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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentines to Wilbur

So I was watching some video samples on ByrdseedTV: http://www.byrdseed.tv/

Which I have to do at home, by the way because the site is blocked by my district-it's considered "entertainment". ;)

If you are looking for ways not only to challenge your kiddos, but to be innovative in your teaching--this is a great resource. I am always finding new ideas here that I can adapt to my little ones. It's totally worth the subscription! Ian is very good at sharing ways to challenge our kiddos.

Anyway, this is the sample of the lesson I used today:



One of those ideas where you say-why didn't I ever think of that?! So we just started reading Charlotte's Web and the students got a kick out of Fern carrying her little piglet around like a baby. So I had them write valentines to Wilbur from Fern. I emphasized that it shouldn't just be "I love you" but I wanted them to include details from the story-some did better than others in that regard.

Here's what they came up with:



Your fur is white as snow and your eyes are dazzling with love. 
You are the greatest.

I like your fur. If I were a pig we are supposed to kiss.

I miss you, hope to see you soon.



I love doing things for you and I'm glad I have a cute little pig.


Why don't you come to Kindergarten?

I love you. I hope you come back. 
I will miss you very much.

I love you because you are Valentine love.

I will visit you at your house.



It was challenging for them to write as the character (as you can see some of them wrote the Fern said or Wilbur said-instead of writing in that voice)-but this is exactly what we practice with multiple perspectives. I'm going to try this again before Valentine's Day is over-I'm thinking maybe a letter from MLK to Harriet Tubman or something that aligns with our Black History Month activities, but I do expect it will be easier for them the second time around.



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Great Beginnings

One of the reasons I LOVE teaching Kindergarten is the progress you see in the kiddos throughout the year. I know many teachers who were discouraged a few weeks into the school year because their students did not know how to write and it's a very frustrating process to get them to the point where they can write a story in 9 months. But it can be done and it's very rewarding when they get there.

We talked about hooking our readers and ways we can use an exciting beginning to accomplish that. Here are a few of what my kiddos came up with:






This is the greatest day in school because it was my birthday.







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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kid's Philosophy Slam

I love using the concept of philosophy with my kiddos! We talk about ethics from Kaplan's Depth and Complexity anyway, I feel like this is just an extension of that. I discovered this contest because of Terri over at: http://engagetheirminds.com/ . We have entered for the past 3 years and I'm guessing there probably aren't too many entries in the Kindergarten realm because we have won both 2nd and 1st place in the past two years respectively. Of course, it's not all about winning, I do think it's a great experience for the kids as well.

This year's topic is:  http://www.philosophyslam.org/  "Imagination or Knowledge-which as a greater impact on society?"  Deep, right!? The more I thought about this the more I realized this is what I deal with every day! I teach a mostly GT class in Kindergarten. I am all about teaching them how to be creative and think critically, challenging everyone. And then I have kiddos right now who still can't read their high frequency words because that knowledge has not been drilled into them the way it might have been in a "regular" class.

Anyway my kids mostly wrote about imagination being more important -because that is what makes the world work, or that is what is going to save the world. They might here that often from their teacher...ahem, I tell them every day they are going to be the generation that is going to cure cancer, that is going to create flying cars, etc. and I'm glad they are listening! :)

It's not too late to enter if you are interested-all grade levels from Kinder through high school have a category.





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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sweet Similes

Ugh-I hate when I go more than a week without blogging! :) Yesterday was a big day for me though-I finished my radiation treatments!!!! Not nearly the same side effects as chemo but man, driving out there and  getting treatment every day after working 10 hours (I do clubs in the mornings and in the afternoons) was exhausting! So very glad that is over and one with. I'm not celebrating quite yet because I still have to back to the oncologist and make sure it's gone before I'm official-but at least this hurdle has been accomplished.

I introduced my kiddos to similes this week. There are lots of books that have great similes in them to use as mentor texts, but this is one of my all-time favorites to use:  

It's a really cute story full of similes and metaphors.

So after reading that and talking about what a simile was, I had the kids draw themselves and just come up with a simple "I am as ______as ________." or "I am _________ like ____________." Some of them actually described themselves pretty well.....

I am as curious as a monkey.



My hair is as soft as a cloud.

My hair is as crazy as a puppy.

I spin like a tornado.

hard as a rock (he told me he meant his skull) :)


I am as pretty as a princess (she asked if it was ok that she gave herself braces-they are obsessed with braces).


I am as noisy as a little kid.


I am as pretty as a star.



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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Character Court

Our yearly tradition now-Character Court! Years ago our school would have the 3rd-5th graders so a Wax Museum where the students would research a historical figure and then dress up as that person and give a little speech. Well, I asked why we couldn't have the little ones do a presentation too. And voila-Character Court was born.

We study fairy tales and then I assign parts to kids from those fairy tales. They write a little dialogue together (maybe 5-6 lines total) discussing an ethical issue from their story. For example, Tinkerbell asks Captain Hook why he's always trying to capture them, that it's wrong, they are just kids. Captain Hook replies-I'm not mean, I had a rough life. The kids paint a backdrop together for their setting and then stand in front of it in our gym and give their speeches. People walk through like a museum and listen to each pair. They did a really great job this year. Here are some of their backdrops:




The sky reminded me a little of Starry Starry Night! :)




Our Princess and the Frog pair

Little Red Riding Hood (I guess that's obvious).






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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Uses for Snow

One of my favorite creativity activities is to ask the students to come up with new uses for things. The first one we usually do is with a paper clip. Sure, paper clips can clip papers, but what else can they do? They can open soda cans, they can make cute earrings, they can help keep a skirt closed when your zipper breaks, etc. We do this activity periodically throughout the year with different objects. It's actually a good challenge for the kiddos to stretch their thinking-hard to come up with new ways sometimes.

Well, I know most of the country is really tired of the word "snow" right now, but we did new uses for snow. What, besides making snowballs and snowmen could we use snowflakes for? Here's what they came up with:

...to cool hot dogs



for a bookmark (they are super into bookmarks right now for some reason)

to make a cake

a dress


to make a timer



to make rainbows







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