Hi! I'm Marian Hodge, and I'll be adding a little something to the web site for all of you early childhood folks out there.

I'm a consultant with Sigmon and Associates, Inc., and my area of expertise is kindergarten. After spending 30 years in a kindergarten mindset, I think I have it "down pat." Through the years I've seen the pendulum swing from one side to the other, but this focus on developmentally appropriate, balanced literacy is the best yet. How could you go wrong? You expose all of the children to all of the key ways that children learn to read each and every day. The result: Successful Readers and Writers!

As we all start the New Year, let's remember that kindergarten is such a precious time for our children. Second semester is often the time that teachers are frantically trying to get kindergarteners "ready" for first grade. Let's don't lose sight that it's most important to continue to make this a joyous school year so that these little ones are "hooked and reeled in" to the wondrous love of learning. That should remain our ultimate goal.

I've kept an insightful commentary from my 2007 Reading Today IRA journal. The author, Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, reminds us of how young children learn.

    "Young children learn best, the research-based guidelines remind us, through hands-on, active, interactive, self-initiating, manipulative, arts-rich experiences that honor the multiple intelligences and unique combination of interests, skills, and gifts of every learner, each growing and developing in original styles and rhythms." (Vol. 25, No. 1, August/September 2007, pp. 20).

So, as you plan for the New Year with your group of eager, wide-eyed students, take into consideration how our young children learn and teach them well. Surely, if we keep this in mind as we plan in 2009, our kindergarteners will be happy, healthy, and will also be ready for the next year.

Best wishes,
Marian Hodge

Fall Festival idea - Hey, check out the Fall Ball from Southside Elementary in Hartford City, Indiana.

Kindergarten and Worksheets

Speaking of Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP);

I'd like for you to consider these questions the next time you pull a worksheet for your class to complete:

  1. Will this worksheet teach my students more than I can?
  2. Will this worksheet reinforce the skill better than a hands-on/interactive activity?
  3. Is this worksheet DAP?
  4. Is this worksheet a filler to keep my students busy for a while?
  5. Am I asking my students to complete this worksheet "to get them use to doing worksheets in 1st grade?
    (1st graders shouldn't be doing so many worksheets either!)

If you consider yourself using developmentally appropriate practices in your classroom, worksheets should not be the activity you choose to engage your students. Your 5/6 year olds are concrete learners and there are many, many hands-on/interactive activities to choose from to teach the needed skills.

So, put those worksheets away and enjoy teaching your students. They are active and inquisitive beings. Treat them as such.

For more information see: The Worksheet Dilemma: Benefits of Play-Based Curricula by Sue Grossman, Ph.D

Spring Fever Art and Music Festival
Idea: Are you looking for a fun way to engage your students who have "Spring Fever"? Do you have art and music standards that need to be addressed before the end of the year? Well, here's an idea. Enlist the help of your kindergarten, special areas, and administrative staff to help with an Art & Music Festival for the kindergarten grade level.

This is how it works:
  1. Each adult plans a station for the standard to be taught. This will include an activity and all the materials to carry out the activity for the number of students participating in the Festival. If you have a large number of students, each child may not get to go to each station, so plan accordingly. Here are some ideas for stations:

    • Easel painting (be sure to have a drying line)
    • Modeling clay
    • Collage
    • Pet rock painting
    • Sidewalk chalk art
    • Use various art materials to design creatively

    • Learn a new dance
    • Make up dances to various types of music
    • Dance with ribbons, hoops, etc.
    • Create and play musical instruments
    • Move to favorite songs on movement cd's
    • Sings favorite songs from throughout the year
  2. Secure a place, indoors or outdoors, large enough for the planned activities. The students move from station to station on their own. If you set the rules for the Festival and inform your students of them ahead of time, all will go well. All adults are in charge of supervision.
  3. Set a time limit for the Festival and stop at the designated timer.
  4. Invite the parents to come enjoy the event with their child.