Math Unit 1: Counting And Cardinality

We've been working hard on our new Math Series, Math Through Play, and Unit 1: Counting and Cardinality is now available!

This math unit is developmentally appropriate and *classroom-tested for early learners (*We ONLY sell what we use successfully in our three kindergarten classrooms)!.

The lessons are geared for a typical Kindergarten classroom and can be easily adapted for Preschool, Transitional Kindergarten, or any Homeschool setting.

As a bonus, many of the lessons are scripted to allow for easy lesson delivery without a lot of preparation, and also, it can be easily handed to a teaching assistant or a parent volunteer with confidence that the lesson objective and content will be delivered!

The table of contents are clearly outlined to make lesson preparation a breeze.

The unit includes extras such as delivering number talks, number songs, adding play to the math curriculum, as well as ideas of how to use the calendar and manipulatives in your math routine.

Each week includes four or five lessons to build knowledge and experience in mathematical knowledge.

Each lesson is linked to Common Core standards!

These lessons can be delivered to the whole group, or easily used as small group lessons.


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Table of Contents: 

Number Talks (These are to be spread throughout the unit and beyond).
Playful Math Across The Day (These are to be spread throughout the unit and beyond).
Post Office
Weather Man
Block Play
Sinking Ships

Calendar and Manipulatives
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Week 1
Counting Calisthenics
Counting Crayons
Bears and Buttons
Chrysanthemum’s Numbers

Week 2
Road Rally
Visual Numbers
Barnyard Nibbles
Basketball Bounce
Stamp Board

Week 3
Shape Count
Object Count
Willy The Wandering Worm
Apple Memory
Bobbing For Apples

Week 4
Which Has More
Dump It Out
Button Match Up
Potato Bingo

Back To School Thematic Bundle

Are you looking for a great start to your school year?

These great cross-curricular thematic units are PACKED with activities. All of the lessons are scripted for easy lesson delivery! 238 pages of quality early childhood learning, and for the first time -- bundled for great savings!

Back to School Thematic Bundle
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Save Big with this Back to School Thematic Unit Bundle. Includes our Best Selling, Names, Color Theme, Chrysanthemum, and Mother Goose. Please click on the links for the preview of each included unit. For this price you will be amazed with all that is included!

Mother Goose: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mother-Goose-Nursery-Rhymes-Thematic-Unit-269880

Table of Contents:

Shared Reading Activities
Mother Goose Rhymes: Saying or Singing Nursery Rhymes
Nursery Rhymes: Sequencing Nursery Rhymes
Hey Diddle Diddle Pocket Chart Activity

Literacy Activities
Mother Goose Mix-up: Building Working Memory
Humpty Dumpty Rhymes: Matching Rhymes
Blind Mice Chase: Identifying Letters
Mary Goes To School: Using Preposition Words
Mary's Letters: Tracing Letters A-Z
Little Lost Lambs: Hunting For Alphabet Letters

Math Activities
Little Bo Peep's Sheep: Counting Objects to Match Numbers
Under The Haystack: Identifying Shapes
Nursery Rhyme Patterns: Naming and Creating Patterns
Hey Diddle Diddle Numbers: Identifying Number Names
Nursery Rhyme Puzzles: Developing Spatial Reasoning Skills
Fetch The Pail: Counting & Writing Numbers


Songs/Fingerplays
Humpty Dumpty
Jack Be Nimble
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Little Bo Peep
Little Boy Blue
Jack and Jill
Little Miss Muffet
The Fly and The Bumblebee

Art Projects
Mary's Schoolhouse: Construction Project
Mary's School Portfolio Sample
Humpty Dumpty on a Wall


Writing
Hey Diddle Diddle Prewriting Practice
My Favorite Nursery Rhyme


Science
Insects & Spiders: Making Comparisons

Guided Reading Books
Mother Goose Land
Class Made Books
Mother Goose Rhymes


Chrysanthemum: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chrysanthemum-Thematic-Unit-2703281

Table of Contents

Math Activities

Measuring Names: Comparing and Contrasting the length of names
The Numbers in my Name: Worksheet
Chrysanthemum’s Numbers: Identifying and Naming Numbers

