Learning about Germs

We learned about germs today as part of our ongoing health unit. We read a book and learned that germs are so tiny we can’t seem them, germs are everywhere, and that some germs can make us sick. We learned how germs can get into our bodies and how to keep them out. We acted out using tissues, coughing into our elbows and washing our hands.
The kids made posters to teach facts about germs.

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Some of the children hung their posters around the room to remind our class about germs. Other students took their posters home to share with their families.

100 Days of Learning in Kindergarten

It sure is hard to believe we have been in school 100 days, especially with our snow week. We celebrated being 100 days smarter with a variety of fun learning activities.
We began by cutting out the digits in 100 and turning them into something else…the children created penguins, robots, faces, and lots of other things as well.

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Then we had a museum to view everyone’s artwork. Without any prompting, the kids oooed and awwwed over each other’s work. They were full of compliments for their friends. It was such an endearing moment.

We had a great time exercising to 100 next. The kids did 10 activities 10 times to exercise all the way to 100. They were bunny hopping and twirling, stretching and jogging in place.

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It was great to see that with a few rules and tips the kids were able to safely and independently move around the room as they wished to all the exercise stations.

Later we had a delicious time making necklaces of 100 fruit loops. The kids did a ton of counting(and eating). Needless to say they were a bit loopy when they were done.

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Judge others by the content of their character, not the color of their skin…

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We spent the week learning a little bit about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is a heavy topic but the kids found his peaceful approach inspiring. The children seemed genuinely shocked that people would be disrespectful to others because of the color of their skin. They were even more shocked about the rules of segregation. I found their dismay refreshing. It was nice that racial discrimination had never crossed their minds!
They enjoyed pictures from Dr. King’s life as well as video clips from Dr. King’s ” I Have a Dream Speech”! We even rocked out to a song about the Civil Rights Movement.
We ended with a spirited discussion about what color we were and trying to understand what the terms “black” and “white” refer to. Ah, the joys of kindergarten!

Word Sorts

Kindergarteners receive a lot of direct instruction about letters, sounds, and words. They need a foundation of knowledge so they can apply, explore, and find patterns in their own reading and writing activities. One such activity is word sorts.
Our word sorts actually have pictures the children sort according to a “rule”. Over the course of the school year we have sorted by category, rhyming words, and beginning sounds. For example, this week we sorted between the beginning sounds of “r” and “s”.
The first day, I model the sort and the kids sort. Each of the following days the children sort and also complete other related activities. One activity that is challenging to the students is called “Draw and Label”. The students pick two words from each of the sorting categories to draw a picture of and then attempt to write the word. They learn a lot from stretching out words and writing the sounds they hear.

Here are the kids cutting out their sorts.

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Our Writing

Everyday, the kids’ writing gets a little more sophisticated. Maybe it is details added to a picture instead of scribbling or spaces between words. Maybe it is putting multiple sounds down for a word or adding punctuation. Every child’s writing is different but every child’s writing is the same in that it is a reflection of massive amounts of learning!
Thanks for encouraging your child each day! It is such a privilege to be part of their progress!

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Talking is Learning Too!

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In kindergarten we do a lot of talking! Now some of it is not helpful, productive talk and from time to time we do have to put our heads down on the table and pull ourselves together.
But talking is such a natural inclination for us human beings.
In our class I do believe we have managed to harness the power of talking for good rather than evil.

One example is a strategy we use called “teach-ok”. It is a call and response( I say “teach” and the kids respond “ok”) and proceed to teach their friends what they know about the topic at hand. The kids might teach their friend a prediction they have about the book we are about to read, or they might teach a friend what our writing mini lesson was just about. Basically it is a strategy to get all kids actively engaged in our discussions and deepen their understanding of a topic by explaining it to others. “Teach-ok” also helps the students build rapport with each other and feel more confident about raising their hand to share with the class after they have had a chance to bounce their ideas off a friend.

In kindergarten we have realized that talking is learning too.

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Experimenting with Force and Motion

Our current science unit is Force and Motion. Last Friday we read Sheep in a Jeep to introduce our unit. Then we got hands on with toy cars and marbles. We were able to figure out how to make objects move in various ways and also how to make objects stop. We connected science vocabulary such as; force, motion, push, and pull to real life examples and actions. Over the next several weeks we will take these concepts deeper.

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Writing and Recognizing Numbers to 20

Our class has been working hard to master writing and recognizing numbers up to 20. We have played a variety of games for extra practice.
Bingo is a fun way to get lots of practice. The kids make their own bingo boards to practice writing the numerals.

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And sometimes we write our numbers, just because.

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Ancient Egypt Behavin’ Raven Celebration

We earned 300 Behavin’ Ravens! That means someone in our class showed safe, respectful, learner behavior 300 different times, certainly something to celebrate! The kids chose to do crafts to celebrate and I of course felt compelled to spice it up. The children have been a teensy bit obsessed with our read aloud book Mummies in the Morning. I thought this celebration would be a good opportunity to teach the kids a little something about ancient Egypt and give them a chance to get a little creative.
We began by watching a video clip that depicted everyday life in ancient Egypt. When I previewed the video I noted the many shirtless men in the video and knew it was time to have our first “let’s-not-judge-other-peoples-way-of-life” talk. In kindergarten this type of talk requires excruciatingly explicit statements such as ” you may not say eeewwww if you see something that seems weird to you. You can think, oh that’s different, instead.” We enjoyed the video with a minimum of “eewws”, as well as many “ooos”, and “awwws”. My personal favorite part was when one child was saying out loud “oh, that’s different” and the person next to them was like “sshhhh, you are supposed to think that, not say it!”
We continued our journey into the ancient world by learning about hieroglyphs. The kids got to type their names in hieroglyphs on the SMART board as well as create scrolls and cartouches with hieroglyphs.

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One child even invented her own hieroglyph!

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We moved onto learning about pyramids and building our own which required some problem solving on the kid’s part. The vertical requirements of the build stumped them at first as I am sure was the case for the ancient Egyptians as well.

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Next we went glam and created our our collar necklaces which turned out super pharaoh-chic!

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And I think this pic of the glitter mess sums up the success of our fun celebration.

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Daily Routines Build Number Sense

We have several daily routines that help children build number sense. It is great for kindergarteners to be able to count and write numbers. Those skills are very important to students future success with mathematics. But those skills are more about memorization than anything. What kindergarteners really need is number sense, or an understanding of how numbers work. Number sense involves children understanding concepts of quantity, order, patterns, and place value. Number sense can not be taught by telling. Number sense evolves from a child’s experiences with numbers. Children work with numbers and make discoveries about how numbers work. One of our daily activities that promotes such discoveries and understanding is “Today’s Question”.

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Today’s Question is a data collection activity in which the children answer a question to collect data and then participate in whole class discussions about the data. We talk about what we notice, represent the data numerically, compare and order the data, and discuss patterns.