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Popcorn Words

Please read these weekly Popcorn Words with your K-Kid each night!

*I *it *run *help *away
*a *in *jump *down
*is *we *one
*am *big *two
*to *for *make
*the *this *get
*go *red *play
*me *like *find
*see *my *funny
*and *come *look
*can *up *blue
*you *not *yellow
Saturday, February 25, 2017

America the Beautiful!

We had an excellent week finishing up our American symbols unit. We explored with great detail the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, American Flag, and Bald Eagle.  I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that your kids soaked up many facts about these great symbols. They were particularly enamored with the Statue of Liberty, and we ended up researching it more than I anticipated!  

Language Arts:
While we worked to complete different literacy workstations, this week our phonics focus shifted mainly on ways to make the long a and long e sound. Ask your kiddos about these ideas and concepts. They are quite the experts, especially on those magic a words with ay, ai, and 'a' with a magic e at the end. They were very interested in tricky "y", who "steals" the long e sound in 2 syllable words. We discovered that some of our friends have a tricky y at the end of their names, much to their delight! We played a number of fun games to help us solidify these concepts! We also worked on many art projects this week, and created amazing Statue of Liberty drawings, majestic bald eagles created by tracing our hands and feet, and American flags with fingerprint stars!

We are also continuing to strengthen our skills with money. Still dealing only with coins, we are working to add together multiple coins and looking for patterns. During small group guided math, I gave each student a handful of coins to sort and count, which is helping to solidify both coin identification, as well as skip counting. Then they went shopping at my store! The only problem with my store is that I only accept exact change. Some brilliant students attempted to overpay me with several of each coin and told me to just keep the change, but since it's my store, I was able to insist on exact change only! :) The kids had a lot of fun buying ice cream, candy, cats, and toys from the store, and we enjoyed comparing the different combinations of coins that everyone used to make their purchases. It is a fun game to play at home as well. Break open a piggy bank, and make your kids buy their own toys!

Social Studies:
As I stated above, this week we continued to introduce the kids to new facts about many American symbols. We took a trip 'back in time' to see what the American Flag looked like in the past and learned that before the Bald Eagle was our nation's bird, Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our symbol instead! We learned why the Liberty Bell is cracked and why the Statue of Liberty is green! Social Studies was alive and well in our classroom! We ended the week by introducing the kids to one of my favorite childhood memories- School House Rock! The kids loved watching the song Elbow Room, and noting all the changes that America went through as it expanded westward, as well as catching glimpses of our American symbols!

Writer's Workshop:
This week we finished our fifth writing unit of the year! It was so interesting to see the kiddo's Informational Writing from the first day of this unit to now. We are becoming quite the experts on writing to teach our reader a new thing! 

Coming Up Next:
Next week we will enjoy spending some time with some of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, in honor of the great author's birthday (March 2, also the birthday of Bon Jovi, another national treasure.) (I'm from New Jersey.)  
Friday, February 10, 2017

We Are 100 Days Smarter!

This week was all about the number 100! We looked at some photos of real centenarians, people who are 100 years old. This gave us some insight into what we may look like at age 100, which we used to make our 100 year old portraits. They look amazing! There are some huge smiles on those wrinkly faces! We also wrote about what we thought our lives will be like at age 100. The 100th Day collaborative Museum was a great success! The displays were so unique and creative!! We will keep them on display a little longer next week, so if you haven't had a chance to, please check it out! The week ended in the best possible way- celebrating the 100th day of school! We had so much fun! In the morning we had a 100th day party, with different stations to visit that all had a 100 theme. They could use 100 cups to create structures (a big hit!), build something using 100 Legos, work together to finish a 100 piece puzzle (bonus: it glowed in the dark), make 100th Day crowns, play a race to 100 game (another huge hit!), and create structures using 50 toothpicks and 50 marshmallows.

