Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

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Hey y'all! Do you read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at the beginning of the year? I read it the second week of kindergarten and it's the perfect introduction to learning our letters and investigating our names. It is one of my favorite units in kindergarten.

We like to start the week by going on a letter hunt. I place the letter cards around the campus, and together we go find the letters. I usually use the capital letters for this activity since most students recognize capitals before lower case letters. This activity serves two purposes at the beginning of the year: first, we practice identifying letters; second, we practice walking in a line and staying together. Both skills are super important to learn at the beginning of kindergarten! (Sorry they look stripey. My printer had issues. They don't have stripes normally. I bought a new printer after taking these pictures.)

After our letter hunt, we can use the cards in the classroom in a couple of ways. First, we can use just the letter cards to match capitals and lower case letters. This can be done in a pocket chart, by placing them on a clothesline with clothespins (great for fine motor!), or by playing memory. Your students that already know the capital and lower case letters will benefit most by the last game.

Cards can also be put in ABC order either on the clothesline, on the floor, or across the white board. Add some magnet strips to the back after laminating and you'll give the game a whole new novelty.

Another way to play is by using the bonus cards. With this game, students draw a card off the stack. If they know the letter, they get to keep the card. If they don't, they have to put the card at the bottom of the stack. If they draw an "Aw, Coconuts!" card, they put all their cards back. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

This game is a great way to teach social skills--primarily taking turns and how to handle setbacks. I would use this game a little later in the school year when I know which students can handle having to put their cards back and we've talked about how to win and lose graciously.

There are so many excellent activities that go along with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. These cards will last you the entire unit and more. I usually print a couple of sets so that students at different levels can use them with the different activities. For a set of your own, click here.

Well, I hope you got some new ideas for your classroom. Stay tuned for more great resources coming soon.

Stay sweet,


Assessing Kindergarten Readiness Skills

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Hey y'all! It's getting to be that time again when fresh faces enter our classroom and we start to build new relationships and new memories. The beauty of kindergarten is that everyone starts fresh--no history of behavior from last year, no preconceived notions, just fresh. (I love that part!)

The bad news is, you likely have no idea what strengths and weaknesses your students have coming in. Of course you're going to teach all the things, but if you know where everyone is starting from, you have a much better idea of how far you can go. That's why, at the beginning of each year in kinder, we use a beginning of the year assessment to find out exactly where they're all at.

It's super simple. I sit one on one with each student while the others are working on a handwriting page or a math or fine motor center and assess each student. I ask them to identify as many capital and lower case letters as they can, and the sounds the letters make. I ask them to identify numbers 0-20 (12 and 20 always trip them up!) and to count as high as they can, orally and with objects (this assesses one-to-one correspondence). I ask them to identify basic colors and shapes, and to write their name. When they write their name, I'm looking at whether they can write it and how their pencil grip looks. If it looks labored, I might give them some tools to help or talk to our OT person.

The next part is print awareness. This can be done during the one on one time or while walking around the room while students are working. During this part of the assessment, I look to see if the student holds the book correctly, turns the page the right direction, and knows that words go left to right and top to bottom. I'll ask them to point to a word and a letter to see if they know the difference. The vast majority of my kinders know the difference, but I really need to know who doesn't so we can address that pretty quickly.

Easy enough, right? But then what? When I'm finished, I take a look at all the data and start grouping students on skills they need. Five kids don't know the difference between letters and words? We'll talk about it during our shared reading and then reassess in a small group. Four kids know all their capitals and very few lower case letters? There's a small group. Three can't write their name? There's a small group, too. Six know all their letters and the sounds they make? We've got a guided reading group there.

Throughout the year, I reassess students to check their progress and make adjustments as needed. Groups are fluid and can change as fast the littles grow. Just don't forget to reevaluate their needs and move on as they master new skills.

You can get a copy of the assessment I use here. It's pretty straightforward and easy to setup--just print and go. You can even put cards on a book ring to make it easy to take with you around the room.

I hope this helped. Stay tuned for more great resources coming soon.

Stay sweet,

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