Well, it just may be that Valentine’s Day is the most wonderful, most loving, most pure of all of the classroom celebrations that take place in Kindergarten! The children are genuinely excited about giving their cards and gifts to each other, no matter how small. And the only children who will be truly disappointed on that special day are the ones who do not bring anything to give to their friends. It’s not that they do not receive anything, because they will. Those children who do not bring any Valentines Day cards are sure to be very unhappy because they have nothing to give- no cards to deliver, and no goodies to give away.
Maybe this is why teachers seem to be so drawn to February projects that feature hearts as a motif, and I am certainly no exception! I hope that you will enjoy this blog entry and the fun Valentine’s Day themed activities that I have to share with you this week.
1. Sweet Sight Word Surprise and Valentine’s Day Color By Sight Word Worksheet
In my blog entry on September 24, 2010 I posted an idea for something I called the “Secret Sight Word Surprise.” In this activity, you prepare the papers ahead of time by writing some different sight words on them with a white crayon. Then the children water color the paper, and as they do, the word becomes visible, since it is essentially a water color resist! Although my children have by now discovered the secret of how it works, I thought that they would enjoy another one, and we do need to work on identifying certain sight words that look similar, such as “they,” “that,” “this,” and “with.” So I made another one of these for you with a Valentine’s Day theme, and decided to call it the “Sweet Sight Word Surprise.”
I have also discovered that the Roseart brand white crayons don’t show up as much on the white paper as the Crayola brand crayons do, so the Roseart crayons are better for writing the words on the paper ahead of time since that way the kids really can’t see the word (as much!) until they start painting. The Crayola brand crayons are such a high quality that the white definitely shows up on the white paper. The high quality crayons are great- just not for this particular activity!
To get a little more mileage out of this master for the Sweet Sight Word Surprise, I decided to also turn it into a Color by Sight Word worksheet, and I have included this as a free download for you as well today! I hope that you enjoy using it.
2. This Is What Happens When Your Students Have HeidiSongs DVD’s at Home
I am blessed enough to be able to give each of my students a DVD to use at home at the beginning of the year. I know that this situation is unique to me, but the reason I am telling you this is so that you may not know what can happen when children have access to the CD’s or DVD’s at home.
At the beginning of the school year, I send home Sing and Spell DVD’s with all of my students. Of course, I don’t have any way of knowing how many of their parents let them watch them or not, but I know for sure that lots of them DO watch! I give them a combo pack on the first day of school. Some of the kids learned just about everything on there immediately, particularly those whose parents reported that they were “obsessing” over it, and watched it a couple of times a day. I also send home the Sing & Spell Vol. 4 DVD a month or two later, and the Sing & Spell Vol. 5 DVD for Christmas.
One little girl in my class came in knowing most (but not all) of the sounds and letters, but not yet reading. She was still four years old, and wouldn’t turn five until October. Her mom said that she LOVED the DVD and would watch it several times a day. She even told me the other day that she gets up every morning at 6:00 AM, before everyone else in the house is even awake, and watches at least one DVD before school! This particular little girl was obviously very bright, but very shy. In small groups when I would ask the children what a word was, she always knew the answer. So after about three or four weeks of school, I pulled her aside and tried to test her on her sight words. At first, she said, “I don’t know” to almost all of them, but by then I knew to wait a minute and give her some time. I showed her my testing page and said, “Are there any words here on the page that you know?” She pointed to the word “to” and said, “To, to!” while pulling a pretend train whistle with her hand. (This is one of the motions from the “To song!) Once I got her going, she identified TWENTY sight words for me, just like that- with barely any hesitation! I was thrilled, and went ahead and put her into my group of children that started Kindergarten already reading. I talked to her mom about it, and told her that since the other four children in that group were already way ahead, I would send home the guided reading books for her to preview and practice at home over the weekend so that she would be better able to keep up with the pace of the rest of the group. Also, since she was so shy, I wanted to build up her confidence as much as possible to allow her to participate as much as she could. After about a month of guided reading lessons and practicing at home, she was reading FLUENTLY. Her mom told me that she was practicing reading at home twice a day- once with mom, and once with dad. Neither parent is a teacher, but between the three of us and the DVD’s, this child has gone from non-reader to reader in a VERY short time!
