Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Large Group Literacy: Transportation

Things That Take Us Places
I section off a chart paper into three zones; sky, ground, and water.  Students suggest different modes of transportation and I write them on the paper into where they go.

Road Tallying
Each student gets a sheet of paper that has been sectioned down the middle with a different mode of transportation on the top of each side of the sheet.  We attach these sheets to a clipboard and away we go on an adventure to observe passing traffic.  I was at a school that was located near a highway intersection and we saw PLENTY to tally mark on our sheets.  Where I am now is near an Air Force base which has usually high plan traffic over our school EXCEPT on the day I did this activity with my students!

Row Your Boat Retelling
We use two jump ropes to make our stream as students take turn pretending to row their boats while everyone cheers them on with this familiar nursery rhyme.

I Stink! Garbage Feed
If you've read I Stink! you'll know that this super garbage truck has his own alphabet soup recipe involving trash of every letter. Students help to find items around the classroom to fill up our trash truck prop while identifying their beginning letter sound.

Wheels on the Bus Big Book Reading
Don't have Wheels on the Bus?  Try Down By the Bay or any other Big Book with a transportation touch.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Large Group Literacy: Fairy Tales

Fairy Tale is a unit that I like to work with when we come back from Christmas Break in January.  It's fun and inviting to help students get back into the swing of school again.  I like to focus on one Fairy Tale each day.  I have three story times in my day at this point of the year so each story time is a different rendition of the story allowing students to comment the similarities and differences in each retelling of these classic tales.

Three Little Pigs Retelling with Props
Yes, this is one of my beginning of the school year activities.  It's fun, engaging, and the students love it.  Makes it PERFECT for getting them back into the groove of school after weeks at home for Christmas.

There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly Big Book Reading
Our Favorite Old Woman to get us back into the school groove.  By now, your students should be loving school again and we can start with new activities tomorrow.
If you have enough copies of the book, make it a class reading where all students turn the page along with you and practice tracking print with their books.

Draw Your Own Gingerbread Person
Gingerbread Boy, Gingerbread Girl, Gingerbread Pirates and so many more stories!  Give students paper with a basic gingerbread outline, provide markers and see what kind of gingerbread person they create.  Another great exercise in using writing materials that gives a whole group result to post in the hallway or as a bulletin board.

Porridge Recipe Writing
The porridge was too hot, too cold, and just right.  How do you make porridge anyway?  I allow the students to tell me what they think it contains and the steps to make it while writing down what they say on chart paper.  Afterward we look up how it is really made and compare our written recipe to the actual one.

5 Little Monkeys Flannel Board Retelling
More of a nursery rhyme than a fairy tale but we also take time to do a nursery rhyme a day as our opening activities for this unit.  Students thoroughly enjoy it and again the focus of this unit is to return to school from break with a renewed love of learning.  I suggest flannel board to swap out your flannel board props in your learning environment but puppets, costumes, or other props are welcome for whatever works for you.

Little Red Riding Hood Rewrite 
We've been reading all of these fairy tales and each retelling has a bit of a different twist.  What if we made our own twist?  What if Riding Hood was a girl?  What if Riding Hood didn't wear red, but another color?  Pose these questions and see where your students take you.
I've had Blue Riding Hood get chased through the three little pigs homes by a T-Rex.  What will you get?

Favorite Nursery Rhyme Graph
As I mentioned with the 5 Little Monkeys, we've been introducing a nursery rhyme a day with this unit.  Time to vote for your favorite.  Exercise those writing skills and have them practice at writing their name to cast their vote.

Three Billy Goats Gruff retelling
This was my FAVORITE thing that I did at a daycare growing up.  They had a big balance beam in one of the classrooms and we'd reenact Three Billy Goats Gruff using that.  I use the hollow blocks in my classroom to make the bridge.  I've seen some teachers allow standing on their tables for this.  Whatever works for your classroom, your students, and your sanity.  If you don't feel the table is a safe bet, don't do it.  If you don't have a balance beam, don't fret.  Work with what works for you.

This Old Man Big Book Reading
Don't have This Old Man?  Try Big Fat Hen or any other Nursery Rhyme Big Book.  The fairy tales that I focus on the day we do this activity are a mix of things instead a one book focus.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Large Group Literacy: Winter Holidays Around the World

For Holidays Around the World, I sequence the holidays to be taught in the following order:
Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Noche Buena, Christmas, Kwanzaa.

Advent Chain 
Many advent celebrations focus on counting down to Christmas.  This activity makes an advent chain using thin slips of paper.  Each student writes their name on a slip and we staple them into circles, looping them to make a paper chain.  At the end of each day, we remove a chain.  If we can read the student's name then they make take their chain home with them that day.

All I Want For Christmas Is...
Another language chart helping students to communicate preferences using complete sentences.  When I had a teacher website in one county, I would also type up this list for parents to know what their children were saying that they wanted for Christmas at school.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell retelling
Old Lady is BACK!  Remember those predictions and use whatever props work for you and your budget.

