Friday, March 20, 2015

Block Play in the Kindergarten Classroom

Every kindergarten teacher will tell you that the block area is always a favorite center.  It doesn’t matter if they are big blocks, little blocks, wooden blocks, or cardboard blocks.  The minute the block center is opened up, so is the creativity.

One of my favorite new activities is to print out pictures of famous buildings and place them in the block center.  The kids love creating buildings like those in the pictures.

Building with blocks is a great way to integrate thematic play into the day.  The block area can be a zoo, horse coral, farmyard, big city, or a construction zone.  Any theme you are exploring in your home or classroom can transfer into the block area.

When towers are the structures of choice, we add blank papers, markers, and tape so kids can write names for their buildings.

Do you have blocks in your home?  If you do, it's time to break them out again and introduce a few new materials into the block center.  It's a great time for creativity!

Happy building!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Documenting Learning in Kindergarten

I love using photography to document student learning.  During our tree unit, I've been snapping pictures every time I get the chance.  I've been taking pictures of the kids at work, observing, describing, and writing in their journals.  One of our parents made a tree for our bulletin board and I thought it would be a perfect place to share our kids' learning.

When the activity is finished, I try to have the pictures printed as quickly as possible.  Then, I ask students to tell me about the picture, describe what they see, and share any new learning.  This time for one on one conversation really helps me understand where they are in the learning process.  Some kids are full of scientific facts that they have learned, and can't wait to share!  Other kids use more descriptive language that we have been trying to incorporate into our Observe and Describe time.  

It's been a great process for the kids, as well as for me.  I enjoy hearing what they have to say!

We are really enjoying the tree unit!

On A Rainy Day - Mental Images

What a perfect Sunday we had yesterday!  Some of you are thinking, "Is she crazy? It rained ALL day!"  Well, it was a perfect day as long as you know what today's lesson was all about in literacy.  It was all about rain and what we do on a rainy day!

We started by reading the book A Rainy Day.  Then we talked about what Mental Images are. I asked the kids to close their eyes and visualize what the day was like yesterday.  We talked about picturing the dark sky, the rain hitting the windows, and having to stay inside because it was too wet outside to play.  They made mental images in their minds and then we talked about those images.  When we finished up, the kids were almost ready to write about their rainy days.  I pointed out that the title of the book had some words they might want to use.  I showed them that I might want to start my writing with "On a rainy day I..."  

Several of the kids noticed that they could write all of these words with ease!  The pictures, below, show the very beginning of writing time.  They all had something to say and a story to tell.  

Weather is always a fun springboard in writing!  I love to use hot sunny days, cold snowy days, blustery days, or rainy days as story starters for kids.  It is something they have experienced and know all about.  If you child is struggling to find something to write about, sometimes getting them going is as easy as looking out the window at the weather! 

Happy Writing!

Place Value - Tens and Ones

Were you wondering what I needed all of those egg cartons for?  I asked for egg cartons a few weeks ago, because we need them for math.  The first thing I did was cut off the lids and two sections from each carton.  This made a container that had 10 sections in it.  We practiced counting objects, looking at the egg carton as a row of 5 on top and a row of 5 on bottom.  We have used these types of frames in our counting all year, so this was nothing new to the kids.  The idea of using an egg carton was something new and different though.  I have collections of random objects and we practiced counting different amounts of objects that were less than 10.

Then we moved on to numbers greater than 10, but less than 20.  We call these numbers our Teen Numbers.  The kids used the egg cartons to help count out the numbers.  They knew that only 10 objects would fit in the egg carton, so the extras were our left over "ones" and did not make a 10.  This process made it easier for kids to count objects, by making a group of ten first.  

Thinking about the Teen Numbers as tens and ones has been easy for some kids and challenging for others.  We have also started transferring this hands-on work with counting out Teen Numbers to worksheets.  In the homework for the week, for example, kids are asked to draw circles (or an another shape) in the boxes.  You will notice that there are only 10 spaces for them to draw in. This may remind them of the ten spaces we had in our egg cartons.  Once their 10 frame is full, they have to draw the rest of the shapes in the space below.  This way, they can easily see that 1 Ten and 4 Ones makes 14.

The teen numbers can be a tough concept for kindergartners, but the kids are doing really well!  Hands-on math seems to easier for them, but I'd really like then to be able to show their work with tangible objects as well as on paper.  If you have any questions about this, please feel free to ask!

Happy counting!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Enemy Pie

Enemy Pie is a great book for teaching about friendship!  It's one of my favorite books to read to kindergartners, this time of year, and we read it today in kindergarten.  The story is all about how a father tricks his son into playing with a boy who he thought he didn't like.  After spending the day together, he realizes that he doesn't actually have an enemy.  He has a new friend!

If you'd like to see an animated version, click on the link below. and then go to Tumblebooks.  You will need your library card number to login.  There are MANY wonderful books on Tumblebooks and this service is free through the public library.  It's worth investigating!

Happy reading!