Different Forms of Text: In February, we will continue to compare and distinguish different forms of texts (poems, newsletters, newspapers, poems, signs, magazines, lists, stories, information books, etc.) and identify the functions they serve. We will use the texts to gather information regarding the different subjects we are studying this month across content areas, and will practice creating inferences based on the pictures and information we find in the texts.
One way we will do this is through reading a variety of types of literature regarding Valentine's Day including fictional stories, poems, and non-fiction texts that teach us facts about the holiday and the history behind it. Students will record/draw their knowledge of the holiday before exploring the texts and will repeat the activity after visiting the resources to see how our ideas have changed and how our knowledge about the holiday has grown. :
One of our favorite texts to do this with is Gail Gibbons' non-fiction Valentine's Day Is... book:
Before reading, the students will work in small groups and will rotate to posters around the room that have a different question re: Valentine's Day on each one. The students will brainstorm their predictions and the designated writer for each group will record their group's thoughts on the 'I predict...' portion of the chart.
After reading the book, the students will revisit the posters and will comment on what they learned. We will then read the posters and will compare what we used to think with the new information we learned:
We will also become familiar with the features of biographies this month as we learn about President Washington and Lincoln this month (the pictured biography can be found at Enchanted Learning). As we read, we discuss how to determine which information is the most important and we learn how to highlight/underline it in the text in order to keep track of what we have learned:
Groups of students will then work together in teams to represent the information we gathered in the biographies to create a web graphic organizer. Each group will be responsible for a different subtopic of the web and will write down and illustrate the facts they learned from the biography that pertains to their portion of the organizer.
Each group will then place their subtopic together to created a completed topic web re: each president.
The teams will present their portion of the organizer to the class and, to ensure that students are listening to and internalizing the information being presented, the rest of the class will record the information they learn from the group presenting on their own copy of the topic web.
As we continue to explore a variety of texts and gather information from them, students will receive their own poetry collection for each president. While we read the poems together, we pause after each line/stanza to illustrate the author's words. This activity helps students make meaning of the text and gives us an opportunity to revisit visualization strategies as we create mental images from the words in the poems.
Next, we take the information we have gathered from the poems to discuss the character traits that we believe describe the presidents. Students brainstorm words as I create labels for their suggestions and illustrate the words on a giant chart. Students will use evidence from the poems to generate the traits they come up with and will help attach the labels to the poster. Later, we compare the traits of both presidents on a Venn diagram.
Students will also create their own Venn diagram to compare the president's:
Following this activity, we will use the sentence stems below to compare them:
The students will also use the information they have gathered from the texts to determine what the Presidents would do in certain situations. Students will work in small groups to solve the problems presented to them as Lincoln or Washington and will share their solutions with the class. They will then prove their reasoning by using evidence from the different texts we have read. We discuss how powerful texts are that help us get to know our leaders that aren't even still alive anymore and how they can help us to determine what they would do in given situations without ever having met them! Later, we will discuss how our own words can have this same effect as we author our own texts in Writer's Workshop:
Letter Writing and Critiquing: February is the perfect time to introduce friendly letter writing as students begin to write Valentines to their family members and peers. Students will have opportunities to look at a variety of letters and share with small groups what they notice about the writing and any features they see.
We discuss the letters and notice that they have certain features in common (date, saying hello the reader, ending with a signature, etc.). After the students have had a chance to share out what they notice, I give them the formal names for these parts of a letter (heading, greeting, body, closing, signature). We then begin singing the 'Parts of a Letter' song- it is sung to the tune of "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes", only the words are changed to "Heading, Greeting, Body, Closing, Signature". We then compare how these components look in the letters we've been looking at (how the date is written, how the letter opens, the purposes the letters were wrote for, how the letters closed, etc.), and we record what we found on a giant chart:
Next, the students will try to attach these labels to letters that I write with them as seen in the examples below:
The students will then try to find the components independently, and we will then compare our results as a class:
During read-aloud time, we also use books that include letter writing in the story. One book the students love is, Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink. The main character in the story, Gilbert writes not so friendly Valentine's Day letters to his classmates. We stop reading the book mid-way through, and students discuss the problem in the story and how Gilbert could solve it. We help him by interactively re-writing the Valentine's Day letters to his classmates. Then we finish reading the book together and compare how Gilbert solved his problem with what we came up with.
