Swoop into Kindergarten

life in kindergarten at Laguna Blanca

Sight Word Scavenger Hunt

We like to move in Kindergarten! One activity that I use often are scavenger hunts. I have adapted these scavenger hunts to include high frequency words, math concepts, and long vowel words. Today, students went on a Stegosaurus hunt, searching the room for twelve hidden Stegosauruses with a high frequency word on each. Armed with a clipboard and a pencil, the students’ job was to find a brightly colored Stegosaurus, read the high frequency word aloud, record the word on their recording sheet, and color the Stegosaurus to match.

I try to hide the words in tricky spots where they are camouflaged.

This was one of the more challenging spots today!

What I love most about this activity is connecting learning to movement. (I also love to find new, tricky places to hide the words!) The students look forward to these scavenger hunts and always cheer when I announce it as an activity. Go active learning!

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Dinosaur Creations

The Family STEAM Project for the month of January was to create a new dinosaur. Recently, the kindergartners shared their creative reptiles. I am impressed with the variety of materials used, including tin foil, Lego, egg cartons, wood, pipe cleaners, clay, and more! My favorite part of this project was the names that each student gave their dinosaur.

“Chomp”

“Flyasaurus”

“Pink Rex”

“Pearlasaurus”

‘Cuckooasaurus”

“Omnivorsaurus”

“Flyasaurus”

“Stripeasaurus” (if I remember correctly!)

“Electricosaurus”

“Cobrasaurus”

During the presentations, students shared the process they used in creating their dinosaur, whether their new dino was a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore, the most challenging part of the project, and any changes they would make to their dinos. After each student was done sharing, classmates were given the opportunity to ask a question or make a comment. These classroom presentations give students a perfect opportunity to practice their public speaking in a small, comfortable environment. They are also preparing students for our exciting musical play production in April!

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Friday Fun

Today was SUPER FUN Friday Fun day! In the kitchen, students made dinosaur eggs using grated ivory soap and a mini plastic dinosaur. What squishy, slimy mess, but there were sure a lot of clean hands!

The kindergarteners also finished sewing their dinosaur stuffies. These turned out adorable! The students sharpened their fine motor skills by sewing a running stitch around their dino. I am thankful for the extra parent volunteers who helped out today. Sewing with five year olds is so much easier when there is one adult per child!

My activity today was making dinosaur Shrinky Dinks! Of course I had to share Shrink Dink stories from my childhood with the students.  I LOVED shrinky dinks!

These sure did shrink!

Students also played a coding game with Bee Bots.  I will do a blog post on Bee Bots soon!

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Musical Plays

Eleanor and Teddy Roosevelt

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. Our play this year is adapted from a book we used during Swooper Citizens….we will unveil more information soon!

Last week, the Lower School was treated to a musical play performance by the third graders as part of a unit of study. First, the class researched an famous inventor, Walt Disney. In addition to traditional research, the third grade class also took a field trip to Disneyland to learn more about Walt’s life accomplishments. They then became inventors themselves, engineering something to use at home that will make their lives easier. The culminating activity for this unit was a performance of the musical play, Greatest Americans of the Twentieth Century. Through this play, we learned about Americans who made notable contributions to our country.  Included in this were the Wright Brothers, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and many more. Here are a few videos from this educational and entertaining performance:

It was definitely fun to see the third graders personalities shine through!

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! Well done third graders and Mrs. Green!

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Pizzas, Stuffies, and More!

On a wet, squishy Friday, there’s no better activity than Friday Fun! We got right to it!

Students began their dinosaur stuffie project. The first step was for each student to sketch a dinosaur on a piece of paper.

They traced their sketch with Sharpie.

Next, we placed a piece of fabric over the top and had them recreate their sketch on the fabric using fabric markers.

Third, students added color and details!

Next week, students will sew a piece of fabric to the back of their drawing, stuff it with poly fill, and be snuggling with a dinosaur stuffie!

In the kitchen, students whipped up dinosaur pizza while enjoying a read aloud:

It was extra special to have a warm snack on this cold, wet day!

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Dinosaur Yoga

Last Friday afternoon we had a small bit of time to try some dinosaur yoga. A student brought in the DVD Yoga for Kids: Dino-Mite for us to use. We had such a great time incorporating dinosaur shapes into yoga poses.

(side note…she refers to a Brontosaurus….did you know that some scientists think that a Brontosaurus is in fact an Apatosaurus! Since the Apatosaurus was discovered first, paleontologists decided to keep this dinosaurs original name! But, to further complicate things, it seems that there has been some more recent research that suggests that perhaps the two dinosaurs are indeed different…. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-brontosaurus-is-back1/)

Why yoga? (excerpts from Parents magazine)

It Enhances Physical Flexibility Yoga promotes physical strength because kids learn to use all of their muscles in new ways. Whether a pose is done standing, sitting, or lying down, each one can challenge various muscle groups while helping a child become aware of his body and how it efficiently functions.

It Refines Balance and Coordination Balance is a key element of yoga. Balancing poses were created to promote mental and physical poise, as mental clarity and stability emerge from the effort of trying the poses. Even if a child has difficulty standing on one foot, she learns mental and physical balance if she can stay calm when she falls and when she gets up to try again. As children learn to improve their physical balance, they will be filled with a sense of accomplishment. Coordination is also closely tied to balance and promotes overall dexterity. Some yoga teachers and occupational therapists use finger yoga and other specialized techniques to help children with gross and fine motor coordination.

It Develops Focus and Concentration The act of practicing poses encourages children to clear their mind and focus on the effort. As a result of this single focus to achieve a particular pose or stay balanced, yoga helps children to focus and concentrate in school and get better grades, several studies note.

