Sunday, January 29, 2012

Groundhog Day lesson

We get out the flashlights and have some shadow fun on Groundhog Day. But I can always add a little literacy fun too. I like using a Mystery Word lesson to practice spelling and vocabulary. It's one of the few sit-at-the-tables-and-all-work lessons I use. It keeps the students quietly productively engaged so it's great for a substitute teacher (IEP meeting for example). I'll get some photos of the FDKers this week. The kids get a strip of letters that they cut out and arrange on the mat (like the one shown below).  I give them clues to a word they should build - I answer the clues too. When we are through I ask them what the mystery word is that all the letters form.  It's kindergarten so the word is pretty obvious even if the spelling isn't.  Although I know quite a few students will be able to spell groundhog.  Hurray it's phonetic!  Here's a sample:

You can get the directions, letters, core standards, color mats and more for Groundhog and Valentine at my TPT store. Groundhog and Valentine Mystery Word Lesson

Friday, January 27, 2012

Scrabble Tile Sight Word Station

This week I taught my students some sight word games to use during Reading Workshop. The Scrabble Tile sheet was a surprising success. It didn't take the FDKers long to realize jump was a high scorer. This sheet was good for the lowest to highest students and they enjoyed the math piece too. The worksheet is a free download at my TPT store.

Penguin Unit Wrap-Up

Our Penguin unit has been fun and more importantly the students have used so many great thinking skills! Today we danced to our favorite Elmo classic - Doing the Penguin. Then we listed the way penguins move, well our King Penguin puppet listed the ways on the board. "King" was in charge of which penguin move we'd use while dancing to Beethoven. We voted for our favorite penguin. Despite stated sympathy for gentoo and adélie, king penguin won handily (the puppet PAC swayed the vote). We analyzed our data and even compared it to the votes last year.

The FDKers also got into teams and read some facts about penguins. With a little research, teams decided if the facts pertained to ALL, SOME, or ONE penguin. I loved watching the teams work. We sorted the statements on the board.

During I.Q. Learning (Independent Quiet Learning - when students have choices of activities and I work with individuals or small groups) students could write non-fiction statements on a large penguin cut-out. The kids insisted I give the penguin blue feet like their favorite character Chilly in 365 Penguins. They came up with some good ideas.

The graph and ALL, SOME, or ONE are in my TPT Penguin Unit.  I just whipped up the penguin poster to write on at lunch today.
Check it out at Penguin Theme Activities

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Penguin Grid Game

This game is a perfect introduction to the 100 Museum onslaught coming up in the next two weeks. The kids add the two dice, color in the cubes, count the totals which are usually in the thirties - AND THEN WRITE THE NUMBERS AND DECIDE WHICH IS LARGER! This last skill was new and the kids took to it so well - they wanted to win! They played in teams and one on one. Great station!
It is included in my unit at TPT.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Alphabet Antics

Team work - placing the letters and
deciding which letters are needed.

Dumb post name, but I don't have a cute name or alliteration for this game of matching uppercase to lowercase letters - in order. First we played the game with teams.  I threw 4 sets of the uppercase alphabet written on foam squares onto the rug.  The kids and I both love when I toss things on the floor. Four teams had a strip with the lower case alphabet on it. Each team could have one person run to the floor and grab one square. Then another person could go - relay style.  If they already had the letter they had to take it back. I had a few "wild cards" too. It didn't take long for some strategy - like only get letters that are needed. The first team with a complete uppercase alphabet won. It was close and everyone finished. Later we use the same game as a station with four students drawing letters from a basket for their own alphabet.  They need to NAME the letter also.  We know all the sounds and so are going back and introducing the letter names.
Completed game board at stations.
Hmm, friend not doing so well.
This game is easy to make and you don't need the foam squares - just makes it a little easier for the kindergartners to handle. Good for alphabet order too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

math worksheets Penguin Style

I went a little crazy avoiding real work and made 7 new math worksheets with a penguin theme.  More importantly I got the ideas right off of the Common Core Standards. I like to keep the work required of the kids simple and try not to go overboard on quantity of problems per page. I love that I have my morning math sheets all picked out for the week! I put them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store (with one I already made) so it's 8 great worksheets for only $3!