Literacy Activities

Chrysanthemum's Alphabet: Alphabet Bingo
Name Traders: Reading and Matching the Names of Self and Others.
Character Study: Elements of a Character

Original Songs

Names
Clapping Names

Social Studies

Words Hurt: Compassion and Caring
Rules Poster: Classroom Rules
Portfolio Sample: A Wrinkled Heart
Portfolio Sample: All About Me


Guided Reading

The Mouse Family

Writing

Chrysanthemum word wall card
All About My Name
Name “Entrance” Tickets

Art Projects

Making Chrysanthemum
Guided Drawing: Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum Puppet


Color My World: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Color-Thematic-Unit-298357

Table of Contents

Literacy Lessons With Independent Options:
Rainbow Road: Matching Alphabet Letters
Tossing Colors:Reading Color Words
Color Walk: Clapping Syllables
Color Bear: Naming Colors

Shared Reading: Whole Group Activity
Brown Bear: Substituting Words In a Sentence

Independent Activities:
Color Words: Naming Colors
Crayons: Matching Colors


Math Lessons With Independent Options:
Crayon Patterns: Creating & Extending Patterns
Crayon Counting: Counting Objects
Dress A Bear: Building a Working Memory

Independent Activities:
Crayon Boxes: Writing Numbers
Crayon Sort: Sorting Objects
Rainbow Roll: Probability

Art Projects

Color Mobile
Abstract Plates: Using Color to Create an Abstract
Stain Glass Window: Tearing Paper
Color Mini Book: Illustrating a Book

Songs/Fingerplays
The Color Song
Stand up For Colors
Colors

Writing
Color Word Wall Cards
My Favorite Color
Colors
Class Made Book: Color My World

Science Projects
Color Chase: Mixing Colors


Guided Reading Books
The Color Zoo

Classroom Dispays
Color Word Full Sheet Posters


Writing Names: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Names-Learning-To-Sequence-and-Write-Names-of-Self-and-Others-156363

Table of Contents:

Water Cap Names: Ordering letters in names and transferring knowledge. 
Name Puzzles: Building familiarity with alphabet letters and their function when spelling one's own name.
Name Cheer: (A variation of Name Puzzles): Identifying and sequencing the letters in names. 
Shave a Name: Using correct handwriting technique to write names.
Rainbow Names: Spelling and writing names.
The "Nameapillar": Ordering letters in names.
Trace A Name: Tracing names using correct letter formation. 
Name Fishing: Reading the names of classmates, then sorting according to beginning capital letter.
Name Dictionary: Alphabetizing classmates' names.
Names: A Guided Reading Book
Name Fun: Ten Additional Name Conquering Ideas
Name Game: Studying names of classmates
Name Chart: Studying names in a Morning Meeting routine
Mosaic Names: Spelling and writing names
Name Necklace: Spelling name
Spell-a-Name: Spelling own name and names of others.

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Are You Using Your Counting Straws Wrong?

What I've been using counting straws wrong?

Do you have a set of these small counting straws in your classroom calendar area? Do you dutifully add a straw to the pocket chart every day counting the days of school? Do you immediately bundle the straws into groups of ten on every tenth day and then a group of one hunderd on the hundredth day of school? That's what these straws are for isn't it?

Well... not really.

The problem is that using the counting straws in this way is pretty meaningless for your students. It doesn't help them gain an understanding of the place value behind our number system and if you asked a student why the straws are bundled they would probably answer, "I don't know. That's just what we do."

But there's an easy way to fix the way you use these straws that will develop your student's number sense much more effectively...

Don't bundle the straws.

I mean it. Don't do it. Tell the students that you will be using these straws to count how many days you have been in school and then begin counting. 

