Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reader's Theater Celebration

Last year I was introduced to Kristin's Reader's Theater partner plays and I fell in LOVE!! I wanted to add a little fun into reading groups so we decided to totally 'run' with these awesome plays! 
My students had been practicing their plays on and off for about two weeks. We really worked on reading with expression, pausing at punctuation, and fluency.  Each student went through the dialogue in their play and decided on what puppets they needed to make for their show.  Adding in puppets was adorable, but they definitely needed a little more practice reading their plays and holding their puppets at the same time! 
I knew I wanted to make this show special for them after all of their hard work, so we decided that we needed to invite some people to come see their plays!  I was introduced to this awesome website called Treat greeting cards. They have cards for every occasion! The neat thing is, you can totally personalize each and every card (you can even have the card scheduled in advance and directly sent to the recipient...perfect way to make sure you don't miss any birthdays, anniversaries, etc). Anyways, I wanted my students to make their own invitations to take ownership in their show.
I sat down with some of the kids and let them look on Treat to pick out which card they wanted to use. We ended up going with this super cute World of Hellos blank card.  We took a quick picture of the 'performers' in front of the puppet show, added that to the card, and ordered them!
The kids were so excited to receive the cards in the mail! We sat down right away and wrote out our invites! 
We ended up inviting another kindergarten class, administration, and parents! Eeks...just the sound of all those people was making me a little nervous! These kids are so brave!
We put our finished cards into the envelopes and we were off to deliver them!
This little one was beyond excited to deliver his invite to our principal, Mr. Peters. He was asking me all sorts of questions on the way, 'Do I get to go in his office? What is in his office? Do you think he will say yes?' So precious!
One of the little girls delivered her card to a fellow kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Ames. It was so cute to watch them deliver the invites and wait there excitedly for the persons response. Everyone loved the personalized invites and of course said 'yes' to attending. ;)
On the day of the show we pushed some tables out of the way and set up chairs for our audience members.  I had my class sit on the floor, the other kindergarten class on the chairs, then administration and my students parents stood behind them. 
Each puppet show is quick.  They only take about a minute each, but they are beyond cute!
The students read with such expression that they had the entire audience laughing and clapping. I was so proud of them!
We performed 6 different shows on this day.  Half of my class performed and the other half will perform on a later date.  The other students are so motivated to practice their plays now and are so excited for their big day!  Even the other kindergarten class that came to watch borrowed our puppet theater to practice their own plays.   
That's when I realized how important this small production was! It got students excited about reading, it made parents excited to continue practicing reading with their children, and the looks on their faces when it was finished was priceless! They were all so happy and proud of what they had done!
When the shows were over, they received a standing ovation! My students took a quick bow before they were quickly congratulated with hugs from their parents and high-fives from the principal.
It is so easy to take something as simple as Reader's Theater and turn it into a really special day for the students and parents!  We received so many compliments on our invitations from Treat and the parents were so impressed with how well the students were reading.  This is definitely something I will continue every year!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weather Unit

Our weather unit is in full swing and we are already learning a lot! This past week we focused on the sun, wind,  and snow. Next week we will focus on rain/water cycle and the different types of clouds.  As always, our units are all aligned with Common Core standards for reading, writing, and math but are chosen because they match our science and social studies standards.  Our social studies focus for this unit is: Describe and give examples of seasonal weather changes, and illustrate how weather affects people and the environment.  We are also focusing on matter in science throughout this unit and using a couple crafts from the Bubbly Blonde that can be found here

This week in centers we wrote our weather words around the room.  
We also used Mrs. Miner's Guided Drawing pack to help teach us how to make a rainbow! I know throughout the unit my kids will be making rainbows all of the time--so this was the perfect way to teach that!
During writing we have REALLY been focusing on writing details. Now that majority of my class can write independently, I am trying to push them a little further.  I found this activity in Live, Love, Laugh's March Writing pack and it seemed to fit my lesson perfectly. 
During centers the children had to add details to their picture (which only had an umbrella on it). Then, we wrote detailed stories to describe our pictures. They came out adorable!
I am still working with my reading groups on digraphs.  Most groups have it down pat now and are ready to start completing digraph activities independently. Yay!
I am proud to say that ALL of my students were able to complete this CVC word/picture match up by themselves!! 
They were also able to sort all of their CVC pictures under the correct word family.  Don't you just love that feeling when even your struggling readers can sound out words!?! Makes me so happy!
I had mentioned in a previous post that my students needed more work on reading/building sentences.  I put this activity at a center with one of my parent volunteers in case they needed some guidances, but they all did really well.
On Friday we had a 'rainbow day'!  We ate these delicious rainbow cookies!! They are just sugar cookies with vanilla frosting (dyed blue).  Then I bought the rainbows and clouds in a little pack at Jo-Ann's Fabrics; however, you can just use fruit roll ups and marshmallows if you can't find them at a store near you!
 Then, we made these cute rainbow tear-art crafts! I LOVE how they turned out! They are currently hanging in the hallway :)
 At the bottom of the rainbow we used a freebie from Teaching With Love and Laughter. It is the cutest little poem and perfect for students' to complete independently!
You can find my All About Weather unit by clicking on the image below :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

America Unit Wrap Up!

