Sunday, December 29, 2013

Out of This World

When we go back after break (still have a week to think about that), we will be studying space and opposites.  I created a couple activities with a space theme to have my students practice some needed skills.

I feel like I've been working on these forever because I was waiting to see where we would need some extra help before starting this unit.  Included are: CVC words, long vowels (CVCe and ee), sight words and sound sorting (short e & i medial sounds).  You can check it out here.  It is currently $3 on TpT and will be on sale until Wednesday.

I also created a little measurement freebie.  You can download it here.  It is created in Power Point and will be downloadable in Power Point so you can edit the recording sheet to meet your needs.  You will have to download the document to edit the recording sheet.  I left room to the left of the line for an image or word depending on how you'd like to put it in for your students.

If you download the measurement activity, please consider leaving a comment!  I'd also love to have you follow me :).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Step-By-Step Model Magic Penguins

As promised in my penguin habitats post, here are step-by-step directions on how we created our Crayola Model Magic penguins.

Make an oval (but 3-D) out of a piece of white Model Magic.  I didn't measure this, but you can see a picture of the oval made below.  We also "squashed" it down a bit on the table so it would stand.  It is easiest when the bottom is flat at this point!

Spread a thin layer of black Model Magic down the back to make the back black.

Flatten some black Model Magic to create 2 flippers, one on each side.

Roll a ball of black Model Magic into a head.  This little guy's head is a little large, but that's the way the creator wanted it!

Poke a small piece of pipe cleaner into the head.  The pipe cleaner should just slide into the Model Magic.  To keep it in long-term, you might want to pull the pipe cleaner back out, put a little dot of glue in the hole, then put the pipe cleaner back in.

Put 2 small dots of glue on either side of the pipe cleaner.  Glue wiggly eyes to the head. My kiddos who made the examples decided to try to make some webbed feet with Model Magic.  You can see the feet in this photo.

There you have it; some good work by a group of kindergarten kiddos!  I hope you have found these helpful!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Penguin Habitats

Last week we studied penguins.  You can see a bit about our week here.  Today I want to share the end of our PBL (Project-Based Learning) with you.

We spent the first couple days asking and answering questions.  As students asked questions, I wrote them on chart paper.  Prior to reading a book or looking at a website, we reviewed the questions we had asked.  When we found the answer to a question, a sharing stick was chosen, and that student recorded our answer (with the help of our information source and their friends).  

Students also completed a flip book about penguins.  They loved writing in these!  The headings included: eat, fun facts, draw and label a penguin, live.

I used a drawing book to show students step-by-step how to draw a penguin.  They did a great job!

We used a crayon to outline where penguins live.

After spending a couple days learning about penguins and getting our questions answered, we began working in small groups to build penguin habitats.  Each group was given a shoebox to create their habitat.  Students begin by painting their boxes.  Blue for the water; white for a snowy background.  Students were in groups of 3 or 4.  They did a nice job sharing the paint brushes and working together on their design!

While the paint was drying, we started to make our penguins.  For the penguin chicks, we used tan pipe cleaners and pompoms.  The adult penguins are made from Crayola Model Magic.  Both penguins had wiggly eyes and pipe cleaners for beaks.  

The penguin chicks were pretty easy.  Each student was given 1/2 of a pipe cleaner.  We used the "crazy-looking" kind that have 4 sets of really thick "fur" and pipe cleaner in between.  Students just wrapped the pipe cleaner up to form a "blob" looking shape.  They then glued a pompom on top.  I put dots of tacky glue on for them to glue the eyes and the beak.

Here is a little guy before his eyes and beak were attached.
The adult penguins were made with step-by-step instructions from me.  I'm not a very "artsy" person, so this was quite an accomplishment!  I'll do another post soon with step-by-step (with pictures), but I don't have those pictures here.  Some of them came out very flat; these students didn't seem to understand the idea of 3-D.  

After making our penguins, we put them on a paper plate labeled with the names of the group members.  Later that afternoon, after the paint in the habitats was dry, we set up our habitats for all to see.  These were placed in the hallway.  I made a little "guestbook" for people to sign and leave comments.  We also invited 2 classes to visit our room.  We shared our penguin writing with them and told them about how we created our habitats.  7 families came in to see our habitats too.  

A close-up of a completed habitat.
It was a great week of learning!  Are you going to Las Vegas this summer to I Teach K?  I'm presenting about Project-Based Learning.  You can see some of these little guys in person!  A couple of my sweet kiddos made me an extra set of penguins to bring with me.  One asked me if the penguin would get to ride in my seat with me on the plane.  I told him he would have to ride in my luggage.  He didn't seem to think that was fair to the penguin. :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Five For Friday {December 20}

Happy Winter Break!  I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky.

