First Observations in First Grade

Hi, sweet friends! I hope those that are back in school have started off with a bang! We've officially completed our first week and it was a whirlwind.  

I begin the first few days introducing rules and getting to know each other. We filled the hours with storybooks, expectations, name games, collaborative activities, problem solving, morning literature tubs, exploring manipulatives, afternoon math tubs, and investigating science tools. 

The independent exploration of morning and afternoon tubs are critical for me to pull away and observe. I meet with a small group of kids to gather information about their academic abilities. The tubs consist of the alphabet and beginning sounds in the mornings and number sense in the afternoons. 

My morning lit tubs have activities that will review standards from kindergarten. The kids trace alphabet roads with cars, match upper and lowercase letters with playdoh, construct letters with alphabet parts, and sort beginning sound pictures to the corresponding letter.  

Freebie from PreK Pages.

The afternoon tubs are equally as engaging for my group of six year olds. The kids build numbers with playdoh in tens frames, work on matching numbers into 100 boards, sort different ways to make numbers through 20, and combine numbers through ten before parking toy cars in the correct parking spot. 

Freebie from Pocket of Preschool

I'm now gathering intel. Are the kids able identify letters and numbers? Can they associate sounds and values? Overall, I have a very diverse group of kids. Some will need letter formations and correlating sounds but most are able to build words in the semiphonetic spelling stage.  A few are devleoping in the phonetic spelling stage.

While determining which students had a strong understanding of beginning sounds, we played an infectiously fun game of Beginning Sound Beanbag Snag. Students were given the task to collect beginning sounds based on words I call. I was able to see which students had misunderstandings. This block of time was filled with giggles!

Yesterday, I met with a group of students and gave them a set of differentiated dice based on my early observations. Some students were building words with the alphabet dice while others were working with the word family dice. 

Based on my observations in the first few days of tubs, I gave students specific dice to see their level of understanding.

Others were given timers based on their ability to write basic sentences with ease. It's amazing how excited a six year old gets when you add a little twist to a simple activity.

A few had enough skills to combine blends with word families.  I quickly identified the long vowel word families were a bit out of the comfort for my group and pulled them for later in the year.

By day six, I've determined my profile groups based on their SIPPs performance levels and my observations of kindergarten foundational skill levels. These groups will remain until I receive data from district required diagnostics.  

Many of the activities in this post are from Oriental Trading's Language Arts Curriculum. The Alphabet Dice are foam and come with upper and lowercase letters with vowel sounds in red and consonants in blue for $4.49. The Word Family Dice are also foam and include letters, blends, short and long vowel word families for $6.99. The Alphabet Beanbags come in four bright fabric colors and will be put in use throughout this school year.

My back to school phonics instruction was based on the needs of my students. We have leveled classes in our title one setting. I have a large percentage of language learners. We will continue to practice basic phonemic awareness and phonics activities to build a strong foundation. The activities will continued to be part of our daily instruction until it's performed with automaticity.  

Best wishes to you as you navigate through the first month back from summer break!

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