Thursday, August 18, 2016

Writing Center in Kindergarten [What should you have there? and more!]

This year I updated some of the activities in my writing center and I am pretty excited about the changes! 

I have most of my writing centers in a pocket chart (the pocket chart you can find HERE and see below).  These activities are not always assigned.  Sometimes I have something completely different that I need them to work on in the writing center, sometimes these are used as early finished, other times I give them the choice to pick anything that they want to work on!

These activities are definitely not all introduced at once, it takes time! I introduce a lot of the easier writing sheets right away.  For instance, write the room is actually introduced the first week of school.  Some of my kids write 5 words during the 15 minute center and some of my kids fill the entire page.  It doesn't matter, as long as they are understanding the work and writing!  Another page I introduce at the beginning of the year is the page seen below.
 This page is easy for students, they love drawing the pictures, and they get their words from either my word work cards or my thematic word binder (also seen later in this post).

Another page I introduce pretty early on is 'Write the Globe'.  Yes, this activity is just 'copying' words and I know some teachers may not see the educational value behind this; however, I really just want my students to LOVE writing early on and this center is one that they really do love!  My kids love when I read the words to them that they wrote, they are fascinated by the globe, and later on in the year they really remember these places they wrote down and they start to grow their interest in the world. I actually move on to having students write letters to mom and dad trying to convince them to take them on vacation to some of these places!
 Writing our color words is also a center I introduce early on and the students are very successful with this.  The color words can be found on my color posters hanging in my room or even in my thematic words binder for the kids to use if needed.
 Rainbow friends is always fun for the kids. They just LOVE writing their friends names.  For this activity I let them walk around the room and copy their friends names from their desk tags before returning to the writing center to write their names again in rainbow colors!
Another writing page that can be found in our writing center is writing the ABC words we find in our ABC books.  I love this page because some of the books don't point out the alphabet letters that easily.  Students have to search for the words on the page.  
Some activities for later in the year may be writing cards (I love you cards, Happy Birthday cards, etc).
They really start to enjoy letter writing towards the end of the year. I leave envelopes and a mini mailbox at the center as well. 
They love 'mailing' their letters (I deliver them at the end of the day).
All of these activities and more can be found in my Work on Writing pack.

This year I am also going to keep some emoji page options in my pocket chart.  I think students are loving emojis right now and are going to be super excited to have these as an option! 
Click on the image below to see more.

Now, what else can be found in my writing center?

I keep other activities right in the center so that way when my students are done working on what was assigned, there is no reason for them to tell me they 'are done'.  I want early finisher activities to be right in an arms reach and I want activities that my students will enjoy so that there isn't any complaining!

Of course students can choose another item from the writing center pocket chart seen above; however, I also leave other activities to choose from.

At the center I have a basket with white boards, dry erase markers, and my writing and word work cards.  I let students draw pictures on the white boards as long as they write the words as well!! Later in the year this turns into writing a sentence or a story.

I have letter stamps and ink pads in another basket.  Students can spell words on a piece of blank paper with the letters stamps.  Again, later in the year I have students actually spelling a short sentence with the letter stamps and illustrating their sentence.

I also have this new binder, which I am super excited about!! I added a cover sheet to the binder (which will be added as a freebie at the end of this post) so students know exactly what they can do if they choose to work on this. 
 Inside the binder I copied From The Pond's directed drawings.  I copied them on colored card stock, just to add some color into the binder, then I added each page into a page protector.  Students really shouldn't need to take these pages out of the binder to use. 
Like seen above, students can draw a picture with the help of the directed drawing, color the picture, add a setting, and later on in the year they can start to write about their picture.  
There will be times in the year where I actually assign them work from this binder too.  For instance, on 'apple day' the writing center assignment may be to draw an image of Johnny Appleseed using the directed drawing, add details, and write a sentence or fact about Johnny.
 I also have another writing binder as an option.  Again, this can be used as an early finisher or there may be times where I actually assign work from this binder.  The cover of this binder (found in the freebie below) tells students their options on what they can do while they use the pages inside the binder.  This binder correlates with a lot of the writing center activity pages too! 
 Inside the binder there are thematic words for the entire year! The themes range from school words to ocean words and Halloween words to Christmas words.  This binder has you covered! I printed the pages onto white card stock and inserted the pages into page protectors.  
The students will use these words to draw a picture, write a sentence or story, label a picture, write an opinion piece, etc.  There are SO many options to choose from!
This binder can be found HERE or by clicking on the image below.

