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There's a big push for technology in the classroom today.
And although I am a big believer in keeping up with the current ways of teaching and learning, I'm also one who believes technology cannot be the only thing that we rely on and expose our students to in our classrooms.  By that I mean that the technology given to us (iPads, Chrome Books, Smart Board, etc.) are wonderful tools for students to learn with (and educators to teach with!) but I also believe that we can't abandon the good 'ole pencil and hands-on learning materials!

So how do we introduce and use technology in our classroom?

Let's start with iPads
Many of us may have one or two iPads in our classroom or have access to them from the Library Learning Commons.  
In our class, we don't allow our students to download any apps they want.  We guide them to choose apps that have either already been introduced to them by an educator or are simple enough to navigate independently (many are already uploaded to the device itself).
I created this QR Code scan paper this past school year and placed it close to both the Book Nook (classroom library) and computer station.  Students simply scan the QR code and it takes them to the website that has been approved by our Board (and us!).  These websites are awesome!  They have lots of fun activities, books, games and interesting facts that our students can manoeuvre on their own.  
*Just in case anyone is wondering - we often set up a timer close to the iPad station to assist students with turn taking.*

So what exactly IS a QR Code?
Don't worry - many people aren't that familiar with what these are...but when I tell you that more and more companies are using them just about everywhere (I found one on my shampoo bottle!) you will start to notice them more in our world!
QR stands for Quick Response - basically meaning that when you scan the QR Code, it will instantly take you to a website.

So here's what you need to know...

1)  You will need to download a FREE QR Reader app on your device (iPhone, iPad, etc.)
There are lots of them but my favourite is this one.  Look for it in the App Store.
*You will probably need to allow the app access to the camera on your device so be sure to click "yes" if this pops up before continuing.*

2)  Look for a QR Code to scan.  (Try the one found below to practice!)

3)  Voila!  You are on a website for that product/activity!

Here are some other ways our students use QR Codes in our classroom during "Thinking and Learning Time".

We print and place QR Codes around our classroom.  Using the iPad, students go on a hunt around the room to find the QR Codes and check them off their lists, complete the spelling of a word, write a sight word, colour the rhyming word, etc.




Most educators that are new to QR Codes are a little hesitant to try these but I am telling you, children as young as kindergarten are so quick to learn!  They catch on fast and absolutely LOVE these activities.
You can find these in my QR Codes - Bundle on TpT. 

Listening Center
I don't have the typical Listening Centre in my classroom anymore.  By typical I mean stereo system with cassette tapes or CDs.  The problem was, our CD player kept breaking year after year and we all know they are very very expensive to fix and/or replace.  So I thought of using the iPad as a Listening Centre.  All you need to add is a pair of headphones (unless you have a quieter room LOL!).
Here are a few pictures of our Book Nook.
I print the Listening Center QR Code Read-Aloud that I want for the month (which includes 24 books so there's a great selection) and put them in a binder.
Students take the iPad and scan the QR Code of the book that interests them.  It takes them right to a website of a read aloud of that book!  Instant Listening Center without the hefty price tag!



Nearly every morning for the last 13 years (yes, I have been teaching that long!) our students sing the Alphabet Song Book together.  I was introduced to this book and song my first year teaching by Mrs. Powers, a hearing specialist in our Board, and I can't believe how amazing it is at reinforcing letters/sounds.
I have a hard copy printed in colour and bound which we use during our morning carpet time.
I also print a copy in black and white and send it home with students to practice with their families.
Students scan the QR Code on the front of the book and it takes them to a website of my singing the song (not video, luckily, but I also don't have the best singing voice!)

Ready to try it?  Scan this QR Code...it should take you to my TpT store in case you are interested in trying some of the QR Code activities in your classroom!

I've had lots of requests from teachers wanting to learn how to make their own QR Codes.


