Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apple Themed Centers

I'm gearing up to start teaching a unit on apples to my kinders in about a week or so. I guess that means fall is almost here! To go along with our study of apples and how they grow, I like to have a few fun math and literacy activities for my kiddos to do that have an apple theme.

Last year my students worked on lots of different apple themed math stations. Click here to check out my apple post from last year which includes links to several free apple math games!

This year I made some new apple themed literacy center activities to help my kinders learn their letters, sounds, and sight words. One of the games my students will play at our alphabet center is this very simple letter tracing game. I'll have a bag of magnetic letters and students will take turns picking a letter out of the bag and tracing the letter they picked on their paper. Click here to download these free letter tracing sheets (both capital letter and lowercase letter sheets included).

This game can easily be differentiated for students of different levels. The easiest way to play would be to give them a bag of capital letters and a capital letter sheet so they can trace the exact letter they pull out of the bag. To make it a little trickier, you can give them a bag of lowercase letters along with the capital letter sheet, so that they pick a lowercase letter but then have to find and trace the corresponding capital letters. Or, for really high students, I think I might give them a bag of little objects/toys/pictures and then when they pull out an item they have to determine the item's beginning sound and then trace that letter on the sheet.

I also have a pack of alphabet themed literacy games for sale in my TPT store that works on lots of different literacy skills, including: syllable counting, beginning sounds, capital and lowercase letter recognition, and sight words. Click here to check it out! I'd love to give away a free copy of this game pack to the first 2 people to leave a comment (and their email address) on this post!

Anyone else planning apple activities for the coming weeks? If so, I'd love to get some new ideas and hear what you and your students will be up to!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fun New Pointers

I decided to get crafty this weekend and make some fun new pointers for my students to use! Each pointer has a different letter at that top. These are very easy to make! I saw this idea last year and can't remember where I saw it-maybe Pinterest or someone's blog?

I started with a pack of magentic letters from Dollar Tree and 4 sets of plastic swizzle sticks I found at Goodwill (looks like they were originally from Target). You could also make these with popsicle sticks too. In all, this project cost me $3... not too bad!

I just put a little hot glue on the back of each magnetic letter and then stuck the letters onto the swizzle sticks. Not much to it!

So many possibilities for how these alphabet pointers can be used! I could put these pointers at the big book or poetry center and then students could pick a pointer and then use that pointer to locate that letter in the big book/poem they are reading.

They could also be used at the alphabet center-students could pick a pointer at then practice writing that letter on a dry erase board or make the letter out of wikki stix.

You could even have just have the class sit in a circle and pass the jar around, and every kid has to take a pointer out of the jar and say the letter they pick-or we all have to trace that letter in the air and the kid with the pointer can use it as a magic wand to trace the letter in the air. So much fun!

Have you made and fun projects for your classroom lately? If so...please share!

Product Review

Today I'm reviewing a fun new product from Lakeshore: The Phonemic Awareness Plinko Game. My students and I tested out this game last week and had a blast!

It comes with a bag full of very durable wooden chips with pictures on them. Students take turns dropping a chip into the Plinko board, and depending on which box it lands in on the bottom of the board, you either say the beginning sound, ending sound, or a rhyming word. These are all very kindergarten appropriate skills!

Obviously, my students' favorite part was dropping the chips and watching them fall through the game board! Everyone wanted a turn!

We played the game together as a whole class since naming beginning sounds, ending sounds, and rhyming words is still a bit challenging for the beginning of kindergarten. I could see my students being able to play this game independently as a literacy center later in the school year though. I also think it would be a great idea to give your kiddos dry erase boards and have them try to write the beginning/ending letter when the chip falls into those parts of the game board.

Overall a fun game-thanks Lakeshore! If you would like to purchase this game or any other items from Lakeshore, they are currently offering a "Buy One, Get One 50%  Off" special:

One new item I am considering purchasing with that coupon is their alphabet picture stickers- I always make alphabet books with my struggling students to help them learn the letters in the alphabet, and these stickers would make that book-making process so much easier! And of course my fave Lakeshore product is my lowercase alphabet dough stampers- these are fabulous and have gotten tons of use in my classroom the last few years!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Center Time!

Today was the 14th day of school and already my new kiddos are becoming pros at their centers. We just jumped right in on the second day of school and have been practicing every day since! I am just thrilled with how quickly my students have picked up on our rules and routines during center time-they are doing awesome! Most don't even need my help anymore to check the center board and figure out which centers they are assigned to each day.

