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

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!

 

Art with Force and Motion

Connecting different areas of curriculum is extremely important in kindergarten, and what better way than connecting art and science!

In kindergarten at my school, we have a unit on force and motion. Students learn the basics of force including pushes, pulls, and gravity. The science kit involves a lot of hands-on activities, building with kinex, and science writing journals. I have enhanced the unit by adding various art projects that involve force and motion!

IMG_3218Using straws to PUSH the paint – Students learn that a push is a force that moves something away straw artfrom you. In this art activity, students use a straw and their breath to PUSH the paint around the paper. I have to add water to the paint to help. The student’s reactions are the best part! They love watching how quickly the paint spreads. They make observations about how the movement changes when they move the straw in different directions. And when the colors mix, it is even better!

marble 1Using marbles and GRAVITY to make art – Students learn about gravity and the force that is all around us, pulling us toward the ground. They also learn that gravity is what helps a ball roll down a hill. They put these two concepts together when they create art with marbles! I have the students dip the marble in paint and then drop itmarble 2 on the paper. The paper is in a tray with raised edges. They take turns tipping the tray, watching the marble roll around and make different abstract designs. They add different colors and watch art being created right in front of them – all thanks to gravity!

car artUsing a PUSH or a PULL to paint with cars -Students have learned that in order to make an object move they must add a force to it – a push or a pull. The last art activity puts together both pushes and pulls with the use of toy cars.  Students dip the toy cars into paint before putting them on the paper. They move them around the paper, pushing and pulling, creating more abstract art! While this is the messiest of the art projects, it might be the most fun!

I also do spin art activities in a small group with students. At the end of the unit, I have students do a writing activity to show what they have learned through these art projects.

And another great part about these activities – they make another awesome bulletin board!

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Earth Day – Michael Recycle

What better way to connect science and language arts than to read the wonderful tales of Michael Recycle!

michael recycle.jpgMichael Recycle is a friendly green-caped crusader who teaches everyone how to take care of the Earth with the three R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle! In the month of April, I always read the Michael Recycle series during language arts. Then, during science, I teach ways to take care of the Earth, how to recycle, and what kids can do to help.

After reading the series, students create their own Earth Day Posters inspired by what Michael Recycle taught them. In the original book, Michael teaches a dirty town how to recycle. In the second book, Michael faces against Litterbug Doug who has to learn how littering can hurt the Earth. And in the third book, Michael and the Tree Top Cops stop people from cutting down trees. The students learn ways they can personally help the environment and then share these ideas on their posters.

In science class, to connect with the language arts unit, we plant our own seeds and learn how to take care of them. We learn to make predictions and observations. Students love watching their plant grow over time. My favorite part is when they take it home and plant it in their own garden’s – they can turn into something truly beautiful!

 

Language Arts Centers

Language arts centers in my classroom are the best way to have students independently working on a variety of reading and writing skills. This time also allows me to meet with individual groups of students for guided reading.

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My center chart – it lists the 10 different centers and which students are assigned to that center.

Each week I have ten working centers that students rotate through as the week goes on. Students will do two or three centers, depending on the week. For example, if it is a five-day week, we will complete two centers a day. By the end of the week, students will have completed all ten centers. By having ten centers, students have a variety of working centers and play centers. It also limits the number of students in each group, which I believe helps with their ability to independently work. My centers run about 15-20 minutes each, totaling about 40 minutes of center work a day.

I often have parent helpers come in during center time as well. This is especially helpful in the beginning of the year, when students are still learning the center procedures. I explain a few of the parent led centers below.

 

poem center 1
Poem Center

Poem Center – In this center, students work on a variety of reading skills through the use of poetry. Each week, students have a different poem to work with. The activity changes, depending on the poem. Students can practice finding sight words, illustrating a picture, or a written response to the poem.

Alphabet/Word Work Center 

word work center
Word Work Center – Sight Word Dominoes

This center changes and adapts as the year goes on. In the beginning of the year, students work on learning and using the letters of the alphabet. As the year goes on, this center can be used for working on sight words, or CVC words. This center can be a worksheet or a hands-on game.

writing center
Writing center – Mixed Up Sentences

Writing Center – This center also changes and adapts at the year goes on. In the beginning of the year, it works on learning sentence structure and inventive spelling. Towards the middle and end of the year, it works on applying that knowledge to independent writing. Students may work on mixed up sentences or “squiggle writing”. Students may have a specific writing prompt, or free write. The writing center can also be a “write the room” activity.

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Handwriting Center

Handwriting Center -The handwriting center is a way to incorporate the handwriting program my school uses – Handwriting Without Tears. Students have their own personal handwriting workbooks that teach the formation of letters and words. These workbooks are used when I have a parent helper in the center. Otherwise, the handwriting center has whiteboards where students can practice writing the alphabet, sight words, or “write the room”.

 

listening center
Listening Center

Listening Center – This center is where students listen to a book on CD and do a written response to it. The book either aligns with the current author study or language arts unit.

Math Center – The math center is my way of connecting different areas of curriculum. The math centers can be a worksheet or a hands-on math game. It aligns with our current math unit.

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Math Center – Teen bingo

Science Center – The science center in my way of connecting different areas of curriculum. The science center can be a writing response to a science lesson, or a hands-on science game. I also occasionally use the weekly Scholastic Let’s Find Out readers in the science center. This would be when I have a parent helper in the center.

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Science center – File folder games

Computers – Students use the classroom computers to practice language arts skills. Two common kid-friendly websites I use include starfall.com and abcya.com.

Library Center – The library center is where students can do free reading in our classroom library. I have pillows and stuffed animals in the library as well to create a comfortable, safe reading environment.

library center
Library Center

Puzzles Center – The puzzles center is one of the play centers I incorporate into my language arts centers. I have a variety of learning puzzles that practice reading, rhyming, and spelling. Students can choose which puzzles they would like to do.