Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa's Watching...

Hee hee hee! Was it wrong to tell the children that Santa is watching them even when they are at school? I will tell you that it is working like a charm. I even heard one of the students whisper to another that he better stop misbehaving or "she's gonna tell Santa...". Ha, ha! My class this year is full of sweet, well- behaved kids, but I can feel the excitement building and I wanted to try to keep things at a low roar for as long as I possibly can.
Technology-wise, I must say that I am having great success with ABCya and FirstinMath. The students are really surprising me with their abilities to jump into the programs and learn how to navigate & complete the tasks with success. I wish that the FirstinMath program was a little easier. The program is difficult for many of my students. I can only put my top performers on the program because the middle & low performing students are just completely lost using it. I think that as the year progresses, I will be able to get more & more of them on the math program. But... ABCya has been a great program for ALL levels of students. There are so many good activities for both math and literacy, and there are also fun actvities that they can do for a little brain break.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hanukkah & Kwanzaa Holiday Fun!

This week we learned about Hanukkah & Kwanzaa. The students had so much fun learning that there were other holidays besides Christmas.

I started the week teaching them about Hanukkah symbols & traditions. I read them several books and we watched a United Streaming movie about Hanukkah. We learned about the menorah and what the candles represent. We made our own Star of David by tracing triangles, cutting them out & pasting different shades of blue tissue to them. I hung those from the ceiling of our classroom and they were so proud to show them off. We learned how to play the Dreidel game & invited our principal in to play with us. The students taught her how to play and how to spin the Dreidel. They were actually very enthusiastic about learning the traditions and customs behind Hanukkah.

In the middle of the week I began teaching about the symbols & traditions of Kwanzaa. Our big book of the week was called The Marketplace. This book is set in Africa and shows what a typical outdoor marketplace would look like. It was a great set up to teaching about Kwanzaa, an African holiday. Again, we read several books and watched a United Streaming video about Kwanzaa. I taught them about the kinara and what the candles symbolize. We did a cut & paste Unity Cup craft. They turned out really nice and I hung them in the hallway.

On Friday we summed up our learning. I wasn't sure how many facts they had actually retained. I was extremely surprised at what they could tell me about both holidays. They could easily tell me the symbols that we learned about, but they were also telling me things like traditional foods for each holiday and reasons and customs behind each holiday. I was really impressed! They were even asking to learn about more kinds of holidays.

I will post the pictures of the projects later...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving in Kindergarten

Today was our Kindergarten Feast Day. How this works is we collect $1 from each of our students to purchase the ingredients needed to make Friendship Stew, cornbread, chocolate pie & butter. We make the pies on Monday so that they can set up in the refrigerator overnight. We talk about the ingredients that we need to make the Chocolate Dream Pie. Then, I let the students smell each ingredient & we talk about the color, texture, etc. We add the ingredients and while I beat the pie they count to 100 three times. They LOVE this activity.
The following day we make the cornbread and the stew in the same manner that we made the pies. Then the part that they like the best comes...shaking the cream to make the butter for the bread. We sing the shaking song & then pass the jar to the next student to shake. The song goes to the tune of Row Your Boat. The words are, Shake, shake, shake the cream. Watch it turn to butter. Everyone will have a turn. Now pass it to another. I usually use 2 of the large baby food jars to make the butter. The class loves to sing & shake.
During the previous week I will have taught them the "I'm A Little Indian" song, and we will sing that a few times on the day of the feast.
I always love this activity. I am always amazed at how much schema I helping to build with them using this one lesson. I teach them about cooking and the tools needed to cook. I teach them about vegetables & other healthy foods. They learn about kindness, sharing & table manners. And, obviously, they learn about the first Thanksgiving and what it means to be thankful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Field Trip

Wow! I took my kindergarteners to the Aw Shucks corn maze today. I am always amazed at the questions that they have. It is so fun to actually see them making the connections from the classroom learning to the real world examples. They didn't know what corn stalks are, what a path is, the differences in a chicken & a turkey, or what a trail is. It is so cool to see that moment when those little light bulbs light up! I wish that we could give them more experiences like this one.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Setting Goals

Today I had to decide on my goals for my Professional Development Plan. I immediately knew that one of those goals would deal directly with technology. The other is to reflect more & analyze ways to make my teaching better. I am planning on using this blog as a way to help me reach those goals.

Goal 1: Incorporate more technology into my lesson plans- Up to this point I have used my document camera, flip video, the internet, and my Breakthrough to Literacy software. I am going to continue using all of these, and throw in a little bit more. I am thinking that I can use more computer software, use the ipod for listening center activities, use Discovery Learning, Bookflix & Youtube to enhance themes and subject areas, and get my students using the First in Math program. I am hoping that I can incorporate these things into my lessons with as much ease as possible.

Goal 2: Reflecting & analyzing- I think that this goal is huge for me! This year I have been more dedicated to documenting what I am doing with each & every student everyday. I am horrible about writing things down, but this year I am making a conscious effort to get the notes down! Not only am I recording and reflecting on students, but I am also trying to reflect on lesson plans and what did/not work and why. I am really trying to figure out what the most effective lessons are and why.

Wish me luck! :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Is This Thing On?!?

I have decided that I am going to blog everything that I do in my kindergarten class. I am doing this mainly for myself so that I can remember all those things that work great & ditch all those things that were not so great. I LOVE to teach kindergarten & it is my passion to make learning as fun & as hands on as possible. I love to teach through crafts, songs, and exploration. It is my goal to use this blog as a place where I can post my lessons & also reflect on my teaching.