Monthly Archives: September 2008

Pumpkins! (day 4 and 5) and some other stuff…

Here is a recap of day 4 and 5….

Day 4

We read our Big Book out loud together and then used sentence strips to sequence the details of the story:

I then had students come to the front of the room and hold the strips up so we could read them.  We then wrote numbers on them in the correct order of their sequence.

We also did the Cut Up Sentences activity from the Building Blocks books.  The sentences this week were very unique and many were thoughtful sentences completed after we read several books about pumpkins.

We were able to use our balance scales today (and yesterday!!).  Here are some pictures of us doing that:

While some children worked with the balance scales, I pulled several smaller groups of children over with me and worked on shape matching:

Here are the new Literacy Work Station cards I made:

This is the sequencing activity we did with the pumpkin life cycle. See day 3’s post for more info…

This is the activity that will go into the Big Book Work Station with Pumpkin, Pumpkin.  I wrote the Guess the Covered words on an index card and put several post-it-strips on the card.  The children will find these words, cover them and with their partner, try to use clues to Guess the Covered Word.

Day 5

We used our Predictable Chart to make a class book…

It is true that these are the MOST loved books in our Library Work Station!


This next week, we will be learning about farms.  I didn’t do a closure lesson to tie up our pumpkins theme, because we will come back to it after this week.  We will go on our study trip to the pumpkin patch and have more knowledge to add to our theme.

I ordered Debbie Diller’s new book Spaces and Places and I will get it sometime this week!! I can’t wait! 🙂

We will start our composting theme along with the farm.  Our PTO purchased a large composting tumbler bin for our nature center and we volunteered to be the first class to get it going.  I had already received bins from my grant on, so we will start that and talk about how redworms are  Nature’s Farmers! 🙂

I am also working on making name boxes for each child in the classroom. I’ve decided so that I don’t overwhelm myself and them, I will make one each day they are the Special Helper.  That way, we make one box a day, and add them slowly to the Name Work Station.  I’ve also decided that for now the Name Work Station and the Handwriting Station will be independent of each other, but could mesh into one Station in the second semester–this too would be a great way to save space! 🙂

I also recorded my students singing our ABC Sound Song, Days of the Week, Months of the Year, counting, Shape and Color songs and in between typing these words, am burning them on a CD for each child in my room to take home and practice.  This could be a Work Station as well–put a CD player, some head phones, charts of each of these songs and call it Calendar Work Station or Song Work Station.  The children who needed a review of these could sit and work on that and hear it as many times as needed–Hmmmm, I might have to try to find some room to set this up!

See you Monday down on the Farm!

Kristen 🙂

Pumpkins! (day 3)

Not much to report today–I almost didn’t post!  I don’t have any photos for this post because we tied up some loose ends.  We read aloud our predictable chart, we will do cut-up sentences tomorrow with them.  We also read our Big Book again, and this time we played “Guess The Covered Word”.  I covered up the key parts of the pumpkin: seed, sprout, plant, flower, pulp, face.  We then read the story as normal, stopping when we got to the covered parts and using our prior knowledge of the story to help us figure out the words.  We used “thumbs-up” to tell whether or not we agreed with the prediction that was made about each word.  We checked the first letter and then checked the prediction again, until we uncovered the whole word.  This will become a new activity in the Big Book Work Station.

We also completed a page showing the life cycle of a pumpkin.  We sequenced the life cycle and glued them in the correct order. I wanted the children to see this so they understood some of what it takes to get a pumpkin to their home for fall holidays. My goal this week is just to briefly go over pumpkins and come back in two weeks and go more in depth.  I want to build that background knowlege for our trip to the apple orchard/pumpkin patch.

We also did our first writing sample today.  The children were to write about something they were thinking about.  I gave them 15 minutes–that seemed to be just right!  Our district scores them based upon the developmental writing stages.  A 1 is scribbling, 2 is letter like forms, 3 is random letters/environmental print ie; copying words from the walls/labels, 4 is semi-phonetic spelling, 5 is phonetic spelling and 6 is appropriate for Kindergarten traditional spelling (most words spelled correctly).  I like to have them at a 4-5 to feel comfortable sending them on to 1st grade.  I will talk more with my students families at conference time about this and how to get them to that point. 🙂


Just ask!

Kristen 😉

Handwriting Helpers

I have three children in my class this year who for one reason or another have difficulty in writing their first and last names.  I was thinking about the different things I could try, and then I thought of this one:

I got a plastic pencil box and put their name on it.  Then I traced their first name on a sentence strip, using magnetic letters.  I then put the magnetic letters into the pencil box and laminated their name:

They will use the magnetic letters to match them to the letters in their names.

