Monday, April 28, 2014

Mo Willems Pigeon Hats- So Fun!

We love Mo Willems' Pigeon... who doesn't? There are lots of things you can do with that little bird full of big character. One of our favorites is making Pigeon hats.

Is that Pigeon on your hat?
It starts out as a guided drawing lesson. I fold paper into quarters and guide the kids to draw Pigeon four times. I ask them to draw Pigeon so that he fits the quarter sheet and fit on the hat. A lot of them draw him smaller, but that's okay– if he's smaller he still fits on the hat. I draw a big rectangle on the white board to represent where the pigeon parts go on their quarter sheet. We look at Mr. Willems's illustrations to try to capture some of Pigeon's expressions.

Then I ask the kids to evaluate their work and pick the pigeon they want on their hat. This time I had them choose two, as we were making hats to send to our penpals at a nearby school.

To make the hat I use a very ordinary, inexpensive paper plate, free of coating if I can find it, as they are easier to stick the pigeons to. Then I do the cutting– I come in from the edge and cut a circle just a bit bigger than the contoured circle in the middle of the plate.

Cut out a circle. Hold the plate facing down for easier cutting.
This is an adult task I'm afraid, but I got forty done while watching my one hour of weekly TV-- Call the Midwife. Tip: they cut better if you have the plate facing down while cutting. I use a piece of packing tape to splice the cut back together then old up the opposite edge to make a surface to glue Pigeon to.
Tape it closed with packing tape.
Fold up the edge opposite the tape to make a surface to glue Pigeon to.
Aren't they cute! You can see kids' individuality come out, even as they were all drawing the same character.
A flock of Pigeons!
I am especially fond of these little gems because although I've seen a lot of Mo Willems stuff, I haven't seen Pigeon hats quite like these, where the whole Pigeon is captured. It ties literacy and drawing together beautifully. The kids like drawing Pigeon so much, they started on a little Pigeon kick- Pigeons, Pigeons, everywhere! Wait till next week when we get to Elephant and Piggie!

Even works with pigtails!
Just as an aside, I do a Mo Willems author study at this point every year. The kidpeople know a lot of sight words now, and after we've read through the books once or twice, they all can read the books themselves. Nothing like hearing, "Again! Again!" when reading great books to kids :)

A sad note on this otherwise happy post, which I shared with my favorite ECE educator extraordinaire Dr. Jean: This same day we had to do standardized, computerized testing! I could not get back to the room fast enough to do something really fun and child appropriate! We can't control the testing, but we can use our powers for good to counter the evil-- HA :)

Love Mo Willems!  Love the Pigeon!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pinterest for Organizing Videos

Just in case you don't know... you can post videos from most internet sites to Pinterest. Then you put Pinterest up on the screen in your classroom and choose the video you want to show.

Our number one favorite pin board is my Brain Breaks board. It saved us this long winter! My Brain Breaks board has short videos with great tunes that lead the kids through a variety of movements. I only pin videos that have movements to follow on this particular board. They are really fun for ALL of us– teachers need movement breaks, too.  The kids LOVE when we all get down!

pinterest brain break board so kids can follow movements
Use my Brain Break Board, where just a click shows videos kids can follow along with!

I also have a Kid Vids board with a wide variety of videos appropriate for the kidpeople to see. This is where I pin other music videos, and everything from Muppets, to Dancing in the Rain, to Brambly Hedge. (Brambly Hedge is a series of sweet video stories for young kids. If you don't know them, you gotta check them out.) You can see all my boards by clicking on the icon below.

Pinterest kindergarten teacher boards, video, tips, subject area
Find all my Pinterest Boards here!

Although I find a lot of videos from other Pinterest boards and teacher blogs, I also post directly from YouTube. This is the route I choose when I am looking for something specific, say, a video of bridge building to use during our Constructions unit. To do that from YouTube, you click on the "Share" button under the little video screen. A list of social media buttons will pop up. Click on Pinterest and you'll get to choose exactly which board you want the video to pin to.

Our district has great filters, so we don't get "bad" ads. Just to make doubly sure nothing comes on the screen I don't want the kids to see, however, I use the AV Mute button on the projector remote when I start to play. That way if any ads sneak on, the kids won't see them. Clicking the AV Mute button again brings back the screen image and the sound.

Pinterest is a great way to organize your internet videos and enables you to show them in the classroom with just a click or two. Winter is over... yes, I can finally say that... but there will still be no-recess rainy days ahead. Try out my Brain Break board and pin to your own. Gotta LOVE Pinterest! I'd love to know about your Pinterest boards, too. Leave info in comments below!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Revamping My Dry Erase Marker System

Speaking of IKEA... This year I revamped my dry erase marker system with new storage and a new style of marker. For many years, my students used the fat dry erase markers with chisel tips when they wrote on white boards or wipe off envelopes (see previous post). They were just the ones I always purchased during back-to-school sales. The problem was that kindergarteners don't always have great fine muscle control yet, and the chisel tips got pushed in unintentionally (well, mostly unintentionally). You can pull the tips out with needle nose pliers, readily available at dollar stores, but they sometimes get smashed and it's one more thing to do in a busy day. I never knew which students were having this difficulty because I kept our dry erase pens in a communal basket, so I couldn't address the problem with the kids who needed it most.

