Monday, February 21, 2011

Staggered Entry.

That's what we call the beginning of our school year when the students ease into the full-time school schedule.  And that's how I feel about this post.  :)  Staggered....random...entry.  Just a few pics I snapped today at school to get some topics started.

This is our diversity display that we made for MLK this year.  In years past I'd gone into the whole race thing, but I really started to feel like kindergarteners didn't see color in themselves until we pointed it out to them in this lesson.  (Not quite the point that Dr. King was trying to make, I'm pretty sure.)  So this year I focused a lot less on how things used to be and a lot more on what the kids could do to make their world a better place.  They created this "Celebrate Diversity" poster by cutting out pictures from magazines.  We talked about diversity not only in skin color but also hair color, age, etc.  I think it turned out pretty well!

Then they each expanded a standard worksheet (not originally mine) where the instructions were to draw a picture of their dream for making a difference.  I had them cut off the border and add a sentence as well.

These are our "Heart People" that we made using a glyph.  It took me a while to buy into glyphs and how they're actually an academic task, but I'm really starting to see them as a way to display information instead of just an isolated craft, especially when we use the directions to read information from each others' projects!
Here's a closer shot of one of the Heart People.  My kids also wrote sentences using "Sparkle Words" (details) so the Sparkle Fairy would come and visit them.

These winter friends contained facts we learned while researching polar bears and penguins.  The polar bears are actually books that have pages underneath.  We created a class chart as we read about polar bears and students used those vocabulary terms to write fact sentences.

After we read about penguins, I showed my students March of the Penguins in short snippets throughout the course of the week.  I've used this video for 3 years now and my kids are amazed every time that these are "REAL LIFE" penguins!!!  As they watched the video, they took notes in a Circle Map, a graphic organizer from Thinking Maps Inc which we use in our classroom regularly.

Each student then chose 1, 2 or 3 words from their Circle Map to write about (assigned by me, based on ability) and then put those words or ideas into full sentences.  Students who were assigned multiple sentences had extra bellies pre-stapled to their penguins, making it into a flip book.  We then painted the penguins using Q-tip dots.

These are snowpeople we created after reading Lois Ehlert's Snowballs.  I got this idea from my neighbor, Mrs. Love, whose done it for years.  Although I will admit that the project itself was a bit of a headache (I may get out less items to choose from next year!) the projects in the end were adorable.  Like always, I also extended the project with writing.  The kids wrote what kind of snowperson they'd made and what materials they'd used to create the clothing and accessories.  We also use "snow paint" to make the fluffy snow around the snowpeople.  My dear friend Mrs. Sink taught it to me and I love love love it!  You mix Elmer's glue with shaving cream so it's sticky but still nice and fluffy and then...voila!  Snow paint that literally fluffs in 3-D from your artwork!

One of my beginning of the year activities is - like most kindergarten teachers! - to read Chica Chica Boom Boom by Bill Martin.  The students tear paper strips to make the trunks, cut slits in the leaves to have that palm tree fringe and write their name dancing up the tree using different colors of crayon.  I used to keep this display up inside my classroom only until our Curriculum Night, but I decided I love it so much that this year I put it in the hallway and am leaving it up all year!

I also wrote each students' name on a coconut when I got my original class list so they'd see it on Open House night while trying to find their classroom for the first time!  The flowers hanging from my doorway also help and have become my definitive decoration.  You can get them at Party City and it's the whole rod is just hot glued above the door!

This is another beginning of the year projects that I keep up all year.  We read a lot of stories about starting school, making new friends and being a good friend.  We also talk a lot about being yourself and accepting people who they are.  Then we read A rainbow of friends by P.K. Hallinan and create our own rainbow of friends!  The t-shirt is a reproducible (not originally mine) that I cut out and help students glue under their heads.  I provide circles of various colors and allow the students to choose whichever color they think best represents their skin tone.  Sometimes they choose accurately and sometimes they couldn't be farther from reality...but I let them choose whatever they want!  Then I help them glue down their yarn hair.  We keep the display up all year and refer to it in our weekly class meetings.  We also read our answers aloud to help get to know each other before I hang them up.

 This is my discovery table.  It's part of our provided school furniture for kindergarten and I haven't really used it much in years past (mostly because I didn't know how!).  The sand was too messy, the rice had a weird smell, the pasta was too noisy...I couldn't get past the items IN the discovery table!  Then I had an epiphany...pom poms!!  They are quiet, soft and make zero noise.  I bought the shovels at the dollar store and my students love visiting this literacy center.  At the beginning of the year, they just had to scoop a letter and name it.  As we progessed, they named the letter and the sound.  At this point, the students name the letter, say the sound and write down a word that begins with the word on a piece of paper to hold them accountable for their learning while at that center.  I also have this table near the Word Wall for students who may still struggle with coming up with a word for some letters.  I think I got the letters from my friend Mrs. Belk when she moved away (we miss you, Friday DJ!!) but I'm sure you can find them at any teacher store or probably even the dollar store.

As Harry Wong said, "Effective teachers can be defined with a single word...they steal!  Those who beg, borrow and steal good techniques are teachers whose students will achieve."  Happy looting.  ;)


  1. I love the Discovery Table!!! So creative! Girl. you are fabulous!

  2. Your blog is fun!

  3. I am really enjoying your blog, you have such great and creative ideas! I especially like the glyph using the hearts. I was hoping if you still had the directions for this project if you could email it to me? Thank you!

  4. The glyph directions are up and available for download. Check my recent i {heart} valentine's day post. ;)

  5. I just found your blog! LOVE IT! :) I teach second grade, but you better believe I will use your Rainbow of Friends idea! :) I see that you like "The Pigeon" stories. Check out Youtube for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus animation and Don't Let the Pigeon Be the Principal (created by a firt grade class)! They're awesome for talking about and writing persuasive paragraphs!


    Stapler’s Strategies for Sizzlin' Second Graders!

  6. I love your blog! Can you please describe what your students write inside their T-shirt for a Rainbow of Friends? Thanks!

  7. I found this post from a pin of the Rainbow Friends activity. I've tried to do this at the first of the year, but I always get bogged down and cannot get the project finished. I also do the snowmen with the Ehlert book "Snowballs." But my twist is to send the basic materials home and see what comes back! I send home three paper plates and a few pieces of construction paper (black and orange). I try to send this home before Christmas break in case someone needs something to do during the break and they may have more family time then.


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