Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tree Collections

Who has the most awesome Kindergarten parents?  I do!!

You guys are awesome!  I put out the all-call to collect tree items with your students and you came through in a big way!

We have the most amazing collection of tree rounds, branches, stumps, clippings, needles, leaves... you name it!  The kids have been busily learning to make observational drawings, reading about trees, and learning more each and every day.  We have lots of questions and we are writing them down as they come up.  We will be doing research over the next few weeks and watching the trees around us grow and change.  I hope you'll keep an out for cool and unusual trees as you are driving and walking around town!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine Fun!

It was a card-passing, cookie-decorating, candy-heart-graphing good time in kindergarten yesterday!  I would say it was a successful day!  My daughter bounced off to school in the morning, telling me it was the BEST day of the year.  I always forget how much I loved these days as a kid.  We embraced the craziness of Valentine fun, and incorporated some learning into the day too. (I have never seen them as engaged as they were when they were graphing their candy hearts)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Reading With The Meanies

This is the time of year, in kindergarten, when reading really starts to take off.  The kids are practicing their sight words, they are working in guided reading groups, and their parents are having them practice their reading books at home each night.  There are lots of factors that contribute to reading success, but there is one factor you might not know about.

These are The Meanies.

Several years ago, a friend who works for Wright Group came to visit my classroom.  She brought me some presents, in the form of several big books and 6-packs of individual student books.  They were a huge hit and every year I introduce them right around Valentine's Day.  I have a book called The Huggles, which we also contrast to our Meanie books. 

The kids LOVE these books!  They laugh hysterically at the adventures the Meanies have.  They love reading along with the repetitive sentences and the variety of punctuation makes an excellent lesson.  
As soon as I put these books in the kids' reading tubs, the real fun begins!  Kids are pointing to the words, attending to the story, retelling the book, and reading it to their friends.  It's amazing!  

I love Wright Group books and I really love the Meanies... those crazy guys.

Happy reading!

Friday, February 6, 2015


Is there anything happier than painting in kindergarten?

For this project, we talked about and observed "cool" colors.  We looked at the shades of blue, purple, and gray that were in different winter pictures, and then used watercolor paint to paint the background.  We used tempera paint for the snowmen and accents, and finished the eyes and nose with markers.  Our paintings were completed in several steps and kids were very patient!  They turned out beautifully and each child felt like an artist.

Happy painting!

Jan Brett Books

Ask any teacher to name their favorite author, and you will probably find Jan Brett on the list.  Teachers love her books and we find that kids love them too!  They are always beautifully illustrated and the story is generally something kids can follow along with.  Cinders was the latest book by Jan Brett, to be added to my collection.  Who can resist a book that combines Cinderella and chickens???

One of the things I love about her books are the number of stories that are adaptations of other stories.  I point this out to kids and use the word adaptations.  They are starting to pick up on it, on their own now.  When we read The Three Snow Bears, they noticed how it was just the story of the Three Bears, but with a snowy twist. We pointed out how the story The Mitten was an adaptation, but how The Umbrella was an additional adaptation of The Mitten.  (If you aren't familiar with these books, you should really check them out at the public library!  They are BEAUTIFUL and the kids love the stories!)

We've enjoyed reading these books in the classroom, retelling the stories using felt board, and learning about Jan Brett as an author and illustrator.  She has taught us about how she does research when preparing to write a new book, how she uses the entire page to show her stories, the sound words (onomatopoeia) that she uses in her writing, and about how she gets ideas from her own life.  She also has a fabulous website with great printables and videos you can use at home.

Happy reading!

Guided Reading in Kindergarten

It was about late November when we first started our Guided Reading groups.  I pulled small groups of kids to a spot on the floor, took them on a picture walk, and then they started "reading" the book.  I put "reading" in quotes because for most of the kids, the idea was just to play with reading.  They were getting the big idea of what a reading group felt like.  We practiced holding the book, finding the cover, identifying the author, and learned how to use a whisper voice when we read.  

Over the course of the past few weeks, kids have really grown as readers.  They now know how to track their print (pointing to the words as they read), and they recognize that practicing their sight words has really helped them to be able to read their books too!  There has been so much joy in this process!  They are reading along and one student might shout, "Awww.  That puppy is SO cute!"  Another student perks up when they realize that they can read ALL of the words on the page!  It's certainly an exciting time.  

Our Guided Reading time is an instructional block that allows me the time to guide the child as he or she is reading.  Most of the students in our class are at Level A.  (I use the Fountas and Pinnell reading leveling system.) We will be working through different levels of books, with level D books being our end goal for Kindergarten. Students will be bringing a book home each evening to practice.  Please have them return the book the next day so they can get a new one.  Getting to a Level D by the end of kindergarten is a big task, especially in a half day kindergarten program, so it will be very important that they practice at home too!

Happy reading!