The Kindergarten Countdown: Simple End of the Year Fun

Sunday, 5 May 2019


Once May hits, I find myself doing double duty preparing for the arrival of next year's kindergarteners, while still trying to wrap up loose ends with the current group.

Sound familiar?

Yet, it's always important to me that our last days together be meaningful and marked with special memories as I send my kiddos off to summer and eventually the next grade. (Read about my worst, last day ever HERE!)

So I needed something simple and flexible, knowing there would be many end of year, school-wide events (i.e. Slide Ceremony) competing for our time!

Enter the Kindergarten Countdown!

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I created this using a "sliding scale" of activities that work well no matter how much time I have to devote to it each day.

Here's how you can make this work for you!

Step 1:

Gather 10 small gift bags (Dollar Tree sells them in a 3-pack) and label them with your countdown numbers.

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Step 2: 

Choose a theme for each day and create activity circles equal to the countdown number for each countdown day.  For example, if day 5 is Dance Day, you would create 5 circles that list 5 dances for your kiddos to do. Color-code them to match the numbers for quick and easy storage.

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Step 3:

Brainstorm additional activities for each themed day that you might do if your time allows.  

On some days we are jam-packed and on others I find myself looking for things to do!

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Step 4: 

Tack up the bags on a bulletin board in countdown order. Add a "balloon pop" for extra pizazz! 

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Send home a Countdown Calendar to let families know about your end of year fun!

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If you are short on time or have your own ideas for themed days, try the EDITABLE Kindergarten Countdown and make it your own!

You'll find this bundled together with a Kindergarten Moving Up Plan to help ease some of the anxiety your kiddos might have about going to the next grade! 

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And in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, it's all on sale!


Wishing you all a smooth and joyful end to your school year!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Are Trees Alive?: A Mini Inquiry

Thursday, 18 April 2019


With Earth Day and Arbor Day just around the corner, I thought I'd share a tree inquiry we did a few years ago. 

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It began with this book!

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After reading the title, I asked children what they thought the answer was to this question.  We talked about it and then they wrote down their ideas.

There was a lot of uncertainty and a few misconceptions and I decided it would be a great question to explore further.

So, we got busy investigating! 

I brought in some tree artifacts and challenged the children to look for evidence that might help them answer the question.


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The children made many concrete observations, but their thinking really took a turn when one student shared that the branch he was holding didn't start out that way and that it had to grow to get that big.  

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Through this, they began to see that living things grow and change.  

Some children noticed and commented on the "swirls" on a tree slice. 

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We gathered on the carpet to look at the tree rings on a mat we had in our classroom. 

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I shared that these rings were evidence of growth and that a tree gains one ring for every year of its life.  We counted the rings to see how old the tree would have been if it were real.  

They noticed the cracks in the tree and wondered about those. We read Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and learned how trees can become damaged over time. 


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Eventually, we found our way back to the book that inspired our investigation and went beyond the cover to actually read the book.  

Are Trees Alive by Debbie Miller is a really wonderful book.  Not only does the title pose a great question, but the text invites readers to compare their own bodies to trees to show similarities and differences between these two living things.  

I played the song I'm a Tree by Bev Bos (which is sadly unavailable) that invited children to move like a tree.

But here's a great tree mediation that could also be used:


And of course, we did the tree pose!

From there, we broke into small groups (trunk, roots, branches, leaves) to create a life size tree, which we then built and labeled outside our classroom.  

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Lastly, I asked children to respond in writing again to the question, "Are Trees Alive?," so I could see how their thinking had changed.

That's as far as we got in that school year, but in my notes I had written down that there were some great connections made between trees and breathing that we could have explored.  Never enough time in the kindergarten day or year!

If you are planning any Earth Day or Arbor Day projects this spring, you might try this mini-inquiry!

Or consider taking a Tree Walk!

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Spring can be a challenging time of year (spring fever is for real!) and taking learning outdoors might be just what your kiddos need!

Happy spring and as always...

Thanks for stopping by!

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Morning Work Choices in a Discovery Learning Classroom

Monday, 15 April 2019


Looking for a soft start to your school day and engaging morning work ideas that offer exploration and discovery? Here are some simple choices that work well for my kiddos.

Sketching

Create a "sketch tub" with interesting objects that children will enjoy drawing.  Plants, animals, and other objects from nature make great offerings and can connect to a current inquiry.  Provide each child with their own sketch book to use throughout the year.

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Yoga

Cosmic Kids Yoga, found on YouTube, offers free children's yoga classes based on favorite themes including Frozen, Minecraft, Star Wars, and Trolls.  Just project on your interactive whiteboard and enjoy watching children do poses with fun stories and themes.

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Reading

Gather bins of seasonal books for children to enjoy.  Change them out each month to reflect holidays and seasonal happenings.

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Provide books that match students' current interests...

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and books they can read all by themselves.

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My News

Children come to school with many stories to share!  Offer "news writing," where they can draw and write about the big and little events in their life.


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Create a spot where their news can be posted and share with the class during morning meeting!

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Research

Create a bin of materials that relate to your current inquiry and let children use them to find new information. Provide note paper for them to record what they find and invite them to share their learning during morning meeting.

Note paper and ideas for setting up an animal research center are included in each of the Ready, Set, Research resources.


Building

Choose a tub of building toys such as Legos, Knex, or Magnetics for children to create and build structures.  Select a new tub each day to keep the interest and creativity going!

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Chit Chat

Many children have a great need to socialize upon arrival.  Place mats or pillows on the floor to designate spots for them to sit and talk with friends.  Add a "talking stick" to help them practice taking turns while speaking.

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Announcements signal the end of our morning choice time and the beginning of morning meeting, but it's possible to extend the time and use it to pull a small group or work with individual children.

What morning work choices work well in your room? I would love to hear about them!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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