constitute the basis of kindergarten music classes. Much of the movement, simple dances, acting-out activities, miming, and rhythmic actions in which the children engage are connected with songs. Songs transmit culture, history, and the richness of shared human experiences, values, and feelings. Through music, the children celebrate the seasons, and observe in some meaningful way the traditional holidays and festivals. Special emphasis is placed on agricultural cycles since the Barnesville School is located in the Agricultural Reserve; the Barnyard Song (I Had a Little Cat) with its cacophony of animal sounds is a favorite song in kindergarten! The kindergarteners always make enthusiastic and strong contributions to the Lower School May Day as they participate in the traditional processional up the gently sloping hillside singing Unite and Unite! Later in the May Day program they perform a singing game (or “play-party” game, really a precursory dance that introduces the children to many basic elements of a dance) at the May Pole, and sing songs of spring.
In the kindergarten library class, students are introduced to the library as a wonderful place where together we grow in the love of books. Kindergarten sessions are closely linked to the classroom curriculum with book selections that enrich and expand the units. The students continue to enjoy stories about other children so that they might appreciate their common experiences. They learn to listen for the values taught by a story with a special emphasis on those character words that we emphasis each month. They are encouraged to follow routines for library visits, to return borrowed books weekly, to care for books, and to make good choices. Students are taught that there is a special arrangement of the primary collection and how it is divided, that books are in alphabetical order, and that they have a special address. They begin to look at the parts of the book. They are encouraged to use a shelf-maker to maintain book order. Students in kindergarten are introduced to online safety and etiquette via the Common Sense Media curriculum.