Language Arts:
This month, we will begin to read for different purposes (to inform, to be entertained, and to follow directions).  As we read together, we will learn how to self-monitor our comprehension of the text.  One way we do this is by making 'connections' to help us better understand the story structure.  This is done by relating what is happening in the text to what we have learned in the past or our own personal experiences.  Once students have the hang of this, they will practice making and recording their connections independently at the listening center:


Students will also learn how and when to self-correct when reading.  We teach students to use the 'Three Cueing System':  meaning (does it make sense?), structure (does it sound right?), and visual (does it look right?).

Another strategy that students will use to deepen their understanding of text is by creating 'visualizations' or 'mental images' while reading.  I tell the students the author's words are the 'paint' we use to make 'brain pictures' as we read.   One way we do this is by reading a text without illustrations and pausing frequently to create pictures for the words on post-its, or by reading a story without looking at the illustrations and then later comparing what we drew with what the actual illustrations were.  We also discuss how although our illustrations all share common components (the same shapes and colors), our pictures are still unique because of our own 'schema', or personal experiences that we bring to a text while reading.  For instance, when an author says he went to the 'beach', some of us may think of a bright blue ocean in a tropical location while others of us have an image of the brown, muddy waters of Galveston in our minds.  I ask students questions such as "Why did you color the dog brown instead of white [if the author said the dog was the same shade as the bark on a trree trunk]?", or "Would it make sense to draw snow in the background [if the author said it 'was a beautiful summer day]?"  In this way, the students are learning to pair an author's words with a specific message.  This skill will then inversely lend itself to helping students create appropriate illustrations- pictures that match their written message- when they are creating their own writing pieces.  The picture below shows an example of the images students created when reading "Yankee Doodle".

We will also continue to work with patterned texts.  We compare the Bill Martin Jr. stories with the "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" pattern and then begin to create patterned books of our own.

After reading the patterned text, "Hands Can", we make our own class book by writing about what our hands can do, and we culminate the activity by making a welcome poster for open house.

As we work with patterned texts, we also read stories with similar story structures.  These texts help support students while they are retelling the events and help them to recognize specific elements (i.e., recurring characters, different settings, etc.). The Laura Numeroff's "If you give a _____ a _____" books are excellent for these activities as well as our class' favorite pigeon series by Mo Willems:

Mo Willems released an app!  Click on the following picture to read the article at USA Today:


For more fun, click on the links (pictures) to visit Mo Willem's websites:
Mo Willems dot com

Be sure to check out the Youtube readings of the Pigeon books too:



-initial letter/sounds
-environmental print


This month our class will begin to collect and look for different places we see writing.  Students will bring in examples from home and we will go on a scavenger hunt around our school.  The purpose of this activity is for students to recognize that writing contains a message and its uses are relevant to their own lives.  Some examples we look at are: party invitations, grocery lists, missing pet posters, comic strips, cards, grocery lists, billboards, store ads, coupons, job listings, receipts, server notebooks, postcards, recipes, labels on food products, street signs, directions in games/toys/appliances, and so on. 

We also keep track of our findings on an on-going class list.

Speaking of lists, we will continue to make lists and labels this month. 

Another type of list students will be creating is a list of possible topics they can write about.  We do this as a class too, and then I model making a list of topics that are personal to me and students will do the same.  We will keep these in our Writer's Workshop folder and will refer to them when we need an idea for a writing piece.  

Students will also begin creating their personal narratives in Writer's Workshop.  They will pull ideas from their topic lists and will use what they have learned about visualizations, illustrations, and labels to begin creating their stories.  We use the following texts to help us learn how to tell a story with our pictures and add details to our illustrations before we practice the same skills later in the year with our words/text:

Students will later pair words with their drawing to support the reader's understanding of their message. 
Because we are practicing applying initial sounds/letters to decode text while reading, we will simultaneously work on this skill in writing.  Students will be expected to write down the first sounds/letters they hear in words while writing and, for those who are ready to do so, accurately write the sight words that they have been working on in their reading group.  

We will also practice writing a word or symbol for each word that the student orally says when reading their writing aloud.  For instance, if a student says that their page says, "Mom is in the garden", we will orally count the number of words in the sentence (5).  I will then write 5 blanks on their page for them to write a word in each space.  We will do the same activity for writing individual words to help them hear the different number of sounds.

