Thursday, March 31, 2016

Finishing up our Writing and Comparing Numbers Unit

We went entirely backwards from our usual schedule today with the hope of finishing our comparing numbers unit for the end of the month.  We were successful, yay!  We worked through comparing numbers up to 20 with the terms "greater than" "less than" and "equal to".  I still use lots of words to make sure the vocabulary is sticking.  For example, I say something like, "Which is greater, 13 or 15?  Which number is the biggest number?"  Remember that in preschool we're aiming for an introduction to topics, not mastery.  They have years to master this stuff.
In our story time we read "Alice the Fairy" and I was so excited that one of the kids piped up immediately and said that Alice looks like David!  This was exciting because David Shannon is the author and illustrator of both books and I was able to share how the author can write lots of different things.  We discussed all the parts of the book (cover with title and author, title page) and did a full retell of the story as a group when we were done.  They then got to write and draw about their favorite part.  Just a peek into what that was: for the most part preschoolers LOVE when she turns her bathwater into strawberry Jello.  We then finished up our day with some guided reading lessons and book reports.  It was super successful!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Writing for Reading and Retelling

Today was a snow make up day in preschool.  We had fun with so many different activities in our reading lessons.  We reviewed reading books from yesterday, read new books, and completed new book report forms (everyone is doing book reports now - yay).  The book reports we do vary in requirements.  Today we wrote a sentence about our favorite part of the book and then drew a picture from the story.  After our individual reading lessons we had story time.  Today's story was Caps For Sale.  The kids did a fantastic job making connections and sharing their guesses for what was going to happen in the story.  They had so many great ideas.  We then turned to our journals to write about the story.  I encouraged them to draw and write about their favorite part but left it open for kids to write about any aspect of the story that was interesting to them.  They were so focused and so excited to share their writing with the whole class.  We continued talking about greater than and less than in math today.  We used a page that had two flowers and a different number of seeds in the middle of each flower.  We counted the seeds and talked about which flower had a greater number or the least number of seeds and colored it accordingly. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Purposeful Writing in Preschool

We had a fantastic afternoon in preschool today.  We worked through our reading, danced like crazy, reminded our brains how to draw numerals, and had the opportunity for some truly purposeful writing.
 Last week we missed two days of preschool because of the blizzard that hit Colorado.  Today was our first day back and when reminded of the storm everyone had a story to tell.  I was super excited to see how they could tell their stories in their journals.  We worked together at times to stretch words and think of how to write our ideas in a sentence.  Then afterwards we got to share with the whole group (the sharing time is so important for kids!).
 I was super impressed with everyone's effort to write and draw their memories, I just had to share them all!  When there is writing that has enough focus (assign a topic) and has tons of excitement behind it everyone is successful in putting their thoughts on paper.  Some writers are writing multiple sentences, others are writing one clear sentence, others have lots of ideas and bounce around a bit writing their thoughts in letters, and others have fantastic stories to tell the group verbally.  Everyone did such a fantastic job, I couldn't be prouder of them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Preschool in the Spring

Today we explored numbers that are greater than 12, less than 12 and equal to 12.  This was our first step in comparing numbers up to 20 with the greater than, less than, and equal to symbols. As we work on writing and comparing numbers for the rest of the month we'll be using this vocabulary as well as the written symbols.

In wrapping up a few reading sets today I'm excited to move each group forward this week.  In the spring in preschool we begin to read stories that have more content, therefore we can work on comprehension of text.  We've spent a lot of time in the very beginning stages of reading (sounding out CVC words, learning about sight words, learning digraphs like /sh/ and /th/) and now we're ready to move into reading for meaning - a much more fun type of reading.  So, though it takes a long time to learn to read we are making progress and having fun!
I love how these little learners are continuing to progress in their writing.  They are thinking about the sounds in words they want to write and what letter they should put on the page to represent that sound.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today in preschool we read a handful of St. Patrick's Day books.  Many of them were silly and about the fun things about the holiday.  One book was about St. Patrick and how he was a good person that helped people in Ireland.  We practiced our reading and wrote all about St. Patrick's Day in our journals.  Our St. Patrick's Day party included a super successful greater than/less than/equal to packet of St. Patrick's Day themed pictures.  There was cutting and gluing and coloring with green galore!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Greater Than Symbol and Writing Our Numbers

