Saturday, February 8, 2014

Presidents' Day is coming!

We’re Jackie and Kylene of JK Curriculum Connection. We'd like to share a little bit about ourselves and how we got started working together.  Jackie currently is teaching kindergarten (also taught 1st) and Kylene taught first grade for 17 years. Both of us were Literacy Coaches for several years & had a great time working with K-6th grade teachers.

How WE began!  Well, many years ago our school district was looking for a first grade teacher to create a unit about the book Leo the Late Bloomer. We both loved this book and submitted our names to the director.  She couldn’t pick between us but suggested we work together.  We did...and the rest is history!  Our creative juices clicked and we started writing singables, poems, and thematic units.  We've found the saying, “Two heads are better than one” is absolutely true for us!

We especially enjoy creating singables that connect text to music. We use familiar tunes with our own original lyrics to teach concepts and content. We may use Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or The Itsy, Bitsy Spider and write lyrics for singables about butterflies, bats or bunnies!  Or we may start with a skill like- contractions or syllables! 
We have some of the silliest conversations about – say dinosaurs!  Kylene will want the dinosaurs to be in a big deep swamp but Jackie will count the beats in the tune and say, "No, they have to be in just a swamp because big deep is too many syllables!"  Back and forth we go until everything is adjusted to make the content fit the tune! 

We always knew from watching our students that anything with rhyme, rhythm, and a beat would be a success. We love hearing the children giggling and bursting into song while working in our classrooms. It is just amazing how much they remember, too!  And they’re always asking to sing the songs over and over and over . .  . . oh, my!  But this is what drives us to write more and more !
February is such a full and busy month!  100th Day, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ many celebrations all the while making sure the Common Core Standards are being embedded. Whew!  
Celebrating the past presidents' birthdays is always fun!  But we think there needs to be a few minor changes in their history! George Washington’s birthday needs to be moved the 12th and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday needs to change to the 22nd! Of course, they can keep their correct years! LOL!  This would certainly help sort out the confusion of who came first in their presidencies!   And the conversations about TIME would go so much smoother. But since we don't have the power to revise history, we suggest making a timeline.

Make an EASY Timeline:  Stretch a string from one corner of the classroom to the other, way up high. Add pictures of key events, people, inventions or whatever to the string throughout the year. At the farthest end put a picture of some dinosaurs. Have the students draw them.  Someone is always an expert! Leave a large gap of space on string and put a real photo of the class on the other end.  After discussing George and Abe, add their pictures on the string about maybe 1/3 of the way across the line with a bit of space between them. This will help students visualize how one event/president came before the other one. Add other events throughout the year as they come up in your reading or science and history lessons.  Of course, this will not completely get the little ones understanding how far back some events go! You know, traveling in a car for a couple of hours for a small child equals a long, long time! And a 5-year old will refer to a time when they were 3 years old as "A long long time ago I......."  
Read  books about George and Abe to build background knowledge. 
Here are some of our favorites...all available at!
Here is an engaging SINGABLE poem we wrote that provides details about George Washington and shows his connection to the one dollar bill. Money is always a great motivator! (for kids and us)! The tune is "The Itsy Bitsy Spider". 
We love using poems & songs every week as part of Shared Reading. Here are some tricks to use that help students locate key words and other language concepts when using a pocket chart. 

Use colored plastic pinch-type clothespins.  (Be sure they are easy to open & close!)
Word Hunts - Ask children to raise their hand if they want to find a word in the poem. Once someone is chosen, select a word for that student that would be at their level.  Ex. A beginning reader might be asked to find the word "the" or “andOR a word that starts with a specific sound or letter.  Another child needing a challenge might be asked to find the word “first".  Continue choosing students until about 8 words are located. Once the 8 clothespins are clipped above the words, ask "Who would like to find a word {ex. his} ?" (Choose one of the 8 pinned words and these 8 students remove the clothespins!) The clothespins provide support for those reluctant readers as they will only have to look at the words with pins. Be ready to offer assistance if needed so every child is successful!  A helpful scaffold might be to point to the sentence where the word is located. On other days hunt for capitals and punctuation OR rhyming words OR all depends on the skills being studied...and of course the choice of words a certain poem contains! Tons of rereading and exposure to the same sight words and content! 

Use pieces of colored vinyl or plastic folders:
Something really inexpensive is a colored plastic folder.  Buy one or two in pastel colors and cut it into small strips (large enough to cover a letter or small cluster of letters or a punctuation mark.  The above poem offers many opportunities to search for punctuation and capitals.  Once they have found one, remember to ask why that word is capitalized.

Use "Magic" Windows:  
Take some 3x5 cards and cut a rectangle out of each card leaving about a 3/4 inch border.  Laminate the cards and leave the lamination in the center.  Students love "looking" through the magic window as they go hunting for a word or punctuation mark. They place the window over the word or mark.  One can also make lots of colored "frames" from clipart.  These can be made different lengths to accommodate both short and long words. The vinyl pieces and magic windows can also be removed from the chart by students just like the clothespins! {see above}

Use a wand or pointer:
Using a fun (and different "seasonal" pointers) also gets students up and paying attention to the text.  Students LOVE using the pointer to lead the class in reading the poem in a pocket chart. Use the pointer to find 1, 2, or 3 syllable words, rhyming words, short or long vowel words etc. Using a different "gimmick" keeps their interest and they think they are doing a completely different "word hunt"! 

Also, the blackline student journal page displayed on a large screen can be used to find targeted words or skills.  Students can place colored transparent chips over certain words or use crayons. Highlight sight words with a yellow crayon.  Box in long vowel words with red. Underline or circle other targeted words using other colors. Your choice! Don't overload the poem with too many colors or the text may become unreadable!
Feeling BRAVE?? Try our BUMPER Poem Activity We find 8-stanza poems work best. (Anything longer deserves a special badge of courage to that teacher!) Using the sentence strips from the poem,  give 2 children one strip in mixed-up order. (We tend to pair students with higher abilities with those who might need a bit of help.)  Now there are 16 students "up" for the challenge.  Their job is to read their strip AND move into the correct sequence to reconstruct the poem.  There is a lot of discussion and lots of movement...even some light-hearted "bumping"! Either they all agree they are done or the teacher says, "Done"!  Read it exactly the way they have it arranged.  Rarely do they get it right the first time.  But read it their mixed up way and giggle.  Say, "Oops, try it again!"  Off they shuffle —and usually after the  2nd or 3rd attempt the poem is correctly sequenced. YAY!  Lots of fun, lots of rereading, and lots of learning! 
One can always do a similar sequencing activity with the student paper by cutting up the poem.  The George Washington poem {pictured above} breaks perfectly into 4 pieces —
(2 sentences for each section).
Washington and Lincoln are honored by having their pictures on U.S. bills and
coins. Since children LOVE money, we created some math activities using
pennies and dollars. This is a great way to count by ones and tens to 100 OR
practice grouping by ones and tens. We tried using real ones but somehow they
kept disappearing , so just use the fake ones as they call them.
We really love to put familiar print on the back of art work. Students can read or sing away at home and impress their families and friends.  Here is a sample of a George Washington craftivity that would have the above poem sized to fit & glued on the back!

Thank you, Hilary, for inviting us to be part of this wonderful group of educator-bloggers! We sure do feel honored!


The poem, pocket chart picture cards, and math center are all included in this product. Click HERE to get the FREEBIE at TPT!


Post a Comment