Sunday, October 28, 2012

Boo Bowling

Draw a simple face on a piece of paper, attach to any type of stand alone container and you have a set of pins!

Halloween and our study of 3 dimensional shapes happen at the same time.  Here is  a fun, hands on Halloween and shape game.  Create a set of ghost pins by drawing a simple face on a white piece of paper and taping it to cylindrical shaped containers.  I used oatmeal containers and 1 coffee can.  Make 10 ghosts.
Use any ball or sphere to knock the pins down.
You can also create a graph of how many cylinders each student knocked down to teach graph interpretation and probability.
If you want to be extra thematic the students can wear a cone or pyramid shaped witch's hat or birthday hat and/or try using a cube or rectangular prism (made from appropriately sized and shaped boxes, such as a cereal box or  tissue container) to knock the cylinders down.  You can also graph which shape was used to knock the cylinders down and determine which shape is best at rolling.

Happy Bowling!

If you have feelings and you know it...

Dr. Jean does her own version of the song "If Your Happy and You Know It".
During a recent unit about feelings we did that song and I modified it a bit to include more feelings.  You don't need Dr. Jean's versions if you know the tune of "If Your Happy and You Know It."
Here are the modified verses:
If your scared and you know it hug yourself.
If your proud and you know it kiss your brain.
If your silly and you know it wiggle all over.
If your excited and you know it shout "Hooray!"
If you have feeling and you know it do them all.

We also have a song for the feeling angry to the same tune.
If your angry and you know it count to 10.
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10! (repeat)
If your angry and you know it,  
It's okay, you can control it!
If your angry and you know it count to 10.

Additional verses:
If your angry and you know it, walk away. (pantomime walking away)
If your angry and you know it take a break.  (rest head on hands)

Enjoy your feelings!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Personal Space

Along the same lines as controlling our volcanoes is being aware of personal space.
Another great book by Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman is called Personal Space Camp.
In the story, Principal Goodkid guides a group of kids through a variety of activities that help them become aware of personal space.  One of the ideas I adapted for my classroom is putting a hula hoop around a child to help him/her notice his/her personal space.  I found small hula hoops that I keep in a handy location near the class rug.  When a child is losing control of his/her body and bothering others I put the hula hoop around him/her and say, "This is your space, you need to stay inside this space and no one else can come inside your space."  This also works for kids who have a hard time with others getting too close to them.
So far it's really helping with a physical model of how much space a person should take on the rug.
I hope this helps anyone else dealing with space issues.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Control your Volcano

I was getting desperate.  I'm not too proud to admit it.  I have 5 kids in my class with real impulse control issues.  I reached out to my Kindergarten teacher community.  One person suggested books by Julia Cook.  I checked them out on Amazon.   My Mouth is a Volcano was out of stock and I needed something now.
So I improvised this lesson.  I took our volcano model and I brought the kids to the circle.  Each person took a small plastic person from a tub of math manipulatives.  I talked to them about how each of us is like a volcano.  We have thoughts and ideas inside us but when we erupt by yelling out, making purposeless noise and letting our bodies get out of control, it affects the learning of everyone around us.
I named specific behaviors and used the names of specific kids. (nicely of course)  I believe in corrective feedback and explicit instruction, so it was important for me to give real examples of what specific kids do on a daily basis, but in a teaching way, not a put down way. 
I had my 5 impulsive kids put their people in the mouth of the volcano (which they thought was pretty cool).  The rest of my kids and I put our people around the volcano.  Then I erupted it with baking soda a vinegar (which all the kids thought was pretty cool.)  We talked about how the eruption from a few people got all over us, and we didn't like it. When we get erupted on, we can't learn or do any of our jobs.  Then we role played disruptive behavior.  When someone "erupts" we say "Control your volcano!".  The "erupter" then takes a deep breath and says "okay".
We also talked about how we can do some erupting outside a recess.
This lesson has given everyone ownership of their own learning and a corrective statement for those disrupting that learning.  It also gives the disruptive students a calming action and the understanding that what they do affects everyone in our class, not just me.
I shared this strategy with all the teachers who work with my kids so we can have a universal statement with universal meaning.

