Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday: Day of the Dead

I'm linkin' up with Mrs. Jump's Class for Book Talk Tuesday!

I love fall! I love the colors, the weather, and the holidays.
I especially love reading this story to my students.

Day of the Dead, by Tony Johnston,  follows a family getting ready for the Day of the Dead celebration by cooking tamales, baking pan de muertos, and decorating with cempasuchil.

The bright, beautiful pictures draw the children in and the Spanish words keep them interested as  they listen to their teacher either try to read the words or read them with ease, which is amazing to little ones.

After the kiddos hear this story, which introduces them to Dia de los Muertos, they make a vocabulary book and an easy reader to practice reading some new words.

 Following the book making, the students make several different crafts--a calavera, or skull mask, a painted cat skull, la banda, and a tissue paper marigold all of which are seen at a Day of the Dead celebration.

I can't wait to read this book and get started on these projects. I just love the way the classroom brightens up!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Markdown Narrative Writing Monday!

I'm linking up with Kelly and Kim's Kindergarten Kreations for Markdown Monday.

What's better than getting students to make the connection between reading and writing? With Writing a Narrative: Writing a Sequence of Events and Adding Closure, you'll do just that!

Students will have a great time understanding something not-so-necessarily-interesting. . .story structure. Once they understand the vocabulary, they'll use it in their own writing.
This product includes several activities to help students better understand story vocabulary, activities for identifying and writing a beginning and ending, and well-known stories to apply these concepts.
This and so much more!

You can find this product at my TpT store for only $5.00!
  Writing a Narrative: Writing a Sequence of Events and Prov

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Interactive Math Notebook in the Making

As we start the year creating out Interactive Writing Notebooks, we are beginning to put together our Interactive Math Notebooks. There are just so many words students need to know in order to understand math, so I decided to put together a math notebook which focuses on vocabulary.
So on Monday I told the kids that we would be starting a new notebook. And with that announcement, I heard cheers. I love how much they love these notebooks. I showed them their new notebooks, which apparently look like Minecraft. When it comes to video games, I'm clueless. After the kids got past the Minecraft conversation, we got to work.

We began with the word equal. Although students use the word and write equal signs daily, I've decided many kiddos don't actually understand what equal means. We worked on the word each day this week, and soon the students were gaining a deeper understanding of what equal means in math.
In the meantime, we were learning about arrays. I don't like to work on this many pages in a day/week, but we had some catching up to do.
First the kids needed to see an array and understand what it is. Each notebook section begins by developing an understanding of the vocabulary used in math. Then students work on the concept. Whether it be in the notebook or in their math books, students need the vocabulary to understand what they are doing. After we put together the notebook page, the kids made their own arrays with stickers while referring to their notebooks.The following day I had them write an equation to match the arrays they made from stickers.
On Wednesday, we continued building on our new word--array.
The kids colored their pages. Then we cut out the pieces and matched them with an equation.

On Thursday, the kids added to the arrays section. Underneath each array is an equation to match it.
I gave each group a stack of hamburgers. Who wouldn't love arrays made of hamburgers? So one person made an array and the other group members had to write an equation to match the array. Each student had a turn making an array. Who knew arrays could be so much fun?
Before starting our notebooks, we focused on the word equation. We use the word daily in math and it is becoming part of their vocabulary. This week we will start on the word digit and begin learning about place value.

I see a difference in my students' abilities to understand math with the focus on math vocabulary. I'm excited to see the growth! And I am excited to see their excitement!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Letter to Myself

I'm linking up with Kreative in Kinder with a great idea. . . a letter to myself.


Like Crystal wrote, we tend to forget what the first few weeks of school are like. When they roll around, we wonder what we've gotten ourselves into. I tend to ask myself if I started off wrong and ruined the year. Did I spend enough time on rules and procedures? Slowly but surely it all falls into place. Very slowly. And then the year goes on and things go well and the year ends and then it begins again. So I'm writing myself a letter to read at the start of the 2015-2016 school year to remind myself that everything will be OK.

