Good Day, Sunshine

Art is not my thing, but I’ve ben teaching it once a week since April. I find myself struggling to come up with a new idea each week. This morning when I got to school, our actual art teacher (who knows art is not my thing) suggested sidewalk chalk. What a brilliant (and super easy) idea for a sunny day at the end of the second-to-last week of school! Each student got two sections of the sidewalk and a white piece of chalk. They spent 15 minutes drawing in the first section, 15 minutes writing in the second section, and 15 minutes sharing their art with the class. We enjoyed quiet expression, cool shade, and several admiring pedestrians. I’m totally doing this again.

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Handwriting Transformation

One of my first graders joined our class while I was out on maternity leave. Since I’ve returned she and I have spent a lot of time practicing handwriting together. Her growth in technique and overall neatness has amazed me. The first picture below shows her handwriting the first day I returned to school and the second picture shows her work five weeks later. I am so proud of her, and you can tell how proud she is when she shows me something she’s written.

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Click here to read about my handwriting workbook, and here for handwriting instructions.

 

Learning Through Song

A teacher at January’s PK1 Reading Conference suggested I write songs for each of my phonics puppets. They already have stories that teach a motion to go with the letter sound, but the suggestion got me thinking about the power of song and rhyme when it comes to learning. Once I got started, the lyrics just kept flowing, and a week later I was finished with my collection. I’m waiting until September to use the A-Z songs with my new class of kindergarteners, but for the past few weeks we’ve been singing our hearts out about the chunk puppets. I have to say the songs are pretty catchy. Just ask my students, who sing quietly to themselves in their seats, or my classroom aide, who rolled her eyes and said, “Those songs are always stuck in my head!”, or even my husband, who hums my tunes around the house. My new songs are available via email to anyone who owns my puppets. Click the “contact” tab on my website if you are interested. Click here for a sample.

Post-it, Spell-it

My three favorite uses for post-its are… the classroom number wall, endless notes-to-self, and helping my students separate phonemes for spelling and reading. One of my kinders was having a hard time reading some of the words in his language arts workbook last week, so I made a list of all the letters in those words and wrote each letter on a separate post-it. He lined them up across the top of his table then I asked him to build (spell) each word from his book so he could focus on individual letter sounds. We continued this activity until I felt he was familiar enough with the phonemes to move back into his workbook, and sure enough, it was smooth(er) sailing after that Did I mention he had his Teacher’s Creatures Alphabet Strip for reference?

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The Pizza Box

This month’s kit will leave you wanting to order a pizza, or perhaps inspire you to make your own! After dinner, save some time for homework. You’ll work with pizza fractions, take orders for your pizza parlor, arrange pictures of pizza boxes, and of course read three books about… pizza!

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Would you like instructions for making The Pizza Box, related worksheets, and an activities list so parents will know how to use it with their children? You can request them through the “contact” tab on my website and I will send you the PDF files via email. My kits make homework magical for children. I hope you will take the time to make one and experience the joy and excitement they will bring to your classroom (or your home)!

Thinking Inside the Box

Usually people talk about thinking outside the box, but today I asked my class to do the opposite. For our daily literature response, my students write the date in a box at the top of the paper. The box is smallish and their handwriting is largish, which always presents a challenge… which inspired today’s challenge: fit the entire date in the box with only the “p” and the comma extending below. Pretty impressive results, I’d say, and a wonderful way to end the month!

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