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!