What's Going on Here...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Science and Interactive Writing

Five Senses Interactive Writing Chart
The children helped build the bear by adding each feature that helps us learn about our world.
Then the children assisted me in labeling the chart. Labeling is a skill that we will use throughout the year as we learn to write simple stories.
The children building their 5 Senses Bear
What did I ever do without my Elmo?
The finished product! Bells on the ears, wiggle eyes, cotton ball sprayed with perfume, raffia paws and a stick of Big Red gum for the tongue! I must say this was SO much fun.
This is our interactive writing on Rainbows. The children helped write the color words and created the rainbow with bingo dotters as we recalled our experiment.
We discovered that when we break the light the colors fall out. This was dictated by my children after our prism investigation.

He broke the light and found the colors!
The children created these to take home.
The note to parents reads, "A rainbow is made by "breaking the light so the colors fall out". Open the "light beam" and see if you can name the colors that fall out. Put the color cards in order of the rainbow!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

ABC Party!

At the end of our ABC introduction we celebrate by throwing an ABC Party! We get into the "party mood" by popping balloons to find the surprise inside - letters of the alphabet. Of course Dr. Jean's, "Who Let the Letters Out?" really gets the party started!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Building Community Through a Fun Letter Introduction!

The letters are lost! Look, I found uppercase J!
Look at that face! He's SO excited!!
We then take turns "rainbow writing" the letters found...discussing sticks, curves, both. 
We then "Phonercise" to Dr. Jean's song, but only as far as the letters we've found.  Today we have to stop at Kk.
"Give me an L!" I write each letter as he cheers them. 
I recorded Landon's name as he cheered the letters. His name pocket is facing us just in case he needs a little help putting his letters back together.
Rebuilding his name.
We check our names letter by letter. Notice letters o and d.
He saw it and fixed it himself!
Our newest member of the Name Club!
Which car do you ride in?
As I add the child's name to the chart, the children write the name in their book. We'll use this later by adding a sticky note with a focus letter to the beginning of each child's name to alter the onset. It's interesting to see how some children struggle with this, while others automatically "change" their name with the new beginning sound. 
We add our friend's picture to our Friend Booklet.
I model how to write our friend's name in my booklet.
All done!
Great job!
What an improvement from the first day!!

A detailed explanation...

Beginning our first full week of school I begin introducing the alphabet from A-Z...usually 2 letter each day. This activity works well with our school's newly adopted reading series which also introduces the alphabet from A-Z - 2 letters on most days. Before going further, let me stop and explain my thinking about this. You might be thinking... "K's can't learn 2 letters in one day, they need more time," "This is too rushed," "Why not slow down and go slower".... At this point in the year (the first full week) K's are not ready for an in-depth study of much of anything. They are not used to the level of concentration needed to learn academic material. What they are ready for is an INTRODUCTION to learning...how to listen in a group, how to take turns — but listen while someone else has their turn, following along with the teacher, realizing that what we are doing applies to them, concepts of print, etc. Most of these little guys are used to doing what they want to do when they want to do it. An organized classroom is a shock to their system and they MUST be given time to adjust. What better way than a fun letter introduction using print that is near and dear to them - THEIR NAMES!

Here goes.... First, we read the book, The Letters are Lost. Next, I show the kiddos my box of letters (a clear plastic box with upper and lower case alphabet cards). We then discover that the A's are missing, so we hunt for them in the classroom. When found we add them to a pocket chart and try to sing the ABC song — of course we have to stop at A (but go further each day as letters are added - this builds one to one correspondance). Next, we talk about how the letters are made — sticks, curves or both and compare them with the other letters that have been introduced. Next, I write the letter with a pencil on a chart tablet. Then, I choose children who have that letter in their name (sometimes) to come up and "rainbow write" as we all trace on the rug, in the air or on our backs. This routine continues until the alphabet is complete.

After the letter(s) is introduced I tell the children that as the year goes on we will use these letters to read words, but that I suspect they can already read. The kiddos argue, but I persist that they CAN read. That's when I pull out someone's name card — whoever is first in the alphabet...for example Anna. Those who can read their names immediately are hooked, the ones who are learning rarely need two days to learn which word is their name.

I tell Anna it is her day to become a member of Mrs. Estes' Friend Club.  We help Anna cheer her name (give me an A, etc.) complete with pompoms and megaphone, as I write each letter on a sentence strip. Now, if Anna needs help I help, if not she yells out each letter on her own...whatever she needs. At the end of spelling her name, I cut the word into letters telling the children that letters make words and Anna's name is a word we can read. We name the letters again as I cut each letter. I then put the letters on the pocket chart, mixed up, and we cheer Anna on as she rebuilds her name. If she needs to look at the card for help that's fine. After she finishes we help Anna check each letter in her name one at a time, touching each one. You will be surprised at how many children cannot do this and how IMPORTANT it is that they begin to see how each word matches letter by letter (noticing first, middle, last) - this tells you SOOOO much! To close, we add the letter cards to Anna's name pouch, naming each as we put them into the pouch. Anna receives a certificate for becoming a new member of our Friend Club and I add her name card to the letter line train above the board (she rides the A car - A for Anna). The kiddos immediately make connections/predictions about where their name will go, who will "ride" with them, etc.

Next, the kiddos go to their seat for a much needed wiggle break, to get their marker cups (which hold their glue, scissors, pencil and markers). I give everyone a "My Book of Friends" booklet (a blank book of copy paper with 20 pages) and a copied picture of Anna to glue on the first page. We then write Anna's name together with our pencils letter by letter, talking about lines, curves, etc. It is amazing how the kids immediately begin to see how their names are the same/different and begin to predict who will be next or last, not to mention much needed fine motor practice. Whatever the children are able to write at this point is fine - it is THEIR work.

Now, you can see that we are NOT expecting these kids to name the letters and sounds from this lesson, but to build their awareness of print and what it is used for. You will be amazed at how much your kids learn during these lessons and how they relate their name to other words later. Each child, from the highest ability to the lowest, is gaining something from this activity. Some will learn to read each name quickly, while others will learn to turn pages one by one, hold a pencil and begin to make strokes. This activity builds confidence, camaraderie, and a love of learning in every child!

This activity is a combination of three sources - Hubbard's Cupboard, Pat Cunningham's and Dorothy Hall's Building Blocks, and a few ideas of my own.