I hope this helps all of us with impulsive kids.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The First Day of School

The school were I teach starts before labor day.  My first day of kindergarten was a lot like herding cats while running through sand.  Everything takes a long time because the kids don't know the routines yet!  Even though I know this, I always underestimate what this means until I'm in the mist of all those beautiful 5-year-olds, their shiny new outfits and expectant expressions.

This year presented extra challenges for me because I completely changed my room arrangements, which impacted how my routines worked.  I had to invent a new way to line up because of the furniture arrangement,  I had to search for my recess whistle because I stored the outside toys differently, etc.  I also have twice as many boys and I do girls.  Anyone who has experienced this type of demographic can tell you that a male-majority class requires different energy.  I will be learning a lot about that this year.

One idea that has helped me quite a bit over the years is to write myself a letter after the first day and remind myself about what to expect and what works and what I should absolutely not do!  I put the letter in box of beginning of the year supplies, on top, so I can read it right away.  This years letter was right on target.  I am so glad I listen to myself!

Have a great first day!  Don't stress and enjoy the new crop of kids.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Welcome Back

It is the end of August and that time of year to get ready to go back to school.  This year the teachers in my school participated in a wonderful community building process.  As part of this process we came us with guidelines for all our meetings and interactions with one another.  I want to share these with you because I find them very challenging and inspiring.
1. Keep and open mind.
2. Speak and Listen with kindness and respect.
3. Presume positive intentions.
4. Give all voices a chance to be heard.
5. Be willing to compromise.
6. Be honest and courageous.
7. Be self aware.

"With malice toward none and charity toward all."  A. Lincoln

Have a fantastic year!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Okay, I confess, I always wanted the game, Hungry Hungry Hippos as a child.  I believed (and still do) that Hippos gobbling up marbles at high speeds is fun in a box.  I mean, who came up with this?!  So when I saw the game at a thrift store, all pieces intact, I was thrilled to bring it into the classroom.  The day I put it out one of my students came in and exclaimed, "I have always wanted to play that game!"  It is a hit!  I did find out why it was donated though, it is loud!  So, I have the kids play it on the carpet to cut down on the noise, and we have a "one hand on the hippo handle" rule to prevent over zealous play.  This game also helps with the concept of greater and fewer as the player whose hippo gobbles the greatest number of marbles wins.

Our neighborhoods

This week we celebrated Earth Week in Kindergarten.  I have some favorite books to read and one is The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton.  We read about the little houses move from the country to the city and back again.

This year we tied this book into a geography lesson.  Each student created his/her own house and glued it to a huge piece of paper, along with table mates.  Then, created a yard and garden area.  I folded the neighborhoods in half and added them to our block area.  (They stand up when folded)  Now students can add buildings and roads to the neighborhoods and show each other where they "live".

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let's talk, in an orderly manner

Research shows that students, especially EL's need to talk, orally communicate in order to comprehend and become fluent speakers. I've been using "think, pair, share" to accomplish this. However, I've run into difficulty getting the students to listen to each other. Mostly they yell on top of each other. Well, this problem was solved by using talking tokens. When we partner on the rug each pair gets 2 poker chips, 1 red and 1 blue. I say "Red chip talks, blue chip listens." Then they share. The pencils and bears I use at tables of 4 students. Each student picks a bear, or a pencil and I choose a color to speak first while the rest listen. As a follow up I'll ask someone to share something their group or partner said. No more yelling and listening gets rewarded!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The 3 Little Pigs

To retell the story The 3 Little Pigs, we made story props of the 3 houses and the characters. We used these props to practice telling the story to each other.
I used hay, sticks and styrofoam packing peanuts as bricks. Each child first drew the 3 houses on an 8.5 X11 sheet of paper. I put a plate of glue in between 2 students to share. They dipped the construction materials in the glue and stuck them onto the appropriate house.
This project take a lot of glue so I recommend using the plates instead of the bottles, which can be tricky for young learners to manipulate.
After retelling to a friend and listening to a retell, they brought their props home and told the story to their parents.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Best Day!

