Monday, January 28, 2008

Smarty Pants!


Several weeks ago I got an email from E's teacher saying she was going to send home some "critical thinking cards" for her to work on at her own pace, at home. I know that this may have been partly done to try and appease me...I have asked a couple of times when the accelerated programs will be starting, and what (if anything) she is getting in or outside of class to challenge her accademically....I know it's just kindergarten, but goodness-no reason for her to be bored and understimmulated, right?? She gets enough of that at home! :)
Anyway, here is the email she sent:

"I forgot to let you know that I am also going to be sending Emma with some critical
thinking cards and a journal. Each card has a critical thinking activity for you to do in
the journal and return to school. Emma may dictate to you what to write or she may write
the response on her own. It's an at your own pace sort of thing, just return the journal
and cards back to school when you are done with them and I will send a new set. I only do
the cards with students that I feel are ready for the challenge, I find that they are very
useful in tapping into those higher level thinking skills"

I was very excited to see these, and super proud of Miss E for her continued progress this year. The first set of cards that came home are all about crayons. There's a set of cards with questions, and a box of crayons to help with visuals or activities. Some examples are:
-How is a crayon different from a pencil? Make a list.
-Give two reasons why you don't use crayons for most of your school work.
-Choose a color that best matches each of the following words: hot, cold, wet, dry, weak, strong, etc.
Then there are some cards that are more of an "activity" type. Such as:
-Make a long, interesting line using every color in the box.
-Take all of the crayons out of the box and put them in a row. Then put a book on top of the crayons and move the book back and forth. Write a sentence about what you notice.

So, it's not exactly what I expected. But it's something...and it does get her thinking. I told E we would look up how crayons are made. I know I could find a video online. So if nothing else, this opens up new research opportunities!
She'll only sit for a couple at a time, and I'm not pushing, so it's going slow. But maybe I'll post some responses soon.

Anyway, after me all but showing the teach and the principal the link on the Leander ISD site where it states that the PACE program IS offered in Kinder(long story)....Miss E got her official acceptance into the program.

Not that this means anything much. The teacher said she was already pulling material on E's level for her to have during small group reading, and that's basically what this program does. And I know E does get some different material for her small group time. I know she and her teacher had a discussion about compound words the other day when they came across one in the text. E came home and told me about this, and that she was to make a list of 3 compound words to show her teacher the next day. She was very proud to produce 5 words to show!
The teacher also sent home some laminated sheets for us to use after any book, which E seems to enjoy. These I really like. There are three sheets. One with a box to draw your favorite part of the story, then tell why it is your favorite. The second one has an "event map", with boxes to fill in "what happened", "when did it happen?", "how did it happen?", "why did it happen?", "where did it happen?", and "who was involved?".
The last page has three sequencing boxes to draw or write the beginning, middle and end events. I think these are GREAT practice for building comprehension.

Lastly, I'll share some from her report card. She was marked at "above expected level" for both of the first two nine week sessions. She has mastered all of the introduced benchmarks. Was accepted to the PACE program, and has been tested for the QUEST program (these results will be in later this month). She has gone from a "7" reading level (this was tested the first month of school) which is about a mid-first grade level, to a "16", which is late second grade. And the emails and comments from her teacher just encourage all my gushing!

Sorry readers, I know it's long, but I figured I'd go ahead and get it all in one post! :)

Oh, and one more pic of her on stage receiving her award for "Excellence in Language Arts"!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Peter Pan!

The girls and I went to see Peter Pan today at Leander High School. Originally, this was meant to be a special outing for just Miss E and me. But, last minute work plans for J threw Lil' A into the mix. At first I thought we wouldn't go. To begin with, the matinee showing was smack in the middle of her nap time. I know at least some of you have witnessed what demons take over this child if I wake her if I decided to go, it would mean skipping her nap. I went back and forth and didn't commit until about noon. I got some lunch in their bellies, rounded up some snacks and drinks to stash in my purse (at tickets $8 a pop, I wasn't about to spring for concessions!), including a lolli each to have if they got antsy, and we hit the road.
There was quite a line and lots of confusion to even get tickets, but this turned out to be the most trying time of the afternoon. We found some pretty good seats. Everyone else was filling in the middle to have the best view. This very ideally left us some close-ish aisle seats (my first choice, in case we needed a quick exit!). As we settled in, Miss E was getting more and more excited. The band was warming up, she would practically squeal every time she thought the curtain swayed, the lights were we go!!!
Oh. My. Goodness. It is the understatement of the year to say that I was impressed. I'll admit, I was surprised at the ticket price. It's a high school play, for goodness sake! No. Thie was a Production. HUGE cast. BIGTIME choreographed dance numbers (I'd put money betting the whole Indian tribe was the dance team-they were GOOD!). AWESOME set. I guess it's been too long since I went to a high school play. Not to give a number, but the last time I went to a high school play...I was IN the play!! :-)
Boy have the times changed. Peter Pan and Wendy and the brothers really FLEW! E's favorite part was the life size crocodile that would slink across the stage after Captain Hock whenever the tick-tock sound played. There was a Tinkerbell shaped light they would bounce around the set and Peter even held her in his hands in the scene where she drank the poison meant for him.
Lil' A thought it was a puppet show. She said more than once that she wanted to go see the puppets! And I totally confused her-at one point the nurse maid was doing a solo dance number between scenes, and A asked who she was. I confused her name with the dog's name...and said, "That's the Nana". Well, she immediately wanted to know where was Pops? Poor girl!
I enjoyed this so much just for myself. I cannot begin to articulate how exciting it was to watch Miss E enjoy this. She never left the edge of her seat. She would bounce up and down to the beat, clap and cheer at the end of each performance, squeal with excitement each time the croc came....she threw her hands to her chest when we thought poor Tinkerbell was sick with poison. I may have watched her just as much as I did the stage. I would choke up and get teary each time I looked at her. I don't know why, really. Maybe because I remember enjoying things like this when I was a kid? I remember going to Casa Manana (sp?), to the Omni for the Nutcracker. I remember those trips as special events that we did with my mom and grandmother, specifically, and now I am the one initiating the outings and building memories with my girls.
I know, it was just a high school play. A far cry from the Omni! But man, it was fun!
Oh, and A did great! She sat in my lap the whole time. Didn't hardly budge. She clapped and cheered whenever we did. And after a small snack at intermission, she promptly passed out for the remainder of the program!! Oh well, still money well spent!
Here is the only picture I got-I think it sums it up well. This is when we were waiting for the play to begin. E is so anxious she can hardly stand it, and A is so overstimulated that E is literally holding her head in place. Enjoy!


Oh. My. Goodness! Here we are again, another month-long lapse from blogging! Believe me, it has not been for lack of activity...but quite the opposite is responsible for my absence. I WILL catch-up. I WILL!!! I plan on blogging a bit on our Christmas events, and I will back date them, to keep some order. So if you're still checking :), you may have to scroll down for new views! :)