KinderGals: November 2013

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Planning Activities For Deeper Understanding

Can you finish this sentence? “Activities like…” As I was reflecting back on my career of 30+ years, some activities stand out in my mind. They were the engaging activities that developed a deeper level of thinking and understanding. But, more important than that, they were fun, the ones that kids remember years after they leave my classroom. In our "print and go" society, it’s even more important to be sure that we include activities that provide for authentic learning. One of my favorite sayings is, “The brain learns by pattern but seeks novelty.” So then how do I finish that sentence? Activities like this make learning fun and memorable! Here are a few of my favorites:
I love this poem by Shel Silverstein. My sweet hubby helped me sew this body snake. As we are singing the poem the snake can eat the kids! You can also use a king sized pillow case instead of sewing one from fabric. Just add a face and you are ready to go. So what are the standards: body parts, rhyming, sequencing, print concepts and developing oral prosody…which is essential for reading comprehension.
This song, “Five Cute Dalmatians” is sung to the tune of “Three Little Angels”. I made the puppets from dog food scoops, but you can also use the dust pans. As we sing the song, the children sit down to reduce the number of dogs. So what are the standards: number combinations, subtraction, subitizing and one less are all math standards, but you can also use the chart to teach any of the print concepts, sight words, or prosody that are all language arts standards.
When I first started teaching we actually had a standard that said, “Children will role play stories.” Now, I haven’t seen that wording in quite some time. But, role playing is an excellent “tool” used to show evidence of comprehension. Children are sequencing events and developing their awareness of characters and their adventures---both of which are common core standards. The Three Bears are made from splatter guards, felt, and spray paint. The Three Pigs are made from colanders. Can’t find pink ones? Just spray paint some of the silver ones! The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie is made from ball hats, spray paint, and a bed sheet.
So why do I do activities like these? Because I run into grown adults who say to me, “I remember when we…” followed by them recalling an activity similar to one of these.  I promise you that sentence is never finished by saying “wrote a row of Bbs, drew lines to match capital and lower case letters, etc.” So, what is our job? Aren’t we suppose to develop schema, build a love of learning, form connections, inspire confidence? And this, teaching friends, is why I am a teacher!
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Celebrating Reader's Workshop

Friday was celebration day! Megan has just finished up Unit 1 in Reader’s Workshop…yes, she’s a little behind. When Matthew and I arrived, the kiddos were all busy at the tables drawing pictures of things they like to read about.
Then, they all moved to the floor and made a circle! Let the crazy begin! I am sure if you have ever tried to do a craft with 27 kids all at the same time, you have a mental image of what was going on! That said, it was a blast!
Megan used the pattern to cut the heads, but gave them squares of white, black and pink paper. The kids rounded off the corners to make circles! They did great! (Hmmmm they didn’t all look like circles, but…..)
After adding the hair, we gave them each a piece of paper. Megan demonstrated how to fold it, and most of them were successful!Slide5
They added their name badge,their arms and hands. Then, they glued their writing inside of the shirt.
After they left, Megan had me staple the hearts and hang them on the bulletin board. They turned out soooo cute!
So now….on to Unit 2, Powerful Partnerships! We are playing a little catch up. So we are looking at the lessons to see which things can be taught at another time of the day, which things were covered already, and which things we can NOT skip! Hopefully we can get back on track! That said, Megan and I both feel that it is better to give them a firm foundation in these first two units and not skip lessons! It pays off BIG time in the end!
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A little of this and a little of that…Centers, Math, and Journals


This is going to be a rambling post….a little of this and a little of that. None of the ideas are enough for a whole post, so I just decided to lump them together.  So here goes…First ….centers…

This shelf holds the “have to” activities for literacy and math centers. Each week we have 5 have tos for literacy and 5 have tos for math. The kids are in groups and the groups rotate to the different areas of the room, one area each day of the week. While in the area, they complete the “have to” and then there are some “can dos”….activities that they can choose from until center time is over. Each group has a team leader. When it is center time, the group leader goes and gets the tub for their group from the shelf. When center time is over…they simply put the supplies back in the tub and return it to the shelf. I have done several posts on math and literacy centers so you can always search the blog for more information on how we organize our centers. Slide2

This is such an easy way to teach more and less. The kids roll a dice and glue down that many yellow. They roll again and glue down that many orange. Then, they decide which side gets more and which side gets less.  I was  thinking…maybe we need to add a place for the children to write the numerals and a place to use the >, <, or = symbols.


This center is a great way to build mental images of number combinations. The kids roll a dice and count that many yellow. Then, they roll the dice again and count that many orange. Then they complete the text box.  I was thinking…maybe give them a dice that has higher numerals. They roll the dice, then they could come up with a number combination for that numeral.


These number books are super easy for them to do by themselves. They are from Kathleen’s Pederson’s Number Unit.


