Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pumpkins Galore

Last week, we learned all about pumpkins.  My kiddos this year love "nonfiction" type topics.  They are into anything that they can get their hands on and learn about.

We started off the prior Friday with my preclinical student (she'll be my student teacher in the spring) teaching the kids about the pumpkin life cycle.  This was one of the 4 lessons she needs to teach this semester.

Monday we started by talking about what students already knew about pumpkins.  Each child had the opportunity to share an idea, then additional ideas were added after each child had a turn.

On Tuesday, we drew and labeled a pumpkin. They loved this activity when we learned about apples, so I knew it would be a hit in the pumpkin learning too.  While we were working to draw our pumpkins and label them, we also snacked on pumpkin seeds.

On Wednesday, we compared apples and pumpkins using the freebie you see below from Reagan Tunstall.  We saved this for Wednesday because I felt like they had a good background on pumpkins to be able to compare them. This was our first time using a Venn Diagram and talking about comparisons, but I think they rocked it!  We did this together with me writing on the SMARTboard while they worked on their own papers at their seats.

We wrapped up our unit on Thursday as our Halloween party was Friday (thank-you early dismissal).  The last thing we did was a gallery walk.  I placed different types of pumpkins on each table along with brown bulletin board paper.  I got the procedure for this activity here.

This was also the first time for this activity.  It took 2 rotations to get the hang of the routine of writing what you see and not talking. Students REALLY wanted to share with one another what they saw.  After visiting every table and writing about what they saw, students then went back to their table and discussed what was written on their sheet of paper.  They also compared this to what they saw at other tables.  My students loved this idea, and it is something we'll definitely do again.

What do you do to learn about fall and pumpkins in your classroom?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Our Bodies

My future medical professionals were hard at work this week learning about our bodies.

Each day we learned about a body system and worked on creating a body to show the different body systems.  To learn about the body systems, we used my little book in my pack My Body Is Amazing.  We covered the following systems: skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, nervous and digestive.

After learning about the body system for the day, students worked to create the body system in their "person".  Last Friday I told them who was in their group, and they worked to decide who was going to be traced.  Bodies were traced and ready to go for our first system on Tuesday (no school for the kiddos Monday).

Each group (5 groups of 4 kiddos per group) used the same materials, but got different results.  In addition to creating the body systems, student also had to label certain organs.  I wrote the words out for them on a dry erase board for them to copy.  At the end of our "body creation", I took the labels around to each group and had them tell me where to find each part and why it is important for us.  I was very impressed with how much students retained throughout the week.  When the kids took their person to dry in our literacy coach's room (thanks for sharing your floor space with us, Carol!), she also chatted with them about their person.

Here you can see the brain and them working to add bones.

Here is a completed person; these are hanging in the hall outside our room. The skull and rib cage (which 4 groups insisted we HAD to have) are taped on so you can lift them and see the organs below.

This was my second year doing a project similar to this.  Both times have been a very different experience.  Not only is each small group different, but the materials and thought process of the class as a whole was different.  You can read a little bit about last year's experience here.  I loved doing each body system the day we learned about it this year rather than waiting until the end of the week to do the whole thing at one time like we did last year.

In our dramatic play center, we also had "blood".  Thanks Pinterest!  We did not have any white blood cells in our blood because I thought the ping pong balls looked too big.  I told the kids those were missing but that they are part of our blood.  When our literacy coach came in one day, she asked the kids what they were doing.  One replied "Playing in blood.  These are red blood cells".  At least they are learning, right?!?

There were also Dr/Nurse tools available.  I printed some x-rays and an eye chart that were hanging there as well.

After finishing our bodies on Friday, we celebrated with Mary from Sharing Kindergarten's Dem Bones activity.  This was a big hit and a great way to end our body unit!

I'd love to hear how you teach your students about their bodies.  Next week, we are moving on to all things pumpkins and fall.  This girl loves fall, well, not today when it snowed, so I'm excited about the next couple weeks.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Letters {October 11}

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

You can read more about Grandparents Day here.

I hate being out, but having a great substitute definitely helps!

My "secret admirer" note.  

The papers used for my letters are from Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs and the font is Kevin and Amanda.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Grandparents Day

Yesterday was Grandparents Day at our school.  I have to be honest, as much as I know the kids love to have their grandparents visit, I dread Grandparents Day.  There is always one child who doesn't have a special visitor and there are SO many people in my room (a good problem to have!).    It is only an hour, and I can make most things work for an hour.

