Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chrysanthemum and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

We had some fun last week comparing two of our favorite characters (next year I WILL make a Lilly costume for Halloween).  Anyway, I read Chrysanthemum to my class. We brainstormed characteristics (with a little discussion of how she looked vs. how she acted or felt).  We put  these ideas on a chart.  We hung up the chart with a picture I colored of Chrysanthemum (I was in the mood to color I guess).

The next day we read Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  We talked about Lilly’s character.
The books were in the reading corner for rereading and retelling.  Meanwhile I typed up some descriptions of the characters - direct quotes and inferred characteristics. Later we read the “descriptions” together and put them on a big Venn diagram of Chrysanthemum and Lilly. 

I moved the diagram to sit near a table. At our “stations” the students had their own diagram and list of descriptors.  The students could try and read the descriptions, read with a friend, or ask me for help as I was at that station - most of the time.  Kids could look at the books, check the big Venn or discuss with peers when making a decision where to put the descriptor (Lilly, Chrysanthemum or both). I was truly impressed at their memory and willingness to try and read the descriptions (we had read them all as a group previously so the kids were pretty confident).

Kids could take home another Venn diagram to complete comparing themselves with a character of their choice.  You can find the student diagram and descriptors for FREE in my TPT store Chrysanthemum and Lilly

You'll have to color your own mice - but that's the fun teacher part.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thinking Problems for Math

Last winter I started giving my students a Thinking Problem each day. The students responded so well that I started with thinking problems right away this year. I used Share and Compare by Larry Buschman for inspiration. I read some open-ended stories but mostly simple stories that correspond with our unit themes. I am amazed at how quickly the students are able to grasp the concept of drawing to show what they are thinking. Some students are already writing equations. All the students are labeling pictures. After students solve the problem, a few students share their solutions with the class. Everyone shares with a partner, explaining their drawings, thinking and solution.

Thinking, Drawing, Solving.

Explaining and Sharing.

It is fascinating to see how the kids think and how different problem solving ability is when compared to math work on worksheets.  Problem solving is an essential practice described in The Common Core. Showing perseverance, flexibility and thoughtfulness is a key to understanding math.

Here are some of the problems we tried this week:

1. I went to the pumpkin patch and got a big pumpkin and a small pumpkin.  How many pumpkins did I get?

2. There are 2 rows of pumpkins in my pumpkin patch.  Each row has 4 pumpkins.
   How many pumpkins are growing in my garden?

3. Mia, Taylor and Morgan went to pick pumpkins. Each girl picked 2 pumpkins.  How many pumpkins did they pick?

5. You have a pumpkin patch.  You grew lots of pumpkins.  How many did you give to your mom?  How many did you give to your dad?  How many do you have left?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

Every year I need to spend a few days with my old friend Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I even have a "wolf suit." Well, I had a wolf suit.  I lost the tail so now I just wear the hat - and that is "bad" enough.  Where the Wild Things Are has such a nice rhythm, such beautiful illustrations, and perfect text for class participation. And, of course, the story.

Directed Drawing followed by coloring, outlining and painted wash.
Some finished Wild Things by FDKers.
Wait - the rumpus!  We rumpus every time we read the story.  We dance.  We respond to "cue cards." We make Wild Things puppets, put on Cantina from Star Wars and really RUMPUS!
We rumpus with cue cards - Read! React!
I put a few things together for TPT Where the Wild Things Are mini-unit

Puppets add to the fun!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

First Five Time Friday

I posted last year about Five Time Friday but wanted to repost this year because I like it so much. It is just another way to get kids reading!

Friday afternoon we tried our first Five Time Friday.  For Five Time Friday each student gets a book to read.  The books are chosen to be readable for each individual student. Many students have the same book. The students listen to each other read, read to the teachers or read with each other. Every time you listen to a book you initial it. Each student should collect at least 5 sets of initials.

Five Time Friday is great for many reasons.  The kids are reading. The kids listen to other readers at a variety of levels. The kids are reading. The kids are exposed to many different books. The kids are reading. The whole class is focused on reading. The kids are reading. The kids are cooperating. The kids are reading. The kids are helping each other and teaching each other. The kids are reading. The kids are increasing the time they can read. The kids are reading.

Repeated readings of the same text increases fluency. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive to read the same thing over and over to increase reading skills - but it works. That is one of the weaknesses of Raz-Kids. Raz seems to encourage students to race through the books to keep getting "points" and moving up. I encourage students to read a book on RAZ perfectly before recording the book or moving to the next book.

The FDKers told me that they were going to collect initials at home. They eagerly told me all the people, pets and toys that could listen to them read.

last year's blogpost with photos

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Scarecrow Scramble

Little Old Lady?
It was so much fun!
We made scarecrows with shapes.

We made scarecrows with old clothes.
We explored pop corn kernels - and ate some too.

We read verbs, acted them out, and friends tried to guess.

