Earth Day in Kindergarten

Hi friends, today I wanted to share how I teach about Earth Day and how to take care of the Earth in April!

Here are the curriculum expectations I cover and the learning goal/success criteria I introduce as we learn about Earth Day:

We start these lesson at the beginning of April, so that students have ample time to learn about why we celebrate Earth day.  During lesson 1, I introduce what Earth Day, read "The Earth Book" by Todd Parr and we complete the chart "Why Do We Need To Take Care of The Earth?" together.

We also do lessons on why we should protect nature, how we can protect nature, why we should save energy, how we can reduce energy, the 3R's (reduce/reuse/recycle) and identifying items that can be recycled.

If you want to grab all 8 of my Earth Day lessons, they are included in my "Kindergarten Earth Day Activities" pack.  You can click here or on the image below to check it out if you are interested!

The book I used in the lesson are:

"The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled" by Anne Capeci 
(I can't seem to find a link for Chapters or Amazon for this one.. I got mine from Scholastic!)

And here are some of the centres I set out!


We collect our dried up markers in a bin and I show them how we can put the tips in a bit of water to make watercolour paint, instead of throwing them out right away! Then, we use newspaper instead of  regular paper to show how we can reuse it instead of putting it in the recycling right away!

I also cut some circles out of the newspaper and invite the students to make their own earth paintings!


Here students are invited to use the balloon to mix and stamp an Earth on the newspaper!


To practice spelling the word "Earth" I put out these Earth play dough mats for students to create the Earth and spell the word with green and blue play dough!


Here students are invited to create a representation of the Earth with blue, green and clear flat marbles.  They have the option to record their work and trace the sentence describing their work.


I put out some recyclable items and some labelled pan and the students practice sorting the recycling based on what the items is made of.  We do this after we read "The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled" and we discuss as a whole class examples of each material.  The kids love this as it is so hands on!


For this centre, we reuse plastic water bottle caps as our manipulatives.  Students pick a number and then find the corresponding picture and number word representation.  Then they show the number on the ten frame with the water bottle caps.


Again we use water bottle caps as out manipulatives!  Students are invited to roll and cover the number they roll.  I made the dice out of a foam cube I bought at Dollarama and just wrote numbers on it with a flair pen.  You can also draw dots or tally marks, whatever you want your kids to practice for number sense!  The students can also play this as a partner game (you can provide 2 game mats or 2 different coloured bottle caps).


There are always still a few kids who need practice with ordering numbers, so I made this little number order puzzle for the students to try! The number strip at the top provides extra support for the kids who need it.


Last year, we displayed our learning on our inquiry bulletin board!  We also planted flowers as part of our "How Can We Protect Nature?" lesson (bottom right).  We also had some Earth Day writing paper out during this unit at the writing centre, so I put some of their work up that they did there (top middle and right: "What can you do to take care of the Earth?" and "We can help the Earth by reducing the use of energy.  How can you help reduce the use of energy?"

All of the printables, writing papers and centre activities you see in this post are in my "Kindergarten Earth Day Activities" pack.  You can click here to read more about what's included.

I hope that gives you some ideas for teaching your Kindergarten friends all about Earth day and what we can do to help the Earth!

- Yukari

Inquiry: Bees

Hi guys! I'm here to share all about our bee inquiry that we just wrapped up in our classroom.

It all started when we were learning about where bees go in the winter during our animals in winter inquiry.  You can read the blog posts for that inquiry here (part 1) and here (part 2).

When we were learning about what animals do in the winter, the question I had was "where do bees go in the winter?"  We read a website and found out that the bees stay in their hives and they huddle around the queen bee.  The worker bees work together and rotate being on the outside of the huddle and near the middle so they don't freeze but the queen bee always stays in the middle.

After we learned this one of my students asked "Why doesn't the queen bee have to move? Why is she so important?"  I thought that was a great question and since we were just finishing up our animals in winter inquiry, I thought it was a great time to move on to the next one!

So first, we started with a K-W-L chart.  First we recorded what we already knew about bees.  Then the students shared what they were wondering about bees.  I recorded the information on sticky notes and put them on the K-W-L chart.

