Friday, December 30, 2016

Snowflakes first

I'm ready to start back in January.  To get the kids ready I will ease back into activities with making snowflakes.

Paper snowflakes
Use coffee filters and fold into fourths.  Real snowflakes have six sides but it is too thick for them to cut yet.  Show the children how to cut triangles tall, wide, short, skinny patterns along the edges.  I encourage them to make two.  One to decorate our classroom and another to take home.  

Before Christmas I had the children trace their hands in white and make multiple hand shapes over the course of days.  I stapled three together to make snowflakes for our classroom door display.  Green hands were used to make a pine tree with the lighter green hands holding a heart with the student's pictures in the center.
Some years I've made full snowmen with all their white hands.  And green hands to make an evergreen winter tree with white hand snowflakes.

This project is done in stages over 2-3 days.  Show sample globes and writing is done at a center along with doing step by step craft.  This gives time for the snow paint to dry as you will see.  
  • I take pictures of each student acting out playing in the falling snow.  Pretend you're catching snowflakes on your tongue.  Pretend you can catch a snowflake on your hand/mitten. Some years I have had them dressed in their snowclothes for the picture.
I cut out their picture for them. 
  • A circle is pretraced to fit the clear plate size just a slightly larger line for cutting line is drawn.
  • A trapezoid shape is cut out and the circle is glued to the base.  We do the writing project to glue on to this base prior to doing the circle part.
  • Then we make a mini pine tree from a 3-inch square.  See post in December where we made 9-inch square pine trees folding on the diagonal. We glue the tree on the circle.
  • We mix white paint and shaving cream and glue to make a fluffy snow which is painted on adding a few snowflakes in the sky.
A clear plastic plate is splattered with white paint and a toothbrush (I do that).  I found them at Target.  They don't have any printed words on the bottom.
Then with a hot glue gun, I assembled their creation to look like they ARE in a snowglobe!
  • If I lived in a snowglobe writing projects. 
Using our five senses, we talk about what we would see, hear, taste, smell and feel if we lived in a snowglobe. 
I bring in small snowglobes that I have collected for those who may not have ever seen one.  
Living life in a bubble.  It is interesting how some can imagine and some just copy.  They think it's fun anyway.

Counting snowflakes.  
*We have ten frames with snowflakes to count and show numbers.  Use dry erase boards to write the number I show using the ten-frames.
*We count groups of snowflakes and put them in order.  This is an activity that lends itself to easy differentiation for ability groups.  Some groups can start at a higher number to practice counting on from the smallest number (11-20).  Some groups need to have a one to start from to do 1-10.
*Use snowflake stamps to stamp out the number.
*Make snow scene cards for the students to count sets or to follow a story problem to solve.  You can use erasers for counters or print out snowflakes on cardstock, laminate and cut for quick counters.

Snowflake words
*Print sight words on snowflakes.  
*Make memory matching games.  
*Write the room looking for sight words on the snowflakes.
*Use the words to build sentences.  

*Copy winter words describing winter weather.
Use different color markers and then Q-tips in white paint for the snowflakes.  

Science observing a cup of snow melting.  Place cups in various parts of the room and record observations. 

And then there are Reading stories about snowflakes .....coming soon my favorites.

Then we will move on to making snowmen...more activities coming up so wait and watch.....


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Stars aglow

Let's make stars.

First start off with our bodies, spreading feet apart (not in the splits).

Stretch out both arms.

Wave left hand with elbow straight and twist body.  Waving hand as it moves in front of their body.  (Wave at me.)

Now touch (opposite) right foot and stand back up.

Wave right hand with elbow straight and twist body continuing to wave hand. (wave at me)
Then touch (opposite) left foot and stand up.
 Then I show them with lines repeating their body movements.  Redrawing to show what they did next.

Hey!  They made a star!
They get so excited. 
Practice on Dry Erase boards talk through each movement to practice drawing a star!  
Make a paper full in different colors.  This helps some students who need practice physically crossing their mid line and then on paper.  It is important to be able to cross their mid line to make diagonal lines too.  Young children have the most difficulty with making these lines.  It shows when they struggle to write the letters  A or M, N, Kk, Vv Ww and Yy.
They will be making stars all over.  Use this excitement to have them draw sets of stars or stars in a pattern.  (big, little, colors...)

