Friday, March 31, 2017

Glad I Know!

Happy Friday... and if you're like me, happy start of spring break! I didn't think it was ever going to get here!! Today, I'm sharing some useful stuff that makes life my life easier and that I'm glad I know about. Thanks to Kasey for Five for Friday, as always.

1.  "I'M NOT GOING TO BE YOUR FRIEND ANY MORE!" If you work with kinder kiddos you have certainly heard that before and it means someone is mad. Our role as teacher is to help kids talk through the conflict... and talk it through, and talk it through, and talk it through again. It is one of the most important things that teachers of young children teach. And you want to have a variety of ways you help your students learn and grow their social skills.

Well, I have a little book, a really old book actually, that is a great help in discussing friendship. How you can be friends, and be mad at the same time, and how it doesn't mean that the friendship is over. It's called Let's Be Enemies, written by Janice May Udry and illustrated by none other than Maurice Sendak. It was published back in 1961, if you can believe it. Fortunately, it does not contain any of the sexism or racism that sometimes seeped into books back then. My husband says that he actually remembers the book from when he was a kid, with it's small 5x5 inch size and recognizable Sendak drawings.

The book is very simple with just a line or two on each page. John, the narrator describes how he and James were friends, but then how they aren't any more, and then, in a blink, they are friends once again. It beautifully captures the fluidity of friendship among young children. My kids were instantly drawn to it have asked to read it several more times. It is especially useful if you have a little person who gets a bit stuck on the "injustice" done by others and tends to hold a grudge. It really normalizes getting mad, and then moving along.

 I just checked AbeBooks now and they have plenty of copies for under four dollars with free shipping. I suggest you pick up a copy to keep in your collection of getting along books.

2.  Please do tell me you know about AbeBooks! Used books of all sorts can be found there– I get them for the kidpeople, for my teacher-self, and for my own reading pleasure. And many of them are less than four dollars with free shipping.

I have had nothing but great service and fast shipping from any of the book sellers on AbeBooks. They are a nice alternative to Amazon... which I am mad at right now for reasons that you can probably guess. I'll do business with Amazon again when they change who they advertise with. It's hard not to shop at Amazon, but I am finding some really good alternatives.  Give AbeBooks a look-see by clicking on the logo up above.

3.  Do you know about this can opener?

It opens cans by taking off the lid in a SAFE way so that both the cylinder and the lid can be used without hurting fingers. My kiddos love our can collection and I've used them for all sorts of things... seems that might make a good blog post in the future... hmmmm.... 

What better way to learn "cylinder?"

Check out the OXO version of the safe can opener. Click to see it at Target, but there are several on the market at many different stores.


4.  Have you seen this lovely animated video of the book Going on a Bear Hunt. It's based on Michael Rosen's version which is illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. My class doesn't watch videos very often, and many of the ones we do watch are for science content. But occasionally I find a really well done video version of a favorite book.

We started the year by doing oral retelling of Going on a Bear Hunt. Then we did it with simple props. And then we moved on to the book. So when I found this rendition, I was really pleased. It is quite well done... though I do need to forewarn you– it is "kindergarten exciting." Not too scary in my opinion, but it has just a bit of the shivers, which might be too much for some kids. So you should watch it with your own littles in mind. It's about 28 minutes long.

5.  Today I saved the best for last. Do you know about Google Photo?? It is an app you can put on your phone and your laptop. It stores your photos in the "cloud" but not in your Google drive, so it doesn't take up any of that space. The Google Photo capacity is UNlimited and... wait for it... it's FREE!

I back up my laptop, including photos, to an external hard drive about every other month or so. (I should do it more regularly, but alas.) If anything should happen to my laptop, I will have the photos. The problem is that unless I tag my photos, which I rarely do, when you look at photos via the external hard drive, they are simply listed by their automatically labelled NUMBER. You have to put them back in a photo app to see what they are. PAIN!

So I was looking for another way to have a second back-up in which I could VIEW the photos, and I stumbled upon Google Photo. Maybe the best thing about the app is that it is SO automatic. You don't need to tell it to save the latest photos, it does it when it is open. And the BEST added bonus is that the app AUTOMATICALLY makes collages, movies and animations from your photos. It uses the latest technology to put photos together so they make sense. It has GREAT face recognition, too. It's like having a photo assistant working for you. Below is a funny little animation of my class in the woods from several years back, and a movie that Google Photos made of a family visit to a special farm with a baby zebra. It's an oldie but goodie- my daughters are grown now.