 We made the Scarecrows from my  Scarecrow Unit. We cut the pieces from wallpaper books (the faces from manila folder scraps). The  classroom we "scrambled with" shared googly eyes with us that added just the right fun look to our Scarecrows.
No nose? Who knows why?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Scarecrow Theme - week two

We are having so much fun with the Scarecrow Theme. The popcorn was not messy last week (well the kids seemed to like sweeping it up) so we added scrabble letters for some Sight Word practice.

Writing the word, then adding the points - hard at work!

Reading the sight word cards before getting started.

Then I must have felt like coloring and laminating because I made a new station for sorting short o and short u. You can get it for free at TPT Scarecrow Phonics Center

If you already have the Scarecrow Unit - this is an extra activity. Scarecrow, Scarecrow, Scarecrow - a collection of writing, math and science activities


Hurray for kindergarten learners!

When a kindergarten teacher teaches sounds, sight words and number recognition - it’s easy and important to see improvement and assess progress. A teacher also likes to teach students to take ownership of their learning, to listen carefully, and to follow directions. Not so easy to assess or measure. But when a teacher sees evidence of these elusive skills - it is beautiful!

Today I saw students working at a phonics station, and working and working. Students were tapping out sounds, asking each other questions to clarify their work, and fearlessly trying to write words. The students wanted to write every possible word. They didn’t give up. Beautiful!

I was helping at the art station by outlining the students’ drawings when it occurred to me that not only had the students drawn a lot of detail but they had attempted to follow my directions - EXACTLY! They drew eyelids, pupils, eyelashes, etc. What fabulous listening!!

Hurray for the learners in FDK!

I know all you kindergarten teachers know the warm feeling of WATCHING students achieve.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Scarecrow Sound Sort and more

I know, I know - three posts on Scarecrows in a row.  Well, I had them written with no way to post (computers are wonderful except when they are not).

One of the few things I've allowed myself to keep in storage (it can take over your life as all you kindergarten teachers know) is a Scarecrow decoration. He/she is cute enough and works perfectly for a station devoted to sounds.

Students sort crows: begins with the /s/ - goes on the front of the scarecrow; ends with an /s/ - goes on the back; neither - goes on floor.  I also use the Scarecrow for sorting short o and u sounds. Hey, I drug the scarecrow down from the highest shelf I might as well get 2 weeks of stations out of the guy/gal.

When the students are done sorting the crows, they start writing the words. I love how they attempt their favorite pictures even if it may be the longest word (skateboard, stegosaurus, . . .).
Crows and papers available in my Scarecrow Unit: Scarecrow Unit TPT or Scarecrow Unit Teachers Notebook

No more Scarecrow posts today - but next week we have our Scarecrow Scramble so watch out!

Scarecrow Book - Student Writing

My Scarecrow has a stick on his back.
Kindergarteners love to make books. About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray makes a convincing case for allowing students to "make" books as the primary writing instruction for young students. During "Writing Workshop" in my classroom, students have access to a variety of blank books (and papers for making books). Sometimes I like to use a "themed" approach to encourage reluctant writers and to expand the thinking of all my kindergarten writers.

Scarecrow books were a big hit.  It doesn't hurt that the students love drawing scarecrows. It helps that scarecrows are such a blank canvas. It helps that the students have a sentence starter. It helps that the book was a "station" so everyone is expected to write one.  And everyone did - enthusiastically. Students needed to think what type of description would work with the sentence starter.  What makes sense after is? What makes sense after has?

Here are way more samples than you really need - but how could I choose which to use?

Gotta love the confidence. "My Scarecrow is the best."
The book is in my Scarecrow Unit : Teachers Notebook Scarecrow Unit  or Scarecrow Unit TPT

Scarecrow Directed Drawing

Long break from posting due to computer troubles not for lack of great things happening in my classroom.  I'll have to post later on some of the fun learning stuff that went on the first week of October - but . . .

We are using Scarecrows to stimulate creativity and spark interest for two weeks. We started off with one of my favorite activities:  directed drawing. I introduce each Directed Drawing lesson 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! As I've said before these lessons are great for pencil grip, fine motor, listening skills, following direction and ART! Later when we write Scarecrow books the students are eager to draw and are confident enough to add lots of detail.

Students are coloring and adding detail to their drawings at stations (not during directed drawing).

I had the students begin with a large T for the scarecrow supports and then a circle head.  I used many shape names as I guided them through.  The students added their own details and colors at a later time. I use a document camera (love how it shows my pencil grip) but a big white board works fine if it is elevated.

Later at stations the students could add detail and color their scarecrows.  The students could also draw more scarecrows.  I had paper with the T already on it if they wanted to use that.
This page is included in my Scarecrow Themed packets on TPT and Teachers Notebook -                                                 along with more instruction and samples.

Find more scarecrow ideas: Scarecrow Unit at TeachersPayTeachers or Scarecrow Unit at Teachers Notebook