Monday, November 24, 2014

Review before Thanksgiving

What a great day of review today!  We had lots of fun in preschool doing many art projects and practicing concepts we've already learned.  We made do-a-dot turkeys as everyone arrived.  Painted with shaving cream all over the table and danced to get our wiggles out.
 We read stories, practiced our rhythm sticks and found the sight words in our word jumble.
 This afternoon we worked on word sorting.  We learned the letter O and worked a little on letter N (to be learned next week).  We had a GREAT time reading our book Rhyming Dust Bunnies.  It's such a funny book and was a great reminder before looking at the rhyming work page.
 We painted hand print turkeys and also played with shaving cream (note to self: cleaning two bottles of shaving cream off my kitchen table in one day is a bit much....).
We also made bracelet patterns with beads this afternoon.  It was a great day of learning and review!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Animals in Winter, Reading and a Jewelry Shop

We had a very interesting day in school.  It seemed that I spent most of the time running around helping kids with their individual 3 year old type needs and didn't spend enough time teaching.  Nonetheless we had a great day talking about Animals in Winter.  We talked about how the weather is changing and now it's cold outside.  We talked about all the animals that live outside and not in our warm houses.  What do they do during the winter?  They either hibernate, migrate, or adapt!  We had lots of fun playing with the animal toys and our blanket den, reading "The Mitten" and acting out the explosion out of the mitten, and drawing winter animals in our notebooks.  We even added a little glitter snow!
 We also continued work on out "Guess My Secret Rule" game.  We played a very structured making our own sets game.  Each child was instructed to take 3 of the same and then take 1 that is different.  We seemed to get the hang of that with shapes and then switched to working with colors.  That was harder to get 3 shapes of the same color.  Not needing to be the same shape was a little confusing but a great first introduction to multiple characteristics to classify by.  We also enjoyed working with our rhythm sticks to a little Christmas music.  With all the snow it seems like Christmas time already!

This afternoon we had a lot of fun breaking into reading groups and working on our puzzles.  At this moment I'm able to work with all kids in 2 groups making management and engagement much easier.  The first group were rock stars right off the bat.  They were working on blending an initial consonant and vowel a or i.  We really focused on reading it the first time by blending the first sound into the second.  Another way to phrase that is to "not stop the first sound until your mouth is making the second sound."  It seemed to click.  I'm trying to get them to jump from sounding them out separately to sounding them out as a chunk, which will help them in their future reading. 
 Our second reading group worked on reading their Bob Books.  The way I have them read is called "whisper reading".  I'm not giving them any content or book walks at this time.  I simply give them the book and ask them to whisper read it to themselves.  They've picked it up and do quite well.  When they get stuck they most often tell me and I respond with, "What strategy are you going to use to solve that problem?"  They point to the picture card of a strategy and get right back to work on their own.  With whisper reading I can lean closer to any of the children in the circle and listen to them read a page or two and know exactly how well they are doing and what areas they are struggling with.  When they finish reading the book we do a 5 finger retell one-on-one.  They come stand next to me and we work through the characters, setting, beginning, middle and end of the story.  We use the book to reference all the details.  Then they repeat the 5 finger retell without opening the book and trying to recall it with minimal prompting.  They did really well and I'm quite proud of them.  They also worked on their phonics and sight word work from Ready2Read.
We combined art and math today since reading went so long.  Today we decided we were a jewelry shop designing necklaces.  Our customers wanted all different types of necklaces but they wanted them all to be in patterns.  We played around with adding a third color so we could do ABCABC patterns and all the variations that come with that.  They did as many patterned necklaces on their pages as they could before their parents arrived for them.  I thought they did quite well and it was tons of fun!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Play Ball and Ocean Animals