Let the pile of straws become unmanageable. Let it take a long time to count. Loose count sometimes. And then one day, in front of the students, let yourself get fed up with those stupid, stupid straws. Tell your students, "I'm tired of counting these straws. It takes too long and I loose count and then have to start over! There must be an easier way to count these straws!" Then let your students come up with a better way of counting. If they tell you to count by twos, wrap up bundles of twos and try it. How much faster could you count? Is there a faster way? Sooner or later your students are going to tell you, "Let's put them in a group of ten and count by tens!" This will provide much more meaning to this activity and give students ownership of it. Then, when someone asks them why they put the straws into bundles of ten they will know exactly why!


Here are some fun math activities that students love!

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Uppercase Handwriting Worksheets: Sticks and Curves

If you are looking for a quality product for early learners, you will love this Uppercase Letter Formation product! There are two versions included in the purchase, the one page version where everything is included on a single page,  and a 2 page version that may be easier for little hands to manipulate. The letter is on a full page and the sticks and curves are on an additional half page.

The worksheets can also be stapled together to make a great handwriting workbook.

Developmentally Appropriate

Developmentally appropriate practices are especially important when it comes to the teaching of letter formation. These worksheets will fill that bill. Each worksheet is interactive and is completed in five steps.

1. Student cuts along dotted line.

2. Student cuts out sticks and curves.

3. Student glues the white pieces on the black letter.

4. Student traces and then writes the letter practicing the stick and curves.

5. To complete the page, the student can color the pictures that begins with the letter sound.

As with all of our products! Classroom tested and Developmentally Appropriate for Early Learners.


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I love all the amazing product that Kindergarten Kiosk creates! Your product always right on to what my kids need. This has been a great resource for my centers.
Love these! They are perfect to go with our handwriting without tears curriculum!
Also available at TPT

Also available at TPT

 

 

Teach About Colors

I love to begin the school year teaching about colors! All children have some experience and level of understanding about color so it serves as a great anchor for young learners!

 
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Another reason I love to start the year teaching about colors is because there are so many great books about colors and so many opportunities for building literacy using color knowledge as a scaffold! Here are some of my favorites (with affiliate links) and a couple of my favorite free-to-watch youtube videos.


I started working on these color units last year, but life got in the way and I didn't finish them. Well, I was determined to have them done so I could use them this year! Whew, I'm glad they are done now, 11 units for 11 different colors is a lot of work! Luckily, you can get them for your own use bundled for a limited time with a 50% off savings! Why? Because I want you to have a fun start to the school year too! And $11.00 for 11 colors makes it a sweet deal of $1.00 per color!


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Kindergarten Homework: Yay or Nay

As the trend as-of -late is to offer less homework to increase family time, I agree with the Duke University study that concludes that although students shouldn't be doing hours of nightly homework, they should be doing homework. Dr. Cooper, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience states that homework should be thought of as dietary supplement. If you do not take it you won't have any dietary advantage. If you take too much, it will have ill effects. 

Another reason that I believe quality, flexible, homework should be provided is that it is the only time a parent truly can have a glimpse at what skills are being learned in the classroom, and more importantly how their child is coping with those skills. 

 

Quality Homework

"Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs, thinks there should be more emphasis on improving the quality of homework tasks...."

That is the goal we used to create our homework packets: to provide quality parent friendly homework that doesn't interrupt family life, but rather enriches it! When we created these packets, we began with the Core Standards, added the timeline for skill practice, and then made each activity fun and engaging.

Teachers, parents, and students alike love the flexibility and ease of these great homework packets. They are easy to prepare, easy to send home, and easy to fit into busy family life. Our goal is to enrich family life, strengthen student skills, and give teachers more "home-time." 


Our homework comes in three levels: Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade. They can also be used as Below Benchmark, At Benchmark, or Above Benchmark for any of the above named grade levels.


These homework packets (as with all of our products), are available at Teacher's Pay Teacher's, or here at our Kiosk store.


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Save 50% by purchasing the entire kindergarten level bundle. This also includes three additional RTI homework packets to use at home, or at school.

I bought and used the preschool set this year - which my kids and parents loved.
Going to K next year, had to buy these
This is incredible!! I love how you’ve incorporated all the subject areas as well as fine motor skills. This will save me a ton of time.
This packet has made my time AFTER school so much less. Thank you, now I can spend time with my own children, and still provide my students with quality homework.

