Sunday, September 29, 2019

Explore tables and math tubs

As you probably know kindergarteners learn so much through hands-on play and exploration! While we do follow a rigorous academic curriculum, I also try to incorporate play-based learning as much as possible throughout our day. One way is by setting up what I call "Explore Tables" for students to do when they are finished working on a task, or during their choice time. These are generally math-, science- or literacy-related, and allow students to learn or practice skills in a developmentally-appropriate way. Below are some pictures of Explore Tables we've had so far this month!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Readers Workshop and practicing our names

The first month of school means lots of practicing how to do things that will later become routine - including one of our most important times of the day, Readers Workshop! This is a daily period where kindergarteners read independently (or with partners on Fridays) to practice reading skills, as well as participate in a shared reading with me where we learn specific skills for reading. Lately we have been focusing on the three ways to read a book - by reading the pictures, reading the words, and retelling the story to yourself. This is an accessible way for all students to enjoy books, whether or not they can read the words (and most of them cannot at this point in the year so we really emphasize reading the pictures)! Below are some pictures of students with their book boxes, practicing reading behaviors like turning the pages, focusing on the pictures, and sharing with their partner on Friday!

Another skill we practice often in the beginning of the year is spelling and writing our names. Kindergarteners are approaching literacy from all different stages when they first begin the year. One of the best and most meaningful ways to introduce them to early literacy concepts (the difference between letters and words, letter identification, understanding that letters make sounds and have meaning when put together with other letters, etc.) is by using names! A name is often the first word that a child knows how to spell and write. This week, we spent lots of time on our names in various ways.

We started a daily tradition called Special Name of the Day, in which one child is selected to be the "special name." As a group, we count and identify the letters in their name, do a cheer with these letters, learn how to write it, interview the special student, and draw a picture of them. This will continue every day until everyone has a chance to be featured. Look for your child's "Special Name" book coming home in their folder!

We also did lots of projects using our names, including making name trees, using name kits with handwriting practice and letter cubes that spell our names, spelling each other's names with magnet letters, and practicing with glue sticks to cover our name with squares. Below are some pictures. If you have time, ask your child to spell his/her name, and ask them how many letters they have in it!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Studying monarch butterflies

We started our science investigations this year by observing and learning about monarch butterflies. We had three caterpillars at one of our explore tables that quickly made chrysalises, which is where they will be for the next several days before they emerge as butterflies! We observed them each day and wrote our observations in our science journals. We also got to visit the garden with one of our garden parent volunteers, where we learned about the butterfly life cycle and migration route, plus got to release recently hatched butterflies! Below are some pictures of our explorations.