Making Connections in the Whole Language Classroom

Seasons in Kindergarten
Devon Hamner

I teach kindergarten in the morning and K+ in the afternoon, a small group of children who need extra time with language, reading, and writing. I would suggest you try what works for many of us, teach by theme.

This week we are using the science topic of seasons to teach about the season of summer. We'll be taking a walk and noting what we see to record on a class chart as Signs of Summer. I'll act as scribe for the kids as they tell me what they noticed on our walk. I'll ask them what sounds they hear in some of the words they give me, so that I can see what they already know about letters, sounds, writing, etc. (This will be our second week of school.) They can add to the chart as they notice more things during the week.

We'll adopt a tree as our season tree. Each child will draw the tree in their season journal, sign it, and date stamp it. Those that are ready may write something about it or copy the words summer tree from the page in their journal. Most aren't ready to do that yet and will simply draw the tree. I use the season book as writing and drawing samples in their portfolios, as well as to show progress in writing their names.

We'll spend a day or two learning about sunflowers, reading books on them, looking at the ones I bring in, measuring them, painting them, using sunflower seeds to taste, using sunflower seeds in the shell to outline the first letter of our names, our friends' names, etc.

We'll read books about summer and how summer is one of four seasons in our area. We'll compare how we dress is the summer with how we dressed last winter, the activities we do in summer with those in winter, etc.

We'll make a graph of our favorite summer activities and use our math skills to compare our choices, count, decide what activities we chose most often, less often, which are equal.

For Show and Tell, children are encouraged to share some of the things they did during the summer, books they read, activities, trips, etc.

For art, we'll paint summer pictures.

When you choose a science or social studies topic as your theme to explore together, you don't have to teach it separately. The explorations will include reading, writing, listening, speaking, math, science, social studies, art, everything that is required.

I list the state standards addressed by the each theme, and they include standards from each of the subject areas.

Rather than teach distinct subjects for a given number of minutes each, I teach an integrated theme exploration.

Devon Hamner is a Kindergarten teacher in Grand Island, Nebraska.

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