Tag Archives: stories for kindergarteners

New year? New ideas! Kindergarten

After teaching elementary school library for over a decade, one would think there is a set lesson or format I use to map out each school year. It’s often assumed that I do the same thing, year in and year out. After all, why recreate the wheel?

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Well, I do. New classes mean new personalities. What worked with one group of children may not work with another. Our annual school learning goals need to be taken into account, as well as curricular, technological, and logistical changes. In short: I never do the same thing exactly the same way each year.WP_20141002_006

Our K’s traditionally take part in unit studies, but the books, activities, and technologies used change a bit each year. With so many new titles, apps, and websites, there will always be new ways to foster learning.  The questions used in lessons change, too, since I work to get better at incorporating critical-thinking, claim-evidence-reasoning questions. Adding strategies and ideas from the Maker movement into our lessons (when reasonable) is also a goal.      

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Protecting their garden from invading bunnies. Inspired by Candy Fleming’s Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

The first six weeks tend to follow a pretty set format regarding skills introduced and overall expectations. Most of my first six weeks is explained here.  Note: for the lessons listed, students visit library 1x week for 40 minutes.

  • Week 1: Play I-Spy in the Library game, learn where to sit (assigned spot) and how to sit (hands/feet to self), get to know one another with the Squishy Ball, listen to one story (first author study), show where to sit at the end of the lesson (the line near the door…no chairs/table spots), learning goal: what does an author do?
  • Week 2: Review where/how to sit, play make-believe games with Mr. Tiger (large stuffed animal mascot who I “talk” to), listen to story, barcodes & passes, self check-out (books on top of shelves only), learn whose responsibility it is to bring back book (students, not moms!)
    • Before week 3 – remind students to bring back books. No tears is the goal…
  • Week 3: review where/how to sit, play make-believe with a stuffed animal Tiger (he holds our stories…I model kindness by asking to borrow it politely, then giving it back at the end), listen to one story, begin questioning, learn E=Everybody, review what happens if you forgot your book (browsing basket), review self check-out
  • Week 4: continue week 3. No new additions.
  • Week 5: Add Rhyme Time. Continue with previous skills/expectations.
  • Week 6: Introduce book care. Continue with previous skills/expectations.

By this point, routines are usually down pat. If they’re not…it’s reteach, reteach, reteach. It’s impossible to add in how to find books if children can’t remember where to sit so that they have their own safe space.

Most of our lessons will have a focus question and includes stories and rhymes. I’ll often include movement games and make-believe to maintain interest and focus. Technology (in the form of beginning database research and project creations) is usually added in the second half of the year. Some tech I like: PebbleGo (for outer space/animal research), Flipgrid (for video responses to any literature), iPads (is perfect for K to extend learning, Daisy the Dinosaur & Lightbot Jr are great for coding). Major units outside of Author Studies may include the Geisel Award, a Wool/Fabric science collaboration, and Folklore Around the World (which includes map skills). However…

I’ve been known to extend units into first grade. To leave units out. To add new learning. Because life happens: there are subs, no school days, new classroom units.  Because each group of children is different…so my teaching should embrace and reflect their differences. And while there are certain authors I read year in and year out (Ezra Jack Keats), each group has stories shared and questions asked that best meet their needs.

Curious as to which author/illustrator units were kid-friendly AND whose stories had great questioning / conversation potential from the past few years? See below! And please note: the K’s will usually study 5-7 per year at a minimum of 3 weeks per individual.

  • Ezra Jack Keats ♥♥
  • the Mo you don’t know (lesser-known Mo Willems titles)
  • Kieko Kasza
  • Jon Klassen
  • Mac Barnett
  • Candace Fleming
  • Lauren Castillo
  • Jon Agee
  • Sergio Ruzzier
  • Deborah Freedman
  • Cynthia Rylant (usually with Arthur Howard)
  • Christian Robinson

Happy reading & teaching, y’all! ~arika

Read Aloud Tuesday: Feb 3, 2015

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Welcome! Read-Aloud Tuesday is when I read aloud in my son’s Montessori classroom (ages 3-6).  Young readers are demanding and honest: I strive to share the best of the best with them each week.

This week’s focus: snowy diversity.

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The Reader by Amy Hest

The reader – a young boy – sets off from his house with a suitcase, a cooler, and his dog.  Destination: the top of a snow-covered hill.  Making tracks with his sled, the reader perseveres through the cold, wet, tiring snow as his dog jumps, leaps, and runs to the hilltop.  Once there, a nice snack sets the stage for a snowy storytime.  Cozy and comforting, this story pairs well with Peter in The Snowy Day (below).  Castillo’s art is eye-catching.  Share with ages 3+.

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The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Peter wakes up one morning to find his world covered in snow! Like all kids, he sets out to explore it, making crunchy footprints, smacking snow-covered trees, and thinking about joining a snowball fight.  After a long day of fun and play, Peter tucks one last snowball in his pocket before going inside to get warm and hope for more snow.  Keats is a master, and this is his masterpiece.  A classic story that’s still current today, Peter and his iconic red snowsuit should be read – and enjoyed – by all.

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Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Elliot lives in America.  Kialash, India.  When these two boys on opposite sides of the world become pen pals, they realize their differences are outweighed by their similarities.  From families to homes, school to language, the boys share their lives and realize: “Same, Same…Different!”  An outstanding choice to read-aloud.  Share with ages 3+.

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Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

CJ, fresh from Sunday church, braves the rain and boards a bus with his Nana.  He wonders why they ride the bus when his friends have cars, asks about the blind man who can hear the colors, and wishes he had music devices like the big boys.  With each wish, wonder, and question, Nana responds with thoughtful, gentle wisdom.  When they arrive on Market Street, all CJ can see are run-down buildings and graffiti-covered walls.  It’s Nana who opens his eyes to the beauty that surrounds them as they make their way to their destination, the soup kitchen.  Robinson’s illustrations are bold, breathing life into big-city life.  de la Peña’s written a real winner.  New in 2015!