“Hey, friends,” I begin, “Who here wears jewelry, like a necklace or a bracelet, or knows someone who wears jewelry?”
Everyone raises a hand. (I don’t know if it’s just my class or if all kindergarten classes have this phenomenon, but I can ask, “Who has been to the moon?” and everyone’s hands shoot up. Ahh… kindergarten!)
Well, TODAY, we are going to make bracelets or wristbands… or backpack decorations if you don’t like jewelry. They’re going to be AWESOME, and they’re celebrating a shape! Who can guess which shape?” I ask.
I call on a student who may be a little sleepy. Oh, these long no-nap days in the beginning of kindergarten are an adjustment! “Square,” she replies.
“A square is a shape…” I reply. “I’m thinking of a round shape this time.”
I call on another student who answers, “Circle,” and I affirm, “Yes, a circle is round. Today, we will be making circles—with circles to decorate them!—to celebrate circles
I show students how to place 5 circle-shaped pony beads on a chenille stem (pipe cleaner). (I stress the “circle-shaped” when describing the pony beads to focus students’ attention.)
Next, I model how a straight chenille stem can be curved into the shape of a circle, and I show students how I wrap the ends around each other to secure the circle. (I gotta be honest here; it’s the beginning of kindergarten… I know I will be lucky if 4 kiddos can do this step independently. I’m bracing myself for my super-fast chenille stem twisting all over the classroom…)
“How many beads can you get?” I ask. Even after the students collectively respond, “5!” I insist on counting together—“I-2-3-4-5. ONLY 5,” I nag with a smile.
I pass out the containers of pony beads and the handfuls of chenille stems at this point. Some people prefer having supplies on the tables early, but it just seems too tempting to students who may want to be picking pony beads or sneaking an early start.
We build our circle bracelets, and I hustle all over class helping students fasten their chenille stems into place on their wrists. I remind them that circle bracelets, like all jewelry, are to wear and look fabulous. I even go so far as to state that students who choose to play with their circle bracelets may be placing their circle bracelets in their backpacks or their cubbies.
We transition to our circle pages. “You’ve made a spectacular circle with circles around it,” I begin. Let’s talk more about circles now.
We work on the top part of the Circle Worksheet together. I use the document camera to show students how I trace a circle, and we discuss things that are shaped like circles.
These conversations are so much fun! Students note the clock most quickly, but everything from pizzas before they are eaten to earrings to lollipops is mentioned. I try to record the examples with quick drawings on the white board to support visual learners or students with limited language development. If students get stuck, I give them hints like, “I’m thinking of those things that cars drive on or bikes roll on—they’re usually black…”
Students draw their personal examples of something shaped like a circle. I encourage them to add details. We talk about the sides and the corners in circles—NONE!
Students complete the bottom portion of the circle page independently, coloring the items that are shaped like circles. This provides time to offer support for students who are struggling.
On a separate table, “Circle” play dough mats and play dough are available for fast finishers. Students know to roll the play dough into “snakes” to form circles. I like to use the small party size containers of play dough because it limits the amount of play dough a student can use at any given time, and because it allows for the opportunity to switch colors if a student completes a circle with one color of play dough.
After the majority of students have at least begun the independent portion of the activity, I call the students wrap up the day. I ask them to tell me what shape we’ve worked with today. To refocus students who may be tired or beginning to get unfocused, I will repeat that question. First, I ask a student who is like a junior teacher to answer, and of course, the response is perfect: “Circle.” Then I repeat the question a few times, with student after student correctly answering “Circle,” even the sleepy kiddos or the distractible kids. We hear “Circle” a half a dozen times!
I like to ask about the features of a circle. I will ask, “So, friends, how many sides does a circle have?” in a silly manner, and the students respond, “None!”
Students are selected to show their examples of real-world circles, everything from really creative students to students with lovely coloring to students who simply need to move. We celebrate all circles and work to keep these young little kiddos focused!