Thursday, May 24, 2012

Making Fossils

10 more days (but I'm not counting...I am just keeping track at calendar time)!

This is that wonderful time of year when you must plan LOTS of hands on, fun-filled activities.  It seems that every student turns into a kinesthetic learner.  I don't know about you, but I am exhausted.

However...I mustered up enough energy today to make dinosaur fossils with my kiddos (demonstrating how a fossil is created).

Here's how we did it:

First you need air dry clay (something like this, I got it at Walmart):

And you need small dinosaurs (something like these, counters from my math manipulatives):

Then, basically you give them a small amount of air dry clay and have them roll it into a ball.  Then they flatten it on a small piece of waxed paper or paper plate.  Next, have them select which dinosaur they want as a fossil and have them gently place it on it's side on the clay.  Tell them to gently push down until it makes an imprint (They should look something like this):

Last, make sure you let them dry for a good 48 hours.

One idea I thought of doing for next year was making a fossil for each of the small dinosaur counters I have.  Then put it out as a matching activity where the children match the dinosaur to it's fossil.

Well, that's it!  The kids loved it!  They all wanted to make more than one.  If I could just afford another container of the air dry clay, I would do this activity for the next 10 days just to keep the busy (I know you know what I mean).

So...what kind of fun, hands-on learning activities do you have planned for the final days of school?

Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rainbow Fish

It is hard to believe that there are only 10 days left with my little kinders.  Where has the time gone?

We have done so many fun crafts this year but this one was one of my favorites and I just had to share (I can't believe I found not one but two pictures).

While learning about ocean life, one of my favorite books to read is The Rainbow Fish.  After reading the story, I just love modeling how to do crayon resist watercolor painting on a paper plate.  Here is my sample:

Basically, I first show them how to make a paper plate fish by cutting out a triangle from one side and stapling the triangle to the other side (I love how they think this is simply magical and all of the sudden they begin cutting and creating an entire family of fish, even though you only said to create one.).

Then, I model drawing the details on the fish with a black or white crayon (eye, scales, squiggly lines on fins, etc.).

Next, I use other color crayons to fill in some of the scales on the fish (rainbow colors).

Last, we use mostly blue watercolor to paint the entire paper plate and, of course, magically wherever they used the crayon, the paint won't stick.  They love this.

Every year I think this project would be even cuter if we add silver glitter to add some shiny scales but I never seem to get to that part (Ever since my district did away with classroom assistants in kindergarten, my glitter seems to come out less.  I wish I could monitor the glitter bin and teach small reading groups simultaneously, don't you?)

Here is a pic of one of my kinders Rainbow Fish:

No two turns out the same, but I just love what they create (notice how they opted to use other water color paints...I think that is wonderful).

Well, I still have 10 days left with my cuties and I need to go plan some more wonderful learning activities for them, even if it seems like they have already tuned me out.  Anyone else feel the same?

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gift Idea I am a little behind on this post, but I thought I would share the "idea" because it could be tweaked as a volunteer or end of the year teacher gift.
Here is a pic of what my students (with my help) made for their mom's for Mother's Day.

From this image, it looks like a real flower in a tiny pot, but it is really a pen and the pot is a pen holder.  Let me show you a few other images that might help.

The small pots are clay pots that were purchased 3 for a dollar from the dollar tree.   The pens were purchased for .97 cents for a dozen from Walmart.  I purchased the fake flowers from the dollar tree as well (I particularly like the gerber daisy's but all kind of flowers turn out so cute.)  The grass was left over from Easter.  Underneath the grass is a piece of foam that the cap of the pen is stuck into (this help keeps the pen in the holder and standing tall).

My students painted the pots and assembled the bases (after the paint was dry).  They picked out what kind of flower they thought their mother would like (I had a variety of colors).  Then I added the flower by using floral tape.  

We put them in a white bag with a tag that the kinders  wrote stating "If mother's were flowers, I'd pick you."  

That's where I can see that this can be easily adapted, for example: If volunteer's were flowers, We'd pick you.  

These really turn out cute.  As a matter of fact, I have an entire vase of them sitting right by my phone to use everyday.  They look like a pot of gerber daisy but they really are pens.  Who knew?

I hope you can use this idea for next Mother's Day or maybe adapt it for an end of the year gift for someone.

Happy Blogging!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Looking Ahead to Next Year

Today was our Kindergarten Orientation.  Yes, we already met some of our little cuties for next year!

I know what you're thinking...this school year isn't over yet.  We still have 15 days left with our current little ones.  But every year, around this time, we begin our early kindergarten registration for the next school year and we take a day and invite our newbies to come check out our classrooms.

I have to say...I'm really impressed with what I saw today.  They were REALLY awesome little students for the short time that they were in my room.  They fit in with my current class like they had been there all year.  I truly hope that is an indication as to what we can expect for the next school year.