Both my morning and afternoon classes just adore their center time each day. Last year with full day kindergarten I actually had time for 3 different center times during the day (literacy centers in the morning, math centers in the afternoon, and play centers at the end of the day). No such luck this year in half day, so even though most of my centers are literacy based, I sneak in a few other types of centers too (science, math, play centers) so they can work on those skills too!

My center time is 45 minutes long, and my students get to go to three 15-minute centers each day. I choose their centers for them, and I also assigned them each a center partner (any more than 2 kids at a center can really be a recipe for disaster). Since they have to stay at each center for 15 minutes (which feels like forever to a kindergartener) I make sure that most centers have at least 2 activities for them to choose from so it holds their attention the whole time.

Check out what we've been up to at our centers this week!

Writing Center: Students practiced their handwriting-kinders sure do love dry erase markers! 
Writing Center: Students played "Roll a Letter" and traced the letters they rolled on the dice (this game is from Deanna Jump & Julie Lee's School Fun Centers Pack)
Alphabet Center: I put a set of magnetic letters into a cloth bag, and students took turns pulling out a letter and then coloring in that letter on their paper-this simple game was a hit! (You can grab this awesome and free alphabet page from Growing in PreK)
Alphabet Center: Students use blocks to build letters (the cards and blocks are from Lakeshore)
Listening Center: Students enjoyed listening to books on tape (yep-keeping it old school in my class- no iPods or CDs to listen to-just good ole cassette tapes!)
Library Center: Students chose books to read from our classroom library (so thankful to have a class that loves reading this year- even my kids that don't know any letters love retelling books like Pete the Cat at this center!)
Playdoh Center- Students made alphabet letters out of playdoh
Playdoh Center: Students used playdoh stampers to stamp the missing letters on these fabulous alphabet cards made by Leslie @ Kindergarten Works (playdoh stampers are from Lakeshore)
Pocket Chart Center: Students matched together capital and lowercase letter flashcards (happened to spot these cute flashcards at Walgreens a few weeks ago-I love that they have the animals on them to help kids that aren't great at capital/lowercase letter matching yet)
Computer Center: Students played the alphabet letter games on
Science Center: Students tested different objects to see if they were magnetic or not, and then sorted pictures of the objects onto the pocket chart
Math Center: Students made pictures out of pattern blocks
Math Center: Students made numbers out of wikki stix
Puzzles and Games Center: Students played this board game from my Alphabet Games Pack. Students rolled a dice, moved that number of spaces on the game board, and told their partner the letter they landed on.
I'd love it if you'd check this pack of alphabet games out at my TPT store. I'd also love to give away this pack of games for free to the first 2 people to leave a comment on this post (just make sure you leave your email address in your comment!). Happy Wednesday!
Let me know how your first days/weeks of school have been going and if your class has any fun activities they've been enjoying during center time! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fun New Read Alouds!

I hope you all have had a great start to your school year! I am enjoying getting to know all of my new kindergarten friends-and they are certainly keeping me busy! I have been coming home exhausted each day!

Luckily, my new students and I share a love of good books and they are quickly finding some favorites that they ask to be read aloud over and over and over again. I probably read Pete the Cat and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus every day this week...they just beg and beg until I give in!

Today my good friend Chrissy over at Read Write Sing joined me for a little bookstore field trip where we checked out tons of fun new books. We had a great time and I definitely saw some great new stories I'd like to share with my class. Here are a few of my favorite new books.

Rocket Writes a Story is the sequel to the book How Rocket Learned to Read. The little dog, Rocket, makes his own word collection and then eventually is inspired to try writing his very own story. This is such a cute book to get your students excited about writing their own little stories. I will definitely have to share this with my class during writing workshop one day soon!

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (Pigeon) is Mo Willems newest book. I have read my students all the  books in the Pigeon series and they just adore them! I think they are really going to find this new one to be hilarious. The duckling asks for a cookie and receives one- which of course makes the Pigeon furious because he says he never gets what he asks for (like getting to drive a bus!). Very cute book!

I love the llama llama books, so I was so excited to see this new one: Llama Llama Time to Share. So far my kids are doing a nice job sharing in class, but this book will still be good a good reminder of how we behave in kindergarten! Also a great book for working on rhyming words!

Kindergators: Miracle Melts Down is the newest books in Rosemary Wells' Kindergators series. I love that she writes about little gators that are having a hard time getting adjusted to kindergarten and how their classmates help them to eventually succeed in class. I have already read Kindergators: Hands Off, Harry! to my class and it was the perfect way to start a conversation together about classroom rules.

Have you found any fun new books lately? I'd love to hear about the stories your students have been enjoying during the first few weeks of school!