Fairy Tale STEM Challenge

We had our Fairy Tale STEM Challenge Day today! Rumplestiltskin has put Cinderella under a spell because he wants to ruin her wedding to Prince Charming! To break the spell, students needed to travel around Once Upon a Time Land collecting letter clues by completing fairy tale challenges! Each of the challenges had a coordinating design page, where students drew plans, recorded information, and wrote about the activity. (Thank you, Deanna Jump!)

*Goldilocks broke Baby Bear’s chair again! Students had to build a chair using snap cubes that would be sturdy enough to hold Baby Bear (and Goldilocks!).

 

*Belle will reveal the next clue after students made a stained glass window that includes a rose.

*Rapunzel has let down her hair! Students measured her hair using unifix cubes and then constructed a tower that is the perfect height for Rapunzel to escape using that length of hair.

*The Gingerbread Man needs to be caught before he would give students the clue. They used recycled materials to construct a trap.

*Students built a domino path to help Little Red get to her Grandmother’s house.

*To confuse the Evil Queen, students built an apple tree that holds the most apples so that Snow White is kept safe.

*Lastly, the Giant stole the clue from Jack! Students put the 100’s chart back together to receive the final letter clue.

Once the students earned their letters, they worked together to unscramble them and solve the puzzle! They received the letters n, i, d, e, s, f, and r. One student noticed the rainbow pattern that I had used throughout the morning and shouted, “Put the letters in rainbow order!” She was on to something…. students quickly arranged their letters and spelled the word “FRIENDS!”

We all agree that friends are such an important part of our lives!

 

Celebrating the Ones We Love

We had two very special celebrations this month in kindergarten. The first was a delightful Mother’s Day Tea. Students painted tea cups for their moms. They also wrote special books about their moms. Each mom received a handpainted vase and a custom placemat.

Students also made fancy hats!

We didn’t let the rain bother us one bit!

We also celebrated our dads and special men in our lives. Once again, students created special memory books. They also made a picture frame and a special baseball bat.

To add to the fun, we played a game of baseball…loved ones vs. kindergartners! What a blast!

We ended the day with a group picture and a delicious cookie!

Go, team!

 

Fairy Tale Creative Writing Project

We have been enjoying the Fairy Tale unit for more than three weeks now. Students have kept a record of the similarities and differences between fairy tales.

They even compared and contrasted different versions of familiar fairy tales!

Today, students began the process of writing their own fairy tale using our interactive bulletin board.

Students chose a setting card, two character cards, and a problem card. They then organized this information in a story map.

Next, students began writing their fairy tales, making sure to begin with “once upon a time…” They will illustrate their fairy tales as well, ending up with their very own book. Stay tuned for updates on this project next week!

Why I Love Musical Plays!

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. This year was no different. Mrs. Vanetti and I decided to work on a brand new-to-us musical play this year: Character Matters. Character Matters fit into our Swooper Citizens curriculum perfectly.

 

 

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!

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.

 

 

 

A Tricky Little Visitor

This morning when the students arrived, they immediately noticed that their leprechaun traps had been tripped, and there were little green footprints all over their desks!

These traps were created last week as part of the March Family STEM Project.

I had the students write down the three steps it takes to catch a leprechaun.

 

Lucky me! I caught some little leprechauns of my own!

 

 

Dino Day

We wrapped up our dinosaur unit with a dinosaur showcase this morning. Parents were invited to attend our Dinosaur Extravaganza where they looked through the math and language arts activities the students completed over the last two months. Activities included measuring life-sized footprints.

Bones with long vowel words hidden on them were excavated.

Students wrote a creative piece about what they would do with a pet dinosaur.

They researched a dinosaur of their choice.

Students classified dinosaur skeletons as herbivores or carnivores based on characteristics they had learned.

 

The art activities were incredible.

 

Students sculpted the dinosaur that they researched.

Each student created a glow in the dark, Pop Art-style painting of the dinosaur they researched.

The finale was the premiere of each students’ dinosaur presentation that was created using the Puppet Edu app. I am so proud of the students’ hard work.

 

I’d say we have a class full of dinosaur experts now!

We Are a 100 Days Smarter!

I can not believe how quickly the last 100 days have passed…zoom! We celebrated this special milestone ALL day! The morning began with the centenarians arriving at a little slower pace than usual.

When the students entered kindergarten, they were surprised to see (or not see) 100 chocolate kisses hidden around the classroom. Their goal throughout the day was to find these chocolate kisses and match the number written on the bottom to our 100 chart.

Then it was time for our 100th Day Collections parade. Each student in the Lower School collected 100 items to display at their workspace. Look at all these unique ideas!

Next up was a round of eight very special 100th Day-themed centers. (Thank you, Marsha McGuire!)

100 licks!

100 beads for a 100th-day necklace

What can you build with 100 cups?

or 100 marshmallows?

or 100 LEGO bricks?

Stamping 100 gumballs.

Ordering numbers 0-100

Busy, busy! After lunch and in the middle of a HAIL storm, the Lower School enjoyed 100 cupcakes!

The fun wasn’t over yet….the kindergarteners made 100th Day trail mix.

Time for an afternoon nap. This old lady is tired!

Spreading the Love

Valentine’s Day came a little early to Kindergarten this year! I planned our parent party for first thing this morning.  I wanted there to be several activities that the parents could engage in with their child. Take a look at these fun activities!

Race to see how many pompoms you can blow into the bucket in one minute.

Make a three-dimensional shape using heart-shaped gummies and toothpicks.

Stack the conversation hearts! Students used tongs to see how many hearts they could stack in one minute.

Weave a heart-shaped placemat.

Bead a Valentine’s themed necklace.

I also made a photo wall and took pictures throughout the event.

We ended this part of the morning with each student reading their special Fill Up Our Hearts notes that we have been writing. (Read more about this project here:)

How Full is Your Heart?

After recess, students shared the mailboxes that they made.

After the presentations, students passed out their Valentine’s. We then enjoyed a delicious cookie from Lilac Patisserie.

I just love how they are decorated! It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

How Full is Your Heart?

Besides learning how to read and do math, Kindergarten is an important time for children to learn how to be a good friend and to realize how what they say or do affects others. One way that concretely teaches these concepts is to have students visualize a bucket above their heads. When they say or do something kind or someone does something positive for them, a drop of water is added to the bucket. If the child is sad or angry or someone says something unkind to them, a drop of water falls out of the bucket. We talk a lot about being “bucket fillers.” There is a wonderful book that illustrates this concept beautifully:

After reading this book aloud to the class, I introduced a special project. Over the course of two weeks, the kindergarteners would be working to fill up the hearts of their classmates by writing everyone a special note. I showed students the template that I created to help with this process:

I wrote an example for the students that demonstrated just how personal I wanted each of the notes to be:

I showed the students how we would “fill up” each others’ hearts with these heartfelt notes, reading them aloud with our parents at our Valentine’s Day party.

Heart envelopes

The students were eager to get started.

They were encouraged to use best guess spelling, spaces between words, beginning capitalization, and ending punctuation.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the thoughtful notes:

I am so excited to see the children’s reactions when they read their special notes.