In preschool this morning we introduced the letter P with a "Play Ball!" theme.  We had tons of fun playing with different types of sports balls and talking about our favorite sport to play.  We used the foot print words under contact paper to play our reading ball game.  Everyone got a ball at the beginning, read the letter or word of each step they would step on and then shot a basket at the end.  They seemed to love it.  We talked about P the Pelican popping popcorn from the Amazing Action Alphabet and glued popcorn onto the activity page. 
 Each child got a couple baseball reading wheels today.  Check their binder for them.  We spin the wheel and say the letter name/sound or read the word.  The sight word "ball" was a new sight word today that needs to be memorized.  We continued our "Guess My Secret Rule" game in math.  Some of the kids were able to make their own sets without prompting and were allowed to go play the game as a group.  The rest of the group made sets with me following a step by step instruction.  "Take 3 blocks that are the same." (Interestingly difficult for them).  "Take 1 block that is different from the 3 you already had." (Relatively easy).  "Which block is different in your set?" (Difficult). "Why" (even more difficult).  PLEASE play this game at home to help us move forward in class!
This afternoon we had some fantastic reading lessons.  We practiced our nonsense words and sounds to warm up and then dove into some hard core reading.  We worked on the strategies readers should use when they get to a word they don't know.  There are 8 strategies in my February Dr. Seuss Preschool pack that we covered.  We'll continue referencing them as we're reading more difficult text.  We also talked about giving a 5 finger retell (1. Characters 2. Setting 3. Beginning 4. Middle 5. End). 
 We talked about ocean animals with the letter J this afternoon.  We read lots of books about ocean animals and found a great page in the encyclopedia that talks about the ocean.
 We continued our patterning in math by making patterns with giant beads.  We practiced making the patterns that were shown on the pattern cards today.  At the end of the day we enjoyed drawing with chalk in our notebooks.  The kids often talk about how their parents are going to be so proud of their art when they get the journal at the end of the school year.  It's so cute!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Scarecrows on Wednesday

This morning we had such a blast with the Scarecrows theme.  We started the day with decorating our own flippy floppy scarecrow hats.  Then we read and sang songs about scarecrows.  We practiced reading with the letter L and had so much fun making dancing scarecrows.
 They each dictated a sentence to me about their scarecrow, they were awesome!  "My scarecrow dances." "My scarecrow is all fabulous!" "My scarecrow lost his head!"  "My scarecrow is black and pink."  "My scarecrow is colorful!" "My scarecrow dances everywhere."
 This afternoon we had a fantastic reading lesson about blending the first consonant and vowel. We've focused on 2 vowels so far 'a' and 'i' and have 9 consonants as well.  We made a list of all the consonants in front of the letter a and all the consonants in front of the letter i.  We simply left off the third letter of our three letter words and worked solely on blending the consonant and vowel.  After a day of work many kids were able to blend the two letters quite easily!  I was so proud of their work!
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After reading we took a vote and decided to do art next.  Each child got to cut out their own scarecrow and color him.  It was a bit challenging to do the cutting and everyone was in their own place but all the kids were successful at cutting out at least most of the pieces themselves.
 We practiced AAB patterns in math and also had a blast playing with the musical instruments for music.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving and Snow

 We had a fantastic lesson about Thanksgiving today.  We made a giant list of the things we are thankful for.  I was so proud of them for listing things like: family, books, friends, hugs, houses, someone even said "life".  What a fantastic group of kids!  We learned the letter L the Lizard and practiced making the /l/ sound.  It's such a tricky sound to make!  We continued working on "Guess My Secret Rule", this time with the silverware drawer.  The idea of the game is much like the Sesame Street game "One of these things is not like the others".  There are 3 items that match and one that is different.  The children are to identify which is different and why (such as it is bigger than the rest, it's a different color, it's a fork not a spoon). The game is actually REALLY hard and we're struggling with understanding the concept.  So... please pull out your own silverware draw, line up 4 objects (3 the same and 1 different) and ask your child which one is different and why.  Play it every day!
Preschool B had a blast talking about snow.  It was fun to read all sorts of books about snow and discuss the weather and then see that it was starting to snow outside!  We worked hard in our reading groups mastering the letter F and working on the Moffatt Girls Ready2Read program.  We moved to ABB patterns in math and they picked up the concept right away!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Indians and Pilgrims

