Throughout National Catholic Schools Week, a celebration that starts this Sunday with a welcome mass and open house in Barrington, Saint Anne Parish School will recognize the servant leaders, parents, teachers and students who play a significant role in enriching the school’s learning experience. One of the educators who helps shape the lives of Saint Anne students is kindergarten teacher, Janinne Joseph. To give us a feel for what life is like for some of the school’s youngest students, Janinne is sharing a colorful snapshot of a year in the life of a kindergartner – by month – at Saint Anne Parish School.
A Snapshot of a Year in Kindergarten at Saint Anne Parish School
by Janinne Joseph, Kindergarten Teacher
At Saint Anne Parish School we have established a kindergarten program which we believe lays the foundation for successful learning for the rest of your child’s school years. We recognize that each child enters kindergarten with a unique set of background experiences and a wide range of abilities. It is with that understanding that we have developed a kindergarten curriculum designed to support the intellectual, social, emotional and physical growth of each and every child. We set out to allow each child to grow at their own pace while still being engaged in the curriculum. We have one full time teacher and one full time instructional assistant in each classroom, helping to keep our teacher to student ratio at 10 to 1. We add fun into each day through various monthly activities.
In September, when the students are still new to Saint Anne Parish School, we spend a great deal of time reading books, participating in activities, talking about and learning how to be a friend. This is a life long skill that we continue to talk about all year (and for the rest of their lives) through our Religion program, I am Special! The children each get a week to be the I am Special person. This is the special student’s time to share with their classmates more about themselves and, in doing so, learn strategies for asking questions and more about building friendships.
We also study apples in September focusing on the life cycle of the apple while doing various science and math projects relating to apples. To tie our unit into the community we take a walking field trip to visit the Barrington Farmer’s Market, where we meet farmers who describe the life cycle of the apple to the children and allow them to taste various apples and apple products. To further allow the children to understand apples and where they come from we take a field trip by bus to an apple orchard, which allows the children to pick their own apples! It is such a fun way to end our unit of study on apples. We do all of this while beginning to learn our Jolly Phonics sounds and starting our Handwriting without Tears curriculum.
In October, we explore the art and creatures of Eric Carle books to reinforce several of our letter sounds. The children learn to paint like Eric Carle, making their own Very Hungry Caterpillar and, in turn, become Eric Carle experts. In conjunction with Eric Carle, we also study pumpkins. During this month the children will learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin, make many pumpkin crafts while learning what is inside of a pumpkin. Kindergarten skills are not just introduced once and dropped, but rather they are revisited over and over as they naturally occur in activities and discussions.
Our religion program develops two themes this month; Baptism and Creation. During this month we help the children develop the awareness that, through their Baptism, they are also members of a larger family-God’s family. To help the children better understand this concept, we attend a mock Baptism in the church hosted by one of the priests. To conclude the month of October we take another walking field trip to visit Greencastle, a residential community for the elderly, where our kindergartners sing Halloween songs and recite poems that they have been practicing. Immediately following, we have a Halloween party which consists of playing sound Bingo, making ghost glasses and making and eating a spider cookie. We sure pack a lot into our months!
In November, our theme features nocturnal animals. We learn about many familiar and unfamiliar animals as we continue to develop and practice our reading and writing skills. This month we are heavy into Jolly Phonics sounds and reading words as the children truly are beginning to become real readers! The kindergarten children also visit Project Hope, bringing items to donate to the food pantry to help stock it for Thanksgiving. We also celebrate and learn about the first Thanksgiving. We conclude the month of November by making butter, corn muffins and candles and enjoying a fabulous celebration of friendship with a real feast!
Next up is December when it is a true joy to see the wonder and love of Christmas through a kindergartner’s eyes! During Advent, the children await Jesus’ birthday using an advent wreath, have a daily visit from the classroom Elf on the Shelf and try to make good choices to stay on the “Nice List”. Afternoons are full of Christmas projects including reindeer, Santas, Christmas trees, wreaths and stockings as well as a visit from the real Santa. In a mini unit on gingerbread, we read several Gingerbread books and compare them, write about our favorite gingerbread character, make our very own gingerbread people and houses and of course enjoy a gingerbread treat! The children also enjoy a “ride on the Polar Express” in their pajamas to add to the excitement of Christmas.
We conclude the month with a Happy Birthday Jesus party, including balloons, birthday cake and goody bags. Parents are invited to join each class for a festive singing performance of many delightful Christmas songs. Not to lose sight that Christmas is also about giving, the children purchase a gift for a five-year-old boy or girl that we bring over to Project Hope to help make Christmas a little brighter for someone less fortunate than we are. We also participate in a school-wide service project called Warm and Fuzzy where we donate sleeper pajamas and stuffed animals to help keep others warm during the cold days of winter. The month of December is definitely a jam packed, but fun filled month!
We start the New Year off by continuing to learn tricky (sight) words, reviewing long and short vowels and blends as well as writing consistently in our journals. This month we head to the Arctic. We learn about the animals, environment, people and culture of the arctic tundra. Our unit this month also allows us the opportunity to study the properties of water and even do some science experiments using water and ice and make some ice cream treats by hand.
