KinderGals: August 2015

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Teacher Week On Blog Hoppin!

Since I retired, I have slowly gone through 30 years worth of “teacher hoarding.” You know, those things that we might need so we just can’t throw them away?  Over the last 3 years, I have either given away or thrown away a lot of stuff!!  Once I retired, I admit, I had an emotional attachment to many of the things, thus making this process very difficult. Like how cool was it when I found these photographs of my son Tyler that I once used in a lesson to show how babies grow? This was when he was in kindergarten!!!
Or how about these photographs of my children role-playing “ Little Red Hen”, taken more than 20 years ago,  that I had made into a handwritten book. 20 years ago we did a lot of “playing” in kindergarten.
Soooo many of those activities have gone by the wayside in many rooms in sake of preparing kids for the “test”! But stop and look at each chapter in this book and you will once again see the power of those activities that grow smarter kids!!!
Marcia says, “When learning is physical, it is more motivating, engaging, and likely to be extended.” Here are a few ideas using these strategies in our classrooms to teach math concepts:
I taught my kids this song “Five Cute Dalmatians” sung to the tune of “Three Little Angels.” We used the puppets that I made from dog food scoops (I made a set for Megan’s room using the tiny dust pans that come with the little brooms.” After singing the song just for fun, we pulled the puppets back out during math. We were working on the idea of “one less.”
I made a set of chef puppets using these splatter guards that I picked up at the dollar store. We used the puppets to sing our song “ Five Little Chefs” sung to the tune “Three Little Elephants.”
While 5 kids were role playing, other kids were manipulating chef clip art as they sang along. We were working on combinations for the number 5.
CAUTION: One thing that really made me think that was in Marcia’s book was this quote: “Although students can find role plays or enactments very engaging, they can take a great deal of time and are not as effective if the teacher does not have students explain the important concept enacted.” So here’s what I think that means…We must be sure that the standard is clear and evident. That the children are able to state what they are learning and that all are aware of the learning outcome.
We used these frog hats to role play the song “Five Little Speckled Frogs”. I made a log from brown towels for the kids to sit on as we sang. Marcia’s book states: “It can be a very engaging and highly effective activity to have a group of students act out or role play a word problem.”
I also found these bag clips that I could use. I made each child a set of frogs and a log with the recording page so that all children would be engaged. You can get that as a freebee (here).
The dramatic play center is a great place to teach math concepts through playing store. Here the kids are counting pennies onto tens frames to make purchases. A great way to develop that mental image of a number, develop 1 to 1 counting, to identify how many more to make a ten, to compose and decompose numbers 11-19……
And here are a few examples of using these strategies to teach language arts:
How fun to retell “The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” by wearing the hats and crawling into the old lady’s mouth that I spray painted on the sheet?!?! To say they loved it would be an understatement!
Then, we can role play the story using our reader’s theater script!
How about using these splatter guard puppets for role playing “The Three Bears?” So why does the brain like this? “Role plays use visual, spatial, linguistic, and bodily modalities, and, therefore, not only access students’ emotions but also enable students to comprehend at much deeper levels than a lecture would.”
Here two kids are retelling the story “The Mitten” using a mitten they made. Or as in the photo above, I just stapled a mitten to a plastic bag and the kids used the pieces to retell. “Stories not only allow students’ brains to relax but also they help them have an easier time of retaining the newly acquired material.” Teaching children that authors often sequence characters is a special order that  help us retell a story, is a strategy that kids can use on future stories, not just for the sake of retelling this particular story.
Here’s where the kids use the Peter puppet to retell the story. “Children naturally develop a sense of story and the brains fascination with story continues throughout their lives.”
Love, love, love these puppets one of my little cuties made in the art center. Then, they made up a story to go with the puppets!
And here are a few example of using this strategy to  teach science.
During science we were learning about the balance of life in the ocean. This game of predator/prey helped the kids to understand that concept. To play, some children stood behind the wall and threw “predators” at the “prey” in the ocean. If you were hit, you had to leave the ocean.
We role played being whales as we shook our film cans trying to find the our family. I put different items in the cans, making 4 of each. As the kids shook their can, they found their family and hooked elbows. (Whales can locate their families through the sounds they make.)
chapter 14-15

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Leader In Me: Peek at My Week Family Style

Have you heard of the 7 Habits book? Megan’s new school is a “Leader in Me School”. Each year they pick one of the habits to be their focus. This year they picked Habit #2: Begin with the end in mind. We did this goal setting activity with the kids. There is a link to the reproducible and pattern in the post.

