Thursday, September 25, 2014

Let's Get the Party Started in Junior Kindergarten!

This is my first year of teaching separate junior and senior kindergarten programs for my 4 and 5 year olds. For the past four years, I've taught a combined program, but due to large numbers I am running two separate programs this year. I've discovered there are some pros and cons to both models, but I am really loving being able to develop a program dedicated strictly to four year-olds. Here's what we've been up to in the first month of junior kindergarten!

My senior kindergarten students requested a bakery and ice cream store for our first dramatic play centre. When the JK students arrived the next day, they were excited to explore the materials in the play area. As I observed the play, I watched it evolve into a birthday party. They were so enthusiastic in planning a pretend birthday party, and I was invited as the guest of honour. A lightbulb went off in my head and our first theme for JK was born! 

To get started, we talked about birthdays, then made this chart showing what we needed to throw a birthday party. We decided to ask our parents for any leftover birthday party supplies by posting a message on our classroom Facebook page. The next JK day, bags of party supplies arrived! We also Skyped my friend Mrs. Lowe's class who was also very interested in birthday parties. We shared our birthday party charts by sharing our screens. It was both classes' first Skype call ever, and we worked hard to teach appropriate behaviors before and during. Both groups did great!

Next we completed this graph on the SMART Board to infuse some numeracy into our birthday party play. We were excited to discover that more people preferred birthday cake over cupcakes!
Mrs. Lowe suggested that we exchange labelled photographs of our birthday party play areas. This was a great early literacy activity for my JK students as we discussed what letter was at the beginning of words.
We also decided to investigate shapes through birthday party supplies. We wrapped a variety of boxes for pretend presents, and examined plates, cups, party hats, rolls of ribbon, and balloons, and compared them to pattern blocks and 3-D objects. Check out the movie we made using Animoto!  

It has been exciting to watch the play evolve throughout the past month as different children have become involved in the birthday party first only my little girls were planning and throwing parties, but later on my little boys joined in and took active roles. Surprise parties became a favourite activity! To wrap up our birthday party theme, we are throwing a class birthday party tomorrow--writing invitations, baking and decorating cupcakes, and celebrating as a class!

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