Monday, January 21, 2019

Drawing Lessons, Kindergarten 301

This is the third in a series of five blog posts about teaching kindergartners to draw recognizable pictures.  Drawing Lessons, Kindergarten 101 offers my ideas and materials for a directed drawing center.  Drawing Lessons 201 shares how to help kindergarteners create a booklet where they transform shapes into common objects.  Today's post, Drawing Lessons 301, is similar to the last post in that I'm describing how students create a booklet based on shapes. 

My Yummy Lunch is a whole class, directed drawing activity where children learn to draw common objects from shapes.  It is also a lesson in brainstorming and categories.  In addition, children learn the concept of overlapping, always intriguing to young minds.

Here are images of all the pages for an old copy of the booklet, My Yummy Lunch.  

You can click here for a downloadable, printable version of the entire booklet.  As you can see from this photo of the cover, it is a MUCH more professional-looking version, thanks to the modern-day wonders of Google Drawing!

The lessons for My Yummy Lunch can take place over the course of a week.  Start on Monday by reading a favorite book about lunch.  Here are a few of my favorites:

After reading and discussing the book, share YOUR copy of the booklet, My Yummy Lunch.
Yes, I do think you should share a completed copy of the booklet so the students have an idea of what they will be doing.  However, you'll want to explain that they will each be able to choose what kind of foods they illustrate and write about.  Here are some ideas, if the brainstorming needs some "lightning bolts:"

square: different kinds of sandwiches like cheese, turkey, ham, pb and j or maybe a bento box! Please notice how some of the sandwich "filling" peeks out around the perimeter of the bread.

circle: different kinds of round fruits like apples, oranges, peaches, plums, kiwi. I also have had students suggest bowls of applesauce, fruit cocktail, yogurt, and pudding.  Cookies are obvious possibilities.

triangle:  different kinds of tortilla chips, crackers, a slice of pizza, wedges of watermelon or cake.

beverage:  milk or water (nothing to color but ask them to draw a striped straw, maybe?), juice, chocolate milk, lemonade

I always proceed by having the children complete the two pages for the square-shaped food on Monday.  I have them carefully trace the square on page 1, modeling for them how to make "sharp corners." Then, on page 2, have them brainstorm the sandwich ideas as a class before choosing their crayons to color the "fillings."

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, continue to have the children complete the two pages pertaining to the next shape.  These sessions might only take 15 minutes of class time.

On Friday, the children can complete their booklet by coloring the last page to correspond with their own food choices.  I like to keep the front cover as is (no coloring) because it doesn't reveal what the book is all about.  This is a good literature concept for the class: sometimes the cover of a book makes us wonder what's inside!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Drawing Lessons, Kindergarten 201

In my last post, Drawing Lessons, Kindergarten 101, I wrote about how I used directed drawing materials in a kindergarten center.  In this post, I want to share a whole class lesson in directed drawing which results in a booklet individual students will create.  This was a very successful project used for many, many years by at least one of my colleagues and me.

The first few pages of the booklet, entitled Drawing Lessons, are pictured above.  Here are images of the second, third, and fourth series of pages:

If you click here, you can download a template for photocopying.  In this way, you can photocopy the booklet for each of your students to complete!

This is a fun booklet to work on over the course of one week.  Here's how:

Start on Monday by reading a book such as The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds, so that the students can begin thinking how common objects are formed out of basic shapes.

After reading the book, show the children your sample copy of the book. (Yes, you will want to go ahead and create your own version so they can envision the end product.  This is directed drawing, after all!)

Still on Monday, have the children follow clear directions to color and add features to the first series of three pages, the series, "A circle can become a face." 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, proceed in the same manner to complete the series of pages, "A square can become my house," and "A rectangle can become my tree."  On Thursday, depending on the needs of your class, you might brainstorm objects other than a cookie which are formed from an oval.  If your students are capable, they might be able to work independently to create a dog with an oval body or an oval plate or an oval balloon, etc.

On Friday, discuss with the class how illustrators often choose their favorite picture from the book to be the one they copy on the cover.  Have the students illustrate the cover in this way.  Ask them to complete the dedication page, too, with the name of someone in their family who would appreciate the dedication.

