Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Hello, blog friends! Can you believe that it's almost the end of the school year? Well, it is for us, in America. But in Australia, they're moving into winter as our summer approaches. By the way, you HAVE to check out the blog of my new Aussie friend, Jody. She gives so many really fab ideas for games in her classroom.
Ok, with the new Common Core standards I know you're all aware that we have to teach numbers to 100 now in kindergarten. So, I thought I would do a post about it and tell you some of my trials, tribulations, and triumphs. To start off, I remember writing my numbers to 100 when I was little. I HATED it! I thought it was so boring, and after a while I just sort of scribble-scrabbled. I mean, let's face it. It's just too much to write one hundred numbers. So, some of the things that I'm doing with my kids have to do with puzzles, cut-and-paste activities, writing some missing numbers from a hundreds chart, and tracing dotted numbers.
This puzzle hundreds chart worked really well. I used the large, separate pieces to model it for my class on the easel. Actually, I put them up on the easel and I called up different students to place the pieces correctly for the rest of the class. Then, I explained to the students that each table (I have 5 tables of kids) would get a Ziploc bag with 5 puzzle pieces inside. They would then have to put them in the correct arrangement, glue them, and present them to the class when we went back to the rug. Since I have a color-based behavior system in my class, I told them that the table(s) that worked most cooperatively together (i.e., no fighting about who would put the puzzle pieces where) would get the top color for the day. They were so on-task! It truly worked really well. Here is the file that you can use. I had the first page cut up into pieces for each table to put together.
Another idea I had was to do sort of a chunking paper where the kids cut out four-number chunks and find the right places on the hundreds chart to glue them. I noticed that this type of paper is much easier for them to do than cutting out single numbers and gluing them on. I think it still accomplishes the same goal of learning numbers to 100 and what they look like. For kids who are still having a little trouble writing numbers independently, I made a couple hundreds charts with some of the numbers dotted, for the children to trace. Here are those pages:
Of course, I have to mention a few really great songs. This week I started using "Zero the Hero" by Dr. Jean, "Techno Count" by Jack Hartmann, and "Grouping by Tens" by Mar Harmon. I love all three of these artists, and I feel that these songs really give students an opportunity to get up and experience numbers in a fun and kinesthetic manner. My friends, I have decided I am all about the fun!
And speaking of fun, take a look at this video made by Mr. Harry:
Also, here are some web sites I found with really nice games:
I really like matching my computer center to whatever I'm teaching for reading and math in the classroom. Hence the computer games practicing numbers to 100. I'm really interested in finding out how all of you keep counting to 100 exciting and fresh. Please let me know what fantastic ideas you have!
Monday, April 29, 2013
|"Grandfather Tang's Story" Book Cover|
Hello, everyone! Do you ever get the feeling that if there were just two more hours in the day, you could get everything done? I've been feeling like that a lot lately. I want to be the best mom, the greatest wife, the most fantastic teacher, and a terrific blogger at the same time. I feel like pulling out my hair! I don't know how some of you amazing people can blog every couple of days. I really wish I could. I'm sorry. That was my rant for the day.
Today, I read this fabulous treasure, Grandfather Tang's Story by Ann Tompert, with my kindergarten students. They really made a lot of connections to Transformers. Using tangrams, a grandfather and his granddaughter make different animals out of shapes to represent a story about fox fairies that can change their forms. The boys in my class, especially, were really psyched over the chase scenes in this story. The interesting thing is a lot of the children thought that the two fox fairies would make up by the end of the book. I asked them why they thought that, and a few said "Well, because they're friends, and sometimes friends just fight for a little while." It's interesting that they don't realize this when they're arguing, but they can realize it when you're reading a story to them. Hmmm.
I made a paper with tangram shapes on it, which you can use with your students if you don't have real tangrams to use. What I did was print this out on different colors of printer paper (yellow for goldfish, green for turtles or crocodiles, blue for bluebirds, orange for lions, etc.). Then my students cut out the shapes, arranged them for about ten minutes, then glued them in the animal form that they liked. "Did this activity work?", you might ask. Well, I have to be perfectly honest. For most of my students, I'd have to say yes. There were a few who kept saying "How do I make a fox?" or "How do I make a bunny?". I kept telling them it doesn't matter if it looks like the animal in the book. Just make it the way you want your fox to look. I think if I would have started by having them play with the shapes, and then read the book second, it might have brought about more creativity than the children trying to replicate what was in the book. If any of you have done this, or something like it, with your students, please let me know how to reach those few students who say they can't do it without help.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
|Book Cover of "Tickets to Ride: An Alphabetic Amusement"|
The first thing I found was the book pictured above, Tickets to Ride: An Alphabetic Amusement by Mark Rogalski. This is an alphabet book, but it also has lots of hidden treats in it. There's a highlighted animal and a concealed number in each illustration, and a surprise map at the end. This is to timely because I'm teaching about maps right now in social studies. I really enjoy showing the kids maps about things they care about, such as parks, zoos, and fairy tale maps. I think it's so much cooler than showing kindergartners maps of their state. I've tried doing state maps, and the kids just don't understand and don't care about what they're looking at; it's too abstract. I notice with picture maps they really get into them and even start asking each other really great geography questions.