And you don't need to request that the app create something for you, or sort through the photos, or anything– all automatic. The "Assistant" feature on the app sends you notices when it makes something new. You can view it, cry or laugh over it, and save or delete it. What a terrific treat. It did one of my daughter that included photos from when she was a baby, all the way through now. HOW does it know. I cried when I got that one and I've watched it a dozen times. Although I could have made my own movie, I was not likely to put in the effort.

One more important thing, I found a GREAT video done by Steph Clay from Modern Photo Solutions which gives a very thorough explanation of how Google Photo works, complete with little tips. It is FREE to watch, too. Just click on icon to go.

I HIGHLY recommend Google Photo- here's a link to check it out. Enjoy!

Well, I hope you found some goodies in the line-up. Let me know if the post was valuable or if you have any questions.  And don't forget to PIN stuff so you remember!

Thanks to Kacey at Doodle Bugs for the Five for Friday post. Head on back to find more good stuff.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Hedgehog Freebie and More

Happy Spring! This is a quickie post with a few little things you might like! Thanks to Stephanie for Show and Tell Tuesday!

What do you do to celebrate spring with your kiddos? I usually do a planting project, but I am a bit overdosed with special projects at the moment... between St. Patrick's Day, Dr Seuss week, and worm day in the last couple weeks– whew! So I was looking for something pretty easy in the planting department.

I have done the kids faces on cups, so it looks like they are growing hair. You can see a photo from a couple years ago and you can see they did turn out pretty cute. I posted about it and you can see the details if you click on the photo. However I passed on it this year because the prep to get those face photos to fit and be waterproof was more than I wanted to do.

I've also done the egg carton caterpillar where the grass makes the caterpillar fuzzy. You can see it if you click on the photo below. The problem with doing the caterpillar this year though is that we go on spring break in less than two weeks and the grass won't be high enough to take home, but there won't be anyone around to water them at school. Those little egg cups hold just a small bit of soil that dries out quickly.

Sooo... what to do??  Hairy Hedgehogs!

I put Jonathan's drawing skills to good use and had him draw a hedgehog to fit on a sauce cup. I gave each student a paper hedgehog and colored pencils to color him in. They cut them out along the heavy black line. Then I carefully placed a strip of wide packing tape across the hedgehog so that he was sealed around the edges and placed that on a take-out sauce cup. I get the take-out sauce cups at Gordon Food Service. They are pretty cheap, and handy to have around the classroom where I've used them for all sorts of things.

Now these little guys are hanging out on the window counter to catch some rays. The little cups don't hold a lot of soil, but enough that if we give them a good watering before we leave for break, and place a little clear plastic wrap loosely over the top, I think they'll make it.

You wanna Hairy Hedgehogs with your kiddos?? Well, just click on the hedgehogs and you can download a sheet of six. Happy Spring!

And I have a second share, too, though some of you may remember this one from last year.

This is my April Showers activity that includes a new twist on an old saying, a moveable craft, and a close read on that little critter known as a June Bug.

It comes with all the stuff you need to make a shared reading for your pocket chart, a poem for the poetry folder, a bookmark, and the craft. We're going to do the activities in April, which is just around the corner. Click on the pic below to see it on my TPT page. 

Well, hope that was a breath of fresh spring air and you enjoy having a little fun with your kids. Remember to PIN! Now click on back to Forever in Fifth Grade Show and Tell Tuesday to find more teacher ideas. Thanks, Stephanie!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Great Drawing Marker and Other Stuff

Erin Go Bragh! Happy St. Patrick's Day... the day you can be Irish even if you're not.

1. I share Five for Friday but I start on a bit of a sad note today. My family IS Irish and we used to get together for a good meal and a little jig or two on St. Pat's Day when we all lived closer, but now we are rather spread out. Celebrations are few and far between these days. Also, three years ago on this day my dad passed away... he was born on Valentine's Day and died on St. Patrick's Day. I can't believe it's been three years already. I still miss him very much.

So you see why St. Patrick's Day has become a bit sad for me.

