"Tools of the Mind" is a curriculum that focuses on children learning through self-regulatory activities. This means that unlike traditional teaching, where students are led by the teacher's instructions and guidance, teachers using the "Tools of the Mind" curriculum encourage students to figure out things on their own and help each other. This is said to improve social, cognitive and emotional skills, as well as foster independence. "Tools of the Mind" activities for kindergartners include those focused on self-monitoring, reading, writing and counting.
At the beginning of each class, have your students plan out and monitor their classroom activities by letting them create their own learning plan. Divide a sheet of paper into sections. The number of sections on the sheet will depend on how many stations or activities are in the classroom. Have your students fill in the chart with words or drawings, representing each activity and whether they have done that activity yet or not. For example, if the classroom has a water table, a student may write the word "water" in the box or draw waves or a water drop. Learning plans enable the students to keep track of their learning and to set goals, based on what they want to do next.
This activity enables children to develop their reading skills on their own, as the "listener" or the "reader." Pair up the students and have one read a book while the other listens. Not only does this develop reading skills, it also develops cooperation and listening skills. The student will have to self-regulate to stay in his role as the listener and to remain quiet and attentive to his partner. The student who is playing the reader will have to read aloud and show his partner the pictures in the book.
Scaffolded writing is a way for children to practice writing and spelling and to sound out words independently. First, draw a picture that represents what your students will write, as this enables your students to plan what they will write. This can be a made-up story or a response to a book that you have read in class. Then, the students should plan the written text by using lines to represent each word. After this, they will fill in each word. Since they are kindergartners, at first, their spelling will be phonetic, but over time their spelling will improve.
The Numeral Game
The numeral game is a partner activity which allows students to practice and monitor counting skills. Pair up the students and have them take turns as the "doer" and the "checker." The doer must draw a number card and put that number of objects -- such as counting bears -- in a cup. The checker must then take a sheet of paper that has the corresponding number -- as well as the number of dots on it -- and place each counting bear on a dot to check if the numbers match up. This activity not only introduces students to counting -- which will help with math in future grades -- it will also familiarize the students with role-shifting and cooperation.
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