Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Day of Hands-On Science Inquiry

Hands-On Science!

When you're 5 or 6 or even 27 (soon to be 28) one of the best ways to learn is through hands-on inquiry. I just wanted to take some time to share one of the most hands-on, down right dirty, fun, exciting, hands on science inquiry projects we've done this year. It involves a few of our favorite things: our 5th grade study buddies, ice, water, balloons, salt, food color, ice picks (not real ones obviously) and a few other science tools. Here's how it went down.

Last week, Ms. Pierpont (our buddy teacher, or my study buddy) and I filled balloons with water and froze them. Then during our Friday study buddy time we grouped kids to explore the ice balloons using different materials and tools to see what "magic" could happen. We began the activity by discussing what a scientist does. We came up with thoughts of making observations, doing experiments, making predictions, etc. Next we made some predictions about what would happen with the ice balloons and what tools or experiments the kids might want to try with their own ice balloon. Next, the hands on fun discovery and inquiry occurred!

Here's more info on the specifics of the activity.  Ice Balloons Inquiry

I always say that science is one of the easiest things to teach because it differentiates itself and each activity can go in so many directions. Another reason I love science because it is so engaging to all learners, and it is always easy to make science relevant to students own lives regardless of prior knowledge and or experiences.  

We had a blast, and we learned so much through this hands on inquiry. It was a messy, enjoyable learning experience that I'm sure many students will remember for a while.  My next lesson will probably be based on the question "can I take the ice home?".  Here are some pictures from our inquiry here at MCS. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Writer's Workshop- Non-Fiction Writing Unit

Kindergarten kids love to write! They love to draw pictures, tell me about their lives, and even write some letters, sounds, and words they know. Writer's Workshop is one of the greatest part of our days in Kindergarten. The structure for WW that I have been following this year consists of 1. Mini-lesson related to something we are working on during writing time 2. Independent work time/ work with a teacher or conference time 3. Share. I strive to include all three parts in some way during every WW.  This week we transitioned from personal narratives to exploring and trying some of our own non-fiction writing. We even ventured to the world of report writing. These kids ate it up, I even had a few beg to do some report writing during choice time. I love it when that happens! Here's how it went......

Day 1: Introduce Non-fiction writing. We had a great discussion about what non-fiction writing is all about. We read some non-fiction books about animals, places, maps etc. I was excited to hear many kids make a connection to the pumpkin project and book we did this fall. (That will be a whole other blog!)Then we took some time to explore non-fiction books about different kinds of animals. Below, two boys delve into the world of non-fiction animal books.

Day 2: We had another discussion about non-fiction writing and also talked about choosing an animal that was interesting to each child and that they would be able to spend some time "researching". Each student was so excited and many knew exactly what animal they wanted to learn more about!  I introduced the report format we would use for this project and they dove in writing their name on the cover and the name of the animal and a picture to match on the first page. The excitement was awesome!

Day 3: I taught a mini-lesson on "taking notes". I modeled what it looks like to take notes by reading words in a book or looking at the pictures. I was amazed at the information that students recognized and recorded. They worked so hard to find at least 2 facts that they could record in their report. Impressive!

Day 4: The next mini-lesson focused on how non-fiction authors and illustrators often label pictures in their books. We looked through our animal books and found many examples of this. Kindergartners also made connections to labeling pictures in their journals which is an early writing skill and something that we have practiced before. The kids then took some time to draw a detailed, true picture of their animal and practice labeling what they believed to be important parts of their animal. Really cool!

Day 5: I call these days (usually Fridays) "Ketchup and Mustard" days. We use this time to write, "ketchup" on pieces that we need to finish and offer students a chance to reflect on the weeks writing as well as go back and re-read what they have written about in the prior days of writer's workshop. 

We will continue our non-fiction writing unit next week. Some of the things that we will explore are how non-fiction authors use font to highlight important information and many more fun facts about animals. I hope to be able to share some completed reports on this blog soon!

 Have a wonderful weekend!

~ Mrs. Leggett

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teacher's Chair

My chair is small, plastic, and yellow. It has four metal legs and there are 16 others exactly like it in our classroom. There is something special about "my chair". It's magical. For some reason when a student sits in "my chair" they suddenly get a funny grin and a powerful feeling. This chair has been filled lately with Kindergartners prepared to do a whole class read aloud. We have a small amount of time daily devoted to this kid created idea. The kids came up with the idea on their own, I simply designed the process. We have a sign up sheet and when they feel ready they add their name to the list. During our Siesta/quiet reading time, the next student on the list practices their read aloud choice with me and I make sure they're ready for "the chair". Then, during read aloud time they read the book to the entire class. This is such a valuable part of our day. Not only does the reader feel so important and proud, but other students are so accepting of different reading abilities. It is amazing how still the entire class sits and focuses during this time. They even started clapping and saying thank you to the reader. After each read aloud, the reader's smile comes back, but something tells me it's not just the chair.

Below are a couple of read alouds we enjoyed last week!


~Mrs. Leggett

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shapes, Shapes, Everywhere!

Shapes, Shapes, Everywhere!

We have been studying geometry this month during our math block. We began by analyzing basic shapes we use and see everyday. Kindergartners were also introduce to 3-D shapes including the sphere, cube, rectangular prism, pyramid, cone, and others. This unit provides rich vocabulary and has each child on the lookout for shapes around them! Some of the activities we've done during our shape unit are as below.

Mirror, Mirror- This game uses symmetry and partner work to have students doing some problem solving around shapes. The kids amazed me with the creative and beautiful designs they have composed!

                                         These two ladies built some really awesome symmetrical designs!

                                                                    It takes teamwork!

Another activity we did was a game called "Fill The Hexagons". Once again, children work in pairs to roll a dice showing images of pattern blocks we have. They must place the pattern block they roll somewhere on their game board in hopes of filling 6 empty hexagons. When they fill the hexagons they win together. This game comes from a standards based math program called Investigations II.http://investigations.terc.edu/ It's really fun!

What a perfect time of year to make shape snowflakes! Each student could chose to use paint and stamps or pattern block cut outs to create snowflakes. They were busy designing their snowflake as well as recording the shapes that they used. What fun! 

Well that's enough about shapes for now! If you need more information, please feel free to ask a Kindergartner at MCS!

Keep Warm!

~Mrs. Leggett

A New Year, A New Blog.

Welcome to Kindergarten!

A New Year, A New Blog! 
My Name is Caitlin Leggett and I teach Kindergarten in a small town called Monkton, Vermont. Our Kindergarten is a full day program which offers a rigorous work load of reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and an equal amount of time devoted to social skills practice and of course PLAY!

One of my new years resolutions is to begin a transformation into a more technology oriented Kindergarten classroom. I guess a classroom blog is a good place to start. My vision is for this blog to be available to students, parents, friends, families, and colleagues. I also see it as being a valuable way for students to see and be proud of the work they do in their Kindergarten home. I hope you enjoy, whoever you may be!

Check out what's going on in our classroom.....coming soon!

~Mrs. Leggett