Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Word Work

During our Daily 5 time I actually have Daily 6. All year I've had the ABC work center as one of our choices.  I thought as the year progressed we may not need this center. However, keeping this as a choice has proven to be both beneficial and fun for this class. They not only need the continued review with letters and sounds, but they also seem to really enjoy working with the activities we have for ABC work. 

Here's a peek at what we are working on during ABC work and Word Work this week:

ABC Work
Now that my own kids are older I've been able to bring some gems from our toy closet to school. =)  These alphabet matching cubes came from Lakeshore years ago.  For ABC work I'm have the kids pick 5 letter cubes to match to the coordinating picture cube. After matching the cubes they can record their letters and the pictures that go with them. 
Word Work

Although we've finished up our space unit my kids are still very interested in this topic.  For this word work activity they are using some of our non-fiction outer space books.  They are going through the books and recording the various popcorn words they can find.  We are practicing counting by 5's and 10's right now so I've asked them to make a tally mark each time they find a word that is repeated.  This has been a great way to integrate some math into our word work time.

I LOVE my sentence building puzzle pieces!!! This year instead of just having the kids create various sentences I'm having them record their sentences onto large paper. They are to make 3 sentences during this choice time.  Most are having no difficulty with this. Many are "editing" each other's sentences for them.  I'm hearing lots of "You don't need a capital need a lowercase is  because it's not the beginning of a sentence!"  For my early finishers I'm having them illustrate pictures to go with their sentences. 
So there's what we are up to for word work this week. How about you?? I'd love to hear. =)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Encouraging Literacy in the Block Area

The block area.

One of my favorite centers since my first year of teaching Kindergarten!

There are soooo many "academic" activities and concepts that can be addressed in this one center. Many, many math concepts are explored almost daily in my block area.  Today however I do want to focus on literacy.

I have often put books in my block area that show interesting buildings, castles, roller coasters, etc. Anything that has pictures that would possibly encourage the children to try and reconstruct.  Also, for years I've included a "block book" in this center. When the kids have created amazing structures they can record their masterpieces by drawing a picture of it in the block book.

This year though my kids will add writing to just about anything for me! So we began drawing "plans" for our block projects in the block book. Usually these are just quick drawings of what they think they want to create.

What I really find exciting is what they do when they are finished with their structures!

After creating their structure they not only draw a picture of it, but they also add a title or sentence about it.  I was so excited when I saw this! Take a peek at what's been happening in our block center recently...........

"I made a rocket."

"I made a ship."  (I just love kindergarten spelling sometimes!)

"The pine cones in the woods."

I usually let the kids leave up their structures if they are on the shelf. If they are on the carpet they have been putting them away....this carpet is where we have many group meetings. Recently I have a few boys that have been planning a "bike stunt park" for the block area.  They are really getting very technical with their measurements and what types of blocks they need. Today we decided to move the block are to a spot where they can leave their creations up for a bit.  Some didn't get the message today though and our structures were knocked down. Hopefully after a little class meeting tomorrow we can begin construction on the bike park once more. This interest is carrying over into their writing! Many are now writing about the bike park during our writing workshop time!  

Exciting times in our room! Hope you are having a great week too...
                                                                                            Mrs. M

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Encouraging Literacy in the House Area

Every year my mom sends me the most beautiful pink roses on Valentines Day.  As usual my class just loved them. However, this year they were insistent about putting them in the house area.  When we began centers I put the flowers in this center as requested but I also provided "observing" materials.

I'm always looking for ways to include literacy or math into my "traditional" centers.  I have various abc letters that look like cookies, grocery lists and cook books.  Today though the kids decided they wanted to decorate the house.

I just love this creative. =)

Anyway, they began with observing and drawing their representations of the flowers.

I guess I tend to focus on writing quite a bit with this class.  After this group finished their drawings they ALL added a sentence about flowers.  I was one happy teacher!

Here are their beautiful observations!

Once finished it was time to "decorate the house" with their artwork. 

My decorators were very pleased with themselves!
Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Moon is a Big Rock

The interest in our outer space topic is not winding down in my room but it is shifting a bit.  The topic of the Moon is taking over much of our writing and art creations.  Recently my kids worked on informational stories about the moon.  But once they made the connection between the moon and rocks their interest began to shift.

"The moon is a big rock. The moon orbits the Earth."

I decided to put a nice little rock display out in our science area this morning.  I just wanted to see how interested they would be in it and what types of questions and observations they would come up with.  

Let's just say it was the first thing that peaked their interest as soon as they were through the door this A.M.!  I assured them we would be talking about the rocks later in the day. However, in the meantime a few decided to write about them. Here's a peek at one of their rock facts...

"Rocks are hard to walk on." (So true!!!)  "Sometimes they are big."

Later in the day a small group had a chance to explore the rock display. Below you can see some of the fun they had observing and some of their comments as they were "being scientists!"

C:  "The sun is hitting the mirrors and making reflections!"

T:  "'s just like when the sun hits the moon and reflects off of it making it shine!!!!."

Here are the scientists trying to make their "moons" shine.

K:  "I'm using my hands to observe the rocks..they are all different."

T:  "Hey Mrs. M I'm noticing that some rocks are bumpy and some rocks are smooth!"  

I LOVE listening to their conversations and observations when they are interacting with a new material in the classroom! They particularly had a lot of fun with this today and felt like real scientists.  Below you can see their written observations we are going to keep in our rock study book.

