Poetry: This month students will continue to create inferences and visualizations using poetry. We will first consume a multitude of poems based on the topics we are studying, such as Spring and farms, and will create mental images and inferences to help us understand the author's message behind the poems.
One of the first activities we do when creating our own poems, is a bubbles activity shared by our school's interdisciplinary coach. Without telling the students what we are doing or why, I start blowing bubbles in their direction in the classroom.
Again without telling them, I record their reactions on a giant piece of chart paper as the bubbles fly through the air.
After blowing the bubbles and writing down their comments, I tell the students that they are 'poets who didn't even know it'! We discuss how poetry includes authentic feelings and can capture a moment in time. We point out that our comments didn't all begin with "I feel..", "I think...", etc. They were just specific words that described our experiences at that very moment. We then talk about the rhythm of poetry and I explain to students that the words in a poem are like an artist's paintbrush or a musician's instrument. We cut out the comments from the original chart and re-arrange the words/phrases in just the right way to evoke the images we want for our readers while making music to our ears as we read it.
Later, we play around with the words in other examples of poetry that we read. One poem we use is "Hello Spring." We first read the poem in a pocket chart and practice hearing the rhythm by clapping out the syllables in the words as we go.
We then talk about all of the other words we could use to describe spring, and I record the students' ideas on sentence strips as we discuss them.
The students then take turns manipulating the text and choosing the words from our Spring vocabulary list that they would like to insert in the poem. The students love doing this as we read each other's examples.
After playing around with the language in the poem, students are able to record their own version of the "Hello Spring" poem. I place all of the spring vocabulary they have come up with in a pocket chart and I give each student a spring poem organizer with blanks left for the words that they use to describe the season. They choose the words out of the pocket chart that they would like to use in their poem.
We then take turns listening to one another read our original versions of the poem. Some our class's examples are shown below:
Finally, we will begin to create our own poetry- from scratch! After reading Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan, we discuss the different ways the author used her 5 senses to describe the ocean. We talk about how her descriptive language helps us to taste, hear, feel, smell, and see the ocean too even though we aren't there with her.
As we read other examples of poetry, the students practice finding examples of the poet's using their five senses by placing 5 sense picture icons on stickies on the words in the poem that pertain to those senses.
We then attempt to create these same type of descriptors for our readers as we brainstorm a list of descriptive words to describe the farms we have been studying. I record the students' words on sentence strips and we practice manipulating the language by rearranging the words and listening to how it sounds when we read it aloud. We again talk about the rhythm of poetry and how the placement of words can create different patterns of sound. (After doing this as a whole class lesson, students will continue the activity on their own in a center).
After practicing together as a whole class, students will use a 5 senses picture organizer to create their own poems about the farm. Because of the critical importance developing oral language has on students' reading and writing abilities, the students have multiple opportunities to practice sharing their poems orally with their classmates in a variety of ways. This also gives students who have not yet developed their writing skills the ability to share their poetry with the class. After all, poetry starts with our inner voice and then is brought outwards by transferring our thoughts to paper, which is another lesson the students and I will learn together.
Check out the poems and videos below to see some of the amazing first attempts our Kindergartners made at creating their own poems!
I then tell the students that we are going to learn how to listen to the world with our poet's voice. We read The Other Way to Listen to learn about an old man's secrets of how to hear the flowers bloom and the mountains speak. We discuss how a poet uses their five senses like a scientist does, but a poet describes what they can see, hear, feel, taste, and touch in their heart.
The class and I talk about how a safety pin doesn't really sleep, have a tail, etc., but the poet saw those descriptions in her imagination- poets compare what they see to what they imagine what they're viewing to be. To help students better understand this, we refer back to the different animals and shapes we saw in the clouds during our clouds unit and the It Looked Like Spilled Milk book.
We then re-read the Safety Pin and place imagination icon stickies on the places in the poem where we see the author comparing a safety pin to what it reminds her of.
We then go back to our original description of the safety pin, and we make a second column on our chart to describe the safety pin with a poet's voice (seen below in blue).
Throughout the poetry unit, we take frequent nature walks outside to hear what the world is saying; the students' descriptions continue to blossom as we continue to listen to in a brand new way. Some students said that they even saw the tree branches waving to them and heard the wind whispering 'goodbye' as we were walking to the buses during dismissal!
