Back to Kindergarten

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 1999

It was just a Tinker Toy contraption, but for the kindergarten-age designer, it wasn’t pencil-like sticks stuck into circular Tinker wheels.

Sunday, September 05, 1999

It was just a Tinker Toy contraption, but for the kindergarten-age designer, it wasn’t pencil-like sticks stuck into circular Tinker wheels.

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To Alek Struck, the interconnected seven-inch, slim, colored rods and one-inch-diameter center with many holes was the most modern space station.

Vivid imagination aside, his playtime creation appeared to belong in orbit. Using the wheel as a base, Struck slowly pieced together something that resembled his thoughts.

&uot;I don’t know what I will call it,&uot; said the Lakeview Elementary School kindergartner, mouthing a motor sound while mimicking a flying motion. &uot;It will go into space and turn like this.&uot;

As Struck and Brady Elk sat in one corner of Marcia Sczublewski’s kindergarten classroom learning Tinker Toy-style, Alexander Biggins used a typewriter to create a present for mom in another part of the large room.

The bright sun that Kelly Sward painted radiated excitement. Others played in a sandbox and fiddled together puzzles.

Biggens was quick to answer a question.

&uot;Yes!&uot; he was having fun. &uot;The bus ride was fun. My brother is also in school.&uot;

There were no tears, or scrapes of disagreement. It was playtime Thursday, during the first day of Kindergarten.

For Sczublewski that’s a sign of a good year.

&uot;There’s kind of an anticipation of how everyone will get along,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s gone very well. They seem excited about coming here.&uot;

It’s been that way in each of the four district elementary schools, said Lakeview Principal David Paschka.

He’s heard no reports of children crying as they return to school.

&uot;Yesterday, I met with Steve Jordahl and Dell Stein (other principals,)&uot; Paschka said. &uot;All three of us said, ‘It was the most perfect first day we can remember. It was perfect.

&uot;It was the best first day I can remember,&uot; he added. &uot;Again, it goes back to the fall interviews.&uot;

Sczublewski first met most of her 19 afternoon kindergarten students during parent, teacher and student interviews at the beginning of the week.

The interviews help students feel at ease in their first taste of school, she said.

&uot;The interviews help the kids, so they’re not so apprehensive about coming,&uot; the teacher said. &uot;We show them around. Plus, I get to know the students before they start.&uot;

It’s only the first day, but the children are already calling Sczublewski &uot;Mrs. S.&uot;; when you’re 5, Sczublewski is rather difficult to pronounce.

In this kindergarten classroom, the first two days are spent learning the rules and names.

&uot;We try to get to know each other by saying names,&uot; Sczublewski explained. &uot;I explain the rules of the classroom – like cleaning up. They get to know each other and the rules of the classroom, and what the teacher expects as far as behavior.&uot;

Agreeing that patience and a love of children are important, the teacher said she tries to keep the learning active. At this age, children don’t often stand still.

But Sczublewski said the rewards of teaching kindergarten are endless.

&uot;The most rewarding thing for me about kindergarten is you see the light bulb turn on as they learn,&uot; she said. &uot;They’re so honest. At this age, they really say what they mean.&uot;