Using Google Drive to upload your own video
Do you take videos in your classroom of student learning as part of your documentation?
Ever wonder how you can actually save these videos for parents to see?  I like creating Student Portfolios (read all about that here) and inserting student work samples, photos, and now even videos through the use of QR Codes!

Decide where you want to store your videos.  If you use an iPhone/iPad or other device, be sure to download the Google Drive app.  I love using this app because it's FREE and our Board has so much storage I know I won't have any issues saving student videos.
* I like creating individual folders for each of my students.  There are many other ways you can save the videos (i.e. folders for each of the 4 kindergarten frames, themes, a project/inquiry)...think about what works best for you and create those folders! *

Here's an example I took a video of some students using the BeeBot (coding robot) which I wanted to add to my documentation.  I followed these steps below to upload it to Google Drive and turn it into a QR Code.

Follow these easy steps to make your own QR Codes!












With this QR Code image, you can now insert it into a Google Doc, Power Point, Pic Collage or any program that you use for documenting.  Save it and print it if you wish to include it in your student's portfolio.

Here's a FREE DOWNLOAD of the QR Code website sheet you can put up in your own classroom for your students to use!
Just click the picture to download.
Enjoy!



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As many of you know, I teach at a Catholic school in York Region (about 20 minutes north of Toronto).  Religion is the foundation for our school board so of course we integrate lessons around our faith throughout the day.

We gather formally on the carpet at least once a week for a Religion Circle.  I originally got this idea from my good friend and colleague, Mrs. Linigari, who teaches grade 1.
We post the Religion Circle picture on our Daily Schedule so students know what is planned for the day.  
You can read all about our Daily Schedule here.

We all gather on the carpet in a large circle.  We start by passing around a rosary and saying intentions (i.e. "I pray for my sister who is not feeling well today.").  Once everyone has had a turn, we read a story from the Children's Bible.  There are many versions of the Children's Bible available to purchase. This is the one I use in my classroom and I find it's simple enough for even the youngest children to follow along.

I discovered a You Tube channel, The Beginner's Bible, that offers amazing videos of many of the stories found in the Children's Bible. 
Here's an example of the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments:

Moses and the ten commandments - The Beginners Bible - YouTube

We have great discussions around the story in the Bible as well as the video we watch.  I also like to post it to our class D2L (website) for parents to see and continue those discussions at home.

"Teaching Religion" is not simply a subject though - we often refer back to stories we have read in the Children's Bible or ask how Jesus would feel to our students when we see conflict arise in the classroom. 

Of course, when special holidays are close (such as Christmas or Easter), it's a great opportunity to also combine art and drama in our lessons.
Here are a few examples:

After reading about the birth of Jesus, students were invited to retell the story using the felt board.  I made these props myself - and it's really easy to do!  You can read all about how to make your own felt board pieces here.

Leaving out loose parts for students to retell or make up their own story is also fun!

There's a beautiful song we sing (found on the In God's Image CD which is our Board's Religious Ed. program). 
Here's the song with the lyrics if you don't use this program.
Take A Walk To Christmas - YouTube

I made these printable pieces of the Nativity this past winter that go along with the song.  Students choose different roles and hold the props while they walk around the carpet.
You can find these props as a FREE download here.

We also make a card and several crafts (which vary each year).  Here's what we did this past Christmas.

I've started making Religious educational materials on my TpT site.  This is one of our class favourites - a write the room activity based on the Nativity.
You can find this activity here if you are interested.

At Easter, we also make a card and craft.  We tend to focus on the stories leading up to Easter also, such as Palm Sunday.  Each student also made this palm branch to take home.

After reading stories from the Bible, we invite children to draw and paint their favourite part.

Using various materials, students are invited to retell the Easter story.

One of our favourite apps is called Chatterpix Kid, where students can "cut" part of the picture they have taken of their work and record their own voice.

We place the Easter Write the Room activity around our class for those interested in doing this fun centre.

We left out a provocation after reading the book The Giving Tree, at the beginning of the Lenten season.  It's a great book to introduce the idea of giving up so much for others, even though it's not religious.  Every time students did something for others they were invited to write/draw it on a leaf and place it on our classroom door.


