Sunday, March 29, 2015

Math lately

We have been delving into lots of new concepts in math this trimester! Here are some pictures of what we are studying below. 

We are continuing to study teen numbers, emphasizing that all teen numbers (the numbers 11-19) are one ten plus some more ones (for example, 12 is 10 + 2 and 14 is 10 + 4). Here are two kindergarteners using ten sticks and one cubes to make teen numbers.

Figuring out partners of a number is another big push in kindergarten. This is also called "decomposing" a number. It's just a way of seeing how a number can be broken down into smaller parts. For example, 5 can be broken down into 4+1, 3+2, and 5+0. Here are some games the kids have been playing to practice the ways to make a number:

We also have time during math for free play in the block area. Kids learn a lot from playing with blocks and other building toys like Lincoln logs. It's a great way to improve spatial-visual skills, as well as practice cooperative play. Check out these creations!

Last, we have begun to explore 3D shapes (also called solid shapes). Kids love to play, build and sort with these shapes. We are starting to define their characteristics and relate them to 2D, or flat, shapes. For example, a cube has six sides, but each side is made up of a square, which has four sides of equal length.

All about weather!

We spent the last part of winter studying all about the weather! We started off by discussing wind, sun, and water, as well as all the different types of weather out there. It was immediately apparent that wind and tornadoes/hurricanes were the most fascinating topic! Below is an experiment we did called What Can the Wind Below? The kids practiced making predictions and testing their hypotheses by blowing on different classroom items.

After a few weeks of reading and learning about weather types, each kindergartener chose a type of weather they wanted to research and write a report on. We got lots of non-fiction books from the library, and also explored Pebble Go and National Geographic online, plus watched a few episodes of Bill Nye and Sid the Science Kid to get more information. Then they started writing their research reports! I was truly impressed with their ability to convey facts in an informational book. Several groups shared their reports with the whole class in a "science meeting," and everyone read their finished books to our first grade reading buddies.

"Sun can make the temperature hot on the earth." 
"It can make ice melt." 
"It can make your face warm."

During our last week on weather, we made collaborative posters showing the features of each season. Then each kindergartener chose their favorite season and painted a water color scene of themselves during that season. Then we shared a sentence "My favorite season is...because..." They did a great job!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vowels vowels vowels

Vowels are often the hardest letters for early readers to learn! By the end of kindergarten, they are expected to be familiar with both the short and long vowel sounds. Here are the different sounds for each vowel:

We are currently learning the short sounds for all the vowels, and much more time will be spent on the long vowel sounds in first grade. Here is a video that we've been watching to practice the short vowel sounds. It's a big hit in our class :)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Penpal letter writing

Learning to write is one of the most challenging parts of kindergarten. It requires lots of literacy skills, including planning out what you want to write, separating one word from another, stretching out the word and figuring out what letters to write for each sound in the word, and also remembering to leave spaces and form letters correctly and use legible handwriting!

It's a lot for a little learner to take on. I am always looking for authentic writing experiences for our kindergarteners, so they can have a purpose for why they are writing. For the past few months we have been lucky enough to pair up with a high school in Milwaukee, whose sophomore English class have become our penpals! It's a really awesome experience - the kindergarteners are fascinated by receiving letters from TEENAGERS, and they spend so much careful time writing and drawing letters to them. On the flip side, the English teacher (who is a friend of mine) says her high schoolers are ecstatic when they receive letters from the kindergarteners in the mail, and they respond with kind letters and detailed drawings.

It's a very cool experience of writing with purpose, and getting to know another community of learners. We are trying to arrange for the high school class to visit our classroom, but details are still up in the air.

Here are a few pictures of the letters we received, plus the ones we wrote back!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Farmer and chefs in the classroom

Friday was a jam-packed day of food and fun! Recently we've been lucky to have two CSA farmers, the family of one of our classmates, come in to do a lesson on food and farming with the kids! Last month Farmer Bard talked about tomatoes, and this Friday he did a lesson on root vegetables, specifically how carrots are grown and stored. We are going to continue these lessons (which include a veggie tasting!) as often as we can this spring! Many kindergarten students are very picky eaters, which is typical at this age. But did you know studies show that repeated tastings of the same food will often change a child's preferences?

Here are some pictures of our farmer in the classroom teaching how tomato seedlings are planted:

To continue our food adventures (and exposure to new types of food), we paired up with the district high school's cooking class, a group of sophomores who are studying food, culture and cooking. They came to our classroom and presented on where spring rolls come from - and then let the kids make their own! The high schoolers did an amazing job of prepping all the veggies ahead of time, and let the kindergarteners watch as they soaked rice paper to make the rolls. Then the kids got to choose whatever ingredients they wanted for their rolls. Many chose shrimp, kohlrabi, bean sprouts, and carrots. They also provided two types of sauce for dipping. The kids loved it and all but one student gave the spring rolls a try!

The high schoolers will be coming to visit our classroom once a month. I can't wait to see what they bring next!