There's a song by Jack Hartmann called "Roller Coaster Ride" that offers an opportunity for your children to role play going on a roller coaster ride. The song really tells you what to do, step by step, and the kids will catch on quickly because they've been on roller coasters before.
I made a brand-new amusement park writing folder with all of the rides and treats that the children could think of. I was extremely happy with the way it came out, and decided to bundle it in a Warm Weather Writing Package on TPT. Here are a few samples of what my kids did with the amusement park folder:
Finally, I thought it would be really motivating for the children to also have their own guided reading amusement park book. Here it is. I hope your students love it as much as mine.
Let me know if you like these ideas, and I'm also really interested to know what your children are writing about!
Friday, April 5, 2013
|"Hopper Hunts for Spring" Book Cover|
I'd like to start by thanking Linda at Primary Inspiration for hosting her Primary Math Linky Party. What a terrific idea! My contribution to the linky party is this integrated post featuring several freebies including addition bunnies.
I love using the book Hopper Hunts for Spring because it can tie in math, science, language arts, and writing all in one beautiful spring package. The story itself focuses on a young bunny's confusion about who "Spring" is. I think this book is fabulous for starting discussions with your class about the spring season. I try really hard to encourage higher-level thinking by asking open-ended questions such as "What do you think Hopper is thinking?", "What kinds of things do you like to do in the spring?", and "What would you see, hear, smell, and taste in the spring if you were a bunny?".
For writing and art, I'm going to have my students use these differentiated spring cut-up sentences that they can also illustrate.
I've taken a few classes this year that say it's really important to use sentence starters for ESOL children. Since my class is almost entirely ESOL, I've really embraced sentence starters throughout this school year. Here is an example of one of them, with a picture word bank.
Spring Writing Prompt by Sharon A Blachowicz Dudley
Even though Common Core has taken time and money out of kindergarten, I still think that a short calendar time is important. I still use my calendar and I use different songs to represent special times of the year. Some songs that I will use in April are:
"Five Little Bunnies" by Mar Harmon
"5 Little Bunnies" by Joanie Calem
"Celebrate the Spring" by Jack Hartmann
"It's Spring" by Tiana
I feel that my children focus much better when we sing and dance to bring us all together on the carpet and to transition between subjects. I think all four of these songs give details about spring that some five-year-olds aren't yet familiar with. They also provide a nice baseline to make connections between the book, what they're writing about, and what they're hearing. The bunny songs are nice fingerplays for those students who still don't have one-to-one correspondence - I still have two in my kindergarten class who are having trouble with this. It's still good for the other children in my class because they can focus on the rhyming parts of the song.
I'm going to cut up these addition bunnies, laminate them, and put them in my math center for further practice. My children are going to use manipulatives of their choice from the center to check their answers.
Please let me know which ideas you like from this post. Your feedback really helps me to decide what to write about next.
Monday, April 1, 2013
The Secretary of Education is a really cool guy! Ok, so this is the story. A few weeks ago, I was asked to be on a panel with Arne Duncan. I couldn't believe it! I kept thinking "Something bad is going to happen. I'm going to get the flu or get into a car accident, or maybe Arne Duncan will just cancel." But the day came and I wasn't sick, we didn't get into a car accident, and one of my sweetest friends even did make-up for me (I can't do my own make-up, being blind). So, before Arne Duncan arrived everyone was very nervous and reading over tons of articles about new education initiatives that President Obama is trying to make happen. I kept focusing on early childhood articles, because I believe with all my heart and soul that universal pre-k is a fabulous idea. I just can't believe there are people out there who disagree and say that it's a waste of money to provide more pre-k education throughout the country. The eight panelists from my school were very honest in the discussion. We told Secretary Duncan that sometimes we feel like there are so many new initiatives and so much to do that we're constantly playing "catch-up." Sometimes living in the Washington D.C. area, I meet people who actually say they're sorry to me once they find out I'm a teacher because they think it's not a very worthwhile profession and that we just babysit all day. I think that this needs to change and that people in the general population need to realize how important early childhood education is. We all know that very intelligent people decide to go into teaching because it's their passion and their dream, not as an easy way out or because we lack talent for other jobs.
