Tuesday, November 29, 2011

December Math Stations

We are sooo ready for December in my classroom! Here's what we're up to during math work station time this week. These stations should keep us busy until winter break starts in a little over 2 weeks (so soon!).

Our current math chapter focuses on geometry concepts (2D shapes, 3D shapes, symmetry, etc.). so I decided to have half of our stations focus on geometry skills so they would reinforce our new learning. The rest of the stations review other skills like number recognition, counting, graphing, and simple addition.

Station 1: Roll a Christmas Tree
(Students roll a 12-sided die and use a mini pom-pom to cover up that number on their Christmas tree. Students could also roll 2 regular dice and cover up the sum. This super cute and free game is from First Grader...at Last!)

Station 2: Spin a 3D Shape
(Students spin a 3D shape on the spinner, name the shape, and then move to the next square on the game board that shows an object with that 3D shape. This game was actually a page in our kindergarten Harcourt math workbook-and I just tore it out, mounted it on a piece of tagboard, and laminated it.)

Station 3: Penguin Cover-up
(Students roll 2 dice and cover up the sum on their penguin game board. First player to cover-up all their penguins wins. This game can be downloaded for free from my TPT store.)

Station 4: Sorting 3D Shapes
(Student sort the photos by 3D shape. I bought this game from Montessori for Everyone, but then I recently found a similar but free game at Kindergarten Rhode. Both games give great sorting practice with geometric solids.)

Station 5: Gingerbread 10 Frames
(Students match up ten frames to their corresponding numbers on these cute gingerbread cards. The game also has a recording sheet, which I copied back-to-back with the ten frames 1-5 on the front and 6-10 on the back. This fabulous free game is from Live Love Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten.)

Station 6: Pattern Blocks
(Students use one of the pattern block templates I have to build a picture. Then they use the recording sheet to write down how many of each shape they used to build their picture. This great recording sheet is a freebie from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.)

Station 7: Christmas Cookies! Numbers 0-9, Addition, and Subtraction Board Game
(Students take turns picking a game card and moving their game peice that many spots on the game board. Oh my- this game board is beyond cute-such darling little gumdrops and candies! This game is from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten. Game cards are also included for addition and subtraction facts, so this game can be easily differentiated too!)

Station 8: Spin a Snow Bird
(Students take turns spinning the spinner and recording on their graph what color bird they spun. This game is from my Winter Math Game Pack.)

Station 9: Mitten Shapes
(Students take turns spinning the spinner, telling their partner what shape they spun, and covering up the mitten on their game board that shows that shape. First student to cover up all their mittens with "snowballs" (cotton balls) wins. This game is from my Winter Math Game Pack.)

Station 10: Sorting Attrilinks (2D Shapes)
(Students sorted attrilinks by different attributes-like shape, size, and color. Attrilinks are definitely one of my favorite math manipulatives! The sorting cards you see in the photo are a freebie from Froggy Friends Fun.)

I'd love to hear how math stations are going in your classroom. Any fun ideas to keep the kids focused as the holidays approach? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Wow-winter has finally come to St. Louis. Brrrr! What a cold and cloudy day outside-recess duty was certainly not any fun today! Two of my favorite bloggers did pass some much needed sunshine my way though with the Sunshine Award.

Much thanks to Marlana at Lil' Country Kindergarten for this award-I adore your blog and you have been so kind to me ever since I started blogging this summer! Without you I would have no idea how to imbed a google doc into my blog posts!


Thank you also to Chrissy at ReadWriteSing for this award. Chrissy is awesome-and the only blogging friend I have ever met in real life. You are just as nice as can be Chrissy-and my students are thrilled that you introduced the box of mice puppets into our morning meeting!

Now on to the questions that come with this award...

What is my....
  • Favorite color?   Yellow (I just painted my sunroom yellow this summer and it is my favorite place to be-yellow is just a happy color).
  • Favorite animal?  That would be my little pup- isn't he cute?
  • Favorite number?  2- no idea why-but I do like even numbers!
  • Favorite drink?  Tea! Iced tea, hot tea, bubble tea, really any tea. I have an entire cabinet in my kitchen full of tea! I know...I'm probably the only kindergarten teacher in the world that doesn't drink coffee.
  • Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook. But honestly...I am more into checking blogs these days than facebook!
  • Passion?  My family, friends, teaching, reading, cooking, and of course blogging (although it seems I do more blog reading than blog posting lately!) 
  • Giving or getting presents? I love giving presents-so much fun picking them out (of course receiving presents is fun too!) 
  • Favorite day?  Friday- I love knowing I have the whole weekend ahead of me!
  • Favorite flower?  Hydrangeas and lavender
Now, I realize I am supposed to pass this award along to other bloggers...but I just can't choose. I love all the blogs I read (and it seems like most of you have already received this award too!).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Long days in full day kindergarten...

