Saturday, December 15, 2012

Winter birds

We love to talk about winter birds when talking about migration and hibernation!  I will load some better pictures, but these highlight our window painting of birch trees and snow.  Our cardinals are red construction paper, red feathers for wings, and black oil pastel for eyes.  We cut small pieces of orange drinking straw and slid them onto the beaks.  It was definitely a good activity for building fine motor skills.  I attached a template of the bird and poem here.

The unit also coincides with our study of our country and state, Minnesota.  Since the state bird is the loon, we also have a loon drawing station at the easel next to our cardinals.  Black paper, oil pastels and red buttons for eyes and you have a loon!

We made lovely watercolors for the Minnesota state flower, the ladyslipper, as well. The idea of a state symbol can be complex, and recreating loons and ladyslippers help the children understand it better.  Coming up soon is a template for the ladyslipper sentence starter--of course you could change it for your state flower!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mother Goose: Nursery Rhyme Time

We are half-way through our readings of nursery rhymes.  Each week we read a nursery rhyme, sing the Jack Hartmann song version (his CD is wonderful and so engaging), and do a writing activity.  After reading "Humpty Dumpty," we finished the sentence starter "Humpty Dumpty sat on a ____."  More nursery rhyme pictures and templates to come!
Friday, November 30, 2012

Run, run, run

Eden Prairie-20121102-00185.jpg
We have started our holiday gingerbread story study!  We do a comparative literature study and chart the setting, characters and ending of each story.  Our stories include: The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone, The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski, The Gingerbread Man by Karen Schmidt, The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires, The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth, The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Cambell Ernst and of course the Jan Brett Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends.  I found two new stories at the library and will add them to our study--The Matzo Ball Boy by Lisa Shulman and The Library Gingerbread Boy by Dotti Enderle.
I love this time of year!

Each child finishes the sentence starter "I can run as fast as____" and illustrate themselves as the gingerbread boy!  Lots of children wrote of "I can run as fast as a cheetah" and "I can run as fast as a fox."  The personalized gingerbread illustrations are so much fun!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BEAR Time begins this winter!

Get ready for BEAR Time--Be Excited About Reading!  Our individualized reading program is so much fun and the children love their special BEAR bags they get to take home each week with their book. I will update this post as we get closer to our BEAR kickoff, featuring, of course, a Teddy Bear Picnic and a mini-literature comparison study of different Goldilocks and the Three Bears stories.  I can't help putting up our Berenstain Bear family early to get the children's interest piqued.
Then I hide Honey Bear and they have to find her!
Monday, November 12, 2012

Water, Water, Everywhere?

To finish our study of recycling and natural resources, we did a mini-unit on water conservation.  It also ties nicely with our school-wide community service project this holiday season for clean water systems.
We started by reading Water by Frank Asch and Common Ground: The Water, Earth and Air We Share by Molly Bang.  We brainstormed how much we use water daily and each child tallied their water use.  Each child illustrated two ways they use water each day.

At the end of the day, we added up all our water tallies to see how many times we use water in one day:

The following day, we read about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and how it affected fishing, beaches, wildlife and much more.  We also talked about how we could try to clean water.  We used the following tools:

Each table got some dirty water and the table group took turns trying to clean their water.
Cleaning dirt water:

Cleaning paint water:

Cleaning glue water:

Cleaning glitter water:

After about ten minutes, we regrouped and discussed our findings.  We checked off the tools on our chart that were most effective and then completed our water booklets with drawings of clean vs. dirty water and drawings of our different tools.  The last page of the booklet is where they dictated and drew one reason they want children to have clean water (to drink, to live, to bathe, etc.).  You can download the water booklet here.  I tried to upload a fancier version I made, but it wouldn't take.  This version has all the same components though!
Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mouse Shapes

We are coming to the end of our first term of the school year, and to add some fun to our shapes and number review we made shape mice!  We read Ellen Stoll Walsh's book Mouse Shapes and then created shape mice from different die-cut shapes I had.  I gave the children the sentence starter "My mouse likes______"  and they had to finish the sentence with our sight word to and then an action word (a verb).  It is hard to tell in the pics, but many of the children wrote "My mouse likes to play" or "My mouse likes to swim."  One child wrote "My mouse likes to party!"

