Wednesday, March 30, 2011

tick tock.

How cute is this clock?!
My baby sister made this for me for Christmas and I'm just getting around to posting it.  So lame.  But it's precious and I love it.  Just like her.  :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eggs galore!

Today our egg babies are 10 days old and we compared how much they've grown since day 3.  Holy smokes have they changed in just one week!

We candled them last week and saw the beginning of the heart.  We'll candle them again this week and hope to see more of the embryo developing! 
Along with our incubator eggs, I love plastic eggs for whatever I can get my hands on.  I have quite a few ideas up my sleeve but here are two we're using this week:

We use Investigations as our math curriculum but I get tired of using the same old games {can I get an amen?!} so I always incorporate thematic things.  The lesson calls for making number combinations using tiles to help students see how one amount can be made multiple different days.  I figure...if we can do it with tiles...we can do it with eggs!

I bought these little eggs at Hobby Lobby and stuffed them inside larger plastic eggs with a number on each.  The students open the big egg, double check the amount {in case one is missing} then make 2 piles.  They record the combination on the recording sheet then do it again until they've shown four different ways to make the number.  Then they put the eggs back and get another one!

  I bought these foam sheets at Wal-Mart last year and use them for many math games.  They make dice quieter, eggs less likely to roll off the table and counters easier to pick up.  This is one of the best purchases I have ever made!

After the students complete four combinations of 4 different eggs they can color in the clip art {since I can't print in color at work.}  Today was the first day of using this game...and they love it!

Here's the recording sheet I made to go with it:
We're also using plastic eggs in literacy centers.

 I wrote word endings on the right side of the egg and beginning letters or blends on the left side.  When students twist the egg, they make new words. 
 I adapted a recording sheet created by Hadar from Outfitted & Inspired to meet the levels of all of my students.  You can see her original activity here...complete with adorable bunny baskets!
My lowest group is yellow so I wrote their words on yellow eggs, my highest group is green so I wrote their words on green eggs, etc.  All of the eggs are mixed together in an Easter basket but the sheets are clipped with colored paperclips so they know which one to use.  I also write a note at the top after checking it for the students to practice reading the words {now at their instructional level!} to parents or siblings for additional practice when they get home.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

cheep cheep.

I have big news, people.  Big news!  I am hatching chicks!!  Ok, so maybe some of you do this every year but I've been trying and trying with no avail and have finally found someone to make my farm dreams come true.  :)

Miss Heather - our new farmer friend - said a few of them probably won't hatch because they were late from the previous batch, but that's all part of the lesson of life, right?

This is our big display...complete with a couple of shout outs:

I got these fantastic pictures from April at Chalk Talk.  Check out the amazing things she has going on with her animal units including a {living vs. non-living sort} and these {egg photographs}.

I found a 21 day chart on a 4H website and gave one to each of my students.  Then I blew it up to poster size for our display.  {I couldn't find the original site but Enchanted Learning has a really similar one!}  The kids cut out and glue down each day's egg for morning work when they first come in and we keep track of the count each day.  It's been great for helping them practice counting backwards and the symbols of the embryo are really helpful when candling.

Shannon at Kinder-Pond also has a FABulous unit on {hatching chicks}.  I love that Shannon always incorporates her content themes into literacy, math and independent centers because that's how I love to just doesn't always seem to work out that way.  I made this recording sheet to go with her Chicken & Egg Syllable Sort game that I'll be putting in a literacy center this week.  Her game is fab but I've realized that if my kids don't have something to hold them accountable...they don't always do what's expected when they're sitting on their own.  {shocking...I know!}

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Top 10.*

I've seen linky parties going around but have yet to join one because I was either a) ineligible {no pet yet} b) embarrassed {my desk is way too messy for that one right now!} or c) I didn't find the time to link up until way after the party was posted.  Today, I am excited to participate with Rowdy in 1st Grade & Jenna from Fancy in First!

Top 10 things I've learned about TEACHING in the past 7 years:

1) I can make a crown out of anything.  In fact, I accept the challenge.  ANYTHING.

2) Worksheets can ALWAYS be extended.  {cut 'em up.  glue it on something else.  sequence.  retell.  write a sentence about each part.  make a puzzle & trade with a friend.}  Extension = rigor = more in depth learning.  Don't toss your worksheets, just give them a makeover.

3) Singing songs, moving around and taking brain breaks aren't only beneficial for 5 year olds.

4) Organization. Is. Key.  Yet, every time I get something organized and take a refreshing breath...I find something else that could use some work!

5) The to-do list is never ending.  Take a moment to freak out about it, then accept it and move on.  Your kids won't know that they didn't play this or that game or if you ran out of time to make that special themed snack.  You will always have next year to do it again.

