Swoop into Kindergarten

life in kindergarten at Laguna Blanca

Time for Halloween!

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We go together like peanut butter and jelly!

I love Halloween and dressing up. Being part of a school community makes the day even more fun! This year Miss Creel and I decided to dress as peanut butter and jelly. She is the best teaching assistant I have ever worked with, and I am lucky to have worked with her for the past five years. Nikki literally can read my mind and is quick to lend a hand wherever needed. She completes my sandwich!

The children arrived this morning full of energy and delight. I had Thursday Fun planned for them, knowing that concentrating for Literacy Workshop would be a lot to ask. The first activity was cooking fun in the kitchen. Can you guess what they made?

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Just a little dirt in a cup!

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Complete with worms, of course!

I usually try to have the students make recipes that are on the healthier side. But for Halloween, I made an exception. The good news is, most children ate the worms and left the chocolate pudding and Oreo cookies for the vermi-compost bin.

The second station consisted of treat bag decorating. The children will put their costumes on after lunch for a parade and carnival. These treat bags will be used for the children to collect their prizes from the carnival booths. The best part about the bags according to the children? Using smelly markers! One could hear a pin drop in the classroom when the bags were being decorated.

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The third station incorporated our Service Learning Project. Check back tomorrow to learn more about this.

After Thursday Fun, we did some candy corn math. First, students used the Smart Board to record whether or not the liked candy corn.

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This was my first time doing this activity, so I was surprised when two students said they had never tasted a piece of candy corn. I had to back up and let each student taste one small piece of candy corn. We then analyzed the graph, recording our data. Two people don’t like candy corn and eight people do. (Miss Creel and I were included in the survey.) Next, students worked together to come up with words that describe candy corn. Tomorrow, students will sort their cups of three types of candy corn. Not to worry, they won’t be eating a single piece!

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After lunch, we put on our costumes and got ready to do the skeleton square dance and costume parade. (Click on the word Skeleton for a video of the dance.)

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We the headed to the backyard for the carnival. One of my favorite booths this year was created by our kindergarten families….Pick the Nose!  It was so clever!

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Batman picks the witch’s nose!

Kindergarten also had a photo board. Such a cute idea!

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What a great day! Thanks, parents, for all your help with the carnival!

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Writer’s Workshop

As you may remember from back in August, one of my goals this year was to implement a Writer’s Workshop curriculum. We completed our seventh Writer’s Workshop lesson today. Over the course of the past three weeks, we have discussed the job of a writer and how it takes stamina to be a good writer. We have been working to build our writing stamina, as well as take risks when spelling words independently.  Today’s lesson began with a read aloud of a great children’s book entitled, The Best Story. In this story, a young girl hears about a writing contest that is sponsored at her local library. The best story will win. She is motivated to write the best story, but is unclear on what the topic should be. The girl asks her dad, her brother, her sister, and her aunt for advice on what they think the best story will be about. Dad says there needs to be action, while her aunt says there needs to be humor. The girl rewrites her story several time to accommodate these topics. In the end, her mother helps her realize that the best story is one that the girl is excited to tell. My favorite part of this book is that the story ends with the girl turning in the story to the judges. We don’t know if she wins the contest; we just know that the girl has written her best story.

After listening to the story, we discussed what our best stories would be about. Some students wanted to write about P.E., while others wanted to write about New York or rollercoasters. I reminded the students to try their best. We also made muscles with our arms to signify the muscle we need to grow our writing stamina. Finally, we discussed writing using our best guess spelling. I encouraged students to repeat the word they wanted to spell several times, breaking the word apart into syllables. Off to their desks they went! Below are some of the stories that the kindergarteners wrote today. As you can see, their stamina and best guess spelling is definitely improving!

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“In music class we learn songs.”

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ABC Assembly

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The Kindergarteners were in charge of Tecolote Tuesday today. We have been preparing for this big event these last three weeks-our Alphabet Assembly. First, each student was given three letters to decorate that demonstrated the sound the letter makes. This was a Family Project that the students were encouraged to do at home with their families. Each year the letters come back, finished more creatively than the last!

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Next, in music class, students practiced two songs that related to the musical alphabet. They learned the scale and practiced singing on pitch. Students also played the scale on the glockenspiels. Here is a sweet video of the children playing the glockenspiels. (Click on the word Glockenspiels below, and the video will open in a new window.)

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We have also been learning the short vowel song. It can be tricky for students to learn the difference between short vowels and long vowels. Many students come to kindergarten thinking that the letter a makes only the long sound, as in angel. To help students become familiar with the short vowel sounds, I introduce them to the Vowel Family. Here is another video clip of the children singing this humorous song.

