Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Day Assignment

Has anyone else had snow and cold days over the last couple weeks?  We took day 7 yesterday.  I have not given assignments on snow days in the past, but I thought I'd give it a try.

I was going through my BlogLovin' feed and catching up on reading.  I read a post from Primary Pack about rhyming show and tell.  My kiddos have been asking for show and tell, so I decided this was the perfect activity for them to do on a snow day!

I contacted families via e-mail and to tell them about the assignment.  I don't have 100% of families using either type of communication, but between the 2, all families were contacted.  I made the "assignment" optional because I thought if they really wanted show and tell, they will do it.  Students were asked to bring 2 items that rhyme.  My only requirement was that they fit in the child's backpack.

13 out of 18 of my friends brought something for Show and Tell!  I was very impressed with that.  Those that didn't just thought of 2 words that rhymed and shared them with the class when it was their turn.

This was a quick, easy way to add some learning to their unexpected day at home.  I got positive feedback from parents as well.

Do you give your students assignments on snow/cold days?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

100 Days Smarter

We celebrated the 100th Day of School on Tuesday.  I didn't plan to make this crazy because we just celebrated Valentine's Day on Friday, and I wanted it to be a little more of a celebration of their skills they've learned thus far in kindergarten.

For a special snack, they had a 1/2 a cheese stick (number 1) and 2 large marshmallows (two 0s).  Maybe I forgot to take a picture of this...oops!  I think you can picture this one in your mind sitting on a brown napkin.

During "real centers", which is what my students call play-based centers (as opposed to "reading" or "math" centers), we had 4 special centers to everyone visited today.  Each center celebrated something we've practiced over the past 100 days.

Center 1 was writing 100 words.  Did most of them get 100 words done?  No.  Did they all try really hard and use spelling strategies, rhyming words and resources around the room?  Yes they did!  This made this activity as success in my book!  They wanted to finish, and in fact, we did take an extra few minutes to work on it together at the end.

Center 2 was building with 100 cups.  Students were in groups of 3-4 and this station practiced their teamwork skills.  We have been building relationships and their ability to get along with one another since the first day of school.  This center was great practice for that and for their problem-solving skills.

Center 3 was building 100 chart.  I took 5 100 charts (each on a different color) and cut them into chunks.  Students had the chance to either work on their own or to work with partner to put the chart "back together".  This was great for their number sense and again, problem solving.  They were SO proud when they finished it.  These will be appearing in our math center because they were such a hit.

The 4th Center was making something out of the number 100.  This brought out students' creativity and problem solving skills.  How can you turn the numbers or draw around them to make something new?  I was surprised by some of their creations.

Insect (the zeros are the eyes)

She folded her "1" to make it smaller.  I thought that was a creative way to use it since I insisted that they had to use 1 one and 2 zeros.

I appreciated how excited my students were today to complete these centers.  I learned today that I didn't need a huge "blowout" party to make them happy to show what they've learned thus far this year.  I enjoyed a more low-key day with some fun ways to show our learning.  How did you celebrate the 100th day?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Silly Rhyming Sentences

I went to a mini PD at my building a couple weeks ago.  The PD was about phonological and phonemic awareness.  I've known the value of both of these areas, but hadn't really thought about how it affected my students this year.  A handful of my students came to me already reading this year and the majority of the rest picked up on reading very quickly.  I did quite a bit of phonemic awareness at the beginning of the year, but when the reading started to take off and guided reading seemed to take over my reading block, it kind of went by the wayside.

To begin the PD, the facilitator had us choose a person in our group and make up a silly rhyme using the person's name.  While we were working on it, she (the facilitator) asked me if I thought my students could do this activity.  I hadn't given it much thought prior to that, but decided that it was most definitely worth a shot!

Students worked in 4 heterogeneous groups to create a silly rhyme using a type of transportation.  The used the lists of transportation students had sorted earlier in the week to choose a type of transportation.  Once the silly rhyme was recorded by one person in the group, each student illustrated the rhyme.  I mounted them to a bright piece of construction paper and they are hung in our room.

"I bet the jet has a pet that is wet."
"A train is on the main track by the lane."
"I see a pet in a jet with a net."
"I see a car going to the bar far away."   My teammates definitely got a kick out of this one.    They struggled to come up with words that rhyme with "car" and they made this up completely independently (let me tell you...I tried to steer them FAR away from the word 'bar'!).
The kiddos loved making up these rhymes and couldn't wait to make more in the writing center.  One kiddos made a book of silly animal rhymes.  It seemed like a great way for higher level kiddos to continue to incorporate rhyming throughout the year!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On the Move

Our last unit was about transportation.  Between snow days and scheduled days off, we finally had a couple five day weeks!  After learning about some different types of transportation and some vocabulary to go with the unit, students worked in groups to sort types of transportation.

