Hot List Q & A
Kindergarten Materials

Summer 2012

-----Original Question-----
From: Margaret C
I'm looking for materials appropriate for a mixed group of incoming kindergartners and first graders. Any suggestions?

From Monica Schneee
Hi Margaret,

By now you have received a variety of responses to your email. I had originally replied to you on 8/10 and my other response is below. Karen Nemeth has provided all of us with very valuable information regarding what is developmentally appropriate for kindergartners and early childhood and has given us the link to the DOE Kindergarten guidelines.

I would like to add some more ideas so that you have many resources to deliver quality language instruction.

Worksheets, though a great tool for classroom teachers to have as table work to start and organize the day, should be used sparingly in the ESL classroom or instructional time during push in. At this grade level, we are looking to build oral language, social skills and literacy. In order to accomplish this, we have to provide numerous opportunities for children to practice social and academic language in context.

We can do this by using lots of visuals from books to websites, by playing games as a group, pairs or sometimes on a Smartboard, by watching clips on YouTube, PBS Kids, Discovery, National Geographic, Nickelodeon and following up with accountable talk, by using chants, poems, songs, puppets, manipulatives that promote conversations in native language and English, by doing role playing, TPR of songs, poems and stories, by doing read alouds, choral readings and echo readings, by predicting as we do picture walks of authentic authors, or wordless books, by writing and reading stories that we produce as a class through language experience, by playing games with sounds and phonemes to develop phonemic awareness and support phonics instruction, by going outside for walks and recording what we see in the world surrounding us.

I agree that there are lots of great websites, a great one, www.enchantedlearning.com, provides good materials to create books, research on topics and worksheets to use if needed or to send home. However, as I see more and more stress on technology and less stress on quality "old fashioned" developmentally engaging instruction, I worry that our students will not receive what is due to them.

There is a place for technology, worksheets and everything else. Websites are a wonderful addition as long as they are an extension of oral language development and literacy instruction. Everything that we do for our students has to have language development and acquisition at the core. In grades K-1, children are still developing language, no matter whether it is L1 or L2. In order to succeed later on, we must offer them the tools to develop language. Websites and worksheets are a small part of it.

I hope some of my suggestions plus the original ones below help you to work with your mixed groups.
Good luck!

From: Karen Nemeth
Hello, Margaret

The NJ Department of Education has published a whole set of kindergarten guidelines here that really spell out what is considered best practices in the early years. http://www.state.nj.us/education/ece/guide/KindergartenGuidelines.pdf

To follow those guidelines, you should be looking for materials that are authentic, and that teach information and vocabulary that is part of the context of what all of the K and 1st students are learning in your school. Research shows (as reflected in those NJ guidelines) that language learning is most effective in meaningful context and in response to a young child's culture and interests. While there are lots of games and worksheets available in books or on the internet, the closer you come to supporting learning in real life contexts, the more effective you can be with children at this age.

Consider using storybooks with puppets and props, or songs with lots of action and repetition. Use hands on activities related to the lessons happening in the other K and 1st classrooms. Science and math activities using real items that all of the children recognize can not only help them build the math and science concepts they'll need but those kinds of hands-on explorations also give the teacher fantastic opportunities to highlight key vocabulary as well. You might create books or counting games using photos of the children, the school and the surrounding community - real life references that give everyone so much more to talk about and connect with each child's prior learning in meaningful ways. Anything that encourages interaction, exploration, collaboration, and conversation will be great.

If you have access to technology, think about using digital storytelling sites such as www.voicethread.com. Apps like Smacktalk or Voices allow children to practice their oral language in funny ways. Bilingual storybook apps are available here: www.analomba.com as an example - but there are others, depending on the kind of devices you might have to use . Websites like www.colorincolorado.org or www.pbskidsplay.org have wonderful options as well.

I hope these ideas are helpful. Have a great year!
Karen Nemeth Coordinator, NJTESOL-NJBE Parent/Community Action SIG

From Monica Schnee
Hi Margaret,

All of the suggestions below are terrific. One of the things that I do with mixed groups is to use good authentic literature that appeals to both grades combined. Rosemary Wells and Kevin Henkes are two great American authors that you can expose your kids to. Many of their works are on YouTube, online, on CDs and DVDs as well.

Please take a look at Colorin Colorado http://www.colorincolorado.org/.  I have a list of great books and activities that you might want to check out on my website www.eslschnee.weebly.com/
Monica Schnee

From: Jeannie W.

Hi, Margaret

Just this past year, I taught a mixed group of Kindergarten just like what you've described. It was my first experience with this level and I found the series AVENUES to be wonderful for this age and level. I think the publisher is Houghton Mifflin, but you can always google AVENUES and double-check this. In addition, I found it very, very productive to subscribe to www.enchantedlearning.com for a very affordable $20.00 per year.

You cannot believe the fabulous stuff available at this website and once you join, you can download so many great things! It is esp. beneficial for me since I teach French and ESL and I feel that my twenty dollars per yr is money well spent--it's an investment that has paid off. I will look through my other materials and see what else I can recommend. Best of luck to you.

You are going to LOVE this level. After yrs of teaching the older kids, I never thought I would be so happy working w/the little ones and it's positively grand!
Good luck,
Jeannie W.

From: Elizabeth Claire

Try the classic ESL Teacher's Activities Kit. You can find it on kindle in three parts for 99 cents each. www.elizabethclaire.com 

From BJ Bates

Hello Margaret,
Here are a few websites that have a variety of stuff you can do with your munchkins.
Good Luck
Dave's ESL Cafe www.busyteacherscafe.com 
Found another favorite of mine: www.teach-nology.com 
BJ Bates

From Marilyn
Here's another site http://www.kindersite.org/ 

I like the game/worksheets from www.esl-kids.com. My children like the dice template activities and bingo boards.
www.vocabulary.co.il is a great computer activity.
Good luck!

Summer 2012