Oral Blending

Oral blending is a precursor to decoding or sounding out words. Developing a strong foundation in blending will help students make a faster and smoother transition when reading words.

Blending should begin well before the phoneme stage. Most students can easily blend the two parts of a compound word together. From that point, present words in smaller and smaller units. Provide opportunities for blending multi-syllable words together, then onsets and rimes. 

After multiple experiences successfully blending the initial or final consonant with the rest of the word, it is time to blend two and three sounds together. For your first phoneme blending experiences, put the sounds in the context of a sentence or story.

My puppy likes to /b/ /ar/ /k/.

He likes it when I /p/ /e/ /t/ him.

He likes to chew on a /b/ /o/ /n/.

He likes to chase the /c/ /a/ /t/.

Another support for oral blending is to provide picture clues. Place a set of three-sound picture cards (or objects) in front of your students. Name the three sounds of one of the pictures and have the students find the correct picture (can you find the /c/ /a/ /t/)? Limit the number of pictures for students who struggle with blending. 

After playing games with pictures or objects, the students are ready to try blending sounds without any clues. A blending game my students always enjoy is Build a Snowman. This game can be played with or without picture cards, so it can be used with students working at different levels. For each correct answer, the students  add another piece to the snowman; “building” a snowman made the game a little more fun for the students and kept them engaged throughout this guided lesson! This game can be found in our Snowman Thematic Unit. It can easily be adapted to any theme. Students can build a flag, build a turkey, Build a Leprechaun, on and on. *Many of our thematic units contain lessons on blending and segmenting.

We have a great podcast on the topic of blending and segmenting, be sure to check it out to get more tips and ideas to teach your students to blend.


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All of our products can also be found at TPT.

All of our products can also be found at TPT.

Working With Word Families

Teaching a child to rhyme is phonological awareness. Teaching a child to connect auditory rhymes to the written word is phonics. Both are essential skills when teaching a young child to read and both can be taught through word families!

Rhyming is an important literacy skill. Children become familiar with rhymes through songs and rhyming books. As students begin to match, generate, and produce rhymes, they are able to focus more on the sounds within words.

While most students develop the ability to rhyme through games, songs, and books, some students struggle with rhyming. Approaching rhymes through word families can be beneficial for those students. Teaching word families can also get struggling readers on-track quickly as they become familiar with patterns that are within similar words. Sounding out each word provides decoding practice. Furthermore, when students recognize the pattern of a phonogram, the number of words they can read increases significantly.

Whether you use a commercial product, purchased games, or just write a word family list on the board, you can reinforces the skill of word families. Have your students read or decode each word individually, then read through the entire list quickly. Help students notice not only that the middle and end sounds are the same, but also that the letters for those sounds are the same.

Word families are a simple way to reinforce rhyming and practice decoding. Pick a different word family every day and have some reading fun! I love to use these adorable anchor charts as the jumping point for a word family introduction followed by making the interactive little book. The next day, I will practice that same word family with a worksheet or an interactive writing activity using whiteboards. 

These pages can be stapled together to make a cute interactive little book for kids to read again and again.

These pages can be stapled together to make a cute interactive little book for kids to read again and again.

These anchor charts can be made to any size that fits your needs. I have found the students use them regularly.

These anchor charts can be made to any size that fits your needs. I have found the students use them regularly.

 
 

Want to learn more? Click here to listen to our podcast episode all about rhyming!


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All of Kindergarten Kiosk's products can also be found at Teachers Pay Teachers.

All of Kindergarten Kiosk's products can also be found at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Helping Early Learners Conquer Those Pesky Vowels

When young children have mastered the alphabet letter names and know more than half of the letter sounds, hooray! But with that sigh of relief comes the reteaching and reteaching of those pesky vowels!

Vowels are most easily mastered if the reteaching is thorough and strategic. To begin this strategic teaching, review the alphabet letter that represents the vowel and the sound-card that you are using in your classroom or homeschool setting. If you don’t have defined sound-card you can check out ours in the product section below.

