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Saturday, March 22, 2014

St. Patrick's Day!

We incorporated St. Patrick's Day ideas into our daily learning and had fun with projects and number partners of 10.

Students made this cute four leaf clover project using construction paper (different shades of green). They all turned out beautiful and unique just like they are. 
Great for small motor development and strengthening the muscles in those little hands!
We talked about what we would do if we found a pot of gold. It was very interesting to listen to the children's answers.
I gave the kids index cards and had them write equations / partners of 10. The rainbow was a great visual for the number partners!
We, of course, wrote a few equations as a whole class first. I made sure that all kids understood what was asked of them before letting them work independently.
We also used strips of construction paper and made a rainbow chain which we attached to a pot of gold. Students cut circles out of yellow construction paper for the gold coins and used gold glitter.
Our display was beautiful! I love mixing things up and adding new ideas!

Have a great weekend and visit again soon for more ideas!
I have lots more to share :-)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dr. Seuss

We had so much fun celebrating Dr. Seuss!
We read LOTS  of books, enjoyed making projects and some yummy snacks.
Here are some of our projects:
We made “The Cat in the Hat” and also wrote rhyming words and colored the hat. CLICK on the pics for a better/larger view and clear details!

We talked about patterns (AB in the hat: red – white) and how rhyming words always end the same.
Kids also made "The Cat in the Hat" masks using paper plates, construction paper and markers.
We made THE HAT out of bananas and strawberries. Children sliced the fruit and use toothpicks to "assemble the hat". Yummy!
Each year, kids LOVE making green eggs and ham. They especially enjoy cracking the eggs and mixing them using food coloring. Before making green eggs and ham, we predicted whether we would like it or not. MANY kids were sure they would absolutely dislike them. Well,  ALL the kids liked the green eggs and ham. This is what lead to everybody liking green eggs and ham: reading the book ahead of time, talking about how we don’t know if we like a food unless we give it a try and take a bite, and being directly involved in making it!

I really enjoy taking pics of my students while doing projects. Families appreciate seeing the finished products/projects BUT they LOVE seeing their children in the process of making those projects. Many times, I attach these pics. to the projects when I display them in the hallway and always send them home together with the projects. This also helps families initiate conversations and avoid the dreaded: Parent: “What did you do at school?........... Child: “Nothing!”.

Oh yeah, I forgot: you might wonder why I have “Visit my blog for teaching ideas”  and my blog url on all my pics since you are -  obviously  - visiting my blog right now. Well, I attach that info to each picture because I use all my pics on pinterest! Thought I’d explain, in case you were wondering……
Thanks for visiting!
Come back soon!

Lots more to share :-)

Check out my product focused on rhyming. LOTS of engaging and interactive activities!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Word Work - Post #4 of many :)

Writing is so important but it can be boring if it is done just on paper.
Here are some ideas on writing:
Use shaving cream, pudding, sand and write with fingers, Qtips, paint brushes, etc. This is not meant to replace paper and pencil but to add some excitement to learning! I am not doing this every day, but I add fun "things" and learning opportunities whenever  I can.
Kids love it when you mix it up a little!
For practicing CVC words I use lots of things (see previous posts). When using the white boards, kids would sometimes write really big letters. As they learned and practiced more, I wanted them to have the opportunity to write on lined paper. Well, I laminated lined paper (on construction paper) and had the kids use CVC picture cards and dry erase markers.
This was just a twist on paper and pencil and a step up from white boards since they had a guideline for letter size.

The more ideas we use and the more interesting we make learning, the more kids will pay attention and stay focused on task.
Visit again soon. I have LOTS more ideas to share with you!
 It is exciting to check the stats and see how many of you read my blog and all the different places around the world you are from. Isn't technology amazing?
Thank you so much for visiting my blog!
Have a wonderful week! :-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Word Work - Post #3 of many :)

Here are more ideas on different activities that can help your children decode, read and write words and/or improve reading fluency by quickly reading sight words.
I printed all the sight words we study in Kindergarten and made these “fried eggs”. Kids use spatulas to “serve” the eggs. They must read the word out loud and then they get to keep it.

There are two different ways to play this/use this, based on your students’ skill level.
If you place the eggs “yolk up”, kids get a chance to decide what words they want to “serve”. This is a good choice for kids who are still working on learning the words but who also need to feel successful and confident in their skill level. They might choose easier words first and that is OK. It is critical that all kids feel successful!
It makes it easier for them to approach a learning task or activity if they feel confident!

If you place the eggs “yolk down”, kids can’t really choose easier words and have to try to read whatever word they get. Once all the words were “served", kids write their own words.

Another center that I use is simply a pocket chart with lots of different picture cards. (I change the pictures periodically)

Here is how I use it:
I provide sticky notes and have pairs work on it. Depending on what specific skills I want the kids to work on, I ask that they label the pictures, label the initial letter, label the ending letter, clap the syllables and/or use the words in complete sentences (after they wrote them on sticky notes).
Another idea is to have them talk about the picture, start with a word and create a sentence.
 Start with a simple sentence and create a complex one.  I call it “painting pictures in the listener’s brain” by using descriptive words. For example:
 “cat” - “I see a cat.” - “ I see a gray and white cat.” - “I see a gray and white cat lying in the grass.”