A picture of the whole door to our classroom--the colorful mice contrast nicely with our purple door!
We also gave the children scrap paper to tear to create the legs and tails.  I love the Ellen Stoll Walsh Mouse books; we read Mouse Paint at the very beginning of the year when we cover primary and secondary colors, and we will read Mouse Count later in the winter.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ready, Set, Vote!

To prepare for election day, each grade at our school completed a president project.  In kindergarten, we decided to make "Georges" and "Abes."  We read about President Washington and President Lincoln.  We discussed and charted their important accomplishments as well.  Each child created a portrait of themselves as an important President--to simplify things, the girls did Washington and the boys made Abe!  I found this project on the great blog Chalk Talk but made our own template.

 I am new to Adobe but made a crude template available here.  The ones in the picture we traced by hand.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Friendship Fish

Back in September, we brainstormed and charted words and actions we use when being friendly.  I wish I saved the chart we made, oops.  Every year we read Marcus Pfister's Rainbow Fish, and partner the children up to make a beautiful rainbow fish with a sparkly scale.  The goal of the project is for the children to listen to each other ideas, share the fish, respect each other's ideas, and agree on one scale on the fish to turn into a sparkly scale like Rainbow Fish.  We have the children design the fish scales together with a sharpie, take turns drawing the scales and decorating them with oil pastels.  The final touches are a watercolor layer over the oil pastels, followed by gluing glitter sequins on their sparkly scale.  The children work so well and so hard on this project every year--it is so enjoyable to watch them talk and listen to each other as they work!

I realized the picture of our rainbow fish has my reflection in it--taken in the wee hours of the morning!

Who's Who in Kindergarten?

We love owls--the trick is always when and how to fit owl fun into our curriculum!  Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is a favorite, along with the poem Five Little Owls from homeschoolshare.  I used the owl template from the same website and created a file folder activity with each owl numbered on the back for the children to put in order on the tree.  We used this when we practiced ordinal numbers this fall.  The homeschoolshare link above has tons of owl information and activities too.    

Using different shades of torn brown paper (brown paper bags from the grocery store would work well too), we created a our name-scramble owl.  Each child wrote their name on a brown paper, and then did a scrambled version of their name on a piece they glued as a flap on top.  Since we practice writing our names in the proper "kindergarten way" so much, it was fun for them to make their names in a silly way.  The picture is a little blurry, but hopefully you get the idea!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 2012

I love to tell our students that kindergarten rocks because we are now big kindergarten learners!  I am a new learner too, with this blog, but since I get so excited with some of the things we do I want to share them.  I will try to post weekly and start with some freebies each week as I get going.

Apples, Apples

To prepare for our apple-cidering field trip this October, we read many books on apples!  Our favorites included The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons, Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg, and Up, Up, Up! It's Apple-Picking Time by Jody Fickes Shapiro and Kitty Harvill.

We did an apple-sequencing activity using one line on each page to create the four steps in picking apples and eating them using our "starter lines."  It was a great perceptual task as well to orient the lines to make each form.  Here is a basic template for the sequencing activity.

Since we study poetry in our literature in the fall, we completed a poem with rhyming words called "Thank you Trees."

After reading our poem, we brainstormed what kinds of things we use that come from trees (paper, leaves, wood).  We collected acorns, sticks and leaves to create apple people--only the glue, ink and markers didn't come from trees!  I cut the apples using our die-cut machine to cut out a step, but next time I would have the children cut out the apples from a template.  Here's a basic homemade apple template, and then a student's apple-person.