The Snowman Movie to Book Comparison
This is saved for the last day before Christmas Break.  We "read" The Snowman earlier that day.  There are no words in the book so have your students offer what they gather, strengthen their inferential abilities!  Later, we watch The Snowman and students offer what they saw that was the same and what was different.  "Why did they add Santa to the movie?  He wasn't in the book...."

Again, this is the time of year for Parent Conferences so my Large Group Literacy activities will vary to what I need for work samples or what my para would like guide the lesson with. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Emotional Journaling: Suprise

Time to start expanding on those basic feelings and learning further how to identify and express things.  First emotion for expansion: SURPRISE!

Page 2:
We opened up our journal page on Surprise and all of the underlying feelings within it by writing "surprise" however we wanted. 
My daughter wanted a heart exclamation point.  I went large, all caps, across most of the top of the page. 

We then put four sticky notes on our paper and wrote out the underlying emotions on each of them: Startled, Confused, Amazed, and Excited.  You can use color pencils, markers, or crayons to connect each of these emotions to a color of our choosing.  Beneath the sticky-notes, we wrote the two connecting emotions to each of those.

Once we finished with that, we each selected a word from the tops of the sticky notes to look up in the dictionary to share with the others.  The eldest chose to write the definition beneath each of the words on the sticky notes.  The children were tickled how the definitions in their dictionaries varied and how many included the base emotion "surprise" or the supporting emotions within them. 
We finished by making faces for each emotion on the top-side of the sticky note.

The children struggled to think of how to draw some of the faces so I prompted them to make the face that they would when they would feel that way.  It helped them a lot to then realize what they could do to draw the face.

Feel free to link up in the comments.  What faces will you make?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Large Group Literacy: Snow Animals

There Was An Cold Lady Who Swallowed a Some Snow retelling
Didn't we just read an old lady?  Repetition is OKAY!Don't forget to give some time for student predictions of what will happen with the old lady THIS time.  And, of course, make your props from whatever works for you.

Mitten Versus Glove Graph
Would you prefer to wear mittens or gloves in the snowy weather?  Write their name on post-its to stick under their preference.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear Big Book Reading
If you did the Brown Bear, Brown Bear activities, pull off of that prior experience to allow students to make predictions of animals that will appear in this book.  Remember to demonstrate tracking print to students.  

About this time of year, I'm starting to wrap up for Parent Conferences so my Large Group Literacy activities will vary to what I need for work samples or what my para would like guide the lesson with. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Emotional Journaling: Fear

After reviewing the responses of the children, I noticed that one of them was uncertain of something that they could identify connecting their life experiences to that emotion.  Was this trying to seem brave?  Was this because of a lack of understanding of what fear means?  We can find out which this is by clarifying what fear is.

Page 2:
We wrote the letters for fear down the side of our paper to make an acrostic poem.  We wrote out things that we do when we feel fear for each letter.  This took a lot of time and thought for each of us, I think the letter E was the most difficult one for me to think of something for.

We all shared our words for each letter as we wrote them out to help give others ideas of words that they can use and help them to reflect if that is something that occurs when they feel fear.  We would have short discussions on why we used some of the words.  I picked 'embarrassed" (which I spelled wrong in my own journal, OH NO!) because something I am afraid of is Howard the Duck.  Not everyone is afraid of Howard the Duck so I would feel...  That allows them to internally reflect on things that they're afraid of but might not be willing to share because of embarrassment and that it is okay to be afraid and still speak up about it.
This led into our next prompt, what we can do to be brave!  What can you do to help calm down when you feel fear?  What can others do to help you when you feel fear?
My daughter wrote screaming for help which led us into another conversation about speaking up when we encounter fear.  I used my fear of Howard the Duck again for this talking about if I went to a party and people were watching Howard the Duck, no one would know how that makes me feel but if I speak up and say "Hey, Howard the Duck really freaks me out.  Could we watch something else?" that it lets people know and others can be understanding of how I am feeling.  By speaking up, we can have our fears addressed and receive assistance from others in working through it.
What if we are frozen by fear?  How can we calm down enough to even begin to speak?
We discussed one of the Conscious Discipline calm down techniques of S.T.A.R. and practiced doing it three times.

Feel free to link up in the comments.  How do you handle fear?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Large Group Literacy: Thanksgiving

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie retelling
Our favorite old lady!  Now we can add some predictions in as well.  We've seen the old lady and the books make a book bag, the old lady and the fly died, what will happen to this old lady?
Again, make your props from whatever works for you.

Writing Up a Thanksgiving Feast
This is one of my FAVORITE class lists and each year I always forget to take a picture of it.
On chart paper, I make a giant plate, cup, fork, spoon, knife, and napkin.  All of these objects are labeled.  Then, the students suggest what they would like to eat (or drink) for Thanksgiving.  I try to match the color of the food to the words they offer and organize them on the plate and in the glass where they fit.  Rolls are brown, salad is green, tomatoes and cucumbers and other salad fixing get written on top of the salad in their color.  Mashed potatoes are gray, gravy is brown and written on top of the mashed potatoes word.  The students have fun filling up the plate and cup with words and colors.

