Sunday, September 30, 2012

how to draw a person. kindergarten style.

As cute as they are, we don't need amoeba people in kindergarten. You know the ones: circle faces with legs shooting out of the chin and arms sticking out where the ears should be. They're typically blue, purple, green or any other color that skin isn't.

I always start teaching how to draw a person with choosing the appropriate colors. Crayola has multicultural crayons that are fabulous for drawing people. There was some {unnecessary} talk of political correctness when they hit the market, but a product that allows every child the option to represent themselves accurately is nothing but greatness in my eyes.
As I was teaching it this year, I started singing a little song.  I made it up as I went so don't be too critical.  Although, I have to admit, I quite like it.  :)

Yes, your kids will laugh hysterically the first few days you sing this but after a few practices they'll learn to control themselves and use it as a way to check their work. I randomly hear my class singing it now throughout the day and it makes me chuckle, but we don't have naked people hanging in the hall! ;)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

sorting letters.

Just a quick one today friends.  We've been out serving our community this morning {and hanging out with Emily from The Biggest Loser...holla!} and I am zonked.
I did just create this for an alphabet or word work center this week, though, and figured you might like to have it.  :)

I'm always looking for activities or lessons that will help with alphabetic principle.  I feel like there's not much variety with letter ID because they just have to learn the formations but I did hear about letter sorting and thought it'd be great in a center.  I couldn't find a printable mat so I made one.  It is SIMPLE but it'll work!  There's a generic one and one specific to capital or lowercase letters if that's how you roll.

Your kids can use magnet or letter cards just to practice sorting or you can give them an additional mat to use as a recording sheet if you want the data for your records.  You could also print out a page of letters and have them glue the letters down as they sort.  Oh so many possibilities.  ;)

Have a great weekend!  Feel free to share your best letter recognition strategies in a comment!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

fall fun {and cookies!}

Heather at TeachingMy3 is hosting a fall blog hop and you know I could not pass that up!  Here are a few of my favorite fall things to do in the a yummy bonus at the end!
Teaching My 3

{fall journal books}
I love these little babies.  Obviously, because I make them into apples, pumpkins and leaves!  You can use them in a writing center, word work center, during writing instruction or recording observations during science.  Sometimes I make them with plain paper and other times I use the printables.  Just depends on how I'm feelin!
If you use them in an independent center, students can use them as vocab books, writing & illustrating vocabulary terms.  {our leaf books usually have fall words...squirrel, acorn, leaves, scarecrow, crops, etc that they copy from our chart}  If you use them during science, they can hold predictions & observations {how much the pumpkin weighs, if it floats, how many seeds there are, etc}

{johnny appleseed}
Can you tell this is a pot?!  lol  This was one of those spur of the moment ideas but I have to tell you, I think they're adorable!  :)
I was looking for a pattern to make pot hats for the kids but decided to just make my own & use it as a writing display instead.  No pattern to share...because it is easy.  Cut rounded corners on a gray piece of construction paper & cut strips of brown paper.  Ta-da.  The apple I used gave my early writers a little trouble so I'll use this one next time...bigger lines!  ;)
We used Teri's Johnny Appleseed bubble map after reading about him to figure out what to write.

{leaf painting}
I just saw this on Pinterest this morning and had to add it to my Fall board!!  How beautiful are Kelly's shaving cream painted leaves?!  Attempting it this week...probably not in nice clothes.  ;)
And now the bonus...making my favorite fall yummy ever.  They are delicious and I end up making batches and batches each fall because everyone loves them.  Here's the recipe.  You're welcome.  ;)

{oatmeal pumpkin chocolate chip cookies}

Link up with Heather for lots more fall fun ideas!  :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

you gotta take the bad with the good.

You know how getting bad news can really bum you out?  That was me today as of about mid morning.  I got some sad news about a situation that is completely out of my control and I was just bummed.  I wasn't an emotional wreck and it didn't throw me off my game, I just felt like I'd lost my sparkle.

