Saturday, December 21, 2013


After 75 days in school, we are finally on winter break! The kindergarteners have been working so hard for the past four months, and it will be a well-deserved break for them. Hope you all have a great break! Here's a glimpse at what we've been doing in science lately: learning all about penguins!

We started off the unit with several questions and formed hypotheses based on what we thought. Then, like scientists, we researched the answer by looking at lots of penguin books. Turns out penguins DON'T fly, but they DO have feathers! The feathers help keep them warm.

We then learned that there are 17 different types of penguins, including the great Emperor penguin, the tallest penguin in the world! Emperor penguins can be up to 48 inches tall, so of course we had to see if we were taller than one. Here are some adorable pictures of the kindergarteners comparing their height to Penguin Pete, who joined our class this month!

Here's a group measuring Penguin Pete with unifix cubes during math centers.

We also learned about how penguins move (by hopping or tobogganing on their bellies), what they eat (fish, krill, and squid), and the life cycle of a penguin. Turns out male Emperor penguins are the ones to take care of the baby chicks! We watched penguins on the livecam at Seaworld (find the link here) and tried to spot the different breeds we were studying. Last, we did the Penguin Dance as many times as possible!

When our third grade reading buddies came to our class, they helped us make a penguin craft that is now hanging in our room. They turned out great!

To conclude, we did a Shared Writing paragraph on what we learned about penguins. Shared Writing is a great way for students to practice forming sentences, spelling difficult words, and sharing what they know about a topic in a piece of writing. This will help us a lot with our nonfiction writing unit in Writers Workshop, where we write All-About books!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snowman glyphs

Glyphs are a fun tool to help students learn to follow multi-step directions. Our third grade reading buddies visit us every Friday, so this week we decided to make a snowman glyph with our buddies! The snowmen turned out very unique and so creative! Below is a copy of the glyph that we followed. (An example of one of the multi-step directions is: "If you and your buddy have the same color hair, make a snowman with three body parts. If you and your buddy have different colored hair, make a snowman with two body parts.") And check out those cute snowmen!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

More Thanksgiving fun

Sorry this post is a little bit post-Thanksgiving! Somehow that three day break always flies by. Anyway, here are some of the projects we did in the week leading up to Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Surveys
One of the math standards for our kiddos to meet by the end of kindergarten is an understanding of different ways of portraying data, including bar graphs and tally marks. So we conducted a Thanksgiving survey with the question "Do you like to eat turkey at Thanksgiving?" and then talked about our results! The data showed a resounding "yes" in answer to that question.

Handy Turkeys
What's Thanksgiving in kindergarten without making a hand turkey? Here we got to dip our hands in paint to make a turkey handprint, and then decorate the body however we wanted. Then we took the poem and painting home!

Writing what we're thankful for
After watching a video of one of Ms. Woods' favorite authors, Todd Parr, reading his book The Thankful Book (see the video here), we made our own version of the book describing what we're thankful for! The kindergarteners had to use their best sound-spelling. We are working really hard on not asking grown-ups "How do you spell this word?" Instead, we want kindergarten writers to stretch out the word and write down what sounds they hear. For example, the word "family" can be stretched out to "fff-am-uh-l-eee." Then they should write a letter or two for each sound they hear. We practiced the word "family" as a whole class, and it looked like this: fmle!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Learning about a peaceful classroom

As part of a social studies unit on how to be part of a community, we are studying peace in our classroom. I was excited by how easily the kids grasped the large concept of "peace." It's become a great way to talk about how we treat others in and out of the classroom. We started off reading a book by one of my favorite children's authors, Todd Parr, which gives different ideas for what peace is:

Then we wrote our own version of "The Peace Book," with each kindergartener drawing a page and writing what peace made them think of. Here are their pages:

Here are their ideas about peace:

After that, we read the book "David Goes to School," which is about a character named David who breaks lots of rules and generally wreaks havoc on his classroom. We then discussed what a peacebreaker (like David) looks like, and what a peacemaker looks like in the classroom. Here's what we came up with:

Next week we'll talk more about how to maintain peace in the classroom. I'll introduce a peace table where kids can go when they are having problems with someone else, and we'll role play when and how to talk about something at the peace table. This is a great way for the kids to practice social skills such as compromise, patience and forgiveness! More on the peace table when we get it up and rolling!

Sight Word Turkeys

We've been doing lots of turkey- and Thanksgiving-related activities lately. One of my favorites has been making sight word turkeys! The kindergarteners got to choose their six favorite sight words and write them on the turkey feathers. My favorite part (besides the fact that five-year-olds can get excited about words such as "the," "am," and "see") is how different the kids' turkeys turn out even when they're given the same instructions!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's Mystery Reader Day!

Okay so today isn't Mystery Reader Day, but Friday was! A few weeks ago I sent home notes to family members, as well as to other teachers at our school, inviting them to be a mystery reader in our classroom. Our first mystery guest was Friday, and it was Mr. O, our music teacher! The kids easily guessed who it was after the somewhat uncreative clues I gave them. For future mystery readers who come I will try to be more creative!

Parents and family members, if you're still interested in being a mystery reader, just let me know. We have quite a few scheduled in the next few months, but the more the merrier! This is a great way to get the kids excited about reading, and also to hear some fun new books.

Measuring in Math

We have been exploring measurement this week during Math Centers! In kindergarten we start learning to measure using non-standard measurement, which basically means measuring something using anything but a ruler (cubes, paperclips, our feet). Only after we get really good at that do we start talking about using a ruler. We'll be exploring measurement all year long since this is a major kindergarten Common Core standard. Here's what we did this week!

We started off using Unifix cubes to measure pictures of school supply items (which I found here for free), and recording our answers.

Then we worked with our high school tutors to measure large items around the room using our hands. Teamwork! (In case I haven't mentioned it to parents, we are very lucky to have two high school tutors come to our classroom for almost an hour each day during Math Centers. They each run a math center and are a HUGE help!)

After I introduced them to a standard ruler, we went around the room finding objects that were bigger and smaller than our rulers.

When the kids met with me for math journals, we played Top It (which is basically another name for the card game "War") using these cards. Working in pairs, the kindergarteners took turns flipping over a card. The cards could have either a number or a quantity on them.  Whoever had a bigger amount on their card got to keep them both! This was a great way for me to assess each student's number sense. For example, I could see who was able to recognize a group of three without having to use their finger to count each one (called one-to-one correspondence). For others, this was great practice getting better at one-to-one correspondence. I could also see who automatically knew which number was bigger than the other (another kindergarten skill to master).

I forgot to get a picture of our final measurement activity...measuring ourselves! I will post a picture tomorrow, but basically we measured each other using yarn and then displayed our heights on the classroom door, along with a picture of each student. Our display is definitely getting a lot of attention in the school hallways! I have seen more than one fifth grader walking past on his knees to approximate the height of a kindergartener. :)

Next week in math we'll be focusing on patterns!