Thursday, April 28, 2011

Think Math

I am amazed at how deeply my Kindergarten students are able to think :)  We have really been trying to do more hands on, investigative math lessons with our students this year.  (We are thrilled that our school system has adopted Investigations for the next school year!)  I saw a fabulous idea on Deanna Jump's blog and had to try it out- she calls it "Think Math."  I have either started or ended the majority of my math lessons this way for a few weeks now and I LOVE it.  Basically, it gives the students the answer and asks them to figure out the problem.  This morning, mine said "The answer is 3, what is the question?"  The answers that my students came up with blew me away.

They were able to come up with addition and subtraction number sentences, as well as word problems.  The most amazing part was one student who said "I know that 30- 27= 3."  I asked him to explain his thinking.  (I am really working hard to create a community of learners and let them guide my instruction.  They have learned so much this year from their classmates thinking.)  This child said that he knew from the word problems we had come up with earlier saying that if 10- 7= 3 and 20- 17=3, then 30-27 had to equal 3.  I just love it when they can spot the patterns in math on their own :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kindergarten Poetry

I am not usually a huge fan of poetry and had it in my mind that teaching Poetry to Kindergartners was going to be challenging.  I found, however, that it was a great experience!  Some of my student's who typically find writing difficult were able to come up with some of the most creative poetry!  I read a great book this year and it really boosted my enthusiasm about teaching poetry- Kids' Poems:  Teaching Kindergartners to Love Writing Poetry by Regie Routman.  It is a MUST read if you are planning to teach poetry:)

  This year, to stay organized, I had my students create poetry books.  It was just large construction paper stapled over a map of their heart (a heart filled with things they know and love- for ideas), a few beginning poetry forms and some blank paper for writing.  Each day, I read kindergarten poetry and modeled some different ways to write poems.  We talked about the fact that poems can be about anything and can be written by anyone.  We also talked about rhyming, rhythm, repetition, similes, metaphors, word choice and an ending that "pops."  We also held poetry readings so that students could share their writing and receive "snaps" for all of their hard work.  I have included some of my student's fabulous writing below!  Their work has been published, laminated and hung in our hallway for others to admire.

Math Class Books

I have some really fabulous co-workers, in case I forgot to mention that fact :)  We have worked really hard this year to ensure that our students have authentic learning opportunities.  We love the class books by Shari Sloane on KidsCount1234.  We have really tried to teach our students mathematical concepts through literature. Below you will see some ideas that are original and some that we have gotten from Shari Sloane.

Who Stole The Cookies From The Cookie Jar?- A lesson on subtraction

Miss Lina's Ballerinas- A lesson on addition to 9

Jelly Beans For Sale- A lesson on money and cost

The Right Number of Elephants - A lesson on rational numbers

Short Vowel Sorting

Many of my students have difficulty differentiating between short vowel sounds a  and e, e and i, and o and u.  I really wanted to find a way to help them practice and regonize the differeces in the short vowel sounds.  Of course, we practice it daily with our Harcourt Reading program, dry erase boards and literacy centers; but I wanted a more concrete way to assess them.  I created two versions of each group.  One without words for whole group instruction and one with words for individual center work. 

Word Family Houses

I have been really into word families this year.  I think that they are extremely valuable to students when it comes to reading.  It helps them to recognize patterns in language and helps them to feel sucess in reading more quickly.  Below is a picture of my Word Family Houses.  The students circle the words that belong in the family and "x" out the words that do not belong.  I have a total of 15 Word Families that can be downloaded on Teachers Pay Teachers:)

eSchool Day

I work for Mountain Brook City Schools in Alabama and a lot of you may have heard some hype about our way of handling weather days.  (We just are not set up to handle it if it snows in Alabama!) We have been challenged to pilot an two online learning days for our students to make up the learning that they missed while they were enjoying the rare glimpse of snow:)  My kindergarten team decided that we wanted to keep it as close to a regular school day as possible.  Each student has 10 days to complete the assignments and return them to us for full credit.  Check out our first eSchool day here