We all know Christmas and Easter are the two biggest celebrations, but what about religion the rest of the year?

During the month of May, our school prays the Hail Mary regularly.  So we teach it to our children too.  We also read and discuss who Mary was and how she is very important.  We did a directed drawing of Mary too and left out these pictures of beautiful and famous paintings of Mary from around the world for students to draw.



Provocations can be left out at any time of the year that focus on feelings, inclusion, and treating others like Jesus preaches.

At the beginning of the year, when we focus on "All About Me", we invite students to look closely in the mirror and draw themselves.  We discuss how God made each of us unique and special, as well as what we love most about ourselves.

You can make these self portraits in any size and certainly extend this activity in many ways.  We hung ours up in the hallway outside our classroom on a branch and on the reverse the children told us what makes them special.

During the month of February, our emphasis is more on treating others with kindness and respect, since it ties in so well with Valentine's Day.  Students choose a name from the bowl and, for one week ("Friendship Week") they have to do kind things for that friend (i.e. help them log into computer, paint a picture together, etc.)  We also invite them to make a bracelet as a sign of friendship.

We spend a large chunk of time during the week outdoors, where we search for items in nature and observe seasonal changes.  We discuss how God made our beautiful Earth and how we can be stewards of the Earth.  There are even times when we (or our students!) bring in special guests to our classroom, such as these snails.  We learn that God made all living creatures and it's our responsibility to take care of them and show respect.

After many daily discussions about "loving our neighbours" (or friends) and reading lots of books, such as How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids, there are lots of provocations you can create.  Here our students are encouraged to write/draw how they can be kind to their peers.  Afterwards we turned these pages into a class book.

How do you incorporate religion in your classroom? 
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Writing is so very important - at any age - yes, even the little ones in Kindergarten are encouraged to write everyday!

Our classroom is a full day, play-based kindergarten class in Ontario, designed to meet all learners needs.  We know that students come to us as young as 3 and might not even recognize their name, others begin school knowing all their letters and sounds and might even be reading!  That's why it's important to guide and encourage all children to write daily - and knowing that we have set up a fun and interactive Writing Centre means students will actually want to write!

As a side note, our Writing Centre changes all the time!  We start small at the beginning of the year, usually just putting out a few magnetic words (which we use as our word wall), blank paper, a flip book of students in our class, an alphabet flip book, stencils, vocabulary flip books and picture dictionaries.

The picture below shows what our Writing Centre (shelf) looks like by the end of the second month of school or so.

As we teach lessons on writing, we include new things to the Writing Centre.
At the beginning of the year, we tend to focus on name printing with those students that need the extra support.  We do this in a variety of ways - using Playdough to form and roll out letters, identifying our name around the room, searching for and building our name using magnetic letters, writing our name using a variety of tools (chalkboard, whiteboard) and finally using a pencil to practice.

We take pictures of the children during the first week of school (sometimes the first day can be a little hectic!).  We use these pictures in a variety of places around the room so that the students not only begin to identify their own name but names of peers.  We also print them on cue cards and attach them on a ring.  We leave this at our Writing Centre to encourage students to write peers names on a list, in a letter, etc.


We also print these Alphabet cards and attach them onto a ring.
Students can use these to search for beginning sounds or review letter/sound identification.

The topic of word walls always comes up in conversation with our kindergarten teachers.  Over the years, we have tried creating a word wall in many ways and places around the room.
We have had students write the words and place them on a bulletin board but the problem we found was the bulletin board was too high for students to read the words.
We found this option the best - this is a magnetic board (I used my Scholastic bonus coupons to buy it but you can find it on Amazon also - see picture below).
Students are able to remove the word that they want to use and take it to their seat.  When they are done they simply put it back!
*You can find the Magnetic Tabletop Learning Easel by clicking on the picture below*

If you don't want to buy the big pack of magnetic words I included ready-to-print words (which are editable so you can add your own if they are not already included).  Just add a magnet to the back (you can buy these at Dollarama).

