Thursday, April 25, 2019

Landforms (Formal Observation)

I spent two weeks learning ALL about Landforms and we had a BLAST! My students were full of knowledge by the end of the two weeks and they were eager for more!! 
I added a landform poem into my Poetry pack.  We made hand movements for the different landforms (ex. for mountains we put our arms up into a point, for hills we put our arms up but made sure they were rounded).
When we were ready to add the poems into our notebooks I let the children choose which landform image they wanted.  Most students chose their favorite one they learned about which was fun!
So, how did I teach this unit? Every day we learned two different landforms. I gathered books and YouTube videos to help me teach.  After we read a book/watched a video I had students raise their hands and tell me some items that they learned.  We made a T-Chart on our whiteboard full of facts on the two different landforms from that day.
Then I sent the children back to their seats.  I have four tables in my room. I gave each table a piece of paper and assigned them a landform (we did this daily- so on the first day I taught volcanos and mountains, two tables had to make a poster on volcanos and two tables made a poster on mountains).  
They had to work together to add a title, facts, and an image.  They had free range to any art materials in our room. They just had to ask and I would take it out for them!
I've done so many collaborative activities throughout the year that my students are pros on assigning each other jobs and taking on different responsibilities.  For instance, someone made the title and another colored it in.  They took turns making the lines for the facts and writing them. They even took turns cutting, painting, or drawing the landform images. 
As the groups finished making their poster daily, they would present it. We made sure they had a title, facts, and an image and if they did, we would applaud and celebrate the group.
The landforms we learned were:
Monday- Volcanos/Mountains
Thursday-Desert /Hill
Friday- Review day
Week 2:
Thursday-Landforms wrap up (formal observation)
Friday- Build landforms at our sand park/landform cooking activity 
The first day they made their posters they needed a lot more assistance.  I offered some ideas on how to create the image and I helped them a little bit on assigning each other jobs. 
But, as the two weeks progressed they were so excited to get started and they didn't need me at all!! You can see the group in the image above even asked if they could go outside to get sand from our park to use in their desert! LOVE it!
These looked amazing hanging in my room! I hung them all up on our clothesline. 
Some of the books and YouTube videos that I used can be found by clicking on the links below (there were some days that I didn't have THAT much info, but we got by!) Also, there is a great landform rap on Flocabulary if you have an account and a great book to start off the unit with HERE:
Volcanos: Book 1 or Book 2 and Video
Mountains: Book and Book 2 and Video
WaterfallBook and Video
RiverBook and Video (diff bodies of water)
DesertBook and Video
Hill: Book
ValleyBook and Video
PlateauBook and Video
IslandBook and Book 
PeninsulaBook and I didn't find a great informational video but I did show them this as an example
PlainBook and Video
CanyonBook and Video
Then it was time for my formal observation! (This observation follows the same guidelines I've posted about before, just a different topic and activity. You can read more detail in that post.) At this point we had already learned about 14 different types of landforms! To start off the lesson I asked my students how they felt about their knowledge on landforms.  I have a scale on my whiteboard that we use during non-fiction units--it is a scale from 0-4, 0 being I don't feel like I am doing well and 4 being I am an expert and can even help a friend! Most of my students said they were at a 3 so I said to them, let's try to get to a 4 today! I think we can do it!
We went over the directions of the lesson as a class and I reminded them of the rules we use doing cooperative work. Then we made a quick rubric together (ex. everyones project will have a title, a picture, be colored, and at least 4 facts)
I paired the students up into groups of 2 or 3 and called each group up to choose a landform.  
They secretly chose one by reaching their hand into a bucket and pulling one out--they weren't allowed to show anyone! So they took their little piece of paper with them and got to work on their landform riddle! 
I had the white paper pre-folded as you can see above. The students wrote their landform underneath the flap and then kept the paper folded so no one would be able to see the title OR the picture! (When the paper is folded down all you can see are the 4 clues and the question.)
When each group was finished, we gathered at the carpet. We quickly went over the presentation rules (listen attentively, celebrate other groups, etc). I called one group at a time to stand up and present. They read their clues and then had to call on classmates to try and guess what landform they were referring to.  The kids LOVED this!
I mean look at this independent work! I was so proud! I could also tell my principal was beyond impressed. He was taking a ton of photos!
Then I told my students I was going to make sure they knew their landforms on their own by giving them one more activity sheet challenge! My students all had a huge smile on their face when I told them it was a 'challenge'. They love impressing me and knew they could do this! 
They all completed their activity sheet independently and all got a 100%! We went back to our learning scale and did another status check to see where they felt they were now. The whole class said they were at a '4' and I totally agreed! 
This lesson went a little over the allotted time for our observation so my principal didn't see that final challenge or the reference back to the learning scale, but that is okay!! Things don't always go perfectly and I know he saw enough to be happy :)