There are many great videos that are great and kids love them. Heidi's Songs is one of my favorites! She has been remastering all of her videos so if you think you know them, be sure to look again!


When revisiting the vowels, I recommend spending at least two days on each vowel for review. Because this is a review and all sounds have been previously introduced, be sure to talk about both the long and short sounds of the vowel.

Provide a visual and auditory (sound song) link for A E I O and U. There are many available, my favorite is Have Fun Teaching, my students LOVE it!

I also love the Talking Words Factory, kids really get the "glue" concept that is presented in this video.

 

Be sure to add further supports. Using hand cues to teach short vowel sounds adds a kinesthetic link. Teach your students these signs as each vowel is reviewed, then continue to use this cues as vowels are continually reviewed (I love how these signs actually match the mouth formation we will discuss below). 

Teach children the linguistic characteristics of these vowels. I found that even though I was scared to take linguistics as an undergrad, and then terrified of advanced linguistics as part of my masters program, I loved these courses! I found the knowledge I gained to be crucial in regards to the effective teaching of reading. Here are the characteristics that one must know to better teach those pesky vowels.


The /a/ sound /æ/

The vowel is a jaw vowel made with the voice on. (Have students feel the sound made by touching their throat).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The /e/ sound /ɛ/

This vowel is a tongue vowel (it rises ever so slightly) made with the voice on. (Have students feel their mouth widen and tongue lift as they feel the sound made in their throat).

*The /a/ and /e/ are often confused by young children. Calling attention to tongue placement helps demonstrate differences.

 

 

The /i/ sound /ɪ/

This vowel is a tongue vowel (it rises ever so slightly) made with the voice on. (Have students feel the sound made by touching their throat and feel the tongue placement).

 

 

 

 

 

The /o/ sound /ɔ/

This vowel sound is a jaw vowel made with the voice on. (Have students feel the sound made by touching their throat and place hand under chin to feel the jaw drop).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The u sound /ʌ/

This vowel sound is a jaw vowel made with the voice on. (Have students feel the sound made by touching their throat, call attention to the differences between the o and u jaw placements).

 

 

 

 

 


Using mouth cards and hand signals as mentioned above help children learn the correct mouth placement as they practice and practice voicing vowel sounds. The differences become clear as students feel the changes that happen within their own mouth. Make sure to pass out mirrors so students will be able to visually see the differences. 

Be patient. It takes a lot of listening and voicing practice to conquer these separate and distinct (pesky) vowel sounds. And remember that with all phonemic awareness practice, English Language Learners will get it, don't give up on them! But it will take added patience and practice as some of these sounds are not even made in their native tongue. Your patience and continued practice will pay off. As with all pre-reading skills, if added emphasis is placed on oral-phonemic practice until mastered, the transference to the written word will be very easy.

As you spend a week or two reviewing vowel sounds, you might want to check out our new vowel practice early learning essential. This packet also contains the sign language hand cards, mouth placement cards, vowel sound cards, and a vowel song poster and pocket chart cards. With the great low price of $4.00, you will be on your way to vowel sound victory.


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All Kindergarten Kiosk Products are also available on Teachers Pay Teachers!

All Kindergarten Kiosk Products are also available on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Here are some of our other great vowel practice products:

The Perfect Kindergarten and Preschool Assessments

Are you Looking for the Perfect Assessments?

I use the assessments below in my classroom. I have used and perfected these assessments for over 15 years, and I truly believe them to be the perfect kindergarten and Pre-K assessment packets. And yes, they are strategically linked to Core Standards.

A few years ago I found ESGI and it completely transformed the administration and data collection of these assessments. Before ESGI, I ran a copy of the assessments for each student, had an organized assessment binder for both math and reading, and then spent hours transferring the data to a spreadsheet that automatically color-coded the students to red, yellow and green. This took me HOURS of time! But ESGI has changed all of that, it is literally Click Click Done!

Now, I test my students on the iPad or my computer using my tried and true authentic assessments, have immediate data results and all of the tools necessary to utilize this data to improve student learning. I can even access built-in RTI and SLO data at the touch of a button.

