Listening Center Lifesaver

The Listening Center is always a class favorite during Daily 5.  

I used to struggle with how to allow all students a turn when we only have 1 computer but not anymore. I purchased this adapter and now, I can have up to 5 students at Listening Center.  I numbered the adapter and the seating area.

Then, I numbered the headphones to avoid the "He took my headphone!" antics.  When not in use the headphones lay on their number.  Yes, at times, we do get some tangled cords. I've taught the kids how to unplug the headphones and they can usually untangle themselves without my help. 

Space saver tip
Use a table with no legs; one which will be low, and let kids sit around the table on the floor. My table is actually up against the wall.  I've also disconnected the keyboard  and store it under the table since they don't need it.  If we are using the computer at other times during the day, I replug it in.  This gives them more room for  their books since usually they have to share with at least one partner.  

I love my listening center and have accumulated a large book collection which I keep on iTunes.  To read more about how I did that, go here.    

Happy Teaching and Learning!

The Pigeon, Tamales, and a Dinosaur!

What do these have in common? 
Well, they are each characters from books!  

My class loves Pigeon and his wild antics.  Recently, we reread each of the books and created a bubble map to describe Pigeon.  The class said he has temper tantrums, is sneaky and wants to drive the bus.  With that in mind, we recreated our own version of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  
Here are a few samples:

Look carefully. Pigeon is by the green door.

I love the motion lines of the subway.

Today we read, The Three Little Tamales.  Have you read this book?  It is so cute.

This book is about three little Tamales who run away in order not to be eaten.  Low and behold, they encounter a Lobo, who wants to huff and puff from here to Laredo.  I used this book to teach making Text to Text connections.  

Here are some samples:

Lastly, dinosaurs.  We sing a lot in our classroom.  I have my "standard" set of songs that I like to have them learn.  Some years, they work.  Other years, not so much depending on the personalities of the kids.  Months ago, I bought, Dinosaur Pet at our school's Book Fair.  Magic happened.  The loved the song and I love to hear their voices as they sing.  It is so sweet and innocent.  Everything a 5 year old should be.  So, if you are looking for a new book to add onto your bookshelf this may be it.  This book would be great to teach the months of the year. Go here to listen to Neil Sedaka sing this song with his grandkids.

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Drawings of Fly Guy

We are spending the last few weeks of school, revisiting some of our favorite books.  As we do, we are making crafts about the books; something we normally do not have time to do. Today, we read Ride, Fly Guy, Ride.  I quickly showed them how to draw Fly Guy.  We also discovered that if we change the placement of his eye lids and eyes, the expression changes.  The kids really liked this trick.  

Here are a few examples in various stages of completion.
I love the expression on his face.
Look at the smirk.

Did you notice Fly Guy's eyes are hearts.
He is in love!

Here is a more completed picture.
We used a black Sharpie to complete it.

It was a great way to spend the afternoon.  Kids learn so much from guided drawing lessons.

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

As we wrap up the last few weeks of school, we are learning about our community workers.   Each day we read and write about a community worker.  We are using this wonderful and simple resource from Kindergarten Hoppenings to write about each community worker.  In addition, we complete an easy art craft or activity to compliment what we are learning. So far, we've made fire fighter helmets, police hats, and wrote a letter home for the mail carrier to deliver.  

Like the frames? I got them here
I hope to culminate the unit by having the students make a community models complete with buildings, cars and people. I saw this several years ago before I taught kindergarten and have always wanted to try it.  Wish up luck! 

Here are a few books that we are using during this unit.

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Math Work Stations Ch. 3 - Revisited

I recently posted my thoughts about Math Work Stations after using them in my classroom for a year.  Many of you, commented how you plan to get started with this math style this year.  To help you, I am going to "revisit" these as well.

Chapter 3 is about Getting Started.  To read the original post and the links of other bloggers who joined in this virtual study, go here.

