Saturday, November 22, 2014

From the Sock Hop to the Turkey Trot!

What an eventful week! We had a blast on the 50th day, celebrated American Education Week, and ran in our first Turkey Trot. It really was an amazing week.

Reading Workshop: We had two new sight words this week. We now have 20 words on our word wall. We also completed the Alphabet Board.
One of our favorite read-alouds was Cranberry Thanksgiving. As you know, we have been talking a lot about the characters in the books we read. This week we explored how characters can change from the beginning of the story to the end. For example, the grandmother in Cranberry Thanksgving did not like the character, Mr. Whiskers. She really judged him by what was on the outside, rather than the inside. As the story developed, several things happened that caused the grandmother to change her opinion. In the end, she liked Mr. Whiskers! We also read The Ugly Pumpkin and discussed how the pumpkin changed in the story. Later in the week, we started learning about the settings of the stories we read. We read The Scarecrow's Hat by Ken Brown and the children were easily able to identify the setting as a farm.

Writing Workshop: The children continue to make excellent progress with their writing. We talked a lot about vowels this week. We have our own vowel strips glued to the inside of our folders to remind us to use vowels when we write. We also talked about the "power tools" we have when we are writing. We have alphabet charts, anchor charts hanging in the room, the word wall, and our new vowel charts. We also learned that there are some words we just know in a "snap". We brainstormed words that we use a lot in our writing and made a list. We added words like mom and dad. We decided that we should add these words to our personal word walls and place them in our writing folders.

Gabrielle uses the word wall to help her with her writing.

I am so proud of their writing. I am also excited because many of them are choosing to write during center/choice time. In fact, this week Nuala thought we needed a welcome sign for our door so she made us one during center time. Thanks Nuala!
Nuala standing next to her welcome sign!

Math: We continued our unit about comparing numbers. We also had a lot of fun with Thanksgiving math!  We completed Thanksgiving Ten Frames, completed subtraction problems using turkey counters, counted Thankgiving foods, and played several Thanksgiving math games.

Social Studies: We read our latest issue of Let's Find Out and learned about the pilgrims. We talked a lot about the first Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims and Native Americans. We read a book about a Pilgrim girl named Sarah Mortin and learned about the chores Pilgrim children did long ago.

50th Day: Wow!!! We had so much fun rocking and rolling all day long. We completed several math activities with the number 50. The children loved doing Dance Dance Revolution to some great 50's songs. We read a collection of stories from the Dick and Jane series. We had a sock hop in the gymnasium and we have some experts at the hula hoop! We took our pictures next to a pink Cadillac and finally, enjoyed root beer floats. Mrs. Svare, Nuala's mom, took a lot of great pictures and will be emailing them to you.  Thank you!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Preparing for Winter!

Yikes! It is definitely colder outside and we saw our first snowfall this week. It was the perfect week to learn about animals preparing for the winter. We also talked about hibernation.

Reading Workshop: We loved the book The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. In fact, we read it a few times! After the first reading, we talked about the characters and setting of the story. Then, we looked at the vocabulary in the book. We noticed the author used the word lair instead of cave. We discussed why the author chose this word instead of cave. Some of the children thought it sounded scarier while others said it just sounded more interesting! We also talked about the important events from the book.

We had fourth grade buddies this week and it was very exciting! Usually the fourth graders read to us, but this week was different. Every kindergarten student had a book they could read independently! They were very proud to be able to read to their buddies and the fourth graders were impressed.

Reading buddies

Having fun reading together

We met with our guided reading groups, too. Some of us played alphabet games, and others reviewed sight words. All of the groups read a book and practiced using our Eagle Eye and stretching out new words like Stretchy the Word Snake.

Writing Workshop: We continue our unit called Writing for Readers. We want our books to be easy to read so all of our friends can enjoy our work! This week, we looked at a story Mrs. Hepfer wrote and used post it notes to label the parts that were easy to read. Then, two kindergarten friends volunteered to use their pieces as models and we labeled them, too. We also met with our writing partners and used a checklist. We learned that checklists can help us while we are writing to make our work easier to read.

Writing partners listen.

Writing partners help us make our writing better!
Writing partners use checklists together.

