Monday, September 29, 2014

Collaboration Success!

Each day our curriculum provides 1-2 vocabulary words to teach students.  These words go with whatever our unit of study is.  Our current unit is "Those Nearest and Dearest" (family and friends).  Last week, a few of our words included: agree, argue, cooperate.  I wanted to do some type of "team building" activity that would encourage students to cooperate and agree rather than argue.

I started scouring Pinterest, and I read about circle painting.  I decided that this might be just the thing to put these words into action.  My students no longer go to art class (a change this year), so they have not had the opportunity to paint yet this year.  They've asked a few times when we are going to use paint, so I thought it was time to jump in.

I broke the class into 2 "teams".  Each team had 8 or 9 students on it.  I gave each team a large piece of white butcher paper and 10 cups of paint (5 colors, 2 cups per color, each cup had its own paint brush). Students were given the instructions to paint circles of all sizes all over their papers.  They were asked to discuss with their team before painting how they were going to "cooperate" and "agree" on things.

To my amazement, both groups did a great job working together!  I did not hear any arguing in either group.  It was so interesting to watch them work.  In one group, the girls were very strong and gave the boys very explicit instructions, frequently reminding the boys not to mix the paint.  In the second group, no one really took charge and they just all shared the paint and did their thing.

Bright colors (top) is group one; more bold colors (bottom) is group 2.
I gave them about 10 minutes to paint.  When I saw that things started to become less circle-like, I gave them a 1 minute warning.  All of those "multicolored spots" were created in a circular motion.  The first group (where the girls took charge) were not a fan of the boys mixing colors whether it be in the cup or on the paper, but they simply stated what they wanted them to do and moved it.

I was proud of their ability to cooperate with one another, and they were so proud of their finished products.  I hung them in the hallway with a picture of the group who created each piece hanging next to it.  I would definitely do this project again!

What types of collaborative or team-building projects/activities have you done with your students?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Family Trees

Our current theme is "Those Nearest and Dearest" (family and friends).  I was looking for a little art/craft project to go with our theme.  I found this little freebie and promptly downloaded it but knew I wanted it to be a little more student created.

I put family word labels in center along with the little apples, and some green & brown construction paper.  I made a little example and let my kiddos go for it.

Here are a couple of there creations:

I love the grass this little guy added to his!  He chose to write his own labels.  He also only included himself and his animals (cat, fish and snail).  

I love the tongues sticking out on his pets!

All the tree are turning out different. It is fun to hear their thought process and see what they come up with.  

What kinds of art/craft would you do for a family/friends unit?  I'm on the look out for a project for next week?  I'd like to do some type of collaborative art project.  Any ideas?

Junior Bloggers

My kindergarten kiddos are excited to be blogging as a class at the end of each day.  We do this as our daily wrap-up.  Students all collaborate on what we are going to write and either I type or they do.  On days when our time gets cut short, I do the typing, otherwise, I pull name sticks and allow each child to type a word.  Because this writing is shared with many, I do make sure they spell words correctly and help out as needed.

One of my kiddos asked me, "Can the whole world read this?"  I told her yes.  She then said, "Even the ones that don't speak English?"  So sweet, and yes, even the ones who don't speak English can see it!

We'd love for you to check out our website (not much going on with the website) and our daily blog.  Feel free to leave a comment; we love comments!

Do you blog or have a classroom website with your students?  We'd love to check it out!  Leave your link below.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dear Future Me...

I'm linking up with Crystal at Kreative in Kinder with a letter to myself at the beginning of next school year.

I'm having a very different back to school experience this year.  For the first time in my 11 years of "back to school" things are going quite swimmingly.  I know this will probably not happen again for a long while, so I wanted to remember a bit of what it was like and remind myself that it is not always like this.  

I hope when I look back on this next year, I'm able to remember to stay positive and keep in mind that this is their first time in kindergarten and they need to learn what kindergarten is like!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Morning Letters {September 13}

I'm linking up with Michelle at Big Time Literacy for Sunday Morning Letters.  It has been a busy and exciting couple weeks!  Make sure you check out the giveaway ending tonight mentioned in my third letter.

Enter the giveaway here.

Read about the first project here.

Fonts by Kevin & Amanda.  Papers from Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting To Know You

We've been getting to know one another in kindergarten.  We just completed week 3 (teacher inservice day tomorrow) and are settling into a routine.

Our current them is "I Feel Amazing, I Feel Fine".  I wanted to do a little introduction to Project-Based Learning (PBL) but it had to be easy and not very time consuming as time is limited at this point!

I partnered students up with a same-sex classmate who I don't normally see them interact with.  I wanted students to "meet" someone new.  The question they had to answer: "What can you teach us about your partner?"

Students started off by taking a picture of their partner using the iPad.  This was quite an adventure!  Many students had used iPads prior to this, but holding the iPad and taking the picture while standing was a new experience.  We had a couple retakes, but they did got it.

Next, I brought each partnership over with me one group at a time.  The partners "interviewed" each other.  They practiced asking one another questions about things they liked.  I recorded their answers for them on dry erase boards.