These last 2 weeks I have been feeling just how long full day kindergarten really is. Can the holidays be getting to my students already? Yikes! This year has been my first experience with having full day kindergarten. While I am thrilled not to have 2 half day classes (especially with assessments coming up after Thanksgiving!) I am finding that by the end of the day my kiddos are just done! Really-I'm not sure there is a single lesson I could teach after 3 o'clock that they would pay attention to. I'm exhausted at that point too!

So...I have been messing around with my schedule a bit lately, and have added an extra center time to the end of the day. This was probably one of the best ideas I have had in a long time. Unlike my literacy centers in the morning and my math centers after lunch, this end of the day center time is completely free choice (no checking the center board to see where I've assigned them).

My only rules for this "free choice" center time are:
1. No more than 3 kids at a center...because well...that is a recipe for disaster
2. Pick a center and stay at it (kinders would switch centers every 2 minutes if they could!)
3. Pick a different center than yesterday (this way everyone gets a chance at the more popular centers and I don't see the same kid at the blocks center everyday!)

I have found it so interesting to see what centers my students pick to go to at the end of the day since they have the freedom to choose. I let them pick from any of our literacy centers, any of our math centers, and any of our play centers (blocks, housekeeping, puppets, etc.).

It warms my heart to see kids who don't even know the entire alphabet yet pick the writing center because they have a "really important story to write" or want to "make a card for grandma." And luckily, those kiddos that don't know the whole alphabet or all their letter sounds yet sometimes pick the alphabet center and get some extra practice at those skills too!

I have also been surprised that many kids love to choose math centers at this time (it's a great way for me to see which of our 10 math centers they like the best).

Another favorite center has been the big book center-and not because they just love reading big books. Nope-what happens is one kid declares that they are "the teacher" and uses the pointer to completely imitate me. They have the other kids sit on the rug while they stand next to the easel and point to the words and ask "teachery" questions-it is both scary and hilarious to watch!

This week kids have been loving stamping names at our names center. See how brave I am with the purple ink? I saw the idea of using ice cube trays to hold alphabet stamps on Pinterest and it is working great!

Now, I would be lying if I said they all run to academic centers at the end of the day. Our two most popular free choice centers are the blocks center and the housekeeping center-but I am managing to be sneaky and insert a bit of skill work even into these centers! Students are busy reading lists of foods as they prepare to write their own shopping lists, counting out play money at their "store,"  and writing receipts for "customers" (ok me) that have ordered a pretend pizza. I even caught one kid writing a Thanksgiving "menu" this week.

We only have free choice centers for the last 20-25 minutes of our day-but it is very much worth it! The kids are engaged in lots of great learning and social skills practice and of course I get to do fun things like one-on-one assessments and catching kids up who missed projects.

I am very curious to hear what happens in your classroom after 3pm-can you get anything done?!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winter Math Games

I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet...but I have moved on to thinking about December! I've made a set of winter and snow themed math games to use with my students during math work stations in the coming weeks.

I am taking a big leap and am going to sell this Winter Math Game Pack on Teacher's Pay Teachers-I have never tried this before! It has 5 games for practicing numbers 1-9, numbers 11-20, graphing, telling time to the hour, and 2D shapes. The games are not holiday themed so they can even be used in January.

I'm also offering a fun winter freebie for you all! If you go to my Teacher's Pay Teachers store you can download the math game Penguin Cover-up for free-it's a great way for your students to practice numbers to 12 and adding.

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend! I sure wish I didn't have to be at school on Monday and Tuesday this week!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November Math Stations

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! Here are some of the math work stations we've been doing so far this month. Lots of turkey fun!

Station 1: Rake, Rattle, and Roll
(Students roll two dice, add the numbers together, and use a cube to cover-up the corresponding acorn on their side of the game board. This super cute game is from Miss Kindergarten's November Games and Centers.)

Station 2: Turkey Feather Counting
(For this game I wrote numbers on foam turkey cut-outs I found at Target last month. Students count out the right number of feathers to place on each turkey.)

Station 3: Turkey Roll, Count, Write!
(Students roll the dice and count how many turkeys they rolled. Then they write that number on the recording sheet. This game is from Growing Kinders' Let's Talk Turkey Pack. I love how she made one version of the game for the numbers 1-6 and another for the numbers 7-12. Makes it very easy to differentiate!)