Below are some examples of some student created narratives:

"The First Time I saw Rain": 

"One day I looked outside and I saw rain":

"In minute I went back.  I saw sun."

"Monster Fighting Trucks"

"Monday I saw monster on my TV."

"I went to the monster show."

"And I saw a cool monster truck that did a flip."

"And I even saw a big monster truck."

After consuming a variety of patterned texts in reading, students will begin to create their own in Writer's Workshop.  I will first model this for the students, and as we revise or add to it together, I will use a different color marker so that students can visualize the changes we have made to the text:  

Students will then create their own patterned text pieces:

"I Can Do Karate"

"I can do karate on the TV"

"And I can do karate"

"I can do karate staring in eyes."

"I can not do karate" (the picture is of author sleeping in his bed).


Writing Center:  August and September have the same word wall that emphasizes the school locations and authority figures we are learning about in Social Studies.


September additions to this center include a "Cookie Monster" letter/sound identification game from Kelly's Kindergarten (  Students take turns pulling a cookie with a letter on it from the cookie jar.  If they can say the letters name and make the sound on the cookie, they get to keep the card.  When a player pulls out a card with the Cookie Monster on it, students count the cards in their pile and whoever has the most wins.

Students can also practice linking beginning sounds to letters this month by pairing magnetic letters to the corresponding pictures on the palm trees (this activity coincides with our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom read aloud this month):

Students practice matching upper and lowercase letters by sticking a magnetic worm with a lowercase letter to the matching uppercase letter on the apple tree.

For students who are working on their names, they can match plastic letters to their name on a sentence strip, and then practice writing it on a white board. 

After working on building their name, students can also play name BINGO.  Students will pull a name card and will place their bingo chip on the corresponding picture on their bingo card.   I keep an answer key with the game in case students are stuck with a name.  As students begin to recognize their own name and those of their classmates, they are simultaneously building their letter-sound knowledge.

Students can also practice sorts for letter identification, names, or sight words.  First, they choose a sort card and sorts the letters accordingly.  If they are sorting letters in and not in their name or sight words, they pull one of the sight word cards or their name card and place it at the top of one of the hoops.  They place the letters that are in that word/name in the hoop with the card, while the other letters go in the other hoop.  If students are working on letter identification, they will sort letters according to their features (i.e., with curves or lines, upper or lowercase, etc.).

Students who are already proficient with recognizing letters and producing their sounds can begin building words at the ABC Center this month.  They will use mats from: where they will trace sight words, build them with magnetic letters, and write them with an expo marker.  They will also practicing reading and writing sentences with the words:

Students who are ready to begin building sentences can practice clipping word card pictures of their choice to a sentence strip that focuses on a particular sight word.  After building a sentence and reading it aloud, the students will copy and illustrate it in their Language Arts journal:

Library;   At the library center this month, students will practice identifying the titles and authors of books by recording them in their journal after reading.  The following poster is kept at the center to help support students with this task:

Retelling:  This month students can retell the books we've become familiar with as a class:  Hands Can, Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, or Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  

Students retelling Hands Can first sequence the cards that have pictures of objects the hands used in the books.  The students then use the hand props to act out the story on the cards (for instance, by putting the hands on the picture of the child's face to show "Hands can play peek-a-boo").

Students can retell Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom by placing magnetic letters on a palm tree sticky-tacked to a cookie sheet.

Students can retell Brown Bear by making a bracelet.  They place beads on a pipe cleaner in order according to the color sequence of the animals in the book.  Once they have made their bracelet, they can retell the story by pushing one bead at a time and describing the corresponding animal.

Upon reading My Mouth is a Volcano as we learn about social skills, the class will also discuss the beginning, middle, and end of the story.  Students will work in partners and will illustrate the events that they believe occurred at the beginning, middle, and end of the story on index cards, and their partner will practice putting them back in order.  Students can then use these cards at the retelling center for the remainder of the month:

Read and Find:  This month's poem, School Friends, is sung to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb".  Students can change the name cards in the poem that have a picture of their 'school friend' attached to it.  If they change the card from a boy student to a girl student, they also have to change the 'him/her' card (which is supported by a picture).  They then can practice changing the 'starts/ends' cards to determine whether they will be finding the letter that the students' names start or end with.  Last but not least, they will place the corresponding letter in the chart.

