Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spring and STEM for the Classroom

Hello Fellow Teachers out in internet land! I have been on spring break this week and had all sorts of intentions of writing a good half dozen posts. The week has flown by with daughters home to visit, many breakfast-lunch-coffees with friends, and my little, furry companion, Popeye, coming to the brink of death yet again (she turns 16 in three months, and in three months her diagnosis of kidney disease reaches the three year mark... she is the original Ever Ready Yorkie-Bunny who just keeps on going, even surpassing the life expectancy of a healthy Yorkie. She is right as rain again today, but these scares let me know the end is drawing near.) I should get on to classroom prep for the weeks ahead, but I'm going to shoot out a quick, photo packed post– hahahaha, they are never quick. Hopefully you get an idea or two from seeing what we're up to in our kidpeople classroom.

Happy Spring!

We made spring flowers. I gave each kiddo two, dollar store paper doilies. They used fat markers to put a lot of color on each doily. They then placed them on a tray and dripped water all over them- water droppers are such fun. Tipping the tray at different angles let the water ran over the doilies, making the marker ink run, too. Then they set them in a corner of the room to dry.

The next day they cut out leaves that said Think Spring. I cut a few small pieces of green masking tape and let the kiddos attach their leaves to a green straw stem. I snipped a hole in their two doilies, slid both doilies down on their straw, and tightly twirled a piece of masking tape around the doily where it met the straw. Older kids could do this themselves but my guys needed help.

Voila– a spring flower to take home. Could make a nice little Mother's Day craft, too. Some of the kiddos liked doing it so much they made some for me to keep in the classroom.

Easy tie-dyed spring flower. Good for Mother's Day, too.

Do you have a lot of those cheap plastic eggs around? I took a dozen, numbered them, and put tiny objects inside– a good purpose for all those little lost doodads that hang around in my pockets... like a Jingle Bell... good grief!  The kiddos chose an egg, opened it up and wrote the object's name on the list. It was great practice for stretching words to hear sounds. It also turned out to be good small muscle practice because I told the kiddos they could not place the egg back on the tray unless the egg was snapped shut, and that was a challenge... a doable challenge, but not easy. The list paper is FREE on my TPT store– it's a very popular resource, having been downloaded over 3200 times. Click HERE get the freebie.

Little objects in eggs make it fun to sound out words.
List paper is a freebie!

You can get a little STEM milage out of those plastic eggs, too, if you let the kiddos experiment with stacking them. They tried stacking just the round bottoms, the pointy tops... do eggs have tops and bottoms– snort... and a mix of the two. They recorded their findings on a class graph. I won't tell you which shape won, but I will tell you there was a clear winner.

A little STEM egg fun.
Which stacks best– round, pointy, or a mix?

Here's another easy STEM idea– get all sorts of tubes from home, marbles and masking tape. This side of the sink counter was the only wall space left in the room that the kids could easily access. I left this STEM center up over several weeks and various kids had lots of turns. Quick, easy, and completely kid powered.

Easy STEM fun!

Tubes, marbles and tape is all you need

When is shaving cream not for shaving? When it is mortar!

Yet one more STEM project came about when we used shaving cream with foam blocks. First cubes, and then triangular prisms for a bit more challenge. Good clean mess that smelled great and cleaned the blocks and table really well. 

I thought this was a lovely display. Our PTO and art teacher got together to bring this project to fruition.

One parent used her Cricut to cut the butterflies out of card stock– the size of butterfly corresponded with the students' grade so my kidpeople are the tiny butterflies in the center. Our art teacher had students decorate with gel pens and, boy, is there some terrific detail when you look up close. Another couple parents did the layout. It's especially nice that the butterfly wings raise off the paper for a 3D effect. This large display went up just in time for our International Night. Love it! The photo doesn't do it justice but I thought it was an idea worth sharing.

As I get ready to sign off, here is a little Easter treat for you. My April Showers resource is 50% OFF this Easter weekend, Saturday and Sunday only.

This cross curricular pack has a funny twist on an old saying, a craft, a close read on June Bugs, response sheets, and a pocket chart and bookmark version, which all adds up to lots of fun learning. And come on, for a buck fifty, it is a bargain. Skootch on over to TPT by clicking on the cover photo above. It will be a fun project for your kiddos in an upcoming April week.

That's all for now, folks. If you'd do me the favor of Pinning photos, I'd sure appreciate it!

Thanks for stopping by. See you next time!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Are You Ready for the Yeti?

Hello to all of you out in teacher land! Could the fall months have gotten ANY busier?? Whew! My winter break, which comes to an end tomorrow, was so deserved AND so rejuvenating. Ah.

But I've been busy during break, too, so I wrote this special blog post to go with a new TPT resource Jonathan and I created... a FUN one! I fell in love with the Yeti books that I got for Christmas (surely I'm not the only teacher who finds a stack of kids books alongside a stack of grown-up books under the tree!) But I needed some classroom materials to go with them, so I made a bunch of Yeti learning cards– letter cards, word cards, and number cards– all adorned with this cute fella.

You'll want to see the cards, but first let me share my Yeti book finds.

No Yeti Yet
by Mary Ann Fraser

This one features two little brothers who set off in search of a Yeti. The big brother seems to know a lot about Yetis and is quite confident they will be able to take a photo. The little brother doesn't know what a Yeti is, so he asks a LOT of questions. Kids will enjoy finding the hidden Yeti in each picture. Do you see him below?

