Thursday, January 19, 2017

More Than Five Funny, Useful Things

You know me. No posts in over five weeks, then three posts in five days... and you're in for a treat today, because in addition to being Doodle Bugs Teaching Five for Friday it is also Funny Kid Friday. I've been chuckling for a week every time I think of this story.

As I write this, we are having an ice day. The sleet is pouring down at just barely 32 degrees, making for one heck of a dangerous mess outside. The dog wouldn't even go down the porch steps until I scraped them! The ONLY good thing that can happen on an ice day is for school to be cancelled... and it was! Now you know why I am posting three times in five days. I even had time for a nice breakfast... well, actually the same breakfast I would have had if I were on my way to school.

I suppose that photo is not especially appetizing... a food blogger I'll never be... I think they take photos of their food before they eat it. snort. It should tell you something, that we are down to the last bit in just a couple days. This new recipe from a friend shot to the top of our favorites list. It is an oatmeal bake. It takes about ten minutes to put together, and 25ish minutes to bake. I put in bananas, dried blueberries, and walnuts, basically because that is what we had. I think I'll try it with raisins, or even canned peaches next time, but it will work with most any fruit. The fruit gets lovely and smushy in the warm oatmeal.

Click on the picture to download the recipe. I added vanilla to the recipe and dropped the brown sugar from half a cup to a third. Hope you like it as much as we do!
Here we go then with Five for Friday... the recipe was a yummy bonus  

1.  Check out the bumper sticker I saw in a parking lot. It made me chuckle, though some days I want to scream this to the world...

like "used to" counts. ha.

2.  Everybody young and old knows THIS book

But not everybody knows that Amazon made an animated VIDEO of the book. A WONDERFUL video!  It stays pretty true to Ezra Jack Keats style and storyline, but fills in the details with some wonderful snowy city scenes and new diverse characters. Here are some of them, both new...

And old. That little snowman is so Snowy Dayish, isn't it?

The story involves Peter and his neighborhood getting ready for the holidays, but even so, I'm going to show it to my kiddos now in January. It's just delightful and worth checking out. I am so glad I found it. You can see a preview of The Snowy Day and Amazon's other holiday special, If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie, by clicking on the gif below... isn't he just as you pictured Peter to be?

3.  Speaking of snowy days, there are sooooo many snow and ice activities to do with kids. Even if you live in Florida, there are plenty. I collect them all on my Pinterest Board dedicated to all things SNOW. Find the latest crafts, science activities, books and videos by clicking below.

Here's one of the ideas I mentioned a couple weeks ago, but with pics. You take old plastic containers, fill them with water, drop in stuff, freeze, then let the kids get the stuff out. It would be really cute to drop a handful of penguins in there. Unfortunately, I readied this activity while at home over break and there were no penguins in sight.. plastic, or otherwise. There were lots of miscellaneous do-dads however. I stash most of these things in my pockets as I find them out of place in the classroom, intending to put them away, but they often make their way home until laundry day, and beyond. If I want a random do-dad, I look on the top of the dryer.

Here are the found items in water placed out on our deck to freeze.

We did a lesson on states of matter with water. If water becomes ice at 32 degrees, then a glass of water must be warmer than 32 degrees. And when warm water drips on cold ice, what happens? Well, the ice melts and releases the item... at least releases it enough for you to pry it out with your little kid fingers.

Here is the iceberg activity after the littles were at if for a while with the eyedroppers. They got a lot of things out.

4.  I posted about these two ideas earlier this week. I thought they were so worthwhile I gave them each their own post. If you don't know about pokey pin pages, or you stay away from them because you don't want to give the kids push pins, have I got the tool for you! Click to read about the pokey pens, some sources for pokey pin sheets, and some new paper you might not know about.

And this one is a FREEBIE. Kids love to cut snowflakes, but the little guys just can't... or can they? Check out this free downloadable template that my DH made for me and let your kinders cut to their heart's delight. Click to see post.


