Friday, August 5, 2011
Art Projects for the First Week of School, and More Questions and Answers
Also, do you know how to search this blog for other information that you might need? There are a lot of different topics (not to mention freebies!) that I have posted over the last year in particular that you might find useful if you are just joining us. All you have to do is scroll down until you see the words “Search This Blog” on the right hand side. Let’s suppose you want to search for ideas on sight words, so you type in the words “sight words.” Then press “Search.” Now scroll back up to the top of the page. You should see a list of blog entries on sight words. If you click on any of the blue highlighted titles, it will take you to those blog pages. At the bottom of the search, you will see that there are eight different pages of entries to look at where sight words are mentioned, so you can click through all eight pages and pick which ever entries you want to look at. The most relevant entries are supposed to come out at the top of the search.
1. School Bus
To download the pattern, click here. For info on making the flowered background that they are stapled on, see my blog entry on March 4, 2011 at http://heidisongs.blogspot.com/2011/03/were-bugging-out-all-over.html.
I like this project because you can really get a good glimpse into your new students’ visual perception skills based on how they are able to put those buses back together. Plus, once you get them stapled up on the walls all in a row, you’ll have a very good visual image of how your students compare in this area. I like to have them up for Back to School Night so that parents can see them also.
2. Helper Bear and Shirt
To download both the bear and the t-shirt, click here.
Smooth and Silky Art Sticks” that I got from Discount School Supply a few years ago. They slide on nicely and the colors mix well; however, they are quite messy, so keep some baby wipes handy! They really do get all over the children’s hands, faces, and the tables. They do look exceptionally beautiful, though, when laminated! And trust me, laminating is totally necessary if you want to be able to touch and use the shirts and they were decorated with this type of crayon or you’ll have it all over your fingers every time you change the shirts, too. By the way, you can get the same kind of color mixing effect if you use regular crayons on a hot plate, but then each child will need one-on-one adult assistance when using it to make sure that they do not get burned.
3. Apples in a Tree
To download my apple pattern, click here.
4. I have a question for you about your center rotations you do for Language Arts, Math and Art.
It looks like you do it for 45 minutes. Do your students rotate through each one every day? So does each center take about 15 minutes at each? Also, do they have other instruction/practice time in those subjects other than center rotation time? My school requires that we do a solid hour of math then a solid hour of Language Arts. I currently do a similar center rotation but with all the centers focused on one subject area, but I like how you do different subjects as centers. I am trying to figure out how I can do the same but stick to my schools requirement of hour blocks. Any suggestions?
Well, each rotation really comes out to be about 20 minutes, with about four or five minutes of passing time (time for transitioning from one group to another) for each one. Plus, don't forget to count the minutes that we spend giving those mini-lessons before groups start; that counts for either math or language arts, too. The transition time in between groups counts as instructional time also because we are singing songs and reviewing concepts during that time.
In any case, I feel lucky that my administration doesn't require me to split up the time and count one hour for each subject. Since we get good results, no one demands that we solidly divide up math and language arts; it's clear that we have a good academic rotation set up, and once the kids are divided into their groups, the subject areas are separated. So we can count the minutes that way.
HOWEVER..., if I were in your shoes, I think I would probably do it this way:
I would still meet with each group every day, but I would have the first hour be all language arts related lessons, and the second hour be all math related lessons. If I could get away with it, the art center would not change for the whole morning. For example, I would meet with the Red and the Blue group for Language Arts on Mondays, but not for math. I would meet with the Yellow and the Green groups for math on Mondays. On Tuesdays, I would reverse the whole thing. I would meet first with the Yellow and Green groups before recess for Language Arts and then meet with the Red and Blue groups after recess for math. That way, I would still be meeting with all of the groups every day as required, but just not in every subject. My lesson plans for both Mondays and Tuesdays would be the same for all tables, except for the art table, because it would be the same all morning. If my administrator didn’t want them working on an art project during math and reading time, then I would probably only put it out during the reading block and only have them work on book making projects. Most of the projects I do are from my Little Songs for Language Arts and the Printable Projects CD-Rom any way, and those are all Singable Books anyway. Then during the math block, I would just clear the whole thing away and have them make designs with tangrams or pattern blocks or something.
5. I'm a kindergarten teacher. I have a full time school service assistant. She usually comes into the classroom at 8:30 after doing door duty. I usually have an average of 30- 35 students in my class. My students start their day at 8:15 a.m. with me giving them breakfast in the classroom which 99% eat on a daily basis. Some days I'm cleaning up spilled cereal off of the carpet before I can teach a formal lesson. The few students that do not eat complete a fun word, alphabet or color related worksheet, after putting their coat and things away. I have four, 45 minute preparation periods (Monday - Friday): two in the morning and two in the afternoon. My students go to lunch at 10:45 a.m.