Monday, April 11, 2011

Word Family Uno

After spending some much needed time at school getting organized.  I created a game that I saw on a website for more than I wanted to spend.  Word Family Uno; the rules are the same as regualr Uno, only it uses the word families that we are studying this year.  At the suggestion of a wonderful co-worker, it has picures too.  The picture below is pre-clip art.  Please check out the FREE downloadable version of this game on Teachers Pay Teachers :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


We finished a two week study of the farm last week.  We really ran with the "farm theme" and tryed to incorperate it into several subjects.  I am going to give you a sample of our hard work over the past two weeks :)

We have been working really hard on number sentences.  Our current goal is to have our students able to compose and decompose numbers to 10. (As of now, we have covered  up to 8.)  These activities are really an extenstion of what we have have been doing every Tuesday in our Math Journals since the beginning of the year.  Below you will find some of our work.

Barn Number Sentences-  each child was asked to choose a number, decide on a number sentence and represent it with a picture. 
Farm Stories-  I am working really hard to prepare my 21st century learners to work collaboratively.   I had my students work with a partner on an assigned number between 5 and 10.  They decided on their number sentence and represent it clearly with a picture.  We have had many discussion about the fact that your thinking should be so clear than anyone could look at your representation and understand your thinking :) 

We have been working a lot this year on story mapping, retelling and sequencing.  Below are some of the ways that we used children's literature with our farm unit.

Our whole grade level worked together to create story maps of  The Little Red Hen.

My class worked in committees of 3 and 4 to retell Mrs. Wishy Washy.  They were allowed to choose a  section to retell, had to come up with a plan that involved everyone and then create their portion.

We studyied an animal each day for two weeks!  Below are some of our cute creations :)

As a culmination of our farm unit, our kindergarteners went to the farm!  (I will not mention the fact that we had 67 cold, muddy kindergarteners on a cheese....)  When we got back, my class worked together to create our Big Red Barn.  Each child chose an animal we studied, drew a picture and wrote 3 facts about that animal.  It turned out really cute :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


We have started our 5 day Science Unit on plants.  We will be studying the parts of a plant and the things that plants need to survive.  Pictures to come as the week progresses!

Day 1:  Introduction
-We started out by looking at a bean.  I asked the students what they thought it was and got answers like "a rock," "a seed,"  "a bean," "a plant," etc. 
- I told them that many of them were correct.  It is a bean, a seed and will be a plant!
- We then discussed what we knew about plants- or our "Plant Schema."
- Last, we went on a plant hunt in our school's science garden.

Day 2: 
- We looked at a bean that we soaked in water overnight. 
- We compared  a dry bean to a soaked bean in our science lab (my kidney table) discussing how they were different in size, shape, color, texture, etc.
- The students then completed a Venn Diagram comparing the Dry and Soaked Bean.
- We started our pocket chart today about plants and we will add to it as the week goes on.
- We also made our very own green houses today.  We will watch them grow as the week goes on :)

Day 3:
- We discussed what a plant needs to survive. 
- We watched the BrainPop Jr. video on what plants need. We LOVE BrainPop!
- We then added to our plant pocket chart.
- Last, the students created a flipbook (you will find that I love flipbooks) on what plants need to survive.

Day 4: 
-We talked about the parts of a plant today.
- We watched the BrainPop Jr. video on parts of a plant.
-We added to our plant pocket chart.
- The students created a hand print sunflower and labeled the parts of their plant.

Day  5:
- We read Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed today.
- The students created a sliding chart to show the plant life cycle.


We have been hard at work studying money.  More specifically coins- penny, nickel, dime and quarter.  (I know you are all resisting the temptation to burst out in a Dr. Jean song right now!)  We have explored coins through sorting, rubbings, literature, song, games, etc.  To wrap up our unit we created a coin flipbook.  It included the coin name, coin value, a cute poem abot the coin and a heads and tails rubbing of the coins.  Check out the pictures below to see our finished product!