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Friday, February 5, 2016

Five for Friday and a Funny

Happy chilly Friday in February. Here are five random things going on in this Five for Friday... including a Funny Kid Story. Haven't had one in a while.

1.


Gotta have this up near my library book bin. It is going to mean LOVE for some of my short fellows. And who knows, maybe they'll remember their books more often. Comes from Imgur.

2.  We learned about symmetry in the past weeks. I tie it each year to our trip to the art museum because we'll sure see it there. As we were talking about how symmetry is everywhere, even right there on our faces, an art project occurred to me. I'm sure I've seen it somewhere over the years, but who knows where.





Here's how I did it. I took headshots of the kiddos and then printed on a regular black and white printer on regular paper. I cut the photo straight down the middle of the face. I then cut out the head and shoulder and glued it to another plain piece of paper. I demo'd with my own photo which the kids loved. I decided to give them only drawing pencils to keep with the black and white mode and to allow them the opportunity to shade. Our drawing pencils are fat number two pencils without erasers. (I use black vis-a-vis pens and black flairs for a lot of drawing projects, as well, but I thought those would be too harsh a line. My illustrator husband sees good value in kids not being able to erase, and over the years for a variety of reasons, I've have found it to be true.)

Boy, did they put in effort. The room had barely a murmur as they worked, totally engrossed in reproducing their own face. They had to really pay attention to detail and they LOVED it. The adults who have come into our room where they are on display have not failed to comment. They are pretty impressive and "Picasso-like" as one dad said when they are all seen together in the collection. It really is a worthwhile project and I highly recommend it, whether for a symmetry lesson or an All About project.

3. Our latest FAVORITE math video.



It is a favorite for the kids because the timing is just right to sing along to. It counts all the way up to 100 with a pause before each ten number. I say "Tell me" in that pause, and they say the next ten number, which is the tricky part in counting to 100 and you see some of them putting in extra thinking effort. There is a bonus for the math wizzes, too, because it counts past 100 going through the thousands, millions, billions, to one trillion. I tell you, one trillion is a very exciting number. In addition to great counting practice, I love it for it's sound. It is a more melodic tune than the raps, yet isn't babyish, and the singer articulates the numbers very well. Try it. Listen and you'll see why the kids love Big Numbers. KidsTV123 has other videos up on YouTube as well, and there are more goodies to be found. It is nice that most classrooms these days have the ability for just a few minutes of engaging number counting in the form of videos to keep kids on their toes and engaged. Ah, technology... and to think when I was in Ed School I had to learn how to load a film projector...

4. Have you tried a new trend– Small Worlds? I have to chuckle as I type "new trend" because imaginative play in this way has been around for a long time. I particularly like, though, how this is "packaged," and it's given me new ways to group items for play centers.

In a nutshell, you gather small items- toys, blocks, items from nature, scraps– and put them together in collections which lead kids to play in smaller, quieter ways around a theme. As I thought about it I could come up with several themes just with the stuff I already had. Here are some photos of one collection over a few days.





Small World play is fun!

I pulled Jenga blocks, popsicle sticks, micro cars, small signs, trees, figures and animals. The astro turf squares come from Menards– they are free samples– put you could just as easily use felt squares. The kiddos were totally engrossed. They worked individually and in groups to form roads, fences, buildings, cities, zoos, farms, forests with all sorts of things going on. They LOVED it.

I also put together a beach themed collection, and have stuff ready to go if we ever get snow again to do a winter themed one. Bringing snow into the classroom is always a hit, but now with the small world theme, it will have yet another purpose. I'm even working on an alien planet– the sky's the limit... er, rather NOT the limit. You can't imagine all the doodads I'm finding around the house and classroom to put to use this way. Have fun.

5. 

Do you ever wonder just HOW much your kids keep track of you? I was coming down with a cold the other day and to combat it I was drinking plenty of fluids, with the usual result. I was in the bathroom, which is in our own classroom, when I heard through the vent in the door:

Child A:  Where's Mrs. Wright?
Child B:  She's in the bathroom.
Child A: No...

I emerge at this moment.

