Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throw Back Thursday - Time for a Homework Change

It's Thursday, and we're sitting here waiting for the huge thunderstorms to hit the region.  Thursday is the day of the week I'd like to take a look back at the past years in kindergarten and how I did things, or how I'd change things.  It's also the day I'd like to look back at some of the original TPT products I created to see if I can improve them, list them at a cheaper price, or if they need to be removed from my store (I hope not!!).  Have I mentioned that I am now a proud member of Krista Wallden's Summer VIP Clipart Club??  So EXCITED to get a new set of AMAZING clipart every week of the summer!!

Today I want to take the time to reflect on how I have done homework with my kindergarteners in the past.  For the past three years, I have sent home a 'Homework Book' to practice letter formation and finding words that start with the letter of the week.  This involved us (the teachers) having to copy, cut, and glue pages into the homework book.  Usually the pages wouldn't stick very well and sometime during the year they would come unglued and fall out, being lost forever.  We would have to spend either a portion of our planning period or stay after school to get the books set up.  This is the process I inherited from the kindergarten teachers who were there before me, and since it was already set up I went with it.  During my second year as a kindergarten teacher I began the process of changing the way I did homework.  I kept the book, but began making a 'packet' of skills for them to take home as well.  I included different math and language arts skills in the packet and left the book the same.  There were enough assignments to last the week, and the homework went home on Monday and was expected back on Friday.

Now that I'm getting ready to start my fourth year in kindergarten, I've decided to completely revamp how I do the homework process.  I am going to get rid of the book, since gluing the pages and keeping track of them was getting to be a royal pain.  Instead, I'm going to focus on the homework packet.  I JUST FINISHED working on an alphabet packet that we will use as part of the homework packet.

I am lucky enough to be a tutor as well as a teacher, and twice a week I get to work with my favorite little 4-year-old, Kelli.  She just finished her year in pre-k and is ready to head to kindergarten in August.  I am working with her to help her master those skills I know she'll need during her kindergarten year.
How sweet is she, with all that beautiful curly, red hair!!  Here she is hard at work on one of the 'C' pages of the activity pack I'm working on. (she had a slumber party, so her guests were helping her find the letters too!) Every session, we work on a different letter page.  Each letter has three pages of activities to go with it, and the skills include writing the uppercase and lowercase letter, identifying them from a mixed group of letters, as well as identifying and reading words that begin with that letter.  The goal is to be able to use the pages from the packet to create her own ABC book.  We are putting the pages into sheet protectors and storing them in a binder as she finishes each one.
The first page for each letter has various pictures that begin with that letter.  Each picture has the word in small print next to it, and after we color the pictures we practice identifying each one.  The two letters in the middle are printed in an 'outline' font, and we fill them up with glitter glue.  When it dries, Kelli is able to trace each letter and feel the glitter.  This is a form of tactile learning that will hopefully help her to not only recognize the letters when she sees them, but also help her when she is writing the letters.
We take turns coloring the pictures.  I let her pick which ones she wants to color, and she tells me which ones I can color.  I help her color partly to help save time, but mostly because I really LOVE to color.
Each letter starts with this page, and the second page involves writing the letter buddies and identifying them.
I tried to include directions in picture as well as word form.  My hope is that students and parents will be able to work together at home to complete the pages.

Another page of the packet has Kelli creating a pattern using the uppercase and lowercase letters.  She can choose from an AB, AAB, or ABB pattern.  I have found that she REALLY enjoys using different colors when writing, so we have incorporated that into our patterns (and I added it to the directions!)  She also draws and labels two different words that begin with the focus letter.  Every session we review the pages she's already done, making sure to identify each letter buddy as well as the sound each letter makes.  We pair each letter sound with a motion to help her tie the letter sound to her muscle memory.

This packet is still a work in progress, but my goal is to have it uploaded to my store by the end of next week.  Keep checking back with me, because as soon as it's ready I'll be throwing a Summer Sale!!

Don't forget that tomorrow is FREE FONT FRIDAY hosted by The Teaching Tribune, and I CAN'T WAIT to snag a new font or two!!!


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