Monthly Archives: April 2010

Confidence for First Grade

Kindergartners have become very confident during this Kindergarten school year.  Their school, teachers, friends, classroom, daily routines, and expectations are all very familiar now that the year is coming to an end.  Then it begins all over again in the fall when they enter first grade.  Most children will be in the same school, but their teachers, classrooms, friends, daily routines and expectations will all be different. This can be stressful for your child. Anything that you can do at home to alleviate some of this stress will be helpful to your child.  The first grade children at my school use pocket folders to keep their seatwork organized.  I have suggested to my Kindergarten parents to buy a few pocket folders for summer use and I encourage them to teach their children how to use a pocket folder.  Sounds easy, but just sliding a paper in and out of the folder can be a challenge for some children. Practice a few worksheets each week in preparation for first grade and use the folder for storing completed and uncompleted papers for additional practice. This will be one less thing that is ‘new’ for your child upon arrival in first grade.  Ask around in your neighborhood or your child’s school and find out what is going to be very different for your child in first grade and start introducing some of these new things to your child this summer.  You will give your child additional confidence by telling them that they are practicing to be first graders and your child will become familiar with some of the first grade routines before ever setting foot in the door.


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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten

Parts of a Book

Kindergarten children have learned how to properly take care of a book, especially a book from the library.  They know to keep the book clean, to use a bookmark and not turn over the corner of the page and they know to keep the book away from younger brothers and sisters.  We are also teaching the terms, cover, back, spine, title, and in chapter books, table of contents.  When you talk to your child about books, please use the correct terminology for parts of the book so that your child will begin to incorporate these words into their everyday vocabulary.

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Filed under Beginning Readers, First Grade, Kindergarten, Reading, Uncategorized

Calendar Math

In Kindergarten and first grade the children learn a great deal of math just by doing calendar activities and counting the number of days that we have been in school.  They learn what the date is, the terms today, tomorrow, yesterday, explore patterns, count forward from 1-100, backwards from 20-1, and count by 5’s and 10’s to 100.  Now we have introduced calendar math which is a worksheet that the children must complete on their own using information from the calendar.  They must write today’s date and year, tell what today, yesterday and tomorrow are, decide if today’s date is an even or odd day, write today’s date in tally marks and then tell today’s weather.  The children love this activity because they get to use a clipboard and feel grown up and they also enjoy thinking and figuring out all of the answers.  Take the calendar at your house and check to see if your child can tell you or show you:

  • Today’s date
  • The name of today
  • The name of yesterday
  • The name of tomorrow
  • If today’s date is an even or odd number
  • Today’s date using tally marks

While you are checking, ask your child to count to 100 by 5’s (needed for counting those tally marks) count to 100 by 10’s and then count backwards from 20-1.  Your Kindergarten child who is almost a first grader SHOULD be able to do it all and if he/she can’t, it’s time to start practicing these skills before he/she gets to first grade. Once in first grade he/she will be expected to write down this information in a calendar math journal that is used every day.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Math, Uncategorized

Sentence Starters – Part 3

I have written about simple sentence starters twice before in my blog, October 26 – and again on October 27 Out of all of the 250 blog posts that I have written, the topic of Sentence Starters is the one topic that gets searched for day after day after day.  My earlier blogs wrote about simple sentence starters but the children are more advanced in their writing and can handle a longer sentence starter.  The trick about sentence starters is to use the same sentence starter on every page of a small blank 4, or 6 page book. (Use folded copy paper to make a quick and simple book) Here are some more sentence starters for Kindergartners who are almost first graders:

My Mom and I like to…

My Dad and I like to…

On Saturdays I like to go to…..

On a play date I can…

On a long car drive I can….

When I look out my bedroom window I see…

When I visit Grandmas I can….

I can help with the new baby when I…….

When I am in school I learn about….

In the summer I like to…..

When I am on vacation I…..

When I am at the beach I see….

Parents, you can create your own sentence starters.  The possibilities are endless.  They should be short and have a topic that your child will be able to write about on more than one page. Give it a try.  Keep blank books and a list of sentence starters with you whenever you and your child are out and about.  When you are sitting and waiting somewhere, pull out a blank book, the sentence starters and a pencil and see what your child is able to do.  You will be shocked at the improvement in his/her writing since you introduced sentence starters way back in October of Kindergarten.

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Filed under Beginning Readers, First Grade, Kindergarten, Reading, Writing

Understanding the Word ‘more’ in Math

While doing math one day this week, I realized that many of my students were confused with simple word problems.  I also realized that how the problem is worded makes the problem easy to solve, or difficult to solve.  Solving word problems causes many mistakes on classroom math quizzes and on standardized tests.  The math problem was this:

Mother is taking you to the movies.  She has 2 movie tickets for you and 3 friends that are going.  How many more tickets does your mother have to buy? (there was a visual of 2 tickets on the paper but it obviously wasn’t enough help)

Very few children got the answer of 2.

Most of the children heard the word ‘more’ and added up the child and 3 friends and said that mother had to buy 4 tickets.  What was not readily evident to these children was that mother had already bought 2 tickets so she only needed 2 ‘more’ tickets.  We worked it out a second time, this time with counting materials (manipulatives) and the answer became much clearer.  When doing math with very young children always offer them the opportunity to solve their work while using objects for counting, etc. and you will find that more problems will be solved correctly and with a deeper understanding of the problem.


Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Math

Cursive in Kindergarten

Every spring there are a few parents who insist upon teaching their 5 or 6 year old Kindergarten child to write in cursive.  What are these parents thinking?  It has taken me the entire school year to get these same children to write the uppercase and lowercase letters correctly going from top to bottom and now you want them to learn cursive!  Learning to write letters is very developmental and most young children would prefer to form letters from the bottom to the top rather than top to bottom.  Now that many, but not all Kindergartners, have the ability to form the letters correctly, please do not confuse the process by introducing cursive.  There are no first grade classrooms that I know of that teach/or allow cursive to be used so really parents, what IS the rush?  Please spend this time encouraging your child to continue to form letters correctly so that when he/she arrives in first grade correct letter formation will not become a problem.  Save learning cursive until it is taught at your child’s school.

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Filed under Kindergarten, Writing

Weather Graph

Kindergartners have learned to graph this year and are really beginning to grasp but a graph is all about. In my room we graph almost daily and we graphed the weather for the month of March, deciding if each day was ‘lamb’ like, or ‘lion’ like.  The children really enjoyed this activity and were sad to see it end once April arrived.  Here is a weather graph that you could printout for your child to use at home to practice graphing.  All you have to do is print out the weather graph and at the beginning of the month write the dates across the top of each column for your child.  This math skill will be put to good use when your child arrives in first grade.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Science