Later, we also turn our class into a poetry museum! The students can use a variety of different observation tools to observe different, everyday objects in the classroom.
They will pick which 'exhibit' they would like to visit, and they will practice making observations with their poet's voice:
Before I ever have the children write, I have them discuss their experiences and observations orally to help them put into words what they will later transfer to writing:
After a week or so of practicing to make observations with our poet's voices, I model for the students recording what we observe in writing. I choose another everyday object such as the corn below and we practice recording what we observe with the '5 senses of our heart':
As we record our observations, we place them on a graphic organizer that has the 5 sense icons and thought clouds where we discuss what else the object reminds us of (in upper grades, the students will be able to connect this experience to making analogies, metaphors, and personifications):
We then experiment with the poem's rhythm by re-arranging the sentence strips until we feel that we have found the perfect order for the lines to have just the right ring to them when we read the poem aloud:
Later, the students will follow the same steps to create their own poems:
Smells like rust
The leaves are falling
Visualization: As we are studying cowboys in Social Studies, we also practice our visualization skills with poetry by creating images in our minds that the author creates with their words. We read the poem "Cowboy Dan" (adapted by the K-crew: http://www.thekcrew.net/rodeo.html) and we stop after each stanza to draw what we visualized on a body outline beside the poem. We then compared our drawings with the author's words to see if our images matches their words.
Writing: March's word wall at the writing center is filled with St. Patrick's Day and spring words.
Along with a stash of green paper scraps, I also place stencils related to St. Patrick's Day, the farm, cowboys, and the rodeo at the center with labels inscribed on them for children to use while creating their books and cards. The tracing also helps students reinforce their fine motor skills.
Lasso Word Building: Adapted from a Mailbox magazine idea, I placed word endings on cards and placed them in different envelopes. I also placed the letters or blends that can be combined with these endings in the same envelopes along with cards with the final word created from the first sound and the ending (m-, -ash, mash, for example). On each envelope, I placed a color sequence to help the students decide which order to place the cards in. Students will use three lassos (yellow yarn) and will place the cards to make a word in each and will hop from lasso to lasso as they read the cards. For instance they will read: m-, -ash, mash as they hop.
Letter Sounds Match: Students use magnetic letters to match upper and lower case letters and a picture that matches the sound that the letter makes. I place an ABC chart at this center along with a picture of the appropriate matches to help students who need extra support.
Rhyming Match: In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I placed pictures of objects on Leprechaun cards and then pictures that rhyme with the Leprechaun cards on rainbow cards. Students will then take turns matching the cards that rhyme together (for instance, a picture of a 'fan' on a Leprechaun card could be matched with a picture of a 'can' on a rainbow card). I leave pictures of the matches at this center for students to check their work.
March Bingo: This month, I printed out several bingo games from Kelly's Kindergarten and just changed the clipart to fit a St. Patrick's Day theme. I also used coins from the dollar store to use as Bingo markers.
I try to use a variety of activities that match different skill levels so that each student can choose an activity that they can be successful at. The first bingo game is for students who are already able to differentiate letter sounds and can write a consonant-vowel-consonant word by producing the sounds. Players draw a card with a word on it and place a marker on the picture on their board that goes with the word.
The second game is for students who are proficient in their digraphs (th, sh, etc.). They draw a card and place a marker on the sound it starts with (-ch for a picture of a chicken, etc.).
The last bingo game is for students who are still working on their beginning sounds. Players draw a picture card and place a marker on the letter that correlates with the first sound of the picture ('b' for a picture of a box, etc.).
Sight Words: Students will take turns pulling out gold coins from a Leprechaun's pot.
If they can read the word written on the gold, they get to keep the coin. If not, they return the coin to the pot and forfeit their turn.
Students who pull a Leprechaun coin can steal another player's gold, and students who pull a rainbow coin can steal all of the other players' gold. The player with the most coins at the end is the winner.
Word Study: Students will practice reading words with a long vowel in the middle and a silent 'e' at the end by choosing a Leprechaun game piece and racing from the rainbow to the pot of gold on the shamrock game board below (the idea for this game was taken from Tessa Maguire):
Sentence Building: Students will practice making sentences by manipulating the color arcs in a rainbow. They will choose which word from each given color that they will match to the like color on a giant rainbow (my original purpose for this activity was to also review the colors of the rainbow too until I realized I pasted them in the wrong order!).