Here’s what we did:
Day 1: What is a goal? What would I like to see happen by the end of 2nd grade? The kids made a list of possible goals.
Day 2: How can you make it happen? The kids each picked one of their goals. Then, they had to think of three things they could do to make it happen.
Day 3: We made the craftivity to hold our goals.
You can get the reproducibles and the head pattern here as a free download.
Now, back to kindergarten. Here are the plans we are using in Kristi’s room this week!
We are starting our new unit, Family.  Reader’s and Writer’s…just keep on keepin’ on! We are really working on building that stamina and encouraging the children to work longer. We aren’t pulling small groups, instead we are moving around the room making notes about what we see happening. We are also doing some abc assessments and a few running records on some of the kids who we think are actually reading!
Can I just say….adding the mini lesson before Centers has made a HUGE difference. This has worked great to scaffold our kids to become more independent in centers. It has also helped to remind us to SLOW down! It keeps us from getting ahead of ourselves!
In Math we are beginning our unit on shapes. We really didn’t do a unit the first two weeks. So we are excited to get going! Last year we started the small group DI lessons! So we are excited. Super happy that we can plan one activity, tweek it and do that same activity with all of our groups. You can download a copy of these lesson plans here.
Here are the resources we used this week to help  us plan.
Now hop on over to Deedee’s blog and see what others are doing this week.
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Peek at My Week: More Back to School and Literacy Centers

What causes you the most stress with centers? I bet, if you are like me, it isn’t finding enough activities! There are tons of ideas out there floating around. So…you prep your centers and you are ready to go. They look good, you’re proud of them. You bring them out and…’s a disaster. I mean you feel like just crying. All that hard work, and it didn’t even work! I bet if you are like me, at some point you have felt that.  So what is it that makes centers so challenging? The Management!  So here are a few tips that might make your center time a little easier to manage!

  • •A center is never a new teach.
  • •Centers practice previously taught standards.
  • •Center activities have been taught in a mini-lesson.
  • •Sometimes an activity requires further explanation in a small group setting before it can become a center activity.
  • •Some centers are “have to” activities. These are activities that you expect all children to complete. These are the ones that maintain previous learning.
  • •Some centers are “can do” activities. These are activities that the children may choose from once they finish their “have to” center.
  • •“Can dos” are open ended and student led.
  • •“Can do” activities are modeled in mini lessons.
  • •Children may create their own learning in the “can do” centers.

Here are a few of the “have-to activities from this week.


We sorted the letters in our names.


We drew picture cards and then added detail to our pictures.


We found two pictures that started with the same sound. All these ideas, and that all important management component, are in this resource.

So here are some other things going on this week:


This week we are introducing the word family journal (for some kids this is just rhyming practice), practicing with the abc chart, and starting the book of lists.

We are still developing that all important stamina! They get tired out pretty quickly. I’ve added in some guided reading books. We aren’t going to pull some groups quite yet. But, we are going to use these whole group as read a louds and start that “Look at the picture.” strategy as well as introducing the concept of a label. This will be great for both reading and writing!


We are going to concentrate on those center time mini lessons! These are really super important. This is where we are laying that foundation for the rest of the year!


The kids are still free exploring some of the manipulatives.  I’,m just rotating them through these for now. We are pulling small groups to teach some of the basic games that will become our “can do” math centers. I love these easy to play centers! We are also doing some basic assessments…..I know, I was going to share those this week, but I just don’t have them ready quite yet! So excited to be partnering up with ESGI to get some math assessments to match the units Michele and I wrote for our small group math units! (You can find a link to them in my sidebar.)

Here are the resources I used this week to plan:



Have a great week! Be sure and hop over to Deedee’s blog to see what others are doing this week.

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