1.  Yesterday was pajama day.  In my room, we have a special addition to our breakfast (we eat breakfast in our rooms daily) on pajama day: cinnamon rolls!  An awesome coworker of mine takes them out of the oven for us and delivers them warm and gooey to our room.  Thanks Angi and Pillsbury!

2.  We made "magic scratch" ornaments today.  Who knew they were so exciting for my kiddos?!?

3.  I made some cookies using Andes mint chips.  I used your basic Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe but substituted Andes mint chips for the chocolate chips.  Yum!

4.  Throughout this week, we engaged in some Random Acts of Kindness.  We passed out a tag with each one.  You can download them here for next year.  One day we passed out candy bags to staff members.

5.  After completing our parent gifts, students decorated their own wrapping paper (butcher paper with construction paper crayons).  They loved it!

Hope your last week was great!  Enjoy some much deserved time off (if you're already on break).  I'll be back sometime this week to tell you all about our penguin learning.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Flat" Gingerbread Men

We made foam gingerbread men today.  These will go home tomorrow.  Students will write about their adventures with their "flat friends" over winter break.

Those are flip flops on this girl's feet.  So creative!

The kiddos can't wait to take these home.  I'm looking forward to hearing about their adventures over break!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Penguins, Penguins

We've been learning about penguins this week.  It is an "off" week from our curriculum, so I wanted to focus on nonfiction. Warning: Lots of photos below!

Using white blocks and penguins from a TOOB to create a penguin habitat.  Also had some penguin predators. 

Found this little penguin puzzle (24 pieces) at Dollar Tree.
Ordering penguins by size (not sure where this came from).
Drawing penguins in our little book from Fran at Kindergarten Crayons.

Working on our penguin flip books.  They loved this writing!

A sneak peek at what is coming in my next "penguin post".  We made penguin habitats.
We love project based learning!
Follow me on the right to keep up with more of our penguin learning! 2 more days this week...tomorrow is pajama day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Some Fun in a Crazy Week

Over the past few days, we've had some snow fall.  I was looking forward to a little warm up so the kiddos and I could go outside.  I sent a note home yesterday asking for any cold weather gear they have so we could go outside today.  

This guy was all about snow angels. 

Trying to make a snowman...the crunchy snow was a bit disappointing.

This is the result of counting to 3 and having the kiddos throw snow up in the air.  
It was nice to head out for a change of pace and enjoy some time together playing outside.  We've been learning about penguins this week; more to come on that soon! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holiday Lights

Do you have a few minutes this week that you need to fill?  Last year I tried this and my students loved it!

I made "vans" out of their chairs (6 chairs to a van).  Students sat in the van and drove to see Christmas lights.  I found YouTube videos with Christmas lights set to music (search: Christmas Light Displays).  The driver drove to the display.  We watched it then switched places in the van.  Everyone had a chance to be the driver. You could show different displays over the course of a day as opposed to all at once.

My students loved this activity.  I did it as part of my holiday party, but you could have students complete a writing activity about the light displays if you'd like!

I'd love to hear your ideas for this week too!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Little Holiday Decorating

Art projects are not typically "my thing", but thanks to Pinterest, I'm becoming more open to art in my classroom.  I saw this pin and thought "I can handle that!".  We made these little trees the day before Thanksgiving break.  They are now hanging in the hallway.  Super easy and came out great!

Dip toilet paper tube in green paint.  Stamp on white paper in the shape of a tree (triangle).  Allow to dry.  Cut trunk out of brown paper.  Decorate as desired; we used sequins and a tiny Ellison star.  The kids love them!

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Sometimes we have blinders on, both literally and figuratively.  My kiddos are currently wearing blinders that only allow them to see December 25 and Santa.  It made for a long week.  Because I teach in a public school, I have a difficult time finding ways to incorporate "the real meaning of Christmas" without overstepping my boundaries.

I'd seen many posts about TpT packets and other items for purchase to help kids practice "random acts of kindness".  I'd love to see my students spontaneously participate in random acts of kindness, not just in December, but all year long.  I haven't purchased any of these packets because I'm not sure where I'd fit these activities in my day.  We use a "detailed lesson plan" curriculum (scripted) and our day is packed, as I'm sure most of yours are.  I've been thinking about ways for my students to incorporate random acts of kindness into our everyday or weekly routines.  I know it is in their nature, at their age, to be very self-centered, but I'd like to help them "remove the blinders" to help them see the joy that can come from helping others!