Thankful Tree
Students draw or write on a leaf what they are thankful for and we post them to a tree cutout placed outside of our classroom.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Emotional Journaling: The Base Emotions

Some people have emotional intelligence.  They understand how they feel, how they react when they feel certain ways, and have the words to tell others how to best comfort them in those situations.  They understand how emotions can stir reactions in other and better support others in those moments.
Most children are building their emotional knowledge.  Some only get an understanding of the base emotions: happy, sad, angry, etc.  What are we doing to help children become successful in their understanding of emotions?  To learn more than just being happy or sad?  To help them understand how to calm down and channel their anger in a constructive way?

I have begun working on Guided Journals with the children of my home.  You can follow along by writing your own journal or making your own blog post discussing these points.

Page 1:
I printed copies of Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions for each of the kids to put on their first page.  We took color pencils and colored each emotion of the innermost wheel with colors that we connected to those emotions.  ONLY COLOR THOSE INNER EMOTIONS.  Save the rest for later.
My daughter shared that she selected the colors for each piece based on characters in Inside Out.  
On the back of the page, we listed down the side those emotions in any order of our choosing.  Then we wrote what makes us feel that way next to each emotions.
Beneath that section, we wrote a way that others could help us to feel happy again or things that we could do for ourselves to feel happy.

As you can see, there is no focus on accurate spelling.  The idea is to be comfortable with identifying your feelings, connecting experiences to those feelings, and demonstrating an understanding of those feelings.  The more we write, the more improvement in spelling and grammar will naturally occur. 

Feel free to link up in the comments.  How are you feeling?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Large Group Literacy: Forest Animals

My unit on forest animals depends on how the week falls.  Usually I do a full five days and focus on Brown Bear Brown Bear during LGL.  This past year was a four day week so I did the following activities:

Forest Animals List
Students try to name as many animals as they can think of to be added to chart paper by the teacher.

Owl Babies Big Book Reading
Big Books are wonderful opportunities to demonstrate tracking print to students.  The repetitive statement by the youngest owlet will have them participating in the reading process.

Tree Observational Drawings
Using paper on clipboards, students will walk around the school and draw what they observe of the trees on campus.

Retelling of Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear poem
I enjoy celebrating the end of our time learning about forest animals with a Teddy Bear Picnic.  So with our teddy bears that we brought in, we act out the Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear poem.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Picture Walk
Go through each page of the book from cover to end.  Allow students to take turns suggesting what they believe is happening on each page.  I recommend no more than three suggestions per page or students begin to get off track in the activity.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Big Book Reading
Since yesterday we guessed what was happening on each page, today we read it!  What will the words tell us is happening this time?
Again, pointing to each word and tracking print demonstration for students.

Brown Bear retelling using props
There are many prop options for retelling; flannel board, puppets, different colored smocks for students to wear labeled with each animals' name.  Buy something, make something, create something new.. One year I was in a rush and wrote the animals' names on their matching color of construction paper for students to hold.  Whatever works for you, your students, and your budget.

Favorite Brown Bear Animal
This activity focuses on writing.  You can either make it a graph for students to write their name under the animal of choice OR you can give each student a sheet of paper to draw the animal themselves.  This gives you a whole group project that can be displayed in your hallway or on a bulletin board AND gives you an excellent work sample for "shows an appreciation for both books an reading" and other Language and Literacy indicators.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear/Bear Hunt Comparison Chart
This activity focuses on characters, setting, and plot of stories.  I make the chart on the board: Title, Characters, Setting, Plot.  I explain to the students what each word means before we attempt to fill in those sections for Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  Title, the name of the book.  Characters, WHO was in the story.  Setting, WHERE did the story happen.  Plot, WHAT happened.  Then I read Bear Hunt (you can replace for any other bear-focused title, I recommend a short tale).  We then go back to our chart and fill in for Bear Hunt to compare similarities and differences between the two books.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Large Group Literacy: Food & Nutrition

My Favorite Food Language Chart
Students take turn listing their favorite food using complete sentences.  Teachers write full dictation of each student's sentence.  Can also be altered to a class book in which students also draw a picture of their favorite food.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake Big Book Reading
Big Books are wonderful opportunities to demonstrate tracking print to students.  The if-then statements in the books can pose to opportunities to ask students what the pig will want to do next.  Don't have this title?  That's fine!  Gather up another title that has to do with food and roll.

Pizza Order Cards
Prior to this, we have been practicing with our fingers in the air Numeral Song by Dr. Jean Feldman.  Now we put the numeral song to practice here.  We have asked parents to donate ingredients to make pizza in the classroom this week.  Today, the students will make their pizza orders for making pizza the next day.  Each student has a sheet with pepperoni, cheese, black olives, and mushrooms with lines next to each image.  The students attempt to write the number (between 0-10) of each ingredient that they would like on their pizza.  Name at the top, first thing (no name, how will we make your pizza?).

Little Red Hen retelling using props
I prefer to use the flannel story as that is what I have in my classroom but again, whatever props you can make or find will work out well.

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.