Sunday, January 31, 2016

Learning About Motion

Last week we spent some time learning about how things move.  My kiddos were very interested in this topic!

I created a little fill-in-the-blank book for them to focus our discussions.  They love these little books as it gives them something to share with their families, and I love them because it gets them talking about our learning.

We started off by learning what force and motion are then talked about different ways things can move.

We practiced using a Venn Diagram to share things that you push and things that you pull.  I was concerned that they would struggle with this, so I googled ideas for each category and had a little cheat sheet ready to go for myself.  Oh my goodness, was I ever wrong!  They blew me away with their ideas.  While some of their answers could have gone in different places, they were able to justify their answers, so we went with it.

We were going to build cars, but it was going to be a busy week with other things going on, so I found some little wooden cars for them to paint.  We built a ramp with wooden blocks and a dry erase board.  The kids discussed what would happen as the ramp got higher.  We marked where their cars stopped after each "run" so they could discuss what happened.  These cars will be saved to use on our community unit as well.

Our 100th Day was Friday, so I wanted to incorporate our learning about movement with the 100th Day.  I made a "menu" of 6 different activities that we did for 100 seconds each. Students rotated in small groups to each activity.  When the timer went off, students looked at the "menu" with the group and decided whether they pushed, pulled or both to complete the activity.  After all activities were complete, we went back to the room to discuss what they recorded.

Kicking the ball (at the wall)
Dribbling a ball
Filling out their recording sheet between rotations
Completed recording sheet sample
Activities included: riding a scooter (we used the kind you sit on), jumping rope, shooting baskets, passing a ball, dribbling a ball and kicking a ball.  Our gym teacher suggested I use playground balls for dribbling and shooting rather than basketballs as they had more control over them.  For kicking and passing, we used dodge balls as they are a little more flexible.

My kiddos loved this activity; it kept their interest because they were not at each place very long, and they were very engaged in their discussions about what movement it took to do each activity.  In the room, they were able to give reasons to support their responses with the support of their groups.

You can download the recording sheet free.  I hope this is something you can use not just on the 100th day of school.  

This week we will finish our discussion of movement and start to talk about maps and community.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five For Friday {January 29}

I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday.  This week is "5 things that happened on the 100th day" as today was our 100th day of school.

During our reading centers, each child received 4 or 5 squares of paper.  They were to write one word per paper, which would give us 100 words when finished.  They glued papers to a couple sheets of poster board.  I loved that it was fun and bright.

We have been learning about how things move with this little book, so I wanted to incorporate this into our 100th Day.  We went to the gym and participated in 6 different activities for 100 seconds spent on each activity.  After completing each activity, groups decided whether they pushed, pulled or both at the station.  They had a clipboard with a recording sheet that they took to each station.  

Kicking (a ball at the wall)
Deciding whether they had to push, pull or both after each activity to record on the clipboard.

We built with 100 cups and made 100 art using a black 1 and two 0s.

On the right are seeds that grew into a little plant.

We have been working on handwriting, so students practiced today in 10 frames.  Each letter was practiced 5-10 times in the 10 frame.  They ended up writing 100 letters neatly.  It was a fun way to practice on the 100th Day.

I cut apart a 100 chart and students put them back together again.  I had 5 at the station and each was a different color to make it easier to sort the pieces.  We also worked to write our numbers to 100 on adding machine tape.  

Adventures in Literacy Land is having an Amazon gift card giveaway, so be sure to check that out!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Five for Friday {January 22}

I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  Mark your calendars, folks, this is two weeks in a row I've had it together to get this post up!

This week I wanted to share 5 "things kindergarten kids say".  These things entertain me on a daily basis.  My kiddos always keep me on my toes, but they also make each day interesting and so much fun.

We learned about space this week. During writing time, this conversation occurred:

Student: "Miss Hennon, I think the sun is really important."

Me: "I would agree."

Student: "It is because according to this book (pulls book from center), the sun gives us heat and light.  I think I am going to ask my parents to take me to the library to get some more books about space."

We were  filling in a blank on our space book, and a student said to me:  "I know what this is called!  We are going to use context clues to figure out what goes in the blank."  We use an online program, and he had a lesson about context clues.  I was a bit shocked when he used it in the context of the day.

While working on measurement in math with my student teacher, they were pouring water into different containers and talking about how it is still the same about of water.

Student Teacher: "Do you see how they are both filled to the 2nd line?  This means they are equal."

Student 1: "Well, technically this one is a little below the line so they aren't actually equal."

Student 2: Woah, that was a big word."

At the dramatic play center, students helped us make a cardboard box rocket.  I have a little astronaut play outfit with a helmet and some "moon sand" (kinetic sand) out for them to use after they "land on the moon."  One little guy said "So, how do I get the rocket to take me to the moon?"  We had a little chat about using our imagination.  I think he was a little disappointed, but enjoyed playing there once his imagination kicked in.

