KinderGals: 2019

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Building Independence in the Pocket Chart

Pocket chart...we all have them, but do we use them?  In this blog post I share how I created some activities that could easily build over the months. This method helped kids build independence in this center since the activities follow the same format--just different skills!
Poem of the Month
Each month I write a simple poem with 4 short sentences with matching pictures. The kids sequence the pictures and then match the sentences to each picture.
Then, I reproduced each sentence on a different color of card stock.  I cut apart the sentence. The kids sequence the words over the completed sentence. After a few tries, the kids can probably sequence the cut apart sentence without the completed sentence.
Then, in a center, the kids can cut apart the sentences to make their own book.  This book is a great way to practice fluency.  Invite the kids to keep it in their bag of books for repeated reading!
Find the Hidden Picture
The kids LOVE this game. To play the game, create a set of cards following a theme.  In this example, I created a set of word cards on cloud clip art.  What you put on the cards can change throughout the year, depending on your kids...letters, words, pictures, etc. To play the game, the kids take turns selecting a word to read. After reading the word, they turn over the card to see if the "hidden picture" is behind that word.
Woo Hoo! We found the kite!
As the kids read the words, invite them to locate the word on the recording page. Using the bingo dotter, mark each word.
Word Ladders
This activity is a great way to show kids that you can make new words by changing the letter in the beginning, middle, or ending of the word.  To play the game, the kids sequence the 5 picture cards. Then, using the letters, invite the kids to make the first word.  Now, make the second word. Which letter did you change? Repeat until all of the words are made.
After playing the word ladder game, collect a work sample! Invite the kids to complete the 3 different word ladders on the recording page.
Vowel Sound Sort
Another great activity for the pocket chart is a sort.  It could be beginning sound, ending sound, word families, syllables, etc! For March, we made a vowel sound sort.  The kids name the picture on the pot of gold. Then, they sort the picture under the correct rainbow.
You can do a cut and paste as a follow up to check for understanding.
We used that same sort to make a beginning sound game, too. After sorting these word cards under the correct rainbow, the kids identify the beginning sound for each by placing the correct letter in the word.
Matching Game
Each month we also have some type of matching game.  For this lion/lamb themed game the children name the picture on the lion and then find the lamb with the correct letter to represent the ending sound.
These ideas are from our March Pocket Chart Unit.



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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Building Family Engagement Through Home Activities

Homework should be something that adds stress to the family! It should be a time that families enjoy, build relationships, and foster positive feelings towards learning.  To help this happen, we developed weekly homework bags!  This blog post shares how we organize, manage, and use these monthly themed homework bags.
I teamed up with my good friend Adam Peterson to develop these monthly units. Each month, using general themes from that month, we created 5 math games and 5 literacy games.  In order for all kids to have a bag, we made more than one of each game. Each game is stored in an envelope.
Inside the envelope are all of the needed supplies. 
This includes a directions card that explain to the parents how to use the activity.We also list the goals so that the parents would see that REAL learning is taking place! We make sure that the activities we send home are ones that the kids were familiar with.  Remember, we want this to be positive. The kids should be "showing off" all of their learning! 
All of the cards, game boards, spinners, etc. that are needed are also included.
We made the games in color and black and white. This way, if we were short on color ink, we could just print on colored card stock!
We made a large 2 gallon ziploc bag for each child.  The bag holds their "homework folder" and the game envelope they are assigned for that week.  They take the bag home on Monday and are asked to bring it back on Friday.
The homework folder contains all of the forms parents need to document their work.  It also has a place for parents to address any concerns or to "brag" on how great their kid did!
We use this form to help us keep up with which bags have been assigned to each child. We simply list their names, then under the bag they are assigned we write the date. Once, they return the bag, we cross out that date. We reassign the games for the kids to take home on the following Monday.
These bags are a great way to build fun in learning!  I have parents who tell me many years after I taught their child, how much they LOVED these bags! They provide the parents with a meaningful, engaging way to practice things learned at school.
Not only are kids practicing standards taught at school, they are also developing many social skills. So many kids play games by THEMSELVES on devices. But, by playing games with others, they learn to share, take turns, be a good loser, and offer encouragement!
They are also great for building confidence! Kids are successful, parents are happy! It's a win, win!
Adam and I have created units for each month. This is the March Homework unit, but you can find ALL of the Monthly Homework Units HERE.



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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Who Did It? A Leprechaun Crime Scene