Child B: See, she was in there.
Me: Teachers have to go to the bathroom, too, you know.
Child A: But you only go once a day, and you've already been today.

Hope you have a great weekend with no little eyes watching you. Thanks for stopping by.

Click on back for more posts. Thanks, Kacey.




P.S Anybody going to this retreat? I am planning on it, but am looking for buddies. Let me know. Midwest events don't come too often.


Self Portrait Symmetry- Great Project

Just goofing around with PicMonkey and making things Pinnable. Hope you'll Pin away!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 3– Love Scrolls, String Hearts, and Leap Year Goodies

Hello Folks! Happy February. Cannot believe it is February already, and such a weirdly mild one at that.,, at least for us here in the lower corner of Michigan. Where is the SNOW?? Here we go with three Pinned ideas for the month. Thanks to Lisa and Marissa for their monthly Pinterest Linky!!






Okay, so originally this scroll was for Father's Day, but I think a "love scroll" is a great idea that can be used this month of February. Make patterns on the sticks, paste on the paper, make the love list and tie on the ribbon. Can hardly wait to let my students make these for whoever they want. Fun.





This idea is an oldie but goodie, so I was glad to find it. My class really needs extra fine muscle practice this year, and the little math activity is a bonus. The FREEBIE printable has the holes already placed and numbered which makes the prep extra easy. I'm just going to print one copy, then use it as a template to trace and let them cut. I'd rather use red and pink cardstock than a lot of red printer ink.





When we flipped the calendar from January to February my guys were fascinated by the idea that one particular day was on the calendar only once every four years. I don't know if my five year olds understand the calendar completely, but they still loved the idea that they wouldn't be having another February 29th until they were in fourth grade. This packet is a FREEBIE from TPT- Thanks, Barb Evans. I'm going to save some of the activities until February 29th to emphasize the specialness of the day.

You can find a lot of pins on my Pinterest Boards. It is one of my favorite ways to collect ideas. I am very close to having as many followers as I do Pinners I'm following, which I didn't ever think would happen. My bucket list is full of Pins I hope to make, cook, build, try, travel to...

Click to visit my Pinterest Site


I look forward to using today's three ideas in the coming weeks with the kidpeople. Hope you like them, too. Click away on the blog links below to find more good stuff for this month. Happy Pinning!!!

Now I'm back to nursing my cold and Pink Eye!!! Haven't had THAT in a million years. Oh, the hazards of a teacher's life. 






Sunday, January 3, 2016

Pick 3 Pins and Freebies

Happy New Year! It's not only a new year, but a new month and that means it's time for the Pick 3 Pins linky. YAY! Thanks to Pawsitively Teaching and Inspired Owl's Corner.

With FREEBIES this time- whoot

To be very honest, I really have a love-hate relationship with this linky. I LOVE posting to it because I love Pinterest and use it all the time, and I LOVE going to this linky as a teacher and finding new great stuff. HOWEVER, I HATE only being able to share THREE! Three?? I mean, com'on, I could share three hundred! sigh.

So, in the end I share two snow themed pins, because my class is all about snow in January, and one little diddy that I just have to share. AND I give you a freebie I made to go with the song. Actually, one of the snow pins leads to a freebie, too, so click away.





Do you know the short Lily and the Snowman video? I haven't seen it come across any pin boards yet, but it is so lovely. I can hardly wait to share it with my kiddos... it has similar themes to Puff the Magic Dragon, which we love and sing all the time, and it will lead to good discussion about growing up, like Puff did. But spoiler alert– it might make some of you cry! My own daughters just tease me and tease me... one day they'll know!




Okay, so there isn't too much new about sparkly playdough or making clay snowmen... but would you look at how it is set up!  SO cute. SO inviting with wonderful choices. And see that little snowman factory sign?? Well, its a FREEBIE when you click through to the blog. I think after we've spent a day with playdough, I'm going to break out the air dry dough and let them create permanent snow friends. Love.





This is the CUTEST song. Found on YouTube, complete with sign language, you and your kids will have fun learning the song. My kids and I usually sing a goodbye song at the end of the day, so I typed up the words to put up in my classroom for the kiddos to read along. YOU can download my little poster by clicking on the pic below.



