Monday, February 28, 2011

Tricks to Get Them to Read

My kids love to read. Bless 'em.  But when I make games out of it, they go out for blood to "be the winner".

One way to keep the competition going is to have boys vs girls.  Read a page, read the next page.  Read a sentence, read the next sentence. 

Give them a page number and sentence number (Ex: page four, sentence two!), and see who can start reading it correctly first.

Say or spell a word.  See who can find it first in the book.

Throw a question at them.  See if they can find the answer in the book.

And on Fridays, just for something different, read it backwards!

Friday, February 25, 2011


 We're currently studying spring, which means the study of insects.  After singing our Insect Song (forthcoming), we took the time to make butterflies.

You'll need:
paints (we use watercolors)
coffee filters
pipe cleaners

Have each child paint their coffee filter.  The porous nature of the filter, along with the watercolors, gives a nice pastel effect.

Once the filter dries, take a pipe cleaner and shape into  U.  Twist a couple of time to make the "abdomen".

Scrunch the filter, pinching the center.

Put that center in the middle of the pipe cleaner and twist another couple of times.

"Bend" the remaining ends of the pipe cleaner to be the antenna.  Then unfold/straighten out the "wings" of the butterfly.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Classroom Pets

Meet Valentine. He's our current classroom pet.  I firmly believe in keeping pets in the classroom, although I've found that some are better suited to the environment than others.  For one thing, you want one who can be left alone over the weekend and not need daily feeding.  For another, it helps if the pet can be handled by the children (although it's not mandatory.) 

I've found the guinea pig to be the best overall, next to the rabbit.  I'd stay away from hamsters as they tend to be more nocturnal and less active during the day, and the kids love to watch their pet in action.  Gerbils like Valentine are fine as long as little fingers don't poke through the bars (gerbils will try to "taste" them to see if they're edible).  Also, the kids are eager to bring him treats like raw carrots and apples.

Of course, for week long vacations and holidays, you have to take the animal home with you.  Otherwise, this is a great opportunity for children to learn about other species other than dogs and cats.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Sentence Song

The Sentence Song
(sung to the tune of: "The Old Gray Mare")

You start a sentence (clap) with a capital
(clap) with a capital
(clap) with a capital
You start a sentence (clap) with a capital
And end it with a punctuation mark! (clap clap)

Friday, February 18, 2011

100th Day of School

We just celebrated our 100th Day of School (75 more to go! YES!).  If your school celebrates the momentous day, you're probably being inundated with ideas and suggestions for activities you can do with your students.  I'm not giving you a suggestion.  I'm giving you a helpful tip.

You're probably thinking about having the kids make their own 100 necklace.  Here's what I do to make this project easier.

The majority of Kinders can't count out 100 cereal rings by themselves.  So I've made a "mat" of 10 circles that they can put 10 rings on each one.  (Great opportunity to reinforce counting by 10s!)

Then you give them a "needle" with their yard of yarn string.  We all know what happens when little fingers try to shove yarn through a little hole.  The whole thing becomes a massive frayed and tangled mess.  But take a paper clip, unbend it, and show them how to thread the yarn through the cereal holes, and it becomes "easy schmeasy"!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sticker Award Charts

One thing I've learned after years of spending my hard-earned money on classroom materials is how to cut corners.

I award stickers to my students for several things:
*good behavior
*homework turned in on time
*good manners
*random acts of kindness
*anything I feel that merits

Instead of buying pre-made charts (which you can do), I made a template and run my charts on used tag or cover stock that are blank on one side.  I use stamps this year to add "flavor", but in the past I've also let the child cut a picture out of a magazine and glue it on.  Or draw a picture. 

Basically, the only thing I've bought are the stickers themselves, and again the dollar discount stores allow you to buy a gazillion itty-bitty stickers relatively cheap.  Also, don't forget that stores discount their seasonal/holiday stickers right after the holiday, so you can stock up for the following year.

Oh!  And once a child fills their sticker chart?  I have a box of toys/suckers/balloons/goodies where they can pick their prize.  And then I put up a new chart so they can start all over again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

We made Valentine windsocks as our art project.  Very easy.  You need a toilet paper tube (or cut a paper towel tube in two), crayons or markers, hearts printed off on different colored paper, and crepe paper rolls for the streamers.  I hole-punched two holes in the top and strung yarn to hang them.

A fellow teacher did little Valentine men.  Again, a very easy project, and the children work on their fine motor cutting and folding skills.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Puzzle boxes falling apart?

I love dollar stores. I found these nice-sized clear plastic containers with EASY OPENING LIDS and clear tops.  Taking my puzzles that were still intact (but with the cardboard boxes falling to pieces), I transferred the puzzle pieces to a container and taped the completed picture from the old lid to the new lid.  Not only has this helped, but the containers are easily stackable, too.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Many Words Can You Find in "Valentine"?

Remember when your teacher would write a word on the board (or you'd be given a worksheet with one long word or title on it), and you had 5 minutes to see how many words you could make out of it?

Kindergarten can do it, too, but you have to adjust a few things.  First off, do it as a class.

Because of the season, I used "Valentine", but I first did it using the phrase "Merry Christmas".  But this is a perfect way for them to work on their letter formation skills, how to start next to the red margin in their journals, and to stay on the line.  You're going to have a few children spot words they can spell.  You'll also have children spell words they think are correct, but aren't real words (ex: "lite" for "light".)

Of course, once they get stuck, you can find a few more to add to their list.  Be sure to use this Teachable Moment to explain what the words mean.

Above are 3 examples of my students' work.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rhyming Words in Pictures

This will take a bit of time for your class to find their pair, but all they have to do is find two pictures that rhyme.  (Provide them with some of those gajillion catalogs you saved from the holidays.)  Cut and glue to their journals (spiral notebooks), and then write the words on the pictures.  Of course, this is 7 months into the school year.  I'd never do something like this until I was certain the kids had a firm grasp of what rhyming words sound like.  Plus this is a higher order learning/thinking skill.

Be careful.  You will have some children who will do the "beginning letter" sounds, and end up with a boy and a ball as their pair.  And remember, if a child tells you they don't know how to spell a word, have them sound it out and write what they hear.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kinder Song - "The Days of the Week"

The "Days of the Week" Song
(Tune: BINGO)

In every week there's 7 days
And we all know their name-o
and Saturday is last.

(Sometimes we like to sing it backwards just for fun.)

In every week there's 7 days
And we all know their name-o
and Sunday is the first!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ceiling Hanglers - A Great Product

I use Ceiling Hanglers to put my students' work up.  These are neat for two reasons:  the length of string is adjustable to where you can put the stuff up just low enough to where you can reach it (but the kids can't), and the clip part slips easily over the metal runners between the tiles.

I got mine here at Really Good Stuff, which I highly recommend.