A couple weeks ago I posted the start of my America Unit and I planned on posting each week after that...I am not quite sure what happened haha! So here is a little wrap up of some other activities we did during our unit and let me tell you...this unit may have been my children's favorite unit this year!!
Throughout the unit we continued to write in our 'All About America' books. The children had a total of 7 pages included in their book by the end of the unit - The American Flag, Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell, Bald Eagle, White House, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. 
 They were SO proud of these books and so excited to take them home to share with their family!
We had lots of centers going on throughout our unit! In our last math chapter we were working on numbers 11-20.  This is something my children definitely needed extra practice with. I have a handful of students that are still writing their numbers backwards, so this center was the perfect practice for them...Washington's Roll and Write!
 We have also been working on unscrambling sentences. I saw a HUGE difference in my children's ability to complete this center independently during this unit then from our last unit.
 Write the room...always a favorite! This time I actually put this center as a part of their 'read to someone' center.  After they wrote all of their words, they had to sit in the library and read the words to their buddy.  I love watching them read together!
 We are continuing to work on addition and subtraction.  Not going to lie...my students are getting awesome with their addition facts! ;)
 We also used this Label It sheet from Deedee Wills February Writing pack. I love her writing centers pack!
During the America unit I tried something new...QR codes! This is a listening comprehension pack from Mary at Sharing Kindergarten on Presidents.  Before centers started I demonstrated how to use QR cards. The children were super excited to get started!  
 I made sure to show them how to rewind as well.  This way, if they missed an answer for their recording sheet, they could rewind and listen again.  My students actually did really well with the QR center for their first time.  I had some students that had to rewind a couple times because they kept missing answers; however, that just showed me that we need to continue using centers like this (and I already have my next QR center for weather ready to go).
We added the Presidents poem into our poetry notebooks.  I am proud to say that my entire class knows ALL of the presidents!!  
Loved this picture of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I just had to share it! SO cute!
This last activity was something that I totally 'winged' one day and it ended up being my absolute favorite!! It is nothing new and I am sure you have done this activity in your class before, but it was awesome!
In our social studies text books the previous day there was a little section where the children had to write about what they would do if they were the president.  After we wrote in our books I had each child stand up and read what they would do.  Then I decided to give each student a small piece of paper and let them vote on one person who they would like to be the class president for the day (after hearing what they wrote). I explained to them that voting is a secret and it isn't something we should discuss.  We even talked about how you don't just vote for someone that you like the best, it is important to think about what they are going to DO for YOU! After they voted I tallied up the ballots and one of the little girls won who wrote, 'I would put bad people in jail and give free money to all the good people.'  So for the rest of the day the kids had to call her President Rebecca :)  At the end of the day they asked me who was going to be the class president tomorrow?  So I told them that we could do this one more time, BUT if they wanted to win, they needed to think about what a good president would say.  I told them they may want to go home and talk to their parents and brainstorm some good ideas!
Sure enough, as soon as I opened my door the next morning, the first little one said, 'My mom told me a great idea of how I can become the president!'  I was so happy that they got their parents involved! 
 During writing they all filled out their sheet I found free HERE at First Grade Fanatics.  Then, each child stood up and read what they would do.  They had the cutest ideas!!
The student below ended up winning and he gave total credit to his mom for the wonderful idea: "When I become president I will give an iPad to everyone and make a water park at the school."  (I think the kids are over getting sand in the shoes at the sand park everyday!)  He was so cute after he won, he drew plans for the future water park!
"When I become president I will make better food at restaurants and schools and give free money."  I think they thought the free money from yesterday would be a sure win on this day! haha
Now we are moving on to our Weather Unit, but we sure did learn a lot during our America Unit!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Monthly Behavior Management Ideas

In my classroom I use the 'clip chart' system for behavior management.  You can read more about that HERE. The clip chart is used for individual student's behavior.  
There are times in class that we do collaborative group work at our table seats.  I noticed that some tables were working a lot nicer than others and I knew I had to come up with some type of behavior system for times like this! 
Each season I print out a quick and easy behavior system that I use for group work.  Throughout the winter each group had their own tree.  When I saw their table working nicely, they were able to earn an ornament for their tree. I always get the kids involved with this too--they were the ones that cut out the ornaments that they could eventually earn!
At the end of January we took down the trees and the table with the most ornaments was able to choose their reward! For one day they were able to choose to take their shoes off, bring a stuffed animal to school, or move their seat to sit by a friend.  All easy rewards and the kids loved it!! 
This spring, children are working to 'catch' bugs in the table jars. I keep the bugs in a ziplock bag and whenever I spot a table working nicely, I call a student to come up and add a bug into their jar.  Let me tell you-this easy system has totally changed the way my students work together at their tables. 
 A system like this can easily be changed out monthly or thematically, however often you would like!  The rewards are easy to change as well based on your students needs!  They love having a goal to look forward to and I think a little friendly competition amongst tables isn't a bad thing ;)

Head on over to Mrs. Poultney's blog, at Mrs. Poultney's Ponderings, to read another 'Bright Idea' in the classroom!

You can find lots of other 'Bright Ideas' by clicking on any of the links below.