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Monday, July 9, 2012

Alphabet Jump around

So... I realized it has been a LOT longer than I would like between posts.  Summer has been flying by between summer school (yes, I teach that too!) trying to relax/escpae the heat (last week we had 3 days with a temp of 105!) and clean my house and catch up on everything I didn't have time to do during the school year.  But... being a teacher never stops.  Here is what my dining room table looked like last night:
The box in the far corner is stuff I need to bring to school that I had been working on, and I painted some alphabet letters onto those "non-slip kitchen liners" which are available at the dollar store.  What I am going to do with them?  Plenty!  I was inspired by Melissa's McMurry's "jump around" which is a similar concept but with numbers.
You just lay the letters all over the floor, and kids (1 at a time) can jump to each letter as they:
-Spell their first/last name
-find what letter a word starts/ends with
-spell sight words
-alphabet order
-spell word families
-etc, etc etc!
I plan on introducing it as a large group activity, and then having the kids use it during centers.

Keep cool!  I hope to post more soon!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's day to all you mom's out there!  You are all truly amazing balancing everything it is you have to do!  I hope that today you were able to get a little R&R!

Here's what we made this year for mothers day...  I used scrapbook paper and I think they turned out really cute!  One kid even told me that it looked like his mom's real purse!

Inside they had to write about their mom.  The answers were priceless!  My mom is ___ years old ranged from 7 to 80! One kid wrote how is mom cooks good hot pockets!

I got the paper for FREE on TPT... all I did was add happy mother's day at the bottom!

Not sure about you, but our end of the year is crazy!  Hope to post more soon!

Friday, April 6, 2012


Unfortunately, I did not win a trip to Hawaii, nor am I going there for spring break :(  However, we had a "multicultural" night at our school, where each grade level had to learn about a different culture, so kindergarten learned about the wonderful paradise called Hawaii!  I was really surprised at the complete lack of materials that are available to help one teach kindergarteners about Hawaii, so I had to make up most of it as I went, with LOTS of changes, additions, and improvements for next year!  Once I get it all together I plan to post it on TPT so if someone else finds themselves in a bind like I did, there will be at least 1 resource available! Anyways, here are a few of the things we did....

To reinforce our map and geography skills, we talked about what actually an island is, and how Hawaii is so very far away from all the other states and countries.  It is literally in the middle of the ocean!  We used water paints to paint a map of Hawaii focusing on carefully painting the land green, and the ocean that surrounds the 8 main islands blue.  One of my kids very seriously asked me how they go to the bathroom in Hawaii... umm... in bathrooms like everyone else?  Unfortunately that wasn't the answer she was looking for!  She wanted to know how they got toilets to Hawaii since it is an island!  The things kids worry about! 

Next we made a TLC style Hawaiian flag, since the 8 stripes represent the eight main islands.  I thought the corner of the flag would be tricky, but they turned out pretty good!

Hawaii has some pretty unique features, so we talked about some of the food they grow there.  We were surprised to find out what a pineapple plant looks like (and that each pineapple plant only produces 1 pineapple!) and compared a real pineapple to the coconut that we cracked open earlier this year.

 Of course we all got to taste a piece (or 2 or 3) and either you liked it or you didn't!  There weren't any in-betweens with this one!

Then we made a pineapple craft out of pine-cones.  Trying to find the right type of pine-cones this type of year was a challenge!  Luckily, I had a resourceful parent who picked some up in the park by here work!  Note to self: collect pine-cones in the FALL next year!

I also tried making a pineapple out of a very small lunch bag.  However, during my experimentation, I got covered in paint, so I could only imagine what my class would look like, so I stuck with the pine-cone!  If you are more adventurous than myself, or don't have a wonderful parent to provide you with pine-cones, you can try this one and let me know how it goes!

The kids were instantly intrigued when they found out that Hawaii had VOLCANOES!  In college I double majored in Early Childhood and Geography and Environmental planning.  Why?  Well, I wasn't sure if I wanted to teach or be a meteorologist (two complete opposites!) In the process, I fell in love with plate tectonics and geomorphology (the study of how the earth was formed), which includes volcanoes. So, needless to say, I am a History/Discovery/Science Channel geek on the side, and NEVER did I dream that I would be explaining the various types of volcanoes, lava, etc to kindergarteners!  I LOVED it!   To reinforce that Hawaiian volcanoes are not the "blow the top off - Mt. St. Helen's" type, but rather ooze lava, we made the project below.  I added red paint to glue, and told the kids they were SUPPOSED to make puddles with it around the top of the volcano. Then they had to hold and turn and slide their paper to get the "lava" to ooze down the sides.  Of course we did the baking soda and vinegar experiment too!

 Can you tell which that I took the picture before the glue dried?

This led us to learn about the state bird, the Nene, or Hawaiian goose, which lives on the slopes (not the interior like the kids thought) of the volcanoes.  This was just a simple follow the directions coloring project, reinforcing that we can't always color everything in our favorite, rainbow colors.

