Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Super Fun Writer's Workshop in Kindergarten

The amazing Laura Huff and her Writer's Workshop talents came to our classroom again today! She has invested numerous hours of interesting writing techniques into my students and I can tell you that it is definitely paying off handsomely. I can not wait to put each picture/writing page in a book to give back to the students at the end of the year. It was amazing today to go back and look at how much the students depended on us for helping them and now they mainly just check in with us to make sure they are using the correct letters. They are just beginning to understand how to spell with two letter blends and digraphs, but they are doing terrific!

Once a month, Mrs. Huff and her magical writing talent comes in for a writing activity. Her entry is so happily anticipated that I can not keep students from peeking out of the door close to the time she is to arrive. "She's here, she's here!!!" They run to their seats and fold their hands quickly to show her they are ready to jump into her next fun activity. You have to see it for yourself, but it can almost be likened to something out of Mary Poppins! They are so eager to see what she has to offer. Today, after the activity, one of the students told her that she just LOVES to spell now.

Today, she brought in a template: The eggs are hidden...under a ________, behind a __________, inside a __________, and next to _______________.
It was wonderful fun for the students to choose the spots that they would draw to hide Easter eggs. This activity was perfect for the last quarter of kindergarten. By this time of the year, students have really pared down the size of their writing and learned a lot about how to create a detailed and succinct picture. Not only have they learned how to add detail to their writing, but they have also learned how to add detail to their pictures by adding background details and using more than one or two colors. The final products were beautiful!

The eggs are hidden under the couch, behind the eggs kitten, inside the house, and next to the tree.

The eggs are hidden under the couch, behind the tree, inside the can, and next to the car seat.

The eggs are hidden under the dinosaur, behind a frog, inside a fish tank, and next to the Easter bunny!

The eggs are hidden under the table, behind the T.V., inside the rainbow, and next to the volleyball.

The truly wonderful thing about this project is that you can really read them! The students have grown so much in their phonemic awareness through these monthly fun activities! It is a lot of fun to watch parents crowd around the board to read these after they are hung up. I love to watch their faces as they realize that their children are really learning how to spell!

I am so impressed with how Mrs. Huff has helped my kinders to love and have fun with the writing process. She usually works with older students but has created a whole school year of challenging and fun writing activities for my classroom. If you would like to see more of what she has to offer, please click HERE to visit her wonderful blog. She has posted pictures with all of her projects. Please consider following her blog to see what new, great ideas she has for you to try out!

Jelly Bean Graphing

If you ask parents in my classroom what type of math paper I like to make the most, they might tell you that I create graphs. I like to think that perhaps it is because in kindergarten, students are really beginning to get a grasp on the fact that order can be found in so many different places as they learn to classifying objects into given categories. As students learn to count and keep track of items in each category they are working with, I notice that it seems they can't even help themselves from counting at times. As we count items in math on the day of our Easter party, I will show them a cup of jelly beans. I can tell them I have four red jelly beans and 2 purple ones. However, if you are an observer, you can look around my room and see that at least some of them are raising their finger up to their eye and pointing at my jelly beans to count them, just to make sure I really have as many as I say I do. 

In years past, I have struggled to find ways to really engage students in the graphing process in meaningful ways. I have found that the best way to get students to learn how to graph is bribery to give them something fun to do with the graphing. 

In January, I had them draw their favorite animal on a 3x5 card. They each went to a little separate spot in the room and drew their own so that no one else could see it. We then had a "Reveal and Post Your Pet" hands-on graphing activity. They were so excited to share what they made, but even more excited to see what other people had chosen and to see if it might have by chance, matched their own.

At Valentine's Day, we graphed our own box of candy conversation hearts and got to keep them and eat them later.

In March, I gave out special large clover and gold star stickers to anyone who created a special St. Patrick's Day graphing packet in their free time.

Now, for Easter, we are graphing a Dixie cup of jelly beans and getting to eat them! I have a $2 seven-paged packet in my store for two types of jelly beans if you are interested in having this for your classroom. Click here if you'd like to look at it.

Here is a freebie for you. This is similar to one of the sheets you'll find in my packet.

I would love to hear how you make graphing more fun for your students!

Jelly Bean Freebie
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