Thursday, April 6, 2006

Lesson Plan: Welcome New Class

This lesson plan looks like this:

Week 1 Lesson Plan Welcome New Class

And you can download a .pdf version of it here

Week: Second Week of August

Letter: Aa

Color: Red

Number: 1 *

Shape: Circle

Theme: Welcome New Class

Show and Tell: Bring something red

Homework: A Beka ABC-123 page 21


Circle Time: Welcome and get to know all of our classmates. Learn where to sit at circle time. Talk about some of the rules (criss-cross applesauce, keep hands and feet to self, raise hand to speak/don't interrupt others, use potty signal to go to the bathroom, watch where you walk so you don't step on anyone's hands). Allow children a moment to tell their name and a few things about themselves (if a child gets stuck, ask about a favorite toy, something they did over the summer, what they want to do when they are older, what their favorite shirt or article of clothing is, what foods they like or dislike). After this, I introduce myself and talk about some things I enjoy.

Language Arts/Writing: A Beka Writing with Phonics K4 Manuscript page 1

Math/Science/Social Studies: Cut and glue red circles. During this activity, I would have different items available in a large bucket on each table (like cardboard juice cans, margarine/oatmeal lids, plastic cups and any other circular items I could find) and red paper, pencils or markers, scissors and glue. I would demonstrate ways of tracing and freehanding circles. Then I would give each child their choice of another color of construction paper to glue their circles to in whatever way the wished.

Arts and Crafts: Color and cut hearts for "Hurting Hearts" story. During this activity I would have a worksheet with a heart (like this one) and would allow some time for the children to decorate the hearts as they desired with markers or colored pencils. (Sometimes setting a timer is a good idea to help introduce time concepts and keep things moving along if your time is structured). When the timer goes off or everyone is close to finishing, I tell them to cut out their hearts. When that is finished, I then tell the story of the "Hurting Hearts."

To tell the story, I have my own heart and I ask the children to do what I do. I pretend that someone has told me that I am ugly and I tear off a piece of my heart saying, "That really hurt my feelings." I keep doing this with other insults or things that can hurt feelings until my heart is torn into many pieces. Then I get some tape and start to slowly tape the heart back together, making sure the children see how difficult it is along the way. Then I explain that this heart is like our own hearts and that it hurts when we say things that aren't nice to each other and that it's hard to mend our hearts afterward. I explain that even while our hearts may heal from being hurt, they never quite look the same as the whole heart we began with.

At this age, I am not much of a subscriber to the "sticks and stones/but words can never hurt me" theory. Words do hurt and I don't want to deny this or imply to the kids that they should deny the strong feelings that hurtful words can evoke.


Circle Time: Establish class rules. Some teachers run their classroom more like a democracy and some more like a dictatorship. I am somewhere in the middle but with a lean toward democracy. So what I do is ask the children what some good rules are, word them appropriately and fill in any blanks they may have left. I always make a posterboard of the class rules and make or find pictures to illustrate each rule. I keep this visible all year long.

Some teachers like to say "No" a lot in their rules (like no running, no yelling, no hitting), but it's worked better for me to word things in a positive manner and give the children an example of what TO do rather than what NOT TO do. So I might say "Use only gentle touches with classmates" rather than "No hitting." I also don't use the word "friend" much, and this is a personal preference as well. For example: "Be nice to your friends." Instead, I prefer to say classmates or use the name of the child who was harmed/affected (this makes it more personal and real). We aren't all friends, and when it comes time to discipline, saying "We can't hit our friends" can very easily provoke "But he's NOT MY FRIEND." When a child is angry, chances are the object of their anger is definitely not in the friend category. What can you say to that response without implying that children don't have the choice in who to be friends with? I would rather teach that -- friend or foe, everyone deserves respect. Maybe if they learn this lesson early, when the time comes to choose friends wisely in later grades, they will be confident that they can.

