Maker Space in Kindergarten

I created this maker space in my classroom almost two years ago.  I am soooooo glad I did.  We use it for really cool STEAM projects.  It makes it so easy to do one anytime I want.  It is always there, stocked and ready to go.  I originally envisioned this as an independent activity in my classroom.  But, the reality of the mess isn't always possible during a busy kindergarten day.  So, I use it more often as an adult supported activity.  The kids are still working independently, but an adult is there to remind kiddos to keep it tidy.  That, and having a low heat hot glue gun makes creating so much easier.  The adult uses the glue gun, but the students are the design directors.  It works perfectly that way.  So, yes, you will need an aide or parent volunteer to do this with kinder kids.  In an older grade level, this would be easier to manage as an independent center or station.

Here is how I set it up.  Maker Spaces are as individual as the makers who make them.  So, when you set yours up, get some inspiration and then do what works for YOU using your available resources. 

I have three big drawers for the kids to pull materials from...  above is cardboard.  Below is plastic and paper.

It is actually easy to fill the space when you get in the habit of saving cool recyclables and scraps from other projects in your classroom. You can also ask families in your class to donate materials.  I use a fourth drawer for storage.  I change up the materials in the little bins, so it's nice to have a place to save things like corks hardware, twigs, etc.  I like to provide special materials that will aide in making each project.

Here are just a few of my bins up close...

OK, let's move on to some great projects...

Making bridges is usually one of my first projects of the year.  We do it as a part of my Fairy tales/ Folk tales unit.  I use a comprehension assessment for The Three Billy Goats Gruff , so we spend some time to go in depth with that story.   Creating a bridge makes a great extension activity.  Here are few more kindergarten kid designs.  And of course we had to get out the plastic goats to test them.

Don't you love the "No Crossing" sign?  Written in Kinder writing of course!  At the end of that unit, we also make boats for the gingerbread man to create a safe way for him to cross the river.  Here are a couple of those...

The tests on the boats are fun, but you have to prepare your kids for disappointment.  I read Rosie Revere, Engineer to my class this year when we tested our boats.  It was the perfect prime for accepting failure as part of the designing, learning, re-designing process.  We use the little Pepperidge Farm gingerbread cookies in each boat for the test.  So, of course I give a cookie to each of my little makers too!

That book cover is an Amazon affiliate link for your convenience.   You can grab it by clicking on the image.  It's a must have if you are doing STEM projects in your classroom.

For the boat tests, I use a large plastic storage container that I fill with water.  We sit in a circle around it and each child gets to put a cookie in their boat and float it (or not) across the water.  It's also a great idea to give your kids time to look at each design and talk to each other about how it was made.  It's a little makers' convention.  It only takes about 30 minutes.   I think it is time well spent. 

Here is a precious video of one or our boat tests:

Here are some adorable kid made leprechaun traps.  This is the original STEM project.  I have been doing leprechaun traps in my classroom for years.  I like to have the kids make them in the classroom better than doing it as an at home project.  The one year I had kids do them at home, I could tell that parents helped too much!  You can tell these were made by little learners...

It was great to hear my sweet students explain how each trap was going to work.  We usually leave them out around the classroom on March 16th.  I put some Rolo candies inside each one. (They are chocolate caramels wrapped in gold foil).  I also sprinkle a little gold glitter around.  It's lots of fun when students come into the classroom on the 17th and find the GOLD!

Things can get pretty messy when the kids are working at the Maker Space.  Here is the table during leprechaun trap production.

There is a place for everything and we put everything in it's place when its time to clean up.  The kids love using the space, so they are usually very willing to help clean up.   We have little recycle and trash bins in the space so it is easy to put scraps where they belong.

We  also made bird feeders last year  as a spring project.  We had been learning about the season of spring and animals that lay eggs,  It was a great extension for our unit.  Plus, we have windows in our classroom where we can see so many birds outside.  Those little tubs have bird seed and Cheerios cereal.  You can also see the big jar of peanut butter.  We spread the PB on to the cardboard pieces and then dipped them in the seed. 

I love this little engineer's design.  

