word bank treasures

collecting RAINBOW from a drawer under TREASURE next to MOON

What if your classroom had a Word Bank? 

what IS
a Word Bank?
good question!
HAPPY and FROM and MOM and DEAR and...

[above] It could look something
like this...

or this [left]...

Using a Word Bank in your classroom is an exciting, hands-on way to offer words to children to USE without imposing direct teaching methods.
When creating the Word Bank  - a classic small items sorter found in the nuts/bolts section of a hardware store or in the craft aisle at a crafty store - the children can help choose words they would like to have available in the drawers.
the best kind of message from one friend to another...complete.
Usually, having the names of class members (children, teachers, class pets) in drawers is a starting point and ensures everyone is valued and represented from the class. Words associated with "sending" or "receiving" mail is helpful to offer vocabulary such as FROM or DEAR. I often skip the words TO or FOR because children can learn those by sounding out as well as teach their peers when needed.
all friends' names included on this friendly paper person.

Including current trends or movie characters can be a wonderful way of hooking children into the writing area to explore writing tools, books, and messages in order to USE their favorite word.
One year, I had a particular boy group who were fascinated with POKEMON and POWER RANGERS and so those words made their way into the Word Bank...AND those words were used feverishly, daily!
This boy loved POKEMON and POWER RANGERS  - and loved the writing area!
Granted, not all favorite words can always have their own drawer, and in this case we have "sign boards" in the writing area that have lists of words for which children have asked for spelling (sometimes these boards have holiday specific words that have interest primarily around the appropriate month of the holiday - Halloween, Boo, Turkey, Merry, Hanukkah, Bunny).
Amy used the "sign board' for the word DAUGHTER and also the Word Bank words I LOVE YOU MOM for her special note, along with tape, pencils and two different kinds of note paper.

Keeping stock of your words requires a computer to create columns of the words to print and cut. My trick is that I make only a one page document with one word/name in three columns as the basic template. Then, as I need to restock a drawer, I just "find/replace" the word on the template with the current needed word. In this way, you don't need to keep a 30 page document of word bank words. [By the way, you should decide if your school prefers all caps to learn or caps and lower case. I tend to start with all caps, but that is my preference for children to gain command of the strong lines of capital letters. There is no right way - create the words in the format that matches your school's philosophy on this issue.]
Starting interest in the Word Bank, I like to introduce the large tool in large group so everyone can see, but then the hands-on introduction is in small groups where each child could make a "surprise" note for someone in the other group (and vice versa, this ensure EVERYONE gets at least one first piece of mail with their word bank name - and yes, we have mailboxes which will be a future blog post).
Word Bank note made in small group.
Word Bank note made in small group.

Choice time for children is the richest, most interesting time for them to explore on their own and to apply Word Bank words in ways that fit into their own plans, ideas, books, and important messages.
this 4-year-old committed herself to rainbow moves to create her RAINBOW!

Crayon, pen, cut pieces, dots, TREASURE and HAPPY - well done!
CAT made its way onto this abstract piece of art of numbers &swirls...tools used: tape, crayons, hole punch, ruler, scissor, stapler, stencils!
giant love for mom in yellow heart shape with I LOVE YOU MOM from Word Bank.
this child created her own Word Bank name pieces to decorate her work.

this child created her own Word Bank word to then take into the block area to race cars!

Below: This is an excellent example of a book made by a 4-year-old who combined her interest in book making and the use of Word Bank words. She later "read" her book to anyone outside on the playground who would sit with her for a while!

Cover of HAT/CAT book.
Page 1.  I like dogs.

Page 2.  I like blue, Dalmatian dogs.
Page 3.  Dog treasure.
Page 4.  I like to give dogs a bath.

Page 5.  Pirates like treasures.

The End.

The Word Bank.
It can be a rich way to offer words to children that THEY want to use to tell their own message,
in their own way,
in their own time.

**check out Carnival of Letter Play for more amazing ideas from NurtureStore and a host of other fabulous blogs!!

math sightings

diverse materials, deliberate placement, space, lines, rows.
Early childhood math.
Could look like so many things.
So many many things.
Think exploration.
Think diverse materials.
Think open-ended.
Notice hand-eye coordination.
Notice pattern.
Notice geometry.

You can think that math has to look the way YOU understand math...Yet, how wonderful to have math look how CHILDREN understand math.

vertical experiences with small objects: color, shapes, and whimsy.

geometry, half, quarter, pizza slice; solid color & rainbow circles.
small motor, triangles, squares, rubberbands, paper/pencil copy.
partner experience with unusual block puzzle...exploring balance and design.
kapla and wood blocks, dinosaurs: intentional design, purposeful placement.

car line parallel to large block structure; top, cube blocks center spaced within each wood brick.

can you crayon and water color your own shapes and patterns?
creating a circle using cube blocks takes focus and curving and rethinking.
these paper shapes were placed exactly where this child wanted them - size, shape, color.
creating patterns with friends using pegs, dominoes, and colorful bugs.
variety of colors of rubberbands to complete this star design.
using peg boards right-side-up and then up-side-down, pegs supporting a second level of work, bears and dominoes in rows...this kind of work is no accident.
Look for math around your classroom.
You will see it everywhere.
Use the language, interpret the work, scaffold the 'almost there' idea of patterns and math sense.
Provide the materials that allows for the exploration and thinking of numbers, shapes, patterns.
Math sightings occur daily... get your camera ready.
this is a challenge game to identify a friend's pattern and then to REcreate it!