Thursday, May 31, 2012

Growing Up To Be An Artist

Is it possible to be in love with a book?  This is an amazing book by Lois Ehlert.  It's the story of her childhood, in relation to art and creativity.  I don't consider myself to be an artist, but I do love to sew, take photos, and create beautiful landscapes in my garden.  I enjoy refinishing furniture and will paint a room in my house, any chance I get.  Although I don't think of myself as an artist, I do like to think I'm creative.

Creativity is what this book is all about.  The author talks about how sewing, gardening, and woodwork helped nurture her creativity.

If you're not familiar with Lois Ehlert's work, in most of her books she uses a collage technique for her illustrations.

In Writer's Workshop today, we used a collage technique too!  Is there anything better than nurturing creativity in kindergarten?

Kids made beach scenes, cats, robots, and gardens.  The sky was the limit and their creativity took over.
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I'd like to leave you with a quote from Hands, where Lois Ehlert talks about her childhood creativity.

 "My folding table was my own spot.  I hope you, too, will find a spot of your own.  Creativity is within all of us; we just need time -and a place- to nurture it."
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Painting Poems

One of my favorite poetry activities is painting poems.  We spend a lot of time thinking and planning our poem.  Then we get to paint.  The kids use their mental images to create their pictures.  As their painting, the adults go around the room and have the kids talk about their paintings.  We listen and emphasize the language we hear them using.


Once the paintings are dry, we start the writing portion.  After working on poetry for a month, the kids really start to get the hang of it.  Most kindergarteners like to write list poems.

Today, we had the fifth graders help us type our poems.

The fifth graders acted as our writing coaches.  They helped the kindergarteners with the layout and formatting of the poems.

The finished products are hanging in the hallway, between the fifth and kindergarten classrooms. 

The paintings are beautiful.  The writing is beautiful.  The experience was beautiful.

Simply beautiful.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gardening Books and Pinterest

I know several of the parents in my class are already on Pinterest.  If you haven't already discovered it, it's a great way to find fabulous activities to do with your kids.  We've just started reading books about growing gardens in kindergarten.  I started a Pinterest board with some of my favorite garden themed books for kids. 

You can check out my Pinterest boards by clicking here.  I have lots of educational activities, books on different themes, and even a bunch of sewing projects and recipes.  I'd love to follow you, if you are on Pinterest.  Please let me know, so I can add you to my list!

For now, I hope you'll take a look at some of my Favorite Gardening Books for Kids. You can find most of them at the public library, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.  We've been reading many of them in class and I know the kids would love to explore them at home as well.

Happy reading!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pop! Blowing Bubbles in Kindergarten

I absolutely love the month of May, in kindergarten.  The kids are becoming confident readers and writers. They know they expectations of school and work hard to do their best.    Poetry writing begins in May as well.  It's a time for kids to have fun and write!  I have always found that this unit is the most freeing for young writers. 

Today's poetry experience involved this book:

and these bubbles:

The book came from Barnes and Noble and the bubble set came from Lakeshore Learning, in Bellevue (and online).

Before reading the book, I asked the kids if they had ever had any experiences with bubbles.  Of course, their hands shot into the air.  They all wanted to share their bubble stories. We took time to share and time to "turn and talk" to tell their friends about the stories.  I reminded the kids that because they had played with bubbles before, they had schema for bubbles.  We read the book and kids shared lots of connections they made.

Then came the fun part.  It was a gloriously sunny day, so we went outside for some bubble blowing fun!


After a little bit of free exploration time, I asked the kids to do the same activity, but this time use their writers' eyes.  We talked about using our senses (but not tasting the bubbles) as we made observations.  There were comments about how you could see a rainbow inside of the bubbles, and how far away some of the bubbles floated before popping, and the different sizes of bubbles we were able to make.

When we went inside, the poetry began spilling out. 

"BIG bubbles started into small bubbles.
All bubbles
Pop on the roof"

"Bubbles are shiny.
I like popping bubbles.
I like chasing bubbles.
I like to blow bubbles."

I can't wait to share more of their poetry as kids continue working on these pieces.

I'm so happy to be back in the classroom.  I've been home resting for quite a while.  I won't know for 3 more months if I have any permanent kidney damage, but for now, I'm just thankful to be feeling better every day.  Thank you for your support and understanding while I've been in and out of the classroom and recovering from my surgeries. 
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sight Word Fun

I love it when we have helpers in the classroom.  Mrs. Gable and Mrs. V are both here, pulling small groups of kids, in the mornings.  On Monday mornings I'm lucky enough to have two more volunteers in the classroom.  It's the perfect opportunity to have some sight word fun!

One small group played Sight Word Bingo.

Another group built words.  My teaching partner made those great little beans with the letters on them.  It's something different for the kids and they enjoy building the words with the beans.

See that plastic craft box in the middle? It's one of these boxes you can get at Michael's to keep beads organized.  Each cubby is labeled with a letter and the beans are put back in the correct section when the kids finish making their word.  If you're looking for a fun new way to practice sight words at home, this is a quick and easy way to practice.  You can write the word for your child.  They build the word with their bean letters.  Then they write the word when they are finished. 

Here's the list of sight words we expect kids to be able to read when they complete kindergarten.

Kids are assessed three times each year.  Just ONE MONTH from now, we will be doing our final assessment.  How is your child doing?  We practice these words daily, during writing and phonics time, and on Tuesdays we practice the words through song and dance.  Volunteers and Para Educators work with small groups of kids on letters, sounds, and sight words as well.  We have sent home flash cards for you to practice with your child and hopefully they are enjoying the memory game too! Oh, and don't forget, the little books we send home also reinforce those sight words.  Keep practicing.  Only one month until our final assessment!
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