A former student stopped by my room the other morning just as the bell rang. His cousin is in my class this year. 

Student:  Hi, Mrs. Wright. Could you give this hat to Grant? He left it at my house.

Me:  Sure thing. I'll give it to him now.

As student turns to walk away...

Me: Hey, bud, you sure are getting tall!

Student: Thanks, Mrs. Wright, so are you!

If only I were growing in the vertical direction...

There you have it. Now see what everybody else is up to this Five for Friday on Doodle Bugs Teaching. Thanks, Kacey, for the linky.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next time!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Safer Tool for Pokey Pinning Pages!

Lookee, lookee, lookee, I've got something to Show and Tell! See what I stumbled upon! A new, safer, pokey pin tool! More like a pokey pin pen, though it doesn't start out as such. In the hands of teachers and students they become a great pinning page tool, one that is much safer than the push pins which are usually used.

First of all, you need to know what pokey pin activities are. Sometimes they are called poke-a-page or pinning pages, as well as pokey pins. They are printables of pictures, words, or numbers, drawn with a dotted line. Kids usually use a push pin to poke a hole in each dot, creating a pretty cool image of micro dots of light when the paper is placed on a window– sort of like a constellation in the night sky. It is a satisfying sensory experience to poke those holes, and it provides great practice for fine muscle control, too.

Here is a pinning page from From the Pond. There is a link below.

The problem for me was that I worried about my kiddos using push pins. I have EXCELLENT classroom behaviors 100% of the time... well, 90%... well... most of the time. But even the most responsible kids in the most well run classroom can get a bit mad annoyed with each other from time to time, and all it would take would be one little impulsive swipe with a push pin in hand and Yowee! A lot of damage could be done to people and things. So only on very rare and highly supervised occasions have we done pokey pin sheets... until NOW!

They look like pens but they have tips like this–

See those little balls on the tips? They are much blunter than push pins tips, yet they go right through the paper. And they have nice handles, too– it's like holding a regular pen. You can even put a pencil grip on it for your kiddos who need it.

They are actually manicurists' tools. I think they use them to marbleize polish on nails and place little gems. Don't even ask me how I stumbled upon them. I'm not a glamour nail kinda girl– I get a pedi two or three times a year, but my shopping does take me on mysterious, meandering paths sometimes.

We use them at the table with a carpet square underneath like this.

Or on our tummies on the floor carpet like this.

Our school OT says the tummy style provides particularly good fine muscle practice. And it provides a nice movement break as well. The kids really like doing pokey pins this way.

Usually the directions for doing pinning pages say to use two pieces of paper– one with the image copied on it, and then a black piece of construction paper, paper clipped under the first. The holes of light do show up better on the window when the paper is dark. I can't stand wasting two pieces of paper, however, so sometimes I just copy the pinning picture on a regular piece of white or colored paper.

Do you know about colored paper place mats? They are colored on one side and white on the other. They have all sorts of uses for teachers... like when you do folded paper projects. They are bigger than 8.5 x 11, but when you trim them down to standard copy paper size they will go through the copier. I can copy the pinning image on the white side, and then when it is done the kids can turn it over to have black. Also, the copier ink even shows up on the dark side, so you can run it that way as well. I've used both black and dark blue with great success. With their scalloped edges I have also used them to mat kids artwork. They come in 100 page packages for about five dollars at stores like Gorden Food Service. They are useful to have around just so you can experiment with a new type of paper.

Paper placemats that are colored on one side and white on the other are
another useful type of paper to have around the classroom.

It was a very gray, cloudy day when I had the camera out, so I took this picture on our light table. You can sort of get the idea what pinning pages are all about. The "go" didn't come out too well in the picture, but they look better on a window.

And here is some more REALLY good news– these tools are quite inexpensive. Over time they have fluctuated in price on Amazon from $2 to $5 for the set. I stopped by our local beauty supply store to see if they carried similar tools, and they carry what seems to be the very same item. They cost about ten dollars though, considerably more than on Amazon. If you are in a big hurry then maybe shopping local would be a good idea, but otherwise, click on the Amazon affiliate paid link below to see them.

Pokey pin downloadables are available on TPT, of course. I especially like Mel's from From the Pond and Krissy's from Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business. You can find them by clicking below.

I hope you find these new tools useful and you and your students have lots of fun and learning with pinning pages. I would really appreciate it if you'd Pin this idea for me! I think other teachers would be especially happy to find pokey pin pens.

Now be sure to check out all the other fun Show and Tells on Forever in Fifth Grade's Linky Party. Thanks Stephanie!

Thanks for stopping by!  See you next time!

Free Snowflake Cutting Template for Little Kids!

Happy Winter! I'm sharing an old activity with a new twist today! There's even a freebie to grab!

I grew up in Michigan and we Michiganders spent a lot of time with snow. One of our favorite past times was cutting paper snowflakes Seemed every teacher in every grade found ways to use those snowflakes. Even as a freshman in college I remember spending too much time procrastinating on homework cutting snowflakes, then covering them with glue and glitter to hang around our dorm room.

Well, now I teach little five year old Michiganders how to make snowflakes... problem is, those little fingers don't have the coordination to cut very intricate designs. They work away at it, but alas, their efforts usually result in sorry oblongs of paper with a few holes in them.

SO, I asked the DH to make some snowflake cutting templates for me. And boy, THEY WORK!

These are the snowflakes the five year olds can cut with the template.

It takes just a little bit of prep using the templates, paper clips, and white, standard basket-style coffee filters.

1. Fold the coffee filter in half

2. Fold the half into thirds. One third folded up...

3. Then the other third folded up.
Now the coffee filter is folded in sixths.

4. Tuck the folded filter into the folded template.

5. And clip it closed with a paper clip.

6. Cut off the shaded parts.

Shaded bits cut off.

Carefully unfold it. Voila!

Even five year olds can do it!


You can have these snowflake cutting templates as a little freebie from me to you. There are four copies of three different snowflake shapes– the shading is in different darknesses to fit the printing and copying method you use. I like the dot shading myself because it copies well on the school copier.

I do ask that you do one thing, though... PIN IT!  Thanks!

Click to download free template

Well, that's all for today's post. I'm linking up with Forever in Fifth Grade's Show and Tell Tuesday. I posted before Tuesday in case teachers had a few open minutes for blog reading on Martin Luther King day. If I have enough time myself, I'm even going to post again as I have another little trick up my sleeve to share. Go check out the other goodies on the linky. And thanks, Stefanie!

See you soon!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Tea Light Classroom Delight... Among Other Things

Hello Friends who I haven't seen for a while. Life goes along at a pace that does not always leave room for blogging, I'm afraid. But I am still alive and well, and have an idea or five that I hope you'll find useful, so let's get crackin'. Thanks to Kasey at Five for Friday! What would we do without this linky??

1.  The winter months are dull and dreary here in Michigan where Old Man Winter rolls a gray blanket across the sky and leaves it in place from January through March. One little way I bring darkness into the classroom in playful ways is by adding little LED tea lights to the play areas. Great fun can be had for cheap as multipacks can be found at the dollar store. The kids like to use them in the dollhouse, small world, blocks and drama... anywhere really.

An added bonus is that it seems to bring a certain hush to the play as the kiddos make up imaginary scenarios using the "flames." A pack or two will last all season.

2.  And while on the topic of lights, don't forget Flashlight Fridays. My kids LOVE coming in to class on Fridays for DEAR time, which is how we start each day. They put away their things, grab a book, grab a partner, grab a flashlight and sit ANYwhere in the room they choose to read together. I found inexpensive yet hardy flashlights at Menards. I have done this for many years and it is a much loved weekly literacy activity.

Under the table with a book and a partner for Flashlight Fridays!

3.  We had early snow here in the southeast corner of Michigan. A full foot gave us a snow day in early December, while December snow days are rather rare. When we got back to school the kids so wanted to play in it, but the temps on many days that week were too cold to allow outside play. So I went out and filled buckets with snow to bring inside. One day, mitten handed, we simply played with it. Another day I added watercolors, and another day I packed it rather hard and brought out the watercolors again. Loose snow and packed snow provide very different painting experiences. Bringing snow in to play with and painting snow are hardly new ideas to teachers, but this year's kiddos still loved it as much as any kids have over the years.

4.  I have already made my ice berg discovery blocks to bring to school when we go back. You take a plastic bowl of water, drop in a plastic figure or two– dinosaurs work well, though any item will do– and let the water freeze solid. Then you put the chunk of ice on the sensory table with eyedroppers of water. As the kiddos drip water drop by drop, the ice slowly melts and the figure comes free. It is amazing how long the kidpeople will stay with this activity. And think of all that great fine muscle strengthening as they use the eyedroppers. Sorry I don't have photos for this one, but I'm sure you get the idea.

5.  I LOVE Donors Choose. I got two complete Osmo sets funded, and then I bought one of my own. With three iPads going at once, and working in pairs, six kids can participate at once. It makes for a fine center.

Language use is high as they work together, which is good for all young students, but my ELL kids especially.  The kiddos don't know it yet, but I've kept some of the games aside to pull out when we get back, and it makes my teacher heart sing knowing I've got highly engaging, new additions to our technology that are really going to help us spice up January.

Give Donors Choose a try if you haven't. It's a little bit of work to write up and complete, but the materials cost you nothing and sure are helpful to learning in the classroom. I've done three different projects over the years– rekenreks, wobble seats, and the Osmos. You can have new materials in your classroom within a month or two.

Bonus 6.  I share this one just for teachers who are looking for something new to read in the early dark evenings. I received lovely bookstore gift cards this Christmas. I love nothing more than a date night with the husband at a bookstore. We go our separate ways and meet in the cafe later, each with a stack of books to peruse and choose from. I do a lot of online shopping, but nothing beats a real brick and mortar store.

I have been keeping an eye to the end of year must-read lists and quite frankly, finding them quite depressing. There seems to be nothing happy or uplifting on any list I can find... perhaps an indication of where some of us are as 2016 comes to a close. But that doesn't mean I want my reading to be a downer, too.

I went to the Barnes and Noble site before we went shopping to sort of get in a book mood, and as I clicked around a "Chat" window came up that suggested I "talk" to someone for book suggestions. It wouldn't have occurred to me to ask for help in browsing, but it turned out to be quite helpful, actually, once we narrowed down the genres a bit.

Another helpful discovery was the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" list at the bottom of each book's page. Of course, I've noticed this in the past, and in shopping on Amazon found it quite useful when shopping for things. It never occurred to me to go specifically to the page of a book I have already read and loved, just to read the list of similar books that appears at the bottom. I found all sorts of treasures, both current titles and oldies, and have a new stack of books at my bedside.

Most of last year's reading for pleasure was spent in the eight part Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Oh, how I mourned coming to the end of the last book! I'm sure I'm not the only fan that hopes for just. one. more. When I bought the series– a huge stack on the counter– a young woman passed by, took a look, and said, "Ah, lucky you! I wish I was reading them all again for the first time."

NEWS FLASH!  I just visited Diana Gabaldon's website and she. is. writing. number nine!!!!!! We can't hold our breath because we don't know when it will be out, but it WILL! AND this June a compilation of side-stories of the outlander characters is coming out- featuring Monsieur Raymond, Roger's parents, and even a young Ian and Jamie, among others. Can hardly wait for them!!! So Outlander Fans take heart– the adventures continue!!! And of course the Outlander series season three lies ahead this summer. Yippee!!! If you don't know this series I highly recommend you check it out!!!

So glad you stopped by. I would promise to blog again soon, but you know how it goes. I hope because I don't post super regularly thru the school year, when my blog pops up on your feed you stop by to see what's up. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Now it's time to click on back to read more teacher stuff. Thanks, Kasey!

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