What a fun day of engagement, learning, and excitement! I've often said that we spend our year moving from one special day to the next! These special days keep us motivated! Our Leprechaun Crime Scene Unit is one of our favorites! This blog post shares how we bring excitement, with lots of learning, during the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day.
Each of the 4 days leading up to St. Patrick's Day, the fun begins. Each day we set up a "small" room flip. As the kids enter the room each morning, they are anxious to see if the Leprechaun visited our room last night.
We use our "crime scene" markers to mark the mess made by the Leprechaun. We begin a list of the things the Leprechaun had done to our room. Take pictures for extra fun!
More "crime scenes"!
Each day, the kids become detectives as they follow a directed coloring to identify the Leprechaun that visited the classroom. We have a different one for each day.
Create a special treasure chest of fun! Lock the chest! The task for the week is to complete mystery tasks in order to "earn" keys.  Each group will collect a key for each completed task.  We have a collection of keys, with ONLY one that will unlock the treasure.  On St. Patrick's Day, we use the keys to see if we can unlock the treasure. Each group gets to try their keys! Who will open the treasure?
The Mystery Tasks
Create a set of cards with 4 suits, each suit with 10 numbered cards and one card without a number.
Create an array like above. Lay the 4 cards WITHOUT numbers in a column, face-up. Shuffle the remaining cards and lay them face down.  Kids take turns turning over a card and locating it's position on the number line.  Need more directions? This blog post shares step by step directions for this game!
Give the kids 4 sentences. I printed each sentence on a different color to make it easier! The kids have to solve the mixed up files by getting the words in the correct order to create sentences.
The kids then created their own mixed up files book by cutting and pasting the mixed up sentences.
To play this mystery game, hide the leprechaun word cards around the room. The leprechaun cards each contain a "tiny" word. The kids find the cards around the room. They use their magnifying glass to make the word larger so that they can read the word. 
Then, they find the correct leprechaun on the recording page, and write the mystery sight word.
To play this game, the kids follow the footprints to solve the cvc words. The words can be "real" or "nonsense". Invite one child to lay out 3 footprints. The other child, walks on the footprints as they blend the sounds. Write the word on the recording page.
To solve the mystery puzzles, the kids have to discover the counting pattern to put the puzzles together.
When playing this game the kids are trying to solve the mystery word.  Pick a mystery word. Add a picture to the front of paper bags. Inside each bag, place a magnetic letter needed to make the mystery word.  Invite the children to "feel" the letter in the bag. Guess the letter. Pull the letter out of the bag to check.  
As children pull out the letter, they record it under the correct picture on the recording page. Can you read the mystery word?
I teamed up with my good friend Adam Peterson to put all of these ideas into a unit. The ideas, photos, and directions are included in our Leprechaun Crime Scene Unit.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Fun Ways to Celebrate Groundhog's Day

Groundhog's Day and kindergarten go together like peanut butter and jelly. Ever think that the kindergarten year moves from one special day to the next? Yeah, maybe!  But, they give us a great opportunity to have engaging, rich activities in both literacy and math. They are a novelty! Kids remember them! Here are some of the fun activities we have done in the past to celebrate our friend, the groundhog!
Groundhog Paper Bag Craftivity 
& Non-fiction Writing
To make this fun groundhog, we cut the bottom off of a lunch sized paper bag. Then, we cut a slit up the front of the bag. Added paper arms, legs, and head.
 Next, we used a tree map to collect information about groundhog's. We read lots of informational text for our new learning! Tree Maps are a PERFECT beginning for non-fiction writing. 
Once the tree map is complete, the children can simply write "Groundhogs can____" and then pick something from the list.  Repeat for each of the columns on the tree map. Some children will add more text, but this provides great support for those that need it.
We also added a page for the kids to draw and label a diagram of a groundhog.
Once the book and the craftivity are complete, simply glue the booklet inside of the paper bag to publish your book! What a fun display for the hallway!
Animal Covering Sorting
 Another fun activity was to collect fun animal clip art to make a set of cards. Make a game board with fur/hair, scales, and feathers sections. Invite the children to sort the pictures according to the categories into the different sections. Once the kids are finished sorting, give each child an Animal Coverings Tree Map. Invite them to stretch out the names of the animals as they write them into the correct columns.
Groundhog is a Compound Word
 Look through your clip art and find pictures that can make a new compound word! For example, we found a cow and a boy---then we found a cowboy! Kids find the matches to make the new words.
 If you are adding this as a center, you might want to consider adding this recording opportunity. The kids glue the pictures into the booklet. Then, they stretch out each of the words.
Groundhog Cupcakes
Cooking is so much fun! We cook every Friday! The kids are always so excited, and isn't that what we want? Cooking lends itself to soooooo many skills. Here are a few that we did with this fun groundhog cupcake.
We always start with a cookbook. The kids have to read the text to see how to make the cupcakes. What a great way to show children the REASON behind procedural writing. 
Once they are finished making the cupcakes, we gave our kids a set of picture cards. They sequenced the cards to tell how to make the cupcakes. Instead of attaching the pictures to a long strip of paper, you might want to try this. We invited our kids to glue one picture on each page of this "How to Make Groundhog Cupcakes" booklet.  Then, they cut off one sentence at a time. They cut between the words. Now, they need to manipulate the words to make the sentence. What a great way to teach sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a period. AND....how to manipulate the words until the sentence makes sense!
Do You Like Warm or Cold Weather Best?
We invited our kids to make these fun faces---either dressed for summer or dressed for winter. We had this out for them to do in the morning as they came in. During our math block, we gave each child their face craft. Then, we made our graph to answer the question. We talked about whether we wanted the groundhog to see his shadow OR not!
Groundhog Measurement
We learned that a groundhog's tail was 6 inches in length. I made these rulers and invited the kids to go around the room to see if they could find other things that were 6 inches long!
All of these activities are from our Hooray for Groundhog's Day for only $5! 
We also used our Groundhogs Non-fiction book from our February Guided Reading Unit. To say the kids love these books doesn't even begin to explain their excitement. I wrote the book at three different levels of text, but all three levels have the same pictures and same non-fiction feature. 
You can find this book, along with 4 other February titles, in our February Guided Reading Unit.
Want to know more about how we use non-fiction text during guided reading? You can read all about it in this blog post.
Want to Celebrate Groundhog's just for one day? Then, this is the plan for you. You can grab it for FREE below!
Or...if you want to do just a little bit each day over the week, then this plan is for you. Scroll to the bottom to find both!


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