Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Lights at the Light Table

Just before our Christmas break began I was looking for something new at the light table to keep my kids engaged.  I put out our "Christmas Lights" book and the interest in creating their own light designs really took off at our light table and overhead center.  As an added bonus literacy was integrated through the Christmas Lights book and several also wrote about their representations! =) 

Take a peek at what they came up with............

The "before" picture of the overhead center which is right next to our light table.
This pair created a North Pole scene.  The bears are the elves!
They were very excited to see the image on our ceiling!
They collaborated together to write sentences describing their scene.
At the light table another pair began their own Christmas Lights design.

"The lights are flashing." 
This student picked a particular image she wanted to re-create.
I love her written description of her design! "The purple triangles and the reindeer and the red circles are his nose and the bottles are the people. "
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday, November 22, 2013

What We Are Interested In Now....the St. Louis Arch

Whoo-hoo! We have our first big project going on! I'd been waiting to find something the children were very interested in on their own.  I tend to do a lot of thematic teaching but prefer it when the children begin to show interest in something that we can begin to investigate together! 

Sooo....this one started with a map.  Several were very interested in drawing their own pictures of Texas and Alaska.  At some point someone found St. Louis and said they just saw the Arch that weekend. 

We live in a small town about 45 minutes away from St. Louis so the Arch is reasonably close enough for many of my kids to have seen before.  Once the discussions of the Arch began we started investigating books about the monument. 

When I began some discussions with the kids about their drawings/writing about the Arch I discovered that many did not know it was in St. Louis. A few told me Chicago and even more thought it was in our hometown!  So we created an Arch word list to help us with our writing and began reading about what other things there are to see in St. Louis. 

My kids really love this picture of the last piece of the Arch being placed. They have studied it over and over again as they try to create their own block structures of the Arch.

One of my students was very excited to share a picture of her Great Grandpa who had helped to build the Arch!!  She was quite famous herself on the day she brought this in!  =)

Some of our Arch sculptures

A mural a small group created

A plan for an Arch block structure

The finished project!
The interest in the Arch has been going strong for about two weeks now. I plan on bringing in some models of the Eiffel tower to see where they go with that.  I'm hoping Mr. M would consider sending me on  a field trip to Paris so I can bring home some actual photos of it for the kids to observe.  One can only dream.......

Friday, November 15, 2013

Self Help Yellow Pages

Ah.....late fall and upcoming winter. Outdoor play time during this time of the year can be very challenging for any early childhood teacher! The coats, zippers, buttons and the shoes that still aren't tied.  Ugh!

However, my teacher buddy down the hall has a very cute solution for this. I've blogged in the past about this but I thought it might be helpful to re-visit this little gem. 

Once the weather changes (and the constant demand for Mrs. B's help at the beginning of recess)  she pulls out an old copy of an actual Yellow Pages and discusses how they are used as a reference to find an expert to help you with something. 
Mrs. B uses the example if her tooth hurts she would go to the dentist page and look up a number of a dentist to call. My class recently turned our dramatic play area into a pizza parlor so we spent some time looking at the adds for pizza.  You know...just in case we needed to call an expert on how to make a good pizza. =)  My kiddos are always thinking! 
So once the concept of the Yellow Pages is introduced ( you could also show similar examples from online resources)  she creates a page for whatever self help skill the children are needing help with. 

There is a picture and a title for each page and once a child is an "expert" at a skill they can sign their name on that page.  If someone in the room is having issues with a skill (zipping up their jacket for example) they are to go to the yellow pages and look up an expert to help them with it! 
What a teacher sanity saver!  =)
Mrs. B's yellow pages is not limited to recess self help needs.  She also has pages for kids who are experts on the computer, the listening center cd player and other various classroom needs.  This allows her to continue working with students during centers and not have to fix a CD or computer issue. 
I'm always on the lookout for ways to make our day go smoother in our classroom! Please share if you have any other ideas you feel would be a great addition to our yellow pages! =)
                                                                                                                           Mrs. M

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cupcake Party and Give Away.... Pinkalicious Cupcake Cookbook!

Yum!!! We were soooooo excited today! Earlier this month my class reached a class behavior goal and earned a cupcake party! This just happened to coincide with the release of ..............

 The Pinkalicious Cupcake Cookbook!!!!!
We LOVE Pinkalicious and found it quite exciting that we got a sneek peek of the Pinkalicous Cupcake Cookbook in our classroom!  Because we were celebrating we had ourselves a little cupcake party complete with some adorable Pinkalicious party favors. 

After our party we continued the fun by reading some other books focused on cupcakes and then wrote our own cupcake recipes in our house area. We could use a few pages from the cook book as a reference to help us with our writing. 

The Pinkalicious Marketing Team is offering a copy of this new release to two readers of this blog. This cookbook features more than 20 pinkerrific cupcakes straight from Pinkalicious' world! 

So if you would like to win your own copy of The Pinkalicious Cupcake Cookbook please leave your name and email in the comment section below.  The two lucky winners will be announced this weekend. =) 

                                                                                                        Good Luck!
                                                                                                         Mrs. M

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Little Pumpkin Fun!

