Messages from the Classroom


6 February: Global School Play Day!

8-15th February- Merriam Book Fair

13 February - Merriam Theme Night

11 February: 100th Day of school, as long as there is no snow days between now and then.

14 February: Valentine's Day celebration

18-22 February: Winter Recess- no school

4-8 March- Stink Week


In the Classroom:

Whew- it is cold outside! But, with luck the groundhog will see his shadow and we will see spring sooner rather than later!

February has begun and it is a fast moving month. We have Global School Play Day, the Merriam Book Fair, the 100th Day of School, Valentine's Day and Winter Recess. There's a lot going on and very few school days.

Theme Day was a lot of fun today. We listened to high school students share water experiences with hockey and rowing. We saw High School Improvisation performers act out water scenes. In the third group, we worked on pennants that represent our Family Group at Merriam. All the of children enjoyed each activity and we loved moving and being with our Family group.

Global Play Day- We will be recognizing Global Play Day, 6 February, in our classroom and our whole day will focus on the power of play. Global School Play Day was established on February 4, 2015, to bring attention to the necessity of screen-free unstructured play. This annual event is celebrated by PK–12 students in schools around the world to encourage enjoyment of outdoor play, board games, Legos, racetracks, playing cards, empty cardboard boxes, jigsaw puzzles, blankets (for forts), and social games (charades, Pictionary, etc.)! On this day I will invite the children to bring in one or two play items from home that they are willing to share and play with classmates. Please make sure your child marks their items.

Here are some resources around play:

The Power of Play article

Discovery Museum: Play Matters Blog

NAEYC: 5 Essentials to Meaningful Play

Cult of Pedagogy Podcast (45 minutes) & Transcript by Jennifer Gonzalez

Monday Morning Musings Blog

by Liz Garden

Ted Talk: The Decline of Play and the Rise of Mental Disorders

by Peter Grey (16 minutes)


Chinese New Year- 5 February, Tuesday- we will be talking about Chinese New Year next week and recognizing it. If you have something special you would like to share because your family does something special, please let me know and we will share it.

Valentine's Day- we will be recognizing and celebrating Valentine's Day on Thursday, 14 February. The students are invited to bring in cards to pass out to classmates and buddies but we do ask that you not include sweets with the cards. We are focused on being healthy and we have many students whose parents to not permit them to have sweets. If you want to include a treat with a card then pencils or small novelty items are good. Send in all Valentine's by Wednesday, 13 February. Valentine's should be in a marked bag or baggie with your child's name on it. We will assist them with delivery. We will be having activities in the classroom all day focused on Valentine's and kindness. The room parents will be assisting and if there is opportunity for you to join us we welcome you.

Merriam Book Fair- The Merriam Book Fair will be open before school and right after school the week of 11 February. It will also be open Theme Night. Please look for information coming home through Merriam News for more on how to shop the Book Fair.

100th Day of School- As long as there are no snow days between now and the 11th of February then that date is our 100th day of school. We will fill the day with 100 type of activities.

Stink Week- 4-8 March- Our class will be recognizing Stink Week by wearing t-shirts (provided to us) and fundraising for hearing loss. The heading links to The Decibel Foundation site that can tell you more about raising awareness. I will be sending more information home to you as the dates draw nearer.

The Parents We Mean to Be by Richard Weissbourd - If you are a reader and looking for a great parent book to read, I strongly suggest this book. I have a copy if someone wants to borrow it. From The New Yorker: "In this ardent and persuasive inquiry, Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist, warns that “happiness-besotted” parents do children a disservice by emphasizing personal fulfillment over empathy. (A high-school English teacher laments the difficulty of teaching “King Lear” to students who “can’t engage suffering in any way.”) Parents worry about their children’s confidence, but constant, preëmptive praise can turn kids into cynics; studies show that playground bullies (and, later in life, criminals) exhibit high self-esteem. Drawing on extensive field research, Weissbourd makes the case that parents, as models of behavior, must be vigilant about their own moral choices. If we’re afraid to risk our kids’ ire by criticizing them, how can we expect them to resist peer pressure? Of special concern are parents who try too hard to be their kids’ friends. Weissbourd explains, “Children have no incentive to become like us, because the message we’re giving is that they already are.”

