Thursday, January 10, 2019

Penguin Unit in Kindergarten

Teaching the Penguin Unit was definitely one of my favorites during the year! The kids learn so much and there are so many fun, interactive, activities to do!! 
I think a lot of kindergarten teachers have moved away from themes like Penguins because it 'doesn't fit into their curriculum anymore'. However, you really CAN incorporate this into your curriculum-your living/nonliving unit, real/pretend, how animals grow and change, and even your life cycle science unit. Of course it is very easy to incorporate all of your reading and writing skills too! Check out my framework HERE that I presented to my administration :)

We always started off our unit by working together to fill out the 'K' and 'W' of our KWL.
We usually always do that whole group in the morning; however, this particular time I had the students write about it during our writing block and they did wonderfully! I did tell them that they had to write one thing they 'knew' and one thing that they were 'wondering'.
During our nonfiction units we also used our 'word splash'. We 'splashed' the words on at the beginning of our unit, then we listened for them as we read throughout the unit.  If we heard a word, I would move the word to the side and we would discuss the meaning.
I had students turn and talk to discuss their new learning and discuss the word splash words. We did this every day! It helps them retain all of the information!
There are so many wonderful center ideas, if you are doing centers anyways, then why not do them thematically?!
At the writing center they did this cute drawing activity. Students will be drawing lots of penguins during writing so this is the perfect way to teach them! At the bottom of the page they wrote about penguins as well.
At our word work center students put their penguin cards in alphabetical order.
Then they used their best handwriting to record the letters.
They read and followed the directions on the activity sheet to color in the correct amount of penguins during math centers.
We were also working on reading ten frames. In 'What Comes Next?' they chose a card, read the ten frame, and recorded that number. Then, they wrote the next 3 numbers. 
To work on reading and sight words, students built simple sentences in the pocket chart and practiced reading them to one another with a pointer.
 There are different activity sheet options in my penguin pack; however, I had students record the sight word 'is' for extra practice.
In 'Time to Find Food' students counted the number of penguins and the number of fish on their card and added the numbers together.
 Another great sight word activity, 'It's Feeding Time!' Students built the sight word on their penguin and recorded the word three times on their activity sheet.
'Penguin pairs' works on rhyming words.
 We also worked on reading and sorting real CVC words vs. nonsense CVC words.
In writing there are a couple of options to choose from. I've done both and can't decide which one I like better!
 We've created an 'All About Penguins' book FULL of non-fiction information that we learned throughout the unit.
We've also used this cute penguin craft as our 'All About Penguins' book! Either way students are learning SO much!
Some of my favorite videos to watch and listen to during the penguin unit are below:

I've linked other videos in my Animal Framework at the top of the post as well!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Kindergarten Halloween Party

I LOVE holiday parties in class because the kids have the best day ever; however, I am all for easy planning!! I want to enjoy the party too and not be stressed out! These are some ideas of centers I have done in the passed, along with ones that I want to try out! 

When I have a holiday party in class I usually have my room mom take care of the centers/emailing parents for donations, etc. But I do tell my room mom some center ideas and things that I want to see. I have found that when I don't take some control of the holiday parties, my room mom has great ideas, but some aren't age appropriate or some are too short and the party is over too quickly (which then means the kids get wild), etc.

I ALWAYS do centers at my parties. The kids have to stay in their center until the bell rings, then we all switch.  If I don't do centers, some kids rush through the activities and are done with the hour and a half party in twenty minutes. Then what? Centers are MUCH easier, trust me.

One of my favorite Halloween centers is decorating mini pumpkins. The kids love this and it also gives them something to take home! I ask that each child donates a mini pumpkin. Then I purchased the foam stickers from Oriental Trading. They stick VERY well!! You can find one pack HERE
 At one center we played Candy Corn bowling.  The kids loved this center (just make sure it is somewhere in the corner where the pins aren't flying everywhere).  You can make this center academic too! HERE is an awesome addition worksheet to accompany the bowling. 
 Now this is an activity I haven't tried yet, but I love it! I think it would be easy and fun! You can purchase the mini play-doh's at Target or even Costco.  I found them on Amazon HERE.  I wound't pre-package this center as a kit. I would leave the play doh, beads, eyes, and pipe cleaners out for children to use. Then, when it is time to clean up, you can stick it in a zip-lock bag for them to take home and use again! This idea is from 'A Dab of Glue' and she offers the printable for free as well!
Another cute and easy center is this pumpkin q-tip painting center. When these dry, I add them into their poetry notebooks. You can grab this freebie HERE.