Well, that is all for today. I do encourage you to check out my Pinterest boards and the snow themed one in particular because there are so many great ideas on there and I am adding to it all the time.

Click to go to my Pinterest page!


I've been using my own student break count down on my fridge and it was a sad mark I made this morning. If you'd like to share it with students next year, you can download it by clicking on the picture. Now make sure you're ready for tomorrow's return to school because ready or not, here they come charging into 2016!



To find more great pins just continue down the page and you'll find tons. It is your lucky day! Thanks for stopping by.







Friday, January 1, 2016

Five New Resources for the New Year

What better time to find new resources than at the beginning of the new year? Some will save you money, some will make you money, some are good to share with your own students. I think you'll find a couple of goodies today. Thanks Doodle Bugs Teaching for a favorite Five for Friday linky!

1.  The folks from SightWords.com asked me to check out their website, and share as I saw fit. Well, I checked it out, and I see a LOT fit... a perfect fit for preK thru first grade, ELL and special ed teachers. The site contains tons of FREE resources that help teach sight words, phonemic awareness, and counting. And it is fully EDITABLE– you can choose from Fry and Dolch lists, or create your own word lists. You'll find games, flash cards, videos, and reference charts– truly worth checking out. Click on their icon below. Oh, and did I mention– all the resources are free, with nothing to buy on the site. Whoot!



2.  Do you know about Ziggedy? If you don't, you want to pay attention here. It is an EASY fundraising site that raises money for you to spend on your classroom to help defray the out-of-pocket costs that teachers experience all the time. It's super simple– sign up your classroom, then send invites to your classroom parents, your own friends and family members. After that, every time they shop on-line, a percentage of their purchase amount goes into your classroom account. It costs you nothing, it costs them nothing, and it only takes a click through Ziggedy before they put items in their carts to send money your way. They can even get a button that pops up telling them when they are on a site that will donate to their cause. And there are many commonly used retailers who participate in the Ziggedy program– Best Buy, Sears, Macy's, Lowe's, Office Depot and Staples, Kohl's, Walmart, Walgreens, Groupon, even travel sites like Orbitz and Travelocity. Here are two videos that explain it from the teacher and parent perspective.



And




I have earned approximately $40 this quarter by signing up and having just a few of my classroom families, and my own friends and family members sign up.  I should note here that Ziggedy is not like DonorsChoose which asks your families and friends for direct donations. (That is a great site btw and I got a set of rekenreks for my classroom, though I didn't really like asking people for donations.) On Ziggedy, regular shopping that people do anyway brings in money to the classroom, with no one spending any extra. Why wouldn't anyone let their regular shopping bring in money to classrooms? Click below to go to my referral page to find out more. Whoot Whoot!


One last thing. I am always a little skeptical of things that seem too good to be true, so I did a little digging into Ziggedy. It gets high trust ratings from all the sources I checked. They have also been very responsive to any questions I've had.

3.  Teachers and kids love picture books but Dragon and Captain is no ordinary picture book.


This picture book is a type of beginning graphic novel. Two boys, one who happens to love his dragon bathrobe and another who loves his three cornered hat, go off on an adventure that only they can see– except they let their young readers in on it, too. Writer Philip Allabach and illustrator Lucas Turnbloom do a great job of capturing the boys' imaginary world so that we see both their world of adventure and the ordinary world they live in. And they use all those great comic book devices to tell the story- speech bubbles, sound words, storyboard style with multiple pictures per page- anybody see a new mentor text here?? I have been saving this goodie until after break because this is the perfect book to not only teach about features of print but also a whole new genre. I think they're going to love it. AND the end papers are MAPS! I don't know about your kids, but every year my kids fall in love with maps and map making. This is going to be a hot feature of the book.



Anyone who reads regularly won't be surprised when I say this book is from Flashlight Press, one of my favorite small house publishers. I love all their stuff and have come to eagerly await those couple of new books they put out each year. Check. them. out.  And then go get your hands on a copy– I know our school librarian is going to be all over it as it fills a unique niche for kids who love comics. Great fun.  You can see my other book reviews for Flash Light Press by clicking on the "Books" label on my right side bar.