6) Teaching kindergarten isn't a death sentence for jean jumpers with appliques or nylons, socks and tennis shoes.  Nothing helps the kids get to know your real self like personal style.  And you CAN wear stilettos to teach.  It just takes some practice.  ;)

7) For every parent that sends nasty emails, goes behind your back to administration or doesn't support the help you're trying to give their child, there are always more who love, support and appreciate you.  Try to focus on the kids and keeping them happy.  Ultimately, their academic growth and character development is all you can be responsible for.

8) It's so much easier to work late when Friends comes on TBS.

9) Never underestimate the power of girlfriends, especially those next door or down the hall.  Your husband, boyfriend, sister, matter how hard they try...will never understand the frustrations of IEPs, teacher evals, curriculum changes or how there are never enough hours in the day.  Teacher friend time will always relieve stress.  And if you add a bottle of wine or two, so be it.

10) Getting into character makes anything more fun.

And...a bonus!

11) Robert Fulghum was right.  "No matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it's best to hold hands and stick together."

*Disclaimer: This Top 10 list is subject to change based on the day, my mood, how much wine is in the house, the weather, the number of days since since or until my next workday/workshop/day off or other completely rational reason.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tag! We're Reading!!

My Donors Choose project came today!  This is my first project and I was honestly skeptical that it would even get funded because it totaled almost $700.  But in only 5 weeks, my project was posted, supported, funded, shipped and has arrived in my classroom.

I now have 10 Tag Readers that are mine to use this year and with future classes!  I never have to send them back and completing the Thank You packet suggested by Donors Choose has really taught my students how to think of others and be grateful.  I bought the Short and Long Vowel book packs on Amazon {cheaper!} and will begin using them in my guided reading groups this week.  They'll be using them independently in the next few weeks and should be able to partner read...all at the same time!! the time we reach Spring Break!

I feel honored to have received such a fantastic technology resource and am blessed by what this will allow me to do.  YOU need to go do the same and list a project for your babies!  There are many vendors and even more resources available.  All you have to do is sign up and create a project.  If you're technologically challenged, don't worry.  They walk you through it. step. by. step.  Once you get your resources, I encourage you to share the love and donate to other teachers...friends, colleagues, blog buddies or great teachers you don't even know.

Go now...Donors Choose is a partner I won't overlook again.

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Not only was it St. Patrick's day this week, but we also celebrated our Green Day on Thursday!  Funny how that worked out.  ;)  Here are some of my favorite yearly staples:

These beards are so precious I just laugh out loud when I look at my class full of leprechauns.  :)  The hat and beard reproducibles came from Mailbox Magazine a few years ago and we've been using them ever since.  It wasn't until recently that I added the orange tissue paper to the beard but I really think it makes all the difference!  I didn't think the kids would like these, but they actually didn't want to take them off!

Shamrock people!  Yes, these probably look familiar to the heart people we created in February, but they're just so cute, can you blame me?!  I didn't do hands and feet this time so the glyph was much simpler.

Savings tip: After you pull out all of the marshmallows for your Lucky Charms graph, save the cereal and use it in art these mouths!

These pot of gold books have varied some from year to year, but I always have the kids do some writing about what they'd find at the end of the rainbow.  We've also glued Corn Pops down as gold pieces in the past if you want to continue the cereal theme!

The pots are actually lift-the-flap books:
"I found a rainbow and a leprechaun."

"I was going to catch a leprechaun and I was making silly faces.  He was laughing and I have the gold."
{Pretty sure this was in response to the book Looking for Leprechauns.}

"I think there's going to be a lucky coin."

"I found a pink dress."
We love to graph {especially if it involves a snack} so this was right up our alley!  The graph we've been using doesn't correlate with the recent marshmallows so I'm going to create a new one for next year.

I loved this Tree Map I saw during my Blog Stalking but I can't remember where I got it from!  If you recognize it, please let me know so I can link up to the original site! 

After we completed the organizer, the students chose their own word to write and we put them in these little leprechauns for display!

That afternoon when we were at lunch and recess, a leprechaun came to the classroom!  One of my little smarties said, "Mrs. Young, I think I know why the leprechaun didn't come before now.  He must've known we weren't out of the room yet!"  Smart girl.

Chairs were all flipped over...

There was glitter and confetti on EVERYTHING!

That mean leprechaun even put all of our cards on blue!  But if we had to go to the office for this mess, we were going to tell our principal that we didn't do it!!
We  made traps that morning so we thought maybe we caught him!
But our traps were all knocked over so he must've escaped!  At least we got his gold!  And then found...
his hat!

There was also a messy note on the board from him.  Mrs. Young was mad about the mess so she tried to erase it...but it wouldn't even come off the board!

Finally we saw his footprints so we figured that he must've come in through the window...
Hopefully we'll catch him next year!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

We are bucket fillers!

I've seen on many blogs {during my daily blog-stalking sessions} a lot of talk about filling buckets.  Our school already uses the color cards system for behavior and PBIS for positive reinforcement, but our Positive Climate committee decided we should start using school-wide compliment cards for an added incentive.  As soon as I heard that, I knew it was my "in" for bucket filling!

