Saturday, January 31, 2015

Five for Friday Random Resources

Here's a little behind the scenes peek at how writing a post sometimes pans out. This has been one of THOSE blog posts... the kind that I start, stop, rearrange, cut, paste, do over... you get the picture. And this Michigander is not ashamed to say that I've done it all with an eye on the weather forecast. There is snow coming and as the days slipped by this week, and the minutes slipped by today, it's looked more and more like we're heading for a snow day on Monday. SO if that ends up being the case I can post again, which is making me think and rethink THIS particular post. I hope I end up hitting the "Publish" button before the day is over!

I spent a morning this week giving in-service to district kindergarten teachers.  I told them I would share some of the ideas that we mentioned in an upcoming post, adding more detail than we had time for then.  Thanks to Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.


Yes, of COURSE, underwear came up.  We wouldn't be teachers of five year olds if underwear and "nekkedness" didn't come up at least once in our discussion about kids.  Here is a funny meme I found and have been waiting to share. Ah, nothing like kindergarten humor... especially among adults.

2. Here is a snow experiment that I do after we read Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day... and omgosh, I didn't even get it off Pinterest :)  Make two snowballs and bring them into your classroom in the morning.  Place one in a bowl, place the other one in a wooly sock, and then place it in its own bowl, too. The sock simulates Peter's pocket, where he placed the snowball. Let the kids predict what they'll see, then watch the snowballs all day.

One snowball in a bowl. One in a sock, then in a bowl.
Which one will melt first?

Hours later the one in the sock is still in there
but the other has melted.

Yep, the one not in the sock melts faster. You can then talk about how a sock keeps your foot warm because your foot produces heat and the sock traps the heat inside. If you put a cold snowball in the sock, the sock keeps the cold inside, which then slows down the melting process of the snowball. Ask kids about what would have happened if Peter had brought his snowball in and just left it on the table, instead of leaving it in his pocket. 

3. How do you do shared reading? One way I do it is by putting a weekly poem in my pocket chart. In this photo you see the double sided easel that Jonathan made for me. I use a six-pocket chart, but if the poem has eight lines I can add a strip above and below using binder clips.

I like using a pocket chart for several reasons. First of all, it's easy to highlight by using cut-up see-thru folders designed to go in three ring binders.  They usually come five colors to a packet. When cut into rectangles you can put them in front of words to highlight sight words kids already know, words you are working on that week, rhyming words, contractions, words from a word family, punctuation, capital letters... use them for any concept you want to teach your kids.  You can then read just the yellow words, or just the green words or name the red punctuation, etc. Lots of reading options.

Also, you can turn it into a cloze activity by using index cards to cover up words before you read it the first time.

That's Ten-Ten Twenty, our math mascot, lounging up there.
You can read about him by clicking on the photo.

And another reason pocket charts are my choice is because you can rearrange the lines of the poem and let the students remix them into their proper order. Sometimes I let them come up and do it themselves, and sometimes I ask them to explain to me which line goes where while I do the rearranging. Asking them to explain what goes where really gives them opportunity to practice concepts such as out, in, on, above, below, under, first, next, last, etc. This reading activity takes on an extra language component good for my ELLs and the rest of the class, too. And they love being the one to tell me what to do... especially when I get it "wrong" and need extra help.

To do the rearrange activity I need to stop them from peeking, so I ask them to "double close" their eyes. To double close they have to find the "heel" of their hands– a new body label for some. Then, one,  they close their eyes, and two, place the heels of their hands on their closed eyes. And no, they shouldn't press too hard. This makes it much harder for them to cheat because I can easily see who is moving their hands away from their eyes, and there is no peeking through the heels like they can with fingers. It looks like this.

To keep their eyes closed while waiting for me, I sing this song.  Okay, so I'll never be paid to sing, but you need to hear this ditty I made up so you can make it work for you. Or just chant it if you are really not a singer. Either way, it's a useful little teacher tip whenever you need them to close their eyes for a minute.

