Thursday, July 31, 2014

Learning Letters

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One of the biggest focuses for Kindergarten teachers during the first half of the year is learning letter names and letter sounds. Once we have this foundation in place our students can start to learn how to read. We have a wide range of abilities when it comes to our entering kindergarten students. We might have a few students who know all of the letters and sounds. Some students that know half of their letters and sounds. Then we have some students that do not know a single letter or sound. It makes for an interesting beginning of the year. Most parents also don't realize that students need to know 52 letters, rather than 26 letters. They don't take in account that a student has to know upper and lower case letters. While the letter "Oo" upper and lowercase look the same besides size, the letter "Gg" do not look anything alike. I am always trying to find fun and new ways to helps students learn there letters. Starting to learn letters isn't just for students entering Kindergarten. Younger kids can begin to learn and recognize their letters at a young age.

Here are some different ways to begin helping your child at home:


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While reading books with your child, point out different letters throughout the book. There are so many great alphabet books out there to help with this.



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While going grocery shopping or while you are out and about take notice of environmental print. Ask your child what letters they see around them. It only takes a few minutes to do. Where I live there is a big letter "T" on the mountain for our town. My daughter takes notice of this every time we drive by it.

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Help your child to recognize the first letter in their name. This gets the child excited each time that they see this letter. I also do this with the first letter in my name and my husband's name as well. Your child starts to take notice of these letters.

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Bath time foam letters are also a fun way to incorporate letters into your everyday routine. There isn't extra prep time to build in, just do it during bath time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Is it already that time.........??



This is how parents feel:
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This is how teachers feel:
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 I hope I am not the only one who feels this way, but I can't believe August is rapidly approaching. Every time I walk into Walmart or any store for that matter, all I see is back to school stuff. I turn on the computer and all I see are back to school ads. 

I love planning my room, and getting new students that are so excited to be there, but why does summer have to end so quickly? This is my very first full summer off from working. For the past three years I taught summer school for the majority of the summer. However, this summer I didn't work and it was amazing! I was able to get so much done, when I wasn't doing homework for three classes. I was able to take my daughter and do so many fun activities that we rarely get to do during the school year. It was fantastic, but now I am having the end of the summer blues. This summer went by more quickly than the summers have in the past. 

Does anyone else have this same feeling? Or are you itching to get back in the classroom already?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Brain Breaks


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My Kindergarten students love to move and wiggle throughout the day. I don't get my students for very long, only 2 and half hours a day, but in that short time we often need to get on our feet and stretch. Sometimes we do stretching as a class, or we count to 100 in groups of 10 using different actions (jumping jacks, hopping, touching our toes, etc.). Their favorite though is our brain break videos. I got the idea after watching my Mom do it with her second graders. I knew my students would love it too! Here are a few "Brain Break" videos that help to us get through our day. These videos are pretty silly, but that is the fun part of teaching Kindergarten, you can be super silly and the kids love it.


"Gummi Bear"


"Dancing Robot"
 

"Boom Chicka Boom"
  



Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Polar Express

Every year during the month of December we teach one of my favorite's unit: The Polar Express based upon the book by Chris Van Allsburg. 

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The week before the unit we send the students home with golden tickets that tell them about our Polar Express day. The students show up to school dressed up in their pajamas. Our whole day is focused around the book. First we read the book The Polar Express on tape.


(This isn't the exact audio I use. I use a book on CD read by Liam Neeson)

 Then we do hot chocolate addition and subtraction using mini marshmallows as manipulatives. We write in our journals about Christmas related topics. Then we enjoy hot chocolate while we listen to the book being read on a video via the SMART board from the Barnes and Noble Read Aloud Section
While reading the book twice in one day might seem a bit redundant, repetition is important for younger students. At the end of the day they each receive their own gold bells to take home to see if they still believe in the magic of Christmas. 
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 Our polar express day takes a lot of work because the students come to school so excited that day (and full of lots of energy), but in the end the hard work is worth it to see how much fun they had during the day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

David Shannon

As a Kindergarten teacher I have several favorite authors. We read multiple books every single day in my classroom. It is difficult to pick just one author that I love. However, I decided to focus on one author for today's blog post. 

David Shannon

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I thought I owned all of David Shannon's books, until I was trying to find images online. I guess there are a few more books I need to purchase this fall to add to my collection. My kindergarten kiddos just love his books. Most of his stories are pretty comical, which is probably why my students love his books. I like that they aren't too long so they keep their attention throughout the entire book. My favorite part of his books are the illustrations, he is an amazing artist.  If you don't teach younger grades and have never read a David Shannon book, I highly recommend that you check some of them out. Here are some of his books:

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 These two pirate books are actually written by Melinda Long but David Shannon was the illustrator.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Is Technology Changing Our Brains?



For my Ed Tech 537 class, we were asked to respond to this blogpost/question.

While technology hasn't changed the way our brains work, it has changed the way we work and live in the world.  Technology can help us to do our jobs quicker and more accurate than ever before. 

Technology is fantastic, but it isn't what teaches our students. Instead our students still need to be taught how to effectively use the different technology to learn. Technology helps us to give our students the world at their finger tips. By incorporating technology into the classroom our students now have access to information that they might not have had access to. They get to experience a whole new world that might not have been possible before. 

Students don't have to learn in the same boring way that we once had to learn. No lectures and taking notes while the teacher talks super fast. Students should not have to learn that way. They should be encouraged to take control of their learning. They can do this by using technology in the classroom. If students are taught how to successfully use technology that is around them everyday, they will be more proficient adults in the work force.  

Students' brains are the same as they always have been, but now they are adapting the way they interact and live to live in a world filled with technology all around them.