Click to see Flashlight Press books.

4. Coding, coding, coding. It's the wave of the future. I know very little about it, but as a teacher, even a kindergarten teacher, I feel a certain obligation to learn. In my learning process I heard about the site Code.org where there are various coding games you can play as you learn to code. My favorite– yes I played them– is the Star Wars game where you get to program for BB-8 and R2D2 to do various tasks... which help the rebel cause, of course. There is a video that explains a bit about coding and then it teaches you how to code using a block system. Great fun AND learning for you your students. It is recommended for kids six and up as there is some reading of directions. I shared this site with families to try, think it is a great site for kindergartners to go to with their big buddies from older grades, and also provides good challenge for my advanced students. There are many games on the site, including some that don't even need a computer. Check it out by clicking on the picture below.



5.  Weekend News is my last idea to share on this New Year's Day because it would be great to incorporate on your first day back from break. My kiddos don't do "bell work." I know as teachers we want kids to "get right to work" when they come in the door, but seat work at this time of the day for the first minutes in the door has never made sense to me. What adult do you know walks into the office, goes straight to their desk, and starts working on the day's tasks without first greeting and sharing with their co-workers? People need the connection with other people before they can put aside life's distractions and get to work. So I allow my kids to talk and share with each other– share about their time at home, their trip to school, and what's on their mind. I encourage conversation over good books, too, because our first work of the day is D.E.A.R time. Each day I have a different collection of books out-  DK Books for factual reading, words and letter books, puzzle and search books, kid magazines, our collection of current read alouds and, of course, our own book baggies of just right books. I see this part of our daily routine meeting ELA, language, and social-emotional goals.

We break from our D.E.A.R. routine once a week, however. On Mondays we are always full of weekend news to share, so when kids come in they grab a Weekend Chronicles sheet and share with their friends as they write and illustrate what they did over the weekend.

I went to see if my friends were home. They were playing outside so we built, made a fort.

I collect these after we do attendance and job board rotation and bring them to the carpet for meeting. As I flip through the stack of papers I ask each child if they have one thing to report from the weekend. Even kids who don't comment much in meetings usually take this opportunity for a sound bite. I might comment on a paper, or ask a follow up question as I flip through, but it is all kept very brief. Our reports go home so that another goal is accomplished– parents get to see what their child's most current writing efforts are. We use Lucy Calkins' writing workshop model– which I love– and we do other kinds of writing throughout our week, but I found that parents weren't seeing their child's "out of my head" writing, as one of my little guys calls it, often enough. This written sound bite lets parents see what kids can do, and comment and ask about the weekend they just spent together. Kids, parents, and I all love our weekend reports. It is one more way for us to write, talk, and connect in our busy days. Whoot! (I don't have this as a freebie because you need to name your own class reports- but the form is easy to make.)

Click on back to Kacey and see what Fives the rest of us are sharing on this new year's day.


Thanks so much for stopping by today. Let me know in comments if you found anything of special interest to you. I wish you and yours a truly remarkable 2016!



Saturday, December 19, 2015

Giddy on Break

I am giddy. Yes, I believe giddy is the word.  I am on WINTER BREAK. The first few hours of break. So I thank Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday as I share five things that make me giddy with gratefulness.

Bloggin' Around the Christmas Tree!

1.  We had a MARVELOUS week in my classroom. It was full of magical things every day- like fairies and elves and reindeer... and place value, adding on, and even a couple of running record assessments. We were all giddy. My kidpeople were perfect. Well, not quite. But sorta. Kinda. They really are precious, aren't they??

We peaked in naughtiness on Tuesday. I was peeling them off the ceiling... walls... and floor all. day. long. I was using my grumpy voice and labeling it as such. This was TUESDAY! With three more days to go in the week.

My class of little elves– literally bouncing off the walls

As we are line up to go home, a couple of my kidpeople are in the habit of saying, "I'll miss you, Mrs. Wright." It's endearing and it warms my heart everyday, reminding me how truly wonderful kindergarten is. But do you know what I answered when one said that on Tuesday? "Well, I will not miss you. Or you. Or you. Or you, or you, or you... I will not miss any of you tonight." THAT got their attention. THAT is not Mrs. Wright's usual response. What happened to the hugs and high fives? Everyone pulled up short– those in the line, dallying to the line, and still stumbling around in the coat hall.

