Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Discovering Patterns


Our class has been working on a mathematics unit called Pattern Trains and Hopscotch Paths. We have explored questions like these: What makes a pattern a pattern? How do patterns give us information so that we can predict what comes next? Being able to recognize a pattern is an important tool in math. The children will continue to have many opportunities to copy, create, and extend patterns using materials such as pattern blocks, color tiles, and interlocking cubes. The above picture came from a lesson called Pattern Snakes. Students used paper pattern block cut outs to create their own pattern snakes. Children are also learning how to name their patterns: ABAB, ABCABC, ABBABB, etc. It is important for students to noticing patterns all around them because it can help in all subject areas: reading, writing, and science. Discovering patterns is a fun and exciting way for children to observe the world around them!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Than One Way to Retell a Story


During Reader's Workshop, we revisited one of the classes' favorite star books, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This classic fairy tale has been retold several times and in several different ways. The first few times it was read, we paged through the story using elaborate, almost exaggerated tones -PAPA BEAR, Mama Bear, and wee little squeaky baby bear voices. Then we brought out the puppets and children had the chance to perform and watch a Reader's Theater presentation (see below post). Another time, a glove finger puppet was added while reading the tale. After a few lessons on beginning, middle and end of the story, students were invited to draw what happened at those different times. Paper was cut in the shape of a house and students drew the beginning, middle and end of the story. The above picture shows the bears and Goldilocks first; the middle picture has the broken chair, the three bowls of porridge and her sleeping in the bed; and the third shows Goldilocks ready to jump out of the window when she realizes that the bears are home. This drawing clearly shows an understanding of the beginning, middle, and end...and that there is definitely more than one way to retell a story!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Goldilocks, Three Bears and Four Kindergarten Students!


Reader's Workshop included an exciting "Reader's Theater" segment, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." Students have heard this story a few times in the past two weeks and were more than ready to put on a play. The book is a "Star Book" and just like "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and "Caps for Sale", it turned into a class favorite by reading these books to the students at different times during the day. Now, children can look at the pictures and retell the story and it sounds like they are reading it. This pre-emergent reading skill is a wonderful way to get children excited about being able to pick up a book and "read" it with confidence. Goldilocks and the Three Bears is now added to our list of classroom favorites and will be retold many times during Literacy Stations via Reader's Theater. Look for this book to come home in your child's "Book in a Bag" and be prepared for a real treat..."Someone has been eating my porridge..."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Literacy Work Stations: Growing Independence


During the past week, we have introduced Literacy Work Stations as an integral component of our hour long Reader's Workshop. Literacy Work Stations allow students time for independent practice of previously taught mini lessons. Literacy stations also allow children to be actively engaged while we work with small groups. Included in our list of activities (so far) are: Read the Room (go around the room and read charts with a pointer); Write the Room (paper, clipboard, and marker - students write words they see around the classroom); ABC puzzles, classroom library, Star names (previously cut up star names are used); and beginning sounds center. The students rotate to a different station a few days a week. The focus is on practice and purpose that is linked to our teaching. We want to provide students with meaningful literacy practice activities during this time. For our emergent readers, these work stations will allow children to develop phonological awareness (the ability to isolate and manipulate the sounds in language), print awareness and concepts of print, and learn about letters and sounds. And, besides all of that, it's fun and engaging for students -- which is exactly what we want learning to be!

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Ropin' In Kindergarten Writers" Bulletin Board


Our first official bulletin board, "Ropin' In Kindergarten Writers", proudly displays the first "written" works of some of our Kindergarten students. In Writer's Workshop, students are learning how to tell a "small moment" (personal narrative) story by first, planning their story and then illustrating it through pictures. When the children are finished, they are able to staple it and then have created their own book. We make anything in their lives a small moment story. For example, in the first set of pictures, Lauren went in the Jeep to go to Target; shopped for clothes; and then went out of the store with her cart. In the second writing sample, Chatfield was at the beach and saw a live conch in the puddles of water; walked up a sand hill; and then, when leaving the beach, told his dad to "Hurry up!" The third story is from Mackenzie. She was in the back yard; then played hide and seek; finally, another friend came over and they played on the swings. In teaching the children to write stories in this way, we are getting away from the one page drawings and into making books out of our stories. We will progress from this into labeling the pictures, writing sounds down that they hear, and then sentence strings. The children learn that anything can be a story: going to the movies, the store, the park, or having dinner. We don't want stories to be only about going to Disney or Sea World. Every day there is a story to work on and a new one to write...remember "when you are done, you've really just begun" especially in Writer's Workshop!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Caps For Sale: A Reader's Theater Production

