Toontastic is an amazing app for storytelling in the classroom. The basic app is free and has plenty to offer a classroom but I know you will want to get the “all access pass” once you play with it some. In the video I mention a Martin Luther King lesson and you can find more info on that here.
Storytelling or apps or creating are the most powerful and I have a list of my 33 favorites here, several with example lessons.
I started using coloring pages this year for our labeling center with Skitch on the iPad. (Need a tutorial on using Skitch app? Click here) The kids have always liked labeling pictures and being able to take those images home but using the coloring pages allows them to color them also and they love that added bonus. If you look at the images below they represent three weeks of examples. The first two you will notice the kids have most of the words spelled correctly. This is because I included an example with some of the things labeled for them and they were copying my example. Starting with the third week there is not an example and the kids will sound out all the words on their own. We will continue doing this many times throughout the year because the kids seem to never get tired of it and it is a great way to encourage writing and phonics practice. The expectation is that they label at least five things but often they label much more than that. My class always work in pairs on the iPad so these examples are two kids working together. I pair them so that at least one child will be strong enough to complete the phonics part. Setting up expectations for how the kids work together is important. For this project one kid pics what they want to label and then that child draws the arrow and writes the word. Their friend is allowed to help them figure out how to do this but is not allowed to do it for them. The friend can help them figure out the sounds and point to the letters on the keyboard if needed but not actually touch the iPad until it is their turn.
I find the coloring pages by doing a simple search for a keyword (such as Fall) followed by “coloring pages”. There are many sites that share free printables. Once the kids are finished I email the finished product to my teacher computer using the kids names as the subject line. To print the images I simply insert them into Microsoft word. To save paper I fit two images on each word document, print that page and then cut the page in half to give to each kid that worked on the project.
Here are a few things we did with pumpkins this year…
Growing seeds inside a pumpkin! Cut open the top and fill with soil. Water and watch them grow, it really does work. Make sure the pumpkin gets A LOT of sun. I also made a few small cuts on the bottom for water to drain. You might notice there is a grasshopper in the picture. That is because we put one of the pumpkins inside our terrarium. We are very curious to see if he eats the leaves or not. I love the wonder and excitement the terrarium brings to my room. We also have crickets, worms, snails and beetles in there currently. Special thanks to my teammates Carole and Jen for letting me include a pic of their pumpkin. Crazy how many plants are growing in it!
Giant pumpkin. We had a parent donate this 100 pound pumpkin! It was a prop for home living for several weeks and then we took it outside cut it open. We are also going to watch and see what happens to the pumpkin over time. Next year I am going to visit some of the pumpkin patches and stores to see if they would donate any leftover pumpkins for us to observe. All you need is a small patch of dirt or garden area.
And of course the kids explored pumpkins themselves! Read more about that project here.
My Kindergarten kids file away their finished work each day in file cabinets. I use two different cabinets and half of their names are in each file. I have found the multi-colored files work best because when they open the file they see the color inside also. I teach them to make sure the inside is the correct color so they know they are using the correct file. They are able to handle this after just a quick demonstration and this system has worked well for me for many years. They learn to stay organized and it makes it super easy for me to check their work Friday morning to see what they might need to finish for the week. The unfinished work is kept in a separate shelf (see below) which also makes it easy for them to know what they still need to finish. Basically, with this system I expect the kids to keep track of their work.
On Friday morning I have them each bring me all their finished work and we go through the work together. Anything that needs to be adjusted/fixed/completed would be moved to their unfinished work bucket to complete. As I meet with each child the class plays in imagination tubs because I think every Friday should start with fun and play. Usually it takes me about 20 minutes to go through all the work and then we switch to centers to finish up the work from the week.
Please share your ideas for keeping their work organized in the comments!
The first question I am sure many people will have is WHY would I use a DVD player for my listening center. It all started when my old CD player died this week. I went to several electronics stores and was not able to find a cheap CD player that had a place to plug in headphones. Apparently that feature is not standard anymore. That led me to come up with another option… the DVD player. The main reasons I decided to use a DVD player are: 1. they can play audio CD’s 2. they are cheap 3. they are small 4. I don’t need speakers, actually I prefer not to have them. Speakers take up space and when the kids accidentally (or on purpose) unplug the headphones my class is blasted with the audio.
Here is what you need to make this happen (images below):
- A cheap DVD Player (with composite output): I was able to find one $25-$30 at every electronics store. My understanding is all DVD players can play CD’s. Make sure the DVD player has composite output. The cheapest ones should have this and it will say on the box.
- Adaptor: you will need a “RCA audio to 3.5 female” adaptor. I ordered this one on Amazon and will update the post when it arrives. Another option is to visit Radio Shack or Fry’s and see what they might have. I used some connectors I already had (yes I am a geek)
That is all! If you are curious about the headphones I use look here. The headphone splitter I use can be found here.
This is what the adaptor looks like…
The back of the DVD player needs to have composite output. Often called RCA or Red/White cables…