Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kindergarten Writing in January

We're just wrapping up the first semester, in the Edmonds School District.  Report cards will be coming home at the end of the week and parents are anxious to see if their kids are meeting grade level expectations.  What are kids expected to do by this time of the year?

Here is a writing sample that shows what most kindergartners are able to do right now. 

This student identified a topic she wanted to write about.  She drew a picture and was able to write a sentence to match.  Her words contained the beginning sounds.  She is starting to be able to spell some of our sight words.  I notice that she's beginning to use lowercase letters in her writing and she's even using spaces in between her words. 

Just so you know, we don't use writing prompts very often on kindergarten.  We structure our writing time in a Writer's Workshop model.  About once a month I ask kids to write from a prompt.  It's a great tool to see their growth and share with other teachers at our grade level.  

Writing homework will begin coming home in the next few weeks. (We'll be doing writing instead of math homework for a few weeks.)  I hope you'll keep these expectations in mind as your child writes at home.

By the way, by the end of the year your child should be able to:
*write multiple sentences on a single topic
*work on piece of writing over multiple days
*use beginning, middle, and ending sounds in words
*use many sight words in writing
*use consistent spaces between words
*use mostly lowercase letters

Happy writing!

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Read to Self" in Kindergarten

Reader's Workshop looks different during every single month of kindergarten.  Kids grow and change so quickly at this age!  Kids who did not know their letters and sounds in September, can read independently now.  So, what are we reading?  What does Reader's Workshop look like in Kindergarten?

We do a modified version of Daily 5.  In kindergarten we do Daily 3.  We read to self, listen to reading, and work with words.  We don't have the chance to do all three, every single day, but we do the best we can. 

This month, in our "read to self" work, we have added book shopping to our Reader's Workshop.  Instead of reading books from the book tubs the teacher put on the table, kids are selecting their own books.  Most of our kids are reading Level A or B books on their own now.  So, when we select books I ask that kids choose 3 books from the A and B tubs.  These are books the kids will be able to read with little or no support.  Here, you can see my little friend is pointing to the words as she reads the story out loud.

We want to be sure kids are reading for pleasure as well as practice.  At the beginning of the year, we talked about the 3 ways we read books.  We can read the words, read the pictures, or retell a familiar story from memory.  Obviously, in the picture below, this little friend won't be able to read Ariel's adventures on her own. (Maybe you know a few kindergartners who can, but I don't have any in my class this year!)  Kids are asked to choose 2 books from our classroom library to add to their book bags.  They may not be able to actually read these books, but they love telling the stories. 

At the end of book shopping day, each child will have a bag filled with 5 books, 3 of them are easy readers, and 2 of the books are their own choice.... something they are interested in, but that they may not necessarily be able to read on their own.  I think book shopping day is their favorite day of the week!

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Painted Snowmen

This has to be my all time favorite art project in kindergarten.  These little snowmen melt my heart every year.  This is actually a photo from last year, simply because they aren't dry yet.  More pictures coming soon!

I'm sad to say, I missed my favorite project this year.  (darn germs...getting the best of me)  But, I'm so happy that I have a fabulous teaching partner who jumped at the chance to have some painting fun.  

This project starts with watercolor.  We talk about the difference between cool colors and warm colors.  We look at the "fall" pictures we used in our leaf painting project.  They are full of orange, red, yellow, and brown.  Then, we look at winter pictures.  They are bright and cool, full of blue, purple, and pink.  The kids are asked to paint 3 backgrounds for their snowmen, using cool colors.  Then we leave them alone to dry.

The next step is painting the little snowmen bodies.... and then they dry. Finally, the kids use tempera paint to add details, like hats, scarves, and arms.  I love the use of a variety of art materials, studying the difference between warm and cool colors, and simply letting kids create! 

Happy painting!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Adding Numbers in Kindergarten

Before Winter Break we started unit 3, in our Math Expressions curriculum.  In this unit we continue our work with adding numbers together.  We will continue working on seeing the numbers 6-10 as "5 plus another number".  We'll also continue our work in place value, seeing the teen numbers as "10 plus another number".  Now, we'll be looking at different ways to break numbers apart, seeing the partners that numbers have.

For example, in the picture below, we see two partners in the number 7.  We can see that 5 and 2 are number partners that make 7.

Today we focused on the number 6.  Since dice lend themselves well to this activity, we took turns rolling the die.  The rolled number was the first number partner, we had to figure out which number would be the number partner after the break-apart-stick.  Then we built our number arrangement and said the equation out loud.  The kids put their break-apart-sticks in their backpacks to take home.  This would be a great activity to do at the kitchen table.  Kids could use Cheerios, marshmallows, pennies, or anything else as their math manipulatives. 

Happy rolling and adding!