This is about how many sight words I would start with for the first few weeks of school.

We also like giving students to option of using the same sight word cards as above but displaying them on Popsicle sticks.

I love playing games in small groups with students who need extra practice with sight words.  I have also included larger sight word cards that you can use to play "Roll-Say-Keep".

Here is what our baskets look like in the centre of the table.  We keep pencils and erasers inside and leave a ring with sentence starters there to prompt students to add writing to their pictures.


As the year goes on, we change the paper offered - it's important to introduce ways for students to use some of the paper (i.e. letter writing) before leaving it out.  You can do this either whole group or in small group mini lessons.

 At the beginning of the year, I like to start with showing students how to draw.  I find that many of the young students come to school and scribble - so we want to take time to simplify drawing.  We use these shape stencils to show students how drawing people or objects can be done by using shapes (i.e. face is a circle, house is a square, etc.)

*You can also find many free printable "how-to-draw" instructions for children on the internet.  We print these and insert them into a binder kept on the Writing Centre shelf.*
Click here for an example.

Students are also shown how to label their picture (we start by asking them to write the beginning sound they hear).

We also set up a provocation inviting students to choose stickers (who doesn't love stickers?!?!) and write the sounds they hear beside to practice labelling.

As the year progresses, so do our students!  By the end of Year 2 many of them are able to use the tools we set out (magnetic sight words, stencils, etc.) to draw and form a simple sentence.

Another lesson I like to teach early on in the school year is about making lists.  We brainstorm the many lists our parents and teachers write (i.e. grocery lists, birthday lists, our favourite toys, etc.).  An easy and fun activity is to leave out grocery flyers and have student cut their favourite things.  They can try and sound out how to spell the words.


Students can also copy thematic words (i.e. animals) from our Vocabulary Flip Books.

Here is an example of the Community Helpers Flip Book.

These are 2 of my favourite books when discussing making lists (the Max and Ruby book is perfect for Kindergarten as many students can identify with the characters).

As part of the Full Day Kindergarten program in Ontario, we are encouraged to have our students think and wonder about the world around us.  We use "I see...I think...I wonder..." often.
I am always taking pictures (when we go on Nature Walks, driving to school, animals and creatures I find in my backyard, etc.) and I like to share these pictures with my students.  I project them onto the Bright Links board and together we complete the phrases "I see...I think...I wonder..."  We do this so often that students are used to what is expected.  So when we leave out provocations, such as the one below with the flowers, students understand what to do.  Now not all of my students are writing so then what happens?  Well, they know they can draw a picture of what they see, think and wonder or ask a friend for help.

I like to challenge those students who are strong writers and ready for it.  My students love playing with different materials in the class (like the BeeBot) and I have them tell the class, step-by-step, how to use it (create instructions or procedural writing).  They get so excited to do this!!!
If your students bring in toys from home (we went through a Pokemon card phase a couple of years ago), you can have them write about how to play step-by-step.

Another lesson we teach as the year progresses is how to write letters to our peers (this is a great lesson to do around Valentine's Day!).  We introduce the words "To" and "From" and explain how a letter can be words or pictures and it communicates a message.

Since we read many stories (at least one a day!), it's no surprise that students are naturally drawn to writing their own story.  Again, not all students are able to write sentences or even words, but the children know they can draw a picture and we can transcribe it on the bottom.
Have students create their own story using loose parts!

I like to leave out a felt board with the story we read and have students retell the book.  They can also draw it on their My Story paper.  You can read all about how to make your own felt board pieces here.

We have even used the app My Story and created digital stories!
You can read all about that here and here.
We use this template with the students first so that they could plan their story.


