According to Maurice Spectoroff of the American Kazoo Company, “The kazoo may be the only truly American
instrument. The earliest kazoo known of is a 1904 wood example. The standard metal kazoo has been made since
1915.” Though often considered a child's toy today, the kazoo has an illustrious history. It is of African American
origin, and is probably derived from a similar African instrument called the mirliton that was also imitated in
Europe. These instruments, used by medicine men in Western Africa, possibly go back thousands of years. The
modern kazoo is thought to have been invented in Macon, Georgia in the 1840’s by an African-American named
Alabama Vest, and first manufactured by a German American clockmaker named Thaddeus von Clegg, who
profited from Vest’s work. The instrument was originally marketed under the name “Down South Submarine,”
but the name kazoo was in use by the early 20th century.
Monday – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Tuesday – We started our letter Kk week. Students practiced letter sounds and letter writing first thing in the morning.
The class illustrated their Kitten’s Letter K book to read to our Book Buddies on Friday. Most of the students are really
starting to think of themselves as readers. We read the K is for Kitten book to reinforce rhyming skills. Students were
introduced to using tally marks to keep track of the number of objects. We practiced counting by 5’s to 110. Students
created rafts, using craft sticks, and beans to reinforce using objects to represent numbers and making exchanges. The
class worked in small groups as I met with reading groups to introduce their new books. We played Name That Tune with
the kazoo. Everyone could identify the songs and sang along as I played. We earned the Golden Book award from the
librarian for demonstrating the best library etiquette. The class keeps the Golden Book for a week!
Wednesday – The morning assembly was amazing. The gymnastic presentation for grades kindergarten through fourth
grade allowed the students to demonstrate wonderful new skills. We celebrated January birthdays and had a great
presentation of Martin Luther King's speech by Mrs. Spencer’s and Ms. Cummings’ classes. Our search for things that
start with the letter Kk lead us to keys and the Keeper of the Keys for the school (Donna). A special thank you goes to
Donna who allowed each child to examine and count her keys. Students each estimated the total number of her keys
before we counted them as a group. We created key rubbings on an uppercase Kk. Archaeologists found the oldest
known lock in the Khorsabad Palace ruins near Nineveh. The lock was estimated to be 4,000 years old. The Romans
fabricated the first metal lock based on Egyptian principles. They designed pins of various shapes, with keys and
keyholes. Many of the keys were elaborate designs, such as birds and flowers.
Thursday –The study of kangaroos took us all the way to Australia on the other side of the globe. Each student created a
kangaroo and joey to take home. Born a mere half inch long and weighing less than a gram, kangaroos can grow taller
than a man. As with most other marsupials (one of the three orders of mammals) they raise their young in body pouches.
The only marsupial in Maine is the opossum. The young kangaroo, called a joey, has to make his or her own way
crawling through the fur towards the pouch after birth. We all practiced drawing a large rhombus to create a kite to fly
above our tables. Everyone did an amazing job creating his or her two-sided kite. The students were excited to see all of
the kites flying above our worktables. Students graphed the sums of dice rolls to determine which number was rolled the
most. We discussed the probability of rolling certain number combinations using two dice.
Friday – We finished our Kitten’s Letter Kk book for Book Buddies. Step-by-step directions were given to demonstrate
how to draw a kangaroo in their journals. Using just our sense of touch students described and identified different coins in
the secret socks. The class worked on our estimation skills. Students discovered that the more they practiced estimating
the number of objects their guesses became more accurate. During our study of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the class
decided to write him a letter stating that they were sorry he was not treated fairly. As one student stated, “We all have the
same skin, it is just different colors!” Everyone loved the MLK Build the Dream bracelets. We were very excited to read
our Kitten’s Letter Kk book and our books from reading groups with our Book Buddies today. Homework for the
weekend is to read their new books with at least two people.