Monday, October 13, 2014

Firefighter Freebie

Last week, we celebrated Fire Safety Week. Most of what we did is a repeat of years before {which you can read about here}, but I did one new comparing activity that I really liked. My kids this year are having a little trouble with reading comprehension and recalling things from a story/book, so we have to have lots of "prompting and support." We've been working really hard on comparing, so we used the book Fire, Fire! by Gail Gibbons to help us with some of these skills {if you don't have any of her informational books, they're awesome!!}.

After reading the story two days last week, I gave each student a bag with small, colored strips. These strips had details from the story and we put them on our organizer as to whether they were about firefighters in the city, country, or both. I had larger strips in the same color to put on a large chart. We had to go back to the text A LOT, but it was a great learning opportunity to always go back to the text and check.

Having the strips really worked well, because right now my students still struggle with remembering details from a book and definitely need a lot of the prompting and support that is part of our standards. Having the strips be different colors works well since the text is a little too hard for my students to read right now. I could just tell them which color to find instead of saying, "Find the strip that says ____."
You can get this activity FREE by clicking here.
Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Math Sticks

A few days ago, I posted a picture of our math stick lesson on my Facebook page and had a lot of questions, so I decided to do a quick post explaining them. :)
A few years ago when our district first dived into common core, the biggest change we found ourselves faced with in kindergarten was the standard of decomposing numbers. Up until then, our math was {now that we can look back and cringe!} mostly hitting the surface and not really digging deep. We had to come up with some fresh, engaging, HANDS-ON lessons that would get kids understanding the concept of decomposing. Enter math sticks - a little idea my friend Deeanna came up with.

For each stick, we use a pipe cleaner {aka a fuzzy stick}, pony beads, and a clipart cut out {copied on cardstock}. To make the sticks, we hot glue the stick to the back of the picture, add the number of beads we need, and tie a knot in the end.
 As you may remember from earlier posts, we teach a number a week and really dig into each number. Starting with number 5, we start using math sticks. Each week, the stick looks different depending on our them that week. This past week, we were studying fire safety, so our math went along with that theme. Throughout the week and with our math stick, we used a little song Deeanna made up.

When we start this lesson each week, I have the kids sit in circle. They bring a pencil, crayon, and clipboard with their recording sheet with them. This is what works best for me. Other teachers at our school have the kids at their desks for this.

The paper/pencil element is to help the kids see the written equation for what we're doing. In this week's lesson, we started with all the beads {representing firemen} on the left {on the firetruck}. During the song, when one firemen left to get a hose, we would move a bead down to the other end {representing that he was no longer on the truck}. Then, we would draw red dots on the line on our paper so that it looked like our stick. Finally, we wrote the equation to match. Clear as mud?

Here are two other examples of math sticks we've used this year:

These lessons each week really do help my students with decomposing. Are they difficult in the beginning? Of course! But what in kindergarten is ever a breeze the first time??
I really encourage you to use math sticks or any other manipulative in helping your kids decompose and I also encourage you to start decomposing as quickly as possible! You'll be amazed at what your students can do!
And on a completely unrelated note, I just added a fun little freebie to practice beginning letters/sounds as well as fine motor. You can grab it by clicking the picture :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Wow, guys! This year is flying by! It's so hard to believe it's already October!
My kids are in such a good groove and we've had a great {but busy!} past few weeks. We celebrated all things apple {you can read more about what I usually do here} and I love that my little one is old enough to appreciate my love for apple week!

Last week, we started learning all about fall and even got lucky enough to have some fall weather for a day or two {which promptly turned back into 90 degrees with high humidity!}. We read lots of fun fall and scarecrow books that we used to help us make a little tree map and then added a cute scarecrow to hold. {The scarecrow is a freebie from Mynda Rivera}

We discussed problem and solution by reading The Scarecrow's Hat. I love this story and it's perfect for this skill!
Another favorite of mine is Scaredycrow. It is a precious story and perfect for teaching about how characters change!

Another favorite is always There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves. I love using these books to help with sequencing! This is a freebie on google docs, and I have more sequencing activities like this in my Fall Sequencing Pack.

In workshops, I introduced some new centers from my Fall into Learning pack and the kids loved them! I have a wide range of abilities phonics wise, so these give me the perfect opportunity for each child to work on exactly what they need.
Matching pictures to their beginning letter

Matching CVC words to the correct picture

Picking a leaf and coloring the corresponding lowercase letter on the recording page
Of course, we couldn't just use scarecrows in reading, we had to include them in our math too! We introduced the number 6 last week, and as usual, spent the whole week learning all there is to know about it!  We used scarecrows and crows {with a little song Deeanna made up} in various ways to help us!

One activity I added this year was this equality scarecrow. It really helped me see who was doing well with the concept of equality and also see that I still have a few that are struggling with one-to-one correspondence.

And just for fun, here's one of my favorite bulletin boards I do all year. It's absolutely all me and nothing from the kids {don't throw things!}, but it's so fallish and I just love it!
I'm off to bed, but really quickly, if you're needing some more resources for this month for ELA, I have a new little center pack I just uploaded. I'm excited about this pack because it includes a variety of skills and themes {Halloween, Columbus Day, and Fire Safety}, so I can use it all month!
Hope you all are having a great October!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Farm Week!

I know...I'm a terrible blogger so far this year! I haven't *quite* gotten in the groove of teaching, mommying, and blogging again ;)
However, I do want to share a little of what went down in kindergarten last week. We did a VERY simple farm week. I had grand plans of my granddad bringing the tractor and lots of other big things, but it just didn't happen. I think the kids still learned a lot and had fun!
We started the week by reading some fun farm books. Then, we made a little chart of animals on the farm.
Then the kids sorted animals as to whether they live on a farm or not.
One of my favorite farm stories to read is The Cow Who Clucked. It is so cute and perfect for introducing onomatopoeia! We did a little problem/solution then thought of all the sound words we would hear on the farm.  

We learned all about different farm animals {I even learned a little bit myself!}. First up was cows...we worked together to make a big handprint cow, then did a little shared writing to tell all that we learned about cows. Then the kids make their own cow {thanks to Cara Carroll for the idea - soooo easy!].

We also learned about goats...did you know goats usually have twins?!? We made some little goats {nevermind that they look more like cows/horses}.

We also learned all about pigs. We loved making the handprint cow so much, that we made a handprint pig then did another shared writing activity to add the facts we learned. The kids made their own pig using the template from my 3 Little Pigs pack.

 To go along with pigs we painted with "mud" {aka chocolate pudding}. The kids loved this! Afterwards, we worked together to write a mud poem {I first got this idea from Victoria at KinderKorner}.

In math, we used "5 Little Ducks" to help us learn all about and decompose the number 5. I didn't get a ton of pictures because math is still a lot of management right now, but here's a little peek.
{While we worked with these mats, we were writing equations on our white boards}
{Starting with 5, we do a math stick each week. The beads this week represented the ducks. I LOVE these!!}
I also made up a few new literacy centers and my kids loved them! I can definitely tell this is a group that's going to like themed centers!

All these centers along with lots of graphic organizers and the animal sorting activity can be found in my farm mini pack. 
This week we're learning all about apples and we're having so much fun!!