Sunday, September 28, 2014

Have You Seen These Yet? GREAT for Common Core

Counting & Cardinality:

This kit came with laminated placemats, paper plates, felt numbered ants, plastic ants,
1 foam die, and a cute cloth bag to hold everything.
Click the image to see this kit and similar kits.

Before I show the kids the ten frames, before we learn about what each numeral looks like, we stet out by counting.  Katie & Co. has so many cute kits that you can use for this. 

Here is more info about this great company.

How We Played:

Give each child ten ants (or any other counters you may have on hand) and place them in a small container.  
Then give them a paper plate where they can gather their ant while they play.  
Each child takes a turn rolling the die.  (I loved the foam die this kit came with because it's so quiet.)  The child who rolled the die gets to put that many ants on their plate.  
Each child takes a turn rolling the die and placing ants on their plate.  

I added ant cards which each child got after they played the game.
I just cut up a bulletin board border that had ants on a red and white background.

Tip - I had the children slide the ants they earned from their first turn to one side of their plate so they can count out the ants they got from their second turn and they didn't confuse them with the ants that were already on their plate.  Once they were done counting out the second set, they were able to mix all of their ants together.

He rolled a four so he is counting out four more ants to place on his plate.

We played up to to ten, but you had to get just ten without going over, so if you already had eight ants on your plate, you could only roll a one or a two to continue placing ants on your plate.  If you rolled a three or higher, you had to skip that turn.

Added Benefits:

This game really got kids thinking about things like, "How many more do I need to get to ten?"  It encouraged oral language, higher level thinking skills, and social skills.

Extending For Advanced Students:

This card shows even more ways to use this game.

When we were done, I let the more advanced students gather the felt ants that came with the kit and place them in a line in number order on the carpet.  The other students got to watch help too. 

Sometimes I gave each student 2 or 3 ants and allowed them to all work together to create the number line.  They used the giant number line on our wall to help with this if needed.  

We also got to learn the little poem that came with this game.  You can also play this game by singing this song:

I hope you liked this activity.
Check out Katie & Co.'s site for more kits.

Check out my:

(Tons of FREE ideas.)

(Oh, the ideas on these boards!)

TeAcHeRs PaY TeAcHeRs:

(Did you say, "15 freebies?!")

Thank you for reading.
See you all tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Phonic Puppets: "Sound" GREAT!!!

Phonics Puppets:

I love the purple mouse.

I set out new puppets based on the letters we have covered thoroughly so far - Ss, Mm, Rr, Tt, Bb, and Aa.  Students will match the written letters to the puppets' initial sounds.

We have a spider, mouse, rooster, tiger, bee, and an alligator.  They should make interesting story lines with those characters, right?

The Purple Mouse:

I created a book to go with this purple mouse puppet.  It's a mini book about how a little mouse turned purple.  There are 3 characters in this story.  Their names are "One", "Two",  and "Three". There is also a focus on reading the color words "red", "blue", and "purple" as well as the number words from one to five.  Elements of text allow students to discover characters, the setting, the problem, and the solution.  Link it to science and art by creating purple with paints, Play Dough, or Kinetic Sand. You can see the book by clicking HERE.

You can find the purple mouse puppet by clicking HERE.

Puppet Stage Skills:

The puppet rack is usually on the carpet behind the stage.
Just in case you have to justify having a puppet stage and puppets in your classroom, here are the skills students will be practicing:
oral language
identifying characters
sequencing a story
re-telling a story
identifying initial sounds
isolating sounds
matching the written letter to the initial sound

Remember to "Keep the FUN in the FUNdamentals."

See you all tomorrow.
Palma :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Part 2: Learning To Play & Playing To Learn

You can view part 1 of this post by clicking HERE.

Part 2:  Playing To Learn

Playing To Learn:

We have all read the research on how play is an important part of learning and how children need to get up and move during their school day.  That is why I have incorporated "play time" or "center time" into our daily routine.

Twice a day, each child has from 10 to 30 minutes each day to explore and interact with the varied centers.  They are given 1hr. & 20 min to complete quality table work, meet with me in a small group setting for 25 min, and meet for intervention or enrichment with my assistant for 25 min each day.  Their table work should take them about 20 minutes to complete, so they can have up to 30 minutes at the centers twice a day, so that's 60 min/day. 

What About The Exceptions:

We all have students who work slowly.  I have scheduled time, after I teach my small group lessons, to help those students in tiny groups of maybe 2-4 to stay focused and complete their work.  My assistant and parent volunteers (if I have any) assist in this same way.  Our goal is to encourage quality with speed so everyone gets at least ten minutes to play.  

How To Create Great Centers:  (on a dime)

I have been teaching for 36 years, so I have a lot of "stuff", but you can take an idea from each of these centers and make it your own.  Before I had a painting easel, I stapled a clear plastic table cloth to a small bulletin board and set paints up for students to use.  And you don't need ALL of these centers.  Just take the ideas you like and have FUN!  (I have included the skills for each center so you can post them by each center to help explain the value of play to anyone who happens to visit your classroom.)

