Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Penguin Fun!

     This week we started a penguin unit in my class. I had so much fun creating our first nonfiction unit. My kinders are really enjoying the real pictures in the books and learning all of the interesting facts. To begin the unit I asked the students to share anything they already know about penguins. I put their responses on sticky notes. I then explained what a nonfiction text is, and we went through the books and looked at the labeling, close up pictures, and subtitles. I pointed out the Emperor penguin in some pictures and told the students that the Emperor penguin is the tallest penguin. We then graphed whether we thought the Emperor penguin was taller than us. The next day I told the students I had a surprise for them and I brought out a 4 foot tall Emperor penguin I made out of paper. We estimated how many unifix cubes tall we thought he was then proceeded to measure him with unifix cubes. The penguin was 66 unfix cubes tall if you were wondering :)
     I added the post-it notes from what we knew about penguins before doing any reading under What do we know about penguins? As we continue to read books and find out more about penguins we are adding more post-it notes under the new learning heading.
     After reading some more we filled in a penguin bubble map with important facts. You can download it below :) I made it into a poster using our poster maker and laminated it so it can be reused!  Also below the download is a picture of what we filled in as a class.
Penguin Information Bubble Map

     After filling in the bubble map, we began working on our own nonfiction penguin fact books. Below you can grab a copy! I copied the first two pages back to back and the second two back to back on light blue paper, so the jacket of the book would be blue. I will post samples once they finish. Penguin Fact Book

FYI for some reason the lines of the book are showing up dotted in this window but when you click download, the pdf is fine!

*If you download, please follow my blog and comment :) Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

-at, -an, & -it Word Family Game

Yay! Lots of freebies were posted this weekend! After downloading one of Caitlin's freebies from Kindergarten Smiles I got an idea for a game. We will be starting on our third word family in January, so i decided to make a word family review game similar to the CVC game Caitlin posted. You can download it below. Just cut the cards, laminate, and enjoy!

Side note: I put Klatt in there because it is our principals last name. You can just not use that card :)
Please comment & follow if you download :)

 -at,-an-,it Word Family Game

At, An, It Word Family Game

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Five Senses

I teach each kindergarten science unit to all four full day kindergarten classes. I have done two of the four units so far. I started with the five senses and I wanted to share some of the fun things we did. I did centers for three of the senses on one Friday and centers for the other two senses on the next Friday. I introduced the senses with the big book My Five Senses by Aliki. 
We started with hearing, sight and smell. I put many different items (including cotton balls) in cookie tins that I decorated. The students had to shake them and make predictions based on only what they heard. For the sense of sight I put out a bunch of picture books and textured puzzle pieces at a table for the students to look at using magnifying glasses and kaleidoscopes so they could see how sight can be altered. Lastly I bought some fruit scented playdough for the learning store and had the students form the fruit they thought the play dough smelled like.

The following Friday we concentrated on taste and touch. For the taste center I made a giant tongue with a red poster board. I labeled the different taste buds on the tongue using their names and a picture (i.e. I wrote sour on a lemon cut out).  The kids then sorted pictures of foods into how they taste (sweet, sour, or salty-I didn't use bitter because I thought it may be hard for them to sort considering I don't know many foods that are classified bitter myself!) For the food pictures I bought a food pyramid mini bulletin board aid. 
For the sense of the touch the students played a super fun game called Ned's Head. The students draw cards and have to stick their hands either in Ned's ears or nostrils and try to find the item shown on the card using only their sense of touch. They had a blast with this game!
I needed one extra center so I also put out a bunch of Mr. Potato Heads for the students to play with since I used him to review the senses before we starting the second set of centers. 


