30 Nov 2016 Leave a comment
02 Jan 2014 Leave a comment
I love digital cameras! Younger people probably take it for granted, but I am so delighted that I can take as many pictures as I want, pick out the best, share them with my friends and family and keep them on my computer – all for free! I remember the days of deciding whether to buy indoor or outdoor film, paying to develop the pictures, and usually paying for double prints so I could use the pictures different ways – then excitedly opening the envelope of prints just to see that some were out of focus or didn’t capture what I wanted to save! Yay for technology!
Pictures are a great tool for motivating children to read and write, especially if they are in the pictures. When our family goes somewhere or does an activity, I often make a book for them to read and remember our fun. The first thing I do is print out pictures and ask the children to put them in the right order. Sequencing is such an important skill, they love to retell the events as they put them in the right order. Sometimes I ask them to tell me what is going on in each picture, and I write down what they say – using their words for the book. Owen is beginning to write on his own, in Kindergarten I would ask the children to write a sentence for each picture.
Here is a simple book I made showing the steps in making a snowman.
I used this idea to introduce the idea of writing How To books in Kindergarten. When our class did a special activity I would intentionally take lots of photographs showing the sequence of events. Then as a whole group – or in small groups – we would sequence the pictures and write a caption for each page. These made very popular books for our reading center.
Children love to read books about themselves too, so wben I make books for my grandchildren I usually use their names in the text. For example, I would write “Owen helped Daddy roll a big ball of snow.” My grandchildren read and re-read these books. You can make books about anything you do – making cookies, watching a cement mixer, going shopping, planting flowers – just get out your camera and make memories!
07 Mar 2011 1 Comment
This weekend marked the beginning of the annual Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska. There are so many resources online that provide wonderful ideas and activities to study this with your class. Here is one I found:
Every year Target also sponsors a “Teacher on the Trail” and there are tons of resources online about these teachers, and giving ideas across the curriculum using this theme.
One year our school used the Iditarod in combination with “March is Reading Month” and we charted how many books the children read at home using sled dog pictures and an enlarged map of Alaska. There are so many skills that fit in very well – mapping, great vocabulary, history, study of weather, temperature, and time. I also liked to emphasize the whole idea of a team spirit.
After I explained the basic story of the original Iditarod to my class we watched the video Balto in small pieces. This is an animated version of the story.
I got this information from Wikipedia:
Here is a book my Kindergartners made.
We looked at a map of Alaska and the original trail they took to bring the serum to the sick children.
We used the word “musher” and talked about the clothing they would need to wear, and all the jobs the musher would have to do to take care of the dogs and run the course. They put their own face onto this musher.
We talked about the type of dogs that run in the Iditarod. We talked about the booties that they wear to protect their feet from the ice. One year I found a teacher online – I think it was part of the Target Teacher on the Trail program, and she sent out a box of resources for teachers to use. She also sent me a bootie that had been used by a dog in a race.
We discussed and made a list of all the supplies the musher would need to take for this trip that lasted more than a week. This “sled” was a bent pipe cleaner stapled onto the page.
We talked about the job of the lead dog, and how the team had to work cooperatively.
I brought in a child’s snow sled and tied a long rope on it in a loop. I had a parent take 4 children at a time out into our hallway, which was carpeted. Each child got a chance to act out every role – the musher who sat on the sled, the lead dog, and a team dog; and they pulled each other down the hallway.
I sometimes adapted the text of this book to fit a little higher readers, but it was always a pattern. Sometimes it might have read: This is the __________. OR The musher was in the race, the dog was in the race, the sled was in the race, the team won the race! I wanted all the children to be successful reading it, and the Iditarod vocabulary was what I was really focusing on.
23 Feb 2011 1 Comment
I know this is late for another President’s Day project, my computer was out being fixed! But I loved how this project always just looked like Kindergarten.
I used to make it on large 12 x 18 inch paper, but to save paper I reduced it to fit on 9 x 12, and I liked it just as well.
I usually pre-traced the oval on white paper, but I didn’t always mount it on the black.
To prep this project I traced the ovals (or copied them on white paper) and cut 3 x 3 inch squares of black paper – each child will need 3-4 depending on how narrow they cut them into strips and how much hair and beard they want on their project. The hat brim was 1 x 4 1/2 inches. The eyes were just free cut too.
Here is a copy of the project you can print if you like:
And here is a page of the multiple copies of the poem if you’d like to add that at the bottom of the portrait.
I hope all of you who had a few days off for Presidents’ Day or winter break, or snow; had a restful fun time with your families!
I can’t resist – here is a recent picture of my granddaughters!
Their big brother currently does NOT like to have his picture taken but here is a picture of all of them with their Dad.
There is nothing more delightful in the world!
