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.