Sight Words in Pre-K???

There’s been a lot (and I mean A LOT!!) of discussion lately in several of the preschool/pre-k teachers Facebook groups I’m a member of about teaching sight words in pre-k. It seems that many teachers teach sight words to their kiddos because they choose to, others because they are required to, and others don’t teach them at all. Not surprising, considering how diverse our teacher community is, right?

But, most of the discussions have a lot of common elements. These are the things I read over and over again in those threads:

  • sight words aren’t developmentally appropriate for pre-k
  • all kids are different and some might be ready for sight words
  • send a list home and let the parents teach sight words to their kids
  • they have to know so many sight words in kindergarten, we really need to get them started in pre-k

I have to say, I both agree and disagree with parts of each of these statements.

  • I don’t believe sight words on their own are developmentally inappropriate for pre-k kiddos IF they are taught in a developmentally appropriate way.
  • Some kiddos might be ready for sight words, but they still must be presented to pre-k kiddos in the right way.
  • IF the kids are ready for it, and IF you’re teaching them in developmentally appropriate ways at school, there are ways to let your kiddos practice them at home with their parents.
  • They do have to know a lot of sight words in kindergarten (That’s the part of that statement I agree with.), but that doesn’t mean that I have to feel obligated to teach them in pre-k. They are part of the kinder curriculum, not the pre-k curriculum.

So… where does that leave us? Well, the leading authority on all things preschool is the NAEYC. You can read their position statement on learning to read and write here. If you read this document, you’ll notice that sight words (or high frequency words) aren’t even mentioned until kinder. But, development is a tricky thing. Each kid is different. So, my approach is to expose my kiddos to a wide variety of things, watch for what they grab on to, and follow their lead. (And I do that with pretty much everything from an academic standpoint, not just sight words!)

The biggest teaching tool for me when it comes to this is shared reading. According to Fountas and Pinnell (My early literacy heroes!!) in the book Literacy Beginnings: A Prekindergarten Handbook, shared reading is when you read a big book or an enlarged print version of a poem in unison with your kiddos. They go on to say that it is by nature inclusive, and it encourages all children to participate as “readers” even if they are not yet readers in reality. We do shared reading in my room every single day!

Here’s an example of one of the poems that is currently in one of our pocket charts:

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The first few times we read a new poem, we echo read. (I read a line as I point to the words then I point to the words again and my kiddos read it.) Once they have the basic gist of it, we just read it together. By the end of the week, my kiddos can come point to the words while we all read it. They also LOVE to get one of the pointers and read these during centers!

After we’re done with a particular poem in our whole group setting, a smaller version of it moves to our reading center.

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They always have multiple poems to choose from, in addition to all of the books that are in the reading center. But, they love to continue to read the poems with pointers, even long after we’ve moved on to new ones!

My main goals with shared reading are centered around the prekindergarten guidelines. Concepts of print are huge in pre-k, so we work on that a LOT! I also use the words from the poems (once they are familiar with them) to work on phonological awareness.

But…

Every once in awhile, you have that kiddo who says, “Mrs. A! This and this and this are the same!” as they point to the word “am” in every line. Or, they notice that “i-n” is in the poem, and it’s in the morning message. Once they start noticing these types of things, they are ready to start recognizing some basic sight words.

However, even with these kiddos, I still do NOT do formal sight word instruction. No flash cards. No worksheets. No writing practice. I simply become VERY intentional about asking them the right questions to push them a little farther. I point out the words they’ve become familiar with in other settings to see if they can make that transfer. I give them opportunities to read things that we encounter that contain the words they’re familiar with. I continue to push them and their learning, but I continue to do it through authentic and play-based experiences.

Simply stated, I watch for what they grab on to, and I follow their lead.

It’s really no different than when you notice a kiddo is struggling to write her name, so you put some extra supports in place to help her be successful.

If you want to check out my shared reading sets, you can find them in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store! There are several to choose from, and I’m adding to them almost weekly, so keep checking back!

Mrs. A’s Shared Reading Sets

It’s not rocket science, and it’s nothing super extraordinary, but that’s how I approach sight words in my classroom!