Well now that the hectic nature of the beginning of the school year is starting to wind down we are ready to begin one of our first themes of interest in our room.  Since signs of Fall are all around us now AND we conveniently take a class field trip to a pumpkin patch it seems only fitting that one of our first units be related to pumpkins in some way.

Besides the usual comparing, sorting and measuring activities my class had a little fun with the pumpkins in some of our centers. Take a peek at what we've been up to...

At our light table the children are able to create their own pumpkin patch using various materials from our art center.  They have fun creating a different version of their pumpkin patch each day.

Also in our block area various representations of the pumpkin patch have been created.  I love how they incorporated the use of our math manipulatives to show their version of Fall leaves.

In our Science center we have been sorting, measuring and comparing our pumpkins.  We've also started a documentation book of our pumpkin observations.
Finally.....It wouldn't be a unit of interest in my room if we didn't write about it. =)   Here are some of their writing samples from last week. Like many other Kindergarten classrooms we are just getting started with our writing workshop time. Our writing skills vary greatly from one student to the next but I love how they are really trying their best so early in the school year!

Over the next few days we will decorate our pumpkins and eventually we will get to toast the pumpkin seeds from our big pumpkin! One of my favorite times of the year!
                                                                        Mrs. M

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Daily 5 Rotations

I was a HUGE fan of traditional literacy centers for years. I still think they are wonderful but have really grown to LOVE the Daily 5 this past couple of years.  I've implemented this approach very slowly each year adding new bits and pieces of the approach as my particular classroom needs would allow. 
The only real problem I kept running in to was just HOW to get the Daily 5 / CAFE up and running at the beginning of the school year.
For a couple of years I found myself introducing the components very slowly  by lots of practice and "I" anchor charts. That was good and I didn't overwhelm my kids, however I needed to keep them busy while I was working with groups. So as a result I would end up rotating kids through literacy centers until I was ready to begin letting them make their own choices about their daily literacy activities. 
For me the result was always the same...."ok" engagment levels and kids fussing becuase they really wanted to work on another activity when I assigned them someplace else.  As soon as I was comfortable to begin letting them make choices this always improved.
Don't ask me WHY I didn't just jump in at the beginning of the year with the program. I really don't have an answer other than I was just becoming familiar with Daily 5/CAFE and was working at my comfort level. 
However this year is a MUCH different story! This year Daily 5 has just worked for me from the very beginning. I really didn't introduce anything differently ....I just jumped right on in and my kids are benefitting from this.  Yay!
So now we are in the midst of week 5 of Kindergarten.  The whirlwind known as the beginning of the year is settling and we are becoming quite engaged in our literacy choices.  I'm even beginning to be able to work with strategy groups and individual readers. So exciting!!
Today I'm sharing our Daily 5 and Cafe board. I'm also including some of our literacy choices that we are able to choose from this week.  At this time I'm able to have three large group lessons and two rounds of Daily 5. I'm hoping to add another round of Daily 5 when we get a little quicker at clean up and choice making. 
Enjoy....I hope you find something useful! =)
Our Daily 5 Board
Inside the frames on our board I write what some of the choices are. For instance with "read to someone" they can choose to read to each other from their book tubs or the apple charts and apple big books located in our group area. 
Our CAFE Board
We are obviously just getting started with this. So far several stategies have been introduced.  We have spent a lot of time discussing popcorn words and using our picture clues. Below is one of our books we can choose for "Read to Self" which allows the reader to focus on these two strategies.
Letter Work   Word Work    Name Work
Located near our word wall/name wall is our light table where the kids can paint their popcorn words.

In this same general area is our table with playdoh letter stampers for stamping popcorn words.
I like to include name work as part of our word work choices.  This week the kids can find their name card and add a self portrait to it to go on our name tree. They are also able to practice spelling their name with letter magnets. 
Reading to Someone / Reading to Myself / Listening to Reading
As mentioned above we have several apple charts and big books for "reading to someone."  My former "charts and big book center" from my literacy center days has worked out great as an option when working on "read to someone." On our stage (not pictured) we have a reading area where the kids can work on "read to myself" and an additional  CD player is also located here for "listen to reading."
Working on Writing

Although the picture is blurry you can get the general idea. For now my beginning writers are using our thematic word books and word lists located in our writing center to help them finish a page for a class book.  "I  am a ___________ apple."

More ....Working on Writing / Read to Myself
In our science center we have a real sunflower!! We are working on writing by drawing/writing our observations of the sunflower and I have several sunflower books for them to use for "reading to myself" once they are finished with their observations. 
For now a quick scan of the room allows me to check off what choices the children make in order to ensure that they are getting to everything (weekly for now and hopefully daily soon.)  We also have a partner reading time during the day (using our familiar book tubs) and an additional writing time. 
For now I'm feeling good about how Daily 5 is working in my room. I would love to hear how it is working for some of you that are trying it as well!  Have a great week!!
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