I kept my very favourite piece of writing last - postcards!!!  We did a whole bunch of post card writing before school let out a few weeks ago.  We discussed how you often send postcards when you travel to places around the world.  We also talked about how it feels good to receive mail from our family and friends and if any children were travelling this summer, they could purchase a post card and mail it to Mrs. Albanese (or just write one like the example below!)

You can find all this (and SO MUCH MORE!) in my new Get Your Students to Write! pack on TpT.

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With just a few weeks left of school, it sometimes becomes hard to keep the children motivated to stay on task.  So we set up some simple but fun provocations for them to explore.

They have been so interested in insects (see my post last week for your free insect vocabulary cards) that we invited them to create their very own insect using Wikki Sticks.




I love using these wax sticks in the classroom - they are simple enough for the students to create anything using them!

We read a few books on insects and learned about their 3 main body parts - head, thorax, abdomen - and labelled the butterfly.

We read lots and lots of books in our class.  I love introducing well-known children's stories often and having the students retell the story (or even make up their own!).  This week we set out props for the students to retell The Ugly Duckling.  You can find this book at Dollarama!

I use Pic Collage often to capture students engaging in the various centres in the classroom.  We print these and include them in their student portfolio.

I added these large connectors to our blocks on the carpet this week.  Students had lots of fun exploring them to make shapes and structures.

We started our unit on characteristics of the clock - we are learning about the features of a clock (face, big hand, little hand, numbers, clockwise, etc.).  We are also learning to show times -  "o'clock"  (arms straight up in the air) and "thirty" (arms straight down) are what we teach the children.

Lots more to come next week - we continue to retell well-known stories and our clock unit continues...
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As soon as you start working on anything that has to do with Father's Day you know the end of the school year is here!
We made these adorable books for Mother's Day (you can read all about it and download your own editable Mother's Day book here) and the moms loved them so much we decided to make them for all the dads.


Here are a few examples of the pages inside...
(try not to laugh, they are too cute!)







You can download your own *editable* Father's Day book by clicking {here}.
They don't take a very long time to do with the students.  I worked with 2-3 students at a time.  They answered each question and I wrote their answer down on the white board for them to copy into the books.  Then they drew their own picture.
We are lucky at our school to have a binding machine (simple and quick to use!) but if you don't, you can always staple or tape the side.

If you are looking for a few other ideas for the last month of June (and Father's Day) here you go!

I just posted this earlier today to TpT.  It's an Interactive Pocket Chart activity.
We read a poem each week (introducing it on Monday but it stays up all week for the students to read on their own).  I'm prepping this for next week, just before Father's Day.
At my pocket chart, students can use the cut up words to assemble the poem on their own.  I also like working with a group of students who are practicing identifying sight words - I call out a sight word and they have to find it.
You can click {here} to check it out!

Here are a few other's that I posted and will be using this month!


We are also planning to play a sight word game - Find that Beachball! - which I hope to post to TpT tonight or tomorrow.  It makes for a great review of all sight words taught to date!

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We have a LOT on the go right now with the last month of school starting.
So we wanted these next few weeks to still be meaningful for the students but simple enough to set up for us that we can also focus our time on report card writing, end of year celebration, Father's Day, Play Day and everything else coming up in the next few weeks!

Playdough
The students in our class this year really seem to love Playdough.  So we try and set out a new, simple provocation for them to explore.  This week we invited the students to roll a letter dice and form the letter using Playdough.
*I used a wood burning pen from Michaels to make the letters onto each wooden cube.*

Math Provocations
Although we explored the concept of weight a few months back, we always like to invite students to explore learning concepts on their own.  This provocation had the students roll the dot die and add that many counters to one side of the scale.  Then they rolled again and added the counters to the other side.  They could compare which side was heavierlighter, etc.


We have been learning about Canadian coins over the past two weeks and left this game out, Capture 4, for the students to play either independently or with a friend.  They roll the die that has images of coins on it and cover up a matching coin image.  The object of the game is to "Capture 4" - or get 4 in a row (up, down, diagonal, box, etc.).

