page is filled with wonderful classroom photos, so it may take a few extra
moments to load ... thanks for your patience :o)
Well, I've done it again ... run off to Pismo Beach for the weekend, where it's warm and sunny. Saturday was a perfect beach day, and I walked on the beach for several miles. Recent storms sent the waves all the way up the beach to the cliffs, so the sand is packed hard and rock formations seen only in the winter months are exposed -- in the summer, they're buried under the soft dry sand.
During the storms, the waves were reportedly as high as 35 feet along this part of the central coast, causing the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant to shut down because of a backwash of seawater into its system. Avila Bay, the inlet to Diablo Canyon, is in front of the hill in the background of this photo, just a few miles north of Pismo.
Saturday night's sunset was beautiful, of course. In the winter months, the sun is far enough south that it sets directly "in front" of the hotel -- which faces southwest -- making for wonderful photos. In the long and lazy days of summer, the sun sets behind the hill north of Avila Bay.
At school, we're having a central California winter, and we had hard frost every morning last week, with temperatures hovering around freezing when the KinderKids arrive. We don't have snow, but it sure is cold until the clouds and fog burn off and the sun comes out later in the morning.
This week's page has lots of great ideas and work samples from my Let It Snow! unit, which I'm still putting together for the thematic units section of the website.
We've been very busy with snow and snowmen activities, as well as with our Jan Brett Author Study, which featured her story The Mitten this past week. Next week we'll continue with The Mitten and begin a mini-unit centered around Brett's wonderful story companion story, The Hat.
We're still doing activities from the G is for Gingerbread unit, too, which is a part of my Jan Brett Author Study for the months of December, January, and February. I used to complete the unit in six to eight weeks, but the 1999 publication of Gingerbread Baby and Fall 2000 publication of Hedgie's Surprise have extended the unit another three or four weeks, meaning we'll be working with Brett stories until sometime in February.
Although I do fifteen to twenty "mini author studies" during the year, I enjoy exploring three or four authors in depth with the KinderKids, which I believe gives them a good foundation in the elements of story, character, plot, and setting, along with helping them choose their own favorite authors and stories. Current brain research shows that the more they learn about a specific topic -- or, in this case, a specific author -- the more dendrites are formed in their brains and the more connections they can make.
For more information on how you can help your students make meaningful connections between the curriculum and their personal experiences and knowledge, take a look at Ellin Keene's excellent book, Mosaic of Thought ~ Teaching Comprehension in a Reader's Workshop.
This week's page also features two terrific TLC Art Projects, Language Experience activities, Shared Writing, Word Families and Word Study, seasonal and thematic vocabulary, Song & Poetry literacy center cards, pocket chart activities, and more January quilt patches, for those of you who are collecting quilt ideas.
Have a great week!
You are visitor
FastCounter by bCentral
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
Language Experience Charts
And Shared Writing Activities
additional Lois Ehlert books ~ see below or click here
How to Build A Snowman
introduced my Let It Snow unit with the interactive I Am A Snowman activity
on my thematic wall,
which was up on the day the KinderKids returned from Winter Break:
Everyone sat on the floor and we read the sentence strips together, emphasizing the high-frequency words that we already "knew" from our Word Wall. The only "unknown" words were snowman, cookie eyes, carrot nose, broom, raisin mouth, and scarf. We already knew mittens and the color words from other activities.
Then we talked about snow and snowmen, to find out what the children already knew. After everyone had a turn to share, we made a chart called How To Build A Snowman:
The following day, I read Snowballs during our morning circle time. Then we reviewed the How To Build A Snowman chart, and discussed all the different things used in the new story for making Snow "things," which we decided to call Snow______s. Each child shared something they would like to use to decorate their own personal Snow______, and we made a Language Experience Chart, emphasizing the high-frequency word said, a, some, one, and two:
Working With Words Activities
We brainstormed a list of "snow" words that were used in the book, and one -- snowcow -- that wasn't:
I used orange marker for the
pointing out that /ow/
was pronounced just like the letter O.
Then we added the word snowcow, and the kids noticed right away that /ow/ had another sound, "ow as in cow."
We then made a two-columned list of words that used the two different sounds of /ow/.
my KinderKids are at many different spots in the learning-to-read spectrum,
this made more sense to some kids than it did to others. Any children who got bored or restless
were allowed to go quietly to their table to read from their Book Boxes,
while the rest of the class finished the activity.
try to do lots of word family/working with words activities each week,
making at least one list a day of onset-and-rime words.
The more we do it, the easier it gets for the kids -- at this time of year,
it seems like someone new "gets it" each day, just like a little light came on inside their head :o)
It's an exciting time of year!
practice and reinforcement of rimes is very important for phonemic awareness
and building blending and sounding-out skills, which are difficult to teach in isolation.
I try, instead, to relate them to a story, song, or poem that we're currently working with and enjoy.
By Lois Ehlert
Written and Illustrated by Vicki Witcher
is my enlarged version of a Vicki Witcher blackline book that the KinderKids
all have in their book boxes.
