Degrees and Certifications:
BS Elementary Ed: University of Wisconsin - Superior MAED Curriculum and Instruction: St. Catherine University
Mrs. Mary Simmons
Room 1204 is one of three kindergarten classrooms at Horace Mann School. Children in kindergarten during the 2020-2021 school year will be with either Sarah Johnson, (Room 1601), Lynnea Rice (Room 1205), or me, Mary Simmons. When speaking to me directly, please feel free to call me by my first name (even though the children will refer to me as Mrs. Simmons.)
2020-2021 will be my 25th year with SPPS and my 16th year with Horace Mann School. I live in Eagan with my husband, Kirk, and our Humane Society rescue pets - a dog named Pepper and a cat named Curious.
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"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
- William Butler Yeats
Scholastic Book Clubs
Enrichment Class Schedule
Online Learning Schedule: During distance learning,
kindergartners will follow this schedule:
Daily Morning Meeting
8:30 - 9:00 AM Google Meet: hms-simm-morning meeting
Science, Art, Gym
Children will have a week of Science,
followed by a week of Art, then
followed by a week of Gym.
Specialist times are 12:30 to 1:20 PM.
Thursdays at 12:30: Google Meet with Specialists
My "Office Hours" during Distance Learning are:
1:50 - 2:15 PM Google Meet: hms-simm-office hours
Our school district uses curriculum which includes instruction in all of the elements of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics/word study, vocabulary, comprehension, fluency and oral language.
I use a variety of different resources for teaching language and literacy. With younger students we focus heavily on phonemic awareness and phonics during the first part of the year to help develop and review reading skills. Readers work to further develop their reading strategies, fluency and comprehension skills. Jan Richardson's reading framework is also used for guided reading lessons and other literacy activities.
Kindergartners also learn much about writing. Besides using printing basics of correct letter formation, capitalization, punctuation and directionality: top to bottom and left to right, students learn how to include more details in their writing. We start the year with a unit called "Telling and Drawing Our Stories." We continue to other units such as "Pattern Books" and "Personal Narratives." By the end of the school year, students will have completed those units as well as "Expert Books," "Eric Carle Author Study" and "How To" writing units.
Everyday Mathematics is the program used for math instruction. Children learn about many different numerical and mathematical concepts. Counting, patterning, sorting, measuring, estimating and graphing are some of the topics your child will learn about. Children will also learn about the relationships between numbers and objects. Through a variety of hands-on activities, games and engaging lessons, children gain an understanding that math is a part of our everyday lives.
Thematic Centers - An Eventful Part of the Day
I use fun and enriching small-group activities for the children during part of our reading period. (If you hear a child talk about "centers" this is what he or she is referencing.) Many of the lessons used are based on a weekly theme. Themes may be seasonal. Some themes include traditional folk tales or fairy tales. Other themes are centered on topics that are always popular with young learners, such as The Gingerbread Man or The Circus. I use these themes to tie various academic subject areas together. I design developmentally appropriate activities that meet the goals of Minnesota's Education Standards.
During the start of the year we focus on school rules, developing a welcoming classroom community, learning about ourselves and building relationships with peers. In the fall we also focus on activities related to autumn and the harvest. Examples of fall themes are hibernation and migration. Kindergartners look at what animals are doing to prepare for winter.
There are many activities related to snow and cold for winter. For example, we compare two mitten stories - The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt and also another book of the same name by Jan Brett. The children are asked to contrast these stories and also find the common elements. We look at snowflakes and review symmetry. Children may complete projects related to temperature and reading a thermometer. In February we have a celebration to mark the 100th day of school!
In spring we discuss seeds, plants and growing. We talk about the life cycles of plants and animals and study the life cycle of the Painted Lady butterfly. Depending on availability, we may raise Painted Lady Butterflies in the classroom. April 22nd is Earth Day and, on or around the 22nd, we discuss the three Rs - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Finally, near the end of the school year, we prepare for the completion of kindergarten and the move to first grade. By this point the children will have come a long way since they first arrived at Horace Mann School. The children will be independent readers and eager to read as much as possible! Their writing will have improved a great deal. The stories kindergartners write at the end of the school year are much more detailed and complete than they were in the fall.
Kindergartners will have grown in so many ways by the final days of school. I am so happy that I have the opportunity to show children how exciting learning can be! I will do my best to ensure that your child gets a wonderful school experience. I believe Horace Mann School will be a place where children learn naturally because they are in a stimulating environment where they feel safe to explore and satisfy their curiosity.
Parent Help is Encouraged
I would like to encourage Horace Mann School parents to volunteer at school! There are a variety of things that parents can do. Field trip chaperones are needed periodically throughout the school year. Usually the field trips we take are half-day outings, meaning we leave at the start of the day and return for lunch or leave after lunch and return before dismissals. All parents will be informed of the field trip days and times well in advance.
Parents have also come in during the school day to help work with small groups of children during our reading period. Another time when parent help is needed is during our writing period, as the children often need assistance and encouragement to complete their written assignments. Parents also come in to help with copying tasks and with project preparations.
Outside of the classroom, parents are also very involved in our PTA. The Parent Teacher Association at Horace Mann School organizes numerous events that help raise funds for our school. PTA meeting times are posted online on our school calendar, so you'll always know which evenings the meetings are scheduled. PTA meetings are always 6:30 to 8:00 PM in the school library. Whatever way you choose to participate helps - so please get involved!
Feel free to stop by Room 1204 to visit - just sign in at the office first. You may also call the school at 651-293-8965 to leave me a voice mail or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever have any questions. If you are a parent of a Horace Mann Kindergartner, thanks in advance for all of your support. Working together, we can make this a great school year for your child! - Mary Simmons