But will I remember to read this?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

This Week with our Interactive Notebooks II

So last week my students worked on adding details to simple sentences and to be more specific in their writing. The week before that, the kids learned about ideas and "juicy details."
Juicy Details
Adding details
Be Specific
This week we took our knowledge of "being specific" and used a graphic organizer, called a funnel, to move from a broad topic to something more specific. 

Broad to specific
I showed the students a "photo album" (PowerPoint) of our pretend trip to the zoo. It showed the San Diego Zoo, some animals, a giraffe, a woman feeding the giraffe, and a giraffe's tongue. So we took a very broad topic (a trip to the zoo) and made it much more specific (feeding a giraffe at the zoo). I tell the kids that finding one specific part of a trip, day, birthday. . .makes your writing more interesting.

Now that we've covered the important components of Ideas, I will read various mentor texts to the class so students can see how authors use the trait.

On Thursday, I read Enemy Pie by Derek Munson.
Enemy Pie
The story is about a little boy with an enemy. His dad comes up with a plan to get rid of his enemy, which is to make an enemy pie.

There's so much  more to this story, but I was just getting to the point of the activity. It's a really cute story. I recommend it like I do every mentor text I suggest in the Interactive Writing Notebook.

After reading the book, we discussed the ideas the author used is his story. The story gets kids' imaginations going thinking about the ingredients in an enemy pie. So, the activity I created gets kids using their ideas to come up with the ingredients in the pie.

Usually my students put gross things in their pies. For some reason these kids didn't. Hmmm.

Next week we will begin a narrative using everything we've learned. I will expect students to choose an idea, be specific in their writing, and add details to make writing more interesting. Now that they have some tools, it should be fun!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Sunday Scoop

I'm linking up with The Teaching Trio for The Sunday Scoop.

I've been traveling a lot lately and really have more housework to do than I can handle, so this whole scoop should read something about cleaning. But it doesn't because that would be boring!
Have a great week!

Friday, September 5, 2014

This Week with our Interactive Notebooks

This week our class was able to put together two pages of our Interactive Writing Notebooks. I created this notebook to get kids excited about writing. Kids enjoy writing when we give them the tools to become good writers. They also become more excited about writing when we free them of being perfect spellers. The number one question I hear while students are writing is, "How do you spell . . ?" I just tell them not to worry about it and just get your ideas out.

So this week we practiced using details to describe some animals. Often we read I saw _____ from our students. I figured, why not spruce it up with some detail. And so they did.

Now I know there's no writing for you to read. That's because, after taking ten pictures, these were the best ones. So many cute sentences. So many blurry pictures. 

The sentences said things like. . . I saw a green and red owl. Or I saw a stinky gray raccoon.

One of my favorite activities is Be Specific. A few years ago I told students they need to be specific in their writing without explaining what that meant. What was I thinking?! So after realizing I should probably explain that word, I told a little story.
It goes like this:

Sam wanted a dog, so he asked his mom for one. 
The next day Sam's mom brought home a big, white dog with floppy ears.
Sam said, "No mom. I wanted a small, white dog."
The next day his mom brought him a new dog. It was a small, white dog with floppy ears.
Sam said, "No mom. I wanted a small white dog with tiny ears.
The next day his mom brought home a small, white dog with tiny ears.
Sam said, "No mom. I wanted a small, white dog with tiny ears and brown spots."
At this point his mom was frustrated and she said, "You should have been more specific!"

This story might not be pet-friendly, but the kids love it. I have little pictures I show them. I explain to them that being specific, or exact, helps your reader understand your writing better.

Here are some of their specific dogs.

We'll do more activities, which include the kiddos being more specific so they can gain a deeper understanding of the word. This is just to get them started.

These activities can be found in my product at TpT. Your kids will love it!


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