Sunday, August 30, 2015

Letter Practice and Concentric Circles

I think that five and six-year-olds have a strange desire to destroy's the same desire that makes them want to tear paper into small pieces. As you know, taking things apart and tearing things apart can greatly help the development of a small child's fine motor skills.

As I watched my Pre-K daughter poke holes into a piece of cardboard I came up with an idea for a new kindergarten station for this past week. I returned home that night to cut several pieces of cardboard into manageable-sized pieces. I wrote my students' names on them, and then had them poke holes over the top of each letter in their name as practice for writing them with a capital letter first, followed by lowercase letters.

Poking a pencil into cardboard must provide the same feeling as tearing paper or breaking something (I mean, even I found it appealing), because my kids loved it. I wrote their first names only, twice, on the piece of cardboard. They carefully poked a pencil into the cardboard, tracing their names with small holes. Perfect practice for forming letters, writing names, and fine motor skills. I can't wait to use this practice method with sight words, too!

Kandinsky's original
"Concentric Circles" painting.
Also this week, my teaching partner and I (our kindergarten team at John Rex is phenomenal, by the way) worked together to create a massive piece of kindergarten art. Our classes were studying shapes, and we wanted to do a piece of artwork involving basic shapes, that was similar to a piece of classic artwork. We decided to do a John Rex Kindergarten version of Kandinsky's "Concentric Circles".

We gave each student an 8 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece of watercolor paper and watercolor paints. We showed them Kandinsky's piece, asking them to identify the shapes that they saw. We then asked them to paint one square of the painting, using any colors they wanted. They're five, so their circles weren't perfect, and their painting was messy, which made their individual paintings look so good. We then taped the squares together, making one huge piece (about 3' x 5'). The end result looked so good, and the kids were so proud of what they had created by working together.
"KINDERcentric Circles"

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back In Business

Wow. It has been quite awhile. In kindergarten terms, it has been quite literally forever since my last blog post.

There is a reason, though.

I moved.

I could bore you with details of the transition itself, but I won't do that. I'll just tell you that I was given a wonderful opportunity to teach at a great new school, and I went for it. My family and I packed a U-Haul truck (could've packed for home and one for school) and we moved 12 hours away. Throughout the entire transition I decided not to post on here. I still had work to do at my old school and there was always a chance that something could go haywire in the transition process. But now here I am, a John Rex Rocket, starting another school year in kindergarten.

My new teaching home...John Rex Elementary,
nestled right in the middle of downtown OKC.
The first week was full of procedures and the kiddos getting used to me. This is a long process, with many kids wondering why they have the "boy teacher", but it's fun to see their little attitudes change when they see my personality and how much fun we can have.

Of course, they had to be introduced to my friends Dot & Dash (our robot friends from Wonder Workshop), and they were beyond excited to drive them around and get to know them. Seeing their excited little faces as they realize that they can actually operate robots never gets old. I actually used Dot & Dash on "Meet Your Teacher Night" as a kind of ice breaker. The kids loved them (and some of the parents enjoyed playing with them, too). It really helped calm the atmosphere a bit in my opinion. Of course, I may have been the only one in the room who felt like it was a little stressful in the first place.

We also worked on a few "About Me" projects. My kindergarten team wanted to measure the kids, marking their height with a rocket that they colored (since the school mascot is a rocket). I had a random, long, piece of white board that I dragged with me in the move. It was a leftover piece from when I had some custom white board cut, about five feet tall, and a couple of inches wide. I'm sure the guy at the hardware store thought I was crazy when I wanted to keep it (and I'm sure that Mrs. Kindergarten Guy was cursing me throughout the move for bringing it along, but she had plenty of her own teachery items...I'm sure we can call it even). We ended up turning this piece into our own custom "measuring device" (tip of the cap to one of my good friends at TES), using a dry erase marker to mark each unit. We used chart paper to list various non-standard forms of measurement: pencils, blocks, cups, plates, cakes...the usual. We settled on (with some expert guidance from yours truly) using markers as our unit of measurement. We then used our custom ruler to measure the kids heights on the dry-erase wall in the hallway. That's right...the walls are dry-erase...can't wait to see all the ways I can use that!

I'm looking forward to sharing all of the new, creative and fun things that we will be doing in kindergarten this year, so check back in.

I'm back in business.