Friday, 25 January 2013

Water, water, everywhere and a FREEBIE

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This week our theme was water.  We had a special Scientist in the School Day.  Scientist in the School is a program which sparks students interest in Science and Technology through hands on exploration and inquiry.    "Scientist" guests present workshops at the school and focus on expectations from the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum.  Our focus was, yup, you guessed it-water, and because everything was hands-on, the students had a blast!  The students rotated through four centers, exploring and experimenting.  

At the first center, they were learning about water flow.

At another center they were learning about absorption.  The students used their droppers to put water on various surfaces such as sponges, towels, plastic, paper and wax paper and then described their findings.  They were able to explore and see the materials that 'sucked up' the water as they put it, or absorbed it, and those materials that let the water run off it.  They also made their own wax paper.

They made a sail boat and experimented with different forces to try to make the boat move (for example, the wind by blowing the boat).

They also experimented with sinking and floating.  The kiddos made predictions based on the properties of what they were experimenting with, and then tested their predictions.  They sorted their objects into the proper category of Sink or Float and filled out a follow-up worksheet.  

This all tied in very nicely with our focus on water in the class.  We talked about melting and freezing and did our own experiments in the classroom.  We put our snow in a jar on the counter and observed it all day.  We  then recorded our findings.  I forgot to take a picture! Ah!  This activity is from my Winter Fun unit!

We did some choral reading and reviewed our sight-words.  We talked about who needs water and all the ways in which we use water. 

 We learned about the Water cycle and different types of precipitation.

Our Scientist guest taught us this little song (to the tune of Frere Jacques), about the water cycle:
Evaporation, Evaporation
Up the water goes, Up the water goes
Now we see the clouds
Great big puffy clouds
Quick, run away
It's going to rain today!

Please enjoy a **FREEBIE** about Weather and Water from my Sight Word Read-Along pack.  Click the  picture below to get your FREE copy.

And on a totally unrelated, but FABULOUS note.  Look at what I found at our local dollar store Dollarama....SCENTOS!  I know, old news...but not for me.  I have been reading all your fabulous blog posts about these fantastic smelling markers bringing me back to my youth when I had Mr. Sketch Markers (remember those?).  Well, I couldn't find these Scentos markers you all spoke about anywhere.  That is, until now!  I told my teaching partner, Alessia Albanese, and we did a little happy dance and bought them up (all 6 scents!)  I can't wait to use them with the kids! Yay!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, 18 January 2013


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Just a quick post to share a few snowmen themed things we had fun doing this week.  

We sang and acted out a poem...

Five little snowmen fat
Each with a funny hat
Out came the sun and melted one
What a sad sight was that!
Down!  Down!  Down!  

...and practised our simple subtraction as each snowman was melted away by the sun.  This was very fitting since this week all our real snow melted away.  Hopefully it comes back soon for our experiments with snow and ice next week...or I'll have to get creative!

We also made a snowman glyph.  We've never done a glyph before.  It was so much fun and super easy!  We used white paper doilies for the head and body, and the kids cut everything (except the arms) out.  They added snow details with white chalk.  Their fine motor skills are getting very good!

Well, I'm off to complete my reports.  Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


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Whenever you are absent and a substitute comes to fill in for you, do you ever get a note or memo saying something like this "your students know their routines so well!  They know where to go, what to do and how to do it.  They corrected me if I didn't do something exactly the way you do it!"  I usually do!  I find that young kids thrive on routine and structure (and so do I!).  I'd like to share some of my routines, you know, those daily happenings that just make the day run smoother, let students know exactly what they should be doing at various parts of the day, and keep them busy and engaged and therefore reduce opportunities for certain behaviours to arise.

1.  Thematic Name Cards
In the morning we gather for our morning circle on our carpet.  The problem is that some students are super quick and get to the circle with plenty of time to spare before announcements, anthem, etc.  To keep the kids busy and engaged I have thematic name cards that I change every month.  This idea is also from my retired Kindergarten teacher mom.  Thanks mom!  The name cards have skills that we are focusing on for the month, for example, letters, numbers, sight-words, or other mathematical skills such as shapes, patterns, clocks for telling time, etc.  At first the cards have first names only, then we progress to first and last.  The kids can quickly review our key concepts each morning.  They love coming in at the beginning of each new month to see what new name card awaits them at the circle!

