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September 2, 2011

Teaching Kindergarten: What’s Working? Week #2

whats working week 2whats working week 2

Teaching Kindergarten: What's Working? Week 2 
Welcome to Kindergarten, Week 2!  In this post I am going to tell you about five different lessons or activities that worked well for me in teaching kindergarten, week two.  Enjoy!

My class is now off and running, and we are now in the routine of small group centers.  It was a fairly smooth transition, thankfully!  You may have noticed that I posted a mid-week piece on Sight Word String-Ups, and that’s because I wanted to get the word out early in the week about a good idea for using those pencil boxes that were on sale this week for one cent at Office Depot.  (They usually sell out of them quickly around here, and I didn’t want anybody to miss out that might be interested!)  So if you are interested in reading up about Sight Word String-Ups, scroll down this page a bit and you will see my last post about that.  Meanwhile, this is what we are working on, and here are some things that are working well this week.  I hope that some of these ideas are useful to you.  I am also especially glad that the parents in my class have already given permission for me to use all of their beautiful children’s pictures in my blog, etc.  Hooray!  It’s no fun without them, so enjoy!

Play the Ring the Bell Game with the Easy Button!

1.  Ring the Bell

This week, we played Ring the Bell at one of our math centers with my aide.  You can find this game here.  This is a really fun game that plays like the traditional “Bang!” game, but also has some extra fun activity cards in it, including a card in which you ring a bell and get everyone’s cards at the table.  It is designed to help the children practice letters and numbers.  I use a Staple’s “Easy” button for that one, and of course the children love to push it!  I think I’m going to have to get an extra button, though, since that is also our homework bell, and I don’t want them to get tired of pushing it.


2.  Unifix Cubes Patterning Cards

We have been making lots of patterns this week with anything we have around, but especially with Unifix cubes.  One thing that I always use is pattern cards with Unifix cubes on them.  They have patterns started, and then the children’s job is to continue the pattern.  I have no idea where I got the original cards that I have; I only know that they are home made.  This week, however, my aide pointed out that we really did not have enough of these cards and that I should make a few more.  So I thought that I would make some and share them with you here today as a free download!  That’s always a good thing, right?  To use them, just laminate them or cover them with clear Contact paper.  Give them to the children and show them how to cover the picture cubes up with real cubes and continue the pattern as long as they can.  When they are finished, they should try to identify the pattern.  Then they should take it apart and try another one.  That’s it!

Unifix Cubes Patterns. Free downloadable masters from HeidiSongs!
Unifix Cubes Patterning Masters- Freebie from HeidiSongs!


3.  Wiggles (is still) Learning the Rules at School!

Wiggles continues to fascinate all!  The children are still LOVING that Wiggles story, and still want to hear it every day.  Who ever heard of children begging to be reminded of the rules?  It’s kind of funny when you think about it!  The only problem is that we really don’t have time to read it every single day!  But that doesn’t stop us from trying!  I shudder to think what will happen when the children figure out that I am only getting the story and puppet out when they are especially naughty.  Do you think they will be clever enough to be really naughty on purpose, just to make me get Wiggles out again?  Hmmmmm…… 
Next week I am going to teach them the word “the” with the song from Sing and Spell Vol. One, and then on Thursday we are going to look for and highlight that word in their own little Wiggles books that they will get to take home.  I think that I will have them just do the highlighting on Thursday and then save the book to finish coloring on Friday.


The Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds DVD

4.  Music, Music, Music- for Classroom Management AND for Learning!

We have been learning the Jumpin’ Numbers and Shakin’ Shapes songs, and so far we have learned 0-10, the Counting to 100 song, and the Circle Song and the Triangle Song, and have practiced with the cards that go with it every single day.  The kids are getting better and better at them!  We are drilling on the Zoo-Phonics cards, too, of course.  We are also working on the alphabet songs from Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds, and have learned A-H so far.  Check out the little video that I took of my new class singing the H song; it’s so cute!  It’s a little video clip of my students singing along to the Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds DVD, which was being projected on my wall.  And if you watch past the end of the song, you will see one of the children spontaneously decide to form a lower case h on the floor with his body.   He said, “Look, Mrs. Butkus!  I made an h!”  And the next thing I knew, several of the other children had all made h’s with their bodies as well!  It was the perfect learning moment (not to mention really cute!) and I was so pleased to have captured the moment on tape.
And, we are working on the Color Word songs also from Sing and Spell Vol. 2, and so far have learned Red, Yellow, Green, Orange, and Blue.  It’s always harder to find the time to introduce a song than to simply practice the song, but once we have got it down, we’ve got it DOWN!  We have also managed to sing the Summer season song from Little Songs for Language Arts after we say the date each day during our calendar time.

I’ve been using the “Sh” song from the Sounds Fun CD acappella (with no music CD to back me up) any time that I’ve been having trouble getting the children’s attention as a group.  For example, if a bunch of children are talking and I can’t seem to get them to settle down, stop, and listen to me, I begin singing:

S and H!  S and H!
Sh, sh, sh, sh, sh!
Quiet please, quiet please!
Sh, sh, sh, sh, sh!

AND… it seems to be working!  This group of children really responds to little chants that they can join into and say along with me.  So the more I sing it, the more children join in.  I get quieter and quieter while I am singing and the children do, too.  When I finish, I have everyone’s attention.  Easy, right?
It goes along very well with the little chant I blogged about last year:

Criss cross applesauce,
clap, clap, clap!
Eyes on the teacher,
Hands in your lap!

Again, we keep repeating it more and more quietly until I have everyone’s attention and they are sitting nicely.  It works!


5.  Pete the Cat

We have been reading Pete the Cat and the children have just been LOVING that book and the music, too!  It is WAY too much fun!  My friend Krissy Miner traded me a product for a product and gave me a copy of her super cute Pete the Cat packet.  I love the guided drawing section, and I can’t wait to try it!  (You know how I LOVE guided drawing, and Krissy even recently added all of the step by step directions so that teachers will know just how to describe each step for their students, just the way I do.)  The packet also has a neat story re-telling component that I think will be great, and some pages that will also help the children practice their color words, too!  Fun!


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