Sunday, January 31, 2016

Literacy throughout the day

As much as students learn from the explicit lessons in the curriculum I teach, they also learn from their environment. Kindergarten is a hugely important time for immersing children in literate environments -- surrounding them with reading, writing, listening and speaking opportunities. I thought I would highlight a few of the ways our students experience literacy throughout the day (whether they realize it or not) :)

Morning Message
Each morning we read the morning message together. In the beginning of the year, I read it to the students, and they interact with it in some way, including answering a question that I propose in the message, searching for letters of the alphabet, or finding the letters in their name. We also use this as a way to teach one-to-one correspondence (meaning touching each word as you read it). This is a very important early literacy skill.

Then, as the year goes on, I begin to craft the message with the children, like the example seen in the second photograph. At this point in the year, several students can start to read the message entirely on their own, which is exciting!

Word Games
We play lots of word games throughout the day, including "Build a Man" (also known as Hangman in other environments). :) We use sight words, names, and word family words to play this game. Here are some students playing it on their own at free choice time.

We do lots with names throughout the year, as some students are still learning to recognize the letters in their name. Others can read whole names and use them in play and communication, such as these students who are writing a list of classmate names. 

We learn a different word family every week. This week's word family was the "ug" family, including words like bug, rug, and hug. The students below are hunting around the room for the 10 hidden "ug" family words.

During workstation time (first thing in the morning) and other parts of the day, we play games such as Hidden Words, where students can write a sight word with a white crayon, and then color over it with marker to reveal the hidden word! Games like these are fun and easy ways for students to practice their literacy skills.

Readers Workshop
We have a minilesson on reading every day, followed by "Read to Self" time, in which students read from their own box of books. These students below just learned that readers have "superpower skills," such as pointing underneath each word as they read (using the snazzy superhero wands that Ms. Woods gave them...also known as a popsicle stick with a start sticker on

Reading Strategy Groups
Each day I met with small groups to work on reading strategy skills, including segmenting and blending words. The students below are using letter tiles to spell simple three-letter words like "bed" and "rug." After we do some word work practice, the students read a book that is appropriate to their ability level. Then I send the books home in those Home Book Bags that you see each week!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Celebrating who we are

A big part of our social studies curriculum in kindergarten is learning about who we are as individuals and members of a community. All year long we will do different activities that help us explore how each person is unique. Here are some glimpses into what we have done in the past few weeks!

We started off by looking at pictures of children from around the world, and sharing our observations. What does their hair look like? What does their skin look like? Can you see where they live? Do they look the same or different from you?

Then we started a discussion about our skin color. Several of our books taught us that while skin is often called "black" or "white," we are all actually various shades of brown.

We compared our skin color to each other's skin, and then I passed out paint chips in various shades of brown. The students chose a color that most closely matched their skin shade. Some colors included almond, chocolate, and tan.

Then they made drawings of themselves using their skin color crayon, and shared their color with the rest of the class:

Here we wrote out sentence strips that say "___ is the color of ___." The kids match up their names with the different paint chips.

Lastly, we made self-portraits using skin- and hair-color paints! Check out these masterpieces. We'll hang them in our classroom on the Community Wall, if you'd like to come see them on display.

We also had an exploration area out in the classroom for making self-portraits, including hair-colored yarn that the kids like to try during their free play!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Playing in the snow

Snow is finally here! We took some portraits of the kiddos decked out in all their snow gear. I'm missing two kids in these pictures, but I'll put them up as soon as I can! We'll do an art project with these pictures soon as well. It doesn't get much more fun than playing in the snow when you're six years old. :)