My next post will feature yet another directed drawing booklet!  I hope you will continue reading!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Drawing Lessons, Kindergarten 101

This, of course, is an absolutely wonderful kindergarten drawing of a happy little girl holding hands with her smiling teacher.  But how many times have you looked at a child's drawing and asked yourself, "What is this?!"  

There are many resources which help children to develop their ability to draw something.  In recent years, directed drawing has become a popular kind of lesson.  There are numerous youtube videos where real artists teach students to draw popular animals, historical figures, and characters from children's literature.  Here is a screenshot from one such video showing how to illustrate Martin Luther King Jr.:
You can have your students follow along as a whole class
watching the smart board and drawing on whiteboards and/or paper
OR in centers using tablets or laptops.

You can also download free and inexpensive directed drawing resources from Teachers Pay Teachers which students can use in centers.  In fact, my most popular, favorite center for many, many years was my drawing center. Here is how it worked:

I purchased one of the many step-by-step drawing books like this one available on Amazon right now:

Here's the link, if you want to buy it.

Then, I cut off the bottom half of each page and laminated the tops to be task cards like this:
Next, I created a paper like this one below which is your freebie download:

As a class, the children learned how to work in the drawing center. I took out one drawing task card and projected it on the smart board side-by-side with an "I can draw a _____" paper.  Each child had her own copy of the drawing paper. Students wrote their names and copied the name of what they were drawing at the tops of their papers.  Then, we had to learn what each of the symbols represented: a pencil, a crayon, a colored pencil and a marker. While I demonstrated on the smart board, everyone took out a pencil and followed the step-by-step directions to create the drawing projected on the task card. Then, they repeated the same steps to create the drawing with the other tools (crayon, colored pencil, and marker.) 

After several practice sessions, the kindergartners were ready to use the task cards and drawing papers independently in the drawing center.  My centers were typically 15 minutes in length and most students would complete a couple of drawing lessons each time they visited the drawing center.

I have a few other favorite lessons for teaching children to draw more representationally so please look forward to the next blog posts for other ideas for drawing lessons!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

I'm 100 Days Smarter! (what does that mean?)

It will soon be the 100th day of school! Many teachers will distribute crowns or certificates or stickers proclaiming, "I'm 100 Days Smarter!"  It is the perfect opportunity to teach young children what it means to be smart and to build everyone's self-esteem.

Back in the 1980s, Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University, formulated and advanced his theory of multiple intelligences.  Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory suggests that there are many different kinds of intelligence that we all possess in varying degrees. Then, in the early 2000s, Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University, developed her Growth Mindset theory.  Growth Mindset theory is the idea that intelligence isn't a fixed capacity but, rather, one that can be increased. Taken together, these two theories are good news for educators who are willing to work creatively and energetically to help all children learn.

Here is a chart that I've created to help you visualize MI in kindergarten-friendly images and words.  If you want to download a copy, click here.

If you work in a private or parochial school, you may be able to create an activity
to practice "question smart."

In my classroom, for many years, I would start the 100th Day by telling the children that there are many, many ways to be smart. I'd project a chart like this one and we'd discuss the images and terms for the different kinds of "smarts."  Click here to get your own copy.

Although I am not particularly "Music Smart," I kind of enjoyed pretending to be MisterRogers and sang my version of one of his most popular songs, "There are Many Ways to Show I Love You."

"There are many ways to show how smart you are.
There are many ways to show how much you know.
Many ways, many ways, many ways, many ways,
To be smart."

Then, I'd explain that today we would be participating in an activity for each of the different ways to be smart.  After each activity, each child would be able to reflect (think about) whether or not they liked being smart in that way.  They would each be able to mark their own " Many Ways to be Smart" chart to show their feelings.  Here are two copies of the chart for you to download and photocopy. If you want to create your own activities, click to download version 1. If you want to do my same, easy, tried-and-true 100th day activities for the multiple intelligences, click to download version 2.

Version 1: you can program it with your own questions about the 100th day activities.

Version 2:  My students and I had a lot of fun with these activities over many years.