I printed a few different price tags with varying amounts and left them at the Dramatic Centre which also has a variety of plastic food.  The students turned this area into a store and were thrilled when I added coins, a wallet and a cash register!  
You can find these activities in my Canadian Coins pack on TpT if you are interested 
(blog post explaining more about this math unit coming soon!) 


Listening Centre
We have been using the iPads as our Listening Centre for the past few months.  They are so easy to use!  Students love scanning the QR Code and listening to a new book.  The June pack was set up today and was an instant hit!
 You can find this here if you are interested.

Planting
If you read my weekly post from last week you will know that we started planting simple seeds (beans, carrots, radishes) in our classroom....and this week they started growing!
Each day we choose a students to water the plants and many of them rush over to the windows first thing in the morning to see if they grew.  They love looking for their roots!


Insects
Last week we noticed our students really taking an interest in the insects they saw outside (lots of worms from the rain, butterflies and flies!).  We started reading some books on insects and set out this provocation inviting them to draw their favourite bugs.


You can download these insect vocabulary cards I made for FREE by clicking {here}.

Father's Day
Here's a sneak peak of our Father's Day gift (one of them anyway!).
We made the same books for our Mother's last month and they were a hit so I decided to make them again but for the dads.  

I'll post all about Father's Day this weekend and include these as a freebie!
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We Love Bugs!
The summer sure did feel like it was here this past week in our class!  We've been spending a lot of time outdoors, where, over the past few weeks, the students have taken such a keen interest in different bugs!  They especially loved the worms after the rainy few days we had.
To further explore their interest, we set up this provocation for the week to see where it would lead us!

The books you see in the pictures above are my absolute favourite for talking about insects!  They have so much information that's appropriate for kindergarten and I love how the students flip through the books themselves looking at all of the pictures!
We plan on continuing to explore bugs this week coming up - I'll post pictures of our new inquiry soon!  Be sure to follow me on Instagram for all the latest pics of what's happening in our classroom.

Planting
We had some different beans and seeds out for the past couple of weeks for students to explore.  This week we planted them and labelled our containers.
Let's see what starts to grow!



Build an Ice Cream
I created this game last year in order for students to practice subitizing.  They can play alone or with a friend(s).  Each student rolls the die and starts building an ice cream by matching the piece.  There's a catch - you can only have one #1 (cherry on top) and one #6 (cone).  The person who builds the tallest ice cream wins!
You can find this in my Fun With Dice pack on TpT.

Guess Who?
One student who celebrated his birthday recently in our classroom donated this fun game.
I love putting out simple games that the students can play with each other - they learn about turn taking, winning/losing and waiting patiently for their turn to play!

Map Provocation
We noticed that the students have taken a keen interest in using the Bee Bot (coding bumble bee) recently.  They have been designing pathways for the Bee Bot to travel before programming it.
This provocation invited the students to continue to explore maps and create their own treasure map.

Pocket Chart Centre

I use my pocket chart in so many ways.  This week we had students match the butterfly to the sentence strip.  Then students could complete the worksheet by filling in the missing sight word and colour the pictures to match.
You can find this in my bestselling All Year Long - Pocket Chart Fun pack on TpT.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week to come!  We have lots ready to go for the week...insects, sight word activities and learning about Canadian coins!  Stay tuned!
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MOTHER MARY
Teaching in a Catholic school, throughout the month of May, we discuss Mother Mary and learn to recite the prayer Hail Mary.  
I was inspired by Maria Locantore (@marialocantore) to set up this beautiful provocation inviting the students to draw and paint Mother Mary.
I found a step-by-step tutorial on how to draw Mother Mary that was simple enough to teach the Kindergarten students on https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/learn-to-draw-mary
Look at how beautiful these drawings came out!




Although there are not many stories in the Bible about Mother Mary, I did find this video that we watched on You Tube.
Stories Of Virgin Mary| Stories of MaryI Animated Children´s Bible Stories| Holy Tales Bible Stories - YouTube

THE 3 LITTLE PIGS
Over the past few weeks our students have enjoyed reading classic stories, including The 3 Little Pigs.  This provocation invited the students to use various materials to create their own house for the pigs and/or retell the story.



