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Feature Friday - Valentine's Edition with Lovely Literacy and More!

Hi guys! It's Cori over at Mrs. B's Beehive and today I would like to introduce you to Brittany who writes at Lovely Literacy and More!  She has some great Valentine's ideas for us, and after you are done reading this, head over to her blog and follow her for many more awesome Kindergarten ideas!

Hey y'all! It's Brittany from Lovely Literacy & More. Well we did it. We survived a week of Valentine's Day parties, heart crafts, a whole lot of glitter and a good amount of glue. Do you ever come home from a day of kinder to look in the mirror & feel like others may think you have just gotten back from a rave with the amounts of glitter and glue you have on you? Things can get pretty sticky, especially around the week of Valentine's Day. I wanted to share with y'all some of the things we did this week for Valentine's Day.

Before February even got here I started searching for those cute V-Day crafts to do with my littles. Okay so first there was Pinterest and then there was Instagram. Well I was all about finding some cute ideas on Instagram this year. I found this adorable noodle necklace idea from TopTeacher and just knew this would be something my littles would love, not to mention that I liked the idea of how easy it looked. The less work for me the better. Am I right?
My littles enjoyed painting with glitter paint.
Here are two of our finished products. I think they turned out pretty cute.
I wanted to download the original printable from TopTeacher but I couldn't find it so I just created my own. Since my littles were also using pin wheel noodles I created the "You make my wheels turn!" printable to give the kids an option. Grab the printables here

In math we played a variety of math games but one of the favourites was Race to 100! I purchased little heart jewels from Micheal's for the littles to use as counters. Some preferred to use the rocks as counters since that was a choice too. So the children rolled their die, read the number on the die, then moved their counter that many places. The first one to reach 100 won. Simple and easy. Did I mention that I like simple and easy?
We also worked on creating an addition sentence with puffy heart stickers. You can get a copy of the Valentine math art sentence here.

This year was my first time having my littles make goo in the classroom and it is definitely something that I will do every year. This Valentine goo idea was all thanks to Pinterest. You can get the full "how to make Valentine goo" here at Little Bins for Little Hands. It is definitely something you have to get down to a science to have the perfect goo I feel like. Thankfully my wonderful EA was in charge of the goo station. 
Even though blue goo isn't very Valentine-y, our making of the clear goo with heart sprinkles was a big fail so we let the littles choose what colour they wanted to make their goo. We just couldn't get the proper goo made with our clear glue for some reason. The kids loved making the goo and seeing their expressions were priceless.
The littles listened to The Kissing Hand at the listening centre. It's too sweet of a story not to have read again during Valentine's Day.

In the whole Valentine's Day spirit, of course we had to have a card making station.
In the month of February we really try to focus more on friendship and working together. I had a discussion with the class about team work and building things. We then talked about who builds things in our community, what they might build and how they might build them. This discussion brought up the topic of engineers and construction workers, so I asked them if they thought they could be engineers and work together to create models. Of course they all said YES!
 This led to our "engineering activities". My littles did a wonderful job at working together to create things. So many things. They were so proud of their creations that they asked to show their creations to the class and tell everyone about it and how it worked. This made my teacher heart very happy. They created things from a rocket, to a helicopter, to a clock, to a house, to a tow truck, to a tower. The list is never ending. I love it when they use their imagination!
Do you ever see that saying "Keep calm and pretend it's on the lesson plan"? Sure you do. Well my recent visit to a Reggio Emilia based school has encouraged me to leave more unplanned time in my lessons each day. (You can read more about my visit to that school here.)That's where I let the children lead what we are going to do & learn. In our previous discussions about friendship, working together and the community it led my littles to want to create. They each wanted to create a community building within their group so of course I let them. They brainstormed different buildings we have in our community and why. Then each group decided what they wanted to create and how they would do that. I was so happy to see these kiddos problem solving, brainstorming ideas and working together. They all wanted to share their creations so I let them present their creation to the class afterwards. I am really enjoying this new "pretend it's on the lesson plan" motto I am going with. :)
I have to give a quick shout out to some other great Valentine-y ideas that I found via my instagram feed.

 Aren't these just the cutest valentines?! I mean oh-em-gee!
I'd have to say these were the top 4 valentines that I fancied via my Instagram. With all this ooewwwing and awwwing I have to make a confession. While I absolutely love these valentines, I was a bad teacher this year who didn't make my littles any valentines. Yikes! (insert monkey face covering eyes emoji here) I meant to. Really, I did. I bought cute little heart bags & popcorn to say "You make my heart pop!". Then while in Walmart I saw these v-day pencils which looked way less time consuming than bagging 46 bags of popcorn so I bought those. Well.... you see what had happened was.... I never got to handing out the pencils in the middle of chaos as I assisted 22 & 24 kinders in passing out valentines to everyone and helping them read each child's name. They say it's the thought that counts anyways.

Happy Valentine's Day y'all! I hope you have a great weekend with your loved ones.

Data Tracking in Kindergarten

Hi guys!  It's Cori from Mrs. B's Beehive discussing ways to create a growth mindset in your Kindergarten classroom through the use of shared data!

Data tracking can be an important tool to help your students push themselves further, while gaining insight into what standards they must master.  Data tracking has taken many forms in my classroom over the years.  Most years, I would post a chart with each students name on it, and award stickers as they passed levels, such as, letter recognition, sight words, 100% on the spelling test, etc. This system has always worked well for my students and I.  We all know how motivating a sticker can be! I would introduce the data tracking chart, and the number of students who received 100% on their spelling test increased dramatically.

While I was pleased with the results, I couldn't help feeling bad for the students who rarely got to add another sticker to their chart.  Reasons varied for the students who earned a lower sticker amount, no parent support at home, beginning ELL skills, or just a lack of motivation.  I saw great results and motivation from 95% of the students, but it was that other 5% that concerned me.  In my mind, there had to be a better way to motivate students to achieve a goal without harming the self esteem of others.

To alleviate a public display of students who did or did not achieve a certain goal I started to complete our shared data charts in a different way.

Now, instead of tracking which student has completed a task, I track how many total students in the class have reached a goal.  For example, in this chart from the beginning of the year letter sound inventory, 4 students knew the sound of D, 6 students knew the sounds of E, etc.  As a whole class, we make goals about where we want to go from here.  Your goals can be as small or as grandiose as you would like, as long as they are realistic and achievable by your students. 

For example, you could make the goal of everyone in class learning the letter sounds of A, B, and C by the end of the week.  The awesome thing about setting a goal as a class, is that the students work with (and sometimes for you) to help everyone in class achieve the goal.  When I give the students goals like this, I often find them quizzing each other during down time.  If we have a goal like this, I will give them flashcards with this particular letter and sorting cards with beginning sounds on them only containing those letters to practice with.  You have to give them the tools they need to succeed.

Motivation is key!  What are they working towards?  What will they get when they reach their goals?  A Friday afternoon Clifford showing on Netflix? 10 extra minutes of recess? A Star Wars sticker for everyone?  Prizes don't have to be large, they just have to be meaningful to your particular group of students.  After we complete our goal, we set a new, often times larger goal for the next week, and begin to work together to achieve it!

This type of goal setting can be done with so many different skills in Kindergarten.  Weekly spelling tests, high frequency words, guided reading levels, whole class reading levels, letter recognition, letter sounds, number recognition, and the list goes on and on!

This is not complicated to produce, and it takes little time to manage, but the benefits you get from working toward a common goal together are invaluable.

At the end of the week I will be doing a follow-up post on data tracking and goal setting with individual students over at my blog with some freebies included, I hope you can join me!