Kindergarten is a special time in a child's educational career. It's the students first experience in school and a time for a child to explore all of his intelligences. It is a time for the student to realize he has strengths in several areas and to make him excited about learning. Following are some differentiated strategies to challenge these students and help develop their strengths (Middendorf, 2008).

To Engage Visual Learners
Use highlighting tape in text.
Make reference to posters and visuals around the room.
Point on the map when referencing different provinces or countries.
Show videos.
Diagram a story through a story web.
Use expressive body language and gestures.
Point out details in photos and illustrations.
Display word walls for themes, sight words, names.
Make boxes around letters or words.
Looking tubes.
Color-coded number trace: The formation of the numbers are color coded, green for the first stroke, blue for the second stroke, and red for the third stroke.

To Engage Auditory Learners
Read aloud often.
Offer a listening center.
Teach rhymes for making numbers and letters.
Sing to learn skills.
Vary pitch and tone of voice.
Encourge retellings in Readers Theater.
Provide puppets.
Demonstrate use of phonics phones.
Whole group name raps: The students create rap patterns to represent the sizes of letters in each name. For example, Adam would be "Adam, Adam, A-d-a-m: Tall-tall-short-short".
Clap out the syllables in words or names.
Whisper phones.

To Engage Kinesthetic and Tactile Learners
Model role-playing and acting out.
Use gross-motor activities to reinforce concepts.
Allow active participation in experiments and demonstrations.
Provide props for story retelling.
Encourage standing when answering questions.
Practice writing in cornmeal, sand, or salt.
Make music, rhythm, and keeping the beat an integral part of lessons.
Supply clay, acetate sheets, and whiteboards for writing practice.
Whole group names-ercise: The students make movements to show the size of the letters in a word.
  • tall letters, everyone puts their hands over their heads
  • short letters, arms bend at elbows, touching shoulders
  • letters below the line, arms extend straight down by hips
Air writing.
Sidewalk chalk: print the letters of the alphabet on the sidewalk.
Painting: Students can paint on the pavement with paintbrushes and water.
Fidget toys.

To Encourage Self-Assessment
Circle a word on your paper that would be easy for anyone to read.
Show your drawing to a friend and tell them what you like best about your work.
Is there one spot in your sentence that you could change to make better?
Put the face beside your name that matches how you think the name is written.
Do you see anything you got better at?
Look at how you wrote your name. Any differences?
Is there anything you think you know now that you didn't know before?
Is there anything that seems easy to you now but used to be hard to do?
Find the best and circle it.
Find the worst and X it out (only one), rewrite it.
How do I feel about how I did? 1. I feel proud I did my best (happy face) 2. I feel okay. I did all right (neutral face) 3. I feel disappointed. I could do better (sad face). This works very well as a self-assessment poster.

To Encourage Fine Motore Skills
Pom-Pom Power: The students use tweezers to sort a set of pom-poms into containers.
Estimation: The students fill a jar with macaroni using a pair of tweezers.
Happy Hole Punching (to strengthen grip): The students punch out holes to match a digit.
Transporting With Tongs: The children use salad tongs to move eggs from a basket to the egg carton. There could be numbers on the egg carton and dots on the eggs the students need to match up.
Printing With Pushpins: The students make letter formations using pushpins to make holes.
Clothespin Names: The teacher provides clothespins with letters written on them. The children can spell words or find specific sounds, etc. The students must print their word on paper once they have spelled it out in clothespins.

When Working on Sight Words
Playing bingo.
Writing words with magnetic letters.
Using chants and cheers.
Highlighting sight words in print.

When Printing
The students should be allowed to choose with which type of pencil they prefer to print; fat pencil, standard pencil, slide on grips, etc.

When Reading Stories
Acting out the story.
Retell the story using the picture cues.

For Assessment
Pre-Test of basic Kindergarten skills.

Retrieved from http://www.readingkey.com/demo/Files/CD-k/tests/Curric-K.pdf

I-FAN or Informal Assessment Notes:
Index cards on an O-ring, clipboard, or tape recorder to keep track of information on each indiviudal student.

Think-Pair-Share: The students think of their answer, pair with a partner and share. The teacher reminds the students to listen carefully to their partner as they may need to share their partner's answer with the rest of the class.

Sponge Activities
These are activities that are to be worked on when they have finished their assigned work.

Catch-Up Cupboard: The student's missed or incomplete work is stored in a specific location. They must finish this work before moving on to free centers.
Puzzles
Listening Center
Exploration Station
  • magnifying glasses and things to look at
  • a box of autumn leaves with tracing paper and crayons for rubbings
  • magnets with a basket of various items
  • fossils with magnifying glasses
  • kaleidoscopes and prisms
  • boxes of seashells and an empty egg carton for students to sort and classify
Clay working (baby wipes for easy clean up)
Scented play dough
Book nook
The publishing spot with a variety of tools such as pencils, envelopes, scissors, glue, etc.

As manipulatives are an integral part of Kindergarten and learning, it is sometimes difficult to document the student's work. It might be helpful if a picture is taken of the work for later assessment and analysis.

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References

Middendorf, C. (2008). Differentiating instruction in kindergarten: Planning tips, assessment tools, management strategies, multi-leveled centers, and activities that reach and nurture every learner. New York, New York: Scholastics Inc.