So last summer I went on a hunt for a good marker holder so kids could easily see and grab a pen assigned to them individually. My daughters and I were in IKEA looking for the perfect pen tray when, Ah, ha! There it was! An ice tray, of all things. I immediately purchased half a dozen-- they were cheap-- and I knew I'd use them for SOMEthing, if not pens. They look like this:

IKEA classroom marker trays
Ice cube trays for some...
Yippee! Five markers lay perfectly in the spaces. In the photo below you see I turn the tray over so the pens just lay on top, but you can keep it right side up to hold six pens. I had to think a bit for a way to label the trays so there could be one for each table-- they are made of a rubbery plastic which nothing sticks to. The solution turned out to be the trusty old binder clip. I got smallish ones in multi-colors and clipped one to an edge of each tray, taking off the metal pincher grips on the clip once it was on there. We store them on a shelf and the kids just grab their tray and take it to their table. Works beautifully.
Ikea marker trays
Marker trays for me!

I gave each student their own pen, labeling it with their name and a colored smiley face sticker for quick recognition, and covering it with a twist of clear packing tape for durability. We're in the last quarter of the year now, and still less than half the class has needed a second marker thus far. How great being able to address marker use with those particular kids who were having trouble! And at this point in the year it is not a matter of kids not taking care of the markers, but just that we've used up the ink– we use them at least three times a week, I'd say. The kidpeople have taken very good care of their own pens. (Just FYI– When in IKEA last week I saw that these trays now come in a pretty blue color!)

The other little detail I stumbled upon through all this was to discover finer tip dry erase markers. Don't ask me why I didn't try these before- duh. The tips on the finer point pens make a more appropriate line than the fat ones, and are actually hardier than the chisel tips. This year I tried Expo and Lakeshore brands, and both work well. You can see them in the photo. Don't forget to shop the sales!

For dry marker erasers, I use old black sweatshirts, cut into small pieces. Black doesn't show the ink. If you don't have old sweatshirts you can buy a quarter yard of new fabric for very little money and cut it up. Micro fiber cleaning clothes work well, too, and are available at dollar stores. I've only found them in light colors though, and they tend to look quite dirty, quite quickly.

Hope these tips are useful to you. I'd love to hear!

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Friday, April 11, 2014


Hello Folks!  I'm linked up with Doodle Bugs for the FIRST time! THANKS Doodle Bugs!

I could have called this post:  A Teacher Trips Off to IKEA!

1.  These adorable stools are fun and practical in the classroom. I have them in my Imagination Station around a table. I also keep a couple around my pond at home so I can sit with a friend and gaze at the fish on lazy summer days... ah, lazy summer days... snap OUT of it!! The price has gone up from $5 to $8 :( but they're still cute and useful so I got a couple more. They're in the IKEA kids department and they also came in pink and white.

2.  Super cute containers on SALE!  Two for one– they nest. The apple theme makes them so "teachery!" They would make a cute gift box for a student teacher's going away gift. OR cute for a new teacher starting in the building next fall. They were marked down to $3 for the two so they probably won't last long. Go quick!
Two for one nesting boxes on sale

3.  I LOVE this box because it fits my class set of 30 rekenreks per-fect-ly. The box has casters on the bottom so the kidpeople can push it over to their table. The box was five dollars, I think, and the lid, two dollars. Don't know about rekenreks? Wanna know how I got them for FREE?  I'll post about that in a couple weeks- make sure to follow so it gets to you!
Ikea rekenrek box storage
Perfect box for class set of thirty!

4. Don't know WHAT I'm using these for yet– rubber stamps, magnetic letters, crafty stuff, sorting– but I got five of these ice cube trays, one for each kid at a center.  Only a buck each.
Ice cube tray?  Hmm... and SOMEthing else...

5.  IKEA USED to have these great little toffee candies... in red wrapping paper... I think they were called Diams. Well, NOW they have THESE and they are BETTER! Still crunchy toffee inside the milk chocolate, but not as hard. They are indeed "Godis!" Five dollars a bag... I think. The pic tells it all!
Yum, yum, yummy!

And a BONUS sixth IKEA item because you GOTTA get this:
6.  Do you know about the family card? Great deals all around! You can sign up on-line or at kiosks in the store. You get special coupons– we got two-for-one frozen yogurt cones-- the BEST vanilla around– and discounted prices on various things. DEFINITELY worth doing! And the card is FREE, FREE, FREE! Head to the IKEA nearest you or check them out on-line.  Gotta love IKEA!
IKEA discount coupon family card
Sign up! It's Free! Discounts!

I can't believe there's a teacher out there who doesn't know about IKEA, but just in case, I put a link to the IKEA on-line store on the card pic up there so you can see most of the stuff. Not everything is sold on-line, so it's best if you can manage to get to a store. Hope you find LOTS of useful, well priced stuff for home and school.