Students were given a sheet of paper with "land", "air" and "water" written across the top in 3 separate sections.  I gave them about 5 minutes to think of all the different types of transportation they could come up with and sort them into the correct column.

After completing their lists, each group sharing their paper with the class.  We hung them on our whiteboard to refer to throughout the remainder of the unit.  Their spelling amazes me sometimes.  Thanks to HeidiSongs Phonics Fun DVD, they know so many many vowel & letter combinations.

These small group projects have really been great for building team-work and have made our larger PBL run more smoothly because my kiddos are getting more experience with working with others on a regular basis this year.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Wrap-Up

We ended up starting our Valentine's Day celebration with a delayed start.  This was our first one of the year, and my kiddos didn't know what to expect.   Warning: picture overload ahead!

We started our day with a little snack.

Short skewers loaded with: purple grape, banana, blueberry, raspberry and a heart marshmallow.  I found the marshmallows at Aldi.

Next we used my Sweet for Math freebie to practice some math skills using conversation hearts.  We practiced measurement, graphing, addition and tally marks.

Measuring with hearts

Making a how she lined them all up on the graph then took them off one by one and colored the boxes.

Tallying the vowels on her conversation hearts. 
The last hour of our day was spent partying.  It was pretty laid back.

My kiddos started out by passing out their valentines.  

Transferring marshmallows from the plate to the cup. They also had conversation hearts to stack to make a tower.  

Using clothespins to pass tissue paper hearts around the table.  Some parents were pretty creative with their directions.  "Pass to someone wearing blue". "Pass the heart to someone to your left"  The parent in this photo had all the hearts going around at the same time.
Cookie decorating station.  They love sprinkles!
The last station was similar to "Headbanz".  Students wore homemade headbands (like the one in the cookie decorating picture).  We taped pictures on the headbands and students had to describe the picture to the person wearing the picture.  We started out asking questions, but it was a struggle for them to ask questions that weren't "Is it a dog? Is it a cat?"  I thought them describing the pictures to one another was great for their vocabulary anyway!

We'll be celebrating the 100th day on Tuesday.  I'm planning low-key for this as well.  How did you celebrate Valentine's Day or the 100th Day?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Celebrating Our Presidents

We started on learning about Presidents' Day last week because of the many different activities that happen in February.  It is a short month and we have to get it all in!

I've tried a few guided drawing activities this year.  It is my first year trying it, and my kiddos really seem to look forward to it.  We tried this one from Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business.  I haven't paid for the instructions on the ones we've done in the past, but couldn't find a freebie for this theme, so decided to take the plunge and pay for it.

We started with Washington last week.  Our talk about Washington began with the book from Simply Kinder.  My kiddos' favorite part was the "fun fact" in the back.  I plan to use the Lincoln one when we study him this week.

This was by far the most difficult directed drawing we have done.  I learned that I do better giving directions when there are words written for directions in addition to an example picture of each step.  I like when someone tells me "make a shape like a 'v'" or "trace around your hand to make the head" as opposed to just showing me a picture of what that step looks like.  Learning right along with the kids here!  We made it through, and as you'll see below, Mr. Washington has never had so many different looks.

Here are a few examples of their completed work.

Next week, to reinforce our learning about our presidents, we will be using Sharing Kindergarten's QR Scan and Learn pack.  This will be used during our center time.

How do you sharing Presidents' Day with your students?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Practicing Comprehension

When giving our mid-year assessments, I noticed that the majority of my students are very strong readers (YAY!) and that their comprehension was not too bad.  The areas we need to work on, however, are comprehension and fluency.  I was scouring TpT and blogs for some appropriate comprehension activities that my students could complete independently during reading centers.  It needed to be an easy story for them to read independently and then some type of activity to show comprehension.  I saw this activity on The Moffatt Girls blog a couple weeks ago and knew we had to have it!

Students read a short story then cut out and sequence 4 pictures.  I also have my students color the pictures according to the color words found in the story.  Below is a completed example from one of my kiddos.

I love that the stories incorporate some sight words that the kids know, many CVC words and they actually generally have a story-line.  My kiddos don't mind doing these, so all these things combined makes this a win-win activity in my book!  You can find these here.  One of my students even underlined each "event" in a different color so she could refer back to the easily.  Kudos to you, kiddo! You taught your friends a great strategy!

I also purchased this packet which has short answer type questions.  I thought it would be a great "next step" when my students have the sequencing down pat.  I like that these have little books for them to read, but are still very appropriate for kindergarten!

