Teaching Kindergarten: What's Working? Week #2

Welcome to Kindergarten, Week 2!  In this post I am going to tell you about five different lessons or activities that worked well for me in teaching kindergarten, week two.  Enjoy!

My class is now off and running, and we are now in the routine of small group centers.  It was a fairly smooth transition, thankfully!  You may have noticed that I posted a mid-week piece on Sight Word String-Ups, and that’s because I wanted to get the word out early in the week about a good idea for using those pencil boxes that were on sale this week for one cent at Office Depot.  (They usually sell out of them quickly around here, and I didn’t want anybody to miss out that might be interested!)  So if you are interested in reading up about Sight Word String-Ups, scroll down this page a bit and you will see my last post about that.  Meanwhile, this is what we are working on, and here are some things that are working well this week.  I hope that some of these ideas are useful to you.  I am also especially glad that the parents in my class have already given permission for me to use all of their beautiful children’s pictures in my blog, etc.  Hooray!  It’s no fun without them, so enjoy!

1.  Ring the Bell

This week, we played Ring the Bell at one of our math centers with my aide.  You can find this game here.  This is a really fun game that plays like the traditional “Bang!” game, but also has some extra fun activity cards in it, including a card in which you ring a bell and get everyone’s cards at the table.  It is designed to help the children practice letters and numbers.  I use a Staple’s “Easy” button for that one, and of course the children love to push it!  I think I’m going to have to get an extra button, though, since that is also our homework bell, and I don’t want them to get tired of pushing it.

2.  Unifix Cubes Patterning Cards

We have been making lots of patterns this week with anything we have around, but especially with Unifix cubes.  One thing that I always use is pattern cards with Unifix cubes on them.  They have patterns started, and then the children’s job is to continue the pattern.  I have no idea where I got the original cards that I have; I only know that they are home made.  This week, however, my aide pointed out that we really did not have enough of these cards and that I should make a few more.  So I thought that I would make some and share them with you here today as a free download!  That’s always a good thing, right?  To use them, just laminate them or cover them with clear Contact paper.  Give them to the children and show them how to cover the picture cubes up with real cubes and continue the pattern as long as they can.  When they are finished, they should try to identify the pattern.  Then they should take it apart and try another one.  That’s it!

3.  Wiggles (is still) Learning the Rules at School!

Wiggles continues to fascinate all!  The children are still LOVING that Wiggles story, and still want to hear it every day.  Who ever heard of children begging to be reminded of the rules?  It’s kind of funny when you think about it!  The only problem is that we really don’t have time to read it every single day!  But that doesn’t stop us from trying!  I shudder to think what will happen when the children figure out that I am only getting the story and puppet out when they are especially naughty.  Do you think they will be clever enough to be really naughty on purpose, just to make me get Wiggles out again?  Hmmmmm......  :)

Next week I am going to teach them the word “the” with the song from Sing and Spell Vol. One, and then on Thursday we are going to look for and highlight that word in their own little Wiggles books that they will get to take home.  I think that I will have them just do the highlighting on Thursday and then save the book to finish coloring on Friday.

4.  Music, Music, Music- for Classroom Management AND for Learning!

We have been learning the Jumpin’ Numbers and Shakin’ Shapes songs, and so far we have learned 0-10, the Counting to 100 song, and the Circle Song and the Triangle Song, and have practiced with the cards that go with it every single day.  The kids are getting better and better at them!  We are drilling on the Zoo-Phonics cards, too, of course.  We are also working on the alphabet songs from the Letters and Sounds DVD, and have learned A-H so far!

And, we are working on the Color Word songs also from the Colors and Shapes DVD, and so far have learned Red, Yellow, Green, Orange, and Blue.  It’s always harder to find the time to introduce a song than to simply practice the song, but once we have got it down, we’ve got it DOWN!  We have also managed to sing the Summer season song from Little Songs for Language Arts after we say the date each day during our calendar time.

I’ve been using the “Sh” song from the Sounds Fun CD a cappella (with no music CD to back me up) any time that I’ve been having trouble getting the children’s attention as a group.  For example, if a bunch of children are talking and I can’t seem to get them to settle down, stop, and listen to me, I begin singing:

S and H!  S and H!
Sh, sh, sh, sh, sh!
Quiet please, quiet please!
Sh, sh, sh, sh, sh!

AND... it seems to be working!  This group of children really responds to little chants that they can join into and say along with me.  So the more I sing it, the more children join in.  I get quieter and quieter while I am singing and the children do, too.  When I finish, I have everyone’s attention.  Easy, right?

It goes along very well with the little chant I blogged about last year:

Criss cross applesauce,
clap, clap, clap!
Eyes on the teacher,
Hands in your lap!

Again, we keep repeating it more and more quietly until I have everyone’s attention and they are sitting nicely.  It works!

5.  Pete the Cat

We have been reading Pete the Cat and the children have just been LOVING that book and the music, too!  It is WAY too much fun!  My friend Krissy Miner traded me a product for a product and gave me a copy of her super cute Pete the Cat packet.  I love the guided drawing section, and I can’t wait to try it!  (You know how I LOVE guided drawing, and Krissy even recently added all of the step by step directions so that teachers will know just how to describe each step for their students, just the way I do.)  The packet also has a neat story re-telling component that I think will be great, and some pages that will also help the children practice their color words, too!  Fun!