A favorite "Star Book" from our collection includes this timeless classic, "Caps For Sale." The children love hearing this story over and over and are now great at re-enacting the story. With a few minor props and lots of imagination, the students had a wonderful time retelling this story. And now presenting...Caps For Sale!

Retelling of Caps For Sale on Vimeo.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kindergarten - Settling Into Week Two


Wow!! Our second week of Kindergarten was loaded with work and fun. We don't have a minute to spare in our Skills Block. We start out with phonics, phonemic awareness, shared reading (morning message and nursery rhymes), and star names activities. Students learn most skills via singing and dancing. It's a great way to start off the day. After Skills block, we go right into Writer's Workshop. Children are learning what good writer's do. Did you know that good writers say, "When you think you're done, you've only just begun?" This is the answer we give children when they say that they're done with their "writing." Of course they are not writing, but they are learning the art of telling a story through pictures. Eventually, they will label their picture, for example, (s) for sun, and (f) for flower. This will grow into letter strings and magically, on one glorious day, they will write their first sentence. Today, we were busy painting self-portraits, sharing homework, and visiting the Library. The homework this week was for students to find items at home that begin with the first letter/letter sound of their first name (see above picture). These bags of items were shared with the class and proved to be a wonderful "getting to know you" activity. The Honky Tonk will be closed for a much anticipated three-day weekend! We will be looking for our little Mall-ards on Tuesday morning to start another great week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Star Names-- Where Everyone Shines Brightly


Another bright spot in our morning Skills Block is a segment called, "Star Names." Each morning a child's name is picked out of a bucket and his/her name is the focus of our activity. The name of the child is written on a sentence strip. The name is written largely on the board and students have the opportunity to notice attic (b,d,f, etc.), basement (g,j,p, etc.), and letters on the line (a,c,e, etc.). They stand and move as each letter is called out. For example, for Victor (a star this week) arms were in the air for "V" and on their hips for "i", "c", "t", "o", and "r". Then another sentence strip with his name was cut into separate letters. These letters were mixed up and Victor had to put his name back in order. Then he mixed it up and called on a friend to put his name back correctly. Next, students are asked to look at the previous names on the chart and asked what they noticed about the other names and the new name. Some say, "I see the word "is", or "Those two names have the same amount of letters." Finally, the star student tells us a little about him/her self. It may be,"I have two dogs"; "I have an older sister"; or "I love the beach". Students then go back to their seats and draw a picture of the star with something he/she has mentioned. Students write the stars name and their name on the drawing. A book of all these pictures is made and given to the child at the end of the day. This activity teaches many skills including phonics and phonemic awareness. Children learn a lot from their friends names and a lot about their friends by doing this daily activity. It is a favorite part of our day!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nursery Rhymes: Having Fun With Rhyme and Rhythm


A wonderful way that children learn about rhyme and rhythm is by revisiting nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes are something that the students are familiar with and when the rhymes are put to music and dance, it adds a special twist to the morning Skills Block. Nursery rhymes have wonderful vocabulary and a storyline that children love to listen to. Rhythm and rhyme are also important elements in emergent readers. These rhymes emphasize phonological awareness, beginning comprehension skills, and shared reading. We started last week with "Humpty Dumpty." At the end of the week, students were invited to make their own Humpty creation. The art projects will be made into a book so the children will have their own nursery rhyme book. The CD that we use everyday and that the children love to sing and dance to is by Jack Hartmann and it's called, "Rhymin' to the Beat." Our study of Nursery Rhymes wouldn't be the same with it!