2.  Flow of the Day
Do you ever hear..."what are we doing next?"  I used to.  A lot.  This is a visual aide that I just incorporated into the classroom this year, and it's working very well.  I call it Flow of the Day, but many people simply call it a Daily Schedule.  It lets the kids know what's happening sequentially throughout the day.  We talk about our day plan in the morning, then throughout the day as we complete an activity, I turn over the picture card so that the students can visually see that it is done.  It really helps at the beginning of the year, when the kids are missing mommy and are eager for home time, but it's also a great tool for all students in knowing what to anticipate and prepare for.  I got this template free from TPT and made my own additional cards for routines specific to my classroom (Child of the Day, Show and Tell, etc.)

3.  Center Board
In the morning we have literacy centers open.  I designate these centers with star stickers around the center sign.  The students all know that when I say 'star centers' open, the literacy centers are available to them.  In the afternoon, we do rotations through centers.  This large visual helps the students visually see what centers are open and by now all the students are very good at
understanding and following it.

3.  Snack Table
I have always had the kids break for snack, that is, stop what they are doing, clean-up, wash hands and eat all together at the same time at the tables.  However, there is a move in our School Board with the introduction of Full day Kindergarten (every day/all day), that Kindergarten should be a seamless day.  The activites should flow one into the other, and disruptions or transitions should be minimized.  A 'snack table' is the new idea that has been proposed to maximize your time available with your students.  This means snack is, essentially, a center to go to.  Students must self-regulate and go when they are hungry, not at a specific time.  I have so many worries...what if someone forgets to go to the center to eat, what if they eat their lunch instead of snack (since I am not directly overseeing it), where will we do our center work if that table is being occupied for food?  There are so many things to figure out, but I am willing to try it.  Here is a little system that was suggested by a resource personnel:  put the students names on a card and display them on a magnetic surface (I am using the side of my filing cabinet).  Students will move their name to the other side of a marked line (I've used colored tape), to indicate they have eaten their snack.  Have a student in charge of reminding those who may forget to go to the snack table.  We'll see how it goes!  Wish me luck...we start tomorrow!  How do you implement snack?  Is it whole group?  In a center?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Shapes and Mathematical Language

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Well, this week was my first week back from Winter break and after being back at school for only a short time, it was like we had never left.  The kids fell back into routine easily, and it seems as if, in the two weeks we've been gone, they've grown so much.  They could sit and attend longer to stories and lessons, some had lost a few teeth over the break, and they even looked taller!  Since we don't start back with Guided Reading until next week, we had a little bit of time to do some fun stuff as a class.  One thing we did was Khrys Bosland's get to know you activity called Find Someone Who.  The kids had so much fun finding a classmate who fit the criteria, they practised asking questions and they had to wait their turn (if they wanted to ask a friend a question but that friend was busy with someone else!).   Another thing we did was brainstorm and share our New Year's Resolutions, or as we called them - things we want to do or learn this year.  The kids were so in tune with things they do well, and things that they want to learn to do.  Many kids said things like learn to read harder words or more books, tie their shoe laces, get better at the sport they play, ride a two-wheel bike, and learn to swim, skate and dive in a pool.  I love their drive to learn!!!  We did a shared writing activity where all the red marker is their writing and all the blue marker is mine.  They did so well with this as they are now able to hear beginning, middle and ending sounds when sounding out unfamiliar words.  My mom, who is a retired kindergarten teacher, taught me this little rhyme to help students with sounding out words:  "Listen, listen, loud and clear, what's the (first) sound that you hear?"  Repeat the rhyme but substitute the word first for 'middle' or 'last'.  I used to say this all the time at the beginning of the year to prompt them, but now most of the kids are SO good at saying the word slowly and writing what they hear independently.

