Sunday, May 20, 2018

Weekly Wrap-Up ... May 18 -> The 3 Little Pigs, My Story app, Mother Mary

Teaching in a Catholic school, throughout the month of May, we discuss Mother Mary and learn to recite the prayer Hail Mary.  
I was inspired by Maria Locantore (@marialocantore) to set up this beautiful provocation inviting the students to draw and paint Mother Mary.
I found a step-by-step tutorial on how to draw Mother Mary that was simple enough to teach the Kindergarten students on
Look at how beautiful these drawings came out!

Although there are not many stories in the Bible about Mother Mary, I did find this video that we watched on You Tube.

Over the past few weeks our students have enjoyed reading classic stories, including The 3 Little Pigs.  This provocation invited the students to use various materials to create their own house for the pigs and/or retell the story.

(I bought these foam bricks at Michaels)

My Story
Continuing along the lines of story telling, I wanted the students to create their own stories.  Many of them already do when they draw a picture, but I really wanted to dive deep into having a 3-part story with characters and a simple plot.
We used the Create-a-Story template from my new Get Your Students to Write pack on TpT.
I worked with a small group of students and had them think of a story idea.  We had everything from travelling to NYC to unicorns and rainbows.
After they designed their story (beginning, middle, end) I introduced them to the My Story app.
They start by adding themselves as an editor and thinking of a title for their book.
I have about 2-3 students work on this part with me at a time.  There are only 3 iPads for the students to use and at first they need some direction as to how to insert graphics or draw their own.  But they quickly caught on!  The only major part they needed me for was to help them record their voice over on each page.  We had to step out in the hallway as it was much quieter there.
 Then they design a cover page and add more pages to their book.  The app has amazing graphics or students can draw their own pictures.
I'm hoping to save these stories on each student's Google Drive folder and turn the link into a QR code.  Then I can print the page (with the QR code) and turn it into a class book.
Last year I printed them and displayed them in our hallway.
There are 2 versions online - the free one (top image in picture below) or the version that we used (bottom image in picture below).  The difference is that the paid version offers lots and lots of graphics for the students to choose from.  If you are unsure, try out the free version first!

We used it last year so many of them were already familiar with it.
You can read more about the My Story app here.

Students also had the opportunity to cut out groceries from the weekly flyer and create a list.
I love having students write on a daily basis and this is a simple way for students to add beginning sounds and labelling their picture if they are still working on writing.

I also sent these home so that parents had an idea of what they can continue to work on with their children over the summer.
You can also find these activities in my Get Your Students to Write pack on TpT.

I've had a lot of questions about how to set up a writing program in a kindergarten class to keep students motivated and interested in writing.  I'll schedule a blog post in the next few weeks and try to answer all of those questions!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Weekly Wrap-Up...May 11 ->. exploring math concepts and story retelling

This week we wanted to focus on math skills and what better way than playing games!

The students were encouraged to make a guess (estimating) as to how many objects are in the jar each day.  We switched not only the objects inside the jar, but also the size of the jar, so that this would become more challenging.

We found this online activity that we played with the whole class where we had to estimate how many marbles are in the jar.
You can find this on
Click the picture below to take you there.

Still sticking with the topic of volume, we wanted the students to explore capacity, learning which containers can hold more and using tools of various sizes (measuring cups, spoons, funnels, jars).
 I dyed the rice with food colouring and added a touch of rubbing alcohol (makes the colour stick better).  The beautiful 'rainbow' rice lasted for all of 10 seconds before becoming all mixed up.  But isn't it still beautiful!

It's interesting to see how some students noticed the different sizes of the measuring spoons.  We intentionally took a picture and placed it on the tray for students to organize these spoons during clean up time.  Many recognized these from their homes too!

A simple game we placed out to play is Roll-a-Number.
It's great for subitizing (recognizing numbers instantaneously without having to count) and graphing.
Students roll the dot die and add a counter on their graph.  First number to the top wins!
We asked questions such as:
"Which number did you roll?"
"How many of number _ do you have on your graph?"
"How many more do you need to win?"
"Which number is more? less?"

Download this game for FREE by clicking {here}.