Our story with post-it notes

Math: We compared numbers from 0 - 10. We watched several videos from our Envision series and completed a few pages. We also enjoyed math tubs. We found missing numbers, counted animals form the Bear Snores On, played on the iPads, and learned a new Thanksgiving math game called More or Less.

Phonemic Awareness: We had a new letter expert! Our board will be complete by next week! The children are very excited. We played several letter games this week, too.

Social Studies: We talked about Veteran's Day while reading the latest issue of Let's Find Out. We watched a two-minute video from the Scholastic website. We made cards for veterans, too.

Music and Movement: We sang Going on a Bear Hunt by Dr. Jean. The link to the song is now under Music and Movement.

Science: We have a new wall in our room called... The Wonder Wall! Throughout the week, the children can write things they are wondering about on a post-it note and place it on the wall. It is completely independent and they write them by themselves. We will try to choose one per week to research. The purpose of the wall is to develop and nurture your child's natural curiosity. We will also have a new observation table soon! The question this week comes from Brendan:

Why do sharks use small fish as a toothbrush?

Here is what we found out:

Pilotfish often travel with sharks. This relationship may be due to the natural schooling behavior of pilotfish. Pilotfish also eat small amounts of food scraps that are released as a shark feeds.
Several species of small fishes, like the cleaner wrasse and remora, are "cleaners" that pick debris or parasites from sharks.

We found this information from this site:

We also visit a site called Wonderopolis. It is great! You may click on the link on the left side of this page to visit the site. 

Other exciting news:

As of Monday the children no longer have "assigned seats" at the tables. By this time of the year, the children know the classroom rules and expectations. We had a discussion about privileges and responsibility. These are "big" words for little ones, but they really understood their meaning. I told them that being able to choose their seats every day is a privilege in our classroom. In order to earn this privilege, they must be responsible and follow all classroom rules. Also, all children must be included and no one can be told they cannot sit at a certain table. If they are unable to be responsible then they will not earn the privilege of choosing their own seat every day. 

I have done this for years, and the children love being able to sit somewhere new every day (although some are creatures of habit and try to sit in the same spot all year). In fact, rather than running to tables or fighting for a specific seat, the children are usually engaged and work together to figure out a plan. 

Monday is our 50th day of school! Don't forget to have your child dress up for the occasion. Mrs. Hepfer will certainly wear a special outfit :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Spinning Spiders

Spiders are really amazing. We spent the week learning some cool facts about spiders.

Reading Workshop: We continue to talk about the characters in the stories we read. Our big book was called I Love Spiders by John Parker. We learned the term "narrator." After reading this book together, we realized that the narrator was actually a spider. We discussed why the author decided to have a spider narrate the story.

One of the favorite books this week was The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. Many of the children were already familiar with this story. We identified the main character as the busy spider. We learned that the main character is who the story is mainly about. We charted character traits for the busy spider and we drew pictures of what happened in the beginning, middle and end of the book. The children also identified the other characters in the book. We also loved the book Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham.

We read several non-fiction books about spiders, too. On Monday we made a chart about spiders. Before making the chart, we talked about the word schema. Schema is like a mental file cabinet. It is all of the information stored in our brain. The children realized that they are "thinkers" as they are reading. Our schema can often help us better understand what we are reading.

Before reading Spiders by Gail Gibbons we listed all of our schema we have about spiders. They already knew a lot about spiders! Then, after reading, we charted our "new learning." Finally, we listed some of the misconceptions people have about spiders. Some people think all spiders are dangerous - not true! Also, some people think that spiders are insects. They are actually arachnids.

We reviewed several sight words with our Itsy Bitsy Spider project. The children were even able to attach their very own spider to go up and down the water spout!

Phonemic Awareness: We played the hula hoop game! This time, we practiced substitution. Substitution is when you substitute one sound for another to make a new word. For example, we first made the word bat. Then, I said the word rat. The children had to tell me which student needed to sit down to make the new word. All of them were able to tell me that that the first letter had to switch to R in order to make the word rat. Later in the week, we practiced this skill using our white boards. This is a fun activity you can do at home.

