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Kindergarten students welcomed

August 27, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Kindergarten teacher Brooke Custer used Clifford the Big Red Dog, scissors and youngsters' curiosity to welcome six new students on their first day of school and to acquaint them with school rules Thursday.

Custer, 25, a teacher at the Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education, read aloud "Clifford Gets a Friend," asking questions along the way, including whether the youngsters could make "funny faces" the way Clifford's friend did in the story. They could and did.

Then she asked if it is fine for students to hug each other if sad and the children agreed that was fine.

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But when she asked if it was also fine to lick someone, as Clifford did to his friend, they said no.

Custer used that and other exchanges to help students get adjusted and acquainted with their classroom and school.

The start of kindergarten classes is staggered over three days, which makes the adjustment less overwhelming for students, said Susan Burger, the school's managing assistant principal.

She said it also is easier to introduce students to a new routine when they're in smaller groups.

One-third of kindergarten students attended school Wednesday, the first day of the school year, she said. Those students are then off Thursday and Friday as another third attended class for the first time Thursday and another group comes today, she said.

Robin Spickler, 50, began preparing her kindergarten class at the Funkstown school Thursday morning for the larger number of students who will be in class Monday. One student stared, mouth wide open, when told there would be 20 students in class Monday.

"I like the fact I have met some new friends. You are going to be my best friends," Spickler told the class. "This is going to be six friends you will know on Monday."

Spickler was quick to give students feedback.

When Keanna Cesa, 5, correctly identified a shape as an oval, Spickler said, "Give me five!" and they slapped hands.

After Meredith Crim, 5, finished coloring a goldfish, Spickler said, "You rock, girlfriend!"

She later pointed at a telephone book and asked if the students knew what it was used for.

"You can get pizzas," Keanna said.

Next door in Custer's class, Isaiah Ritter, 4, answered questions from his classmates about what pets he had and other topics.

Then Custer asked the students to spell Isaiah's name and they did so, occasionally peeking at his name tag for help.

After writing Isaiah's name on paper, Custer cut out each letter separately and gave them to the students. Working together, they figured out how to put the letters in the proper order to spell out his name.

"We put it back together like a puzzle, didn't we?" she asked.

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