My Reflections Now:

  • I started and introduced a few games at a time.  
  • I loved having my students work with a partner.  We changed partners about once a month.
  • I love dice! They can be used for so many skills.  
  • The same can be said for all the Oriental Trading and Target Dollar Spot erasers, I have collected over the years.  Change the counter and it instantly becomes a "new" game.  :)
  • Kids requested games that they wanted me to keep.  I also instantly knew when a game was a flop.  I got the "I'm Done" teacher.  
  • My original plan to have each tub categorized by standard was too overwhelming for me.  Numbering the boxes was easier.  
  • I was able to incorporate Common Core Standards as well as teacher "the book" all year long.
  • Math Work Stations became easier to plan as the year progressed.  
  • I loved that I could incorporate games that perhaps, my kids did not have at home like Connect Four, Hungry Hungry Hippo, puzzles, etc.  They each had mathematical value in our classroom.  
As I plan for the upcoming year, I know that I will "tweak" things about Math Work Stations.  I plan to reread the book again this summer to see how I can fit some skills in more frequently like geometry and measurement.

Happy Teaching and Learning!


Tile Art for Father's Day

or any other occasion.  Recently, I saw this idea on Pinterest and I knew I had to try it.  We are going to make these for our Father's Day gifts as coasters.

Supplies Used:
Sharpie markers (must be Sharpie)

I had my little one draw a picture and write his name.  The only guidance he needed was a reminder not to place his hand on the tile or it would smear his work.

After baking in the oven, I checked to make sure that it was set it by running my finger gently over it.  It turned out great.  I only had a bit of it smear off in one area but I think it was perhaps because the tile was not clean as well as I had thought.

We had an instant Father's Day gift in minutes which is perfect since I am busy assessing.

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Math Work Stations One Year Later

Last year, I had the opportunity to work and learn collaboratively with a wonderful group of bloggers and many of you about Math Work Stations.  It has been about a year since implementing Math Work Stations.  Since then, I have seen a difference in my approach towards teaching math and how I implement math concepts in the classroom.  

What's Working:
I love that Math Work Stations give every learner a chance to work with a partner to explore math concepts.  In my classroom, Math Work Stations take place 3 to 5 times a week depending on our schedule for at least 15 to 20 minutes.  In the past, math centers would have been an extra time filler.  Not now.  It is a component of our math program.

Many of the stations are games which I have purchased, made or found through the internet.  Although there are many great items via the web, I tried to only use the ones which reflected the needs of my students.  Some great sites are: KidsCount1234, Math Wire and Teachers Notebook.

Our Schedule:
Calendar and Math Routines 
     Components include: patterns, days of the week, months, counting by 1s, 5s, 10s, money, time, 10 Frame work, place value based on the date
Whole group instruction 
     Components include: teaching required math concepts from workbook, teaching a game, spiral review
Math Work Stations 
     Components include: 10-12 independent math centers.  Currently, includes addition, subtraction, counting, place value, time, money (pennies), Hundreds Chart work

Organization is key to a successful math program.  Here is how I do it.

We use this simple pocket chart for our Math Work Stations.  Index cards are placed by the numbers and pairs work their way down the stations.  On average, it takes about 2 weeks to complete the stations.  I modify or help some groups based on ability.  Students are paired based on need and sometimes personality.  New partners are given about once a month.  I love that many times, I am able to walk around and observe the children.  I learn so much about their thinking during this time.  It helps me as I plan for future lessons.

The shelf holds most of our math manipulatives. Most of these items are used during Whole Group Instruction.  It also hold a few extra Math Works Stations.  If needed, I can adapt a Math Work Station quickly.

We do not have space to house our Math Work Stations on a shelf.  Instead our stations lay on the floor.  The numbers above help the students put the station back in the correct place.  At first, it took some time to retrieve and put back stations.  Now, we do this quickly and easily.  I use Sterlite containers that I found at Target.  They are not too bulky and most items fit easily.

Room For Improvement:
Next year I hope to incorporate more I Can Talk Cards.  Some of my shyer and limited English speakers, really do have a hard time talking about math.  I hope that this would help them.  I would also like to work towards the Common Core.  Math is the first to be assessed, so I know that it is crucial that I work with the Common Core in mind.

Did you try Math Work Stations? If so, what worked for you?  I would love to hear from you.  If enough people are interested, I could make this a Math Work Stations linky party.  Let me know.

Happy Teaching and Learning!
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