Friday, January 20, 2012

penguin math games

Here are two math hands-on activities that I made last year and the kids are enjoying them again this year.  I got the original penguin match game at Tuesday Morning and I saw it at Under Five. I just didn't put on the stickers that came with the game. I put on 2 sets of stickers with numbers to 20. The students play like regular memory - but oh so much better with penguins to lift.

The other game I made with penguin figures from an old Mailbox magazine that I scanned and printed with numbers 1 - 28. Then I cut styrofoam balls in half and put a slit on the top for the penguins. The students line up the balls in number order and then ask a friend to check.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

more Math Penguins

This simple game was extra fun just because the chips were white and thus "snowballs." My students were really good about guessing and then saying the number of "snowballs" left after they ROLLED then REMOVED the snowballs.
The game is 30 numbered boxes with winter themed pictures. The students cover the pictures with the snowballs. They take turns rolling a dice and then removing that many snowballs. This game is easily adapted to different themes and can be reversed for addition. For some students the learning is counting the dice and chips for others it is the subtraction and addition and saying the numbers over 10. Penguin Theme Activites

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Penguin Parade!

These penguins are ready to have some fun! The kids used templates to cut and create their favorite penguin species - Emperor and Rockhopper definitely tops with the kindergarten set. The FDKers are so enamored with them that we laminated some for block play later.  Also in my unit packet. Penguin Theme Activities

Penguin Non-Fiction Writing

My students have consistently chosen to write non-fiction pieces on their penguin pages this week. The FDKers seem to enjoy looking for information specific to the penguin species on their page. As usual the writing is surpassing my expectations. Here is a picture of one student hard at work and a work sample.  These writing pages are from my first (penguin themed) unit on Teachers Pay Teachers, Penguin Theme Activities

Monday, January 16, 2012

Alexander Calder

Since we don't have Art or Music in our district any more AND since I like to offer the full day class a little something extra I teach ARTISTS OF THE MONTH.  Each month we explore a composer and an artist.  This month we are enjoying Beethoven and Calder. It is easy and fun to integrate into the curriculum.  This week's Sight Words were red, yellow and blue. When looking over some of Calder's abstract paintings the students found that the primary colors were Calder's primary choice. Not only did we get to paint at stations but I had parent volunteers supervising:)

more Penguin take offs

In keeping with our penguin theme we went fishing at our math station this week. Ice fishing as a matter of fact (more packing peanuts). The FDKers partnered up to fish for numbers 1 - 20. I gave them a paper with 10 lines over 10 lines to line up the fish - no other hints. This gave them lots of practice counting if they didn't quite understand the grid concept or a chance to use some reasoning if they did. After a while someone always figured out that one color fish was odd and one even.

The fishing poles are dowel rods with a tiny hole drilled in one end. I ran a covered wire through the hole and attached a circular magnet at the other end of the wire. The fish were cut from fun foam and decorated and numbered with a sharpie. Drop fish in a flat clear bin, cover with packing peanuts and start fishing.  I have the kids sit in chairs - seems to help them take turns. Keeps them cooperating and busy for at least 20 minutes.

penguin theme activities

Packing Peanuts.

I wasn't exaggerating! We have a major amount of peanuts.  We stuck them together and dissolved them all week and the bags look about the same as this photo!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I am so glad that we use Scholastic Let's Find Out magazine because they always have a good story for MLK day.  Even though it is long I also like to read The Story of Ruby Bridges.  I didn't get to that Friday but I will fit it in tomorrow. Here is a portrait my class made of Dr. King. If anyone asks I will dig up the website where I purchased the template. The picture looks great hanging in the hall at school.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Snow! Boots!

