Sunday, September 21, 2014

Literacy Centers - Fine Motor Skills

The past two weeks, our literacy center focus was fine motor skills. My teaching partner and I put together five centers that we felt would help our kids with fine motor skills and here I am to share those with you!

Yellow center: We practiced our cutting, coloring, and gluing skills with this bear in the woods activity. I believe my teaching partner got this out of a Carson Dellosa book that she has. The second week, we did a fish in the fish bowl activity since the students visit each center twice.

Purple center: Wet, Dry, Try! On our chalk boards, we practiced the letters we have learned by using a small, wet sponge to form the letter (using correct writing grip). Then they take a small, dry paper towel to trace the letter using the correct writing grip, and finally they take a small piece of chalk to write the letter. I encourage them to say the sound of the letter after they write it each way.

Blue center: Letter practice! With these sheets, the students trace, write, stamp, color, and find the letter they are working on. We encourage them to say the sound as they do each of these. The handwriting we use at our school is D’Nealian. I have these letter practice sheets in my TpT store for D’Nealian and regular print.
Red center: Letter monsters. The students made letters we have learned with play dough. Then using the googly eyes, they pushed them into the play dough letter to make their monster and say the sound the letter makes. After each letter, they have to use their little fingers to dig out the eyes and start forming a new letter.
Green center: Sequin letters. Each student had their own container full of rice and sequins mixed together. They had to use their tweezers to pick out only the sequins and form the letters we have learned. Doing this again, I would make sure the students have letter outlines in front of them so they can form the letters a little easier. The purpose was fine motor skills though, so they did get a lot of good practice with that! 
This week our focus is on sound identification and beginning sounds. I'm working on putting together a pack full of activities we can use for beginning sounds so that we can send it in to get printed and prepared for the next few rounds of literacy centers. Be back soon to share those with you!

Have a great week!
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to School Math Stations - Part 1

We had a great first week with our Back to School Math Stations! Before I show you the stations we are working on, I thought I would show you how I am organizing my math station rotations this year. Last year I put the student names on a pocket chart with their names next to the number they were going to that day (as seen here). This year I have it all on my SMART board, and it's so nice because I just have to notate which day we are on in my plans instead of moving names each day. Check it out...
On my daily routines SMART Notebook file, the first page looks like this. I will blog about this at another time to show you how much time it saves me, but notice the Math Stations link under the math note? The numbers are linked to the rotation day that we are on, so if it is the first day of these math stations I would click on 1 and it would take me to the slide you see below. 
 As you can see, once it takes me to the day we are on, the groups are already set and students can see the number station they are going to and what color their number is. The color is just as important as the number because the color tells them which table they bring their station to. In my classroom, I have five table groups that are colored green, red, blue, purple, and yellow. The students who are on orange are doing a write the room activity or their activity would be done at the carpet. So, the number is for the math station they are doing and the color is where they bring their math station. 
To the left, you will notice the other slides with days 1-12 since we do twelve rotations before new math stations are introduced. All the days are ready to go with the groups already rotated, so it makes it super easy on me (or a sub) since I just write in my plans which day we are on. Then I post it up on the SMART board for the students to find their name, number, and color.
Now for the stations we are working on! 

At stations 1 and 7, we are matching numerals to the correct amount of crayons. We are recording our puzzles on a recording sheet too!
At stations 2 and 8, we are playing a matching game using ten frames and crayons and then sorting school supplies by color. For the memory match game, we decided to keep the numerals out of the picture this time around. With our next set of math stations, we might do the same game but have the students match the numeral to the picture or ten frame. Many options for that station like even making it into a Go Fish game!
The students only do one of these stations, so in a 12 day rotation they only do it once whereas some of the other stations they will do twice. So the matching game might be station 2 and the sorting game might be station 8. 
 At stations 3 and 9, we are drawing a number and making it with our manipulatives at one and linking numbers in order at the other. The recording sheet is optional for the first one. For some of my kids, they need that little something extra and then others need to have less to focus on, so I just give them the cards and the manipulatives. 
 For the station where they link the numbers in order, some of them are ready to go all the way to 10 and others need to focus on 0-5. I change the amount of cards depending on who is at the station. So far, we have just introduced numbers 0-5 so that is the focus for all of them. They can check their work with the number line that you see in the picture.
 Stations 4 and 10 the students get to play a game called, Heading to School. It's a very simple game board, but they work on rolling the dice, counting the dots (or subitizing), and then counting/moving that many spaces. 
 For stations 5 and 11, the students are making numbers with play dough using these play dough mats. They form the numeral and then fill in the ten frame to represent the number.
 The last stations, 6 and 12, are the write the room stations where students put their recording sheet on their clipboard and find the pictures posted around the room. When they find the picture, they count how many are on the card and record it on the recording sheet. I have the answer key available for them when they finish to check their work. They love it!!
We only go to one station each day for about 15 minutes. When I ring the bell, they clean up their station by putting everything back in their bag and placing it in the correct drawer so they are ready to be used again tomorrow!
I can't say enough good things about this time in our day. The kids love it, I love it, and I'm always so impressed with how independently they work together. Did I mention we are only in our first week of math stations and they are already doing amazing?! Happy kids, happy teacher! :) 

