I have a fat journal full of favourite quotes. If you have my book, Outside Our Window: developing a primary nature program, then you are privy to some amazing thinkers about children and nature as every chapter begins with a quote. 

Lately, I have been reading some of Lillian Katz's writing between writing report cards to rest my brain and thought I would share this inspiring quote

"As you consider whether to move a child into formal academic training, remember that we want our children to do more that just learn how to read and write; we want them to learn in such a way that they become lifelong readers and writers. If we push our children to start learning the skills too far ahead of their own spontaneous interest in their capacity, we may sacrifice the long range goal of having them enjoy the pursuits "

- Lillian G. Katz

What are some of your favourite quotes, I bet they are in my journal!!!


In my book,  Outside Our Window: developing a primary nature program I have included a chapter on play based activities to do outdoors which support the primary curriculum (preK to 3).  An example for a simple outdoor literacy activity Sidewalk chalk was used as an example of ABC and Word Work. This activity can easily be adjusted for all of the primary grades.

As our year together draws to a close I have begun to introduce literacy games that lend themselves to family play like alphabet or sight word hopscotch. 

To play this game we chose familiar words together will will help build fluency. You can choose to use new words in this game but my learning intention was fluency. The fluency will support children as they transition to independent reading in the fall. Being able to automatically recognize common sight words will enable the novice readers to focus more on comprehension rather than continuously decoding new words.

To play the game the only materials required are asphalt and chalk (like a driveway or sidewalk). Pick out words together and add a challenge word, perhaps a word that they know if they think about it or if it is being introduced. We used beanbags to toss but you can use a beach stone or a sock with half a cup of flour or rice. When the stone lands on the word the child hops up the ladder jumping over the word. On the return down the ladder the child reads the word and picks up the stone, returning to the beginning square. 

This is a really fun activity to play together. If there are two siblings then have them write two words in each square so that they can both work on sight word fluency. This is most fun when friends are visiting  so that a group can play the game.


I have been spending time in a grade 3/4 classroom working with a teacher to transform the physical environment and hone some of the frameworks being introduced and used.  I was feeling quite nostalgic last night when we left as I did really love teaching my multi-age class. Many of the early intermediate frameworks she gets to use with her older students are lots of fun to teach. 

When I walked back into our kindergarten room I wondered how much rigor was happening with my little kinder through our process learning. Can you teach alphabet knowledge and sight words without worksheets in Kindergarten? As I considered all of the authentic work happening it was clear that the answer is yes!

Using a guided release model, I teach all of the kindergarten literacy concepts and together we practice every day. The children have daily literacy play where they have an opportunity to practice and apply either alphabet work or sight word work (at this time of year). Throughout the day I am working with small groups introducing a new game like Zap It!, doing a writing conference or playing one of the literacy games with a small group.  When parents spend time in the classroom their are either talking with students reading with students or playing one of our many literacy games.

Literacy is a large part of the Kindergarten year and as such becomes a large part of our day together.  Here are few few frameworks that happen each day.

Talking Circle - the children stand/sit in a circle and share one thing about themselves using a token like a piece of driftwood for the speaker. 

Conversation  Circle - this is an opportunity to build knowledge and understanding. The children don't put up a hand for this circle talk, instead they wait for an opening and then make a contribution. I am using scribing in a journal during this time and make pose questions to nudge the conversation.

Think Pair Share - I pose a question and ask the children to think about what they know. Then they turn to face a partner and take turns listening and speaking with each other. When they are finished they turn and face the circle and then each person has an opportunity to share. I usually record in our class journal.

Interactive Writing - we do this along with writing workshop which gives the children an opportunity to review criteria, share an ideas and contribute vocabulary.
Sight Word Bingo at the Seashore

Small Group Work - Each day I usually work with two to four students on either literacy or numeracy. We may play a new game or revisit an old one. I also include a little extra practice with a vulnerable student to keep their knowledge intact while they mature their learning.

Writing Conferences- I have this planned into the day so that I am able to meet with all of the students at least twice a week. This also enables me to keep my assessment accurate to help with planning and enables me to scaffold their learning. For example it might be printing formation, letter sounds, chunking, rhyme or story criteria.

Daily Five Flow- we do daily five flow at least four times a week at this time of year.  This includes writing, reading, listen to reading, partner reading and partner work with words/letters.

Writing Workshop - while we begin the year with writing workshop each day by late spring we are doing it only twice a week alternating days with Daily Five Flow.

Literacy Play - the children move through literacy play with a partner every day for about 8 minutes.

Read Aloud - we go through about five books a day this would include interactive read, shared reading, re-reading and read aloud

Conversation - ab partner talk, turn and talk and Think Pair Share

Printing Formation - at the end of each day we spend time on the dry erase boards combining phonics, sight words and printing formation

Parent reading- the children all have a emergent reading book in their book boxes and parent volunteers come in the afternoon to listen to them practice read their book.

Time to talk - because a lot of the teaching in a Reggio inspired program is small group combined with self directed learning/play there is a lot of talk that happens  in our indoor and outdoor classrooms. Some examples are planning, observing and problem solving. 

Letter or Word Hunts - this really fun games happens about once a week. Using little stick notes the children used to hunt for letters throughout the room but now hunt for sight words.

Story Play - preparing the room one morning a week using groupings of loose parts and a few animals or peg people.  The light table is popular for story play.


Preparing for our Stomp Rocket experiment on Force and Motion with Morgan from Nanaimo Science and Sustainability (NS3). Only two rockets landed in the trees.

I thought that the children were pretty brave to test out our theory about gravity by swinging a cup full of seawater over their heads. And yes the water did stay in the cup!!

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