Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Oh My Gosh, I'm a Squash!

During a recent pumpkin unit we read the book The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz (available through Scholastic Books.) It is a great story about accepting difference.  After reading the story, each child got to take off and trace his/her shoe, cut it out and decorate it.  They think it is super funny to trace their own shoe!   In the future I would give the student a choice of colored paper to use.  The vine is made out of crunched up brown paper that came in a box of shipped items.
Our shoe shaped squash displayed on their vine.

Fact Displays

I like to incorporate informational text in as many units as possible.  Studying animals is an easy way to make this happen because of the plentiful amount of resources available.  After reading and studying the animals, each student gets to dictate a fact that impressed them about the animal.  I found themed sticky notes at our local dollar store to add a special touch to the fact collection.
A cave of bat facts displayed on bat themed sticky notes.

A web of spider facts displayed on spider themed post it notes.

Magnetic story boards

My wonderful family knows never to throw any unique thing away until they've checked with me about using it for Kindergarten.  This got me into using cookie sheets and magnets to create story props for retelling popular stories.  I used Pete the Cat books as inspiration for these 2 boards because of the predictable text and rhythm of the stories.  I used construction paper to create the characters and taped them with clear tape over the cookie sheets so they had a laminated type feel and protection.  I hot glued the changing prop, in this case buttons and shoes, to magnets for easy manipulation.  These are sturdy and easy to repair.
Pete The Cat and His 4 Groovy Buttons.

Pete The Cat and I Love My White Shoes

The other shoe colors stored in a zipper bag taped to the back of the cookie sheet.

What's been going on?

I was lucky enough this year to be hired in a fantastic school district.  That means that I had to pack up my classroom, where I resided for 10 years and accumulated many kindergarten treasures.  It took a while to decide what to leave and what to take.

Everything sat in my garage all summer until I was finally able to move in 1 week before starting classes at my new school.

I was lucky to walk into an empty classroom.  No need to sort through someone else's accumulation of treasures, the value of which may have been lost on me.

Anyone who has gone through this process knows that it take a while to learn the culture and procedures of a new school and remember where you put everything.  That is why there have been no new post in a while.  My creative energy had to catch up.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Engineering.. Saving Humpty Dumpty

This was another inspiration by Deanna Jump.  I have recently been hired to teach Kindergarten at a STEM school.  I love learning and getting new ideas on my quest to be the best teacher I can be… But engineering?  In Kindergarten?  How on earth do I do that?  Well, it turns out, the same way I do everything, thematically as part of a unit.

This past week we've been working on the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty".  We recited, sang it, read a mini book about it, illustrated it and acted it out.  Now it was time to save Humpty from his dangerous wall sitting tendencies.

I talked with the class about how we keep ourselves save during activities where we might fall.  We came up with helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, band aids..

I told the kids it was their job to design a safety suit for Humpty Dumpty. I put them in 6 groups of 2 or 3.  I gave them the following materials:  A large sheet of paper, a length of adding machine tape, a paper towel, 3 pipe cleaners, a small padded envelope, a length of masking tape and an egg.  (I used supplies I had on hand.)  They could use scissors but nothing else.  I showed them how to tear the masking tape in pieces if desired.  If they ran out of materials they had to make do.

I learned:
Have extra eggs.  The kids may break their eggs in the design process but I didn't want learning to stop there so I gave the groups another egg.
Kids are pretty adaptable.  When they are told they have limited supplies they make do.
Make sure the egg breakage happens outside, in a place where it can end up on the bottom of shoes, and tracked in public spaces.
Keep a scissors and a garbage can handy after the fall off the wall.

Each group had to explain their design and how it works before dropping it off the wall. (Off the top of a high play structure works well too).

As a follow up each group talked about any design changes they would make if they could do it again.
And we may because I have a number of eggs who survived the fall.  Way to save Humpty!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

3-D pond diorama

I confess, I have a hard time letting go of containers.  I can't seem to send any of those lidded copy paper boxes to the recycling.  Only recently have I been able to stop collecting all manner of plastic food containers because my city  now recycles them.  I don't want to live in clutter.  My latest conundrum has been what to do with the containers birthday cake and cupcakes come in.  I was able to let go of most of them but I held onto one particularly cool one that I promised myself I would recycle at the end of the year if I haven't found a use for it.