Those are just a few ideas for your little makers.  You don't have to have a Maker Space in your classroom to do these projects, it just makes it easier for me.  If you haven't already, I hope you will try some STEAM projects with your kindergarten class.

Thanks so much for stopping by.
Happy teaching!

Maker Space Snowmen

I wanted my kids to make snowmen this year, but I wanted to change it up a little bit.  So, we used our Maker Space to create them.  It was a GREAT project.  The kids loved it and we were proud of our results.

This is the little maker space in my classroom...

You can read lots more about how I set it up and get other project ideas here:  Maker Space in Kindergarten 

I truly believe that the use of materials and problem solving involved during art projects make them sooooo valuable in the young child's classroom.  Having all the materials from our Maker Space available for these snowmen made them each as unique as the little learners who made them.

Here are some of the materials we used for this project...

Yes, my aide and I both collected little twigs for this project.  Although in my inspiration examples that I made for the kiddos, I didn't use twig arms.  I wanted to give them other ideas in case the twigs ran out.  Of course, only two kids ended up using the twigs.  Ha ha!

We also used, foam, felt, paper, beads, pom poms buttons, little hardware pieces, bottle caps, pipe cleaners, yarn, cardboard, and plastic recyclables.  I gave them very thick white card stock for the snowmen bodies.  I was available at the space to help with cutting through thick cardboard or craft sticks, and I was also in charge of the low heat hot glue gun.  Kids were working independently and were the design directors.  They told me where they wanted things, I was just gluing.  I try to keep my suggestions to a minimum so that the kids are in total creative control.

Here are a few more adorable snow people...

And I just LOVE this adorable snow girl...

We were just finishing up a measurement unit in math, so we also measured how many cubes tall our snow people are...

The kids had a little recording sheet to write how many cubes tall their snow person was.   After that, we all worked collaboratively to get in order from shortest to tallest .  The kids needed support getting in order, so I called out the measurement numbers and kids sat down on our big rug in order.  When two students had the same number, they had to compare to see which one was slightly taller or shorter.  It was fun!

When we had them all in order, we put them on a big table so they were ready to go up on a bulletin board.  It looked great!

We were all so proud of our project!  Measuring snowman art with cubes is nothing new.   Getting into order by height was a nice addition to the activity.  It was a perfect culminating activity to end our measurement unit.  It went well with our studies on winter too.

If you would like to do this activity with your class, you can use my little recording sheet if you like it.  It's FREE!  You can download it right here:  Snowman Measurement Recording Sheet

This is what the page looks like.  It has three recording sheets to a page.  Place for students' names and the space for recording the number is big enough for little learners.  Hope this helps make winter in your classroom a little bit more fun!

Thanks so much for stopping by...
Happy teaching!

October in Kindergarten

October is my favorite month of the year!  I love pumpkins, fall colors, and Halloween.  I just celebrated my 11th wedding anniversary with my sweet husband.  We had a beautiful fall wedding during one of the most lovely times of year here in my little part of the world.

So, it's one of my favorite times of year in the classroom too!  This is a sweet Fall on the Farm bulletin board from last year...

It was done slowly over time during our farm unit.  The trees were done collaboratively using corks and tempera paint.  I drew the trunks ahead of time using pastels.  The kids painted the leaves and apples using the corks in small groups.

Fire Prevention Month is also super cool.  My kids love seeing firefighters get into their full gear.  They especially love the "Darth Vader" breathing of the oxygen tank.  It's cool to see the fire engine too.   We are sending kind thoughts to all the firefighters and those affected by the wildfires in California right now.  Keep reading to find a firefighter FREEBIE later in this post.

In my classroom we always learn about pumpkins and use Halloween themed materials to practice important literacy and math concepts being taught.  Learning is more FUN that way.  So I am super excited to show you a special new product I made...

This is the beginning letter sound match activity from my Kindergarten Centers for October.
I adore the watercolor graphics.  It's great literacy practice during anytime in October.  They are perfect for Halloween too.