4.  I took two free resources and turned them into something with double useful purpose for my kids. Owl Things First has a neat freebie– a set of punctuation posters. They show the punctuation mark, the meaning of the mark, and then the mark used in a sentence.  Click on the poster to go there. 

And I stumbled upon the YouTube video from Second Grade Glimpses demonstrating Whole Brain Teaching Air Punctuation.  With each mark and capital letter there is a motion and sound for the reader to make.  You can see them by clicking on the video below.

I combined these two freebies by writing the sound for each mark on the little posters from Owl Things First so that as we reviewed each mark, we learned the motion that goes with it. My kids have gone crazy using the punctuation motions and sounds in our shared reading.  I've even caught them using Air Punctuation as they read their own book baggie of books.  What a terrific and FUN way to teach grammar.

5. And to wrap up this rather random post I leave you with some words I found on Pinterest the other day.  It SO says where I was this week!

Hope to see you again on Monday and Tuesday. I already have those posts "just about" ready to go :)

Head on back to Doodle Bugs Teaching and see what's going on in other teacher worlds.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Laughs, Linkys, Logos and Winter Suff, too!

We were all expecting to have a no school "cold day" because it was minus 20+ degrees this morning. And we did end up having the day off, but it was a "transportation day" instead of a "cold day." At first I thought perhaps the busses had an opinion about running in the cold and opted out, but perhaps it was the bus drivers instead. Although I enjoy the occasional winter stay home day, I feel for the parents left without child care. It's all in your perspective, isn't it?

So what did I do? Thanks to Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching and her Five for Friday linky for giving me the way to share. And look for one more new FUN logo link-up below thanks to Kelly at Art with Jenny K.

1.  Fortunately... unfortunately... fortunately.... I found new Jim Gaffigan videos on YouTube this morning quite by accident... oh the places you wander when you a leisurely morning. I am a big Jim Gaffigan fan... well, not THAT big a fan or I would have known he came out with a new tour back in the spring. Those or you who were reading my posts this summer, know my family and I find him quite funny. His observations of life are right on, and mostly we are laughing at ourselves– we love the "bonus fry" as much as the next gut. However, Mr. Gaffigan was NOT the person to stumble upon this morning when I had big plans of how much I was going to get done with my extra time... how do you spell procrastination? J-i-m G-a-f-f-i-g-a-n. SOOOOO funny.

You've all heard of the Common Core. Well, I'm starting a new workout plan called the Jim Gaffigan Core Program... my core gets such a great workout from laughing that I can barely move afterward. I just need a quick dose every day. Catch yours here.

2.  I've been meaning to share this resource for a while and decided to get some details for you today. The Cornel Lab of Ornithology has many resources about birds that are especially valuable to teachers. There are curriculum resources, apps, tips for getting kids hooked on birds, taking lessons outside, a student e-mag that is free to download, and my favorite– live bird cams and snippets of videos from those cameras that show various birds in action– Barn Owls, Red Tailed Hawks, Great Blue Herons, and feeders in several locations. So if you can't put up a feeder at your classroom window, you can let your students watch these for a little live bird action and download the free bird feeding guides to help your observations.

Click on the pic below to go to the bird cams, but then check out the whole site for all the other good stuff.

Bird Cams and MORE

3.  I have been doing a mini thematic snow unit in class. I found myself in need of more factual info and photos. I found a good site for both. There are great photos and illustrations of the various kinds of snowflake patterns and elements. They do allow you to use the photos for small personal classroom non-commercial purposes, like showing your kids. Check them out by clicking on this collage.

Beautiful snowflakes photos can be found here

My Snow, Snow, Glorious Snow Pinterest board is growing! It includes science videos about how snowflakes form which are especially educational and beautiful and add much to student discussion and learning. The videos are worth checking out no matter what science unit you're on or what climate you live in. Take a look by clicking on the board below.

