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Classroom Gross Motor Skills

Do you have students that slump in chairs, fall over nothing, or even fall out of chairs? The problem could be gross motor skills! Say what?!?

What are gross Motor Skills?

Major muscle co-ordination
Body awareness –posture and control
Balance –ability to adjust the body symmetrically
Spatial orientation –awareness of how their body is positioned in space and in relation to other objects or people
Crossing of the midline –opposite from one side of the body to the other

Laterality –awareness of the left and right sides of the body

I do a few fun things during transitions and practice to help build gross motor skills because there is not enough time at recess and physical education classes.

We lay on the belly on the floor when watching videos, playing games, working on computers, or hearing books. 

It is very difficult for some students. Watch to see who sits up first!

We crab walk or bear crawl around the room. Just be sure to have small groups go at one time. Everyone at once can be a mess!
Any practice that we do we push up and hold, just like planks (Who doesn't love a plank!)! You can practice counting, spelling words, math facts, names of planets, etc. Give it a try! How long until the burn when you say the ABC's in a plank? I start to shake at about e!
Write or color in kneeling position. No sitting back on the legs. This really can be difficult because of the stabilization; students think it's fun!

 But don't forget about recess! Climbing, running, and jumping are great ways to build gross motor skills!

What do you do to build gross motor skills in the classroom?

Phonological Awareness Skills

Phonological Awareness

     Phonological Awareness skills are important in order to develop reading and writing skills.

     Each part is important and needs to be taught and practiced!

Word Awareness-Tracking words in sentences. Talk about the number of spaces, number of words, number of lines, what and where do you find at the beginning (capital letter), what and where is the end (punctuation), and any special things.

Responsiveness to rhyme and alliteration during word play-Enjoying and reciting learned rhyming words or alliterative phrases in familiar storybooks or nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes are great!

Syllable Awareness-Counting, tapping, blending, or segmenting a word into syllables.

Onset and Rime Manipulation-The ability to produce a rhyming word depends on understanding that rhyming words have the same rime. Recognizing a rhyme is much easier than producing a rhyme.

Phonemic Awareness-It is the most difficult phonological awareness skill that manipulates the smallest sounds in speech called phonemes. 

1st Step-Identify and match the initial sounds in words, then the final and middle sounds (Which picture begins with /m/?"; "Find another picture that ends in /r/).

2nd Step-Segment and produce the initial sound. ( What sound does bat start with? /b/)

3rd Step-Segment and produce the the final sound. (What sound is at the end of bat? /t/)

4th Step-Segment and produce the middle sound.  (Say the vowel sound in rope  /long o/)

5th Step-Blend sounds into words  (When I say these sounds, what word am I saying?  /m/ /ē/ /t/. Say it fast-meat)

6th Step-Segment the phonemes in two- or three-sound words, moving to four- and five- sound words  (The word is pie. Stretch and say the sounds:  /p/  /ī/ )

  7th Step- Manipulate phonemes by removing, adding, or substituting sounds (Say smoke without the /k/).

These skills take a long time to practice and solidify! Phonemic Awareness activities can be fun!

General Kindergarten Information

What does kindergarten look like? Check out some info. on what it looks like at my school.
 Regular Schedule
1 Hour Delay Schedule
2 Hour Delay Schedule
Planned Early Dismissal Days

Unplanned Early Dismissals
(due to inclement weather)
Parents will be asked to complete a form that each teacher will keep with information regarding the care for the child in the event of an unplanned dismissal. Note that the YMCA Aftercare does not operate on these days.

Typical Daily Schedule
(Please note that the order of activities will vary from class to class but the basic activities are very similar)
Class Meeting
Kid Writing
Guided Reading/Small Group Instruction
Literacy Stations/Centers
Phonics/Phonemic Awareness/Sight Word Activities
Read Aloud
Content (Science, Social Studies, Health)

Available from 7:35-7:45. Children go right from the bus to breakfast. If dropping your child off at school please arrive by 7:35 if they are going to breakfast. It is important to remember that this is a service provided by the district to use as needed, not a time for socialization. Students eating breakfast need to be responsible and able to eat in the time allotted to not be late for class.

Kindergarten students will be able to pack their lunch daily or purchase lunch in the cafeteria. These students will have a 20 minute lunch period as well as 2 recesses at some point during the day (exact schedule varies by building).

Student ID Numbers
Please help your child memorize this number. It will be used every year for library books and meals.

Excuse Cards
Please return an excuse card when your child returns to school after an absence. If your child will miss school due to a family vacation, please contact the office for an educational trip form at least 2 weeks before the absence.

Conferences/Report Cards
Conferences will be held with all families at the end of October. Report cards will not be handed out at this time, rather, it will be a time of discussing your child as a learner as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Conferences will be held on an as needed basis the rest of the school year.

Report cards will be distributed 3 times throughout the year and will come home with your child. The report card and anything in the envelope will be yours to keep. The envelope will need signed and returned to school.

Miscellaneous Information
·         Let your child do things for themselves. It may be easier, cleaner, and faster to do various tasks for them (i.e. making a PBJ sandwich, tying shoes, zipping coat, pouring a drink, etc.) but in the long run it is more beneficial for your child to experience the joys and difficulties of working through these daily tasks with support, initially, and eventually on their own.
·         What do I do if my child is advanced? If your child is advanced in one or more academic areas, celebrate! The Kindergarten year is a time for your child to continue growing in their strong areas as well as focus in on those areas in which your child struggles (this could be a non-academic area such as social skills, independence, attention, fine motor skills, etc.). Each building and teacher has their own unique way of meeting the needs of all learners in our short Kindergarten day. Please speak to your child's teacher and/or principal if you have any questions.
·         The only school supplies your child will need is a pair of headphones and book bag that is large enough to fit their school folder (which will be provided at orientation), and lunch box if your child will be packing. Please keep all other supplies (pencils, crayons, etc.) in a special school/homework area at home.