Last week, I blogged about getting these cute boxes from The Dollar Tree and a fun game that you can play as a center for number combinations.

Here is another game you can play that works on cardinality. Put a determined number of bolts in the container. Turn on the music and pass the container around the room. When the music stops, whoever is holding the box spills out the bolts. Then, as they put the bolts back in the box, they count them. Now, that addresses the counting standard. But, how is that different than cardinality? Cardinality is..the last number said tells how many are in the set. So after they count them all back into the box, ask, “So how many bolts are there?” If the child says the number, they have cardinality. If they count them again, they don’t!


Here are a couple of other pumpkin activities that Megan did last week. After estimating the circumference of the pumpkin with orange string, they used the string to make a pumpkin. There is a recording sheet that goes with this, but I didn’t get a picture! Sad smile


Here was the recording sheet that Megan used for the float or sink experiment. She used several sizes of pumpkins, starting with the smallest. Each time she asked, “will it float or will it sink?” Of course they thought the bigger pumpkin would sink!


Here’s where they made their pumpkin glyph. The little book that is hanging from the pumpkin is where they did the interpretation of their jack o lanterns. Then, when they got back together as a group, they completed the class analysis sheet.


During literacy centers, one of the have to’s was a cut a sentence pumpkin book. Here I was showing a little girl how to find the word green in the ring of color words so that she would know what color pumpkin to glue down. As they finished and were reading them to me, I would ask them “How did you know that it said ‘green’?” Most of them could tell me that they looked at the picture. I would follow up with “Yes, that’s right. Good readers know to look at the picture first.”


One of their favorite can do centers is the overhead. I am sure that your school has plenty of these hidden in closets. If not, check with the district warehouse. I know they are hiding somewhere….


The absolutely love the pack by Deedee Wills. I put piece of white paper behind each type of transparency to take the picture. They love being the teacher!


We finished up the day working in their journals. I love these simple journal covers. Just staple plain paper behind the cover and they are ready to go. I especially love the word bank on the front. I made these for each unit. They are in the Theme Journal Cover Pack. This is the place where the kids can write whatever they want. They can explore with the different genre’s that they have learned! We allow them to write about whatever interests them. It sure makes it easier to keep them busy when they pick the topics!

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Anchor Charts: How Do You Display Them?

Do you think about where you hang your anchor charts? What if I told you the brain can remember the charts best if we display them in a certain way? Read on to see how and why! 
Finally made it to Megan’s room on Friday!After lunch I packed Matthew up and said, “Let’s try this.” I miss being in her room so much, but I love keeping Matthew. So how happy were we when he fell asleep as soon as I got there. (I had just fed him!) And yes, he stayed asleep until the kids left! I couldn’t believe that he would sleep through the noise of 27 kindergarteners, but he did!
So as I was working with kids, I tried to snap a lot of pictures to share with you. I thought I would start with sharing how we display the anchor charts.
Since Megan’s room has a magnetic dry erase board, she set up her anchor chart display there. Here’s what we know…the brain can easily retrieve information if we help get that information organized. One way to do this is to always hang the anchor charts in the same location in the room. That way, once the chart is taken down, the brain has a picture of that chart and can retrieve the information simply by “seeing” that wall in their mind.
The Literacy section is empty, but this is where we hang the reader’s and writer’s anchor charts. The charts are from the 9 Reader’s Workshop units and the 3 Writing units that we use for our workshop times.
One of the staple charts for math is the All About the Number…Anchor Chart. Each week, for 20 weeks, we explore a different number, learning everything we can about that number. The other chart that you see is our Shapes Anchor Chart from the Shapes Unit. Each time we start a unit, we think what are the standards? Then, we bullet them into the lessons that we are going to teach and that becomes the anchor chart. It reminds both us and the children what is important.
Another chart that we use every week is our ABC Unit Vocabulary Chart. We continue adding words to the chart only removing them when we start a new unit. So where is it hanging? Yep, from the window blinds. We keep the blinds closed because the sun beats down in the window making the room really hot not to mention how quickly the sun can fade the paper and fabric in the room!
I displayed a photo of Megan’s academic vocabulary chart last week, but here is one that she actually completed with her kids. They worked together to come up with the words, or linguistic representation, to describe the vocabulary word. Then, each child was given a post it note and asked to draw a picture, nonlinguistic representation, to show what the word means. The picture in the lower right corner shows her academic vocabulary word wall. While not all words will be defined using the vocabulary chart, here is where all words can be displayed. As you can see she only has one word up. This is something that her sub was not asked to do while Megan was on leave. She wanted to start this herself. She will be adding more words over the remaining weeks. These words come from the Math Academic Vocabulary Unit and the Literacy Academic Vocabulary Unit.
So…how do you hang your anchor charts? Feel free to leave your ideas or a link to a post on your blog in the comment section!
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