Sunday, January 27, 2013

Groundhog Day

Here in Arizona, Groundhog Day doesn't seem to mean much.  The "winter" we have is so mild and short, that spring is always around the corner in early February regardless of whether he sees his shadow or not.  So, it's funny teaching my kinders about it because they've never really lived in a place where we have winter.  Kind of like our conversations about leaves falling from trees and cooler temperatures in autumn- our leaves don't fall from the trees in Phoenix until around January and sometimes it's still 100 degrees in September.  But we will talk about Groundhog Day a little this week, and we will tie it into our informational writing unit. 

I have couple of freebies to offer you.  The math one aligns to K.CC.2- counting forward from a number other than 1.  The writing one is a put together sentence about Groundhog Day.  We use these at our theme station and as morning work a few days a week.  Get the freebie here.  They are at my store in a couple of different places.  You can find them here or here.

For those of you in cold places, here's hoping for no shadow and spring right around the corner!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Math Word Problems

Years ago, the district I worked for spent a lot of money training teachers on Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI).  Ever heard of it?  Well, it's a "philosophy" of teaching math through which the children develop their own strategies for solving a myriad of problem types.  I put "philosophy" in quotes because this was drilled into our heads- that it is not a teaching strategy but a way of looking at how children solve mathematical problems.  They showed us basic problem types and taught us how to write word problems using these different types.  They showed us how to choose the number with a purpose to get the children to try out different strategies for solving the problem.  We weren't supposed to teach strategies like counting on, matching, etc... Instead, through the problems types we chose and the numbers we used, students would discover these strategies on their own.  From what I understand, teacher who truly embrace CGI did nothing but word problems in their math curriculum.  I just couldn't do that, but I have to say that CGI certainly changed the way I teach math and the way I approach word problems.  I am now very aware of the types of problems I give to my students and purposefully choose numbers that will help them use a specific strategy.  I won't tell them to use the strategy or even teach it specifically.  I let the students "discover" the strategy on their own and then we name it and talk about it.  Here's one of my little girls on the Smart Board showing me how she used the counting up strategy to solve a word problem. She's showing that she made a group of 6 and a group of 3.  She explained that she said "6" and counted up on the 3 more to get her answer of 9. The counting up strategy was "discovered" very early in the year- it was Connor who first did it in our class this year.  For the longest time, kids would say, "I used Connor's counting up strategy" to get my answer.

The  problem types you can find here
And, if you look at the Common Core, you will find these problem types listed but called slightly different names. 
In my classroom, I use strips of word problems that I cut apart.  Then the students stick them into their math journals.  Here's my freebie for you. JRU Valentine Word Problems It includes 2 Join Result Unknown word problems. 
Another thing I love about CGI is that they encourage you to differentiate your numbers for different students.  If a student is at a higher (or lower) level that the majority of the class, you can give them different numbers.  So, the freebie includes the numbers I chose, but also blank one where you can write in the numbers you want the students to use.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Daily Math and FREEBIE

There's so much math to teach in Kindergarten, but so much of it is practice and repetition.  When I taught in grades 1 and above, I used to love Evan Moor's Daily Math Series.  They were a quick and easy thing to do at the beginning of math time as a warm up and as a review.  So, I decided to create daily morning math practice aligned to common core.  Each day has a similar structure- writing, counting, comparing and solving.   Here's a couple of sample pages you can try out February Morning Math FREEBIE and here's the link to the product at my store. February Morning Math

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Word Family Freebie

We move pretty quickly through word families.  We spend 2 weeks on each vowel sound beginning with short a- focusing on two word families a week.  So, now we're moving into short i word families.  I made this fun game for students to play at my phonics center. 
Students spin the spinner and move along the game board.  At every word or picture, they say the word, sound it out, and write it on the recording sheet.  Find it at my store {FREEBIE!!}