I also wanted them to pracitce writing their names so I made these:

The first one is a solid line-they will trace over it with a dry erase marker.  The second I made using “bubble letters” so they will try to write their name without touching the sides of the lines.  The third is obviously dotted for them to trace as well.  I will also laminate a blank strip for when we get to that point.

It all stores in the pencil box:

When we are doing Literacy Stations, they will be doing this for a few weeks, until they get it down!

This led me to creating a new Literacy Station-Name Work Station!

I was at Teachers Treasures (see blogroll to the right) today and was standing in the container isle, when something caught my eye!  I was already thinking about what the other children in my class would say when they saw  these boxes, “Where’s mine??”.  I checked my stash of pencil boxes–3 left!  23 more kids to make boxes for, but with what?  That’s where Teacher’s Treasures comes in!  I was walking down that container isle again, and I saw these flat blue jewlery boxes, the kind jewlers use to package large necklaces in (I will get a picture tomorrow for you).  They are about 5 inches tall by 7-8 inches wide.  They are cardboard–the only down side!  I will make a box for each child–I got 20 of them!  I also got  bags of rubberbands, so just like the old Math Their Way junk boxes, I will attach a rubberband to each one and we will keep them closed that way.  I will label the top with a sticker that has their name and picture and this will be a station they can all rotate through–they can practice their name or their friends’.  Either way, they are still practicing letter writing, just not their own name.  For most, that won’t be an issue!  I might only have selected students go to this center as well.  I want to guage the popularity of the idea first and see how that is.

I’m also trying to figure out where this station will go and how I will store the boxes.  Any ideas?

**Subject change here!**  My husband always wants me to alert him as to when I do that–go figure, I’m random and sometimes he doesn’t always follow my conversations!

Anyway, I’ve decided to do the first part of National Board Certification.  I will complete one of the four sections this year and then the rest next year.  It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a few years, but now seems like the best time to do it! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

Pumpkins! (day 2)

We continued our pumpkin theme today…it was a very low key day!  No amazing ideas to report here from todays lessons!  We finished our Predictable Chart, “A Pumpkin is…” :

We read a book out pumpkins and at the end of the book, it listed some of the other colors that pumpkins could be like….blue, purple, terra cotta, yellow, green, and reddish! Here is the book!

We also read our Pumpkin, Pumpkin Big Book again today.  We re-told the story by looking at the pictures and then we hunted for the word pumpkin.  We then highlighted the word pumpkin and counted how many times it was in the story–13!

We also finished up our apple weaving–we didn’t get to it last week!

Here are a couple of shots of the bulletin boards outside of my room.  Sometimes I go for cutesy, but right now I’m just focusing on content and the ideas we are working on.  They may seem sloppy to some, but I would rather have too much of their work up than not enough!  The Kinder. kids take so much pride in their work–why not show it to everyone!?

Pumpkins! (day 1)

We started our unit on pumpkins today.  It will continue this week, skip a week (so we can learn about the farm) and then pick up again after our trip to the apple orchard/pumpkin patch.

We began our day by taking a look at our new pocket chart poem: (One of the children noticed it and so it seemed like a great place to start!)

Then we talked about the letters that we would look for this week in our Pocket Chart Station:

After that, we took a picture walk through and then read our new Big Book:

I use the Shared Reading with Big Books book from the Building Blocks authors, to help me guide my lessons.  After you use this book enough, you come back to it for the stories that are in it, but also to get ideas to use with other books that are not in it.

We then read some read alouds:

Later in the day we started a new Predictable Chart, called, ” A pumpkin is…” and 1/2 of the class filled in their sentences today.

We also completed our pattern block pumpkins and graph today, so I will photograph those tomorrow–I have to get a bulletin board to put them on! 🙂

Something else fun that happened today was that I was able to “share the pen” with some of my Kinder. kids.  It doesn’t usually happen this early in the year, but they were so ready, and I could tell from watching them, who knew how to find specific words where.  You know the kind of assessment you do that isn’t research based?  More like gut feeling based?!?!  So here are some pictures of my assistants helping me write the Morning Message!

In this particular message, we  did a letter hunt for two letters, F (green) and A (blue).  We counted the number of letters (red) and words (orange) in the message, and then we looked for “rainbow words” (yellow bubbles)–our sight words. We’ve also done punctuation hunts, capital letters, lowercase letters, spaces, sight words without looking, sentences, patterns, double letters, blends, words we should know automatically, words on our Word Wall, days of the week, months of the year, seasons, weather, specials classes, names, and many more.  I am diligent about doing a Morning Message EVERYDAY!

