Kindergarten

17 January, 2022

NWEA Testing

We are entering the middle of the school year, and with it comes another session of NWEA testing. The purpose of the NWEA is to verify a student’s level, and to set a goal for them to reach in the spring. I for one am excited to see the growth that the students have already made this school year.

God’s Grace

In class, we are exploring that Jesus came to earth to teach us how to live. While here on earth Jesus repeatedly said that God loves us. God is freely giving us love, without our needing to do anything to earn it. The theme to all his lessons are “Be Obedient to God, because He Love You”. Jesus teaches us this through everything he does; his words, actions, his birth, and death.

The first question I had when thinking about God’s Grace and his call to be obedient, is that it seems to be contradictory. If God gives me love freely, and I don’t have to earn it, then why do I have to do special things to earn his grace? I thought about this for a long time, and then it came to me. God is not the problem with giving love. The problem is that I am not saying yes to His love. I am not acting in a way that shows God that I am ready or even interested in His love. It is when we follow and listen to Jesus, that we begin to understand that God is trying to lead us to be open to His Grace. God is not saying “do this” and you get my love. He is saying “When you act this way/ love this way/ pray this way,” you prepare your body and soul to say yes to God’s Grace.

I explained it to the students in this way: God has made me the best, most delicious cake in the universe, and he is giving it to me just because he wants me to have it. However, earlier in the day, I got into a fight with my best friend and I said mean things just to hurt him. Since this moment, I’ve lost my appetite for cake. I tried to take a bite, but it just made me feel uncomfortable. Later in the day, I returned to my friend and apologized, and when he forgave me, my appetite returned. I was able to eat and enjoy more of the cake. In this situation, the cake is God’s love, and it is me and my sin that has said no to God’s love through my actions. God wants me to have his love, but it is me who is not ready to experience the fullness of it. When I apologized and experienced forgiveness, I opened myself up to the fullness of His love, and my appetite returned.

The first lesson Jesus teaches us is that God wants families to consist of a mom, a dad, and children. Jesus had Mary and Joseph to be the example of what a family should look like. When we are imitating the Holy Family, we open ourselves up and become ready to receive that grace. When we live counter to this example, we are denying ourselves the fullness of His Grace. He is always offering you His love freely and completely. Are you ready to say yes?

Mary is Our Mother

God is able to see all and know all. He is the master of time and space, because He is outside time and space. I like to think that God can look at the entire history of the universe as if it were a book. He can go forwards and backwards, skip pages, read the end and then flip back to the beginning. God has this ability to know everything. With this ability and knowledge of all the events and people of the whole span of the human race (and the universe), He chose one woman to be the mother of his child. Only one person was worthy enough, good enough, to carry God in her womb. That woman is Mary.

Mary was chosen to be the mother of God. She became the new Ark of the Covenant. She became the new Eve. God came to her and she said, “Yes!” This alone should be reason enough to pray to Mary. She lived a perfect life, and even through great heartache and pain, she remained a stead-fast servant of God.

In the Gospel of John, as Jesus was on the cross, he bequeathed Mary to his disciple, and his disciple to Mary. With these words, Jesus made Mary the adopted mother of the disciples, past, present and future. As we are adopted into God’s family, we too are privileged to have Mary as our Adopted Mother. As our Mother, she will speak up for us. She will fight on our behalf. She will be on our side, even when we are wrong. She is the perfect mother.

As we continue into the year, I would like to encourage the Kindergarten families to pray the rosary together, explore the mysteries, and develop a personal relationship with Mary. It is though our relationship with Mary, that we can develop a deeper and stronger relationship with Jesus.

Key Word Outlines

A major component of our IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) program is referred to as Key Word Outlines (KWO’s). This component teaches students how to extract information from a text, build around the extracted information, and create a new writing piece.

In Kindergarten, we begin with simple one paragraph source texts. Our first paragraph was about pigs. We read the source text, and discuss it’s meaning.

Next, we create the template for the KWO. Each sentence gets its own line. We begin numbering the outline with roman numeral 1 (I) signifying that this is the first paragraph. In future KWO’s, there will be more paragraphs. Each line after than, gets numbered with a standard numeral. This text has 5 sentences, so there are 5 lines. Example:

I. ________________________
1.________________________
2.________________________
3.________________________
4.________________________

The rules for extracting information is that you can only take 3 words max from each sentence. You can use unlimited symbols or numbers. An Example KWO for the Pigs text:

Pigs
I. called, hogs, swine
1. no, sweat glands
2. cannot, sweat, cool
3. roll, mud, cool
4. mud, dries, protects

Finally, as a class, we retell the KWO aloud and form each line into a new sentence. When they have completed this process, they have created a new a unique text.

Pigs
Pigs can be called hogs or swine. They don’t have sweat glands. Their bodies cannot make sweat to cool themselves. They have to roll in the mud to cool down. When the mud dries, it protects them from the hot sun.

Virtue of the Term – Foresight

Proverbs 22:3
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,
But the simple pass on and are punished.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at the story of Adam and Eve. In the story, Adam and Eve are given paradise and great gifts, but are given only one rule: Do not eat from the tree in the center of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As the story goes, the serpent came to Eve and tempted her, and when she “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes to look upon the tree”, her temptation became too much, and she ate from the tree.

