KinderGals: March 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Building Brain Power with Metaphors, Analogies, and Similes

We probably all remember using metaphors, analogies, and similes in school.  BUT….when I tried to think of how I used this strategy in my room, I had a hard time. Marcia tells us that “of all 20 strategies, this one is probably one of the most effective.” WOW! And I’m not even sure if I am using it?!
So here goes my best attempt…I am really anxious to read the post of other kindergarten teachers to see how they are using this strategy…We have some work to do on this one, for sure!
We read, “Metaphors use the familiar to explain something unfamiliar and describes the conceptual using something tangible.”
As I have written the non-fiction text for our monthly guided reading units, I have found myself saying things like, “That’s as long as a sub sandwich.” when I was trying to give them a picture of how long a groundhog is. But, surely, there is more that I can do.

So maybe we are hitting this strategy when we teach that finding a good fit book is like finding a pair of shoes that are a good fit? Or, what about when we teach our kids the reading strategies and link them to the tools in a carpenter’s tool box?

Or, maybe we are using the strategy when we link beginning sounds to “It’s the same sound as ____’s name.”?

Maybe in our back to school welcome gifts when we tell them how they are like an eraser, like a smartie, etc?

Or, maybe when we talk about Bats and we talk about their sense of hearing? Then when we say, “Are you listening like a bat?” when we want them to really listen?
We also read that “when students connect what they are learning in mathematics with other content areas, math is viewed as more useful and interesting than when math is taught as a separate subject.”
How about when we have children think of number in their everyday life? Are they making connections between the real world in a way that will help them remember that number when they are referenced to that item?

Or, when we learning shapes and we teach them that a triangle is like a tent, or a rectangle is like a door?

Or how about when we bring math to their every day life in a way that they can later remember, “Oh, I remember, it was like when we….”?
As you can see, this entire post is a question. Because I’m really not sure if I have the right idea. This is a chapter that I have marked in the book, to read and read again. To read what other teachers are doing. To find ways that we can start using this strategy NOW!
Be sure and hop on over to  Cara’s blog to see what other teachers are sharing for this chapter. I can’t wait to read!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Building Brain Power with Manipulatives and Experiments

“When learning is active and hands-on, the formation of neural connections is facilitated and information is much more readily remembered than information learned from an abstract viewpoint, where the teacher is doing the word while the students watch.” Wow! That’s pretty powerful on its impact to our teaching. So hold on…this is going to be a long post.  I couldn’t decide which ones to share, so I’m sharing them all! This chapter makes me think of something I learned about Math Instruction…

So what does this mean? It means that ALL LEARNING should be  at a conceptual level! This means real objects, things that can be manipulated.

For example, in this story problem, the kids are using plastic teeth to figure out the answer—that’s conceptual.

And these kids drew a picture to figure out the answer. This is the pictorial level. Sometimes when our kids have difficulty here, we think it is because they don’t understand the problem. But, really, if we just change HOW the children are learning to a manipuative, that might be successful. The last level is abstract. This is when the children solve the problem FIRST using numerals and symbols. Now….once your kids get to this level….we still want them to show how they solved the problem through drawings or manipulatives. It is just that the solving of the problem was done abstractly.
Here’s a few dollar store ideas on manipuatives that you can make super cheap!

Here’s a great way to work on mixed operations. The mouse is just a cat toy, they came 3 to a bag. I stuck a pipe cleaner in the back side, collected a dice, and some pony beads!
Here’s how you play:
1. Give each child a mouse and some beads.
2. The children roll the dice and put that many beads on the pipe cleaner.
3. Roll again. Now they must decide whether they need to put some on (addition) or take some off (subtraction.)
4. If they have 5 beads on the tail and they roll a 3, then they take 2 beads off of the tail.
Here’s another example of the same game using rubber ducks and a bowl of water! What is it about water?!!!??? Kids love it!
Another great way to use manipulatives is by using number bonds. Scroll to the bottom to grab this FREE Number Bond Mat.
My smart friend, Catherine Kuhns, once told me that this is the way we should say it:
2. Then, say the two groups…. “I have two gingerbread men, I have 3 gingerbread men.”
3. Last, say the whole again…. “I have 5 gingerbread men.”
Why? Because this way the kids see that nothing happens to the gingerbread men when you divide them into two sets. When you bring them back together, you still have the same amount. Remember Piaget and Conservation of Number from your college days?
Marcia also talked about the importance of clay. I’m wondering how many classes still use a playdough center? I know, I know…. it’s messy, it gets stuck in the carpet, it dries out… But, Marcia reminded me of why we are doing it! It makes them smarter! Here are a couple of ideas we did during our shape unit.

So what about that block center? Do you still have one? It is sad that sometimes in an attempt to “improve test scores”, to “add rigor”, to “get them ready”……the very things that will do just that are eliminated. I keep going back to something from one of the earlier chapters….we are trying to makeSMARTER children. REAL learning does just that!
I made up some easy cards with real world problems and ask the kids to figure out how to solve the problem using the blocks! This was amazing!
And last, a few science experiments. One thing that Marcia said was that kids need to be the ones doing the experiment, not sitting and watching the teacher do them. So….I try to keep them really simple! You can find other science experiments (here).