Apple Day (day 5)

Here is what we did on day 5 of apple day…

We predicted whether or not we thought the apples we had would float or sink.  Before testing the apples in the water, we talked about why or why not the apples would float or sink.

We then made a graph to show our predictions…

I was going to use a huge galvanized tin bucket I had, but then decided that for a 15 minute lesson, it would take just as long to fill it, wasting their time and mine!  I went with a dish pan instead, and so everyone could see the experiment, I had one row of children sit, the next row sat up on their knees and the third row stood behind them.

I asked the children in what order they would like for me to test the floating/sinking abilities of the apples and they decided upon size, so in went the small red apples, then the small green apples.  They floated!  In went the medium sized and then the large apples.  They were very sure that the larger the apples got, the more likely they were to sink–a common misconception!

After we concluded that all the apples were going to float, no matter what size, we talked about why they floated.  One child said that the apples floated because they were pretty lightweight in comparison to rocks.  Another child said that the apples floated because the skin and the fleshy part of the apples weren’t very heavy.  We then compared the apples to bird bones, talking about how they were hollow, and because of that it was easy for the birds to fly.  We looked at the apples up close and determined that we thought that there might be tiny holes in the fleshy part of the apples, making them full of air and giving them the ability to float.  The children wanted to know why they could not float when they swam.  We talked about our lungs and how they help us do that and then discussed some materials that would help us float and stay safe near the water.

After that…, we made our pattern block graphs (we made the pattern block apples on Day 4).

I purposely gave each of the tables different options for filling in their apples.  Some had lots of hexagons, some had none, other tables had only blue diamonds and green triangles.  I wanted them to see that it was possible to fill in their apples different ways.  When it came time for us to do the graphing portion, we talked about why each graph would look different from the others.  I modeled a graph for the children, asking them to put a light “x” on each shape once it has been counted, so that it is not counted twice.

Next week, we will do a quick overview of Pumpkins, so that we can learn about both apples and pumpkins before our trip to Stuckey Farm in a few weeks.  Stuckey Farm is an apple orchard, pumpkin patch, farm, and store where you can purchase all the apple products, pumpkin products, and honey you could ever want.  We will get to see how they press apples to make them into apple cider, and get to taste several varieties of apples and apple cider.  We then take a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch were I get to pick a pumpkin (we will do lots of things with it, so check back next month for that) and then we watch how corn meal is made (we will then bake corn bread from it and make our own butter to go with it).  We also check out the inside of a beehive and talk about the jobs of the different bees.

See you Monday!

Kristen 😉

Updated Literacy Work Stations

Here are some of the new activities I have put into our Literacy Work Stations this week:

We now have a Magnet Work Station.  I placed an upper and lower case version of each letter into 2 separate pencil boxes (for 2 children to use).  I also used Microsoft Words’ Word Art to create the children’s names using “bubble letters”.  The children use the outlines to match magnetic letters to their friends names.  I have also included a sheet for “letters with a stick/letters without a stick”, and a general sheet for matching letters to letters (those are all on the PDF page/tab).  

I have decided to put sticky dots on each of the child’s name cards in our large pocket chart to indicate what activity they should work on at a specific station.  For example, in Magnet Station, my lower level students can work on matching letter to letter, the middle level students can match letters to friends names, and the higher level students can sort the letters by attributes.  The sheets will also have a sticky dot on them, so they can match it to their name card.  I hope to individualize more Stations this way in the future–some Stations are good for everyone, so they won’t need to be color coded, but there are several that it would be great for–ABC Work Station, Word Work Station, Library Work Station, Big Book Work Station).

This is the one of the newest activities in Word Work Station.  The children put their friends names back together that have been cut apart, and then write their names on these small dry erase boards that I got this summer at Target in the Dollar Spot.  I have also taken each students picture and printed them out.  After they have assembled their name and written it, they match their friends pictures to their names.  I also added their pictures to the Word Wall.  I hope that my students will stop pointing at each other and start using each other’s names! 🙂  I also think it will be nice for a guest teacher–they can walk into the room and see the children’s names and pictures on the Word Wall and know who is who.


I couldn’t remember if I shared this activity already–it’s a tube with beads and plastic confetti inside.  You rotate the tube and search for a list of things hidden inside.  I have the children search for letters at this point and write down what they find. 