This year, Grandparents Day fell at the end of the week I taught the 5 senses.  It was already a busy week with a field trip and I was out a day with professional development.  I decided to do some 5 senses activities with the grandparents.  My student teacher and I set up centers around the room for students and grandparents to visit.  Each center had direction cards at it, and when grandparents entered, they were given a "menu" of the activities available.  I had explained all the activities to students before the grandparents arrived.

I had one little guy without a grandparent, so my student teacher was his special friend for the day.

For the sense of touch, we made slime.  Glue, Borax and water went into this recipe. This table is right by the sink, so it was the perfect table for this activity.

There were 2 activities for the sense of taste. The first was BeanBoozled jelly beans to taste.  With these jelly beans, you never know if you will get a "yum" or a "yuck" flavor. I knew the kids would love this, and even if the grandparents didn't want to taste, they would love watching the kids try it.  

The second taste activity was to try sweet, salty, sour and bitter foods.  There were marshmallows, pretzels, lemon slices and dark chocolate M&Ms available.  Kiddos were to talk to their grandparents about which taste each food had.

The sense of smell also had 2 activities.  The first activity was to use Mr. Sketch markers to make a picture for your grandparent, and the second was to match animal noses to the correct animal.  I made the matching game using google images.  

The activity for listening was to shake plastic Easter eggs and listen to what was inside.  You then matched the eggs to the correct picture.  An answer key was provided on the back of the directions.

Combining sight and hearing, Todd Parr books were available in the classroom library for grandparents to read their grandchildren.  Many of his books are able families, so it fit well in our day.  The kids were so excited to share Todd Parr books with their grandparents.

The sense of sight station was 5x7 picture printed on the school printer and laminated.  We then cut them into different shapes like puzzles and numbered the back of each picture for easy sorting if they got mixed up (each picture had its own number).  I didn't get a picture of these because the kids were on the carpet and these were in a pile out of the way.

Last, but not least, my student teacher helped the kids paint a backdrop for pictures with grandparents.

Overall, it was a great afternoon.  It was crowded and warm in the room, but it was filled with love.  The kids had a great time, their behavior was AMAZING and the time flew by.  I would definitely do most of these activities again next year.  The slime was a hit with the kids, but not as much with the adults.

I'd love to know if your school celebrates grandparents day and what you do (or would do) to celebrate.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Apple Week

We spent a week learning about apples and ended our learning with a family trip to the apple orchard.  Here are a few highlights of our week.

We started off by making a little flip book where we drew an apple diagram, labeled the part of an apple, wrote about what apples an become and described the characteristics of apples.  We also tasted red, yellow and green apples and graphed our favorites. I, sadly, neglected to get pictures of these activities.

My preclinical student did a little bit of Ten Apples Up on Top.  This guy is stacking "apples" (foam blocks with apple stickers on them) on his head.  They started by predicting how many they could stack then tried stacking them.

I saw Kim at Domikiddos blog about these little personal apple pies.  I knew my kiddos would love them. I baked them on a disposable oven liner tray.  In the photo below, the pies are ready to head into the oven. The kids loved them!  

During centers, students had the opportunity to create an apple using Legos.  This group loves building, so when I saw this idea, I knew we had to give it a try.  It looks like I'm going to need some more Legos for other projects, because this was a hit.  I rounded up these Legos at the Lego Store in the individual bins, so I only got red, green and brown blocks in different sizes.  I also picked up some orange ones thinking we'll try it again with pumpkins.

My favorite activity (other than apple picking) was bobbing for apples.  Only 2 of my kids had heard of this, and no one had done it before. My aunt told me I had to do it with them.  I had never considered it before, but once I figured out logistics (Read "GERMS"), I was all about it.

Each child had his/her own container to bob in.  We had 4 children at a time come over.  It was fun to listen to them cheer for each other and give one another tips.  I chalk this one up to problem solving fun and life experiences!

On Sunday, families were invited to meet our team of 4 teachers to at the apple orchard.  We had a great weather day, partly cloudy and upper 60s- it was better than predicted.  Families heard a short presentation then were off to pick their apples.

Using the apples I picked at the orchard, the kids helped make applesauce on Monday.  I had the apples peeled and cut into slices.  The kids cut them up and dumped them into the crockpot.  I snuck a little cinnamon in at the end and we feasted at the end of the day.  It was a hit!

What do you do to make learning more hands-on and give your students experiences?