Verda Dierzen kids got talent
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Students at Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center added a few gators, cows and monkeys, too.
The Animal Sounds and Motion Program, presented late last month at VDELC, featured 490 kindergartners singing and dancing to animal-themed songs. The programs were presented in four separate shows, each starring five kindergarten classes.
All kindergartners, including those in dual language, special education and half-day, participated.
The programs were created by physical education teacher Jackie Anderson and music teacher Chris Rausch to showcase music and dance and how both are integrated with the classroom animal unit.
Wearing matching colors and simple paper hats, each class performed two songs and a dance. The dances featured simple choreography or props such as beanbags or streamers. Inflatable animals, purchased by the Woodstock Music Boosters, decorated the stage and auditorium.
“This is so exciting, because we get to see the money at work,” said Kim Sites, VDELC’s Music Boosters representative.
“These are great because we can use them year after year,” said Anderson.
The program also was the culmination of the first year in which the majority of Woodstock kindergartners attended all-day classes.
Though full-day kindergarten has been offered on a lottery basis for several years, the district decided to expand it for 2011-12.
“When we compared test scores of our half-day to full-day students, there was quite a difference in achievement, so we thought it was important to offer it to everyone,” said VDELC Principal Tricia Bogott.
Because districts receive more general state aid when students attend school full time, the additional funding covered the program cost.
Bogott called response to the new program phenomenal.
“At registration, everyone was so relaxed because they didn’t have the stress of having to win a spot through a lottery,” she said. “There was space for everyone who wanted it.”
Out of 490 kindergartners, only 21 families selected the half-day option. Bogott said half-day kindergarten isn’t offered for 2012-13.
“We haven’t had enough interest,” she said.
Jamie Porquillo’s son Erick is a student in the full-day kindergarten. Porquillo, Woodstock, said she had some initial reservations about the all-day program, but is glad she enrolled her son. “Because of the extra time, they go a lot faster,” she said. “He’s already reading.”
For young children getting used to spending all day at school, classes like physical education and music are especially important.
The students have physical education class twice a week and, on off-days, participate in classroom teacher-led physical activities.
“At this level, they get their first taste of teamwork and learning to work with a partner. It’s basic skills like kicking and catching. We don’t play actual sports. My number one goal is for the kids to enjoy coming to class,” Anderson said.
Lessons also have covered concepts such as heart rate and movement, taught using a skeleton nicknamed “Mr. Bones.”
The students began learning the dances in late February, as part of their physical education dance unit.
“We teach them a little bit at a time and then we came together (with music) to get them used to performing on a stage,” Anderson said.
First-year music teacher Rausch, a WHS graduate, said the songs the children performed in the program have been part of music class all year.
“It gives a snapshot of what we do in kindergarten music,” Rausch said.
Between each number, Rausch explained the instructional concepts behind the songs. A rap-style chant is used to teach rhythm. Vocal soloists help young children learn to sing because they will naturally mirror another child’s voice.
But for the students, the classes are simply fun.
“We run around and play games. I like to sing songs, and we sing all the time in my class,” said kindergartner Maddie Manke, 6, Woodstock.