Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jump Ropes, Caterpillars, Pumpkins and a Chuckle

Happy October! Thanks to Stephanie at Forever in Fifth Grade for Show and Tell Tuesday. Stephanie, you can never stop doing this linky– it is often the kick in the butt little nudge that takes me to the keyboard to share the latest. Thanks!

Today I have a handful of goodness. I hope your life has slowed down just a tad since the first weeks of school and you have time to find a good tip or two among these. And don't forget to Pin the ideas you want to do.

1.   We have monarchs caterpillars in the classroom right now. They came after a Praying Mantis and a Walking Stick. It's been a rather buggy start to the year, but I can't pass up unusual insects when they come my way– such great learning opportunities. We have been doing all sorts of learning about caterpillars– comparing factual science books with fictional books about butterflies (Sorry, Mr. Carle, butterflies do not make cocoons,) scientific observation, guided drawing, labeling, and a fun art project I made up that incorporated math and literacy.

The kids practiced making patterns as they glued the strips to form a caterpillar, and the leaf will be placed on a page where some writing will take place, too. Here is a picture of the materials and resulting caterpillar.

2.   This is one of a plethora of letter activities we do at the start of the year. They create letter dot-to-dots, connecting magnetic letters placed on paper on a cookie sheet, which entails learning letters and abc order.

It is interesting that even in this simple activity you can see what kids do know and don't know yet– I bet none of you are surprised to see the b and d reversal. That tricky t with a tail is often taken as an f... why do they make that one random letter with a serif in most sets? This activity has fast teacher prep and the kiddos liked doing it. Put it out with a lower case alphabet chart as most will need it.

3.  I switched up recess a bit. My kiddos love jump ropes, but they are tricky for kinder kids to use, so I keep several Chinese jump ropes on hand. You can find them cheap in toy departments, or simply make one by tying a long stretch of elastic in a circle. The static rope allows more kids to get in on the act of jumping or stepping over, and you can vary the game by raising the loop up and down from ankles to knees as the kids' legs hold the elastic.

The loop can also be used for circle games. It's so simple that after some fast demos they can play all by themselves. It usually launches us into learning jumprope rhymes, too... Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish. How many pieces do you wish?...

4.   Buying pumpkins, counting pumpkins, cooking pumpkins... pumpkins everywhere!

This is the season for using pumpkins. And I don't just mean Jack O' Lanterns... in fact this year we aren't doing Jack O' Lanterns as I have a little one who does not celebrate Halloween. There are still lots of autumn things to do, though. At our morning meeting we've been rolling small pumpkins, both real and plastic as we sing The Pumpkins Go Rolling Two by Two. I vary the verses so we can sing, One by one, Two by two, three by three, etc. And I've rewritten that last verse to lines like– the little one likes to bump into your shoe, the little one always goes a-choo, the little one has a dot that's blue (I put a little blue dot under one of them). You can tie counting, addition, and rhyming into the song in lots of ways, keeping it different and fun.

We also did some cooking. First of all we had to get the seeds out of the pumpkin- small pie pumpkins are about a buck right now at the store.

Oh, the faces were priceless as kids get those seeds out of the pumpkin guts with their fingers. Then we counted them... there are a LOT of seeds in even a small pumpkin– 544, to be exact. So how do five year olds manage to count all those seeds? With the help of a math tool, of course. We work in pairs to put one seed on each number of a 50 grid.

Why work in pairs? Cooperation and faster results. Why 50? We are counting our school days to 50 right now, when we will have a "half party." A half party is a small party that comes half way to the full 100 Day party. At the half party we talk about the fraction 1/2, breaking Kit Kats in half, dividing ten Skittles equally, pouring half a glass of juice, cutting our napkin in half... you get the idea. I've blogged about it before and you can see it here.

But I digress... we kept filling the 50 grids until all the seeds had been placed and found our total number. Then we gave the seeds a good rinse in hot water, blotted them, and tossed them in a bowl with a teaspoon of vegetable oil and a generous amount of soy sauce. We let them sit for half an hour then spread them out on a parchment covered cookie sheet and baked ten minutes on each side. They were indeed yummy. We ate all 544!

We also made pumpkin pudding. It's a super simple recipe.

Make instant vanilla pudding with just one cup of milk instead of three, and add a big can of pumpkin puree. It involves a lot of mixing so everyone can get in on the act. After it sets for a refrigerated hour or two, it is very yummy. And the pumpkin is pretty good for you.

5.  And to make this a true Kidpeople Classroom post, I add a funny kid tale, even if it is not Friday.

One afternoon our principal came in as we were just starting quiet time. When he saw everyone get their carpet squares he asked if he could have one, too. As I invited kid by kid to use the bathroom, he laid down on the floor with them, much to their delight. He got several messages on his phone and in a couple minutes he had to leave, quietly signaling a goodby.

A few minutes later one of my kidpeople said to me, "Mr. E forgot his phone."

Knowing he had taken his phone with him, and thinking she was a bit confused, I responded, "Did you hear Mr. E's. phone ding a couple times? That means he was getting messages. I think someone needed him somewhere else and he had to go."

This Little didn't say anything for a few minutes, and then she said, "Mr. E left his phone."

"Hmmm, nope. He had his phone in his hand when he left."

Several more minutes and several more kids off to the bathroom, and I'm looking for a book by my chair that I'm going to read after quiet time.

I hear her little voice again, saying very slowly and distinctly, "I. Can. See. His. Phone."

I looked at her. She is looking at me, but then turns her head so she is looking under the bench beside her, and once again deliberately says, "I. Can. See. His. Phone."

I stand up and there indeed is a phone on the other side of the bench. I go over and pick it up and muse, "Well, there is a phone here. I guess it's Mr. E's."

Little Miss smiles up at me and says, "Of course."

Five year olds keep the faith that they CAN get through to dense teachers if they just keep trying :)

Hope you got a chuckle and a few new ideas. I have two other posts in the making... wonder if I can get to them before the next Show and Tell Tuesday??

Click the Show and Tell button to see what others are sharing today. 

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Chinese jump ropes are so much fun. My 5th graders loved them, too. Enjoy the Fall weather.
    Once a teacher, Always a Teacher

  2. I'm planning some pumpkin activities with my 3rd graders. They're about to fill the button jar, so pumpkin fun will be the reward. I definitely plan to sneak in some academics too. I plan to use your 50 grid idea. Pumpkin pudding sounds good, too! Thanks for sharing.
    Laughter and Consistency

  3. I love your "Funny Kid" story! I think if I would just write them all down, one day it might be a best seller! I wonder if I could come up with a creative game to play indoors with a Chinese jump rope....hmmm...thanks for the great idea!

  4. Love your little story! I so wish I had written down all my funny kid stories starting 27 years ago, but who would have the time, right? Thanks for linking up!

    Forever in Fifth Grade


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