Thursday, July 13, 2017

Large Group Literacy: Halloween

5 Senses Pumpkin Chart
To prepare for this graphic organizer, you can either use chart paper OR orange bulletin paper.  Cut your paper into the shape of a pumpkin, then split the pumpkin into five segments using markered lines.  Label each segment a sense; smell, touch, taste, sound, and sight.  Place a large pumpkin in the center of your carpet or discussion area.  I let students take turns approaching it and choose which sense they'd like to use to talk about the pumpkin before handling the pumpkin appropriately to judge sound or touch or the like.  I have a small container of pumpkin seeds and pumpkin guts with napkins for students to assess taste if they choose rather than licking the pumpkin.

5 Little Pumpkin Rebus Reading 
Rebus is the art of using pictures to represent words.  As pre-k is filled with pre-readers, we do not expect for our students to come to us ready to read at the beginning of the school year.  We can start teaching them decoding skills with rebus charts.  Allow students to attempt deciphering the rebus chart before you read it to them, echo it with them, and read it together.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat retelling with props. 
The old lady is back!  Remember to allow students to take time and discuss what items they believe she will eat this time before reading the book title.  In the book about her swallowing leaves, she created a scarecrow with the items that she ate.  What will happen with the things that she eats this time?

Candy Corn Writing "Have a _____ Halloween"
Here's another fun graphic organizer that will take shape.  So create a large candy corn cut out.  The top reads "Have a", the second section remains empty, and the bottom reads "Halloween".  Students suggest various words to fill in the blank and you write them all in.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Large Group Literacy: Community Helpers

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up
This is a sentence chart activity.  Something that I use that I haven't talked about are turn sticks.  Turn sticks are craft sticks with a decorative top to them.  You can buy sets of these from teacher stores or you can make your own.  Some teachers choose to have a set with each student's name on a stick to pull, I prefer just to hand them out.  They give a great visual to you immediately of who has had a turn to speak, and who hasn't.  The decorative piece gives the students who have had a turn something to fidget with as they learn to wait politely for others to take their turn.
With this sentence chart, I do it the first day.  Bold, I know, some students aren't fully aware of different job types.  Our first book introducing the topic that morning is Community Helpers A to Z.  I place this book along with alphabet community helper flash cards placed on the floor for students to browse and identify jobs if they haven't already thought about what job that they'd like to have when they grow up.
During nap, I type up this list and post it on our classroom website for parents to review and feel involved in the learning process.

How Do I Look?
Using markers, stickers, fabric swatches, and more, students decorate a black and white print-out of their picture.  Students enjoy doing things that are all about them, and to decorate themselves pulls in those students who have been shying away from the art area, watch as they actively work on this project.

The House That Jack Built Big Book Reading
I use the copy illustrated by Pam Adams because it has each character hiding in the pictures for each page.  I have each student take a turn finding the characters as they're introduced on each page after we've read through the story as our transition to the next activity.

Write a Letter to Me!
I give students a full piece of paper to color, decorate, and more with color pencils.  Once they've finished with their paper, I place them into their corresponding pre-addressed envelope.  Take these envelopes to your front office and have them stamped to send off to the students.  Students love asking their parents if mail has come for them and it really makes an impact on them when they do get their letter from themselves at home.  This activity also helps the office staff to keep track of student addresses for zoning purposes so we know who we need to get in contact with when their letters are returned to the school.

Machines That Help Us
This is an activity that I use after we read Discovery Kids: Machines That Help.  I plan this last near the end of our time spent on Community Helpers.  We've talked about people and jobs, but we have technological tools that also support our daily lives from microwaves to car to dryers and more.  I enjoy this class chart because it is an easy way to grab assessment notes on the indicator of understanding technology and the affect it has on our daily lives.


This looks pretty sparing for the two weeks that I teach community helpers for but when I plan for guest speakers, I try to plan for them to come for Large Group Literacy.  It is usually later in the day making it easier for guests to plan to come to the school.  Also, guest speakers are times where students are required to exercise their listening skills and communication skills through discussions or dialogue.  You can send home a questionnaire towards the beginning of the school year to learn what jobs class parents have and if they'll be willing to come and discuss what they do with the class.  When scheduling guest speakers, contact potential guests two to four week prior to when you would like them to visit your classroom.  When booking, try to allow them to schedule which day and time will work.  Granted, you can let them know when nap time is because nobody wants to engage with cranky children.  When you plan these visits out around their schedule weeks prior to, it still gives you flexibility to write your lesson plans around their visits.
Can't get parents to come out to the classroom?  They're busy too and that's okay!  I send home this parent involvement sheet to give all parents the opportunity to share what it is that they do with the class.  Students enjoy reading the jobs of their parents and their peers in this parent-made book. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Large Group Literacy: Autumn

I'm a Little Scarecrow Rebus Reading 
Rebus is the art of using pictures to represent words.  As pre-k is filled with pre-readers, we do not expect for our students to come to us ready to read at the beginning of the school year.  We can start teaching them decoding skills with rebus charts.  Allow students to attempt deciphering the rebus chart before you read it to them, echo it with them, and read it together.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves retelling with props
So you have already introduced the story of the old lady who swallowed a fly, bring her back out.  Be consistent to have the same old lady prop and where you store her.  Students will begin to recognize the old lady book series and they can retrieve the old lady prop as you discuss what items will be needed to perform the retelling.  Engage the students in critical thinking, what things will the old lady eat in this story.