So I threw up a quick prayer {prayer in school?! yikes!} and tried not to think about it too much.  When that didn't work, I kept trying.  Reminding myself that it's out of my hands and that God always has a plan.

No sooner did I forget about it, my kids became extremely responsive.  They were focused.  They answered questions.  I was in the zone.  Totally teaching mode.  Then something amazing happened.

I have a little girl from another country {Burma?  Nepal?  Bhutan?  We're still trying to figure that out...} and for 3 weeks we haven't really been able to communicate.  It's a little frustrating from my standpoint, knowing I can't actually get through to her to explain the whys behind not coloring on other people or not stopping to touch every piece of artwork in the hallway.  But she's making steady progress and we'd hit a lot of roadblocks so I'd kind of stopped working on figuring out the logistics and left it to the office.  This afternoon, our guidance counselor came down with an older student and said she wanted to give it a try and see if they could communicate.  By George, you should have seen. her. face!  She lit up like a rocket when someone was able to speak to her in her own language.  I almost cried.  Story bonus: I learned how to say stop, sit down, good job and thank you in a way that I KNOW she understands!  :)

{that was bright spot #1}

We finished the day and it was time for dismissal and another after-school meeting.  I had a quick snack, finally had the chance to pee {hee!} and made my way to the media center.  I got all the way there {in my 4 inch stilettos, thank you} when I realized I'd forgotten something.  So I had to go all the way back and get it.  When I got there, a lady from a nearby church was just coming up the hallway.  She had received my wishlist and was bringing every item I requested.  Brand new 3-step ladder, Dirt Devil, card stock and glue gun sticks.  Deee-livered.  Amazing!  I have never experienced this type of support - especially from a non-school source - and I really couldn't believe they'd actually gotten everything.

{bright spot #2}

All of that to say...whether you believe it's just coincidence or that God gives us glimmers of hope in our down times...
{from blackandtypeshop on etsy}
...or anything.  It's not always easy to see the good in a day, a moment or a situation.  But it's always there if we try.  Or wait long enough to understand it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

betcha can't keep a straight face.

I saw this commercial last night as hubs was flipping channels and made him go back immediately.  What a great message!

We had a rough day in class today and I'm tempted to show this clip tomorrow just to put a positive spin on the fact that it's a new day and we can all {teacher included} make new choices.

Regardless of your day or life's current this 30 second commercial.  You'll be glad you did.

And I betcha can't keep a straight face.  ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

apple investigation {free journal}

This week begins the start of my favorite few months of school {fall into winter holidays} with apples! Last year I shared my investigation journal but have updated it this year to share with you!  This journal naturally integrates science and literacy so you can work it into your lessons wherever you have the time or find it to best fit.

The first 5 pages teach your kids how to use their five senses to observe & explore things around them. The sentence starters make this book simple enough for even beginning kinders without being too overwhelming.  {independent writers can add an additional sentence in the space below or students can draw a picture to match the sentence.}

The additional pages at the end are optional and you can pick & choose as you like.  I think it's fun to display the finished journals on a ginormous tree looking as if they're ready to be picked.  :)

You can get your free copy at my TPT store!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sid the Science Kid & Me

How much do I love Sid the Science Kid?  Lots and lots and lots.  He is intelligent, he is inquisitive and that fake microphone he uses is just adorable.  {clap clap clap clap clap clap...I love that!}
So why do I still feel the need to justify showing it to my class?!  Video clips of any sort make me feel slightly anxious.  I think it's because when I started teaching the only things we'd show were...well...not good.  {watching Finding Nemo to learn about ocean animals?  puh-lease.  Even my kids didn't buy that.}  But now with Discovery Education and Teacher Tube, there are such great things to use!

Still...I make a recording sheet for every Sid concept we tackle.  We watched "I want to be a Scientist" this week as we learned about what a scientist is, does and looks like.  In this 30 minute episode the kids learn about 4 kinds of scientists which we documented on our Sid recording sheet!

Click the pic to get your copy!  Is this something you're interested in?  I'll be making more for my class as we continue to explore science and I'd be happy to put them in a packet!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

temporary name tags.

