Thursday, 28 June 2012

Watermellon Activities

Years ago I had a website called play2learnprintables.  It was a place where I put all of the literacy or math centers I made to keep track of them.  I shared them online.  I'm going to pull them here so you can have easier access to them!

Print this grid to use for a learning activity with your students. Children use a die to roll a number. They then place a small object like a foam piece on the appropriate number of images. Great for preschool, daycare, kindergarten or primary teachers! Think about picnics sun and watermellon!

Play this as you would the traditional tic tac toe game. This simple activity helps teach children higher order thinking skills!

Teach young children the days of the week using these fun thematic cards!

Cut out the cards and laminate! Students then read the phonetic or sight words to sort onto the appropriate mat. Use the large letter tiles to help build the word before sorting. To self check, keep a library pocket on the back of each card with a copy of the correct words on a card (the template has "in" and "not in" words grouped together)

In the Word/Not in the Word

Cut the cards below on the black line.  Children count the seeds on each watermellon and pin a clothespin on the correct number. For self checking, place a sticker on the back of the correct number so the student can flip and check!

Watermellon Count Clothespin Game

Use black beans or foam pieces as seeds (some spray paint lima beans). Match the correct number of seeds to each watermelon!

Number Words

Use black beans or foam pieces as seeds (some spray paint lima beans). Match the correct number of seeds to each watermelon!

Watermellon Digit

Print two copies of this activity. Turn the cards upside down and students flip to find matches! These high frequency words help encourage reading fluency!
watermelon concentration

And finally,  here's a book for your individual students. 

watermellon flip book

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Journal Writing on the FIRST DAY (Kindergarten)

A few years ago I read KidWriting by Eileen Feldgus and Isabel Cardonick.  It shaped the way I teach writing to children in kindergarten and I wanted to share a few ideas with you.

Here is a picture of the chart we used on the first day.  I used this when teaching junior and senior kindergarten combined.  This means I had three year olds in my class. YES!  They wrote in their journal on the first day too!  As suggested in the book, I asked the little ones to raise their hand if they knew how to write. Many were cautious and many reluctant to raise their hand.  I let them know before we started the lesson that ALL of them already DID know how to write and I was going to show them how!

First I show them straight line writing. I draw it on the chart and then encourage my kindergartens to follow with me using magic writing. We start at the left and draw a straight line in the air  and make a dramatic "POOF!" for the period at the end.  We continue progressing in difficulty through wiggly writing, zig zag writing, loopty loop writing, things that look like letters, letters that we know, listening for sounds and then grown up writing!

The children are then encouraged to head to the tables and write at a level that is appropriate for them.  I remind them that if they can writing using sounds, it would be just CRAAAAZY to write using loopty loop writing, or if they can write using wiggly writing then WHY would they write using straight line writing... I punctuate this discussion with my best gasp for effect so that my kindergarteners try their best and I don't have someone who can write phonetically writing using zig zag writing.

This chart stays up all year on my writing board.  We refer to it over and over again during writers workshop throughout the year.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Success Criteria for Cubbies (Kindergarten)

In our kindergarten classroom we have cubbies.  There are days, early in the school year, where you can't see the floor!  Coats, boots, shoes, backpacks, lunchpails, extra clothes and papers are strewn anywhere and everywhere.  In theory, that nice looking cubby with a cute sticker label for each child would be EASY to keep tidy, right?  Ha ha... I wish I took a picture of the "before" cubbies.  I don't have a photo, but here is what they look like

In order to keep them neat, I involved the students in making a chart that included everything we needed to think about when we were leaving our cubby area.  We brainstormed ideas and this is what we came up with.

We refer to the chart over and over and over again early in the year and it works WONDERS!  When I did the chart in class, I drew the pictures beside the sentences. Later, I took pictures and glued them on to make it more "real" to them.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Bang Song (sight words)

Several years ago an online friend named Lori introduced me to "The Popcorn Song."    It is sung to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and is the best invention yet to help kids learn their sight words.  Since learning about the song, and sharing it at a kindergarten meeting way back when, many teachers in our board use this and all see the success! 
Every morning we sing this song in fun ways, and throughout the day, children are excited to see a popcorn word in shared writing, in a story book, on the smart board, or hidden inside a big word!  I LOVED the popcorn song SO much but wanted to expand upon it and use music to help my little ones learn ALL of the pre-primer Dolch words.