Exciting news! We have graduate students from the College of Saint Rose coming in to work with our students on several phonemic awareness skills. They will visit our classroom until December.

Writing Workshop: We started our new unit this week! We talked about how we don't just write stories for ourselves. We write them for other people to enjoy - we are writing for readers. So, we need to make sure that our stories are easy to read. We sorted the stories in our folders into two piles. The first pile had stories that were easy to read and the other were those that were difficult to read. The children did a great job with this activity. Then, we charted the reasons why a story may be either easy or hard to read. For example, it is hard to read if our letterers are "smushed" together or we don't stretch out all of the sounds we hear in the words. Then, we decided our stories are easy to read if we use spaces, stretch out the sounds, and try our best to use neat handwriting.

Math: Our new unit teaches us to compare numbers. We learned about the terms more and fewer and compared numbers up to 10. We also used our own ten frames to make several number comparisons. The children had lots of spider math fun too! We completed an activity called spider ten frames and made a spider graph.

Music and Movement: We sang There's A Spider on the Floor by Raffi and The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Don't forget...

We do not have school on Tuesday next week. 

I will be sending home an invitation for American Education Week and you will be invited to visit out classroom. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Spooktacular Week!

We had plenty of Halloween fun in kindergarten this week! 

Reading Workshop: We enjoyed several books for reading workshop. Our favorite book was Room on the Broom. After the first reading, we identified the characters and started to retell the story. After the second reading, we acted out the story as we discussed the characters, and the problem in the book. Finally, we acted out the story once more and talked about what happened in the beginning, middle and end of the story. We also completed a graphic organizer and each student drew the main events from the story.

We also read, In A Dark Dark Room. The children loved this spooky tale. We turned off the lights and used a flashlight to read the story. Children were able to come up to the big book and used the flashlight to identify sight words. It was so much fun!

Although we will continue to read pattern books in our guided reading groups, our new unit in Reading Workshop will teach us to dig deeper into the books we read. We will focus on characters, setting, and main events. We will also learn strategies to help us learn new words.

Look at that cute witch! 

We read other great books, too. We enjoyed The Vanishing Pumpkin and Where's My Mummy. After reading Where's My Mummy, the children discussed character traits. We listed several traits for Baby Mummy. We made our own mummies and listed a trait on each one.  We enjoyed independent reading and book clubs, too.

Writing Workshop: Wow! We completed our first unit of study. We will begin our next unit, Writing for Readers, on Monday. The children selected their final piece for publishing and practiced editing and revising. They did a fantastic job!

Phonemic Awareness: We had new letter experts this week. We also practiced counting syllables in Halloween words, such as bat, mummy, and Frankenstein. See if your child can either clap, tap or count syllables in these words. We played a fun haunted house rhyming word game on the large felt board, too.

Math: We finished unit 3 in math. We reviewed shapes this week and made Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein using several shapes such as squares, triangles, rectangles and circles. Our next topic will be about comparing numbers 0-10.

Our fabulous Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein!

We also completed four math tubs for math centers.  This week, the math tubs contained two activities, rather than just one. We examined haunted houses and matched monsters to the numbers on each house. We made a spooky graph, counted monster eyes, played Halloween number memory (Mrs. Hepfer never won), and we completed a sheet with multi-step directions. It reviewed counting and color words.

How many monsters live in this house?

Halloween Number Memory

How many eyes does this monster have?

Next week we will learn about spiders! Yes, they really are helpful :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oh What A Night!

Our Nocturnal Animal Display

We had so much fun learning about nocturnal animals this week! 

Reading Workshop: We continued our study of pattern books. We read I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly. After reading a few pages, the children starting reading along with me. I asked them how they knew what to say, and they all exclaimed, "It has a pattern!" We realized that patterns help us make predictions. We also talked about the different ways pattern book are written and how the pictures help us figure out what comes next.

We also read pattern books during our guided reading groups. We practiced pointing to each word as we read. We used special monster pointers, too! Your child should have brought home his or her book from reading club. Please have your child read it to you a few times. This helps build confidence and improve fluency. We learned about Eagle Eye this week. Eagle Eye tells us to look at the pictures to figure out new words.

