Editing in Kindergarten

It seems each year the same conversation comes around about writing in kindergarten. Editing....get them editing their writing. Ugh. Anyone else feel my pain? 
Well today the clouds parted, the angels sang, and I figured it out! I had them eating out of the palm of hand! Not a lie! I couldn't wait to get home and tell you all about it! 

I started just like I always do and told my kiddos what we were going to be learning about during Writer's Workshop and for the very first time used the word "edit". I always ask before I tell....what do you think that means? 

One of my very on top of it kiddos raised his hand and said it meant to "make sure".........hmmmm. He is right. That was a perfect explanation! 

So instead of getting out our writing check list we dove a little deeper into "making sure". I ask them to make a list of what they would need if they were going to the beach. 

We made the following list: 

1. sunscreen
2. swimsuit
3. food
4. towel

Excellent beach going items. I can tell my little desert dwellers know a thing or two about going to the beach. Then we imagined packing for the beach. Before you leave you want to MAKE SURE you have everything. We imagined digging through the suitcase (huge hands and arm movements here....we all pretended to throw stuff all around!)

We checked to MAKE SURE we brought the sunscreen...if we didn't bring it we would get burned and ruin our day at the beach. 

We checked to MAKE SURE we had our swimsuit. Seriously, our trip would be ruined without it. 

We checked to MAKE SURE we had food. Swimming makes me hungry! I would be miserable without food at the beach! 

We checked to MAKE SURE we had a towel. A day at the beach without a towel would be silly. 

Right? We need to MAKE SURE we have what we need to have a successful trip to the beach. Just like checking to make sure we have what we need in our suit case we can MAKE SURE we have what we need to be successful during writing. We made a quick check list for that....

1. Capitals
2. Punctuation
3. Spaces
4. Mostly lowercase writing

Then we practiced what it would look like to MAKE SURE our writing had everything we needed to be successful. Oh my heavens. It was AMAZING! They were editing like crazy! I had kiddos going back and changing lowercase letters at the beginning into capitals, and fixing those dreaded capital P's in the middle of their sentences. It just really clicked today! 

Phew. I am exhausted from all of the excitement. And to add to the excitement I saw this from Adam at Teachers Learn Too on Facebook when I got home. He introduced a chant that is really fun! If you don't already follow Adam you should. He has a fantastic Vlog (video blog) and shares lots of great ideas. 

Thanks for stopping by today! Have fun teaching writing! 

Five Towers Math Game

We played such a fun game in math today! I have been piloting some new programs this month so I'm getting a little bit of everything from everyone. That is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time! Today was good! 

I called this "5 Towers" because it just made sense. The program didn't call it that or suggest it...this just came from our investigation today. I love it when something on the fly happens and turns out so well! 

How to play the game: 

First we met together at one of my tables and I put one ten (1 tower) and 7 ones (individual blocks) on the table and asked how many blocks were on the table. It's funny but both of my classes said "7"....like it was no problem at all. They completely ignored the tower of 10 sitting there! It took a little conversation but we got there and discussed that we didn't need to count the 10, we could just count up from there. 

We tried a bunch of other numbers until we felt pretty solid. 21, 36, 42....you get the idea

I introduced the game by telling them each table would get 5 towers (50 cubes) to build a number. I would write a number on the white board and their group would make the number as quickly as they could. 

The goal was to keep the towers in towers of 10! (as much as possible) That way they weren't breaking things apart and counting by 1's. 

The first group with the correct number in the middle (and sitting oh so quietly) would get a point. The group with the most points would go to lunch first (yay for easy prizes!)

And finally...
We played the game......first of all we really need to work on our cooperation skills. This was evident during this game. I loved watching them figure out how to make "42" together. They wanted to grab all of the towers for themselves and it was hard to work as a team. This was great practice! We pointed out the fact that they had to work together....there weren't enough cubes for everyone to build the number on their own!   

This was so great for place value practice and a really good team building activity. My tables that worked together flew through this! One table designated 2 girls the 'ones' team and the boys the 'ten towers' team. They were the first ones done every time! 

Tomorrow we are going to add in HeidiSongs 10 song called "Get on the Bus". It is one of my favorites! 
Every time I walk my kids to bus I want to sing, "Get on the bus, get on the bus, get on the bus...." No one gets me....

HeidiSongs saves me all of the time. If you would like to see more, click HERE for my affiliate link. 