Consonant Clusters or Blends?

Once students have learned the consonant sound-spellings, you should teach and practice the consonant clusters.

What are consonant clusters you ask? And how do they differ from blends?

Consonant clusters is the name given to two or three consonants that appear together in a word. Each consonant retains its sound when blended. 

The term cluster refers to the written form, and the term blend refers to the spoken form. So you can combine phonics and phonemic awareness seamlessly!

You can find fun puzzles that practice clusters and blends by clicking the picture:

Check out the cool way we connected the Cluster/Blend Dominoes

Consonant clusters consist of four major categories:
 r-blends: br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr
s-blends: sc, sk, sl, sm, sn, sp, st, sw,
 l-blends: bl, cl, fl, gl, pl
3 letter blends: str, spr thr, chr, phr, shr

Ending blends: ct, ft, ld, lp, lt, mp, nd, nk, nt, pt, rd, rk, sk, sp, st (teach these last)

These differ from consonant digraphs.  Digraphs consist of two consonants that when blended make one sound: sh, ch, th, wh, ph, gh, ng (You need to teach and practice this with beginning readers.)

The consonant blend sc can stand for the /sk/ sound as in scare or the /c/ can be silent as in science. 

Also, the consonant cluster ck represents one sound - /k/.

Most other consonant clusters will almost always stand for the blended sound of each consonant, which makes them very reliable and worthy of teaching.

I hope you have fun teaching clusters and blends.

Letter Fun Videos

 I love using the following videos to teach letters sounds and names. They are great for brain breaks, practice, or to use before reading to get brains ready.

This video has the letter and sounds along with the motions.

Fun Motions!

Great way to learn sign language.

Great once the sounds are known for practice. Cool parody!

These are the motions we use! Using motions make the letters stick! Check out Jack Hartmann.

Poetry Procedure Fun

April is Poetry Month!

Working with poetry helps build a culture of reading within any classroom! I love to use a poem a week to help kindergarten/ 1st grade students focus and play with reading and poetry.

1st Day-Listen/Discuss/Read Poem 

I like to have the students close their eyes and imagine what they hear. No pictures allowed! Students turn and discuss what was imagined. Then I show the poem and point to the words as I reread, still no comprehension questions, just enjoyment of a simple poem.

2nd Day-Reread

I read the poem as I point to the words. Usually the students will join along and read with me. Sometimes I need to encourage them...a slight pause usually works. I usually have an image at this point. Yes, discussion usually follows.

3rd Day-Reread and Take Turns

Students get a chance to point to the words as the class chorally reads the poem. Students love to choose a special pointer. It really helps me see who has one to one correspondence and provides practice.

4th Day-Reread and Hunt

We practice reading the poem once and then student hunt for words or letters depending on the ability of the students. Once a few students practice chorally reading, the students can circle or highlight words I ask for them to find in their personal journals. I usually only let them hunt the words I ask for because they will sometimes circle all words, and I really want to focus the learning.

5th Day-Illustrate/Color

We reread the poem in their journals as they all point to the words in journals. We hunt for special words and/or letters then the students can color and illustrate their poem. Once finished, students reread other poems or count words/ letters as they wait for their friends to finish.

Check out this short, informative video on how I use these poems! So much fun and rewarding to watch the students grow as readers of poetry!

Must Have Poetry Resource

Free LOVE Poem

4 Fun Reading Strategies

How do you use reading strategies to help young readers learn?
I love The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. It really is "your everything guide to developing skilled readers." Cracking the code to reading is not the most important part of reading. You need to develop vocabulary, discuss thoughts and connections to become engaged readers that love books! I love the following strategies I found in this book.

 Supporting Print Work-Increasing Accuracy and Integrating Sources of Information

This part of reading always worries me the most! It seems so difficult for some students especially beginning readers!
 Check the Picture for Help helps the child to not only read what is happening but see what is happening as well. They can double check to make sure that word makes sense in the sentence before moving on and getting more confused. I think many students need to be taught this skill. The discussion in the group can't skip this step that seems so easy to some.
 Try, Try,  Try Again is probably the most important strategy every reader should remember. It is especially difficult with some students.  I like to fact that you actually teach it to the students, not just expect it. Teach the students to use all the things they have in their toolbox.

  • You know how to read words from left to right.
  • You know how to check the picture to see if it makes sense.
  • You know how to think about what is going on in a story, and how that can help you choose the right word.
  • You know how to look for parts of words you know inside of a larger word.

Teaching Fluency-Reading with Phrasing, Intonation,and Automacity

 Think, "Have I Seen It on the Word Wall?" What a great idea as a warm up, to read the words on the word wall! I have done this in writing, but what a great connection to do it with reading as well to help develop automaticity with sight words. Just have the students read the word wall words as warm up! Then remind them to use those words in reading.
Rhyming Sight Word Poster
I like to use this rhyming sight word poster in kindergarten at the beginning of the year before they have mastered sight words or with readers that struggle with this difficult words. Itt also helps with rhyming skills!

 Warm-Up and TransferI love to do this with students when they just begin reading. I always did it for confidence but I love the idea to use with strategies. I love the use of "As you read, I want you to be aware of how you let your eyes go ahead of the word you are reading now, how you scoop up many words at a time in a phrase, how you read it based on how the character is thinking in an easy book, then try it in a just right book."

What fun word work do you Love!