Our Kindergarten Program

At the very heart of the Kindergarten program is the development and growth of each student as a child of God in a loving community. St. John Bosco said, "Let the children experience the joy of their childhood." And so, at Mary, Mother of God School we are always striving to create an atmosphere of love and joy, one where we can easily delight in each child as an individual, and in the whole group as a lively and loving Christian community.

We begin our Kindergarten morning with music and prayer. Daily singing lifts the spirits and it is a beautiful way of praising God. The children learn some simple songs of praise (the songs of Taize for example), some of which are in English while others are in the universal language of the Church--Latin. Each day a different child distributes the rosaries to the class, and gathered around a statue of Our Lady, staff and students join in praying one decade of the Rosary. This is a time for the children to share prayer intentions, pray for their families and the extended community and to learn to entrust their cares and needs to God. On some days, the children will learn about the Saint of the Day, a virtue, a special liturgical season like Advent or Lent or about some other aspect of the Church's Liturgical Calendar.

Early in the morning, and while still fresh, all of the Kindergarten class is involved in calendar activities and has a new lesson and follow-up activity in Language Arts or Mathematics.

Calendar Activities

Daily, the children discuss and chart the weather, and through songs, pictures and charts, review the days of the week, the months of the year, and the seasons. They discuss the date, celebrate and chart birthdays, and develop a general understanding of time. Counting our days and months is a mini math lesson in itself, one that has a practical application and real meaning. As much as is possible, the Kindergarten programme seeks to use familiar experiences, objects and activities from the real world to instruct and challenge.

Academic Period:

Language Arts:(Mondays and Wednesdays)

Junior Kindergarten:

The J.K.'s are learning to identify both capital and lower case letters through a number of activities. They sing alphabet songs, are read a number of "ABC storybooks" (example: Dr. Seuss's ABC rhyme book), have tactile experiences with plasticine or macaroni letters, and play a number of games that help them to recognize and memorize the alphabet. They learn some basic phonics, too, though informally and at varying rates depending on individual readiness. The J.K.'s are encouraged to observe the printed words all around them--in books, on signs, labels and lists of all kinds. They are encouraged to "read" books by "picture walking" through stories, by following the reading of someone else, or by using a book to tell a story that they have already heard. In addition, the students do some echo reading and choral reading of familiar rhymes and poems. The children are expected to complete some sheet work to develop fine motor skills and to reinforce concepts covered in a lesson. Students who already know their letters or who already read are given phonics activities that help them to continue to progress in their reading.

Many more opportunities for Language Arts activities are offered to the J.K.'s throughout the course of each morning, during journal time, theme time, and developmental centre time.

Senior Kindergarten:

The S.K.'s continue to review the alphabet (both upper and lower case letters), and they start to have more formal phonics lessons to prepare them for Grade 1. The students have a wonderful phonics workbook (Modern Curriculum Press) and are learning the sounds that specific letters make. When ready, the children are encouraged to put these sounds together to read short words. The S.K.'s are given some opportunities to develop sight words (words they recognize without having to sound them out) and are given "word baggies" which contain simple rhyming words (cat, sat, mat) that can be practised with the teachers, with their reading buddy, or at home if desired. Each S.K. student will have a tailor-made folder offering special challenges, puzzles, and extra practice sheets which can be done when the assigned page(s) in the phonics workbook are completed. Otherwise, a student can choose a Language Arts manipulative activity from either the Reading Centre or the Writing Centre.

Like the J.K.'s, the S.K.'s are given many more reading and writing opportunities throughout the course of each morning, during journal, theme time, and during developmental centre time.

Mathematics:(Tuesdays and Thursdays)

Junior Kindergarten:

In the Junior Kindergarten Math program the children learn to rote count (count out loud) and to identify and memorize their numbers up to 20 or more depending on their readiness. They focus on writing numerals up to 10. They are introduced to numbers through oral practice, by interpreting charts, by counting real objects, by matching a specific number of objects to a written numeral, and through other tactile experiences. The students have a variety of math activities which emphasize critical thinking, patterning, sorting, classifying, measuring and matching. They learn to use ordinal numbers in daily routines, to identify various shapes, to demonstrate some awareness of basic addition and subtraction of real objects, and to have a sense of basic geometry through identifying and sorting three-dimensional objects. Predicting and problem solving skills are also developed.

Senior Kindergarten:

In the Senior Kindergarten Math class, the students learn to rote count to 30 by ones (for those who need a challenge we rote count to 100 using a chart regularly), to rote count to 100 by 10's, and to recognize and write numerals from 1 to 20. Like the J.K.'s, the children use manipulative materials to measure, pattern, sort, classify, and match objects, at a more advanced level and with some sheet work as reinforcement. They learn the use of ordinal numbers in daily routines, and to identify shapes and solids and other basic concepts in geometry. Predicting and problem-solving skills are further developed. The S.K. students have tailor-made folders and participate in other manipulative activities to ensure they are challenged and get enough practice in math.

Children need physical activity to be healthy and happy and to develop co-ordination and gross motor skills. Fortunately, the Kindergarten class has use of the auditorium daily, which lends itself to a variety of activities, both structured and unstructured. On certain days the children will participate in co-operative games--do parachute activities, play running games and active circle games (e.g. dodge ball, duck duck goose, etc.), while on other days they will be allowed to choose their own activities (balls, skipping ropes, hula hoops all provided). This is a wonderful time for the children simply to have fun and enjoy their peers, and the physical activity sharpens their minds for the rest of the morning.

