Sunday, October 27, 2013

A review of our Apple Unit (science, writing and math)

At our school the Kindergarten Team decided to do a Kindergarten Blog for all of the parents as a way to boost parent communication.  We are lucky enough to plan together and use the data we gather through our assessments to plan out broad goals for our Kindergarten classes.  Although we do differentiate for each of our kids needs, we do want to be consistent in the language we use and we want to make sure all of the students are exposed to major concepts.  This has worked out very well for us this year.  We also have several sets of twins this year who are in different Kindergarten classrooms and having the same family projects/newsletters and the same pacing for major concepts this has helped keep those families from going crazy!  I hope you part of the post to our families that I have posted below.  I will try to put more of these up for your review!  Thanks for following me.  I would really appreciate it if you would "follow" me.  I would love to reach 100 followers this year.  I will put my TPT store on sale and give away free products when I do reach 100.  I know many of you check the blog often, but have not followed yet.  Check back for a new freebie this week.  Thanks for your support.  Leave a comment with your blog and I will come visit and follow you back!  I love networking/learning and supporting each other in this wonderful blog world!  Enjoy! 

We used the Apple Unit to introduce the students to many science concepts.  Using our five senses to gather data (explore) the apples is a fun and meaningful way for young children to start understanding that science is all around us and that we use science each and every day.  We hope you enjoy this peek into our school day.

We used the apples you sent in to introduce the children to the concept of estimation.  The children estimated how many seeds would be inside of an apple.  We wrote down their estimation, cut open the apple, pulled out the seeds and counted them.  We compared our estimations to the actual number of seeds we found inside the apple.  We then tried this again with another apple and found that different apples have different numbers of seeds in them.  We also talked about how the seeds, when planted, grow into new apple seeds.  (Ms. Arrendale's Class)

We used our new knowledge of color words to create these little apple color word readers.  We had to practice following multi-step directions to cut out and assemble the books.  We also had to look closely at the color words to know what color the apples had to be on each page so the illustration matched the text.  We had a lot of fun making these books and even more fun reading them! (Ms. Allen's Class).  

In each class the students practiced their listening skills by creating apple glyphs.  You should be able to tell a lot about the child by how they colored and put together their apples.  Each leaf represents the number of brothers/sisters or if they are an only child (orange leaf).  The stem lets you know what hand they write with.  The color of the worm tells you if they are a boy or a girl.  The color of the apple tells you their age.  This is a great activity that lets the children strengthen hand and finger strength/dexterity (critical for letter formation and proper pencil grip), listening to and follow directions both verbal and written (critical for speaking and listening skills in all academic and social areas), hand-eye coordination while gluing and placing objects on the paper (needed for illustrating their writing and spacial awareness) and many more objectives that are needed for building strong language skills.

We also used the  apples in each class to have a taste test.  We compared and contrasted the apples noting how they were alike and different.  We then voted on which apple we liked the most.  We graphed which apple we liked and did not like.  We then learned how to read the graph so we could figure out which apple our classroom liked the most.  We were introduced to math vocabulary such as least, most, largest, biggest, smallest, equal and same.  We were also encouraged to participate in logical reasoning by justifying why we choose the red, green or yellow apple as our favorite.  This led to lots of discussion especially when someone disagreed with our choice of favorite apple.  (Ms. De Stefano's Class)

In some of the classes we had time to experiment with our apples.  In this experiment we guessed if an apple would sink or float.  We then had to justify or explain why we though it would sink or why we thought it would float.  The moment of truth was when we placed the apple into a tub of water and found out that it would float.  The students had many great ideas on why it floated.  Don't forget to ask your child open-ended questions to learn more about how they think.  Some of their answers were amazing (such as the water weighs more than the apple so it hold the apple up).  

In each classroom we did many math experiments with our apples.  In this math experiment we measured the circumference of the apple by using a piece of paper or string and then placing the paper or string on a ruler and measuring how many inches it was around the apple.

Using technology in the classroom is a common core state standard (you may be hearing about this in the news).  We use the smart board to let the students learn how to move objects, play games, learn math and science concepts, watch nature videos (we watched a video on the life cycle of an apple) and create words.  This was a Smart-board Game on sorting apples.