Clothing- we ask that every student have appropriate clothing every day. Every student needs outdoor boots/shoes and indoor shoes; a coat, hat and gloves. I would suggest that you pack extra socks because somehow we get wet feet.

Student Led Conferences (SLC) - Thank you for signing up for the conferences. It looks like almost all of you have signed up for a slot. If you have not, please visit the link through the title.

What is a Student Led Conference? The conference is led by the student, with no teacher present. The student informs their parents about how they're doing, they share work with their parents, they share goals going forward, and they share what kind of learners they see themselves to be. It is a very powerful experience for both the student and the parents. As a teacher, it is very rewarding to see that each student uses this opportunity and risk to share who they are with the most important people in their life.

Phonics: These activities are daily and the students are making great progress towards recognizing, spelling and making words. I am leaving the areas of focus bolded below here for a few more weeks so that you can look them over when you have time.

Letter naming and sounds
Rhyming- teacher reads a word set, the students repeat only the two rhyming words. Example: bag, tag, gas. In addition, the teacher will say a nonsense word and the students will say the read word. Ex. T: naper S: paperOnset Fluency- the teacher says a word pair and the students repeat the 2 words and isolate the onset (beginning sound), Ex. T: jump, jog S: /J/ - student says sound at beginning of word and not the letter name.
Blending Syllables- the teacher says the syllables. Students repeat the syllable and blend them together to say a whole word. Ex. T: win----dow S: window
Identifying Final Sounds- Teacher says the word. Students share the final sound of the word. Ex. T: borN S: /n/ sound only, not letter name. Sometimes, the teacher recites an entire sentence and the student identifies the final sound of the sentence.
Segmenting Syllables- Teacher says the word, students repeat the word, segment the word into syllables, and count the syllables. Ex. T: pencil S: pen-cil (2)
Substituting Syllables- Teacher says the word, student repeat the word. Teacher says "Change the /*/ to /*/ and the new word the students say. Ex. T: nicest S: nicest T: change nicest to small S: smallest
Adding Syllables- Teacher says the word, students repeat the word. Teacher says "add /*/ at the end and the word is ? Ex. T: pow S: pow T: Add /der/ S: powder
Deleting phonemes- Teacher says the word, students repeat the word. Teacher says without /*/ and the word is? Ex. T: fastest S: fastest T: say it without the /est/ S: fast
Language Awareness- Teacher says a sentence, students repeat the sentence and then say the number of words in the sentence. Students show the number of words by raising their fingers.

Reader’s Workshop: We have finished up Elephant and Piggy, only to discover that I am missing two titles and we must get them into the classroom some time soon. It is a mission of the students. We also read Pigeon books by Mo Willems. We are moving on to Wordless picture books. In addition, I have been introducing the students to a new poem every day. In the spring we will begin writing our own poetry. Here are a few poems we have read each day:

The Snowfall Is So Silent by Miguel de Unamuno

Now We Are Six By A. A. Milne

The Moon By Robert Louis Stevenson

I wanted to give you an idea as to how Reader's Workshop looks in our classroom. The following are the components of my Reader's Workshop:

  1. Shared Reading (10-15 minutes): This is when I read aloud or students read a book or one off the SmartBoard. Students sit in the meeting area so that they can see the print. We typically read only 1 or 2 books per week, because we read each text multiple times ( for comprehension and enjoyment, and then for teaching points like “Look at the first letter of the word”). We are at the point where we are reading for fluency together.
  2. Guided Reading and Centers (45 minutes – less at the beginning of the year): During this block of time, I meet with students for guided reading while the other students work or read independently.
  3. Reading Workshop Minilesson (10 minutes): During this lesson I am teaching a specific skill I want students to utilize when reading. It could be decoding, fluency, comprehension, inferencing or another skill. The lessons are quick so that I can work with individual students on skills.
  4. Independent reading / paired reading activities – (20 minutes): Students read independently. There are times they will partner read and share a book with a buddy.
  5. Readaloud (10-15 minutes): If I can swing it, I actually do a read aloud twice a day: one time, we read a book for pure enjoyment, and another time, we read a book to focus on comprehension strategies and vocabulary.

Writer’s Workshop: I have written up a small piece to share how Writer's Workshop looks in our classroom.

