Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pajama Day Breakfast

My kiddos were really looking forward to pajama day this year.  I usually don't tell the kids until a couple days before, but this year my little readers discovered it on our monthly calendar the first day of the month.

I wanted to make them a special breakfast this year.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a few of these.  I scoured Pinterest for things my kiddos probably don't normally get.

Thanks to our literacy coach for coming in to help me serve the food!
I made "Stained Glass Jello".  I did not get a picture of this, but it was quite yummy!  I used cherry, fruit punch and lime jello.  Most of the kids liked this, and the staff made short work of the leftovers!

Cinnamon rolls are something most kids seem to like.  I wanted them to have a taste of one, but didn't want it to be overload.  I made these super easy and quick little guys.  I was out of maple syrup, so I didn't make the icing, but they were good without it and the kiddos didn't know the difference!  You'll be able to see these in the picture below.

I saw many versions of santa hats made with strawberries.  I have a kiddo allergic to strawberries, so I made a few modifications.  I just put a little squirt of Reddi Whip (left over from Halloween party...never opened) on the paper plate, put a raspberry on top and a little squirt of Reddi Whip on top.  Cute, easy and delicious!

You can see the Santa Hat and a the mini cinnamon roll on this plate.

I picked up some powdered sugar donuts to make these snowmen.  They turned out really cute and the kids loved them. I used mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth ("pointy" side into the donut) and a mini M&M from my holiday baking for the nose.

Also with the snowman theme, I turned cheese sticks into snowmen.  One of my kiddos asked "When can we have pajama day again so we can have cheese sticks for breakfast?"  I guess we'll be having these again!

I made these guys while sitting in my recliner.  Yes, I took the picture of them drying on my computer!

It was a fun morning of something different and not a ton of a extra work.  Because I already had the Reddi Whip, chocolate chips and M&Ms (both from other baking projects), I think this whole thing was about $10.

Have you ever made your students breakfast?  What did you (or they) make?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Giving to Others {Part 3}

Our biggest project this month was a toy drive for our local shelter.  One of my student's parents suggested this project, and the kids ran with it!

We started off by talking about how some kids don't have a house of their own to live in.  This lead to shocked looks from my kiddos.  I explained that when kids don't have a home of their own, they don't have a lot of the things the kiddos in my class have, including toys.  This really made them want to help.

I e-mailed the teachers in my building asking them to participate in our toy drive.  We were suggesting used toys that students no longer play with.  The teachers who participated allowed my students to come in and talk to their students (about a 2 minute presentation) about what they were doing and why they were doing it.  They would also need to help their students bring their donations to place in the box outside our room.

Their first step was to design a poster for each classroom they were visiting and a flyer for the students in the class they were visiting to take home.  They also had to work together to determine their oral presentation to the other classes.  Each group (6 groups) was able to present twice as our PreK classes are AM & PM.
Designing posters and flyers
Sharing with another class

We collected toys for 2 weeks.  After the 2 week collection, students had to clean the toys (they used baby wipes) and count them.  They would be proud to tell you they used tally marks to count them.  They again worked in their 6 groups to clean and count. We (I) then added all the tally marks to get a grand total.  We collected 238 toys total!

It felt like the North Pole with all my little elves hard at work!
On Wednesday, the director of the shelter came to talk to the kiddos briefly and pick up the toys.  They helped her carry the 8 boxes from our cart to her van.  It was the sweetest thing ever, and I sadly don't have any pictures because I was part of the carrying line.  Our local newspaper covered the story, so we do have the couple photos they published.

I think this was a great experience for my kiddos and one they will remember for quite some time.  It took the focus off of "me" and what I want for Christmas if even for just a moment.  I loved seeing their enthusiasm in talking to other kids about it and the passion they had for making sure everything was just right for the pickup day.  One little boy said he felt sad when the toys were gone because the place in our room where they were looked empty.  I promptly rearranged furniture to fix this.  I feel blessed to work with this group of kiddos everyday and am so proud of them for all they've done in the first half of the school year.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Giving to Others {Part 2}

Last Friday we had some cookie decorating fun (8 dozen).  I got the box of 6 dozen cutouts from GFS, quite yummy!  I whipped up my own frosting and get a couple multi packs of sprinkles. The kids got round Pillsbury refrigerated dough.  They decided that we were giving the cookies to our local police force, firemen, library staff and our school support staff and specials teachers.

The kids all wore gloves and I remember them if they thought they were going to sneeze or cough, they should move away form the table!  Does it look like they had fun?

Some of my friends even cleaned up their own table!

We plated the cookies for the school staff and packed boxes for the other 3 groups.  Students addressed cards and added candy accents to the boxes.

