Thursday, October 29, 2015

Preschool Halloween Party

We had so much fun in preschool today!  Everyone wore their Halloween costumes to school.  We played with balloon "bats", decorated our Halloween bags to carry all of our stuff from the day, read a "Pumpkin Day" book together and explored the parts of pumpkins.
 We played with the seeds and guts of pumpkins.  We also turned our pumpkins into geoboards with push-pins and rubber bands. 
 We wrote spooky haunted house stories and made patterns out of finger prints. 
We had a fun day learning and playing!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween is in the air!

Today was such a fantastic day in preschool!  We played on Starfall.com and read some Halloween stories to get started.  Then everyone helped decorate the classroom by cutting out pictures and taping them to the walls. 
 Every year we make "Ghost Footprints".  On a paper cut like a haunted house we paint our feet white and add ghosts.  A little tip - wrap completed feet in baby wipes to help with the cleanup process.  Also, having a trampoline for kids when their done is an added bonus since it takes time one-on-one to complete the painting part.  We'll write in our haunted houses on Thursday and then send our art home.
 We also worked on our books about Halloween and added skeleton bones to our body maps.
For math we worked on AB patterns with Halloween images, it was tons of fun!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Writing about Halloween

We began our preschool day working on our books about Halloween.  We're writing and illustrating our own stories about our costumes and traditions.  As each child finished the writing portion of their book we glued their picture to the back and they wrote some information about the author.  It was so fun to see them really take ownership of their work. 
 We had so much fun reading Halloween stories with half of the lights turned off for a "spooky" effect.  Then we spread around the room to practice our decodable reading books.  We finished up the day working once more on graphing.  I know I told you that we were done with that on Tuesday.  I lied.  Turns out I failed to do coloring graphing, we only did cut and paste examples and the concept didn't cross over.  After working on it today the concept clicked.  There is an empty page on the back that they can practice again at home.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Importance of a Finger Space

Today in preschool we started work on our own book that mimics a book called "This is my Halloween".  It is an easy reader and we're utilizing the pattern to write similar books with words and pictures that match our own personal Halloween stories and costumes.  After reading our mentor text a few times we were ready to get started.  A mentor text is a book that does something that we want to try and do in our own writing.  "This is my ..." is the repeating phrase we'll be using within our own books about our costumes, family and traditions.  As we were working a teachable moment arose when I noticed so many books looked like this: ThisismyHalloween.  Insert a lesson about the importance of a finger space.  Here is the idea: between every word there is a space so we know the old word is over and a new one will begin.  In the beginning writing stages using a finger space, actually putting your finger down after a word and starting your new word on the other side of your finger, the space becomes a concrete part of the writing process.  Try to encourage the use of the finger space if your kids are doing any writing at home (which I highly encourage!). 
 Our work on our decodable and leveled reading books continued today with great success.  There may have even been M&M's involved.  Boy those little mini M&M's encourage kids to try sounding words out immediately instead of staring off into space.  With the little motivation I was thrilled to see the fantastic progress that the whole group is making.  Keep it up!  In fact, the progress was so awesome that I'm going to ditch the rest of the alphabet review entirely.  Expect a new calendar with updated information soon!  We finished our short unit on graphing today with a little cut and glue project and then had a blast with an introduction to making thumbprint Halloween creatures.  We'll be using thumbprint creatures for the next 3 days in our build up to Halloween.  Happy learning everyone!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Writing Workshop Takes Off in Preschool!

We had such a fun day of school today.  I'm very impressed with the writing we are producing already.  Today we had a nearly complete actual story about Batman.  It had a cover, a beginning, and a middle.  We talked about how fun it was to listen to the story and how we hoped that the last page would be worked on during our next class to finish the story.  Being able to create a story line in writing form is very difficult and it's so fun to see it emerging already!  I am impressed with the attempts to sound words out and add them to our books.

Sharing what we did as authors today.
 We continued working on reviewing the alphabet today.  We added the letter "G" which we practiced by opening our mouths really big and making the /g/ sound at the back of our throats.  Through our interest led reading books and our decodable "Now I'm Reading" sets we had plenty of practice with the letter G.  We're continuing our graphing conversation in math using the books we read aloud each day.  Today we read three books that all had "Moon" in the title.  It was fun to talk about our favorite story out of the three and "vote" to make our graph.