We also do a similar activity, tying our writing to literacy, after reading Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch (a story of a lonely, elderly man whose life is changed when he realizes people do care for him). After reading the story, our class will think of someone from our campus that might need to know that someone loves them, and we interactively write them a letter:
Another way we use to help us internalize the parts of a letter is by creating a graphic organizer cut into sections that represent each part of a letter.
On the back of the flaps, we discuss and record what we know about each part:
We then use the parts to create our own friendly letters. I model for students on my graphic organizer and students simultaneously repeat each step on their own stationary. The example below shows several messages and closings that we brainstormed as a class, and students chose the ones that they felt were most appropriate for their own letter.
We also addressed envelopes using our sight words 'to' and 'from':
Later, after reading Arthur's Valentine (Arthur receives a valentine from a secret admirer and tries to figure out who sent it to him), the students will pull sticks with another student's name on it (without the other students seeing whose name they pulled) and will write a letter to this person as their 'secret admirer'.
We will refer back to our graphic organizer that we created earlier in the unit, and the students will discuss what the purpose/message of the letters we will be writing will be. We will then brainstorm the different ways we might start our sentences in our message, and will record them on our organizer. The students who need extra support can then refer to our chart as they create their letters:
After everyone receives and reads their letters, the class has a lot of fun trying to pair their valentines with their secret admirers:
After reading Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers and learning about how Grace Bedell's letter generated a response from President Lincoln, we use what we have learned to write our own friendly letters to President Obama and mail them to the White House!
Enchanted Learning has a great guide for this (click on the picture below to go directly to their site):
After learning about Washington and Lincoln in honor of President's Day, our class discusses what they would like to tell them and/or ask them if they were still alive today. Students will create their own foldables for Presidents Washington and Lincoln and will write them a letter with their compliments and questions. We write the letters one part at a time (heading, greeting, body, etc.) by unfolding each flap as we go.
Letters to Lincoln:
Letters to Washington:
Writing Center: Our February word wall in the writing center is filled with words about love and Friendship. I also place phrases and sentence stems that students can use to make their own cards our books, such as, "You are my friend" and, "Will you be my valentine?". As we practice letter writing, I include several openings/closings students can use as they form their letters.
I also place a visual at the center to aid students in writing their Valentine cards (to help them understand the vocabulary of to and from):
I also place Valentine's Day stencils (cookie cutters) at the writing center for students to use to make their cards and books.
There are also writing samples at the center to give students some models and ideas for their own writing.
This month, I place heart die cuts, Valentine's Day cards, letter stationary and heart and president stickers at the center as well.
Letter Recognition: At this center, students pull a letter from a heart box and then have to dig through the confetti to find a letter that matches the one they pulled. When they have found a match, they write the letter on a dry erase board as they say the letter's name.
Broken hearts alphabet match: Students match upper and lowercase letters by placing heart halves together. This center is also equipped with an alphabet chart to support students who are still unsure of the correct matches.
Rhyming Words: Students reinforce their ability to recognize rhyming words by playing the Valentine's Rhyming Monsters game from Kinder Karla. Students will choose a card from the box that has a picture of two different objects on the front and will orally say the names of the objects they see depicted on the card. If the match rhymes, they will place the card on the rhyming monster. If not, they will place the card on the 'don't rhyme' mat.
An answer key is also kept at the center to help students check their work as they finish.
Beginning Sounds Bingo: Kelly's Kindergarten is one of my favorite places to find resources for centers. I use a letter sounds BINGO game from her site for this month. Students play by pulling a letter card from the basket and if they have a picture of an object that starts with this letter sound on their BINGO board, they can mark it with a Valentine's Day eraser. I also place an alphabet chart at this center for students who need a little extra support with some of their letters and sounds.
Final Sounds: Students will practice hearing ending sounds in words with Valentine's Day vocabulary cards. They will orally say the name of the picture depicted on the card, emphasizing the final sound as they do so. They will then find the letter that makes this sound and place it at the end of the word. They will copy the words they create in their journals and use the answer key kept at the center to check their work.
Digraphs: In order to practice hearing and recognizing digraphs in words (ch, th, sh, etc.), students will sort valentines into the mailbox of the digraph that coordinates with the picture on the Valentine's Day card they choose. The mailboxes each have a digraph picture on the front (from http://blog.maketaketeach.com/store-main/phonics-blends-digraphs/) for students to use as an anchor sound to associate with each one.
