Sunday, December 16, 2018

Garbage: A math game to play at home

One very important math concept for kindergarteners to learn is number order. We hope that they are able to place numbers on a number line, which looks something like this:

We also hope they master what's called "hierarchical inclusion," meaning that they know that numbers build by one at a time. For example, if I said "5," I hope they can see and understand that 5 is one more than 4, and one less than 6, and picture those numbers in order. We do lots of games and activities with number lines and counting to help them develop these understandings.

We also work a lot with what's called a "ten frame." Ten is the most important number in our Base 10 number system, so we spend a lot of time becoming familiar with it in kindergarten (and many grades after that as well). One way for kids to be comfortable with ten is to use a ten frame when we work with numbers. Here is a picture of a ten frame, which is essentially two rows of five boxes.

To represent a number, we fill in the boxes with the corresponding number of dots. Here is a ten frame for the number 6.

We do many games using ten frames at school, but I wanted to pass one along that can be done at home using a regular deck of cards! This game is called Garbage, and it's a great exercise for kids to become familiar with both ten frames and number order.

The game is somewhat complicated to explain in this short blog post, so instructions for how to play can be found here. But most likely, if you put a deck of cards in front of your kindergartener and ask them to teach you how to play Garbage, they'll be able to tell you with ease! We have been playing often, and the kids love it. (One thing to note: You may need to teach them that jacks, queens, and kings can be used as "10s." The decks of cards we play with at school are math cards, so they have numbers written on them instead of a regular card face.)

Here are some pictures of kindergarteners playing Garbage with their math partners! Ask your child if they can show you how to play!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Learning to read - explaining our strategies

One of the biggest accomplishments in kindergarten is learning to read! Some students come in learning to read, some learn during the year, and some learn shorty thereafter. But all of our kindergarteners make giant leaps in understanding how to read pictures and words, retell a story, figure out unknown words, ask questions about stories, and learn from non-fiction texts. Each day of the week we have Shared Reading time, where we learn one reading strategy related to these literacy skills. For example, we might learn that looking at the picture will help you figure out a word you don't know. Or that stories have beginnings, middles and ends.

Then on Fridays, we do a little meta-cognition where we think about the strategies we're using. Below is an example of one strategy called "Pointy Pig," which encourages emerging readers to point to each word as they read, so they can track the print and help their brain know which words to focus on. The kids drew a representation of the strategy that turned out great!

Also, I just thought these were some fun pictures:

Reading a new favorite book with a parent visitor - The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak!

And writing letters in the snow with sticks!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Thinking like a scientist: Living vs. non-living

We've been learning lately about what it means to be a scientist, including asking questions, sharing what you know, and listening to others. During science in our class, but also other times of the learning day, I try not to emphasize arriving at the correct answer, but rather on the thought processes behind figuring things out. We explored the question "How do you if something is living or non-living?" I was fascinated by the kids' thoughts on this question. What seems like a straight-forward question brought out a lot of interesting theories and ways of thinking.

For example, we looked at a fish, and asked if it was living or non-living. Most kids said right away that it was living, because it was moving around and was an animal. Then we looked at a ball, and asked if it was living or non-living. Most kids said non-living, and when I asked why, they said "because it doesn't move." So then I pushed the ball, and asked them if the ball was living now. That seemed to challenge a few scientists. Some students thought yes, the ball is alive when it's moving. Others said no, it's not living, because you pushed it. So we modified our criteria for what makes something living - it needs to be able to live on its own.

Another interesting query was around a wagon. Is a wagon living or non-living? Most said non-living, but a few said living, since it moves. Teddy bears, on the other hand, don't move, but they do have eyes and a heart, so some kids weren't sure how to qualify it. You'll see some of their answers in the pictures below. All in all it was a great discussion about a tough question, and the kids did a great job thinking like scientists!

"A tiger is living."

"A word is nonliving."

"A ball is nonliving."

"A cat is living."
We also had a couple new explore tables, including investigating like a scientist, making lists, and stamping words.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

We are thankful!

Last week was a short week but we packed a lot in, including learning about families, an all-school assembly, and reading books about thankfulness like Bear Says Thanks. We talked a lot about gratitude, and wrote books based on Todd Parr's I Am Thankful. The books turned out great, and it was fun to see what the kids were thankful for. Here are pictures from a few different books:

Also, I want to say how thankful I am to have such a wonderful class of kindergarteners! They are kind, sweet, funny, and generous, and it's so much fun to learn alongside them. A copy of this poem should have gone home in your child's Friday folder last week. If you didn't get one, let me know!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Math workshop

I haven't mentioned math yet this year but we have math workshop every day! Each day we start with a warm up (called Number Corner) to get our brains thinking about numbers, patterns or shapes. Then we have a mini lesson as a whole group on the carpet. Mini lessons involve practicing a numeracy concept, counting, addition and subtraction, learning a math game, or exploring any number of math skills. Then we move onto "math tubs" where the kids can choose from six different rotating math options, that include partner games, building materials, and number writing practice. Below are some pictures of what we've done so far this year!

Lots of math games and building with math manipulatives...

Practicing number writing and decomposing numbers...

Incorporating math skills such as addition and ways to make 10 into other subjects...

Exploring math concepts at our explore tables (and practicing fine motor skills)...

Sunday, November 11, 2018

How many seeds in our pumpkin?

Last week was all things pumpkin! We've been reading and talking about what happens in the fall, and one thing that happens near us is that pumpkins get harvested, and start to appear all around the neighborhood! So for the past week or two, we've been writing, tracing, and drawing pumpkins, as well as counting with candy pumpkins. We also did a math project where we estimated and then counted how many seeds were in our pumpkin! The kids loved and hated pulling the guts out of the pumpkin as you can see from the expressions on their faces :)