Students can also read the "I Like" poem at the Read and Find Center this month, using Environmental Print logos.  Environmental print is text that students can 'read' by recognizing it in their environment- stop signs, names of favorite foods, restaurants, toys, etc.  This text is especially useful for helping students to feel confident that they have the capability to 'read' and to use to begin honing in on specific letters, sounds, etc. Since the text already has meaning to them, the children realize that something abstract (the text) represents something concrete (real) in their lives. Students will change the logo cards in the pocket chart to create and read new sentences:

Students who are working on letter recognition will hunt around the room for words that begin with the letters in the word 'pencil':

They can also find words with various letters inside of them and circle where they found them in the words:

Students working on recognizing the number of letters inside a word (or differentiating letters from words) can go around the room hunting for words that have 1-6 letters.  After finding the words, they will record them in the appropriate row on a recording sheet:

Last but not least, for the students who are read to begin writing words, students can go around the room and attempt to write the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words for the pictures they find around the room.  The boxes on the recording sheet help give the students a little added support in determining which letter to write- they allow students to self-correct by ensuring that the letter they wrote fits into the shape of the box it sits in:

Housekeeping/Dramatic Play:  Correlating with our authority figures Social Studies unit, the students will use the National Geographic interactive mats to create stories with authority figures from their home.  The figurines that come with these kits are great because they have the word for each object/person/place in the house written on them.   Students can then copy these words in their journals to record the work they have done at the center, and can practice 'reading' the labels as they share with the class the work they did at their center (students can even draw themselves on a wipe-off figurine!):

Art:  At art center, students will decorate with foam stickers a frame of their First Day of School picture.  This could be done by having the students practice patterns, but I just let the students create whatever design they with.

Students also have a variety of materials to choose from to trace their names at the Art Center this month (this activity helps students with both name recognition/building and developing fine motor skills):

September Books:

Alphabet Books:

Alphabet Songs:

Counting Books:


In September, students will develop their understanding of 'one to one correspondence' in math as well as reading (one spoken word or one number relates specifically to one written word or object).  Developing this skill will help students to count one object at a time.  In order to make this abstract concept more concrete, we practice by lining ourselves up and naming one student at a time.  We also do this with stuffed animals and colored tiles.  

As we count, another skill we work on is lining up objects in rows and pushing the objects away from the group as we count to make sure we don't count the same objects more than once.   

***Watch the video below to see what this would look like:

Students will also practice 'building numbers' numbers to five.  This means representing the number with a variety of objects, drawings, or symbols.  

Additionally, students will learn how to use positional vocabulary to refer to where objects are located.  We use the following books to re-enact the vocabulary and internalize the concept of spatial awareness: 

We will also continue to practice sorting objects by their attributes and creating more complex patterns.  Problem solving will be incorporated into the various concepts that we are learning.

Counting Videos:

Length:  As students learn about length this month, we will begin by using the words "longer", "shorter", and "equal" to compare the relative length among groups of objects.  In order to make this concept relevant for the students and to tie what we are learning to Language Arts, the students will begin by comparing the length of their names.  We will first begin by reading Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes- the story of a little girl who learns to love the length and uniqueness of her name:

Following the story, students will build a train with unifix cubes, adding one cube for each letter in their name.  Students will check off one letter at a time from their name written on an index card as they add cubes to their train:

Students who need a little extra support will use a pre-counted bag of cubes with the letters already written on them, and will build a train by snapping the letters in the right order:

After students have built their names, they will travel around the room searching for a partner whose name is longer, shorter, and equal to the length of their own name.  They will compare their trains, and their partner will write their name on their recording sheet:

Later in the month as we work with non-standard units, we try to make what we have been learning in Social Studies come alive for the students by having them compare the length of the wingspan of a Bald Eagle with the length of a Kindergartner's arms' span.  We first place a piece of yarn equal to a Bald Eagle's wingspan on the floor and the students predict whether or not their arm span will be equal to, longer than, or shorter than the wingspan of a Bald Eagle.  Next, we practice lining up our arms with the yarn by making sure they both start at a pencil we place on the floor to test out our predictions (we talk about just as how it isn't fair to start a race with one person in front of the starting line and the other person behind, we need to line up our starting points as we measure).  Following the measurements, the students place 'longer', 'shorter', or 'equal' labels next to the classmates that they measured:  

Next, the students  measure to see how many Kindergartners' arm spans are equal to the length of a Bald Eagle's wingspan.      