The video above is an abbreviated version of the discussion. Below is the full video, if you're interested in watching it. Let me know what you think.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
One of my favorite units to teach in science is habitats. I think over the years I've gotten better and better at incorporating all of the subjects within my habitat unit. The books in the carousel above are perfect for any habitat unit, especially because of the new Common Core Standards. I love them because of the realistic, vivid illustrations and the simple, factual text on each page. My students were really engaged as we read these books to them, and they asked many intelligent questions that led to more in-depth study about sharks, scorpions, and poisonous frogs and snakes.
I really like starting my lesson off with the songs "Habitat" by Walkin' Jim Stoltz, "Habitat Scat" by Mar Harman, and "Habitat Homes" by Dr. Jean. I then read one of the habitat books from the carousel above. Next I use a giant graphic organizer, either on a chart with realistic pictures or on the floor with plastic animals. Here is a lesson plan that I think will thoroughly describe exactly what I do. We have to do full-out lesson plans at our school, and this lesson plan was especially tweaked for an ESOL class that I'm taking. I hope it's useful.
I wanted to do some writing mixed with science, and I found that my students kept asking me how to spell the names of animals found in the various habitats that we were doing. I decided to make sentence starters with word banks so that I could really concentrate on circulating around the room and finding out if my children understood what a habitat was. The papers worked beautifully. Here is a sample of one that you can use with your kids:
I put up a whole Animal Habitat Unit on TPT including a writing prompt for a multitude of habitats and some graphic organizers. If you buy this unit, here are some teaching tips to make things run really smoothly. The first day that I used one of these writing prompts, a few of my students decided to rewrite the initial prompt. I should have modeled for them on the Visualizer how to complete the prompt. I learned my lesson, however, and I did that every day after the first time. After the first writing prompt, I pulled some samples to show to the students. I sort of used them as anchor charts to help the students to know what a high score would look like and what I expected from them. My students caught on really quickly. They started critiquing each other's work. I heard comments such as "Oh, if you want a good grade on that you have to use more color," and "Maybe you could label your picture; Mrs. Dudley might like that."
Finally, here are a few Animal Habitat Books that you might want to take a look at.
Please let me know what you think, or if you have any questions.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Hi friends! I hope this isn't too late for Dr. Seuss' birthday. This post will contain places to find games, links to people reading books, freebies, and some ideas that worked in my kindergarten class.
Let's start with games, because our kids just love them and so do we! I found some really great games on the PBS Kids web site. The games are fabulous for pre-k or kindergarten in my opinion, because the characters are giving the students directions and they're really easy to follow. I just found this site today! I'm very excited to try them out tomorrow. Some of the games cover skills like mapping, visual-spatial, size sequencing, position, shape recognition, and rhyming of course. Seussville is also cool. The games on that site are dealing more with coordination, but there are also some really nice activities in PDF format that you can print out for your class. For first grade there are some rhyming and alphabetical order pages in the Cat in the Hat booklet. For pre-k and kindergarten there are some mazes and coloring papers. I'm going to try the rhyming sheet with my middle and top kids; I don't think my low kids would be able to do it.
There's a Wocket in my Pocket is a really cool Dr. Seuss book that I never read before. I'm really not sure why, because I think it'll make an excellent writing prompt. I'm just going to give the children the sentence frame "There's a _____ in my _____." and have them complete it using their imagination (for example, "There's a melevision in my television.") and then have the children draw a picture of that. I'll then put them together to make a class book. Here is a link to a video of a nice reading of the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlmyfyjc7hM. Did you know that this is the shortest Dr. Seuss book?
We also read Green Eggs and Ham, and I made a comprehension graphic organizer for the kids to distinguish what was in the story and what wasn't in the story.
The students really enjoyed the reading of Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? They just got so into it and how to make the sounds! I think this is an excellent book for ESOL children. I want to add sound effects to the experience - I'll probably make that CD over the weekend.
I made this guided reading book to help the kids remember what books we've read this week.
We also watched the video of Horton Hatches The Egg and had a great discussion about responsibility. The children were really upset at Mayzie, but in the discussion she still thought it was her egg. It was very interesting!
Here is a fact sheet about Dr. Seuss that you might find helpful, so that you don't have to spend time looking up all of the information yourself.
I would really enjoy hearing about the things you do for Dr. Seuss' birthday!