After a 20-minute recess, both kindergarten classes came together for intervention time, which splits the students into small groups by ability level to get additional help with language arts activities. Some groups still worked on sounding out words while others were ready to read full-length books on their own. Regardless of ability level, the students completed activities meant to challenge them.
After intervention time, students returned to their classrooms for a handwriting lesson. On this day, the students learned to write the letter X. Gehlhausen explained that X is a sliding letter, so students needed to draw sliding lines from the top of their guidelines to the bottom to create the letter. To practice forming the letter, Gehlhausen had them stand up and get out their scarves — pieces of colorful sheer fabric the students use to form letters in the air. The students guided their scarves through the air, tracing a giant X shape before tossing the fabric into the air and clapping before catching it as it drifted toward the ground.
“It’s just a way to introduce some movement into the lesson,” Gehlhausen said.
Kindergarten teacher Andi Longabaugh helps Iris Jones with her math assignment.
The handwriting lesson concluded with students writing in their journals. With Valentine’s Day just days away, the topic was: Who do you love and why? The students had to write at least one full sentence of two clauses joined by the word “because.” Most students wrote about their mom or dad. Once they’d written their sentences, they illustrated them while Gehlhausen made her way around the room to visit each student and talk about his or her sentence.
“This is so much smoother compared to the beginning of the year,” Gehlhausen said. “They can do things on their own now.”
After handwriting time, Gehlhausen led the students through a brain break — a small physical activity to help get the wiggles out — before class dismissed for lunch and second recess, which was again indoors.
Kindergartner Masyn Waddle drinks from a water fountain.
After lunch, the students returned to their classrooms where Longabaugh’s students played board games, and Gehlhausen’s students worked with STEM — which stands for science, technology, engineering and math — kits. Both classes trade off daily between board games and STEM kits so the teachers can share resources. The activities replace the afternoon nap time the kindergartners had during the first semester.
“It’s just some more down time because they’re used to having rest,” Gehlhausen said.
The board games are a new activity Gehlhausen and Longabaugh added this year after attending a kindergarten conference about the importance of play for the age group. At the conference, presenters talked about students losing the ability to work in teams and problem solve together as academics replace playtime. To bring those skills back, Gehlhausen and Longabaugh teach the kids how to play the board games — Sorry, Chutes and Ladders and Uno are a few that make the cut — and then turn the kids lose. If someone is accused of cheating, the students have to resolve that on their own. If the rules aren’t clear on how to handle a situation, they make up one. And if they don’t remember the rules, they have to agree on how they’re going to play.
“We often say they play ‘street Uno’ or ‘street Sorry’,” Longabaugh said.
For a group of students playing a memory matching game, rock, paper, scissors became the way to solve issues among the group.