Station 4: Thanksgiving Bingo
(Students roll a die that I made by writing the numbers 1-4 on a foam cube from Dollar Tree. Then they cover up a square on their bingo board that shows that many items. Ok, I have to admit, this is not really the way the game is supposed to be played-but I still have kiddos that need to work on very basic skills like recognizing numbers 1-5. Miss Kindergarten made this darling game and has a set of bingo cards you can use with it to call out the items on the bingo boards-which would also make for a great game. It is a part of her November Games and Centers.)

Station 5: Turkey More or Less Game
(Students each pick a number card and count out that many cubes. Then they place their cubes on the "more or less mat" to help them compare who has more and who has less. Finally students spin the spinner to see if the student with more or less wins the cards. I loved how the math mat and use of cubes really helped some of my struggling students understand the concept of more/less. This fabulous and free game is from Fran at Kindergarten Crayons.)

Station 6: Roll, Count, and Color
(Students roll the die and color in the turkey on their paper that shows that many dots. This game is from Growing Kinders' Let's Talk Turkey Pack. I think my kiddos have probably played every game in this great pack by now-they are all very kinder friendly!)

Station 7: Thanksgiving Measurement
(Students measure different Thanksgiving foods using both cubes and links. Then they record how long the foods were on the recording sheet.  It is great measuring practice and also fun for the kids. I really liked how they got practice measuring using two different manipulatives. This game is from Growing Kinders' Let's Talk Turkey Pack.)

Station 8: Turkey Cover-up
(Students roll a die and cover up that many turkeys on their game board with counters. You could differentiate by having students use two dice and add the numbers together and then cover up the sum. You could also have students use a die with bigger numbers. Simple but fun! This free game is from Making Learning Fun-they recommend using corn to"feed" (cover-up) the turkeys-very cute!)

Station 9: Thanksgiving Themed Number Matching
(Students match number cards with picture cards showing that many items. The game has numbers 1-20, so it can easily be differentiated depending on if students are ready to work with bigger numbers or not. The game also has number words if you want to use them. This game if from Julie Lee's November Small Group Intervention Pack.)

Station 10: Rolling for Dinner
(Students roll a 12-sided die and color in a Thanksgiving food on their paper that shows that number. Students can also roll two dice and cover-up the sum. This game is from Growing Kinders' Let's Talk Turkey Pack.)

These math stations have provided great practice at some of the skills from our current math chapter which focuses on the numbers 6-10. Next week we are moving on to a new chapter in our math book which focuses on shapes-so I'll have to dig through my files to see what math stations I can use to support that! Hope your math stations are going well-I'd love to hear what your students are up to!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Guided Writing

Many days during guided reading, I find myself focusing more on writing than on reading with some of my groups. It is amazing how much writing will help move along many of the reading skills we are working on.

My lowest group, which is not quite ready for level A books, has been developing lots of great concepts of print through our daily interactive guided writing sessions. These writing lessons are nothing like our writing workshop time later in the day-this small group guided writing is focused on developing beginning reading and writing skills.

We have been working on writing our own little predictable books. I give them a blank book that just has pictures, and we write the text together. Click here to download a copy of the book we worked on writing today-called My Animal Book (even though the pictures are in color, I just print it in black and white and let them color the pictures in with crayons if they want).

The whole group opens up to the same page in the little book (we usually just write one page a day). Today we opened up to a page that has a cow in the picture. We decided to write the sentence "I see a cow." I help them choose the sentence because I want it to be simple and include some sight words that they know. This particular group already knew the sight words "I" and "a" and we just learned the word "see" last week-so the sentence we were writing was perfect practice!

The first thing we do is practice saying the sentence several times-this way we don't forget it! I always ask them to practice whispering it too! Then we clap or tap each word so that we get practice hearing the word breaks in sentences. Each word gets just one clap-this is not about syllables! Then we practice counting how many words-we hold our fingers up as we count. Finally we are ready to begin writing.

The first question I ask them is to point on their paper to where we will start writing. I definitely want to reinforce that we start on the left side of the page. Then I ask them to say the sentence "I see a cow" and tell me which word comes first. They practice writing the word "I" in the air with their finger (I check to make sure they are making the capital letter). Then they get to write the first word on their paper.

Next, we point to the word we wrote and read it. I ask them what word comes next. They tell me it is the word "see". Since this word is one of our new sight words, I ask them to practice it a few times on their practice page (this is just the back of the previous page which is blank). When I see that they are writing it correctly, I let them point to where they think it should go in their sentence (if they haven't left a space, we talk about that).

Then we point and read our sentence so far and I ask them what word comes next.  Since it is the word "a" and they all know how to write it, I don't make them use the practice page. We trace it once on the table with our finger, then they point to where they think it should go in their sentence. If they have pointed to the right spot (and left a space) I let them each write it in their book.

