Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Family Portraits

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Todd Parr inspired art related to The Feelings Book.  Mr. Parr will be visiting our building in November, and my students and I are quite excited.  We are now in our family unit and are enjoying many of his family books.  This week we have been drawing our families with Todd Parr's artwork as an inspiration.  I wanted you to see different students' work, so the pictures you will see below in each step will be from a variety of students.

I worked with 2 students at a time on this project.  We started by counting how many people are in the child's family.  I then referred students to Parr's artwork and help them draw their families.  I am not an artist, so it is a minor miracle that they look like people!

After students drew their families, I traced their lines with permanent marker.

Once the tracing was finished, I invited students back to color their families.  Markers are available to make the drawings pop.

Finally, I used masking tape to tape them to a cardstock-weight mat to finish them off.

These will be hung in the hallway next week as we have Grandparents Day.  Our family unit fell at a great time this year.  I'm loving their work!!

Students were also invited to bring a family picture to display in our classroom library.  I have been collecting frames for directions and things over the past couple years, so as students bring a picture, they get to choose the frame the photo goes in.  We have about 3/4 of the photos back now.  Those who do not bring a photo will get to draw their family to add to a frame.  We might even just make a color copy of their work hanging in the hallway to frame in the room.

How do you celebrate families in your classroom?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Letters {September 27}

I'm linking up with Michelle from Big Time Literacy for Sunday Letters.

I hope you will pop over to Michelle's post and read others' Sunday Letters.  Have a great week!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Independent Reading: Beginning of the Year

At the beginning of the year, independent reading can be challenging for kindergarten children.  Their word knowledge is generally limited, and their stamina is not long.  I started my independent reading on the first day of school last year and loved the results.  This year, for some reason, I was not on top of that.  A lot of changes happened at the beginning of our school year, and I guess I just didn't feel ready.

Well, we started this week, and I think my kiddos are in love!  We started off by taking advantage of some beautiful late summer/early fall weather and reading outside.

We are able to go about 4 minutes, which I am totally thrilled with this early in kindergarten.  I had a couple students today begging to read longer- that makes my teacher heart happy!  I hope this class develops a love for books as much as last year's class had.  

Today a couple kiddos had the opportunity to get up and share a book with the class.  Those who did not get a turn today are anxiously awaiting their turn.  Our independent reading is off to a great start!

How do you instill a love of books and reading in your students?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Our Feelings Book

Last week I shared a little about what we were doing to in our room to learn about feelings.  One of the things we were doing was creating an iBook inspired by Todd Parr's feelings book.  Our book is now complete and published, and I couldn't wait to share the link with you.

I think my kiddos' art came out great, and they were so proud of their work.  You can read a little bit about the process to completing this book in my previous post.  Here are a few examples of completed work.

You can download our free book on your Apple device or view the PDF.  Thanks for checking it out!  Have a you tried digital books with your students?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Focusing on Feelings

We have been focusing on feelings in our room this week.  Many times, it is difficult for young children to express their feelings appropriately and even more difficult to "read" the feelings of others.

We read Todd Parr's book, The Feelings Book, and are working to create our own book about feelings.  Students are choosing a feeling then creating Todd Parr inspired art sharing their feeling.  We are using KidPix to create the pictures and type the sentences.  These will be exported to the desktop, emailed to my account then put into Book Creator to create a book.  I will share link as soon as the book is complete!

Because it is so early in the year and our book is going to be published in the iBook store, I am writing the sentence students dictate to me on a white board then they are typing it.  It is great typing practice for them!  Here a few pictures of them working.

The another thing we've been doing is a little fill-in-the-blank feelings book I made for students to focus on what the feeling "looks like".  On each page, students fill in a feeling word and draw that feeling on a blank face.  A second option for differentiation is included where students write when they feel that way.

What do you do to help your young students understand the feelings of them and others?

Monday, September 14, 2015

September Directed Drawings

At the end of last week, we started working on a directed drawing from Jennifer White at First Grade Blue Skies.  I purchased her directed drawing pack during the teacher appreciation sale last spring because we do not have an art teacher and I think my students need some art instruction.  My art skills are shaky at best, so I need a little help along the way, and this pack was perfect!  The instructions are easy for me to follow as I lead, and students are excited to see the project come together.

We started off this year with the bus project included in the packet.  I did each direction step-by-step on the SMARTboard, and students completed each step one at a time after watching me complete the step.  Their direction following was pretty good for the third week of kindergarten!

After completing the drawing with pencil, students used a black crayon to trace all the lines.  I then put the paint out one color at a time for students to add color to their work.

Below I am excited to share some of students' completed work!

What is your favorite art activity to do with your kiddos?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Little Number Line Fun

I know this is not a new idea, but my kiddos LOVED this!  On Friday, our given math lesson was to count objects to 5.  My students and I did the fluency activities that were prescribed in the lesson, completed the exit ticket as a "pre-assessment" (which everyone did great with) and moved on.

I gave each partnership a number line and a small bear counter.  Students sat back to back with no peeking.  One partner placed the bear on the number line and the other partner had to figure out what number the bear was on.  This started off a little rocky with students just guessing numbers over and over again, even after a couple demonstrations.  Once I found a partnership asking and answering questions back and forth, I had them do another demonstration.  Things went much better after this demonstration!

Here is an example (bear is on number 7):
Student 1: "Is the bear on 3?"
Student 2: "No, it is higher."
Student 1: "Is the bear on 5?"
Student 2: "No, it is even higher than five."
Student 1: "Is the bear on 10?"
Student 2: "No, it is lower than 10."
Student 1: "Is the bear on 8?"
Student 2: "No, it is one less than 8."
Student 1: "The bear is on 7!"

After a little while, I started hearing students give "number line" type clues such as "it is ____ lower than" or "count up 3 more".  I was floored.  They were getting it!  Was it loud in my room?  You bet it was, but they were learning and having a blast.

This game is going to be added to our math center this week, but students will be facing one another with a barrier rather than back to back because centers can be a little bit loud anyway.

What other fun, simple games do you suggest?  It looks like we are going to be game lovers this year!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Getting to Know Our School Project

 In addition to getting to know others in our class, we wanted to learn about staff members we are in contact with frequently too.

We decided to interview 10 staff members: principal, secretary, kindergarten aide (we share 1 aide among 10 teachers- she basically helps with behavior), reading coach, lunch aide, custodian, librarian, music teacher, gym teacher and technology teacher.  As a class, we formulated 2 questions per person.  Students worked with their partner (we use partners all day) to interview their assigned staff member, take a photo of the staff member and use Chatter Pix to record information about their staff member.

Prior to interviewing, I met with each partnership to review their 2 questions and decide who was going to be the photographer and who would be the "voice recorder".

The kids LOVED this project and have asked to watch the videos again and again.  The video below is our K aide- she was such a good sport and agreed to me sharing her video.

This was a relatively easy project to start off the year with.  The kids were very engaged and involved in the process.  They learned how to use the camera on the iPad as well as the Chatter Pix app.  They thought it was so cool to hear the staff members answer their questions and were quite excited to go show them the finished products.

We shared this project by e-mailing all the videos to the building staff to share with other students so they can learn about staff members too.  Selected videos will also be shared on our district's Facebook page.

What projects do you do with your students at the beginning of the year?