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Friday, October 19, 2012

It's Pumpkin Time!

"It's Pumpkin Time" by Zoe Hall

If you're looking for a realistic fiction book that discusses the life cycle of a pumpkin, look no further.  It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall is fabulous for any kindergarten or advanced pre-k class.  I like the colorful illustrations and the way the author makes dry facts seem really interesting and cool.  At this time of year your students are seeing pumpkins everywhere, so why not take a closer look at pumpkins by cutting them open, letting them feel inside, pulling out the seeds, and comparing the weight and size of pumpkins to a variety of fruits and vegetables.  My class also made a Venn diagram comparing a pumpkin to an apple, and they really learned a lot.

I'd like to share with you some really great pumpkin fingerplays and songs that you can use for math, reading or science.  These also fit in wonderfully with the Common Core curriculum.  The first song is by Sharon Macdonald, and it's called "Five Round Pumpkins."  I print the numeral pages of the file below on orange paper and cut them out.  Then I print the remaining pages of the file on white paper, cut them out, and attach them to the back side of the pumpkins to match the song lyrics.  Here is the download:
Five Round Pumpkins

Sharon Macdonald also has another great song called "Pumpkin Seeds."  It talks about the life cycle of pumpkins and what they need to grow - a super connection for science!

A fingerplay that I've used in pre-k and kindergarten is "Five Little Pumpkins".  Singlish performs two versions of this song, one with lyrics and one instrumental.  I like to use the instrumental version and change the second lyric from "There are witches in the air" to "There's a chill in the air."  I have plastic pumpkins that I bought at an arts and crafts store to go along with the song.  My kids just love them because they look so realistic and they're 3D.  I also place them in Math Center so the kids can do the rhyme independently, taking away one pumpkin each time they do it.  Here are the complete lyrics that I use:

Five Little Pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said;
"Oh my it's getting late!"
The second one said;
"There's a chill in the air."
The third one said;
"Well I don't care."
The fourth one said,
"Let's run and run and run!"
The fifth one said,
"I'm ready for some FUN!"
WHooooooosh went the wind
and OUT went the light,
and one little pumpkin,
rolled out of sight.

Then I start the song over from the beginning, and take another pumpkin away, and so on.

A nice circle time pumpkin song is "Pumpkins" by Newbridge Songs for Learning.  This dance has the children forming a circle around five pumpkins in the center, and as the song counts backwards pumpkins are taken away from the center group one at a time.  This song is good for teaching the concepts of subtraction or "one less."

I made the following paper to help my students identify color words as well as classify pumpkins by size:

Pumpkin Color by Size

My students kept commenting about how everything matched on this day, and wondering how that happened.

Please leave a comment below and tell me what type of pumpkin activities you do in your classroom.  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumn Activities

I can't believe it's October 1st!  Fall is my favorite season, and I think it's really important to celebrate the change of the seasons with my students.  So I read all of the books in the carousel above, plus Fall, Leaves, Fall which is a great large-size book, but Amazon did not have a picture of it.  I want to share what I did for Leaf Man, because some of my children who normally don't like to do seat work were really motivated by this activity.  We read Leaf Man, of course.  Then I had little pieces of paper cut out in red, yellow, orange, green and brown so that the students could make their own leaf man pictures.  I hung the originals in the hallway, but I also wanted to make a class book so that students could practice reading the sentence frame "My leaf man is a ______," and so that they could see their own writing.  If you're interested, take a peek:
Our Leaf Man Book

I've been working a lot on math plans lately, to match the Common Core standards.  I came up with this idea to have the children count leaves, identify numerals, and then color the squares on the ten frames.  Since Common Core wants us to recognize up to 20, I made twenty different Velcro spots for leaves, and 20 different numeral cards.  There are also two ten-frames on the tree so that children can color the appropriate amount of squares up to 20.

This week, we started working on number lines, so I designed a leaf number line paper to keep with the theme:

Number Fill in the Gap Leaves

I feel that my posts are never complete unless I share some of the songs that I've been using.  There's a fabulous song by Jack Hartmann called "Follow Me to the Apple Tree," which has the kids actively hopping, paddling, skipping, walking, etc. to an apple tree and then picking the apples.  After they pick the apples, they hurry back through the same motions, sort of like the song "Goin' on a Bear Hunt."  I also really like the song "Seasons" by Dr. Jean, because the kids can easily picture different activities for each of the four seasons.  Both of these songs go really nicely if you're discussing and making connections between the books and the real world.

I also recently put up Four Seasons Writing Folders on TPT, and I think they could be really useful in any writing center throughout the year, especially when you're focusing on seasons.