Getting Ready for Math in Kindergarten

Whew!  I have officially survived my second full week back in Kindergarten!  I am BEAT!  I am excited, because I really have a pretty good class, overall.  We've had a few incidents, of course, but nothing compared to last year!  It helps that I have an amazing assistant and a Granny to help with these kids!  Thank goodness!!!

We have been hard at work the past few weeks, getting settled into the routine of Kindergarten.  I seriously think it is harder on me than it is on the kids! I'm so used to the first grade schedule and the first grade way of doing things.  For example, we do math in the morning in K, and I'm very used to it in the afternoon, since they didn't switch until I moved out of K!  That is such a huge adjustment, but I do love having more time dedicated to math that doesn't get run over with something else.  :-)

Over the past few weeks, we have been working on counting, sorting, classifying, graphing, and exploring.  We spent a few days just getting used to the math manipulatives through exploration.  We taught the students how to appropriately get the manipulatives they needed, how to use them appropriately, and how to put them away.  We talked about how the manipulatives were tools to use for math, not toys to play with.  I think that is so important, because the students will start treating them as toys.

We have explored color tiles, connecting cubes, wooden blocks, attribute blocks, buttons, and pattern blocks. These are manipulatives we will be using a lot of throughout the school year, so it's useful to get them used to them now!  I love giving them a little bit of time to explore.  It's so interesting to see what they come up with!  Some of them make things, while others experiment with patterns.  Some sort and classify them.   It's so fun to watch them work!

(Please ignore my ugly labels!  I'm working on new ones!)

We also did a lot of practice with counting and data collection.  One way we practiced counting, understanding more or less, and collecting data is through graphing.  Throughout the first few weeks of Kindergarten, we do a ton of graphs!  They help us get to know our students better and also gives them many opportunities for learning.  The graphs I used throughout the first few weeks of school came from my "A Graphing We Will Go!" bundle of Back to School graphing activities.  There are several different graphs that you can use with your students.  We just used a few of them.  There are several more that we will probably do over the next few weeks.

The first graph we made was "Are you a boy or a girl?"  This is a good graph to start with because there are only 2 options, and most students already know the answer!  As we add more data to our graph, we recount the pictures we've already glued to the graph, compare to see which data point is greater, and make predictions on what the outcome will be.

When we completed each graph, I let each child tell me what their choice answer was, and then I handed them that picture.  They went back to their seats to color them, and then we met again on the carpet to put the graph together.  This was a great way to practice transitions as well!  

We also did graphs with more data points.  For example, we did the transportation graph the 4th day of school, once the chaos of the first few days ended!  The students needed to be able to tell me how they were getting home from school.  You could add their names in black marker to their picture, so you can use this graph to refer to throughout the year.  It's also easy for you to check that they are giving you the correct answer, because hopefully you know how your students are getting home!  I love to read "This is the Way We Go to School" with this graph- it's a great way to incorporate literacy into math!

Another graph I love to do is "What is your Favorite Kind of Ice Cream?"  I love this one because there is always ice cream involved!  We do this graph, and then we bring ice cream for the students as a surprise.  We usually do this one on a Friday. :-)  I usually don't have more than half my class say strawberry is their favorite, though!  This shocked me!

We also did "What is your Favorite Pet?", "How Many Letters are in Your Name?", and "What is your Favorite Color?"  These graphs help you to see if your students can follow simple direction, and it also gives them practice with counting and comparing data.

After we gave our students lots of practice with manipulatives, and finished our beginning of the year graphs, we started working on teaching our students about math workshops.  We like to use math workshops in Kindergarten.  This allows the students to be working on multiple activities at once, while allowing us to differentiate activities.  Students who are struggling with one skill can continue to practice that skill, while students who have mastered that skill can move on to another skill.  The teachers can work with small groups to enrich or intervene.  I love centers!

We did some practice with writing numbers.  I have a few dry erase pockets, so we created a number writing sheet that allowed the students to get some practice tracing and writing numbers, while using the dry erase markers.  Every teacher knows the students are excited about that!

We also did this counting activity.  Each student had a die labeled 0-5, a birthday cake mat, and crayons.  The students had to roll the dice and put that many crayons on the mat.  Then they had to roll the dice again, and figure out how many candles they had to put on or take off of the mat.  Some of the students did really well with it, while others really struggled.