Passionate Reading and Writing in Preschool

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!  On Tuesday in preschool we used a loved classic to work on reading the word "and" as we reviewed the letter D.  We talked in great depth about how we don't write or color in books at the library, books at home, or books at Miss Amanda's house.  However, they were being gifted a special book where they had permission to highlight all of the words they know how to read in the story.  We read through the story together, highlighted the words we knew, and then read the story again...maybe even two more times.  The kids were so excited about their own books and a story many of them already loved.
 We also read two other story books and used all three read alouds from the day to make a graph of which story we liked the most.
 Yes, I really do teach kids to write this way.  In the bottom left picture you'll see how we worked on sounding out the following words: family, dump truck, Dora, Hello Kitty, villains, dinosaurs, dragons, and dino trucks.  We "grab" the word in the air and then slowly "stretch" it to find out what sounds we should write next (imagine grabbing bread dough and then stretching it long and thin).  We are not looking for accuracy in spelling here.  These guys are 4 years old, and even at 5 and 6 years old phonetic spelling is perfectly acceptable.  After we spoke in great deal about how to write words we continued our work on writing our very own books.  A few kids decided to start new books and the rest continued working on the book they started last week.  We have some great authors!  Encourage this phonetic spelling at home!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Books Galore

Books, books, books.  Today I nearly lost my voice in 2.5 hours of preschool.  The reason?  Books.  It is much more rewarding to read books with a theatrical emphasis, especially if one is sharing their favorite book that happens to be called "Where the Wild Things Are".  It just needs some roaring and eye rolling to really sell it.  Today we hit on our passions very intensely.  We talked about our favorite stories, the types of books we love to read and found something suitable for each of us from our classroom library.  We talked about how reading a book is more fun when you get into the story and read fluently.  It's less engaging when you stop part way through a sentence.  It is certainly more fun if you read it with fun voices. 
 Through a variety of high interest books and leveled readers we took time today highlighting and marking parts of fascinating  stories that we could read on our own.  Though there was a lot of jumping around to quickly find sight words we will continue our focus to hopefully start at the beginning of each sentence and do our best to actually read the majority of the text.
 Our fantastic exploration of books today led to our first writer's workshop where we each started writing our own books.  With a few sheets of paper stapled together and all the writing tools we could think of we wrote and drew stories.  There were stories about villains, being a vet, a ride at the local amusement park, a camel, a whirlwind, and a few other ideas.  The kids did fantastic with adding their name to the cover just like real authors and adding words and pictures throughout their books.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Working with Word Families

Today in preschool we reviewed the letter O.  We spent time using the letter O in two common word families: -ot and -op.  The goal was to make as many words as we could and figure out how they are the same and different from the opposite word family.  As we talk about letters and sounds in words we're drawing attention to the sounds in the beginning, middle and end.  The word "top" came up so we took a little break to play with tops on the tables.  As kids worked on a word family sorting page (after I had worked through it with the whole group) I was able to read one-on-one with each child and I have to tell you that these kids are doing fantastic!  It's not common to teach 4 year olds how to read in a preschool setting, but I LOVE watching the light in their eyes as they recognize that they are readers and are in charge of their own brain power to accomplish a difficult task.
 We're continuing talking about passions and interests of each child and spent our writing time practicing our clock letters while we were drawing and writing about our favorite things.
As promised, the Guess My Secret Rule game was back again with new options.  We added size and thickness (fat like a hamburger, skinny like a lettuce) to our options for rules.  It made the game quite a bit more challenging but we're getting the hang of it!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

New Basement

Ok, I admit, I teased you about posting pictures of our awesome new school room and then I didn't post them.  Now a month later I'm catching up!  Yay!  We are having a fantastic time in our new school room with both the Preschooler and my own kiddos in our homeschooling adventure!  We took out a wall, added a TON of bookshelves (which means my boys have been reading so much more on their own now that they can get books by themselves), and made a nice little nook for the SMART Board.  We're loving it!  Thanks for pardoning our dust over the summer!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Guess My Secret Rule - a Comparing and Classifying Preschool Math Game

Guess My Secret Rule is one of my favorite games to teach preschoolers.  It introduces comparing and classifying language into our math day in such a fun way.  There are a few rules to this game.  Each person builds their own "sets".  Each set needs 4 blocks.  Within those 4 blocks three of them have to be the same and one has to be different.  Then they get to ask anyone in the room to guess their secret rule by telling which one doesn't match.  Once the person guesses the builder of the set has the most important question to ask, "Why?".  Then the guesser has the opportunity to describe the characteristics that match or don't match.  Today we played with pattern blocks, which gives the game a very small framework of choices for things that match (color and shape).  Next week we'll start playing with attribute blocks were descriptors like size, shape, color, and thickness will also be in play.

The sound isn't great, but I just had to capture the kids doing such a fantastic job at this game today:
video
We also continued our work on writing clock letters (focus on lowercase a today).  
 Sharing our work is one of the best ways to get kids to talk about themselves and develop the confidence to share and learn from each other.
 Our reading lessons today were so much fun with glitter sight words and success in reading and blending!
 Keep up the great work at home!