Over the past few weeks, the students have been very interested in nursery rhymes and fables.  When I saw this activity on Heidi Songs blog I knew we had to try it!
Students were eager to see who could build the tallest wall for Humpty to sit on.
They had to measure it using the ruler.

I bought these foam bricks at Michaels.

Here's an easy provocation to set up which invites the students to create a symmetrical butterfly using loose parts (you can add anything at all for them to use!).

This online game is from Toy Theater.  It was a fun way to introduce the concept of symmetry to the students, as they had to match the two sides of the butterfly's wings together.
Click the picture below to take you there.

We read a story each day in class.  Years ago, I made a whole bunch of felt board pieces to go along with some of the more popular stories.  You can read all about how to make your own felt board pieces (they really are EASY!) here.

This is the story Mouse's First Spring.  It's a story that's easy for even your non-readers to follow along and retell.  Some students even made up their own story with the pieces!

And, of course, with Mother's Day tomorrow, we read many stories and learned this poem.

You can find this poem (with a fun activity!) here:

You can read all about what else we did for Mother's Day here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Our Bird Inquiry

About a month ago (when it was still chilly out), a few students noticed several birds outside the window on the field.  They wondered if the birds had returned from the south.  Others mentioned that not all birds flew south and stayed here during the winter months.
More and more students became curious about the birds out the window and spent a large part of the afternoon talking about them.

We set out a provocation to see what students knew about birds.
We were very surprised to see how much they knew!
During Sharing Time, these students shared what they knew about birds and others contributed too!
We decided to track our thinking on chart paper so we could revisit some of our theories and wonders.
We walked down to the Library Learning Commons and asked our librarian Mr. C. for some books on birds.  The children spent so much time looking at all of the pictures and asking great questions!

I made these bird cards to get an idea of which bird(s) they were most interested in.  They began drawing their favourites and asking more questions.
As the interest in birds continued, we read more books to help us answer our wonders.
One of my favourite books is Mama Built a Little Nest, and we used this book to set up a provocation inviting the children to build and design their own nest.
We even spent much time watching the live bird feeder (I found it on You Tube).
We not only looked for different birds we could identify but also listened for their sounds.

L.G.:  The Blue Jay makes a "jay jay" sound!  I read that in the book!
We asked the children if they thought any of these birds would be good pets.

J.C.:  I have 2 budgies at home!
 A.A.:  I would love a bird because some birds can talk to you, you know?

One parent (J.C.) sent us pictures of their pet birds for the students to see!
 This provocation had children come up with a story about birds, now that we researched and found out what birds eat, how they make their nests and even knew the name of many types of birds.
This lesson, labelling the parts of the bird, came from A Day in First Grade.
Many of the questions around the different birds we were studying were about how big they were.
Ms. Bowes, an E.I. in our classroom, shared with us her pictures of a trip she went on and saw flamingos.  The children were so excited to take a measuring stick and find out how big they truly are!

A.D.:  I'm the same size as the flamingo!!!

So we set out large poster paper and helped the students research and draw the birds life size!
We had the children also add their research to each bird they chose to draw and paint.
Some children also decided to create different backgrounds, as we learned some birds only live in certain places around the world.
We set out Plasticine and invited the children to make their own bird.
They all came out incredible!
They even enjoyed drawing them!
In our sensory bin, we added shredded paper (you can buy this at a craft store) and cut up small pieces of yarn.  The students used tweezers (these are from Wintergreen Learning Materials) to pick up the "worms" and feed the birds (place them in the containers).  It made for a great fine motor activity!
After reading the book Riki's Birdhouse, we invited the children to use the 3-D figures we had collected from a few weeks back (see post here) to design their own plan and make a bird feeder.
After making our bird feeders we went outside to find the ideal place to hang them.
After we read the book to the class, many children took an interest in the book An Egg is Quiet, as they enjoyed looking at the pictures and wondering about the eggs.
We left the book out with some plastic eggs (I picked these up around Easter at the Dollar Store) and as the students learned what the eggs looked like they painted them.
Finally it came time to assemble our documentation.  We are fortunate to have a large hallway and wall space just outside our room.
Here are some closer pictures: