Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring in My Step and Party Freebie on My Blog!

Ohhh, I am SO happy to be posting today! I am celebrating Spring with some blogging buddies in a link-up, giveaway, milestone celebrating, freebie giving, spring resource share! I want to thank Marissa at Inspired Owl's Corner for her work at putting this together.

Now lookee, lookee at all the fun stuff here, there, and everywhere!

First off, Kidpeople Classroom has some celebrating to do. I'm at the 250 follower milestone with bloglovin', google and email fans! And I hit 100 followers on Pinterest! I am so very happy to have this audience of teachers and friends for my little thirteen month old blog. As I sit writing away it is encouraging to know that somebody out there occasionally hears my voice. Blogging has been an incredible growing experience, as any blogger will tell you, and if you ever want to start one yourself and begin the journey, just send an email my way and I'd be happy to help. 

Just saying thank you to my steady readers is not enough, though. I want to share some goodies at this little party, so...

I'm having a sale on my Spring cross-curricular activity resource on TPT. 

My newly revised, April Showers Bring What? pack features a new twist on the old saying, April showers bring Mayflowers... and pilgrims. In my version April showers ultimately bring June bugs. 
You'll get a copy of the poem to use in a pocket chart, several to use in poetry journals or as center activities, and a color or black and white bookmark. Directions and printed materials are also included to make a class manipulative that flips from being an umbrella to a flower, and then reveals a June bug– kids love making this and parents love when it comes home. 

For a science connection, or for a bug unit specifically, there is a nonfiction reading passage and two brand new close reading sheets. I use close reading sheets in whole or small group with my kindergarten students, but they would provide individual response sheets for first or second graders. 

All this for just one dollar! That's 66% OFF. And it's just in time to use as we turn over the calendar. Bon't delay as the sale is only TODAY through April 2!  And don't forget to let me know how all the activities go over with your kiddos! Click on the cute June bug image above to see it.

And. one. last. little. gift.  My kidpeople are into rearranging words to make sentences, and I am so happy about that. What good word practice they're getting. I give them words and they work and rearrange so the words make sense in a sentence. This time in the school year is just right for practicing this skill. It's also the perfect time to grab a set of those plastic take apart eggs that are on sale for cheap everywhere to make a new activity. I put together three sets of color coded sentences, at three varying levels of difficulty, and a recording sheet. Just laminate the sentences, cut the words apart and put them in the eggs. Kids choose an egg and are off! 

Click on the photo of the egg search below to download the freebie activity. I'm hoping to raise my Bloglovin' numbers and would love it if you'd follow me that way, but you don't have to. I appreciate you being here today! 

A little heads up while I have you here, though– I'm working on another resource to share with folks. Bloglovin' followers won't miss it... Just sayin' :)

And there's MORE! More GREAT things today! You can, right now, enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card, and $75 or $50 TPT gift certificates! Not too shabby. I could use those in a blink.  Just follow the directions and enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, and I hope I see you added to my Bloglovin' list. Good luck to all!

Then, click around on all the other Blog buttons in the link-up to see what Spring treats they have in store for you at their blogs. It really is a Happy Spring! Whoot!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Five for a Spring in My Step

Five for Friday... er... let's just say Five!  Thanks Kacey at Doodle Bugs for my fav linky.

1.  Do you know about Super Magnet Man?  No, he's not a superhero... well, at least not in the typical sense. But he does sell a SUPER selection of SUPER good magnets. I mean ALL sorts of magnets. Ball magnets, disc magnets, rubber coated magnets, even magnetic jewelry. The ones I use the most are the magnet hooks and pegs which are great on the whiteboard.              

They are high quality and really strong. BEST of all they are a GREAT price– better than I've seen in most stores, if you can even find them in stores. Some are just a few bucks for a set. The site even has little videos of him explaining about some of the magnets. He'll be your superhero, too. Clicking on the pics above will take you to the educational magnet page on the site, but click around to see all the different types of magnets when you get there. He's my first stop when I need magnets.