Speaking of assistant at our school is quite crafty. One of my kiddos has a very difficult time visually focusing on materials.  When you ask him to look at a letter, number, shape, the SMARTboard, etc, his head moves in the right direction but his eyes don't always follow. He does not have vision problems, but I'm not sure he understands when I ask him to look at something.  Enter "blinders" (he calls them his goggles).  They are made from 3-D glasses with the lenses popped out.  She glued popsicle sticks to the sides and top of the glasses then added cardstock to the sticks.

He is SO proud of his "goggles".

This might seem a bit extreme, but they work!  He thinks they are cool because as he told me, he loves goggles, and my other kiddos have never said anything about them.  We have talked about how we all need different things to learn, and they think it is totally normal that he wears these.

How have you helped your students "remove the blinders" and do something kind for others?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thankful for a Little Break!

It has been a wonderful 5 days off!  I've accomplished quite a bit, not as much as I'd like, but a bigger dent than I thought I'd make thanks to the help of my family!  Here are a few highlights from my break.

I finished this wreath for my brother's girlfriend.  Her birthday is this week.  She likes to decorate her door, and I know she already has quite a few Christmas/winter wreaths, so I went with something for spring.  Inspiration came from here.

My uncle installed this new light fixture in my eating area.  The old one was circa 1985, and there definitely needed to be an update in there.  So much better!

While my uncle was instilling the light fixture, my aunt and cousins helped me put up my Christmas tree.  The tree is new this year for my new place.  My aunt makes all the "kids" (her nieces and nephews) an ornament every year, so it was fun to go back through all of these!

My cousins also helped with the Reading A-Z book assembly.  It goes much quicker with 3 sets of hands!  I think I am set through January, depending on how quickly students change levels on me (not that it is a bad thing if they move up!).

I started working on some activities for our unit on space coming up after Christmas Break.  I'm not finished yet, but a good start. I'd like to finish before break so it can be printed, cut, laminated and ready to go before I leave for Christmas.

Everything in my TpT Store will be 20% off for the Cyber Monday & Tuesday sale.  Stop on by!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful...and Some Black Friday Deals

Happy Thanksgiving!  Today, in addition to the things I am thankful for everyday (faith, family, friends, health, a job that keeps things interesting and the many other blessing I receive daily), I am thankful for a few days to catch up and enjoy time at home!  I plan to do some Christmas decorating tomorrow in addition to putting together a large stack of Reading A-Z books.

My "little turkeys" were thankful for snow on Tuesday.  It was a great day for recess: some snow on the ground, temperatures right around freezing and no wind.  They loved it!

I wanted to share a couple Black Friday deals that you can take advantage of from the comfort of your couch in your pjs!  I do not enjoy Black Friday crowds, but I am more than happy to stimulate the economy from my couch if you give me a good deal!

From Surviving a Teacher's Salary I found an Amazon deal for 30% off books. Good thru Sunday.

Walgreens has a free 8x10 print with the code TURKEY8x10.  This is good thru Saturday.

HeidiSongs is offering 15% off your order.  If you have never used HeidiSongs, you should go order now!  I have the DVDs which I love because they engage my kiddos, and it doesn't get better than that!

What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dollar Tree Finds

I stopped at the Dollar Tree while out running some errands.  It was close to the area, and while not far from home, I don't always head in that direction.  I was in search of some plastic plates to use as individual dry erase boards, and where better than the Dollar Tree!

You know that aisle that has "teacher stuff"?  Danger alert!  Educational magnets, dice, certificates galore, math manipulatives and more.  Yes, I did get my plastic plates, and a few more items while I was there.

The yellow plastic plates are our new individual dry erase boards.  We'll see how long they hold up, but you can't beat $3!

I picked up 2 packs of magnets.  I purchased some similar at the beginning of last school year, but have not seen them since.  Yesterday I picked up sight words and short/long vowel words with pictures.  I have some stand-up magnet boards from Jo-Anns, and I know my students will love matching the pictures to words and making silly sentences.

The 2 packs of dice have sight words on them.  Each pack has 18 different words (6 different words per die).  I plan to make a "roll and record" type game for these to practice sight words.

The last item I picked up was linking manipulatives.  I bought these because they came in all kinds of fun shapes.  The red: link shaped, orange: squares, blue: round, purple: star, green: heart, yellow: triangle.  These will be great in the math center for addition, subtraction and measurement.  I'm thinking about picking up more for a family math night so students can take some home too.