We need a lesson in handling the plate of cookies :)  I think she ate them anyway!

A police officer and a fireman came in to pick up their cookies.  The kiddos were pretty excited to meet a policeman and a fireman in the same day!

As we were delivering cookies throughout out building, one of my kiddos said "This is fun!  When can we do nice things for other people again?"  I'll be back with our big project that we did throughout the month of December soon.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Giving to Others {Part 1}

December seems to have gotten away from me.  It is hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day before Winter Break!

In November, I asked my parents and students for suggestions of ways we could help others throughout the month of December.  I wanted students to have an "others" focus during a season that is frequently "me" focused.

One project that multiple parents suggested was creating cards or ornaments for a local nursing home.  We spread this out over the course of a week since we were creating 82 cards and ornaments.

Made from paint samples and sequins.  I added a piece of yarn at the top to hang them.

After making the cards and 2 different types of ornaments (trees above and you'll see the angels below), students packed one card and one ornament in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag.  They had the option to use stickers to decorate the bags.

Angels are made from "butterfly" paper clips.  The ornaments turned out similar to these.
The kids enjoyed making these and loved the assembly of the bags.  One student said "this is like an assembly line".

A parent of a student in our class works for a nursing home, so she was gracious enough to deliver them to the residents for us.

Check back over winter break; I will be highlighting a couple more projects we did in the month of December.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Art & Crafting

We've been busy, busy, busy!  With 6 days to go until Winter Break, keeping things interesting has keep the kiddos generally under control.

We've been crafting parent gifts (cube ornaments inspiration) in any extra minutes I can find.  All 6 sides of our cubes are now filled; I just need to bring them home and add the hooks at the top.  2 sides have winter-themed scrapbook paper, 2 sides have pictures, 1 side the child wrote his/her name on a piece of scrapbook paper (I added the date), and on the final side, students made a thumbprint reindeer on scrapbook paper.

I've been seeing this reindeer pop up on blogs and Pinterest.  I was looking for a relatively quick project to do with my kiddos today after they worked hard on some required lessons.  They had a blast doing these (I'm sure the paint they got to use made it even better).  I'm planning to add mattes to them and send them home as a 2nd parent gift for those that have 2 separate households.  I don't normally do that, but I have several in this situation this year with shared parenting agreements.

This one needs to go over the "inside" of her eyes with a black oil pastel to make the pupils pop.
I love how they all turned out a little bit different, but oh so great!  Happy Friday!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Polar Bear Art

We finished our "arts" theme yesterday.  The first week was all about music and the second was about visual art and dance.  This year we do not have an art teacher, she retired and was not replaced, and I'm certainly no artist (stick figures are a stretch!) so I feel like my kids are shorted in this area this year.  I've been trying to find different step-by-step projects that can make all of us artists!

I saw this guy from Whimsy Workshop on Pinterest and Facebook and knew that my kiddos would love him!  Yesterday our morning message (prescribed by our curriculum daily) was "I am an artist.  You can be an artist too."  Bingo, today is the day for our art project!

I started out by showing the kids the step-by-step directions include in the blog post from Whimsy Workshop (linked above).  I did this in small groups due to a limited number of supplies (I had to borrow chalk pastels from our high school art department- Thanks Jennifer!).  I then went through each step with the group showing them her picture and reading the directions.

I ended up cutting the bears out for them because a couple of them said they didn't want to cut their ears off.  I caved and did this for them (normally I would have them try it).  

Empty space for child that was absent!

As you can see, they were kind of light on the white, but I still think they did a great job!
I love the way they turned out, and they will be perfect for our next unit too which focuses on winter.  Thanks so much to Whimsy Workshop for a great tutorial!  

Has anyone seen any other great art projects for kindergarten kiddos?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Recap

How was your Thanksgiving?  Mine was relaxed and full of family and thanks.  Here is a little recap of our 2 days leading up to Thanksgiving break.  Warning: many pictures to follow!

A little pasta necklace action to wear for our school-wide feast. 

My kiddos loved this strategy game from Miss DeCarbo!  A few of them had no strategy, but no tears over losing.  A win in my book!  You can find it here.

They enjoyed this turkey color-by-middle-sound during literacy centers.  You can find it here.  It was a freebie!

