Monday, September 9, 2013

Fun with Names! Literacy Activities that Use Children's Names

A child's name is almost always the first word they learn to read.  

Their name is personal.  Special.  And unique to them.
So it makes sense that the first way to help students make those important literacy connections is to use their names.

Here are some great ideas!  We often read the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes to start our Names Unit.  It is a great way to start talking about names!

Fruit Loop Names

I wrote their names in pencil and did one letter at a time with white glue.  So cute!

Name Center

I taped their names to the side of my filing cabinet - instant name center!

Name Building Cards

Name Grids

I use these name grids to not only make the name building cards (above) but also for students to practice writing and counting the letters in their names.  Go HERE for the freebie!

Name Chart

During Math time we count how many letters are in our name and make a chart, sorting the students by how many letters there are in their names.  Then we build a tower with the same number of cubes and compare those! Here is the editable blank name grid.  It is a great way to integrate Math into your Language Arts themes!

I Know my Name 


I made one of these for all of my students.  It took a while!  I haven't quite figured out to make the form editable with a PDF.  So, if you would like one for each of YOUR students I can do that.  I charge $5 per class (no more than 30) and will send you a PDF copy of your class names.  Leave a comment with your email if you would like to set it up!

Dot Names

Students use the Dot Art stampers to go over my handwritten lines.  They look so cute!


Paper Square Names

I lightly write student's names with pencil on black paper.  I do one line of glue at a time and they glue on the paper squares.  I love how the bright colors pop on the black paper!

Q-tip Dot Names

Students use bright colored paint to make dots with Q-tips.  I have found that not only is this activity good for learning names, but it is a great fine-motor activity as well!  The students have to use their pincher grip.

These are some of my favorite Name activities. What are some of yours??

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Teaching Math: Patterns in Kindergarten!

Any Kindergarten teacher worth their salt knows that patterns are the back bone of a student's algebraic thinking for the rest of their school career.

So obviously it is really important that students have many opportunities to learn about and create patterns.  Here are a few of my favorites from my class!

Pattern Noodle Necklaces

Students string colored noodles in an AB or ABC pattern.

Position Patterns

Students use strips of paper to create a positional pattern (tall tall short/ vertical vertical horizontal, etc.).

Fruit Loop Patterns

Students create a pattern with fruit loop cereal and then transpose it onto a template.  Click HERE for the template. 

Sidewalk chalk Patterns

Students use colored chalk to create a pattern outside on the blacktop or sidewalk.  They then copy the pattern onto a sheet of black construction paper.

These are just a few of my favorite ways to teach patterns.  What are some of yours??


Seriously. Enough with the Kindergarten Teacher Bashing

The other day I came across this blog post.  It is from 2009, so it is on the old side.  But I was still shocked when I read it.  You would think someone who claims to be a teacher would have more respect.

As long as I've been teaching I've heard the worst comments about Kindergarten and the teachers who teach it.  Here are some good ones:

A trained monkey could do it. 

Really?  A monkey?  This one is down right insulting. 

We are just glorified babysitters.

Oh, man.  Clearly you don't know what babysitters get paid these days!  If I got even just $5 per hour per kid I'd be making $900 a DAY.  A DAY.  That would be more than $160,000 a year before taxes.  I will gladly babysit 25 children if I can earn that!

It must be so easy because you don't have papers to grade.

Before I taught Kindergarten I taught 3rd grade.  So yes, I brought home stacks of papers to grade at home.  I hated it.  But now I bring home journals to grade, pumpkins to cut out, projects to pre cut.  I am certainly not lounging at home eating bonbons while my upper grade coworkers slave over papers.  

Oh and you have rest time too? Sounds like the life.  

This makes it sound like they sleep for 2 hours.  I wish.  It is 25-30 minutes of "quiet" (how quiet can 25 five year olds be? Not very).  My kids can't read.  So I don't get DEAR time like the upper grades.  And my kids tend to have accidents (which then I have to clean!!) if I don't schedule in bathroom breaks.  My kids don't go to band, or strings, or chorus.  So it isn't a vacation time for me. 

I am used to hearing teacher bashing from parents, and other non-teachers.  But when I hear it from other teachers it really makes me mad.  You KNOW how hard this job is.  But becasue Kindergarten is so fundamentally different they assume it must be EASY.


Ask any 4th grade teacher ...

How many temper tantrums they had to deal with?  Probably zero.
What about bathroom accidents?  Probably zero.
Do you have to tie their shoes?  Nope.
Wipe their noses?  Nope.
Wipe their ...... ?  Nope. 

Guess who has two thumbs and does that EVERY DAY??  This girl.

I also can't count how many times I've heard how easy my job must be.  Blocks, painting and house all day - right?

Um, yeah.  NO.

I do mini lessons, I do reading groups, I do remediation and intervention and extension. I assess every unit.  All without bubble sheets or tests because my students can't read yet!  I spend 2 whole months doing standardized testing, out of the classroom with every student.

 I teach 25 babies how to sit still, listen, follow directions, and not kill each other.  All while teaching them the content that goes above and beyond what I learned even in first grade! 

I am constantly judged.  Either parents that have unrealistic expectations about content.  I'm either too tough or too un-structured.

And lord help you if you are young.  Never start teaching K as a 1st year teacher, they will eat you alive. 

At the end of the day I KNOW I am a good teacher.  I have learned you just can't make everyone happy.  So you do your very best.  Every day.  No one could ask more.