How do you approach sight words with your pre-k kiddos?

 

Happy Teaching!!

 

Question of the Day

The Question of the Day is a great routine to establish in your classroom! Some of the benefits include:

  • Your kiddos get a daily opportunity to make a choice and express their opinions.
  • The questions are great conversation starters and help you create opportunities for oral language development.
  • You have daily opportunities to discuss and reinforce math concepts like graphing and data collection, vocabulary (more, less, how many more, how many less, equal), and counting skills.

This is part of our routine every single day, and my kiddos love it! In my room, I don’t go through the whole process in one sitting. Here’s how I do it:

  1. At my school, all the kiddos come to the room at the same time. (What a blessing!) As they come in and go to the carpet, they are always trying to read the question of the day to figure out what it says before I tell them!
  2. Once they are all sitting, I read the question to them. (We call it our choice board.)
  3. I call them one or two at a time to move their name card from “Home” to the choice board. (All the name cards start on my circle time board under the “Home” heading until the kiddos arrive. Hint: This is a super easy way to keep tabs on attendance!)
  4. Later in the day, during our math time, we have our discussion about the choice board. We count how many friends chose each option. We make cube towers to match the two numbers. We compare the cube towers using terms like more, less, equal, difference, how many more, and how many less.
  5. At the end of the day, when each kiddo gets packed up to go home, they move their name cards back to the “Home” section of our circle time board.

When you first start implementing a question of the day, you’ll need to spend a lot of time teaching the procedures and key vocabulary terms. BUT… before too long, you will notice that your kiddos start to internalize these and using them on their own! They will start counting, comparing, and discussing before you ever direct them to do so! This is one of the reasons why I love to delay the discussion of our choices. It gives my kiddos lots of opportunities to have their own discussions before we ever do it together!

Now we are at the point that, after we count each group of names, all I have to do is say, “What do you notice about our choice board?” And, the replies come flying!! They get so excited to tell me all the things they notices about the choice board!

Here’s what our choice board looks like, with an example of one of our questions from our Dr. Seuss unit:

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As you can tell, “The Cat in the Hat” was the favorite by a landslide! But, you get the idea!

So far, three sets of my questions of the day are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store, and more are coming soon! Just click here to see which ones are currently available! (Note: The question pictured above is not included in the Silly Cat Question of the Week because of copyright restrictions attached to the two book covers. But, the words are included, and you can get the books images off the internet!)

Happy Teaching!

The Cat in the Hat Week!

Our second week of Dr. Seuss was all about “The Cat in the Hat!” And, while this is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, my kiddos this year didn’t love it. So, I followed their lead, and altered my plans a little as the week went on. They had a blast with all of the games, activities, and centers I had for them. They just didn’t like the story. So, we read a lot of other Dr. Seuss books this week after our first read of “The Cat in the Hat.” Here are some of our favorites from the week! (Click on the images to get your own copy!)

Cat Hat Book Snip    Ten Apples Book Snip    Cat Comes Back Book Snip    Mr Brown Book Snip    Dr Seuss Colors Book Snip

Our shared reading this week included the poem “Hats” and the nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.” We read them over and over again until the kiddos can read them independently. They get so excited when they can read something by themselves! This shared reading set is in my Teachers Pay Teachers store if you want to have your own! Just click on the images to get yours!

We always start with the poem on a chart or in a pocket chart. We echo read several times, and when the kiddos seem to have it down, we choral read. But, no matter how we are reading it, I always point to the words with a pointer! At the end of the week, the kiddos get their own copy of the poem. Sometimes it’s a little book that they color, practice reading, and put in their book boxes. And sometimes it’s a poem page that they color, practice reading, and add to their rhyme folders. Either way, they are “reading,” and they love it!

During circle time, we played several different “Silly Cat” games! “Silly Cat Snap!” is a fun letter recognition game. “Silly Cat, Where’s Your Hat?” helps us work on syllables. “Silly Hat on the Ground” gives us practice with letter sounds. And, “Which Cat Took the Hat?” helped us practice colors and positional words. This set is also available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! Just click on the images to get your own set that includes all the printables and directions!

