Do you Periscope? If not, you should! If you don't know, Periscope is an app that allows for live video streaming. It's a fantastic way to connect with people all over the world!
So I am going to be brave and do my very first Periscope Broadcast on Wednesday, July 6 at 4:00 pm CST. It's going to be on one of my FAVORITE THINGS...Kindergarten Math Problem Solving! I will tell you what it is, how I do it, why I love it and will, of course, answer your questions. So if you haven't already, download the app to your phone or tablet and get ready for some fun. I hope to see you then!
Here are a couple of slideshows that I use with my Physical Characteristics of Animals unit. They are super simple--meant to show kids the variety of animals in the world. I show these slideshows to the kids AFTER they have explored and come up with a list of characteristics on their own--kind of a wrap up.
The slideshows are Google Presentations--you just have to click on the links to view.
Pictures of animals with fur, feathers, scales, shells and skin.
Pictures of animals in all different colors.
I'm so excited! I have FINALLY finished my Kindergarten Math Problem Solving prompts for the whole year!
I believe so strongly in teaching math through problem solving. I've been doing it for 8 years now, and I am amazed every day by the things my kids accomplish.
Here's why I love Math Problem Solving:
Instead of standing at the front of the room and teaching my kids how to do math---step by boring step—I pose a problem. The kids work together and use their own strategies to solve that problem. It allows students to make sense of math and to build upon what they already know.
The students do the work. I only help them when they need help—and even then, I help “just enough”.
Kids love a challenge! And they learn best when they are challenged to do tasks that are just a little bit hard.
It empowers students.
It teaches them how to persevere when faced with difficult tasks and it builds their confidence when they succeed.
It teaches kids how to work together and communicate their ideas.
Kids learn much better from each other than they do from us.
Math time in my classroom is hands-down one of the favorite parts of our day.
Here's a sneak peak at each of my Problem-Solving Prompts packages:
In this package, students learn HOW to problem-solve--how to use their notebooks and math tools; how to share their thinking; and how to record their solutions. They also practice counting, explore 2-D shapes and do some beginning addition and subtraction.
In this package, students explore addition and subtraction some more, classify and count, compare numbers, explore numbers to 20, and do a lot of measuring (length and weight).
In this package, students learn what the +, - and = signs mean and how to use them correctly. They also explore both 2-D and 3-D shapes.
In this package, students practice composing and decomposing numbers (including teen numbers), making 10, and using all the skills they've learned to solve a variety of challenging problems.
You can purchase each package of prompts individually or buy them in a bundle and save $4.
I hope this post has encouraged you to try a little Math Problem Solving in your kindergarten classroom this year! Comment below if you have any questions!
I've always struggled with my Animals unit in Science. I pride myself in creating hands-on, engaging lessons--but it's kind of hard to make animals "hands-on." I mean I have a few feathers, a turtle shell and a snake-skin. But my unit was still just a lot of reading books and watching videos. This year, I decided to shake things up a little--by creating a Kindergarten Zoo!
Whenever I plan a unit, I start by looking at the standards for that unit and planning my learning objectives. The standards for "Animals" in Texas are fairly simple:
(A) sort animals into groups based on physical characteristics such as color, size, or body covering.
(B) identify parts of animals such as head, eyes, and limbs.
That's it! I don't have to teach about adaptations or habitats or food chains. I don't have to teach kids the difference between reptiles and amphibians. My job is simple. And rather than spinning my wheels trying to teach my kids material that is (possibly) developmentally inappropriate and (possibly) causing them to develop misconceptions, I make darn sure they develop a thorough and sound understanding of the concepts I am responsible for. And I make sure we have lots of fun doing it!
I started by reading one of my favorite books.
I asked the kids if they wanted to make a (pretend) zoo in our room and the answer was a very enthusiastic YES! After I calmed them down and explained that--no--they could not bring their dog to school--we hatched a plan. We decided that we wanted to bring stuffed animals (and other animal toys) to school. We would make sure they were as realistic as possible (so no pink leopards or red teddy bears). We would make signs to tell visitors all about the animals. To do that, we would have to learn all about the animals.