I have partnered with ESGI and my perfect assessments are available both traditional paper or with ESGI, digitally with no extra cost to you. If you want to try ESGI using a free 60 day trial. Remember to enter the promo code B7227. You will find all of the paper assessments below already loaded on ESGI.

All of these assessments are also available on TPT.


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Bringing Color into the Life of a Child

School must be so much more than worksheets and assessments, it must be an opportunity for students to flourish and grow in many areas. A place to become empowered to take risks, fail often, and try again. 

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Education has become a race of sorts. We watch children closely to see who will read first, who will solve the most complicated sum, or who will write the most perfectly punctuated story. But, as we early childhood educators know, it's like assessing children for their first word or their first step. These things happen when the particular child is developmentally ready, and comparing children to each other in their milestones only puts stress on children and the adults who love them. All children have different interests, have different needs, and excel at different things. Children learn at their own pace and develop at their own levels. It is up to us as teachers and parents to provide a rich amount of experiences and opportunities.

Honestly, when the signups come for summer workbooks from the office, I quickly throw them away. I don't want to be part of the worksheet problem. Rather, I spend the year advancing the arts and sciences in my classroom as a tool for exploration and learning. One of my favorite end of the year activities to launch my students into summer is reading Bridget's Beret. This beautiful story encourages creativity and is a great way to encourage children to spend summer free time in creative pursuits, rather than worksheets. 

 
 

The video below is a great reminder to encourage children to be the highly creative, beautiful, soulful beings they were born to become.  

My hope is that all classrooms will be thought of as think-tanks. A place for joyful consideration where everyone is celebrated for their own accomplishments. A place where standardized assessment scores are not the driving force for academic placement. Where academic excellence is obtained by a high level of thematic and cross-curricular teaching.


I have found that by teaching thematically I can allow learners to explore, create, and discover at their own levels. I can integrate across subjects, meeting academic goals for the year in a fun and personalized way for children. If you would like to try teaching thematically, we have a few units to help you get started.

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Three Billy Goats: Reader's Theater or Partner Play

Call them what you will, Reader's Theater, Partner Plays, or simply, what it is, reading for fluency and comprehension. No matter the name or the purpose, young children love to read, practice, rehearse and perform! Students love these books and their headband costumes!


Here is example text from our Billy Goat Partner Play. 


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Or get it here at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Or get it here at Teachers Pay Teachers.


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Setting Up A Writing Center

You can create a space in your classroom for students to experience and practice newly acquired writing skills independently by making a writing center.  A writing center is a great spot to foster interest and provide independent opportunities.

I have found my favorite way to set up my writing center is by creating the space as a permanent fixture with activities that change, yet stay the same. For example, I might always have the Monday activity as labeling. Tuesday may always be writing a list. Wednesday, may be writing the room for sight words. Thursday might be writing the room for alphabet letters. Friday might be using the vocabulary word wall to write a story. These are just some examples, I also use QR activities, CVC and sight word activities as well as many other fun and engaging writing activities. 

Below is an example of my current writing center that is ready to go for the week. 


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Interactive Writing and Structured Writing

kindergarten writing

Interactive or structured writing is when the teacher guides group writing. All children participate in the composing and even construct various aspects of the writing. Students experience writing for a purpose and with meaning.  

One way to initiate interactive writing is through response to literature that offers a topic for discussion. For example after reading the Little Red Hen, you can write about why it is important to help others. As you share the pen with the students, work at their level of independence. Making a list such as this is a great way to teach and model writing.

EXAMPLES OF INTERACTIVE WRITING

Here are some other ways to include interactive writing during your writing times.

  • Class made books        
  • Story analysis        
  • Class letter            
  • Names
  • Rewriting nursery rhymes and poems    
  • Student generated sentences
  • Schedules
  • Story maps
  • Sentence strips
  • Have/Can/Are activities

Structured Writing is an effective method of modeling, reinforcing, and providing practice in the use of conventions of print.  Through structure writing, children can practice basic grammatical and spelling conventions, practice using sight words, and spelling.