I also mentioned that we have been working on sorting.  We played "Button Match Up" and "Attribute Block Match Up" as well.  These two games are similar, as far as that the students need to sort the objects based on one similar attribute, such as color, shape, or size.  The students really enjoyed these games.  And since they were familiar with the manipulatives already, they were ready to get focused and play the games instead of playing with the manipulatives!
Attribute Block Match Up

Button Match Up
I love that all 3 of these girls are working together to sort their buttons.  They worked so well together! 

We also did some concept sorting.  We used my Vocabulary Concept Sorts to help sort pictures into the correct category.  The kids really enjoyed this, and it was easy to see which misconceptions they had as well.  

We also played a little game I like to call "What's Missing?"  There are 9 squares on each tray, and 9 different objects on each tray.  The students play in partners.  The first student covers their eyes, while the second one takes one of the objects off of the tray and hides it.  The first student has to figure out which object is missing off of the tray.  They get 3 guesses to figure out which object their partner is hiding.

I love how one of my students is hiding the missing object behind his back.

And here, one of my students is showing her partner which object she took off the tray.

So that has been our math for the first week and a half or so!  So far, my kiddos are loving learning about numbers and sorting objects!

You can find some of the activities we did over the first few weeks in these two products.

What have you been teaching?  Lots of sorting, classifying, and counting?  
Please share in the comments!

Classroom Reveal 2014!

  Moving from first grade to Kindergarten was difficult for me, maybe even more difficult than moving from Kindergarten to first grade 3 years ago.  I simply didn't want to go, and I was so apathetic about moving.  When I moved from K to 1st, I did a complete overhaul of my classroom decor- mostly because Kindergarten was the "bees" and I didn't feel like I could be a "bee" anymore.  But when I moved back to K, I didn't feel like putting in the time or energy to change my classroom decor and theme.  

Luckily, once I started working in my room, I got excited about setting up my classroom.  And now I have an absolutely beautiful classroom.  I can't WAIT to show it to you!  I don't think I've ever been so excited to share a classroom with you!

Unfortunately, I took a TON of pictures, and I don't want to overload you, so I'm going to show you half of the room, and I'll post the rest later. :-)

WARNING:  This is image heavy and a little bit text heavy!  View at your own risk. :-)


This is the view when you walk into the room and turn to the right.  Our doors are at an angle, so you walk in, and then you have to turn into the room.  

The wall on the back is my word wall.  The book nook is in the back right corner.  On the right wall, I have my computers and my math manipulative shelf, which you can see the corner of.

This is my unofficial "focus" wall area.  If you have ever seen any of my other classroom photos, you may recognize the fence below.  It used to be on the back of my bookshelves for my book nook.  This year, I used it for a different purpose.  

 The left bulletin board will hold student work.  I'm going to hang our self-portraits there, which is why it has the little banner that says "Say Cheese!"

The fabric on this bulletin board is actually a "coverlet" or something like that.  I purchased it at Old Time Pottery, but it originally came from Walmart.  It was a 90x78" piece of fabric, with finished edges.  It was $7 and I figured it would come in handy.  It totally did, because all the fabric I had wasn't big enough! :-(

Another BIG deal about this picture?  The pink borders!  I actually despise the color pink, so it's a huge deal that I used the color pink on these borders.  HUGE.  

More pink borders.  The right board is a dry erase board.  I have my "I Can" Statements hanging there, as well as my job chart.  I'm thinking about making new headers for my "I Can" Statements, because I feel like these don't match!

Above these boards are my colors and shapes posters for student reference.  Above that is my alphabet chart.  I love the aqua and green polka dots- they match my room perfectly!  The alphabet chart is available in my store in a few different colors, if you're interested.

If you were to walk straight into my room, you would actually walk into the bookshelf that you see to the left in this picture.  This is my Guided Reading area and desk area.  I don't actually have a desk, so this entire area is where I keep everything. 

The buckets in the bottom of this picture are about to get a makeover.  I found some awesome laminated fabric from Hobby Lobby, so I am going to recover them.  I love the polka dots, but they are starting to look a little dirty.  I knew they would, but originally I had plastic to put over them and it didn't look right.  I made these buckets last year.  They hold extra student supplies like glue, crayons, markers, etc...  

 You may recognize the curtains as well.  They were a part of my vocabulary wall in my classroom last year.  This was the perfect place for it in this classroom.  So I made this my own little space, complete with inspirational posters, favorite books, colorful pom poms, and photographs.

The shelf to the right holds my personal book collection (the ones students can't borrow!), teacher books, my stapler, tape, etc..., and a few other things.  The shelf behind my table holds my guided reading books.  I feel like I need something in that space above the curtains, but I'm not sure yet.  Maybe smaller sized posters of my reading buddies to reference when I'm teaching?