My students always loved reflecting on the different ways we are all smart.  It was easy to reinforce the terminology the rest of the year:  "Marisol, you are growing very math smart today as you count the beans carefully."  "Javon, you are growing so nature smart the way you are sorting the different kinds of seeds."  And you'll really love it when you hear a child exclaim about a friend, "You are growing so people smart 'cuz you asked me to play with you!"

P.S. Here's another freebie from my files, useful if you can't celebrate the 100th day for some reason but are in school on Day 101!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Has this Retired Kindergarten Teacher Gone BATTY?!?!

Not at all!  I'm having a fabulous time as a new retiree and, if you care to read about my retired life, scroll down after you learn how to make and play "Bat-Minton!"

When my younger son was in preschool, his creative teacher had the children make this adorable "bat-minton" craft/ activity.  I shared the idea with my own kindergarten students for many years.  Click on the Bat-Minton craft hyperlink below for a freebie template. 

Supplies: 7" black paper plates, popsicle sticks, black construction paper, scissors, glue, white crayons and/or white colored pencils, and balloons

Crafting tips:

  • You'll need to cut out the wing template and trace it twice on black construction paper with white crayon or colored pencil. 
  • Your crafters can cut out the wings and the eyes and glue them to the black paper plate. 
  • They can cut off corners of the construction paper to make pointed ears. 
  • Use the white crayon to draw on the mouth and small pointed teeth. 
  • Glue the popsicle stick to the back.
  • Be sure to use real glue for this project so the bat stays put together for the game.  Also, I suggest you make the bats at least several hours ahead of playing the game.  You want to make sure that the glue has dried.
Activity:  To play "Bat-Minton," blow up the balloons; one per participant is nice. Players toss the balloons in the air and get under them with their bats to bounce the balloons back into the air.  Note: Be sure that there are no restrictions in your school about using latex balloons due to the presence of individuals with latex allergies.

So, that's that for bats!

As for what I've been up to in retirement, here are some highlights.
  • I've gone through over 24 bankers boxes of teaching materials from my 41 year career in education ( 31 years of public school teaching plus 10 years of tutoring.) I tossed about a third of my files and materials, kept about a third of the materials for tutoring and teaching French (Oui! Je parle un peu de francais et je l'enseigne a des petits enfants,) and I've organized the rest for one of my former students who is just starting her career in early childhood education. 

  •  My talented husband built bookshelves for the nearly 500 books in my children's book collection. I'm enjoying sharing the library with my grandsons and friends' children.

  • I've started tutoring a math student and four French students three days a week.
Belle, my French froggy, helps me teach French!

As you can see, I'm still interested in the world of education and expect that will always be  true for me.  But, I'm also having a lot of fun doing other things as you can see in the photo montage below.
From left to right: Celebrating my folks' 70th anniversary, 3 generations vacation in Door County, traveling to Denver for my younger grandson's 3rd birthday in Denver, taking French language classes in Quebec City, trying out new baking projects, and attending ALL the home football games at Northwestern University, my alma-mater, with family or friends--here's my BFF from college.... I love retirement!

If you are new to this blog, I hope you might look back at earlier posts.  I believe I have another couple of dozen ideas to share in future posts, as well.  If you are an early childhood educator or a parent of young children, I think you may find some good ideas here. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A RETIRED Kindergarten Teacher's Plans..and YOU!


A year ago today, I started this blog by posting this picture, and by introducing myself as a 23- year veteran kindergarten teacher who was anticipating the upcoming school year, my retirement year.  I promised to write about my favorite lessons and also my reflections on a long, fulfilling career.  I also raised the question, what will I be planning a year from now?

Now, that final year of teaching is done.  I'm officially retired.  For the first time in my whole life, July 4th doesn't signal that summer is half-over. I'm not a student, a mom of school-aged kids, or a classroom teacher anymore.  I'm not writing a list of "To Do's" to prepare for a new school year.  So, what am I doing?  I thought some of my faithful followers might like to know.