We read several books about bats, owls and other nocturnal creatures. After reading Stellaluna, the children made a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting bats and birds. They also created the main character, Stellaluna. After reading a non-fiction book about bats, we each wrote one fact and pasted it onto a large black bat. We also made owls after reading a non-fiction book about these amazing birds.

We learned two new sight words. Please remember to look through your child's reading folder every Monday. It will contain the new sight words for the week and the book we read in class. You can keep the sight word sheet and book at home and return the folder by Friday. If you do not have your laminated list of words, please let me know and I will send home another one for your child.

Writing Workshop: Wow! We have almost finished our first unit of study. We discussed revision and editing this week. During the revision process, the children looked at a model I had written on chart paper. Then, using the revision checklist on the Smart board, we reviewed the piece and discussed what I did well and how I could improve my story. We also learned about editing. Again, we used my sample story and checked it to see if I had spaces in my writing, used the word wall, used lowercase letters, etc. We met with writing partners this week, too!  Our first writing celebration will be next week.

Phonemic Awareness: We played a fun pocket chart game to review beginning sounds. We used the letters in BAT to sort words that started with those letters. We had a few new letter experts this week and our board is almost complete!

Math: We are currently exploring our third unit and learning about numbers 7-10, while still reviewing 0-6. We used the Smart board for several activities and the children love taking the quiz every day on the Smart board. We completed four math tubs for math centers. Please see pictures below! We reviewed ten frames, measured bats, counted bats, and completed a fun math sheet about nocturnal animals. We also made a graph this week. It was called, "Do you think bats are cute or creepy?" We learned that graphs are a way to display information.

Counting with bats

Measuring the wingspan using unifix cubes

Going Batty! Ten frames with bats

Bat roll and count

Our bat graph - 17 cute, 4 creepy
Music and Movement: We have our very own old lady who swallowed a fly! We used the doll and stuffed animals to sing this fun song.

Next week: We will have tons of Halloween Fun!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nocturnal Animals Video

I just found this cool video about nocturnal animals. We will be learning about them this week. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pumpkin Fun!

We had a lot of pumpkin fun this week!

Reading Workshop: We continued our unit about pattern books. During our guided reading groups, we read several pattern books. We noticed that most of the words changed at the end of each sentence and that the last page was usually different than the rest of the book. We talked about using picture clues to help us figure out unknown words. Due to the short week, and the half day on Tuesday, I did not meet with every group.

Our favorite book this week was The Biggest Pumpkin Ever. After reading the story, we identified the main characters. We also compared them using a Venn Diagram. A Venn Diagram helps readers organize their thinking and increases comprehension of the story. After making a large Venn Diagram, the students completed their own.

Our large Venn Diagram

Phonemic Awareness: Mrs. Falco was back to visit us on Friday! We continued to break words apart into individual sounds/phonemes. We used Elkonin boxes this week and learned to "push" the sounds we hear in words. The short vowel sounds are very tricky to identify. We will learn about these sounds all year.

Writing Workshop: I continue to be amazed by my young authors! We learned how to make speech bubbles this week. The children loved using them in their illustrations. We also have a new anchor chart called "How To Write A True Story." We identified the different things a true story must contain, such as who, what, where, what happened.

Authors hard at work!

Math: We completed our second unit and will being unit 3 next week. We made a fun project using different shapes. We made silly pumpkins using rectangles, ovals, and triangles. We explored several concepts during math centers. Look below for pictures of these fun centers. We used candy corn ten frame cards to identify and count various numbers, ordered numbers 0-20 using pumpkins, played on the iPads, and played a fun roll and color game to count up to 12.

Silly Pumpkins!

Starting to order and working as a cooperative group

The finished project!

Counting using ten frames

Using fall counters to count

Sushi Monster!

Roll and Count

Science: We are still learning about the five senses. We talked about our wonderful fall walks and how we used our senses to explore our environment. We also learned about the skills we use as scientists!

Our science anchor chart

Exciting news!!! We have a new student joining us on Monday. Her name is Sarah and we are thrilled to have a new friend in our classroom. Welcome Sarah and family!

Next week we will learn about bats and other nocturnal creatures!