The words that are on the rainbow include March vocabulary words, sight words we have been working on with different endings attached (-ed, -ing, -s, etc.), locations we have studied in Social Studies, and words that end in 'y' where the 'y' makes the long 'e' sound. They will practice making serious and silly sentences and will copy them in their journals when they are finished.
Interactive Poem: Students will first read the poem, using the pictures for extra support (the word 'me' has a mirror pasted above it). Next, on the whiteboard underneath the poem, I have several questions for students about the poem. They have to find rhyming words, capital letters, and other activities that will help reinforce their Concepts About Print skills (differentiating letters from words, etc.). I pair pictures with the directions to help students 'read ' the instructions, and I also place the answers under post-its to allow students to check their answers.
Pocket Chart Poem: This month students put the "I am a Cowboy" (or "I am a Cowgirl" for the ladies) back together in the right order and read it with a pointer. I place a picture of the poem in the right order at the center for students to check their work.
For students who have a greater knowledge of sight words and strong decoding skills, I cut up the poem into words and place magnet tape on the back. They then put the entire poem back together, using numbers on the back of the cards for added support (all of the words that go in the first sentence have a '1' on the back, the second sentence cards have a '2', etc.). I also keep a copy of the poem put together at the center for students to use to check their work.
Read and Find: Our class loves to play "I Spy a Shamrock" from M.M.M. McGuire. Shamrock cards with a picture and number on the front are placed around the room.
Partners will travel around the room with a clipboard, hunting for the different clovers.
When they locate one, they will find the corresponding number for that shamrock on their recording sheet and they will try to make the sounds to write the word for the picture on the card. What I love about this center is that the cards are already differentiated for the class- students can work on consonant-vowel-consonant, consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant, or consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant words.
Retelling Center: This month I challenge students to compare some of the stories we have been reading while practicing addition. After retelling the stories, the students will use cards I cut out of the characters from the stories and picture that pertain to the setting and sort them using hula hoops with a picture of each book they are comparing placed inside of a different hoop. We are now comparing "Bearise Bear and the Sleepover", "Move Over Rover", and "The Mitten". I keep a picture of the correct placement of the cards at the center for the students to check their work.
Students will also retell There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover by using the magnetic board from Crazy Speech World. Students will practice using sequence vocabulary (first, next, then, etc.) as they do so.
Listening: To further students' study of story structure and sequencing events, students will write/draw what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the stories they listen to at the Listening Station this month.
Housekeeping/Dramatic Play: After reading about Phoebe Clapsaddle and her secret chili recipe, the class practices creating their own chili recipes by using the different ingredients at the Housekeeping center.
Students will review sequence vocabulary by recording the steps to their recipe on a cookbook sheet and then following their classmates' recipes to test out their tasty creations.
Students can also use the National Geographic story mats to act out farm scenarios as they read the attached poem:
Students can also act out the farm to market process:
Art: At Art Center this month, students practice following picture directions to create a cowboy.
Counting: By March, we expect our Kindergartners to be able to orally count to 100. This month, students watch the following video on our class i-touches and practice singing along by 1's, 2's, 5's, and 10's, all the way up to 100.
We also love the chicken counting to 10 video that goes with our farm unit:
Subtraction: This month in math as we continue addition, we are also becoming acquainted with subtraction. We begin by acting out a variety of poems and then repeating the process with manipulatives, changing the numbers or characters from the stories to create new problems. Oral language is a vital element of this process, and the vocabulary that we continue to reinforce is, "____take away _____is______". I ask children questions such as, "Is that all or part of the ____", "How many_____did we start with?", "How many______did we take away?", "How many are left/missing?", "Do we have more or less than what we started with?", etc. It is also crucial to ask children to explain their thinking and to not just tell you what they know but, more importantly, how they know. We also talk about patterns that we see while solving the problems (any number take away one is one less than the number we started with, when we put back together what's left with what's missing we end up with what we started with, etc.). We also begin to link addition with subtraction together.