On a side note, we also have one set of triplets and three sets of identical twins coming next year.  What was in the water that year?  That is a large number for our little community school.

Anyway, I wanted to share with you some images of what we provide for the parents of our newbies.  Quite a few years back we created a Kindergarten Readiness Pack.

Over the years, it has changed and evolved and now includes the following:
1.  An alphabet coloring book-this is a little half page coloring book that I discovered years ago.  Each page has one letter of the alphabet (capital/lowercase) and includes a picture that begins with that letter for the child to color.
2.  A coloring book of common nursery rhymes-this is another full sheet book that my grade level put together that includes about a dozen of the most popular nursery rhymes.  We encourage the parent's to have their child color the images and practice modeling tracking the print as they choral read the rhymes with their child.
3.  An emergent reader book-in each packet we include an emergent level text (these are provided through our Waterford Early Reading Program and most stories are either nursery rhymes or popular children's songs).  Again, we encourage the parent to read to and with their child.
4.  A writing journal-this is a journal that my grade level created that includes pages for the child to practice tracing and writing their uppercase and lowercase alphabet as well as their name.  We also encourage the parent to help their child try to write sentences.  Here are a few more images of the inside of this journal.

5.  Sight Word Flashcards-we include a set of our 31 sight words in flashcard format.  We encourage the parent to go ahead and cut them out and begin using them with their child.  We suggest several different games that they can play with their child using these flashcards.

6.  Cutting Skills Practice Sheets-We believe that our job is so much easier if a child can come in with the ability to cut correctly.  That is why we added these worksheets a few years ago.  We encourage the parents to practice this skill prior to kindergarten and, again, even give them other fun suggestions of ways their child can practice their cutting skills.

7.  Number Identification coloring sheet-We explain to the parent that their child will need to learn to count and recognize numbers to 100 by the end of the school year.  Therefore, if they can come to kindergarten able to count and recognize numbers to 10, we are already on the path to success!

7.  Color Word Worksheet-Most children come to school now recognizing all their colors; therefore, we encourage them to learn to read those color words as well.  This worksheet explains to the parent to begin to help their child notice color words around them (in print, on labels, etc).  

8.  School Supplies-Not all children have the necessary supplies to practice their skills prior to coming to kindergarten; therefore, we make sure that we include a sharpened pencil, a box of crayons, and a pair of safety scissors in their packet.  

My team believes that these readiness packets are very helpful not only in better preparing the children for kindergarten, but to make parents more aware of what will be taught and expected of their incoming kindergartner.  

We all know that times have changed in kindergarten, but most often parents do not.  We need to educate them.

So that is our Kindergarten Readiness Pack.  What does your school do to better prepare your incoming kindergarten students?  Do you have a Kindergarten Orientation?  If so, what does it look like/what does it entail?  

I would love to hear what you do.

Happy Blogging!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Currently" Busy...Busy...Busy

Yep, the title pretty much sums up my life lately.

I am sure everyone else out there feels the same way.

It is that time of year that we are drowning in assessments, district workshops, and other end of the year activities.  I feel like I occasionally am able to surface for a breath...and that is usually on the weekend, but even those are filling up with responsibilities.

Okay...enough..enough...put on your big girl panties and relish in the fact that it will all come to an end in 23 days (Hey!  You know you are counting too!)

So here I am surfacing for my breath and taking a moment to partake in Farley's Currently Link Up.

Yes, I currently have a bum foot.  I can thank the school carnival for that one.  I need to remind myself that I am now 41 years in age (my husband was behind me and had to add that I am almost 42...thanks hubby!) and the feet are just not as reliable as they use to be.  Let's just say that I thought water would cushion the fall...apparently NOT!  

"Dr. Bronson" said to keep the foot iced every twenty minutes and wrapped.  He promised me that the swelling and knot on the bottom of my foot will go away.  However, he did say to not put any pressure on it for the weekend.  

Ha! Ha!  Do you know how difficult that is for me?  Not only am I OCD, but I am ADHD too.  Sitting still is not something that I do very well.  If I were a student in a classroom these days, I would definitely be on a behavioral contract, or maybe even have an IEP, where the teacher would state that she needs to increase the amount of time that she remains in her seat.  It would probably also state that she:
  • talks excessively
  • wants everything to be perfect
  • completes sentences for others
  • cleans for others (I know this sounds like a good thing...but I know it would drive a teacher crazy!) 

Anywho....I will try my best to follow the "doctors" orders (He's not really a doctor but he use to be an EMT and we call him Dr. for the fun of it...He loves it!).

So that is what is happening in my life right now...did I mention that I am helping a friend move today? You can do that with one foot, right?

Happy Blogging!