Halloween is always a fun day with kindergarteners around! The class worked hard all month on their Halloween and fall songs and poems. They loved presenting them at Tri-State Alzheimer’s Alliance while dressed in their costumes. We used dot cubes to “Roll A Monster” and gave these to our friends at the Alzheimer’s center along with treat bags. When we made it back to the school it was time to party. I love minute to win it style games and the quick pacing seems to work well with this age group. We found candy corn in the sensory bins, counted out pennies to buy snacks, built STEM structures with candy corn and toothpicks, tossed eyeballs into pumpkin buckets, guessed the missing Halloween item, and stacked ghost cups. The students loved getting to do fun center type games and I loved seeing them get along with each other so well.
Kindergarten had fun learning about pumpkins this month. We started off by reading the book Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbel and learning the life cycle of a pumpkin. Then we talked about the parts of a pumpkin and even got to taste pumpkin seeds. Our graph showed that most of the class liked the pumpkin seeds. At the end of the week we were able to do a pumpkin investigation with our very own Pumpkin Jack! We predicted his weight, height, and circumference then measured to check our predictions. We were able to really see all of the parts of a pumpkin when we cut into Jack and carved him. The class practiced using describing words when they passed around a bag of pumpkin pulp. Finally, when Jack started to decompose we took him outside so we could watch that process as well.
Kindergarten kicked off October with a pumpkin themed Cooking in the Classroom. We read a recipe for Pumpkin Patch Pudding and Mrs. Amanda helped them measure out the ingredients. Each student got a turn to measure, pour, and mix the pudding. While we waited for the pudding cups to chill we crushed up our cookie “dirt”. They really had to get those finger muscles working to break the cookies into small enough pieces. Then we added the dirt and candy pumpkins to our pudding and enjoyed tasting them. The students thought they were just getting a special snack but I loved knowing we were working on writing strategies and decoding words when we read our recipe, counting and sequencing when we made the pudding, and practicing our descriptive words when we talked about how the pudding tasted!
Kindergarten is off to a great start! Much of the first few weeks is about learning procedures, following the rules and making new friends but we have been able to get going on some of our curriculum as well. This year’s class has been eager to get started and we are already making great strides.
One of my favorite times of day in kindergarten is first thing in the morning when the students come in but before we are ready to get started on class work. This used to be my least favorite time. I was using paper and pencil morning work and desperately trying to keep order because the students weren’t enjoying what they were doing. That all changed when I discovered Morning Work Drawers. Now the students come in and find their name and the corresponding drawer number. They pull the drawer out and take it anywhere they want in the room to get started on their work.
These drawers are filled with academic skills but they are also focused on working all those tiny finger and hand muscles that are so often overlooked. Best of all, the students LOVE them and are excited to get to work every morning!
Early in the year the drawers are filled with simple tasks like punching brightly colored paper with a hole punch or linking colored clips together. The good news for me is that the drawers will use the same manipulatives all year while the skills focused on will get more and more challenging! The students aren’t stressed and are engaged in their work and I know they are working on all kinds of skills needed for the years ahead. Take a look at the pictures to see these new kindergarteners hard at work in the first fifteen minutes of the day.
I love watching kindergarten learn to write! They come in knowing how to write their name and possibly a few other words and leave able to write a topical paper of a few sentences. What a difference a year makes! But it isn't always easy to get them to that point. These guys have so many great ideas that it can be hard for them to pick just one and to stay with that idea until they finish their work. Most entering students are just not ready to sound out words and form complete sentences. And some are terrified to stand in front of an audience and present their work. From the beginning of the year we work on creating weekly "papers" by following five steps: brainstorming, rough draft, peer editing, final draft, and publishing, or presenting, our work. With enough repetition the class becomes very comfortable putting their ideas down on paper and sharing them with each other. One of my favorite things to see is our "peer editing" day where the students work in groups to critique their papers. The suggestions are almost always helpful and the students are learning how to respectfully work with others to make their work better. Then on presentation day everyone is excited to tell about the suggestions they made if their partner used those suggestions. Such great collaboration going on in kindergarten!