Thursday, May 29, 2014

Literacy in Kindergarten, Part 2 - Teacher Jean

Literacy in Kindergarten, part 2

My previous post offered several examples of how literacy permeates our kindergarten classroom. Here are several more:

Word Work Games

We often make games available to the children during word work time. They are a good way to give them repeated exposure to sight words, word families, and other concepts that require repetition. Here is a guessing game in which we hide an object under a bowl. The children have to say and spell the word on the bowl before lifting it up to see if they guessed correctly. There are many variations on this theme for use with the pocket chart and flannel board.

One breath boxes and Fast as Lightning help the children to practice reading sight words quickly.

Another popular activity is a sight word hunt where children take their clipboards around the room to find and record the sight words that are posted.

The last three are picture matching, compound words, and sounding out c-v-c words.

Class Books and Displays

Our kindergarteners love reading class books with pictures of themselves. They quickly memorize the text and are able to read the books successfully on their own. Here is one child enjoying “Our Names In Sign,” a book we made after each child was given a unique sign language name.

Here are two children acting out a page in “There’s Something on Your Head,” a book modeled after a Mo Willems story we had read earlier.  

Displays including dictation from the children are often a topic of conversation during our snack time, when they read each other’s words.

Finished Early Folders

The “finished early” folders are a great way to individualize, giving each child just the right level of challenge for him or her. When kids finish the daily assignment before word work time is up, they can turn to their folders to continue practicing skills that they need to master.

Reading Groups

When we have students at different stages of reading development, reading groups give them an opportunity to work with peers at their level, providing a little extra challenge or an opportunity to be a leader that they don’t always get with the large group. These three reading groups got authentic practice reading for an audience with their readers’ theater presentations.

Home-School Literacy Connections

Early in the school year, we began sending Pete the Cat home with children. He is currently on his sixth round of visits. He comes in a school bag with a notebook in which the children draw and write about their experiences with him. They read what they have written to the class, and take compliments and questions.

We also often have the children share the writing they have done as homework during a transition or story time.

Letter Writing

We have had several opportunities to use a letter format for writing. We first introduced it in the fall when writing thank-you notes to the farm owners after our field trip and to BJ the Clown after our ice cream social. We expanded on that experience when we had the children make special delivery envelopes so they could write to each other during “finished early” and free time. We provide a framework by using paper with lines for the opening, body, closing and signature. If they need ideas about what to write, they can look through the cards with sentences and matching pictures.

As the year goes on, they are able to use more of their own ideas and are less dependent on the cards.

They love getting mail at the end of the day, and we remind them that the best way to get a letter is to write one.

Whole Group Story Time

This is a time not only for enjoying stories together, but for learning about genres, parts of a book, how certain phrases are emphasized through punctuation and font, elements of a story, and more. We show tables of content, glossaries, title and dedication pages, and we point out new vocabulary.

We re-tell stories by acting them out…

And we compare different versions of the same story. Here, Teacher Jean uses a Venn diagram to compare two versions of Chicken Little.

Here, Teacher Lisa uses “story stones” to talk about characters, settings, problems and solutions in fiction.


The students then applied what they had learned about story elements when they wrote their own stories.

Thematic Units

Each of our themes gives us ample opportunities to practice literacy. Here, a student reads a clue in a treasure hunt on St. Patrick’s Day:

We also make glyphs (creations that tell something about the maker through a code). Different materials are chosen based on each child’s answers to the questions on the poster. This one went with our bug theme.

We recorded observations in writing as we watched our bean plants grow.

We labeled the parts of a bat and compared bats and birds with another Venn diagram.

We complete books about units of study, and fill in charts to convey information.

Math and Literacy

Even during our math time, we incorporate many levels of reading, from matching words and pictures to completing and writing sentences to convey information.

We hope this gives you a picture of the many ways that literacy growth is accomplished in our Kindergarten program at Small Friends. It is gratifying to watch each child’s growth in skill and confidence through the year as we engage in these diverse activities.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Corner Grocery Store and More - Teacher Elaine

Role play is an important part of a child's development. Imaginative play encourages creativity and builds social skills. We often change areas in the classroom to engage the children and give them the opportunity to interact with each other in new situations.
We like to set up a grocery store complete with cash registers, money, grocery carts and fully stocked shelves. It is interesting that some children are very deliberate in what they buy (food for a special meal or party), while others just like to see how many items they can fit into the cart. Money is often counted or borrowed and negotiations are worked out for taking turns with the carts and cash registers. We hear language involving cash transactions, using charge cards and scanning items.

A hospital is another fun area to encourage role play. We transform the loft with hospital gowns, syringes, blood pressure cuffs, neck braces, stethoscopes and bandages. There is a reception desk and an examination area. The children are very comfortable because they are familiar with the scenario of visiting the doctor. It is fun to see how kind and sympathetic they are when giving each other that dreaded shot! It is also interesting to watch a preschooler study an x-ray or ask for a stethoscope to perform an examination.

We put out an "open mike" and stage at the end of the school year. Many children are comfortable at this time of year to tell a joke or sing a song in front of an audience of their peers. We often hear silly knock-knock jokes or the entire soundtrack from a movie like Frozen. It's fun to see a quiet, reserved child get on stage to do a monologue or sing a familiar tune.
There is a lot more going on than just pretend play in these situations. The children are taking turns, building vocabulary, sharing, practicing cooperation, and having a wonderful time imagining and playing with their friends.