Hidden Stars
Give students a white crayon to make stars (even just x-line stars) on a white paper.  Be sure to press hard with the crayon.  It's hard to see..but then use water-base dark blue/black paint to paint left to right to uncover the stars.

What's in the night sky?
Star sticker science:
Give students 5+ sticker stars.  Use the kind you need to lick.
Hold them in one hand over a black/dark blue construction paper about 10-12 inches.  One, two, three turn over hand and open up.  Let the stars drop on the paper.  One at a time, students pick up, lick and stick in the same spot.
Then students can connect the stars with chalk or a white crayon.  What does your design look like?
This could be an introductory lesson or conclusion to talking about the constellations and star designs. 

These help introduce sky watching from our science series.

Now I know Stars is good to begin learning the sun is our closest star!  
Then we practice drawing stars in "Counting Stars".  On each page students draw the number of stars, learning number words, to the poem.  A sentence strip shows the step-by-step lines.
"One star twinkles,  Two stars shine, Three stars glow, Four stars sparkle, And five stars fill the sky!"  
I'm sure I adapted the poem borrowing it from somewhere.
I've also copied pages from our science series so each student has their own copy as we learn about the day and night sky.
Together answer questions about when do you:
? Eat breakfast, walk the dog, sleep, eat lunch, go to bed, see the moon, see stars?  Day or Night
Fold a paper in half (hamburger fold) and title each side with DAY  - NIGHT, draw pictures of things they could see in the day sky and in the night sky.  Label.
Nursery Rhymes
Of course, include reciting these rhymes.
Twinkle, twinkle little star.  Research the other verses!
Starlight, star bright.  (making wishes)

Count the Stars
Make cards with varied amounts of stars. Use different  color of stars or use same color star stickers on different colors of cards.  Place the cards around the room. Make a record sheet for the students to "count around the room" and color the stars corresponding to the card or star color.
Variation for Sight Words on colored stars and students write the word and color the star to match.  See sample of record sheet below.

Pull a star card with a letter on it from a bag/box/pile.  Write the letter and its pair.  See sample of record sheet below.

Ten Frame counting 
Make ten frame cards, some filled with ten stars, some blank frames and individual star cards.  Gather a small group of students to practice counting together and filling ten frame with stars (can also use star shaped erasers).  When the group conceptualizes the value of 10, substitute the filled ten frame card and use an empty frame to count on, build teen numbers, etc.
Hands-on counting practice helps students conceptualize the value of numbers.

Star cards 
Put sight words, nonsense words, letters on star cards for games such as Lotto (directly matching same) or letters for letter sound matching.  
MEMORY GAMES with star cards to match same word, uppercase to lowercase matching, letter to initial sound picture, rhyming pictures, pictures with same ending sounds.
HIDE IT -Using rectangular word cards facing student, hide a star card and students have to read the word they think the star is behind. Or adapting the letter pair star cards, place a shooting star behind one of the cards.  Put the cards on the floor or a pocket chart.
READ THE STARS - place 'star word' cards around the room and give students a star pointer to take turns reading the words.
Fun with stars can work anytime throughout the year.  But during the dark days of January and February, it fits best for my classes.

Reach for the stars! 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dry Erase Boards

I just love dry erase boards in kindergarten!
It is not permanent so this is great for young learners.  They can erase and try again without tearing.

Here's a list of only some things I use them for:

 * Wake up their brains - every day as the students come in after checking in with attendance, helper jobs, and marking lunches, they get a dry erase board, marker and eraser and begin to "wake up their brains before the bell."  Practice varies as their abilities increase.  We start with writing their name, then write letter pairs, (alphabetical order), and numbers as far as they can write.

*Practice writing stokes.  Make straight lines top to bottom, long and short, across the board left to right, make them little lines and making continuous loops, making circles "o's" and starting at the top.  Make bumps (as for h, n) and 'cups' (as for u's).  Make zigzags left to right, top to bottom and even from center and continuing around getting bigger. 
*When introducing a new letter or number or shape, we practice on a dry erase board before writing on paper.  (We start with air writing.)  We chant "START AT THE TOP." It is easy to check and remind to work left to right and top to bottom.  
Remember not all strokes are practiced all at once.  Handwriting is a gradual practice. 

