Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spring and STEM for the Classroom

Hello Fellow Teachers out in internet land! I have been on spring break this week and had all sorts of intentions of writing a good half dozen posts. The week has flown by with daughters home to visit, many breakfast-lunch-coffees with friends, and my little, furry companion, Popeye, coming to the brink of death yet again (she turns 16 in three months, and in three months her diagnosis of kidney disease reaches the three year mark... she is the original Ever Ready Yorkie-Bunny who just keeps on going, even surpassing the life expectancy of a healthy Yorkie. She is right as rain again today, but these scares let me know the end is drawing near.) I should get on to classroom prep for the weeks ahead, but I'm going to shoot out a quick, photo packed post– hahahaha, they are never quick. Hopefully you get an idea or two from seeing what we're up to in our kidpeople classroom.

Happy Spring!

We made spring flowers. I gave each kiddo two, dollar store paper doilies. They used fat markers to put a lot of color on each doily. They then placed them on a tray and dripped water all over them- water droppers are such fun. Tipping the tray at different angles let the water ran over the doilies, making the marker ink run, too. Then they set them in a corner of the room to dry.

The next day they cut out leaves that said Think Spring. I cut a few small pieces of green masking tape and let the kiddos attach their leaves to a green straw stem. I snipped a hole in their two doilies, slid both doilies down on their straw, and tightly twirled a piece of masking tape around the doily where it met the straw. Older kids could do this themselves but my guys needed help.

Voila– a spring flower to take home. Could make a nice little Mother's Day craft, too. Some of the kiddos liked doing it so much they made some for me to keep in the classroom.

Easy tie-dyed spring flower. Good for Mother's Day, too.

Do you have a lot of those cheap plastic eggs around? I took a dozen, numbered them, and put tiny objects inside– a good purpose for all those little lost doodads that hang around in my pockets... like a Jingle Bell... good grief!  The kiddos chose an egg, opened it up and wrote the object's name on the list. It was great practice for stretching words to hear sounds. It also turned out to be good small muscle practice because I told the kiddos they could not place the egg back on the tray unless the egg was snapped shut, and that was a challenge... a doable challenge, but not easy. The list paper is FREE on my TPT store– it's a very popular resource, having been downloaded over 3200 times. Click HERE get the freebie.

Little objects in eggs make it fun to sound out words.
List paper is a freebie!

You can get a little STEM milage out of those plastic eggs, too, if you let the kiddos experiment with stacking them. They tried stacking just the round bottoms, the pointy tops... do eggs have tops and bottoms– snort... and a mix of the two. They recorded their findings on a class graph. I won't tell you which shape won, but I will tell you there was a clear winner.

A little STEM egg fun.
Which stacks best– round, pointy, or a mix?

Here's another easy STEM idea– get all sorts of tubes from home, marbles and masking tape. This side of the sink counter was the only wall space left in the room that the kids could easily access. I left this STEM center up over several weeks and various kids had lots of turns. Quick, easy, and completely kid powered.

Easy STEM fun!

Tubes, marbles and tape is all you need

When is shaving cream not for shaving? When it is mortar!

Yet one more STEM project came about when we used shaving cream with foam blocks. First cubes, and then triangular prisms for a bit more challenge. Good clean mess that smelled great and cleaned the blocks and table really well. 

I thought this was a lovely display. Our PTO and art teacher got together to bring this project to fruition.

One parent used her Cricut to cut the butterflies out of card stock– the size of butterfly corresponded with the students' grade so my kidpeople are the tiny butterflies in the center. Our art teacher had students decorate with gel pens and, boy, is there some terrific detail when you look up close. Another couple parents did the layout. It's especially nice that the butterfly wings raise off the paper for a 3D effect. This large display went up just in time for our International Night. Love it! The photo doesn't do it justice but I thought it was an idea worth sharing.

As I get ready to sign off, here is a little Easter treat for you. My April Showers resource is 50% OFF this Easter weekend, Saturday and Sunday only.

This cross curricular pack has a funny twist on an old saying, a craft, a close read on June Bugs, response sheets, and a pocket chart and bookmark version, which all adds up to lots of fun learning. And come on, for a buck fifty, it is a bargain. Skootch on over to TPT by clicking on the cover photo above. It will be a fun project for your kiddos in an upcoming April week.

That's all for now, folks. If you'd do me the favor of Pinning photos, I'd sure appreciate it!

Thanks for stopping by. See you next time!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Are You Ready for the Yeti?