Then I took those questions, grouped them in categories and started researching and lesson planning! I reserved books at my local library and also asked my librarian at our school to pull some books about bees for us.  I also hopped on Pinterest for some art and centre ideas.  After I gathered my books, I read the books and started to plan my lessons.

Here is what I came up with.  You can download my bee inquiry plans to use a reference if you need ideas for planning your own inquiry!  Click here or on the image below:

For the first lesson, we read "Give Bees a Chance" by Bethany Barton (which I highly recommend, lots of cool facts and it's written with lots of humour, great for Kindergarten!).  We talked about why bees sting us (self-defense) and then I invited any student who wanted to to come to the guided table and write a sentence about something new they learned about bees from the book.

Here are just a few examples: 

"I learned that bees have 5 eyes."

"I learned that bees have 2 stomachs."

You can find these inquiry writing sheets in my "Inquiry Writing Templates for Kindergarten" pack.  You can click here if you are interested in checking it out!

The next day we read a page from "Buzz About Bees" by Kari-Lynn Winters to learn about what makes the queen bee important.  Then we wrote what we learned on the easel.  During centres, I had the girl who originally asked the question about queen bees come and record the information on paper and add a picture so that we could display our new learning on our inquiry board.

The next day we read the book "Bee Dance" (which was suppose to be lesson #4 but I switched lesson #3 and #4 from my original plans because I wanted to introduce the centres that go with lesson #4 earlier) and learned why bees fly and how they communicate with other bees.

Then I introduced these three centres:


Students were asked to pretend that the eye droppers were bees, suck the nectar up from the flower (the "nectar" is just water with yellow food colouring!) and transport it to the hive.  I have these hollow hexagon pattern blocks that were perfect for this activity!  The kids absolutely LOVED this centre and it's great as a small world play/fine motor centre too!


We also learned that bees carry pollen back to the hive so we pretended that the yellow tweezers were bees and we practiced flying the "pollen" (yellow pom poms) to the hive.


We used regular wooden pattern blocks, some bee figurines, a grass mat and fake flowers for the students to create their own bee story or to retell "Bee Dance".

The bee figurines are from Michaels and the grass mat and fake flowers are from Dollarama!

There was lots of amazing stories being created here and I was happy to hear some of them using the vocabulary that we had talked (e.g. nectar, hive) about during our inquiry lessons!

We also jumped ahead the next day to lesson #8 since I wanted to put this craft out asap during centre time!  We that bees have three body parts, the head, the abdomen and the thorax.  Then the students were invited to show the three body parts and look closely at the book/example to create a realistic bee! I provided tracers for the head, abdomen and thorax and some punched out circles for the small eyes (I used our hole puncher).  Everything else they had to cut out themselves!  It was a bit of a challenge for some of them but they did a great job! And they all came out so unique!

Here is a picture of the set-up for the centre.  I had the students use laminating film scraps for the wings.  You can see the students' paper bees on the bulletin boards at the end of this post!

I also put out this invitation to draw and label a bee as one of our centres!  My kids love to draw so this was a perfect way to have them practice drawing realistic bees and identifying their body parts.

I drew and made the directed drawing cards myself (I also made a more cutesy bee, not pictured here).  I've had some requests to share these so I made them both available as a free download.  You can click here or on the image below to grab them!

Next we moved on to lesson #3 and #5.  We read "The Bee Book" by Charlotte Milner and investigated why bees come out when it's summer and why bees make honey.  We then recorded our new learning and added the writing to our bulletin board.

The next day I set out this invitation to create a hive for the bees with paint!

Students were asked to stamp the hexagons with yellow paint on the first day to make the hive and let it dry.  The next day they were invited to add paint to the bee stamp and stamp on some bees!

The bee stamps didn't show up well if there was too much paint on them, so I made sure to model to them how to use a paint brush and brush paint thinly on the bee stamp.  I also had them practice stamping on GOOS paper first before stamping on their hives.

I got the bee stamp from Michaels.