I like to always have one center that is a 'cooking center'. Here are a couple cooking center ideas!
 Make your own monster cookie. I would buy the cookies pre-made from the grocery store. We use food coloring to dye the vanilla icing and I leave tongue depressors in the icing for kids to use as they spread the icing on their cookie. You can ask parents to donate small tubes of gel icing for decorating and you can find the googly eye sprinkles at the grocery store or on Amazon HERE.
 If you haven't use this cooking activity yet in class during your bat unit, then it is perfect for your Halloween party. Super simple and the kids love it!! Again, I used a small tube of gel icing as the 'glue' for the eyes and the fangs. 
I didn't want to have too much sugar so I had mini water bottles at the center for the kids to have a drink. Just made it a little more fun by adding these bat straws!

I usually have 4 or 5 centers at our holiday parties. When all centers are complete, I gather the kids at the carpet for one whole group game.  This gives my volunteers time to clean the room up while we are all together (calming down). At our Halloween party we play 'pin the nose on the Jack O' Lantern'. I've always made a pumpkin and noses in the passed with construction paper, but I found this one cheap online HERE.  This is SO fun and a perfect way to end the party.
Towards the end of the day we watch a Halloween video or two and say our goodbyes! It really is a calm and fun day...not too much planning and prepping involved, but the kids have a blast!!

Here are some videos we have enjoyed in the past:
Dancing videos:

Stories/Shows:
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Starting Your Magnetic Letter Center

My magnetic letter center is definitely one of my students' favorites and it is mine too! I am telling you, the entire time they are at the magnetic letter center they are engaged and working!

You can work on SO many different skills at the magnetic letter center which makes differentiating VERY easy!
I always start the yer off with these 'I know my letters' mats and then we move on to sounds, CVC words, sight words, and SO much more!!
They have so much fun working together at the magnetic letter/word work center...I think they forget that they are learning!
You can find my magnetic letters here.
You can see my magnetic letter packs in other classrooms in the images below...
This class is using dry erase markers instead of magnetic letters. They are working right in these dry erase pouches which I love. I will do the same if I am working with these mats in my guided reading groups! 
This is a first grade classroom that started the year off with my word families pack. I love how she has the 'check it' cards hanging right at the center so her students can self check.  That is one of my favorite things about my magnetic letter packs--they are color coded for easy clean up and they all come with 'check it' cards so your students are working totally independently while you are calling your guided reading groups.
You don't need a magnetic white board to use these packs.  As you can see in the classroom below, they are working right on their table top! You can also use a cookie sheet/baking pan!
LOVE how this classroom is using letter erasers on my mats. I wish I found those awesome erasers at Target this year! So jealous!
 Lastly, this class is just using letter tiles

There are SO many ways to use these packs in your classroom. Once you introduce these packs to your students they will be able to work in this center all year. The packs spiral as the year goes which makes it very easy to differentiate as well!

Click below to see more in my store.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Spring Centers [What we are up to this week]

My students LOVE the Word Work center. They are always SO engaged. This month we had a ton of different skills going on during centers.
This week we worked on building, reading and writing sentences. 
They can work on the floor or in a pocket chart, wherever they feel comfortable! After they build their sentences, they have to use a pointer to read their sentences.  I usually have 2-3 students working together in a center so they will all take turns.
When they are finished, they will complete their activity sheet. They have to color the image, build their sentence, and write the sentence correctly.
We also worked on 'Farm Families'. We have an upcoming field trip to the farm so this center was perfect timing! Students had to look at the picture on the farm animal card and determine what word family it belonged to.
When they were done sorting, they had to sound out the CVC words to record them on their activity sheet (double sided). 
We are continuing to work on differentiating between long and short vowels.  This week we sorted images based on vowel sound. Some of my students needed to use the 'check it' card to complete this activity which was ok with me.  Just lets me know that we need to keep on working!
This next center is definitely one of my favorites. It works on reading CVC words and identifying rhymes (word families) at the same time!

Students will read the sentence on the rhyming question card, then they will find a matching card that rhymes. They did AMAZING with this!!
When they are finished matching all of the rhymes, they record them on their activity sheet.
Over at magnetic letters we worked on spelling our CVC words. Never enough CVC practice!
Then a new skill we have been working on is ending punctuation. We are forgetting it too often in our writing so hopefully these centers will help! Students had to read the sentence and determine whether a question mark or a period was needed to complete it. 
Another great center going on is reading simple sentences and finding the picture to match.  I am going to work on creating an entire pack just like this center because my students loved it and it is really helping my readers! 
I only have one reading group that still needs to work on beginning sounds; however, I left this center out for all of my students to complete. When they saw it they were all excited about it, so I figured why not? Let them all work together and have some fun building Easter eggs!
We worked on rhyming again! Same skill, different words!
Then we stepped up our magnetic letter center a little bit to work on digraphs.  My students are actually doing very well with these and this center was the perfect practice.
Most of these centers can be found in my April Word Work pack HERE on TpT.  The Magnetic Letter Digraphs pack can be found HERE.

What are you guys up to this Spring? What themes do you teach?

Don't forget to PIN the image below to save these ideas for years to come!