Hello to all of you out in teacher land! Could the fall months have gotten ANY busier?? Whew! My winter break, which comes to an end tomorrow, was so deserved AND so rejuvenating. Ah.

But I've been busy during break, too, so I wrote this special blog post to go with a new TPT resource Jonathan and I created... a FUN one! I fell in love with the Yeti books that I got for Christmas (surely I'm not the only teacher who finds a stack of kids books alongside a stack of grown-up books under the tree!) But I needed some classroom materials to go with them, so I made a bunch of Yeti learning cards– letter cards, word cards, and number cards– all adorned with this cute fella.

You'll want to see the cards, but first let me share my Yeti book finds.

No Yeti Yet
by Mary Ann Fraser

This one features two little brothers who set off in search of a Yeti. The big brother seems to know a lot about Yetis and is quite confident they will be able to take a photo. The little brother doesn't know what a Yeti is, so he asks a LOT of questions. Kids will enjoy finding the hidden Yeti in each picture. Do you see him below?

Needless to say the hunt doesn't go quite as big brother expects it to, and there is a fun surprise at the end. A little bit of lighthearted suspense and a very happy ending will make this Yeti book a good first read for my kidpeople... and I think it is my favorite.

Betty and the Yeti
by Ella Burfoot

This one features a little girl and her red sled. She has a habit of collecting lost things and then returning them to their rightful owners. When she finds some rather odd clothing...

...her hunt for the owner leads her to an unexpected character.... whoever heard of a Yeti in underwear? The kids will love this one, too.

Dear Yeti
by James Kwan

This book's protagonists are self described "wild, but friendly men." They, too, go off in search of the Yeti, but they do it with the help of a little bird. The text is written as letters which are delivered by the bird to the Yeti. If kids follow the little bird's path they will find the Yeti, a brown one this time, who also ends up a hero.

Spaghetti with the Yeti
by Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Lee Wildish

This book is part of the George's Amazing Adventures series in which George goes off in search of all sorts of creatures using all sorts of enticing foods. This time he is looking for a Yeti with the help of spaghetti. Unfortunately, George keeps finding the wrong sort of monster and each one suggests a different kind of food for the Yeti.

This is another silly tale illustrated with bright, bold colors that helps kids build on the Yeti lore they are collecting from their reading.

The Thing About Yetis
by Vin Vogel

I save this one for last, and will read it last to the kids, too, because it adds all sorts of interesting details to Yeti lore... even the fact that Yetis get cold and miss the summer. The illustrations are adorable and kids will enjoy knowing they have so much in common with Yetis. This one is also my favorite... a person can have more than one favorite, you know.

THIS is a Yeti after my own heart- snort!

And what Yeti unit is complete without a couple of furry Yetis...

Yes, this is my collection of Yetis that the kids are going to get to know. You'll probably recognize the biggest guy as the Abominable Snowman from the classic Rudolph stop motion animated movie. I saw this Bumble years ago and he brought back such fond memories of my own childhood with those Rankin/Bass productions of winter children's movies that I had to get him. He roars when you squeeze his tummy... think I'll take the batteries out before bringing him to school. snort.

The guy next to him counterclockwise is a modern fellow available from Aurora. He is super soft and squishy. He is also quite floppy as his hands are weighted to help him sit up, I think, but the effect is nice. The little one in the box (he comes out) is part of the Yeti Rescue Kit which includes a Caregiver's Manual and adoption papers, etc.– kids get to name him, decide what he eats, etc.

And the big box in front is the game, Yeti in my Spaghetti. It is sort of a mix of KerPlunk, Pick-Up Sticks, and Don't Break the Ice. In this version kids need to remove the plastic spaghetti noodles without letting the Yeti fall to the bottom of the bowl. That little Yeti can balance across the bowl on just two noodles if done very carefully... yes, I had to try it myself. *wink*

I very rarely put affiliate links to products I blog about, but because I just bought these in the last month I went to check prices. They are the same price, or even better than when I bought them... especially the Yulli Yeti. If you click on the buttons you can go see for yourself. Some of them are even available used if you'd like to get a better price.


I am going to launch my fun Yeti unit with the help of Bumble because most of the kids will know him from Rudolph. (It's amazing that simple show is still around entertaining kids. It has seen 53 Christmas seasons now.) I'll start with him, gather what they know, then tell some of the legends that go along with the Abominable Snowman, Big Foot and the Yeti. I think this will provide a good base for discussion of how stories are passed down, where folklore comes from, and how some people want others to believe it so much, they make up a hoax or two, or three. (Just so YOU know, any kind of "proof" that anyone has presented for a BigFoot or Yeti has been disproven.) Then we'll make up the rest of our own Yeti lore with the help of the picture books and our own imaginations. Nothing too scary, you see– just happy, imaginative fun to get us through some long cold days when we probably will miss numerous outdoor recesses if this winter stays as cold as it started.

