Hurray for Learning

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Now that I have dabbled with blogging for a bit, I realize that I have many ideas to share that don’t fit my “Hurray for Play” vision.  I have decided to create a second blog, “Hurray for Learning” and from today onward, I will separate “learning through play” posts from “language learning” posts.  To check out my other blog, please go to Hurray for Learning.

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Finding your “favourites” made easy for kinders

A couple of years ago, I came across Symbaloo, a great website for sharing internet favourites with my kinders and their parents.  With symbaloo, you can create your own account (here’s mine) and make buttons for your favourite curriculum-related websites.  The brilliant thing about it is that you can add an image to each of your links so that non-readers can find their favourite sites too.  Also, you can constantly edit your Symbaloo page, adding and removing buttons as needed.

I set my Symbaloo account as my homepage on my classroom computers to help make my students more independent at finding their favourite sites (that being said, I still have to supervise them closely, but it stops me from being constantly asked to help find the pattern machine game or Toupie et Binou).

And, if that is not all, Symbaloo now has a FREE iPhone app! If you create your own free account, you can now access it and any other webmixes you like on the go.

I like to share my Symbaloo site with parents so that at home, they can easily find websites that are appropriate for kindergarten students.  Parents have the option of setting it as their homepage or adding it to their iPhone as well.

As a French immersion kindergarten teacher, my links relate to French language learning, math and problem solving.  What is your favourite website for your kindergarten students or child?

Using “guided drawing” to develop pre-printing and printing skills

One of the things I love to do with my students to help improve their fine motor skills is “guided drawing”.  During a guided drawing mini-lesson, I show my students how to put basic shapes together to draw a picture.  Basic shape, in order of easiest to hardest, that children need to be able to draw before they are ready to print all their letters are:

OT Shapes

What better way to practice these shapes, building the skills needed for printing, than learning how to put them together to draw pictures?  After drawing a basic picture, we then extend it by discussing and adding details to make our picture even more interesting.  At the beginning of the year we spend time learning to draw different people, all with very similar starting points (head, trunk, arms, hands legs, feet, eyes and mouth).  This is how we can turn our basic person into a pirate:

Here are some tips to make your guided drawing lesson successful:

  • Use individual whiteboards with students.  Many who find drawing challenging are more willing to try if mistakes can be easily erased.
  • Before you begin, decide whether your whiteboard is “standing” or “sleeping” and make sure students hold theirs the same way.  This will make it easier for them to copy your drawing and will also help them learn how to effectively use their page.
  • Remember, it is a mini-lesson!  Keep it short; 5 minutes is more than enough time to draw a pirate.
  • Develop a routing from day 1 for handing out and collecting student whiteboards.  We have a bin for whiteboards and another with mittens stuffed with dry-erase markers.  When students are called, they come get a whiteboard and a mitten.
  • Draw pictures, one element at a time, giving students the opportunity to copy after each step.
  • Adding details provides an authentic opportunity to develop language and learn new vocabulary, esspecially in a second language classroom.  In the pirate example given, vocabulary such as patch, peg-leg, map, treasure, scruff, shovel, palm tree, etc. are just some examples of the rich vocabulary that would have been discussed during this mini-lesson.
  • Revisit pictures that you have already practiced on a different day.  This gives students some familiarity and allows them to better predict what shape may be drawn next.  However, the next time you draw a pirate, for example, you could mix it up by adding a cutlass, telescope, pirate ship or hat, just to name a few new possibilities.
  • At the end of a guided drawing lesson, I will sometimes practice printing a letter or number, just a few times.  If you decide to do this, start with the simplest letters to draw (ex. L and T) rather than going in alphabetical order.  See Handwriting Without Tears for more information on my favourite way to teach printing.

Here is an example to show how some kindergarten students’ drawings turned out during a guided drawing lesson.  This time we were drawing giraffes.

I hope you enjoy trying this with your students!  If you do and are interested in more, check out some of my other guided drawing resources here:

Halloween English Halloween FrenchFairy Tales EnglishFairy Tales FR