Finally, it came to me.  I can use it to create an enclosed habitat diorama for the pond.
I have been working on creating a pond unit for most of the school year culminating in a field trip to study a nearby pond.

I wanted my students to create something they could identify with that would be a lasting reminder of this unit of study.

As a class we glued sand to the bottom and a small stick from the playground for a log.  We taped shredded green paper to the corners and then each student decided on a pond creature to add.  Each student painted a small stone and added paper legs, tails and heads.  We displayed our work prominently in the classroom and referred to it anytime we collected new learnings about the pond.

If you are a container person like I am I hope this give you a new way to think about containers.

The frog glyph and my thoughts on glyphs.

 I have never gotten into glyphs.  I never understood their purpose and they always seemed too complicated and needing too much class time without much learning.
I had an "aha" moment this past weekend listening to Deanna Jump speak at the Minnesota Kindergarten conference.
Mrs. Jump explained that the purpose of glyphs is to create data in a picture form but not to stop there.  Use the data created to make graphs and charts and then interpret the data.
She also stressed that Kindergarten glyph should only have 3 elements.  Any more than that is way too much information.
I was inspired.  I have been looking for ways to do more data analysis types of activities in my ongoing quest to teach math in more integrated and engaging ways.

As part of a recent unit of study on ponds I was able to create my first glyph!
We read several pond stories and all of them included frogs.  Frogs captured the imaginations of my young learners.

Here are the 3 questions in my glyph:
I think frogs are cool = a dark green frog outline
I think frogs are creepy= a light green frog outline

I have touched a frog = big wiggle eyes
I have not touched a frog= small wiggle eyes

I like Jump Frog Jump best = a long red tongue
I like In a Small, Small Pond best = a short red tongue

After creating the data we used graph paper and tally charts to collect the data and compare our numbers using greater than, less than and equal too terminology.

If you are like me and have never used glyphs before I hope you give it a try and see if they inspire you too!

Friday, February 7, 2014

10 Frame Math Games

10 Frame Cookies
You will need the 10 frame cookies and cookie jar.
A 10 frame activity sheet for each student.

Taking turns, each child selects a 10 frame cookie from the jar.  The student then reads the 10 frame and says the corresponding number.  Then the student fills in the 10 frame and the numeral on the activity sheet.

Mystery 2 digit numbers
You will need 2 decks of standard playing cards.
A 10 frame activity sheet or white board and marker for each child.
The game leader draws 1 card from each deck and sets them next to each other making a 2 digit number.
The students read the number, write the numeral and fill in the corresponding correct amounts of 10 frames.

10 Frame Games Activity Sheets

Saturday, January 4, 2014

5 Little Muffins and teaching coins and values.

Rhymes and finger plays are great ways to introduce and reinforce content topics.  I found the following rhyme and finger play very useful for teaching subtraction and money.

So, There were 5 little muffins on the bakery shop, (Hold up 5 fingers)
You know, the kind with the honey and the nuts on the top. (Pretend to sprinkle honey and nuts on top of a muffin)
Along came (name a child) with a (name a coin), (Point to child)
And bought 1 muffin and ran away. (Hold up 1 finger and pretend to run away)

Final verse after all 5 muffins have been purchased the last line is.
What!? No muffins today!
Oh well, I guess I'll have a doughnut.
I created this visual manipulative game, a book and a rhyme card.
I used a metal muffin tin (test it first as not all muffin tins are magnetic).
I created muffins using foam sheets, permanent marker, hot glue and round magnets.
I created magnetic coins by hot gluing plastic coins to magnets.  I made 5 pennies, 5 nickels, 5 dimes and 5 quarters.  I introduce 1 coin at a time and as we recite the poem the child named trades a coin for a muffin.
After each verse count the coins and their values.

Friday, January 3, 2014

SUPERKIDS Class books

If you use the SUPERKIDS reading program here are some class book ideas for each of the characters.

Up, up and away! Theme to start the year.

When I need to feel inspired for the new year I like to find a theme to focus my creativity.  This year I decided to use hot air balloon.  I had so much fun with the colorful balloons. I labeled each balloon with the student's name, using permanent marker.   I had each student color a coffee filter with washable marker.  Then I sprayed them with water to disperse the colors.  Those became the hot air balloons.  The baskets are cardboard squares also labeled with student's names.  When the students arrive at school they have fun finding their name and balloon and then those of their friends.