Fall Word Web
A word web is a graphic organizer format.  In the center of your paper, draw a circle with the topic word inside of it.  In this case, we would write "FALL".  You can have some lines connecting the main topic word to smaller topic circles; I use "sports", "holidays", and "weather".  Around those smaller circles, students can suggest fall centered sports, holidays, and weather to write freely.  Anything that fits with fall but outside of those other topics can be freely written around the paper.  Try to use student suggestions but leave a book about fall, I recommend Who Loves the Fall by Bob Raczka, for students to turn through the pages and provide additional suggestions to offer for the word web.

Favorite Color Leaf Graph
You will note that graphs will be happening frequently in my Large Group Literacy planning.  This is a time for students to practice writing their name while expressing their opinions and preferences in a guided manner.  There are leaf cutouts on red, yellow, green, and brown paper glued across the top.  I hold up a student name card and hand them the name card, a pencil, and a post-it.  The student may return to their space on the carpet to attempt copying their name to their post-it before placing it under their preferred leaf color.  I usually don't pass out these items to more than four students at a time to avoid from the graph area becoming too congested with traffic.  Once this is finished, we can count to find the totals for each leaf color reviewing numerals before assessing which had most, least, or were the same.

Fall Word Journal Writing
This is an activity that I use to really introduce what my expectations are of using the word cards within our classroom writing area.  I use the word cards found at Pre-Kinders, there are cards for a variety of themes paired with images.  Students open their journals to any page, I never stress finding the "first blank page" within the pre-kindergarten environment.  I select the large word cards and display them on the interactive whiteboard for all students to view from their carpet.  I display one page for three minutes directing students to try and copy their favorite word or picture from the screen.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Large Group Literacy: Pets

What Pet Should I Get?
This is what I title our graphing activity at the beginning of the week.  The entire week I spend building up towards what classroom pet we will have.  Monday, I read books such as What Pet Should I Get and general pet books.  I have three options that I get approved by administrators prior to this week; hermit crab, fish, and hamster.  Those are the options that are posted in this graph for students to choose as our class pet.

First Journal Entry
Pets is a new theme that I began in my classroom this past school year.  It falls after Friends & Family but before Space.  This is a time for students to again practice writing their name but I give them the prompt to draw which pet they hope to have as a classroom pet.

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake Big Book Reading
Big Books are important for demonstrating the idea of tracking print in reading.  At the beginning of the school year, I have students use "power pointers" which is a cue for them to extend their hands and attempt to track the print along with me as we read.

What Pet Should I Get Revisit
Monday we read general pet books and voted on three pet types.  Tuesday, we read all hermit crab books.  Wednesday, all fish books.  Thursday, all hamster books.  We now revisit the graph and go down each child's selection from Monday and ask if they would like to keep their choice or change now that they have new information about each animal.  The final counts determine which pet we get.


Class Pet Naming
Now we have our animal of choice!  I take four student suggestions and write them on sentence strips allowing the suggesting student to stand in a corner of the room with their name.  Once there is a student in each corner, we vote by moving.  I call out which student is holding which names and students stand by the child holding the name that they think most fits the animal.  If there is a tie for most, the other two are dropped and students move again between those names.  The name with the most students is placed near the cage to identify the name of our classroom pet.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Large Group Literacy: Space

KWL Chart (Fill out Know and Want to Know)
This is an activity that happens at the beginning of this unit, theme, or whatever you call your Topic of Study/Interest.  KWL Charts stand for Know, Want to Know, and Learned.  Begin with a simple conversation about what they know about Space.  They only need to offer between three and five statements.  Write these under the K column of your paper.  Next, have students discuss what they want to know and write these statements under the W column of your paper.  Again, you only need between three and five statements of what they want to know.

Coffee Filter Planets
This is another creative writing activity.  Students give the students washable markers to write on coffee filters to hang out for hallway display.  Again, we're still in the beginning of the school year so many writing activities are focused on using writing utensils while the teachers continue demonstrating writing.

Rebus Twinkle Twinkle Little Star reading
Rebus is the art of using pictures to represent words.  As pre-k is filled with pre-readers, we do not expect for our students to come to us ready to read at the beginning of the school year.  We can start teaching them decoding skills with rebus charts.  Allow students to attempt deciphering the rebus chart before you read it to them, echo it with them, and read it together.

Twinkle Twinkle Story Change
Now it is time to shake things up with some creative writing prompts from our students now that they know the familiar nursery rhyme.  Start by writing the words "Twinkle twinkle" on the chart paper but allow the students to change the words to create a whole new rhyme while you model handwriting skills.