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Counting On FREEBIE

Counting is such an important skill in Kindergarten.  We practice every day at calendar; we count by 5s, by 10s, by 1s and even by 2s.  They are so proud of themselves when they make it to 100!  The hard part, at least for kinders, comes when I ask them to count starting with a number other than one.  You can almost see their brains working when you ask them.  Sometimes you can even see their lips moving as they count in their heads to just to the starting number.  It's something we try to master in 3rd quarter and I have been trying to find new and interesting ways to practice.  I've created some counting up boards that I have in my store in various themes and forms that look like this.
But my latest is a freebie I just made.  I found these wonderful puzzle graphics from Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs and some really cute Valentine themed Graphics from the pond and made these puzzles. You leave one intact and cut the other one out.  Students then put the puzzle together counting on from the first number.  There are 5 puzzles in all and a recording sheet to go with it.
Click here to get the FREEBIE.  Happy Counting!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Literacy Stations for the week

Well, the first week back was a little rough for some of my kinders. There were lots of tears and "I miss my Mommy"! But by the end of the week we were back to our routines. I wanted to post my literacy stations for the week.   I love DeeDee Will's Poetry Stations and Writing Stations and Babbling Abby's Short Vowel packets. I did have them hyperlinked, but I don't think it's working.  (Grr- technology!)   Literacy Stations January 14

You can also grab a freebie thinking map with word families here.  It's very similar to the one I posted a few weeks back but I changed a couple of the word families.  The graphics from Charlotte's Clips are wonderful!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

High Frequency Words Day 4

Here's another quick and easy idea to incorporate sight words into other literacy stations.  I have an art station, but my administration frowns upon stations that do not have literacy standards closely linked with them.  So sometimes I feel the need to make my art center more academically rigorous.  I created a sight word mitten match that we are going to use for a couple of weeks in January.  I used the words that we are learning when we come back in January but left a couple of blank pages at the end so you could write in your own words and shape boxes.

Click here for the freebie.  BTW, I love, love, love the shape box font that I used here.  It is from Clips by Carrie.  Before I found it, I was spending way too much time making shape boxes with tables- yuck! or drawing them by hand- ugly!

It's two freebies for one blog today, I guess because here's another idea I've used.  It's an alternative to the Read It, Write It, Stamp It I wrote about a few days ago- no stamps for my little ones to break...  Get the freebie here.  I am planning on making sets of these and the Read It, Trace It, Stamp It for Fry and Dolch words and one other activity and selling them. I just finished the High Frequency Word Station packet for the Fry List.  It's in my store here.  I am working on the Dolch list and it should be up soon.  I think I am done with my High Frequency Word posts.  Hmmm, what's next?  Maybe word families?  Maybe math centers?  Not sure yet...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

High Frequency Words Day 3

Yet another day posting about High Frequency Words.  I kind of like these themed posts.  They keep me focused on a topic and, hopefully, I am sharing some things that are valuable to someone else.  Today, I want to focus on some whole group things I do to teach sight words. 
One of my kinders' favorites is a Power Point Slide show.  I make it with the entire quarter's words and we read it every day.  I make the words bounce in or rotate and they love it.  I mix up the words each day so they are not getting used to the same sequence.  It's just a quick and easy thing we do whole group every day that words well for us. 
Another idea I have is for an interactive white board.  If you have Smart Notebook software, there is a tool you can use called the Random Word Generator.  You just put the sight words you want to focus on- I think you can put 25 in at a time.  Then the kids push a button and it randomly picks a word.  Lots of fun!  There's also a dice that you can program with words and the kinders can roll the dice and read the word. 
Of course, we also cheer and chant the sight words.  I did not make any of these up- some are taken from Dr. Jean and some came from other unknown sources over the years.  Our favorite is the basketball chant.  The kinders stand up and pretend to dribble the basketball and spell the sight word- then when they have spelled the word they shoot the basket and say the word. 
We also really like the marshmallow clap chant.  We pretend there is a marshmallow between our hands that we are squeezing together as we spell the word and then say the word- one squeeze for every letter and then a really big squeeze when we say the word. 
We also love, love, love the cowboy chant.   We turn our chairs around and sit the "wrong" way on them like we are straddling a horse.  Then we get our lasso and wave it in the air for each letter of the word.  When we say the word we throw our pretend lasso out to get that cow and pull it in to say the word. 
The swimming chant is another favorite.  We take a swimming stroke for every letter of the word as we spell it.  When we are finished, we hold our noses and go underwater while we say the word. 
What whole group things do you do to teach sight words?
And, I am also curious how many sight words your kinders need to know by the end of the year?  Our goal is 75 (the first three Fry lists).  And, what list do you use? Fry? Dolch? Something else?