Saturday, February 26, 2022

Inkblot Writing

Writing is a hard thing to teach in early childhood. It takes a LOT of practice and a lot of patience.

This year my students entered behind in writing skills. I mean it makes sense, half of them were at home learning virtually and only had to type responses. So we began at the beginning with handwriting and working on sounding out our words to write. We learned how to make spaces between our words then tougher concepts like capitalization and punctuation.

As you look at these sentences you may see primitive writing, but I actually see a lot of progress so far this year!

Students put drops of paint on one side of their paper then squished it together. (We threw in a lesson on symmetry as well). When they opened it they had to write a sentence or 2 about what they saw in their painting. I was looking for complete sentences and for adjectives. I truly adored hearing all the oohs and aaahs as we opened their paintings. A quick activity but one they had so much fun completing!

She said she purposely used alliteration. <3

A bat butterfly

He saw two fidget spinners ready to fight.

A colorful forest.

a crab


an eagle

a dog butterfly

Friday, February 11, 2022

Valentine's Day Rigor

The kids LOVE Valentine's Day! I think the candy-related holidays are their favorites! :) 

Here are some ways to inject some rigor into your Valentine's Day activities:

* Rules for valentines-after they pass out their cards, let the kids have a few minutes to examine them. What is always true about valentines?

*Ethics-is it right to celebrate Valentine's Day even though some people are excluded. We read the story (available read by Hector Elizondo on StoylineOnline by the way):

We discuss how Mr. Hatch's life was changed by receiving a valentine. How many people are lonely on this holiday? Should we still celebrate it? Sparks some good discussions.

* Trends-do you know how the tradition of valentines started? It began in the 1800's. Look at those valentines and compare to what we buy today. You can also look at conversation hearts-how has the text changed over the years? Why has it changed?

* Multiple perspectives-write from the perspective of a valentine. From the perspective of your heart. Make a valentine from the perspective of a character. What would a valentine from Willy Wonka look like? From Charlotte? From George Washington?

* Create a new symbol for Valentine's Day.

* Invent a new candy for Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

100th Day Rigor

I know the word "rigor" may be the despised buzzword in the education world. Especially amongst early childhood educators. I believe that teachers can be sucked in to wanting things to be cute as opposed to be rigorous. 100th day is one of those times I see a lot of surface activities-they make hats and t-shirts. Trust me, I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, but I also believe you can include creativity and critical thinking in your 100 Days activities.

1) Ethics-is it right to keep a $100 bill you find in the park? Is it right to spend $100 on something frivolous? Do we treat 100 year old people fairly?

2) Rules-what is always true about 100 year olds?

3) Trends-this is an amazing way to explore how trends have changed in the past century/centuries? Study anything from food to pets to clothes to music to school.

4) Multiple perspectives-how does one view 100 year old in their family? How does society view them? How do they view themselves?

5) Analyze a quote: "age is just a number" what does that mean? "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"

6) Write about a world where we do not celebrate birthdays or keep track of our age-what is different?

7) Creativity-what can you create using 100 blocks, chenille wands, marshmallows, cups, etc.

8) Design a room for a nursing home-in the past my students made a pet room, a salon, etc.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Conversation Heart Sentences

Conversation Hearts sure have changed! :) They say "DM me" or "text me". Sometimes I miss the classics. 

I give the students hearts and ask them to construct a sentence around it (with older kiddos they could write a whole story). 

Here's what they came up with:

"Text me" tomorrow. (This is a student who couldn't write a word in the beginning of the year. Look at him sounding out his words!!!!)

"Our song" is the weekend.

Kate said "LOL" because the dog was dancing.

We are "BFF" for ever.

You are "nice" because you are my best friend.

Friday, February 4, 2022

The Blues

I play examples of music from the Blues genre. Then we read the poem by Langston Hughes-The Blues:

The Blues

When the shoe strings break
On both your shoes
And you're in a hurry-
That's the blues.

When you go to buy a candy bar
And you've lost the dime you had-
Slipped through a hole in your pocket somewhere-
That's the blues, too, and bad!

We analyze the poem and then the students write their own version. What is it like to have the 1st Grade Blues?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Divergent Heart Art

Divergent art is a great way not only to foster creativity skills but to assess them. I do an activity the 1st week of school and give them a squiggle asking them to turn it into something. Half of them make it into a snake and half make it into an "S". I model for them some other ideas.  And we do activities like this regularly.

I see so much progress in their answers and in their applied creativity. We get to the point like this one where every student creates something different, thinks of something different.

So with Valentine's Day coming up we used hearts. Turn the heart into something. Here's what they came up with.