The picture books about Yetis that I listed above can lead the creative teacher into all sorts of additional activities– writing letters to Yetis, eating Yeti foods like spaghetti and hot chocolate, even a mid-winter beach party if you are really brave. And to tie the Yeti into reading and math activities I came up with Yeti Cards.

This pack is a basic set of playing/flash cards, but what makes them special is their adorable Yeti illustrated by my hubs. Isn't he full of character with just a touch of grumpy like his creator... surely I didn't just write that!  

There is a set of cards with upper and lowercase letters, a set of sight word cards with a mix of over one hundred Dolch and Fry words, and number cards 0-120 and + - and =. All together there are over 300 cards. You can use them for all the things you use such cards for- upper and lowercase matching, alphabetizing, memory and matching games, word work, number cards for playing or putting in order... you get the idea.

I included a sheet of blank cards so you can write other cards as you need them. And there is also an 8.5 x 11 full size blank Yeti to use as a sign, or a mascot, or whatever you choose.

TODAY and TOMORROW the Yeti cards will be on sale for half price! Their regular price is only two dollars, but you might as well grab them for a buck while you can. And don't forget to leave some love if you can! So appreciated! Just click on any of the Yeti card images above to see.

I am so excited about this unit I want to launch it tomorrow, but I'll show some restraint. We have a lot of snow and snowman stuff to read, write, draw and learn about for January. I'll save this guy for the week after Valentines when the long gray days of winter seem to keep dragging on and on. It might be cold outside, but baby, we're gonna have Yetis to keep us learning and playing! Whoot!

Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know below and don't forget to PIN! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jump Ropes, Caterpillars, Pumpkins and a Chuckle

Happy October! Thanks to Stephanie at Forever in Fifth Grade for Show and Tell Tuesday. Stephanie, you can never stop doing this linky– it is often the kick in the butt little nudge that takes me to the keyboard to share the latest. Thanks!

Today I have a handful of goodness. I hope your life has slowed down just a tad since the first weeks of school and you have time to find a good tip or two among these. And don't forget to Pin the ideas you want to do.

1.   We have monarchs caterpillars in the classroom right now. They came after a Praying Mantis and a Walking Stick. It's been a rather buggy start to the year, but I can't pass up unusual insects when they come my way– such great learning opportunities. We have been doing all sorts of learning about caterpillars– comparing factual science books with fictional books about butterflies (Sorry, Mr. Carle, butterflies do not make cocoons,) scientific observation, guided drawing, labeling, and a fun art project I made up that incorporated math and literacy.

The kids practiced making patterns as they glued the strips to form a caterpillar, and the leaf will be placed on a page where some writing will take place, too. Here is a picture of the materials and resulting caterpillar.

2.   This is one of a plethora of letter activities we do at the start of the year. They create letter dot-to-dots, connecting magnetic letters placed on paper on a cookie sheet, which entails learning letters and abc order.

It is interesting that even in this simple activity you can see what kids do know and don't know yet– I bet none of you are surprised to see the b and d reversal. That tricky t with a tail is often taken as an f... why do they make that one random letter with a serif in most sets? This activity has fast teacher prep and the kiddos liked doing it. Put it out with a lower case alphabet chart as most will need it.

3.  I switched up recess a bit. My kiddos love jump ropes, but they are tricky for kinder kids to use, so I keep several Chinese jump ropes on hand. You can find them cheap in toy departments, or simply make one by tying a long stretch of elastic in a circle. The static rope allows more kids to get in on the act of jumping or stepping over, and you can vary the game by raising the loop up and down from ankles to knees as the kids' legs hold the elastic.

The loop can also be used for circle games. It's so simple that after some fast demos they can play all by themselves. It usually launches us into learning jumprope rhymes, too... Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish. How many pieces do you wish?...

4.   Buying pumpkins, counting pumpkins, cooking pumpkins... pumpkins everywhere!

This is the season for using pumpkins. And I don't just mean Jack O' Lanterns... in fact this year we aren't doing Jack O' Lanterns as I have a little one who does not celebrate Halloween. There are still lots of autumn things to do, though. At our morning meeting we've been rolling small pumpkins, both real and plastic as we sing The Pumpkins Go Rolling Two by Two. I vary the verses so we can sing, One by one, Two by two, three by three, etc. And I've rewritten that last verse to lines like– the little one likes to bump into your shoe, the little one always goes a-choo, the little one has a dot that's blue (I put a little blue dot under one of them). You can tie counting, addition, and rhyming into the song in lots of ways, keeping it different and fun.