I wish I had taken pictures....I was too engaged to remember to pick up my phone! I will remember tomorrow when we get some independent practice with towers. Until next time, happy teaching! 

What are you teaching? February 27

I haven't been around much but I promise I have been teaching! Here is what we are focusing on this week!

We only have 2 weeks until Spring Break so it's down to the wire here. We are starting some work on our community helpers unit and next week we have a bunch of field trips planned. I'm so excited to share all of that with you but that's later in the week....

This week our story from Reading Street is Trucks Roll! My boys love this story. Not leaving the girls out, not being stereotypical....just stating a fact. We are working on comparing and contrasting, prepositions, and the middle /u/ sound. This is all highlighted in our weekly morning work:
Can you believe we teach prepositions in Kindergarten?
All of our centers come from this unit. It includes posters to keep your objectives posted around the room, easy prep centers, activities, and ideas that will keep you "rolling" all week. Hehe, see what I did there?
Our favorite center right now is the stamping center:
I will tell you that I used to STRONGLY DISLIKE the stamping station. I tried to organize it 100 different ways and it just didn't work. Students weren't getting the work done, stamps were all over the place, and then there was the mess.  What a mess!

A few months ago I got these:
Click on the picture to see my Amazon affiliate link

They completely changed our stamping center! Now it's open every week, kiddos are getting the work done, and it is not a mess! What could be better? I do have to say that the hinges on the lids broke pretty easily, but that didn't slow us down. The bottom of the case is holding up nicely and we just set the lid on top. The kiddos can carry them to and from their work spot without a mess. I got 4 sets and if you click on the pic you can get to my affiliate link. 

In Writer's Workshop this week I am continuing with Deanna Jump and Deedee Wills' Writing Through the Year Personal Narratives unit. I really love this one! I've done writer's workshop for the last 10 years but these units are packed full of great ideas and they keep me on track! 

Math is a mess.....honestly! I have been piloting new math programs for the last 2 months so I feel very unorganized here. I have been leaning on these 3 units to keep my sanity while I try out another program. Sigh....
This week I am continuing my pilot of Math in Focus. I have to say I do love this one. I am still using these to anchor my day: 

That's our week! 2 full weeks until Spring Break and I have abolutely NOTHING planned! It's been a long while since I've been able to say that. Have a great week and check back for more info on our community helpers unit coming up next week!  

How do you SPICE up your required curriculum?

I love being a part of Facebook Kindergarten groups. We live in such a interactive world where we can share ideas and lean on each like no other time in history. Goodbye to the age of shut your door and teach....open your door, open your mind, and open your browser to a whole new age of teaching!

Recently I've run across a lot of "I have to" teach this curriculum posts from teachers. While I want to say....I'm with ya sister....I also know that having a required curriculum doesn't have to tie your hands. I love our scope and sequence and I use all our stories as a guide for further research. Every story is a new opportunity for new learning, you just have to know where to look. I just finished up one of my favorite stories of the year, If You Could Go to Antarctica. Here are a few ways that I spice up this story.

Use Questions to Guide Instruction

I fell into this one by accident but it really made me open my eyes to what can be done with a required curriculum. After reading If You Could Go to Antarctica my first year we made a good ol' KWL chart and talked about all the things we knew about Antarctica. One of my kiddos said that polar bears live there. A few argued with him so I used it as a teachable moment and we decided that we needed to know MORE before we could agree on this.

We spent the week reading more stories about penguins (which we knew lived there because it was in the book we read), Antarctica, and some books on polar bears. I used this opportunity to do a week worth of penguin activities and learned all about penguins. At the end of the week the class decided that polar bears couldn't live there because they would be the penguins predators and everything we read about penguins said that seals were their predators. It was like one of those magical moments in the classroom where everything falls together, angels sing, and you sit in a circle and sing kumbaya.

A fluke? Nope, it works out that way every. single. year. I always worry that no one will add polar bears to the chart but it never fails, they always do!

Use Your Small Groups to Your Advantage

I try to keep our small groups pretty focused on our goals. You can read more about how I put my groups together HERE and I just posted over at KinderTribe about activities I do in our small groups. During a really exciting story week though I use these little readers to keep the theme going. We read the little reader and do a sentence building activity together. I love the weeks we get to do these!

I made these all to go along with themes throughout our curriculum. That is how I spice it up! Thank you for stopping by today and have fun with what you 'have' to do. 

