Thursday, January 16, 2014

Where does the time go…..

Where does the time go. To say it has been a busy couple of months is an understatement.  I have recently been living in New Hampshire, bearing the 1 1/2 hour drive each way.  Although tiring, I have gotten a chance to listen to some wonderful audio books that make the drive 100 times better.  On top of that, a week before Christmas, we rescued a puppy from Tennessee.  We absolutely fell in love with her and it was the best, worst decision I've ever made! Puppies are hard work.  No one ever told me that or maybe I would have reconsidered.  I am just joking, but in reality, they really are a handful. Here are some pics of Sugar Plum.

So, with all of that being said, I do apologize to the lack of blog posts.  I do hope to update the blog more often with the start of the new year.   I hope everyone enjoyed their extended Winter Vacation.  The kids had some great stories to share about their time with their families.  The kids are now back into their routines and we spent a lot of time going over our classroom rules and expectations.  I was pleasantly surprised with their ability to get back into school mode very quickly.

Can you believe it is already the middle of January?  Oh how time flies!  Here is what has been happening lately.  We have been really working hard with our popcorn words and our lively letter friends.  Please feel free to practice letter sounds and popcorn words with your children when you can.  Any kind of practice will help in the long run.  So far we have been introduced to 11 popcorn words!  Can you believe it?  I will put it out there again as a challenge to go on a popcorn word hunt at home, in the supermarket, while driving...  If you are able to get a picture of your child pointing to a popcorn word, send in the picture and it will go on our Popcorn Word Hall of Fame.  Here are a list of the popcorn words I have introduced.  (missing: we, at)

Be sure to see if your child is able to read these previously taught words.  If they are having trouble, practicing at home would be a great idea.  Here are some multi-sensory ways your children can practice their sight words. Try using any of these materials to practice spelling the sight words
  • salt
  • shaving cream
  • play dough 
  • markers
  • smelly markers
  • sand
  • oil pastels
  • letter stamps or tiles
  • chalk
  • dry erase markers
Here are some other ways children can practice their words. 
  • Try having them write a sentence with a popcorn word in it.
  • Have them finger spell the popcorn word
  • Have them "air-write" their word
  • Have them go on a popcorn word hunt in books
  • Have them tally each popcorn word they see
  • Have them write a story using as many popcorn words as they can.
  • Write the popcorn words on flashcards and see how many they can read in a minute.
I hope everyone will take advantage of these ideas.

In other news, we have been moving and grooving with our Lively Letters.  Recently I have introduced the "h brother" /sh/.  We also have met /s/, /z/, /r/, and /l/.  Ask your child what sounds each of those letters make.  We are concentrating on blending and segmenting CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words.  For example;  I may say a word and ask them to tell me all the sounds they hear.  I would say, "Tell me all the sounds you hear in the word "fun".  There response should be /f/  /u/  /n/.  This is a great oral activity to do while driving in the car or in a waiting room at the doctors.  We have also been working really hard to blend CVC words together.  We often talk about the importance of vowels and how every word needs a vowel (superstar as I like to call them) to be considered a word.  So far we have learned short vowel sound /a/, /o/ and I plan to introduce /u/ and /i/ next week.  During our mini-lesson,  I will put three letters up on the board (p a t).  The kids must tap each sound out and then blend it together.  They have even noticed that some words they make are nonsense words (or alien words as we like to call them in Kindergarten).  I have seen so much progress in these skills even over the last couple of weeks.

Reading groups have been going strong for quite a while now.  I have sent the guided reading folders home once or twice prior to Winter Break, but starting this week you will see their folders come home more frequently.  The books that they are taking home are books that we have used in reading group and books that the kids are able to read independently.  On the folder it does say to send the folder back to school each day, but if you would like to take a couple days to practice, feel free to do so.  I won't send another book out until I receive the last one.  Don't forget that the definition of "reading" is not just the ability to read the words.  Children must understand what they are reading, read in a fluent manor, and use strategies to decode words they do not know.  Although some books may seem easy for your child, know that we are working on many different strategies that good readers use.

Writing Workshop has been running very smoothly.  Last week, each child began to write a story about something they know a lot about.  Something that has happened to them.  The children were able to turn to a partner and talk about something that they wanted to write about.  We just started with one piece of paper and we concentrated on getting one complete though down on paper before trying to start the next.  We also talked about space between our words.  I sent home a Ziploc bag for the kids to put a couple pictures or small items that will remind them of some of the things they have done over the years.  This bag will be available during writing workshop to help them think of ideas for their stories!

This week we read the story Snowman All Year.  It is by the same author who wrote Snowmen At Night (a class favorite).  We decided to write a story just like the one we read.  We were to pretend we had a magic snowman who could live in every single season.  We talked about the four seasons and brainstormed some activities that could be done in each season.  Then they got to turn to their partner and tell them what they would do with their snowman in each season.  We then wrote down our ideas using a graphic organizer. Here are some of the finished graphic organizers.

Tomorrow and next week we will use these to help us write our stories!  Here is what the cover will look like.

All the kids have been really working hard and their brains are getting so big.  It is very evident that each child has made huge gains already and we are almost half way done!  Here are some pictures of the VBW (very best work) wall.  I recently added some new work!