Sunday, February 3, 2013

Channukah, The Festival of Lights

Every winter in Kindergarten, we learn about different holidays people celebrate during winter.  One of those holidays is Channukah.  In my quest to find a cute Channukah center, I discovered that there weren't many blogs featuring fun Channukah ideas.  I decided to blog about some of the creative ways to teach young children about Channukah.  In addition to fun craft projects, I like to cook latkes (potato pancakes) with my students...this always goes over well!  What's not to like about a pancake made from shredded potatoes?!? 
In Social Studies we learned about symbols of our country, so in the winter when we are learning about different holidays, we identify symbols of those holidays.  When we learn about Channukah, we discuss symbols such as the menorah, latkes, candles, dreidel, and Channukah gelt (aka chocolate coins).  After reading a book about how people celebrate Channukah, we made a menorah using construction and tissue papers.
Then, we learned about a special game people play during Channukah.  We played a game of dreidel and used math objects (unifix cubes or two-sided counters) instead of gelt (money).  I always give students a piece of chocolate gelt (a chocolate gold coin) after they play the game. 
After we have learned how to play the game, we follow directions to make a dreidel (a spinning top)...that we can eat!!  The best part?  The flavor combination of milk chocolate and fluffy marshmallow with the crunch of a pretzel stick is the PERFECT union of sweet and salty!  Start by getting 1 chocolate kiss, 1 marshmallow, 1 pretzel stick, and some chocolate frosting.  To assemble, "glue" the chocolate kiss to the marshmallow with a small dab of chocolate frosting.  Then, poke a pretzel stick into the top of the marshmallow.  Finally (and believe won't have to tell them twice), eat and enjoy!
In writer's workshop, we did shared writing to list the steps to make a candy dreidel. Then, students write independently to describe how to make a candy dreidel. Their favorite part?? Eating it, of course! 
In literacy centers, students made 3-dimensional dreidels.  They traced and cut out four paper dreidels.  After decorating them, we folded them in half, glued them together and attached a piece of yarn on the top.  Older students would likely be able to assemble the dreidels independently.  Although, if I had done this in my years as a first grade teacher, I likely would have helped most/all of them with the assembly. 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

I love days when math lessons start with a question or problem for children to solve and figure out.  I wish more days were like that...something to work towards in the new year.  On this particular day, I handed each student a bag of green paper strips and told them that their math job was to put them in order from shortest to longest.  Shortly after my math detectives set off to do their math job, the silence broke and a wave of excitement and discovery took over.  "It's a Christmas tree!!!" one little girl exclaimed. 
After the discovery was made, I introduced materials that they could use to transform the paper strips into a beautiful Christmas tree.  The children adorned their trees with sparkling sequins and a star on the top.
After all of the Christmas trees were assembled and decorated, we left them to dry at our tables while we engaged in "math talk" to discuss the different ways students solved the problem.  This was, dare I say it...FUN! 
My students were so engaged and facilitating a discussion about how they solved the problem was almost effortless. I am always looking for creative, hands-on experiences that allow students to build their enthusiasm for math. What great math ideas have you tried out lately?

Friday, February 1, 2013

The end of my sabbatical from blogging

After a lengthy, unintentional blogging sabbatical, I am back to have a go at journaling about my adventures in Kindergarten.  I have set small personal fitness goals for myself in the New Year and am ready to take on a few creative goals as well...starting with this blog.  I'm hoping the momentum will continue with an update to my food blog, Paper Cup Confections

And while I am not-so-secretly upset that the Redskins aren't playing in the Superbowl this weekend, I am excited for my friends who are big Ravens fans.  Whether I agree to wear purple in support of said friends on Superbowl Sunday has yet to be determined.  :-)  In celebration of Superbowl Sunday, I am throwing a sale over at Teachers Pay Teachers...20% off of everything in my TPT store!  And if you enter SUPER at checkout, you can save an additional 10%.  I am excited to check out the sales and grab some goodies for my Kindergarteners!

I hope that everyone has a fabulous weekend!!!