Learning About Ourselves and Our Classroom
*This week’s Snapshot is guest authored by Sara Schomaker, who recently completed her student teaching in our Kindergarten classroom
Throughout my time in the room, my focus with the children has been on building their self-identity and sense of community. We started this journey by zooming in on each child and their own personal world through activities and art projects. We read the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, and talked about how everyone’s name is different and special. We had a discussion about physical traits — what it means, examples, etc. and wrote their own descriptions for themselves.
An activity they really enjoyed was when we read their descriptions and they had to look around the room to see who they described. The children created beautiful self-portraits using tempera paint, yarn, and utilized mirrors. They used their iPads to zoom in on a picture of their eye to create their very own eye art! Eyes are like fingerprints, they may look the same at a glance, but up close they are different shapes, designs, and colors.
After learning about themselves and their unique traits, we expanded their view to focus on their family and home life. One book we read that led to a great discussion about families was The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman. During math, they learned about how numbers can tell different stories about people.
We ended up making a Kindergarten Siblings Graph to compare how many siblings all of us have! Most of the children have one sibling! A beautiful book about inclusion and being yourself is called Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson. An art project we began based on this story involved coloring a puzzle piece to represent themselves. The children came up with various describing words for each other that are now placed next to their self-portraits on the bulletin board. The focus then shifted from their home lives to their classroom lives and made connections between the two. The book Our class is a Family by Shanon Olsen sparked a conversation about how our classroom is like a family. The children worked in groups to discuss what their classroom looks like, sounds like, and feels like.
We re-read the book Where Oliver Fits and glued our puzzle pieces together to form a class puzzle. I emphasized that each of us are unique individuals on our own, but when we are all together we fit so well just like a puzzle, or a family, and that’s when the magic happens.
Since the children have been really interested in creating and writing stories, I thought it would be great to make a collaborative poem for National Poetry Month. The poem that inspired our poem is titled “Remember” by Joy Harjo.
I just want to say how amazing it has been to be able to work in the Kindergarten classroom with Leigh and all these amazing students! It has been a great learning experience! Thank you for allowing me to work with your children, they are a great group of kids!