In Structured Writing, teachers provide a model for the children to copy directly onto paper.  Modeling begins with very simple developmental tasks that increase in difficulty.  Progression includes: Single letter formation, fill in the blank sentences such as I like ______. I can ride a ______, and then onto full word and sentence formation. Then the progression moves on to copying poems,

EXAMPLES OF STRUCTURE WRITING

Following are some examples of structure writing activities.

  • Writing alphabet letters
  • Class-Made book reproductions                              
  • Fill in the blank sentences
  • Copying Sentences
  • Copying Poetry
  • Making Cards
  • Reconstructing and copying sentences
  • Tracing sentences
  • Filling out forms
  • Labeling (tracing or copying)

Here are some of my favorite writing products.

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Reading Strategies That Work

reading-strategies-kindergarten

Students will read more quickly and effectively when given appropriate strategies for reading and instructed on how to match those strategies to reading situations.

There are many important strategies to learn concerning the multifaceted nature of reading. By providing visual representations of the strategies and encouraging students to talk about and practice them, students will develop flexibility of reasoning, gain reading confidence, and internalize the ability to control reading experiences.

I have witnessed my students gain reading independence as they are guided with thoughtful strategies.

Our Reading Strategy set focuses on strategies that will enhance student reading during guided reading experiences. The colorful/child friendly strategy posters included in this set are: 

  • Sit in reading position. 
  • Point at the word your voice is saying.
  • Look at the pictures for clues. 
  • Does it look right?
  • Does it sound right?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Reread and Think
  • Hop through the word sound by sound.
  • Think about word families.
  • Look for chunks you know.


This set also includes strategy cards that you can use in your classroom to remind students of the strategies as you learn them. Also included are posters that you can use to teach each strategy. Print the posters on large paper if possible and display them where the class can see them. If you are using them in a whole group lesson you can print smaller versions. Each poster is followed by a lesson plan that will help you teach each reading strategy.

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Great for guided reading groups thanks
Great for around my reading table
My students have become readers!

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Teachers: Supporting Each Other

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My former colleague Mary Spiker is currently living the dream. She has just won the honor of Idaho Teacher of the Year and has been spending this week in Washington with the other 49 winners as guests of the White House. She has been posting amazing experiences on her Facebook page and I've been eagerly following her on this adventure. I received a message from her yesterday that really touched me and made me reflect on how important colleagues are in our professional life. This is her message: 

I just want you to know I am currently enjoying Washington Week” as Idaho Teacher of the Year. Today I spent the day at ASCD where we each had to share about a colleague who inspired us to become the teachers that we are today. We had to get it down to 30 seconds and then they filmed us talking about that person. ASCD will make a mash-up of all the stories shared. I spoke of YOU! Here is what I said... remember I only had 30 seconds which I had to condense down from five pages.
”I still remember the day I walked into Kathy’s classroom. I was swept away by the different opportunities provided. Her children didn’t just learn about science, math, and writing - they BECAME scientists, mathematicians, and writers. I wanted to be a child in her classroom! Her love for her students, teaching, and learning was evident in everything she did. I actually told her “I ASPIRE TO BE YOU!” To this day I reflect on the things I witnessed and as a result I am creating the researchers, writers, and scientist of tomorrow.” Thank you!

I have had many many colleagues along the way during my quarter century as a teacher. I have learned something important from each one of them. Thank you Mary for your kind words, and more importantly, thank you for giving me the opportunity to reflect on the many teachers who have crossed my path. We are in this together and together we can always achieve more! May we all spend more time lifting one another and less time circling the wagons and shooting within. Thank you to all of my dear colleagues who have lifted me up, and represent, Mary Spiker.

Integrating Music in Elementary Classrooms

Much of what young children do as play - singing, drawing, dancing - are natural forms of art. These activities engage all the senses and help wire the brain for successful learning.
— David A. Sousa in How the Brain Learns
 
 

Integrating music into the elementary school curriculum occurs at varying degrees. At the very basic level students perform or respond to a piece of music. This is the kind of music integration that occurs in the classroom when we sing welcome songs as our students enter the classroom or play a simple melody when it's time to clean up. At a higher level of integration a piece of music can be used to teach a concept from the core curriculum. These kinds of integrations occur when we sing the ABCs, a counting song, or a simple melody to help children remember their math facts. The highest levels of integration ask students to learn music content alongside core content, learning music vocabulary, concepts, and skills in tandem with other academic concepts.