Then I opened the app WordFoto.  Students first had to find the picture they took of their partner in the camera roll.  After adding the photo to the app, students began typing their partner's favorite things into the app.  The trick is one word per line.  Things like "mashed potatoes" had to be typed with no spaces so they stayed together.    The app takes the words you entered and covers the picture in the words- similar to a Wordle.  Once the words were put in, students went and got their partner to show them the finished product.  They saved the completed projects to the photo roll.

After school, I printed the photos to our color printer and laminated them.  Students then shared what they learned about their partners with the class.  I hung all their creations on the board along with copies of their names that they decorated.  These will be up to share with our visitors who come for Open House next week.

The kiddos LOVE looking at these and are so proud of their work.  I'm proud of us for completing a project, and I enjoy hearing them reference what they learned about their partners.  I learned some new things about each of them through this project as well.  That is a success in my book!

How do your students get to know one another?  How do you get to know them?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday {September 10}

I'm linking up with Miss DeCarbo for Wordless Wednesday.  I love this linky, especially when my week gets hectic!

Do you teach your students how to type?  If yes, how do you do it?

I'll be back in the next couple days to write about this little project he's working on.

Have you entered my 200 follower giveaway?  You can win a Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener and a TpT gift certificate.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

200 Follower Giveaway

It is time for another giveaway.  Troy from Classroom Friendly Supplies generously offered to give away another pencil sharpener here on the blog!  Make sure you show his Facebook page some love.  I asked him to wait until the blog hit 200 followers, and I'm happy to say we are there on BlogLovin!

You can win a pencil sharpener in the color of your choice (black, blue, green, pink, red) and a $10 TpT gift certificate.  If you have not seen or used one of these sharpeners, you are missing out on something wonderful!  You can read my review from last month here.

Thank-you for following and your kind comments over the past 2 years!  I look forward to sharing more with you this year!

The winner of the giveaway must have a US mailing address.  The winner will be announced Monday, September 15.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Beginning Writers

I always struggle with writing at the beginning of the year.  I want my kiddos to progress more quickly than they do.  I forget what beginning of the year looks like sometimes.

After attending a couple sessions about Writers Workshop at I Teach K, I decided to start with working on some good illustrations.  Over the summer, I picked up a packet on directed drawing.  There is one picture for each letter of the alphabet.  I also picked up a handwriting set with hidden pictures.  Best investments!

My kiddos are loving writing time!  Some of their stamina gets lost once they get to the coloring part, but they are doing a great job.  We start out with the drawing "lesson" for the day.  I model on the SMARTboard how to draw the picture following the directions at the top of the page.  Students then go to their seats and complete their own drawing.  This week I started asking them to try to write a word to tell about their picture.  Many of them chose a color word to describe their picture.  I'm ok with that at this point because we have been focusing on our color words.  A few have been a little more "adventurous" and have been attempting describing words or labels.

When their directed drawing pictures are finished, they turn to the back and practice writing the upper and lowercase letters.  After writing the letters, they circle their best one.  Finally, they use their color word knowledge to color the mystery picture.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five For Friday {September 5}

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday.  I'm excited join in the fun; it has been a while!

1.  We are loving HeidiSongs! We've learned our color words other than white (not ready for the word "underwear" with this crew yet) plus "am","the","my","we".

2. We've been working on our color words.  I found these flipbooks on Pinterest.  After each color word was written, students drew a picture of something that is that color.  They loved these!

3. They are enjoying writing names and making lists at the writing center.

4. GoNoodle makes us happy! "Let it Go" made me smile when they belted it out.

5.  I made Playdoh to use at our literacy centers during the first couple weeks.  The only requirement I had was that the kiddos had to make some letters.
"I love you."  
We've finished two weeks and are starting to get into a routine.  I'll be back to share more about our writing later this weekend.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday {September 3}

I'm linking up with Miss DeCarbo for Wordless Wednesday.

This is a picture of my teacher table (which doubles as my desk) this morning.  It has never looked like this after 5 days with kids.  It is normally covered in piles, lost and found items and anything else you can imagine.  I have a feeling this current state might be short-lived.

How do you keep your teacher area neat and organized?

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Week Highlights

We had our first week of kindergarten last week.  Our district tried out a staggered start this year, so students with last names A-L came Tuesday, M-Z came Wednesday and everyone was there Thursday and Friday.  I also had an assistant Thursday and Friday.  We do not normally have assistants.

It was a tiring week, but I thought it was pretty productive.  I have 19 kiddos this year, which is the smallest class I have ever had in my 11 years.  I'm pretty pumped about that.  I have a "high ability cluster" in my room, meaning that a group of kiddos who are already reading were intentionally put together in my room.  It is going to be an adventure for sure!

We did a lot of routines and centers to keep them engaged.

We worked on building color words.

We learned how to use the iPads.

Using a magnifying glass to find color words hidden on the monster and record them.

Playing at Housekeeping.

Go Noodle = Love!  Yes, I only had 7 kids on M-Z day (2 are finishing up a center).
We had a productive week last week. Can't wait to build on it this week.  Looking forward to sharing our year with you!