Painting Easel:  I bought this with money I received from a grant I wrote.  Students may paint only one painting each day.   Skills:  Fine motor.  Also, students can paint something from science (things that sink or float), letters & numbers, or the current season.  
Wet sponges keep the paints from drying out.

Big Books:  I have a rack filled with big books.  1 or 2 students may take one to the rug to read, re-tell, or just explore.  We all have big books.  Why not let the kids use them every day instead of storing them for teacher use only?  Skills:  Concepts of print (front & back of book), picture walk, reading, re-telling the story.)

Class Library:  I added stuffed animals that go
with books (like Clifford & Corduroy) and some cute furniture that I bought with grant money from a grant I wrote.  The books we write as a class are in the library too.  I number the pages with each students class number & I include a numbered class list as the Table Of Contents.  Old beanbag chairs or cushions work well too for your library center.  Skills:  Elements of print, picture walk, read, re-tell.

Discovery Center:  Lots of magnifying glasses, scales, rulers, and "stuff" to explore.  I try to keep it seasonal with seashells in August; fall leaves, pine cones, and acorns in the fall, etc.
  This is the easiest center to set up.  Just go for a walk and pick up leaves, rocks, etc.  Throw in a magnifying glass, a ruler, and a balance scale and you're done!  Students are encouraged to explore & discuss.  No directions, just explore!  Skills:  observation, oral language, use of tools.

Writing Center:  I put out postcards, but you can also just use blank paper to create a post office.  I include a photo of each child by their name so students can write to their friends.  Before I got the mailbox, I just used a shoebox with a slit cut into it.  Blank paper & a shoebox, now that's easy!  Skills: Fine motor, copying, reading names.

Home Center:  Again, I wrote a grant and bought some sturdy playhouse furniture, but you can ask your parents to hit the garage sales or give you some old plastic play house furniture.  Or, make some out of shoe boxes (draw 2 stove burners on the top) or large cartons (for a table).  

Until you get supplies try small paper plates and plastic spoons & cups, and empty food containers.  I also turned a bookcase on its side, added hooks inside and created a dress up center in the playhouse.  Students can dress up as community helpers!  You can find really inexpensive community helper costumes AFTER Halloween from a costume store. Label EVERYTHING and require students to sort items when they clean up (spoons with spoons, dishes with dishes, etc.)  Skills:  Imaginative play, reading environmental print, sorting, oral language, community helpers. 

Listening Center:  A book or 2, a tape,
an old tape recorder, and 1 or 2 sets of headsets and you're done!  Before I acquired lots of listening centers, I asked a parent to tape books for me on blank tapes.  The funny thing was that she told me that she taped the stories in her bathroom because it was the only room in her house where it was quiet!  I think about that every time I set up a new story.  :)  If you want, you can add paper and crayons for students to illustrate their favorite part of the story, the characters, the setting, the problem or wish, or the resolution in the story.  Skills:  Listening, reflecting/comprehending, elements of print, story elements.

Flannel Board Story:  I have flannel pieces that go with some classic stories like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See.  You can ask a parent to make some pieces to go with stories for you.  Students explore the book (after I have read it to them a few times) and re-tell the story on the flannel board with the pieces.  Skills:  Story comprehension, sequencing, re-telling.

Keyboard:  This one requires an electronic keyboard.
I had one at home, but you can find one at a garbage sale.  Add a headset so your classroom doesn't get noisy.  Students discover their own musical creations while exploring all of the different buttons and elements on the keyboard.  Skills:  Listening, cause & effect, musical elements of notes, beat, & rhythm.

Math Tubs:  Place Unifix Cubes, Teddy Bear Counters, Attribute Blocks, etc. in different tubs.  Add task cards (purchased or handmade) to each tub.  Heidisongs has great task cards for creating numbers out of pattern blocks.  You can find them by clicking HERE.  An easy task card is a piece of 9"12" construction paper.  Draw four  4-inch in diameter circles on the paper and laminate it.  Students can sort the pieces in the tub.  Skills:  counting, sorting, number formation.
Electronics:  Computers, tablets, iPhones, and toys.  Ask for donations!  I got 2 old computers from
our lab when it was updated, I wrote a grant for an Acer laptop and an iPad mini from Donors Choose and got both of them, and I asked parents to donate old electronic toys (like Leapfrog hand-held devices) and iPhones.  Tips:  If you write a Donors Choose grant for an iPad or iPan mini, be sure to include a case and AppleCare.  And if parents donate an old iPhone, make sure they wipe it and restore it to its original settings so you don't risk having their photos, contacts, etc. on it.  I ask parents to give me iTunes gift cards instead of holidays gifts so I can purchase apps for our classroom devices.  I load the iPhones and iPads with apps I have gotten for free or purchased on iTunes.  Include a headset for each device to keep the noise level down.  Students not only play educational games on them (like Little Skywriter), they also use them to read QR codes to find sight words, letters, or numbers.  Skills:  Letter & number recognition, reading sight words, letter & numeral formation, counting, adding, subtracting, reading, comprehending, sorting, matching, etc.