Have you found any good deals lately?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five for Friday {November 15}

I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday.  I haven't been keeping up with this as much as I'd like, so hoping that as we are finally in a routine, it will get better!

1.  Parent-Teacher Conferences are complete!  We had conferences last Thursday and last night.  I had pretty good attendance both nights (only a couple I still need to track down!).  Overall, everything was positive!

2. We had our first snow!  We went out first thing Tuesday morning to do some snow investigating.  Each partnership had a piece of black construction paper and a magnifying glass.  When I started getting them ready to go out, the snow was coming down in buckets.  After 12 minutes of getting ready, there was nothing falling from the sky, but they still had a great time.  We couldn't catch snow on our paper (or our tongues) but they were more than happy to scoop the snow onto the black paper to examine.

3.  Our family turkey projects are complete!  I had 15/23 students return these.  A fantastic grandparent offered to donate a pumpkin for each child in my classroom.  I was looking for something creative to do with them and decided to have families turn the pumpkin into a turkey.  We are planning to use these to decorate the tables at our school-wide Thanksgiving feast. Love their creativity!

4.  I found some time to bake Sunday.  I made Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookies.  My co-workers were happy on Monday. :)

5. I'm looking forward to what I hope will be a low-key weekend!  A few things to work on (the work is never done!), but no big plans.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday W.O.W {November 13}

I'm linking up with Curious Firsties for for their Wednesday W.O.W linky party.

I am proud to report that 3 weeks into the 2nd nine weeks, 5 of my kiddos know all their sight words for the nine weeks.  Thanks HeidiSongs!  We L-O-V-E "Miss Heidi" in our room! :)

Everyone is making great progress on their sight words.  Happy teacher here!

I found out recently that I am going to be presenting at "I Teach K!" this summer!  I submitted a proposal for the Practitioner Showcase, and my proposal for "Project-Based Learning" was accepted.  Some of the shock has worn off, and I'm feeling honored to present in the company of some of my favorite bloggers!  Looking forward to meeting lots of new friends this summer.

Yesterday was our first snow!  I like snow when I am on the inside looking out; I don't really enjoy it too much on my drive to work.  I look my kiddos out first thing yesterday morning to do some snow investigation.  As you can see, they were very into it.

What has made your week go well?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Plate

We spent the last two weeks learning about My Plate, healthy and unhealthy foods and where food comes from.  This week we tackled My Plate and finally got into our first bit of Project-Based Learning.

Our tech teacher teaches technology classes every other nine week period.  This nine weeks she more available to help with tech issues and support students and teachers with enrichment and intervention and other things needed.  I quickly jumped on this opportunity to have another set of hands in the room!

We were focusing on My Plate.  My kiddos were to answer the question: "What would 'My Plate' look like?" Students were going to create a plate and a menu for the day based on what they've learned about food.

This time, I decided to work with students while others in the class were at centers.  We started with the students who are a little more advanced than their peers.  I wanted to start with these students to gauge how long the project would take and what it would be like to start at this point in the year.

Students had the option to try their own spelling or have one of us spell for them.  2 of these advanced kiddos decided to do their own writing while the other 3 chose to have us spell for them.  We wrote the words on white boards for students to copy.  After reviewing the food groups, students decided on their breakfast, lunch and dinner for the day. Once the menu for the day was written out, students drew the foods on the correct sections of My Plate.  They then assembled their plates.

For the remainder of the class, I put them in groups of 3 to complete the project.  One student was responsible for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner.  These students all chose to have us help them write.  Each student did their own writing and illustrating for the meal they were in charge of.  Students presented their projects in groups as well.

After center time, the individuals/groups that completed their projects that day had the opportunity to share their menus and plates with the class.  Completed projects were also displayed in the classroom in time for Parent-Teacher Conferences.

I wish I would have taken pictures of groups presenting, but the thought didn't cross my mind that day!

I was impressed with how many students were able to quickly and correctly identify the sections of My Plate foods should be placed in.  They were very confident in their food choices!  While we worked, books about each food group were available for students to use to find ideas of food choices and to see what they should be eating each day.

Breakfast: eggs, toast, chocolate milk; Lunch: strawberries, ham sandwich, chocolate milk; Dinner: broccoli, hamburger, banana, milk

Breakfast: waffles, milk, egg; Lunch: sandwich, milk, cheese, grapes, carrots; Dinner: noodle soup, crackers, water