Sunday, September 30, 2012

more Sight Word ideas / Word Wall too

I really want to share some of the fun things we did with deciduous and conifer trees this week, but that will have to wait.  I need to redo some graphics before I can share.  Anyway, as usual we did learn some new sight words: no, so, go. These words are a perfect example of memorable introduction and relentless practice. "Tricky" first shows us the words on a "traffic light."  The students then trace over the words in matching colors (red - no; yellow - so; green - go).  Then to keep practicing the words we play the "No, So, Go Game." This simple board game is a class favorite.  I did forget that the first few times the kids play we need to remind them about and reinforce good sportsmanship. But the game is fast and based on luck so the kids get to play it lots of times THUS winning becomes less of an issue. Instructions and a printable are available for both these activities in my Super Sight Word Success Packet at my TeachersPayTeachers Store.  Also my husband wanted to get into the act so he opened a store for me at Teacher's Notebook. He's running a sale. Super Sight Word Success Packet

NO, SO, GO in action in my classroom.
I started using my Word Wall a little differently last year.  I really liked it.  I put up over 100 words before school starts.  I tell the kids that we are going to learn them all.  Each time we learn a new word I put a red check in front of the word.  The kids have a matching Word Page in their Writing folder. They can put red checks too if they want.  This way the students can use the wall for spelling right away (so nice for those advanced readers that want to spell correctly).  The FDKers like watching the red checks multiply.  We ended up adding some words last year - they were really motivated. A friend of mine gave me the idea when using Jolly Phonics - she stars the sounds as they learn them.  I do that too (with a red check though). This gives the students a nice visual of where we started, where we are going and how much we have achieved.  Try it, you might like it!

This photo shows how unobservant I am.  My aide must have decided to put the check behind the word.  I didn't even notice.  We now have a check for so and run will get one this week!
You can see that I put a "paw" sticker on the "tricky" words (those that do NOT follow phonics rules we learn in kindergarten).  I cover my bulletin boards with a neutral felt. Only downside is I tend to run out of the hard side of the velcro - which doesn't make sense since so many other projects use more of the soft side. Also I trimmed these sight word cards when I went to 100 words.  I think I got a little carried away.  I need to make new ones but as I said I have 100 words.  The kids have never complained.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

More Sight Word Fun

Sight Words are an important part of our reading curriculum. By themselves, sight words aren't that exciting. The "trick" is to make the words memorable AND relentless practice! This week two new sight words appeared.

Our friend Tricky (a dalmatian- see previous post Sight Word Ideas) put brightly printed AREs all over the place.  Including in our lockers. We taped them on a board. All week when we were writing it was easy to remind ourselves how to spell ARE. There were about a "million" AREs in the front of the room.

(The AREs that were hidden a little better turn up for a week or so.  Then I let the kids rip off the AREs to take home or recycle. We move to board around talking about ARE, we read ARE, we use the ARE board to remind ourselves how to spell and read ARE, on and on and on!)

Later in the week Tricky surprised us again. This time he hid papers in his dog house for us that were blank. A student's name was on each sheet, but nothing else. Now how was that supposed to help us learn new sight words?  A note with the papers claimed we just needed to try Tricky's secret formula.

I wrote HERE with a white crayon on half sheets of plain paper. Then I mixed some liquid water color and water. I put the "formula" on the tables with paint brushes. Since we have never used liquid water colors before it did seem like a "formula" to the students. Beware - do NOT use washable crayons. The results will not be nearly as good (learned that the hard way)

These ideas and dozens more are in my Super Sight Word Success packet at TPT.
Here we are using the magic formula to reveal the word HERE.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Apples Apples Apples

We completed our week of fun Apple themed activities. I think I spent more time compiling the activities into a TPT product (Appletini) than we spent on the activities in class. But we did learn lots. Apples were especially good for informational non-fiction writing.
Some highlights:
Everyone brought in an apple.

We made a graph with our apples. Then we transferred the data to our own graphs.

We used our 5 senses to examine and explore the apples. Yummy.

We made projects - simply by following written directions.
We wrote non-fiction books.
We played "Find the Worm."  Which we LOVED!

We even managed to play a math game that was fun AND hit the common core math standards HARD!

Find it all on TPT in my Appletini (not quite a month of Apple) Apple Activities (Appletini)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


As soon as I type the word PARTNERS, I start singing that Hap Palmer song "Partners, partners, here's a little game with partners . . ."

Okay, I just googled Hap Palmer and it says he has been making songs for over 20 years.  Well, he needs to update his web page because I KNOW I was using his records (yes record albums) in 1978.

