Friday, October 22, 2010
What’s Up? Week 9
That being said, I am going to share with you some ideas that have been working well during the last couple of weeks instead of this week. I would also like to give a “shout out” to all of the wonderful people that I met at the Kindergarten Teachers of Texas conference last weekend as well! I didn’t get to attend any sessions, since I was presenting the entire time. But on Friday night, I got to browse around the exhibit hall, which was a well stocked, fun place to shop, and I certainly had a great time meeting people at my booth. I am especially grateful to my friend Vanessa Levin of Pre-K Pages who graciously gave me TWO WHOLE DAYS of her precious time to help out at my booth! Her expertise with early childhood needs and issues really came in handy when people had questions at my booth. If you haven’t seen her blog or website yet, I highly recommend it! Her great ideas on Pre-K Pages.com really saved me a couple of years ago when I had a large group of children that needed remediation in Kindergarten. I LOVE her ideas, and tweak them all the time for use in my room! The thing I love about her website is her very creative use of common (and mostly FREE) objects in the classroom! She has a way of teaching with themes that is extremely appealing to young children, and her ideas are usually very simple to implement. They always spark my imagination to create something related, and I’m usually able to take her ideas a little farther to use with my students at the Kindergarten level as well.
1. “Pumpkin Patch Counting” and “Spider Counting”
I always try to combine fine motor skills with academics if I can, and this seems easiest to do when the children need to practice counting objects. I also like to stick to the themes that we are studying for social studies or science. So I decided that I would make a couple of counting worksheets that are along the lines of the “Number Tree” activity that is a free download on my website. (The Number Tree idea originally came from Pre-K Pages.com, but I created the paper to go with it.) In this activity, the children count out a given number of plastic farm animals (or whatever you want) and put them in the pumpkin patch. They then raise their hand and tell the teacher, aide, or volunteer that they are ready, and how many farm animals they counted. If the adult agrees that it is correct, then the child may color in that numbered pumpkin on his or her pumpkin patch. There are three different versions so that the children can progress from smaller to larger numbers. The first one goes from one to ten, the second from eleven to twenty, and the last goes from twenty-one to thirty. When the children get to the pages with the numbers past ten, we give them Cuisenaire “Count-Ten Cartons,” which are just like egg cartons that have been cut down to have just ten spaces. (Ice cube trays with just ten spaces work great too, if you can find them! Sometimes they have them in the dollar store.) This helps them count the larger numbers more easily. For example, for number twelve, they put one animal in each space, and then put two extra farm animals in the pumpkin patch. Then once the adult checks that they really do have twelve animals, and have identified which pumpkin on their worksheet has a number twelve, they may color in that pumpkin.
Just for fun, I purchased some plastic spider rings, and I thought that next week we will put one ring on each finger and count them to ten. Then we’ll add a few more plastic spiders in the dish, and count them up to twelve or thirteen, etc. Anyway, the good news is that these two counting sheets (Pumpkin Numbers and Spider Numbers, all three versions of each one) have been included as your free download this week. I hope that they are useful to you. Enjoy!
2. Great Gadgets for Fine Motor Skill Development
“Write Out Of The Box,” where they stock a lot of fun little items that help children improve their fine motor skills in fun and clever ways, such as wind up toys, squeezy balls, stretchy toys, pincher grasp items such as kid friendly tweezers and things like that. I chose to add to my collection of wind up toys that I use as rewards when the children participate and try their best during my guided reading groups, much the same as I use the balls. (See last week’s entry on using a balls to motivate a reading group for more information.) I like that the rewards that I give them can also improve their fine motor skills as well!
I have included the paper as another free download this week.) We did this once with tweezers and another time with the bug catchers. I got my bug catchers at a local US Toy Company store, though, not from WriteOutOfTheBox.com where they are much more expensive. My friend Vanessa pointed out that many of the things they sell there can be found more cheaply in places such as the Oriental Trading Company, so it is certainly worth looking other places before making a purchase! I should note that I bought a dozen of the bug catchers, and two of them are already broken. So beware! I have really not had much trouble with wind up toys breaking, though- thank goodness! But you can get cheaper ones in the dollar section at Michaels, especially during the springtime when people are looking for Easter basket stuffers. They just don’t do any of the special “tricks” that the ones from WriteOutOfTheBox.com do. THOSE are much pricier- but pretty neat!
3. A Movie for Using Balls to Motivate Young Readers- and Zoo-Phonics, too!
Last week I explained this motivation technique and decided to take a movie of a reading lesson in which I used balls to motivate my students, so I am including it here. In it, my students are doing the Zoo-Phonics motions to practice their letter sounds. But they are not looking at the Zoo-Phonics cards anymore! They have transitioned away from them and are now practicing the sounds with just plain lower case letter cards. As you will see in this video clip, they really, really REALLY like Zoo-Phonics! And, they were SUPER excited to earn a ball to play with for just a minute- you can totally see the joy and excitement in their little faces! I am SO proud of these children, because they did not know a single letter or sound when school started on August 23rd- and now they just about know them ALL! And what a fun way to practice! I highly recommend Zoo-Phonics for the active learner- it just can’t be beat!
4. Calendar Book- Updated Files for Write the Date
I am including them in this blog posting. I hope you like them! I had to create artwork for the November one, and that was the primary delay. There are still no papers for July and August, though!