As you can see from the above photo, I am baking!  Yes, although it is 93 degrees out with sweltering humidity, I baked a small blueberry pie and four cherry pie tartlets.  Happy Birthday, USA!  I'm hoping to learn to bake a few more delectable pastries and breads to share with my old colleagues at school next year.

And I'm studying French, as well as teaching beginning French to 5 delightful little girls (ages 7-11.)  It has been 45 years since I studied French in school, but I have rediscovered something from my own childhood which I enjoyed.  In fact, my husband and I are planning to spend a week in Quebec City in August, taking a French immersion class. I'm thinking that several of my adult friends and colleagues might like to practice French and enjoy a cup of cafĂ© au lait once a month or so... And, I hope, I will continue to privately teach beginning French during the school year.

I have purchased seasons tickets to the football games at my alma mater, Northwestern University, and I'm looking forward to some fun Saturday afternoons and evenings with family or friends this fall.

I'm reading some BIG books with lots of pages!  I'm thinking about joining a book club or two with like-minded people or, maybe, starting one of my own.  And, I'm really hoping to spend some time writing a few books of my own....

I'm following the news more closely than ever and hoping to do what I can this fall to get out the vote!

And I'm knitting, gardening, biking, walking, going out with friends, planning a vacation for three generations of my family up in Door County.  There is plenty to do, for sure.

But, here is what I want to know, faithful readers of this blog:  Do you want me to continue writing my favorite teaching ideas and reflections?

Here are some topics I was not able to write about last year:

Original songs and chants for helping children attend 

Pretend Trips Around the World

The Wedding of Q and U

Tips for Field Trips

How to Teach Big Ideas to Little Kids

More Ideas for Morning Meeting

Please let me know if you are interested in reading posts on the above topics.  Please comment below or let me know on Facebook, via email, or in-person!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Bear in a Bag: A Fun Home-School Connection

Many of us have packed up our classrooms and closed the door on another school year.  However, a lot of teachers continue to think about teaching and learning over the summer.  We like to consider new ideas for the coming school year. So, here is one of my very BEST ideas which my students enjoyed for 23 years....

It's very simple, really.  You buy Corduroy bear ( available on Amazon) and the book, Corduroy, by Don Freeman.  You make a drawstring bag out of a pillow slip, perhaps. You put the bear and a simple spiral notebook in the bag, leaving the book, Corduroy, out of it for now.

You read the book to your class.  If you don't know the story, it is about a teddy bear named Corduroy who is purchased by a little girl who doesn't mind that he is missing a button from his overalls. Corduroy is one of those classic stories of childhood that should be shared with all five and six year olds!

After you read the book to your class, you show them the drawstring bag and reveal the teddy bear and his notebook.  You explain how each of them will have a turn to take the bag home for a night and draw/write about their adventures.  

I always use the first page in the notebook to share Corduroy's adventures at my house.  His adventures are always the same: he gets tossed into my washing machine and tumbled around in my dryer before starting on his sleepovers at students' homes.  At least, he starts off each year's visits being nice and clean!  And, in case you are wondering, he has held up very well over 23 years of sleepovers at over 300 homes! ***

For many years, I did the Corduroy project at the beginning of the school year, as a way to learn about one another's families.  Parents were asked to write the adventures.  When Writer's Workshop became part of our kindergarten curriculum, I moved Corduroy to the end of the year so the children could do the drawing/writing themselves.  Here are a couple of great examples from this year's notebook:

Before you pass the book bag to the first child to take it home, be sure to pop the book, Corduroy, into the bag.  Over the years, I collected several other books about Corduroy which also went home in the book bag.

Of course, there are other stuffed animals and books that could be sent home in cloth bags.  I'd love to know if you have your own favorites!

*** Readers of this blog might recall that I raffled off Corduroy at my BIG retirement party.  Actually, I raffled off TWO Corduroys: years ago, we had a.m. and p.m. kindergarten, so I have always had two book bags. The lucky winners were delighted! In the "fair and square" raffle, one of the winners was a little girl in my current class.  She was just bursting with pleasure at winning! The other was a boy who will be off to college in the fall.  He is planning to major in television and film production and loved my idea of featuring Corduroy in one of his films!