One problem I have is clutter.  If there is a horizontal surface to cover, I will cover it.  Usually with paper.  So this year, I did myself a favor and made the shelf behind my table "pretty."  I figured, if it were pretty, I wouldn't move this stuff out of the way to clutter it with stacks of paper.  That's an organizational tip there, people!

This is the same area from a different angle.  I really think I need something on the other side of that toolbox.  I made that 2 years ago, I think.  I love it.  Most of those drawers are full, but I need to go back and label some of them. 

The wooden frames are from Michaels, and I painted them with spray paint.  I made the wooden B myself using supplies from Hobby Lobby.

I cut out my little basket full of notepads and pretty post it notes, but they are to the left of the picture frame.   The picture frames came in a pack of 3 from Target.  They were $5.  I made the little sayings postersposters that are in all the frames myself.  Beside that is my Tool Turn About from Pampered Chef.  You may recognize it from my Monday Made It post awhile back.  Now it's full of pens, markers, and pencils, and I LOVE IT!  Everything is so organized and easily within reach!

I love love love this thing!

I have a drawer unit on wheels that I have guided reading materials in, such as dry erase boards, assessment materials, and stuff like that.  On top is my standing pocket chart that I use to display words, "I Can" Statements, etc...  It rolls, so I thought it would be great to roll to my table when I need it, and roll out of the way when I don't.  

I am so excited to show you what is probably my favorite part of my classroom!  I love my book nook area!

I have actually had 2 sets of these crate seats in my classroom.  One set is green, and the other is turquoise.  I made them 3 years ago.  I use these for buddy reading.  Inside, I store supplies like notebooks, markers, etc... to help weigh them down so students don't move them!  

My mom helped me out and recovered them when she was here this summer, since I was busy working on other things in the classroom.  I LOVE this fabric.  It makes me so excited.  I love the colors and chevron.  It's laminated too, so it's easy to clean!  It's from Hobby Lobby.

I am probably going to completely overload you with pictures of my library, so I'm going to apologize now.  I just love this space so much!

The green and turquoise shelves are from my old classroom.  Somehow, when moving rooms, I lost 2 of my short shelves, so I found another tall shelf and moved it into my room.  I painted it pink, which if you know me, is absolutely shocking!  I hate pink, but I thought a pink shelf would look great with the other shelves.  

These are 3 of my shelves that I painted over the last few years. 

I love all the fun places for students to sit and read.  

I made these READ letters for my classroom over the summer.  My old ones kept falling off the wall.  These have magnets on the back, and so far they have stayed up quite well! 

I also updated my book basket labels.  My old ones were looking rather faded and shabby, and it was time for something new.

I am so in love with these labels.  Who knew something so small could make such a huge impact?  I spent a lot of time on these, and I am so glad I did!  You can find them in various colors in my store

I just need to show them off a little more.  I love seeing such an organized, beautiful classroom library!  I hope it will stay that way, but I'm not holding my breath!

I also bought some new book boxes for some of my books.  I love the size of these.  They are compact but hold a ton of books, so they fit on a shelf quite nicely.  They are also very sturdy, so I am not worried they will tip over or break.  They are actually Sterilite ice bins from Target.  They were an investment, because I needed about 20 of them, but they were so worth it!  My other Sterilite baskets are 7 years old and not one of them has cracked, so I'm sure these will hold up just as well.  

You may have noticed the tree in the corner of my library.  This may be my absolute favorite part of my room.  I used a giant cardboard tube from when I received my classroom rug a few years ago.  I saw that tube and said "That's going to be a tree."  3 years later (yes, 3), it finally became a tree!  I duct taped it to the wall, then added limbs, bark, and finally some leaves.  I am going to add some more leaves to the top to make my canopy a little more fluffy, but I'm waiting until the fire marshal comes next week. :-)  The paper for the bark actually is the packaging from my boxes of Pampered Chef.  They pack all their boxes with this brown paper, and it was absolutely perfect- and free!

In the first 2 pictures, you saw my word wall board.  I brought the tree and sign from my old classroom.  It took 4 of us to get this tree up!  The bottom part is held by magnets, while the top is heavy-duty stapled into the board.  I have my Chalkboard Ten Frame posters hanging above the word wall for students to reference. 

I also made new word wall headers that I love.  I glued them to some flowers I cut out with my Cricut.  I'll include more about this in my next post.  

So there you go!  Part one of my classroom reveal!  What do you think?  Is there something you really liked?  Something you hated?  Please share your thoughts! 

Thanks for reading!