Following the measurements, we discuss why some groups had more/less Kindergartners equal the length of a Bald Eagle's wings (some students have longer/shorter arms).  Based on this information, we predict whether or not it would take/more less adults to do the same thing and why.  Students will extend what they have learned to think of something else in the real world that would be equal to the length of a Bald Eagle's wings.

Later, in an independent center, students will practice comparing the length of school supplies.  Following the measurements,they will practice using length vocabulary and speaking in complete sentences by placing pictures of the items they measured in the appropriate places on sentence strips.  The students who are able will also copy and illustrate the sentences in their journals:

Shapes:  As we begin to learn about objects' attributes in Science, we will extend this learning in math as we learn about 2D and 3D shapes.  The students will first be given baskets of different objects that are all the same shape (i.e., a marker, gluestick, straw, etc.), and will work in groups to discuss what their shapes have in common.  

They will discuss the features, and then I will introduce the new academic vocabulary that we will use to describe the shapes (edges, faces, vertices, round, flat, solid, etc.).  The students will then trace their shapes with playdoh to help them keep track of the number of vertices, edges, etc. that the shapes in their baskets have.  They will share their findings to the class and we will record them on a class anchor chart that we will refer back to throughout the year (to see more of the shapes activities that we will work on throughout the year, please see our January page):

Estimation Jar:  this month's estimation jar is filled with 'Smarties' to celebrate all of the smarties in our class :)

Students will continue exploring a variety of manipulatives this month while they will begin to work at the following math centers:

Number sense:  Students will practice number sense to 5 by playing "Hi-Ho Cherry-o" (although we call the cherries apples in lieu of the season). 

Students will extend this activity in a math center by creating their own apples book using their fingerprints (this book was a great find from:

Making Sets:  Students will practice making sets to 5 by first placing buses with numbers 1-5 on them in order and then placing the corresponding number of their classmates' photos on each bus.

The numeral on the bus is paired with that same number of dots to support students who still do not recognize the numbers.

Numeral Writing:   Students will use Wikki Stix ( to trace the numbers on cards and will then practice writing them on a whiteboard.  

Patterns:  Students will use a variety of manipulatives to copy, extend, and create their own patterns.  For students who need extra support, I use the following sheets for students to match the actual unifix cubes to the sheet before creating their own.  We start with 'AB' (2 member or 2 part patterns) and then move up from there, adding more members and different movements, manipulatives, designs, colors, and sounds.

As the students begin to create their own patterns with the cubes, they will keep track of them by coloring them on a recording sheet.  (The following example is from Math Their Way):

Sorting:  students will practice open-ended sorts with the variety of materials that they will be exploring this month.  This includes using 'junik boxes' that our class creates by students adding materials to that they have brought from home. The students will decide which attributes to sort by and will specify attributes for their classmates to sort by.  When we share out how students sorted the materials during our reflections, we will keep track of the students' sorting categories and add them to the center box for their classmates to use as sorting categories the next time they visit the center.  The students can also use the different categories to build on each other (for instance, first sort by color, then use the same objects to sort into a pile of objects with holes and those with no holes, then use the same objects to sort by texture, and so on and so forth).  As we learn about the 5 senses in Science, it makes our sorts even more interesting and complex.  

In order to simultaneously build students fine motor skills (which students need to correctly hold a pencil, use scissors, etc.), I require that students take the objects they are going to sort out of the box by using tweezers, pliers, or chopsticks.  

Students can further sharpen their sorting according to attributes skills by using the following interactive board from National Geographic at the Science and Social Studies Center:

Blocks:  Students can practice building the locations around our school we have been learning about in Social Studies.


Five Senses:  we will continue to learn about the 5 senses in a variety of ways.  

We love to sing Dr. Jean's Five Senses song:


At the Science and Social Studies center, students will play the AIMS ( 'Feel and Find' game where they use only their sense of touch to determine the shapes they pull out of a bag while blindfolded.

Students also exercise their sense of sight by playing "I Spy", matching foam cutouts of objects to where they  find them in a giant picture.

Using their sense of touch, students sort objects on top of an object on the texture chart that feels the same.  They will then use the chart to complete the sentence stem in their Science journal to record their observations.