The valentines each have a picture on the front that have a digraph at the beginning, middle, or end of the word (i.e., fish, chips, mother).
Making CVC Words: Students will practice building CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words by playing the following game from Kinder Culture. They will match a clothespin with a written word inscribed on it to a picture that matches that word. Students can use the hearts on the cards as sound boxes to help them segment each word into its individual sounds.
Building Words: Students will unscramble Valentine's Day words using letters inside heart boxes:
The words I chose for this activity include chunks (er, ck, etc.) and word patterns (silent e, y at the end of word makes the long 'e' or 'i' sound, etc.) that our class has been studying. Once students have built the words for the pictures on the front of the heart boxes, they may check their work by comparing their word with the words printed on the back of the hearts:
Making Sentences: In honor of the month of love, students can practice creating sentences that begin with the sentence stem, "I love...". Students then practice manipulating different sight word cards to create new sentences by arranging them on a velcro sentence strip. They will record each sentence they create in their journals.
Sight Words: Students will take their shot at 'whacking' groundhogs by playing this month's sight word game (our own version of 'whack-a-mole). One player will read a sight word on a groundhog card and the other players will race to 'whack' this word on the groundhog's hole on the word mat.
The student who whacks the word first will keep the matching groundhog card. The student with the most groundhogs at the end of the game is the winner!
Pocket Chart Poem: This month's poem is "The Lovebug" (sung to the tune of "Hoky Poky"). Students arrive at the center with the poem sentences scrambled up and they have to put it back together and read it. I color coded the text (red, pink, red, pink, etc.) and added pictures to help students who need extra support. I also place a picture of the poem put together correctly in a pocket beside the chart for students to use to check their work when they are finished. It's hard to see in the picture, but I also place a dot beneath each word to help the students who are struggling with one to one correspondence to read the poem and track the print one word at a time.
For students who are already a little more advanced in their CAP (Concepts About Print) skills, I place a copy of the poem at the center that is broken into each individual word.
The lines in the poem are color-coded according to the colors in the rainbow and each word from each line has a number on the back to help support students as they place the poem back together. The cards are also magnetic, allowing students to carry out this task on a magnetic board.
An answer key is also kept at the center to help students check their work.
Read and Find: This month at the Read and Find center, students can practice reading the "Here!" poem to apply their knowledge of sight words.
Listening Center: This month at listening center, the students will put into practice what they have learned about story elements to determine what the problem and solution is in the stories that they read and listen to. The activity is differentiated for students, indicated by a red and green dot. The students working with a green dot recording sheet will draw and label the problem and solution in the story the choose, while the students using a red dot recording sheet will write sentences to describe the problem and solution. I first model this for the students with a story we have read together:
The examples below are from 2 students who listened to the same story together, but used the recording sheet that was most appropriate for them:
"Santa was sick. Pete [was a] hero."
"Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. The problem is Santa [was] ill.
The solution was Pete saved Christmas [for] Santa."
Library: In addition to a variety of Valentine's Day and Groundhog books added to the center this month, students can also cuddle up with a Valentine's Day critter to enjoy their book with.
February Book Picks:
100th Day: In February, we have so much to celebrate! Students are especially pumped up for the 100th day of school! Some of us even dress up like 100 year-olds to mark the occasion...
We also read from a selection of books that show 100 in different ways:
100th Day Collections: The students each bring in 100th day collections to share with the class too. We practice counting their creations and then show them off in the Kindergarten hall.
100th Day Centers: The second half of the day is spent rotating between a variety of centers all focused around the number 100.
Hide the Number Art: Students at this center hide the number 100 in a drawing they create.
Spots on Pongo: At this center, the students practice coloring 100 spots on Pongo the dalmation.
Missing Numbers: Teams will work together to find the missing numbers on 100 charts. They will velcro the missing numbers in the appropriate places on the chart.
Race to 100: Students take turns rolling a dice and color the indicated number of numerals off of their copy of a 100 chart. Players continue to roll the dice and color numbers until they make it all the way to 100. The first player to do so wins!
100th Day Book: Students work on creating a book (taken from enchantedlearning.com) with a variety of prompts using the number 100.
100 Snack: This is, without a doubt, the students' favorite center! We make a snack with 100 goodies by combining 10 sets of 10 different treats. Students will use a place-mat to keep track of their groups of 10 as they prepare their snack.