You can grab the formal observation activities HERE.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Easy and Fast Writing Center Addition

My kiddos (and I) start getting tired at the end of the year--so I like to start adding some new additions and new choices to our center rotations to keep things exciting! 
Now that my kiddos are writing independently, letter writing is the perfect addition! They love writing letters to their friends and families, but I think they really love putting their letters into envelopes and 'mailing' their letters.
You can find my letter writing activity sheet and some other make your own cards in my writing pack on TpT, but you can also just leave blank, lined, paper for them to create their own! 
I make sure that my students know my expectations when they begin this center.  Some of these expectations include: writing at least 4 sentences and addressing the envelope. 
Then, I make the center a little bit more 'fun' by adding stickers to decorate their note and envelope, and I add this cute, little, mailbox found here.  Trust me, the mailbox is SUCH a motivator! (It's the little things.)
 Happy writing!!
Would love for you to share your writing ideas with me on the Kindergarten Smiles Facebook Page!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Collage Blanket [A GREAT room mom gift idea!]

I don't normally share things like this on my blog, but this is too good not to share! I kept seeing the ads on my Facebook page or my Instagram for these blankets.  When I finally clicked on the website to check it out, I was really impressed!
The website gives you the option to connect to your social media outlets, meaning that it can quickly gain access to your photos (I am all about quick and easy)! I connected to both my Facebook and Instagram by signing in. Then, you just scroll through and choose some of your favorite photos--the more photos you choose the smaller they will appear on your blanket; however, you can choose A LOT or a few.  I went with a few of my family favs!
You can easily play with the layout and move photos around as well...its super simple! I checked out really easily and gave my cell number at check out. I immediately received a text confirming my order and then a couple days later a text saying my blanket was on its way!! AMAZING service!
 We all love this blanket, its SO soft and snuggly! My husband is actually snoozing under the blanket right now as I type this, haha! Ours is a 50x60 sherpa blanket.
I always tell you guys that the second I became a mom, I became obsessed with all the craft keepsakes and memory pages! Then it dawned on me, what a great gift this photo blanket would be for a room mom! You can add photos of their child from throughout the school year and surprise them!! always has amazing discount codes so it would be an inexpensive and cherished gift! 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

St. Patrick's Day Craft and Other Fun Ideas

St. Patrick's Day is a magical time for the kids.  We always read some fun St. Patrick's books that day and make a leprechaun trap in groups (STEM). We also do a fun cooking activity together! 
For writing on St. Patrick's Day we make this super cute leprechaun craft. There are different writing options to choose from, and I give my students the choice of what writing page they want. You can grab this craft HERE.
Another one of my favorite things to do is put on music and work on a directed drawing. 
I love First Grade Blue Skies directed drawing activities and she has a great leprechaun FREEBIE HERE.  These make for a very relaxing afternoon! A great Friday activity!
Another one of my favorites is this FREEBIE HERE from Sunny Days. It was made for a second grade classroom, but I think kindergarten and first graders would love it as well! Being a mom, I LOVE these kind of keepsake projects!
This would be a great way to turn your cooking project into a STEM project as well! Instead of play-doh, you can use large marshmallows or even the small white powdered donuts!! This way your cooking project is totally independent! You can grab this FREEBIE HERE from Creatively Teaching First.

I would love to hear your fun ideas for St. Patrick's Day below!

You can also grab some of my in store freebies by clicking on and of the images below.

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!