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Kindergarten classrooms callon imaginations of children

September 14, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - Kindergarten memories! Many mature people can only vaguely recall story time, warm milk and graham crackers.

Times have changed.

Nowhere is that more evident than at the Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education where the kindergarten teachers have transformed their classrooms into vibrant and stimulating learning centers.

On a typical day recently, youngsters were punching out alphabet letters in Play-Doh.

Two children were using magic wands to point to letters and numbers displayed on the wall by an overhead projector as others were reading aloud while wearing sunglasses and sitting in colorful innertubes on a deep sea mat.

"The children are all actively involved in a literacy-related activity, moving freely around the room in a more kid-friendly fashion," said Susan Burger, who is the managing assistant principal at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education.

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Burger said she was overwhelmed by the creativity displayed by her team of four kindergarten teachers as they strive to make learning more fun for children at every level.

In Brooke Custer's room, children use erasable markers to draw their letters as they appear on the overhead projector. Some were "reading around the room," wearing magic glasses.

Across the room, Custer has set up a miniature travel agency where children start with a map and a brochure and then go to a pretend telephone booth and make reservations for their trips.

"Next, they use the computer to see how much the trip will cost and what they need to pack for the trip," Burger said.

Some of the activities involved two or three children while others lend themselves to solitary play. One student named Travis was using a pointing stick to follow each word on a poem as he read it aloud.

Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education has 200 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through first grade. Grades 2-5 attend Emma K. Doub Elementary School.

Robin Spickler, a 29-year veteran teacher, has several learning centers in her kindergarten room, including a small couch where children can sit comfortably and listen to tapes on headphones.

"They are doing very well so far," Spickler said.

Since it is early in the school year, Spickler is choosing the learning centers for each child but soon, they will choose their own.

The other kindergarten teachers at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education are Cathie Johnson and Yvonne Ritchie.

All this creatively hardly stops at the kindergarten classrooms. The first grade teachers also have designed more exciting activities.

One of those is Linda Beere ,who is new at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education this year.

Beere has a writing center and reading groups incorporated into her room. Overhead projectors are always on and there is an author of the month feature.

"Our teachers get resource money for these projects," Burger said. "But in many cases, the teachers use their own funds to make sure they have what they feel they need for their students."

"There is a lot of imagination at work here," Burger said.

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