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September 16, 2011

Teaching Kindergarten: What’s Working? Week Four

Teaching Kindergarten- What's Working Week FourTeaching Kindergarten- What's Working Week Four

Teaching Kindergarten- What's Working Week Four

Welcome to week four of Kindergarten!  Here is what has been working well in my classroom!

After four weeks of half day Kindergarten, I am definitely ready to move into our extended day schedule!  On Monday, the children will begin staying from 8:15 until 1:20.  (Up until this point, they have been dismissed at 11:35.)  We will continue on this schedule until the end of the second trimester, at which point they will go home at 2:15.  I think that all of the children will be happy to have a little bit more playtime now!

AND, by the way, those glue bottles that I “lubed up” in August have been working GREAT!  Not a single one has clogged, so I declare myself the winner in the war on glue bottles- at least so far!  Read this blog post for more info on how I “Declared War on Glue Bottles!”

Wiggles Paper Bag Puppets

So what have we been doing?  All kinds of fun things, including making some Wiggles paper bag puppets, as you can see in the photo above.  We made them to go with our book, Wiggles Learns the Rules at School.  (Puppet template comes with the book!) It was great fun and a wonderful way to finish up our unit on learning the school rules.   Read on below to find out more of our adventures in Kindergarten, week four!


1.  The Shape Song Book

We have been working on our Shape Song Book from Little Songs for Language Arts.  It’s one of those “Singable Books” that you can buy and download here. This year, I ran off each page on different colors to make it easier for the children to find the correct page to work on. 

Shape Book Craft

That has really worked like a charm!  So that way, I just tell them to look for the purple page, or the pink page today, etc.  We have done two books this way, and there has been only one time where a child glued the project down on the wrong page, and that is definitely a record!

The Shape Book by HeidiSongs
This is what our Shape Book looks like!  If you click on the video below, you can hear what the song sounds like, too.


2.  Working on Rhyming Words
We have been playing the Rhyming Words Bingo Game this week to help the children learn their rhyming words.  The thing that I like the most about this game is that we can practice our rhyming words off of the large cards first, and play the game using those same cards as the calling cards.  I have the children try to call out as many different words that rhyme with the given word as possible before revealing the “answer” on the card.  I always remind them that there are MANY correct answers to the question!

The kids LOVE to play Rhyming Bingo- ESPECIALLY with magnetic bingo chips and wands!!!! It makes it extra fun!

I am really hoping that they are NOT just memorizing the rhyming pairs; we’ll have to wait and see.  I am sure that some of them are simply memorizing, but hopefully they will eventually understand what it is they are doing.  And hopefully, this will happen BEFORE they leave Kindergarten!

HeidiSongs Rhyming Cards with Bingo Game

I created a little worksheet on rhyming words to go along with their homework next week, and I am including it here as a free download this week!  At my school, the children have to be able to come up with their own word that rhymes with a given word.  So in this worksheet, I have them circling the word that rhymes with a given word, and then drawing a picture of another one.  I also left a space for the parent to “translate” what it is by writing the word underneath the child’s picture.  I thought that in this way, it wouldn’t matter if the child really couldn’t draw at all.  The child could make an attempt and then the parent could label the picture.


3.  Hand Stamps for Managing Groups?

Hand Stamp1

Many years ago, I came up with the idea of stamping the children’s hands to help them remember the color groups that they are in, and I have done it each year!  I like this MUCH better than putting their name tags with color dots back on them- name tags drive us all crazy!  All we do is leave the stamp pads and rubber stamps at the tables where each group begins.  As soon as our group rotation starts, I have my aide and volunteers all stamp the children’s hands in their group.  The red group gets a red apple, the blue group gets a blue balloon, the green group gets a green frog, and the yellow group gets a yellow sun.   (I will confess to pressing the sun stamp into the black stamp pad maybe once a week, just to make sure that yellow shows up.  This makes my yellow stamp a bit dingy, but I don’t care.)  When a child gets separated from his or her group and winds up in the “wrong spot,” all we have to do is check for the color stamp on his or her hand.  This will instantly tell us where the child belongs, and that helps a lot!  (By the way, I saw colored stamp pads recently in the Target dollar section!)
For some reason, the children can’t seem to answer when asked what color group they are in, but they can (almost!) always tell you what color stamp they have on their hand!  They can even tell us what color stamp was on their hand YESTERDAY!  (I change their groups around a LOT based on how they are doing!)


4.  Counting Plates (AKA “Number Tubbing” From Math Their Way)

Number Tubbing 2

Okay, everybody!  File this one under “Incredibly Simple, Cheap, and Easy Ideas That Work!”  Many years ago when I first started teaching, I was sent to a Math Their Way workshop where I learned that children needed to develop the concept of “one-ness,” “three-ness,” and “five-ness,” etc.  The suggested activity to help develop these number concepts was called “Number Tubbing,” as I recall! In this activity, the children were supposed to be working on making groups of numbers until they began to count them out correctly.  Once a child has mastered making groups of three, for example, he or she could begin working on sets of four.

Number Plates Logo

Well, not too many years ago, I remember a very sweet, rather immature student with a very late birthday in my Kindergarten class.  He was having a very difficult time developing one to one correspondence, and for him, counting out any quantities past two was quite difficult.  In desperation, I one day grabbed a magic marker and wrote a number three on lots of plates.  I told him to try to put three cubes on each plate and call me when he thought he had it.  That allowed me to walk away from him while he was working, and he knew exactly how many groups of three he had to make.

Paper Plate Numbers

This worked out better than asking him to fill the table with sets of three, which had proved overwhelming.  It also reinforced the numeral, so I killed two birds with one stone! When I came back to check on him, we counted the cubes together and found several mistakes.  We dumped the cubes off of those plates and had him try again until he had all of the plates done correctly.

Number Plates 2

Since then, I have used this activity every single year, and I have done it with EVERYONE rather than just a few children!  In fact, we have done it at least once a week since school started!  Counting out the correct amount of objects can be amazingly difficult at the beginning of the year!  I have learned to change the counters, too, so that sometimes we are using pom-poms, plastic spiders, farm animals, etc.  I also like to combine fine motor skills with math by having them count out the objects with tweezers or tongs, etc.


5.  Making a Sight Word “See” Book

We like to make Mini Sing-Along Song Books for our Sight Word Songs, and it is especially helpful to make them at the beginning of the year!  The children only have to trace the sight word, rainbow draw it, and color it.  Then they try to read/sing their little books back again, which match the words to their sight word songs!

See Book Group

The book we did this week was for the word, “see,” but looked a lot like the booklet for the word “if” pictured below.  (The masters for our Mini Sing Along Songbooks are in our workbooks that go with each Sing and Spell DVD.)

Mini Sing-Along Song Books from HeidiSongs

Here is the spelling song for the word “if” that goes with the booklet above!  It is on Sing and Spell the Sight Words, Vol. 4.



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