Last year our district started a new series, Storytown. This series schedules a minimum of 90 minutes per day. There are 2 workbooks that I use almost on a daily basis with the Storytown series.
In grades K-3 we also have to do Dibbles and burst. This consists of teaching a group of 5 kids, using a script, 30 minutes for nine days. On day ten I assess students, download the information.
The mclass site sets up another group and the nine days of teaching begins again, with students who have a deficit in a common area. We use the Scott Foresman Addison Wesley Mathematics book. I also teach science and social studies.
I will be making a lot of purchases from your site before school starts. What can you suggest that you feel will make my days go a little smoother? How do you suggest I incorporate centers in a way that will be most effective?
It sounds like you have your hands full. Thank God you have an assistant! "Nice" of them to send your kids to lunch so soon after breakfast. And only four 45 minute prep periods? And I suppose they are in the middle of the day? By the time you get your students dropped off and picked up, what can you accomplish?
First of all, have you read any of my blog posts? I have blogged recently on how to set up and manage a group rotation of centers in the K classroom. Here are some of the blog posts on group rotations:
Lesson Planning for Group Rotations:
More Questions and Answers about Group Rotations
My Daily Schedule
How to Pull Small Groups in Kindergarten
My Weekly Routines for the Independent Center
Now here are some other questions for you:
How closely are you monitored as far as sticking to your program is concerned? Do your groups HAVE to be done in groups of five kids? This is going to take forever to get through, if you can only pull five of them at a time and must spend thirty minutes with each group. If it is the same script each time, I sure would be tempted to do it whole group or half group, and call it done. Either that, or I would pull my lowest students into one group and do them separately so that they can get the attention they need. Then I would have my aide work with the next highest group of kids in a small group and do the same lesson simultaneously. Just xerox the book. Let your highest half of the class work on some kind of independent center or activity while they do this. THEN, when both small groups are done, do it quickly again- (maybe at the end of the day, as a review?) with your whole class. That way, your high kids will get the lesson as well, and your lower kids will get a review. See if this works for a couple of weeks as you test them all on day ten. If they are all keeping up, then it is working.
I always say, if there is a more efficient way to deliver a lesson, THEN DO IT. Sure, it may be advisable and wonderful to deliver every lesson in a small group setting, but we aren't working with just fifteen students in a classroom anymore! It's not possible. If your administrator objects, perhaps they can assign you a coach that can come in and show you how to make the whole thing run smoothly while doing it in the prescribed manner. It's my opinion that it probably can't work. So try to fit your required elements into a structure that will work for you as far as management is concerned. Double check often and test your kids to make sure they are getting what they are supposed to get. My experience has been that if you are getting good results and your classroom management at least appears to be good, (ie., causing no trouble for your administrator!) then your administrator will leave you alone. They have a lot of work on their plates, too, and have no reason to bother you if your test scores are good and no parents are complaining!
I would really suggest that you read the blog posts I mentioned above, and then try to fit your plans into a structure that will work for you, and not cause you stress and craziness! The things they are requiring of you sound REALLY hard! Also, I wouldn't even TOUCH science until you know you have your class firmly under control and your management system going well. THEN worry about it. Once your kids know the routine and rules, you can pull it in. Your social studies is learning the rules and learning to play fair at school. That's enough. Concentrate on teaching them to just "be" in school for the first month or two, in addition to letters, numbers, a few sight words, writing their name, etc. No one is going to complain if your kids missed a lesson on sinking and floating, but if they don't know the alphabet, you'll have a problem. You can catch up on those other things. That's how I do it every year! So other than reading them books about farm animals or seasons, that's all the science I do until the end of October. Then we start catching up on those lessons. By the end of the year, we have covered all of the standards, so no worries!
As far as purchases are concerned, start with the Kindergarten Starter Kit, I think. After that, look into the downloadable games that you think you would have time to play. If you have time during the summer to construct some of the Spelling Puzzles or Velcro Books, these might make good independent centers for you, but you will probably need to make them ahead of time, because you won't have time to put them together during the school year, probably. You might want to put some of the Mini Sing Along Song books together ahead of time, because these can be done independently also. Those are part of the Resource Workbooks for each CD. If any parents offer to put things together for you at home, I would suggest that you give them some of these and have them colate and staple a bunch of these mini-books for you to keep in your classroom all ready to go. That way, if you need something that your students can do alone in a pinch, you’ll have something ready that they will likely enjoy and benefit from.
Good luck, and let me know if you have more questions!