You can find both of the binder covers for free by clicking on the image below.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Memory Books in Kindergarten

We start working on our memory book the very first day of school! This memory book is a 'scrapbook' from all of our favorite memories throughout the school year.  I include work samples, writing, picture writing, letters to their mom and dad, and of course memory book pages.  
When I have my 'meet and greet' the Friday before school, I ask parents to bring a 1 inch binder for their child and a pack of page protectors. You can also put 'holiday stickers' on your wish list if you want students to decorate any of their memory pages (this is optional). 
On the first day, I make sure to engage the students in some 'exploration centers' with manipulatives while I pull them quickly to take their first day of school pictures.  
We always write about the pictures that I print out (this was not written on the first day of school).  I probably print pictures once a month and try to get our 'picture writing' done once a month as well.  When we do picture writing, it is on a Friday at the 'teacher table' during literacy rotations.  This way I can be there to help them sound out their words.  After their page is done, it is entered right into the memory book binder that is left on my back counter in our classroom for the year.  
Perhaps my favorite page that we do is the page seen above.  I complete this page during the first week of school.  I write the child's name, they write their name, and they draw a picture of themselves on it.  
Why is this my favorite? They will do this exact page again in May or June and just wait until you see the difference! It is UNREAL!! 
The memory book is set up to be very user friendly.  I split the pack up by month.  So all you would need to do is download the memory book, print out the pages you need for August/September and then you are done for that month.  No need to have to remember to do this page again at the end of the year, because it will be in the May/June section as well!
In September I included their 'special apple tree' craft as well as some picture writing from the day we had our first cooking activity-our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom trees.
Again, no need to remember these suggestions or crafts, they are all in the pack as suggestions for you!! 
I don't have any pictures from October (must have been a crazy month), but in November we made these cute handprint turkeys and when they were dry, added them right into our memory book!
We love directed drawings from First Grade Blue Skies so in January we made a snowman! I actually hung these up on our bulletin board and then when I took them down, added them into the memory book!
Too cute not to save!
There are also writing topics and sentence starters to choose from each month. This page was one we did right after winter break.  Now they will have this in their memory book to look back on and to remember what they did!
For Valentine's we made these cute fingerprint LOVE prints.  The directions are included in the pack as well with the letter tracers.  I had to hang these up in the room before we inserted them into our memory books because they came out awesome!
Again, we did another directed drawing to add.  Keep in mind, each month we are also adding our picture writing and some writing samples!
Towards the end of the year we started getting in to some of the 'memory' pages.  I always love to read what they have to say about me! Haha!
We continued writing about different things that took place in our class.  This little one is writing about the day we planted our plants!
We also wrote all about our field trip to the children's museum!
Now, remember when I said this was my favorite part? 
Here is a beginning of the year sample...
and now look at the end of the year sample! It just blows my mind! I am always so excited for parents to see this! I don't think you realize until you look at something like this, just how much progress our little ones have made!
Some of our 'memory' pages included what the students' favorite things are.
Also, their favorite things about school!
Another awesome page is this one.  Love having students recall some of the new things that they learned throughout the year! I really just like to see what actually stood out in their mind--its funny to see what they remember!
Ahhh! Just have to look at this progress again! My favorite memory book pages by far :)
We included an autograph page.
Then we started wrapping up our memory books! We included what we were looking for the following school year.
A graduation directed drawing from First Grade Blue Skies.
At the end of the year I always invite parents in for a little end of the year 'awards show'.  On this day we hang up pictures that we drew of our moms and dads in our 'Mom and Dad Wall of Fame' and I also let students show their parents their memory books for the first time! The children cannot wait for this day! They ask all year long when they can take these books home!
On that day, I let parents insert their drawings into their child's books and I let them take their books home!
Every year I receive numerous emails after this event about how special these memory books are and how they are so thankful to receive them! Most parents have no idea we were even making them (printing out pictures, etc) and they are just in tears when looking through them.  
It in the BEST gift to give at the end of the year!
You can find my memory book by clicking here or on the image below :)