17 Feb 2011 1 Comment
During the season of Valentine’s Day I liked to include activities that emphasized friendship. We usually read The Crayon Box That Talked, and did an activity – as well as some of Leo Lionni’s books – It’s Mine, 6 Crows, and Swimmy all include good friendship lessons. There are tons of books on friendship, and this is just a nice time of year to make sure you take time to read some of them and talk about friendship. It fits in well with a study on Martin Luther King, Jr. too.
We learned a song about friends, to the tune of You Are My Sunshine – and I taught simple sign language motions to go along with it.
Each child also made a book out of this song. They illustrated one page a day until it was done – that gave them lots of time to learn the song, and since they knew how to sing it – they could read it too!
Here is a copy of the song, printed one line on each half page.
I also liked to talk about the difference between Valentine hearts, and the heart in our body.
Roxie Heart got a new heart dress and came to visit (if you haven’t met Roxie, please check out my posts on informational text.)
She just had to have hair bows to match!
Roxie carries a little purse that matches her dress, and always carries something that reminds the children of one of the facts she talks about. She carried a small piece of a drinking straw in her heart purse.
We talked in very simple terms about the circulatory system – and used a straw as a visual representation of veins and arteries.
I made cards with simple pictures that Roxie showed to help the children understand and remember the facts she talked about.
Here are printable copies of the facts cards:
After discussing the facts, I asked the children to draw and write some of the facts that they remembered.
I brought in a stethoscope too, and let the children listen to their hearts. We noticed the difference in our heart beats after some simple exercise.
I also used a copy change book to reinforce rhyming. Earlier in the school year we made a book that included the text: Pumpkins by the house, pumpkins by the mouse, etc. We made similar books about leaves and snow – during Valentine’s Day we made a Heart Rhyme book.
Sorry the picture doesn’t show well – the children traced and cut out 2 socks, then glued them onto the page and stamped them with hearts.
The picture on this page was supposed to be a rug – they fringed the short ends and decorated it. Sometimes we made an oval rug instead.
The door was taped on the left side so it would open. The children drew a picture of a friend behind the door.
This was the only page that was not cut and paste – they just traced several different hearts on the page.
If you don’t have a little heart stamp to use on each page – or would like a few more, just get some adhesive foam – in the Dr. Scholl’s section at Target or Walmart, and cut it with scissors into small heart shapes. Then peel off the backing and stick it to a small block – they work great and hold up well too!
Here are the words to the Heart Book – I usually put them in a pocket chart.
I loved talking about the whole subject of friendship and emphasis on caring about other people, and tried to include lots of this discussion all year!
17 Feb 2011 2 Comments
For the past few years Valentines Day and the 100th day of school happened to fall on the same day – or very close – so we decided to combine these into one big celebration. I know that some of the things I am sharing won’t work for this year because it is past Valentines Day – but maybe you could adapt or save some ideas for another year. We had a parent/child activity day and invited each child to bring an adult to school for half of the day. We did this a couple of times a year, it was a great way to educate parents about how children learn and things they could do with their child at home.
Every year, whether we had a parent/child day or not, I asked each child to count out 100 of one item and bring it in to school. We compared these things by size and noticed how different 100 things look – how some take up much more space than others. We also placed the baggies of 100 things on a balance scale to see the heaviest and lightest objects – lots of great comparative language. Here is the letter I sent home:
As part of our calendar routine every day we counted the days of school and celebrated Zero the Hero day every 10th day. I had an old Grover stuffed animal from my own children’s past – and I made a little cape for him with a big 0 on it – like a superman cape. He came out (he lived in my puppet castle) every Zero the Hero day, along with a pop up creature puppet that I called Mr. Number. On these 10th day celebrations I brought both of these puppets out, the kids counted to the number we had reached for the days of school, jumping on every number that had a zero in it – then we jumped again – counting by 10s to 100 and jumping every time. After that the children lined up and came around the circle past me, and I stamped a Zero the Hero stamp on their hand – unless they said “No, thank you.”
So of course, these puppets had to be part of the 100th day celebration – we began the day with them, counting and jumping. But sometime during the 100th day – usually near the end of the afternoon – I conned someone into dressing up like the “real” Zero the Hero and making a short appearance. I made a black and red cape and decorated it with colored Zeroes, along with a top hat and glasses with 100 on them. Some of my “volunteers” got creative and added a lot more – like a wig, face paint, etc. but it worked okay even if they just wore the cape and hat. I tried to find someone the children didn’t already know so they wouldn’t recognize their voice, etc. I provided a basic script but encouraged Zero the Hero to be flexible and add anything (s)he liked. Some added props like a Jello box adapted to say Zello – or Cheerios that were renamed Zeerios, etc. to tell about the planet Zero – where Zero the Hero comes from. I usually provided something simple for them to pass out – individually wrapped Lifesavers, or even paper 0’s.
