50th Day!

Our 50th day of school fell on the day we returned from break last week! I had prepared the classroom before we left the week before, and the students were shocked to see the transformation.

My favorite comment was, “Wow, it really does look like a shake shop in here!” Not only did they love the decor, but they enjoyed seeing the morning attendance on the Smart Board. We jumped right into our 50th-day activities even before the morning bell rang!!

I took pictures of each little greaser in front of the 1950’s car.

Then the rotations began! I made sure to organize the activities using the same method that we use daily during our Literacy Centers…that way students were already familiar with the flow.

During my rotation, students participated in a writing activity:

Students learned how to blow a bubble gum bubble in another rotation. Would you believe that five of the students were able to blow a bubble?! That is a new record!

Students also had to create something using 50 LEGO bricks. I loved their creativity!

The Word Work station had students identifying the middle sound in CVC words. Each vowel was on a bubble that the students then matched to the card.

Even during our daily PE class, the children learned about the 1950s when they were taught how to hula hoop!

Our day ended with rootbeer floats!

Parents were invited to join in on the fun!

It’s the month of special days! Next up is Elf Workshop!

Missing Letter Day

Overnight, there was a crime committed in kindergarten…the letter D was stolen! When students arrived at school today, they found crime scene tape covering the classroom door as well as displays of evidence around the classroom.

Detective Delwiche and Detective Barker were here to help the students crack the case!

On their desks were briefcases that had detective supplies inside as well as a special thinking cap…AKA fedoras…to help them get into their detective role for the day.

We gathered the evidence and worked together to identify six suspects. Students found bandaids, a red sweatband, a paintbrush, a boom wacker, a Dodgers pencil holder, the number 3 with multiplication facts on it, Clifford the Big Red Dog, a maraca, and a whistle. Who could the suspects be?!

After agreeing on the suspects, students had to engage in five different language arts learning activities. Once they completed each activity, they received a riddle to solve. The answer to each riddle provided students with the name of the suspect who did NOT steal the letter d.

Here’s a peek at the visual organizer I created to help students know which activity to complete and when:

Activity 1: Students chose a magnifying glass picture card and identified the beginning sounds in words. They recorded their answers.

Activity 2: Students colored a secret picture.

Activity 3: Students looked at pictures and spelled the CVC word using invisible ink.

Activity 4: Students used pattern blocks to build the letter d. They then tallied the number of blocks used.

Activity 5: Practicing alphabetical order, students walked around the room in search of hidden cards with missing letters of the alphabet. They had to record the letters that are missing.

After completing these activities, we came to the conclusion that Mrs. Green, our third-grade teacher, was the one who stole the letter D.

Why did she do it?

She even gave us a special treat that begins with the letter d!

Next up….putting all those letter sounds to good use when we begin blending and reading words!

Pumpkin Day 2022!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Well, that’s what we did three years ago when the COVID pandemic canceled field trips! I wanted students to still experience some of the “normalcy” of kindergarten, so I created a pumpkin patch on campus and turned the event into a full day of pumpkin-themed learning! I immediately knew that this change was one that I would love to continue in future years.

Today was Pumpkin Day 2022! When the students arrived, I showed them a quick time-lapse video on the life cycle of a pumpkin. They recorded the life cycle in a pumpkin-shaped book we had prepared for them.

Nest, we headed to the backyard to the pumpkin patch!

We then headed inside to begin our math and literacy activities. There were four rotations that included a rhyming activity, measuring the height and circumference of the pumpkins, and a listening station.

As the day went on, we surveyed and graphed how we best like to eat pumpkins: pie, seeds, or bread. Pumpkin pie was the majority vote! The day ended with a simple experiment to discover if pumpkins sink or float. The majority of students predicted that pumpkins would sink. Watch their reactions!!!

What a fun day of learning! The children were thrilled to bring home their special pumpkins at the end of the day!

 

What If You Had A T-Rex Teeth?

Today, I read the best book aloud: What If  You had T-Rex Teeth: and Other Dinosaur Parts, by Sandra Markle.

This creative book explores what would happen if you had a Brachiosaurus’ neck, an Ankylosaurus’ spikey tail, or a Triceratops’ three-horned face. The results are hilarious!