Puppets:  I have a puppet stage (from a grant I wrote), but a small student desk can serve as a puppet stage.  If you don't have puppets, you can have students make them from craft materials or paper bags.  Skills:  Oral language, re-telling familiar stories, identification of characters.

Shopping:  I use my puppet center because it has shelves and a window, but you can use an open shelf or a small student desk to set up a store.  Keep an eye out for free items like this lemonade stand that Sunkist used to offer for free.  Each month I set up a different store complete with money and a menu.  Sometimes I include uniforms.  Skills:  Counting, adding, subtracting, reading a menu.
Lemonade stand (paper cups, plastic lemon, juice jug, juicer, spoon)
Starbucks (No, I'm not marketing coffee to children.  They already know what a Vente Pumpkin Spice Latte is!)  Starbucks will give you free small cups, cup holders, stirrers, and napkins.  You can make a menu and include healthier choices like a muffin and juice.  We also made barista aprons out of green re-usable grocery bags. 
Leprechaun's Gold Shoppe:  Plastic jewelry (get bargains on beaded necklaces AFTER Mardi Gras).

Smoothie Bar:  Paint the inside of a clear plastic cup, place a straw in it along the side, add white glue to the side of the straw and the bottom of the cup, add a second clear cup inside the painted cup and let it dry overnight.  These painted cups can look like different flavored smoothies.

Sensory Table:  Try Sands Alive (available at Jo-Ann's Crafts) or Kinetic Sand (available at Michael's) and a variety of cookie cutters.  Letter & number cookie cutters work great!  Place the sand in a box top or 2" deep tub lid.  Skills:  Sensory exploration, letter & number formation, fine motor.

Puzzles:  Just put a variety of puzzles in a tub.  Garage sales & parent donations of old puzzles is a great way to build up your supply.  Skills:  Visual perception, eye-hand coordination.
Working together.
Blocks:  This is their favorite center.  Get donations from parents or hit those garage sales.  I love my foam blocks because they are quiet.  Skills:  Visual perception, eye-hand coordination, spatial relations, position in space, social skills, oral language, problem solving.

Train Set:  Donations and garage sales are good resources.  I write sight words on the track pieces.  Skills:  Visual perception, eye-hand coordination, cause & effect, social skills, oral language, reading sight words.

Check out my:
FaCeBoOk:  Click Here to see my Facebook. (Tons of FREE ideas.)
PiNtErEsT:  Click Here to see my Pinterest Boards.  (Oh, the ideas on these boards!)

TeAcHeRs PaY tEaChErS:  Click Here to see my TPT Store (Did you say, "17 freebies?!")

How are you using centers in your classroom?

See you all tomorrow!
Palma :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Learning To Play & Playing To Learn (Part 1)

Part 1 of a 2-day Post:  Learning To Play

I'm super big on "keeping the FUN in the FUNdamentals".  That's why I incorporate play time into my half-day kindergarten day.  Yes, it can be done in a half-day program and you will still be able to get to all of the CCSS.  But first you need to plan out your centers, introduce them slowly, and make sure that everyone understands the rules.  

Here are my best 3 tips for setting up centers:

1.  Centers must link to a skill or a CCSS:
Even a home center can have academic skills embedded in it.  Label the food, dishes, etc.  Expect students to sort and organize the supplies when done, and set up themes like fall foods & supplies for making vegetable soup, or a summer theme with pretend ice cream and supplies for making juice smoothies.  
While at the Home Center, these chefs look for meatballs with matching sight words.
The "pasta" is just a handful of thin rubber bands.
The meatballs are wooden beads, add sight words, and seal with Mod Podge.
Add a checkered tablecloth, a sm. colander, and tongs.  

2.  They must have rules:
I post a number at each center which tells the students the maximum number of students allowed at that center at a time.  I also post a photo of what the center should look like when it is all cleaned up.  I also demonstrate how to use the center and how the small items don't get slipped into pockets or backpacks.  :)  

The number 1 on the scale indicates how many students may use the scale at one time.

3.   Students must have choices:  I start the year with free choice.  If your table work is done and has been checked by an adult, you may choose any center.  Later in the year, I color code the centers and students may choose from a set of colored centers on Monday, and another set of colored centers on Tuesday, etc.  This keeps students from perseverating and choosing the exact same center every day.  

Each child gets to choose a center and they may move about and visit other centers.

Part 2:

Tomorrow, I will introduce you to a variety of centers that are easy to set up and will provide your students with fun educational activities that "keep the FUN in the FUNdamentals".

Let me know if you are still allowed to have great hands-on centers in your classrooms.  :)

Check out my:
FaCeBoOk:  Click Here to see my Facebook. (Tons of FREE ideas.)
PiNtErEsT:  Click Here to see my Pinterest Boards.  (Oh, the ideas on these boards!)
TeAcHeRs PaY tEaChErS:  Click Here to see my TPT Store (Did you say, "15 freebies?!")

See you all tomorrow.
Palma :)