All posts tagged kindergarten

Months of the Year Calendar Wheel

Published January 6, 2012 by Mrs. Malo

In the land of Kindergarten the role of the calendar in the school day has been changing over the last couple of years.  There is an interesting article about how traditional calendar time in a Kindergarten or Preschool classroom may be wasted time.  I have been playing with the calendar in my classroom since September and am still not happy with how we do it, right now we are using if for counting and patterning but I think I may switch things up again.  I don’t concentrate on the days of the week or months of the year with my students right now, I am trying to figure out the best way to approach the topic.

I am currently readying Carol Copple’s Growing Minds: Building Strong Cognitive Foundations in Early Childhood.  This was the latest publication I have received with my NAEYC membership.    In the article on Cognitive Development in the Preschool Years I appreciated the quote:

“Even though research shows that preschoolers’ capacities are at time underestimated, they do have limitation in their reasoning skills that affect learning.  They have a limited understanding of ideas such as time, space or age, for instance, and don’t use these abstract concepts to help themselves reason unless the ideas are made real and relevant to their current lives”.

This is an American publication so the students in my class fit into the categories of both preschool and kindergarten, the joy of a junior & senior kindergarten mixed class.  My youngest student just turned 4 and I have a student who will be 6 in a few weeks.  I can see this development in my own girls, Eileen is almost 3 1/2 and Kaitlyn will be 6 tomorrow.  Eileen is learning the months of the year song at school but to her it is just a song that she sings like any other song.  Kaitlyn knows all the months of the year, the order they go in (without singing), can relate them to the seasons, and can read most of them.  So knowing where they are I set a goal for us – I want to see if I can get Eileen to start to understand the concept of a year and the months, and I would like Kaitlyn to be able to spell the words. Out of this came our months of the year calendar.

To make this calendar you will need a large piece of bristol board or other heavyweight paper, a piece of scrap heavy weight paper in a different colour, a metal fastener, pictures of family members and events, markers and glue.  To prepare an adult needs to cut out a large circle from the bistol board and divide it into 12 slices.  I went over the lines with a black sharpie to make them stand out.

The girls and I then reviewed the months of the year song to remind Kaitlyn, and to make some connections for Eileen to the song she already knows.  I found a version on Youtube that we watched.  With their help I printed the name of each month at the top of the slices.  I did it in pencil and then Kaitlyn went over them with marker.  Next we brainstormed special days in each month.  I wanted to make this a concrete activity and tie it to things that are important to them.  For every event with I either printed out a picture on the computer or they drew their own pictures.  Kaitlyn did an awesome job with her drawings and backgrounds and Eileen even got her hands in their with her own decorations.  Both girls played an active role in deciding what would go on our calendar.  Their selection included: birthdays (all 5 of us), holidays, trips we would take this year (Great Wolf Lodge, Skiing in Vermont & Disney World) and the start and beginning of school.  The best part of this calendar is that it is personalized for our family.  We hung it on the wall in our playroom and hopefully Eileen will begin to associate the different months to the events in her life.  To finish off I cut out an arrow to indicate which month we are in right now and attached it with a metal fastener.

The other great thing about this style of calendar is that it is continuous.  It shows that after December the months start over again.

If anyone makes your own wheel I would love to hear how it turns out!


Kindergarten Pumpkin Activities

Published November 8, 2011 by Mrs. Malo

Last week we finished up our study of pumpkins in my Kinderoo class.  I thought I would share a few of the activities we did.  I started with a google search for ideas and came across a great blog from Mrs. Nelson’s Class.  The one item is borrowed from this page was their awsesome Science Pumpkin Observation Sheet.

I started the unit by having all the kids sit in a circle on the carpet and I put a pumpkin in the middle of the circle.  I didn’t say much and let them start the conversion.  They first started asking where it came from and we discussed where you can get pumpkins.  I grow my own pumpkins so this branched into a discussion of growing pumpkins.  From here we introduced the word ‘observations’ which has become our BIG word in science.  I handed out the pumpkin observation sheet.  Each child drew a picture of what our pumpkin looked like and made a decision as to whether they thought it was big, medium or small.  On the back of our sheet we also recorded it’s weight (8 kg) and diameter (77 cm).

The next day when they came into school I had set up our ‘pumpkin patch’ in the science centre (sorry I forgot to take  picture).  I had gone to our best local fruit stand and purchased a wide variety of pumpkins in size, shape, colour and texture.  I arranged them all on a green table cloth to constrast the colours and make it look like grass.  On the science wall behind the patch I put a pumpkin patch sign along with a number of descriptive words: big, medium, small, orange, white, smooth and rough. For activity I placed a bin with a number of  pumpkin observation sheets and pencils next to the pumpkin patch.  Students were encouraged to visit the science centre and make their own observations on the different pumpkins present.

To go along with our pumpkin study we learned about the colour orange.  We have been learning our colours and I carefully timed orange so that it would coincide with our pumpkin study.  We learned our orange song and practiced it throughout the week. This was also sent home as homework at the end of the week.  I also have worksheets available for interested students to reinforce the colour.  Once we had learned the colour orange we also added to our observation sheet that pumpkins are orange.  As an art activity I gave each child a paper plate and a drop of yellow and red plate.  I asked them to paint their paint orange – a great exploration activity.  Once they were all dry we added faces and made our pumpkin patch on our bulletin board in the hallway.

After thoroughly observing the outside of the pumpkins it was time to cut one open.  Before cutting it open everyone made a prediction of what they thought it would look like on the inside on their observation sheet.  We cut it open and recorded our observations. I made a chart with pictures of: and eye, ear, nose, mouth and hand.  We used our five senses to record our observations.  I took the seeds home and cleaned them and dried them out.  I added to the pile the seeds I had at home from my own kids jack-o-lanterns and I also took some from my brother-in-law (who carves very cool pumpkins on Halloween).  At the next class we made our pumpkin observation booklets to record our observations from the inside of the pumpkin.

I had precut the orange construction paper for them and glued in the observation sheet.  Each student was given a piece of wool and a handful of seeds and asked to make a representation of the inside of the pumpkin.  Then they used the observations that we made as a class and recorded one observation for each of the 5 senses (they wrote ‘no sound’ beside the ear as we didn’t hear anything).

Math: When we started this unit we had just begin our lessons on counting and number recognition in math so I wanted to keep the math lessons as simple as possible.  Because of this, and the large number of seeds that can be inside a pumpkin, we didn’t do any estimation of the number of seeds in a pumpkin.  Instead my teacher partner gave me the perfect activity that fit very nicely to what we are targeting in math right now.

Each bag had a number of dots that corresponded to the the number in the upper left hand box.  Students were to glue pumpkin seeds on each dot and then count the number in each bag.  This was a bit time consuming but a great activity.  If I was to do this again I would give my more advanced students a sheet without the dots and they would have to determine the number of seeds in each bag.

Literacy:  In one of our literacy centres I had large pumpkins cut out of orange construction paper and I wrote on them the first 12 Jolly Phonics letters that we have learned.  Students had to pull a letter out of a bag, say the letter name and sound and match it to the corresponding letter on the pumpkin.  If this was easy for them they were to say a word that started with the letter: eg – s, sss, snake.

Everything in our unit went very well – and I love it when everything integrates so nicely!