2.  Spring means COLOR... well, at least, it should mean color, right? We just can't seem to shake these very cold temps as it is in the twenties as I write today. Consequently we aren't seeing much spring bloom yet, though I did notice yesterday that the tops of my tulips are showing.

To bring color inside the classroom we did our bingo dabber coffee filter window art. Super easy, super colorful. I gave all the kids a tray to contain the paint that comes through- it rinses right off afterward- and they went to town. They are especially bright on the window, even if there isn't much sun shining outside.

Coffee filters and bingo dabbers make colorful window art
Click on the photo above to see five different things I did with these in a previous post.

3. I am bound and determined to see green grass! Here is another way we bring in spring. This is just a preview– I'll show you the ins and outs, and dos and don'ts of this project next week as I'm learning along the way.

4. We are reading Elephant and Piggie books right now. Most of you know about this series of books by Mo Willems. They are ideal for the K-1 set for many reasons. I wait until this point in the year to bring them out so my kidpeople know a good bank of sight words. I put out two bins of just these books– yes, I have invested heavily, and the school library helps– and I have the kids pair up to read them. I pair kids because E&P humor is meant to be shared, and if kids are paired, then between the two of them EVERY child truly can read the words.  It's great fun to see each take on the elephant or piggie voice, which these books with their word balloon, dialogue style are so perfect for. The kid partners usually read each book at least twice so they each get a chance to be both characters. These books give us weeks of DEAR time.

There is a lot of teaching that you can do with these two funny characters. I especially like how the kids have to pay extra attention to the subtleties of emotions in the illustrations. We had a great discussion exploring the feelings of pride, generosity, jealousy, anger, rage, embarrassment, sheepishness, righteousness, forgiveness, and friendship– and that was just with ONE of the titles! I Love My New Toy was an eye opening book for many of my little people, and this year in particular it seemed many neither noticed the subtly of feelings and intentions, nor had the words to label the emotions when I pointed them out. Who would think such a simple book could bring about so much learning. Brilliant!

Click on the cover above to go to teacher guides for Elephant and Piggie books.

5.  Now I've saved the best for last! This Sunday I am participating in an absolutely terrific linky and giveaway.

A big bunch of bloggy friends are getting together to share happy spring thoughts... and milestone events, and discounts, and freebies, and a big GIVEAWAY!  Wanna do a little shopping??

Please, please, please come back tomorrow! I have a huge discount and a fun freebie just for stopping by!

NOW, click on back to Doodle Bugs.  I am!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Five for Mottos, Spring, and a Poignant Tale

It's a Five for Friday Linky. Thanks Kacey!

1. Do you have a class motto? Many classrooms have words to live by posted somewhere in their room. For many PBIS schools like ours the phrase that kids learn is, "Be safe, be respectful, be responsible." I have it up in my classroom so my students learn it, but it has always been missing something for me– the element of caring, which should be the whole reason we are safe, respectful and responsible to each other in the first place.

So, even when our school took on PBIS and their motto, I kept to the one that I came up with many years ago, and always use because I think it reflects more of what I hope to teach.

Our Words to Live By

Each year on the first day of school, I write this phrase on the white board– We are a caring, learning community. I write it in red and talk about what each word means–  Caring. Learning. Community. I leave it up for the week, referring to it several times each day, and then on Friday I tell the class that our class motto is SO important that I had a special sign made so we could have it at our meeting area every day. Then I put up the sign at the top of the white board, where it stays all year. I ordered it on Etsy several years ago and it attaches with magnets.

I have found over the years that there is NO situation that comes up in the classroom that cannot be addressed through these words. Somebody says mean words, or takes cuts in line, or breaks something in class– we remember we are a caring community that cares for each other and our things. When someone is talking to someone on the carpet, blurting out at meeting, or bothering someone at center time, they are reminded that we are all about learning, and distracting behaviors stop our own learning and stop others from learning, too. When things come up we talk about them because we are a community. And, of course, when we see caring and learning behaviors serendipitously in class we point to the sign and do the jolly jig. I tell you, folks, EVERYTHING that has come up in over twenty years of living with this phrase in the classroom can be addressed by this simple principal. I love it. I teach it with enthusiasm. It is a strong learning tool for me as a teacher and for my students as well.

Do you have a class motto?  I'd love to hear it and how you use it.

2. Well, Happy Spring... finally... almost... Mother nature is slowly catching up with the calendar here in my corner of Michigan. I sent home our various snow flakes, snow scenes and snowmen this week. YAY! And this weekend when I head into school I'll put up some of the spring art we worked on to replace the snow stuff. Here is just one example, and more will come in the weeks ahead.

Bring Spring In!
Easy-peasy. I cut out squares of manilla paper and taught the kids to draw concentric circles with black dry erase markers, having them use a fat one for the first outer circles so the final "flower" would stand out in the scene. I gave them our watercolor paints and had them paint each one any way they chose. Then they cut out the circles and glued squares of corrugated cardboard to the back so they would stand out from the paper. The kids used strips for the stems and fatter, shorter strips for the leaves. They wrapped the leaves around pencils so they would curl and stand away from the paper. The fat green strip they cut with fringe for the grass and curled that down a bit, too. Voila! A somewhat 3-D spring art project.

A couple times teachers have asked how I work art activities into my learning day. The kidpeople drew the circles and painted at a table as a center activity in the morning. Then as part of free choice time they came over to assemble the rest of their picture. One of my kids said, "I love centers. This is the BEST center!" I think it is important that kindergarten retain some of the whole child elements so important to all learning, even academic learning, so I have no guilt when it comes to interjecting art or some play activities into my "academic" center time.

As a bonus I should mention this project fits in nicely with a study on the artist Kandinsky.  Joanna has a great post and lesson ideas on her blog. Click on her button to visit.

3.  We did all sorts of things for St. Patrick's Day– I'm of Irish heritage so it has always been a biggie for me. I'm not going to blog about the whole thing as it is all after the fact. I'll save it for next year. One thing I will share now is this video. When we "do" St. Patrick's day I think it is important that kids don't just get the idea that Ireland is some old fashioned green land of quaint cottages, but is a very much alive and current place with kids who go to school just like we do.

I found this video of Irish high schoolers doing the "Cup Song," and they do it in Irish or Gaelic.  I discuss with my students how Irish people speak english like we do, but many also have another language. What better way to let them hear it than with this version of a modern day song.  My students loved it and I could watch it all day, too. Enjoy!

4. Here's a bit of randomness, but hopefully a useful bit of randomness. This is my new found treat.

I LOVE them!
Snapea Crisps are a little saltie and a lot good. They are made of peas and rice and baked for a just right snack. And they are a munchie that is good for you. Check out the ingredients.

Protein and fiber that's low salt and low fat- can't do much better for a super quick snack. They are sold in big bags at Costco and small bags at Target. Check 'em out.

5. This week marked my Dad's passing last year.  He died on March 17, and given that his birthday was February 14, we joke that he was a real holiday kind of guy. My dad had a long battle with Alzheimers. I remember so fondly the man he was many years ago, and not so much the man he was at the end of his life. It was sad but a blessing when he passed and my faith helps me look forward to the day I see him again, whole.

Even in last year's sad March, I found a memorable kid story, a bittersweet one this time.

I emailed my students' families when I was out for a few days of bereavement.  The morning I got back to school, I met my line of students coming in the door from my chair (so I can greet them at eye level) like I always do. One little one looked at me sadly and said in a quiet voice, "I'm sorry your dad died, Mrs. Wright." Then she threw her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug. The little guy in line behind her leaned toward us and in a loud whisper voice said, "Shhh. You're not supposed to say anything. It's going to make her cry." And I did indeed cry, even as I smiled to be blessed with such sensitive little helpers all around me. We really are a caring community.

Head on back to Doodle Bugs linky to do a little more reading and idea gathering!

Hope you have a terrific week.  And here's one last bonus tease for those of you who read this far– I'm participating in a GREAT link-up with discounts and freebies and giveaways.  WATCH this space in the week to come!

The post Five for Mottos, Spring, and a Poignant Tale first appeared on

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Five with a Funny

Happy Friday! Here's five things you'll want to know. Thanks to Kacey at Doodle Bugs for the weekly Five For Friday linky. I love it as a blogger and a teacher.

1.   Do you participate in the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Educational Oral Care Program? It's terrific and available to Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers for Free.

Lots of stuff comes in the free kindergarten kit
The kit includes a teacher activity book, a class book with small student copies, posters on toothbrushing and toothbrush recycling, a well done cartoon DVD that stars Dr. Rabbit and some super heroes, and a toothbrush and toothpaste for each child to take home. I use it as part of our science unit on the human body. Your kiddos will enjoy learning about oral hygiene with these engaging materials.

To get information click here on  Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures or call 1-800-293-4502.

2.   A few quick snips and you have two new kinds of math card games. I chopped off the corner numbers of dollar store playing cards and turned them into subitizing cards. Kids can play Top It or any other game that uses cards to practice their subitizing skills.

Two new things to do with playing cards

After I cut off the numbers I had a pile of corners and was about to throw them away when- duh- I realized I was looking at another game. I put the corner numbers in a little monster cup (see below) and let the kids pull them out to play addition/subtraction, place value (by pulling two numbers), or any game at all that requires numbers. Just one more twist on the math game theme. I did round the cut corners as they were rather pokey.

3.  Speaking of chopping, I would be remiss not to mention one of my favorite crafty tools. This little six inch mini paper cutter is SO useful. It made the playing card cutting project fast and easy. I just lined up the same spot on each card and the cards were all uniform with smooth, straight edges. It's also particularly handy for chopping photos.

I use this all the time

And when I went searching for it for you, I found it is on sale half price at Jo-Ann's RIGHT NOW. It's only $9.99 with shipping at $1.99. You can have it next week! Click on the photo to go to Jo-Ann's.

4.   Lookee-lookee.  One of my student's parents knows me well. It's not every parent that buys a toddler snack cup as a teacher gift, but I'm so glad she did. This little holiday gift has been useful in the classroom for math in lots of ways.

He holds all sorts of small pieces for monster math

Sometimes he holds our little monster game pieces, or dice, or the number corners I just mentioned above. His teeth are soft rubbery plastic so little hands can go in and take out the piece. He's cute as can be and if you have a monster theme, or a monster math theme as I do, you need one, too. Check him out. He's neat and cheap.

5.   It's Funny Kid Friday– Yay!

For many of us it is assessment time. I was doing a running record with one little guy and he struggled to read the word "draw" in "draw pictures." He stayed with it, though, using various strategies, and finally got it.  "Draw pictures! Whew! That was hard." he said, looking up at me. Then he shook his head and said, "Why didn't they just say make pictures? That would have been a lot easier!" I had to laugh and agree. Maybe he has a life as an editor ahead of him.

Now it's your turn. If you have a funny kid story to post, link up below. Grab my button so readers find more stories, too. I do the link-up on the first Friday of every month during the school year and it's open all month. It's easy to include a funny tale as one of your five for Five for Friday and then link up with both parties. And if you are not a blogger just leave your story in the comments. I love to hear kid stories and I'm not alone.

You can head right on back to Five for Friday by clicking below.  See you next time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Pin Picks are Math Mania

Happy March! Here are three favorite Pins that I'm thinking about this month– all of them math games. Thanks to Pawsitively Teaching and Owl's Corner for their fun linky!

Here's the first math game.  Made on poster board, it is a good size to play on the floor and the kids love it. You can alter the rules so kids practice either addition or subtraction. Click on the image to see the game at Teach Inspire Prepare.

Maybe it's just in my class, but for these last cold days of winter, my kids need lots of highly engaging games to practice skills with. This one helps them learn addition doubles. It comes with an easy-peasy, free downloadable game board. Definitely worth checking out at Creative Family Fun- click on pic. 

And last but not least, I've been meaning to make this game for weeks now. Maybe it will happen this month. I'm betting this one will be a big hit, too. Find it at Kids Activities Blog by clicking.

Well, now I'm off to check out the other Pin Favs!  You should, too.  Thanks for stopping by!

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