These pumpkin letter cards are also super sweet watercolor graphics!  You can use them for letter sound practice.  Pulling them out of a plastic pumpkin like this is so fun.  We say the poem I heard from Miss Kindergarten to practice letter sounds...  "Pumpkin, Pumpkin, nice and round, grab a pumpkin, say the sound."  It's great practice AND formative assessment.  You can also use these cards to match uppercase and lowercase...

This activity also comes with a recording sheet for kids to practice writing the matching letter.  My kiddos NEED the handwriting practice... so it's a great activity.  It's split into two sheets, so you can do this as two separate activities on two different days.  It's a better plan to do it in two days for our little learners in kindergarten.

 I also adore these eyeball jars that we are using for number sense activities.  My kids just learned number words by making this Counting Bears Number Book.

So we will be using those eyeball jar numbers to practice number words, counting strategies, number order, and more.  The number cards and number word cards both work with this sweet activity too...

These cute candy corn numbers can be used in many of the same ways.  They also have star ten frames to match.  All these number activities will help make my hands-on lessons with my math curriculum much more fun.  All these number activities come with recording sheets so students can review and extend concepts with pencil and paper.  They make great homework for October as well.

I love to begin my number activities by having kids work collaboratively to put the numerals in order.  We do it forwards and backwards.  Then they can match the counting cards and other representations of the number to the numerals.

We are also working on decomposing numbers as we work on counting strategies and number order.   It sets students up for success with understanding addition and subtraction later in the year.  This mat is a fun way to decompose numbers.  Using candy corns for math manipulatives in October is a must.  Here you can see 6 decomposed as 4+2  and 3+3.

 You could also use little mini erasers, bears, or cubes from your classroom as well.   These simple mats will work with ANY counter manipulative. These decomposing numbers mats are in my Kindergarten Centers for October as well.

The understanding that larger numbers can be made with combinations of smaller numbers is a hugely important concept in kindergarten math.  So we practice this A LOT during the year.  These are a couple of other ways we practice...

This set of Roll, Count, Build Number Sense Activities has a mat for every month of the school year and some extras too.  It also has mats for both two dice and three.  This is a great way to differentiate and is actually great practice for first grade too.  It comes with recording sheets to write number sentences as well.

You can use the dice mats with dominoes too.  We LOVE dominoes in our classroom.  They are the original number bonds and help kids learn soooooo much about numbers.  So, I love this sweet little math product.  You can grab it right here: Number Sense Activities - Roll, Count, Build all year long!

This Roll, Count, Color All year long! is another way to practice these same concepts.  They also make easy homework for parents at home.  This set of recording sheets for dice also have images for the entire year.  They are made to use with one, two, or three dice.

You can grab these pages right here: Roll, Count, Color All year long!

Back to the October center activities...

This is another activity to practice decomposing numbers.  My students are going to pretend to be wizards or mad scientists making potions...

This fun math activity has pictures of fun potion bottles in different number combinations.  Here you can see 7 decomposed as 5+2, 3+4, and 1+6.  Students can make Potions with any combination that matches the total number (7).

There are cards included to record the number relationship like this or with full number sentences.  It has fun recording sheets too!

Here are some other fun activities in this set:

Practice for rhyming... this includes other materials and gives ideas for lots of ways to use these cards.

OK...  this is turning into the blog post that will never end.   This Kindergarten Centers for October set also includes activities to practice hearing and counting syllables and color words too.  It is going to help make my October fun for the kids and easy for me... now that all the cards are printed and laminated, Ha ha!

Thank you so much for reading this post.  I hope some of these activities gave you ideas for your kindergarten classroom in October.  If you want these activities for your classroom, you can find them right here: Kindergarten Centers for October.

I promised you a Fire Prevention freebie...

It's a labeling activity just perfect for little students who are learning to stretch words and listen for sounds to write them.  It only has five words, so it's not overwhelming for kiddos just starting to write.  I did this as a guided activity where we worked collaboratively to stretch and listen and I modeled the writing.  Don't you love the rainbow jacket in this one?

Here's what the page looks like blank:

There are two pages included with boy and girl firefighters.  It's in my TpT store. You can grab it right here:   FREEBIE-Label the Firefighter

I hope you have an amazing October with your class!  Thanks for stopping by my blog.
Happy teaching!