I introduce the story to the entire group as a Big Book, and after reading it for a day or two,
I pass out the individual books to the students and we choral read them together.
get further practice with the story during Guided Reading, Book Box time,
and reading the story written on sentence strips in the pocket chart.
Repeated readings build fluency, comprehension, sight word vocabulary, decoding skills, and automaticity.
story can be chanted like a jump rope rhyme or sung to a modified version
of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
The basic pattern of _____ on the _____ makes a great frame for writing thematic innovations throughout the year.
is a page from a very large (24" x 36") class-made Big Book called Ten
Little Snowmen Fat.
It's a counting backwards book, sung to the tune of Five Green and Speckled Frogs.
I got this idea several years ago from Susie Haas, at a Wright Group Workshop.
of the KinderKids draws several snowmen for me (on pre-cut paper, to limit
how large they can make them).
I cut them out to illustrate the pages, which are made of sponge-painted easel/painting paper.
As with most of my Big Books, I used two different colors for backgrounds, to make an ABAB pattern.
Some years this book goes on the wall as a Wall Story, and other years I hang it from an old chart paper stand
and the kids flip the pages over the top as they read.
What Other Teachers Are Doing
terrific photos and ideas were shared by KinderKorner subscriber Kelly
who has a terrific website with pictures of things her kindergarten class is doing.
You can find more of Kelly's winter ideas at
Students glue marshmallows and other candies in the shape of a snowman.
Snowflakes are made by dipping a marshmallow in white paint and blotting it on the paper.
A Snowman Activity
The first student to complete their snowman wins. Fitting all the body parts on the page can be a fun challenge!
Frame the child's photo in a cupcake paper.
made of milk jugs connected with a hot glue gun -- I'm hoping to try this
one next week!
More Snowman Projects
From My Classroom
The "buttons" at the top are actually round white stickers with marker dots for holes.
They help the kids know how many buttons to use, if they haven't learned to read number words and/or numerals yet.
Use thin white paint to spatter "snow" in the background.
Jan Brett Author Study
We began our Jan Brett study with Gingerbread Baby in late November, and read all of Brett's Christmas-themed books in December. In January, we're reading The Trouble With Trolls, The Mitten, The Hat, and Brett's newest book, Hedgie's Surprise, which the KinderKids loved.
In February, we'll read a few more Brett titles, including Berlioz the Bear, Armadillo Rodeo, and Comet's Nine Lives.
Up Activity For
Class Big Book
Jan Brett's blackline masters for a Design Your Own Mitten Activity,
the KinderKids colored mittens then described them to fill in the following writing frame:
My mitten is ______ and _____.
Jan Brett Favorites
For January and February
A Ukranian Folk Tale
Brett's drawings bring extra zest to this popular story about a little boy who loses his mitten and all the animals that crawl inside it to stay warm. Brett's website offers downloadable coloring sheets and character masks for this book and other Brett stories.
A feisty Tomten (who looks like a Troll to me) is stealing all of Henny's eggs, which means she'll never have chicks of her own. Hedgie helps Henny trick the Tomten and scare him away for good. Beautiful illustrations lead to long discussions and wonderful story predictions. Just released and already a favorite in my classroom ... We LOVE Hedgie!
A tale inspired by The Mitten, and a lot of fun. Hedgie gets a sock stuck on his head and suddenly ALL the animals want hats made of Lisa's laundry that's blown off the clothesline. Sidebar illustrations show Lisa getting ready for winter. Another classroom favorite we read over and over and over again, and enjoy every time!
Illustration from next week's featured story
By Jan Brett
For terrific Gingerbread Man activities and resources, visit my
G is for Gingerbread Unit
The Perfect Reading Buddy!
January Songs & Poems
Our 100 Day Song
January Good Morning Song
Here are the words to our January Good Morning Song:
morning to the mittens,
Good morning to the caps,
Good morning to the cabin in the snow.
Good morning to the igloo,
Good morning to the sled,
Good morning to the friendly Eskimo.
TLC Art Projects
is a small section of our TLC art project wall, a year-long gallery featuring
a few of the many terrific TLC projects we do over the course of the school
year. This week we added Gingerbread Men and Martin Luther King,
The Gingerbread Man
Martin Luther King, Jr.
For more information on
TLC -- Teaching Little Children -- projects and artwork, visit
the TLC website.
Favorite Snow Stories
(I can't find the photo of my January Calendar!)
The artwork for our December homework calendar is sponge paintings sprinkled with silver glitter.
Victoria's Calendar Blackline Master sets include:
is how my reading chair looked when I left school on Friday, at the end
of another busy week.
Online Thematic Units
Photo Pages Index
Let It Snow Thematic Unit
G Is For Gingerbread
It's Beginning To Look
A Lot Like Christmas
FastCounter by bCentral
visitors since January 21, 2001
The KinderKorner Website, and all non-credited photos and text materials
on this page
are copyright by Victoria Smith, ©1998 - 2003. All rights reserved.
Nothing may be reproduced or placed on another website
without the written permission of the copyright holder, Victoria Smith.
This page went online January 21, 2001 , and was updated January 5, 2003 and August 31, 2005