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I am a first grade teacher who has rediscovered a love for firsties this year. I have taught pre-k, kindergarten, first grade and even second over the past 16 years. I have been married for 17 years to my wonderful husband and have been blessed with 2 very active boys.

Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K Back to School
Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Phonics Games

Phonics Games
Phonics Games
   
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Calendar Math for Primary Grades

Calendar Math for Primary Grades
Primary Calendar for the Year

The Value of Poetry for Young Learners


Poetry is an integral part of my classroom for so many reasons.  Children naturally love songs and rhymes as they connect with the rhythm of the language. In early childhood, poetry consists of songs, poems and nursery rhymes.  Nursery rhymes are the forgotten genre and so many children lose out on the magic that comes with them.

Large charted poems allow children to participate in a whole group setting, like a big book would during story time.  Each week, I introduce a new poem from Monthly Poetry with Rebus Pictures.  We engage with the poem for about 5 minutes a day during our literacy circle and by Friday, my student show ownership of the poem!  The poem then gets added to our growing list of songs, poems and nursery rhymes for transitional moments from walking in line to the playground to attention getters in the classroom.


We reread the poem daily and focus on a different skill each day. Some may even call in Close Reading for beginning readers! Our student are interacting with the text in the poem in different ways.



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 our 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.  

Poetry notebooks provide a great home-school connection! Students take home their poetry notebooks once a month to share the poems with their parents.  This helps build confidence in these young learners and it helps the families feel connected and invested in their child's learning.  I send home the books on Friday and offer a small incentive to return them on Monday! This year, it was as simple as a sticker!
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". More importantly though, our kids LOVE their poetry books and I have parents come back and tell me this was their favorite part of pre-k and their child still sings and chants the poems that were learned.  We have created a love for reading and learning!


The best part is there is minimal financial investment, a little time and a LOT of learning going on.
You can grab these materials to get started.  I have included affiliate links to help you out.

           

The Monthly Poetry with Rebus Pictures is an AMAZING DEAL and is on SALE this week HERE!
Each month is available individually as well.


Be sure to follow me on Facebook HERE for daily update
and feel free to pin the image below for easy reference!



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Mrs. Wathen
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Learning through Play


I have finally come up for a breath as "back to school" is upon us! Full day pre-k is fast paced, fun  and you always have to be one step ahead of your munchkins!  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.
 
                                
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!

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...

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:).

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 knew 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.  


 I am always looking for new ways to expand our program and resources.   If you would like to read more about how Donors Choose works, you can click HERE.  If you would like to see how I "theme" my projects, you can check out my current project HERE.

I would love you to follow me on Facebook or Instagram to follow along with our fun and learning!

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