Word Lists: Students who visit this center will write down as many words as they can think of on a giant chart. Our class's goal is to reach a total of 100 words by the time the center rotations are over.
Ticker Tape Tallies: Partners will work together to create 100 tally marks on ticker tape. They will circle every group of five in blue and every group of 10 in red to help them count their sets as they go.
Count to 100: Students will also practice counting to 100, of course! The students will also rotate to a center where they use our netbooks and i-touches to count along with counting to 100 songs. The videos below are some of our favorites we use to do so this month:
At the end of the day, the students receive a 100th day certificate and- this year- were also sent away with the extra treat of an awesome 100th day snack from Georgia:
Addition: We are currently working on addition and have practiced finding it in a variety of everyday situations. We have acted out a multitude of poems and stories, and then have repeated the process using manipulatives and story boards. The language that we emphasize is, "______and______is______." Addition is introduced as a way we put things together and we spend a lot of talk talking about different situations and having the students decide whether or not the specific situation is an example of putting things together and how they know. We also discuss whether or not we will have more or less than we began with when we put the things together and whether or not the (object we are discussing) is all or part of the (object we are discussing). The students loved acting out Move Over Rover with masks and a 'doghouse' and they even used the story format to make up their own addition stories with Rover and his friends. We also use The Mitten by Jan Brett and Bearsie Bear's Sleepover to do the same.
Old shoeboxes make great puppet stages :)
Later, students use 'doghouses' and dog counters to create their own addition stories like those we created from Move Over, Rover. They use the sentence stems to help them with the language and begin writing the sentences that match their stories in their math journals.
Addition/Number Bonds: Students become familiar with the different combinations used to form numbers one to ten by playing a tower building game. Students can play in partners in groups of 2 versus another group of 2. Each group of 2 will receive a mat that has numbers 1-10 written across it. The first student on team 1 will roll a number dice and will form a tower out of the specified number of unifix cubes. The second student from team 1 will then roll the dice and will form a tower out of the specified number of cubes. Then, the team will put their towers together as they orally say the number sentence (ex.: "Two and four is six"). They will then place their tower on the corresponding number on their mat. If a team makes a number that is already on their mat, they forfeit their turn. The first team to make all of their towers wins.
The following book is a great resource for introducing number bonds to children:
Part-Part Whole Mats: Students will also use storyboards and part-part whole mats to act out and create addition stories with manipulatives. We discuss whether what is being described from the stories are referring to 'all' or 'part' of the subjects. This helps us to determine which part of the problem we are solving for.
Eventually, students move from the storyboards to a plain part-part-whole mat to act out the operations from the addition stories. The following example shows a mat that illustrates that '3 and 1 is 4':
Estimation Jar: Students will make estimates to guess the number of chocolate conversation hearts in our candy jar this month. The winner of the closest estimate gets to enjoy them at home!
Many of the concepts that we study in Kindergarten are continuously reinforced in order to build on students' understanding of the content. This is especially true in our math centers. After introducing a skill, we revisit it in centers throughout the year to allow the children to truly internalize the mathematical processes. In February, we practice the skills we have learned during the previous part of the year while we also introduce addition. To follow are some of the centers we are currently working on in class and can simultaneously serve for different activities you can practice at home with your child for extra support.
By the end of Kindergarten, we expect children to be proficient in creating and extending at least a 2 member pattern. A 2 member pattern means that it has 2 'parts'. For instance, apples and bananas. The first member, or part, is always referred to as 'A' and the second member, or part, is 'B'. If the pattern is 'Apple, Banana, Apple, Banana, Apple, Banana,....' the pattern would be labeled 'AB'. If the pattern was 'Apple, Apple, Banana, Apple, Apple, Banana...', the pattern would read 'AAB'. If the pattern had three members (apple, banana, orange, for instance), then the pattern would read 'ABC' and so forth. I always have children extend a pattern at least 3 times before we call it a 'pattern'. We tell children that a pattern is something that happens 'over and over and over again'. It is extremely important that students are able to orally explain and describe their pattern. As your children move through the grade levels, mathematical instruction will become more and more abstract and if a child lacks a solid foundation in oral language skills and extensive practice with concrete manipulatives, gaps will be present in their learning that will prevent them from achieving at higher levels.
