The first hour in Amy Owens' kindergarten room at South School Monday was quiet; it took the new students only that long to open up to their teacher. The remaining 179 days of school will be filled with excitement and grabbing onto knowledge. The kindergarten day is filled with routine and though all new to the students today, it will soon be familiar to them.
"I'm bored," Jason Charles said.
"You know what?" Miss Owen said to her student, "we have so much to do you won't have time to be bored."
The students came into the classroom, found their assigned seats signified by a name tag and began working on math manipulative (counting cute, colored plastic bears, linking plastic pieces to make a chain and stacking colored blocks.)
Soon Miss Owen flipped the light switch off, to let the kids know it was time to clean up and move on to another activity.
"You guys are fast workers," she told the students who had cleaned up their own area. "If someone at your table is still working you may help them."
The students were then asked to push in their chairs and move onto the "rug" where they will sit for many activities.
"Boys and girls, welcome to kindergarten! Are you excited to be here? I know when I got up this morning after sleeping all night, I was excited."
Miss Owen explained that every day two helpers would assist during calendar time.
"Today, our helpers are Ethan (Nelson) and Abigail (Rodriquez). When you come to school tomorrow, there will be two different helper cards."
She pointed to an August calendar with days one through 20 already on it.
"Today is Aug. 21. Who can tell me what two numbers make up 21?" Most of the children, still shy, said, "Two and one." The teacher praised them. The number was placed on the calendar.
"Tomorrow we will have to find the number that comes after 21."
She explained to the students that they would be building a "caterpillar" in their room, adding a body part or circle for each day they are in kindergarten.
"You may think it is starting out really little but it will be really, really big when the school year is done."
The students then went outside to join the other students for the traditional flag raising by principal Ed Rude and custodian Jim Baker.
"I see many familiar faces," Principal Rude said. "You have grown and are ready the school year. "
He told the students he was here to help them. "We want you to be here everyday for school and we want you to come ready to learn and to always do your best. We ask you to be respectful while you are here. Be a friend, be helpful and help each other out."
The flag was raised and the students recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
"Welcome back!" Principal Rude finished.
The kindergarten students headed back to their classroom. Aid Beth Overmohle started counting as Miss Owens' students were walking through the door. Eighteen. Hmm. There should be 19, she pointed out. She made a second and third count as the students went back to the rug. Still 18.
Within only a couple minutes, another teacher brought in the "missing" student who had dashed off for a quick swing before coming back inside.
With all the students back together, the group continued their routine which included marking the weather chart, which called for the students to be observant.
"We need to decide if today is sunny or cloudy," Miss Owens said.
"It's cloudy," the students said together.
"I have a cloud and here's the brain stretcher - is it raining? Is it snowing? Is it foggy?"
They answered no.
"Then it must be a dry day."
The group then had music, singing to songs being played on a CD player.
The students sang loud and did all the actions as Miss Owens directed them to do.
"For your first time, give yourself a pat on the back - that means you did a good job," the teacher said. "We've got a group of good singers. If you like to sing, you've come to the right place!"
Reading time was next. Shoes had already come off. Helper Trish Larson told the students they needed to keep their shoes on and asked the students why that was.
"We might step on something and it might be sharp and go all the way in your foot," offered Iweliss Almanza.
The assistant was playing along with the students, as they waited for the entire class to return from a trip to the restroom. "How many of you are 10?" Two students raised their hands and then shook their heads, laughing. "How many of you are 25?" Iweliss raised her hand again and then laughed.
"Actually," said student Brenna Coheley, "the teachers are 25."
"Actually we're a lot older than that but bless your heart," Mrs. Larson added.
When Miss Owen returned to the class she went over the five rules the students will need to remember when she reads.
* Sit criss cross applesauce (same as Indian style for the older generation.)
* Keep your hands in your lap.
* Your ears are for listening.
* Your eyes are for looking at the book.
* Mouths remain quiet.
"The Gingerbread Boy," traditionally read by the kindergarten teachers on the first day of school, was enjoyed by the students. As she began the story, she asked the children if the old man and woman in the story had children.
"No," a student said, "but they have cats."
They listened intently and near the end as the gingerbread boy was getting closer to being caught, Miss Owen asked, "What do you think will catch the gingerbread boy?"
"A crocodile," Karla Ramirez thought. Other students guessed a fox.
Miss Owen told the students, when the book was finished, that she had made a gingerbread cookie for the class and it was baking in the oven.
As she and the assistants led the class to the school kitchen, she told them, "Don't be noisy. We might scare him away."
When the large oven was opened, it was empty and the students' faces showed of disappointment, believing their gingerbread boy ran away as in the story they had recently heard.
Actually, it was a scam! Clues lead the students around the school, introducing them to the gym, the library, the office, the nurse's office and again to the kitchen.
Teachers along the way played along telling the students they had seen the gingerbread boy run past them; the students got more excited with each clue.
"Maybe he went away in a car," one student said. "Maybe someone already ate him - like a wolf," another said.
Eventually, the gingerbread boy was found - frosted and decorated.
The teacher cut the large cookie so that everyone had a small piece. Later each student got their own gingerbread boy cookie, decorated it., and enjoyed every last bite!
The activity was a sweet way for the students to become familiar with the school and a fun way to get their kindergarten year off and running.