8 Spinning Planets retelling with planet props
8 Spinning Planets by Brian James is a fun book about the solar system that uses rhyming fun.  I have a set of planets on popsicle sticks that students use to be each planet as we read through the book together.  You could purchase a set of plush planets or make whatever suits your classroom budget.

Favorite Planet Graph
Here is where I begin introducing copying letters.  We have the planets arranged in a row across a chart paper.  I hold up a student name card and hand them the name card, a pencil, and a rocket cutout.  The student may return to their space on the carpet to attempt copying their name to their rocket before taping the rocket to their planet of choice.  I usually don't pass out these items to more than four students at a time to avoid from the graph area becoming too congested with traffic.

KWL Chart (Fill out Learned)
This is an activity for the last day of the unit, theme, Topic of Study/Interest.  Before you take charge into simply filling out your L column for what students have learned, review on the first two columns with the students.  Talk about what they knew coming in to the learning unit, what they wanted to know.  Ask them the questions from the W column and write their answers for L.  They will enjoy seeing how they have learned and acquired the answers to their own questions (research at work!).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Large Group Literacy: Germs, Health, & Safety

By this point in the school year, students have either encountered illness or have noted friends that have been absent do to sickness.  If you're Quality Rated then you've probably been practicing hand-washing procedures with your students since they came for Meet and Greet.

KWL Chart (Fill out Know and Want to Know)
This is an activity that happens at the beginning of this unit, theme, or whatever you call your Topic of Study/Interest.  KWL Charts stand for Know, Want to Know, and Learned.  Begin with a simple conversation about what they know about Germs.  They only need to offer between three and five statements.  Write these under the K column of your paper.  Next, have students discuss what they want to know and write these statements under the W column of your paper.  Again, you only need between three and five statements of what they want to know.

Wash Your Hands Retelling
Wash Your Hands by Tony Ross is a short story about a princess who questions having to wash her hands until germs are explained to her by the castle maid.  Students can wear crowns and costumes as they pretend to be various roles in the book while learning about the importance of handwashing!

Class Rules Discussion
I'm sure that some of you see this learning activity and your eyes are popping out.  AGREE ON CLASS RULES THIS LATE INTO SCHOOL?!  Are you NUTS?!  Well, you have already established your classroom routines and procedures so you actually can survive without "rules" for this long.  Many pre-k consultants still request that classroom rules be decided upon as a class so here is your time to do it.  Most of this discussion is students repeating the routines and procedures that you have been teaching them since the beginning of the school year.  At each suggestion, write them up with a positive re-wording.  Example: "No punching!" "Thank you Sally, let's keep our bodies to ourselves." (write on chart paper: Bodies to ourselves)
Students now feel as though they had a say in agreeing to what the classroom expectations are for them behaviorally.

KWL Chart (Fill Out What We Have Leaned)
This is an activity for the last day of the unit, theme, Topic of Study/Interest.  Before you take charge into simply filling out your L column for what students have learned, review on the first two columns with the students.  Talk about what they knew coming in to the learning unit, what they wanted to know.  Ask them the questions from the W column and write their answers for L.  They will enjoy seeing how they have learned and acquired the answers to their own questions (research at work!),

Monday, June 8, 2015

Large Group Literacy: Feelings & Emotions

Remember that we are still at the beginning of the school year with these activities so let's have fun as we continue teaching the routines and procedures.  If you have had any number of classroom management training, it has been expressed how important it is to teach feelings and emotions to pre-kindergarten students.  Many behavioral issues are communication issues, students not knowing how to say that they feel a certain way or need something.  Here is your time to review emotions and how students might feel when they are acting that way.

Today I am feeling ... because ...
"Henry is feeling sleepy because he woke up too early" "Mrs. Pope is feeling hungry because she missed breakfast" "Susie is feeling happy" allow the students to say how they are feeling and, if they are able, why they are feeling that current emotion.  I've had a student tell me before on this chart that they were sad because their dad's football team lost their game.  Even parents get a giggle out of what children will share during this activity.  As they share these details, write them on giant chart paper to model handwriting.

Silly Sally big book reading
Big books are great for modeling tracking print and guided reading with class sets.  At the beginning of the school year, I focus on modeling the tracking skills with big books.  Silly Sally is a fun story for the beginning of the school year as it contains rhyming, repetitive phrases, and sequencing.

Silly Sally flannel retelling
This flannel set again is something that you can buy, make with felt, or print on paper with velcro fasteners.  You can either choose to simply read the story and use the props or allow the students to manipulate the flannel props as you read the story.

Three Little Pigs Blues
Three Little Pigs Blues is a song by Greg & Steve from the album Playing Favorites.  I took three privacy folders and decorated them to be a house of straw, sticks, and bricks.  Students take turns (about five times) being the pigs and the big bad wolf reenacting with the prompts from the song.  You can have your students act it out with masks, costumes, or however works for you and your budget.

Musical Writing
This activity can be done either with clipboards or again with butcher/bulletin/chart paper.  Students have a writing utensil and you play happy music as they move their writing utensil to how they feel.  Play sad music, angry music, music that takes them through emotional feeling.  Classical tracks without words are suggested for this.