Hello everyone! It has definitely been a long time since I’ve posted. With the pandemic hitting it has been a time of stress and confusion but I feel good about this year.
Our school has reopened with a plan on how to keep myself and other students safe with a strategy called “cohorting”. It is where your class stays within their group the whole day and does not do school-wide activities in person. Staying in our separate “cohorts” is a way to stop the increase of community spread. Students are asked to wear their masks when inside the school except for when they are eating.
In my all-star classroom students have individual desks each with their own individual supplies. All classroom activities and supplies have to be in individual bins and only one student can use the item at a time. When something is used it gets put in the “sanitation station” where the items are cleaned to be put back in the classroom so it’s safe for someone else to use.
Our first days of school went by quite smoothly! Much of the days were spent singing songs and learning the classroom procedures and routines. Students got to enjoy extension centers where they learned problem solving skills and explore what we have to offer in the classroom.
We also learned how to use our individual materials by creating an anchor chart, writing a list of things we can and can’t do with crayons. Students provided the answers for the anchor chart and together we developed a guideline on how to safely and properly use the crayons.
Then students practiced their coloring skills by coloring a soccer ball that had clear lines and spaces for them to color inside. Their goal was to color inside the lines and have as little white-space as possible.
To celebrate the first week of kindergarten we read books that talked about going to school for the first time such as “Miss Bindergarten Get’s Ready for Kindergarten” and the book “Kindergarten Rocks!”. Then students talked about how they felt on the first day of school and created a first day of school pennant. They picked an emoji that they felt matched their emotion for that day. They colored the emoji and glued it onto the pennant. They also practiced writing their name on top instead of writing the feeling. When students finished they were able to take their individual book bags and practice reading leveled reading books.
To help students learn the alphabet we are learning special characters called “Alphafriends” from the Journey’s reading curriculum. Each Alphafriend has a hand motion that goes along with each of the characters. We also learned how to write the letters by writing in our “rainbow write” journal.
One part of my reading block through the past 4 years has been that of literacy workshop. It is a block of time for my students to work together in small groups to work on important literacy skills, work on social skills, and problem solving. This time allows for me to work closely with students that needs help on deficient skills and work with my students on guided reading.
Students are given a group and they follow a schedule that shows what center they are on. Each center has a card that matches the schedule. The students find the center based on the schedule and the clothespin shows the student what part of the schedule they are on. When the timer goes off students find the center that has the card that matches the next card.
For the first few weeks of school our focus will be on letter recognition. Students will work on matching letters at the pocket chart, playing with magnetic letters (building words if possible), putting together letter puzzles, and finally coloring a back to school book.
In the past 10 years or so there has been a steady increase in expectations in what students are required to learn in kindergarten. With the increase in expectations of our students; it makes it even more difficult to find activities that are not only engaging, age appropriate for young learners, but also align to state and national standards. Below are some examples of centers I do during my workshop / guided reading time.
There are many different centers that are shown here. On the computers the Kindergarteners have been using a website called abcmouse.com, which is an amazing website free to all public school teachers. It has a whole plethora of supplemental activities that range from early literacy, math, and even science. You can create a login for all students and place them at different levels based on their academic needs. It’s a great program for RtI.
First graders have been using the website raz-kids.com. This website is an interactive fluency / reading comprehension website that ties into the guided reading program I used last year called Reading A-Z.
One of the biggest changes in Kindergarten is the requirement of learning sight words or words used most often in children’s literature. Now most schools and school districts require that by the end of kindergarten children are able to read with success, at least 20 sight words by the end of the year. Examples of the most commonly used sight words are; a, my, the, see, I, go, can, he, she, look, like, and love.
The centers above show how we can encourage students to actively recognize sight words and how they are used in sentence formation, and how to spell them. I have sight word stamps that I pre select for students and they are to put them into the correct order to form a sentence. I also have alphabet letter stamps stamps where they can make the words. Finally our reading program provides sentences for students to partner read, I allow them to use highlighters to find the sight word of the week.
A few more examples of my centers include sequencing cards. They are a set of 4 pictures that show a simple story. The students practice putting the pictures in the correct order in which they would happen. Students can flip over the cards to see if they correctly completely the activity.
The last center is called “Write Around the Room” which is a class favorite! They get to put on silly fake sunglasses with the lenses popped out and they are spying for words in the room that begin with a certain letter that we are learning.
As part of our back to school celebration we read the story “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” (our classroom theme for this year) and practiced singing the ABC’s in various different ways. We sang it the traditional ways as well as the Phonics Song from Have Fun Teaching youtube!
Then we practiced writing the letters in our name, cutting them out and gluing them in order. Then we also counted how many letters were in our name and made a class graph of who had the most letters in their name and the least amount of letters.