Shared Research Project and Class Book

I LOVE a good class made book! It teaches students about being an author, teamwork, and collaboration. And when that class book ends up in our classroom library, excitement fills the room! Below is the process I go through when doing a shared research project and class book.

Step 1: Pick your Topic

I complete this project every year during our science unit on farms. Our class also goes on a field trip to the farm each spring, so this connects perfectly.

Step 2: Start the Research

farm booksFor about two weeks leading up to our trip to the farm, we read a variety of non-fiction books about farms. Gail Gibbons has a large collection of non-fiction books that are a great resource. We focus on different types of farms, and the animals, crops, and machines that are used. Students learn to compare and contrast this information in a venn diagram. They also learn the difference between fiction and non-fiction writing.

We start the creation of our class project when we return from our field trip.

rough draft.jpgStep 3: The Rough Draft

Students start by picking the specific topic they want to write about. I give them the topics they can choose from and try to get a variety for the book. Students then write their rough draft of their page. I remind them that since it is a non-fiction book, we must write facts, not opinions.

Step 4: The Illustrations

Students then draw their illustrations that match their writing. They make sure to add specific details in their illustrations. I remind them that once again, our pictures need to be accurate because we are writing non-fiction.

Step 5: The TypingIMG_9082

This is hands down their favorite part of the whole project. One at a time, I call students to type on the laptop. They copy from their rough draft, though I keep their spelling as “kid writing” because I think it is more authentic. I will do this while they are coloring their illustrations. If needed, I will spend a few days during science calling students up while they are working on independent work. You would be surprised how long it takes them to type two sentences!

Step 6: Putting it all together!

I print and then cut out all of the sentences and glue them to their illustrations. I laminate the book, bind it, and put it in the library. They are dying to read it and show of their work with their peers!

farm book 2

Author Study – Laura Numeroff

The Laura Numeroff author study is a hidden gem for kindergarten! These books are familiar to many students, but are often forgotten about. I have really enjoyed doing this author study with my students over the past two years! These “circle stories” can teach story elements, cause and effect, and sequencing. The students love to hear how the end “circles back” to the beginning.

If_you_Give_a_Mouse_a_CookieIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to School – These books are the most familiar to students. For this story, I focus on the story elements – characters, setting, problem, and solution. There are multiple problems throughout the story, so students can pick one. They have to clearly show what the mouse asked for, and what he used it with. For example, the mouse asked for some crayons, and he then created a picture. You could also use a cause and effect graphic organizer for this book as well.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin – This is another great book for story elements and cause and effect. I also use this author study to help assess reading comprehension and IMG_8789retelling. I have found multiple resources on TeachersPayTeachers that go along with this story.

If You Give a Dog a Donut – For this book, I focus on sequencing and retelling the events of this story. The students learn to apply what they have learned about sequencing and cause and effect. It also makes for a great classroom work display.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake and If You Give a Pig a Party – Both of these stories involve the same character, but in a different setting. For these books, I have the students compare and contrast the two books. We learn to use venn diagrams when comparing cat and cupcakebooks. I also have many of these books on CD, which are perfect for my listening center.

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake – This is one of Laura Numeroff’s img_8895.jpgnewer books. Throughout the unit, I also do many writing responses that coincide with the books. For this story, I ask the students “what would you want with your cupcake.” This helps them to start writing about cause and effect. They are engaged in the activity, and their answers are usually creative!

At the end of every author study, I have the students write about their favorite books and why they liked them. This is a great way to wrap up a unit.

circle story bookWriting Our Own Circle Stories – At the end of the unit, I create our own class book of “circle stories”. We have learned to look for patterns within an author study. The students use what they know about those patterns to create their own story. First, they have to choose their character. Since Laura Numeroff uses IMG_8778animals, they must pick an animal. Then, they must choose their food. I encourage them to create an alliteration, because that is common in Laura Numeroff’s books. Finally, they choose what their animal wants with it. This is where they apply what they have learned about cause and effect. Their story should be related and the items they want should be connected in some way. We put each story together into a class book that the students LOVE to read!

 

TIME for some Math

Time is a favorite math unit that I teach, especially with my kindergartners because they are so intrigued by the concept of time!