This month, we practiced creating patterns with heart shaped buttons. The students create a pattern with the buttons on sentence strips and then create a video using an i-touch to orally explain their pattern. For children who need extra support, I place 'ABC' cards in a bag for them to help them label their pattern before reading it. If your child is having difficulty with even this step, you may want to consider starting by you creating a pattern and having them read or label it with you. They could then match and extend your pattern (recreate it and continue it further). The next step would be for you to lay out the 'AB' cards and then have them match manipulatives to your letters (i.e., cheerios to all the 'A's' and cocoa puffs to all of the 'B's').
The pattern below is an example of a pattern made with three colors: red, pink, pink, white (or A, B, B, C).
The following pattern was made with the same heart button, but the position was changed: right side up, upside down, sideways, right side up, upside down, sideways....(A, B, C, A, B, C,...):
Here are videos some of the students made explaining their color patterns:
It's always interesting to see what children can come up with when you give them just one manipulative. For example, in October, I gave the students a bin of identical toy spiders and they had to find ways of patterning them. Some students changed their position (horizontal, diagonal, etc.), while others realized that some of the spiders had legs broken off or had pinchers that were chipped and made them shorter than the others. I have also observed students patterning by size (large, large, small), sound (snap, clap, tap), texture (rough, smooth), and shape (circle, square, triangle). There is no wrong way to pattern as long as the child can orally justify the reasoning behind their creation.
Another skill we have been working on is identifying and describing flat and geometric shapes. Students can trace shapes with play-doh to 'feel' and count the sides/edges, vertices, and faces/bases. Earlier in the year, we played a 'Feel the Shape' game where students would reach their hand into a bag of shapes without looking and the students would try to guess which shape it was based solely on the sense of touch. Later, students found shapes on Scavenger hunts and we compared the attributes of 3D and 2D shapes on a class chart following an exploration activity. As students explored the shapes, they tested them to see which could roll, slide, and be stacked. They recorded their findings on a graphic organizer in their math journals that they will use to refer back to as they visit the shape centers this month.
At this point in the year, students are more advanced in the vocabulary they have acquired to describe shapes, and so our games have become a bit more rigorous. Students play the 'Shape Match' game in partners or in small groups. One student will choose a shape from a collection from flat shapes or will invent their own shape and will use the shape's attributes to describe the shape to their partner. The partner then tries to re-create the shape that is being described on a geoboard with rubber bands and the students will compare their shapes to see if the one described and the one created matches.
You could play this same game at home by using yarn to create the shapes. To practice oral language, you and your little one could discuss how you could change a square to a triangle, a rectangle into a square etc. You could also go on shape scavenger hunts or play a shapes concentration game (you could match different pictures of shapes together- they don't have to be identical as long as they can be classified as the same shapes- or you could match shape names to the pictures or attribute cards to shapes). The shapes that we focus on primarily in Kindergarten are: triangle, square, rectangle, circle, oval, cone, cylinder, cube, rectangular prism, and sphere.
Students also use a 'swat' game that was created for me by a math specialist from our district when I taught fourth grade that works great for our Kindergartners too! One student will name or describe a shape on the board by using its attributes and the other players will race to be the first to swat the shape being described on the mat.
We also have an area station that this month is in the form of 'chocolates' and candy heart tins. The children discover how many brown unifix cubes, or chocolates, can cover the bottom of each one of 5 candy heart tins. They then write this number on a recording sheet that corresponds with the number of the heart written on the bottom of the tin. An extension of this activity is to order the tins from greatest to least area or vice versa. In Kindergarten, the vocabulary that we want students to focus on as far as area is concerned is 'covers more' or 'covers less' area. In other words it is more important for them to know which candy heart tin can can hold the most chocolates versus the specific number of chocolates that each can hold.
4. Making Sets:
Another vital part of the Kindergarten math curriculum is building number sense. In other words, students need to have a solid understanding of the different ways that a number can be represented or formed and how a certain amount of that number looks. One way we can accomplish this is by making sets, or matching the quantity a number represents with that numeral. This month, we have been doing that by simply matching plastic hearts to a number written in the bottom of heart shaped ice trays. You can find the ice trays at Target or a dollar store for just one or two dollars. I wrote a number in the bottom of each heart hole in numerical order from 1-18 and the children count out the specified number of plastic hearts indicated for each hole (sorry the numbers in the picture are hard to see).
