The Case of the Missing D!

We wrapped up reviewing the alphabet last week. When I arrived at school this morning, the letter D was missing from our alphabet. There was crime scene tape around the classroom and six mug shots on my white board! What better way to celebrate our learning than to solve the Case of the Missing D!

Scattered around the room were pieces of evidence linking specific teachers to the crime. Just who took that letter D?

Students received a detective badge, fedora, and briefcase.

Inside the briefcase was a magnifying glass, a mini pad of paper, and a mini pencil. They were ready to enter the crime scene and discover who the suspects were. Here is some of the evidence that was left behind:

From the evidence, we decided the suspects were:

 

Ohhhh, the EXCITEMENT!!

Next, students had five language arts activities they needed to complete in order to open the secret evidence cases. Each of the evidence cases had a puzzle to solve that gave them the name of a suspect who DID NOT take the letter D.

Activity 1: Students went on a letter hunt around the classroom in search of letter cards. They had to figure out which letter was missing and record their answer.

Next, students identified the beginning letter in a picture. They recorded the letter in white crayon and then made it magically appear by painting over it with water color.

Third, students had to color pictures according to the key provided.

Students used Bee Bots for the fourth activity. They chose a card with a picture on it and then coded the Bee Bot to go to the beginning letter sound.

The final activity involved the sensory table. Students worked to uncover magnifying glasses with pictures. They wrote down the beginning sound for each picture.

After each activity, students opened the TOP SECRET briefcase where they found a clue telling them who did not steal the D.

The students quickly discovered that the person who took the letter D was Mrs. Vanetti! We decided to take a walk to her classroom and figure out WHY she took our D!

Congratulations to the Kinder Detective Agency for solving the Case of the Missing D!

 

October Morning Exploring

With the new month comes new Morning Exploring tubs. The creepy crawlies are out and these students had no problem using the thematic manipulatives!

Students dig in sensory putty for googly eyes. They then sort them by color.

 

Students match numbers to coordinating tens frames and then clip them together.

Using stickers, students outline the shape of a pumpkin. They count to see how many stickers they used.

 

Students choose a number card and use pumpkin buttons and a ten frame to build the number.

 

Color patterns are extended. Students use tweezers to put the colored pom-poms in order.

 

Students roll one or two dice and move that many flies onto the spider web using tongs.

Using a push pin, students create a stained glass window effect.

Students use a hole punch to punch out teen numbers.

The last activity has students counting and recording the number of pumpkins in each container.

These activities keep the students busy practicing so many different skills! We love Morning Exploring!

 

Sewing in Kindergarten?!

You bet! Sewing provides young learners with an opportunity to strengthen fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination. Sewing also teaches patience, persistence, and it helps grow self-confidence.  These projects are quite successful with a little extra preparation and a few extra sets of hands.

Our first sewing project was to sew a mini pumpkin using a bright orange dimple dot minky fabric.  I chose the right size bowl as the pattern and then traced the pumpkins.

After cutting out the pumpkins, I used a black Sharpie to create a dot-to-dot on what would be the inside of each pumpkin.

This dot-to-dot technique gave the students a place to aim their needles. It also helped keep students moving along in a way that each would complete the sewing portion of the project in the ten minutes I had allotted for each rotation.

Next, I threaded each of the needles that I had and tied a knot at the end of the thread. This way my parent volunteers were ready to start the actual sewing process without wasting any time threading needles.

I gave students an introduction to handling the sewing needle. (Though not the sharpest needles available, the needles I like to use could cause a small poke.) I showed the students that placing their fingers on the eye of the needle is the easiest and safest way to hold a needle. Plus, it prepares them for sewing in the future when they have to keep the thread from pulling through the eye. In anticipation of this sewing activity, I placed some lacing cards in one of the Literacy Workstations so that students could practice the motion of sewing a running stitch using a plastic lace that would not cause harm.

I reviewed the running stitch, and the students were ready to go! All of these little preparations really helped the students have a successful first classroom sewing activity! The two parent volunteers were the perfect cheerleaders, encouraging the students and praising their focus and tenacity.

Once the pumpkins were sewn, students stuffed them with a piece of tissue paper.

We then added a small stick as a stem.

How cute are these?! Your fall decor for years to come!

Friday Fun: Pumpkin Edition!

We had our first Friday Fun of the year that included parent volunteers. What a success it was! After our field trip to the pumpkin patch earlier this week, I wanted to find a recipe that used pumpkin. Pumpkin energy balls were the answer! The students had so much fun measuring and mixing the ingredients. Our aprons really helped keep the sticky mess off our uniforms!

Here is the recipe. I adjusted the amounts so that each group was able to make their own batch. All four batches combined made 24 energy balls.

For our craft activity, students sewed a mini pumpkin.

Look for a post on this activity early next week. Happy Fall!!

Pumpkin Patch

Our first field trip of the year was a huge success! The kindergarteners traveled to Lane Farms for a very special field trip. We toured the farm, took a hayride, and chose a perfect school-sized pumpkin. (Wait until you see for what these pumpkins will be used!) Enjoy the pictures!