Monday, January 2, 2012

Snowman Domino Addition

Found this idea at Mrs. Morrow's Kindergarten blog, she didn't remember where she got her original so I made this one :) I think my students will have lots of fun with this!
Snowman Domino Addition

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

CVC Words

Ever since I discovered Pinterest I can't get enough! I have found so many great teaching blogs with hundreds of fun ideas. I made the following worksheet after seeing a similar one at Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten blog. The students roll dice (can be made with card stock) with consonants and vowels on them to form 3 letter CVC words. Then they write the letters in the snowmen. The students will then decide if the word they formed is real or nonsense and color the snowmen accordingly.
Roll a Word (CVC-3 Letter Words)
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Finger Spaces

I seen this idea in a Really Good Stuff catalog and then on Pinterest and I decided I had to make my own! Some of my kindergarten students are not using finger spaces when writing, so I made them these spaceman popsicle sticks to use as a reminder. I even made my own with a jumbo popcicle stick that I could use when writing in front of the class :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Interactive Word Family Wall

When thinking of a way to display word families in my classroom I decided that instead of the word families essentially becoming a decoration in the classroom, I wanted them to be interactive for the students. So I cut out a cat and pan (with my die-cutting machine) and glued on the word family. I then laminated the shapes and put a Velcro square at the beginning of the word family. I then attached Velcro squares to all the beginning letters that could fit with that word family so students could try out different beginning sounds.I also included blank letter squares that students could create other other words they think of or nonsense words.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ish By: Peter H. Reynolds (2004)

     In my opinion Ish  is about accepting who are you (or what you draw,write,or do), creativity and art. The main character of this smaller sized picture book is Ramon. He loved to draw, "Anytime. Anything. Anywhere." That is until Leon, his older brother teased him about a vase of flowers he was drawing. Ramon was so upset that he crumbled his picture up. Ramon kept trying to make his drawings look "right" but they never did. He crumbled up many drawings before throwing in the towel. That is when his darling little sister, Marisol, showed up. After some conversation Marisol picked up the most recent crumbled sheet of paper and ran away with it. Ramon chased her into her room where he found walls full of his crumbled artwork. She pointed out her favorite piece which was the drawing of the vase of flowers. When her brother responded by saying it didn't even look like one, Marisol said "Well, it looks vase-ISH". Ramon began drawing again with much excitement. He drew many ish things, his ish art even inspired him to write ish poetry. Ramon started to look at the world in a new way. 
     The illustrations are simple, and kind of remind me of the Charlie Brown characters but with even less detail. The ink-written words look childlike and fit in perfectly with the watercolor illustrations. 
     I think this book should be shared with all children. Children can spend so much time trying to make things perfect and just right that they end up missing out on the real purpose and beauty of whatever they are doing.  Imperfection is what makes us human, and it can be a delightful and enjoyable thing. 
     I can't wait to share this book with my family, and future students alike. Ish is dedicated by the author to his art teacher, who dared him to draw for himself and find his voice. I hope to inspire this kind of individuality in all of the children in my life.                
     By the way, Peter Reynolds, the author of this fantastic book, also has written another book titled The Dot (2003), that I will be getting in the mail soon, about various ways that art can be defined. Hopefully you will check out both of these books! 

"The End-ish"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Writer's Notebook by Ralph Fletcher (1996)

     For the last few hours I have been reading a book that I just got today, a book that I couldn't stop reading until I reached the last page. You may be thinking that I must be writing of a mind wrenching novel, but instead I was reading about writing.
     I met (in an abstract way) Ralph Fletcher last semester in my language arts class. The assigned textbook was a book by Fletcher titled What a Writer Needs. This is by far one of the best textbooks I have purchased during my college years. Recently, while substitute teaching in a second grade class I discovered another one of Ralph Fletcher's books leaning against the chalkboard, A Writer's Notebook. This book had quite a few bookmarks, so I proceeded to open to those pages. At first I seen little notes saying READ next to paragraphs. I was glad to see that this teacher was sharing Fletcher's wisdom with her students. Then I continued on to find the written words DO NOT READ..DIVORCE..and large X's covering paragraphs and even pages. I was very disappointed that this teacher was choosing not to share the whole point of the writer's notebook with her students, which I will now transition into.