5. 10 Frames:
Hand in hand with number sense, is representing numbers with ten frames (a frame with 10 slots). Being able to visually 'see' a number is a crucial factor in building number sense. This month, we have been working on creating '15', so the students will use a five frame and a ten frame to create the number. Using the frames in this way will also help them to see the different groups of five that make up the different numbers. In honor of St. Valentine, we have been using 'kiss' sequins to create 15 this month. Students can play the 'Race to 15' game in partners or a small group and they will each have one ten frame and one five frame. Students will take turns rolling the dice and will place the indicated number of 'kisses' on their boards. If a student rolls a number that exceeds the number of spaces left on their frames (a student rolls a 'six' and he only has one space left on his frames to make 15, for instance), then this student will have to forfeit their turn until they roll the exact number or less than the exact number of kisses that they need. The first student to fill their boards- or make 15- is the winner.
We have spent a lot of time on describing an object's attributes this year. Students know that an object's attributes can be anything from its shape, size, texture, smell, taste, color, length, height, weight, etc. We use these attributes to sort objects into self selected categories and then extend this activity by graphing, patterning, or comparing the results. During February, we have been sorting Valentine's Day cards. Some students have sorted theirs according to the number of letters that are on their cards, the color of the cards, the cards with animals, the cards that start or end with a certain letter, cards with cartoons or pictures, and whether the pictures are facing horizontally or vertically to name just a few categories. Again, the most critical part of this exercise is that students are able to orally explain their sort in a way that shows that they understand the concept. At this point in the year, I am trying to steer children away from only sorting objects into categories that are exactly alike (for instance: all of the Hello Kitty cards into one pile, all of the Spiderman cards in one pile, Power Rangers in another, etc.). It is best to meet a child where they are, and if you know that your child is capable of a more challenging sort than this, it is okay to give them a little push. You could try this at home by sorting old cards, wallpaper or fabric samples, old magazines, or any other household item that can be easily placed into groups (even laundry :) )
The following is an example of a sort that was done according to background colors (it's fairly hard to see, but the colors are yellow, green, blue, and pink):
Our measurement station is another station that is ongoing throughout the year. We practice this concept through length, capacity, size, height, weight, and area. We also practice measuring objects with non-standard measuring units. What this means is that we use objects to measure that are more relative to a student like their hand, for instance, versus actual measurement tools, such as a yardstick. We may ask students to measure the length of a pencil by counting how many beans lined up are equal to its length versus measuring its length with a ruler, for example. Currently, we have been practicing ordering the size of cookie cutter hearts from smallest to largest and vice versa. First, students choose a sorting card (i.e., smallest to largest) and then arrange the cookie cutters on a manila paper strip in the order described on the card. Next they trace the shapes of the cookie cutters on their paper and copy the title. They may then decorate their hearts any way they choose.
We try to provide students with any and every opportunity to practice graphing. The vocabulary we are working on is whether or not a graph is horizontal or vertical, which category has the most and least, and how many more or fewer one category has than the other or what one category would need in order to be equal with another. We accomplish this by telling students to not count what 2 categories have that is the same, but rather to focus on what is 'extra' or 'what's missing'. For example, if I asked students, "How many more days were cloudy this month than sunny?", I would tell them to look at how many days were cloudy and then how many days were sunny. If 4 days were cloudy and 2 days were sunny, I would tell them not to cover up the days that are the 'same'. In other words, both the cloudy and sunny categories have at least 2 days, so we would not look at those days. We would circle the 'extra' days that the cloudy category has that 'sunny' does not- 2 days more than sunny. To count how many fewer days, we would circle the missing days that sunny does not have in order to make it equal to cloudy- 2 days.
These are some examples of graphs we made this month using conversation hearts. Some groups decided to graph their hearts according to color and other groups graphed theirs according to the number of letters on their hearts.
On Valentine's Day, students love making a 'Can You Blow a Bubble' graph. We each chew a giant gumball and try our best to blow a bubble. Students then write their name on a sticky and use it to graph the results of our efforts. We practice organizing the information and labeling the parts of our graph too.
After Valentine's Day, we each draw/write what our favorite Valentine's Day gift was on a post-it. Afterwards, we share what our favorites were and then come up with categories to organize the gifts into different groups. We then make conclusions from the graph by talking about the gift that was the favorite of the most/least of our students, how many more students preferred one gift over another and so forth.