Time is not actually a common core standard, but it is a component on the report card at my school so we teach it. It is a mini unit taught towards the end of the year, and mastery is not expected. But with the right resources, even kindergarteners can master telling time to the hour – and they love it!

clock 2Learning the parts of a clock – Students need to learn the different parts of a clock before they can understand how to tell time. I have the students build their own clocks, but putting the numbers on the face, and having moveable hands. This allows them to understand how a clock works. Brainpop Jr. also has a great video for introducing the concept of time and the parts of a clock.

Keep it hands on – In order for kindergarteners to engage in the activities, but also to grasp the abstract concept of time, they need to be able to manipulate a clock themselves. I have a few moveable clocks that the students can use to change the time. They can use these clocks to play matching games. I also give them a time, and they have to show that time on their clock. There are a number of ways to use these clocks, but it is key it be hands on.

 

time .jpgDigital vs. Analog – It is important for students to use both the analog and digital clocks. Students learn to read both digital times, as well as analog clocks. I also teach them to write the digital time after reading an analog clock. The more they practice reading and writing times, the easier it will become for them. Students also learn to draw the hands onto a clock.

Students are the Teachers – Once the students have had practice with the hands on clocks, they can be the teachers to their peers. Having students teach each other keeps them engaged, but also helps them to gain a deeper understanding of the concept. I will call up two students at a time to participate and teach the class. They will show a time on the clock, and teach their peers how to write the digital time to go with it.

Games with Time – There are multiple games that students can play with clocks and time. These help to reinforce the skills they have learned throughout the mini unit.

Partner Clock Match – students are in partners or groups of 3. One partner gives a time and the other partner has to make that time on their clock. If both clocks match, the team gets a point. The game is over when your team gets five points.

Clock Matching Game – I found this on TeachersPayTeachers and it is a great game for centers! The students match analog clock pictures with the digital time. I copied the cards on colored card stock so multiple students can play at one center without the cards getting mixed up.

Whisper down the Lane, Clock Edition – It is just like whisper down the lane, but each person has to whisper the time. After you hear the time, you set your clock to that time and then whisper it. By the end, everyone’s clock should say the same time!

 

iPads in Language Arts Centers – Thanks to Donor’s Choose!

My Language Arts Centers are one of my favorite parts of my day as a teacher, and the same goes for my students. It is their opportunity to work independently and show their skills, while still having fun!

I recently completed a Donor’s Choose project and was able to get 3 iPad mini’s for my ipad 1.jpgclassroom! I am beyond excited to be able to use these iPads in my language arts centers and my students are giving them two thumbs up!

I have downloaded reading, math, and science apps to use during centers. There are specials settings you can to keep students engaged and on kid-friendly apps. Once we received the iPads, I met with small groups of students to teach them how they would use the iPads. Although many of them have tablets at home, they need to learn how we will use them at school.

ipad 2.jpgOnce they understand my expectations, I let them explore within the various apps I have purchased.  There are tons of free, or low priced, educational apps! Some of my students’ favorites include Starfall, Star Math, and ABCya. I plug headphones into the iPads so that the other centers are not interrupted. The students love the opportunity to independently learn and explore through this amazing technology!

I am beyond grateful for all of the generous donations that were made through Donor’s Choose, and allowed me to purchase these iPads. I recommend that all teachers use Donor’s Choose for any project you can think of – your students will only benefit from it!

 

 

Author Study – James Dean – Pete the Cat

IMG_2061Pete the Cat is a favorite character of kindergartners, but also a favorite character of mine! Pete is a cool cat who goes on all sorts of adventures with many of his friends. Pete is always learning how to be a good friend, take turns, share, and get through tough days! These fun, creative books are not only funny, but they teach wonderful morales to young students! There are so many different ways to incorporate Pete the Cat into your curriculum. Below are a couple ways I have done this in my kindergarten room!

Many of the familiar Pete the Cat stories are easy readers. These are familiar stories to the students and help them to become more confident when reading independently. When students are ready, I allow them to read these Pete the Cat stories to our class.

List of Pete the Cat Books Here!

Pete the Cat: I Love my White ShoesIMG_8600

pete the cat cover.pngThis fun rhyming book has a pattern to it, making it easier for students to read along with the teacher. Throughout the story, Pete steps into different things (strawberries, mud, blueberries, etc.) and each time it changes his white shoes into a different color. For this activity, I have students create their own Pete the Cat story. They have to choose what Pete will step in, and what color his shoes will become. This is a great introduction to the concept of “cause and effect”.