About five years ago, I came up with a NEW song that would help my students do just that.  I included in it a FEW of the words from the popcorn song, but wanted to make sure that every word from the list was there.  I tried to make it catchy, and used rhyming words to help with the flow.  We sing this song to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

Here it is!  Please feel free to share, but PLEASE link back to my post here as I'm new to this blog thing and would like to get some followers!  Thanks so much!

Click here for a printable version to make your own Bang Song!

Happy Reading!

Visible Thinking

To teach the concept of visible thinking to my kindergarteners I showed them a picture of a group of three objects. 

Ask your students to tell you what they see.  You'll quickly get a clear response.  "I see three teddybears."  The lesson comes when you ask your students to tell you how they KNOW there are three teddybears.

I did this lesson with balls, and got so many answers:

"I just know."
"Because I'm smart."
"Because there ARE three."
"It was in my brain."
"I'm ready for grade one."
"My eyes told me."

I was searching for the response that suggested my students could EXPLAIN their thinking.  Ultimately one little girl told me:

"I counted them"

It was then that I gasped dramatically and my little ones got so excited.  It took, literally ten minutes to get to this answer.  I explained that I needed them to pretend that I didn't know ANYTHING at all ... that I had never HEARD of "three" before and they had to explain it to me. 

Ultimately, we figured out that visible thinking is taking our thoughts out of our head so that other people can see them.  NO,  we aren't pulling our thoughts out through any holes (as one suggested)... but we ARE sharing them with others through writing, drawing, dramatizing or creating. 

Here is the chart we came up with!

My students thought it was great fun posing to show me they were thinking!  We had this as an anchor chart the last month of school.  It really prompted the students to elaborate on the "WHY" behind what they know and helped them to think more meaningfully.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Accessible Class Lists

We're always looking for class lists to use for record keeping, or to keep track of who has brought in what for trips etc.  I use file folders to give my lists a place to hang in my room.  I like having these out of my cabinet so that I can grab them easily or ask a volunteer to grab one without having to root through my filing system.

Simply use a file folder and tape up the sides to make it into a pouch.  Put a label on it (everything has to have a label!  ha ha) and use double sided carpet tape to tape it to the wall.  Those cinder block walls don't like anything hanging on them, but carpet tape seems to do the trick.

Here's the finished product!

Friday Files

For years I fumbled with organizing papers to send home with my students.  I have always used a Friday File system where I'd send home work on the last day of the week. I used to use magazine boxes labelled with each student's name, but these took up a lot of room (especially considering I had TWO kindergarten classrooms and needed sometimes 50 boxes. I'd simply put a label with each child's name on the box (turned around) and a cute sticker. 

This year I tried an idea I'd seen others use.  I bought a package of hanging folders and a file folder box from Zellers.
I threw it all together and printed up a plain label and glued it onto cardstock.  I had one for my red class and one for my blue class.  Next year I'll only have ONE class... so it will be much easier to keep track of!

I simply file childrens' work or notices that come from the office in this bin as they come to me.  Also filed in the labelled hanging folders are a "Friday File" for that child. This is simply made of a pocket folder At the of the week, I gather up the contents of each hanging folder, put it in the Friday File and send it home. 

Packing Up!

I wish I had taken pictures of my kindergarten room before I started packing it up two weeks ago.  We still have four more days of school, but each day during center time my little ones have been helping me to get the room ready for summer! 

We wash the toys ourselves during free choice play!  If only the enthusiasm for washing would extend beyond the primary years!  I set up the water table with a timer beside it and dump one bucket of toys in every ten minutes.  Four students eagerly vie to participate!  It's so cute watching them vigorously scrub the toys they played with all year!  I know our wonderful custodian just loves us as I call for him each day to mop up the pool of water on the floor!  He comes to us happily, so we're all good! We do appreciate him!

I'm heading in today and I'll take a picture of the assembly set up (no kids in the pic, sadly).  It will give you an idea!

What else have I tried?  At my old school I would bring out four or five bins each day during the last week and ask parents to take one home to throw in their dishwasher!  They get super clean, and it means less work for me... but I really love getting the kids involved and the washing center does the trick!

If only my own children were as enthusiastic about dishwashing?!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Grade One, Here I Come!

After 14 years of teaching Kindergarten,  I am about to say goodbye to my days with the smallest ones in the school and move on up to grade one!  I'm SO excited!  While I loved Kindergarten for a very long time, and still do... I'm ready to move up and explore the world of teaching and learning from a new perspective!

This blog starts from the very beginning!  Join me!

Grade One, Here I Come!