Anyway, back to PARTNERS. I love having the kindergarten students work in partners. Since many of my students need work on communication skills - a partnership is a fantastic way to encourage and practice communicating. Partnerships allow the students to try out different roles - leader, follower, writer, talker, . . . Partnerships also give the students an opportunity to be heard. Partnerships tend to take pride in their accomplishments. Believe it or not partnerships have more perseverance than a single child. Partnerships expand a child's point of view. Partnerships allow a child to be a teacher - the best way to really develop understanding.
Working together to find Sight Words he, she, be, we, and me.
I pair up students in a variety of ways.  We use many of the fun ideas (matching cards, letter to sound, . . .); sometimes I just call out a pair of names. Most often I let the kids pick a partner. I usually hand the child something (the paper, clipboard, whatever the partners need to work) and tell he/she to pick a partner. I have been know to strategically pass out work. Anyway, if a child is asked to be a partner THEY ACCEPT the invitation.  We practiced this at the beginning of the school year.  How someone would feel if they were rejected, how we are all teammates, on and on.  
A student says, "Will you be my partner?"  The classmate replies, "I'd be delighted." and off they go. Rarely any complaints.  We do it so much that they know they'll always have another partner.
Pairing up to build shapes.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Short Vowel Sounds /a/ /e/ /i/

We have learned the sounds for short vowels a, i and e.  We use Jolly Phonics - which I love - BUT the key words and songs for short e and i don't really work for the midwest. When we say INK the i sounds an awful lot like a long e.  So INKY is not a very good name for a mouse meant to remind us of the short i sound.  I renamed our mouse Itchy and he has a little friend named Itty Bitty.  Itchy still got ink spilled on him, but it made him itch. Here is the song we use:

We have a similar problem with short e.  The key word is EGG.  Well, when we say EGG the e sounds similar to the long a sound.  So we have a dog name Eddy that loves to eat eggs.  We can still use the Jolly Phonics action and story pictures BUT our key word is Eddy. Here is the song we use:

Short i and short e can be difficult to distinguish. And since we always like to spell our sounds - not just read them - we practice a lot. Last week we sorted pictures according to the vowel sounds we heard.

We pulled out a picture from a doggie basket.

Said the word.

Listened for the sound.
Dropped the picture on the board with the vowel.

Pressed the button so the doggie would bark and wag and our wonderful work.

PS  Just so you don't think I'm the worst photographer in the world,  I purposely choose photographs where the students have their eyes closed and are thus non-identifiable.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Day One Kindergarten Writing Workshop

We have been writing since school started. Together, on Sight Word Sheets, on pictures, etc. But today we began WRITING WORKSHOP! I let the kids know when I greeted them this morning that I was excited about our special NEW activity. I used Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hill as an introduction.  I didn't read the whole book at first - just up until Rocket thinks of an idea. This lead into our lesson really well. I showed the students the paper we would use today. I also showed them where we keep papers they can choose on their own later.  Here is the story I wrote with a little help from my friends. I also made little posters with the steps the students should follow to write their story. 1. Think of an idea. 2. Draw! 3. Write!  I am going to make permanent posters using photographs later this week (when my granddaughter is available to model:)

I was especially happy with the "sharing" after the writing.  Children volunteered to come up to the front and use our "microphone" to "read" their writing. Some kids had actual writing, some a word or 2 and some basically nothing.  

BUT they all told a story! 
Hip, hip, hurray!

Then my heart warmed as they shared with each other.

Yes, I'm a sap. But kindergarten writers are amazing!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Voice Levels

Our district is trying to develop some standardized behavior standards. I like teaching the procedures and having clear expectations for school situations: cafeteria, hallways, dismissal, etc.  I gave up rewards a few years ago when I discovered Discipline Without Stress (it will change the way you think:) Anyway, they started with some voice level guidelines. It really does help the students gauge their own behaviors. The posters we got are a little (a lot) wordy.  Too much for kindergartners for sure.

Here is a little chart I made for my class.  It has been a BIG help so far.  Who knew?

I ask them to show with their fingers what voice level they are using. So far so great.
Make your own: Voice Levels Poster

Sunday, September 2, 2012

van Gogh and Mozart

The FDKers have been enjoying my newfound skill - uploading movies to my computer. We have been taking short brain breaks - they love the simple short Shake Break.

But I was surprised at the effect a movie of van Gogh paintings backed by Mozart's music had on the students. We had just finished using our new sound skills to spell words on our white boards. I told the students they could take a few minutes to write or draw whatever they wanted on the boards. I put on the van Gogh/Mozart movie. Silence. They drew quietly, stopping frequently to watch the paintings. They are so cultured:)

Here's a movie I really liked:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Directed Drawing - van Gogh Sunflowers

Directed Drawing participant
a completed pencil drawing
I outline in black Sharpie before students paint
Every time I teach a Directed Drawing lesson - I am amazed anew! The first attempt this school year was a vase of flowers a la van Gogh's Sunflowers. I had sunflowers in vases for the Open House, but they did not survive long enough to use as models. Too hot I guess.  There are prints of van Gogh's sunflower paintings hanging in our classroom as he is our featured artist this month. We read van Gogh and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt as well as some other van Gogh books. I introduce Directed Drawing with finger exercises, correct pencil grip, and a pillow of paper under our drawing paper. Step by step I describe the lines as I draw under the document camera. Students follow along, each drawing in their own unique style. AMAZING! We use water color on the drawings later at stations. MASTERPIECES!

Give Directed Drawing a try! Great for pencil grip, fine motor, listening skills, following direction and ART!