"The rock is bumpy." In his pictures this student included his tools he used for observing the rocks.

"The rocks are gray. Rocks are different sizes."

"Rocks are little." You can also see how he sorted his observations into bumpy and smooth categories.  

Tomorrow I have a few more rock surprises in store for the kiddos! I can't wait to see how this project develops. =)   Have a great week...
                                                                  Mrs. M

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Unit of Study: OUTER SPACE!!

One of my favorite units to introduce to my kinders is our Outer Space Unit!! Over the years I've collected lots of fun books and materials. Above you can see our collection of non-fiction space books in our science center.  I usually just display these in this center and wait to see how interested my kids become and what types of questions they come up with about the topic.  This year they worked in partners while looking at the books and generated questions for our KWL chart about space.

This year the outer space topic peaked their interest right away! I always try to incorporate some literacy and math activities into our units that are more of a science or social studies theme.  This year I introduced a fun sensory table CVC word making game. 

As the students dig through the black paper (space) they match up CVC words.  We had some ducks and frogs in the tub from our last activity. 

The kids wanted to leave them in the tub because they were the astronauts!!! 

Too cute!

After making the CVC star words they can record them on a nearby word chart.  

We also had space themed ten frames in our math center for counting little space men and next week I have a just a couple more fun space math station activities planned.

In the meantime take a peek at some of our other fun space activities we had in our centers this week!

My wonderful model of the solar system I inherited from a fellow teacher years ago. They LOVE this.  You can see that Pluto is still a planet on this model. =)

I love our collection of planet books by Scholastic.  Several of my kids worked in small groups to research details about their favorite planets.  Although I helped them out with the written text they had amazing conversations when discussing the details of the photos and drawings in the books.  Each of the group members picked their favorite planet to read about and draw a representation of.  

Here's our model of the solar system they created after researching their favorite planets!  My class this year absolutely loves Pluto!! We did include Poor Pluto on the model and labeled it a dwarf planet.  

Our favorite fiction space book this year!

Mrs. N, our Kindergarten Para, shared an ipad space app with the class comparing the size of the different planets to Earth.  They were sooo excited about this!!!

Some of our favorite planet paintings!

After reading Poor Pluto they created their own space crafts in the art center to help save Pluto!! are some of our writing samples from this week! 

Well said.

"We do not live on the lava, we live on Earth."  They were very interested in learning that some of the other planets had lots of volcanoes and lava. 

"Pluto is not a planet."  As you can see we are very fixated on this!

We had a lot of fun learning about space! I hope you enjoyed our work!
                                                                                                   Mrs. M

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Updating My Cafe / Daily 5 Boards

During my journey of attempting to implement as many aspects of Daily 5 and Cafe as possible I have always struggled with creating an inviting Cafe board that was actually useful and usable in Kindergarten.  For over two years I have been implementing and tweaking the program to work for me and the kids in my room.  That is one thing I love about Daily 5 / Cafe is the fact that you can easily change it to meet your needs!  

So during a panic mode of I HAVE TO CLEAN UP MY was looking very cluttered...I decided to try and clean up the cafe board. I won't even bother showing before pictures. It was a sad mess.  

But, on the positive side at least I was giving it a shot and I only had room for improvement!  The board above shows my work in progress.  I'm sure I'll continue to make changes as the year progresses.  For now I feel this is a great change for my room.  

I found the cute space themed Cafe posters by Ivy Taul on TPT when I was searching for space themed materials.  Bonus...they were a FREEBIE! YAY!    

Once I had the posters up I took the reading strategies that have been introduced to my class and put them on magnetic sentence strips.  Before the upgraded cafe board they were just listed haphazardly. To me this looks much more organized.  

At this time I am not planning on having my students list their individual goals on the Cafe board.  For right now this would be too much for us! =)  As I am working with whole group and even small groups in this area we are using the board as a reference when discussing our reading strategies.  I have their individual reading goals under their individual section in my data binder.  

Moving on to the Daily 5 choices....

I know there are some fabulous systems out there for Daily 5 choice boards.  Earlier in the year I was using small pockets and name sticks.  However, this proved to be too time consuming for the short time frame we have for our Daily 5 choices.  

Above you can see that we actually have 6 choices. My class calls are Daily 5 time "ABC Centers" so it worked just fine to tweak the title for my room.   My "read to self" should be listed right under the "listen to reading" but was erased when I took the picture. It is always included though.  =) Anyway, I do include ABC work as an extra choice. I feel that this is very important to include with Kindergarten choices.  We also have two separate writing choices- book making and message writing.  

I have several readers in the room. I've noticed that they are really using this board as a resource to see what activities are newly added to their Daily 5 choice.  After the kids quickly make their choices I mark on the board what they have chosen.  To me this seems to take much less time than moving the name sticks as they make their choices.  Also, it's a great visual for them to see what activities they have already chosen.  Kindergartners can have very selective memories sometimes!  

The Appointment Board...

Until now I've kept track of who I need to have an individual reading or writing conference with on a calendar in my binder as the Sisters suggest.  It is a great system but my kids are very visual this year.  By putting their names on a class calendar just for this purpose they can see when their turn is coming up or request a conference for later in the week.  I also list my strategy groups for the day on the board near the calendar....the boxes are just to tiny to include everything.

Before I go for today I wanted to share an adorable project Mrs. S put up in our hallway last week.  I just loved them!  We haven't had one snow day this year yet! Not that I want a lot of or two would be great though.  Maybe these little guys will help! 

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