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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Gingerbread Man Visits Students!

A while back we were exhibiting at a kindergarten convention and a teacher came by and told us about this great Gingerbread Man activity she did with her class. The Gingerbread Man would visit student's homes and spend time with them . . . the students would record what they did in a journal and bring it back to school to share with the class. We are assuming this takes several weeks for each student to have a turn. Kind of like what you would do with Flat Stanley. We took that idea a tweaked it a bit:)

The students will all make their own Gingerbread Man (from our Winter Theme Pack) this week.
Each student will take their own Gingerbread Man, plus a blank post card and letter with an explanation of what to do for the "host" family. The student will keep the Gingerbread Man with them for the entire week. The letter encourages the host family to take the Gingerbread Man with them to share about places they visit in the community. The students are to fill out the postcard and either draw an illustration or add a photograph of their time together and return to class to share. Once the students have shared we will display the Gingerbread Men and postcards on a bulletin board.  Can't wait to begin!

 Click here to get both of these freebies!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Feast

Here are a few pictures from our feast today.  We had all the turkey ingredients on the table and the students served themselves family style.  Making the turkey was fun and it kept the students engaged.  Each turkey was so unique.  What a wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


This is a great new free app that we just found.  You can make digital story books with your class.  This is a sample book we made for Thanksgiving.  We took a picture of each student and then recorded their voice saying what they are thankful for.  When we finished our story, we uploaded it to the StoryKit web server and they e-mailed us a link that we forwarded to all of our parents.   Our students and parents absolutely LOVED it!

Another great feature is that you can  illustrate stories by drawing on the screen or you can take pictures of student drawings to create a story.   They even allow you to rewrite and rearrange a few classic books like The Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winter Sale at Kinder Learning Garden!
Come see these products and more:

The Gingerbread Man Book
Happy Chinese New Year Book
Winter Holidays Around the World Book
America I Love You Book
Winter Theme Pack
Math Homework Set 2 (available in Spanish)
Theme Homework Set 2 (available in Spanish)
Writing Homework Folder (available in Spanish)
Word Family Flip Books
Sight Word Bingo

Go here to visit our store.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Snacks

These Thanksgiving snacks are too cute!  We are going to have our students make these for our Thanksgiving Feast we are having next week.   We will make sure to take pictures and show you how it all turns out.  Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Patterns in Nature

Our art teacher did an art lesson on patterns in nature today. 
First, the kids looked at artwork from 2 artists. Then they sketched their own leaves in their journals paying special attention to adding details like the veins.

Georgia O'Keefe

Andy Goldsworthy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Technology Resources for Thanksgiving

Here are 3 great technology resources for teaching about Thanksgiving! 
If you have a SmartBoard it's even better!

Scholastic has partnered with and has created a site with videos and interactive activities to do with students.

Here is a great interactive from where the students become the historians and learn about life in the past from a Wampanoag boy and Pilgrim girl.

Lastly, with Google Earth your students can virtually "fly" from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fantastic Apps for Teachers

Last weekend we attended the CUE (Computer Using Educator) Conference in Los Angeles. 
We attended 3 workshops and came away with some great ideas!

Here are 2 great apps for the iphone that we have already started using this week in our classroom:

This app allows you to "check for understanding" without having to write students names on sticks and keep in a can. You can assign each child an ELD level or a Bloom's Taxonomy level for a list of questions to ask the student if needed.  Also, there is an option to keep track of whether a student answers correctly or not. 
Love this app!

We just made our very first book using this and emailed it to our student's families. All you have to do is take pictures using your phone, choose the photos you want, add written or recorded text and voila you have a book! The students were doing a great job writing "the" sentences on their dry erase boards today and we wanted to share it with the families so what we did was not technically a "book" but such an easy way to share good happenings in class with families.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Four Seasons

T Chart


The students sorted the picture cards.
We love to use different kinds of thinking maps with our students throughout the year.  They work well because they are great visual tools for kindergartners.  A great place to introduce students to this kind of tool is with the letters of the alphabet.  We spend 2 to 3 days working on one letter at a time.  We sort picture cards that begin with the sound, brainstorm words and then we have the students show us what they have learned by making a web of the letter.  We leave our class brainstorming web up for students who need a little extra support.  However, most students are able to come up with their own words and they will amaze you.  This year we have a very high class so we decided to extend their thinking and have them use a T chart and compare two different letters.  You can click here and to get our T-chart freebie.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaching Syllables

Students use dot paint to count the number of syllables.

Syllable Center
We have been working really the hard the past 2 weeks on breaking words into syllables.  We started by teaching our students syllable blending.  They would listen to the word parts and blend them together to say the word.  For example, shore, line would become shoreline.  Then we taught them syllable segmentation in which they distinguished the word parts.  The two word parts of shoreline are shore and line.  Last we have been working on syllable deletion.  We would give students a word like shoreline and they would delete the first syllable and tell us the word line.  As a review, we have been using Dr. Jean's song called Clap the Syllables on her Totally Reading CD.  The students really enjoy listening to her sing one, two and three syllable words and clapping along.  We created this fun center where students can see their friends pictures and use dot paint to count the number of syllables in their names.  You can get this syllable center freebie on our website by clicking here.  We also have a syllable homework where the students write the names of the members of their family and count how many syllables are in their names. 

Assessing Kindergarten Students


This week we have started assessing our students for the first trimester report card.   Assessing kindergarten students can be a long and tiresome task.   We started using ESGI two years ago and absolutely love it.  ESGI is a software tool that was created by a kindergarten teacher to assess students.  It is easy to use and it helps you to assess your students at a faster pace.  One of our favorite parts is that after you are done assessing your students, you can print out letters that explain to parents exactly what their child has mastered and what they need to continue to work on. We have had so many parents comment on how much they like knowing what areas to work on with their child.  Parent communication is key when it comes to a students success and ESGI makes it effortless.  We highly recommend you try ESGI.  If you click on any of the ESGI links in this section, it will take you to our friends page and you click on the ESGI logo to watch their 3 minute video.  We know you will love it just as much as we do!


Students painted trees with brown paint first. Once the trees were dry, they used the technique of pointillism (like the painter Seurat) but instead of brushes we used the eraser ends of pencils to make our dots.

Student Made Winter and Spring Pages

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Am Thankful For . . . Book

We are going to start our Thanksgiving Book this week!
  Just wanted to give you a sneak peek:)
Go here to get this book.

Our Seasons Book:
Go here to see more!

Teaching About the Four Seasons Through Music

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
There are seasons, 4 in all!

In addition to our usual lessons about the seasons, we decided to extend the student's learning by introducing them to Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.  We wanted the students to be able to recognize that ideas or moods can be communicated through music.

To build some background knowledge, we introduced Vivaldi, and defined composer as a person whose job is to write music using notes. we also showed them an example of sheet music 
and an orchestra.

We found some great videos from YouTube that had images depicting the different seasons while playing Vivaldi's music. First, I had the students turn around facing the back of the room with their backs to the SmartBoard while I played one of the pieces. Then I had them "think-pair-share" which seasonal piece they thought the music was portraying. I called on a few children and had them explain to me what about the music made them think it was "winter, or spring, etc.).  Many of them could explain that the music was slow and "sleepy" or fast and had energy. The last step was for the students to turn around and watch/hear the piece on the SmartBoard to check and see if their 
guesses were correct.