We made the Mayflower out of a milk carton and Pilgrim & Indian puppets on popsicle sticks to retell the story of the first Thanksgiving.  The Mayflower was made by giving them two 4" thick pieces of brown paper to cut a curve in the top to resemble a boat.  I brought them duct tape to attach it to the milk carton.  The milk carton had one side cut out so they could put their puppets inside.  They created a sail from 1/8 a sheet of white printer paper and attached it to a straw then taped it to the brown paper.  We taped the brown paper together in the front and back to give the ship a point.  The Pilgrim & Indian puppets are just clipart from a clip art book that I shrunk on the copier.  They colored these, cut them out and glued them to popsicle sticks.
This was a favorite activity!
The next set of photos was inspired by Julie Lee's post on Pilgrim life.  During centers, students had a few jobs that would have be representative of what life was like in Pilgrim times.  They used Lincoln Logs to building Pilgrim houses, stuffed mattresses using plastic bags and pillow cases, snapped green beans and husked corn/removed kernels.  They all seemed to agree that being a Pilgrim was hard work!

I know Thanksgiving is over, but I hope this gives you some ideas for next year!  How did you prepare for Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Letters {November 23}

I'm linking up with Michelle from Big Time Literacy for Sunday Letters.

Thank-you for stopping by and your support of me and my little blog.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teaching Mouse and Typing Skills

My district has told us that our students are weak in basic computer skills (keyboard and mouse skills).  I don't want my students' true academic abilities to not shine through because they don't have computer skills, so I set out to remedy this problem!

First up, a packet I read about on Kickin' It In Kindergarten.  I loved that the kids had to use the mouse to click in each box then used their typing skills to write (type) each word in the box. I asked students to name the picture for me to make sure they knew what each thing was called, then I let them loose to type each word.  The only downfall was that my student computers don't have and won't support Adobe.  My kiddos, on the other hand, find this to be fantastic because they get to use my laptop with a mouse plugged in.

My computer is on a tiny table, so my kiddos pulled over a Little Tykes chair from my Dramatic Play center.  Whatever works!

Their favorite thing after typing was being able to print it to take it home.  We don't let them print much, so this was a big deal.  You can find the packet here.

My personal favorite is "eggcorn".  When you listen to her say it, that is totally how she says it!  It seems to be cutting the tops of the letters off..."lef" actually ends in an "f".

Deedee Wills (Mrs. Wills Kindergarten) posted some free websites with typing practice recently as well.

For mouse skills, I found the following site: MiniMouse  My kiddos haven't used this one yet, but I played a couple of them, and I think they will really like them!

For basic mouse control, I found a game on ABCya.  I had a difficult time navigating this with my laptop touchpad, but I think it would be doable with an actual mouse.

Lastly, I found a Symbaloo page with various mouse skills on it.  This will be added to our bookmarks ASAP.

How do you practice these skills (typing and mouse skills) with your kiddos?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Our First Snowy Day 2014

Today was our first accumulating snowfall.  No snow day here though.  My students couldn't get enough of the snow as it snowed most of the day.  We got lucky in that it was pretty "warm" for a snowy day.

I decided to take my kiddos out for a little science/observation.  I gave each partnership a 1/4 piece of black construction paper and a magnifying glass.  The person with the paper was charged with collecting snowflakes (falling from the sky) for their partner, with the magnifying glass, to observe.  The observer was to look at the shape of the snowflake and see if they could identify how many sides the snowflake has.

After catching some snowflakes and doing some observation, partners switched jobs.

When we headed back in, students wrote about their experience.  It was fun seeing them stretch out "magnifying glass" to write it.  It is always nice to hear, "This is the best day ever".  The activity brought on that response today.

How do you keep your kiddos engaged when the snow wants their attention too?

Monday, November 10, 2014

What's On the Menu? Project

Our current theme is "What's On the Menu?".  Last week we learned about healthy foods and the different foods groups; this week we focus on where food comes from.  We worked on a bit of a project last week that I want to share with you.

I put my class in 5 different groups based on personality and grouping students with differing abilities together.  Each group was assigned a food group.  They were first given a recording sheet to fill in: food group, how many servings a day, why is the group important for your body, examples of foods in the group.

After completing the recording sheet, students were given grocery ads, and they had to complete a collage of food in their food group on construction paper.

The last step to our project was to create a  "Gami" using the app Tellagami on our iPads.  Groups chose a speaker and created an avatar on the app.  The "speaker" then recorded her (all groups picked a girl) voice telling important facts about their food group which were agreed upon by the group.  Using this new app was definitely a highlight of the project for them!  Here is an example of a "Gami" from our project.  Warning: This took a very long time to load on my internet connection!  This example is the grains group's piece.

Working together to create their avatar before recording.

The collages and the "gami's" were put together into a simple book using Book Creator.  You can download the book on your Apple device here.

My students loved this project and are able to share the important things about their food group.  How do you keep your kiddos engaged and excited about learning in your classroom?