Hawaii is the home to unique marine life as well.  So we made close to life size sea turtles!  As a class we took turns tracing the turtles on large paper, projecting the image from our Promethean board.  Then each table had to work together to paint them.  I had planned to paint them, go to lunch/recess and cut them out, but they took a full day to dry!  So we had wet turtles basking around the room, drying off under the fluorescent lights!

Of course, no study of Hawaii would be complete without lei's and grass skirts!  I ordered some flowers from oriental trading company, (yes, they have holes in the middle), cut some colorful straws into fourths, and gave the kids a large plastic needle with yarn.  They had to string a  pattern - flower, straw, flower, straw, etc.  They looked great when we finished!

We also made grass skirts out of green (Eco-friendly too!) garbage bags! I found them on Amazon and since they were about the same price as regular garbage bags I figured whatever I didn't use, I could use at home!  The kids had to lay them on the floor, and cut strips up starting from the bottom.
Then they had to slide their scissors in the bottom of each strip, to cut it apart.  Some kids choose to cut the bottom of each strip off.  Either way, they achieved the same result.
They put them on like a regular skirt, and the bag's drawstring handles served to tie them around their waist - a 1 size fits all solution!  The kids were so excited the even took scraps to tie around their wrist and ankles so they could look like real hula dancers!

Now the only thing left to do was practice the hula!  (it was harder than you might think to find appropriate hula video clips on YouTube where everyone isn't scantily dressed!)  Here we are practicing.  Almost everyone (including the boys!) joined in!  I love kindergarten!
We finished it off by watching Lilo and Stitch and the kids kept pointing out the things we learned about when they saw them in the movie!  What fun!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

February Catch Up

Ok, so I admit it.  I am so addicted to checking out everyone else's blog, that I keep forgetting to update mine!  Since it is already mid-march (although out weather feels more like early June) I'm just going to post on some of the random things we did in February, in a whirlwind effort to try and get back up to speed! 

Valentines Day...
Don't know about you, but every year the kids are more excited about this holiday, than even Christmas!  Maybe because it comes and goes so fast and Christmas is all around them for so long.  Anyways, here are a few of the things we did...

We hung these on our lockers.  They are super simple... I just had a bunch of heart tracers, and the directions were to trace them all over your paper - even on top of each other.  Then they had to color inside the lines.  Whenever they hit a line the had to stop coloring, creating this cool effect, instead of coloring the whole heart.  A few of the kids always have a hard time, so I helped them by outlining the first few pieces in the color(s) of their choice and they usually catch on.  Then I outline it with a thick black marker, mount it, and wa-la!

Typically, for Valentine's day the kids are to make their own valentine box at home, but there always seems to be a lot of problems when distributing the valentines, and then trying to get them out of the box without breaking it, etc.  So this year I decided we would make valentine bags in school - and it worked out MUCH better!  I based the "heart man" on a poem/story I had from years ago called the Valentine Man.  We glued a copy of the poem to the back.  You can pick up your copy HERE.  (Sorry, I have no idea who the original author was!)

I got this idea from a blog... Julie Lee's maybe?  Anyways, they create a person, and the paper says "I love ------ as much as..." and then they use various manipulatives to measure the arm span.  Pick up a copy of the sheet HERE.

Here the kids were given several different sight words on candy hearts, and they had to use them to form 2 different sentences.  Since there was only 1 word "I" it was really a struggle for some of them to come up with a way to start their second sentence!  In order to prevent confusion and mixed up pieces, I gave each kid at a table a different color sheet.  It made things a LOT easier, and our display more colorful!  Grab your copy HERE.

Of course we learned about dental health, and were visited by dentists.  For a writing lesson on voice, we made talking teeth.  The kids had to choose if they wanted to be a healthy or unhealthy tooth, and then think what that tooth might say.  Some kids were so excited they made one of each!

One kid colored the whole tooth brown and wrote about the dangers of eating chocolate... uh, that's my favorite food... no wonder why I have so many cavities!

Thanks to  a presidential packet I picked up from Kim Adist on TPT, we made these super cute Washington's and Lincoln log cabins.  The kids just gobbled up the facts about each, and while I was worried it might be too much for them to handle, they did GREAT!

We did a TON more stuff in February, but apparently I forgot to take pictures of them!  Guess that means more for next year!  Plus, the post is a month late anyways! :P

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Memory Card Lost.... and found - in time for the 100th day!

OK, so it's been awhile since I last blogged... but I seem to have "misplaced" the memory card from my camera!  I know I had it in my hand, and then.....   well, long story short, I eventually found it... IN THE BATHROOM!  Not sure if one of my cats carted it off (it was found on their favorite towel/rug to sit on...), or I am just completely losing my mind!  Needless to say, that was not one of the MANY places I searched for it!  So, this post may jump a bit from my last one,  as I couldn't take pictures of everything I wanted to (for obvious reasons).

