Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Math

I learned the following two games at a work shop from other kindergarten teachers and I've used them every year since. They are a nice structured way to celebrate, that includes learning and also lets the kids have some candy without going overboard.

This game is called Bag of Bones and requires a small supply of the different skeletal shapes. I found the bones candy in the Oriental Trading catalogue 2008 Halloween #20566D1, item #NY-25/4641 Bones Candy
Oriental Trading's phone # is 800-228-2269
So, you make a graph by drawing or tracing the shapes several times. Be sure to leave a space for students to write the number of bones they find. The students receive a bag of bones and graph the different types of bones on the correct line. Then the student writes the number in the space provided.
If buying candy is not an option, I've also made several copies the the different skeletal shapes on different colored construction paper, cut them out and made a "bag of paper bones" for students to sort, graph and count.

I also really like this game, ghost count. To prepare, you need white beans, several small containers and the ghost count sheet. Mark the white beans with 2 permanent marker dots. These are the ghosts. Put 10 ghosts in a film canister or other small container. The students shake the container and pour the contents out. Then the student counts the number of ghosts with eyes facing up. They note this by coloring a ghost next to the correct number. The game can be played until all ghosts are colored or it becomes time to stop. I save the ghosts containers to use year after year, but I have to check them because the "ghosts" can disappear.

To save paper I copy both the bag of bones and ghost count back to back because I know we will play both games.

Pumpkin Poems

I really enjoy teaching adjective to my students with this poem. The first words signified by the pumpkins are "This little pumpkin is..." If I were to do it again I would write these words inside the pocket chart pumpkins but I went and laminated them so now they are what they are. I also discovered that using realia really help my ELL students with their vocabulary and mental process. It is so much easier to match a picture with a word than to try and translate words from one language to another. I brought in real pumpkins that had the attributes described in the poem. This pumpkin could be small and round, sit on the ground or be short and fat.This little pumpkin wore a silly hat.This little pumpkin had a grin so keen.

This little pumpkin said Happy Halloween!

Fall Poetry

I use lots of poems with my students and I love teaching with thematic units. Here are 2 of my favorite fall poems combined into an art project.
Gray Squirrel (Author unknown)
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel swish your bushy tail.
Gray squirrel, gray Squirrel swish your busy tail.
Wrinkle up your little nose,
Hold a nut between your toes,
gray squirrel, gray squirrel, Swish your bushy tail
Mr. Oak Tree (author unknown)
Mr. Oak Tree, Mr. Oak Tree,
Leaves float down,
to the ground.
Acorns dropping,
squirrels a-scampering,
all around, all around.
I find that adding actions helps students remember the words to the songs. They also really help ELL students comprehend and remember new vocabulary.
To make the squirrels, I pre-made gray construction paper cylinders and made tracers for the head and paws. The children traced and cut the head and paws and then had to create their own tail by drawing it and cutting it out. Then they glued the entire squirrel together.
I wrote the oak tree poem inside and tree trunk and branches shape. The students added oak leaves and acorns and then added the squirrels.
A note about unknown authors. I always try to give credit where credit is due but sometimes poems are copied and passed around, written out and expanded and the original source is lost. If you wrote any of the poems that I am using. I would like to give you credit so please let me know.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dust your brain

This is no ordinary duster (from the dollar store). This is a brain duster! When students have lost their focus or need to really pay attention I bring out the "brain duster" and gently dust the tops of each child's head. (Lice can't live in the synthetic fibers so don't worry.) If a child covers his or her head or pulls away they are not "dusted". There is no grabbing of the duster and only the teacher is allowed to use it. It is amazing how this actually works as a focus tool. Teacher's can dust their brains too!

October Dramatic Play

This is the easiest dramatic play area that I have ever put together or set up. I put my costume box into the dramatic play area along with, a set of 4 Halloween or fall themed plates, cups and napkins, some invitations that I made up on my computer, a table cloth and some miscellaneous decorations. (All these things I got at thrift stores or the dollar store). The children love it and it actually relieves some of the "Halloween Hype" because they get to act out the event without the sugar rush.
I also created a themed writing bag called the "Boo Bag" This contained some party invitations, black and orange pens, envelopes and some Halloween phrases that we brainstormed as a class and I wrote on orange construction paper. The "Boo Bag" can also be used during independent work time.