## Closer Look: Workshopthis week's small group activities

"Workshop" is our name for small group instruction. The kids really like this time of day and almost every morning they ask if the day will include workshop. Even when they are working with familiar materials, like blocks or play dough, they seem to engage more with the materials and come up with some really great ideas during this time. I also love that this time of day forces them to play with kids that they might not usually gravitate towards during free choice time.

This week in workshop, one of our independent groups is working with play dough. Today, this group was Molly, Lucas, and Adam. They were especially excited because I got out new containers of play dough for them to use! We also added some Gingerbread Man cookie cutters to the play dough this week. They were busy making a gingerbread family and I even heard them retelling some of our favorite parts of The Gingerbread Man.

"I'll make the fox, because I have the orange play dough," Adam told the group.

Our second independent group this week is called "Button Math". The kids will work on the carpet with a number mat and a jar of buttons. They are supposed to identify the number on the mat and then line up that quantity of buttons next to it.

Naisha, Aiden, and Ethan were our first friends to try this activity this week.

This is a great way for them to visually match a quantity to each number. In fact, Ethan looked up at me and said, "Hey! 4 is one more button than 5!"

Aiden also noticed that the buttons make a "stairway". This started a great discussion about how each row is one button longer than the row above it.

Naisha did a great job identifying the numbers 1-15 and placing her buttons on her mat. "Can I do this again tomorrow at free choice?" she asked me. (Of course, my answer was "yes, please do!")

Our third group this week is a teacher led group. In my group we are working in our Handwriting Without Tears Workbooks on the letters I and U.

Will, David, and Grace started in the handwriting group today.

First we identify the letter we are working on and notice its shape. After that we practice writing the letter in the air, on the table, and on a friend's back before I give the kids crayons and they write the letter in their books. This is also great practice for them with holding writing utensils correctly.

Our last group today was Clayton, Brayden, and Emilia and they worked with Mrs. Bobos and the letter builders to make various uppercase letters. Each of them had a set of the four shapes that our Handwriting Without Tears curriculum uses to form letters. For example, Emilia worked on the letter Y which is a "Big Line and a Little Line." The pieces are magnets, so they function like a stamp when they are pressed on a magna doodle.

Each group will rotate to a new activity every day so that by Friday every child has had a chance to do every activity. Be sure to ask your children what they did in workshop after school each day! They should be able to tell you what they learned!