(I bought these foam bricks at Michaels)

My Story
Continuing along the lines of story telling, I wanted the students to create their own stories.  Many of them already do when they draw a picture, but I really wanted to dive deep into having a 3-part story with characters and a simple plot.
We used the Create-a-Story template from my new Get Your Students to Write pack on TpT.
I worked with a small group of students and had them think of a story idea.  We had everything from travelling to NYC to unicorns and rainbows.
After they designed their story (beginning, middle, end) I introduced them to the My Story app.
They start by adding themselves as an editor and thinking of a title for their book.
I have about 2-3 students work on this part with me at a time.  There are only 3 iPads for the students to use and at first they need some direction as to how to insert graphics or draw their own.  But they quickly caught on!  The only major part they needed me for was to help them record their voice over on each page.  We had to step out in the hallway as it was much quieter there.
 Then they design a cover page and add more pages to their book.  The app has amazing graphics or students can draw their own pictures.
I'm hoping to save these stories on each student's Google Drive folder and turn the link into a QR code.  Then I can print the page (with the QR code) and turn it into a class book.
Last year I printed them and displayed them in our hallway.
There are 2 versions online - the free one (top image in picture below) or the version that we used (bottom image in picture below).  The difference is that the paid version offers lots and lots of graphics for the students to choose from.  If you are unsure, try out the free version first!


We used it last year so many of them were already familiar with it.
You can read more about the My Story app here.

Students also had the opportunity to cut out groceries from the weekly flyer and create a list.
I love having students write on a daily basis and this is a simple way for students to add beginning sounds and labelling their picture if they are still working on writing.

I also sent these home so that parents had an idea of what they can continue to work on with their children over the summer.
You can also find these activities in my Get Your Students to Write pack on TpT.




I've had a lot of questions about how to set up a writing program in a kindergarten class to keep students motivated and interested in writing.  I'll schedule a blog post in the next few weeks and try to answer all of those questions!

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This week we wanted to focus on math skills and what better way than playing games!

ESTIMATING
The students were encouraged to make a guess (estimating) as to how many objects are in the jar each day.  We switched not only the objects inside the jar, but also the size of the jar, so that this would become more challenging.


We found this online activity that we played with the whole class where we had to estimate how many marbles are in the jar.
You can find this on ABCya.com
Click the picture below to take you there.

CAPACITY
Still sticking with the topic of volume, we wanted the students to explore capacity, learning which containers can hold more and using tools of various sizes (measuring cups, spoons, funnels, jars).
 I dyed the rice with food colouring and added a touch of rubbing alcohol (makes the colour stick better).  The beautiful 'rainbow' rice lasted for all of 10 seconds before becoming all mixed up.  But isn't it still beautiful!



It's interesting to see how some students noticed the different sizes of the measuring spoons.  We intentionally took a picture and placed it on the tray for students to organize these spoons during clean up time.  Many recognized these from their homes too!

ROLL-A-NUMBER
A simple game we placed out to play is Roll-a-Number.
It's great for subitizing (recognizing numbers instantaneously without having to count) and graphing.
Students roll the dot die and add a counter on their graph.  First number to the top wins!
We asked questions such as:
"Which number did you roll?"
"How many of number _ do you have on your graph?"
"How many more do you need to win?"
"Which number is more? less?"



Download this game for FREE by clicking {here}.

HUMPTY DUMPTY -> HOW TALL CAN YOU BUILD A WALL?
Over the past few weeks, the students have been very interested in nursery rhymes and fables.  When I saw this activity on Heidi Songs blog I knew we had to try it!
Students were eager to see who could build the tallest wall for Humpty to sit on.
They had to measure it using the ruler.



I bought these foam bricks at Michaels.