Here was the basic script, to give the Zero the Hero volunteer and idea about what to say –
The children loved this so much, and we had such a great day that it was a wonderful opportunity to make a language experience book about the whole day. As a class we wrote what the children remembered and enjoyed, then I typed it – breaking it into one or two sentences on each page, and the children illustrated it. Here is a sample:
Here is the invitation for the Parent/child Heart Day:
And the check off list of activities – all 4 or 5 Kindergarten classes participated, sometimes we spread the activities out among the classrooms – sometimes we used the cafeteria.
This is a basic short description of some of the centers:
At the beginning of the day I did some of our regular circle time routines so parents could see what our morning circle time was like, and then I always tried to do some kind of active participation thing to get parents involved. For this parent/child day I shared a Hug Book – we used these hugs every day during our routines – but the children practiced them with their parents on our Heart Day. I already posted this but here is another copy:
One of the activities we did that day was to cut out smaller versions of these pictures and glue them onto a belt made out of a sentence strip – to remind parents of these hugs in case they wanted to use them at home.
After circle time the parents and children were free to go to the activities in any order they chose. I made 3 sided signs with simple directions for each project that I set on each table. Here are many of the directions:
Here are a couple of pictures of the children measuring how many kids would equal the strip of 100 circles.
I hope you can find something you can use! Happy 100th day!!
16 Feb 2011 Leave a comment
I’m sorry that I haven’t written a blog in a couple of weeks – I was on vacation at Disneyworld! Of course it was so much fun! But I completely missed Valentine’s Day – and I am late sharing anything for Presidents’ Day – but maybe someone can find something to use another year. I will also post some Valentine’s Day stuff soon – for your files!
In my district we usually had either an inservice day or a day or two of winter break in February, so it was easy to fit in a few days to talk about President Washington, President Lincoln and our current President. We didn’t do an indepth study at all, but I wanted to give the children a little information about each President. We celebrated a different president each day – usually starting with Washington.
The best strategy for me was to tell the children a story about each President – including some of the myths that they might hear. I know there are a lot of conflicting opinions about telling children that Washington chopped down a cherry tree, or wore wooden teeth. In the story I make up to tell the children I explain that the whole point is that George Washington was remembered as a very honest man, and the story about the cherry tree might never have happened, but it helps us remember that he told the truth. I also tell them a little about how dentists didn’t have tools to use like we have today – and that Washington had teeth that were not comfortable in his mouth – although they probably weren’t really made out of wood. After I tell my story, we read a book about Washington, then made a book to remind us of some of the things we discussed.
Again, I am sorry that I don’t have original masters of these books – but I am happy to share the finished books.
I usually bought those little flags on cocktail toothpicks – sometimes at a Dollar Store, but the copy I saved of the book has a handmade flag.
We put the cherry tree on a brad fastener so it could fall down – again, I emphasized that this was probably just a made up story about George.
For years I had a supply of little wooden tiles meant for a doll house roof that I used for the wooden teeth. When I ran out of those I broke tongue depressors into pieces and the children glued those on.
We also did rubbings of quarters – and played math games with money.
My whole point was to build schema about presidents – give them a little background knowledge and understanding of the common myths they might hear about this time of year.
Another day we heard a story, read books, and made a book about Lincoln too.
The picture cues helped the children remember what to put on each page.
Sometimes we used a scrapbooking tool that made the paper look corrugated – bumpy. Sometimes we glued on popsicle sticks – other times we just drew lines to look like a log cabin. We got out the Lincoln Logs to play with too!
I premade little books with 4-6 pages inside. The children had to draw and write on each page of the book before they glued it into the Lincoln book.
I taught the children a simple poem about Lincoln
Kind and good
Was honored and loved by many.
To help us remember this President
We put his face on our penny.
This was a great time to reinforce coins. We did lots of sorting, rubbings, etc.
One of my calendar routines was adding a penny for each day of school – we said our penny poem every day, then traded for nickels, dimes and quarters – whenever we added a coin we said the poem.
I didn’t save our booklet that told about our current President – and of course I had to change this every time we elected a new President. It was a simple folded piece of xerox paper, with a clipart picture of the White House on the front. It was easy to find simple facts and photographs of the First Family online. The children would bubble cut out small pictures of them and glue them inside the folded paper. Then they would label the President, his wife’s first name, and the names of the children. We also included their pets. I tried to tell them interesting facts about each person and they would draw a simple symbol to represent these facts – for example – “Michelle Obama wants children to eat healthy food.” They would draw healthy food near the glued on picture of Mrs. Obama. My purpose was to spend some time talking about our President and give them just a little information.
Sometimes we also read books and talked about the American Flag – and made a simple one that we mounted on a straw or a pencil.
We often brainstormed and wrote about what we would do if we were the President of the United States.
Sometimes the children free cut trees, and we tied yellow ribbon around them – and wrote about why we are happy to be Americans. I liked to do this if any of my Kindergarten parents were actively in military service.