The Shape of Things

The kindergarteners have been reviewing two-dimensional shapes. We identified the number of sides on each shape, and students used pattern blocks to design a shape of their own.

I also read aloud the book The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds. Students then created their own pages that are patterned after this book.

I love their creativity!

Literacy Workstations

I am excited to blog about our second day of Literacy Workstations! This summer, I spent a lot of time reorganizing my Reading Centers. I wanted the students to have “more buy-in” and more choice. First, I renamed Reading Centers….. they are now Literacy Workstations. Next I made an organizational Smart Notebook for our Literacy Workstations time that is interactive and personalized for the students. This is what I came up with:

Each rotation lasts approximately 12-15 minutes.  Once completed, I move the children’s pictures to their next center, and they begin the next rotation. Being that it is only Day 2 of Literacy Workstations, students are trying out each activity. Once they have a clear understanding of how each activity works, I will begin to add more activities to the independent parts of our Workstations. The activities include:

Through these workstations, every student receives differentiated instruction from both me and my Instructional Assistant. Many of the independent workstations are differentiated as well.

Students were listening to beginning sounds and then recording the sound that they heard.

Students listened to a book on CD. Listening to books on CD helps students build comprehension, phonics, and tracking skills.

Students found beginning sound puzzle pieces in our sensory table that they matched to the corresponding letters.

Students sounded out CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and found the picture to match.

In another workstation, students used playdough to demonstrate number sense….not quite a literacy skill, but we were practicing how to use playdough as part of a Literacy Workstation!

I will post more as the students explore each of the activities I have developed for Literacy Workstations. We are off to a GREAT start!

Morning Exploring

We enjoyed our FIRST rotation of Morning Exploring activities today! These activities are designed to strengthen fine motor skills while reinforcing math and literacy concepts. They also encourage teamwork! I am just thrilled with how successful our first rotation was!

Take a look:

Students use their thumb and pointer finger to grasp very slippery water beads and sort them by color.

 

Working together, students place numbers in order from least to greatest. They use clips to clip the number cards in order.

 

Students cut along the curvy lines.

 

Using pop beads, students measure the pictures of school supplies to see how long each is. They record their answer.

 

Students roll two dice. They add the dice together. Using tongs, students place that number of frogs on the lily pads.

 

VERY CAREFULLY, students use a pushpin to make holes that follow each letter in their name.

 

Students use a hole punch to punch a specific number of holes on each page.

 

Pop beads are used again…but this time students use them to extend a pattern.

 

After Morning Exploring was complete for today, I overheard a student say, “I can’t wait to do this tomorrow!” These are words every teacher loves to hear!

 

I Am Ready!! Are You?

Tomorrow is the big day- our official first day of school for 2019! The classroom is ready! The supplies are organized! The lessons are planned! Come one! Come all!

These first three days we will focus on building friendships and establishing a caring classroom community. Lower School teachers were fortunate to participate in an eight-hour Responsive Classroom training last week. We will begin many of the Responsive Classroom strategies and practices starting on our first day!

“Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching and learning for kindergarten through eighth grade that focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional skills. We believe that a high-quality education for every student is built on the foundation of a safe, strong, and joyful school community.” (2016 Center for Responsive Schools, Inc) Look for another blog post soon with more details about Responsive Classroom.

My goal is to gather information on each student throughout this week so that I can begin differentiated instruction and groupings next week. This week students will be learning the ins and outs of the classroom as well as procedures for the many different parts of our exciting day. Through a lot of modeling and practice, these new kindergarteners will be set up for success.

 

Fairy Tale STEM Challenge

We had our Fairy Tale STEM Challenge Day today! Rumplestiltskin has put Cinderella under a spell because he wants to ruin her wedding to Prince Charming! To break the spell, students needed to travel around Once Upon a Time Land collecting letter clues by completing fairy tale challenges! Each of the challenges had a coordinating design page, where students drew plans, recorded information, and wrote about the activity. (Thank you, Deanna Jump!)

*Goldilocks broke Baby Bear’s chair again! Students had to build a chair using snap cubes that would be sturdy enough to hold Baby Bear (and Goldilocks!).

 

*Belle will reveal the next clue after students made a stained glass window that includes a rose.

*Rapunzel has let down her hair! Students measured her hair using unifix cubes and then constructed a tower that is the perfect height for Rapunzel to escape using that length of hair.

*The Gingerbread Man needs to be caught before he would give students the clue. They used recycled materials to construct a trap.

*Students built a domino path to help Little Red get to her Grandmother’s house.

