Thursday, January 28, 2016

Learning and Growing

I love seeing the growth these guys have made over the few years they've been here.  We've learned to play together, to talk, to share, to listen, to cooperate and to learn.  Our writing today was wonderful.  It is so fun to read emergent writer's work :).  They also LOVE sharing their work and taking turns to talk and be the center of attention.
 Our reading is also blossoming as we work through our sight words, phonics and guided reading lessons.
 After listening to Peter and the Wolf about a zillion times over the last few months I decided to try a variety of Freeze Dances, Animal Action, and Listen and Move songs.  They were a hit.  Through the songs we were instructed how to dance and move.  I'm so impressed and happy with these kids, they make me smile :).

Thursday, January 21, 2016

We are writers!

I love my job.  The amazing growth that happens with preschoolers is fast paced and so fun to watch.  Today we played with magnets, read one-on-one with Miss Amanda and worked on our Ready2Read lessons.  I know I've been writing a lot lately about writing.  I just can't help myself when these kids are making writing leaps and bounds.  Today we reviewed how we can stretch words to know what letters to write.  We talked about how sometimes there is a kid way to spell things and an adult way to spell things and because adults aren't always great at reading kid spellings I occasionally write the adult spelling above the attempted spelling.  The kids also led us to a mini lesson on using our sight word chart hanging on the wall to know how to spell sight words correctly.  They also helped us all recognize that using our finger to make a space between words makes it easier for our eyes to read.  So many of these kids are tackling great big sentences already!  Today kids wrote sentences like "I like breakfast the most." and "My favorite water bottle has an orange lid." and "The cat is loving friends."  Of course they were written in kid spelling, but they were written!  We've graduated past the scribbles, random lines, and drawings being the main form of sharing a message.  We are writing.  And we love it!
 A quick picture of our jumping as we counted to 100 of course :).  Have a great weekend, happy learning!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's the Little Things

Often times it's the little things in preschool that absolutely brighten my day and put a spring in my step.  We started exploring our inquiry block "How the World Works" by playing with magnets today.  It was rather free form while I touched base with each kid one-on-one with their reading.  The smile/smirk from one of my boys as he gave me a thumbs up after finishing his time with me was so adorable!  I just want to freeze that memory.  These kids are so excited to learn and are proud of their hard work and accomplishments.  We also continued our practice in counting to 100 by tens and by ones today.  We seem to be getting more confident about the numbers - yay!  We had a blast during our writing time and I am so happy that one of my kiddos made a major break through.  We spent a lot of time building confidence and demonstrating correct ways to form letters in writing last week.  This week we began a unit about how to stretch words to find all the letters to write down.  My one little one who avoided writing words up until last week wrote a full sentence practically independently.  I am so excited!  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

After our intense handwriting workshop on Tuesday these kids had some awesome ideas of how to write in their journals today.  I'm so happy we took the time to practice forming the letters correctly in a format that kids can refer back to as they are writing their stories in their journal.  There was such great improvement!
 We had our standard reading and math lessons today and with our extra time we played with the trains and the building sets.  We sure had fun today!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Diligent Workers

This afternoon we had a class full of intentionally diligent workers.  I have spent a lot of my time this year working on changing the speech I use with everyone I interact with.  Based off the theories found in the book Mindset you can train children (and adults) to be learners that work hard and practice - all with the language you use.  I am often pointing out the efforts of children and avoiding praising the product they create.  Today the kids fed it back to me without prompting - I'd call this a super win!  I pointed out to the rest of the class that 'D' used the language "I tried it." with each handwriting attempt during our LONG handwriting lesson.  How wonderful that we've reached a point where "trying it" is achieved.  Remember at the beginning of the year how much it felt like pulling teeth when we were encouraging these same kiddos to "write"?  Today kids were freely expressing that they "messed up" and/or "needed help" and/or "weren't sure how to make the letters".  That is a win!  We talk over and over about how making a mistake is such a great thing because it means you can try again, work hard, practice and get better - over time!

What's more, is that these kids sat and focused for the longest amount of time I've ever asked of them for one thing.  We worked on writing the alphabet, one letter at a time, forming the letters correctly, for over an hour - and they did it!  We spent the next bit of time acting and dancing to Peter and the Wolf and then were able to work on our reading and counting to 100.  I incorporated a lot more movement into the counting to 100 with jumping to 100 and marching to 100.  They were so excited to try and jump all the way to 100 :).  I am so thrilled with the progress these kids are making.  Everywhere we turn they are growing and learning and working hard at learning - intentionally.  You should pat yourselves on the back, you are raising fantastic children.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hard Work and Practice

It takes hard work and practice to master a new skill.  We've been talking about the hard work and practice that we're putting into our new skills, mainly reading, writing, and counting to 100.

This afternoon we put our hard work and practice into our guided reading lessons.  As we're now all working on leveled texts (rather than simply decodable texts) there are words that pop up in readers that are too difficult for our young readers to sound out with the phonics they already know. This requires the use of our reading strategies.  The biggest reading strategies at this beginning stage of reading include: "Get Your Mouth Ready", "Stretch", and "Picture Clues".  If kids get to a word they don't know they first get their mouths ready to make the first sound as written in the word.  Then they stretch all the sounds to see if they can sound out and blend the word.  If the word is still a mystery kids are encouraged to examine the pictures and see what would make sense.  What matches the beginning sound and the picture?

As we inquire about how we express ourselves we've really delved into stories and sharing them in our journals this week.  We had a little challenge today to get us back into the writing mode - the person with the most letters in their journal after our writing time earned a sucker.  It was amazing what the kids came up with to make lots of letters and win the challenge.  We have all level of writers in our classroom - kids who are writing random letters, kids who are writing letters with an intention of representation, kids who are sounding out words and writing corresponding letters, and kids who are writing sentences.  It was so fun to hear them sharing their stories - some made up, some dreams, and some real.  Each child tried their hardest and every one earned a sucker.

I wish I had a picture or a video of the kids expressions of excitement when we were working with the 100 chart today.  We talked about finding different patterns on the chart.  The pattern we found today was how there are 1's in the 1's column all the way down, same with 2's and 3's.  After counting to 100 by 10's and 1's a few times as a group and marking the pattern on the 100 chart everyone got their own 100 chart to color the pattern we found.

Peter and the Wolf was requested again today to get our wiggles out.  I love how it represents a story through language and music.  Everyone becomes very creative and dramatic as they dance and act out the story.  It is such a blast to watch!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Welcome Back!

We had such a fun time today in preschool that I found myself without my camera the first half of the day.  We were very engaged in reading and phonics.  We're working through a leveled reader set from Scholastic called Tug the Pup as well as practicing phonics and sight words with Ready2Read by the Moffatt Girls and learning about vowels, consonants and digraphs with various activities.
 The kids were so excited when we started learning and practicing counting to 100 by ones.  We talked about how learning something new takes hard work and lots of practice.  We counted to 100 four times and then got to color 100 charts.  Encourage your child to practice counting to 100 during car rides - it's the perfect practice location!
We also did free writing in our journals today.  The kids had great stories to tell after being on break for such a long time they were so excited to share with their friends about their presents, their dreams, dance classes and silly stories.