(Translation: I knew exactly what I wanted to do. But I made the kids think it was ALL their idea. I'm good.)
We started by sorting animals and listing/defining their physical characteristics. This is how I made it inquiry-based: I did not tell the kids how to sort the animals. I did not even tell the kids what the different physical characteristics are. I let the kids tell me!
I used these animal cards, which you can download for free in my TPT store.
First, I gave the kids a few minutes to explore and talk about the animals. Then, I let them work together in table groups to sort the cards any way they wanted to! They sorted them in some unexpected ways--like cute and gross (true story). I just let them do it and then eventually guided them to sort by the characteristics I wanted them to learn (again--making them think it was all their idea).
For example, I saw that one group sorted by color (YES!). So I had all the groups sort the animals by color. Then the kids listed all the colors they saw while I recorded them on an anchor chart. I pushed them to come up with any colors they missed through questioning: What animal is this? What color is it?
We took the vocabulary the kids came up with and worked together to create an Interactive Science Word Wall that the kids continued to use throughout the unit.
We used the word wall to write about our animals in our science notebooks.
On the next day, we repeated this process. Again--I had the kids choose a way to sort the animals. This time, they sorted by number of legs. I had to guide them to include all of the characteristics I wanted them to learn. For example, they pulled out the spider and all the animals that had 4 legs, then put all the other animals together in one big group. So I had to prompt them. Me: What about the bee? Kids: It doesn't have any legs! Me: Are you sure? If we're not sure, we look it up. We added "limbs" to our word wall and the kids wrote in their science notebooks.
All the while, we read lots of animal books...
We did a lot of comparing animals.
Here are a few examples of kid notebooks:
And then the kids made signs to tell visitors about their animals.
They wrote simple sentences describing their animal's physical characteristics using sight words, words from our word walls and phonetic spelling. Because most of the animals were plush, we had a few misconceptions about body coverings--some kids thought penguins have fur. So we had to double check a few things in books...
Finally, on the last day of the unit, we made our zoo!
We decided how to group our animals. Because we were not learning about habitats, I wasn't super concerned about where the kids put the animals. They decided on farm, arctic, savanna, forest, jungle, desert and ocean. I snatched a bunch of fake ficus trees from the library. We used butcher paper, leftover bulletin board fabric and whatever else the kids could find around the room. They had so much fun arranging the animals (they even hung monkeys from the trees).
We made tickets and invited our families...
And we had popcorn, but had to remind the visitors:
DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS!
The kids were the zoologists and taught our visitors all about the animals.
The kids LOVED this unit. They were engaged every day throughout the 2 week unit and when it was all done, they knew so much about the physical characteristics of animals. Now, if only I can figure out a way to get some real pandas. They look so cute on YouTube...
Hi Teacher Friends!
I hope you're enjoying your summer! Today I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics Monday Made it to make these cute Tooth Fairy Envelopes.
If you teach kinder...or first...or second...you probably deal with bloody little baby teeth all the time. I have found a nifty little way to make a big deal out of them without ever actually having to touch the tooth! I have the kid drop the tooth into a tissue. I fold the tissue up and shove it inside one of these little envelopes, close it with a little piece of washi (in case the parent wants to actually see the tooth) and DONE!
To make them, simply print the label sheet available for free from my TPT store! Cut the labels out and glue them onto 3.125 x 3.125" square envelopes. I get mine at Hobby Lobby. They come in kraft brown and white. They are $4.99 for 25--BUT--they go on sale for 50% off ALL THE TIME. Do NOT pay full price! So that makes them $2.49, or about 10 cents a piece. I can afford that!
As kinder teachers we have to deal with poopy pants, snotty noses, skinned knees and bloody teeth. One of my goals is to make it a little less gross. (But no--I do not have a cute way to send home poopy pants).