 

We did some super fun crafts and art projects to go along with the book this week! The first one we did was Cat in the Hat directed art project! I love these projects for extra practice with shapes, fine motor skills, and following directions! Basically, I give the kiddos a piece of construction paper (usually a square or rectangle) and show them how to cut it to make a different shape like a circle or a triangle. Then I show them where to glue each piece. (These are three different examples of how three kiddos made theirs. They all started with the same pieces, and they were all given the same directions, but they each turn out a little different!)

We do it one piece at a time until we get to the finished product. Unlike a traditional cut-and-paste craft, their own personalities really come through on directed art projects!

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We also painted our own version of Thing 1 and Thing 2, but ours were PK Things! First we painted the shirts red.

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Then we used droppers and straws to blow blue paint around the page to make the crazy hair!

 

After they were dry, I added the kiddos pictures to be the faces! Unfortunately, I can’t show you that part, but they were ADORABLE!! Here are a few of their finished products minus the pictures:

 

The cats and the PK Things all ended up on display in the hallway as part of our school-wide Dr. Seuss celebration!

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Our final “Cat in the Hat” craft was to make a new hat for the cat. The kiddos got to color their hats however they wanted to, and they were super excited that they could use markers!

 

It was a great week even though I had to change course slightly! Our first Dr. Seuss week was all about Green Eggs and Ham! If you missed it, you can read about it here!

Next week we are moving on to “The Three Little Pigs!” We’ve been having some struggles lately with self-regulation and being a good friend. So, in addition to the academic skills we’ll be working on, I’m going to take advantage of this story to do some teaching and practicing with some social/emotional skills as well! Stay tuned for more about our “Three Little Pigs” book unit!

To get more frequent updates about what we’re doing, follow Mrs. A’s Room on Facebook and Pinterest!

Happy Teaching!

Green Eggs and Ham Week!

This week was all about “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss! We had so much fun reading, playing, and rhyming! This book is one that I could read a million times, and my kiddos would never get tired of it. We read it each day with a different comprehension focus. We make predictions, we ask questions about the story, we answer questions about the story, we read it with hand motions, we retell the story, and we compare/contrast the book to “I Am NOT Going to Get Up Today!” It has a similar theme of the main character refusing to do something throughout the book. The difference is that one character ends up doing the thing he didn’t want to do and the other doesn’t. My kiddos also noticed that someone ate eggs at the end of both stories!

We played some fun circle time games this week, too! My kiddos always love playing Snap! This ham and eggs version was just as fun as the others!

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I glue the eggs and ham pieces onto craft sticks and turn them picture-side down in a little basket I have. My kiddos take turns pulling out a stick, looking at the letter, and telling me the sound it makes. If they’re right, they get to keep the stick. If they pull out a stick that says “Snap!” everyone says, “Oh, snap!!” and we all put our sticks back. I try to keep going until everyone has had 2 or 3 turns, and they usually beg me to keep playing after that!

We also played “Sam, Sam, Where’s Your Egg?”

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And “Green Eggs, Green Eggs On the Ground”

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But… our very favorite this week was the “Green Eggs and Ham and Ham” chant that I literally made up driving to work one morning this week! We started by tapping the beat to the chant by patting the floor twice and clapping twice. (My kiddos loved the fact that I let them sit on their knees for this one instead of being criss-cross!) Then we said this chant:

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I used the Ham and Eggs Rhyming Cards with this one.

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I chose a card and used the two rhyming pictures on it to fill in the first two blanks. Then on the third one, my kiddos got to call out another word that rhymes. They absolutely LOVED this game!! They were literally walking around all week chanting “Green eggs and ham and ham! Green eggs and ham!”

All of these circle time games along with directions and printables are in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! Just click on the product image below to get your own set!

Green Eggs Circle 6

 

We had a blast with our shared reading this week! We learned the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty,” a predictable chart all about green things, and an adding poem called “Five Little Eggs.”

We added some hand motions to “Humpty Dumpty” to keep it fresh, and we made up new versions that had Humpty sitting on things other than a wall. We had to generate rhyming words to complete the nursery rhyme!

