Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wading in the Water

We didn't really go wading in the water, however, should the need arise, my students would be ready!

Our Dramatic Play center for the last two weeks was a fishing center.  In a plastic kid's pool there were foam fish (cut from the Ellison) with velcro dots on them.  A colleague of mine let me borrow some fishing poles with velcro on the hooks.  The fish had math problems on them.  Students had to fish, then sort the math problems by the correct answer and record them in the recording sheet.  

We borrowed the waders from our awesome preschool secretary who had them in the attic from when her daughter was young.  I was entertained each day as the kiddos tried to problem solve and figure out how to get in and out of them! My friend in the second picture actually has a dress on!

What is your favorite prop to use in your classroom?

We are on to a new theme this week: "Earth Day is Everyday".  Many of our centers focus on reusing and recycling.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Here Fishy, Fishy

We have been learning about fish and water.  One day, our vocabulary words for the day were "gills" and "fins".  Our manual instructed us to bring a fresh fish to school for students to touch (feeling the scales) and identify the gills and fish.  I don't eat fish and I don't generally "do" critters.  Needless to say, there was not going to be a fresh fish in my classroom if I could help it.  

I found the next best thing in my own home!  My dad caught this walleye many years ago (I was in elementary school). I have been grossed out by it since childhood, but you can definitely see the gills and fins, so it fit the bill.  This guy is currently hanging out in our building until the end of our unit.  Every child in my class can identify the parts of a fish and tell you their function.   Thanks Mr. Scary Fish!

I think the girl looking at the camera feels the same way I do about the fish! :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ocean Food Chain

One of our lessons last week was to teach the food chain in the kindergarteners.  The explanation given in our teacher's manual, I thought, was difficult for students to understand.  After a bit of searching I found a Wild Kratts video that was perfect.  One of my teammates has been using Wild Kratts during inside recess and being made by PBS, I knew it would be could.

The video did not disappoint.  It was a great 2 minute explanation of what our teacher's manual wanted me to cover.  Did I mention I was in a professional development session during this part of the day?  A video was the perfect way for me to know that the material was covered in a way that students would understand.

After watching the video, students completed their own ocean food chain based on what they learned in the video.

You can download your own copy of the Ocean Food Chain here.  Please note, it is formatted to be printed on legal-sized paper!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Taking Care of a Fish Writing

Last week we talked a lot about fish: their characteristics, habitat, and how to take care of a pet fish.  Students worked on writing 3 step directions on taking care of cleaning the bowl of a pet fish.

Title: "Clean a fish tank"  First I take the fish out of the bowl.  Second I put the fish in a clear bag.  Last I put clean weather then I put the fish back in the bowl."
Title: "The Dirty Tank"  First I take out the fish.  Second I clean the tank.  Third I took out rocks.  Last I put the fish in the clean water.

Title: "Clean a Fish Aquarium"  First I take out the fish.  Then I clean the fish aquarium.  Last I put the fish in.

I'm proud of their writing, especially since this was the first time we really focused on using order words (either first, second, third or first, then, last).  They did a great job!

What new writing ideas have you tried in your classroom?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five for Friday Linky Party {April 19}

I'm linking up with Kasey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five For Friday Linky Party.  I have missed this party the last couple weeks, so I'm looking forward to sharing again!

Our curriculum comes with shared reading books that we read for a week.  We have been practicing partner reading with our books.  Students are doing a great job supporting one another!

Our focus this week and next week is fish and water.

Measuring ocean animals using a variety of manipulatives.  They then have to order the objects by size on a separate recording sheet.

We are working on reading words with prefixes and suffixes.  I punched the fish out on the Ellison then made a pattern to cut them in half.  All prefix words have one pattern and suffix words have a different pattern.  Students are picking up on the skill!

This kiddo is determining whether objects sink or float.  This is definitely a favorite center!

Making "aquariums" out of paper plates.  Once students colored the background and added fish and plants, we stapled another paper plate over the top with the center of the plate cut out.  The cutout part has a piece of plastic wrap over it.

I'll be back later this weekend with some writing work done this week.  What is your class studying?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fish Bowl Writing

Our focus the next two weeks is water and fish.  At the writing lab, students were given the task to label a fish and write two sentences about fish.  

I found a fish bowl pattern in an old Carson Dellosa pattern book a parent gifted me (an awesome gift!) a few years ago.  This pattern became the cover as well as the pages for the book.

I found this great fish to label over at Mrs. I's Class.  I shrunk it a little bit on the copier to fit on the fish bowl template. It comes with a fish already labeled that students can use if they get stuck.

