That’s our theme this week and I’m learning lots of information about my new students:
“I have five brothers and a sister.”
“I have a dog and he’s black.”
“My house is red and it has bricks.”
I’m going to have a baby sister by Christmas.”
“I don’t like cheese.”
“I can tie my shoes.”
“I love pizza.”
“Elephants are my favorite animal.”
You know that last one and I are going to get along just fine! He even told me that elephants are the real “king of the jungle”. However, after seeing the four elephant statues on my desk my smart little boy asked, “How many elephants do you have?” When I replied “112”, he told me that’s “way too many!” LOL
One of the skills we stress in kindergarten is public speaking. I know that sounds strange at this age when most of them have to be reminded at least ten times a day to “be quiet”. But this is also an age of shyness for many students, especially if they have to answer a question in front of their peers. So we incorporate lots of fun activities into our day that teach and encourage a relaxed “question/response” procedure.
Every other day I ask a circle question, such as “How many brothers do you have?” The response must be a complete sentence- “I have four brothers.” and I often follow it with another, such as “How old are they?” or “Can you tell me their names?” etc.
On alternate days the students answer a question on our “Question of the Day” chart by listening to the question and then placing a little name card under the column that matches their answer. Some of the questions we have answered so far are, “What is your favorite color?”, “Can you tie your shoes?”, and “What is your favorite color of popsicle?” This chart and the questions and responses are a kit I bought several years ago. There are yes/no questions, color and number questions, and questions relating to family and activities. When everyone has answered the question we graph the results and talk about them. This is a great way to let children know that they are not alone in their preferences.
During reading circle I pass out photo cards. This month we are using them to discuss sentence structure. I start by saying a word, such as “dog” and ask them what that word “tells” them. Not much. We discuss what we know about dogs, but I stress what the word does not tell them- size, color, shape, hair, name, etc. Then we look at my photo card of a dog and I tell them about my photo. “My dog is brown. My dog is big. My dog can run.” I write those sentences on the board and we talk about the difference between what the word told us, the sentences told us, and what else we might infer from the photo and our knowledge of dogs. Then I let them tell me a sentence about their photo. As we progress each week I will control their sentences by asking them to include the color or size of their animal/object, tell me what it can do, tell me what they can do with it, or tell me where they might find it, etc. By spring they will be able to use a photo card and write three sentences about it!
Of course the best thing about all of these questions and answers is that it gives me the opportunity to begin to learn more about my students, their families, and their personalities. One little girl told me yesterday that her best friend is her cousin, and I shared with her that mine is too! This helps her relate to me in a different context other than just “teacher”. I find that as we get to know each other better everything we do is a little more fun!