The green predictable chart was great because it is so simple. I printed the words to it and used them in the pocket chart with picture support. At the end of the week, each kiddo got their own copy of the chart in a small book. They love being able to read the book all by themselves!

And, the math poem was a blast because my kiddos got to take turns being the eggs! They love when we get to act things out!

All of these shared reading resources are in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, too! Just click the product image below to get yours!

Green Eggs and Ham Shared Reading Snip 1

 

I think the favorite of the week though was science! (Well… let’s be honest. Science is ALWAYS a favorite with prekinders!)

We got to crack open eggs to explore what’s inside of them…

 

We did a taste test with different green fruits and vegetables…

(I didn’t get a lot of pics of this one because my TA was gone, so I was flying solo!)

 

And, of course, we made green eggs and ham!

 

Next week we’re moving on to “The Cat in the Hat!” I’m already so excited about some of things we’ll be doing! Check back for posts next week will all of our activities!

You might also want to check out my Ham and Eggs Word Cards and my Ham and Eggs Recipe Writing FREEBIE!!

If you need a copy of “Green Eggs and Ham,” just click on the book cover to grab one from Amazon!

Green Eggs Book Snip

Happy teaching!!

Takeaways from Ruby Payne!

So, most teachers were off work today, sitting at home in their jammies watching Netflix. But, our district had a PD day today. Most teachers were at their campuses doing whatever incredible PD their principals had in store for them. But, I was lucky enough to get to attend a Ruby Payne workshop with my AP and a few other teachers from my campus.

I’ve wanted to hear her for a long time, so I was SO excited when I found out I was going!! (Plus, it cut my commute in half today, and that’s always a welcome change!)

If you haven’t hear of Ruby Payne before, she is pretty much the guru on poverty and its effects on the brain. She’s written multiple books, but the most well-known one is called “A Framework for Understanding Poverty: A Cognitive Approach.” (Click on the cover to get your own copy!

Ruby Book

The whole day was filled with research, information, examples, anecdotes, and application. She is knowledgeable AND entertaining, and I actually found myself feeling sad when it was over! I could have listened to her for days. I guess this topic is just near and dear to my heart because I have always preferred to worked with children who are on the lower end of the income spectrum, and I am always searching for ways to serve them better. Ruby definitely gave a TON of ways to do just that!

I could type for hours telling you every little thing that I learned, but I do have other things I have to do tonight (like finish my lesson plans for this week, get my materials printed and laminated,  and feed my family!). SO… I’ll just give you the highlights!

  • Most people think of poverty as being the lack of financial resources, but there are actually 9 different kinds of resources that impact success (as society defines it), and people in poverty are usually lacking several of them.
  • If you are from a different class than your students, your reality and experiences are different that theirs. When you present things to them that are in line with your reality but not with theirs, they are going to believe their experience over what you say every single time.
  • Children in professional households will hear 3x as many words by age 4 as children in poverty households.
  • The average 3-year-old in a professional household has more vocabulary than the average adult in a poverty household.
  • Because people in poverty have such limited vocabulary, they rely heavily on nonverbal cues.
  • Every language has 5 registers. Formal language is what we use at school. Very few of our children in poverty have any formal language. They use casual language. And, using casual language in a formal setting can mistakenly lead to the assumptions that a child is slow, stupid, or disrespectful.
  • Each social class (poverty, middle class, and wealthy) has its own set of hidden rules. A person’s ability to follow these rules determines their level of acceptance by that class.
  • If a person’s physiological and safety needs aren’t met, nothing else matters.
  • Building a relationship of mutual respect is critical.
  • The differences between male brains and female brains increases the difficulties that males in poverty have in school. The majority of teachers are female. The majority of drop outs and discipline referrals are male. This is no coincidence. As females, we try to handle every situation based on the way our brains think. But, we rarely take into account how the boy’s brain needs to process a situation.

 

OK… I’m stopping now! That literally just touches the surface of what we learned today! If you have the chance to go see Ruby Payne in person… GO!!! If you don’t, read her book!! Especially if you work with children in poverty! It will change the way you approach SO many things about teaching them!

