KinderGals: January 2017

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Winter Fun

Hello Winter! Where are you? When it is in the 70's, even 80's, in January you begin to wonder if we just skipped winter and moved on to spring.  But, it is winter in our classroom! We might not see snow, we might not feel the cold, but that doesn't keep us from talking and learning about it! The kids are so excited they can't stand it! Read this post to see some of the fun things we are doing.  Be sure and read all the way to the bottom to see how you can win a great prize!
We made a cut a sentence snowman book. The children sequenced pictures and sentences to show how to build a snowman. I made fun step books and cut them into the shape of a snowman for that little touch of novelty.
How fun is this song? We used this song during math to build number combinations for 5. We also used it as a center! The kids are reading, singing, and making number combinations all at the same time.
This was a super fun game. The kids work with a partner and use unifix cubes to compare who has more. To play the game, each child breaks their cubes in half. They place one half of the cubes on the game board and compare. Spin the spinner to see who wins. Record the results on the recording page.
We learned about the 4 seasons and how winter fits in. We made this 4 seasons tree map where we recorded information about each season. The kids made their own lift the flap craftivity. Under each tree flap, they recorded information about the seasons.
A true class favorite! The kids lay the cards in an array showing only the blank card for each suit. The first player turns over one card. They look at the array and located the position where that card belongs. They pick up the card that is laying in that position and replace it with the card in their hands. Continue until all the cards are face up in the correct position.
This is such an easy game that we can play all year and just change the clip art and dice to create new games. To play, put the marker in the middle of the strip. The first child rolls the dice and moves the marker that many spaces towards themselves. Then, the second child rolls the dice and moves the marker that many spaces towards themselves. See who can move the marker off of the strip first.
Here are a few more games that are super easy and can be played all year just by changing the standard and the clip art. "I have who has" is a old time favorite. "Roll, say, keep" is another game that is great for early finishers. To play, put one of the snowballs in each of the squares on the snowy game board.  Roll a dice. Locate that square on the game board. Read the word on the snowball in the square. Move the square off the game board and replace it with another snowball.
 This is a great way to teach measurement, comparisons, and counting all at the same time. The kids use the snowmen to measure how tall they are and how tall their friend is. Record the results. 
Another fun all year game is this number line game.  To play the game give the child a number line. Invite them to put a snowflake on each numeral.  Make a game piece by attaching a paper clip to the back of a snow kid. Invite the children to roll the dice. Move the snow kid down the number line that many spaces. Remove the snowflake. Roll again. The child can move forward or backwards on the number line as they capture all of the snowflakes.
These are 4 of the titles from the January Guided Reader unit. We used them to help us develop schema, since most of them have never even seen snow!
These cut a sentence books are simple yet meaningful. The kids cut apart a mixed up sentence. They get the sentence in order. The kids are learning to look for the capital letter to begin the sentence and the period to end the sentence.  They manipulate the remaining words until the sentence makes sense. Then, they find the picture to match the sentence.
This is a fun survey graph, perfect for The Snowy Day.  The kids take a survey to see which activity their friends would like to do on a snowy day! Perfect way to practice using a graph to compare!
All of these activities are included in this special priced Winter Mega Unit.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How To Use Guided Reading to Teach Nonficiton Features

While we do teach a unit on Nonfiction Features during our Reader's Workshop, we found that our kids needed more consistent practice to truly apply and use the features as readers and writers. This post shares how we use guided reading to teach the nonfiction features in a systematic approach.
Guided Reading
Most of the time during guided reading lessons we are using our running records to group kids by their reading level to deliver instruction at their instructional level. But, about once a week we do things a little differently.  Here's what we wanted:
  • We wanted to give our kids a very systematic approach to learning the nonfiction features and to explore how readers use them to collect information thus improving comprehension of nonfiction text.
  • We wanted our kids to be able to apply the nonfiction features in their own writing.
  • We wanted to make a connection between our science and social studies content and reading and writing.
  • We wanted of our kids to have exposure to the same nonfiction features and to the same content.
A Guided Reading Lesson
Here's a sample of a lesson.