Here are some ways to integrate music in your classroom:

  • Listen to a piece of classical music. While listening, have students imagine a character that the music might describe. What does that character look like? What does he/she want? Write a story based on the character you imagined based on the music.
  • Add sound effects to a Shared Reading lesson. Use sticky notes to add cues in the reading to tell students when the sound effects should occur. For example, if the story includes a rain storm, have a student turn over a rain stick during the story when cued.
  • Create a soundscape with body percussion to accompany a science concept the class is learning about. Such as this soundscape for a rain forest:
  • Create rhythmic ostinatos to accompany a poem, shared reading, or guided reading. A rhythmic ostinato is a repeated rhythmic pattern created with voices or instruments. You can use a chart such as this one to help guide students as they perform the ostinato. In the first video, a rhythmic ostinato is being created by the cups. In the second video the students are chanting a rhythmic ostinato.
  • Teach nursery rhymes to develop phonemic awareness and then have students chant the nursery rhyme clapping once to the rhythm and once to the beat.
  •  Practice syllabication (and phonemic awareness) while learning rhythm through lessons such as this one by Jeri Crosby or these videos by Preschool Prodigies:

Want an easy way to integrate music into your preschool, kindergarten, or 1st grade curriculum? Try this Orchestrated Reader's Theater script! It includes Foley effects and Leitmotifs (sound effects and small melodies) that your students can include in their performance. You can buy it here or at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Using Questions To Extend a Shared Writing Lesson

During Shared Writing the teacher guides children to compose messages using a combination of writing. For beginning writers to understand what writing is and to cognize the connection between spoken and written language, the teacher must continually model the writing process by using the think aloud strategy - that is to verbalize the writing process as it is being executed. In subsequent sessions the teacher gradually solicits the student’s assistance as they begin to identify sounds and name letters in words; the teacher acknowledges and writes the letters in the correct placement.  This daily modeling and interaction builds confidence and encourages students to become independent writers.  The 6+1 Traits® Of Writing should be modeled continually, and it’s specific vocabulary: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions and presentation (NREL, 2008, p. 1) should be used when modeling writing strategies to the students. For example a teacher may say, “Molly, I really like the word choice you used”.


EXAMPLES OF SHARED WRITING

  • Morning Message
  • Daily News
  • Chit-Chat
  • Summaries
  • Lists
  • Charts
  • Schematic Organizers
  • Group Stories

QUESTIONING THAT EXTENDS THE LEARNING DURING SHARED WRITING

The following are examples of questions a teacher might ask students to extend the learning during a shared writing experience.

Concepts of Print

  • Where did we start writing? Which way did we go?
  • What did we put at the beginning and end of the sentence?
  • What did we leave between each word?
  • Find a favorite letter.  What is it?
  • How many words are in this sentence?
  • Should I use a uppercase letter in this word?

Phonological Awareness

  • What sound did you hear at the beginning(or end) of ___?
  • Name another word that begins with the same sound as ____?
  • Tell me a word that rhymes with ____?
  • When I say __ __ __, tell me the sounds you hear.
  • How many syllables are in the word _____?

Phonics

  • What sound and letter does ____ begin with?
  • What sound and letter does ____ end with?
  • Find a word with the same beginning sound as _____?
  • Find a word that belongs to the _____ word family.
  • Let’s make a list of other words that begin with, end with, or rhyme with ______?
  • Do you see a vowel in the word _____?
  • What is the vowel in the word ______?

High Frequency Words

  • Find the word _____.
  • How did we spell _____?
  • Circle the sight word _______.
  • I need to write the word ____. 
  • Can you point to that word on the word wall? Or, can you spell that word?

Click here to learn more about Shared Writing by listening to our podcast: