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Apple book, Adapting my literacy centers, scoop rockers, and Five for Friday....

Hello Friends,

I have to say that this year has been soooo super busy. I am not exactly sure what is different this school year, but when I get home, I am exhausted - super, duper exhausted. It's crazy, too, because I gave up tutoring after school this year, so you would think that I would have MORE time.... but... It's not happening yet... maybe it will soon!

It's been a few weeks since I have joined Kacey at Five for Friday, so I thought I would once again join in on the fun.... :)

1. We are very close to finishing our apple unit. If you read my blog, you know that we create an APPLE book every year; encompassing both literacy and science. This year, I decided to change the way we make the book... mainly because I am one of those teachers who cannot do exactly the same thing from year to year! ;)

 I have always done apple tasting with my kids. This year instead of giving each child an apple cutout, I added Velcro dots to sentence strips ( rough side) . Each child picked out a felt square that showed their favorite apple flavor and attached to the Velcro - super, super easy!

 2. We have been working on labeling in our writing journals.  Most of the labels can be found in my APPLE resource, but I also found the labels for the parts of the Apple HERE. The last photo in the collage is "Ten Apples Up On Top." In the past, I have taken photos of the kids pretending to hold apples on their head and then they cut and glued apples in a stack on top. This year, though, I wanted to do something different, so this is what I came up with..... If you would like the printable, I have uploaded it as a Google doc which you can find HERE. If your school does not allow you to download resources from outside your network, you will have to download from home on YOUR personal network.

3.  The fun (and frustrating) thing about teaching kindergarten is that sometimes what has worked in the past for your kiddos does not always work for your present class. That is what has happened to me this year. I introduced Daily 5 to my kinders a few years ago and it has always worked well. This year, though, my kiddos had some challenges adjusting to it and I am okay with that. All classes are different; what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. So, I adapted my Daily 5 routine to a little more structure. I thought I would share with you my changes; just in case there is another teacher like me who loves Daily 5, but needs a little more structure.

First of all......  I am blessed to work in a school that believes in small class sizes in kindergarten. I know that many of you have twice the amount of students that I have and I honestly do not know how you do it... I respect you for your hard work!

So here is what I did.... I divided my kiddos into 4 color coded groups - red, blue, yellow, green.

 I have 4 matching color coded tubs. On the top of each tub, I used Velcro to attach their rotations.They rotate through ONE tub a day.

You can see that I have a DOG word work tag and a CAT word work tag. Inside each box, I have Word Work "have to's. Every tub has a different "have to" and all the supplies they need to complete it are found inside the tub. When their "have to " is finished, they can go to choice tubs. The choice tubs are differentiated with a dog or cat label. I did this to make sure that my kids were not always making the same choices.  So, on their "dog" day, they make choices within the tubs labeled with a dog and on their "cat" day, they make choices within the tubs labeled with a cat. I pull kids out of their rotations for reading groups. If I pull a child out of their rotation, they just miss that rotation. So, if you are like me, you have to let go of the fact that not all kids will complete every "have to." That's why I make sure that I put similar "have to's" within the cat tub and similar "have to" activities within the dog tub. This ensures that each child completes at least one activity within that skill.

For Listen to a Story, we have 2 CD players and 2 iPads. To solve the problem of who gets to do what, each child has been assigned a number which I attached to a craft stick. I found clip art of an iPad and clip art of a CD player which I laminated and Velcroed to the top of a small foam board. Library pockets were attached to the foam board. I divided my kids into two groups and added their numbers to a library pocket. Each day I change the CD/iPad clip art from one foam board to another.

Once again, I KNOW this is not pure Daily 5, but it works for my kiddos this year and that is what is important, right?

4.  We let our Monarch butterflies go a couple of weeks ago. I love, love, love this project!

5.  I ordered a class set of scoop rockers this year. I LOVE these little seats and so do my kiddos! It's such a nice way for my kids to have a comfortable place to sit while at the same time being allowed to "squirm" a little.... I also like that they can place their rocker any where in the classroom during reading or independent work time. They were well worth the expense! Here they are graphing their favorite apple flavors.

So that's it for now, my friends! Make sure that you visit Five for Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching!

Rainbows and bubbles - Adding Science (STEAM) to my Curriculum

Hello Friends,

Goodness.... It has been a very looong time since I have written. We had a few family crises this past month which took priority . All seems to be back to normal, so hopefully, I will be better at posting now!

My goal for this school year is to add more science (STEAM) activities to my curriculum. I have to say that it takes a change in thinking to accomplish. I have had to allow my students to explore on their own without much intervention from me. This has been a little difficult for me because I usually have an end result in my mind which doesn't always match what my students ACTUALLY take away from the activity. Kindergarten activities often involve making a "mess", so I am used to that part. It just takes a little more patience to accept that the mess is part of the learning process!

Our first activity was understanding how rainbows are made.  I used a glow stick to demonstrate light. I held up a glow stick and told my kids that light is like this glow stick. All the light travels together in a straight line and looks white like the glow stick. But when it passes through an object like a prism or raindrop, it is broken up and we can see the colors. I broke the glow stick to demonstrate how light can "break" and create colors. Of course, a glow stick only shows one color, but it still shows the "breaking up" of one color to another.

I divided the kids into partners and took them outside. We were lucky that it was a sunny day! They captured the light with their prisms and saw that the light was broken into a rainbow. We looked at the order of the rainbow colors. They also experimented with creating rainbows with a cup of water. This is a bit more difficult, but when it works, it is an amazing way for kids to see why rainbows can be made on a rainy day.

We looked at how light is made of all the colors and is called "white." But when you mix all the colors together in Art, they create black. They had a great time mixing colors and creating secondary colors as well as black.

 This week, we studied surface tension using bubbles.  First they stirred plain water with spoons and saw that they created bubbles, but the bubbles did not last very long. This is because the surface tension of water is strong and is not "stretchy", so bubbles pop easily.

 Then they tried adding soap to the solution and saw that soap makes water "stretchier", so the bubbles last longer.

After they made bubbles with soap, they tried out different types of commercial bubble solutions. The kids were divided into small groups. They took turns being the "bubble blower." The bubble blower blew the bubbles and the rest of the group counted to see how long the bubble "survived" before it broke. They took turns being the bubble blower and counter.

 The children were given the opportunity to create their own bubble solution using different types of soap and compared the “lasting power” of their homemade solution to the commercial solution. They also added corn syrup to their solution and found that the bubbles lasted a REALLY long time. This is because corn syrup made the bubbles even more stretchy. A warning, though..... If you can do this outside, your clean up will be much less. It was raining on the day that we did our activity and our classroom became pretty messy with bubble solution and sticky corn syrup!

It was a fun activity, though… when I asked my kiddos what they had learned, I was told “Bubbles can have rainbows in them because light bends through them” and “You need to add soap to water to make bubbles stretch and last longer.”
I think these are  pretty awesome BIG IDEAS for five year olds!

 Click HERE for the link to the bubble activity.

So... that's it for now, my friends...

Until next time!