Have a great Monday!
It's that time of year. Time to take down all of the bulletin boards that were so cute in August, but are torn and sun-faded now. Time to clean up all of the broken crayons and lost game pieces--how did those get THERE anyway? Time to sweep up the dust bunnies. And time to pile all your furniture in one corner of the room so the summer cleaning crews can work their magic.
It's so bittersweet. Trust me--I am READY for summer! But it's always a little sad tearing things off the walls, packing things away and saying goodbye to these little people that you have not only taught--but cared for and nurtured for the last 9 months. But I'll get over it...
Before I take it all down and pack it all up, I thought I would give you a quick tour. It sure isn't as pretty as it was at the beginning of the year. And I'm going to warn you--I am NOT a professional film maker. It looks and sounds as if I am drunk! I DO NOT sound that way in real life (at least I don't think I do). But if you're nosy like me...you might enjoy it.
I'm making BIG changes next year--I'm trying out flexible classroom seating (which is both exciting and completely terrifying). So check back in the fall to follow me on that adventure!
Hello again! I know it's been a while since I've actually blogged, but I really have been doing some fun and exciting things in my classroom.
One of the favorite things I've been doing is Interactive Science Word Walls. I LOVE them! But I can't take credit for them. They are the brainchild of Dr. Julie Jackson, an associate professor at Texas State University. I've been lucky enough to work with Dr. Jackson for the past couple of years (and also lucky enough to have her grandsons in my class!)
So what are Interactive Science Word Walls? They are SO MUCH MORE than traditional word walls. Simply put--they are giant, colorful, engaging, hands-on, student-created graphic organizers! They help students develop a deep understanding of key science vocabulary.
Here are a few pictures of some of the word walls my kids and I have created. Over the coming months, I will detail some of the lessons that go with these walls. But in the meantime, here are a few important tips:
I have been truly amazed at how well my kids learn science vocabulary since I started using Interactive Science Word Walls. I highly recommend a visit to Dr. Jackson's website, The Science Toolkit and her Facebook page for lots and lots of pictures and resources to help you build your own walls with your students.
Once again, I have completely neglected my poor little blog, but I've missed it and you so much! I have big plans to start blogging again, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, I'm excited to announce...
I have been obsessed with Instagram for a while now, so I thought I'd start a Kindergarten Kindergarten account. I snap pictures literally all day long, so it will be so easy to share them. So hop on over to Instagram and follow me @kindergartenkindergarten. If you don't already have an account, you MUST sign up--it's super easy! And full of such wonderful stuff. I hope to see you there soon!
Today I thought I would show you my desk area. It will never be this clean and organized again...so enjoy!
I spend more time at work during the school year than I do at home, so I need my space to be comfy and cozy with a few personal touches. Things that make me smile...family photos, quotes from Pinterest, and more of that silly garland that I made.
Here's a close-up of my shelf with my favorite teacher books, office supplies, etc. Now imagine it with piles and piles of papers that I know I shouldn't throw away but don't really know what to do with either...that's reality!
Here's one thing I could never live with out-- my Raskog cart from Ikea. It's my portable teacher desk. I wheel it to my teacher table when I work with small groups; I wheel it to the kids' tables when I conference; I wheel it to my easel when I'm teaching whole group. It has everything I need, so I don't have to waste time running around the room trying to find things.
The top shelf has pens, pencils, stapler, date stamp, scissors, etc.
The middle shelf has teaching and assessment aides--magnetic letters, pointers, flashcards, etc.
The bottom shelf has all of my monitoring notebooks and anecdotal notes.
I've had it for 2 years now and can honestly say that I'm in love. Even if the middle shelf is a little wonky because I cannot put Ikea stuff together without messing something up...Oh well...nobody's perfect.
School starts in exactly one week for me. That thought is absolutely terrifying. I think I'll go to bed and try not to think about it.