This picture is included to show that if you keep repeating yourself enough–they will finally get it!  Today and this week, the children have really shown that they understand what their job is at their Literacy Stations.  We’ve been slowly getting there, but now there is progress in the right direction! 🙂

This is another new Station-Drama Work Station.  We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and used these props to retell the story.  The children have a copy of the book and one of them reads it while the other puts the props on the flannel board.  They then switch jobs.  They love it so far–I feel another grant coming on: I need to write one to get more props for story retelling and Drama Work Station.

This last picture is of the sweet birthday cake my husband and 4 year old made for my birthday.  Can you tell it’s Elmo?  They used the Elmo cake pan from my son’s birthday a few years ago and iced it with chocolate icing.  My son’s favorite color is yellow and he went to town with the yellow icing! 🙂  When they lit the candles, my hubby was standing by with the fire extinguisher!  🙂  !  How funny!  He said there were so many candles that he might need to stand there and put out a potential fire! 🙂 WAH, WAH, WAH! 

Kristen 🙂

Apple Day (day 4)

Today we got to make our Apple Happy books.  I had each child read with either me or my assistant and we stamped their books when we were done.  It was also very cute to hear them–some of my more vocal children were very quiet when reading and some of the soft spoken ones were very loud and proud that they could read.  It is interesting to see those levels of certainty even at this age! 🙂

On to Apple Day…

We read our “I like ______ apples.” chart again today and this time I cut apart the sentences for the children to read.  I write them on a sentence strip and cut them apart.  I then ask the student belonging to the sentence to pick “x” number of boys and girls to hold the other words in their sentences.  I mix them up pretty good and we have to put the sentence back in order.  The children love to hear the silly sentences read aloud when they are all mixed up.  I love this activity because it has so many wonderful literacy skills embedded in it, but also at the beginning of the year, it’s a great way to get to know each other’s names.  In my classroom, we use the children’s names to tell each other the children that need to switch places to get the words in the correct order.  “Susie has “like” and needs to switch with Jon, who has “the””. 

I also have the children use necklaces occasionally to hold their word cards if I see they are getting to mangled being held. 

We also FINALLY got around to making our pattern block apples:

These are the trays I keep the shapes in:

Tomorrow we will experiment with apples to see if they sink or float and if there is a difference between colors and sizes.  Of course, we will make predictions first and then see what happens.  We didn’t get to use the balances today, but I’ve penciled in time to make it happen tomorrow!

Kristen 🙂

Apple Day (day 3)

Well we didn’t get done nearly everything I wanted to get done because my kids found out it is my birthday today and they were more interested in that!  They made me write about myself in our Morning Message today–I feel so selfish doing that! They said that because I write about their birthdays in the message, I have to write about mine too!  So I said, fair enough–and wrote about my b-day.  I’ll post pictures later today or tomorrow about what we did, but here it is in a nutshell….


We looked back over our tasting graph from yesterday and talked about what we could write about it.  They came up with some great ideas and you will see those in the pictures later.  We also put an apple in our balance scale and estimated how many 1 inch cubes it would take to make the scale balance.  We wrote down the estimates and then checked them.  It was a great way to introduce the scales for this year and it got the kids excited about using them–like they aren’t already!  🙂  We will use them tomorrow with a variety of math tools.  We then wrote about our estimates, who was the closest and furthest.  We also read The Apple Pie Tree (Big Book) from Scholastic–it was in one of our old reading series.  

We were going to do the pattern block apples, and the Apple Happy book that I made, but I guess that’s for tomorrow!  It’s also exactly why I do my lesson plan book in pencil! 🙂



Here are the photos:


Kristen 🙂

Apple Day (day 2)

We had so much fun today reading and learning about apples.  We again read our big book “Apples” by Melvin and Gilda Berger.  Today, we looked for seasonal words: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and highlighted these words in the book. 

I store them in these large envelopes labeled with the title of the book and paper clip them to the front of the book to use in our Big Book Work Station.

We also read these books for read alouds today:

During our Math/Science time today, we cut up apples and tasted them.  We talked about how each kind tasted, how it was alike or different from the other (red vs. green) and then we graphed our favorite tasting apple:

We had a wonderful discussion about the title of the graph.  I talked with the children about the older children in our building who are currently taking ISTEP+ (standardized testing for Indiana).  They are asked on the test in the math portion to identify what the best title would be for the graph they see in front of them, so we talked about what the best title would be for the graph we see.  We came up with, ” What kind of apples do you like best?”  

One child then recognized that we did not put a title on the picture graph we made yesterday, so we did that too!  **wink, wink**  Don’t you just love how they pick it up so quickly! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

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