Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bugs, plants, slushees, and more!

We have been doing so much this spring that it's been hard to keep up with it all! The kindergarteners are one week away from the end of the school year (I can't believe it) and we are cramming in as much fun and learning as possible before summer! Below are some pictures of what we've been up to. Apologies for how they skip around; I just wanted to get up as many photos as possible before the end of the year. As always, if family members would like any copies of these photos, just email me!

Our Sit Spots
We revisited our "sit spots," which we chose in the winter. This time we drew what we noticed from our sit spots in the spring. Quite different than the winter landscape!

We became penpals with a high school English class elsewhere in the state. The kids were so excited to receive letters from them. Here are some adorable responses, with translations attached...

Bug Races
We got pillbugs (aka roly polys) for the classroom! After passing them around the circle and studying their features, we broke into small groups and had bug races. The track had to be in a circle because roly polys don't exactly walk in a straight line on command...

What do plants need to grow?
After studying bugs, we moved onto a mini plant unit. We did seed art, played in soil at the sensory table, and grew radish seeds. We also did an experiment to see what would happen if we planted seeds and deprived them of water, sun, soil, air, or space. The results were conclusive that these are the five things a plant needs to grow!

Slushee Party
Our school has a positive behavior incentive system where students earn tickets for positive behavior and can exchange them for prizes or coupons. One of the biggest prizes available is a slushee party, but it costs 200 tickets! Kindergarteners typically earn no more than two or three tickets a day (not because they aren't behaving well, just because it's hard for teachers to stop and write the tickets in the hectic schedule!). So we decided to COMBINE our tickets and purchase a slushee party together. This was an awesome experience for counting to higher numbers, since I had the kids keep track of how many tickets they had in total. We used a hundred chart to track how many were collected. When two charts were filled up, we got to celebrate with slushees!

Kids around the world
We did a social studies unit on how kids live around the world. To kick off the unit, I gave the kids time to look through lots of books and pictures of children from around the world. They found the pictures fascinating.

Playing doctor
We've also had lots of fun in the dramatic play area of the classroom! Here they are playing with a doctor toy set. This would have kept them busy for hours if I could have let it go on. They love pretend play like this!

Special guest: The amazing airbag
One of our students' dad owns an auto shop, and he came to give us a demonstration on how an airbag works. It was amazing to see how quickly and loudly it exploded! He reminded us of the importance of not sitting in the front seat, and of wearing your seatbelt.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Action shots of literacy workstations

Workstations is a very important part of our day in kindergarten, as it's a great time for kids to independently review and practice concepts we've learned throughout the week. In pairs of two, they rotate between various literacy stations, while I meet with small groups for Guided Reading. Guided reading is small group reading instruction. Students read books at their instructional level (not too hard, not too easy) and work on a certain skill that will help them move up to the next reading level. For example, they might work on strategies for figuring out an unknown word such as skipping the word and coming back to it. In my class, guided reading groups are in pairs.

So while I meet with guided reading groups, here's some action shots of what the other students are doing! For more details on what each workstations entails, click here.

Practicing word family words at the Big Book station
Drawing a picture after listening to a story at Listening Station 
Looking for hidden sight words at the ABC station
Listening to a story on BookFlix at the Listening Station
Reading at the Big Book station 
Reading a class book at the Buddy Reading station
Playing ABC games on the laptop
Playing a blends board game at the ABC station

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Field trip to the nature center

The nature center is my favorite field trip of the year (as you could probably surmise)! The kindergarteners get to see and do all sorts of fun things, like look for bugs in the pond, turn over logs to find worms, hike in the forest, and see a puppet show. We had two excellent naturalists lead our group this year, and the kids had a great time. Here are some highlights:

The naturalists give us a run-down of our morning
Thanks to our parent chaperones for coming along!
One of our naturalists let us race down the path! 
There's nothing more exciting than running outside 
We got to see pond critters called macroinvertebrates!
We learned that some bug larvae can survive in dirtier water, and some can't
We got to see water beetles, snails and mayfly larva
Learning to use a handheld magnifying glass
Turning over logs to look for worms! 

We got to spend a little bit of time in the basswoods, where there were forts!
Attempting to start a fire
Free time in the basswoods! 
Playing tag in the forest
A shelter built by humans!
We also got to see a puppet show starring a chipmunk 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Our baby chicks

We have been learning a lot about life cycles this spring, and we were lucky enough to be able to raise a baby chick! We got eggs from the university, when they were 18 days into incubation. Eggs typically hatch after 21 days, and we got to witness it! Once he got his downy fur, the kindergarteners were able to hold him for a brief moment. They named him "Cheeper" because he spent most of the day cheeping at the world.

I wish we could have kept him for longer, but fortunately one of the wonderful substitute teachers at our school was able to adopt him. She gave him to one of her hens whose eggs never seemed to fertilize. So he is in a good home!