I've also found that I can make some generic rules that apply to many things and this helps children learn to expand on knowledge. For example, if I say, "Leave things how you found them or better," I can remind children with just this phrase each time they leave trash on the floor, don't put toys away, don't close a door, don't turn off a faucet, don't turn out a light, don't return a borrowed pencil, don't flush the toilet, stomp on a harmless bug, etc. I can say "Treat others how you wish to be treated," and slowly but surely, after reminding them with this rule over and over, they really do start to sympathize and think about things before they say and do them. I remember one year I had a girl who said to her classmate in the home living area (in a really stern voice, eyes squinted and all): "I really wanna take that apron from you but I'm gonna wait my turn because I don't want you stealin' it from me one day!" Sounded a bit mean, but still, she was making progress in terms of following the rules. This same girl just a few months earlier wouldn't hesitate to clean the clock of any of her classmates to get whatever she wanted. So I was very proud of her in this case.

Language Arts/Writing: Draw names from a hat. This is for a later activity. What I do is write everyone's names on a large strip of paper and fold them and put them into a hat. One at a time, I have the children draw a name, I hold that name up and ask if anyone can guess whose name it is. Since it's the beginning of the year and there aren't many children who can read at this age, chances are no one will know. Some children will recognize their own name, but some won't. This is just one activity that helps them learn their names and the names of classmates. You would be surprised how much children learn from this, especially when you have names on cubbies, tables, carpet squares, etc. They start to figure out that Brandon starts with a B and what the B sound is. Some of the first words that children in a classroom like this will ever recognize by sight are the names of their classmates.

I then take the paper and make a note on the other side who drew it and I tell them that we will do something special with those names tomorrow.

Math/Science/Social Studies: A Beka ABC-123 page 1

Arts and Crafts: Q-tip painting with red paint. For this, I just put some red paint in a bowl and have a cup or tray of Q-tips available with a large sheet of paper for each child. Make sure you have plenty of Q-tips and keep a trash can nearby for the old ones. They get pretty soggy fast, even moreso if you use thin paint. I usually use a pretty thick tempera for this.


Circle Time: Discuss how we do homework. OK, homework... (sigh). Given the choice, I would never assign homework outside of "bring something red to class tomorrow" or "Spend some time outside looking for a bug tonight." But the school where I worked at this time felt it was very important to prepare children for the onslaught of homework they would receive at the elementary level... and so there you have it.

Basically I used this time to discuss that I wanted them to try their best, to ask parents if they got stuck, to take home their folder every Wednesday and put it back in the same spot each Thursday morning when they returned. I had one of those milk crates that I used to hold their folders. I used the same folder to return artwork and workbook papers, so this was a nice way to make sure all that stuff made it home once a week. I also kept a blank calendar page in the very front and would make notes to parents and put stickers on each day for behavior. I'm very much in favor of a private behavior chart rather than having clips or magnets or other behavior charts that are visible to other children and their parents. Not only do I feel it's excessively humiliating, I feel that it is a violation of a family's privacy.

Language Arts/Writing: Practice writing names. This was a skill that was stressed by the school where I worked. I think it was one of their selling points to parents. So there you have it. I can tell you that the kindergarten teachers at the public school certainly appreciated "our" kids being able to do this. Whatever. :)

To accomplish this, I would make blackline papers at first and then later move to dotted lines. A Beka worksheets have space for names on them at the top of every page, so they got ample practice. At the beginning of the year I would allow the children to use their initials since this helped just knowing whose paper it was, and usually I would go around to each child's paper and put their initials in dashes at the top for them to trace like this:

Tracing Name

There are a variety of manuscript related fonts available to teach children letters, how to write their names, etc. I used a font called SchoolHouse Printed and Microsoft Word to make papers that looked like this:

Manuscript Font of Child's Name (Jennifer)

You can buy these fonts if you have some money in your budget or find many useful teaching fonts online for free and create your own worksheets. Just remember to save and/or print and make copies of the pages with the names of each child so you'll only have to do it once for the year.

Math/Science/Social Studies: Hair color chart with paper plates. I used this to introduce the concept of making and using charts, counting and recognizing and embracing the differences in children, self-awareness. I would give each child a paper plate and have them draw a picture of themselves making sure to have them use their actual hair color. Then I made labels on sentence strips or other paper for each hair color and we would staple or otherwise affix the plates on the wall or a bulletin board with the end result something like this:

Hair Color Chart with Paper Plates Simulated with Crude Drawing

(And boy don't I wish I only had 10 kids in my class. haha.)