Now scroll back up all the way to the top and click on the Five for Friday icon, and you'll find a whole bunch of other great teacher bloggers and what they're up to! 

pssst pssst– Don't miss our poster and song freebie from earlier this week. Scroll down and you'll find them in the post below. There's a video to watch for your entertainment, and the freebie features Jonathan's illustrations, of course.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

I'm Gonna Wash Those Germs– a Freebie for a Song!

I have been accused of wanting life to be a musical... and well, I come pretty close to getting just that. In my class we sing our way to the carpet, to line up, to eat snack, to count, to calm down, to wait, to say goodbye... you get the idea.  I do usually limit my song bursts to the classroom, only occasionally in the halls... and pretty much never at the grocery store or Target :)

But I better not lead you to believe that I have a wonderful voice.  It is only average, with a flat note thrown in every once in a while to keep me humble. That doesn't stop me though. The kids don't mind my crooning, in fact they love it, and our music teacher says my kids are always good singers. We know that kids learn through song. The brain hangs on to songs, so it is just one more learning technique to utilize. I once got extra points in an ed class when I knew the words to the Preamble. And I only remembered the words because I learned it as a kid on Saturday mornings from Schoolhouse Rock!

But back to musicals... I love Singin' in the Rain, The Sound of Music, Camelot, South Pacific...  So when I can sing them, I do. Not every song we sing in kindergarten needs to be sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, after all.  Take the hand washing song I made up. It's based on "I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of my Hair" from South Pacific.  My words so lend themselves to the original, that I bet this little ditty is being sung somewhere already.

I'm gonna wash those germs right off of my hands.
I'm gonna wash those germs right off of my hands.
I'm gonna wash those germs right off of my hands,
And send them on their way!

In case you don't remember that song *gasp* enjoy this little snippet as a refresher. I keep coming back to my own post to watch it :)

It is so much fun to hear the kidpeople singing away at the sink!

Just for fun Jonathan drew up our four steps to hand washing and put in the words to the song. (Did you know that hand washing can be broken down to just four, one word directions? That's on the poster, as well.) It's a FREEBIE you can put up in your classroom, too. It comes in B/W and color, and in three versions– two with the song, one without. So whether you share my love of singing or not, the little poster will remind your kids to wash up. You can even use it as a shared reading– it's fun to explore the word, "gonna"– and make copies for the kids to color and take home during your health unit. To download from TPT, click on it below.

Just wait until I tell you what I do with Tea for Two... but that's another post!

Have fun!  Let me know if you like it... please, please, please!

And now this is linked up with Teaching Blog Addicts Freebie Friday.  You can click on the icon below or the one in my sidebar and find MORE great teacher freebies!

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Currently... Hoping I Do This Right

Well, I am excited to be doing my first Currently by linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade. I'm new to this blogging stuff and find it a steep learning curve... and very exciting! I am on break this week so what better time to try this link-up. Long before I had a blog I loved Currently because you often get a glimpse behind the scenes with teachers... the anthropologist in me is interested in how teachers live... or maybe I'm just nosey :)  Be sure to go on over and check out all those great bloggy teachers already listed on the Currently page by clicking the chart below.  Great stuff indeed!

Listening to the neighborhood kids outside playing as they are on spring break, too. Hard to imagine a life without kids around... there'd be much less giggling...

Loving that I'm on break! Can't mention any loving without mentioning THAT first! And loving that there is some time to get stuff done that I WANT to do.

Thinking about the order of posting all the bits I've written up. I write up posts when I get a chance and this break is giving me time. But I can't post three times in a day...

Wanting to get a freebie and money resource posted to TPT this week!

Needing to get outside in the yard to experience some SPRING! And needing to get to the nursery to check on early planting of a couple trees.

Hours kids are at school are 8:45-3:42. Teachers officially need to be there twenty minutes before and after the bells. I arrive by 8:00 and am often there until 5:00, and usually for a bout on the weekend... and we won't mention the "home" time spent on "school." :-o

Last day for us is June 13. We only used five of our Michigan allotted six snow days, so we are in good shape without tacking on any more time as many schools are having to do. We get out rather late compared to many districts/states, though... OMGosh! I just counted, and if you take out special days and field trip days, I only have 38.5 days left to teach those little kidpeople! So much to do! It's gonna zoom by– the home stretch is always the fastest stretch of the year.

Back in a day or two with a Freebie if all goes well!

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

I'm on Facebook!

Whoot!  I'm on Facebook now.  Yet another way to get info and follow.  Hope you'll look over there to the right sidebar and scroll down to the icon that looks like this:

I got this icon from a site called Free Social Buttons.  And they are just that– free, and easy to use. They have lots of icons to choose from– I really wanted the little moving "elephant monster," but being a new blogger and needing followers, I went with something a little more recognizable.  

Hope you'll LIKE me!... "You can come to my birthday party!" as the kindergartners always say :)

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