I continued. "This has been a poopy, grumpy day with very little learning. I had to say the same words over and over and over. I will not miss you tonight. I will go home and do a lot of resting and sleeping because this kind of day makes me tired. I want MY kidpeople back. My WELL BEHAVED and DOING THEIR PERSONAL BEST kidpeople. We have a lot to do this week, both learning and fun, and we aren't going to get to do this good stuff if this behavior continues. Can MY kidpeople come back tomorrow and for the rest of the week so we can learn and have fun and not. be. grumpy?"

And are you sitting down? It worked! Those words that just came out of my mouth, unplanned and very honest, worked. Somber little faces slunk out the door and the REAL kidpeople came back the next day. And the next. And the next! (Well, except for the one who plugged the sink and toilet in the bathroom during lunch with paper towel so that a big mess ran all over the floor. HE was not a REAL kidperson. He had a lot of apology letters to write, and he was busy writing them when other kids were doing new fun centers the next day. hmmm. Natural consequences suck.)

Anyway, on Wednesday, and then on Thursday, and Friday, one of my joyously wonderful kidpeople declared while lining up, "We had a BETTER day!!!!"  I agreed and told them how much I would miss them. Truly.

2.  I was giddy on my way to school yesterday. I took a cue from Kristen at A Teeny Tiny Teacher as to how she organizes a hot chocolate party. She puts everything the kids need in individual baggies so it's super simple to pass out and clear up– mini-marshmallows, candy cane, and cookie all go in each baggie. I asked PARENTS to make up baggies for us and supply cute cups, napkins, and hot chocolate (known simply as chocolate milk before it is heated). All I had to do was lug my crockpot... I mean, I wouldn't be a teacher on the last day before break if I wasn't lugging SOMEthing. And it worked beautifully. Not perfectly, but beautifully.

Here are the tips that will make it perfect next year. One. It takes a LONG time for cold chocolate milk to get hot in the crockpot. I mean even kindergarten hot, which isn't very hot. I put a gallon in my crock pot just before lunch, but after lunch AND music, I still only had luke chocolate (named after lukewarm, not Luke in the Bible). Even kindergartners can handle warmer than luke. It wasn't a problem as we simply watched the movie first then had the party treats after gym. Next year I will put the crockpot on at the start of the day.

And two. Ask your parents to UNWRAP the candy canes before putting them in the baggies. I knew from prior experience that kinder fingers have a hard time unwrapping those perfectly wrapped candy canes. I was frantically opening bags and unwrapping those babies while the kids were at gym. (Yes, those of you who are REALLY following along will have picked up I have TWO specials on Friday afternoons– music right after lunch, then gym toward the end of day. None in the morning. Yep, I think that is dumb. But I did not think it was dumb yesterday when I needed the time.)

Here are a couple of leftover baggies now in my kitchen so you see what they looked like. Leftover cookies. In the kitchen. I don't think anyone in the family saw me bring them in.... they'll never know...



LOOK at those cookies! Man, they were lovely and delicious. I was impressed. How can a working mom have time to make these cookies? Surely they were store bought. I asked the kiddo who brought them in if his mom baked the cookies and he gave an enthusiastic, 'YES... my mom is a good cookie baker." Dad was quite amused at pick-up time when I told him I was impressed with mom's cookie making abilities... apparently I should be impressed with her cookie purchasing abilities. Those kindergartners are not to be trusted with their stories.

3.  I was giddy on my way to school on Friday for another reason- I was in my PAJAMAS!  Our last day of school before break is Pajama Day and I LOVE pajama day... and not because it is the last day before break... well, not entirely. (I have been known to host another pajama day for just my class during Seuss week when we read The Sleep Book.) All year long I keep my eye open for pajamas that will be cute at school on pajama day.  I love the idea of rolling out of bed, skipping taking a shower then putting my PJs back on. My husband thinks I'm nuts, but he's just jealous... he even said so here on his post.