Lastly, we read about how wasps and bees are different from "Buzz About Bees" (we used this book a lot during this inquiry!) and created a t-chart as a class.  Then we had the students who had this wonder originally come and record some of the information we learned to display on our bulletin board.

Here is a look at our bookshelf during our bee inquiry!  Some books we read together and some were for independent reading during centre time.

Finally we transferred our work from our inside bulletin board to our outside bulletin board to make space for new inquiry documentation and to share our work with the rest of the school!

I printed some pictures I took while students were playing at centres and had some students come and write about what they were doing.  We talk about the purpose behind this (so when other teachers and kids from other classes are looking at our bulletin board, they will know what we were doing) and the kids get really good at explaining what they were doing!

The kids also made these egg carton bees with our CYW placement student (who is FANTASTIC.  I have her for one more week and I will sure miss having her in our room!!).  They LOVED making these and it was also a hands-on way to review the parts of a bee (e.g. it has 2 antennas, it has 3 eyes, it has 3 body parts etc.)  The students used yellow acrylic paint to paint the head, abdomen and thorax on the first day, black paint to paint the eyes and stripes on the second day, and added the legs, antenna and wings on the third day.

I had my CYW placement student hot glue the egg cartons, and cut small slits in the egg cartons to thread the antennas, wings and legs into.

And that's it for this inquiry! Now we have some wonders about the sky (particularly about clouds and thunder) so I'll be doing some planning over spring break to bring those wonders to life!  It also looks like it might lead into a space inquiry! Looking forward to sharing that with you in a month or so!

- Yukari

Weekly Round-Up: March 9

Hi friends! I am so excited because I start my spring break today! I am so excited to get caught up on a bunch of blog/TPT stuff, baby shopping and some other misc. personal things (car maintenance, taxes etc!) But first I wanted to recap our week before spring break to give you a peek into our classroom!


For our March guided writing, we did opinion writing based on the book "The Thing About Spring" by Daniel Kirk.  The question students responded to was "In the story "The Thing About Spring" Rabbit likes winter more but Mouse, Bird and Bear like spring more.  Which season do you like more, winter or spring? Why?"

First we always do a whole group anchor chart to share ideas so that the students can use it as a resource when they do their own responses:

Then I call them in small groups (3-4 for my more independent writers, 1 at a time for student who need more support) and have them record their answer on the writing paper.  My group this year is getting SO good at working independently!  Usually getting kids to work on their writing independently is like pulling teeth, so I'm so impressed with how these guys have internalized the prompt "What strategy can you use instead of asking for help right away?"  They even remind their friends when a classmate asks me how to spell a word without using a strategy first :)

Here are some of their completed work!

"I like spring more because I like wearing shorts more than jackets and snowpants."

"I like spring more because I don't like to be cold.  In the spring I like to play soccer."

As you can tell from my feedback, for my higher group we are working on adding more detail and a second/third sentence to expand our writing! 

We only do this type of guided writing once a month, but I take the notes I take during this writing activity (that I also use when I write my descriptive feedback) to plan weekly guided writing lessons for the rest of the month. Usually I try to meet with my high group (4 SK's + 1 JK / BAS level G-L) once a week, my "SK" LLI group (3 SK's + 1 JK / BAS level B/C) 2-3 times a week, my "JK" LLI group (1 SK + 3 JK's / BAS level A) twice a week and my ELL group at least once a week (1 SK (who is also in the JK LLI group) and 2 JK's).

My priority is meeting with my SK LLI group as those SK's who are not yet reading at level need the most practice and small group instruction.  If I don't get to meet with my ELL group I don't worry about it too much because I already see the 1 SK in one of the LLI groups and they also get 30 minutes a week with the ESL teacher in the library.

Ok I hope that wasn't super confusing! I just thought I'd share how I group and how often I meet with my kids because I find seeing it all laid out can help with the planning.  And yes I only have 15 kids.  I teach the half class with no ECE partner.  In years past when I had 23+ kids I definitely wasn't able to meet with every kid every week.  Instead I met with my SK LLI group the most/consistently and made sure to meet with my other groups whenever I had the time.  The trick here is to have a plan and have materials already prepped for your other groups so when you find time in your day you can quickly just grab your basket and meet with a group!