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Pete the Cat: Four Groovy ButtonsIMG_8631

pete the cat cover 2This book is all about subtraction – a perfect connection between language arts and math! During this story, Pete loses his buttons one by one. Each time, he sings a song, and then tells you the subtraction number sentence. For this book, I have students create their own subtraction stories. First, they have to pick how many buttons Pete will start with. Then, they have to decide how many buttons will fall off. Finally, they answer the question – how many buttons does Pete have left?

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In my classroom, I select a Star of the Week who gets to take home a Pete the Cat stuffed animal each week. Then they write about their adventures with Pete in a class journal. At the end of the year, we look back on all of the different Star of the Week adventures with Pete! Here are a few pictures of Pete’s adventures!

Scholastic Magazines

Scholastic Magazines are probably one of my favorite things to add to a lesson or activity! They are perfect in so many different ways. The can also be used in all different subject areas – language arts, science, or social studies! And they are also perfect for an extra activity in a sub plan. Below are different ways I use the Scholastic Magazines: Let’s Find Out in my kindergarten classroom.

Whole Group – The most obvious way to use them is as a whole group activity. Each student

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One of the videos we watch was MLK Jr.’s speech

gets their own magazine to look at, and you can use the interactive resources online to pull up the magazine (if you have a smartboard). I usually call on one student at a time to read to the class from the magazine. Then on the back they have an independent activity to check for understanding.

Another great part about doing these activities whole group is the videos and games. The scholastic website has videos and interactive games that coincide with the magazine. It is a great wrap up to the lesson.

 

Small Group – I often have parent helpers come in to scholastic 1work with my students during language arts centers. (Be sure to check out my language arts centers blog post!) One of my favorite ways to use the Scholastic Magazines is to put it in the science center. I then have a parent helper read through it with the students. The small group reading allows for every student to have an opportunity to read, unlike the whole group lesson.

The scholastic website also has printable resources that coincide with the magazines. Rather than watch the video with the magazine, I have the parent help students complete the written activity instead. It switches things up, but the students still love it!scholastic 2

Reading Groups – Every month, the Scholastic Magazines include a rebus reader! I often use these during my small group reading. This really helps individualize my instruction and helps students to have more confidence when reading independently! And it creates a way to connect science and social studies to language arts!

 

Measurement Madness

It’s like March Madness, but with measurement! In the month of March, my focus is in math is on measurement!

In kindergarten, students must understand length, weight, and capacity. They must learn to compare objects based off these measurable attributes. They learn to use both non-standard and standard forms of measurement. Below are some of the hands-on activities I do with my students to learn all about measurement!

Length – Students first learn to measure using non-standard forms of measurement (such as snap cubes or paper clips). They measure different objects on their papers, but also in the classroom. When they measure with different objects, they learn that they get different answers. Because the paper clips are larger, you need less of them. Longer and shorter are two important vocabulary words used throughout this unit.

length 1

This leads into learning about the ruler! Students learn that an inch is a standard unit of measure. By using a ruler, you can measure different objects and get an accurate answer. Then, I have my students make their very own ruler and measure items around the room with it!

 

Weight – Students learn that when measuring weight, you measure how heavy or light something is. Those are two more important math vocabulary words! They learn about two different scales – the kind you see at the doctor that measures how heavy you are and a balance that compares two objects.

In the classroom, I use a balance scale to do a variety of activities. First, I use the balance to compare different objects. We learn that when an object is heavier, it falls down. The lighter object stays up. Students can take turns putting different objects in the scale and comparing their weight.

You can also use the balance scale to measure how heavy something is. I put the object we are measuring in one side, and then add snap cubes to the other side. Once the balance is level, that means they are equal. We then count the snap cubes. You can then measure another object with snap cubes and compare the weight by comparing the numbers. I love to call students up to be the “teachers” for this activity!

Capacity – Capacity can be a difficult, and almost abstract concept for kindergarteners. I focus IMG_8529mainly on students understanding that larger containers can hold more, while smaller containers hold less. These are two big math vocabulary words used throughout kindergarten!

A fun hands on activity I do in the classroom is measuring how many cups a container can hold. You can fill the containers with anything you have – I happen to have a lot of foam shapes! We fill different sized containers and count how many cups fit in each. This visual really helps students to grasp the concept of capacity!