What makes a field trip successful, fun, and educational? First, I always provide students with clear expectations and as much information as possible before embarking on the field trip. I also strive to keep trips active, organized, and as short yet meaningful as possible. Finally, scheduling this field trip to the pumpkin patch first thing in the morning made the patch less crowded and less hot. For me, I easily could keep an eye on the students because there were fewer outside people. In and out, but FUN for all!

Just a Little Patience

The Swooper Citizens character trait of the week is PATIENCE. There are so many times throughout the day where we all have to practice being patient. We began this week’s lesson brainstorming ideas for things to do when waiting in a long line at Disneyland. The students had some great ideas: play I Spy, play Rock Paper Scissors, go to a different line, and more! Mrs. Vanetti then introduced our Marshmallow Challenge:

The students were all in….

Look how patient they were!

These students hid their marshmallow.

These two played Rock, Paper, Scissors to pass the time.

 

These students covered their eyes so that they would not see the marshmallows.

Hooray! Everyone showed patience and earned a second marshmallow!

We then watched this fun video:

I then read aloud My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook.

This book tells the story of a boy who interrupts. He just can not control the volcano in his mouth. When it is his special sharing day at school, the boy finally understands how frustrating it feels to be interrupted, and he learns to respectfully wait his turn. The students shared times when they had been interrupted and when their mouths had been a volcano! We tried to strategize ways we could wait patiently when we have something important to say but someone else is already speaking. Students agreed, it really takes a lot of patience!!

 

The Shape of Things

The kindergarteners have been reviewing two-dimensional shapes. We identified the number of sides on each shape, and students used pattern blocks to design a shape of their own.

I also read aloud the book The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds. Students then created their own pages that are patterned after this book.

I love their creativity!

Literacy Workstations

I am excited to blog about our second day of Literacy Workstations! This summer, I spent a lot of time reorganizing my Reading Centers. I wanted the students to have “more buy-in” and more choice. First, I renamed Reading Centers….. they are now Literacy Workstations. Next I made an organizational Smart Notebook for our Literacy Workstations time that is interactive and personalized for the students. This is what I came up with:

Each rotation lasts approximately 12-15 minutes.  Once completed, I move the children’s pictures to their next center, and they begin the next rotation. Being that it is only Day 2 of Literacy Workstations, students are trying out each activity. Once they have a clear understanding of how each activity works, I will begin to add more activities to the independent parts of our Workstations. The activities include:

Through these workstations, every student receives differentiated instruction from both me and my Instructional Assistant. Many of the independent workstations are differentiated as well.

Students were listening to beginning sounds and then recording the sound that they heard.

Students listened to a book on CD. Listening to books on CD helps students build comprehension, phonics, and tracking skills.

Students found beginning sound puzzle pieces in our sensory table that they matched to the corresponding letters.

Students sounded out CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and found the picture to match.

In another workstation, students used playdough to demonstrate number sense….not quite a literacy skill, but we were practicing how to use playdough as part of a Literacy Workstation!

I will post more as the students explore each of the activities I have developed for Literacy Workstations. We are off to a GREAT start!

Morning Exploring

We enjoyed our FIRST rotation of Morning Exploring activities today! These activities are designed to strengthen fine motor skills while reinforcing math and literacy concepts. They also encourage teamwork! I am just thrilled with how successful our first rotation was!

Take a look:

Students use their thumb and pointer finger to grasp very slippery water beads and sort them by color.

 

Working together, students place numbers in order from least to greatest. They use clips to clip the number cards in order.

 

Students cut along the curvy lines.

 

Using pop beads, students measure the pictures of school supplies to see how long each is. They record their answer.

 

Students roll two dice. They add the dice together. Using tongs, students place that number of frogs on the lily pads.

 

VERY CAREFULLY, students use a pushpin to make holes that follow each letter in their name.

 

Students use a hole punch to punch a specific number of holes on each page.

 

Pop beads are used again…but this time students use them to extend a pattern.

 

After Morning Exploring was complete for today, I overheard a student say, “I can’t wait to do this tomorrow!” These are words every teacher loves to hear!

 

I Am Ready!! Are You?

Tomorrow is the big day- our official first day of school for 2019! The classroom is ready! The supplies are organized! The lessons are planned! Come one! Come all!

These first three days we will focus on building friendships and establishing a caring classroom community. Lower School teachers were fortunate to participate in an eight-hour Responsive Classroom training last week. We will begin many of the Responsive Classroom strategies and practices starting on our first day!

“Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching and learning for kindergarten through eighth grade that focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional skills. We believe that a high-quality education for every student is built on the foundation of a safe, strong, and joyful school community.” (2016 Center for Responsive Schools, Inc) Look for another blog post soon with more details about Responsive Classroom.

My goal is to gather information on each student throughout this week so that I can begin differentiated instruction and groupings next week. This week students will be learning the ins and outs of the classroom as well as procedures for the many different parts of our exciting day. Through a lot of modeling and practice, these new kindergarteners will be set up for success.