Ok I'm rambling now but I hope some of that was helpful.

If you are looking for the writing paper I shared above, you can find it in my "Step by Step 3: Guided Writing & Assessments" pack.

If you want to check out my whole writing program (and also snag the writing checklist seen in the photo above) you can find it all in the my "Step by Step: Kindergarten Writing BUNDLE".


Since we are working on addition this week, I added this "Lucky Flip & Add" centre to our math centre shelf!

Students are invited to flip 2 cards, place them in the box, make the corresponding number sentence and then use the shamrock erasers to solve the question.  I got the shamrock erasers last year from Party City!

For my higher kiddos I also had these mats out where they flipped 3 cards and added them up!

You can find these addition mats in my "Kindergarten St. Patrick's Day Activities" pack on TPT.  You can click here or on the image below to check it out!


My kids love play dough so I knew I wanted a new play dough mat to add to our math shelf.  So this week we added these play dough mats!

Students pick a card, place it in the box and then make and show the number using play dough!

I provided some number cookie cutters but they were also encouraged to roll snakes and make their own numbers.  This was great for my JK's who are working on their 1:1 correspondance, numeral identification and fine motor development!  You can find these mats in my "Kindergarten St. Patrick's Day Activities" pack as well!


We wrapped up our bee inquiry this week and transferred our learning to our outside BB to share our hard work with the rest of the school!

I'll be blogging in more detail about our bee inquiry in the coming week, so stay tuned for that!

That's it from me for today! Have a great weekend!

- Yukari

Weekly Round-Up: March 2

Hi friends! I'm here with another Weekly Round-Up to share what we have been up to this week!


Since we are learning about bees during our inquiry time, I set out this nectar transport centre for the students to act out how the bees suck up the nectar, carry it back to their hive, make honey and store it in the honeycombs!  They LOVED this centre and were at it all week!

We also had this centre out to show how the bees collect pollen and bring it back to their hives.  Both centres are great for fine motor practice as well as retelling/story telling!


My group this year LOVES craft type activities, so I set out a sample, some tracers, construction paper and scrap laminating paper and let them create paper bees!

This was a little tricky but the kids did a great job looking closely at both my model and the diagrams in the book to create a realistic bee! It was also a great way to reinforce the vocabulary we learned (antenna, thorax, abdomen etc.) and some of the facts we learned (bees have 5 eyes, 6 legs etc.)


Another centre we had out was this bee directed drawing! Students were invited to follow the steps to draw their own bee! They were also encouraged to label their bee when they were done with the 3 body parts; head, thorax and abdomen.


Another big hit was this bee small world play centre! After we read the book "Bee Dance", students were invited to build a hive for the bee and tell a bee story.  We also added a grass mat and flowers to the centre.  They did a great job with oral storytelling at this centre!


My kids are obsessed with pokey pin activities, so I got these ready to go for Monday! If you are interested, you can find them in my St. Patrick's Day pack by clicking here on the image below:


Last week I sent home a letter asking for marker donations since we had opened our last box.  I wasn't sure what the response was going to be like but I was honestly BLOWN AWAY by the generosity of my parents!!

Yup.  That's over 220 markers.  I'm not even showing you all of them in the photo since I'm pretty sure I opened at least one of the first two packs that were brought in to put in our marker bins right away!

I shared this on Instagram earlier this week and I had many people asking me if I would share the letter I sent home! Here it is:

You can download a FREE editable version by clicking here or on the image below:


I got a few requests asking if I could share my day plans with you guys so here is what I just printed this morning for next week!

You can download a editable PowerPoint version by clicking here or on the image below:

The full file has both morning and afternoon plans for the week, as well as my guided literacy/assessment and guide math/assessment plans for the week.  Some slots aren't filled in since I will fill them as the week progresses.

I'm always hesitant to share day plans because it often comes with a lot of backlash so please just remember that every group/school/timetable is different and this is what works for me at the moment.

I hope you were able to grab something you can use in your classroom from this post!

Have a great weekend!

- Yukari