I have a little girl in my class, quite a chatterbox really. Every time we do something new, it doesn't matter how trivial I think it is, she says "I love doing this! This is the best day!" I don't know about you, but I've been experiencing stress lately. We all have a myriad of stressors coming at us from all angles everyday. Can we still see all the little wonders and say "This is the best day! I love doing this!"?

Dr. Seuss, Things 1 and 2

My digital camera died, and so this picture is taken from my computer which takes mirror image pictures, that is why this project looks backwards. Anyway, I love Dr. Seuss and one of my favorite things about Kindergarten is that we make up holiday's to celebrate so I jump at the chance to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday. This project came to me on through pinterest and I don't know the origin but I love this one. The kids trace their shoes for the bodies and their hands for the hair and draw the rest. It is fun, cute and ties in several fine motor skills and direction following practice. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Punky Pony

I was interviewing a student for his "star of the day" page and I asked him what his favorite song was. He said, "The Punky Pony!" I frantically searched my memory for any song we had sung about a pony, let alone a punky pony. Then, I got it! He meant The Hokey Pokey. The more I think about it, the more I realize that The Punky Pony makes much more sense as a title for that song. Think about it, you put your right foot in, you put your right foot out, you put your right foot in and you shake it all about... Who moves like that? A punky pony! I realize that this young man was and English Learner and he made the title make sense to him. (After all, what is a hokey pokey?)
Enjoy the fun things your student's think today.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Number snowball fight

It was one of those days. The clock was ticking and we were not making any real head way with the lesson plans. Every time we gained any momentum something would happen... Like everyone would need to find their workbooks, or everyone needed their pencil sharpened. I was starting to get frustrated. But then, I remembered! Dr. Jean to the rescue. We could have a number snowball fight! Each student gets a small piece of paper and writes a number on it. I had my students make a circle and did a quick check to see that numbers were formed correctly. Then we crumpled our papers and had a snowball fight! After about 40 seconds I had each student pick up 1 snowball, uncrumple it and read the number. Then we did another round of throwing the balls. Repeat until all stress is relieved.

Stand up Snow pals

Here is a fun way to create a 3-D snow pal and reuse coffee, cocoa and oatmeal containers. (which I can never seem to bring myself to throw away.)
First students draw 3 horizontal lines across a piece of white paper. We made our line crooked so they look like snow.
Then students add faces and other embellishments.
I helped each student tape their paper around a cylinder shaped container.

This was particularly fun for my class because we have so little snow in Minnesota this year that these are the most realistic snow pals they may get to make!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In God's Hand

We created this bulletin board after reading the book Finding God's Love In Your Thumbprint by Mark Arens. The book is about how God made each person special and unique. After the story, each child received a large picture, photo copy of a hand. They decorated the hand and wrote their names in the middle. We talked about how God knows us so well that our names are written in God's hand. The hands became the boarder around out bible story chart. The chart is a T chart with pictures of old testament stories on one side and new testament stories on the other. I took the pictures from an old, falling apart, toddlers bible. It really helps children understand the 2 parts of the bible.

Valentine Roses

This rose is made from the end of a bunch of celery or bok choy. When stamped in paint the result is a cool textured rose. The leaves are sponge painted with a heart shape.
This is the end of the bok choy we used. This makes a nice Valentines or Mother's Day card.


This is a fun winter project and a nice follow-up activity to a penguin unit. Use an 8.5 X 11 piece of black construction paper with the corners cut off for the body of the penguin. The eyes are quarter size circles, the beak is a square folded into a triangle, the belly is a U shaped piece of white paper and the feet can be any way you like. I made a master sheet with the beak, feet and eyes and copied it on yellow construction paper for the kids to cut out. I made tracers for the bellies and had the kids trace and cut those out of white paper. We added wiggle eyes at the end. We hung ours from our ceiling clips so they move. They add a fun whimsy to the classroom.