Properties and Attributes:  Going hand in hand with our 5 senses unit, we will begin to learn how to describe and compare objects' attributes (size, weight, mass, color, shape, length, etc.).  

Students will reflect in their journals as they learn about the new concepts and vocabulary.

They will then use their journals and the Science Word Wall with the new attribute vocabulary that they learned to record their observations of objects they use in the Science center.

This journal entry shows the rocks that the student observed on a balance scale, and the student wrote labels of "heavy" and "light" beside the rocks on the scale.

Mass and Weight:  Our Kindergartners are already beginning to learn how to use balance scales to compare the attributes of mass and weight of various objects.  They are also introduced to the vocabulary:  mass, weight, lighter than, and heavier than.  Although students are not required to have an in depth understanding of mass and weight at this point in their educational career, we still do introduce the terms and briefly explain to them that weight is how heavy something is and mass is how much 'stuff' something has inside of it.  We look at several different objects that are the same size (a baseball and a tennis ball, for example) and we predict which one will be heavier.  Then we hold the objects and use the scale to get a better understanding of which one actually is heavier and we compare this to our predictions.  Next, we cut the objects in half and look inside to get a better understanding of why one felt heavier- it had more 'stuff' inside.  Students are sometimes surprised to see which object actually feels lighter because we tend to think that 'bigger' automatically means 'heavier'.

In an independent center, the students will practice comparing weight by determining which objects are lighter/heavier- 3 cubes or 5 paper clips, for example.  The students will keep track of their results by circling which group of objects was heavier on a recording sheet:

Colors:  As we continue to learn about objects' attributes, we take a special look at colors.   

We experiment to find out how colors are made by mixing paint, markers, and color jars (we use baby food jars filled with water dyed with food coloring in the primary colors and students place them in front of each other and look through two at a time to see what new colors they can make).

We also practice carrying out investigations by predicting what will happen when we mix food coloring, milk, and laundry detergent.

First, we place drops of  food coloring in a petri dish filled will milk.

Next, we add a drop of laundry detergent to the middle of the dish.

We were amazed to find that without mixing the colors, they move into a tie-dye pattern!

To do this same experiment at home, you can click on the following link (the site has an extensive scientific explanation of what is happening as the colors collide that your Kindergarten will not need to know or understand, but the directions to carrying out the experiment are there.  Your child will simply be predicting, exploring, and recording their observations):

Rainbow Colors:  The students will also learn that rainbows have their own, specific color pattern.  To begin, we will experiment making rainbows with sunlight and prisms.

We will then watch the Rainbow Song video and partners can come up with their own rainbow songs and record them on the class i-touches.

Next, we will make the following rainbow book together as a class (students will work with a partner to come up with something that is their color of the rainbow and will illustrate their page):

We also use the following books as we complete our color and rainbow investigations:


The students will further explore colors  at the Science and Social Studies center by using the National Geographic poem to act out color scenarios with a partner, and by building, reading, and writing color sentences (taken from:  BB Kidz) at the Math Center:

Heating and Cooling:  Students will also observe how an object's attributes can change through conducting heating and cooling investigations.  

We begin by discussing what we already know about temperature, and we will sort scenario picture cards into 'hot' and 'cold' categories.

We will then predict and observe what will happen to various objects as we expose them to heat and freezing temperatures.  We will take chocolate outside and watch it melt and place liquid 'Boilie's' in the freezer and watch them turn into frozen popsicles.

Social Studies:

Social Skills:  In September, we will continue working on our social skills through the Project Class curriculum.  

Authority Figures:  We also dedicate this month to becoming acquainted with the authority figures in our home and school.  Students will be responsible for learning to refer to school personnel and locations using academic vocabulary such as nurse, counselor, principal, librarian, etc., and to know what their job's function is for the students at our school.  

After reading, If You Take a Mouse to School, we create our own class mascot  with a stuffed animal ("Petunia the Pig", for example) and take it along with us on a tour of the school. We introduce ourselves to the different authority figures and familiarize ourselves with the various locations on our campus.  When we return to class, we write our own class book from our class mascot's perspective using the same story structure of the mouse book ("If You take Petunia the Pig to Terrace Elementary", for example). 

Later, we play a game where students try to determine which authority figure would be the most appropriate for helping in a specific situation.  Students will match a description of the situation to a picture of the appropriate authority figure.  For example, if our grandma passes away and we are sad, we can go to our school counselor.  