Sometimes I just don't have something super exciting to share about a particular lesson.  Today the kids were a delight to work with and they worked really hard in their reading lessons.  Keep practicing at home!
 This afternoon we re-watched the Number Gators video and utilized the song while we played with the large TouchMath Number Mats.  We used the number mats for a while with the printable of the alligator and then talked about how we won't always have the alligator eyes and teeth in the picture, but that the sign that looks like a "V" is the same thing.  As a whole group we played with the greater than and less than sign and two numbers.  Now we were able to rotate the sign rather than pick a completely different number gator.  After some practice with the whole group we made groups of 2 and each team was given two numbers and the greater-than symbol.  They had to put the symbol in the middle of the two numbers pointing the right direction and explain to the whole class what they did and why.  This activity was super effective and everyone was successful putting the sign the correct way.
 After playing with the number mats we moved into learning to write our numbers.  Much like the handwriting letters lessons we went through each number one at a time learning the strokes that the pencil should make.  We didn't have enough time to fully wrap up the lesson (though we did get from 0-9) so we'll start right where we left off on Thursday.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Number Gators, a Preschool Introduction to Greater Than and Less Than

We had a wonderful extra day of preschool today (still making up for so many snow days).  One of the things I love to do when teaching reading is to utilize highlighter tape.  Right now we are using it heavily to point out where long vowels are in words and where we need to use our strategy called "puzzle" to find parts of words we know or can already sound out (including digraphs like 'th' and word families like 'ing'). (See pg 25 of this free download for the reading strategies we use after we learn all the letter sounds.)
 Today was the introduction of our new math unit: Writing and Comparing Numbers.  We didn't do any writing of numbers today but had our fun preschool introduction to greater than and less than.  We learned the end of this Number Gators song and played with these free printables and our kitchen items to determine which alligator would eat which pile of food.  It was a great way to introduce greater than, less than, and equal to.  I also switch the words back and forth also using "bigger than", "smaller than" and "the same as" to scaffold the vocabulary learning.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

"That's a sentence! Awesome Job!"

I think the greatest line from a kid today was during writing time.  One child read to another what he had written in his journal.  The second child responded, "That's a sentence! Awesome Job!"  It was so cute and funny and awesome at the same time.  Kids can soak up so much information and then turn around and use it appropriately.
Today we spent a lot of time building two digit numbers on our decimal street mats.  We talked about how each numeral in the number represents the quantity of items in each house (ultimately: place value).  I think we've finally made the connection.  We can now read numbers like 53 as 5 tens and 3 units.  It will still require work and is a concept not expected to be mastered until kindergarten, but we have a great foundation in understanding place value.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Place Value Safari - We finished a game!

What great work today on our reading!  We zoomed right through our lessons, really in a groove of the routine and the new excitement over picking books from the library when lessons are finished.  These kids are making great progress and are challenging themselves!  We read "Giraffes Can't Dance" and then had a little dance break of our own.  The part all the kids were most excited for was playing Place Value Safari again.  It took us 40 minutes to complete the game and I was super impressed how ALL the kids (keep in mind they are 4 and 5 year olds) STAYED focused the ENTIRE time.  They were so excited to "win" by getting to 100.  They were paired up in teams and I got to see them encouraging each other and helping each other count units and make sure they had 10 to trade for a stick of ten.  They naturally had conversations about how many they had on their board, and how many other teams had.  They talked about how many more each team needed to trade for another stick of ten and how many more tens they needed to get to 100.  This natural talk is amazing for math development and structures itself nicely to all the different levels of understanding each child has.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Preschool 3-7-16