Our school provides photo ID nametags for the kids but we're on our own for the first couple of months.  How many of these temporary nametags have you tried?

stickers - peel off
die cuts - disintegrate
cutesy store bought nameplates - rip
paint chips - too small
buttons - ridiculous trying to pin 85 times a day...

A couple years ago I was passed a tip at a summer institute.  And today I am sharing it with you!

{solo cups.}

Yes.  The plastic, college accessory.  Added bonus, they now come in a variety of sizes and colors!!  :)

Put them face down on a cookie sheet in the oven. 300-350. It's not an exact science.
They only take a few minutes to melt down so stay by the oven and watch closely.
{ew.  PLEASE excuse my grody oven.}
When they're almost flat, smoosh 'em down good with the bottom of a frying pan.  :)  Repeat as needed.
Take them out and immediately pop with a hole punch.  When they're cool, add student names, lunch numbers and whatever else you need!  Thread with yarn and ta-da!!  Simple, durable nametags.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

David {and a mouse} go to school.

Personally, I have to be scheduled even in the first week back.  Friday was our first day with all of the kindergarteners {after having only a few each day during staggered entry} and it was loosey goosey.  I'm sure they enjoyed it but I went home stressed out and disappointed.

Now, after just 3 days of schedule, routine and high expectations, I am happy, stressing less and looking forward to the rest of the year with anticipation.  If you're feeling like your kids are off the chain it might not be because your activities are too hard.  Instead of backing off and talking about rules for longer, try giving them just a bit more.  It's hard to act up when you're busy.  ;)

Here are a few book & follow-up activities we've used already this week:

{David Goes to School}
Mrs. Lee has a super cute David craft to display with her rules.  I didn't use the terms peacemakers and peacebreakers because those aren't terms I use and I wanted to stay consistent.  But how could you NOT love his cute face?!  {you can get her original template at her TPT store}  Then I found Jackie's class book template on Ready Set Read to Me and decided it would be a perfect piece of "writing" to hang with our Davids!  I love that her pages say "Yes ______" to put a positive focus on the things we can do in class.

I kept giggling as I hung these up.  They are so. dang. cute!!!  {fyi I posted Common Core objective K.W.2 Use a combination drawing, dictating & writing to compose explanatory texts since we were explaining how we should act in the classroom.}

{If you take a Mouse to School}
This is a super easy activity to do even with pre-writing kinders.  Cut out big brown cookies.  {yes, that's what those are.}  ;)  I used the die cut machine to make big circles in 4 different colors.  Pass out one at a time and instruct the kids to draw a picture of whatever that color represents. Adapt it to anything you want to know.

Bonus: serve Chips Ahoy rainbow chip cookies for a snack.  ;)

If you want to take it a step further...make a book specific to your school!  ie: If You Take a Mouse to Sunshine Elementary School.  Use the following pages to create your book or writing for display.

If you're lucky enough to have a mousey like me, take his picture with all of your special area teachers, secretaries, the principal, custodians, etc.  My kids loved seeing him in the various places!  That is a super fun bonus but definitely not required for the writing.

Happy Back to School friends!!

Monday, September 03, 2012

themed calendar set.

My labor of love.  It is finally finished!  This calendar set has monthly headers {with or without theme graphics} as well as days of the week headers in 2 different sizes.  There are also number sets from 1-31 for each month.  And I just have to tell you...they are adorable!!!

I love the graphics I got from Jessica Weible design.  Her stuff is all just so cute!  The polka dot borders came from Coffee, Kids & Compulsive lists so I also encourage you to visit her for more graphic love.

Enough jibber it is!  {click to go to my TPT store}

Also, because it's's Farley time!!!

Seriously.  Lesson plans.  How do you all do them?!  I've been required to type mine up in a binder for the last 8 years.  It's all I know.  {a daily page for literacy, a daily page for math, a daily page for science...etc}  My new school allows handwritten lessons - like, you can see the whole week...all one page.  What?!  It sounds so much easier but it freaks me out!  lol  I'd love to know how you display your plans!
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