Familiar Read Warm Up
First thing we do is a warm up. I give them whatever nonfiction book we used last week. The kids ready independently as I listen in or do running records. You might be wondering if all of the kids are reading the SAME book? I did say that I wanted them to read about the same topics and practice the same nonfiction features.  Since I wrote these books myself, here's what I did.
First, I picked 5 titles for each month. These are the titles from the February Unit.
Then, I used the same photographs and the same nonfiction features, I just changed the level of the text.  My goal here wasn't for a perfect instructional fit. This is more of a strategy lesson--how to use nonfiction features to comprehend the piece.  When choosing a book for each group, I picked a book that they would not struggle with the text. It is better in this case for the text to be BELOW their instructional level than ABOVE it!  While the most challenging text might be too hard for any of your kids, I print this book to use for myself! It has all of the factual information and I can use it to help guide the discussion for their books with limited text.
Word Work
The next thing we do is to visit some of the high frequency words that they will encounter in their new read.  I select 2-3 words that the kids read, make, and write.  Each group will have different words to match the different levels of text.
You can snag up a free copy of this form by clicking on the image below.
 Feature Walk
The next thing we do is a feature walk in our new book. Together we look through the pages to find nonfiction features that we have already seen in our previous text.  Then, I call attention to the new nonfiction text feature.  We talk about how to use that as a reader to help us gather more information. We talk about why an author would use that feature. 
 Independent Reading
The kids now read the book independently.  As the kids are reading, I can listen in as individual children read aloud.  Remember the focus here is on how readers use nonfiction text. While I will make note of children who are experiencing difficulty in areas such as applying word attack skills, I will not address these at this time.  These will be addressed on another day.  My focus for this lesson is on using the nonfiction features.  This is hard. I tend to want to chase the rabbit and get off of my intended objective.  I have to keep reminding myself that I am focusing on how readers use nonfiction features.
Practicing Phonics
After reading a book about Thanksgiving, this little guy is sorting pictures by long i or long e. For each lesson, I made several phonics practice pages. That way, I can select the one for each group that I think will work best.
Practicing Nonfiction Features
Now it's time to practice the features. The kids use the content from the book to practice the nonfiction feature. We make the book available to the children so that they can go back go the text to check for understanding.
Writing with Nonfiction Features
Now it's time to apply that feature to our own writing.  In this book about apples, we were learning about a cut-a-way, a feature used by authors/illustrators/photographers to show us a close up of something in the larger picture.  The kids had to match up the close ups for the nonfiction feature practice. Then, they used that to help them write text about apples using a cut-a-way.
Now, you might be saying, HOLY MOLY how do you fit all of that in and get done in 20 minutes? To tell the truth, sometimes I don't! I lose track of time. I started setting a timer for 20 minutes when I start a group. This helps me keep a handle on how much time I am requiring of them. 
Sometimes I skip the phonics practice and put that as a center instead.
Depending on the group and the time of year, I can often send kids back to their area with the book and the nonfiction feature practice and/or the writing portion. This works well for your higher achieving kids. They are usually able to complete these with little support. Encourage them to help each other when they have questions!  
Since February is fast approaching, here is a link to the February Unit.
There is also a bundle that has each of the months included.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Winter Fun Math and Literacy Activites

Can I be honest? Winter is not my favorite season. I love warm weather. I live for April to get here, and dread January through March. I'm ok with winter in November and December for the holidays, but then I'm done! However, what I like about this time of the year is what is going on inside of the classroom! The kids are really getting it! They are starting to apply all of the things we have been learning since August. They are reading and writing. They are developing number sense! They are independent problem solving machines! Here are some of the fun ways we celebrate winter while staying warm on the inside!
4 Seasons Tree Map
It takes us 4 days to complete this chart. When teaching kids each of the 4 seasons, it is helpful to show them the differences between each. Each day we learn about one of the 4 seasons. We use interactive writing to record the things that we learn. On Friday, we compare the items for each season on our tree map.
4 Seasons Flap Book
On Friday, the children make their own 4 seasons flap book. Here's how:
  1. Fold a piece of 12 x 18 paper in half.  Cut the top flap into 4 sections.
  2. Use rectangles to make the tree trunks for each season.
  3. For the fall and winter trees, cut smaller rectangles to make the branches.
  4. Round the corners from squares to make the spring and summer trees and to make the leaves for the fall tree.
  5. Add pink tissue paper flower to the spring tree.
  6. Glue a text box under each of the 4 flaps. On each text box, the children record information about the four seasons.
Snow on Me Poetry Book
To make this poetry book:
  • Cut off the first sentence. Put the words in the correct order.
