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Let the learning begin

Kindergartners get off to a good start

August 18, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • Wise Djampa, right, counts the number of blocks he put together while his kindergarten teacher, Kelly True, looks on, Wednesday during the first day of school at Pangborn Elementary in Hagerstown.
Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

o "First Day of School" slideshow

It was a day of meeting new friends, learning rules and getting to know their new surroundings.

Kindergarten teacher Kelly True welcomed her new students at Pangborn Elementary School in Hagerstown's East End, while some of her former ones stopped by for hugs and hellos before classes began.

The six kindergartners who started Wednesday in Miss True's class walked into a colorful room with nursery rhymes playing on a CD player, learned to hang their backpacks in their cubbyholes and found their seats by looking for their nameplates on the tables set up in the shape of a U.

"The first day of school, especially in kindergarten, is getting down the routines, the procedures, following the rules, and then making sure they get home safely," said True, who is starting her fifth year of teaching.

Students learned when to listen, to recycle the plastic cereal and juice containers from breakfast, to write their names atop their papers and how to line up.

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Wednesday was the first full day of school for almost half of True's kindergarten class. She'll see the other half today and expects to have the entire class together for the first time Friday. Her entire class will consist of 19 "friends," some of whom attended prekindergarten. The school had a back-to-school night Monday so some students had met True and seen their classroom.

The classroom at the new Pangborn Elementary, which opened two years ago, was full of pictures to help students with the alphabet, counting, colors and concepts such as the days of the week.

A couple of students who were shy at first came out of their shells as True asked them who rode the bus to school.

Before the first half-hour could pass, one of the students brought up going home.

Lindsey Blumenauer was more interested in when recess would start.

"In a bit. We have a lot of fun things planned today," True told her.

While Lindsey periodically asked True when they would go out to play, she was excited about her lessons, often offering answers to True's questions.

When True showed the students how to separate their plastics from their trash after breakfast, Wyatt Jervis noted, "It's like recycling."

For some lessons, the six children sat on red or yellow circles on a carpet that resembled a Twister board.

To the tune of "The Addams Family" theme song, they sang about the days of the week. They danced and sang along to the tune of "Who Let the Dogs Out?" as they reviewed their alphabet, sounding out the letters.

They listened to a story about a monster who attended his first day of school and had to learn the rules.

The students also worked with "manipulatives" or connecting blocks, clips and different-colored objects as True observed how they chose to sort the different objects.

Watching the children with the items, and letting them explore, gave True a chance to see what patterns the youngsters were able to recognize, how they sorted the objects and how their minds worked, True said. It also allowed her to get to know them, their favorite colors and interests, she said.

The 5-foot-11 True often crouched down or sat in one of the tiny chairs meant for her students so she could talk to the children at eye level.

Being kindergarten, there were moments when a student made an impression, like when Joshua Goodmansen told True he was sorting clips into an "A-B pattern," alternating red and blue.

There also were humorous moments, like when True started to review the bathroom rules. Just talking about the bathroom led to several children suddenly needing to go even though some of them had gone since the school day started.

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