  1. Minilesson (10 minutes): I teach a brief, focused lesson on a writing skill that students can use in their own writing. I structure my writing units off of Lucy Calkin's Unit of Study. I model real writing during almost every one of these minilessons.
  2. Independent Writing (25 minutes with 5 to 10 minutes for sharing out time): Students write independently, and I confer with kids individually. After independent writing time, we come back together as a group so students can share their writing with a partner or the class.

Mathematics Workshop: We are focusing on addition and subtraction number sentences; and, more, less, and same. We are playing games and having a lot of fun with our mathematics. We will begin to look at 3D shapes while continuing with the number sentences.

I also love a Mathematics blog called You Cubed and found a really good article Twelve Steps To Increase Your Child’s Math Achievement And Make Math Fun Math should be something all children should enjoy and should find useful throughout their play and daily life. I hope you will take the time to read it.

Social Studies: We have looking at the differences between each ourselves and others. We are noticing we are more alike than different but we have been reading great literature, talking with each other and making connections. It has been a pleasure to be sharing and listening.

Science: We explored different ways to make snow and exploring what happens when you use snow. We have loved discovering how temperature impacts many things.

We explored different sensory things like kinetic sand and gel beads. The best line about the kinetic sand was, "Hey Karen, you know where kinetic sand comes from- Connecticut!" I love it! I did not know that!

Recyclables Requested- We are in need of recycled items. Here are some suggestions:

  • Newspaper
  • Lids from any item
  • Egg Cartons
  • Old t-shirts we can rip apart
  • interesting packaging from gifts
  • boxes with lids
  • tubes
  • cans

Thanks !

Who Are We? Project

Kindergarten children benefit from a range of experiences to help them develop an understanding and appreciation of themselves and the world around them. The Who Are We? project incorporates activities that center on your child’s familial world as well as those that transcend to their global community. This interdisciplinary study encourages kindergarteners to notice the similarities and differences that exist amongst people both near and far. Their developing understanding of family and community will be expressed through the many collaborative and individual activities created and placed inside a personally created “Me” box which will be housed at school. The study will culminate with the sharing of these boxes.
Activities will be differentiated to enrich student learning. These activities may include interviews, graphs, timelines, collages, murals, art projects, writing pieces, class and individual books, creative drama and music. We will be reading fiction and non-fiction books together about the lives of children around our world. In addition, there may be times when your child will need your assistance in completing an activity. Our first at-home activity will be sent home with your child next week. Please look for the return date on each project. We appreciate your willingness to support your child’s learning at home.
By the end of the study, kindergarteners will be able to answer the following essential questions: • How are the students in my class the same and different? • How are our lives and cultures the same and different from children in other parts of the world? • What are holidays and why do we celebrate them?
If you have any specific considerations you would like us to be aware of, please notify your child’s kindergarten teacher. We’re excited to begin!
Look for attachments here when we begin asking for home support. I will send reminders when I add them.
The Story Behind My NameFamily TreeMy Holiday Celebrations

Here is a sample set of clues that a Mystery Reader might write:

My favorite book when I was in Kindergarten was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

I was the middle child, only girl in my family growing up.

My family has two dogs as a pets.

I love to watch cartoons with my family.

My favorite family vacation is going to the Cape every summer.

Remember, you are a mystery to the class, so PLEASE try not to tell your child when you will be coming! Please feel free to drop me a "secret" note or email if you have any further questions.

Tips for choosing a book:

Please bring a book that your Kindergartner loves or one that you love!

Picture books make GREAT read alouds.

The book needs to be short enough to read aloud in 15-20 minutes.

If in doubt, bring in two short read alouds.

Themed books (ex. seasonal) or books related to you, your child or your family (ex. culture, family pet, occupation) work great, too!

The sign up link for Mystery Readers is at:

Karen’s Room 135 Mystery Readers

Absenses and Transportation Changes

When your child is going to absent or late contact the school Safe Arrival line 978-264-3373 and leave your child's name, grade, classroom teacher and brief reason for lateness or absence before school begins for the day. After you have done that it is requested that you email me at and let me know your child is going to be late or absent for the day. This is really helpful and appreciated!
If your child has a change in transportation then you should send in the pink dismissal form signed and stating the change. Kindergartners can not change buses nor can they go down to the car pickup place. If you are picking up your Kindergartner then you must come into the building and sign them out at the office.