Lots of snow resources including some really good snowflake science videos. 

4.  What's the story behind the logo? I am linking up with Jenny from Art with Jenny K to tell my story.  Thanks, Jenny, for asking the question.

I coined the phrase "kidpeople" many years ago. From the time I was a kid myself people would say I was a "kidperson" because I was usually doing something with little kids.  It wasn't a big leap for me or a surprise for anyone when I became a teacher. As luck would have it my early years of teaching involved a good bit of public advocacy work. There were times when I felt the needs of kids and their families were completely ignored, and policy makers never once thought about our youngest citizens– ugh. Kids are people, too, you know!

I've been a Kidperson in lots of different ways. I ran my own preschool program- Kidpeople Clubhouse; did teacher training, consulting and PD as Kidpeople Consulting, ; and had a traveling storytelling program called Kidpeople Tales. I've always referred to kids and those who love kids, teachers and parents, as Kidpeople. So it was easy to use Kidpeople Kindergarten when I embraced Brain Compatible Learning and the tribes concept in my first public schools classroom. The blog became Kidpeople Classroom because not everything here is about the kindergarten year, but useful to classroom teachers of many grades.

And my logo? Well, that was easy, too.  When your husband is an illustrator who's been drawing little cartoon sketches of you ever since you first met, well, one of those little cartoons is bound to make it to your cover. I don't think anyone doubts they are at Kidpeople Classroom or on the Funny Kid Friday page when they see my cartoon self. It's the small details that have made the whole blogging journey so much fun... as I come up on the one year anniversary! Time flies...

Click on Jenny's button up there to go to the linky and find other logo stories. And bloggers, be sure to link up your story, too.

5.  This time of year in Michigan can be difficult on many levels, not the least of which is lack of movement when day after day it is too cold to go outside for recess. I swear the classroom walls start to push in. In addition to brain breaks on my Brain Break Pinterest board- the easiest way to store and organize videos for quick use in the classroom–

Click to find lots of follow-along brain breaks
in one place

–I also provide the kids with standing centers and a motor kid movement center. Click on photos below to see my posts from last winter and gather some new ideas and tricks to give your kids movement outlets during the long, cold, winter months.

Standing centers for built-in movement

Motor Kid Center– they love it!

Click on back to Five for Friday to see all your favorite bloggers. Thanks, Kacey!

Whew! That was fun! Now I'm off to check out some other bloggers through the links! And don't forget if you have a funny kid story be sure to link up with this month's Funny Kid Friday. Have a great day!

The post Laughs, Linky, Logos and Winter Stuff, too! first appeared on

Saturday, January 3, 2015

January Pick 3 Pins Linky

Oh, happy January! I'm gearing up for the month, and doing it in a terrific way– with the January Pinterest Pin 3 Linky. This is sponsored by Marissa at Inspired Owl's Corner and Lisa at PAWsitively Teaching.

I found so many good ideas last time that I've looked forward to this post AND reading everyone else's posts all month. All of my three pin picks are for activities we'll do in the classroom this month.

January is snow month for kidpeople kindergarten. I know many teachers in the northern states do snow throughout December. Although we talk about snow a bit as we anticipate its arrival, December is often snowless, so we don't jump into the snow theme then. Better to save it until we actually have snow, and kids are excited about it. As I write this in the first days of January we STILL don't have any snow, but it is simply not possible to have a snowless January, surely! I'll be ready!

For my first Pick I'm going to choose...

Click to go to The Very Hungry Preschoolers

an indoor snow idea! The kids love playing out in the snow and we'll do that as much as time and temps allow, but this will be a great indoor activity to extend snow exploration. I've taken food color paint outside most winters, but I've never used our watercolor sets this way before. It will be good for the kiddos to experiment using snow instead of water to make our paints work. It's also a relatively low effort paint set up for me, too– a bonus.

