Friday, December 30, 2011

Time to Shift Their Perspective

Although our mid-year doesn't technically begin until mid-January, I use our return from the holidays to shift my classroom's behavior perspective. I no longer call them "Kindergarteners", but instead they're "Almost First Graders".  When things start to get a bit tougher, like their reading and math assignments, I point to the sign and urge them to Get Ready For First Grade. I also go back to our reading charts from September and show them how much they've already accomplished. It's a long haul until Spring Break, and every bit of encouragement helps!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cereal Box Puzzles

This was so easy, and the kids tell me they're doing it at home! Have each child bring you an empty cereal box from home. You can get fellow teachers to donate some of theirs for those children who don't bring one. Cut off the front, then cut into "puzzle" pieces. Store in a plastic baggie. Keep the bags in a box for them to sort and pick from. (Hint: use a paper cutter instead of scissors. Much easier!)
Extra hint: later on you can re-cut the pieces into smaller sizes to increase difficulty!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quick and Easy Science Lesson - Static Electricity

All it took was a simple balloon. I rubbed it on one child's head (make sure child has fine, longish hair so that it'll stand up.) I left the balloon out for the kids to play with during center time, and almost every child in class took turns standing in the mirror and doing the trick!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quick and Easy Christmas Ornaments

We made these this year for our classroom tree, and to ultimately give to the parents. I would have loved to have put each child's photo in the middle of the trees (after glueing a backing on them), but the photos didn't come in on time.  Also, I used red ribbon to hang the trees after putting a gold star at the top. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recommended Site! TEACHER TIPSTER dot COM

The site blurb reads "Are you a new teacher just wondering where to start? A veteran teacher that just needs a spark? We've got what you need at!"

You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Website located here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Left vs Right

This sight has become a common occurrence in my room. When I tell someone to go in a particular direction (ex: "It's on your left.", "Put it on the right side of your paper."), they hold up their hands with their thumbs and forefingers held out. Why? Because the "L" hand is the LEFT hand!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Christmas Pickle

The last week before Christmas, we do a "Christmas Around the World" theme. We learned that Germany has a Christmas pickle tradition, so I took this a step further. Starting the first school day in December, I tell the class about the pickle, and tell them I will hide the pickle out in the open in the room. The first person to find it gets a treat. My class has been very enthusiastic about it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Candy Cane Patterns

A great way to review patterning is to have the children make candy canes! After reviewing the different kinds of patterns we've learned so far (AB, AAB, ABB, AABB), each child gets a sheet of construction paper with a single black line drawn on it (for them to follow.) They also get a strip of red and a strip of white construction paper. They tear the strips into small pieces and glue them onto the pattern (fine motor skills!). When they bring their finished work to me, I have them identify which pattern they used.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why Some Tools Work and Others Don't

I recently saw this math suggestion at another site, and my first reaction was, "COOL!". But then I realized this particular activity wasn't going to be worthwhile for my kids. Why?

First off, it has everything going for it. It has a seasonal touch. It emphasizes fine motor skills, plus one-to-one correspondence and counting. So what's wrong with it?

It has no verification. A child could put four buttons on that 7 snowman. And unless I'm able to catch his mistake, the child would learn nothing from doing this concept builder. And he would go happily on his way putting the wrong number of buttons on each snowman until he either tired of the game, or I rang the bell signaling an end to the session.

But there is a way to fix this!
1. Have the child work with a partner, preferably paired with an opposite. (Ex: strong with weak) That way the student with the stronger math skills can help correct errors as soon as they're made.

2. Have a fixed number of buttons. If there are, say, 5 snowmen to work with, and each snowman has a specified number of buttons to place on it, have that exact amount of total buttons in the bag. So if the child has to put 6 buttons on the last snowman, but there's only 3 left to use, he knows he miscounted somewhere and has to go back to find out where.

I'm very careful about using "open-ended" activities that don't provide a way to check/correct errors. If the students are supposed to get some good out of these cute centers, then there has to be some accountability to them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reaching the Wall Switch

Just had to share. Some of my Kinder kids are tiny. I mean shorter than a yardstick. Which means in many cases they can't reach the bathroom light switch. I solved that problem by keeping a ruler tied with a length of yarn and hanging it on the doorknob. So whenever one of my little ones needs to potty, they can turn on the light by themselves.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Poem

This is the month of December.
It's time for Santa Claus!
With jingle bells,
And Christmas trees,
And love for everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fun Fun Fridays!

We call Fridays FUN FUN FRIDAYS! Besides reading our readers backwards (excellent way to see if they can read the words instead of having memorized them), we do something totally unexpected.

Today, we spent all in-class time without our shoes.