     A Writer's Notebook is not a diary, or just like any other journal. The writer's notebook is a place to share everything, from snatches of conversation to article clippings that interest you. It is an outlet to share what you experience in your everyday living. Fletcher wrote "Many people drift through life. Your writer's notebook can work as an alarm clock to remind you to wake up and pay attention to what's happening in your world, both inside and out. There's nothing more important you can learn as a writer." As I read this book I began bookmarking pages as well. I assure you that I didn't find anything that I wanted to bookmark in order to never revisit it again.
     In this book Fletcher shared about a fifth grade teacher who wanted her students to keep a writer's notebook and then she decided that if she was going to ask her students to keep one that she should keep one too. She ended up writing many personal entries, one about divorce that she shared with her students. I thought this was so brave and courageous of her, and I thought of the student in her class that might connect with the feelings that the poem about divorce expressed and be inspired to write in his/her own writer's notebook about a similar event.
     A writer's notebook can also be used to write letters, some which will never be sent. In this book Fletcher shared a letter that a fourth grade boy wrote in his writer's notebook. This letter was to his father that had left, he wanted answers. He wrote "I'd send you this letter but I don't know where you are." Then at the end of the letter he wrote " P.S. Please write back."
     At the end of the book Fletcher shares some students writing about writing. A fourth grade student wrote "My writer's notebook is my heart, my mind, and my soul". How powerful is that? This student used her writer's notebook to come up with ideas for writing when she was without, and she also acknowledged that she may use a piece of her notebook for writing now or in ten years. That is the special thing about a writer's notebook, you never know when something you write down can be used later to possibly contribute to a polished piece.
     A Writer's Notebook has inspired me to write more. After reading it I have also gained confidence in my ability to help my students find the writer within them. This book is a great resource for students in the classroom but it can also be used to help anyone write about anything.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry... By Molly Bang (1999)

    Oh how I love this book! I came across it while in my children's literature class last year and I finally got my own copy in an effort to expand my children's book library with a variety of stories. This book is equipped with two awards. It is a Caldecott Honor Book (2000) and it also has the Charlotte Zolotown Award (2000) (which is awarded to one picture book every year from a committee at University of Wisconsin). This is a great book to share with children or adults alike to help them deal with issues of anger and can I just say that I don't think this is only a book that should be brought out when somebody is angry but it should definitely be read when at any given time. Children need to know about how to deal with their anger before it happens, while it's happening and after it has happened.
     Sophie is playing with her stuffed gorilla when her sister decides to snatch it out of Sophie's hands. Then her mother insists that it "is" her sister's turn now which takes Sophie over the edge. Warm colors start to fill the pages as Sophie's anger rises. "Sophie is a volcano, ready to explode-". Then Sophie decides to run outside, she runs until she cannot run any more. Sophie begins to cry, then she comes to the old beech tree and chooses to climb it. The colors on the pages become more cool, more relaxed, and less angry. She watches the water and the breeze blows her hair. "The wide world comforts her". Sophie returns home and "EVERYTHING'S BACK TOGETHER AGAIN". 
      My favorite aspect of this book is the illustrations. Not only the pictures but also the words are presented in such a powerful manner.  The colors come full circle and lead you through the cycle of anger that Sophie is experiencing. I think this book is so well thought out. For instance, when Sophie arrives home there is a welcome mat by the door because everyone is glad she's home, her father is reading a magazine titled seeds which connects to the story since nature is what cooled Sophie off, and her sister is working on a puzzle and at this point the story has been put together.
     This story reminds me a lot of The Red Tree by Shaun Tan which was read to my language arts class last semester. The Red Tree also uses powerful images to capture the emotions and feelings of a little girl. I don't want to share too much about this book because I hope to do a separate post on it once I obtain a copy, which unfortunately isn't as easy as going to the book store and picking one up.
     I commend Molly Bang for creating this masterpiece of a book. These types of issues need to be discussed and I think books are an incredible way to do so. I believe a book is full of discovery and there is an endless amount of places, people, feelings, and events to experience through the pages.