Colour Exploration: Scaffolding For Success

My grade partner and I have been working on completing a new framework for planning inquiry units that integrate technology. Technology integration has always been fairly easy for me, but with the extra responsibility of teaching French immersion, the lead up activities are the most important in order for students to be successful in using technology meaningfully. I will have more posts later on how I used technology and how we planned our unit out, but this post is dedicated to some of those lead up activities.

The “big idea” we came up with for our unit is called “The Colours God Creates”. The first thought that went through my head was that the students need to know their colours in French. We created “The Week of Colours” (“La semaine des couleurs”) for the students that involved wearing a specific colour each day, experiencing some type of sensory activity involved with that colour, and having the sensory table changed to represent that specific colour as well.

Monday: rouge

On Monday, the students used white cardstock, white glue, red Kool-Aid, and various red Dollar Store gems to create a free piece of art. When you sprinkle the Kool-Aid on the white glue, it turns red and smells delicious. This lead to great discussion (as much as they can understand in French while I stand on my head jumping up and down trying to help them understand!) about how white glue contains water and allows the crystals to dissolve, change to a deeper colour, and smell.

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The sensory table had red water with various red items inside. Since the students haven’t really had so many various items in the sensory table ever, and it was clear I just took items from around the classroom, I made sure to ask them not to take anything out or put anything extra in. I really dislike when I take so much time to put together a sensory table and then the students just end up mixing it all up and transporting other items to other areas of the classroom.

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Tuesday: orange

On Tuesday, the students used another piece of white cardstock, real oranges, and red and yellow paint to create another piece of free art. This lead to more great discussion about how we don’t always have to use paintbrushes to paint. The students knew we could use sponges, our fingers, and our whole hand to paint and were delighted at the idea to use real friggin oranges. We talked about the texture if the orange and saw how the same texture appeared in the paint.

The sensory table had orange water with orange bath toys and orange buttons. Sweet tip: hot glue the hole at the bottom of the bath toys so you don’t spend your precious after school time squeezing the living day lights out of them to get the water out. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Wednesday: jaune

On Wednesday, the students used another piece of white cardstock, yellow paint, sand, and lemonade, to create another piece of free art. We mixed the items together in the bowl. It smelled great and looked weird. The students loved the sound of the sand scraping against the hard cardstock, and most of them spent time listening to the sound rather than worrying about how their paper looked in the end.

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The sensory table had yellow ice cubes with imitation banana extract. These smelled DISGUSTING by the end of the day after 40 little hands had touched them all. But, it was worth it.

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Thursday: vert

On Thursday, I only have my morning class come, so we used Rachael Ray magazines to cut out 4 green items to paste onto cardstock. Awesome fine motor practice, and watching little ones try to rip a page out of a magazine is pretty cute. We all know that was a whole lesson in itself. We talked lots about how to do a “rough cut” (basically cutting a circle around the item you want) rather than cutting in the outline of the item which would take forever.

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The sensory bin had green water and green stuff, and I don’t have a photo.

Friday: bleu

On Friday, the students enjoyed making letters with blue spaghetti. It was simple and successful. Cooked spaghetti mixed with food colouring in a bowl, transport to school, and let the fun begin. I even used real plates from the staff room so it had the “dining room table” feeling, minus the eating of anything. Some students actually really didn’t like the smell or the feeling of the spaghetti. I’m a girl who lives on noodles and carbs in general, so this was difficult for me to understand. 😉

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The sensory table had blue water beads inside, which also smell disgusting after only a small amount of use, and make them great for a short term thing.

The students wore the specific colour each day, and I snapped a photo of them before they went home. At the end of the week, I took the photos to get printed, and selected the 2×3 photos so I could get two students on one 4×6 print. This automatically cut the cost in half. Together,we painted a rainbow and after it had dried, the students practiced their rough cuts again to paste themselves onto the correct area of the rainbow. My AM class painted half and my PM class painted the other half. This is a beautiful addition to our classroom.

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What did we do with all those free art cardstock creations you ask? We made a little book! I printed out colour labels so everyone had one of each. I made a visual on the smart board so they would be able to “read” which colour was which. Since they didn’t make a piece of art for each colour, the students added two blank cardstock sheets at the end so they could finish them at home if they liked. “Violet” was a trick label, since we didn’t have a purple day. We punched a hole in the corner, bent a paper clip to make a “ring” and they had created their own vocabulary book that meant something to them.

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At the beginning, this “week of colours” reminded me of “letter of the week” which I am not a fan of, but in the end I am pleased with how it went and I feel almost all of my students are able to name their colours in French. The students got to experience lots of sensory activities, had family members involved in their learning (through wearing the colours and finishing their book), and collaboratively completed a beautiful piece of art work for our classroom. It was a great start to our unit.

Magic Journals: Emergent Writing in K

Each time I think of embarking on the journey of having my students become writers, I remind myself that locating one of my eyelash extensions in my the shag area rug of my living room would probably be easier. But over the hurdle we go!

I give credit to the following idea from another teacher. Her name is Giselle and I took over for her while she was on maternity leave. This is one of the few ideas I have kept (actually maybe the only idea) from my first year teaching. My friend Veronica and I use these religiously each year. This activity is not Reggio inspired. It’s not inquiry based. It’s not challenged based. It’s good old school French Immersion fun.

