Saturday, February 28, 2015

Smells Like Teen Numbers (KidLit and EdTech, Too)

This week in kindergarten-land was a crazy one. Between my being out a good portion of the week with sick kids, and all of our two-hour delays, it was hard to find any consistency, but we still managed to have a lot of fun learning.

Math this week was all about making teen numbers. We had already filled a ten frame, and now needed to use that knowledge to help us make teen numbers. As with everything else I teach, I try to change things up, finding different ways to to introduce a concept. We used base ten blocks and straws as manipulatives, we made anchor charts together and we used the lesson from our math series. We'll use the robots to practice the concept this week.

Dot and Dash:
We used Dot and Dash (our Wonder Workshop robots) to explore our new sight words for the week. Over the past couple of weeks, we performed a Control Challenge, where the kids practiced controlling the robot, moving him from one spot to another while learning the controls. We also performed a Precision Challenge, where the kids used Dash to push a tennis ball to a given sight word. This week, we combined the two challenges, as the kids had to drive to a given sight word, turn Dash around and push a tennis ball back to the starting point. This was really hard for them, and we'll probably try it again this week.

I love that by watching the robot, you can almost see the kids' brains working. Also, I thought it was really neat to hear the kids encouraging one another throughout this challenge. They really want each other to succeed, and try to help each other out as much as I will let them. It makes me feel like we've done a good job in Room 6A making the kids feel like they're all a part of a team.

One thing that I didn't get done this week was an activity practicing teen numbers. It's a pretty neat one that I thought of while looking at Make Wonder's challenge for the week: using Dash to go bowling. This week, students will start with the number 10 (showing a 10 frame on chart paper), and use Dash to "bowl" toward bottles or cups used as pins. They will add the number of "pins" knocked down to the 10 that they started with, telling me what teen number they made. More on this next week...

New Apps:
I don't have a full classroom set of iPads, but I do have enough for a couple of small groups, so I am always on the lookout for new iPad apps (some are actually new, while some could be considered "newly discovered"). These usually get tested on the kids at my house before they are introduced at school. I'll talk about a couple of them here:

TocaBoca makes great apps. Their Toca Hair Salon is a huge hit around our house but this week I was introduced to a really cool app...Toca Lab. This is pretty much a virtual science lab for kids, allowing them to mix, heat, apply centrifugal force to, and electrically charge elements. As they test an element from the periodic table, a new element is discovered. What I really like about the app is that it encourages kids to explore things on their own. There are no instructions. The app opens, and the kids start playing. It amazed me how quickly my kids took to it, squealing with delight with every newly discovered element. It became their favorite app within minutes. I'm excited to get this one into my classroom.

There has been a lot of talk about YouTube's release of their new app YouTube Kids. I wasn't sure what to expect...maybe just a "kiddified" version of their regular app. What I found, however, was a beautifully designed video app for kids, that allows them to easily find videos featuring their favorite characters. I can't tell you how well-designed this app is. You just have to check it out for yourself. My kids started using it instead of Netflix...which I'm more than ok with.

Kid Lit:
I love books. I especially like good read-aloud books. Books that make kids sit anxiously, listening to every word, or laugh out loud. I love finding new titles and new authors, and I eagerly track down new releases from my favorite authors. I'll mention a couple of them here:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat received a 2015 Caldecott Medal. Visually, it is a beautiful book. The illustrations draw you into Beekle's imaginary world, as well as into the city in which he arrives. I love that one world is full of vibrant color, while the other is plain and monochromatic...separating the two worlds. This week, we read along with an audio recording of the story at our listening station. Afterwards, I had the kids respond to their reading by drawing pictures of their own imaginary friends (free on my TPT store). They did a great job, and loved the story.

The Book With No Pictures is the children's book written by B.J. Novak (whom you may recognize from The Office). This book is one of the greatest read-aloud books of all time. (It is right up there with The Monster at the End of This Book, or another one of my current favorites This Book Just Ate My Dog.) It's very interactive, and draws the kids in, building excitement for every page that you turn. I'm not sure that I've ever heard a group of students laugh out loud like they did as this book was read to them. They were excited to "trick" our principal into reading it to us this week (see the short clip below). One reason that I love it is that it can easily lead to a conversation about the power of words. Another reason is that it is hilarious.

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