Since beginning my career in kindergarten 3 years ago, I have struggled to find ways to document authentic student voices in the classroom. We have some students that are able to write their thoughts and ideas, but others who are still unable to write without assistance. Some students are great at drawing to share their ideas, but still others who are uninterested or unable to draw their thoughts. I was successful when we used the Draw and Tell app for our subtraction stories at using student voice in their work, but I was still struggling to come up with a way to share their thinking in their art and other areas of play.
That’s when I came across a great blog post by Passionately Curious on how to easily create QR codes with voice recordings. I was hooked! For our next art project, I had students create communities using different pieces of colored paper. There was so much rich thinking behind this simple art project, so I recorded their voices on explaining why they had created their community the way they had. Now our bulletin board display outside of our classroom is interactive, and has elements of student voice incorporated right into it! Love it!
I have set myself a goal for next year- find a way for all students to record their own voices to explain their thinking when they want to. I want them to feel empowered to share their reasoning on their own.
Have you found any other ways to incorporate student voice into your classroom?
If you have missed my previous posts about our duck egg adventures, take a look at my previous posts:
The duck eggs have continued to be a great learning experience in our classroom. We have continued to care for them, and students are still asking great questions about the duck life cycle. Here is the latest on the eggs:
Our egg candler gave us the opportunity to see just how much the ducks have grown inside of the eggs. They take up most of the room now and it is even hard to make out the outline of the ducks because they have gotten so big! I have also learned that it is really hard to get a good picture of the eggs while holding the egg , the phone and an egg candler!
Students have made their predictions about which eggs will be hatching first. They also told us why they thought that duck would be the first one (“It’s the biggest egg”, “It was moving”). We got some interesting name ideas from our students!
And now we wait… We aren’t sure exactly how long it is going to take before the eggs start to hatch, but we are hoping that it is going to be soon! We have 2 weeks left of school and so it would be nice to have some time with the ducks before the summer break. We are anxiously awaiting their arrival, and every morning I check to see for any sound from the eggs!
Our students have been enjoying writing stories lately, and we have been focusing on making sure we have all the different story elements (characters, setting, problem and solution). Whenever we read a story, we talk about the different parts of the story and when our students are writing we talk about what they need in their stories. That’s why I decided to put this pack together, to help our students remember the different parts of a story when they are doing their amazing writing.
This product includes 12 different story starter cards, and they come in color and B&W versions. They can use the writing paper that is included to finish the stories. You can also have the story elements posters (half-page and full page posters are included, with color and B&W versions) out on the table to make sure they are including all the different story elements that they need in their stories.
Students loved picking a different story starter and using them to write their own stories. I had students pick multiple cards, and write different stories. These were great to get their imaginations going, getting them to write more than one sentence and pushing them to write more complex stories.
They turned out so cute, and it helped make sure students were staying on task.
Here is a trick for those pre-writing students: use a yellow marker to write the words that they tell you and have them trace it. It gives them a connection between what they want to write, and the words on the page. It allows them to practice writing and they get to see their own stories written on the page! They love it!
If you would like to write stories with your students, you can get it in my Teachers pay Teachers store here:
Make sure you follow my store, and follow me on Instagram to stay up-to-date with all the new products and activities I release!
Disclaimer: This activity was the awesome idea of my teaching partner. I just took the pictures and wrote the blog post.
The Day the Crayons Quit is a fun book to read with kids. It’s funny and gives a different point of view than the usual children’s book. The crayons are writing letters to their owner, and they are telling their side of the story! We read the book with our students, then we had students write their own letters to themselves from the crayons.
We used the paper from my Letter Writing Pack, and students had to pick a crayon from a pack of 96 (they have some awesome names on them that the students used when writing).
Then students wrote their letters in pencil (it’s a lot easier to fix mistakes in pencil!) and then traced over their words in the crayon they picked. They then used the crayon to color a picture to match their writing.
We then put their writing and their picture side-by-side on a large piece of construction paper and hot glued the crayon to their picture.