- Heidi

P.S. Don't forget all our videos are available to STREAM on UScreen, FREE for the first 30 days! It's an awesome way to bring some EASY, active learning to your students during this time, and they can always cancel right before they are ever charged, like on day 29! Check out the info page on our website for more info!

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  1. You know you're doing something right when the kids beg to hear the rules!! I don't think they will be naughty on purpose. Maybe you could leave the book for your sub when you are absent like I do with my Don't Let the Pigeon Play book.

    Vanessa @Pre-K Pages

  2. I love the unifix cubes freebie you shared...so simple and perfect, just what we need for our kinders! Thanks again for all you do.
    Mrs.Miner’s Monkey Business

  3. I love, love, love reading your blog. I am starting my second year of teaching preschool (5 day prekinder class) and you are such an inspiration to me. I get $15 a month to spend on classroom supplies which you know doesn't go far. This month I have already purchased some items for the students but I love your Wiggles book so much and the alphabet CD that I am purchasing them from my own pocket. I can't wait to own all your products that pertain to prek!!!! Thank you for the freebies; they are greatly appreciated.

  4. I have a class full of busy boys this year so we do alot of dancing, jumping and moving songs!!! thanks for all the suggestions

  5. I just love your blog, heidi. I think yours was the very first one I ever read and It's number one! Thanks for all the great freebies! You are a hard-working, enthusiastic, generous person. I bet the kids just love being in your class!

  6. I read the Wiggles story everyday this week and they just loved it. By day four they were telling me the story. They were so excited on the last day of school this week to make the bag Wiggles puppet. Everyone walked out to carpool with Wiggles on their hands. They took it home and told their parents all about the rules. Thanks Heidi!

  7. Thank you so much for your patterning freebie. I am pretty sure your old cards are from a Math Their Way Make and Take workshop from many years ago because I have the same ones! Ha! Ha! I wanted some more because our classes have all gotten larger! Yeah for Heidi!!!!!

  8. To Andrea,
    You are probably right- those patterning cards were probably a Math Their Way thing! But I had to color the patterns in myself, because they are all hand colored. They have been sitting in my patterning activity box for SO many years!!!! I'm glad to have a new set. Unfortunately, I had to make it twice because I was silly enough to print them on yellow card stock and laminate them before I tried them out! The yellow paper changed how the colors looked on them, and the cubes weren't matching up very well. :)

  9. Thank you for all your shares! I've put you on my Top Ten List at:

    Swamp Frog First Graders

    Go to Teaching Blog Addict and grab your button!

  10. We played Ring the Bell yesterday for the fist time this year. The kids absolutely LOVED it. As a matter of fact, I had trouble with kiddos who wanted to leave their centers to watch. I promised them we'd play it again next Friday. One of my kiddos jumped up and said, "I love this game!" You can't ask for a better endorsement than that. :o)

  11. I love the pattern download!!! Thank you so much...I also am loving the ideas for sight words. I have been putting together the velcro books and also working on the sight word string ups!!! So excited to have "fun" things for my kiddos!!!! You are awesome!

  12. Is there a tune to the S and H Sh Sh song?? I'm waiting on the dvd so I don't have it yet, but love the idea of singing/chanting it to quiet them down....Love your blog!! :) Thanks for your great ideas!

  13. Dear Heidi

    This is my 13th year at the kindegarten level--21st year of teaching. I bought your starter pack and Wiggles. Love It! Three years ago I moved to a school where I am the one and only kindergarter teacher. Your blog allows me to have a teaching partner. We know a teachers time is limited----thanks for taking the time to partner with so many of us in cyberland!!!

  14. To Julie,
    Yes, there is a tune for the Sh song. It is "Follow Me." Are you familiar with that one?

    I think the words go like this:
    "Follow me, follow me,
    And do just as I do!
    And when you're done,
    I'll step aside,
    And then I'll follow you."

    Heidi :)

  15. To Debbie:
    Thanks so much for saying that! But I am so sorry that you don't have a teaching partner in K that is "live and in person," but I am glad that you can think of me as your teaching partner in cyberspace. I'm honored!

  16. Heidi you were the first blog I read! My Kinders are loving you so much this year! Thanks for creating such wonderful products!
    Take a look at my post http://crayonscurls.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-top-ten.html and then grab this button at http://bit.ly/rtHPbL and add it to your wonderful blog! :)
    Crayons and Curls

  17. To Cheryl and Heidi
    Thank you so much for the write up and for placing me on your Top Ten lists!!!! I am honored!!!!

  18. Hi Heidi! I was wondering if you could share the form that you use to have parents give you permission to post photos of their kids? I think the pictures of real kids doing the activities add so much, I would love to be able to use pictures of my kiddos, but I'm not sure about legal ramifications etc! Thanks so much!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  19. To Jennifer:
    The form is not a "legal" form; it's just a regular old "I give permission" form. There's no legal jargon in it. I only use a legally binding contract if they are going in a DVD that we are selling. But I'll think about sharing it in a future blog!

  20. To Jennifer:
    The form is not a "legal" form; it's just a regular old "I give permission" form. There's no legal jargon in it. I only use a legally binding contract if they are going in a DVD that we are selling. But I'll think about sharing it in a future blog!


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