*Write sight words.
*Write number sentences, Story of addition 'facts'.
*Group practice to write dictated numbers, letters, shapes
*Group practice of story problems to listen, record and solve and show your work.
*Play a game "Show me"  

I say a letter pair, number, etc.  Students hold board in the crook of one arm and write.  I say "cap your markers and put them down next to your eraser."  Hold the board close but not touching you so others don't see.  Boards on top of your head (facing backwards) 

then I say "1,2,3 show me"  The students turn their boards around still on their heads.  
I can see at a glance those who get it and those who need help.

*Write the number that comes after ___?
*Write the number that comes before ___?
*Write the series of numbers beginning with ____. (counting on)
 *Write the series of letters beginning with _____. (alphabetical memory order)
*I say a series of random  numbers (4 or more) to write from auditory memory.
*Write the numbers ____, ___ ,__.  Practice putting a comma between the numbers.
*Write the numbers _____, ____.  Circle the number that is more/less.
*Write a dictated sentence using sight words.
*Write a question.  Trade board with someone and they have to write the answer (in a sentence).
*Say the sounds and students write the letters for the sounds.  Does it make a real or nonsense word."
*Circle the vowel in the word you wrote.
*Write word families lists.  
*Make a word ladder.  Change the "letter" to a "__" to make a new word.
*Practice making tally marks while listening and counting...
*Write a number line.
*Use the number line to add-on, take away, count backward.

*Students can take surveys in the class asking yes-no questions and tally responses. 
*The children love to play school during their free choice times.  They make up their own activities and always choose the dry erase boards.
*They love making lists of classmates names and writing words around the room. 
*They love to use the boards and markers when their parents visit to show them what they can do.
*Use the board to learn directionality and vocabulary of: tall, "long way up & down", vertical, horizontal, "long way sideways", short side, long side, front and back
*Practice positional words.  Put the eraser above your board.  Put your marker between your board and your eraser.  Put your marker to the right side/left side, below your board.
AND these boards are used on the backside as 'table tops' when we do use paper with our rug groups.

The children learn how to properly cap the markers until they click.  
We go through a lot of markers.  So far I still like the Nasco and The Markerboard People dry erase markers. We buy them in bulk sets of 30.  
They are cone tip and easy for the children to hold and use.  Since we do use them daily, these last a bit longer. It is December and we have gone through about 2 per student so far.  I rotate between the black and blue ink. 

The children want to use them all the time.  They are learning routines of putting them away and responsibility for the care of materials.
The more they practice right, the better they will get.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hand Crafts in December

Hand-in-hand we grow....And to make crafts and gifts for our families.

Forever Handprint
This project has been a yearly gift to my families.  They grow up so fast.  Many parents mention that they bring this out year after year and remember when they were so small.  The print could be made on a square with the poem on the back and used as an ornament or as above all on one side as a wall ornament.
Even making the print on the front of a folded paper card with the words inside.  Or both parts on a horizontal folded card to put on a table top. 
"You clean my prints from wall and door,
for I'm not careful when I play.
But here's a print you'll want to keep,
it's made for you this Christmas Day.
Love,  "

Hand print snowmen ornament.
You will need clear plastic ornament balls for each child.  White acrylic paint, Sharpie markers in black, brown, orange, green/purple/red/blue.  Package of craft snow.  Ribbon and printed cards with poem. 
"You hang me on a tree, as you can plainly see,
but the secret you don't know,
is that the snowmen in a row,
are my five fingers oh so wee,
that belong to the one
and only Me!!" 
Paint child's hand using acrylic white paint.
Spread fingers like holding a ball.

Place the bulb and press fingers on the ball. 
Carefully remove the ornament.  Let them dry a day or so.  
*Write the child's name near the top of the bulb with a sharpie before painting.

Use the Sharpies to add details of hat, arms, eyes, mouth, nose, buttons and scarves.  (My orange marker dried up so I have to get another one.  They still look cute without the nose.
Remove the top and put a bit of 'snow' inside.  I think just enough to cover the bottom is plenty.