They look so great altogether and this activity was a awesome way to work on letter writing conventions, writing from a different point of view and their creative writing skills.
If you would like to use the letter writing paper, you can get it from my Teachers pay Teachers store. It has some ideas for writing letters and a poster to help students remember all the different elements of letter writing:
What’s your favourite book to spark students’ imagination when writing?
Another week has flown by in our classroom and we have been trying out some new centers, and enjoying our last few weeks together. If you want to follow along with some of the fun activities that we have been trying, make sure you follow me on Instagram to see all the new and exciting things happening!
We had some fun naming the new blue Crayola crayon (it was a contest on their website) and we took that opportunity to play around with some of blue items. We had a loose parts center where students could choose to use the drawing tools to create a fun blue picture, or they could create transient art with the blue items. It was fun to see their creations!
We tried a fun new way to work on sight words this week. Students write sight words on a piece of construction paper, then they place the sheet on a towel and use the pushpin to outline their sight words. When you hold it up to the window, you can see the sight words shine through. This is a more ‘end-of-the-year’ activity, since I was worried about where the pushpins would end up. They were told that when they are finished with the pushpin, it had to go back in the bowl. I did not want anyone stepping or sitting on them by accident!
Then I took all their pushpin sight words and hung them from our window! It has been rainy, so I can’t wait for the sun to come out and shine through our sight words. We are not allowed to stick anything to our windows, so I find hanging things is a great alternative, and it still looks great!
I also uploaded a fun new literacy activity to my Teachers pay Teachers store, it is a great way to work on phonics, letter formation and beginning sounds. It includes both color and black & white versions of the write-and-swipe cards, posters and worksheet!
Make sure you follow me to see even more awesome things happening in our classroom!
If you have missed my previous posts, take a look at them here:
We have finished our third week with the duck eggs in our classroom. I am so excited to see their changes everyday, and our students have been learning so much in the process!
Our egg candler is showing us so many changes inside the eggs. Some of the eggs had ducklings moving inside! We could see feet and legs this week, which was pretty awesome to see the ducklings grow and change in front of our eyes.
We set up some clipboards and my “I See, I Think, I Wonder” scientific writing sheets (you can get it for free here!) beside the incubator to get our students writing and thinking of the duck eggs and what is coming next.
Students have also been hard at work writing in their Duck Life Cycle journals. We fill in a new page every few days and it touches on a lot of important topics in our Duck Life Cycle unit.
We are continuing to watch for changes within the eggs, but some of them have not developed any embryos inside. We had a discussion with our students recently about how not all the eggs will hatch, and that we can see that nothing has grown inside them. It was a hard discussion to have, but they took it well and didn’t seem upset by it!
My new product on Teachers pay Teachers is great for phonics review and letter formation. It includes cards and a worksheet for students to practice beginning sounds and uppercase/lowercase letters.
There are 26 cards (color and B&W versions included) with pictures on it. Students must write the letter that begins the word in the boxes below the picture. The boxes are made to match the type of letter that they must use- short, tall or hanging. I cut out each of the cards, glued them to construction paper, cut them out and laminated them to make them durable and reusable. Students can use dry erase markers on them, then erase them. Alternatively, you can put the sheets in page protectors and have students write on them with dry erase markers!
There are also 4 posters (2 full-page and 2 quarter-page) to help students with letter formation. It includes letters in boxes and letters in lines to help students make sure they are using proper letter types (short, tall or hanging).
Also included is a worksheet that students can use to write the beginning sound next to each picture. This can be used for reinforcing letter formation, or for assessment.
Beginning Sounds Activities is a great year-end literacy review center or to be used throughout the school year to ensure students are using the proper letter formation when printing.
What letters do you notice students having the most trouble with? I am having a hard time getting students to understand the concept of hang-down letters, they always want to make them tall!