At this time the children have a snack, listen to some music, enjoy each other's company, chat, socialize, and are taken for a washroom break.

A most beautiful program, Reading Buddies is designed so that older children and younger children can enjoy each other's company while growing in their love of books and reading. During this time each Kindergarten child is paired up with an older "buddy" from the upper grades who reads books that have been selected by the younger buddy. This is a lovely time to relax and enjoy selections from our excellent library, and to create bonds between older and younger students.

In addition to the printing that goes on in all aspects of the Language Arts program, in the writing centre and at journal time, the children receive formal printing lessons. They are taught and helped to hold a pencil properly, to form letters correctly and to space them appropriately. This can take some time since many of the children are still developing fine motor skills. Usually we focus on one upper and lower case letter per lesson using the Canadian Handwriting series and other useful books which give the students practice in making circles, lines, and other shapes so that they may form letters with greater skill and ease.

During this time, the children in both J.K. and S.K. have an opportunity to illustrate something special in their journals--it could be based on the theme being studied, a story they have read in class or an event or topic of their own choice. During this time the teacher circulates, encouraging the students by writing sentences that the children themselves dictate to describe their pictures. Those students who would like to try writing for themselves are encouraged to sound out words or to use the available pictionaries. The children are given the opportunity on certain days to share their pictures and ideas orally with their teachers and classmates.

This time is used to discuss some aspect of the theme of the week. Thematic units are integrated into various aspects of the curriculum and weekly activities to instruct the students about a particular topic (e.g. Thanksgiving, the Autumn, animals, etc.) The theme may be the subject of a story, science experiment, poem, art or other special activity. This period is also used to introduce the students to some of the new activities they can choose from at the various classroom learning centres.

This is an active time for the students, full of exploring, thinking and creating by themselves or with others. Children learn much by doing, and these centres which are set up in various parts of the Kindergarten class have a wide range of activities and manipulatives for the children to choose from. Most children visit a number of different centres daily, and they are encouraged to try new things as well. While the children are exploring the centres, the teacher circulates, observes the children, asks them thought-provoking questions, listens to them share their own findings, helps teach concepts one-on-one or in small groups, and delights in what the children discover and create. It is also a good time for the teacher to work with individual students who need help or an extra challenge.

Some of the Classroom Centres:

The Good Shepherd Centre:a centre of religious activities, books, toys, and manipulatives (Bible action figures made of wood or other materials, a felt board with stories from the Old and New Testaments, saints colouring activities, Mass kit, etc.) to inspire the children in their Catholic faith.

The Reading Centre: a carpeted area with little chairs, a number of beautiful books on shelves and in book bins which are close to a daily surprise message for the children to read. There are also a number of other phonics and reading activities (alphabet puzzles, letter activities, word games etc.).

The Writing Centre:Children can write daily messages using magnetic letters, little chalk boards, magnidoodles or with dry erase markers and boards, they can illustrate and write words in small, prepared books, they can practise writing words from the word wall or use the abundance of crayons, pencils, markers, and paper for other writing purposes.

The Math/Critical Thinking Centre:a centre with a number of exciting math manipulatives, math puzzles, patterning blocks and activities, geo-boards, memory games, counting activities, problem solving activities and geometric solids for building. There are also dry erase number activities, matching games, and other critical thinking games.

The Sand Table:a table filled with sand, hidden letters and numbers for discovery, measuring containers, and a wonderful variety of sandtoys.

The Water Centre:a water table with a variety of objects that allow the children to play and experiment with a variety of containers and objects that float and sink.

The Young Artist's Centre:a double-sided easel with paints, paint brushes and large paper for our young artists to create with.

Blocks, Puzzles, and other Toys:a centre with a carpeted area for children to build with both large and small wooden blocks, to work with gears, with an extensive Lego table, superstructs, magnetic building toys, and other geometric building materials, numerous puzzles, figurines, toy animals, a farm, castle and other things to play, imagine and create with.

The Creative Corner:a round table filled with paper, glue, scissors, and a variety of different craft materials daily for children to manipulate, explore and use to create little works of art. We also put out playdough, with little rolling pins, cookie cutters, and other playdough tools.

The Discovery/Science Centre:a table for our young scientists with a variety of objects to study and discover with magnifying glasses, which may relate to the theme being studied, or which may contain other scientific experiments and activities for the children to explore.

The Kitchen/Dress-up Centre: a variety of delightful dress-up clothes, dolls, a doctor set, cash register, tool set, a kitchen centre with toy foods and dishes etc. for imaginative play.

Trains, Trucks and other Vehicles:a centre with a large train table, train set, trucks, cars and other vehicles to build, imagine and enjoy.

Many of the centres feature different activities weekly for variety, and some of them are based on the thematic unit studied at the time.

In this period, the students engage as a group in a little French lesson or a creative art. The children may learn a new poem, a nursery rhyme, or song. They might act out or mime a short story or play, or they may learn a dance, perform a finger play or play a rhythmic instrument. This is a fun time for self-expression and developing confidence while enjoying the Arts. It is some happy "together time" before the children are dismissed for the day.

The students gather for a short Bible or saint's story, a lesson in a virtue, or a discussion on the Church's Liturgical Calendar. Whenever possible we use an interactive approach to storytelling, with a felt board, figurines or other visual aids. We dramatize stories, do mimes, songs, and puppet shows which inspire the children to see, discover, and experience the beauty of their Faith.

On Fridays from 9:20 to 10:05 the children engage in a very special activity which is usually related to the theme of the week. It could be a craft, an art activity, a special guest, cooking, a walk, or other very special activity.

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