2.  Have you ever combined dry erase markers with water color paints? I find that the kiddos create some pretty cool stuff when I suggest they draw before they paint. I tend to see fewer paint soaked abstract masterpieces, and the placement of paint on paper becomes a little more purposeful. 

The problem is that regular markers bleed when wet- which can be fun sometimes, too, but not for a drawing project. Pencils are too light. And permanent markers need more supervision, and they bleed on the paper all by themselves anyway. What to do?? 

I suggest you use thin tipped dry erase markers. I have used Expo, Lakeshore, and the brand sold at the Dollar Store, The Board Dudes, and all of them work just fine. I buy whichever ones I can find at the cheapest price. They leave a nice dark line that doesn't bleed, no matter how much paint the kids use. 

And of course I use my hacked paint drying rack which is really an under shelf wire basket. I blogged about it before. Click on the photo to know more details. 

3.  Funny how the additions of just a few things can make activities all new. Here are some new items I added to the mix of stuff.

Dollar Store combs for the play dough

Good old fashioned compasses for circle fun

Shower door squeegee for raking up duplos, which makes clean-up much more fun. Clean dustpans work, too.

4.  Speaking of duplos, don't forget them. Lots of kindergartners come to school completely enamored with lego and I, too, personally love lego. However, there are some down sides– oftentimes the kids only want to make the "thing" that the fancy pieces are for. It takes a long time to find the exact pieces, and a long time to make a relatively small thing. Kids usually run out of time to complete the building, let alone play with it.

That's why I always have duplos on the ready in the construction corner. They are easier to use on the floor with fewer tiny pieces. And because they are bigger, they are not only easier to build with, but you get the "thing" a lot faster, so there is usually time to actually play with the creation. Don't let the kids' initial reaction to "those baby toys" stop you from making them available. I actually don't put out the small standard sized lego bricks until the last third of the year, and the duplos get tons of use all year long. Lego makes a great multi-racial sets of people in the duplo scale, too.

5.  And I end with 

I don't know if any of you heard about the BIG wind storm that hit the southeast corner of Michigan last week. Over twelve hours of gusty hurricane strength wind. I think there were something like 800,000 customers who lost power. DTE said it was the biggest power outage in their history. Jonathan and I were lucky, and we only had a little flicker... enough to make me check on what was in the freezer... where I found these! 

Forgotten Christmas cupcakes! Yes! Just as good as ever. Enough to share at school. How is a person to lose any weight if Christmas cupcakes are still around in March, I ask you!!!

Anyway, we lost power at school for two days, giving us a four day weekend. I felt horrible for the families without power, but I can't deny the unexpected time "off" gave me time to do much needed OTHER stuff for SCHOOL. eye roll....

Then this week, we had a snowstorm! The snow came down continuously all day long. After the very spring-like, even summer-like weather where we hit 70 one day, it was rather disconcerting to see winter upon us again. As I told the kids to bundle up for the walk to cars and busses I heard one little guy say, 

"Do you think Santa will come tonight??"

Well.... we HAD pretty much experienced all the seasons again since Christmas break. Maybe it was time for Santa to swing on thru once more!! I mean, I've heard of Christmas in July, why not Christmas in March?

Have a great spring break if you are on one. A much needed and deserved respite. We still have two. more. weeks. to go. Click on back to Kasey at Doodle Bugs to see what else is going on with teachers.

Thanks for stopping by... and don't forget to PIN ideas you want to remember!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Worm Day!

Okay, so this has been a cra-cra week, but I still want to share about one thing– Worm Day! I'll break it into five points to share on this Five for Friday linky post.

1.  So I had my head on a million things happening this week– kindergarten round-up, which involves prepping a talk and keeping the room neat, etc., assessing for report cards, and the Three Billy Goat Gruff retelling– when SURPRISE! it was Worm Day. Do you know about Worm Day? Well, it's the first day spring-like enough to bring the worms out in droves... swarms... gangs onto the sidewalks. It is usually a wet and balmy day, after a rainy night, and this year was no different, except that it was March first... MARCH first, mind you, not April. Those pesky worms do not bother to text me when their mass exodus from the earth is coming up, so I don't know until I painstakingly tiptoe into school through a worm obstacle course covering the sidewalk. Because this teacher of five year olds simply cannot let worm day pass by and not take advantage of the learning it provides, everything else on the day's agenda got pushed aside.

