Kindergarten Portfolios and Memory Books

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When people ask what I love about teaching kindergarten, one of my first answers is always the growth that happens each year. Students come in not knowing their own name or having held  a pencil before and leave first grade ready.

One of the best ways to show that growth to both students and parents is through portfolios. Portfolios are a place to keep writing samples, work students are proud of, and to track data and goals. And at the end of the year, they become a wonderful memory book to send home to parents!

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I keep my portfolios in individual binders because it’s easy to quickly insert pages. However, you could just keep each student’s pages in a file folder and then bind at the end of the year.

I start collecting work samples from the very first day of school. Each month has it’s own section. Instead of buying dividers, I have students make a simple craft on construction paper, which is slightly larger than printer paper and makes the perfect divider. As you can see in the picture above, the construction paper is slightly taller than the binder, so if that bothered you, you could trim them down.

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At the beginning of each month, students also draw a portrait of themselves and write their names. I love to see how the pictures get so much more detailed throughout the year!

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I also have them write their uppercase and lowercase letters and fill out a calendar to show number writing. At the beginning of the year, this is rough, but again, the growth is always amazing to see!

Throughout the year, students choose some of their work samples that they are proud of to put in their portfolio. I also choose work that I think represents them as a students and I have a few seasonal writing prompts that I give the whole class.

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Finally, I have one of my FAVORITE sections in the portfolios: Data tracking and goal setting.

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Students help me track their data – sometimes by coloring in what they know and sometimes just by discussing it with me. I let them set their own goals, usually just one or two at a time, that they want to work towards. When they achieve it, they get to add a page to the binder celebrating  the achievement.

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I have students (or me depending on time) use different colors each time I assess so I can easily see where they started and how much they grew each time. This is also very helpful to have on hand during parent teacher conferences – you can just pull out their child’s binder and show how much they’ve grown from the very beginning.

You can find everything you need to easily put together your own portfolios here:

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How Do Butterflies Eat? A Science Experiment

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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:

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-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)

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

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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!

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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)!

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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:

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All About Spring!

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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!

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

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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:

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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.

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

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You can find these in my All About Spring unit:

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

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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:

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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:

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

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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!

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