Finally some real snow for the kiddos.

At the end of the day one boy only had 1 boot. After the kids left I went through all the lockers one more time searching for the missing boot.  Noticed that a pair of boots left at school (on purpose as previously agreed upon) were in fact 2 different sizes. One must be the mate to the missing boot.  One boot still on the loose. How does that happen?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Some Penguin Math

Today we tried the Everyday Math "squeeze" game. The teacher's manual has a dragon-like monster to move towards the "secret" number. We used an adélie and gentoo penquin to move in on the number. Big hit. Kids played with a partner to practice and then I saw at least 3 pairs choose this activity during a choice time later in the day. Hurray!

Here's the life size emperor penguin that stands outside our classroom. I have a few kids that check everyday to see if they have gotten as tall as the penguin yet. I'm pretty sure everyone in the class can name all the students who are as tall or taller. The FDKers are also impressed with their ability to distinguish between emperor and king penguins. Wait, so am I!  ah

Penguin Theme Activities 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Packing Peanuts and Penguins

I don't have a photo yet but wait until I do!

I put foam fish with a paper clip into a flat bin for a "fishing" station. Dowel rod poles with wire "line" holding a magnet. Each team of two at the station takes a turn fishing. Two sets of fish have the numbers 1 - 20. Each team tries to catch all the numbers. Well I like to put packing peanuts in the bin so the kids can't see the numbers on the fish and since we are studying penguins the peanuts are snow.  They are ice fishing. I asked parents to send in packing peanuts. A boy arrived today with a nice bagful - perfect. BUT one of my parents sales packaging and he delivered two bags that were at least two feet wide and 5 feet tall! They were leaning against my horseshoe table when I got to school.  I almost fell over laughing. Luckily they are the cornstarch peanuts. My Imagination Station plan was scrapped and replaced with  PACKING PEANUTS. We had a ton of fun and used all kinds of imagination wetting and attaching peanuts to make everything from a seahorse to an igloo.  I love kindergarten!


Monday, January 9, 2012


I think I put my PERFECT penguin pages on the Teachers Paying Teachers site. Perfect Penguins

Here are some shots of my students using the Real Word / Nonsense Word center. They rolled a red, white and green dice. Filled in the letters and then read the word. Next they had to decide if it was a real or nonsense word.  I loved listening to their discussions on why or why not the word was real.

The math center worked well too. The kids pulled a penguin playing card (I have cards with a matching penguin in the unit at TPT  Penguin Theme Activities) and then wrote the number on the penguin page. They filled in one number before and 3 after.  I converted the jacks, queens, kings and aces to 11, 12, 13, and 14 to get some practice with those tricky teens. I was surprised how long they stuck with this. It was like they "won" when they pulled at face card.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Preview Penguins

We went back to school on the second - yes a national holiday. I was one of the few teachers with a full class. We dove right into penguins.  So much fun. The kids were excited to see the life size penguin posters I had made and put outside our classroom. I am developing my projects for Teachers Paying Teachers but it is slow going. (now available  Penguin Theme Activities )  But I did use 2 of the projects in my class this past week. The math sequencing page and the CVC real/nonsense word page  kept the students involved and learning for over 20 minutes. Our art project was a fun little pop-up craft. It's free at Teachers Pay Teachers Next week we will tackle the templates that show real species of penguins.

Hurray I finally got my blog started!

As any kindergarten teacher can tell you there is always another project to make, another idea to try, another professional book to read . . . . So now that I finally have this blog started the giant bag of rice on the floor next to me is calling out for sight words. I actually have the sight words laminated - from Kinkos no less so they will be extra sturdy. I will take the time to download a photo of my Writing Workshop this week. Thanks to the help of another teacher I improved my workshop and the FDKers responded positively. They shared their work with abandon and pride. It was beautiful.