It came as perfect timing, too, because my kids definitely have a case of the 3rd Quarter Crazies.  I'm not sure of them aren't literally losing their minds!  ;)  After reading this book and really discussing - again - what it does to other people when we say or do kind things, they're starting to come back around.

This is my Bucket Filler display.  It is a work in progress since I have one student still out with the flu who hasn't had a chance to color his bucket yet.  I'm also going to add more labels for the compliment cards and print out color pictures from the book to help prompt students with specific ways to fill a bucket.

Many people have created bucket filling forms, but Ms. Newingham's is my favorite.  Go to her website for more bucket filling ideas and a printout of these certificates.  I got the bucket printouts from My Fun Teacher and am using a project display board that I bought years ago and have just been holding onto waiting for a great reason to use it!

There are tiny "warm fuzzies" in the bottom left pocket that I bought at Wal-Mart and students get to put one in their bucket as well as friend's when they do something kind.  I also decorated a bucket for myself so I can make a point of how students who follow directions and get their work done help fill my bucket as the teacher.  They are so excited to fill my bucket they'll bring me my coffee cup, give me extra hugs or say to students next to them "I'm not gonna do that right now because I don't want to dip in Mrs. Young's bucket."  We don't make a big deal of being a bucket dipper as far as the display goes {partly because I don't want students to get mad and rip their pockets off when trying to empty it out} but also because I want this display to just be really positive.  It's sitting on my discovery table right now but I'll be finding a new home for it soon.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Adding adding dee da.

My super fun - and FABULOUS teacher - friend Miss Taylor shared this today.  Thanks Mackenzie!  My kids will looooooooove it.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

My many colored days...

In case you can't yet tell {and just wait until May!} I am a teacher who looooves a good theme.  And every year I dread the third quarter because we just don't seem to have many fun, special, theme days.  So I got to thinking and decided since we always teach color words as sight words during third quarter anyway, why not make a day of it?!  We introduce one color word each week, along with the regular word list, and on Thursdays we do it up right!  This is the first year so I don't have a lot of activities or projects yet {especially since this is on top of our regular daily schedule} but here's some of what we've done so far.

RED DAY!  The kids wore red, brought in red items, wrote in red marker and we had a red strawberry snack.  We also read "The Little Red Hen" by Paul Galdone.  After a discussion on responsibility and fairness, I let the kids discuss back and forth whether or not the little red hen was just in eating the whole cake herself.  I really wanted to do a point of view activity with my students but wasn't sure if they'd grasp the concept...and they totally did!  Each child chose to either be the cat, dog or mouse and wrote a letter to the little red hen explaining their thoughts on the matter.  Here are a few of my favorites:

{This child was INSISTENT on being the Little Red Hen...and his reading expression was spot-on!}
"Dear Dog, Cat and Mouse, You should do some work. If you don't, you will not get no cake.  Love, The Little Red Hen."

"Dear Little Red Hen, I am sorry for not helping you make the cake.  I did not deserve it.  I am sorry for being lazy.  Love, The dog."

"Dear Little Red Hen, Maybe next time you must give me a cake.  Why don't you make another one.  Love, The cat."

"Dear Little Red Hen, I am sad.  I am sorry for not doing my chores.  I'll do it next time.  Love, The mouse."

This display is nothing fancy or cute but the kids worked really hard and showed a lot of thought by writing from a character's POV so I had to put them up somewhere quickly.  This year they colored and cut out the picture.  Next year I'll have to come up with a better display.

We also made red Circle Maps {apple maps??} of red items we found in magazines.


YELLOW DAY!  The kids all wore yellow, brought in yellow items from home, wrote in yellow marker and we ate bananas for snack.  Then we read and sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and talked about the -ar sound.  I talked a little bit about the Bossy R and we brainstormed a few examples.  Then the kids added their own -ar words and pictures.

PINK DAY!  We wore pink, wrote in pink, chewed pink bubble gum and made pink Circle Maps.  Then after reading "Pinkalicious" by Victoria & Elizabeth Kann, the kids responded to the story by writing about a time they ate too much of something too.  We were writing in booklets and focusing on a beginning, middle and end.  Most of them wrote about what they ate too much of, what happened and what they had to then do to turn back to normal.  I let them choose their own details and we had a lot of creativity!  :)  I had to hang them in the hallway for everyone to see.

Most of the titles were great-alicious like this one:

BLACK DAY!  Black week happened at the beginning of March when we would already be celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday so we opted to move our black dress up day to March 2nd...and become the Cat in the Hat!  I always have black eyeliner in my drawer {usually whatever's the cheapest at Target} and I used that to draw a nose and whiskers on the kids' faces.  Then they made their own -at family hats and colored bow ties that I taped to their shirts.  Voila!  They also thought it was quite funny when I called them "Jenna in the Hat" or "Isaac in the Hat" all day.

Our principal came and read "Fox in Socks" to us...he was good at those tongue-twisters!!
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