Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What are we interested in now? Fall Leaves

Fall is such a fun time in a Kindergarten room! Although we've been collecting Fall leaves for a couple of weeks the trees in our area are just now starting to burst with color.  Naturally this has caught the children's attention and they are becoming more interested in investigating Fall leaves.  
Here's a sampling of what we could work on today that involved the study of leaves.  Pictured above are leaf rub templates. You could also use real leaves for this of course (and we still may and then compare they types of rubs.)  The plastic version is nice for kiddos who have never tried this before. They've held up well over the past ten years or so!
Studying the veins in leaves at the light table is always one of my favorites! When they walked in the room and saw the leaves and how you could really see the details through the light they were so excited.  I'll share their work samples soon of their observations but I was very excited about the amount of detail the kids were including in their drawings.

"Before and After" of a community project in the art area today.  After our first work time in the morning we had just a few colors and leaves on the paper.  After a class discussion on veins and leaves I had several go back to the drawing and add the veins.  The X's you see on the leaves are the veins. 
As we ended our day today several kids were still writing about leaves and working on the gourd observation from yesterday.  We'll see what tomorrow brings!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

S-l-o-w-i-n-g Down...

EVERY year I keep telling myself that I'm going to take it slow with my new Kindergartners. We are not going to rush into ANYTHING.  Not rushing to start amazing inquiries right off the bat. Not rushing to have all of our Daily 5 routines in place by the second week of school.  Not rushing with learning how to read by get my point.

However more often than not I rush. Not only do I rush but... I rush the kids.  Even though we know better as teachers we are in such a hurry to get our routines in place and dive into those activities that may require a bit more training and patience on our part. 

But this year I finally did it. I guess with it being my 22nd year of teaching and all I finally listened to myself! We took it S-L-O-W.  Very slow....

In general our regular class routines and procedures were introduced over the first two weeks.  Then we spent a significant amount of time revisiting them. In the past it was during this time frame that I felt the urge to rush on. I've always worried the kids would get bored if we didn't move on quickly to busier activities. 

It just flowed this year and we are definitely not bored.   Once the initial routines were in place I began with our Daily 5 "I" charts.  Each one was introduced and practiced over the course of several weeks.  I fought the urge to work with small groups or hold individual conferences during this time.  I was there to facilitate in helping them build stamina and to become comfortable with the routine. 

Eventually I did begin working with small groups but only briefly.  I wanted to be available to reinforce the behaviors we were working on.  As the weeks wore on I was finally able to work with my groups for longer time periods. It's amazing....the room is running like a well oiled machine as I work with my little group. 

Today I was brave and worked with students on individual reading and writing conferences during our daily 5 time. Again...success!! The room ran on it's own and I held several conferences without interruptions or the room being loud. For only being October I was thrilled.  In the past I may have attempted this earlier but it would not have been as successful.
The next step for me is to really begin kid watching and having discussions with the students as they are working in their centers. I am looking for that first inquiry to develop...again I'm fighting the urge not to rush this!

Today I'm sharing a few shots of some of the fun we have been having in class this Fall.  We recently visited a pumpkin patch and have lots of gourds and pumpkins to observe.  The vocabulary and literacy skills are really beginning to emerge as we talk about and observe our loot!

 We've also become BAT crazy in our room! I'm not sure where this possible inquiry is headed but so far the children have been investigating bat books, working with bat math manipulatives, creating bats in the art center and even creating bat caves in the block center!

Thank you for reading The Daily Cupcake! I hope we can share more from our room with you soon!
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