We believe children learn best in community and our buddies program is one way we build and strengthen our school community. Buddies is a time for older and younger children to play together and learn from each other. It also provides an opportunity for friendships to form that can last from kindergarten through eighth grade.

This year, the Bayou class 3rd and 4th graders are buddies with our kindergarten. (Next year, Bayou students will have middle school buddies and the Tundra 3rd and 4th grade class will be matched with the Mississippi class.) Bayou/Mississippi buddies get together for fun and educational activities each week. Here are Bayou teacher Kak’s updates about what kindergarten/Bayou buddies have been doing this fall.

First Buddy Time, September 2014

We met today for our first buddy time and will continue getting together once a week throughout the school year. We introduced ourselves and went out to the playground to play. It wasn’t long before kindergarten teacher Marshall and I saw students playing tag together and other students were holding hands and quietly chatting. We are off to a good start already!

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September 10, 2014

We met in the Mississippi kindergarten classroom for our buddy time today. Right away, some students noticed the birds that were visiting the bird feeder in the side yard. We identified sparrows, purple finches, and gold finches. We shared some information and stories about birds–an exciting start to our Minnesota bird focus this year in the Bayou classroom.

Then it was time to learn who would be buddies together. There were many smiles and happy faces as Marshall and I shared how we had paired up the students. Buddies drew together, sharing  their favorite things to do.

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September 17, 2014

This week we met in the Bayou classroom for our buddy time. Marshall reminded the Mississippi students that they had been talking about how to build connections between each other. We asked the students  to play together and to discover two things about their buddy while getting to know each other.

Some students created an elaborate marble run complete with a retaining wall to prevent runaway marbles-engineers in training! Many students shared the Bayou buddy’s clay trays and made little clay creatures for each other.

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Other pairs drew pictures, some played with legos, and some played board games. Another pair found a quiet spot to read picture books together.

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We left time at the end of our gathering to share what each buddy pair had learned about each other. Many connections were built and recognized within this group of 32  energetic, multi-aged, creative individuals.

September 24, 2014

This week we met in the Mississippi kindergarten classroom to talk about how students learn to use conferences as part of our conflict resolution process at FSM. Older students described how to initiate a conference and showed their buddies where the conference sheets/desks are located. We generated a list of possible reasons that a student might want to address by “calling a conference.” We also heard about several conferences that the third and fourth graders remembered experiencing when they were in the Mississippi classroom.

We ended our buddy time with Marshall reading a book about buddies. Next week, we will work on creating small skits to demonstrate situations that may require a conference and how to sign up for one.

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October 1, 2014

We met in the Bayou classroom this week to begin planning the skits that will demonstrate aspects of the conflict resolution process. Two or three buddy groups worked together to create common situations that children frequently encounter. They were also asked to show how to sign up for a conference and to demonstrate how the conference might proceed.

Students worked for almost 30 minutes to create their skits and we were able to watch two of them. One was about recess exclusion behaviors and the other one was about how to tell someone not to draw on your paper. Both skits were fun to watch and everyone did a fine job depicting conflicts and conferences. We will perform the other groups’ skits at our next buddy time.

October 8, 2014

We continued to talk about the importance of using conflict resolution conferences this week. Some of the 3rd and 4th grade students recounted their first conferences and the feelings they had about using the process. One students said, “You may think that you are going to hurt your friendship with a friend because you are mad at somebody and you sign up for a conference. Actually, you sign up for a conference because you want to be a better friend.” We watched the remaining buddy pairs present their skits and then took a wonderful ten minutes of outside play in the side yard on a beautiful, fall day.

October 15, 2014

It was so beautiful outside yesterday that we couldn’t resist the opportunity to play together on the playground for our buddy time. Students played soccer, a fast and furious game of tag, taught each other monkey bar moves, and made an elaborate fairy house in the sand by the climbing wall. Lots of laughter, lots of energy, lots of shared fun!