Take Home Folders

We have Home/School folders for every child. These folders will go home every school day and should return the next school day. Please place any notes in this folder as they are checked every day. All classroom work and important school correspondence will be sent home in this folder.


We love to celebrate birthdays! Due to allergies and health guidelines we skip cupcakes and sweet treats. Instead we make every child a personal birthday book and recognize this special day.

K Math Games for Home:

Number Line Run. Help kids recognize numbers and number order with this fun and simple sidewalk chalk game.

Math Hunt. Search around the house for the correct number of objects on the cards.

Sticky Note Math Match. Match sticky post it notes to numbers during this fun move and learn activity.

Life Size Math Board Game. Make a big board game kids can walk on to practice identifying numbers and number order.

Backyard Number Hunt. Hide number sticks in the backyard for the kids to find and order.

Lego Brick Math Games. Kids can practice ordering, sorting, and more with Lego bricks.

Egg Counting Game. Put those plastic eggs to use by setting up a number identification game.

Flight School Number Game. Turn the kids into airplanes as they zoom from one numbered cloud to another.

Sticky Hundreds Chart Activity. A hundred chart can be used for tons of number practice–making it big on contact paper makes it lots of fun.

Number Scavenger Hunt. Send kids on a hunt to match the numbers to their corresponding set.

Number Splash Game. Throw water balloons at sidewalk chalk numbers to practice identification, higher and lower and what comes next when counting.

Sidewalk Chalk Counting Maze. Go outside and practice counting on a big chalk maze.

Fire Hose Practice Game. Let kids use water squirters to “put out” the correct answer to simple addition or subtraction facts.

Indoor Hopscotch. Count as you play hopscotch using this easy to make game.

Frog Jump Measurement Game. Introduce non-standard measurement to kids with this fun jump and measure game.

Turkey Feather Hunt. Go on a hunt to find colored feathers and then use them to create simple math patterns.

Class Wish List Items

At the beginning of the year and throughout the school year there are various items we need in the classroom. If you are willing to make a donation of the items it is greatly appreciated. Items we are needing to begin the school year include:
  • Lysol wipes
  • Tissues
  • Fat and skinning colored markers
  • Glue sticks
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Napkins

Ten Frame Games

Game 1: Ten-Frame Flash4 players
Materials: A dozen ten-frames with dot arrangements on them, a blank ten-frame for each child, counters. You could print off these sheets: Dozen Ten-Frames.pdf and BlankTenFrame.pdf.
Rules: One child shows a ten-frame for a count of three, then hides it while the other children place counters in the same positions on their frames from memory. The 'flasher' shows the card again and helps each child check his/her display. After three cards the next child has the chance to show numbers and so on, until everyone has had a turn.
Variations/Extensions:1. Points can be awarded for each correct response. The child with the most points wins.

Game 2: Twenty3-4 playersMaterials: Blank ten-frames (two per child), counters, dice. You may wish to print off this BlankTenFrame.pdf.
Rules: Each child takes a turn to roll a die, places that number of counters onto his/her ten-frames, then announces the total number of counters on the frames. The winner is the first player to fill all twenty spaces.
Variations/Extensions:1. Each turn could include placing the correct numeral cards under the frames.2. Each player can also announce the number of counters needed to reach twenty. The exact number must be rolled to win the game.

Game 3: Guess What?2 players
Materials: Blank ten-frames, counters, a large board to act as a screen/barrier between pairs of players. Here is a blank ten-frame you could print off: BlankTenFrame.pdf
Rules: One player secretly arranges some counters on a ten-frame. The other player asks questions that can be answered yes or no, trying to gain enough clues to work out the arrangement of counters. For example: Is the top row full? Are there 8 counters? Is there an empty box in the bottom row?
Variations/Extensions1. As players become more skilled the number of questions can be counted. The player who asks fewer questions wins.

Zones of Regulation Chart.pdf

Open a web browser and go to You don’t need a Google account to access it, because it’s free to all.

In the text box on the left, type in the entire URL (including the http://) of the website you want to view.

On the right, choose the language you want to see the website in.

Click Translate.