We spend quite a bit of time discussing what rules these authority figures put in place for us and how they help protect us and help us to enjoy our time at home and school.  This study is extended to include bus, fire, and personal safety.

Mrs. Blanco, our principal

Mrs. Martinez, our assistant principal

Mrs. Neumann, our school secretary

Mrs. Vallejo, our attendance clerk

Mrs. Stephenson, our school counselor

Mrs. Boughter, our librarian

After learning about the different authority figures, the students and I will pose different scenarios to the class, such as, "There is a new student lost in the school", and the students will choose a necklace with who they feel would be the appropriate authority figure to help in the given situation.  They will then put on the necklace and will role-play what they think that figure would do.  This activity will later be moved to our Dramatic Play/Housekeeping center.

U.S. Symbols:  As we complete our study of authority figures, rules, and safety, it makes for a smooth transition into our U.S. symbols unit.  We begin our study of U.S. symbols by discussing symbols that we are already familiar with- the McDonalds logo, the dollar bill, the Cheetos tiger, a smiley face, etc.  Using symbols students are already familiar with, it is easier for them to understand what it means when we say that a symbol is a picture or object that stands for or means something.  When we see a smiley face we think happiness, a dollar bill means money, the golden arches translates to a restaurant with cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets, etc.  

I will then give the class variety of media and literary resources to explore U.S. symbols and we then come together to compile the information we gathered and share out the predictions we have.  As we further our investigations throughout the unit, we will also begin our discussions of past and present.  

U.S. Flag:  We will first observe our flag and share out what we notice.  Our class then creates a list of other objects that share the same colors as those in our flag.

I will then share background information with the students about the flag and the students will build it together as we discuss the different components (pairs of students have a piece of the flag- a stripe or portion of the stars- and we tape the pieces together on our flag chart).  

In order to help students learn the vocabulary associated with the colors and to make the symbol of the flag more meaningful to them, after we discuss the terms: justice, valor, and purity, the students illustrate an example of when they have been just, brave, or pure and share their connections with their neighbors.

 Next, the students will glue their examples to the color associated with those words on our giant class flag:

Students love watching the following video about "Old Glory" to help them learn more about her history:

Enjoy these pictures of the students in action while doing their research:

Pledge:  Our class reads the following books to gain a deeper understanding of why we say the pledge and what it means to us:

Bald Eagle: Students work in partners using National Geographic magazines to make inferences regarding what they believe they see in the photos (i.e., Bald Eagles are gray when they are born, their nests are large and are kept in high places, etc.).  Partners will then record their inferences on sticky notes to be added to a class chart and will share out their findings with the class.  Our class will continue to watch videos and read about the Bald Eagle together and, as we learn new information, we will continue to add it to our chart.   

We also discuss why America chose the Bald Eagle as a symbol for our nation, and we discuss the vocabulary:  freedom, courage, and strength.  In order to help the students have a deeper understanding of these terms, the students find examples from the research they did that proves that Eagle is free, courageous, and strong.  One student, for example, reasoned that because the baby eagles learn to fly by being dropped by their mothers from high heights, they are 'courageous' because they have to face their fears even when they are afraid.  Learning to orally justify their reasoning by using proof from a given text is a high order thinking skill that will help our Kindergartners connect to texts in meaningful ways.  They will also illustrate the examples they found in the text and attach them to a class anchor chart that we will refer back to throughout our unit:

Check out the videos below our class watched to see baby eagles hatching!

You can also watch a live camera over a Bald Eagle's nest in Iowa:

Also, be sure to visit Liberty the Bald Eagle at the Houston Zoo:

Statue of Liberty:  Our class will learn about the Statue of Liberty in much the same way as we learn about the Bald Eagle.  One of our favorite resources is the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation, where you can even catch a glimpse from a camera inside Lady Liberty's torch:

As students learn in Language Arts to monitor their comprehension as they read or listen to a text, the class will apply this strategy as they watch a Brainpop Jr. video re: the Statue of Liberty.  The students will work in small groups, and will work together to find the answer to a question about a specific part of the statue.  In order to ensure that each member of the group is participating and contributing to the group, the students are given specific jobs (speaker, writer, illustrator, technology manager, and social skills manager).  I rotate these jobs for the different projects the students take on to ensure they all have the opportunity to take on the different roles. When the students have completed their research, the speaker will present their groups' findings to the class, and we will attach the students' work to a class anchor chart (the sentence strip on the bottom of the chart is used for students to orally reflect on their learning following the lesson):