October 22, 2014

This week, buddy groups spent some time generating survey questions that interested them. Some of those questions included: what is your favorite color, what is your favorite sports team, how many pets do you have at home etc. Students will choose a question and begin to collect data from fellow students’ responses to the questions. After everyone has been surveyed, buddies will generate a way to represent the information they gathered. This may take the form of a written report, a graph, or maybe a picture of the results. We will be using the next couple of buddy times to complete this project.

October 30,2014

We had a great time on Halloween with our buddies. In the morning, the Bayou class invited kindergarteners to visit our Haunted House. Third and fourth grade students were dressed in a variety of spooky and fun costumes and posed as their character throughout the Bayou and Tundra classrooms. They were careful to not scare their buddies but did enjoy the surprised looks on their faces. In the afternoon, we escorted the Mississippi students to the all school costume parade in the gym. We watched as everyone walked the mats with their buddy and then danced to a few songs. Lots of energy, lots of laughter, and lots of smiles.

November 8, 2014

The Bayou students have been asking to start buddy DEAR time (Drop Everything and READ–a daily, all-lower school reading time) so that’s what we did this week. Each buddy pair is assigned a day of the week to read together during DEAR time. In addition to more buddy time, it is a great way for the older students to reinforce and build their own reading skills. Younger buddies also read the books: they can describe the pictures, they can add details to the story, and some can begin to recognize letters and sound out words. During buddy time this week, each buddy pair made a list of the kinds of books they enjoy. They also talked about what makes a good story in terms of characters, setting, type of story etc. Bayou buddies will use these inventories to help select books to bring to buddy DEAR.

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November 20, 2014

Ready (question decided), Set (clipboard, paper, and pencil in hand), Go (move about the room looking for someone to take your survey)!

“What’s your favorite animal?” “Who’s your favorite football team?” “What’s your favorite color?”  “What month were you born in?” “How many pets do you have at home?” “Who is your favorite soccer player?” “What’s your favorite movie?”

These are just a few of the survey questions that students were asking each other during our buddy time this week. Buddies walked around the room, holding clipboards, and gathering data to answer their survey questions. They carefully noted each other’s responses as they attempted to survey all of the Bayou and Mississippi students and their teachers. It was quite a scene as they moved from person to person attempting to ask their questions as the noise level increased.

We had just enough time to allow the Mississippi students to tally the responses. The Bayou buddies helped them check their math and verified the tally counts. Next time, we will learn about different ways to show their survey results. Then they will study their data and make a summary statement that answers their original question.

I know I’m interested in finding out the favorite color of this group!

December 3, 2014

How many ways are there to graph survey data? Well, according to the Bayou and Mississippi students, there are several ways to represent information gathered in response to a survey question. During our last buddies time, students were deeply engaged in making bar graphs, picture graphs, and circle graphs. They were counting, writing, organizing and planning, and coloring their graphs.

Older buddies worked hard to help the younger buddies understand the information on the graphs by asking them about the variables with the most responses or the least responses. Next buddy time, each buddy pair will present their graph and data to the  rest of the class. We can’t wait to hear the favorite ice cream, color, season, football, and soccer player and more!

December 10, 2014

This week, we finished up some of the graphs and played together in the Bayou. There were marble runs being built, drawing with markers, beading projects, a fun game of “Hide the Crab,” and many other activities. The Bayou students were grateful for the break from our Poetry Cafe practicing and the Mississippi students are always so happy to see their buddy friends.

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December 17, 2014

It’s the season of celebrations and giving. The Bayou students made cards and chose a Beanie Baby stuffed animal gift for their Buddy earlier this week. While preparing these presents, we talked as a class about the positive feelings associated with gift giving. We also talked about manners, expectations, and the responsibility of being the older buddy. We practiced a variety of gift recipient reactions-from surprised to disappointed–and problem solved how to respond. It was a fun time but it also helped the older buddies recognize their growing maturity and capability to be gracious and understanding. When the gifts were delivered, there were smiles all around and lots of hugs-for Beanies and for buddies!

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We look forward to more great buddy times this winter and spring!