Arts and Crafts: Colored Pencils: Make a welcome card for your classmate. Basically, with construction paper, crayons, markers or whatever you'd like to use, I let them make a card welcoming the child whose name they drew yesterday. I give them the actual paper with the name on it so they can glue it to the card or copy it if they are able and want to. When they are dry (probably tomorrow) I let them go one at a time and put the card in the classmate's folder, helping if they need it. Most are able to match the name on the card to the name on the folder tag or get pretty close. You could also let them put it in the child's cubby or just give it to that child person to person.


Circle Time: What things are red in our class? This is a fun activity, just make sure there are plenty of red things to point out. I had a big white board in my classroom, so as they children answered I would write each item on the board in a big list with a little drawing by the word signifying what it was. I made lots of lists like this during circle time and would leave them up so children could go to them later and have conversations, which they often did. (Many times it would be the girls and they'd gather in a group of three or four and point at each item and try to determine who it was who found it during circle time.)

Language Arts/Writing: Dot-to-dot "A". I usually just made a sheet for this and made copies every week like this:

Dot to Dot A, nothing fancy

Download a full size .pdf version of dot-to-dot A

Sometimes I made my worksheets fancy schmancy, but for things like this, I just found it easier and faster to do them by hand. If you have neat handwriting or know someone who does and will help you out, then go for it. Just remember, you want your writing to be an example to the children. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you've got sloppy handwriting that doesn't conform to what you're trying to teach then maybe try to find standard worksheets and such.

Math/Science/Social Studies: A Beka ABC-123 page 19

Arts and Crafts: Spool Tracing to experiment with circles. For this activity I would have a variety of different sized thread spools and colored pencils and would let the children see what they could do with them. I would do a few myself and show them how I could make a bike, tracing the spools for wheels or I'd make a big pizza and use the spools to make pepperonis. It's good to explain that making circles is hard (and I could show them with the pizza drawing, when I used the spools there was more symmetry than when I freehanded the large circle of the outline of the pizza.) This is not to try and get children to rely on objects or tracing, but rather to show them that sometimes you want to be exact and sometimes you don't.


Circle Time: Upper and lower case. What does it mean? For this I just use the alphabet strip on the wall and write the letters on the white board while talking about which is which. I also talk about names and how the first letter is upper case but the rest of the letters aren't. I write different letters and have them guess which they think it is, upper or lower.

Language Arts/Writing: A Beka Writing with Phonics K4 Manuscript page 2 (you will notice that we did page 1 earlier in the week. I do this a lot, complete one side of the page and save it in a file to pass out and finish the other side later in the week. If you do this, make a note of it so you don't end up sending papers home and having nothing to do later on when the other side is planned.)

Math/Science/Social Studies: Apple oxidation experiment. This is a great resource for this experiment, with pictures and clear instructions/explanation of what's going on. Be sure you do all the apple cutting, however. :)

Arts and Crafts: Freestyle watercolors at easel. Just what it sounds like, I just put the watercolors at the easel with really big paper and let them do what they wish. Sometimes kids get stuck, so I keep magazines and catalogs handy in the art area so they can get some inspiration.

Disclaimer: This lesson plan is for a Pre-K/4-year-old Kindergarten class that I put together when I was working at a school that emphasized academic learning in writing and math and that used books in the A Beka series. Books and book pages have been left in this plan. You can modify the plan to exclude this or any other academic exercises that you feel are not appropriate for the age of your children. In addition, feel free to modify the plan to fit the age of your children. This is just a guideline. You may also need to modify the plan to correspond with holidays, of course, the dates of which may vary from year to year.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Bounty - Kiddie-Do List Maker

Bounty - Kiddie-Do List Maker

Do you have parents who are asking about how to get the kids to get their chores done or who want their children to learn to set daily or weekly goals?

Bounty has this cute list maker where you just plug in your tasks and pick a background and it prints up all snazzy.

There are other versions available like one for significant others or for yourself. Might come in handy if you're co-teaching and have tasks to share for the week as well.

In addition, check out the calendar you can print and personalize with a class picture.