Saturday, January 11, 2014

Starting our new unit: Penguins

The start of a new unit is always so exciting! The children are so eager to learn! I think they are also super excited to see all the new books I take out for the unit and the new centers too! ;)
We always start our units with a KWL. I spend the first day discussing previous knowledge. I write EVERYTHING the children say in the 'K' column, even if I know the information is incorrect. We constantly review these facts and we will 'check' them if we find them to be correct or cross them out if they are incorrect.  I also write down everything the children are wondering. I love listening to their questions!
The first day we also do a 'status check'. This is when I ask them where they are on our learning scale. You can see a piece of our learning scale in the top corner of the picture below. For this unit, I had 4 children think they were a '1' on the scale and 16 children feel as if they were a '2'.  You can find my learning scale HERE.  I keep track of where they are because we revisit the scale at the end of our unit.
 The first day of our penguin unit I also had the children write down something they knew about penguins and something they were wondering. This was done during our writing block.  Keep in mind, at this point I haven't read them any books on penguins yet. They actually did great with this and I think I will incorporate this into every unit now. 
The second day of our penguin unit we read our first informational text on penguins. I read very few pages each day. I actually only read 3 pages, but the children retain so much more information when I read in smaller chunks. 
After I read a few pages I clapped my hands twice and said 'teach'. The children then clapped their hands twice and said 'okay'.  They turned to their carpet buddies and discussed the new information they learned. My children are experts now at questioning each other. I can hear them asking, 'What did you learn? Are you confused about anything? Are you wondering anything new?'
When they are done talking, I call on different buddies to share what they discussed. I add this information onto our KWL. If we read information that confirms anything we have already written in our 'K' column, then we 'check' it off.
The rest of the week we continue the same procedure. My children have already learned so much about penguins--and they have constantly been comparing penguins to bats (one of our previous units). I may need to make a venn diagram for this! ;)
During our centers we have been working on reading sight words and following directions:
We just wrapped up our addition chapter in math, but we still need a lot of practice! The children loved this spin and add game:
 I know throughout our unit the children will be drawing a lot of penguins. So before we start our non-fiction 'All About Penguins' book, I wanted to make sure they all knew how to draw one! We used one of Mrs. Miner's Guided Drawing activities to teach us! On their activity sheet I had them draw a penguin, make a setting for the penguin, and copy the sentence.
 All of the penguins came our adorable and each and every one of my students felt successful! Love that!
 They were supposed to copy the sentence 'She is a penguin.' But it doesn't look like we could get that sentence right! haha 'See is a penguin.' is the same thing, right?!  ;)  
Some of the boys refused to write 'She is a penguin.' So they wrote, 'He is a penguin.' instead haha.
 And this cutie must have missed the sentence that was at the bottom of Mrs. Miner's guided drawing sheet. She wrote her own sentence, but did great!
Can't wait to continue penguins next week! I am loving it!
All of these activities, including the whole group KWL and other whole group activities, are included in my Penguin Unit.
You can find my framework for this 4 week unit HERE or by clicking on the image below :)
Units used in this framework:


  1. Yeah! I love being the first to comment on great posts! :) Great photos and ideas, Caitlin! Thanks for incorporating my activity into it...I love how the last little girl differentiated the activity on her own....have fun with your penguin unit!
    Mrs.Miner’s Monkey Business

  2. Love this! BTW-link to your penguin unit takes you to mrs.miners activity too.

  3. What fun ideas Caitlin! :) You are so creative!

    Fun in PreK-1 & Kinder

  4. These are so cute , I will have to go look up her drawing sheets for penguins. Just love your KWL chart and penguin actvities

  5. I wish my English was good enough to express my admiration for this great blog.
    Greetings from Spain.


  6. I love your ideas! Question: Do you use the school's laminator or do you have a personal one? Our school laminator just quit for good.
    Heart of Kinder

  7. Mandy, I use the schools laminator!

  8. Hi, do you have a link to the spin and add game? Thank you!

  9. Maureen, it is a part of my penguin pack on TpT