We also did some cooking. First of all we had to get the seeds out of the pumpkin- small pie pumpkins are about a buck right now at the store.

Oh, the faces were priceless as kids get those seeds out of the pumpkin guts with their fingers. Then we counted them... there are a LOT of seeds in even a small pumpkin– 544, to be exact. So how do five year olds manage to count all those seeds? With the help of a math tool, of course. We work in pairs to put one seed on each number of a 50 grid.

Why work in pairs? Cooperation and faster results. Why 50? We are counting our school days to 50 right now, when we will have a "half party." A half party is a small party that comes half way to the full 100 Day party. At the half party we talk about the fraction 1/2, breaking Kit Kats in half, dividing ten Skittles equally, pouring half a glass of juice, cutting our napkin in half... you get the idea. I've blogged about it before and you can see it here.

But I digress... we kept filling the 50 grids until all the seeds had been placed and found our total number. Then we gave the seeds a good rinse in hot water, blotted them, and tossed them in a bowl with a teaspoon of vegetable oil and a generous amount of soy sauce. We let them sit for half an hour then spread them out on a parchment covered cookie sheet and baked ten minutes on each side. They were indeed yummy. We ate all 544!

We also made pumpkin pudding. It's a super simple recipe.

Make instant vanilla pudding with just one cup of milk instead of three, and add a big can of pumpkin puree. It involves a lot of mixing so everyone can get in on the act. After it sets for a refrigerated hour or two, it is very yummy. And the pumpkin is pretty good for you.

5.  And to make this a true Kidpeople Classroom post, I add a funny kid tale, even if it is not Friday.

One afternoon our principal came in as we were just starting quiet time. When he saw everyone get their carpet squares he asked if he could have one, too. As I invited kid by kid to use the bathroom, he laid down on the floor with them, much to their delight. He got several messages on his phone and in a couple minutes he had to leave, quietly signaling a goodby.

A few minutes later one of my kidpeople said to me, "Mr. E forgot his phone."

Knowing he had taken his phone with him, and thinking she was a bit confused, I responded, "Did you hear Mr. E's. phone ding a couple times? That means he was getting messages. I think someone needed him somewhere else and he had to go."

This Little didn't say anything for a few minutes, and then she said, "Mr. E left his phone."

"Hmmm, nope. He had his phone in his hand when he left."

Several more minutes and several more kids off to the bathroom, and I'm looking for a book by my chair that I'm going to read after quiet time.

I hear her little voice again, saying very slowly and distinctly, "I. Can. See. His. Phone."

I looked at her. She is looking at me, but then turns her head so she is looking under the bench beside her, and once again deliberately says, "I. Can. See. His. Phone."

I stand up and there indeed is a phone on the other side of the bench. I go over and pick it up and muse, "Well, there is a phone here. I guess it's Mr. E's."

Little Miss smiles up at me and says, "Of course."

Five year olds keep the faith that they CAN get through to dense teachers if they just keep trying :)

Hope you got a chuckle and a few new ideas. I have two other posts in the making... wonder if I can get to them before the next Show and Tell Tuesday??

Click the Show and Tell button to see what others are sharing today. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Winners and Funny Kid Friday

Whew. There ain't nothing like the start of a new school year, is there? I live, breathe, and sleep in teacher mode, as I'm sure most teachers do. My class this year is full of the most terrific little kidpeople and I look forward to this year with them. I'll just be glad when all the "other" stuff that has to be done at the start of the year is done, and my life takes on just the regular busy rhythm.

I decided to make this a Funny Kid Friday post because we can all use a chuckle.

But first, I need to share a few words about the winners of our book and Amazon card giveaways... yes, I know, that seems like years ago now.

The winner of our second giveaway was Mary who, as a teacher, strives to encourage her students to love reading and become lifelong readers. She plans to use her book for great discussions.

And the winner of our third and final giveaway, winning No More Noisy Nights, was Angela and she shares that she is a kindergarten teacher. She knows her kids will love this book and she looks forward to the discussion that will follow. She also hopes it will spark some creative stories in Writers Workshop.

Congratulations to both! I hope they enjoy their book and a bit of shopping.

And special thanks to my blogger friends who helped spread the giveaway news at:



Now for some funny kid stories. 

This story was shared with me by one of my parents.

