Sunday, September 16, 2012

Scientists at Work!

We have been learning about our Five Senses and how we use our Five Senses to learn about the world.  We are also learning about Science Skills and Science Tools.  One very important things that scientists do is use their sense of sight to OBSERVE things.  We also learned that a Hand Lens or magnifying glass can help us observe things we are learning about.  So, we each got a hand lens to use and observe things in the classroom.   
 After a little exploring, I let the children know that scientists also RECORD their observations.  So, we got out our spiral notebooks, wrote the date at the top, and practiced recording our observations.  If what we were observing was small enough, we took it to our tables to record it in our notebooks.
 If it was too big to take to our tables, we took our notebook to the observation and did our recording there.
We also made sure to use color, so our observations were ACCURATE and we practiced LABELING what we recorded.
I just love it when there is a busy hum in the room and the children are totally engaged in what they are doing.  While they just thought it was a fun activity, I knew we were laying the foundation for our science work this year.  I made sure to use the words, Scientist, Observe, Record, and Accurate and also made sure they knew what the words meant!


Many things we do in kindergarten start off with me modeling what I want the children to do.  As we start doing more paper and pencil work I want the children to remember to write their names on their papers.  I usually put a copy of the paper we are doing on the document camera that will show on the ActivBoard.  The first thing I always do is write my name...Mrs. Windom.  I got such a smile on my face when I saw this name on a paper...
 and sometimes when we are just talking with each other I will refer to the girls as Miss with their first name, so I also get this name sometimes... 
Just too cute!

Newsletters and Calendars

I will be posting newsletters and the snack calendar to the blog.  To access these, just click on the page links at the top of the blog. 

Of course, when I sat down to add this week's newsletter, I had forgotten to save it on my computer and didn't have a copy of it in my school bag.  I will have to scan it and add it on Monday!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Find it! Fix it!

Has your child mentioned Find it, Fix it?  Are you wondering what they are talking about?  Well I refer to it as the greatest game ever invented.  I found it mentioned on a blog a couple of years ago and I love, love, love it.  Here are the particulars from The Clutter Free Classroom...

It's sort of a game.
But, not really.
If kids think it is a game they will want to play along. If you simply tell them to clean the room they may not be so interested.
Here's how it works:
Picture a classroom at the end of a school day. While it may not be a complete disaster, there are surely things out of place. I'm talking about things like a pencil on the floor, a pillow that is not straight, papers left on desks, a random crayon in the colored pencil box, a stapler left out of place (usually by me), books that are not facing the same direction, a goldfish cracker lying belly up just waiting to be crushed by a pint-sized sneaker, and other nit-picky things.
You pick one of those things and secretly put it into your brain. Then you tell the kids to "Find it / Fix It." At that point they scurry around like little elves and perfect the imperfections of the day. The whole scene lasts about 1-2 minutes. It doesn't end when the mystery item is found, but rather when the room is perfect.
The rules are simple: No talking, no running, no crawling under tables and no moving something unless you know for sure where it needs to go. The last one is important because you'll always get some kiddo who shuffles things to look busy. If a child talks, crawls or runs they are 'disqualified' and must sit down.  I also added you may not fix something that has already been fixed!
After everything is made to look spotless and every last thing is in it's place, I tell them to return to their seats to find out who won. I have them stand behind their chairs and will give them elimination clues to reveal the "winner." I say things like, "the winner is wearing shorts" or "the number of letters in the winner's first name is an even number."   As they are eliminated they sit down until only one friend is left standing.

It wouldn't be any fun without a "prize."  (one year the prize was the winner got to control the remote for the ActivBoard...another win, win for me!  This year we are starting a little more extrinsic, with simple piece of bubble gum!

Want to know a secret? Come closer and I'll whisper it.

It's usually rigged.

I try to make it fair so that everyone gets a chance to be the winner. I will often pick the winner before they start playing and will watch to see what he/she fixes and claim that was the "secret thing." I then put a little dot next to their name on my roster so I know that the student has had a chance to be the winner.  This year I am also starting the game with more than one winner a day.
Love it, Love it, Love it!
Don't give away the secret!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's Puzzle Day!

Friday is always Puzzle Day! When we arrive at school, we unpack (Thank you parents who are letting their children unpack their backpacks and not doing it for them).  We put our Folders in the basket and head to the puzzle shelf. We have the option on Friday morning to do a puzzle, read a book, or work in our "spiral notebook".  This just gives us a little time to socialize and work together on a Friday morning.
 We still love these wooden puzzles.  Some are easy and some are a little tricky!
 Coloring and writing in our spiral notebook.
 Showing off a drawing from his spiral.
 Working together on the Dinosaurs floor puzzle.

Math Fun!

While we have been working on our first two Math topics, (1.  Sorting and Classifying, 2.  Position and Location), I have been introducing other components of our math curriculum. 
One of the most popular activities is using our math manipulatives.  We use our "sorting boxes" to practice sorting.  We decide how to sort and then see if we can sort in other ways.  We are also exploring some of the "classic" math manipulatives, pattern blocks, unifix cubes, cuisenaire rods and teddy bear counters.  It is always a good idea to give children time to "play" and explore these manipulatives.  It is always interesting to see what they do with these things naturally.
  We have also just started our Math Problem Solving Notebooks.  We are going to use this to practice our problem solving and math skills.  We are also getting much better at using our Expressions with the ActivBoard.  I created Math flipcharts that have questions built into them that we answer everyday.  This gives me instant feedback to see how the children are understanding the concepts we are learning.
 Using the carpet as a big sorting mat!  Sorting "jewels" by color.
 Working in our new Math Problem Solving Notebooks.
 How long can you make the unifix cube train?
 Checking out the little cuisenaire rods.
 We are getting faster at answering questions with our Expressions.
 Using our Expressions to answer questions on the ActivBoard.
 Sorting keys.
 We love the jewels in the sorting boxes!
I will be adding in more Math games and centers in the coming weeks!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zero the Hero

Tuesday was the 10th day of school, so that meant that we had our first visit from Zero the Hero!  We are counting the days we come to school on our 100 chart and also adding "ones" squares and "tens" strips to our place value chart.  When we add that new ten strip, Zero the Hero comes and leaves us a little treat, shaped like a Zero, of course!  he always brings donuts on the first Zero the Hero day!

It is always fun to start the day with a little treat!  And we are starting to lay the foundation to learning place value!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Parent Phone Calls

I will be trying to finish up my beginning of the year parent phone calls today and tomorrow.  These are our way of establishing an initial positive contact with all of the parents.  They just give us a chance to chat and gives you, as parents, a chance to ask any questions you may have at this point!  So don't be concerned if you see my number show up on your caller id!

But first I must go walk the bridge!