Needless to say the hunt doesn't go quite as big brother expects it to, and there is a fun surprise at the end. A little bit of lighthearted suspense and a very happy ending will make this Yeti book a good first read for my kidpeople... and I think it is my favorite.

Betty and the Yeti
by Ella Burfoot

This one features a little girl and her red sled. She has a habit of collecting lost things and then returning them to their rightful owners. When she finds some rather odd clothing...

...her hunt for the owner leads her to an unexpected character.... whoever heard of a Yeti in underwear? The kids will love this one, too.

Dear Yeti
by James Kwan

This book's protagonists are self described "wild, but friendly men." They, too, go off in search of the Yeti, but they do it with the help of a little bird. The text is written as letters which are delivered by the bird to the Yeti. If kids follow the little bird's path they will find the Yeti, a brown one this time, who also ends up a hero.

Spaghetti with the Yeti
by Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Lee Wildish

This book is part of the George's Amazing Adventures series in which George goes off in search of all sorts of creatures using all sorts of enticing foods. This time he is looking for a Yeti with the help of spaghetti. Unfortunately, George keeps finding the wrong sort of monster and each one suggests a different kind of food for the Yeti.

This is another silly tale illustrated with bright, bold colors that helps kids build on the Yeti lore they are collecting from their reading.

The Thing About Yetis
by Vin Vogel

I save this one for last, and will read it last to the kids, too, because it adds all sorts of interesting details to Yeti lore... even the fact that Yetis get cold and miss the summer. The illustrations are adorable and kids will enjoy knowing they have so much in common with Yetis. This one is also my favorite... a person can have more than one favorite, you know.

THIS is a Yeti after my own heart- snort!

And what Yeti unit is complete without a couple of furry Yetis...

Yes, this is my collection of Yetis that the kids are going to get to know. You'll probably recognize the biggest guy as the Abominable Snowman from the classic Rudolph stop motion animated movie. I saw this Bumble years ago and he brought back such fond memories of my own childhood with those Rankin/Bass productions of winter children's movies that I had to get him. He roars when you squeeze his tummy... think I'll take the batteries out before bringing him to school. snort.

The guy next to him counterclockwise is a modern fellow available from Aurora. He is super soft and squishy. He is also quite floppy as his hands are weighted to help him sit up, I think, but the effect is nice. The little one in the box (he comes out) is part of the Yeti Rescue Kit which includes a Caregiver's Manual and adoption papers, etc.– kids get to name him, decide what he eats, etc.

And the big box in front is the game, Yeti in my Spaghetti. It is sort of a mix of KerPlunk, Pick-Up Sticks, and Don't Break the Ice. In this version kids need to remove the plastic spaghetti noodles without letting the Yeti fall to the bottom of the bowl. That little Yeti can balance across the bowl on just two noodles if done very carefully... yes, I had to try it myself. *wink*

I very rarely put affiliate links to products I blog about, but because I just bought these in the last month I went to check prices. They are the same price, or even better than when I bought them... especially the Yulli Yeti. If you click on the buttons you can go see for yourself. Some of them are even available used if you'd like to get a better price.


I am going to launch my fun Yeti unit with the help of Bumble because most of the kids will know him from Rudolph. (It's amazing that simple show is still around entertaining kids. It has seen 53 Christmas seasons now.) I'll start with him, gather what they know, then tell some of the legends that go along with the Abominable Snowman, Big Foot and the Yeti. I think this will provide a good base for discussion of how stories are passed down, where folklore comes from, and how some people want others to believe it so much, they make up a hoax or two, or three. (Just so YOU know, any kind of "proof" that anyone has presented for a BigFoot or Yeti has been disproven.) Then we'll make up the rest of our own Yeti lore with the help of the picture books and our own imaginations. Nothing too scary, you see– just happy, imaginative fun to get us through some long cold days when we probably will miss numerous outdoor recesses if this winter stays as cold as it started.

The picture books about Yetis that I listed above can lead the creative teacher into all sorts of additional activities– writing letters to Yetis, eating Yeti foods like spaghetti and hot chocolate, even a mid-winter beach party if you are really brave. And to tie the Yeti into reading and math activities I came up with Yeti Cards.

This pack is a basic set of playing/flash cards, but what makes them special is their adorable Yeti illustrated by my hubs. Isn't he full of character with just a touch of grumpy like his creator... surely I didn't just write that!  

There is a set of cards with upper and lowercase letters, a set of sight word cards with a mix of over one hundred Dolch and Fry words, and number cards 0-120 and + - and =. All together there are over 300 cards. You can use them for all the things you use such cards for- upper and lowercase matching, alphabetizing, memory and matching games, word work, number cards for playing or putting in order... you get the idea.

I included a sheet of blank cards so you can write other cards as you need them. And there is also an 8.5 x 11 full size blank Yeti to use as a sign, or a mascot, or whatever you choose.

TODAY and TOMORROW the Yeti cards will be on sale for half price! Their regular price is only two dollars, but you might as well grab them for a buck while you can. And don't forget to leave some love if you can! So appreciated! Just click on any of the Yeti card images above to see.

I am so excited about this unit I want to launch it tomorrow, but I'll show some restraint. We have a lot of snow and snowman stuff to read, write, draw and learn about for January. I'll save this guy for the week after Valentines when the long gray days of winter seem to keep dragging on and on. It might be cold outside, but baby, we're gonna have Yetis to keep us learning and playing! Whoot!

Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know below and don't forget to PIN! Thanks for stopping by!

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