 

Now I’m switching gears to finish getting ready for those precious kiddos to hit my door tomorrow morning!

Happy teaching!

“Green Eggs and Ham” Word Cards!

I’ve just started working on my “Green Eggs and Ham” book unit, and the word cards are up on TPT! My word card sets are usually $1.00, but everything is 50% off for the first 24 hours it’s posted! So they’re only 50 cents today! Go grab yours now!

Click HERE to get yours!!

Check back over the next few days to see the rest of my “Green Eggs and Ham” book unit! You can also get updates on the new things I post by following Mrs. A’s Room on Pinterest and Facebook!

Happy teaching!

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? Part 2

Well… I fully intended to get the rest of this book unit finished and put on Teachers Pay Teachers this week, BUT… a sick TA, Valentine party prep, and a husband working insane hours, I just didn’t get to. So even thought he full unit isn’t on TPT yet, I am at least sharing the rest of the unit with you on here! I’ll update once the full unit is available!

Our whole week centered around the book “How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?” (Click on the book cover to get a copy!)

Book Cover

My earlier post spelled out all of our comprehension, writing, and circle time activities! You can check it out here! In this post, We’re talking about all of our book activities, math activities, and poems!

Each day, we do some kind of activity that connects to the book. It may be writing, art, drama, cooking, or anything else that’s high interest, engaging, and ties to our state pre-k guidelines! Here’s what we did this week with this book:

Day 1: We did a shared writing activity on a large chart. We talked about and wrote about what love looks like, sounds like, and feels like.

Day 2: We made  a list of people we love. This led into our writing activity later in the day when we wrote a book about people we love. You can read the details of that here.

Day 3: We made an “I Love You To Pieces” card for our parents. We cut up pink and red paper and then glued it onto the card. We were very careful to only use one dot of glue on each piece of construction paper!

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Well… most of us were very careful not to use too much glue!!

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Some of us dumped half the bottle on the paper and had to put the construction paper pieces on until it was all covered!

Day 4: We used paint to stamp hearts.

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Once they were dry, we added our sentences from our interactive writing activity earlier in the week! My favorite part of this is their dinosaur names! They thought that part was so funny! For more details about this writing activity, check it out here!

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We usually do 5 book activities ( one each day), but with Valentine parties and library this week, we only did four.

Our math focus this week was counting and making sets of 8 and 9. The first activity we did was using dinosaur counting mats and heart-shaped candy.

Dino Snip 4

I called out a number, and my kiddos raced to feed their dinosaur that many pieces of candy. BUT… to keep the focus on the math and not on the race, we either ALL won or we ALL lost! If everyone fed their dinosaur the right amount of candy by the time I said stop, we ALL won. This keeps things positive and upbeat, and it eliminates tears and drama when someone loses!

We used playing cards to play “Who Has More?” (When I was a kid, this game was known as war. But, we now use kinder, gentler card game titles!)

We used dinosaur and heart stickers to make sets of 8 and 9 on ten frames.

8 and 9 Snip

We used Unifix cubes to play a partner game where we explore different ways to make 8. Both partners have 8 cubes, each set in a different color. They take turns choosing how many cubes to trade. After they trade, each partner counts how many of the first color they have. The they each count the second color. Then they each count their whole tower. Their favorite was when they had 4 and 4 of each color because their towers were the same!

And, last but not least… our poems for the week!

I love, love, LOVE using poetry in my classroom!! We do at LEAST 2 poems each week, but usually more! Here are the poems I use with this unit:

The first one is called “Hearts.”

Hearts Snip

The second one is called “I’m a Little Valentine.”

Little Valentine Snip

And the last one is “The Queen of Hearts.” I absolutely LOVE teaching my kids nursery rhymes to my kids, and I use them whenever I can!!

Queen Snip

This was such a fun week! And, it was capped off with our Valentine party this afternoon to end the week!

Now, I’m switching my focus to Dr. Seuss!! Our next two book units are “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat!” These book units WILL be posted here and on Teachers Pay Teachers!! So, keep checking back or follow us on Facebook to see right away when they are posted!!

Happy teaching!!