Using the book as inspiration, I created a writing activity where each student chose a body part from the dinosaur that they have researched. Then, they wrote why that body part would be fun to have. Finally, I snapped a picture of each student, and they illustrated themselves with that body part. Look at our finished products:

 

Too much fun!

Kindergarten Readiness

I was asked to present my thoughts on Kindergarten Readiness at Open Mike Monday on January 24. Below are activities you might try with your child to help them prepare for kindergarten.

Social and Emotional

  • Give your child opportunities to interact with other children in preschool or social groups or playdates.
  • Teach your child how to express their feelings if they do not like something.
  • Role-play different situations they might experience on the playground or at school. Help them find solutions for typical problems they might encounter.
  • Give your child two and three-step directions. For example: “Put the toy away, pick a book to read, and sit on the couch.”
  • Play Simon Says with two or three-step directions. For example: “Simon Says touch your toes and shake your head.”
  • Let your child play! Imaginary or make-believe games, board games, and “cooperative” games are not only fun but help support growth.
  • Read books about kindergarten or going to school.
  • Drive by school and point out “There’s your school!”
  • Attend orientation days.

Self-Care

  • Let your child practice dressing themselves.
  • Show them how to use the bathroom and wash their hands. Let them do it on their own while at home with you.
  • Encourage independence throughout the day. Small daily tasks they can that are age-appropriate include clearing their plate, filling their water bottle, picking up toys, dusting non-fragile items, or putting their shoes away in a specific spot.
  • Encourage consistent hygiene skills like washing hands before and after meals and after using the bathroom.

Motor

Fine

  • Build with blocks, string beads, and play with play-dough.
  • Write using all types of supplies including fat crayons, window markers, outdoor chalk, colored pencils, and markers
  • Work with your child to learn to write their name. Write in shaving cream, use chalk outside, paint letters with water and a paintbrush on your driveway. Write in the steam on your shower door or bathroom mirror!
  • Help your child learn how to use scissors – show them how to hold and use scissors safely.
  • Give your child old magazines or newspapers to cut up. Have them make a collage using scissors to cut out pictures and then glue them onto a piece of paper.
  • Encourage drawing and coloring, and talk about your child’s artwork together.
  • Have your child pick small items, like cotton balls or uncooked pasta, up with a clothespin.
  • Write numbers on a piece of paper and place these numbers in the bottom of a muffin tin. Have your child move that amount of an item (cotton balls, LEGO bricks, mini erasers) into the tin using tongs or chopsticks.

Gross

  • Climb! Gallop! Hop! Jump! Run! Skip!
  • Make a hopscotch to practice jumping. You can add numbers or letters to the squares and call out the square in which you want your child to jump.
  • Draw a line on the ground for your child to walk on. Pretend it is a tight-rope, a log over a creek, a freeway, and have your child practice walking on the line in a way that mimics the scenario you give.
  • Play catch or kick a ball back and forth.

Language

  • Roleplay. Use stuffed animals to have conversations that help your child practice advocating for themselves or communicating their feelings.
  • Have your child help you prepare a meal or snack. Talk through the directions. “First, I am going to wash the apple. Next, I will cut the apple. Last, I will eat the apple.”
  • Read with your child.
  • Sing with your child. Sing rhyming songs, silly songs, or even your favorite songs.
  • Tell your child about your day and what you are doing, and ask them questions about their day.

Academic

Reading

  • Run your finger under the words as you read to your child to help them learn that words go from left to right and top to bottom.
  • Play games with rhyming words to help your child hear similar sounds in words. For example, as you are going up the stairs, name one word that rhymes with bin for each step as you go up. Nonsense words work too!
  • Make your child aware of the sound that each letter makes.
  • Find items around the house that begin with the same sound and identify the letter that makes each sound. (“Show me three items that start with the sound /s/.”)
  • Use those old magazines and newspapers to make letter collages. Have your child find pictures of things that start with each letter of the alphabet.

Math

  • Count throughout the day (How many crackers are they eating for snack or how many socks that you are taking out of the dryer. You can even count the number of apples you are bagging at the grocery store).
  • Point out numbers you see in your environment and have your child name them (Identify the numbers found on food boxes or street signs).
  • Play games in which your child finds objects of particular colors and shapes around the house.
  • Play I Spy.
  • Make number collages. Write the number 5 on a paper and have your child cut out five items from a magazine and glue those items to the number 5 poster. Repeat!
  • Games like Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-o, Candyland, Avalanche, and Memory are perfect for reinforcing math skills and practicing graceful winning and losing.