To wrap, we found that chinese carryout boxes are a perfect size.  We printed holiday clip art for the children to cut out and glue on the sides of the boxes.  To my family cards are made to send home.

Monday, December 12, 2016

More December Ideas

Make a Pine Tree.  (Diagonal fold)

Use a 9-inch square of green construction paper.  Fold on the diagonal and cut.

SAVE one, take one.

Put long triangle side on the bottom and fold over and cut.
SAVE one, take one.

Fold triangle in half and cut for the last two parts.

Begin with largest triangle and put a dot of glue on the top.  Lay middle size triangle on top and press (count to 10) to stick.  
Put a dot of glue on the top and glue one of the small triangles.  Repeat.

I demonstrate then put all the steps on the board and label step 1,2,3... 

It is important for them to learn how to follow written directions.  This shows how they do. Just to practice folding by matching corners and edges is difficult for some.  
You could add details to make this into a Christmas tree or a winter tree by painting snow on the points and edges.

Counting Up, Counting Down 
Get them moving by counting up and gradually standing up from a seated position to standing.  And then reverse the counting and shrink to sitting place.  I like to call out 'halfway' to help those who need direction.  Dr. Jean has a great counting song to count to 20 and backwards. "Country Countdown" on her Totally Math CD.  I have the children refer to our numberline to help with the counting backwards.  We close our eyes from 10 to 1.  The kids love it! 

Countdown to Christmas Bell and Chain
From now until Christmas is the longest time of year,
It seems as if dear old Santa never will appear.
How many days until Christmas?  It's mighty hard to count,
but this countdown chain will tell you the exact amount.
Take off a loop every night when the sandman casts his spell,
And Christmas Eve will be here by the time you reach the bell.

Preprint the poem on a bell shape.  Students select colored strips for the number of days until Christmas Eve.  We practice raising our arms and laying our hands on top of each other (NOT pointing our fingers up) to make a loop.  This is difficult for some to manage even after physically practicing.  Connect all loops to make a chain except the last one.  Teacher makes a slit on the bottom of the bell and puts last strip through slit.  Attach the chain to the last loop.


So keep them busy. 
And keep a countdown of days for you too!

Easy Reindeer Craft

 Precut the triangle.  Point the triangle downward.          Trace hands on two black 6-inch squares, draw a circle on the red and two ovals for eyes.  
I label the steps on the board for them to follow after I demonstrated how to make one.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Days before Christmas

I admit I go through emotions of bah humbug to excitement and exhaustion these days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  If it wasn't for the kids at school, I would go crazy.  Now they do........
So here are some easy to do ideas to keep the spirit and provide needed fine motor practice.

Santa Stars
Have the children trace the star pattern on red construction paper, they need to practice this tracing on the outside of a pattern skill.(or have it preprinted).  You need only 3 colors of crayons, black, white, red/pink.  Color the gloves and boots black.  Make a double line and two squares for the buckle.  Practice making loopy coloring marks to help with the beard.  Use white for Santa's beard and white for the fur trim.  Black circles for his eyes and red nose and smile.
 Give the students ONE cotton ball and show them how to tear it into six small pieces.  Use regular glue to make a skinny line for the furry cuffs and a small dot for Santa's pom on his hat. 

Gingerbread Men/Boys
Read variations of THE GINGERBREAD MAN.  Make patterns for the children to trace.  We like to use a 12x18 but 9x12 is good also.  Allow the children to use paint to add frosting details.  When dry, they can cut it out.  They LOVE big projects.

Memory Games
Make smaller gingerbread men (or use Elison Die cuts) and use pictures for rhyming matches.  Or write words for sight words, pictures for beginning sound match or ending sound matching.
When we play memory, the player who turns over the two cards, MUST sit back with their hands in their lap and count to 3 before turning back over or removing the match.  I think it is important that the child also says the picture or word outloud for the others to hear.  There is no need to rush.  When the player's turn is over, they need to tell the next person by name that it's their turn.

More tomorrow to keep you going these last days.
Easy hand gift ideas and more student made crafts.