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Friday, September 19, 2014

Releasing Ladybugs

 I have got to say, this picture is precious!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaching Kindergarteners to Tell Time.

Kindergartners are always asking when certain things are going to happen:
"When are we going to eat lunch?"
"When is recess?"
"When is center time?"
And of course, kindergartners don't have an accurate grasp on the concept of increments of time. Days, months, hours, and minutes are all very fuzzy concepts to them. So to help Ks start to understand how to measure time, I borrowed an idea from mathematics guru John Van de Walle. His brilliant idea is to take the minute hand off of a clock so that children can focus on the hand that gives them the most important information, namely, the hour hand

I had to break the plastic covering to get to the minute hand, but once it was off, it was easy to snip off the minute hand with a pair of scissors. Now that only the hour hand shows, my Ks can begin to conceptualize how long an hour is, and when certain things will happen. If I tell them, "Lunch, will be at 11". They know to watch for when the hour hand is pointing exactly at the 11. And, during that time, can watch the speed at which the hour hand moves from number to number to gain an idea of how long an hour is exactly. We can also use the hour hand to begin to use time vocabulary in a way that makes sense. For example:
"It's almost 9 o'clock" 
"It's just past 12"
"It's half past 1"
"It's exactly 10 o'clock"

I've found that using an "hour hand only" clock has given my students a lot of independence.They can now check it on their own to find out if it's time for certain things to happen that are always at the same time. They can find out if it's lunch time or recess time on their own, which give kindergartners a sense of control over the day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Setting Kindergarten Procedures

Procedures are as necessary for our students as reading and math. In fact, procedures provide the framework for the curriculum that we teach. Classroom management and beginning teacher books all highlight the importance of incorporating procedures into the classroom. 

Kindergarten  and other early education teachers usually see the importance of procedures. Our students must be taught how to line up, walk down the hall, sit on the carpet in an appropriate way, use a glue bottle or gluestick.....the list goes on and on. 

Because we have so many procedures to teach, it’s tempting to rush the process or even skip a few steps. That’s the opposite of what we should do, however! Your introduction and review should take a month or even six weeks.

When introducing a new procedure, model it if possible. Many management programs suggest modeling the procedure exactly as you want it, modeling it incorrectly, and modeling it almost, but not quite how you want it. Be sure to follow each incorrect or less-than-perfect example with the correct model!

Even when you are well into your school year, remember to review procedures. Choose one or two each day throughout the year to practice or model for a smooth-running class all year long!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Contraction Worksheets

This workbook, Part 10 in a series, provides phonics practice that focuses on contractions. Students have the opportunity to identify, match and write contractions. The pages can be used as an introduction to contractions or as review pages for students familiar with contractions.

R-Controlled "Bossy-R" Worksheets

This workbook, Part 9 in a series, provides phonics practice that focuses on r-controlled vowels. Pages highlight the “bossy-r” combinations ar and or as well as the combinations that make the /er/ sound (spelled er, ir, and ur). Students have the opportunity to identify pictures with the r-controlled vowel sounds and write the letter combinations that make these sounds. Eight review pages complete this unit.

Word Endings Worksheets

This 14 page workbook, Part 8 in a series, provides phonics practice that focuses on word endings. Pages highlight the word endings -ed, -ing, and -s. Students have the opportunity to work on each of the three word endings by circling the word endings, writing the word endings, and identifying the correct word ending.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Phonics: Consonant Blends for Early Readers

Give your early reader important phonics practice by using this 10-part Phonics Prep series based on our best-selling Phonics Books 1, 2, and 3.

This workbook, Part 7 in our "Phonics Prep" series, provides phonics practice that focuses on consonant blends. Pages highlight l-blends (bl, cl, fl, gl, pl, sl), r-blends (br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr), and  s-blends (sk, sm, sn, sp, st, sw).  Following the pages that feature the individual blends, students have the opportunity to work on each of the three groups of blends by sorting pictures, matching blending sounds with their letters, writing blends to complete word spellings, and circling  words with the correct blend.

Other products in the series:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Phonics Prep Series: Word Family Worksheets

This workbook, Part 6 in a series, provides phonics practice that focuses on word families. One page is devoted to each of the following word families: -ad, -ag, -am, -an, -ap, -at, -ed,    -en, -et, -ig, -in, -ip, -it, -og, -op, -un, -ug, and -ut. Each word family page provides the opportunity for students to stamp, trace, and write word family words. Seventeen word family review pages complete this packet.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kindergarten and the Common Core

The expectations for kindergarten have gotten higher and our five year olds are expected to do more and more. Of course they are! They should do more and they should learn more. The amount of knowledge that is available to them in this modern world is tremendous, and they should be prepared and able to access all of it.

However, at the same time that we are trying to expose our children to more knowledge, we are also losing important aspects of childhood development. We are giving up the practices that have always defined early childhood learning. But correlation is not causation. Just because these two events are happening in our education system at the same time, it does not mean that the one is not causing the other. In fact, if we truly want to increase the amount of knowledge that our children acquire in their early years, our teaching should become more developmentally appropriate, more hands on, more sensory motivated, and more directed by play. We know through countless research studies that this is the best way to disseminate information to a young mind, and if we want young minds to grow, these are the practices we should be using.

If we are not using these techniques in the classroom of the young child, then we are wasting precious time and opportunity. If we do not allow our children to paint, then we are missing a chance to teach about shapes and geometry. If we throw out our building blocks, then we aren’t teaching the spatial skills and divergent thinking needed for jobs like computer programming and engineering. When there is no playhouse in the classroom, children lose a chance to engage in activities beyond their current level of understanding (as proven by the research of Piaget) and develop persistence in problem solving and coping with changing situations. If we teach children only through direct instruction (or worse: worksheets) instead of games, then we have lost a chance to expand their memory and logical thinking. If we don’t sing, how can we expand a child’s vocabulary? If we get rid of the puppets and toys, we have lost the chance to expand a child’s comprehension of a story through retelling in a medium they easily understand. If we take out the sensory play, then we’ve lost a chance to help a child understand the science of the natural world, to problem solve, and to take chances. Why is it that in the current school setting, where expectations are so high, we are voiding ourselves of the very tools that would make our jobs easier?

Yes, it is true that kindergarten is becoming less and less appropriate, and the repercussions are frightening. However, blaming high expectations and the Common CORE are not going to solve the problem because expecting our children to do and think remarkable things is not, and has never been the problem. 

If teachers teach what they are required to teach using proven early childhood methods, the results will be astounding. Yes, it is more demanding of talents, time, and energy to teach in this way. Yes, it takes more support from other teachers, parents, and administrators to teach in this way. Yes, it takes better educated teachers to teach in this way. And, yes, it takes more guts to teach in this way. But, it is worth it. And our kids deserve it.