How Do Butterflies Eat? A Science Experiment

Slide1.PNG

We kicked off butterfly week today with one of my favorite experiments – discovering why butterflies only eat liquids!

Honestly, it can be hard for kindergartners to understand how a butterfly’s mouth works. If we’re going to be using the word “proboscis,” however, I want to make sure it’s not going over their heads every time I say it!

The materials are pretty simple:

Slide40.PNG

-2 cups per student

-1 straw per student (I used colored straws so students at the same table didn’t mix them up)

-Cereal too large to fit up a straw

-Juice (I used fruit punch to represent nectar)

Slide37

Every student got a cup with some fruit loops, a cup with some juice, and a straw.

Slide46

I had students stand with the straw in their mouth and their hands behind their back. They couldn’t touch anything and they had to listen for each direction.

First, students tried to suck up the cereal with the straws. Obviously, this won’t work! We got a lot of laughs as some students managed to get cereal out of the cups, but couldn’t eat it.

Then students tried to suck up the juice. Of course, this time it worked!

Slide9.PNG

We talked about how butterflies also have straws for mouths (the proboscis) and discussed which one we thought would be easier for them to eat (the liquid, of course)!

Slide39.PNG

Together, we reflected and wrote about our experiment and what we learned. And then we ate fruit loops! 😉

Would your students love to learn all about butterflies? Find this experiment and much, much more in this fun Butterfly nonfiction unit:

Slide50.PNG

All About Spring!

Picture2

I LOVE spring! The days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and we get to learn about some of my favorite subjects!

I always like to talk about the season of spring the week we get back from spring break. I’m always surprised at how many of my students have no idea what a season is, but I also secretly love it because they get SO excited to learn about what makes each season unique!

Slide13

I highly, highly recommend all the seasons books in the Exploring series:

Slide19

The pages aren’t very wordy and the pictures are big and vibrant. My students always pull out so much information form these!

We put it all into a bubble chart:

Slide18

From there, I tasked my students with choosing 3 things to write about spring. They could be things we added to our chart or things they already knew.

Slide17

Slide15

They then added a cover and made tissue paper flowers to complete this cute writing craft!

Slide2

You can find these in my All About Spring unit:

Slide35

From there we moved on to insects. We read about different types of insects using these pages, again from my All About Spring unit:

Slide27

Of course, insects are one of those topics that certain students will already know A LOT about. 😉 So I let them add their information to our discussion too.

Then students each chose 1 of the 5 insects to write about. We ended by making this cute directed drawing craft inspired by Doodlebugs Teaching:

Slide22

Slide23

Slide3

And, of course, we couldn’t talk about spring without talking about the changing weather! We actually are required to cover weather the entire second quarter in STEM, so we were already weather experts, but we spent some time talking about storms – a big deal this time of year in the midwest!

We started with what they already knew about storms:

Slide1

And then we added our new learning after reading a few nonfiction books:

Slide21

If you think your students would also love learning about spring, insects, plants, weather, and more, be sure to check out All About Spring and then let me know some of your favorite topics to teach in the spring!

Slide3

Transitional Readers in Kindergarten

Picture5.png

If you’re a kindergarten teacher, you know that every year is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. Every year I have kiddos come in who range from not knowing their own name to knowing a few letters to being able to read and comprehend chapter books.

Today i’m going to talk about what you can do to meet the needs of those high students without cloning yourself… because let’s be real, sometimes it feels like you need to if you want to fit it all in! And these ideas aren’t just for kindergarten – many can be used with any primary grade level!

Picture14

I’m going to start with talking about guided reading. Right now I have a group of kiddos who read and comprehend at a range of levels M-U (3rd-5th grade levels). The word comprehend is so important because it doesn’t matter if a student can read a higher level text if they don’t understand what they read.

Sometimes that can be difficult to explain to parents why I have their student at a lower reading level when they’re convinced they can read every Harry Potter book back-to-back, but what’s the point of reading if you don’t do anything with it? (Does that make sense? I’ve got spring break brain, HA!)

We’ve been working all year, and one area I found my kiddos struggled in was retelling nonfiction.

Slide4

I LOVE these Scholastic Kids newsletters! Yes, they’re a lower reading level, but they are laid out perfectly to show my students how to pick out the main idea and supporting details.

Slide3.PNG

After reading a few times, I have my students fill out this graphic organizer. You can find it here. If it was a magazine with 4 points, i’d either have them just choose 3 or add another on the back.

On day 2, we would put this into paragraph form, which was definitely a challenge as they had never done that before! First, I had students write a topic sentence using the main idea, then put the 3 details into sentences, then write a closing sentence. I taught them that they could just reword the topic sentence to write the closing sentence (So “There are dangerous animals in summer.” might become “Those are some of the dangerous animals of summer.”)

Then, because I do want to push my students further, I have them go back and add more to each detail (this extends over multiple days – so a day for the graphic organizer, a day for writing, a day for adding more details, etc).

Slide4

Students use sticky notes to add on to each detail. Often they want to say “But there’s no more here!” and I have to make them go back and read because of course there is. 😉

Now, this step is extra, but  I wanted a way to make the structure more visual to them.

 

First, I had my students cut apart their paragraph. Then they glued it down in order, this time adding in those expanded details with the post it notes.

Then, they wrote their paragraph again and this time illustrated it:

Slide7

Pretty impressive! Now that they understand the structure of a paragraph, we’re working on writing multiple paragraphs about an animal they’re researching. Once they’re done, we’ll learn how to type it up and they will get to present to an upper grade class (they’re dying to do this!)