We also have a blast making graphs with a Valentine's dice from Kelly's Kindergarten. The dice has a different Valentine's Day picture on each side and students rolled the dice with a partner 10 times. They keep track of the pictures they roll by marking the results on a graphing sheet. When they finish constructing the graph, the students then make conclusions about the graph by answering the most/least and more than/fewer than questions that pertain to their graph.
Blocks are an integral part of the Kindergarten curriculum. They are useful for building children's sense of visual-spatial awareness in addition to lending to students' imaginative play. This in turn helps build literacy skills, develop oral language, and serve as topics for writing. They also give students an opportunity to practice their inter-personal skills and to work cooperatively with others. Next to our block center, I have a pocket chart that offers some suggestions to students of things they can build that correlate with the curriculum we are currently studying. This month, since we have studied Lincoln, Navarro, Washington, SFA, and Martin Luther King Jr., students may build the historical structures that correspond with these leaders. I also put out the Lincoln logs for students to build Lincoln and Austin's cabins and then compare them. Since we just finished a unit on flat and geometric shapes, I put out geometric solid blocks for students to build their own dream house. They can then again compare this structure to the Lincoln and SFA's cabins. Last but not least, after finishing our 100th day of school, I challenged students to see what they could create using 100 blocks. It is amazing what their brilliant little minds came up with! We even had one group of students create a life size chair from Lincoln's Memorial and one student from the group sat in it as Lincoln himself!
These students made a life size chair from Lincoln's Memorial...
...and his log cabin!
10. Color Words: Students at math center this month will practice recognizing color vocabulary by matching the appropriate colored heart to a character with that color written in their speech bubble.
Wind Investigations: Within our weather and seasons unit that we began last month, we will also observe and analyze the effects wind has on our environment. Students share what they already know, including our connections to hurricanes and other windstorms, and we record it on a class chart that we add to as we learn new information.
We will conduct a wind experiment to learn about the power of wind. Students will work in groups and will place a piece of packaging tape on two index cards. They will leave one card inside the class and we will take the other card outside. We leave the cards for several hours and retrieve them later in the day, We compare what we see on the different cards. Students see that the card we took outside has debris stuck on the front of it while the other card remains clear. They share out how they think the items got on the card we took outside but not the one left inside, and make conclusions about how the wind caused the changes we see.
Properties of Rain: Our class will also observe rain and its effects this month. Students will work in teams to create a rain gauge and will record how much rain we collect throughout the week. Students will also create giant murals together that we will leave outside to see how the rain changes them.
Day and Night: Students learn this month the reasons we have day and night. Before learning, in order to hook students' attention and to see what background knowledge they already have, the students will create day and night 'snowballs'. Each student will have either a yellow (representing day) or blue (representing night) sheet of construction paper and will write down/illustrate something they know about day or night- depending on the color paper they have:
After each student has wrote down a fact on their paper, we crumble up the papers (representing snowballs) and toss them into the middle of the room:
Students will then chose a snowball that is a different color from the one they tossed into the circle:
The students will then open up their new snowball, read what the student before them wrote, and add a new fact to the list before tossing the ball back into the circle one final time:
After the final toss, we will go around the circle and the students will share with the class all of the comments/illustrations on their paper:
The students will help act out the roles of the Earth and Sun (using a flashlight and globe) in order to better understand how the Earth rotating causes the patterns of day and night that we see.
Students will work with a partner to sort pictures between day and night activities/objects and will later compare their sorts with their fellow classmates.
Later, students will create their own pictures for their classmates to sort.
In the Science and Social Studies center this month, students can play the day and night 'Paddle' game. One student will describe an object or event (such as, 'going to school') and the other partner will lift up the paddle (day or night) that correlates with their partner's description.
Sun: As we learn about day and night, our class will also discuss the characteristics of the sun and will observe how it affects our weather and seasons. We discover that it is actually a star that appears larger than the others due to its relative location to Earth.
Moon Phases: Students are amazed to learn that the moon actually does not have or produce its own light- it is simply reflecting the light of the sun! Students help act out the rotation of the Earth on its axis and the rotation of the moon around the Earth (while another student is holding a flashlight representing the sun) to understand this concept and to comprehend why it looks like the moon is changing shapes. Students are introduced to the basic phases of the Moon (New Moon, Crescent Moon, Quarter Moon, Gibbous Moon, and Full Moon) and create a flip-book to illustrate each phase.
