Dear Hawk Families,

March sure is zipping by!

And it has been a very exciting month, indeed, one filled with lots of festivities!  By next week, we will have celebrated two birthdays ~ Jack and Will’s birthday!  And, I am sure you’ve heard, the leprechauns did come to Calvary on St. Patrick’s Day, and caused all sorts of mischief in our classrooms!  It had us quite up in arms until…..

William’s Mom, Lindsay McNulty, came to save the day by providing us with some baking magic!  It was a most delicious distraction!  We thank you, a big rainbow thank you, for coming to make the yummiest Irish Soda Bread with us. We mixed, kneaded, shaped and baked a most delicious Patty’s cake, bread that is. The children were in heaven today eating it, smeared with butter, for our snack time.  What a delight!

Now, if you don’t mind, we are going to switch the channel, and head to the stars!  Yes, our Star Name study (another layer of our All About Me work) kicked off this week, with great enthusiasm!  I’m excited to fill you in…

“Welcome.  Come in.  You can feel at home here.  Bring your life and your ideas and your energy to this place.  We are going to have a blast here, exploring lots of totally cool things together.  One of the neatest things we’ll explore here will be letters and words.  Pull in.  Look at this word.  Don’t you love it?”~ Educator Renee Dinnerstein, introducing the Star Name Study to her pre-k/K students in NYC.

Parents, there are no words which are more important or closer-to-home than a child’s own name, and so a name study is a logical place to begin when teaching children about letters, the sounds they make, and words.  It truly is the most intimate and celebratory place to start, a place of familiarity, with words that have the most meaning as possible for them.  From the work of literacy expert, Pat Cunningham, the Hawks have begun, in earnest, our weekly star name ritual.  Each week, we will celebrate our friends, and their names!  It goes something like this… Gathered all together in a circle on our rug, I reach into a paper bag filled with star necklaces, and pull out just one (Confession ~ Ms. Linnea peeks into the bag and makes sure to draw a name that the children are ready to learn, starting with simpler names ~ ssshhhhh!).  I hold it up so all the Hawks can see it…

Several days ago, our first star name was chosen.  With a big grin on his face, Will’s name was pulled from our star name bag, he arose, and stepped forward, coming to take a seat in the star name chair.  Will proceeded to tell us the letters in his name, as I wrote them on a big piece of paper, accentuating each letter.  “The first letter is W, big line down the mountain, and then up the mountain, and down the mountain again, and up!  I, straight line down, remember to jump back to the top and put a hat on, and then back down to the bottom to put some feet.  Wow, the next letter in Will’s name is an L, once again, a straight line down, and a small line out.  Boy oh boy, there’s another L!   I am going to make another straight line down, with a small line pointing out.  Friends, let’s say all the letters in Will’s name together ~ W-I-L-L!  Let’s count the letters in Will’s name together, let’s clap them.  Now, let’s write them on the Earth right in front of us, and in the sky, nice and big ~ pointer fingers up, make a big line down the mountain, up the mountain, down the mountain, and climb back up…”  We then take a moment to look and notice.  What do you see?  What do you notice about Will’s name?  Hands shoot up!  “He has the letter I in his name just like me,” said William.  I have two I’s in my name.  And, Will’s name is hidden in my name, too!”  “Will has an L in his name, just like me!” exclaims another.  “All the children with L’s in their name please stand up, and notice one another.” These observations are simple ones, but for the Hawks this is important work. As the weeks go by, their observations will become more elaborate. The Hawks then interview the star name child, asking three questions ~ What is your favorite color?  Do you have a pet?  If not, what is your favorite animal? What do you like to draw?  We then go off to make a portrait of our star name friend, which we make into a book, a keepsake, for them to take home.

Over the past two weeks, as well, we have been reading lots and lots of books with names right in the title of the book.  Too, Gina went to the Library and found books with our names on them!  This has made for wonderful read alouds!

As the school year soon draws to a close, and the Hawks get ready to embark on new adventures, whether here at Calvary or another setting, what better way to interest a four and five year old in letters, sounds, and words then with his/her own name!

Come to think of it, I may have to give my Mom a call this weekend and ask her to share with me again how my name came to be?  You may want to do the same…

Have a lovely weekend,
~ Ms Linnea