Mom: So how was your first day at school?

Kidperson: I made a new friend.

Mom: Great! Who is it?

Kidperson:  It's a girl. She has braids.

Mom: What's her name?

Kidperson: Mmmm..... Braid-y.


And on the third day of school, as the kidpeople and I finished up our closing circle, I said, "Okay, guys, it's time to get your backpacks on."

One little guy said, "How come?"

It takes a while for the Littles to make the connection with "closing" and "end of day," I guess.

I answered him, "Because it's time to go home."

"Awww-man!" he said, which started everyone else protesting, too. "Nooo...Nooo"

A colleague and I just looked at each other, chuckling. I guess it's a pretty good sign if they never want to leave!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Last Week of Giveaways!

This week we have our last week of Teacher Book Talk Tuesday and our last book and Amazon gift certificate giveaway.

Week Three Giveaway! Last One!

Time to focus on moving back to the classroom. You have just enough time to slip into the giveaway. Best of luck to you. This week we have a very new book from Flashlight Press which also happens to be written by Holly Niner, who wrote our featured book last week.

But first I need to announce that last week's winner was Mary L. I sent a happy email to her and when I hear back, last week's book prize, The Day I Ran Away, and her Amazon gift certificate will be on the way.

And remember our winner of Too Much Glue? Well, she sends a word of thanks and let's us know how she will use her book. Tina is a learning disabilities teacher who teaches Math and English to K-5 students in Kansas. Her older students work on reading fluency and she plans on having them practice reading Too Much Glue to the younger set. The K-1 students love that and the older ones get fluency practice and a self-esteem boost in one. She will also use the book to teach gluing rules– anything multi-sensory makes a huge impact on her kids and glue is a part of that. Tina is a regular reader of the blog and says she finds lots of kindergarten ideas here that with a tweak or two she can use with her full range multi-age of students. Thanks, Tina! We are happy Too Much Glue found a good home.

No More Noisy Nights
by Holly L. Niner and Guy Wolek

What do you say about a book which stars a mole, a ghost, a boogey monster, and a Pixie? What?? I say that's a rather unlikely cast of characters, but the kiddos will like 'em all.

Mole has a new house! He works hard to make if feel like home, moving all his things into place. He happily settles in for the night... until he finds his new house is too noisy to sleep in. After making some pretty silly mistakes in the morning because of his sleepy, muddled brain, he decides to take action and that's when he discovers he has housemates. Mole must get creative to keep everyone happy.

This book is a great one to get students thinking about problem solving when things aren't going well among classmates. How can you keep everyone happy when you are all so different and you all like different things? And if you are a parent who wants a new bedtime read, No More Noisy Nights certainly lends itself to that... put qualms about noises that go bump in the night to bed with the friends in this book.

I also think it is nice to see Halloween-ish characters in a non-Halloween book. If you are a teacher who doesn't do Halloween in your class, you might think about using this book to show that sometimes ghosts and monsters have nothing to do with the holiday.

Guy Wolek's illustrations include lots of techniques that kids can use in their storytelling. Cutaways that show what's happening in different places, sound words, and motion lines help tell the tale of the cute and colorful characters. Students will love looking over the pictures, finding details.

And this Flashlight Press book includes About the Author and About the Illustrator blurbs, too. They're such a good way for kids to see authors and illustrators as real people, and learn ways to write their own blurbs. Whenever I need an example of what authors share about themselves, I grab a Flashlight Press book because I know I'll find blurbs there. And as to the end papers– you know I always mention the end papers– well, your kiddos are going to have to think a bit harder about these because it is not obvious. A bit of mystery that can probably be solved by the end of the book.

You can find my Flashlight Press book reviews by using my search lists on the right side bar and see Flashlight Press books by clicking below.

This cozy tale will come to live in some lucky teachers classroom, along with a ten dollar Amazon gift card. Some of my blogging friends are helping me give away the books– The Teacher Desk 6, STEM is Elementary, Peach, Love and Primary, and Kindergarten: Hand in Hand We Grow. You can check out their blogs by clicking on their icons below after they link up to this post. By following any or all of this diverse group of bloggers you can get up to eight entries. Winners need to have a US address in order to win due to shipping costs, I'm afraid. I'll announce the winner next week. Thanks to Flashlight Press for the books and The Teacher's Desk 6 for the Amazon card. (Note- to follow me on YouTube click here.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now I'm off to prep my night before school student gifts so I can deliver them next week. Click on it below if you'd like to see how they work– it is FREE to say thanks for stopping by!

Good luck to you! See you next time!

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