Each student in my class has a Magic Journal. And I make up some rainbows and butterflies and unicorns story each year about how these books are special for my students. These ideas have ranged from putting glitter on them so they sparkle the first time I take them out, to pulling them out of a magical bag, to saying they SMELL like magic. I don’t like lying to my students, but getting them excited about writing is the first step!

The Magic Journal is one of those scribblers you can get at Staples, with 1/2 lines and 1/2 blank at the top. You can see a picture of it in the photo below. The photo below is the letter I send home/post on our class website for parents to know what all this dang magic is about.

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On the front of the book, I also stick a little explanation of what it is.

For each entry we do, I write a sentence starter. In French of course. Some sentence starters I have used have been:
“Bonjour, je m’appelle…” (“Hello, my name is…”)
“Je vois…” (“I see…”)
“Dans le forêt, il y a…” (“In the forest, there is…”)

Basically anything that works with something the students can add at the end of the sentence.
And then. We. Practice. Every. Single. Day. Over. And. Over.
We learn how to say the word nice and slowly and listen for the sounds.
We learn how to guess what letter comes next.
We learn how to put any letters we think are correct.
And we do these examples on the smart board. This year, I have really focused on scaffolding my lessons in my teaching. This year we focused on “Merci Dieu pour” (“Thank you God for”) during various activities that lead up to Thanksgiving. This was the perfect sentence starter to practice writing.

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We did three different objects a day for a whole week. And in the goodness of #wtdk, that means I got to do this activity a fantastic 8-10 times. YIPEE!

Then the students started their first entry. Major outcomes of the French Immersion program include: the ability to write the approximation of letters and drawings, being able to relate words to a picture, the function of letters, knowledge that there are spaces between words, and knowledge that many words make up a sentence, to name a few.

Here are some samples of student work.

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As you can see, the abilities of the students are drastically different.
This is a perfect activity for students to practice their writing skills, be OK with making mistakes, gain confidence in writing, learn French vocabulary, and share their learning with their families.
We also learn right from day one that the end of a sentence needs a period.
After they have finished, they stamp the date, I snap a picture for their Evernote ePortfolio, and they take their book home. Their parent or guardian write a note back, send it back to school, and we share the students’ work and note from their family as a class.

Letter Basketball: Low Tech Literacy Station

I always try to incorporate as much movement into activities as possible. Because it’s kindergarten. And there are boys. And that thing called “DPA” the government decided was just a fantastic idea. And all in all, it’s fun to jump around.

I have had this page from prekinders.com pinned on my Pinterest board for a while and I give them full credit for the activity I have been using in my classroom for the past week. It’s called Letter Basketball.

I adapted the activity a bit because I wanted to focus on letter formation as well as identification for my students. Here’s how I set it up.

I put out the visual of the Handwriting Without Tears letters (this comes in very handy for many activities in the classroom! You can find it here). I also put out a basket with some half sheets of paper and some black markers. I am totally that teacher that steals all the scrap paper from everywhere for this exact reason. Don’t put out the scissors. You don’t need the scissors.

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Me, my EA or another student is responsible for calling out a letter. To challenge certain students, we even narrowed it down to uppercase and lowercase letters. The student then writes the letter down, making sure to form the letter from top to bottom and from left to right.

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Crumple the paper into a ball…

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And aim it into the garbage can! I put three pieces of painters tape on the floor and numbered them 1, 2, and 3. I also marked the spot for the garbage can with an “x” so the students can place it there independently when they would like to play it. Also, those dolls in that drawer look SUPER CREEPY!

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This literacy game had been a HIT in the classroom. There is shouting, screaming, excitement, and laughter the whole time. Just the way it should be.

Letter Tiles: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That is one of my most favorites memes on the Internet at this present time. But I won’t lie…the following DIY project for your classroom does take time. Like, a few hours. So maybe a more appropriate title would have been “Ain’t Nobody Got Money For That” because that’s where this whole project started.

Pinterest. We all love it. For everything. Everything in life. Except when you find something that is just too expensive. Like letters for literacy stations. I realize there are good deals out there sometimes, but I wanted letters NOW and was feeling a little crafty.

I wanted to make some letter tiles for my students to use to build sight words and names of their classmates. Michael’s was expensive and they didn’t have the right size of tiles I wanted. The Dollar Store was a bust as there were no rocks, gems, wooden pieces or anything that I could use. So I picked up some tile from Home Depot. It cost $5.99 for 36 tiles.

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I flipped it over and scored that mesh on the back. Yenno, the mesh that would normally make the grout stick to it and all.

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For the majority of the tiles, it peeled off fairly easily. I ended up using pliers to start it off so it would ruin my nails. YES I need to repaint them.

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With a foam brush, I applied a little Mod Podge on the front of the tile.

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Then I stuck the letter on. These are just letters I printed out on regular white paper and cut up.

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Then I let them dry.

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For two sets of capital letters and three sets of lowercase letters, this project cost me $25. I already had the Mod Podge and foam brush from other projects, so I just needed to get the tiles. That’s A LOT less expensive than the letter sets I’ve seen online costing up to 100$ for that amount of letters. And I ain’t got money for that.

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