Friday, January 8, 2016

Pre-K Happenings and Five for Friday {1/8}

I am sorry I have been MIA, but in the past month we literally found a new house and closed three days before Christmas!  Needless to say, life has been crazy but we are settling in and I am glad to be back.
I am back to share some pre-k happenings with Five for Friday!

Our curriculum is mandated by the county and we introduce a letter of the week during small group rotations.  That is not to say that ALL letters are not talked about during whole group, small group and centers.  This also helps build vocabulary with my English Language Learners.  I use my Interactive Alphabet Activities several times a week to build on this.

In math, we are working on comparing numbers using the terms equal, more and less than.  We used lots of hands on manipulatives including beans, cubes and LOTS of seasonal erasers from my favorite store... I am working on including this work mat in a Counting Freebie with a Winters Theme to be on Teachers Pay Teachers later this weekend.  Be sure to follow me on Facebook for the latest updates.

This is a public service announcement!
Do NOT spill the beans. #trustme  #Mondaymorningblues

My time with my pre-k friends is so short as I have two half day sessions. This being said, we don't have time to watch movies or videos.  Sometimes I can work in a short clip from You Tube about a subject or theme to peak the interest of my students, but this is usually limited to about five minutes or so.  This being said, I have to say we LOVE this video! It totally engages the children and they sing the catchy letter song ALL DAY LONG!  Several of my friends even asked for it for Christmas!

Paint stick snowmen were a hit this week with the kids!  We did add snowmen fabric after this picture was taken. We used tempera paint which took a few coats as it soaked into the paint sticks.  My suggestion would be to either spray paint the white ahead of time or use acrylic paint. 
Be sure to head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see what other teachers were up to this week!

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Friday, November 27, 2015

A Day in Pre-K

A day in Pre-K is fast moving, action packed and fun! In the state of Florida we have FREE VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) in both private and public schools.  I teach in a public school and have a morning session and an afternoon session; each lasting 3 hours.


To start our day we make the mile hike (ok, maybe an exaggeration) out to our portable.  It is amazing how these little people have grown in just 3 short months and thrive on routine.  We start our day with our morning circle time. It is always fun to see what the  weekly calendar pieces will be for the month and my pre-k friends are growing in confidence as they lead the calendar time.


After we have danced, sang and introduced a skill or 2, we head to small group for more specific instruction.  I am very blessed to have a full time para in the room with me so we are able to reach each child during this hour.  She is my right hand and can't imagine my day without her.


We have worked hard and its time to move, jump and play.  Most days this means playground time.  Sometimes, it means music and movement in the classroom with some GoNoodle fun! Our afternoon group always asks, "Can we do points?" They might be a LITTLE competitive! (Yes, the letter P is missing because it is part of an Interactive Alphabet Activity.)


Back in the room we go for a water break and story time.  Story time is time to share a thematic book, teach a literary skill and work on our poem of the week.  We definitely have our favorite books and characters and love hearing new stories.


Their favorite part of the day has arrived!  Its center time.  Students choose from a variety of activities that have been planned to enrich the theme of study we are working on as well as student interests!

Its time to wrap up our day and yes, I get to do all this again with my afternoon group!

Its now time to head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see what everyone else is up to...

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Nutrition Week at a Glance - Five for Friday

For the week after Halloween, there sure were a lot of wiggly worms this week.
Perhaps its the sugar overload? 
I wonder who had a piece of candy or two for breakfast!!
This was the perfect time to work in a little nutrition unit with my friends!
I introduced the 5 food groups through this fun song sung to the tune of BINGO.  We sang it every day and on Friday added it to our poetry notebooks.  We then highlight our letter of the week (You could target any skill.) and add an illustration. I take this opportunity to talk about drawing pictures with shapes for those who struggle with drawing and get frustrated.
It is part of my November Poetry with Rebus Pictures.  You can read more about the Value of Poetry Notebooks HERE.
We continued to pattern this week in math so we pulled in our fruit manipulatives from Lakeshore Learning and then found this pattern FREEBIE from Ms. Jodi's Pre-K on TpT to go with it! We then took it a step further and worked on identifying the pattern unit.  This was HARD for my pre-k friends so I created the white box as a visual so they could see how to isolate and identify the pattern unit.   


This was a little late in coming, but I LOVE our grocery shop!  I moved the word wall in the dramatic play center and am liking that I can add thematic words and carry reading and writing over into  this center.  They can make grocery lists and shop all in one center.  The adorable center signs are from Play to Learn's Grocery Store Pack.


Healthy Helpings by Learning Resources was the PERFECT game to play during centers.  It gave the kids a great visual for what a balanced meal looks like as well as extra practice in categorizing food by food group.  The social skills of sharing, taking turns and congratulating the winner were a HUGE bonus!