This is the Apple Chart Ms. Boatright's class made after completing their math and science experiments on their apple.  You can see how many ways they measured, explored, gathered data and recorded their observations when experimenting with their apple.  It is our job in Kindergarten to expose the students to skills they will master in later grades.  Teaching them to chart their observations and refer back to the information so they can apply what they learned to future experiments is a critical foundation skills.  You will see lots of these types of charts in each classroom.  The students can now look at this chart and remember key details about their apple, new math concepts and new science concepts.  This is a skill they will need when they get older and start taking notes. (Ms. Boatright's Class)

We hope this will help to spark conversation with your student next time you ask them what they did in school and they reply that they did nothing or they can't remember.  Look for more posts showing you how and what we are learning in the weeks to come.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A fall post to our families I wanted to share with you about enhancing science and writing in the fall

We have been doing an illustrator study in our Writing Block and we are encouraging our students to add detail to their pictures in their books they are creating.  We are also teaching into using our popcorn words and patterns to create books about their experiences at the Pumpkin Patch.  Pattern books repeat on each page and only one word changes (level A books).  An example would be as follows:

I see the turtle.


I see the seeds.


I see the leaves.

I see the tractor.

I see the vine.

I see the pumpkin.

The students are creating books like these to strengthen their knowledge of using patterns to help become better readers and writers.  They are really enjoying this unit!  This is another reason why helping your child learn their popcorn words is so critically important so please work with them several times each week on mastering these words!
Another way we are using the fall season to help them understand concepts in science and in writing is by using fall items to study and examine objects in nature like a scientist and then documenting or illustrating what they see/observe.  This makes the student study an object in detail and then try to record what they see by drawing it.  This encourages the student to use their five senses when studying the object which causes them to illustrate or record their observations in greater detail.  This will strengthen their use of descriptive words (adjectives and adverbs) when they reach first and second grade.  Building strong writers means letting them record their world.  When the student can draw in great detail they can recall things they want to tell the reader in their writing and this leads to more descriptive and more detailed sentences, essays and stories as they progress through their writing studies.  Here are some of the examples of our young scientists/illustrators/authors at work.  Please do this at home with any type of items they are interested in (lego's, leaves, buildings, tractors, flowers).  The subject matter does not make a difference, practicing recording what they are observing and enjoying it is critical in developing students that love to write!  Encourage them to label their writing by trying to write the first letter of the object, sounding out the word (don't worry about it being spelled correctly, just having them write down the sounds they hear) or have them make writers marks (scribbles that represent each word they want to write).  The goal is to get them to write and understand that the letters/words/writers marks help the reader understand what they are trying to convey.  This should be a pleasant and fun experience so don't worry about correct spelling yet.  They are really working on letter sounds and blending so even just coming up with one letter in each word they want to write is a positive step in the right direction.  We hope these pictures will help you do this at home.  It will strengthen their writing and keep them occupied!  Double bonus!
This student is drawing in pencil first so they can erase any mistakes they make.  He will then go back with crayons, markers or colored pencils to add the details such as colors and shading.

This student is not confident that they can draw the shape of the gourd so they are tracing the shape and then they will go back and add detail and colors.

This child is trying to record their observations independently.

These students are working together and drawing multiple objects on one page.

These students are studying their objects closely and trying to capture what they see by using different colors.

This child is working more toward telling a story in their illustrations.  They have added seeds to show the life cycle of the pumpkin.  They are also recording the fact that pumpkins can be different shapes, sizes and colors.

This child wanted to study the sunflower.  The seeds were falling out and you can see that she noticed the sunflower was not yellow.  She also recorded the stalk and leaves in her illustration.  She used a magnifying glass to study the sunflower in great detail.

This child is starting to use letters to form words to add more detail to his drawing.  He also wanted to tape on an actual seed to give the reader a real object to compare to his drawing.  He used labeling (see the arrow) and is trying to convey meaning to the reader by attempting to record his thoughts in sentence form.  He remembered from our illustrator study that he could draw several illustrations on one page.  He is showing the life cycle of the sunflower on this page.

Here he is closely studying the seeds and recording his observations.

Ms. Arrendale found a turtle shell on a nature walk with her niece and nephews during a trip to the country and brought it back to class.  Many of the students were very interested in the turtles at the Pumpkin Patch.  This student used a picture of the turtle (earlier in the post) and the actual turtle shell to add greater detail to his pictures about his experience with the turtles at the Pumpkin Patch.  Using pictures is another great way to have your child record their thoughts and observations during vacations and breaks.  We take a lot of pictures to help the students remember details so they can become stronger writers and authors.

This child is standing back and admiring his work.  He spent a lot of time working on his illustration and really studied his object (the taller pumpkin).  He was very proud of his work.
This student also added additional characters to his illustration as he recalled his experience at the Pumpkin Patch.  He wanted the reader to know that he and his friends found pumpkins in the garden at the Pumpkin Patch.  Having the real object available enabled him to recall more detail about his field trip and helped him to add more detail to his illustration.