This little girl is not the only one that joined this accelerated reading group not knowing how to read! There are two others as well that joined in with similar situations- and both of them are now reading just as well! Only one of them has a mom that is a teacher, but the other does not. Those children are all reading Accelerated Reader books each week, and passing the quizzes with flying colors! They seem to LOVE it, and their parents are THRILLED! I now have TWO groups of children that are reading well, and all are passing the AR quizzes easily, too! There are eight children in the highest group, (two are repeating Kinder this year), and seven in the next highest group. That’s fifteen children reading out 26- and only four of them could already read when school started. That’s pretty great for a Title One school, if I do say so myself! And that is the power of sending these DVD’s home. The only real challenge I have had is (I suspect,) getting some of their parents to turn off their own programs so that the kids can watch the DVD’s I send home, but that’s an entirely separate issue. 🙂
3. Valentine’s Day Bug Art Project
One thing that we always do each year is create a “Valentine’s Day Bug.” This is a creative art project that we do with our third grade book buddies. For this, I give them the basic body pattern and some heart shaped wings, and lots of scraps of paper. I also get out the “crazy scissors” with the scalloped edges, some paper punches, and any Valentine’s Day stickers that I can round up, etc. Then I just let them go! The only pictures that I have so far are my samples from last year, and these are not like the most creative ones that the children make; theirs are much better! But I wanted to go ahead and give you the patterns for this project with plenty of time for you to make them with your class for the holiday, so if you are interested, just look for some pics of how ours turned out on Facebook. And please post some of yours, too!
4. Sight Word Secret Code
A couple of years ago, I had the idea of creating a worksheet where the children would have to use a “secret code” to figure out which sight word went into the spaces. In this activity, the children look at the number listed below each line and check to see what letter goes with that number. Then they need to write that letter in the space. If they write each letter correctly, they will wind up writing several of the sight words that we are learning. At first I was convinced that they would not be able to do this without one-on-one help, so I planned for them to do this with their book buddies.
The activity was a big hit with both the little and the big third grade buddies, so I made another one and they enjoyed that one, too. Eventually I filed the idea away for the next year. I’m not sure what jogged my memory to dig it out, but I did manage to find it in my computer (which proved to be the most difficult part!) This time, I got my courage up to let them do it without their book buddies, and they managed it beautifully!
Originally, I had created these worksheets using DJ Inker’s clip art, so I had to pull her copyrighted artwork out and put my artwork in it in order to share this idea with you today. I hope that you enjoy using them with your students!
5. The “Get” Spelling Song- a Game to Speed up Dismissal Time!
For the Sing and Spell Vol. 5 CD and DVD, I wrote a song for the word, “get” because this is a word that pops up a lot in one of our supplemental reading series books. But I wanted it to also function as an “end of the day classroom management” type of song that I could play to signal the children to go and get their things. And I think that I accomplished this! The kids love it and respond to it very well! And though we don’t use it every single day, when we do use it, it is very effective in getting them to get their things as quickly as possible and sit down so that they are ready to go home ASAP.
In the song, there are three verses. So on the first verse, I send my last two rows of children to get their things, (rows four and five,) then on the second verse rows three and two go. Row one gets their things on the last verse. It’s fun! And if you do it right, you can get your entire class seated and ready to go in 60 seconds, because the song is only one minute long! But I do ALWAYS (at least try to) have everybody packed up with their binders and belongings stuffed into their backpacks well ahead of dismissal time, preferably before I release them for their inside playtime. No one can play until they are packed up and ready to go home. Otherwise, it can take us a good 15 minutes to get everyone packed up at the end of the day, since there is just no motivation for them to move quickly.
It really is even better to pass their papers out to be tucked into their backpacks early in the day before lunch. If we have one center rotation that doesn’t quite fill the entire 20 minutes, then I have those children get their binders when they are done with that center and zip them into their backpacks. That way, there are only a few kids at the cubbies at a time trying to pack up. Packing up ahead of time when the children are motivated to move quickly is one of my best “tricks” for maximizing classroom time in Kindergarten.