In the last few months, we have been learning about shapes and measurement. Students have learned that shapes can be 2-dimensional or 3 dimensional. They have also learned that shapes have different attributes or characteristics to help describe them. These are the shapes we are working on: triangle, square, rectangle. circle, trapezoid, hexagon, cube, sphere, cone, cylinder, and pyramid. Students have learned how to measure using nonstandard units (cubes, paperclips, etc.) and have learned how to compare objects using weight, height, and capacity.
Listed below are some other skills we are working on in math. Please help by reinforcing these things at home:
- one more/one less
- 10 and some more (i.e. 10+3=13, 10+5=15, 10+7=17)...this concept has been developed through the use of ten-frames (see above)
- counting from 1 to 100
- counting by fives and tens to 100
- writing numbers 1 to 100
- the concept of addition (adding more) and subtraction (taking away)
- addition and subtraction symbols and what they mean (+/-)
- fluently adding/subtracting facts within 5
One of the things we have focused on lately has been the concept of equal. My students have learned that equal means the same. After reading the book Equal Shmequal by Virginia Kroll, students got to do a fun activity revolving around the concept of equality. The story involves animals attempting to play tug of war on a playground, but after many tries, the teams were still not equal. The animals realized that just because each side had equal numbers didn't mean the sides had equal weights. Using the seesaw in the playground, the animals figure out equal teams in terms of weight.
In their table groups, my students had the task of coming up with as many equal teams as they could using the animals from the story. Each animal had a certain number of cubes on the back, which made for different weights. The ultimate challenge was to come up with an equality sentence where all of the animals were used and obviously, each side needed to be equal. I was amazed at the number sentences my students were able to come up with. A few of the number sentences students came up with did involve every animal's weights. The number sentences were 4+6+3+1=5+2+7 and 2+5+4+3=1+7+6. I had to remind myself after this activity that I teach kindergarten, not high school algebra. Needless to say, I was IMPRESSED!!! Here are some pictures from the activity.
Comprehension is the ultimate goal in reading. In the end, I want students to understand what they read. We have also been working on accuracy (reading words correctly). As books get more difficult, students will encounter trickier words. One way I encourage students to help them figure out unknown words is to think about what word would look right and make sense. This strategy is called cross checking. As your child is reading at home and he/she comes to an unknown word, encourage him/her to think of a word that looks right AND makes sense. This is a skill that will help them for many years to come.
In addition, we are focusing a lot on phonics with a heavy emphasis on short vowel sounds. To help with this concept at home, provide your child with simple CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant) and have them read them. These can be real words (fat, can, sub, leg) or made up words (bov, tup, cad). If students are able to decode these simple words, they will be ready to move on to more difficult words.
We are also focusing a lot on retelling stories. To accomplish this, I have taught my students story elements. Students are learning what each of these terms mean: characters, setting, plot, problem, and solution. To reinforce this skill at home, have your child retell various fiction stories including these elements.
Recently, we had to take a day to review and practice procedures. My students were having a difficult time working the whole time, staying quiet, and getting started right away. I decided to take a day to review procedures and take videos. If you watch video 1 (below), you will see how badly we needed to review procedures. I'm almost embarrassed to show you, but it's reality. There is a pretty hilarious moment at the end of video 1 when one of my students realized I was videotaping. He had that deer in the headlights look as he knew he had been caught. My goal isn't to get anyone in trouble, but rather, give my students the chance to evaluate their own behavior. This was clearly very effective as many students made corrections right away. By the end of the Readers' Workshop time, my students' behavior improved drastically. I have the second video to prove it! Compare the first video to the last video, and you should notice a huge improvement. Thankfully, students have continued to make better choices this week. When students are doing the right thing, everyone can do their best learning and thinking.
As you already know, we have been learning more about non-fiction books. After studying published informational books, we have been writing our own books about how to do something. They have learned that the purpose of writing this type of book is to teach other people how to do something. Students have studied a variety of published How-To books to learn common characteristics found within this type of writing. They have in turn attempted to incorporate these characteristics in their own books. Here are some of the characteristics: using the words you and your (not I and my), listing steps in order with numbers, using sequence words to help explain the steps, including detailed pictures and/or diagrams, using comparisons, giving tips and warnings, and incorporating a beginning, a middle, and an end. Students have enjoyed writing this type of book and are excited to share one with you at conferences.
We have just finished our How-To unit and will once again work on personal narratives. It will be important that students understand the difference between these two types of writing (one is to teach or to inform, and the other is to tell a true story). Whether writing personal narrative or how-to books, students are making a lot of progress in writing. We had the chance to share our writing with Mrs. Hahn's class on Wednesday. As always, this celebration is a great way to end one unit and begin a new one. Here are some pictures and videos from that event.
In science, we continue to learn about body parts and their functions. We have done several experiments involving the five senses. A few weeks ago, students did a blindfolded activity to see what it is like to not have the sense of sight. Last week, we listened to various sounds on the computer where students had to guess the sound they heard. Our personal favorite, was when we recently made no-bake cookies. Students had the chance to taste not only the cookies (after we made them in class), but also the various ingredients: vanilla, oatmeal, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and sugar.
Students then had the chance to circle whether or not they liked each item. Vanilla and cocoa powder were hated by all, whereas the cookie was loved by all! We talked about how certain ingredients may not taste good on their own, but may taste wonderful with other ingredients. We also learned that different people have different tastes. Some people really liked the oatmeal, and other students did not. As always, with each experiment, we have recorded our thoughts in our science journals. Here are some pictures from the cookie-making/tasting event.