This an example of us just getting started with subtraction by acting out the "Five Little Monkeys" poem:
Ten Octopi: We also act out the octopi poem below taken from the TexTeams curriculum. Students will act out the poem by using paper plates to create octopi and then 'disappearing' behind black butcher paper as the black ink comes.
Students will later create their own set of 5 octopi on a sentence strip...
...and will color the back of the strip black (to represent the black ink).
They will then practice folding part of the strip over to act out subtraction stories of their own:
Subtraction Cat: Groups of students will also practice acting out the Subtraction Cat poem from 'Mr. R's' website (http://mathstory.com/poems/subtractcat.aspx#.UUE-G9atIqg):
Subtraction Dog: We also act out the "My Dog Subtraction" poem by Mr. R (http://mathstory.com/poems/mydogsubtract.aspx). Before reading the poem, we looked at the picture of the dog below who had extra body parts tacked on with sticky tack. We talked about what we noticed about the dog, and the class decided that they felt sorry for him because he "was an alien dog and he's crying because no one wants to be his friend because he looks crazy". We talked about the different ways we could help the dog and we decided that we could help him by 'taking away' body parts. The class was able to verbalize that this is subtraction and they also noticed a pattern with the parts we were going to take away- one of each.
After we acted out the poem, the students each created their own dog face (without eyes) on construction paper and gave their dog a name. Then, partners each received 10 circle counters to use as eyes and they used them to create subtraction problems for each other. They would decide how many of the counters they wanted to use as eyes, and they would place that number of counters on their dog. They would tell their partner, "This is my dog (Fifi) and she has (five) eyes." Their partner would then have to analyze how many 'extra' eyes their partner's dog had, and would have to come up with a subtraction sentence to help make the dog 'normal'. For example, "Five eyes take away three is two". The partner would say their sentences as they act it out. Then, the partners would continue to change the numbers around to create new subtraction problems.
Color Words: Students will review color word vocabulary this month by making cowboy books!
Using the 'My Boots' reader, the students will correctly color and number the boots in the book:
Estimation Jar: This month at the Estimation Jar, students will try to be the lucky one to correctly guess the number of gold coins left behind by a Leprechaun...
Capacity: This month students practice finding the capacity of different Leprechaun pots while simultaneously creating a graph. They use gold 'coins' (beans spray painted gold) to find out how many scoops of beans will fit in each. The pots have numbers on the bottom and these numbers correspond to a graph on a pot tacked with velcro.
As the students fill each pot with scoops of gold, they keep track of the scoops by tacking a picture of a scoop to the graph above the corresponding pot number.
When the students are done measuring the capacity, they interpret the graph to help them order the post from least to greatest capacity and vice versa. They then draw a picture of the pots in this order in their math journals.
After they have ordered the pots, the students discuss which pot of gold they think a Leprechaun would most prefer to have and why.
Graphs: We have been using Lucky Charms to create graphs. We use a measuring cup to spoon out two scoops of cereal and then the students decide how they will sort and graph their Lucky Charms. Some graphed theirs by colors, others by shapes, marshmallows and not marshmallows, curved shapes or shapes with lines, and so on.
After students have completed their graphs, they use the sheet below to discuss their results:
Geometric Shapes: This month we are playing the game, "Guess the Shape". Students can choose 3 shapes from a box filled with real life geometric shapes (oatmeal container, perfume boxes, Rubik's cube, waffle cone, etc.). Without telling the other members in their group which shape they will be using, the student who chooses the shapes picks one to describe. They use shape attributes (number of edges, vertices, bases, slides/not slides, rolls/not rolls, can be stacked/cannot be stacked, etc.) to describe their shape to the other students in their group who try to pick out the shape being described from the three that were pulled. If students are struggling to count the edges, vertices, etc., they may use play-doh to count them as they trace them with the clay.
Weight: Students practice their measuring skills by weighing a multitude of green or St. Patrick's themed objects.
Students then use the following sentence stems to describe the weight of the objects and can then transfer these sentences to their math journals. Students who are further along with their measuring skills can determine the weight of which objects equal the weight of another object- for example, the weight of the turtle is equal to the combined weight of the leprechaun and the clover and so on.