It was snowing huge, beautiful snowflakes on Wednesday.  They were the hot topic of my math lesson (and not at all related to my math lesson).  After finishing math, I decided to do one of my favorite winter activities: taking a closer look at snowflakes.  In partners, students take a black piece of paper and magnifying glass outside as the snow is falling.  One partner collects snow (falling from the sky) on their black paper while the other uses the magnifying glass to take a closer look at the snowflakes.  After examining some snowflakes, we catch some with our mouths.  My favorite quotes: "This is awesome." "Wow, this is so cool." "I caught one up my nose." "I caught one on my hand but it melted before you could see it."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Literacy Land

I'm excited to share that I am joining the women of Adventures in Literacy Land this year.  My first post was today.  I shared some information about how I use technology in literacy.  Check it out here.

Don't forget about the TpT sale tonight and tomorrow (Thursday).  My kids' favorite thing in my store is the fill-in-the-blank books.  I've done a few different topics: animal characteristics, space, feelings, human body and seasons.  Check them out in my store.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Five For Friday {January 15}

I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly Five for Friday linky.

Last week I introduced the new "research center."  My kiddos love it!  I put a small table with 2 stools out, a basket of pencils and crayons, some nonfiction books related to our theme and graphic organizers.  The kids are encouraged to visit the center to read and write about what interests them.  I'm excited to see all they discover as the topics change throughout the day.

We have been using Deanna Jump & Deedee Wills' Guiding Readers units since November.  I love that they engage my kiddos and help them grow as readers.  We have loved our 2 January stories thus far: A Snowy Day and Snowmen at Night.  

Prompt: Have you ever made something that did not last?  Write about what happened.
Response: "My playdoh did not last because my brother left it out on the table."

We also used A Smiling Teacher's Pattern Block centers.  My kiddos love anything with building and games.  This week we made the snowman to go with our reading of Snowmen at Night.

We broke out our Dash robot from Wonder Workshop as well.  I had students work in partners for their first time with this.  Working on Tynker and the app "The Foos" prior to pulling out Dash was certainly a benefit.

Our theme this week is outer space.  One of my kiddos requested to learn more about space.  She chose a friend and we learned about constellations by reading a book about constellations.  The girls then chose 3 constellations and drew them on the outside of a large box.  My student teacher took a string of lights and poked them through the box to create the 3 constellations inside the box.  I printed photos off Google images of each constellation.  Students took turns one at a time going in the box to "view" the constellations.  

Thanks for catching up with my kiddos and I.  Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Reflections on Student Success

As we begin 2016, we also completed our first semester of kindergarten on Friday (hard to believe!).  I've been thinking a lot about what contributes to my students' success.  I wanted to share 5 things with you that I think have made a difference in their learning.

1.  Small Groups
We use a "detailed lesson plan" curriculum in reading and just adopted Eureka Math (EngageNY).  I feel that small groups really help me to get to know my students and best meet their needs, so I've decided that it is important enough to figure out how to make it work with what I am given to use.

I meet with my 5 reading groups daily for about 11-12 minutes.  During this time, everyone else is working at reading centers.  They rotate to each center daily.  I have 4 math groups, which I also meet with daily.  I teach the core lesson during my small group and use the other math centers to review previously taught skills.  Fluency practice is done full group.

2. Games
My students love games!  Anything I can get them to practice using a game is a positive.  Our favorite game is the many versions of Spot-It that we have in our room.  We use the alphabet and numbers/shapes ones most frequently during small groups.  I also just purchased Super Genius from the same manufacturer (BlueOrange).  This one really made them think, but in the end, they loved it!

I've also found that games are a great way for students to work on critical thinking skills.  I've added more games to different centers to engage students not only in academics but in social skills as well.  I've learned that I really can't go wrong with a game!  I plan to do a more in depth post soon to share more about some of the games that we play on a fairly regular basis.

3.  HeidiSongs
I have been using HeidiSongs for 4 years, and the results have been amazing!  Our curriculum uses a sight word list that is not Dolch or Fry, so it is difficult to tell you about the results, but my kiddos are so strong in sight words thanks in big part to these DVDs.  They sing and dance their way to learning new words on a daily basis.  I fit these in daily as I clean up from breakfast.  I have to wash tables and usually have to clean up whatever they dumped into the sink that shouldn't be there (this gets better after the first few weeks of school).  My kids know how to manipulate the DVDs and I can call out words for them to sing along to.  Our principal purchased 3 DVDs for each teacher in our building last year after seeing the successes!

4. "Teacher Technology"
I am a better teacher thanks in part to TpT, Pinterest, Instagram and Blogs.  These resources provide me with ideas on a daily basis and encourage me to be a better teacher.  With fresh ideas and learning about strategies that work, my students learn more as a result.  Thank-you for all the ideas and inspiration!

5.  Kids' Interests
Last year I started asking my students "what do you want to learn about?"  Incorporating their interests whenever possible has lead to more learning, in my opinion.  For example, one of my students this year wanted to learn about unicorns.  I thought 'how am I going to make this work?'  This past week when we learned about winter and cold weather animals, the narwhal, "unicorn of the sea" made an appearance and that student was thrilled!  I tell the kids: "I included this activity..." or "We are learning about this..." because _____ asked to learn about it.  They have much more buy-in and think it is cool to see who wanted to learn about it.  Even if it is just something added to a center, I think the kids backgrounds and interests make a different in their learning.  

When you think about your teaching, what has made a difference for your kiddos?