Thursday, December 22, 2016

Gingerbread week

We had a great week before winter break! We read The Gingerbread Man and did lots of activities to go with it, including painting a gingerbread and making gingerbread cookies! We also had the incredible Hat Ladies come to visit, a group of volunteers who made a felt hat for every child in our school in one day! We did an all-school parade to show off our new hats. Have a great winter break and thanks for a great 75 days of kindergarten so far!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

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 is 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 every grade 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 eagerly playing Garbage with their math partners!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Weekend News writing

We start off every Monday by sharing what we did over the weekend, and then writing about it! It's a really fun way to learn more about each other and how we spend our time outside of school, as well as practice our writing skills. We end each writing session with sharing our writing with each other. I've been saving each Weekend News entry, and at the end of the year we'll put them all together into a book to see how our writing has progressed, and how we spent our weekends this school year!

Here are some pictures of the class hard at work on their Weekend News.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

In the forest: Who's been here?

Each Friday we visit the school forest during our science time. Each time, we begin by sitting in our Sit Spots (each kindergartener has his/her own spot that s/he returns to) and observing our surroundings. We also keep a different question in mind each time. Last week, we answered the question "What has changed in your Sit Spot since last time?" Autumn was coming to a close, most of the leaves had fallen, and lots of bushes had also been cut back, so a lot had changed!

This week our question was "Who's been here?" We read the book In the Woods: Who's Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George, in which two children go for a walk through the woods and find clues everywhere of animals who have been there before them, such as tracks in the mud, nut casings on a stump, and an empty nest. We then talked about the word "evidence," which one of our kindergarteners brought up, and talked about how scientists look for evidence, or clues, to see what animals have been to different places.

Then we went to the forest to look for our own evidence of animals! We sat in our Sit Spots for several minutes (it was too cold to bring our notebooks outside), and then walked around the forest. Then we came back in and sketched what we saw. Below are some pictures of what the students discovered, as well as a few samples from what they recorded in their science journals.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

We are thankful!

During our short week before Thanksgiving break, we learned a lot about what it means to be thankful. Yesterday, we had an all-school assembly to celebrate being thankful. Each class was responsible for writing out one letter of a greater message from the entire school. We were in charge of the letter "L," so we brainstormed a list and each classmate wrote one thing they are thankful for that starts with the letter L. My favorite was "lalala," which meant singing :)

We also read The Thankful Book by Todd Parr and made our own version! I loved seeing what each student wrote. At least one student wrote an entire book focused on foods they were thankful for. :) Many also listed family members, friends, and things in nature!

Next, we did an open-ended art project making turkeys. I gave ideas and examples for how to make a turkey, and then the kids got to choose how they made theirs. They turned out great!

Last, we normally end our day with Closing Circle, in which students take turns sharing a "thank you" for the day. I ask them to think of something they are thankful for from that day - an act of kindness from a friend, a favor someone did for them, something they appreciated. They then thank the person (or people) involved, and that person replies with "You're welcome." Doing "thank yous" has become a great ritual to end our day with, so this Thanksgiving week I wanted to share my own thank yous! I am very grateful for such a wonderful class of kindergarteners!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Writer's Workshop: stories about our lives

We finished our first Writer's Workshop unit last week! The kids learned a lot in this first foray into writing, including how to think of a topic for a story (in this unit we emphasized personal narratives, or true stories about our lives), draw illustrations, and then write words to describe what happened. They each wrote 6-10 pieces, and then chose their favorite to "publish." Publishing means editing, coloring the pictures, choosing a title, and making a cover page.

This is a big job for a kindergartener, and the kids did great! Here are some pictures of them during the writing process. When they finished, our reading buddies (a 4th grade class) came to listen to them read their published works!