I was very proud of this child's writing.  Her grammar isn't great, but her ideas amazed me!  I love the connection between mammals (last week's learning) and fish characteristics!  

"Fish has fins and fish has mouths and eyes to."
"Fish is not mamals because them have gills.  The End"

Monday, April 15, 2013

Birds of a Feather

Our past two weeks were focused on "Fur and Feathers".  Week one focused on pets and week two focused on mammals and birds.

At the art lab, we created birds using a block of wood, feathers, wiggly eyes and foam.  I saw an idea like this on Pinterest, but did not pin it and can't find it again.  If it was your idea, please let me know so I can link and give you credit!  These little guys stand up.  Students chose yellow, pink, blue or green feathers.  I think we are going to display them in our art show.

During our study of mammals and birds, we discussed the habitats of different animals.  After talking about a bird's habitat, we practiced being birds.  Thanks to after Easter sales, this was a very cheap project!  Each child received a brown cupcake wrapper, some Easter basket grass, 3 jelly beans (eggs) and a peep.  We all had bluebirds.  Students made sure their eggs were kept warm by the mama or papa bird and that the nest was safe.  They loved the activity, and I loved hearing them authentically use the vocabulary we had discussed.

Our new unit is "Water Wonders".  What are your students learning this week?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Self-Monitoring: Part 2

Today I attended the second day of FIP Your School training.  You can learn more about my first self-monitoring experience here.

At this second day of training, we talked more about what formative instructional practices look like, how to share this information with our teams and how to help all teachers be effective.

My experience with my students self-monitoring their learning has been very positive.  I learned a few more things I would like to try after today.  One of them was really getting students to own their learning across the board.  I have found it easy to incorporate focus statements and self-assessment into math but am struggling in Langauge Arts. I think part of this is because we cover so much material in a day in Langauge Arts (or at least it seems like more).

One thing I did in math was take the items from our short cycle assessment (9 week assessment) and put posters on the closet with each skill at the top.  When students feel that they have mastered the skill, they sign up for me to assess them in a more formal way (as prescribed by our grade-level assessment).

I had a proud teacher moment when the majority of those signed up where correct; they were ready!  As I assess each child, I use a marker to cross their name off on the chart.  Students are free to sign up in the morning or other times throughout the day when I am not directly instructing (breakfast, dismissal, etc).

My next goal is to better incorporate this into Langauge Arts and to consistently use focus statements in each Language Arts component.

Do your students self-monitor?  If so, how?  What did you do to make focus statements an automatic part of your day?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


We spent the last two weeks on a unit entitled "City Gardens and Country Farms."  Week one focused on gardens and week two focused on farms. I tried to combine these two ideas into two busy weeks of centers and activities!

One activity I created used these little baskets from WalMart's Easter section.  I printed numbers 0-5 and attached them to the front of the basket.  Students sorted addition and subtraction problems by answer then recorded them on the recording sheet.  We are working on fact fluency.  I was surprised how much my students loved this activity.  I think a similar activity will be appearing in our next unit about water (in 2 weeks).

They loved playing with the wooden barn I picked up on clearance at a party store for under $10 a few years ago.  There is yellow Easter grass in there for hay and a Toob of farm animals along with a farmer and some farm equipment.  It was great to hear them using their theme vocabulary while working with the barn!

This guy is very proud of the tissue paper flowers that he "planted".  Students took 3 pieces of tissue paper and accordion-folded them.  They then cut the ends to add interest and fanned the pieces out.  A pipe cleaner held it all together.  The pipe cleaner was poked into a small piece of Model Magic in the bottom of a plastic plant "flat" container.

For the next two weeks our unit is entitled "Fur and Feathers".  Check back soon for updates on that theme.  Are you on Spring Break?  What are you working on?

Monday, April 1, 2013

B & D sorting freebie (SMARTboard)

I am linking up with Freebielicious for the first of the month freebie linky.  I love all the great posts on Freebielicious throughout the month, and I'm exciting to link up this month!

We have been sorting b's and d's on our SMARTboard for about a month now.  Some students still struggle to see the difference.  I attended a conference four or five years ago, and I learned that sorting is best done on a vertical surface where students will need to cross the midline frequently.  The SMARTboard seemed to the perfect solution.  As students move the letters, they are to say the name of the letter aloud.

B & D Sort

Click "B & D Sort" above to download the Notebook file. I hope you and your students find this beneficial!  Please consider leaving a comment or following if you find this useful!