Introducing Kwik Stix
Kwik Stix continue to be one of my most favorite supplies I have in my classroom. I think I am currently hoarding 6 to 7 brand new boxes of Kwik Stix in my supply closet!! I just love how versatile they are and because they come in 3 different “flavors”; classic colors, neon, and metallic, there is always a project we can use them on!
Enter the beginning of Kindergarten this year…we needed a way to decorate our letter D as we worked our way through the letters of the alphabet. Kwik Stix to the rescue! The paint surface inside was the perfect thing to help us make dots! Lots and lots of dots to decorate our D’s! We also used them to make zig-zags on our Z’s, squiggles on our S’s, and lines on our L’s! Sadly, I forgot to snap pictures of all those experiences. 😦
This was the PERFECT opportunity to introduce my students to Kwik Stix and how we use them.
Each student took a Kwik Stix and we practiced how to gently twist the bottom up to raise the paint up so they could use more. We also took the time to learn how to twist the paint back down so that we didn’t have any smooshed into the lids that would later bring us sadness. 🙂
Many times if we are all using our Kwik Stix for a project (such as in this case), I will pull the entire plastic case out of the box and leave one set on each table for my students to use. They will have access to a variety of colors that way, (learn to share!), and can easily get another color they need.
We also talked about where to put the caps! This is a perpetual problem we have and to solve this problem, we corral our Kwik Stix in an empty deli food container. Each time a student uses a new Kwik Stix, they place the cap in the container so they don’t lose it (and it can’t roll away)! I also save the caps anytime we have a Kwik Stix that runs out of paint. That way if we really can’t find the cap, we can look to the box of extra caps and find one that we can replace it with.
My students have access to Kwik Stix everyday during our free play time and they will always choose them over traditional paint and markers. 🙂 They get super excited that they can paint and that their paintings will be dry in less than 2 minutes so they can take them home on the same day!
I love that the short chubby size fits my Kindergarten students hands perfectly and that we don’t have to leave stacks of papers around the room to dry overnight! Right after my students are done, they just pop their papers into their mailboxes and go on with their next task–while their paper takes a few more seconds to dry. 🙂
Stay tuned for another way to use Kwik Stix next month–this one is going to be super cute and perfect for fall holidays!
Guided Reading Made Simple
I love anything that will help make my life easier and I stumbled upon two great ideas last school year that have helped make my Guided Reading groups run so much more smoothly!
Just changing up these two simple routines has bought me back 3-4 minutes of time and gives my students repeated alphabet practice along with a simple routine they can follow. When my students see their material baskets out and ready by their whiteboards, they know which routine we will be practicing first and have everything they need ready to go!
In the same way, I used to spend 20 minutes or so every Friday afternoon getting magnetic letters ready for my students so we could make words, but after discovering this idea, my students do all the work and practice locating letters too!
Click here to read more about these tips that will buy you back precious Guided Reading minutes!
Learning to Write Numbers
In Kindergarten, it’s important to have students practice writing and recognizing numbers as soon as you can. There are so many other things that students will need to do in the first few weeks of school that involve reading, writing, and recognizing numbers! With a few simple activities, your students (and mine) will be writing and recognizing numbers in no time!
I’m a big fan of anything that creates a tactile learning experience for my students because its another way to cement the learning in their brain. In an age where so many things are learned through digital media, it is sometimes nice to just have your fingers interact with another surface. 🙂
I’ve got three super easy activities that your students can use to help them read, write, and recognize numbers. You can start with the numbers 0-10 and add in 11-20 as you find your students mastering the first group of numbers.
My students LOVE using each of these activities and its already given me great insight into who knows which numbers. I sit with my students as they use these materials and am quickly able to find out which numbers they know and which ones they are still working on (check off those number id standards!).
You can read more here and get everything you’ll need to get these easy, fun, and tactile number making experiences going in your classroom!
Back to School Literacy Centers
This year, somehow, I had the foresight to plan out my beginning of year literacy centers BEFORE I left for summer break. I have no idea where I got that idea or when that idea popped into my head, but it was the best idea. Ever.
Imagine walking back into your room after summer break, and you have one less thing to do! #winning. Seriously. I walked into my classroom and my literacy centers were ready to go. Everything I needed to help my beginning of year Kinders learn the routines and procedures associated with learning the alphabet was there in a tub, ready to go.
I came up with 8 easy literacy centers that would help my students get into the grove of literacy centers on the fourth day of school. Yes, the fourth day of school! That was another brilliant idea! Starting literacy centers as soon as I could. Getting students in a routine as soon as we can gets them started on the road to independence (and frees you up to meet with small groups sooner!). Anyway…
8 great literacy center ideas that take so little prep on your part, you will be amazed (and maybe even a little impressed with yourself!).
My students have been loving these activities this week (and half of them have asked when we are going to start “learning”)!! Find out all the details here and then get your literacy centers going!
These literacy center ideas are PERFECT for pulling back out later in the year to work with ELL students or other students who haven’t quite mastered all their letter names yet. They are appropriate, fun, and help those learners who need a bit of an extra boost!
Dr. Seuss Reading Stations
Anytime of year is a great time to learn about Dr. Seuss! My Kindergarten students love hearing Dr. Seuss’ stories from day one, but it takes them a little bit to engage with rhyming, opposites, and writing on their own. Once they are ready for that, I have 7 great stations that you can easily set up for a fun Dr. Seuss day or for small group or large group review!
Each one of these stations took me less than 5 minutes to set up and create. I rolled out some Red & White striped tablecloth just to set the scene and we had 7 activities ready to go! Read all about them here!
You know I love all things Science (well almost all things!!) and helping my students explore the world around them is right up there!
I wanted to share this super simple idea that allows students to explore the idea of camouflage and helps them to understand why camouflage is so important to animals, insects, and sea creatures. With some nature themed fabrics and some super cute critters, my students were able to explore why animals are camouflaged.
We spent about an hour exploring all the ways we could best camouflage all of these animals and insects. It was very interesting to hear my students thinking about why they placed some of the animals and insects where they did to help hide them. We had fun after this taking those same animals and insects outside to try to camouflage them there!
Click here to read more about our fun adventures in camouflage and to get everything you’ll need!
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!
Community Helper Bags
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?
Forces & Motion
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!
My Favorite Apps for Kindergarten
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!!