*To confuse the Evil Queen, students built an apple tree that holds the most apples so that Snow White is kept safe.

*Lastly, the Giant stole the clue from Jack! Students put the 100’s chart back together to receive the final letter clue.

Once the students earned their letters, they worked together to unscramble them and solve the puzzle! They received the letters n, i, d, e, s, f, and r. One student noticed the rainbow pattern that I had used throughout the morning and shouted, “Put the letters in rainbow order!” She was on to something…. students quickly arranged their letters and spelled the word “FRIENDS!”

We all agree that friends are such an important part of our lives!

 

Celebrating the Ones We Love

We had two very special celebrations this month in kindergarten. The first was a delightful Mother’s Day Tea. Students painted tea cups for their moms. They also wrote special books about their moms. Each mom received a handpainted vase and a custom placemat.

Students also made fancy hats!

We didn’t let the rain bother us one bit!

We also celebrated our dads and special men in our lives. Once again, students created special memory books. They also made a picture frame and a special baseball bat.

To add to the fun, we played a game of baseball…loved ones vs. kindergartners! What a blast!

We ended the day with a group picture and a delicious cookie!

Go, team!

 

Fairy Tale Creative Writing Project

We have been enjoying the Fairy Tale unit for more than three weeks now. Students have kept a record of the similarities and differences between fairy tales.

They even compared and contrasted different versions of familiar fairy tales!

Today, students began the process of writing their own fairy tale using our interactive bulletin board.

Students chose a setting card, two character cards, and a problem card. They then organized this information in a story map.

Next, students began writing their fairy tales, making sure to begin with “once upon a time…” They will illustrate their fairy tales as well, ending up with their very own book. Stay tuned for updates on this project next week!

Why I Love Musical Plays!

Musical plays have been a passion of mine since the beginning of my teaching career. In fact, when I was in graduate school, my masters thesis was centered on the importance of musical plays in elementary school classrooms. Team building, language acquisition, critical thinking, public speaking, creativity, and more, are skills involved in the production of a musical play. Each year I look forward to producing a musical play with the kindergarten class. This year was no different. Mrs. Vanetti and I decided to work on a brand new-to-us musical play this year: Character Matters. Character Matters fit into our Swooper Citizens curriculum perfectly.

 

 

Not only do musical plays provide students with opportunities for team building and expressive interactions, but students internalize and remember history, in this case, through active learning. Musical plays help students take their learning to the next level!

Differentiation is Dynamite!

One of the reasons I love my job is that I have the freedom to teach grade-level skills in creative and innovative ways. A goal of mine each day is to differentiate the skills that I teach in a way that each student is engaged and challenged at their perfect level. I am constantly looking for ideas and activities that lend themselves to differentiation.

I hit the jackpot recently with this math activity. We have been learning about the number grid, discovering number patterns on the grid, focusing on the order of the rows and columns and the numbers within them. We practiced ordering numbers, identifying numbers before and after, counting by twos, fives, tens, and we even dove into the concept of place value. As a final activity, I printed out a picture from a recent field trip and put a number grid from 1-120 on top of it.

My original idea was to cut apart the grid so that the students could reassemble it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this activity lended itself perfectly to differentiation. For my student who is struggling to count and order numbers greater than 40, I cut the puzzle into six larger pieces. For my student who has surpassed the kindergarten goal of counting and ordering numbers to 120, I cut the puzzle into two dozen intricate pieces.

I was thrilled with the outcome of the activity! Each student found success completing the number grid at the level that was appropriate for them.

Differentiating for Language Arts is just as important. In the activity below, students read a long vowel word and matched it to the image it represented. Students who finished were asked to then place the words in alphabetical order.

In addition to meeting students at their specific reading level during classroom instruction, I also differentiate the books that students take home nightly to read.

Here is an additional snapshot of an activity that I was able to differentiate. Students chose a card with a picture on it.

This card shows planet.

They then had to color in the blend (in this case “pl”) on the recording sheet. Students who were ready for more were asked to spell the word using their best guess spelling.

Differentiation in kindergarten is incorporated into our daily routine. From our Morning Exploring tubs, to Reading Centers, to Math Centers, and even our special thematic notebooks, students have daily opportunities to extend their learning.

 

 

 

A Tricky Little Visitor

This morning when the students arrived, they immediately noticed that their leprechaun traps had been tripped, and there were little green footprints all over their desks!

These traps were created last week as part of the March Family STEM Project.

I had the students write down the three steps it takes to catch a leprechaun.

 

Lucky me! I caught some little leprechauns of my own!