Friday, January 16, 2015

Active Learner Sign

I've seen lots of signs like this one on Pinterest lately, and decided I needed one as a welcome sign for my classroom!

I wanted the wording on mine to be a little different, so I made my own. I googled a chalkboard background, and downloaded some free chalkboard fonts. It ended up looking like this:

Click on the photo to get it in it's original printable size.

Next, I painted a canvas black, and threw on a layer of Mod Podge.

I threw on the printed paper and put another layer of Mod Podge over the top.

 I did an awful job of getting the paper to lay flat, so it's wrinkly, but I don't think anyone's noticed! I still love it!

You could just as easily just stick it in an 8X10 frame and not deal with the Mod Podge! I just happened to have a larger canvas and frame laying around that I wanted to reuse.

Monday, January 12, 2015

6 Great Ways to Teach Addition

This is a difficult unit to plan for, because I still have a good handful of kiddos who are struggling with numbers and counting. I want them to be able to fully participate without needing help every step of the way.

What I've found works best to start out are art projects. We can play around with the pieces before we glue them down, and the strugglers don't have to struggle! Bonus: they are working on fine motor and following directions at the same time. :)

Here are the projects I used this year:

WATERMELON ADDITION from Mrs. Cate's Kindergarten


We used real sunflower seeds for this one! After they cut/glued their watermelon together, I gave each child between 3-6 seeds. Since this was their first addition project, they had a hard time understanding that they had to put the seeds into 2 groups, even after some modeling. Next time maybe I'll draw a line down the middle of the watermelon template.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished products! This one is from Mrs. Cate's Kindergarten blog.

I used the template provided on All Kids Network.

LADYBUG ADDITION from The Measured Mom


Again, I forgot to take pictures! But this is what my sample looked like. The template has the head and body pre-drawn for them, but then I had them create the antennae, 6 legs, and spots on their own. They could decide how many spots they wanted to use.



This one was really fun! I didn't use a template here. I just gave each child a sheet of brown paper and had them draw their own circles. It was such a challenge for them to make the cookies the right size (big enough)! For some reason they like to draw really small!

I honestly can't remember where I found this idea. If anyone knows, please send me a message so I can give credit where it is due! It's a keeper though!

MARSHMALLOW ADDITION from the Wood Kinder Class


For this craft, kids cut out 2 coffee mugs (from a template) and glued them onto another sheet of paper.

I gave each child 5 marshmallows and we played around with different combinations of 5 before gluing them down.

SNOWMAN ADDITION from The First Grade Parade


I had lots of construction paper squares out for the kiddos to use- I asked that they use only 2 colors and make a pattern. Next, I had them add up how many they used of each color.

DOMINO ADD IT UP is a freebie from TeachersPayTeachers


I wasn't sure how they'd do with this one, but I was impressed.

You wouldn't think this would be enough practice with the actual math for them to really start to understand it, but you'd be amazed! I think the key is that they ENJOY it. And they can see how they could use math in real life with real objects.

In the past, my addition unit mainly utilized 2-sided counters and whiteboards. We'd model story problems and write number sentences. This was really frustrating for them and they got bored of it quickly. Next week I'll introduce some addition math centers and partner games so they can really hone their skills.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Getting back to DAP!

This semester I took an amazing masters-level Curriculum Development class! I realized that if I wanted to (be allowed to) teach in a truly developmentally appropriate way, I needed to show my admin that I was meeting standards, first.

I went through and typed up all the standards we cover during routines throughout our day, that don't need to be explicitly taught. Then I compiled the leftovers (explicitly taught) and divvied up when those would be covered. This turned into a neat and simple pacing chart. With only 4 reading standards to focus on each quarter (plus about 6 math and 3 writing), I can justify doing more in-depth project work, science, music, and art!

Here's a copy of the tables I made. Just let me know if you'd like a PDF and I'll send one your way. :)

Note: The Alaska Standards are exactly the same as the Common Core, except for a few additions our lovely state threw in (days of the week, coins, and time to the hour). 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Meeting Standards Through Play

One of my goals this year is proving to admin that we don't need worksheets to meet standards! One of the ways I'm working toward meeting that goal is by documenting how kids are learning through play.

The easiest center to do this in has been the reading center, where kids love playing teacher. 

Here, children are repeating an activity we did whole group earlier in the day- ordering the events from the Jan Brett story, "The Mitten."

 After that, they decided to see how many numbers they could fit on the whiteboard. :)

Over in the art center, a few children were writing letters to Santa. Authentic writing!

Another day in the reading center, a higher level girlie was teaching her classmates how to write morning messages. They were practicing so many skills we'd learned both formally and informally- spacing, capitalization, sight words, and sounding out words.

Here is a simple poster I put together to hang in the hall (that hopefully my admin and parents will read)! I'm planning on putting together many more.

I need to work on making time simply to observe the kiddos at play, and collecting more documentation of meeting standards in the other centers. Dramatic play and blocks are the hardest for me! But I know there is a lot going on there!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Creating a Cozy Classroom

Here's a tour of my Kindergarten classroom, which I'm always trying to make more homey and cozy. My kiddos and I spend at least 8 hours of our days here, so I want us to be comfortable!

Here is our resident fairy by my Scentsy, that I have running most of the day. It is such a mood lifter, and I'm constantly getting compliments on how great my room smells (my principal even wrote it on my evaluation once!). You can see in the picture that I only have half the lights on. When it gets light enough out, I turn them off altogether.

Here are our Christmas trees (willows), with watercolor star ornaments made by the children. In the middle is our pet fish, Bob the Betta. There is a string of white Christmas lights along the back wall, and some hanging pennant flags over the windows.

These prints can be found on Etsy.

We love Bob! :) The kids just love watching him swim around, and it really helps with some kids who need to regain their calm!

This faux-wood butcher paper I ordered through Amazon. It was kind of expensive but so worth it!

We keep our little library underneath the SMARTboard. I've been impressed with how well they've been doing with putting the books back in the right containers. There are a few who can't handle this yet but no worries- when other kids notice a book is misplaced, they put it back where it belongs!

This is our "Genius Wall." When a child learns something new, they get a "Genius Card" to put up. It's great because kids aren't compared to each other- they can see the growth they are making at their own level! Kids will look at this board and say, "Wow, I'm so smart!" It's so great for their self-esteem.

Here is my little cubby system. I just got the Sterilite drawers on top, which have helped a ton with getting books, etc. organized for the following week. The owl labels are $3.00 on TeachersPayTeachers.