During the month of March we have 4 extra preschool days, one each week.  This helps us make up for time lost due to snow days.  I am so excited for the little extra push we'll get to achieve our next goals and push a little harder.  We spent the majority of our time working on our reading today.  After each child completed their lesson for the day they were able to take advantage of the library on their own for the first time.  It was so much fun to teach them how to look through a certain shelf of books, pick one that looks interesting, take it to the sofa to read or look through, and then return to the bookshelf in the correct spot to pick another book.  There was so much giggling as kids found books that were fun and entertaining to them. They talked among each other asking about words and characters in the stories they had picked up.  I hope to continue this activity each day after reading lessons to ensure every minute is used wisely and instill a love of books.  I then read to the kids "Rhyming Dust Bunnies".  Most kids have a copy at home from the last school year so they know the story well. If you haven't seen it before I HIGHLY recommend it.  It helps us work on our rhyming and is super silly.  We took a leap off of our read aloud and looked for very silly writing in our journals afterwards.  The kids were super excited to draw dust bunnies and write funny words.  They were funny to the 4 and 5 year olds and I'm certain adults wouldn't quite get the humor.  We had one student write "bode bode bode" (body, body, body) and she thought it was the most hilarious thing on the planet.  Another one had a full conversation with "Bob" (a dust bunny) and his writing represented the things Bob replied to him.  It was super fun and silly and encouraged much more writing than I see when I say "Write about whatever you'd like".
We're still working on tens and units so today I pulled out "Place Value Safari".  It's a board game that we aren't actually ready for the real rules to, but with a little modification we had fun and practiced trading in 10 units for a stick of ten.  We simply rolled a d6, took that many units, placed them on our 100 frame, and if we had reached a line of 10 units with what we rolled we exchanged 10 units for a stick of ten.  Super simple and could be easily replicated at home.  Though simple, the kids were fully engaged and we even went over our scheduled time together before I noticed that I had to go let the moms in.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Challenge: Grow Your Brain by Taking On New Challenges

Now that we know all 5 vowels we can start talking about how they work together.  Did you know that vowels are super heroes?  When they work together the second vowel (either right next to, or one letter away from, another vowel) can make the first vowel say its name rather than its short sound?  Then the super hero vowel that helped is too tired to say any more sounds.  Today we spent plenty of time reviewing our sight words and talking about CVCe words on the SmartBoard.  CVCe= Consonant, Vowel, Consonant, e.  Then we split into groups and learned about our new word family the -ake family, practiced our sight words, read stories, and wrote/drew book reports. With some extra work on trying to write long vowel words we then moved into place value talking about tens and units on Decimal Street.  It was a super busy day of learning!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Vowels are Super Heroes

I love my job.  Today in preschool we continued working on our reading lessons for each group.  It was appropriate for all kids to participate in a fun extension lesson about vowels.  Some kids have already learned them, some have had it introduced, and some hadn't heard the word vowels before.  We all did the same lesson together.  I talked about how there are 26 letters in the alphabet.  We sang the alphabet together.  Then I asked kids to hold up one hand.  Those 5 fingers represent 5 super hero letters called vowels.  They are super special letters.  In order to learn how to use them in words we have to remember which ones they are.  The vowels are A E I O U.  I wrote one letter on each of my finger nails.  Then, as I pointed to each finger, I sang the song: "A E I O U, I can learn my vowels too. A E I O U, it is fun for me and you!"  I let kids pick if they would like the vowels written on their fingernails as well or not.  Many chose to have them written on, then we sang the song over and over together.  Remembering that there are 5 super letters called vowels and what letters they are is the first step in mastering their unique uses in our reading. 
I love that after our reading so many of the kids decided to spend their writing time drawing their hand, the vowels and writing about learning the vowels today.  It was a great reinforcement lesson to hear them share their writing with the whole group!