In math, our focus right now is 2-D shapes.  We started by sorting shapes of different colors and sizes and we talked about what is a 2-D shape.  I have a math wall, (well, it's more like a math shade)...when there are no walls left one must get resourceful!  The math wall is called 'Math Matters' and for every strand that we do, I post mathematical definitions and examples. 
 (this is how I currently display my math wall, but I can't wait to print out my new posters from my pack)
This is how I like to start my units because math language is so important.  It's not enough that students can create patterns, they should understand the process that a pattern repeats and be able to label or name various patterns.  With sorting, it's not enough that they can sort, but they should understand the process behind what they do.  That sorting is putting objects/things into different piles/groups based on a characteristic that is the 'same,' or based on a 'rule.'  When graphing, they not only need to be able to create a graph, but also interpret it.  I don't only ask what is the most or least, but how do you know what the most/least value is?  They need to be able to explain their thinking, which is why I am always asking the kids 'how do you know that?'  This focus on math language is carried up into higher grades, and into Province wide testing where students are frequently asked to explain their thinking in math with pictures, numbers and words.  It's so important that students have the vocabulary to explain their thought processes in math which is why I've created a pack of math posters to highlight key terms, definitions and examples.

  Back to after we sorted our shapes and talked about the characteristics of 2-D shapes (they are flat), we looked at each shape and it's characteristics, that is how many flat sides and corners, or vertices, it has. We discussed why squares and rectangles both have 4 sides and 4 corners/vertices but look different.  It was difficult for the kids to express this.  Many students said the square has short sides and the rectangle has long sides, but through prompting and discussion we spoke of sides that are equal versus short and long sides.  The kids completed some activities at their centres:

Going on a Shape Hunt.  I made this worksheet some time ago.  My mom also taught me this little rhyme "Look up, look down, look all around, and a square will soon be found."  Repeat the rhyme for various shapes.

Click on the picture below to get your free copy of the Shape Hunt activity.

We also did Shape rubbings...

...and made shape headbands (sorry, I forgot to take a picture).

Well, it's that time of year card time!  I have 40 reports to write (yes, 40!) I teach alternate day kindergarten so I have 2 classes.  One class of students comes Monday/Wednesday (20 kids), and the other class comes to school on Tuesday/Thursday (20 kids), and then they alternate the Fridays, so I'd better go start my reports!  Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Happy New Year and My First Currently

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Happy New Year everyone!  I hope the start of this new year finds you in good health and in good spirits.  I am so excited to do my first "Currently."  Well, everything in blogging is a first for me.  Here goes:

Listening:  the days are usually filled with noise, but when the kiddos from school are gone, and the kiddos at home are asleep, it's nice to indulge in some peace and quiet.
Loving:  every once in a while it feels good have the ultimate comfort...a full day of p.j's...just because.
Thinking:  I am so thankful for my job, my family, my friends and their love and support.  
Wanting:  nothing really
Needing:  yes, I have neglected my domestic duties.  My house is a mess, but, on the other hand, I have truly enjoyed doing, well, just about nothing, this winter break.  Spending time with the kids has taken priority over everything else and we've had a blast!  See!

OLW:  Balance.  I don't know if anyone else fills their plate full and then gets anxious or slightly stressed out.  This is nothing new to me.  I finished an Additional Qualifications course 3 days before my wedding, I went to my Graduate school convocation 8 months pregnant...the list goes on and on.  I am known for trying to do too much.  I need to find balance.  Balance between work and home.  I need balance and need to trust that what I am doing is enough.
"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.  But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."  Mother Teresa (Words to Live By).

I am very ready to go back to school on Monday and I hope you are too!  If you are looking for some new activities to do with your kiddos, then check out my Winter Fun!  Literacy and Math Activities unit. 

Snowy Shapes:  Identifying, drawing and labelling shapes.

More or Less:  Counting sets and determining which has more and which has less.

Mitten Middle Sounds:  Identifying the middle (vowel) sound in a series of pictures.

Toboggan Ten Frames

Cocoa Number Order:  ordering numbers from least to greatest

The first 3 people to comment below and share what they will do with their students the first day back after break in terms of unit of study/theme (or what you've done with them, if you've already gone back), will get my Winter Fun unit free.  Remember to leave your email address!