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October 14, 2011

Eight Weeks Down: The Sounds Fun DVD is Finally HERE!

Yes!  The Sounds Fun Phonics Video is finally here!  I am SO excited because this is an EXCELLENT way to teach children the basic phonics rules, digraphs, vowels pairs, and diphthongs, etc.!  You can see a sample of the song that teaches the sh digraph above.  





Although the real reason I wrote the song was to help the children learn the “sh” sound, my class has been singing the “Sh” song since the beginning of the school year as a classroom management tool for getting the children to settle down.  However, we have been singing it with the CD or just acappella (with no CD at all.)  So when I  brought out the DVD and put it on our big screen, the kids were SO excited!  They were just singing their hearts out, and that was nice!  But the thing that I really didn’t expect was that they started insisting on hearing and singing the other songs that they were seeing on the “Single Songs” menu.  The thing that surprised me a lot was that they were absolutely LOVING the songs, even though I hadn’t introduced a single one, and that doesn’t always happen at all!  There were shouts of “Let’s hear the dinosaur song!”  And “I want the doggie song!”  “How about the “Th” song?”  I think that they would have gone on and on with it for quite a while, but frankly, I was TIRED! 

And- the next thing I knew, the “O-R Dinosaur” song came in handy when we were trying to sound out the words “trick or treat!”  I pointed out that it was just like the dinosaur song, and that it was spelled “O-R.”  They caught on to that right away, and made use of it.  Then they sang it over and over (and over and over) in line for lunch, much to the dismay of the cashier!  But they only sang part of it, just “O-R, or!  Just like a dinosaur!” ad nauseum until the cashier finally called a halt to it, poor thing!  Even a few of the kids from the other Kindergarten classes had start to join in, and they had no idea what song the other children were even singing!

Color Word Letter Sort

A few years ago, I developed this activity when I was trying to have the children look for certain letters of the alphabet in environmental print, such as magazines and newspapers.  The problem that we were having was that the children who came to the center first would tend to find the majority of the largest and “best” letters in the magazines, and by the time the last group came to the center, there was almost nothing left in those magazines for them to cut out and sort!  So I decided to solve this problem by printing out some words in large print that would be meaningful to them- namely, the color words printed in color!
In the activity, children can cut the letters apart and sort them by the letter of the alphabet.  This is meant to mimic the activity in which children search for large letters in environmental print, such as magazines and newspapers. For children that are learning to read the color words, these words qualify as environmental print for them.  It also helps them focus on each letter found in each word, and they often sing the color word songs in HeidiSongs Sing and Spell Vol. 2 as they sort.  My kids really enjoyed it, and I am including it as a free download here for you today!!


1.  Copy the word “red” onto red construction paper, the word “blue” onto blue construction paper, etc.  You will need about three to four words per child minimum.  I usually duplicate more than enough and save the extras to use the following year, or share them with another class.

2.  Cut the words apart so that each child can choose and cut out one word at a time.

3.  Put the words into baskets, and place glue and scissors on the table as well in preparation.

4.  Duplicate one of each of the Alphabet Glue-On pages, and pin or tape them onto a nearby wall so that the children will be able to reach them easily to glue on their letters.  (You may want to have an extra copy of the letter Ee page, because this one tends to get filled up and then you may need an extra.)

5.  When you are done, you may want to discuss with the children why there is nothing glued on to the letter Qq page, etc.  Have fun!     



My Fall Leaf Science Center!


Leaves and Pumpkins Investigation Center

I have set myself the goal of doing an actual GOOD job with science this year (!) and one of the things that I am going to try to do is have an independent science center going all of the time.  So for my first science center, I have decided to start with something simple:  just fall leaves, and pumpkins, two different types of magnifying glasses, and a variety of fiction and nonfiction books on the topic.  I think that once they figure out how to use those magnifying glasses, they might actually get something out of it!  They keep holding them way too close to their eyes, and I can’t imagine that they are seeing anything more than they usually do; and perhaps, they are actually seeing less!

I have read a few of the books to them, and on Thursday I cut open one of the very small pumpkins that grew in our class garden and let them start touch the pulp so that they could feel it and investigate it in a more hands on way.  I think it was a success!  The kids really did seem interested in all of the leaves and pumpkins, and did spend a good amount of time there looking at everything and enjoying the books.  Next week I am going to have them bring in more leaves that they find around their homes, and also let them record what they see on paper with crayons and also with some pumpkin and leaf rubber stamps that I found at a craft store.