SYMMETRY
Here's an easy provocation to set up which invites the students to create a symmetrical butterfly using loose parts (you can add anything at all for them to use!).




This online game is from Toy Theater.  It was a fun way to introduce the concept of symmetry to the students, as they had to match the two sides of the butterfly's wings together.
Click the picture below to take you there.


STORY RETELLING
We read a story each day in class.  Years ago, I made a whole bunch of felt board pieces to go along with some of the more popular stories.  You can read all about how to make your own felt board pieces (they really are EASY!) here.

This is the story Mouse's First Spring.  It's a story that's easy for even your non-readers to follow along and retell.  Some students even made up their own story with the pieces!

And, of course, with Mother's Day tomorrow, we read many stories and learned this poem.

You can find this poem (with a fun activity!) here:

You can read all about what else we did for Mother's Day here.

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About a month ago (when it was still chilly out), a few students noticed several birds outside the window on the field.  They wondered if the birds had returned from the south.  Others mentioned that not all birds flew south and stayed here during the winter months.
More and more students became curious about the birds out the window and spent a large part of the afternoon talking about them.

We set out a provocation to see what students knew about birds.
We were very surprised to see how much they knew!
During Sharing Time, these students shared what they knew about birds and others contributed too!
We decided to track our thinking on chart paper so we could revisit some of our theories and wonders.
We walked down to the Library Learning Commons and asked our librarian Mr. C. for some books on birds.  The children spent so much time looking at all of the pictures and asking great questions!

I made these bird cards to get an idea of which bird(s) they were most interested in.  They began drawing their favourites and asking more questions.
As the interest in birds continued, we read more books to help us answer our wonders.
One of my favourite books is Mama Built a Little Nest, and we used this book to set up a provocation inviting the children to build and design their own nest.
We even spent much time watching the live bird feeder (I found it on You Tube).
We not only looked for different birds we could identify but also listened for their sounds.

L.G.:  The Blue Jay makes a "jay jay" sound!  I read that in the book!
Cornell Lab FeederWatch Cam at Sapsucker Woods - YouTube
We asked the children if they thought any of these birds would be good pets.

J.C.:  I have 2 budgies at home!
 A.A.:  I would love a bird because some birds can talk to you, you know?

One parent (J.C.) sent us pictures of their pet birds for the students to see!
 This provocation had children come up with a story about birds, now that we researched and found out what birds eat, how they make their nests and even knew the name of many types of birds.
This lesson, labelling the parts of the bird, came from A Day in First Grade.
Many of the questions around the different birds we were studying were about how big they were.
Ms. Bowes, an E.I. in our classroom, shared with us her pictures of a trip she went on and saw flamingos.  The children were so excited to take a measuring stick and find out how big they truly are!

A.D.:  I'm the same size as the flamingo!!!

So we set out large poster paper and helped the students research and draw the birds life size!
We had the children also add their research to each bird they chose to draw and paint.
Some children also decided to create different backgrounds, as we learned some birds only live in certain places around the world.
We set out Plasticine and invited the children to make their own bird.
They all came out incredible!
They even enjoyed drawing them!
In our sensory bin, we added shredded paper (you can buy this at a craft store) and cut up small pieces of yarn.  The students used tweezers (these are from Wintergreen Learning Materials) to pick up the "worms" and feed the birds (place them in the containers).  It made for a great fine motor activity!
After reading the book Riki's Birdhouse, we invited the children to use the 3-D figures we had collected from a few weeks back (see post here) to design their own plan and make a bird feeder.
After making our bird feeders we went outside to find the ideal place to hang them.
After we read the book to the class, many children took an interest in the book An Egg is Quiet, as they enjoyed looking at the pictures and wondering about the eggs.
We left the book out with some plastic eggs (I picked these up around Easter at the Dollar Store) and as the students learned what the eggs looked like they painted them.
Finally it came time to assemble our documentation.  We are fortunate to have a large hallway and wall space just outside our room.
Here are some closer pictures: 
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