How do you practice comprehension with your students?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mail for Valentine's Day

I picked up those cute little mailboxes from the Target Dollar Spot last year and knew my kiddos would love this activity again this year!  I have 2 different types of mailboxes that I picked up in 2 different years.  I was so sad to see that my Target isn't carrying any mailboxes in the Dollar Spot this year.

We still do "play-based" centers in my class for about 40 minutes a day.  This first activity is at my Language Arts center.  Each mailbox flag has a vowel sound on it (short vowels).  In the bag are old Valentines.  I circled a character on each Valentine.  Students need to listen for the initial sound on each Valentine and sort them into the appropriate mailbox.  They love seeing their favorite characters at this center!  This is a great way to use your old Valentines that students have given you. I also asked parents if they wanted to donate an extra Valentine or 2 last year.

This was very easy prep: label the mailbox flags, circle the characters with a Sharpie and laminate them.

The second activity is at the math center.  You can actually download these cards for free from my TpT store!

In this center, there are 6 mailboxes, one for each number 0-5.  On each card, which is shaped like an envelope, there is either an addition or a subtraction problem.  Students must solve the problems and "mail" them in the correct mailbox.  My kiddos decided that they are going to have 1 or 2 people do the mailing and the others will check them.  There are a couple other number activities at the math center currently, but this is definitely their favorite!

Next week, we will be doing my candy heart math activity.  It is also a freebie in my TpT store.  It uses SweetTart candy hearts because I've found that most of my kiddos like eating that kind.

If you download either of these freebies, I'd appreciate your feedback.  Thanks!

How do you incorporate holiday fun into your day?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Writing a Letter

As part of our communication unit in our curriculum, we read the book Dear Juno by Soyung Pak.  As I thought about the book, it would be a great one for the beginning of the year with those new kindergarten kiddos are saying "I don't know how to write".  Juno and his grandmother communicate with one another through letters, photographs and pictures.  Juno and grandma know what the other is saying without having to read any words- the pictures tell the story.

During our time in the computer lab on the day we read this, students had the opportunity to try out their letter writing skills.  I didn't get on them too much about capital letters (other than in their names) or letter writing format, though I did ask them to try using "Dear ________" and "love", "sincerely" or "your friend" for a closing with their names.

"Dear Sister  Love you  I am having a good day at school."

"Dear grandmother  Can I come visit please and I am six.  I am going to first grade one day when kindergarten is over."

She ended up writing to her mom about how she likes it when her mom plays with her.

This was a fun little introduction to letter writing and great practice for the kids on their typing.  Some of them are becoming a bit more familiar with the keyboard, which makes little projects like this happen much quicker.  You can see that our tech person has the keyboards in our lab marked with stickers to show important keys (return, shift, delete, etc) so you can say "return, the blue smiley" and they can easily find it.  All the keyboards are marked the same in the lab.

How do you incorporate technology in your week?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Groundhog says...

Have you used Jayne Gammons' "Lift-the-Flap" writing prompts with your students?  I used them last spring and my students loved them!  I purchased her January and February Special Days pack thinking that a lot of holidays fall in that time frame!

We used the groundhog prompt today.  Students had to write telling me whether they thought that winter was sticking around or that spring was on its way.  After writing, students drew their season prediction then covered it with their groundhog.  You can lift-the-flap (the groundhog) and see the picture.

"Winter is going to staying (stay) because we have more snow"

"Winter is almost done because the snow is melting."  I think he missed the snow storm we had last night; great reason to think spring is on its way though!
 This teacher is hoping Spring is on its way sooner rather than later, but the kiddos are loving the snow. I think they'd love it even more if they could get outside for recess. One day, friends, one day!   Did you do anything to celebrate Groundhog Day?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Over and Under the Snow

We have been talking about winter, and last week our studies included opposites. A book I read that went with both topics was Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner.  I ordered this book through Scholastic at some point in the last couple years had never used it.  Hidden treasure I tell ya!

The beautiful illustrations and words in the story teach students about what they might see in the woods in the winter and what is hiding under the snow.  My students then created some artwork showing at least 1 animal living over the snow and 1 animal living under the snow.  I was out the afternoon they worked on the artwork, but I think my sub did a great job- she is quite fabulous!

They started by drawing the line to separate "over" from "under".  They then drew their trees with a pencil.  After drawing the line and the trees, they traced them with an oil pastel.  Students used liquid watercolors (watered down) to paint the blue of the sky and brown of the "under".  Using 1/4 sheets of paper, student drew their animals, cut them out and glued them in the appropriate "over" or "under" location on their papers.

That is an owl in his nest hanging out in the sky!

Sunday, February 1, 2015