Stay tuned for more science centers!  And please tell me about your favorites, because I have always felt that science was my weakest subject!  

FYI, I am now enjoying following two science blogs, though they are not necessarily Kindergarten focused:  Little Miss Hypothesis, and Science Gal.  Check them out, they have some great ideas!



Working on Rhyming Words

Sometimes it feels like teaching a four year old to rhyme is like trying to teach him to pull a rabbit out of his hat, but he is not wearing a hat, and he also has never heard of a rabbit before!  And -if memory serves me correctly- I have seven children in my Kindergarten class that will not turn five until sometime this fall between September first and December second.  So that is at least seven children that are completely mystified by the concept, plus the usual few more that really could be developmentally ready, but whose parents haven’t been reading to them, etc., so this is all brand new.  We have done GOBS of rhyming activities, including reading tons of rhyming stories, listen for rhyming words here and there, have puppets say rhyming words, and play my Rhyming Bingo game.  I also made a Power Point drill for them to help them practice the rhyming words, and that helped a lot until they got tired of it.  And now, we are halfway done with our Rhyme Song Book, and I think it is really starting to take effect!  Of course, a bunch of those younger children are also now just turning five, so it COULD be a coincidence, but I prefer to think of it as good, strategic teaching! 

We have been singing and dancing the Rhyme Song every day from Little Songs for Language Arts, and they have been doing one page per day as well.  We have two more pages to go, and I think that they now have the book memorized.  One good thing about using the book in conjunction with the Rhyming Bingo game is that the pairs that they are memorizing do not match, and I really like that!  For example, in the bingo game, top rhymes with cop, but in the song, top rhymes with mop.  So there was a lot of discussion about which was the “right answer,” and once again I explained that there are MANY correct answers where rhyme is concerned!  And this time, I think they finally GOT it! 

One thing that I do not like about the rhyme book is that it does require a lot of prep work in that someone has to glue down the flaps ahead of time for the children, since it is a lift the flap book.  But this year, the class next door to mine decided to go ahead and make the projects side by rather than under flaps, and that worked just fine, I’m happy to say!  And I do hope that the children’s rhyming assessment goes well.  At this point, about half of the class has passed with flying colors, and the rest of them still need work- but I haven’t checked on this for about two weeks.  Time will tell!   


Testing, Testing, Never Resting

Question:  “How do you do report card assessment? I hate assessments and feel like I always put it off until the last minute because it is forever long.   Looking for some new ideas.”

This question came up on my Facebook page, and I thought that it would make a good blog topic. 

I assess the children on each skill just as soon as I am done teaching it. So this week, we are just finishing up teaching sorting, so we are assessing it now. I’ll keep working on it with those that didn’t pass, and try to get their parents to keep working on it, too.  Also, as an example, this week I retested the children on their letters and sounds.  I sent home some short notes written on index cards with the few children that are still have a few letters and sounds left to learn, and handed these notes to their parents as they picked their children up after school.  I simply made a quick list on the index card that said something like, “Kimberly:  Capitals:  P, M, N, Q.  Lower case:  n, u, r.  Sounds:  e.  Then I quickly handed it to the parent and said something like, “Hey, these are the letters and sounds your child still needs to learn.  Can you help her with them?”  I think that this sort of thing helps a lot, and is well worth my time!  I also updated their RAN boards if they were in my tutoring group, and sent a copy of that board home.  (See this blog entry on RAN boards if you are unfamiliar.)



Keep those testing supplies handy for whenever you have a moment!


So basically, I am constantly assessing even though it might be way too early to think about report cards!  I always keep parents informed of how the kids are doing (as much as I can), and then try to assess the children that didn’t get a certain skill one last time again right before report cards go out.  I have parent volunteers keep “tutoring” the kids on those concepts that are difficult for them, too.  So hopefully, most of my kids will pass most of the benchmarks.  That’s my goal.   

One advantage that I think this system has for parents is that they may get a couple of short progress reports with some small, do-able goals as opposed one big report card with a (surprise!) LONG list of goals that may seem insurmountable due to its length.  With my system, very little of the information on the report card should really be a surprise.  It should all be “old news,” and something that you have already discussed with most parents at



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