Friday, October 30, 2015

Pumpkin patch fun

I haven't had a chance to post pictures from our pumpkin patch field trip! It was beautiful weather for a trip to the pumpkin farm, and the kids had a lot of fun on the hay ride, picking out a pumpkin, and going on a scavenger hunt! Here are some pictures. Thanks to all the chaperones who came along! Happy Halloween to everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Partner reading

This week we read with partners for the first time! We've been working on increasing our stamina for reading independently ("reading" at this point in kindergarten can mean looking at the pictures, reading the words, or retelling a familiar story that you remember as you turn the pages), and got up to 15 minutes of reading quietly. It was time to introduce partner reading.

In partner reading, the kids are assigned a partner and sit together (we call it "elbow-to-elbow knee-to-knee, or EEKK), and take turns reading books to each other. Partner reading is a great way for kindergarteners to practice fluency (reading smoothly and confidently), using a "storyteller" voice (reading with expression), acting out a story, retelling a story, and sharing reading strategies together. All of these things help increase understanding and engagement in reading. Thus partner reading time is one of my favorite times of day, and the kids love it too! Here are some pictures of the partner readers. Just look how engaged in books they are! I love it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fun with foods in the fall

We have been studying a different letter of the alphabet every day, and sampling foods that start with that letter! The kids really look forward to our letter study time, and they've been really brave about trying new foods! Here is a list of foods we've eaten, if you'd like to ask your child about any of them, or make them for dinner tonight. :)

On our last day, we did the letter "I" and had chocolate ice cream! Here is a picture of one student enjoying some delicious watermelon on "W" day.

We also started studying what happens in the fall, and we kicked it off with apples! Each student got to use an apple corer to sample some delicious apples.

We also played apple-related math games and read lots of apple emergent readers (simple books with repetitive text, such as the ones in the pictures below). When the kids read these books, I encourage them to point underneath each word as they read, and use the pictures for clues to figure out unknown words. These are emergent reading skills that are vital for beginning readers!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Literacy + Math Workstations: A favorite time of day

Workstation time is one of my favorite times of our school day, and the kids really love it too. This hour is exciting because the kindergarteners pair up with a partner and rotate between ten stations (each pair of kids goes to two stations per day, and then they hit all ten throughout the week). Here are the stations with our learners hard at work!

1. Listening Workstation
At this station, partners listen to a book online. When they're done they draw a picture of their favorite part and take it home! Often times they like to revisit familiar books and read them over and over again. This helps with fluency and engagement in reading new and old books. A current favorite is Dem Bones by Bob Barner. 

2. Math Tub Station
Here partners play together with math manipulatives, including pattern blocks, building cubes, geoboards, and other hands-on math items. This helps them gain skills with patterning, constructing and planning, problem-solving, and spatial-awareness.

3. ABC Workstation
Here there are three options for activities related to reading and writing. Below is a picture of one game - sorting our names by syllable. When they find a letter, they write it down on their paper until they find them all! This station also includes two other letter games this week.

4. Computer Station
This is always a favorite - using Ms. Woods' computer! I set up the internet browser to go to our class blog, and they click on "Websites for Kindergarteners" on the righthand side, then choose any of the learning games there. I regularly add literacy, math and science learning games on this link.

5. Games & Puzzles Station
Here kids get to pick from letter-, word- and number-related puzzles and board games. This is also a popular choice during free choice time!

6. Buddy Reading Station
Partners can read books together from our classroom library! They haven't learned any strategies for this yet; in the future, they'll practice "choral reading" (reading the words at the same time) and "echo reading" (one reads, the other echoes). 

7. iPad Station
Our classroom iPad is filled with learning games related to reading, writing, spelling, math and science. This station is also great for learning to take turns, since there is only one tablet and several partners. :)

8. Arts & Crafts Station
Here the kids get to use their creativity on create-your-own art projects! They have access to the art supplies, like markers, glue, scissors, and various from the "Maker Table" (which changes all the time - from tissue paper to cardboard to styrofoam pieces). I also like to put out items to sketch and observe at this station as well. I don't actually have a picture of this station right now!

9. Big Book Station
Partners choose from a basket of big books and word cards. They can read to each other or to the ever popular Reading Dog, a big stuffed animal who loves to listen to stories. :)

10. Clay Play Station
This station is great for fine and gross motor skills! Kids can choose from clay tools, letter and number cookie cutters, and lots of playdough colors. They practice letter-making, word spelling, and other literacy skills in a hands-on manner. This is great for kinesthetic learners!

11. Teacher Table
Here is where I meet with students in their reading strategy groups. We work on letters and sounds, sight words, and early reading skills. Most of our readers are currently working on one-to-one correspondence (touching underneath each word as you read it) and using the illustrations and first letter of an unknown word to figure out what it is. Sometimes I also use my Teacher Table time to teach a literacy or math game that they can then play on their own at another station or to practice at home.