As the groups present, the students in the audience hold themselves accountable by recording what they learned from the other groups on a graphic organizer of the statue from Brainpop Jr.:

Liberty Bell:  Our class visits the National Park Service website to learn about the different materials the liberty bell is made of and to hear sound recordings of what the bell sounded like before and after it was broken:  

We also watch a video of another Kindergarten class ringing a replica bell:

The students continue to monitor their comprehension while researching the Liberty Bell using the same process as outlined for the Statue of Liberty above.  Students will watch a clip from the "Wilson and Ditch Digging America" Philadelphia episode from PBS, and will then compile their research to build the following chart together:

Constitution:  After learning about rules and the purpose of rules in our authority figures unit and about the creation of the Liberty Bell, students are able to have a little more clear idea of what our Constitution is.  We make our own class Constitution and students sign it as I ring a 'mini' Liberty Bell.

America the Beautiful:  Our class also learns that songs can be symbols too!  We learn about Katharine Lee Bates, the author of America the Beautiful, 

and watch the following video, pausing it intermittently to discuss the vocabulary in the song:

After adding sign language to the song, students work with a partner to add their own illustrations to the lyrics we put together in a class book.  We then use our book and sign language as we sing the song during our morning announcements.

Yankee Doodle:  We also have a blast making our own Yankee Doodle hats and singing along to the song.

President: We learn about the President and the First Family (and the first dog too!) and simulate our own voting both in class and compare the results to the national election.

White House:  One of the students' favorite parts about U.S. symbols is having the opportunity to go on a virtual tour of the White House.  We learn that the President even has his own movie theater and bowling alley!  Click on the links below to go on the tour:

As students research the different rooms in the White House, they work in groups and present to the class the facts they found.  We then compile their research on a class chart that we refer back to in order to help them build their vocabulary and organize their learning (we also use this map to review the map skills students have been learning through questioning and replicating the floor plan at our blocks center):

U.S. Symbols Book:  As students are learning about the symbols, we follow up the lessons with extensions that help the students make the concepts more relevant to them.  Students will create a symbols book as they learn that they take home following the unit:

Students will use what they are learning in Language Arts re: creating mental images to illustrate the words to America the Beautiful, Yankee Doodle, and the Pledge as they are read aloud to them.  They will also practice CAP (concept about print) skills by tracking the words with a pointer as we read them, locating capital/lowercase letters and sight words, and counting letters/words:

After learning about the "America the Beautiful" song, students will label and illustrate on a U.S. map what they think makes their America beautiful:

Students will locate and color our state of Texas on a U.S. map:

For morning activities, after students have learned about a symbol, they will illustrate it in their symbols book (students also use the props in the pictures to 'dress up' as the symbols at the Dramatic Play center):

After learning about the U.S. flag, the students will create a flag with a symbol that represents themselves:

Students also create their own symbol for America using a simile:

After learning about the White House, students create the room they would add to the House if they become president:

Students also use what we have been learning about flat shapes and their attributes to create a portrait of President Obama with construction paper:

BINGO:  After students are familiar with the symbols, we play a symbols bingo game that is later transferred to a center.  One student will draw a symbol card and, without showing it to the players, will orally describe it to the other students.  Students need to then apply their listening skills and their knowledge of the symbols to decipher which symbol is being described.  For instance a student may say, "This symbol is a strong bird that represents the strength and bravery of the United States.  It can soar anywhere it wants to and this stands for the freedom we have in America."  The other students would then place a bingo marker on the bald eagle space if they have on their board.

Maps:  As we learn about our country and what it means to be an American through our symbols unit, it gives us the perfect opportunity to intertwine an introduction to map skills.  Students begin by simply looking at different types of maps with a partner.  The students brainstorm what they think the map is used for based on what they see, and we share out these predictions with the class:

Next, we read one of our favorite books, Me on the Map:

Following our reading of the book, the class and I create a key together for creating a map of our bedrooms:

The students will then use this key to create a map of their own bedroom:

The students will continue to refine their map skills by creating maps in our blocks center with actual blocks and by exploring Google Sketchup software.

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