I then ask them to point to each word in their sentence and read it out loud so we can figure out what word comes next. The final word is "cow." Since this is not a word they know or a sight word, I am going to help them with this one. We work on saying the word slow together and hearing the first sound. I ask them to point to the letter on their alphabet chart that they hear at the beginning of cow. Some pointed to the "C" and some pointed to the "K" so I went ahead and told them that cow starts with "c" just like cat on their alphabet chart. Thankfully no one pointed to a letter that didn't make sense! Then they pointed on their paper where they thought the word should go. This was a great opportunity to talk about return sweep, since there was no more room on the first line and we had to start a second line to write the word cow.

To finish writing cow, I told them that an "o" was the next letter (I am not expecting them to be able to figure that out on their own at this point) and then they helped me figure out that there was a "w" sound at the end of the word and we wrote that. I asked them to point and read their page to see if their sentence was finished-they said all the words were there and thankfully one of my students reminded us to put the period at the end! Finally-after nearly 10 minutes we had written one whole sentence! It seriously takes a LOT of time-but it is SO worth it.

We were not done with our lesson though! I like to practice pointing and reading the sentence several times as a group and then I let them each show me individually. They like to use their pencils as pointers sometimes. Then we play little "games" with our sentence. Really I am just prompting them to demonstrate some concepts of print. I ask them a few questions like these:
  • Point to the first word
  • Point to the last word
  • Point to where you start reading on this page. Where do you go next?
  • Find a capital letter. Do you know what letter you found?
  • Find a lowercase letter. Do you know what letter you found?
  • Find the letter ____
  • Find a space
  • Find the period
  • Find a word with 2 letters (or 3 letters, etc.)
  • Find our sight word _____
  • Find the word _______ (How do you know that is the word _____?)
  • Find a word that begins with the letter _____
  • Find a word that ends with the letter _____
  • Point to the word _____. How many letter are in that word?
  • Count how many words are in our sentence
  • Count how many letters are in our sentence
  • Count how many spaces are in our sentence
  • Practice reading the sentence. Point under each word as you read it.

These little books make great writing practice-but also great reading practice. After we write them we use them as shared reading texts-and instead of looking at my big book or poetry chart like a usual shared reading session-each kid has their own little book to point to so everyone is engaged in the small group lesson! 

We also sometimes do some quick word work after we write and read these little books. For example, since today we were using the word "see" in our book, we practiced building the word with magnetic letters. We did lots of "mix & fix" (mixing up the letters and then fixing them to make the word "see" again). We also practiced writing the word "see" on our dry erase boards, locating the word "see" in our book, and reading the page we found the word "see" on to get practice with the word in context.

Whew! This turned out to be a long post! I promise this was just a quick 20 minute small group lesson though-and it was with my most struggling group of kinders-they did a great job! I'd love to hear how your small group literacy lessons are going!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Learning about Dia de Los Muertos

Last week was an exciting week in kindergarten. After all of the Halloween festivities at school on Monday, we picked right up with another celebration the next day. On Tuesday my students and I learned all about Dia de Los Muertos-The Day of the Dead. This is a holiday celebrated in Mexico, and it was a great opportunity to expose my students to another culture.

I have to thank Mrs. Parker for this idea-she shared some great resources on her blog. I began by sharing with my students a little bit about what the Day of the Dead is, and how people celebrate it. We discussed how this is not a scary holiday, but instead how it is a time where families can remember loved one that have passed away. Many of my students shared memories about relatives they missed, like grandmas and grandpas, that were no longer with them.

Even the skeletons associated with this holiday look festive to me! I didn't have any Day of the Dead books, so instead we read a past version of Scholastic News about Day of the Dead that Mrs. Parker recommended. You can find it here (the English version starts on page 5). It had pictures of the celebration and explained many of the traditions.

I set up a little Day of the Dead display for my students with some items I had collected. I happened to be visiting family in Chicago last weekend and had the chance to visit the wonderful National Museum of Mexican Art which was running an exhibit on the Day of the Dead. I snapped a few photos to share with my kids. The museum also had a woman making the little sugar skulls for Day of the Dead, so I picked up a set to bring to my class. I also visited a Mexican bakery where I found some of the special "pan de muertos" or bread of the dead. My students were very curious about this!

I downloaded the free skull mask here for my students to decorate. After they decorated their masks we attached them to popsicle sticks and had a bit of an impromptu parade around the classroom. We also enjoyed learning some Spanish words throughout the day. I then encouraged my students to take their masks home and teach their families about the Day of the Dead.