Thursday, September 22, 2011

Letter of the Day

Anyone do letter of the day? I can't believe that we're already finishing up the 6th week of kindergarten and are nearly to the letter Z. In another week I'll be gearing up for round 2 of letter of the day (we go through the entire alphabet once each quarter- of course focusing on more challenging alphabet skills each time!).

I just have to share this video-it brought a smile to my face after a long week in kindergarten! It combines 2 shows I love-Sesame Street and Glee! I definitely plan to show it to my kiddos when our letter of the day is G.

If you are looking for some great alphabet video clips, go to Sesame Street podcasts on iTunes and you can download a free video podcast for every letter. They are each around 5 minutes long. I plan to show these quick letter videos each day for the letter of the day as we go through the alphabet next quarter.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September Math Work Stations

My math work stations seem to be coming along pretty well. A few times a week I take a couple minutes at the start of math station time to introduce a new game or activity. This way I just change out one station at a time and don't have to introduce 10 new stations to the kiddos all at once! Last week I changed stations 1-3, this week I am planning to change 4-6, and so on. So, after about 3 weeks each bin has a new activity. Not sure if that description makes sense-but I hope so!

I am also still taking about 5 minutes each day at the end of math station time for my students to come together and reflect on what went well and what they need to work on the next day. My students decided on 3 rules for our math stations time and we have been working on reviewing these rules every day.

1. Work quietly
2. Do your station the right way (I swear they can turn any math manipulative into a toy!)
3. Be nice to your partner (The kids like to call this rule "No Fighting")

Here are some of my current stations:

Station 1: Harvest Time (This fun game is from Mrs. Wills Apples Math Work Stations Pack. Click here to check it out. Students take turns rolling a dice and using a unifix cube to cover up the apple basket with the corresponding number on the game board. This is a total class favorite!)

Station 2: Bear Patterns (Kids make patterns with bears. They can make up their own pattern, or recreate patterns they see on one of the cards-I think I found these cards at my local teacher store a few years ago).

Station 3: Number Order Mats (Students take a number mat and fill in the missing numbers with magnetic numbers. This is surprisingly challenging and I often hear the kids couting quietly to themselves to try to figure it out! Click here to check out this free resource from The Toddler House.) 

Station 4: Geoboards (Students are doing free exploration with the geoboards right now, but there are lots of great free resources to make this station more challenging next month. Click here for my free geoboard task cards. Click here for geoboard templates from Making Learninging Fun that show how to make letters on the geoboard. Click here for templates for making numbers on the geoboard-they even have a blank geoboard template you can print out so that students can draw their own geoboard creations!)

Station 5: Brown Bear Color Graph  (This game is from Deanna Jump and Julie Lee's School is Fun: Math and Literacy Centers for August and September Packet. Click here to check it out. Students spin an animal on the spinner and record what they spin on the graphing sheet. This game is especially popular since we read the Brown Bear book earlier this month)

Station 6: Don't Miss the Bus (This game is from Mrs. Wills' Back to School Math Work Stations-Beginning Number Concepts Pack. Click here to check it out. Students take turns rolling the dice and tracing the corresponding number on their paper. Great for math skills and handwriting practice!) 

Station 7: Rock and Roll a Block (This game is from Deanna Jump and Julie Lee's School is Fun: Math and Literacy Centers for August and September Packet. Click here to check it out. Students roll the special pattern block dice and color in the shape they rolled on their graph. Students use the pattern blocks they roll to make a picture and color it at the bottom of the sheet.)

Station 8: Spin a Shape (Students spin the spinner, name the shape, and then cover up that shape on their game board. First player to cover all of their shapes wins. Click here to download this free game that I made).

If you have any fun math work station ideas for September-please share! Interested in what other teachers have been up to this past week-check out Clutter Free Classroom's "A Peek in my Planbook: Week in Review" Linky Party.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Learning with Names!

We have been having a great time learning math and literacy skills using our names. There are lots of great books you can read when learning with names. Here are a few of my favorites:

Chrysanthemum, by: Kevin Henkes

I've always read Chrysanthemum each year to my class and then we have usually graphed how many letters are in our names after reading it. Then this year I found another wonderful activity to go along with this book. Teaching Heart has a template you can download and type your students' names into and then print out so that students can practice building each others' names with letter tiles.

I always have a Names Station as one of my literacy stations so this was a perfect activity for me to put at that station this week. I also let kids practice writing each others' names on a magna doodle, build them with magnetic letters, and even sort the names (by number of letters, by number of syllables, by boys/girls, by first letter, etc.).

 There are also lots of cute poems you can put in pocket charts and kids can insert classmates names into the poems to read. For example, my kids are currently using "Who Stole the Cookies From the Cookie Jar?" in a pocket chart to have some fun with names.I think I'm going to change it soon to "Who picked the apples from the apple tree?" for fall!
A My Name Is Alice, by: Jane Bayer

I highly recommend Deanna Jump's Literacy and Math Fun With Names Unit. It has some fabulous activities- including a very cute self-portrait craft that goes with this book. My students also loved making their name mosaics! It was nice to get some fresh ideas from this unit this year!