My daughter, home from college, was not giddy as she sat across the table from me at the restaurant last night and said, "Mom, are you wearing your PJs?" Or maybe it was more like, "MOM! You're wearing your PJs!!! In a restaurant!!!!" I ignored her. She, too, has worn her pajamas out in public. She attended the same school I teach at, for pity's sake. Shouldn't make any difference that she was a kid then and I am an adult now. We were in our favorite family-run restaurant and I'm sure there isn't much I can do in the name of teaching that would shock them... I am already known as the Queen of Laminate– half the time I'm there, because I sit and cut the latest laminated project.

4.  I was giddy to remember that I don't have to write a parent newsletter next week, but that I will send some favorite eCards through Blue Mountain. The kids love getting them. There are a variety of mini-animations and some that you can make talk so you can send an appropriate greeting to all your students no matter what their cultural backgrounds and faiths. I think it is fun to stay in touch with the small fry over this two week break. Click on the pic to check them out. $4 gives you as many as you want for a month, so you can do Happy New Years, too. I don't get any kickback to mention these guys. I just like them and am always looking for ways to connect with my families.



5.  And last, but not least, I am giddy to realize SIXTEEN days of break lie ahead of me, and sixteen days is HALF A MONTH! Doesn't that sound marvelous. Half a month. sigh. Thanks to my friend and colleague who pointed that out to me in an email that I found at three a.m, when I got up, not from worry, or sickness, but from giddiness. I can read my new Downtown Abbey book, or wrap some gifts, or have one of those leftover cookies... wait. I already did that. ANYway, I am up on a Friday night which is usually CRASH night and I can do anything... ANY FUN THING I want to do!!!!  Yippee! I love break!!!! I love teaching, but I love breaks more as well.

So I sign off now, giddy with thankfulness to be a teacher, a kindergarten teacher with great students, and a great break ahead. Both of my big kids will be home– one from the other side of the state and one from Seattle. It doesn't get better than that. What are you going to do with your time off??

Thanks for stopping by. I'm gonna be posting a bit more in the next sixteen days half a month so I hope you stop by again. Head on back to see what others are up to. You've got time. You're on break.





Monday, December 14, 2015

Quick. There's Still Time. Freebie!

I'm dashing quick to give you a freebie. I made copies today for my own students and as I did, it occurred to me that some of you might like this as a simple freebie.



It's a Count the Days of Winter Break "calendar" that your kids can use at home to count the days until they GET to come back to school... yes, one of the things I love about kindergarten is that some of my little buddies love to come to school so much they happily mark off each day so they see they are getting closer to school time again!

I have my kiddos simply number the days off, not reflecting the numbers on the December and January calendar. I of the kids write "Bye" on the last day before break, and "Hi" on the first day we'll be back.  If you prefer, you can have kids begin counting on the first day that break starts (Friday) with a one, and then count all the way until the day they start back (Monday). The downloadable freebie comes empty, without any numbers or words in the squares. Kids color in the sledding picture when they are finished, and yes, DH Jonathan did the little illustration.

Our district takes all our weeklong breaks as whole Monday thru Friday weeks. We are no longer allowed to take off from a Wednesday to a Wednesday, for instance. Because of this my calendar is set up to reflect two whole calendar weeks. I'm sorry I don't have versions that show the break starting and ending on other days of the week, but with good old white out and a ruler, you could make lines that reflect any days of the week you might have off.

The calendar is kind of amazing as it can work in two completely opposite ways– it helps the kiddos be patient through the loooong wait to go back, and it helps us teachers appreciate every day of break that WE STILL HAVE– snort! So whether you download it to share with your students, or simply keep it for yourself, I think it is a gotta-have. Hope you enjoy it and may it bring a purposeful fifteen minutes of peace and quiet to your class in an otherwise crazy last week. Click on the picture below to download.

I don't know about you, but I am WAAAAYYY busy this week. We have lots of special activities and craft projects, a party or two, and even a field trip... yes, sometimes I am a little nuts. I think I do it so I enjoy the well deserved vacation even a little more. Off I dash again– thanks for stopping by.




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