This month our religion unit deals with the five senses, allowing us to do some engaging hands-on activities to stimulate our senses and even add a fun science twist. We also celebrate our dads this month with a fun morning of Donuts for Dad. Our Donuts for Dad centers give us the opportunities to estimate length with unifix cubes, build shapes and create pictures with tangrams as well as read and write words around the classroom (as we sure are becoming reading experts at this point in the year). We always have a ton of fun when our dads come to school!
In the month of February our theme takes us on Safari through the African Savannah. We study the lions, giraffes and gorillas (to name a few) of the jungle. While we learn about these fascinating animals we also emphasize the hard and soft sounds that some letters make. We revisit the hard sound of “g” as in gorilla and contrast it with the soft sound of “g” as in giraffe. We use plastic African animals to assist us in learning how to add and subtract this month, as well.
We celebrate the 100th Day of Kindergarten this month with a fashion show to model our 100 collections t-shirt. We have such a fun day exploring 100 and eating a 100 snack collection (made with 10 different healthy snacks). We also celebrate Valentine’s Day this month with a hearty Valentine’s Day Party where we play tricky word Bingo, make giant Valentines and enjoy a heart shaped waffle with strawberries and whip cream. We also get a visit by a dental office or two to learn the importance of keeping our teeth and gums clean and healthy. This month sure is a busy one filled with lots of learning and fun!
The themes for the month of March include Dr. Seuss, weather and leprechauns, of course! We wear green on March 17th when we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. At our party we enjoy a delicious potato soup, toast some soda bread and cleanse our palate with lime sherbet. We also make a leprechaun hat and make a giant Shamrock to decorate our homes. St. Patrick’s example is used to explain the Trinity to the children. Legend says that St. Patrick used a shamrock and its three clover leaves to explain the three persons of God. We often get a visit by leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day!
We spend some time learning about the marvelous man, Dr. Seuss, while reading many of his books. We also work on rhyming along with creative writing in conjunction with what we read (during the writing process we encourage the children to use their Jolly Phonics sounds to help them sound out words). We also talk a lot about the weather during the month of March as it often comes in like a lion and leaves quietly like a lamb. We tie in science with these discussions, as well. The children truly have a blast this month!
In the month of April we introduce an inquiry-based unit on farming. Through activities, writing and reading we learn about farm animals, plants and machinery. We investigate how our food gets from the farm to the table! We also plant different seeds and create a journal to track their growth through the month and then we encourage the children to plant the seeds in their garden at home. Finally, we learn some specifics about the dairy farm and dairy products. As a culminating activity we take a field trip to a working farm. This allows us to see in action all we have learned!
We also study different fairy tales during this month and make comparisons between the different versions. We take a field trip to see a fairy tale play during this month and, when we return, we make comparisons between the play and the books that we have read. This is such a special month filled with lots of learning and fun as the children near the end of their kindergarten year and begin to look forward to becoming first graders!
The final month of the kindergarten year is May and we start this month off by honoring our mothers at our Mother’s Day Tea celebration! The children spend quite a bit of time practicing their songs and poems as we start our tea with a little performance. This is such a delightful day for our moms! Then we complete a short inquiry unit on insects. We investigate, compare and contrast several insects and learn some new vocabulary along the way. We finish this unit by making our own insect using various materials and then naming and writing about our insect. The children sure are becoming wonderful readers, by this time of the year as well!
We end the month with many field trips. We go to the bank to conclude our unit of study on coins, we go bowling with our 5th grade buddies and we have our kindergarten field day! On our very last day of kindergarten we have a short prayer service and graduation which is such a special culminating event and that helps to mark the students as official Saint Anne School Kindergarten graduates!!!
Don’t you want your child to be a part of this wonderful school and all of the many creative ways in which we teach the curriculum? Why don’t you allow your child to attend Saint Anne Kindergarten for the 2016-2017 school year? We have an all school Open House coming up on Sunday, January 31st after the 9 a.m. mass. If you are able to attend this event you will be able to participate in STEM projects throughout the school, get a tour of our beautiful building and learn more about Saint Anne School from the faculty as well as current families. If you cannot make the open house, please contact the school office at 847-381-0311 to schedule a tour and visit with one of the kindergarten teachers. We can’t wait to meet you!
Sunday’s open house is a great way to get to know more about the Saint Anne Parish School experience for all grade levels. Here’s a closer look at what we they have planned:
X-S.T.E.M. Your Horizons Saint Anne Parish School Open House
Sunday, January 31st , 2016 – Open House following 9 a.m. mass to last until 1 p.m.
Filled with fun, hands-on activities, crafts and workshops focusing on S.T.E.M.
- Learn how Saint Anne integrates S.T.E.M. into their 21st century curriculum
- Meet the teachers and tour the school
- Experience co-curricular activities with Scholastic Bowl, Sticky Fingers Cooking, Lego Robotics Academy, Camp Invention, Discovery Language, Scouts, Band & Chess
- Sample Gourmet Gorilla’s cuisine
- Connect with student leaders impacting the community in Christ’s love
Saint Anne Parish School is dedicated to the formation and education of children from preschool through 8th grade in partnership with home, church and community. Located at 319 Franklin Street in Barrington, Illinois, the Saint Anne Parish School community is rich in Catholic values and academic excellence, empowering students to discover their God-given gifts and to use them as leaders of the Church and society. Click here to follow the latest Saint Anne Parish School updates on Facebook or visit their website at StAnneSchoolBarrington.org.