Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I Like Tape!

...because it is sticky!

My Kinder team and I use the wonderful Guiding Readers set by DeeDee Wills & Deanna Jump. Click HERE to purchase. If you haven't tried it, you should. Our PTO purchased it for us because we were so disappointed by our adopted series.  We love it! Anyway, enough advertising...

One of the components of a recent lesson on long a included writing a sentence using a word in a sentence. I took a picture of some of my favorites.

You may be wondering why some of the sentences are marked up. They are examples of some of the editing we do. Last summer I got to attend a two day Kristina Smekens literacy retreat. In one sessions she explained how to use color coding to help kids to edit their own writing. I picked three things that I felt were appropriate for Kinders to focus on while writing: spaces between words, capital letter at the beginning, and ending punctuation. We do work on other things, but I figured three skills were enough for my little Kinders. I do think that they are doing a great job! 

I created a freebie set using the color coding edits you can get HERE. I purchased a pack of kid sunglasses at Party City & popped out the lenses. The kids have fun wearing them as they edit. 

"Eye" Can Edit My Writing Poster set

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Presidents' Day

Last week we actually had Presidents' Day off! For the past several years it has been used as a snow make-up day, but with the strange snowless winter we've had so far we got it off. But, we did have to go to school on the Friday that was to make a 4 day weekend due to fog in August! Oh well, a three day weekend was better than no holiday weekend.

We spent a lot of time talking about presidents last week. We use Guiding Readers (Deanna Jump & DeeDee Wills) and read Duck for President and Abe Lincoln's Hat. The kids really seemed to be very interested in learning about the presidents & had fun with the silliness of Duck.

The updated version of Guiding Readers includes craftivities and we made these cute Ducks. The look adorable hanging on our classroom clothesline.

Check out the close-ups of a couple Ducks. The little guy who made the one on the right might not have followed the instructions to the letter, but I do have to admit that that I think it's pretty funny!

After writing this post I created a Close Reading set to go with Duck for President. It includes everything you need to do 3+ readings of this fun book & is perfect for your Presidents' Day or Election Day studies. Click HERE to purchase. 

This Kinder was apparently  very impressed by Abe Lincoln. We had some coloring pages of Abraham Lincoln's face which he colored, cut out, and added a body made from scrap paper. He carried it around with him, took it home & brought it back to school all week. He told me that he even slept with it! Check out the second picture ~ he wrote facts about Abe & taped them on the back of the hat. Just like the real president, this paper president is carrying papers inside his tall black hat!

Coming up ~ next week is Dr. Seuss's birthday. We celebrate by reading lots of Seuss books and make some Cat in the Hat, Horton, and Things 1 and 2 themed crafts. I also like to put out some "inspired by Dr. S." activities in the literacy centers that week. I made a Funny Fish consonant blends literacy stations to use next week. It's fun for early March, but could be done any time of year!

Check it out HERE.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Let's Play!

If you follow me on Facebook, I'm sure you are familiar with my opinion on the importance of play. I believe that play is a vital part of a child's development & needs to be included in everyone's daily schedule. My Kinders get to play for about 20 - 25 minutes each day (they also get two 20 minute recesses daily). Countless studies have shown the value of play. Kids practice social & verbal skills while playing, but the benefits don't end there. The "brain break" provided by play helps improve cognitive skills, thinking, behavior & attitude, focus, and (dare I say it) test scores. With the current fixation on testing & test scores, one would think that all students should be given plenty of time for kid-directed play.

As I said, my Kinders are lucky to be given ample time to play: large motor twice daily at recess & creatively at the end of each day. During our free play (called Developmental Centers) my kiddos get to do things such as color, create books (using a stapler ~ such fun!), play in the kitchen area, read, play board games, do puzzles, build with blocks, play with playdough, and make Lego creations. Of course, this is a partial list of the free-choice activities that are available.

But, one thing that is not available during play time is technology. Our Developmental Centers are unplugged! At first students asked to use the computers & tablets during play, but after being told "no" enough times they don't bother to ask any more. I decided to ban technology during play time because I felt that they get more than enough screen time outside of school, and far less than enough creative play outside of school. Playing on Mom's phone is quiet & simple. Making a race track with blocks and playing with playdough is noisy & messy. But, kids learn from noisy & messy. And, noisy & messy is more fun.

If your admin isn't convinced on the importance of play, here are a few pictures of "STEM-like" free play in my classroom. Just looking at them proves that "play is the highest form of research."

These little guys created this wall "to keep the girls out." While I didn't really approve of their reason, I am a fan of the construction. Look closely ~ they needed to piece together some of the wall. I dare anyone to tell me that they wasted their time!

Another awesome block creation. The above wall was all about fractions, this one speaks of symmetry. Hmm, looks like these kids are using higher levels of math than what's on the kindergarten CCSS! And, they look pretty happy about it, too.

Recently they have been playing with the dominoes. At first they made simple lines, but soon moved onto intricate patterns with swirls, levels, and multiple lines. They have changed locations and even included other objects within their domino runs.

It took a while, but they figured out how to get two lines to fall. I would say that this gave them lots of practice with problem solving & perseverance. 

Check out the arrangement of the dominoes these girls are trying. (They did learn that the top of our check in board wasn't the best spot for a domino run, but they figured this out on their own ~ I didn't tell them.)  Last week a group of boys used blocks as dominoes & made a pretty impressive run with the blocks going up a series of steps. Unfortunately I didn't grab my phone when they called me over to the block center. I told them that they would have to rebuild it so I can take a video of it in action.

I do try to take videos of their projects in action whenever possible. They love to see themselves, and I attach the pictures & videos to my newsletter for the parents to see the amazingness of their kids.

We have a little tub of these little linking things. (They were inherited, I'm not sure what they are called.) Anyway, the kids really like them. This little boy made a robot with them. I've seen a lot of airplanes and rockets made from them. Creativity at work!

I just realized that this post mostly featured boys. There are a couple reasons: I have mostly boys, and the girls don't seem to build as much as the boys. I'm not sure why, but because I let the kids pick what they do during Developmental Centers, I figure they are reaping the benefits of kid-driven play, too.  (I need to take some pictures & write another post on play. It won't be too hard, because it's something I really believe in...) Click HERE to read an earlier "Let's Play!" post. Get the poster below for free in my Teachers pay Teachers store HERE.

Get this poster for free HERE!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

100th Day 2016

Last Thursday was our 100th Day of school. (It was supposed to be last Wednesday, but we had a two hour fog delay - turned day off in August. Yup, August. Click HERE to see pictures of the fog.) Well, at least we didn't have to wait until February for our 100th Day like we've done in the past.

Here are some pictures of our 100th Day fun.

1. Counting our collections of 100 small items. I made those mats  a few years ago ~ they are perfect for counting by 10s.

2. Creating ten frame books with 100 rubber stamp imprints.

3. Collaborating to create gumball machines with 100 gumballs.

4. Doing 100 exercises. The little guy in the first picture did a few (not 100 ~ lol) one handed push-ups!

5. Doing "100" papers. These kiddos are drawing themselves as 100 year olds.

6. Eating "100" cookies. The kids were so surprised & excited when I told them that they were going to be able to eat 100 cookies. :-)

7. The hands - down favorite activity of the day ~ working together to make a structure with 100 red solo cups. We had three sets so there wasn't a huge wait for this activity. I left one set out for the kids to use at playtime (there are no longer 100 in that set...).

As you can see in this picture most of the kids wore special 100th Day shirts. I love the creativity that went into making them. The kids had a blast, the parent volunteers were great, and lasting memories were made. We  had a super 100th Day of kindergarten!

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