Monster Fingers

Happy Halloween! To make reading more interesting today, students donned monster fingers. We are working on one-to-one correspondence, so it is important to me that students practice touching each word they read. These monster fingers did the trick!

Students enjoyed reading the Halloween-themed guided reading books I chose. And the monster fingers kept them interested just long enough to read them! There is so much excitement in the air in anticipation of this afternoon’s parade and carnival!

Friday Fun-Dad Edition!

For Friday Fun today we had three dads running the center rotations. What fun they were! We made candy corn parfait, pipe cleaner spiders, and even sewed a squash!

Sewing is such a great way to build fine motor skills. Before beginning to sew, I gave students a tutorial on how to safely use the needle….because we used REAL sewing needles. I was very impressed with how carefully the students were with them and with the seriousness they displayed while sewing. I don’t think there was even one finger poke!

I just love how these turned out!

In the kitchen, students made candy corn parfait….a healthy snack, of course! The chopped pineapple, peeled Cuties, and added them in layers to a clear cup. A dab of whipped cream added a sweet touch to the top!


The final rotation was pipe cleaner spiders. Students added eyes and colorful beads to their spider’s legs. Another great fine motor building activity!

We love Friday Fun!


The creepy, crawly spider unit has officially begun! During Reading Centers today, students bravely searched the sensory table for spiders!

Each spider was labeled with a capital and a lowercase letter.

Students matched the letters.

They then worked to put the letters in alphabetical order.

After reading centers, I brought the students to their sit spots to record information that they already know about spiders. I mentioned that at times we think we know something about a topic, but once we study that topic, we might discover that our prior knowledge was in fact wrong. We call these items “misconceptions.” I went on to record all the information the students knew about spiders…true and false. I then added their prior knowledege to our spider bulletin board.

Read some of the information that students already know about spiders:

There is so much excitment in the air regarding this unit that I decided to suprise the students with some spider decorations….

….spider garland!

Terrific Ten Frame

In math this week, students have been exploring the ten frame. A ten frame is simply a graphic way for students to see numbers.


This ten frame shows the number eight.

We started the lesson with some fun activities on the Smart Board where students had to build numbers less than ten.

Then students had to look at a ten frame and identify the number of dogs in the frame.

As an extension, I asked students if there were five dogs in the ten frame, how many empty spots were there? Five of course! This paved the way for our next activity that I like to call Spill the Beans. Each student received a cup with ten beans that were white on one side and orange on the other. They were to shake up the cup and spill out the beans, sorting them into groups according to color. Students then recorded how many orange beans they had and how many white beans they had.  They colored in the number of orange beans on the ten frame. Finally, students wrote and solved the addition equation.

So what exactly does a ten frame teach? Ohhhh….so many concepts!

First, students learn number sense. It is through this number exploration that students learn the value of each number. For example, if numbers don’t fill one row, then the number is less than five. If the numbers fill more than the first row, the number is larger than five. Number sense is key to students’ success in advanced math.

Second, students look at numbers as sums including five. Students make the numbers to 10 and write them as composites of 5 and another number: i.e., 8= 5 + 3.

Third, students look at numbers in the context of ten. In other words, by using a ten frame, they figure out how many are needed to add to 6 to make ten. This will later help students decompose addition greater than ten: i.e., 8 plus 8 is 8 plus 2 plus 6, or 16.

In short, a ten frame can be used to build number sense, help students gain “mental math” fluency, and to better understand how to use the math strategies of “composing and decomposing” numbers, to complete operations over places (i.e., from tens to hundreds, or thousands to hundreds.) Go ten frame! Wait until you see the math centers I have planned for the students!

Rock On!

The kindergarteners brought the musical instruments they created at home as part of the Family STEAM Project this month to music class.

Mrs. Markstrum added some traditional instruments to the mix. What a band!

As I mentioned earlier in the post, these musical instruments were created as part of a homework activity I refer to as “Family STEAM Projects.” Families are given a monthly theme to explore that has a STEAM engineering project focus. Here is what September’s project looked like:

Students also have planning sheets to help guide the engineering process. They may do the writing themselves or have a parent or family member help. Here’s an example of those:

Once the creating was complete, students brought in their instruments and gave a brief presentation to the class. We start working on public speaking early in kindergarten!

I love giving students the opportunity to present their work, as well as the chance to practice asking questions and giving compliments.