Patterns: Our pattern center this month is filled with pictures of different patterns made with pattern blocks. Students will first need to determine whether the pattern on the card they select was made with colors or directions. Next they will need to copy the pattern by selecting the appropriate pattern blocks and tracing them on a sentence strip. Next, they will need to extend the pattern and label their strip with the appropriate letters (A, B, B, C, etc.).
Students will also create patterns using St. Patrick's Day table scatter and will use an i-touch to create videos describing their pattern.
They will make patterns based on color, shape, and even direction (horizontal, horizontal, vertical, etc.).
Number Sense: The class will practice instant recognition of numerals and the way they are represented on 10 frames this month by playing a matching game with shamrocks on 10 frame cards and the written and numerical representations of the numbers on another set of cards.
Making Sets: This month's open-ended set center allows students to create sets of 20 using wooden cubes and to then represent the number by creating an object of their choosing (a house, tree, animal, etc.). Students use a counting sheet to help them keep track of the cubes. As they count aloud, they check off a number on their sheet until they have a total of twenty.
After the students have finished their creation, they glue a, "I made a _____" sentence strip in their math journal that they can fill in either by writing or drawing.
Students will also make sets to 20 by first ordering Leprechaun's pots in the correct numerical order and then placing the pot's inscribed number of gold 'coins' on the pot:
Number Sequence: The class will practice sequencing numbers in the correct order counting by 1's, 2's, 5's, and 10's by putting together the following St. Patrick's Day puzzles from The Barefoot Teacher and 3 Dinosaurs:
Students will also play the 'Stacks' game (from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten) to race to be the first player to create a stack of cards in numerical sequence from 1-10, 11-20, or 1-20:
Addition: Our Kindergartners will test out their newly acquired addition skills this month by playing a game adapted from Fantastic First Grade Froggies. Students will roll two die and will add the numbers they rolled by using the "_____ and _____ is_____" sentence stem. The dots on the die support students who still need a visual model as they combine the numbers. Once they find the sum of the numbers they rolled, the students will cover that total on the gold coins on their mat with a shamrock (if a student rolled a six and a two, for example, they would cover the coins on their mat with the number '8' on them). The first student to cover all of their coins is the winner.
Stars: We will continue our study of celestial bodies from last month by observing and studying stars.
Living and Nonliving: Students will discover the differences between living and nonliving things in a variety of ways.
Students will work in teams to sort cards and objects into what they predict to be living and non-living groups. They will then make generalizations regarding the items in these groups to come up with a list of traits of both living and nonliving things.
We will also observe and record the differences between real and artificial plants using our five senses.
Students especially love observing a stuffed animal dog and comparing it to my four-legged friend over Skype!
Needs of Living Things: Students will refer back to what we learned while studying Pilgrims and Native Americans to review the basic needs of survival. We then continue our efforts from Language Arts to create inferences as we investigate the basic needs of living species. Students work in groups using books, magazines, pictures, videos, and websites to find different ways they see living organisms using shelter, food, water, and air.
These are just a few of the animal resources we tap into:
Students will record their findings on post-its that we will later transfer to a giant class chart.
Following our research, the students will work with a partner on a project that shows a living creature in their habitat and demonstrates how they use their environment to meet their needs. Students have a choice between creating a poster, poem, or video. I model this first for the students:
Students can also do this on Switchzoo (click on the pictures to follow the links) by creating a suitable habitat for the animal they choose...
...or by feeding the animals the right type of food:
In lieu of St.Patrick's Day, students will further investigate the needs of living things by growing 'hair' (rye seed grass) in a potato. First, they will practice following picture directions to set-up their plant:
Students will keep then track of their observations as they water their potato using a journal adapted from Teach 123.
Once their plant has grown, the students will compare the original seed with their grown plant with a partner using a Venn diagram:
In the Science and Social Studies center, students will combine what they are learning about in Social Studies re: the farm with living and non-living organisms in Science. Students will take turns picking up cards from the 'Fill the Farm' game from Kelly's Kindergarten. If the animal depicted on the card they picked up is a farm animal, they will place the card on their board. If not, they place the card in the discard pile. The first player to fill their farm with farm animals is the winner.
Cowboys, Ranch, Rodeo: This month in Social Studies, we do a wealth of research regarding cowboys, the ranch, and rodeo. Students watch videos, listen to poems and songs, read fiction and non-fiction books, and analyze a basket of pictures to gather information regarding the topics.