In class, we acted this scene out. I had a box of snacks and toys in the middle of the carpet, with the students sitting at the edge of the carpet in a circle. I told the students that they can have anything in the classroom, except for the things in the box. As the students sat on the carpet, I whispered in a few ears, that they should look in the box and see what was in it. As those students got curious, they moved closer. As other students saw that their friends had moved closer, they followed. Most students were now at the box, getting closer and closer to the snacks and toys. As they hovered over this box, some students even reached in to the box with their hands and began to touch the items. As this was all happening, one student remained on the carpet in his original spot. He sat silent, turned his body away from the box, and closed his eyes. He did not succumb to the temptation, and instead turned his body away from it, so that he couldn’t even see it.


How many of us fall prey to the delights and simple pleasures of this world? Or are we like the one student who turned away and closed his eyes to temptation? The serpent only whispered to Eve. It was her decision to move closer and look upon the forbidden tree that led to her fall. Do we have the self-control to walk away from our temptations? Are we practicing the foresight to hide ourselves from evil?

Poem of the Week – “Little Boy Blue” by Mother Goose

Little Boy Blue,
come blow your horn.
The sheep’s in the meadow,
the cow’s in the corn.
Where is the little boy who looks
after the sheep?
He’s under the haystack
fast asleep.
Will you wake him?
No, not I. For if I do, he’s sure to cry.

Reminder: Please practice the poem each night with your students, even if it’s for 5 minutes. Practice at home helps the student understand the importance of their work, and it build up their skill in the classroom. When students are better prepared and practiced, they are more confident and happy.

Sound City

Sound City is a display in the classroom that showcases the special sounds that we learn in our poems. Outside of Sound City, we have learned the sounds that the short vowels and consonants make when they are independent. When the letters begin to mingle, they make different sounds, and that is where we get our special sounds. The Streets on Sound City are dedicated to our long vowel and R-controlled vowel sounds. Each house on a street shows a different way in which that sound can be made. There are other places in our city, such as the Silent E Library, where special sounds can be found. As the year progresses, Sound City will grow and become a great tool for the students to look towards to help them with their reading.

Sound City Streets

Long A Street:

Long E Street:

  • y at the end of a multi-syllable word says long e sound, as in happy, Wendy, and hickory. (Exceptions ay and oy, which will be added to Sound City later)
  • ee in a word says the long e sound, as in bee, tree, and teeth.
  • ea in a word says the long e sound (most of the time), as in tea, meal, and ear. (exceptions are words like head, where ea makes the short e sound).

Long I Street:

  • y at the end of a one-syllable word says long i sound, as in why, cry, shy, and dry.

Long O Street:

  • oa says long o, as in oak, croak, boat, and soak.

Long U Street:

  • ew says the long u sound in the word pew, few, and chew.

R-Street:

  • er says the r-controlled sound in the word teacher, Narmer, and water. er is generally found at the end of a word.
  • or says the r-controlled sound in the word for, Gordon, and horn.

Silent E Library:

  • ce says the s sound, like in the words ice, cent, and celery.
  • Magic e – a short vowel with an adjacent e turns into a long vowel, like in the words: rid=ride cod=code tub=tube

Digraph Train:

  • Whispered th says the soft th sound in with, Beth, and throw.
  • Voiced th says the th sound in them, this, that, and brother.
  • wh makes the sound like you are blowing out birthday candles, as in who, wheel, and where.

Extra Sounds:

  • aw – This is shown as a baby stroller because when we see a baby, we say “awwwww!”
  • ing – These letters come together to make their new sound.
  • ou and ow – These sounds make the ow sound that we hear in the words couch/mouse, and vowel/cow.
  • are and air – These sounds say air, like in stare and stair, or hare and hair.

I invite you to share in Sound City by building your own at home. Below I will have a picture of the most up to date model from our classroom, as well as a link to the houses, which can be printed and placed on your city.

Sound City Printable Houses

True, Good, and Beautiful

In Kindergarten, we are building the foundation of our faith. We begin the year with discussing God, three divine persons, personified in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From this concept of God, we move into creation, and that’s where we find our three transcendentals: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. In class we will look at the world, our classroom subjects, and each other through this lens.

True – The basic reality of an object that is always real, and does not rely on other objects for it to be true. Something that is true is always true, and can never be in conflict with another thing that is true. There is truth in the things God has made, and the truth of an object, in turn, points to the existence of God.

Beautiful – When a creation of God is participating fully with all other creations of God. Things were made to fit together, to have balance and live in harmony with each other.

A simple explanation for these concepts: A hand is a hand and cannot be anything else. It is not a foot or an eye. (True) A hand is used for holding objects and to aide in the expression of our mind/spirit. When I use my hand to grasp an object it is being used in the way it was designed. (Good) Using a hand in conjunction with a pencil and paper to express the mind/spirit of a person. When I use my hand to hold a pencil and write down my thoughts that glorify God, that is finding harmony in the purpose of my hand, the pencil, and the paper. (Beautiful)

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Mr. Andrew Pietryga

Kindergarten Teacher

(734) 769-0911 Ext. 2111

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St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School