In short, have FUN! Your child will benefit greatly from the special time you are spending with them! Play games. Read books. Talk to each other. And LAUGH! Learning means so much more when it is enjoyable.

 

Elf Workshop

We had our Winter Concert last night. It was a beautiful event that was held outdoors in the crisp winter air. I knew the students would be tired this morning, so I planned a fun and engaging day: Elf Workshop! When the students arrived, they each had an elf hat on their desk. I had them come into my warm and cozy living room for a photo!

I had five rotations all set for my little elves to complete. Here is the overview:

At the Gift Wrapping station, students wrapped their holiday gift. I showed them how to fold the paper. It was a fun fine motor activity that included cutting and using the tape.

Another activity was “I Spy an Elf.” Student used magnifying glasses to find CVC words on their page. Then, then recorded the words they found.

Next, students put together puzzles of many different types of toys. They illustrated their puzzle and recorded the type of toy.

For the fourth activity, students had to use unifix cubes to measure the width of gifts.

The final activity was called “Deck the Halls”. Students read the words on the stockings that were hanging by the fireplace. They then found the coordinating picture on a recoding sheet and wrote the word.

You can see the stockings for “Deck the Halls” and the boxes that were measured in the background.

We wrapped up this fun day with a gingerbread cookie five senses activity. The students loved tasting the gingerbread cookies! Next week, we will complete our Gingerbread Literacy Unit with a gingerbread themed party!

 

 

Happy 50th Day!

We had a rockin’ good time on our 50th day of school! I did a classroom transformation and turned our learning space into a 1950’s diner. Click below to see it!

Room Tour

We started the day snapping photos in our photo booth. I loved seeing all the festive outfits.

I shared a quick Power Point Presentation with the students that showed pictured of clothes in the 1950’s vs. today, furniture, cars, houses and more! They could not believe the size of a 1950’s computer!!

Next, I introduced the students to the activity rotations for the morning. Using Smart Notebook software, I created a new rotation visual so the students knew exactly where to go and what to do.

I tried to use the same set up as I usually do during our Literacy Centers so that the students could confidently participate in the activities. We have the Word Work station daily, so the activity for the 50th Day was similar to one with which they are familiar. (Students chose a picture card with a CVC word and then listened to the middle sound. They chose the pink bubble with the correct letter to complete the word.)

Students also completed a Write the Room activity where they found cards with pictures and words relating to the 1950’s. They recorded the word on their recording sheets.

Another activity was for students to use 50 LEGO bricks to create anything they wanted. Here are some of their ideas:

 

When the students met with me, they completed a writing activity. I love how these turned out.

Finally, students joined Mrs. Riley outdoors to learn and practice how to blow a bubble. They then recorded whether or not they could blow a bubble. We created a class graph with the information. Here are the results:

It sure was hard work blowing a bubble!!

We finished our celebration with a yummy root beer float. Delicious!

I am excited for the next 50 days!

Friendsgiving

We have been celebrating Friendsgiving all week in Kindergarten. I first introduced the idea of showing gratitude to our friends through a read-aloud on Monday morning. The Most Thankful Thing, by Lisa McCourt was the perfect way to start this activity.

“When a little girl asks her mom what her ‘most thankful thing ever’ is, Mom turns the question into a fun trip down memory lane. Turning the pages of Mom’s photo album, they discover many wonderful moments in Mom’s life, from summer camp to winning a trophy in a soccer tournament, from singing onstage to her wedding day. But one event in Mom’s whole life is the very best ever — the birth of her precious little girl.” -Amazon

We then compiled a list of things for which we are thankful. Next, I told the students that for the rest of the week, we would be making small, thoughtful gifts for our friends. Students picked a name from our special turkey and that was the person for whom they would create each project.

We began with a drumstick bookmark.

I was nervous that the students would have a hard time with completing the craft and giving it away, but so far, they have been very excited to sneak their crafts into their friends’ Friendsgiving Swag ags.

