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I don’t know about you, but I always seem to run out of fun activities to do during my small guided reading groups to keep my students engaged and learning! I’ve got 4 activities to share with you today that will keep your students engaged and LEARNING! These activities are great because they can be used in a small group and then introduced as part of an independent practice time. I also love that more than one student can participate at a time!
Each of these activities requires little to no prep work and can be used many times as your students skills grow and change. Click here to check out these Phenomenal Phonics ideas!
I am SO excited to share these Community Helper Bags with you!! I’ve wanted to create them for awhile, but was just waiting for the ideas to come together in my mind so I could make them happen! I created 6 different bags and inside each one of them, I added items that would help my students experience a small part of that community helpers job.
My students have had so much fun using these each day! They ask for a different bag each time and I love that they are interacting with each other as they explore.
A few days ago, some of my students found out how the Chef depends on the Grocer to get the food they need to prepare it! What a great connection. Its fun to watch the student who chooses the Mail Carrier bag go on their delivery rounds each day around the classroom!
This is a closer look at each item that’s in each of the Community Helper Bags!
In this photo, you can see one of my students borrowed the fish from the Grocer bag so he could feed it to the kitten! 🙂
My students are THRILLED to be able to use these easy to make Community Helper Bags! You can read more about how I made them here! What other Community Helpers would you include?
For those of you who visit often, you know how much I LOVE Science! When I was asked to help write the new standards for science in Indiana, I knew right away that I wanted some Force & Motion standards in Kindergarten because there are lots of fun toys out there to help students understand how Force & Motion work.
Using a few very simple toys, I was able to help my students understand how they can affect Force and Motion. We used pinwheels, tops, spinning wheels, and several ramp kits. While working with these materials, my students not only had fun, but they learned about Force & Motion. We talked about how we can move the pinwheels with our breath, push the tops and spinning wheels in different directions, and help cars move more quickly or slowly down ramps by changing out the texture of the ramps!
Check out the fun we had here!
I am lucky enough to have a class set of iPads in my Kindergarten classroom and I am slowly working on becoming a blended classroom.
I thought I would share some of my favorite apps (and pictures!). I’ve got several more apps I will share later but here are a few to start with.
We love using Raz-Kids! I use it in small groups as a warm-up read and students can use it at home as part of their homework. We will whisper phones as students read the books to themselves. I also have my students record themselves reading their chosen book so I can check in on their fluency.
One of the best apps for me as a teacher is Apple Classroom! Once I get each student connected (which takes a second at the beginning of each school year), I am able to monitor each students screen and I can watch the entire class all at once or specific students. I can group students together and I can push out apps that will open automatically on my students’ apps, which saves time instead of having my students search for them. We love the I-Nigma QR code reader too! One of our literacy work stations is full of QR codes that tie in with our Science/SS or IB content. Students can listen to stories and get some background knowledge about a topic. I teach them how to scan their code and then how to push the button to “go online”. After that, I teach them how to close all the open windows in their internet browser so that they do not end up with lots of open windows.
I use the Reflector app on my computer and the camera app on my iPad to display things live. This is my visual presenter. Here, I was streaming our chicks hatching last May live on our Promethean Board so all my students could watch the action. Its being held in place by a flexible neck stand from HUE.
We love using PicCollage Edu! In these photos we are finding the number 12 around our classroom (studying teen numbers!) and we are making collages to show all the places we were able to find it.
We had 12 chicks hatch, so one of my students snuck in a picture of them in their collage! #brilliant I teach my students how to AirDrop me their work so they can share it with me. It ends up coming through my Apple Classroom app, so I am able to see who sent it to me. I can also display their work on our Promethean Board so we can talk about what each student was able to find. We also used PicCollage to show examples of our 5 Senses.
Not an app, but we store our iPads on our tables so they are ready to use when we need them each day. Each iPad has a number sticker on the back so my students know which iPad is theirs. I got these plastic buckets from IKEA a few years ago and there was a perfect amount of space to store our iPads in them.
At the end of each day, my students put their iPad back in the cart and plug their iPad in. They are responsible for plugging in their own iPad. I help them the first few weeks, but most of them already know how to plug and unplug their iPad from home anyway. The number on the back of their iPad corresponds with the place their iPad lives in the cart.
Sphero EDU is another app we love (you have to have a Sphero to use it!). I created this mat out of a shower curtain last summer so my students could practice guiding Sphero to different letters of the alphabet.
We used Sphero to make our way through these cones and to bowl!