  • I teach the kids to put the capital letter first and the word with the punctuation last.
  • Manipulate the remaining words by placing them between the first and last word.
  • Read the sentence and ask yourself, "Does it make sense?"
  • If not, switch the order of the two middle words.
  • Find the picture to match the sentence.
  • Here's how we do that: Look at the word at the end of the sentence. What letter does it begin with? Look at your pictures and find a word that begins with that letter.
  • Repeat with the remaining sentences.
  • Invite the kids to add this book to their bag of books for repeated practice.
Building Sentences
Here's what we did to make these winter clothing sentences:
  • Match the pictures to the words. (We look at the beginning letter.)
  • Look at the 4 other words and ask, "Which words do I already know?" (We know some words fast.)
  • Using the idea that we are building sentence about clothing that we wear, ask yourself what could this other word be?" (We use our schema.)
  • Build the sentence. (We know the difference between words and sentences.)
  • Record in your book. (We can write a sentence.)
  • Circle the noun that names the pictures. Draw a line to the picture. (We look at pictures.)
Isn't it crazy all that we are teaching using this simple book!?
Making Snowflake -ake Words
Here's how we made our snowflake books.
  1. Display the color pictures in a pocket chart.
  2. Find the beginning sound for each of the pictures. (Yellow letters).
  3. Add the word ending ake to each.
  4. Cut apart the black and white pictures.
  5. Glue one on the first page.
  6. Find the word in the pocket chart and record it in your book.
Snowman Buttons Patterns
This activity can be played as a game, or made into a simple book.
To play as a game:
  • Make the snowman.
  • Collect buttons or use button clip art.
  • Invite the children to make a pattern on the snowman.
OR To make as a book:
  • Reproduce the book.
  • Invite the children to color the buttons to match the core at the beginning of the button pattern.
Marshmallow Addition
This is a fun math activity to practice number combinations or addition.
  • Invite the children to record a number sentence on their recording page.
  • Add marshmallows to the mugs to match the number sentence.
  • Write an addition story on the recording page.
Number Line Mystery Game
This is a class favorite. We play the Number Line Mystery Game All.The.Time.! Here's how to play:
  • Make a deck of cards, with 4 different symbols.
  • Make cards 1-10, and a blank card for each symbol.
  • Place the four symbol cards without the numeral in a column.
  • Arrange the remaining 40 cards in an array.
  • Invite a child to turn over any card.
  • They need to determine where that card goes on the number line.
  • In this case, they take the number 10 snowflake and place it on the snowflake row in the 10th position.
  • Move the facedown card in that position and replace it with the 10 snowflake.
  • Now, look at the new card and determine where it goes on the number lines.
  • The game is over when all 40 cards are face up in the correct order.
Winter Clothing RElay
By the end of winter do you have enough winter clothing items to dress an entire class for recess? It always amazes me in April when our principal places all of the winter clothing on tables in the hall. There are coats for days! How can you not know that your child has lost their expensive coat!!!!??? But, that surplus of clothing items, helps me with this fun activity!
  • Collect a variety of winter clothing items and place them into two buckets.
  • Collect clip art images of the different clothing items.
  • Invite two children to select a clothing card from the deck.
  • Ask the class, "Do you think it will take more time to put on the ___ or the ___?"
  • Say, "Ready, set, go."
  • The two children, dress for winter.
  • Who finished first? Did it take him more time or less time?
This is especially difficult for kids. Here's why: Children generally think that MORE means winner and less means LOSER. That means, they think that the child who finished first, took more time!
All of these activities are from the Winter Wonderland unit. It has been completely revised with new clip art, frames and fonts. Easy to use patterns and an editable page have been added.  The snowman's buttons game has also been added. If you already have this unit, go to your my purchases section on tpt and download the updated version.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Snowman Fun: Math and Literacy Activities for the Little Ones

It doesn't matter if you live in the coldest of cold or the warmest of warm, we all want to talk about snow! It doesn't even matter if you like cold weather or warm weather. There is just something about a snowman that makes us all smile.  Here are some of the fun activities we are doing with our kids to bring a smile to their faces!