"Word Work" is so much fun and can be done so many ways. It is especially important for our kinesthetic learners to actually be involved in making words, not just using paper and pencil type of activities.
Here is another idea:
Earlier in the year, I gave the kids a large piece of construction paper, pasta letters (alphabet noodles) and foam alphabet stickers. They had to write the sight word and build it. Many also wrote sentences using the sight words.
Here is a pet peeve of mine! Baby talk or simplistic talk in lower grade levels, especially in Kindergarten. My kids know, understand and use various difficult terms such as: “descriptive”, “horizontal”, “vertical”, “perimeter”, “columns”, “rows”,  etc, etc (not just new vocabulary terms dictated by the curricula used, but real life terms!). Kids are little sponges who absorb everything taught. They love words and are fascinated by new and difficult words. The KEY is to ALWAYS help them make connections and REALLY understand the words. We define them, use them ALL THE TIME, give examples, use our own experiences to give examples, etc.  Of course, I keep it appropriate and relevant to them. Once they understand the words, they LOVE using them by themselves again and again! It is soooo cute to watch/listen to them. Don't be afraid to use "big words"! 
This is how we help them enrich their vocabulary!
Thanks for letting me vent :-)
Check back soon for LOTS more ideas and pictures!
Enjoy the rest of the week! :-)

I recently posted the second product all focused on all the sight words on Dolch's Primer Word List. It works great with my first product which covers all sight words on Dolch's Pre-Primer Word List. Click on the title to go directly to the product page!

Sight Words Activities. CCS Aligned. Packet # 2

Check it out:

In case you didn't see the first one, here it is:

Sight Words Activities - CCS Aligned - Homework AND/OR Classroom Activities

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Word Work - Post #2 of many :)

We learn CVC words through many hands-on activities. We start early in the year after we've learned all the letter names and we are focusing on letter sounds.

What do we use?
We use LOTS of different ideas and materials: from white boards and dry erase markers, to picture cards, letter tiles, magnetic letters, activities on the Promethean, CVC picture and/or words cards.

Here is one idea for creating new words while switching the beginning letter/letter sound. I use a regular white board during Calendar or use the Promethean and write the word ending. I ask the students to say it.
For example: “Say “ake”!” I then say: “Put a “b” in front. What is the word now?”
Students: “BAKE”
“Put a “sh” in front. What is the word now?”
Students: “SHAKE!”, etc, etc.
This is a great way to quickly make many new words. We re-read them all, segment and blend them. I sometimes ask students to use a specific word in a complete sentence and/or to define a word. For example, we added "z" in front of "est" thus making the word ZEST. We talked about what it means!

Kids love using hands-on materials such as magnetic letters. I have sets of picture cards that they use to build CVC words.

Another great tool to use is my (click on the title to go directly to the product page):
 CVC Words - Real and Nonsense Words"
This has  CVC real and nonsense words on month related backgrounds such as apples for September, pumpkins and leaves for October, etc.
Here is the page for October:
Here is the page for March:

Here is the page for April:

It also has the same CVC words with pictures. 
Here is another page:
This set had 162 cards total (with real words used twice on different backgrounds and with relevant clipart) and is the perfect tool to add to your teaching strategies for Phonics and Phonemic Awareness. This CVC words set may be used as part of whole class instruction, Reading Center, Writing Center, Partner Work, Guided Writing, Literacy Workshop, Parent Helper Study, etc. Kids can match words, trace words, segment, blend CVC words, use them in sentences, learn beginning, middle and ending sounds, and so much more.
LOTS more ideas to be posted soon!!
Hope you visit again :-)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Word Work - Post #1 of many :)

In Kindergarten, we work on decoding words, segmenting, blending, reading, writing, counting syllables, etc.
We focus on both real and nonsense words. We start with easy CVC words and move on to more difficult words including blends, digraphs, silent e, and sight words.
Nonsense words are sometimes difficult to read because children tend to make sense of them and make them "real words". The more exposure the children have, the better they will understand these words. We always talk about how nonsense words don't make sense but we can still read and write them.
This is one activity I created to further help my students segment and blend nonsense words.

 I created this page with beginning and ending consonants and with a blank for the middle vowel. Students roll a vowel die and write the letter as the middle letter in the word. Students use a dry erase marker and write the whole word. Most of the time, they end up with nonsense words. They also sound out/segment and blend each word.
I laminated these for durability and continued usage over the years.

To add to this activity, I sometimes give kids a piece of paper to sort out real and nonsense words that they ended up with. My advanced readers and writers and/or early finishers may also use the real words (if any) in complete sentences. 
LOTS more ideas to be posted soon!!
Hope you visit again :-)

Presidents' Day!

We had lots of fun learning important details about both Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. In my opinion, it is crucial that learning is fun, especially for my 5 and 6 year old students. Facts about a person who lived a long time ago, can be very boring for a 5 year old. Well, we mixed up important facts with fun and accurate information that kept the students’ attention and interest in the topic discussed.
Two of the projects we made were depictions of the two presidents and one of them had a writing prompt based on the facts we learned.
Here is the project about Abraham Lincoln:

I used and other sources that allowed me to balance factual information that is both interesting and fun. My students enjoyed learning that Lincoln was known as “honest Abe”. We talked about what it means  and how important it is to tell the truth. They especially liked the fact that he – sometimes – carried papers in his big hat! They found that to be very funny!

Here is another version that my students made a couple of years ago:
In my class, we use lots of anchor charts. Kids love them  and I find them very useful!

Here is our version of George Washington:

Kids related to George Washington having dogs throughout his life.  They enjoyed learning that he was an avid reader. They pointed out that he started school at 6 instead of 5 years of age, compared to most of them. Learning is more meaningful when students make connections and find real life value and significance to what is taught.
We looked at real pictures of George Washington and talked about the attire back then and how it is so different from what people wear now. One of my sweet, smart students asked: “How come his uniform isn’t camouflage?“ How super cute and smart was that?!?!?! Loved it!

Check out my product focused on improving reading and writing skills, practicing many mathematical skills, all while learning about Presidents!