I knew I made the right decision when the kids came in with nothing but worm talk. We had a brief discussion on the general make up of worms- no bones, very squishy– and how that then dictates how we handle them. And no, no one is going to make anyone pick up or touch a worm, but those of you who want to, can collect some worms in our jar for a couple days of scientific observation. Then we headed out the door gleefully.

So many worms on a balmy March 1

Gently, gently

Here's another one!

Worm tracks

2.  Twenty minutes later we were back inside and I was substituting the planned center, abandoning guided reading, and sitting at a kid table distributing a small tray, wet paper towel, magnifying glass, and worm to each student in the small group. Ah, fifteen minute of observing the worms, keeping them on their paper towel, making the magnifying glasses "work," and terrific conversation– scientific and otherwise.

Carefully looking

Scientists at work

It doesn't seem like they move very fast,
but this one somehow slipped by in stealth mode!

The first time the kids have a worm all to themselves you really need to be ready to simply follow their leads. They are completely engaged, even the kids who proclaim they don't like worms. We observed how they moved, we marveled at how fast they could be, and we found a safe way of flopping the worms back on the paper towel when they strayed off. We talked about all the colors in a worm- quite a few colors considering these are just "boring" old earthworms. And of course we had a lot of discussion on the purpose of worms in the world.  Mostly I wrote down their questions- what do they eat, where are their babies, why are they wet and slimy, why did they come out today, and is that poop? Their questions then guide our fact gathering later in the day as we turn into bookworms immersed in books about worms.

3.  The next day we drew the worms using all the crayon colors we had listed the day before. We watched a couple of kid videos that explained a lot about worms, and we wrote some of the facts we learned about them.

4.  Then on our way to lunch recess we stopped by the school garden with its raised beds and filled up a deep tray with some soil. I told the kids that I would take the soil back to the classroom to warm up a bit– the ground and beds were now covered with snow– this is Michigan after all with daily change of seasons! When the kids got back from lunch we put all of our worms on top of the soil and watched. The worms did not disappoint. It did not take long for all of them to disappear into the soil... well, all but the four that hadn't survived the adventure (actually I think they had already been smushed on the sidewalk before the kids brought them in.) The dead comrades provided further learning, however, as we discussed how worms are even useful after they die.

We went back out to the garden and put the soil and worms back in the bed, tucking them in with extra soil– poor things. I really think that the warm spell of the last week, which ended abruptly, might do more harm to things in nature than good, even as it was nice to abandon snow pants and heavy jackets for a few days. We are right back to winter, but we have a LOT more knowledge about worms. I considered the worm mini-unit an even greater success when I overheard one student, the one who had shrieked at the first worm in the jar, say, "They are kinda cute."

5.  Teacher tips– having done this many years now, I suggest you keep the worms for no more than one or two days. Some worm death might be inevitable, if for no other reason than the worms get stepped on on the sidewalk. It is best to up the chances of survival through their observation period and keep them for only a short time. Or you can set up a proper worm habitat, but unless you are using them for composting, they usually keep well out of sighte way down in the dirt.

I suggest you collect and keep the worms in a jar with just a little bit of the mud found at their collection site. I don't know that they eat overnight, but there is some food in there for them if they get hungry. Then keep a lot of very damp, crumpled paper towel in the jar so they can bury themselves in the creases and folds. This allows them moisture and a place to hide. Paper towel allows the kids to watch the worms more than if you just fill the jar with dirt, where the worms can't be seen. It also will be very obvious in the morning that the worms pooped on the paper towel. Worm poop, or castings, is a big way that worms help us and is a valuable part of the learning, as you'll find when you do some factual reading with the kids. Cover the top of the jar with plastic wrap that has very tiny holes in the top– I use a paperclip wire to punch the holes in. We have never had a worm escape from the jar, but the holes need to be very small, and the plastic wrap basically keeps the paper towel from drying out. Also a tray that is a couple inches deep is ideal for filing with soil so you can watch the worms burrow out of sight.

Hope this inspires you to be ready for your impromptu worm day. Taking little bends in the road to incorporate teachable moments and the children's interest is what teaching is all about in my opinion. And it is an awful lot of fun for all involved!

Swing on back to Five for Friday! Thanks, Kasey.

 Thanks for stopping by! And don't forget to Pin so you don't forget!

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