Notes that comes pre-installed on iPads is another great app! My students can draw pictures and annotate photos they have taken to show their understanding. Anytime they do this, they then AirDrop me their work.
OSMO!!! We LOVE OSMO!! I’ve written several grants to get most of the Osmo kits for our classroom and we are able to use these during our Discovery time at the end of the day. Here is the new Hot Wheels kit!
These are the OSMO Coding kits. I’m loving the problem solving skills that I am seeing developing as a result of this activity!
Code.org is a great site that will introduce your students to the world of coding! Although its not an app, I have bookmarked it to the home screen of our iPads so my students can get to it quickly.
The Ozobots app. We like our Ozobots too and the app made it much easier for my K students to figure out how to manipulate and code the bots to perform different actions.
Last, but not least, iMotion–this app is free and its been the best! It takes a little while to figure out how to get K students to understand how to use it, but they are all pros now! Anytime we read a book, we create puppets or props to help us develop our retelling skills. We then use the iMotion app to create a stop-motion version of the story. This is what it looks like when that’s in progress! You can see some of our videos on my Twitter account (@fuzzlady77). We’ve retold Rosie’s Walk and the Gingerbread Man so far.
When we retold the Gingerbread Man, we also used shoe boxes as a background. I noticed from our first attempt when making our Rosie’s Walk videos, that we needed a way to stand our props up, so we added folded index cards to the back of the props to help them stand up. The videos were great after that!!
What it looks like when a room full of K students all make stop-motion videos at the same time! 🙂 The app does allow for recording sound, but we have not yet done any voice overs–that will be something we do in the future!
I’ve got a whole other group of apps to share with you in a later post, but these are some that I had pictures to go with. 🙂
I’ll share more about Epic!, Pattern Blocks, Ten Frames, Chatter Pix, Nearpod, Kahoot!, and more!!
I am lucky enough to have 2 Sphero SPRK robots in my classroom. Recently, we got them out to participate in the Hour of Code. My students had two opportunities to try Sphero out and test their coding skills. Using the robots is fun enough on its own, but I decided to step it up a little bit and add in some extra details! We also practiced retelling one of our favorite stories with a bit of a coding twist!
What you’ll need:
The first thing we did was create a grid on one of our classroom rugs with Colorful Masking Tape. We were working on retelling stories and so I challenged my students to use paper arrows to help get the Gingerbread Man through the grid and to stay away from the fox! I placed the characters from the story into different boxes on the grid and then let my students work their way through as they placed the arrows. They then took the Gingerbread Man and tested out their path to determine if it worked or not. We used Sphero (posing as the Gingerbread Man) later to follow the path and I forgot to get a picture of that!! 😦 The best thing about this grid is that its still stuck on our rug! My students begged that I leave it on the rug so they could use it again and even with all of us walking on it each day, its still there!
Next, we used some more Colorful Masking Tape to create a bowling alley! I taped off a section of the floor with red tape and then added in some white tape to show where the pins should go (and to create an “x” for my students to stand on). My students set up the pins from the Small Bowling set on the white lines and started bowling! They loved trying to see how many pins they could knock down. We played just like real bowling, they got two chances to knock down the pins, but we did not keep score. Eventually, we will add the number of pins knocked down in each turn together as we work on adding to ten, but for now, we are just exploring! We also left our bowling alley taped to the floor and we cover it with the rug (from above) when we are not using it. So far, the Colorful Masking Tape has not left any residue on the carpet, so our housekeepers will be happy!
Finally, to make things a little more challenging, I set up an obstacle course with Colorful Traffic Cones for my students to maneuver the Sphero through. To begin, we set up a simple in and out weaving pattern. Later, we added in a turn to the in and out pattern and that made it a little more difficult, so we will be practicing that for a little longer!
These ideas could be used with any robot that you might have or if you don’t have any “bots”, you can always have your students “program” each other through the challenges!
Around this time of year every year, my students and I read at least one version of The Three Little Pigs. I love that this story is one that my students immediately connect with (mostly because of the Big Bad Wolf) and are easily able to retell.
I generally have my students try to build houses out of the three materials from the story (sticks, bricks, and straw), and this year was no exception, but I wanted to take the experience up a notch by transforming the space around them, so that they felt like they were in a forest where they might actually run into the Big Bad Wolf.
