Friday, April 29, 2011

Reading Rule - "Magic E"

I have few rules in learning to read, mainly because English is such a contradictary language. Other than my "2 vowels together", this is the only other major rule that I teach my Kindergarteners.

"Magic E on the end
Makes the vowel long."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reading Rule - "Two Vowels Together"

Our reading program, like other programs I've seen, emphasizes individual consonant "blends", such as "ee", "ea", etc.  Rather than try and teach my students each of these separate lessons, I combined them into one simple and easy rule.

"Two vowels together,
Forever and a day,
You make the first one long
And you throw the rest away."

Okay, so it's no Shakespeare, but I've found this simple rule has the children instantly recognizing when two vowels are side by side, and it gives them a guideline to help sound out and decipher the word. 

Best yet, this rule works for every category, including "ee", "ea", "oa", and many of the "vowel-y" words like "ay" and "ey".

And don't you agree that remembering this one general rule is better than trying to teach them four or more individually specific ones?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Graphing the Weather

We graph the weather every day as part of our "morning message" routine.  Before I show them the temperature, we look at the temp from the day before and estimate if today's will be hotter, the same as, or cooler.  And why.

Once we fill up a whole chart (see left), we'll graph it another way.  Since the last chart varied from the 50s to the 80s, we'll graph how many days were in the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, and the 80s.  Then compare which range had the most (A: 70s), the least (A: 50s), and what the difference was.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Egg Hunt

Today is Good Friday.  We have that holiday off as part of a long Easter weekend. 

Yesterday we had our Spring Egg Hunt.  Just for fun, rather than have the kids go running about with their baskets, I have the children line up on the sidewalk with their baskets.  When I say, "Go!", they run and grab 2 eggs (one in each hand) and hurry back to drop them in their baskets before heading out to find more.  Not only does it make the hunt last a little longer, but it gives the students some extra exercise.

Happy Easter, Everyone!  May the bunny leave you lots of goodies on your lawn!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Months of the Year" Song

After we do our calendar, we sing the "Months of the Year" Song.  Later in the school year I'll randomly pick a student to tell me what month comes after December, or before June (these little Q&A sessions are great time fillers for when you're waiting in line for something.)  Inevitably, you'll hear the student sing the song to himself in order to get the correct answer.

The "Months of the Year" Song
(Tune: "Ten Little Indians")

March and April
May, June, July, August
And September
And December
These are the months of year!

Monday, April 18, 2011

We're Studying Fish

So we made our own aquariums. 

You need:
- a paper plate
- green or brown construction paper
- a picture of a fish
- crayons
- glue

*To begin, they color their plate blue. 
*Next, color in "pebbles" at the bottom.
*I run off sheets of the fish (from clipart, I put 8 to a page), which they color and glue.
*Finish with "aquarium plants" they can cut free-hand from the construction paper and glue onto the plate.

They're very easy and fun to make!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sometimes Simple Things are the Easiest

One thing I've learned as a Kinder teacher is that simplest things are almost always the best solutions.  Take for instance getting a drink.  Most of the time the kids are lined up, panting and sweating from P.E. or recess, and inevitably one child will hog the fountain.  My solution:  have the children count off five seconds.  "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc."  By five, the child has had plenty of time to gulp down enough water to tide them over.  (If they want more, they can go to the end of the line and wait another turn.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Are You Smarter Than Paper?"

Nothing amps up my students' excitement and learning more than when I make a game out of the subject matter.  One of the most popular games we play is called "Are You Smarter Than Paper?" 

In short, I challenge my children and push them mentally in this fast-paced game, which is very easy.  AYSTP can be applied to any subject (science, Language Arts, etc.)  We use it for math.

<-- This is a typical half sheet of white tag.  It's called a Ten Frame (two rows of 5 blocks each).  I have many such "cards", each with a different number of blue and red dots. 

In the beginning, I flash them to see if they can see how many blue dots they see.  Then red dots.  Then no dots.  Next step is to see how many TOTAL dots they see (6 here).  Follow that by how many empty squares they see.

During the second half of the school year, the cards become math problems.  How many blue?  How many more do I need to have 5?  How many red?  What if I want just 1?

After a while, the questions come from out of nowhere, and the kids are frantically trying to best each other to call out the correct answer.  The possibilities are endless!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another QEC Fund Raiser

Have your students bring in their empty drink pouches.  Any brand will do.  Your school gets paid $.02 per pouch, which are made into purses and many other items.

To get more information and to sign up your own school, go to TerraCycle.

(QEC = Quick, Easy, and Cheap)

Friday, April 8, 2011

'Tis the Field Trip Season

With the spring, and with the end of school looming in the distance, at some point I think every elementary classroom will take a field trip.  Kinder, First, and Second usually stay in town and hit the zoo and city park.  Upper grades travel to places like Splash World or SeaWorld. (I envy 5th graders when they get to hit NASA and the Johnson Space Center in Houston.)

But sometimes we take a field trip in town during the fall to more "educational" places.  The nearby firehouse is very interesting, as also is a grocery store.  No, really.  Go in the back of a grocery store and see what goes one behind those double plastic swing doors.

Of course, the cheaper the "entry fee", the better the chance the trip will be approved.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ahhh... Naps

I hear from so many teachers about how their school districts are trying to do away with nap time by referring to it as "wasted educational time".  I'm sorry, but I wholly disagree with administrative opinion.

For one thing, they're not in the classroom day after day, and watching as the children's energy flags right after lunch.  After spending a good 5 hours already doing lots of reading and computer work, and writing and P.E. and lunch, and then recess, children need to be able to give their little batteries a boost, if only for 15-20 minutes!

I put my kids down around one o'clock.  Turn off the classroom lights, put on some gentle music, and in less than five minutes I can hear the snores.  Too many of my students don't have decent bedtimes.  And right after we get up, it's time for math, more reading, and then centers to finish the day.  That short quarter hour to catch a few ZZZs does wonders, and they can attack their afternoon studies with clearer heads.

Sleep studies have consistently proven that naps are needed to keep the brain from fading out.  On top of that, we're also talking about 5-year-old children here.  I've tried to eliminate nap time in past years, and by two o'clock there were kids falling asleep sitting up in their chairs.  Some get cranky/crying, and a few have even curled up in the playhouse center on their own and slept there.

Naps are crucial in Kindergarten, and that's my 2 cents on the matter.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Support Your School with Box Tops for Education

<--  See this little logo on the left?  It's called a Box Top for Education, and it's worth 10 cents to your school.  TEN CENTS.  Which means if you send in 10 of them, you've donated a $1 to your school toward educational supplies.

You can find these puppies on a ton of products.  Just look for them!  Snip them out, stuff in a sandwich bag, and when the bag is full, send it to school.  I give my students a sticker for their award chart whenever they bring me one.  And so far this year our school has earned over $500.  FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Quick!  Approximately how many box tops were collected?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Real vs Paper

Yes, I use worksheets, but I try to use the real thing whenever possible.  We're studying plants right now.  I think most schools are, now that spring is here.  There's always a wild batch of wildflowers somewhere around where we can pull our samples.  I gave each child a sheet of construction paper, and we glued our plants on them.  Allow to dry overnight.  The next day I wrote the words LEAVES, ROOTS, STEM, and PETALS on the board for them to copy, and they had to place the words in the correct areas.