Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

I probably should have posted this earlier but it is still an important principle. One of the first activities we do in kindergarten is to make our own Brown Bear, Brown Bear book after reading the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carl. Besides re-inforcing the colors we are studying, (kindergarten kids come to school with a wide range of abilities and knowledge. One boy came to school knowing all the colors but brown was "mud", green was "grass", yellow was "sun' etc.).
We had a book with the words already printed and students would draw the pictures. When I told students they would be drawing the pictures, some would begin to wail, "But I can't make a bear!". I would explain to them that this was the reason I was the teacher. I would show them how. Each day afterward we would learn to draw a brown bear, yellow duck, red bird, green frog, blue horse, black sheep, white dog, grey mouse, pink elephant, and orange fish. This gave me a chance to evaluate each student's understanding of position word like up, down, around and across etc.
By the end of the book, students were surprised and proud of their own work. At Parent Night some parent's couldn't believe their own kids had made the pictures.
I thought of this recently as my husband and I were talking. He teaches at a local college and many students say similar things with a wail in their voice.

What I learned: A teacher (or parent's) job is to show the student (or child) how to do new things, or build confidence that he/she can already do more than they know.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Used To Be a Button

Once students learn the sounds of the alphabet they are ready to sound out words. Spelling may not be correct but I always ask students if they want me to write the "book spelling" if the word is misspelled. (e.g. "flaur" instead of "flower') About this time we make a book called "I Used To Be a Button..."
To do this fold a 9x12 piece of construction paper in half top to bottom. I used white so children's writing would show up. On the front cover of the book write the words, "I Used To Be a Button..." Cut a hole in the cover of the book about 1 1/2 in. in diameter. With the cover closed, glue a large button through the hole to the inside of the book. When you open the book, the button will still be glued to the inside. Inside the book write at the top of the page, "But now I'm a ..."
Students make a picture inside using the button as part of the picture. (e.g. a flower, a bike or a clown's nose.) then they write the word beside the picture using their "ear spelling". (e.g. "flower", "bike", or " clown's nose". ) Students are proud of their first piece of literature.