We had a wonderful collection of shakers, drums, and guitars.

STEM Buddies

Kindergarten and Third Graders had their weekly STEM Buddies meeting yesterday, and boy was it a fun one! Students were introduced to their first buddy challenge of the year: to create a mat for Bee Bots! The students’ eyes were wide with excitement. To make the project more concrete, I created a plan to guide the students through the activity:

We brainstormed the topics and skills together. Here are some of the students’ ideas:

Next, students found their buddy and got right to work thinking, planning, and designing.

Work will continue on these Bee-Bot games over the next few weeks. I can’t wait to see what the students create!

Friday Fun: Welcome Parent Volunteers!

We had the first Friday Fun of the year with our parent volunteers. The students were thrilled. In the kitchen, students made apple juice. (Are you noticing an apple theme? We have so many apples on the ranch that I am constantly looking for recipes that use apples!) I pulled out the juicer and brought in two grocery bags full of apples, and we were all set! Students helped slice the apples and eagerly awaited the juice.


For the craft rotation, students made a pom pom pumpkin.

Students also continued to explore their pumpkins. Today they predicted how tall their pumpkin would measure using unifix cubes. Once they recorded their predictions, they stacked the cubes together to discover if their prediction was correct.

I love Friday Fun smiles!

Math Centers

I have found over the past almost 20 years of my teaching career (eek!) that centers are truly the most efficient, exciting, and helpful way for students to engage in learning. Creating small group activities allows me to differentiate my teaching (and students’ learning) to best fit the needs of ALL my learners. Attaching a theme to these activities always allows for greater buy-in and interest from the students and keeps the skill learning fun. So far this year, the kindergarten students have engaged in Reading Centers daily for the past 25 days of school. Additionally, Morning Exploring is a time when smaller groups of students engage in a fine motor activities with a math focus. This time not only allows me to assess students’ learning, but it also gives me a chance to pull students one at a time to instruct them on reading. So much can be accomplished during small group/center time.

So why not add Math Centers to the mix?! We did so today! Students were introduced to nine Math Centers that work on skills like identifying teen numbers, ordering numbers, measuring using nonstandard units, building numbers using a tens frame, and solving addition equations. Each of the math centers can be differentiated three ways to meet the needs of all my learners. I was not surprised to see the students LOVING their first day of Math Centers!

A student measures items using unifix cubes. She then records the information.

A student matches a teen number to a double tens frame.

Students count the number of each school supply and record the information.

Students ready for a challenge use the information from the first sheet and add the school supplies together.

A student places number cards in order and then hides a small picture behind one of the numbers.

The other student says a number aloud and peeks to see if the hidden picture is behind that number.

Students use a magnifying glass to find numbers that are hidden in pictures. They record that number as well as the number that comes before and after.

Students identify and extend patterns.

Students identify a number and record the four numbers that come next.

These activities have the students begging for more! They would have completed all nine in one day if I had let them!

October Morning Exploring Tubs

With a new month comes new Morning Exploring Tubs! You might remember that these are a new addition to the kindergarten classroom this year. Each tub has a fine motor focus as well as a math activity. The best part is many of the activities can be differentiated to meet students’ levels. Nine new activities were introduced today.

Dig through the spiders and match the number to the tens frame.

Link the candy corn numbers in order from least to greatest.

Roll the die (or dice for a challenge) and add that number of flies to the spider web using tweezers.

Trace the outline of the pumpkin using small stickers and count up how many it takes to go all the way around.

Dig the eyeballs out of the putty and sort them by color.

Choose a container of pumpkins and count how many there are inside. Record that number.

Choose a number card and build that number using a tens frame, pumpkin counters, and tweezers.

Use a push pin to poke holes along the black lined design. Create a design that lights up when placed in a window.

Teen number punch: Use a hole punch to punch the number of holes listed on each page.

The The students absolutely LOVED these new activities!

Lane Farms

We just got back to school from our first field trip of the school year…Lane Farms. The students have been BEYOND excited about the idea of a field trip, so imagine their smiles as we loaded into the school vans and headed to Goleta. We were met there by many families and by Mrs. Lane, who’s family has operated the farm since the 1800’s. She shared some valuable information with us and then sent us on our way to explore the farm. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

The pumpkins that the children picked today will be used in the classroom for several math, science, and writing activities which will be organized into a book like this:

Let the pumpkin fun begin!