My friend Bert actually gave me this idea, I just “fancied” it up a bit.

And now…here’s the last one…
Ever read kids a book and they “don’t get it”. In this story, baby duck doesn’t like the rain. If kids are lacking the schema about ducks feathers, they will not be able to understand why the parents tell him he is a duck and ducks like rain. So here’s what we did…
2. Then, test it out with this simple experiment.
3. Last, read the book and ask the kids why baby duck is being silly. They will “get it” now!
This quote from Marcia’s book sums everything up: “Students in the early grades should be allowed to use manipulatives for as long as the students feel they are needed.”
Now head on over to  Deanna’s blog to see what other teachers are sharing!

Monday, March 23, 2015

12 Ways to Compose and Decompose Numbers 11-19

“Have you ever said, “I’ve done everything but stand on my head and they still don’t get it?” Well, this is one of those standards—composing and decomposing numbers. Now, when I say “get it” I mean do they REALLY get it?
• Do, they understand what is happening when they snap ten together and what does the “1” in the front really means?
• Can they show my multiple ways to make each number 11-19?
• Can they explain what is happening?
When Michele and I got together to plan how we were going to teach this unit, it took a little longer than usual, like a lot longer! Each month Michele and I meet for dinner at Panera. After dinner, we spend a few hours mapping out how we are going to run our small groups the next month. After we come up with the activities, we each “do our part” at home.  I usually create the games and make the photo directions. Michele does the scripting! (Glad she likes doing it, because I don’t!)
These are the easy to follow “general” photo directions  for each game. In the scripting, Michele explains how to use the activity in more detail with your intervention, on target, and challenge level kids.
I make each game in color and black and white…so you choose which works best for you!
Ants on a Log
Recently a teacher shared this photo with me.  She chose to make the game black and white and run it on brown paper. Love the page protector and dry erase idea for the recording page! Here’s the game they were playing…..
To play the Ants on a Log game...
1. Invite the child to spin the spinner and count out that many ants.
2. Record the number on the recording page.
3. Continue to spin, count ants and record the number on the recording page.
4. If you land on the picture of the foot when you spin, you must remove all of your ants from the game board.
5. The game is over when they reach the bottom of the page.
Watermelon Number Necklace
Here's another fun craftivity to store their number books. To make the holder, follow these directions:
1. Cut a paper plate in half and paint them to look like a slice of watermelon.
2. Staple the plates together to make a pocket.
3. Punch a hole in the name tag and thread it on a ribbon.
4. Tie the ribbon to the watermelon to make a necklace.
Reproduce a booklet for each number 11-19. The children do the following:
1. Color two tens frames to match the numeral.
2. Write the number sentence for the numeral.
3. Write the numerals in a number bond to make the numeral.
4. Write how many tens and how many ones in the numeral.
5. Write the numeral.
What's In the Bag?
This game is super simple to make and to play. Here's how:
1. Collect 9 paper bags.
2. Count 11 unifix cubes, all one color, in the first bag. Count 12 unifix cubes, all one color, in the second bag. Repeat counting unifix cubes to make bags of 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19.
3. Staple a picture to the front of each bag.
4. Invite the child to select a bag.
5. Dump out the cubes and make a ten with some ones.
6. On the recording page, find the picture that matches the picture on the bag.
7. Write the numeral to tell how many cubes are in the bag.

These activities came from the Small Group Math Unit for Decomposing and Composing Numbers 11-19.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Building Brain Power with Graphic Organizers

Are you looking for some ideas that incorporate graphic organizers? This post has a variety of graphic organizers and how to use them with young children.

“….these tools are some of the best friends of a teacher who desires to facilitate the comprehension of students. They address both the left and right hemispheres of students, so they are beneficial to all.”
This is  quote from Marcia’s book! Doesn’t it feel great when we can find a strategy that is helpful to all of our kids?
Here’s what else she says:
• “Because the brain remembers images more easily than just words, graphic organizers are one of the tools that are effective for organizing patterns.”
• “Graphic organizers are powerful tools for instruction since they enable students to organize data into segments or chunks that they can comprehend and manage.”

So here some of the ideas we have used in our classes. These were some circle maps we made during our Thanksgiving. The kids brainstormed words that were all about Thanksgiving. They loved the craft…remember chapter 2?

This is an example of a bubble map. On this map we brainstormed words that described plants.

This is an example of a Venn Diagram we made during our Bats Unit to show the difference and similarities between bats and birds.. A great non-fiction activity for Stellulana.

This is an example of a double bubble map we made during our farm unit. We made the craft earlier in the week. Then the kids answered the question to decide where to glue their face.

This an example of a tree map. I LOVE tree maps for writing! They are a great way to get your kids writing!

Having kids sign-in using this 2 column tree map is another example.

This is an example of a brace maps. Brace maps are used to show the parts of a whole. The slide below is another example of a brace map.

This is an example of a flow map. These are also great for retelling stories, sequencing events, and for concepts that show change over time.

This is an example of a double bubble map that is great for cause and effect!
So….how are you getting your kids thinking organized? Hop on over to Michele’s Blog and see what other teachers are doing! I am loving this book study! Not only has it given me great content for a blog post, it has affirmed us of many of our practices as well as showing us some new ones we want to try!

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