Melting Heart Crayons

I make these every year for my kiddos and they love them every time. This year I found a (faster) way to make them. Well, maybe not faster but probably more efficient.  
Here's how I made them in the past and I've included the updated more efficient ideas! 

First peel the crayons.  (This is the hardest part!)

Ok....here is the update: I don't use brand new crayons anymore. I make sure to keep all of my old crayons and I even have kiddos help me peel them throughout the year. 

Next, break the crayons into smaller pieces and place in a heart shaped muffin tin.  You can do any color combinations you like but I just use a regular box of crayons and mix them up.  24 crayons makes 9 of these heart shaped crayons perfectly!

Put in the oven at 200 degrees until all the crayons are melted.  Like this:
At this point I put them in the freezer to let them cool (quickly) and because I only had one of the pans and I have to do this 5 times to make enough for my whole class.  It only takes a few minutes for them to cool and then they pop right out but it takes forever when you have to go through the whole process 5 times. 

So this year I found the silicone hearts like this: 

And I am hoping they work in the microwave....that would really speed it up! 

Here is a link to the Valentine page I used to give them.  You can click on the pic to download from Google docs. 

The kiddos love these. They are really strange to color with and it is always a surprise what color you will end up coloring with but they are fun and the message is full of love. The best part is because I bought the tin years ago and I don't remember what I paid for them it is a practically free gift :) Happy Valentines day, start these early if you want to hand them out on the 14th! 

Here are some more Valentine products from my TPT shop! 

Counting Collections Valentines Day Edition

Ahhh! Counting Collections is my very favorite thing to teach (I know I say that about everything but for today...it is true). There is nothing better than watching an entire room of kinder students persevere and work towards counting a collection. Of course most of our collections go up to 100 (shhh, dont' tell) but some have even more and some a little less. I blogged about this fun week in kindergarten HERE if you want to see the 'regular' edition.

Here is the video I watch every year to get inspired to teach this unit. It's from the Teaching Channel and if you haven't signed up for their emails you should! They have great PD videos available on a weekly basis.

I found some really fun Valentine's Day props to add to our counting collections bins. I have been searching for these for FOREVER! Silicone ice cube trays in the shape of a heart! I've been looking ever since I found these pumpkin trays.

 They weren't a dollar like their pumpkin counterparts but I was able to cut them into two different 10 frames. I had 4 cute little leftovers too....I'm still figuring out what to do with those!
 I found heart gems at the Dollar Store. I've been searching for those for forever too! The students will fill the ten frame, make a pile of ten, and repeat until they get 10 piles of 10. Of course I let them figure all of that out on their own. It's fun to hear them try different ways to get to 100. Some of them use the 10 frames and some choose not to. It's different every year.

I also found these really fun little spiky balls to add to our collections. I couldn't resist even though they were $1.98 a bag (at Walmart, in the Valentine's stuff). There is something oddly therapeutic about putting your hand in a bag of these. Sensory bin necessity for sure!

Those are the extras I added to our counting collections bins. If you look at my original post I keep all of my collections in pencil pouches.

I didn't put them away last year, I left all of the pouches full of items and ready to go so this year I have ZERO prep! Woohoo! Yay me! (That is a serious cheer for me moment....it's not very often that I actually plan ahead to save myself time!)

That's what we will be doing this week and then the Valentine's collections will stay in our math tubs the rest of the month. I can't wait because I know the kiddos will love these!

100 Day Projects

The 100th day of school. It is a special day, a milestone in the classroom and really a reason to celebrate the fact that we can count to 100!! After all...it's in the standards so use this as an excuse to party away! 

We have some special things that we do on the 100th day of school but I will be honest, in a half day program we are really just trying to squeeze it all in! One thing I always invite my students to participate in is our at home projects. Parents may be a little frustrated with me, but the kiddos certainly did enjoy bringing these beauties in! 

The jar projects were new for me this year. Great idea!

We had 100 paper airplanes, 100 army guys, 100 stickers, and 100 tiles!

A tutu with 100 pieces! 

There were so many, I couldn't take pictures of all of them but they were all super special. Their little faces beam when they bring in their projects to share. Of course it is completely educational too because this week we will connect this to our counting collections. I have some really fun things to share later this week for that. Stay tuned!

Pin this post for later: 
I included a letter to send home to parents in this packet for the 100th day of school and it is full of really fun easy prep options for that special day. Have fun teaching (and partying) friends! 
Click on the pic to see in my TPT store