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We integrated the musical alphabet with our English alphabet. Students shared each of their letters and words with which their letters begin. Click on Reciting Letters to get a glimpse of what the students said.

Reciting Letters

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“E is for elephant. F is for frog.”

The students recited and projected their lines clearly. I was thrilled with their bravery and the comfort level they had in front of the entire school. They did a terrific job!

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Mummy Pizzas, Pumpkin Measuring, and MORE!

Friday has to be one of my favorite days of the week, simply because Friday means Friday Fun! Today wewere lucky to have TWO parent volunteers join us for a cooking and math activity. I love watching parents interact with the students in small groups,and I love watching the students respond to the different parents.

In the kitchen today, students made Mummy Pizzas, a healthy snack or meal! Take an English muffin and slice it in two. Put pizza sauce on each side. Then, pull apart a piece of string cheese, a healthy snack. Use the pieces of string cheese to cover the English muffin, leaving room for eyes. the middle. Cook for 10 minutes or so at 375 degrees. Be sure the pizzas are cool before serving.

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Students prepare their Mummy Pizzas.

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The finished result! A yummy, healthy snack!

The second Friday Fun activity incorporated the pumpkins that we picked last week at Lane Farms. Students measured the circumference of their pumpkin, chose a word to describe the pumpkin skin, and even guessed what the pumpkin weighed.

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This student wrote that the stem on her pumpkin is pokey.

Next week we will determine whether or not a pumpkin floats. Any guesses?

The final Friday Fun activity was a blending activity which the students did with me. Using polka dot paint stampers, students sounded out C-V-C words, like fit, bit, and sit. Each sound was isolated and when the student made the sound, they used the polka dot stamper to make a dot. Once they blended the sounds together, they made a dot on the word.

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The concept of blending is often tricky, as students may change the order of the sounds or guess at the words. This activity encouraged the students to carefully look at and sound out each letter, which made each of them successful! It’s only October, and the students are all blending sounds! My Home Reading Program is in full swing, with nearly all students either participating or getting ready to participate in the coming weeks. Go Kindergarteners!

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Owls!

We started our unit on owls this week by making an Owl Family Glyph from constructions paper. It was fun to learn a little more about each of the students’ family. Here is a look at the instructions:

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I love all the bright colors! Can you identify your child’s glyph?

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I always like to find out what students know before I start a unit. Recording students’ answers on a chart make it easy for us to reference later in the unit. For our owl unit, I make a large owl upon which to place our prior knowledge. This prior knowledge includes: owls eat insects, sleep during the daytime, fly at night, and are nocturnal. I am excited to teach them so much more about owls, including their habitats, food source, and life cycle. As we progress through the unit, we will add new facts to our owl chart to showcase our learning. Here is what the owl chart looks like on Day 1:

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Jack-o-LANTERNS and Mummies!

Another exciting Friday Fun day in Kindergarten! Today we created an eco-friendly and practical craft activity, that also utilized the students’ fine motor skills. First, students drew a jack-o-lantern face on blue painters tape, using two-dimensional shapes. They then cut out these shapes and stuck them to a glass jar.

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(I have been collecting jars for the last month, and the students were happy with their different shapes and sizes.) Next, the students painted the entire outside of the jar with orange acrylic paint.

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Once the paint dries, we will take off the blue tape, and the plain glass will sparkle. Add a votive candle inside and you have an instant festive lantern! I’ll post the finished results next week.

In addition to the Jack-o-Lanterns, we also made Mummy Dogs.

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Simply wrap a piece of pre-made bread around a hot dog, cook and use mustard to make two little glowing eyes. The past few years, it has become a Halloween tradition at my house to make these for dinner before we go trick-or-treating. Here’s the recipe in case you want to start a new tradition! If this recipe doesn’t strike your fancy, come back next week for Pizza Mummies!

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Happy Friday!

 

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Our First Field Trip

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We took our first field trip today to the magical Lane Farms. The children were thrilled just to ride the school bus!  We could have taken the bus for a spin around the block and called it good. The children would have been satisfied!

When we arrived at Lane Farms, we were greeted by Ruth, who’s family owns Lane Farms. She spoke to the children a bit about their farm and the items they grow. We then took a tour around the farm, meeting turkeys, a donkey, goats, and even a pig.

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Gobble, gobble!

We had a chance to see the many varieties of squash, including 200 pound pumpkins!

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There was a display of different seeds and the fruits and vegetables that they come from, as well as several displays on water and irrigation. After a quick game of “Scarecrow Says,” we jumped on the hay ride. It was fun to see the farm from a different perspective.