The next day, students made a corny joke book. I printed jokes on colored paper. Students chose a joke and then cut the joke part off the punchline part. Here is an example that I made:

The next day, I shared some things for which I am thankful.

The project on this day was to write an adjective on a turkey feather to describe their friend. Look how cute these turned out!

Students made a “sweet as pie” craft.

They also made a pinkie promise to their friend. Here are some examples of the special promises that were made.

It was very sweet to see how seriously the students took their promises. I love that they promised something that is important or special to them.

With two days left before break, there are a few more projects to go! I plan on having the children make a fall-themed bracelet and a turkey pin to give add to a friend’s swag bag!

Parents, I will be sending your child’s bag home on Friday! They will not have opened them yet! Please share with me your child’s reaction!

 

How Does It Work? Morning Exploring Edition

I LOVE Morning Exploring (Marshia McGuire, TPT) tubs. They are simply amazing. Each month I organize nine different fine motor building activities that have either a math or language arts focus. Last year, I created two kits for each of the nine activities so that students had their own materials to use independently. (I promise, Business Office, there was a reason I ordered 180 plastic pencil boxes!) This prep last year made setting up the monthly activities this year a breeze! Take a look:

A bonus activity is to use the letter beads the creature eats to spell a word or put in alphabetical order.

When the morning bell rings, students wash their hands and then head straight to their desk where their Morning Exploring activity awaits. (We previously have discussed each of the activities, and students are encouraged to use the “I can” cards included in their box to remind them of the activity. Also, the majority of the activities each month have the same goal, they just use different manipulatives and get increasingly more challenging as the year progresses.) This daily routine gives me a chance to connect with students, submit attendance, check in with parents, and work with students as part of our Read Every Day! program. (Read about that by clicking below.)

How Does It Work? Read Every Day! Program

 

Morning Exploring encourages students to work independently. It also solidifies math and language arts skills while strengthening fine motor. And the students LOVE the activities! A win all around!

How Does It Work? Read Every Day! Program

Since my early years of teaching, one of the most important programs I implement each year is the Read Every Day!-formerly the Home Reading- Program. This program is instrumental in propelling my students into motivated and accomplished readers. It also provides me with an opportunity to differentiate for students.

So what is Read Every Day! and why does it work? Well, since 1998 I have been collecting books. (Yikes! When did I get so old?!) Decodable books and Guided Reading books. I found that when parents were eagerly trying to support their beginning readers, they were struggling to find material that their early readers could actually read independently. Children were becoming frustrated because they couldn’t read the Level 1 readers that were dubbed “perfect for beginning readers.” That is when my quest for decodable text came to be. (A line of text in a decodable reader might read: “Sam sat on a mat” and uses mainly words that can be sounded out or decoded.) I knew that if I could collect a bunch of books that students could read, and send them home nightly for practice, I would see an uptick in the confidence and skills of my beginning readers.

Now, more than 20 years later, I have amassed a huge collection of books that students take home nightly. (Thank you, parents, for all your Scholastic Book Orders throughout the years! I put the Bonus Points to good use!)

Once a student begins to blend sounds, I start sending home a word list. These lists have ten CVC words on them, organized by the middle vowel sound.

Students take the list, read it aloud to someone at home, return it the next day, and read it aloud to me. They choose a sticker, and then I select a new list to send home.

Here is an example of a student’s Read Everyday log.

Once I see their blending skills have solidified, I begin sending home books. First, the books have mainly CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words with a few high-frequency words sprinkled in. The next level books still have short vowel words but include digraphs and more challenging high-frequency words as well. Next are books with the long vowel magic e spelling pattern, found in words like cake, pile, stove, etc. Once students can read words with long vowels, I try to transition them to Guided Reading books, usually beginning at a level D. “Guided reading levels are simply a system developed originally by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell to help organize reading skills and strategies so that readers are not overwhelmed. It ranges from levels A-Z with A being the simplest and Z being the most complex of the guided reading levels.” (mrs.richardsonsclass.com)

Read Every Day! really motivates the students. They love the accomplishment of finishing a book each night or of reading a chapter book. Students look forward to choosing their daily sticker to decorate their Read Every Day! folder. By the end of the year, we have really colorful folders that demonstrate the program’s success.