Clouds: As we learn about the celestial bodies, we also spend some time in our own atmosphere. Students will observe the clouds we see during 'cloud walks' we take outside together. They will then compare the shapes of the different clouds amongst each other and will note how the shapes change throughout the day and week by illustrating what we see in our Science journals. Students will then use a variety of materials (chalk, white paint, cotton, glitter, crayons, and so on) to re-create a cloud that they observed. Although students are not responsible for learning the names of the different types of clouds, they are introduced to the vocabulary and we practice sorting the clouds they created into groups of different cloud types to create a giant floor graph.
In the Dramatic Play center this month, the students can use the boards below from National Geographic to read poems about the celestial bodies and show their movement in the sky:
Five Senses: At the Science and Social Studies center this month, students can practice using their 5 senses to observe a Hershey's Kiss!
They will then record their observations on a graphic organizer:
Groundhog Day: Students will learn the reasons we celebrate groundhog day and will make their own predictions of whether or not Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow based on the weather patterns we have been studying. We will then compare our predictions with the actual results on the official Groundhog Day website:
Groundhog Day Books:
Valentine's Celebration: Of course, February would not be complete without our annual Valentine's Day celebration. The students will use our 'toppings buffet' to create their own ice cream sundae:
We place the pre-scooped ice cream cups in styrofoam bowls to reduce the time and mess in preparing our delicious treats! I also place the students' names and utensils, etc. on the table to help with classroom management. While students are waiting for their turn to decorate their sundae, they may read their valentines, also placed at their spot at the table.
President's Day: In February, we honor our presidents in many different ways. Since we are learning to make inferences in Language Arts, I start by setting up different research stations around the room. In one corner of the room, I place a multitude of books about the presidents, in another area I have a box filled with pictures of the presidents, and another area has netbooks, computers, and i-touches with videos, poems, and songs I downloaded re: the presidents. The students then will collect information re: the presidents and we come back together to share what we learned. We created an inference chart for both Lincoln and Washington organized into "What I See", "What I Know", and "What I Infer" columns. We begin by listing what we saw/noticed in the videos, pictures, or text. For example, we 'saw' a picture of Washington with white hair. Then we move on to what we know: we know that people with hair are usually old. Lastly, we move to what we can infer based on evidence from the book and our background knowledge: George Washington was old when he was president.
When we conclude our research, we compare the presidents by creating a Venn diagram. We also make puppets of the presidents by gluing silhouettes we color to straws. We then use these to play a presidents game. The students or I will describe a fact pertaining to one of the presidents and the other students have to raise the president's puppet that relates to the particular fact. We later kick the game up a notch by creating potential situations and the students will have to analyze the presidents in order to decide which one would be most likely to be a part of the situation. For instance, I might say, "This president would be most likely to be a Kindergarten teacher" and the students would lift their Abraham Lincoln puppet by justifying that this would most likely be him due to the fact that we learned that he loved children and loved to read.
Connections: One of students' favorite activities after learning about the presidents is to use the prompt below from Scholastic magazine to think about what kinds of items they would keep in their stovepipe hat if they were Lincoln. Needless, to say, we get some pretty interesting responses!
"A cockroach and Mrs. Cortez" (not sure how this came up!)
Here are some of our favorite president videos:
Heroes Bingo: To culminate our studies of American Heroes (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Jose Navarro, and Stephen F. Austin), we play a class Bingo game that is later placed in a center. Students begin by picking up a card from the deck of heroes. They then can place a BINGO marker on a picture of their bingo board that correlates with this hero but they must be able to explain why they are putting it there. If a student picks up a card with Abraham Lincoln, for instance, they may choose to place a bingo marker on a square with a picture of books by justifying that this picture can be associated with Lincoln because he loved to read. When this game is at a center, I place an answer sheet for students to check their work if needed.
We will also create a sentence patterning chart to review our heroes' accomplishments and to practice using all of the new vocabulary we have learned. After brainstorming the heroes we have learned about, a list of words to describe them, and a list of actions that correlate with them, students will take turns choosing a word from each category and we will sing sentences with those words to the tune of, "The Farmer and the Dell". Students will then vote with thumbs up or thumbs down to decide if we have made an 'accurate' or 'silly' sentence.