I've been selectively collecting snow ideas for weeks now on my Snow, Snow, Glorious Snow Pin Board. It includes crafts, art techniques, fine motor activities, science experiments, math connections, books, cooking and fun snack ideas, games, songs, videos... EVERYTHING snow! And if you don't get snow where you live, just make your own from directions on this board. Find fun for all by clicking on the board below.

For my second Pick I choose...

Click to hear this Teacher Tipster tip

Mr. Smith! I love this goofy man and his Teacher Tipster blog. Lots of good ideas here. The reason I'm choosing his Hallway Song as a Pick this month is because I'm gearing up for the transition back to school behaviors next week. Two weeks at home is enough time for our little short people to sort of "forget" classroom expectations. I've known the Hallway Song for a couple years now– as many of you know I love singing in the classroom– but I don't think I've sung it at all this year. Next week will be the perfect time to teach it. It's a fun way to remind kids that quiet hallway behavior is our goal.

I've flicked over my Behavior Tips Pin Board in the last couple days to refresh myself in the ways of the kiddos. You can't have too many tricks up your sleeve to keep the classroom running smoothly. You can find it by clicking on the pic below.

And for my third Pick I choose

Click to go to Laura's post on Luv My Kinders
an anchor chart for teaching digraphs! My friend Laura posted this anchor chart, and one for the 'th' sound a month ago and I loved her post. The kidpeople and I have covered these digraphs before, but this chart will help anchor their learning. I especially like Laura's design and I'm going to "steal" her idea for the good of the munchkins.

Laura's charts are on my Words/Letters Pin Board. My Reading and Writing Boards were getting crowded so I decided to start sorting them more specifically. Click below.

This has been a fun post... Jonathan just threw together a graphic of my mumblings as I work here- HEE!

That won't stop me from clicking and pinning more from all the posts below though!!!

Thanks Marissa and Lisa!

Friday, January 2, 2015

First Fantastic Five for Funny Kid Friday in 2015

It's Five For Friday, One Word Resolution, and Funny Kid Friday for the first time in this new year! Hang on, this is a very full post! I'm linking up twice over and giving you a link up, too.  Thanks to Tara at Doodle Bugs for a favorite format for linking up FIVE random things going on- and guess what, this month mine are truly random.

And thanks to Casey Jane at Primary Powers for the One Word Resolution linky, which I'll start off with.  

1.  I kept reading everyone's great one word resolutions, thinking that many of them resonated with me. I couldn't find just the right one until finally I stumbled upon...

Yep, for me Balance has to be the word for 2015. I need balance with eating and exercise, and balance with my various school responsibilities, and balance between home and school, and balance within my family, and balance in... well, everything.

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. A lot of my doing stuff too much is about control. This verse reminds me who ultimately has control.. and this year I must strive for His balance in my life because I can't do it any other way. Click on the image up there to see what other bloggers resolve to do this coming year. Many posts were quite inspirational.

2.  Why in the world are my socks on the blog??

Because they make for a great attribute sorting activity! So, I was sitting on my bed the week before winter break, sorting through my socks to pair them up. It occurred to me that I had to pay careful attention to a slew of attributes– length, thickness, shades of black, cabling, patterns, etc. Presto- a math activity was born.

I hauled the bin to school, told my kiddos I wanted to wear matching socks, and let them go to it at center time. I also supplied short lists with five lines and asked them to write down five different attributes they used to sort my socks. Black socks are good for more than never getting dirty! How many do you have in your sock drawer?

3.  Techie Tip of the Day! Do you know how to make a gif? Super easy and quick. Here's a silly sample:

That squirrel is eating some child's lunch!

I've done a few of them for fun now, but because they are for family or students I can't really share them here. I do encourage you to go to  and follow the easy steps. You need to use small photos and the easiest way I've found to shrink a pic is to email it to myself, choosing to send it in the small size. Next, drag them off the email into a folder you create on your desktop. Then when you go to the site, open the folder and download the pics. Make-a-Gif lets you put the pics in whatever order and speed you choose. You can then download the completed gif to your laptop, upload it to email, or your blog, or anywhere you choose. See, even I can do it. Easy-peasy! And did I mention it's FREE! Think of the fun you're gonna have with your store of photos.