Comparing Snowmen
In this fun comparing activity follow these directions.
  • The children play with a partner.
  • Each partner gets 10 cubes and snaps them together. 
  • Say "1,2,3 break."  Each child breaks their cubes in half.
  • Each child puts one part of their break onto the snowman game board.
  • Compare for more and less cubes.
  • The child with less cubes spins the spinner.
  • If it lands on less, he gets all of the cubes on the game board.
  • If it lands on more, the child who had more gets all of the cubes on the game board.
  • Color the cubes on the recording page.
  • Record how many cubes each child had.
  • Circle more or less to indicate who won.
Snowman Phonemes
In this fun activity, the children will segment the phonemes in a word.  Here's the questions, what is the difference between phonemic awareness and phonics? A long time ago, a smart teacher told me, "Phonemic Awareness can be done in the dark."  Makes sense, right?  For phonemic awareness we are only dealing with the sounds, not the letters.  In the picture above, coat only has 3 phonemes, even though it has 4 letters.  To play this game the children name the picture. Then, they slide a snowball onto the snowman as they segment each of the phonemes.
Snowman Phonemes
This snowman activity is a PHONICS activity because we are using the letters. In this activity I used only 3 letter words. As the children say they word, they record each letter to represent the sounds they hear.
How to Make a Snowman Step Book
In this fun activity, the children will use this step book to sequence the steps for making a snowman. First, I made a snowman book for each child. To make the book:
  1. Stagger 3 pieces of paper by overlapping them about one inch. (It looks like steps). Fold the paper in half.
  2. Using a pattern, cut the  snowman shape from the folded paper.
  3. Add an additional circle to the top to make a head.
The children follow these steps to make their snowman books.
  1. Cut apart the pictures. Sequence the pictures to make the snowman.
  2. Glue one picture under each flap.
  3. Cut off one of the sentences. Cut between the words.
  4. Put the words in the correct order to make the sentence.
  5. Add a face and a hat!
 Snowman Tree Map
I made this tree map to use during the week. Here's how we are going to use it.
  • Each day we filled out one of the 3 columns.
  • First, we thought of possible ways to finish our sentence.
  • Then, we used interactive writing to record three of the suggestions.
  • As I was writing on the large chart, each child has their own chart to complete.
 Making Snow
During January and February we are working hard on learning to write nonfiction text. One thing we know is that we can only ask kids to write on schema they already have, or schema that is developed through the experiences that we provide. This is a super fun activity for making snow! (Especially for us southerners!)
 Here's what you do:
  1. Use powdered laundry detergent (instant snow) and water. Mix together with a mixer. NOW---it doesn't look like real snow! I know, but my kids have a great imagination and most of them have not seen real snow! ;)
  2. Drop three blobs of snow mixture onto their paper.
  3. Invite the children to swirl their fingers to make the 3 snowballs.
  4. Once dry, use paint to add details.
  5. NOW we are ready to write our procedural piece. The children can write the steps for How to Make Snow or How to Make a Snowman.
 Five Little Snowmen Fat
I made this tree map to use during the week. This is a fun song to teach number combinations. We used the song during literacy to work on things such as print concepts, sight words, beginning sounds, what makes sense, etc. We also used the song as a transition activity while moving from student focused work back to our class meeting area.
 During math we use the song to help us learn the combinations for the number 5.  First let's discuss this standard. Number combinations is found under "Number and Algebraic Thinking". Every wonder why? (Maybe you already know! :)) In number combinations we know the sum and one addend. We know the number for which we are making combinations and one of the numbers. We are solving for "x".  For example, 3 + x = 5.
Here's what we did:
  • I used the color game board and made a black and white board for each child.
  • The children cut the snowmen off of their recording page.
  • As we sing the song, we move the snowmen from standing in the snow to melting in the sun.
  • After singing each verse we record the combination on our recording page.  
  • Select which recording sheet your child are ready for!
 All of these ideas are from Snowman Surprise: Math and Literacy Activities. If you already have this unit, be sure and go to your my purchased and download the updated version. This unit has undergone a major facelift with better graphics, frames, and fonts.  New activities have also been added.
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