I’m always a little intimidated by room transformations, but I have to be honest when I say that I’m not anymore! This was so much fun to do and it didn’t take me long at all! I think I spent about 30 minutes prepping the materials and another 30 to hang and decorate the space. The key is in thinking out what you want the finished space to look like, and in collecting all your materials so you can knock it all out in an hour or so!
My students felt as though they were in the woods building their homes! We had a great time and were able to talk quite a bit about what materials we should and should not build homes out of. Check out more details about our fun day building with The Three Little Pigs here!
This month, I decided to bring a little fall to our fine motor drawers! Each month when I introduce the new activities to my students, I am purposeful in telling them what skills they will work on developing and how those skills will help them in the future. I also remind them of other things in our classroom that they may find themselves struggling with and share with them that using these fine motor activities will help those tough tasks become a little easier with time.
I used some very simple materials and some easy ideas to bring these to life! Check out lots more pictures here!
Have you heard about SitSpots? If you haven’t, you’re missing out!! I have two sets of SitSpots in my classroom and I LOVE them!! I have one set that my students sit on during our large group work and one set that my students line up on.
This is the set that we’ve sat on for 3 years now!! I peel them up every summer, throw them in the washing machine and then let them air dry to keep them looking as good as new! I’ve written numbers on mine (since this picture was taken) so my students know where to sit even when I change the placement of their spot.
But…SitSpots just announced this news…
I’ve got a few beginning of year ideas to share with you today using some super scissors (and punches)!. My friends at Fiskars sent me some of their cutting products so that I could share how I use them to get ready at the beginning of the year and to help my students beef up their fine motor skills!
First up, these Preschool Training Scissors are the most fabulous beginner scissors! I love using these scissors with my students who have little to no previous experience with scissors before they come to my classroom. We use them to cut modeling clay or dough. This helps my students “sharpen” up their cutting skills. The dough provides just enough resistance that they begin to understand the open and closing motion of scissor cutting. The Preschool Training Scissors also have a nifty arrow located on the side of the handles that let you convert the scissors to regular scissors when your students are ready for that. Between the arrow on the side of the scissors that provides resistance and the dough, my students quickly develop their cutting skills (and have some fun cutting those dough snakes into smaller pieces)!
Next, to help us practice fine motor skills, we used the Paper Edgers. My students love that these scissors can cut fun edges on their papers! I give my students scraps of construction paper and card stock to cut up. They love cutting the paper into little bits and using those little bits to create designs on their paper.
I also place scraps of paper into a clear bin and let them snip at the paper as one of our center choices. They love trying to cut the paper into small pieces and they don’t know that they are developing their fine motor skills at the same time. We also bring out the Paper Edgers out anytime we need to make thank-you cards to give the sides and edges a fancy trim! There are 6 different Paper Edgers included in this set and there is a design available for almost any need. My own boys love the Mini-Pinking and Lightning pairs of scissors to make teeth on all their monster creations!
Finally, as a way to help organize myself, I make several sets of name and picture cards. I use my 3XL Square Lever Punch and some card stock. I measured out from the first opening in the punch out 3 inches and drew a line. I then insert the card stock (that I cut to 2 and 1/8 inches wide) and bring it to the line and punch. Then, its just as easy as punching and cutting a whole class set! I then take a picture of each of my students and cut those out with the punch as well and glue them onto the bottom of the card. I then write each student’s name at the top of the card and surround it by a dashed border.
I laminate 4 sets of these cards and use them for lots of different reasons in my classroom. I use one set for bathroom cards. I attach magnets to the back and my students place them on an aluminum board when they leave the room to use the restroom. I use two sets to help my students rotate through our literacy and math stations/tubs. I have one set of cards on blue card stock and one set on green card stock. I have each student paired with another and I keep them side by side in a pocket chart. I move each set of partnered cards down to the next station/tub each day so the students can complete new activities.
The last set goes in the “pick-me deck”. I keep this deck on my table in the front of the room and use it to help me choose students to complete different tasks. Sometimes I use the deck to choose who is next when we are playing a game on our whiteboard, I sometimes use them to choose partner pairs for games we are playing, and I sometimes use them to help me keep track of who I’ve already called on to answer a question and who I still need to call. This deck is also handy for guest teachers. They can easily call on a student and see their picture next to their name. It helps them to know who is who by their name and face.
I hope you’ve gotten some ideas you can use to help your students develop their fine motor skills and to help you get organized for the upcoming school year! What are your favorite Fiskars products? They are my favorite brand of scissors both at home and at school!
Thanks to my friends at Fiskars for providing me with all the goodies! All opinions expressed in this post are my own.