Language Arts: 
We began a new round of our literacy stations this week, and many of the kids are continuing to be challenged with a variety of complex vowel rules and blends. Although we can read many of these words, we can't always write them. We will continue to complete activities that help us with digraphs (h-brothers like th, sh, ch, wh), two vowel words (ee, ai, oa, oi, oo, ou, etc.), r-influenced vowels (ar, er, ir, or, ur), short and long vowel sounds, magic e words, and others. As you can see we're really 'packing it in' when it comes to teaching a variety of phonics rules and skills. My goal is that each child leaves my classroom confident about his/her reading skills no matter what "level" they may be reading at. 

We also started our newest round of math stations this week, many of which allowed us to continue building our strong number sense as we prepare for first grade. I challenged the kiddos this week to solve number puzzles. We also continue to challenge ourselves with the recognition and addition of coins. This has been a challenging concept for the K-Kids, (why are 3 coins the same color?!) and we will continue to practice for fluency and automaticity throughout the rest of the school year. We are also exploring the concept of measurement and used some special 'love monsters' to measure and graph our data. 

Writer's Workshop: 
We had some fun writing  focused on the 100th Day this week! We talked about what we could buy with $100, and then I gave each kid a "real" (super fake) 100 dollar bill to add to their drawing. They were so excited to get their money, and some kids talked about saving it to use in a store, so we had an exciting bonus discussion about how the lawmakers in America consider it to be an illegal activity to use fake money in a store. Then our law abiding kindergarten citizens glued their $100 dollars on to their drawings! Phew!

Coming Up Next: 
Over the next 2 weeks we will begin exploring American symbols such as the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, American Flag, and Bald Eagle in great depth. Then we will switch gears a little bit to focus more on some of our country's most important presidents.
Saturday, February 4, 2017

Our Ode to the Ocean!

We officially finished up our ocean unit this week with many art projects and culminating activities. The beginning of the week was focused mainly on creating our ocean mural. I am so blown away by how gorgeous it turned out. It was SO MUCH FUN to create! Each day we focused on a separate zone of the ocean. We'd begin every morning by researching and reviewing which animals lived there through books and online resources, and sharing fun facts. These kids are total ocean animal experts! The K-Kids started by working on the sunlit (or sunlight) zone, drawing and then watercolor painting many of the animals we find in the sunlit zone. Did you know that 90% of the ocean's animals live in the top sunlit zone?! 

Next, we moved onto the Twilight Zone. This is the second zone down, where many interesting animals live. Unfortunately, this zone probably gets the least attention since many animals travel into it, but not many live there. We focused mainly on octopuses, whales, electric eels, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and echninoderms (starfish) that live here. 

Lastly, we worked on the Midnight Zone, which was by far the class favorite. They absolutely loved learning about the almost alien-like creatures that live in the deepest depths of the ocean. They were very interested in bioluminescent fish, who light up their bodies in different ways! They also loved learning about angler fish. We discovered that female angler fish that have a light up "fishing rod" attached to their heads to attract prey, and that male angler fish are much smaller than the females, and attach themselves to the females body like a little appendage! Above all, the class was fascinated with the giant squid. (You may notice the multitude of giant squids dominating our ocean mural.) They were amazed to learn that the only predator that can take a giant squid down is the mighty sperm whale, which swallows it whole, and the squid will use its tentacles to scratch and scar the whale inside it's body! We watched a short Discovery clip showing an epic sperm whale vs giant squid battle, and the kids loved it so much they begged to watch it again all week! I invite you to continue exploring the ocean this weekend at home! 

We finished this week up with two other ocean themed projects. The children worked so hard creating such a beautiful mural, and I wanted them to be able to take a little piece of it home to share with you, so we created mini murals with watercolors and tissue paper. They are awesome! We ended the week having fun learning about compound words. The students had a great time playing a game trying to use picture clues to guess the compound word that was created. Then they made penguins holding two snowballs (a compound word!) On each snowball they wrote and illustrated a word, and when the penguin smashes the snowballs together it forms a new compound word on it's belly. You can have fun this weekend making a list of as many compound words as you can think of!

Next week we will begin our 100th Day/President's Day/Valentine's Day unit!