Thursday, December 28, 2017

Winter party fun

We had a great week before winter break! It was a bit of a whirlwind, so I didn't have a lot of time to take pictures, but here are a few from our winter party. I hope you all are enjoying a relaxing winter break. See you in 2018!

The weather finally got cold! Here are the kids bundled up, playing together on the playground (pre-snow of course).

We made some adorable marshmallow snowmen! They didn't dry in time to take them home, so we'll finish them when we get back and then send them home.

We also got to decorate gingerbread cookies! My mom and one student's grandma came to help, so every student got to decorate two cookies - one to eat, and one to take home!

We also made cards and wrapped gifts for our families, an ABC book featuring pictures of every student in the class. Below are the pictures that appear in the book!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Adventures in math

Math is an important part of the kindergarten curriculum, and we have it for an hour each day, but I realized I had taken very few pictures of what we do on a daily basis. So I'm finally posting some pictures from math time! 

The math block is broken down into four components: a warm-up activity, a whole group lesson, small group work, and individual practice with math games and activities. Below are some pictures of students during the individual practice, which we call math tubs. Students learn various games and activities that build math skills, everything from number sense development to addition and subtraction practice.

A game called Bicycle Race, which involves both number identification and doubles practice (1 plus 1 makes 2, 2 plus 2 makes 4, etc.)

A game called Spill Ten Beans, which gives students practice with decomposition (knowing how to break down a number into smaller parts) and addition

A game called Garbage, which practices number order and identification

Some practice with number writing and fine motor skill development, using Qtips and paint to write the numbers 1-20

The students also meet with Ms. Thompson and/or me in small groups every other day, where we practice solving number stories in our math journals. These story problems are scaffolded so that students who need more of a challenge work with higher numbers and more abstract story problems. We always draw pictures, use labels, and write a number sentence to show our thinking.

Last but not least, I try to put out several math exploration options each month that students can do at choice time or whenever they finish early on other work. Below is one exploring 3D shapes, in which students are asked to build a tower using various 3D shapes, and then record what they made.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Letters & sounds

Learning letters and sounds is one of the most important parts of the kindergarten curriculum. Our daily schedule has a dedicated time for phonics (a half hour each day), as well as writing time, whole-group reading, small-group reading, and literacy workstations. But we also work on learning letter formation, identification, letter-sound-matching, and spelling throughout the day in various ways. Here are a few activities that we've rotated through this month:

Letter formation
I've put out various versions of letter formation practice throughout the year, including using legos and foam shapes.

Letter-sound matching
We also do lots of letter sound matching activities. Each week students receive a new word sort, which usually asks them to match pictures to their first letter sound. I also have lots of matching games for letter-sound sorting.

Early spelling of simple words
Below is a picture of a student matching what are called "CVC words" to their picture. CVC stands for Consonant-Vowel-Consonant, and are usually the first words that students master how to spell. Some CVC words include bug, cat, and fin. They're easy to sound out, since they have a definitive beginning and ending sound, with only one vowel sound in the middle.

At the beginning of the year, we did handwriting as a whole group every day. Now, it's a rotating center that students do once or twice a week. We completed our uppercase books a while ago, and now students are working on their lowercase letter books.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

What does a scientist do?

Last week we began a discussion on what scientists do. I loved hearing the students' ideas. We brainstormed ideas that we associate with "scientist," and then they each drew a picture of a scientist in their science journals. Afterwards, we read the book Ada Twist, Scientist, which is about a little girl who is filled with questions about how the world works, and does investigations to figure out the answers to some of her more pressing questions. While we read the book, I encouraged the kids to add to their drawing. Here's how they turned out!

Next week we'll dive into the science practice of asking questions, and begin by asking some of our own questions about the nature treasures we brought in. Here are some scientists exploring them:

For Forest Friday, we got to plant daffodil bulbs in the forest around the new pine trees. We'll get to observe these as they grow in the spring!