Before beginning our research, partners each receive a card with a piece of cowboy equipment on the front. Students discuss what the tool may be called and used for and will record their predictions on an i-touch.
Students will then use the resources to gather information regarding their particular tool.
Teams will explore authentic cowboy equipment too...
They will then record their findings by creating a new video on the i-touch and will share their information with the class.
Students will continue to use the resources throughout the unit to find out more about cowboys and their way of life. They will use a cowboy graphic organizer to keep track of their findings as they go along:
We then compile the information we learned by creating our own poems, books about fictional cowboys and true biographies about famous cowboys, a cowboy alphabet book, and labeled diagrams of cowboy clothes.
The video below has one of our favorite cowboy songs:
Rodeo Day: On the day before Spring Break, we celebrate all we have learned about cowboys by hosting a Kindergarten Rodeo! Students will dress up in their best Texan wear and will rotate between the following centers:
Boot Toss: Students try tossing 'bullets' (wooden cubes) in the boots from behind the line drawn in the 'quicksand'.
Hat Hoppin': Students roll a dice and jump the indicated number of spaces across a hat mat. They must roll the exact numbers they need to make it all of the way down the mat.
Students will also tell us the specified number of facts they know about cowboys as they roll the dice:
Hat Scramble: Students race to be the first team to arrange cowboy hats from largest to smallest and vice versa.
Cowboy Fashion Shoot: Students put on cowboy clothes and gear and pose for the camera!
Later, they get to take their picture home tacked to a Wanted Poster:
Cactus Craft: Students will glue tissue paper squares to a cactus die-cut to create a 'Texas flower'.
Bull Roping: Students will try to 'lasso' a bull (a giant bear with makeshift horns) with hula-hoops:
Digging for Gold: Students will dig for gold nuggets in a sand table.
Horse Relay: The Kindergartners will practice their galloping by racing down the Kindergarten hall!
Branding Cattle: Each Kindergartner will brand their classroom's butcher paper cow with their first initial.
Bandanna Relay: Students will race to transfer water between buckets by soaking and squeezing out a bandanna.
Roll a Cowboy: Teams will take turns rolling a dice to draw a cowboy. Players will draw the clothing on the cowboy indicated by the number on the dice.
When our cowboy is complete, students will label the cowboy and create a sentence to describe him.
Graphing Horses: Students will take turns scooping colored horses out of a water table and then graphing them by color on a giant chart.
Cowboy Picnic: When our rodeo morning is over, we eat outside together- just like real cowboys!
Farm: Students use the same type of research approach that we have used with cowboys to gather information about farms. We study the different ways farmers make income, the tools and equipment farmers use, the animals that live on the farms and their purposes, the types of farms, and the farmer's jobs on each one.
The students use books, websites, pictures, and videos to do their research. Here are a few links to our favorite resources:
Students will work in partners and will be responsible for researching a different type of farm. The class will then come back together and we will construct a non-fiction text with their findings. Students will dictate the information for their page and will then return to work with their partner to illustrate their words.
Farm to Market: After learning about the daily operations of farms, we will learn how food and produce is transported from the farm to the shelves of our supermarkets. Students continue researching this process as they create inferences and present to their classmates their findings (each team will research one farm and will present to the rest of the class what they learned. The audience will record what they learned from that group on the same graphic organizer and will check off at the bottom whether or not they kept their eyes on the speaker, listened, and were nice and quiet when that group was presenting):
Below are some of the videos we use for our research:
The website below has sample videos that, although brief, are compact with great information!
In the Science and Social Studies center, students will further explore this concept by putting together puzzles from Kelly's Kindergarten. They will match an item from the supermarket with the source it originated from on the farm.
Students also play a wonderful game from PBS where they help Arthur go grocery shopping by choosing healthy foods, familiarizing themselves with the different departments, and learning more about farm to market:
HEB Field Trip: We culminate our studies of the farm and market by taking a walking field trip to our neighborhood supermarket. We visit the different departments and play a variety of games to review where the food items originated from and how they arrived at the store, and how to practice healthy eating habits. Students even get to take home their own grocery bag of goodies and 'buddy bucks'!