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Boys on the hay ride.

Next, it was time for each student to pick a pumpkin. We will keep the pumpkins at school for a few weeks, so that they can be used for math and art activities.

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What a fun and educational field trip! When we returned to school, students had the opportunity to write about the part of the trip they liked the best. I can’t resist showing you these great writing pieces. I am so proud of how the students are using their “best guess spelling.” Try to decode the writing before you read my translation at the bottom of each entry. The illustrations will give you great clues!

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   (pg=picking, a=out, s=pumpkins)                 (hi=hay, rae=ride)

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Algebraic Thinking in Kindergarten!

We are exploring algebraic thinking in math these days. It all started with “Pocket Problems.” Imagine an image of a pocket on the Smart Board with the statement, “I put one quarter in the pocket.” At this time, I had a student move one quarter into the pocket. Next, I said, “What would happen if I put five more quarters in the pocket? Would we have more quarters or less quarters? How many quarters would we have?” Here’s what it looked like:

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Have I mentioned before just how much I love the Smart Board?! The students actually moved the quarters into the pocket as I posed the questions. Then, the students guessed how many total quarters there were in the pocket and I was able to move the pocket to see if we were right. Everyone had an opportunity to solve a Pocket Problem on the Smart Board.

Next, students were paired up for a game. Each pair was given eight little animal erasers and a paper cup. The objective of this game was for students to continue using algebraic thinking to solve some abstract number problems. One student was in charge of hiding a certain number of erasers under the cup, while leaving the remaining erasers on display. The partner then had to guess how many erasers were hidden. Students soon realized that they could “count on” to the number of erasers that were shown to figure out the number hidden!

A student covers her eyes, while her partner hides some erasers. How many are under the cup?

A student covers her eyes, while her partner hides some erasers. How many are under the cup?

 

Another student figures out that if she's holding two erasers, then there must be six erasers hidden under the cup.

Another student figures out that if she’s holding two erasers, then there must be six erasers hidden under the cup.

Parents, this is a great game to play at home.  Start with numbers smaller than ten and build on from there.  Have fun!

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Friday means FUN!

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Next week we will begin our study of the life cycle of a pumpkin, complete with a field trip to the very special, very festive, Lane Farms. In anticipation of this, we sewed pumpkins today during Friday Fun. This is one of my favorite activities, as it helps build students’ fine motor skills and gives them an experience that many have yet to experience. Each student begins with a precut circle of orange minky fabric that has a series of black Sharpie dots on the backside that outline the circumference of the pumpkin. I explained how students would be using a needle that was sharp at one end and had an eye at the other. When the student pulls on the thread, he or she needs to pinch the eye of the needle and hold the thread from coming out.(This is easier said than done!) Fortunately, we had three adults helping today, which gave each student an individual sewing coach!

The students couldn’t contain their excitement. They were very careful with the needle and followed the directions like pros.

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After the student sewed around the circle using a running stitch, the adult carefully tugged on the thread, causing the circle to bunch up. Next, the student stuffed a plastic grocery bag into the center, giving the bunched up circle some shape and giving us a good use for plastic bags! Then, the adult tied a knot at the end. Finally, the student inserted a small stick into the center, making a stem. Viola! A pumpkin and big grins all around!

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We will keep the pumpkins here in the classroom on display, so please feel free to stop in and look at the handiwork!

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Measurement

Measurement is a challenging topic for kindergarten students to grasp, surprisingly enough. There are many components to teaching measurement that can be tricky for students to understand. Today we focused on measuring items using non-standard units – unifix cubes. We began the lesson with a SMART Board activity where students had to use blue unifix cubes to measure a picture frame and a sneaker. We talked about starting at the beginning of the item that is being measured and making sure that the cubes touched the one in front, two of the most challenging components of measuring!

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The quality of this photo is not the best, but you get the idea. Students worked together to measure six more items on the SMART Board and then it was time for them to practice measuring on their own.

Earlier in the day I had taped some images of items we use in school around the classroom. Students were to find all 10 of these items and practice measuring them, using unifix cubes. We discussed placing the first cube at the beginning of the school object and then attaching the rest of the cubes together until reaching the end of the item.

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The children got right to work, measuring and recording their data. They loved moving around the room to each station with their clip boards.

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Students were so engaged in the activity, one could hear a pin drop! Tomorrow, we’ll engage in another measurement center to solidify our learning. Parents, you can reinforce measurement at home by giving your child a nonstandard unit, like goldfish crackers, to use to measure household items. Remember to help your child line the goldfish up, from left to right, making sure there are no gaps. Have fun!

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