If you would like to enjoy these stations with your kindergarteners, they are already made for you along with many other fun back to school math stations in this pack here. All aligned to the Common Core Standards, recording sheets, answer keys, and instruction cards provided with the standard posted on them. Here's a peek at another station that is included. We played this game as a class and with a partner this week as part of our math lesson. Very similar to a Fill the Chute game, but with a recess theme. They loved it and it will be part of our math stations in our next rotation.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014


We just finished up introducing numbers 0-5. Each day we focused on a new number, made a number poster, and completed a page in our number book. Our number posters aren’t anything fancy, but the kids helped decide what to use to represent the number (with a little guidance of course). By number 5, they were coming up with all the ideas on their own!  Of course many of them wanted me to draw five pictures of something, so I try to limit the amount of “pictures” we draw on our posters. That gets them to think of other mathematical ways to represent the number.

After we did our number posters, we practiced writing the number with our number rhymes that are printed in the books. These are great to help the kids remember the formation of the number. We use our “magic markers” to write the number in the air with me first, then I have them go back and practice in their booklets. They also choose one of the representations from our poster to draw in their book. Here are a few of the pages...

You can get your own number booklet for numbers 0-5 here.

We started our back to school math stations this week and they are so excited! I’m very impressed with how well they are doing and I love all the learning I see going on! *Proud teacher!* J I will be back soon to share the stations we are working on now, but if you’d like to try them for yourself you can check them out here. We do about 6-7 stations in a 3 week time period, so then we can use the rest of them the next time around which makes this packet last 1-2 months depending on how you use them. Here are a couple pictures I shared on Instagram.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Literacy Centers - Names!

So this year I have decided to start our day out a little differently. The past couple years, we started the day off with journal writing. After attending I Teach K this summer, I was inspired to start literacy centers. Previously in our schedule, there was no time for us to fit in literacy centers minus the one literacy lab during our learning lab time. Journals were a fine choice and some of my students did a really nice job answering the journal prompt fully, but I honestly wasn't very consistent with my expectations for how students answer the prompt each day. I became so excited with all the ideas I learned at the conference that I had to just go for it this year with literacy centers and I think I will be super glad I did! They are going to get so much extra practice outside of our regular reading block and it gives me a time to work in my MTSS time for those that need it. Check out our first set of literacy centers focused around our names! 

I use these colorful tubs to put all the supplies in for each center. The tubs match our table colors, so they know where they go. 
Yellow center: name puzzles. All of the student names were cut apart and put into their own bags, so the students would put together their classmates' names at this station. Next time I would write the names on sentence strips and use more colors for the names. Many pieces would get lost or fall out of the bag, so I think the bigger pieces of a sentence strip and a variety of colors would help us keep them straight. If nothing else, it would help us find the correct name to put the missing piece with. Perhaps a baggy with a slide zip would be easier for the kiddos to shut the bags too! :)

 Purple center: rainbow names. I printed all the student names and pictures on their own cards, so the students grab a name and rainbow write it on their paper. At this point I'm not focused on how they write the letters on the lines just as long as they are making the letters readable. We will focus on each individual letter and how to write it during handwriting time. They did a really good job even if the colors weren't in rainbow order! ;) I found it helpful to put the six rainbow colors in a small bag for each student so that they weren't searching for the colors in a crayon box.

 Blue center: magnetic names. Using the same set of student names/pictures, the students draw a name and make it out of the magnetic letters. We try to talk to them about using the correct uppercase and lowercase letters, but sometimes it was hard to find the right letter in the big pile of magnets. :) Another problem we ran into with this one is that our font we teach is D'Nealian and the magnets are not in that font. Many of them were looking for the letters with kick-ups and would commonly put a 'j' for 'i' since it looks very similar. Next time I would probably print the names in a different font to match the magnets for this center. 

 Red center: dry erase names. Using the same set of names/pictures, the students drew a name and practiced writing it on their white board. It was great practice in forming the letters and using uppercase and lowercase letters correctly. 
 Green center: play dough names. Once again, the students used the name/picture cards to form their classmates' names out of play dough. Most of them did a nice job since we practiced making our own names out of play dough the first week of school. If I would do anything differently, I might print the names so that they were outlined and the kids could put the play dough letters on top of them. It might give them a better way to trace and create the letters. 

 For my MTSS group this week, I worked with the students who still need name writing practice. I wrote their names in highlighter and they traced the letters. This is great so that they can see the pencil markings as they go. We are already seeing improvement with our names!! YAY!! :)
I am loving the literacy center idea so far. It is definitely a little more prep, but I think it is SO worth it for my kiddos. The students visit one center each morning for about 20-25 minutes in their team that I've put together and they are already independently working (YAY!). We do the centers for two weeks and then switch them out, so they should end up going to each center twice. Next week we are focusing on some fine motor skills while bringing in the letters that we are learning in reading. I will be back soon to share those with you. 

Do you have any great literacy center ideas that you could share?! I would love for you to leave a link in the comments so I can come read all about them. This is a new-to-me idea even though I know people have been doing these forever! I'm just hoping to have and find enough engaging ideas to keep this going all year long without it getting old or boring for my kids, so please share your genius ideas with me! :)

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