We finished the week with teacher directed turkey drawings at the art center.  I am not sure this counts a part of nutrition week, but I figured turkey is a protein!  I know I mentioned it earlier in the post, but so many of my friends struggle to draw independently and always ask me to do it for them. I am working on fostering independence and confidence, so many years ago I started breaking down pictures into shapes for them.  In our turkey drawings, we worked on straight and curved lines, circles, ovals and a triangle.
There is so much going on at this time of the year.  I love a peek into others' classrooms too so I am linking up with Five for Friday over at Doodle Bugs Teaching. Head on over and check it out too!
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Value of Poetry Notebooks

Poetry Notebooks have been in my classroom since I started teaching 20 years ago!  The poems have changed over the years as well as my focus, but the bottom line is poetry notebooks are here to stay! I always have a large chart with the poem for classroom instruction and individual student copies for the student poetry notebooks.
Poetry notebooks provide a home-school connection!  Students take home their poetry notebooks once a month to share their poems with parents.  This helps my students feel more confident with their reading and it helps parents feel connected and invested in their child's learning.  I send home the books on a Friday and offer a small incentive to have them back by Monday!  This year, it is as simple as a sticker!
Poetry notebooks provide the perfect structure to practice skills in context!  In pre-k, we look for letters and sounds throughout the poem.  Later in the year, we will be looking for beginning sight words.  We practice tracking words with out fingers and discuss rhyming words.  In first grade, we just bumped it up a notch.  We looked for spelling patterns, contractions and yes, even reviewed rhyming words there too!  The students love using a yellow highlighter as we review these skills!
Poetry notebooks offer that repeated exposure which can in turn increase fluency.  As students point to each word as they read and reread the poems, their brains are making connections to the written word.  In my poetry notebooks, I have included rebus pictures throughout the poem to help the students decode words and make connections as they read.  This helps pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and struggling firsties feel successful.  When students feel that success, they are more inclined to reread the poems again.  
At the end of the school year, students have a collection of poems to take home and share.  This is especially beneficial to those students who come from homes that do not have a lot of books.  This allows students to practice reading over the summer and prevents them for taking the "summer slide". Students can lose one to three months of instruction if they are not actively engaged in learning over the summer.  We work too hard to allow that to happen.  This is just one more resource to help prevent that!  You can click on the pictures below to find these resources on TpT.

My focus is on nursery rhymes, songs and short poems to promote reading in the early grades!  Be on the lookout for the upcoming months and a growing bundle to help you save!  You can follow me on Teachers pay Teachers to make sure you don't miss any updates!
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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Learning through Play - Five for Friday

I have finally come up for a breath as "back to school" has come and gone and we are settling into routines and such! If you are new to my blog, I made the transition from first grade to pre-k this year as well as switching schools and counties.  The first month of school I was in shell shock and wondered daily if I made the right decision. 
Well friends, I am here to tell you that as much as I love the growth in first grade, pre-k is where I belong! It is so refreshing to see children learning through play! Through LOTS of planning and modeling, the students are learning in developmentally appropriate ways.  I have found my passion once again.

I am linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching, here are some snapshots from our week.
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Children love learn to play with a variety of materials.  Some are more popular than others!  It is our job as educators to encourage play by MODELING activities! Foam shapes sat at the math table during centers this week.  I sat down next to a child who just seemed to be sitting there.  We talked about what we could make and started moving the shapes around.  We had a great dialogue including shape names and before long, the table was crowded and everyone wanted to play!
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Puzzles were at one of the rotations during small group activities this week.  It is a "quiet" center,,, My students work on puzzles with up to 10 pieces with individual pieces.  I started to walk over to the child in the bottom pictures because he was "playing" with the puzzle pieces and making plane noises (GASP!) . REALLY?!? This is pre-k!! I quickly caught myself and sat with him for a minute to chat about the space shuttle he was launching! Perhaps he will travel to space someday...
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Games are such a great learning opportunity.  In a time where the only games kids know about are video games, I believe this is the PERFECT activity during small group.  It give students a time to practice skills, learn how to take turns, follow directions and yes,  sometimes there is a winner and a loser.  Lots of life lessons and it is my job to help students with these social skills.  Thanks to my friend Anna for introducing me to the game of CRASH!  I just added the CRASH cards to a set of Lakeshore shapes for instant engagement.  CRASH cards can be added to any cards to add a bit of fun to any skill:).
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The sensory bin is such a great place to combine science, math, fine motor practice, language and free exploration!  We added pine cones, acorns (which not one little friend know what they were prior to this)  and little pumpkins along with pumpkin ice cube trays for counting!  Don't worry about the two little "worms" that crawled out of the acorns... I saved them and relocated them outside!
The block center encourages cooperation, spacial awareness, fine motor, language, naming shapes, and sorting them at clean up!  The conversations students have evolve and the challenge is to add additional materials such as animals, cars and wooden people to foster imaginative play and keep things fresh and inviting.  

As a new program, I am always looking for new ways to expand our program and resources.  I have a Donor's Choose projects you can see more about HERE. If you would like to read more about how Donors Choose works, you can click HERE,

I encourage YOU to COMMENT so we can share ideas about taking the basic centers and changing them up with skills, materials and new vocabulary!  I can't wait to hear what you are doing:)
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