It Boosts Self-Esteem and Confidence Yoga helps to instill confidence and to bring learning to children on an experiential level. Yoga teaches them to persevere, be patient, and work toward their goals. A yoga teacher can only offer guidance; it is the child who has to work to succeed. Therefore, when a child masters a pose, it gives him confidence and self-esteem. Yoga also provides tools for practicing compassion, mindfulness, generosity, focus, strength, and flexibility.

It Strengthens the Mind-Body Connection Yoga helps kids achieve a sound mind in a sound body by exercising the physical body and calming the mental spirit.

This was the perfect way to wind down a Friday afternoon.

 

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Swooper Citizens Use Teamwork!

Our Swooper Citizens lesson this week focused on Teamwork. We began the lesson under the Pavilion where the giant parachute was set up. First, we brainstormed the meaning of teamwork: working together for one common goal. Students gave examples of times they used teamwork. (“Remember our play, The Rainbow Fish, Mrs. Delwiche? That was an example of teamwork!”) Next, I asked students to pick up a side of the parachute and try to make it work.

Next we added a ball to the mix to see if we could work together to get the ball to go into the hole in the middle of the parachute.

Would you believe that as soon as I stopped filming, the ball went through the hole?!!

We discovered that teamwork for this challenge required us to watch where the ball was and to either shake the parachute if the ball was close to us or to stop shaking the parachute if the ball was on the other side.

Back in the classroom, I showed students three videos and asked them to decide which videos showed teamwork.

Anyone else cringing at the thought of the one boys fingers getting too close to the door?!

It was clear to the students how each video clip did or didn’t show teamwork and what the common goal was. In order to give them one more example of teamwork, I read aloud The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza, by Philomen Sturges.

“The story of the industrious Little Red Hen is not a new one, but when this particular hen spies a can of tomato sauce in her cupboard and decides to make a pizza, the familiar tale takes on a fresh new twist. Kids will love following along as the hen, with no help from her friends the duck, the dog, and the cat, goes through the steps of making a pizza-shopping for supplies, making the dough, and adding the toppings. But despite their initial resistance, the hen’s friends come through in the end and help out in a refreshing and surprising way.”

We discussed how the story would have changed if the friends had used teamwork from the beginning of the pizza making activity. Of course, I spent the whole time singing the Wonder Pets theme song in my head….”What’s gonna work? Teamwork!”

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Dinosaur Plant

The last two days we have been discussing the differences between dinosaurs that were herbivores and dinosaurs that were carnivores. Each had body characteristics that helps in identifying what type of food the dinosaur ate. Students have categorized their dino as either a herbivore or carnivore using these specific body features, like sharp teeth for carnivores or flat teeth for herbivores. To help students organize this information, we completed a Venn diagram.

As a bonus activity, students began growing a Dinosaur Plant. The Amazing Dinosaur Plant has existed since the time of the dinosaurs.  That’s more than 290 million years!

The Dinosaur Plants came in a kit with specific growing instructions. First, student were to unwrap the seemingly-dead ball of foliage and place it into a growing cup. Next they added water to the cup.

Then we sat back and let the dino plant grow…..

and grow…

Watch as the students first check in on their Dinosaur Plants:

According to the care instructions, the dinosaur plant prefers to dry out several times a year and can survive in a dry state for up to 50 years! We will continue to watch the plants grow here in the classroom for a bit, but soon they will come home for you to enjoy!

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More Recess Fun!

Lower School has many wonderful and varied activities for students to enjoy during their daily recesses. Besides the swings, climbing structure, and ball courts, students can build in the sandbox or climb on the climbing wall. Another activity is the chess set, where students can engage in a friendly game of life-size chess. If spending time with a book is more interesting, students can visit the library to read or color. Or, if cuddling up with an animal is ones cup of tea, one can head over to the chicken coop. You might recall we added the Magnawall earlier this year, an activity that encourages teamwork and engineering.

Well today, Mr. Surber called me into the library to show me the newest addition to our Lower School recesses…a life-size Connect Four set! He and Mrs. McDavid gave the set a try.

Four in a row!  We have a winner…. Mrs. McDavid! She initiated a friendly high five to her opponent, congratulating him on a game well played. What a great way to teach sportsmanship here at the Lower School. I am excited to see the students’ reactions to this new activity!

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Dinosaur Research

The dinosaur research project has begun! Last year,  I found a terrific website called PebbleGo that provides emergent researchers with databases filled with information.

“Each database features expertly-leveled and navigation specifically designed for your beginning researchers. Enriched with spoken-word audio, text highlighting, and audio-visual media, PebbleGo builds a foundation of research skills for every learner.”

I have been excitedly awaiting the dinosaur unit so that the students can take full advantage of PebbleGo. The first step was to have students carefully chose a dinosaur with which they were not familiar. PebbleGo has definitely opened all of our eyes in regards to the many, many types of dinosaurs. Students spent two reading group rotations exploring the database before narrowing down their interests to one dinosaur. That was a challenge! Each time a student read about a different dinosaur, that became the dino they wished to research. At last, the final selections were made.

In preparation for today, I created a template for the students to use for this second step of recording their research. The topics of research include body, habitat, diet, natural defenses, a comparison to an animal today, and an interesting fact. I also wrote each dinosaurs name on a sentence strip.

During the research process, students will read or listen to the information presented on PebbleGo. Using that information, they will write down facts that pertain to each of the categories I listed above using their best guess spelling. We will be focusing on writing mechanics, including using a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence and with proper nouns, and lower case letters wherever else. Students are encouraged to fit the letters between the lines and leave finger spaces between words, and, finally, end each sentence with punctuation.  Whew!! That’s a lot of skills!

Here are two examples of some of the work completed today.

All the information researched will become part of a presentation the students will create and present at the end of the dinosaur unit. More to come soon!

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