Kindergarten Teacher

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Wonder Journal: First Activity of the Day

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I started using a Wonder Journal each morning this year. When the kids walk into the room I have an image and a word written on the board (see below). They unpack and then grab their journal and start wondering. They can use words, pictures or both to document their thinking. After the tardy bell rings the kids leave their journal on the table and sit on the carpet for the school announcements. Then I let the kids share with me what they have been wondering. The questions/wonders they have been sharing are amazing and they lead to some great discussions. After sharing for a few minutes we then watch a video about the wonder. Most days the image and video comes from Wonderopolis. Each morning I check the Wonderopolis sight and use the “wonder of the day” or pick from this list of 50 great wonders. Wonderopolis even includes a wonder gallery of images for each one so I have everything I need in one place. I decided not to display the actual Wonderopolis website on the board when they walk in because I don’t want the kids limited in their wondering by reading the “wonder of the day.” Having only the image about the topic has worked best so far for me. After our discussion and watching the video the kids go back to their journal to wonder some more or document their learning. This also allows time for kids that don’t arrive before the bell to get something in their journal. I am very happy with this process so far. The kids are excited to walk in and see the wonder, unpack quickly to get started and are engaged and thinking first thing every morning.

Example of what I have on the screen as they arrive each day. This is from the polar bear wonder.

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This is the journal. It has 20 blank pages (completely blank) and paper binding. Anything simple would work for this

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Sample page from the Where is the fastest roller coaster wonder. His wonder was how do they go so fast. 

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Sample pages from “What is the Hottest Planet wonder…

“I wonder why the sun is so bright.” 

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“I wonder why this one has a red spot”

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Red arrow shows the “Wonder Gallery” where I find the images most days. 

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Fall Tree Art Using Handprints and Fingerprints

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Reposting this from last year because we are doing it again in my classroom this week!

found this great idea on Pinterest (here)

The best part of this activity is letting the kids paint their own hand. I did something similar last year when making turkeys (here) and the kids were able to handle it very well without any major issues. So far they are doing great again this year.

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Lego People Template- Draw Your Family (Printable)

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The last few years I have had my class draw and label their family as a center sometime during the first few weeks. I have used several different people cutouts for this activity but when I saw the Lego figure printable I knew that be perfect for the activity. Of course very family is different so the kids are just cutting out the number of adults and children they need.  The class was very excited when I introduced the center. I hope to find other ways to use this in the class this year.

You can find pdf file here- Lego Family Printable

I found the image HERE and used it to create the pdf

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Technology in the Classroom, What is the Focus?

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This is a repost from last year. I think this is a good time to share again as many prepare for the start of school (or for those just beginning) 

In college I remember learning about how important it was to always mention the child first when discussing special needs. They are children first so it was important to say a “child with autism” rather than an “autistic child”. I had never thought of the importance of that before discussing it in class but that really hit home with me and I have always tried to make sure not only mentioned the child first but made sure to recognize the child before the disability.

That lesson came to mind this week when I was asked about technology goals. Someone mentioned to me their goal was to use more technology in the room and asked what I suggested. This teacher is doing great things in the class and we chatted about ideas to increase the technology in her room. After the discussion I began to wonder how often teachers have that goal: “Use more technology in the room.” This thought concerns me because much like the child with a disability we should always be thinking of the learning first when discussing technology. I love technology and strive to incorporate it in my classroom daily but my goals are never about the technology themselves. When I see a new tool I don’t try to incorporate it simply because it is new and cool. It is important that I see an opportunity to encourage, foster or enhance learning with that tool. So I came up with the top reasons I use technology in the class.

Click each one for an example:

 Helps my students connect with the outside world

– Helps us document learning

 Allows us to do or see things we couldn’t without the tool

– Encourages creativity

– Provides novelty to a learning goal (especially for struggling kids)

– Gives my students a voice in their learning

  Allows my students to create stories without letting writing ability slow them down

– Encourages parent engagement or helps connect home/school

– Makes learning meaningful

 Provides constant feedback for the kids (virtual teacher)

– Helps me manage things

What would you add to this list? Have other examples, please post a link in the comments!

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Getting To Know My Students: All About Me Project

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The first week of school I am going to make a picture (see above) with each student during teacher table time. My goal is to get to know them more while also providing a display that can be used for writing in our classroom. After I make a picture of every student I am going to hang them around the room. This will be a fun way for the kids to get to know each other better while also giving them some great words to write in their journal when we start our journal the second week. Since I teach Kindergarten many of the kids can’t write much more than their names and I always encourage them to copy words from the wall as practice while we are learning how to write. My hope is these pictures will give them words they like as well as a resource of words that are important to their friends.

To make this picture I used the app Explain Everything (more info here). There are many storytelling apps that could do the same thing. Skitch is an option if you want to make one with just words (see here.) This could also easily be done with Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.

What activities or games do you do with your students the first week of school? Would appreciate you adding your ideas here -> First Week Activities 

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Augmented Reality ABC Flashcards App for Young Kids

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This FREE app is so much fun. All you have to do is download the free flashcards, print them in color and then use the free app. When you open the app press “get started” and it opens a camera viewer. Place one or more of the cards in view of the camera and watch the magic happen. When you touch the screen on top of the animal or card it also tells you the letter name and animal. I know we are always looking for interesting ways to get kids to learn letters and I think this could be a great addition to the bag of tricks. Check out the video below if you need to see the app in action.

I also love that it will recognize more than one card at a time. I am going to have my class use this app to spell their name and practice spelling sight words.

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