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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Memorization Promotes Understanding

Kindergarten is all about exploration, play, and discovery. As they say, it is not really about the destination as much as it is the journey and all those amazing things you learn along the way.
I, like most teachers, strive to provide my students with all the tools they need to develop meaningful learning and understanding. In this way, memorization plays a huge role in kindergarteners success. There are certain skills that kindergarteners need to be able to do automatically and fluently. In kindergarten-speak, these skills need to be quick and easy for kids.
Some skills that need to be automatic in kindergarten are:
Counting to 100
Numeral recognition
Numeral writing
Letter recognition
Letter sounds
Letter formation
Reading and writing sight words
Blending and segmenting sounds to figure out words

Here are some pictures of the kids building their automaticity with letter formation. They are playing a great game called “brain and pen”. Ask your kindergartener to teach you how to play!

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What do you think we should say more often?

In our class we are interested in making our classroom a more wonderful place. We are also quite certain that we can make the whole world more wonderful. That’s just how kindergarteners roll. And I egg them on shamelessly. I want them to feel powerful and their enthusiasm and innocent faith in me makes me feel powerful too.
Today we watched Kid President’s video, 20 Things We Should Say More Often. It is the perfect blend of inspiring yet silly so we actually had to watch it twice. Once to laugh excessively and once more to think a bit deeper.
Then we made our own list of things that we think people should say more often.
Our list is also the perfect blend of inspiring yet silly.

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We would like you to try out some of our ideas. Feel free to comment on your experience. Also please comment to share any additional suggestions you have. What do you think we should say more often?

Change Your Name Day

Our all school celebration for safe, respectful, learner behavior was “Change Your Name Day”. The kids loved being called by a new name of their choice. Some of them even remembered to call me Moonbeam. We had a wide variety of name choices; everything from sweet names like Cupcake and Vanilla, to inspiring like Knight Taylor and Batman, to just plain silly like Peaches and Crazy. My secret favs were Periwinkle, Pinky Pie and Lamar. What a fun, smiley day we had!

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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.

A Case for Open Ended

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Above are some pictures of the smart things kids do when they are given open-ended opportunities for learning. What do I mean by open-ended? I mean activities that are exploratory in nature, activities where there is no specific end product or right answer. Each approach a child takes is valuable and each discovery they make is equally important.
The pros of open-ended tasks are numerous, one of the most important is that the learning that happens is very meaningful to children. It’s not something the knowledgeable adult shared with them, rather it is their own discovery. To the child it feels like the first time the discovery has ever been made, and in a way it is the first time. For a moment we can all be Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, or Lief Erikson.

Funny Bones

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We have been gradually working through our “Amazing Me” health unit.
We explored our five sense through apple tasting. We further refined our senses with a variety of individual work activities such as Braille, matching objects by touch, and matching sound shakers.

Last week we learned about our skeletons. At “play time” some children chose to rebuild our skeleton puzzle and pose sassy ways for a photo op. I did not prompt these sassy poses; it was all the kids. They sure made me giggle.
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