NOTE: This theme is meant as an introduction to Native Americans and Pilgrims. I have intentionally used the word Indian to introduce the letter I. Indian, however, is not an accurate description of Native Americans. For more information please see this link. There are also many different tribes of Native Americans that have very different traditions. Though the Pilgrims were in contact with the Wampanoag, this theme introduces ideas from many different tribes.

We had great fun this morning as everyone came in they colored their I headband from the Moffatt Girls.  We added feathers behind the I for a headdress and a Pilgrim style hat on the back side so they could decide what side to have in front.  We listened to Native American Round Dance music while we made our headbands and while we read stories about the Pilgrims and Indians.  Next we moved into reading.  We practiced the letter Ii on the SMARTboard and each child took a turn tracing the letters while we all said, "/i/"!
 We had a blast in art today painting with feathers.  We used rather small craft feathers and the creative artwork that came out of it was quite fun and interesting. Most pictures included small strokes of paint rather than a big mess of paint that usually happens with preschoolers.  We had a fun time exploring big/little and quantities with the dry corn and oodles of buckets, scoops and containers!
 I took a video of our reading lesson this morning.  Because of the blog restrictions I had to split it into 3 videos (a total of 15 minutes in length).  It may be helpful to watch through them to see how we do our shared reading lesson together.  The way I read through books (even one-on-one with beginning readers) is to sound out each word and then go back and fluently reread the sentence.  I'd highly encourage you to do this at home.  The beginning reader books that we use throughout the whole year come from The Amazing Action Alphabet
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In the afternoon we started our day out with the corn (it was out already and cleaning it up after didn't seem so daunting to me with such great helpers). They LOVED playing with the corn.  It was "popcorn" and "ice cream" and "for sale".  The creativity was awesome!  We had our regular reading lessons working within our small reading groups to master the skills appropriate.
 During math today we talked about AB patterns and how to "read" a pattern.  We took turns sharing our unifix cube patterns with the whole class "reading" the colors (red, orange, red, orange) and the letter names (a, b, a, b).  They picked it up quickly and were able to identify areas of their pattern that didn't work correctly and fix the problem.  We also painted with feathers this afternoon after a conversation about it now being November and the month of Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Insects and Play Ball!

What a great day of learning!  In our morning class we talked all about Insects and the letter I.  We learned the sight words "I" and "my" and did some great hand print art from the Amazing Action Alphabet Activity Book. We spent lots of time in small groups today really working on learning our letters and sounds and blending the letters to make words.  Remember to reference the blending video found here to help you with reading at home.  We also got to pull out the rhythm sticks to start our month long study of rhythm in music.  Boy did we love that!
In their binders today you'll find the homework in the front pocket.  It's a game called "Catch that Bug!".  Spread out the bugs from the baggy (foam insects from Oriental Trading) and after successfully reading each word "catch" one of the bugs with tweezers and put it on the paper bug jar.  See if you can read all the words in the whole packet!  This is the only homework this week.  It would be very beneficial if you could work on it every day!

Our afternoon class started off with a bang reading, "Pete the Cat, Play Ball!"  It's impressive how many of these kids (3 and 4 year olds) can read SO MUCH of this book already by themselves.  We learned the sight word "ball" and the letter p today.  Continue your work at home reading the mini readers every day and add to it the Pete the Cat book.  Remember to read the big words and encourage them to read the highlighted words that they've been working on (we highlight the appropriate words with highlighter tape in class).
We'll be beginning our unit on patterning on Wednesday so we got to play with the HUGE tub of unifix cubes in math today.  They made towers that went the whole length of the room and had a blast!