4.  Bet you can guess where I went over break.

Yep, I was in the Big Apple with both daughters just before Christmas. Great fun! I went to school at Bank Street and have been to New York many times since, but I had never been at Christmas. I wanted to do it for ever so long. It was just a girls' weekend of shopping, food, sights, fun, and lots of laughs. 

I discovered selfies- Off we go!

Tried out new photo angles-
Wow! was that elevator ceiling shiny! 

Found a cool lending library for kids at Bryant Park

And talk about Movie Stars!
I found myself surrounded by Minions!
They look a lot smaller in the movies. 
They really wanted a picture with me.

Olaf gave me a big smile- wait until the kidpeople see!

We looked for Tom Hanks where he met
Meg Ryan once before (remember You've Got Mail?)
And although we didn't see Tom, we did bump into Bob Balaban in the diner at breakfast

A sly shot over my shoulder! He's in A Delicate Balance on Broadway right now, though the last movie we saw him in was Monuments Men- Great flick!

No trip to New York City is complete without a glimpse of a movie star, so I'm glad we got a few.

I mentioned I discovered selfies... which doesn't mean I mastered them... much to the amusement of my daughters.

Delaney lends a hand in the photo department
as Samuelina records the silly moment.

We loved seeing James Earl Jones in You Can't Take It with You and cracked up over this old, still funny classic; we found The Milburn Hotel a fine place to stay; we shopped 'til we dropped, and froze, at the winter markets at Columbus Circle and Bryant Park; we got the BEST bargains on scarves from the street vendors; and the big store windows and Christmas lights were spectacular. Lifetime memories! I am so. so. so. glad we went!

Me jumping for joy because we went to NYC!
Well, actually that is not me. I would jump like that if my knee wasn't bothering me...  well, maybe not just like that... that's actually a scene from the the show we went to see. Did I mention it was very funny?

5.  And now it's time for Funny Kid Friday! They come just monthly during the school year on the first Friday of the month... unless of course I live through one that has to be shared sooner.

During most school breaks of a week or more I find time to do some little new thing around the house. It can be as simple as buying a set of new dishtowels, hanging something new on the wall, or rearranging a room. It's good to keep things fresh. This break I decided to put up new family photos. I found a fun, triple chalkboard thing that I'm going to use for photo and saying display. Jonathan and I had fun going through old pics of the kids and did indeed settle on what the triple frame would look like. Maybe I'll share later.

Anyway, during this rummaging we remembered something our daughter Delaney said a loooong time ago, and which has become a sometimes used farewell among us. It was the summer she turned two. That period when she was getting pretty confidant in her running skills and was using them to keep up with her big sister. But like a lot of toddlers that age, she was having a few extra bumps on the sidewalks, resulting in her fair share of skinned knees. That didn't slow her down, of course, but we knew it was something in the forefront of her thoughts when she said to her dad on his way to work one morning, "Have a nice day, Daddy. Don't fall down."

Now it's time to share your funny kid story. Leave in comments or grab the button and link up. Remember stories can come from your own kids and the link-up will be open all month.

I'm slipping in a few breakfasts with friends and heading in to work this weekend. Have a great rest of break and don't fall down.

You can go on back to Five for Friday be scrolling back up to that first button at the top of the post.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Linking with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade to capture this moment in time.

You are not suppose to be in the doldrums at the start of the new year and while on break, but in a nutshell, that's where I am. Anybody else out there in the same spot? I'll kick my butt around a bit before I post again tomorrow.

Wishing you health, wealth, love and cheer in this coming new year!

Click here to see what others are up to with Farley.

The post Happy New Year! first appeared on

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