Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December Song and Calendar Share

We made a classroom big book to the song It Snowed a Heap. You can click on the Voice Thread to hear the tune. We talked about picking one syllable words for your page. When students suggested different places it could snow on we would clap it out. We used Cray Pas and a small sponge brush to put the snow. This was a fun quick literacy lesson.

Calendar Project

So here are some of the projects we have done for our classroom calendars. My girlfriend Genie came up with the great idea of having a few parents come in and help her do the projects. Next year, I plan to have parents sign up to help with this project. Pinterest makes this project easier!!


This is a brown hand print. The kids went back and added branches and snow.
Hand print heart

Adding a fork in the pepper made it so much easier to print with. We will go back and add a stem.

First we water colored the white sheet blue. Next, we made the brown tree with branches. Lastly, we used our fingers to add the leaves using white, pink and purple paint.


We looked at an Ed Emberly finger print book. The kids had to draw the flower leaves and pick one color to make the flowers with their fingers. I had to stay close by because kindergartener's love to mix colors!!!
Marble painting on red paper.

A pattern sun with paint using orange, red and yellow.


The kids love drawing on tin foil with colored sharpie. They made apple picking pictures.

This was simple making pumpkins with orange and black construction paper.

Turkey handprints
Make a picture of something you celebrate.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pattern Stories At Writing Time

At writing workshop we started a new unit of study focusing on Pattern Books. I have been recently reading Katie Wood Ray's books (Study Driven and Wondrous Words) and she is reminding me the importance of teaching students to read like writers.
I love the explanation below from Stephanie Parsons First Grade Writers.
Stephanie writes

Reading like writers is an abstract concept. As with any skill, you need to break it down for your students teaching them the steps along the way. The goal here is that children begin to read like writers. So what part of reading like writers comes at the beginning? What part of the work do you do for them and what part can you expect them to do? One strong way to begin reading like a writer is immersing yourself in the kind of text that you can most easily envision yourself writing. 

Stephanies' book has some fantastic units of study to help children plan, organize and structure their writing ideas. I got the idea of exploring and creating pattern books from her book.

Planning Getting Pattern Books to Read to the Class
I found so many books to use for this study.
Frank Asch Books's
I love how Frank Asch has a nature theme through out his books.  The illustrations are beautiful and these books lead easily into a classroom Shared Writing lesson. You can see below a chart we wrote as a class.

I love Todd Parr! I think his books are perfect for so many reasons. This is another example of a simple text with a powerful message! Students can easily come up with topics about special people in their lives.
I love all of these books! The pattern is perfect for young students. These books have simple sentences but the illustrations gives you so much information about the topic!!  We talked about how these books have the opposite information on each page. The author Paul always ended the last page with something different from the pattern. 

Our class chart recording some of our thinking! Below are some examples of pattern stories students are making in kindergarten. I just shared the first page or two.
 Happy News 
The bunny found a friend. 

Sad News
The Bunny lost his friend.

This train goes curvy. This train goes strait.
My big brother Christian likes little Lego's. My little brother Mark likes big Lego's.

Somewhere today a Water Snake it swimming.

Somewhere today a snake is laying 100 eggs

Some surprising outcomes from this unit of study...
Students are thinking more about how they end their stories. The majority of the pattern stories we read changed the ending in a surprising ways. Although we have talked a lot about story ending and beginnings I think reading all of these stories hit home for many kids. 
Students who struggle with sticking to a topic found success because writing pattern stories was easier to stick to the topic. 
Students were able to easily take an idea from a mentor text.I think I will see this happen more often with other books we read.
Students stories had more voice.
Students made a story connection with writing and reading pattern stories. A lot of kids made AAHA comments at reading time! WOW this book we are reading is a pattern book.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Calendar Project 2013

This post will share with you how I have students make calendars for their families for the New Year. This is a special gift we send home before winter vacation.
 I shared this project on my blog last year  if you click here it will show you some of the art projects I did last year with my class!


I have been pinning some ideas for this years calendar. You can check out my Pinterest board for some ideas.

How I organize making Calendars

I make the calendars on white card stock paper and bind them together.
Over the next few weeks we make different projects for each month.
For Example
September~Apple Trees
October~Halloween Pumpkins
November~ Turkey hand prints
December~The Holiday you celebrate
Helpful Tips
If we make turkey hand prints and the kids decorate them(for November). Once finished, I will have students come over to me and I will glue in that month right away. I have done this where I would put things in piles and that can feel crazy to organize. 
Glue In Center
You can see below how the picture is glued in the center. I should have outlined a  frame around the picture(to give it a little pop) but I start to loose steam by the end! Years ago, I used to laminate these and that was SUPER insane! 
This project can be time consuming but I think this is a wonderful gift for families to have. I know as a mom that I love when I get art projects from my kids and I love meaningful ones and who doesn't need a calendar for the New Year.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Word Work

This post will share with you some of the Word Work stations we have been working on in KC kindergarten. During Guided Reading time I have been introduced Elkonin boxes with small groups. This has been the first time I have used Elkonin boxes and I can see how difficult it can be for some kids. I wish I had used sound boxes sooner, I can see the benefit.
Large Group Time
Since some of the kids struggle with breaking apart sounds and putting them back together again. I decided to incorporate some of the sound boxes with the large group. After Shared Reading time a follow up activity was to take out the board below and have the whole group do some word work focusing on a familiar word family from the story.
We worked on the AT family but we also played around with making words and nonsense words too.  After sounding out letters and words we did talk about how if we were reading a book and came to the AT chunk we would not have to sound out each letter because we know that AT spells at.  
We did this with our bodies! The kids loved this.  
Investigation Letters 
This week and next week we will be making Tree Maps sorting letters. You can see below a few Thinking Maps focusing on letters. 
I love how a boy in my class puts the e in the middle because it has a half circle
My girlfriend Genie did this Tree Map with her class. We talk everyday about what we are working  on in our classroom. Genie was pointing out to me that our handwriting book  we use in our school system focuses on capital letters first when they really need to learn their lowercase letters. 

The following are some of the sorts in the class with letters.
click to download letter for pocket chart

Thinking Maps Comparing Letters

Kids have been having some great discussions about letters.
During Shared Reading this week I have returned to a familiar big book and told the students we would become letter detectives looking for uppercase letters. Some student didn't know what upper case letters meant. We put highlighter tape over all of the uppercase letters we found. This got us talking about what a sentence is...

Interactive Writing 
I have been doing a lot of Interactive Writing with my class and one thing I have struggled with is what to do when students are using capitals in the wrong places. My primary goals in the fall is  to build confidence with writing, reread our writing  and creating a message that makes sense. Now, I am having students learn when to use a capital or a lowercase letter. You can see below in our KC Learning Journal that we are starting to use some lowercase letters.

In this lesson because we were writing just one sentence we focused on using lowercase letters in the correct places.  
Enjoy the weekend! It's snowing in Massachusetts so it's feeling like December!