# November Morning Exploring

I revamped our Morning Exploring bins once again! For the past two months, we have been using a rotation where it takes two days for each student to rotate to the next bin. With nine bins, that means it takes 18 school days to complete! With new activities begging to be showcased monthly, we just do not have 18 days to focus on one theme! So I decided to make two sets of each activity. This was a big task, but fortunately, I already had a lot of extra materials I could use to make these duplicate activities.

I recently received a back-ordered order of pencil boxes. I noticed immediately that these pencil boxes are quite challenging to open and close, and it became clear that they would not be an effective tool for students to use frequently throughout the day. I began brainstorming ways to use these boxes for something else.
Why not make two kits for each Morning Exploring rotation using the pencil boxes as a way to keep the tools and supplies organized?! It works like a dream!

They are just the perfect size!

This month’s Morning Exploring activities are varied and build on a plethora of skills. Just wait and see!

Who’s ready to use algebraic thinking? Students are introduced to solving equations to ten with a missing number. They roll little balls of playdoh (fine motor!) and put the required number of balls in the ten frame to show the number at the top of the mat. Then they must count the empty squares to figure out how many more they need to get ten.

Another activity has students rolling two dice and adding them together. They must then move that number of water beads to the fall-themed cookie cutters.

Then and Now Writing has students writing high-frequency words using a pencil and the quill of a feather and black paint. They had SO much fun with this activity!

Leafy Patterns engaged students in extending colorful patterns using acrylic leaves.

Students use a feather to write high-frequency words in sand.

Q-tips were used for students to create fall-themed polka-dot masterpieces…and strengthen their fine motor skills!

Students used sunflower seeds to demonstrate number sense of teen numbers.

This addition activity has students sorting the acrylic leaves according to color. They recorded the number of red leaves and the number of yellow leaves and then added them together.

Having two sets of each activity prepared really made Morning Exploring so much fun! The feedback from the students has been very positive. They love doing the same activity as a peer and seeing the results of their friends’ work. I am planning on doing the same for our December tubs!

# A Must Have Reading Game!

Have you seen Blah Blah Blah, the Phonics Card Game?

I am always on the hunt for fun and educational games to play at school, either in homeroom class, with my kindergarten students, or with the students I see as part of my role as the EK-1 Learning Specialist. I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found this gem! It is from the website Mrs. Wordsmith. I was intrigued when I read the description:

“The hilariously fun phonics card game

Finally, a way to make phonics fun! Blah Blah Blah is a hilariously fun card game, perfect for kids who have been introduced to the letters and sounds that make up words but who need some practice in order to master them. Decode words using phonics with three decks of increasing difficulty, race to get rid of cards by matching sounds and letters, and play wild cards to trip up your opponents!”

I quickly placed my order and excitedly waited for the game’s arrival. Who doesn’t love a good game, much less a good card game? (My children and I have rediscovered playing cards these past six months!) But a game that focuses on identifying the sounds of letters in words? Even better! I have been a constant cheerleader for teaching students how to read using phonics. With 44 phonemes (sound variations) in the English language and more than 170 graphemes (different written representations for these sounds), learning how to read in English can be tricky, to say the least!

When the game arrived, my son and I quickly sat down at the kitchen table to play a round. The game has three levels. The first level focuses on CVC words…just short vowels. The second level focuses on CCVC or CVCC words…words with short vowels, blends, and digraphs. The third level focuses on long vowel spelling patterns with blends and digraphs! A teacher’s dream, that’s for sure! Blah, Blah, Blah helps children become aware of the phonetic regularities in English, and it gives them an interactive and FUN way to master these patterns.

Here is what the playing cards look like. (Photo from Mrs. Wordsmith website: https://www.mrswordsmith.com/products/blah-blah-blah-phonics-card-game)

Back to the game: My son and I began with the first level. I immediately was excited at the thought of bringing this into my classroom! Level 1 is just perfect for kindergarteners. After dealing seven cards to each player, you place one card face-up on the table. You have to match a letter from your card on it in order to place your card down. The reading practice comes into play when you place your card down. For example, if a card has the word dog on it, you have to make each letter sound/d/ /o/ /g/ and then blend the sounds together to read the word. These are the EXACT skills we are working on in kindergarten daily! We finished the first deck and then moved on to play with the second and third decks, each deck getting more challenging. Blah, Blah, Blah has quickly become a favorite game! (It is played like UNO…which is another of my family’s favorites!)

So if you are looking for an engaging and educational game to play with your child, I encourage you to take a look at Blah, Blah, Blah. You won’t be disappointed!

We are doing A LOT of reading in kindergarten! One important skill in regards to reading is tracking or one-to-one correspondence. This simply means that students are touching each word as they read it. Pointing to each word as the student reads helps the reader learn to look carefully at print. It also encourages directional movement and voice-print match, two early reading behaviors. This week we practiced decoding words using some monster finger puppets. The students LOVED this and were begging to read more!

I am always on the lookout for fun finger puppets. I found these monsters at my favorite Dollar Tree. I also found these googly eyes. I love that students are practicing an important skill while having fun!

# Halloween Spooktacular!

It was all treats for this teacher on Halloween! What a magical day we had in kindergarten. For the first time ever, students were invited to wear their costumes to school all-day

We began the morning with a “Make a Monster” Kit.

It was so fun to see what each student created with these kits.

Next, we had Friday Fun. Students made bouncy balls and Halloween keychains.

Students even had a Halloween-themed pokey pin activity.

We played a fun spinner game in math where students spun a spinner and then had to make the number using a ten frame.

After PE, students added any finishing touches to their costumes, and we headed to the backyard for a socially distanced ‘Skeleton Square Dance.”

After dancing, students went “Trick or Treating” around the school. There were seven stations that we visited. Each station had a treat for students to enjoy at the end of the event.

We ended our Halloween Spooktacular with a picnic of sorts in the backyard.

It was  GREAT day!