Teaching students about money is hard in kindergarten. It’s an abstract concept that doesn’t have any real-world meaning to them yet. They know that you need money to buy things, but we don’t handle coins and bills much anymore. So exposing them to the worth of each coin and bill can be a bit more difficult unless they have had some experiences with it before. Here is how we tackled learning about coins in our kindergarten classroom:
Poem This 5 Little Donuts in the Bakery Shop poem was a hit! They loved picking their friends to come up and buy a donut each time we sang the song, and every time they picked a coin they had to tell us its value. I printed off large pictures of coins, and printed the name of the coin on the back of it before laminating so that students can easily make the connection between the name of the coins and what they look like.
Coin Rubbing Work Sheets Students loved working on these sheets and it gave them the opportunity to explore the different coins in a new way. They had to look at the coins and find their characteristics while still doing a fun activity. You can get a copy of these worksheets here.
Loose Parts We added coins to our loose part center to allow students to freely explore each of the coins, and to make connections to their values: “You need 25 pennies to equal 1 quarter.”
Anchor Chart We had a discussion about money and passed out coins to each of the students so they would have a chance to touch each one of them and look at them. Then we worked together to make an anchor chart about money and what we knew about it. Getting them to talk about the different coins makes it a more meaningful learning experience and gives them the opportunity to share what they know with their classmates.
Open a Store Students picked items from our classroom and put price tags on them. Then they placed them on the shelf in their store and worked on them other elements that you need in a store (like a cash register, signs, the name). This is still a work in progress, and I hope to have some great pictures of their work in the coming week (follow me on Instagram for the pics) and share any other fun things they add to their store!
Do you have any favourite money activities? How do you incorporate hands-on learning with your class?
It’s JUNE! We are in the home stretch and students are working hard and having fun! Make sure you follow me on Instagram to keep up with the last few weeks of fun in our kindergarten classroom!
Love when the students start using the loose parts in different ways. This one used our Rings and Sticks and the braille alphabet tiles to make words that they found around the classroom.
This is a fun sight word activity that students love to use. I wrote sight words on small solo cups. Students have to build towers using the cups and then they can use the sight words that they stacked to write sentences.
I love the new blog post that I put up about the activities we did to learn about our community and the people and places that live in it. The projects that students created were so awesome and I loved hearing them talk about the different community helpers.
Our literacy loose parts center is growing and changing all the time. Right now we have alphabet rocks, wood letters, braille alphabet tiles and sight word books. Students have been creating different words and being creative with this center all year and I love what they can do with these pieces!
If you would like to see all the amazing things our students get up to, make sure you follow me!
This is Part 2 of my Duck Life Cycle series, if you missed it, take a look at:
We have had another eventful week in kindergarten and students are still excited to have the duck eggs in our classroom. They check on them everyday and continue to ask questions about them. Here is what we’ve been up to this week!
1. Changes in the Eggs
Our egg candler has been really useful this week as we have been able to observe the changes that have been happening in the eggs. A few of them have developed blood vessels and the embryos have gotten big. It is really hard to get a good picture of the eggs with my cell phone, but you can see the blood vessels at the bottom of this egg. It was so exciting to see that we have been taking care of the eggs properly and that they are developing! We have at least one egg that does not have anything growing in it, but it will be a good learning experience for students to know that not all the eggs will hatch.
2. Learning about Ducks
Of course we are taking this opportunity to learn everything we can about ducks, and we have extended our learning into living and non-living things. We have discussed how we know something is living (it eats, breathes and grows) and the different parts of ducks. We’ve also discussed the different changes that are taking place within the eggs and what parts of the ducklings are developing already!
3. Live Stream
We have set-up a live stream of our duck incubator so that families can share the experience of watching the duck eggs with their children when they are not at school. I am hoping that we will be at school when they hatch, but in case we are not, we will be able to watch it on the computer! It was a bit of a pain to set up the stream as it involved downloading software, setting up hardware and e-mailing people to give me access to things I didn’t have access to on the school computer; but in the end I think it will be worth it to be able to share this with the school community.
This has been such a great experience so far and I love being able to share this with our students. They have a new appreciation for living things and our natural environment that only hands-on learning can give them.
Do you have any hands-on learning activities that you love to do with your students?