1. Be proactive.
2. Begin with the End in Mind.
3. Put first things first.
Last week, I set up about twenty beanie babies (probably only 5 percent of my old beanie baby collection :) and told my students that they would each get to "adopt" one as a pet. Their eyes lit up and they started saying which one they wanted. Then I told them that they had to make a plan and begin with the end in mind, so they had to write about what animal they wanted and what things that animal would need.
I swear they have never written so much so quickly. They were so, so excited and thought of so many things they wanted to buy for their pets. Then, they got to go "shopping," BUT they only had enough money for 4 things so they had to put first things first and choose the most important things to buy.
They glued their purchases to a strip of paper and they had to show it to me before they could adopt their pet.
Most of them got the idea of prioritizing. A few of them forgot important things (like food) and I sent them back to change their purchases before they could adopt. One student tried to sneak an extra dog toy on the back of her strip of paper, because she couldn't limit herself to four, ha!
They were so excited to take their animals back to their seats and now they hang out in their chair pockets most of the day.
For the first few days, they asked to take them out all.the.time, but we've finally worked out they can only take them out for Read to Self and developmental centers and indoor recess, when we have it.
To integrate non-fiction reading and writing, I checked out a bunch of animal books from the library and introduced All About Books with "All About My Pet." In the past, I have found it hard to get kindergarteners to fully understand the idea of writing facts about a topic (like animals), so this seemed like a good way to personalize the all about writing. Here are some sample pages.
|This student got the page upside down, but she did a good job writing things her pet likes to do!|
|For the diagrams, we worked on looking at our animals as made of different shapes. This helped most of them draw a big and clear picture for labeling.|
I'm trying to think of what other academic activities I can center around the animals, because they are so motivating for the students. The other day, they were getting loud at the end of the day and I told them their animals were napping and they actually tiptoed to line up for buses. It was magical.