100th Day has come and gone!  I was surprised to see how many people celebrate it in January!  I thought ours was really early on Feb. 4th, but then again we have a state law that says school cannot start prior to Sept. 1, due to the tourism industry.  Tourism, in Wisconsin?  Anyways, I'm sure there are several school who start in August, so that would make sense.  Here are a few of the things we did.  We couldn't get to everything I wanted as half my class was sick, and the ones who were at school begged me to have rest time where 5 of them fell asleep in under 20 minutes!  Clearly they needed it!

We did the standard 100 fruit loop necklace.  To help the kids count by 10's I have "counting maps" which seem to work a lot better than other ways that I've tried.

I also hid 100 Hershey kisses around the room.  I put dot labels with the numbers 1-100 and the kids have to find them - one at a time - to prevent hoarding.  Then they have to place it in the correct spot on the 100 grid.  I've done this activity for several years, and only 1 time we didn't find them all.
If they wanted to eat one (or more) I would hold up a number flashcard.  If they could read the number, they had to find that Hershey kiss, remove it from the number grid, and eat it.  YUM!

As a family project we made "100 day hats".  Each child purchased a bucket style hat (we ordered form OTC) which they had to decorate with 100 of something on it.  I am always amazed at the creativity!  I'd love to show you ALL of them, but I'm one of those people who don't like posting kid faces on the internet, so these were two shots where the whole face isn't visible.  1 kid put 100 safety pins, while the other put 100 buttons and 100 roses!  I had one kid put 100 yellow feathers - he looked like big bird!

We wrote our name on the 100 grid, and then colored all of each of the same letter the same color.  The kids thought it was cool to see the patterns it made!  Pick up a your copy HERE (along with few other 100 day activities!).

As a class we had to find and color numbers on the 100 grid that revealed a picture. (The number 100!)  I usually make each kid do their own, but decided to do it on the Promethean board together using the 100 grid from abcya.com.  This seemed to work out better as there wasn't any: "I can't find that number!  What was it again?  Is the 2 first?" etc.  I think next time I will make them stick to one color though!

In computers, we used the FREE Linux based program TuxPaint (kind of like Kid Pix) to create 100 pictures. Yes, it works on both Windows based PC's and Macs :)

ANd of course the excitement of the day was getting to 100 in our calendar routine!  We add a penny for each day of school, as well as a base 10 block, and today we got to trade them in for a dollar 9we think we are rich!) and a 100 flat!  Woo hoo!


We did a bunch of other things, but for whatever reason, I didn't take pictures of them!  Oh well, there is always next year!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It FINALLY snowed!

Well... we got our FIRST snow of the year on Thursday.  To say the kids were excited would be an understatement!  All morning they kept asking "Why isn't it snowing yet?"  Then, on the way to lunch, white flakes began falling from the sky!  (Did I mention it was 52 degrees the day before?)

Anyways, now our winter unit might finally start making some sense!  Here are a few of the things we did in the past weeks.  (Too bad I kept forgetting my camera at home this week, otherwise I'd have more to show and share!)

When we came back from winter break, we talked about what a resolution is and created "Happy New Year" people with our goal from the year.  (I think this idea may have originally came from Little Giraffes???)  Well, this is one of the reasons I LOVE kindergarten - our goals ranged from: learning how to read, tie shoes, ride a bike, to touching the pedals on a tractor and learning how to slide down a pole!  Priceless!  (Hint:  use hot glue to re-glue the tinsel, or it will keep falling off!)

If you want a copy of the goal sheet, click HERE

Another new thing we started after winter break was doing a "question of the day" on the Promethean board.  The kids are so excited to answer (and read) the questions!  The other day the question was "Which are you?  Male/Female"  You should have heard their descriptions of what a male and female was!  Nothing like enhancing vocabulary at the same time!

We read the book Snowballs by Lois Elhert and then worked in pairs to create our own snowmen.  This is the first year that they ALL actually look like snowmen and there was NO fighting over how to design it!  Hooray!  This snowman is supposed to be me :)  The kids were quite proud of it!

We are STILL working on appropriate glue usage and fine motor skills, so we made snowmen out of marshmallows, pretzels, and left over candy corn and chocolate chips.  This was on the kids favorite activities!

Don't you just love the expression!  Of course, one of my little smarties had to make a miniature snowman using the pieces as well.  He even put a pretzel stick in the middle to hold it together!  I think he peeked at my plans for an upcoming special snack! 

We also have been working out sounding out words (both in reading and writing) and some friends are having some confusion if the sound is IN the word, vs. starting with the word, so we did both of these sound related activities.  For the letter snowman, students rolled a 30 sided letter die, had to write the letter in both capital and lowercase form, as well as two words that started with it (with the exception of x)  Pick up your copy HERE.

At the writing center we colored a "winter kid" cut him apart, and wrote a sentence using describing words about each portion.  This idea (and pattern) came from Kelly's Kindergarten.

 My only math activity that I actually took a picture of, is the pattern block snowman.  We have done a lot of these type activities where we had to glue paper pattern block pieces in place.  This one was MUCH more challenging simply for the fact that the pieces weren't glued down, but were actual blocks!

Next time I hope to post more math activities, as well as some of our new centers - meaning I have to remember my camera!  So long for now!