A My Name Is..., by: Alice Lyne

This book is very similar to A My Name is Alice and the kids enjoyed noticing how it goes in alphabetical order. I encourage them to raise their hand when we get to the page that has the letter their name starts with. Another fun activity to go along with this book is to sort names by if they have a particular letter or not (for example names that have the letter A and names that don't have the letter A).

Mary Wore Her Red Dress, by: Merle Peek

One of the activities I like to do each year is make a class big book. I take a photo of each child and glue it on to a big piece of contruction paper (staple the pages together and you instantly have a big book!). Then during interactive writing time we write a sentence on each page that follows the pattern in the book Mary Wore Her Red Dress (for example, if I take a picture of Jack, we might look at what he is wearing in his photo and write "Jack wore his green shirt"). The kids adore a book that's all about them-and it quickly becomes a favorite read at the Big Book Station in our classroom (I definitely recommend laminating it or they will destroy it they read it so much!). You could also do this in the form of a predictable chart or on sentence strips in a pocket chart.

If you'd like to have your own Names Station-here are some icons/signs that go along with the Debbie Diller pocket chart (the awesome Mrs. Wills was kind enough to give me the template so I could make my Names Station signs).

If you are looking for more ideas to go along with learning about names, I recommend Debbie Diller's book: Beyond the Names Chart. I bought an older edition of this book years ago (before I had become a Debbie Diller fanatic-lol!) and it has some great ideas in it.

Let me know if you have any other fun ideas for learning with names!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Alphabet Station Idea

I have been meaning to do a post with pics of my beginning of the year literacy stations...but I have just not had the energy. I don't know how all you fabulous teacher bloggers do it. I can barely keep up with reading all of the posts in my google reader lately, let alone type up posts for my own blog. I hope I get my energy back soon-the kids surely will get into a routine soon with this being the fourth week of school coming up, right?! I do promise to post some pictures of my literacy stations later this week, but here is a sneak peek of an activity at my alphabet station.

I bought a 4 pack of stove burner covers for just a few dollars in the kitchen section at Walmart. Luckily they were already plain white (otherwise I would have gotten out some spray paint-my new obsession!). I saw this idea somewhere on the internet awhile back-of course I don't remember where! Anyway, since they are magnetic they are perfect for the kids to use with magnetic letters. I used some velcro to attach them to the wall and they make an instant station activity. My kids are using them to sort magnetic letters by their features (circles/curves, sticks, both, dots, etc.). Later in the year they could probably build some of our sight words on them with magnetic letters. I love how they sort of look like giant polka dots on the wall. In case you want to try this yourself, you might want to take a magnet to the store with you- some burner covers are magnetic and some are not.

Wasn't it wonderful to have three whole days off this weekend? I sure needed the long weekend (and I am thrilled this will only be a 4 day school week!). I went antique shopping with my mom on Saturday and happened to see this little sign in one of the shops.

It says "There will be a $5.00 charge for whining." Hahaha! My mom thought I should get it and hang it in my classroom. I told her that would probably be inappropriate...but it made me laugh anyway! Hope you all had a restful Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ok, so they're only 5...

I know I just posted earlier this week about how much I love math stations...but I don't want to give you all the impression that my stations are going perfectly because....they totally aren't! I mean they are going about as well as I can expect any independent activity to go with 5 years olds! Here are some things that happened just today during our fabulous math stations time:

1) As I was walking around observing students at their math stations I happened to notice 2 students who were just sitting there quietly, but not playing their game. Hmmm....I wondered if maybe they had finished the game and didn't realize they could go ahead and play it again. So, I walked over to chat with them. Turns out when they took out the game at the start of stations, the little spinner I had made for the game was missing the paperclip, so they couldn't use the spinner. So...they had just been sitting there for 10 minutes doing NOTHING. Really. They could not comprehend a single solution to the missing paperclip. This turned into a quick mini-lesson about how if something is missing from their game they can raise their hand and ask their teacher to help them (and give them a new paperclip!) instead of not doing the station. Oh my!

2) As I continued to walk around the room and observe math stations, one child ran up to me and was obviously upset. I went back over to his station with him and asked what the problem was. He told me his partner wouldn't stop pinching him! When I asked his partner why she was doing this, she said that she was pinching him because he kept doing his station wrong! He actually was doing it wrong as he was just lacing beads onto the string in a random order instead of making a pattern out of the colored beads-however I'm pretty sure there are better ways than pinching to get your partner to follow directions (another instant mini-lesson on how to communicate verbally with your math stations partner!).

3) As a rang my little bell that signals the end of math station time I happily noticed my students quietly cleaning up...we have been working a ton on cleaning up quietly. As we all convened on the rug to reflect on our math station time, I noticed that one pair of students was missing. I called over to them and asked why they hadn't cleaned up when I rang my bell. Their answer-they weren't done playing their math game so they couldn't clean up yet! Ok, this did make me smile because they were obviously enjoying their math station. Love their logic. However, the clean-up bell means clean-up...whether your game is finished or not!

I'm sure there will be more math station antics tomorrow,'s still  one of my favorite parts of our day!