Again, those graphic organizers can be found here. Honestly, I use them every day for any skill I think we need to work on – making connections, predicting, retelling, and more!

Picture16

What about literacy centers? If you go back to this post, I show you how I differentiate my literacy centers to meet the needs of all my students:

picture2

This group is my purple group, so they know that they can choose any basket with a purple ribbon or any purple folder.

Some centers are very easy to differentiate because I just need to change up the sight words. For example:

-Read it, Make it, Write it

Mystery Sight Words

-Sight Word Stamp

-Roll and Write a Sight Word

I also like to have them do research and write as a basket. One basket contains a bunch of Scholastic Kids magazines and the same graphic organizer so that they can get more practice even when they’re not at my table.

I LOVE the PBL projects from Digital Divide and Conquer! I sometimes start these with the students and then make them a basket.

I also put out these animal research tab books out and let my students choose an animal to write about. You can try the lion tab book out for free here:

 

I hope these ideas were helpful to you! Do you have any great ideas for meeting the needs of your higher students? I’d love to hear them!

Pin this blog post for later:

Picture15

 

Teaching Writing At The Beginning Of Kindergarten

writing wed header

Picture17

I’m linking up for Writing Wednesday to walk about something that I think remains a mystery for  lot of people… How do you teach writing to students who have never written before???

If you teach any grade other than kindergarten, your students may not come to you exactly where you want in writing, but they have some working knowledge of the writing process.

But if you teach kindergarten, you know that you may have students who don’t know what a pencil is, who don’t know their own name, and who don’t understand the difference between a letter and a word. Its enough to keep you up at night worrying that there just isn’t enough time to get them where they need to be!

Believe it or not, though, my students do get past that and even get to the point where they can independently write a research book (yes, really!). So how do I start out?

Picture18.pngWell, I spend the first two weeks of school JUST focusing on drawing. Yes, I teach letters and sight words too, but when its “writing time”, we draw. Drawing is such an important part of kindergarten writing, but it often gets pushed aside with the demands of today’s curriculum.

Don’t let it! Think about how we teach children to read books. Before they can read the words, we teach them to read the pictures. We teach them that the pictures can tell a story too, and that eventually they will be able to read the words to go along with the pictures.

If a student cannot yet write sentences, their pictures can tell the story. The more details, the more interesting the story.

Do your kiddos drawings look like this at the beginning of the year?

Slide7.PNG

Cute, yes, but we don’t want their people to look like this forever!

Here are some ideas to get students to focus on the details:

Give them a mirror and have them draw themselves. You will have to model first how to use shapes to draw different body parts. This will help them see that, no, we don’t have legs coming out of our heads and, no, our hair is probably not rainbow colored!

Go outside and give students an object or person to draw. After they draw it, have them focus on what they see around it. What color is the grass? What is in the sky? 

Developmentally, your students are not ready to draw from memory. They need to physically see an object. If its not possible to have that object in real life, bring up a photo on an ipad or computer.

Picture19.png

As you teach some sight words those first few weeks, your students will be ready to begin seeing how those words fit together to form sentences. 

Interactive writing is the best way I know how to do this. We do interactive writing together daily for most of the first quarter.

It looks like this:

Slide4

I may decide on the sentence or we may come up with it together. Then I draw a line for each word, just like you might do in guided writing.

I call up students one at a time who can write the sight words in the sentence. When we get to the unknown word, we stretch it out together.

At the beginning of the year, we may just focus on the beginning sound. I’ll have a student identify and write the first letter, then i’ll write the rest of the word. Once we get going, though, I have students identify and write the beginning and ending sound or the beginning, medial, and ending sounds and that’s all we put up there. 

I don’t worry about showing them the correct spelling because that is not something they are ready for yet. It will only frustrate them. I want them to know that they can stretch words out and any attempt will make me happy.

Picture20.pngThen its time to put it on paper. I have taught students how to use the word wall and modeled, modeled, modeled how to stretch words out.

Still, you’ll get students who put a random string of words on their paper. Or they’ll copy your interactive writings word for word. That is OK at first. One they get the concept of what is a sentence, I will  start encouraging them to think of their own sentence. I may even brainstorm with a student a sentence they can write.

Slide5

What if you have a student who still struggles with letter formation?

If a students still struggles with letter formation and it is seriously impacting their writing, I may have them come up with the sentence and then trace over words I have written with highlighter.

Slide6

I do try to ease them away from this as soon as possible, but you may have students who need it for a good portion of the year.

What if you have students who still struggle with sentence conventions?

Sentence conventions can be one of the trickiest parts of writing. Even after a students understands that words in the right order make a sentence, they may still struggle with spacing, punctuation, and putting capital letters in the right spot.

We practice this every day in Writer’s Workshop, but for extra practice, I like to have my students work on these sentence scrambles:

Slide8

These are a fun way for students to practice conventions. The cut apart words help them see the physical spaces between words and to put them in the right order they need to look for the word that is capitalized and the word with a period after it.

I ALWAYS have these as part of my writing center and they are included in my monthly writing centers, but I also keep multiple seasonal and holiday themed sentence scrambles on hand.

Last year my studend LOVED to do these as early finisher work or for morning work. I even used them in my guided writing groups sometimes when I wanted to do a lesson on a specific convection.

You can find all of my themed sentence scrambles here:

Slide9

Do you have any tips for writing at the beginning of the year that I haven’t covered here? I would love to hear about them! You can even link up below: