Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Tiredness and Christmas Collaboration!

It's only Tuesday and I'm tired!  Yikes!  Definitely having issues getting back into the swing of things this week, probably due to my oncoming cold and the fact that half my class also has colds/strep/croup/who knows what. So I haven't gotten anything done that I want to, like work on my Winter Centers Pack, plan for December, write an inspiring blog post, change the world, so on and so forth. Actually I'm very bummed because I wanted to make a cute Christmas-themed "Go Shape" game for the kiddos, but didn't get around to it, and so instead this week we are playing with the boring blackline masters from our curriculum.  Alas.

In other news, my husband is the BEST husband ever and he got me an early Christmas present! My new laptop and graphics tablet are on the way in the mail and I am SO excited! Hence the excessive capitalization and exclamation points!  I am a little nervous about switching to Windows 8 but I think I'll get the hang of it, and I am so excited to start experimenting with creating clip art in Photoshop!  :)

Speaking of Christmas, have you checked out Teaching Blog Addict's Christmas Pinboard Collection? If not, head over soon and take a look at the great Christmas and Winter boards!  I absolutely love Christmas and am so excited to be a part of this linky.

Cheers!  Until Friday,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Some Liebster Love

Speaking of being thankful, I am especially thankful for Irene over at Learning with Mrs. Leeby and Erica at Blooming in First Grade, who both nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award!  Thank you so much, that was so thoughtful and kind of you!  It means a lot to me and made my Thanksgiving even more special.  :)

What is it?
The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.

The Rules:
- You must post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

11 Things About Me:
1.  I have always wanted red hair!
2.  I love roller coasters.
3.  I still watch cartoons; in fact I prefer cartoons to "grown up" TV shows.  :)
4.  My dream vacation is to visit England.
5.  I always thought I'd want to teach sixth graders, but now that I've been with PreK I can't imagine teaching anyone older than 6!
6.  I love Harry Potter (but I can't stand Twilight)!  
7.  I will always be a Packers fan.
8.  And I will always love cheese curds.
9.  I grew up in Wisconsin, if you couldn't tell!  :)
10.  I will never buy a Kindle/Nook/anything not a book.  Until they come out with a "scent of new pages" feature, anyways!

11 Questions Asked by Learning with Mrs. Leeby:
1.  Do you play an instrument?
Do I play an instrument well?  No!  :)  But I have been trying to learn how to play piano.  My left hand has issues!
2.  Where have you traveled?
Mostly places in the United States, like Disneyland in California and Disneyworld in Florida.  I have also been to Mount Rushmore (on crutches, no less).
3.  What is your favorite thing to cook or your favorite recipe?
It depends... if I'm cooking for myself I love to eat rice for dinner!  (Or a bowl of cereal...)  BUT since getting married I have realized that most men don't like to survive on rice, cereal, and pickles.  So I've had to learn how to cook a bit more.  :)  My favorite way to cook is with the crock pot (it's so hard to go wrong!) and my favorite crock pot recipe is a new beef and veggie stew I just learned how to make.
4.  How long have you been teaching?
This is my first year in my own classroom!  Prior to that, I substitute taught for half a year. I did most of my field experiences and my student teaching in sixth grade.
5.  What's your zodiac sign?
6.  Camping or hotel on a beautiful summer weekend?
Hotel for sure!  I like to camp in early fall.
7.  Most embarrassing blogging moment?
Probably putting in my actual name instead of the name of my blog post the first time I ever participated in a linky.  Whoops!  :)
8.  Bath or shower?
Shower- I never have enough time to take a bath.  :(
9.  Wine or beer?
Neither, actually.  I don't much like the taste of alcohol.  My preferred drinks are chocolate milk and Mountain Dew.  
10.  Real or fake Christmas tree?
Real!  (Of course my husband is a fake Christmas tree person)!  But I LOVE the smell of real Christmas trees.
11.  Is blogging taking over all of your free time?
Teaching in general is taking over all of my free time!  Being a first year teacher is definitely exhausting.  There's so many ideas I have and so many things I want to learn and make and do, but I never seem to have enough time.  Blogging is actually lots of fun for me.  It motivates me to plan ahead and I love being a part of the teacher community!

11 Questions Asked by Blooming in First Grade:
1.  Why did you decide to start blogging?
Well, to be perfectly honest I don't get much professional support where I currently work.  So I was craving to be a part of the wider teacher community, exchange ideas, talk with people who are actually still excited to be teaching, etc!
2.  What is your favorite thing to do on a snow day?
It's been so long since I've had one I don't even remember!  Right now I would drink hot chocolate, curl up with a good book, and blog a bit.  :)
3.  What is the first thing on your Christmas list?
A new laptop!  Mine has died and my husband is graciously sharing his desktop with me... for now... :)
4.  Do you have any children?
Nope.  All of my students' parents thought I did, but we don't yet.
5.  What is your favorite book?
That depends!  I have so many, it changes quite often.  Probably my favorite book series is Harry Potter, followed closely by The Hunger Games and the Wheel of Time series.  My favorite stand-alone book is The Other Boleyn Girl, right now.  I tend to be a "serial" reader!  :)
6.  What is your favorite activity to do with your students?
Writer's workshop!  I am amazed every day.  I love, love, love teaching using writer's workshop and it's my favorite part of the day.
7.  What is your favorite place to go on vacation?
8.  Is your Christmas tree real or fake?  Colored lights or white lights?
It's fake.  Currently it has no lights, this is our first Christmas with a house and a tree so we'll have to buy some!  :)
9.  Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl!  Well, by nature I am.  I wake up early in the morning to go to work but I would be a much happier person if school started around about 10 am.
10.  What is your favorite food?
Chinese food.  And cereal.  Does cereal count as food for this question?
11.  What TV show is your favorite?
This is hard because I don't really have time to watch TV.  So I guess I don't have a favorite anymore.  When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was most definitely Sailor Moon.  I loved anime.  :)

Questions I'm Asking My Nominees:
1.  What is the funniest thing a student has ever said to you?  :)
2.  What is your favorite color?
3.  Favorite children's book?
4.  Favorite places to get cute clip art/fonts?
5.  Cats or dogs?
6.  What is your favorite subject and least favorite subject to teach?
7.  Favorite type of music?
8.  Favorite grown-up book?  :)
9.  If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
10.  Disneyworld or Disneyland?
11.  Advice for a new teacher?

Blogs I'm Nominating:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Week in Review & Two Thanksgiving Freebies!

Hooray for the four day weekend!  Wednesday has finally rolled around and here is a look at the art, literacy, art, math and art activities we did this week.  Did I mention that we did lots of art?  :)

As mentioned Monday, we made these cute Turkey Hand Print cards.  You can find the free craftivity with cute poem insert here if you missed it earlier!

We finished our Thankful Hands Turkey Bulletin Board!  First, we read Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes (which my kiddos were able to identify as a list book instead of a story book!  Gotta love writer's workshop in PreK!)   Then, they traced their own hand prints and wrote on the inside what they were thankful for. 

Some of my more "ambitious" students wanted help sounding out the whole word, others only the beginning letter.  I have to say that I LOVE our environmental print word wall.  I have several new students (4 in the past 4 weeks!) who missed the foundation we set at the beginning of the year and are working hard to catch up.  I'm working with one in particular on building her confidence and independence; she oftentimes says things like "I don't know how to do that," or "That's too hard for me," or "I just don't know."  I stress that it's okay not to always know, but how to use the resources in our room.  So, to get back to our word wall, it is now mostly filled with labels the children can read (e.g. Walmart, Spiderman).  When my class has trouble connecting a letter sound with a letter, we practice using the word wall to find a word that starts with the same sound, and then identifying the letter that it is placed under.

We also have an ABC chart with pictures hanging in the room, but my kiddos prefer to use the word wall for several reasons.  Firstly, they helped make it!  Secondly, the alphabet cards all have magnets and can easily be removed, taken to a seat and looked at to help with letter formation, and then returned afterwards.  

We learned about the pilgrims on our Pies with Grandparents Day (which was hectic, to say the least!)  On this day we also made cute pilgrim hats.   

I had traced the shapes onto construction paper in advance and we spent some time identifying the rectangle (the band of the hat) and the square (the yellow buckle).  Then they cut them out and glued the pieces together.  They turned out so cute!  I had previously taken close-up pictures of my class and printed out the pictures to be ready to go underneath the hats.  They definitely spice up our "coat hook" wall!

Wednesday was all about Turkeys!  We started the day by spending some time with Letter T.  We looked for and underlined all the T's in our Morning Message.

We read Wendi Silvano's Turkey Trouble to start the literacy and art time block.  During centers, some groups were busy working on painting their TP roll turkeys (which turned out absolutely adorable!)  All you need are toilet paper rolls (of which I always have a ton, thanks to my awesome and sweet mother) and paper plates cut in half!

This craft is really quite easy.  They first painted the base of the turkey (the toilet paper roll) dark brown.  Then, they painted paper plate halves using their hands and red/yellow paint.  After they dried, they glued on googly eyes, the beak and the wattle.  Cute!

I was meeting with my small groups to work more with letter T.  We practiced making the /t/ sound, brainstorming words that start with /t/, and the correct letter formation for uppercase and lowercase T (I always use Fountas and Pinnell's verbal path of motion to explain how to make the letters).  After skywriting upper and lowercase T in the air, I rolled out a new handwriting practice game: Letter T Turkey Race.

They loved it!  In fact, they loved it so much I am going to laminate a few sheets and move them into our ABC Center.  I think I'm going to buy wooden blocks at Hobby Lobby to use as dice, since paper dice are not the hardiest of materials.  I am considering creating a letter race handwriting pack for each letter of the alphabet- what do you think?

You can find this fun and free activity by clicking here!

Lastly, during math we learned how to play Turkey Number Memory.  Notice how possessively they hold onto their matches!  :)

Here are some of the great books we read this week during Read Aloud or had available at the Library and Listening Center:

Thanks everyone and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Twas the Weekend Before Thanksgiving {Centers Freebie!}

Freebie Fridays

Well, I finally got around to taking down some of our October fall-themed decor:

Paper Plate Cats
Here are the instructions for the cats and also our super cute pumpkin heads, if you would like to use them next year.  They certainly were adorable and a lot of fun to make!

I also FINALLY put up the essentials of our Thanksgiving Bulletin Board (we'll do the thankful hand prints next week).  As a new teacher I have to say that bulletin boards are quite difficult for me.  It must take years of practice to become proficient at putting up the art paper background by yourself and to be able to intuitively center the title!
And, for those of you who will be working Thanksgiving week with me, I made a free Thanksgiving-themed center packet!  The packet contains two different activities for your math and literacy centers, including a Clothespin Number Match for Numbers 1-20 and a Thanksgiving-themed Clothespin Letter Match with consonants.  I am so thankful for you and all the work you do!  Click on the picture below for the link to the freebie and I hope you enjoy it!

These two games are also included in my larger Thanksgiving Math & Literacy Centers Bundle, which you can find by clicking on the picture below.

I hope you all have a wonderful, well-deserved Thanksgiving Break!   

Friday, November 16, 2012

Food, Health and Hygiene Fun & TWO Friday Freebies!

My first ever parent teacher conferences are over and I survived! They actually went really well. Although, as many of my parents said, I talk to them so much anyways it wasn't like they were hearing anything new. What can I say? I'm so proud of their kiddos and constantly have to let them know about it! :)

Our theme this week was all about Food and Health with a little bit of Hygiene. Overall the week went a lot more smoothly than I expected, being that I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off finalising details for conferences, putting together invitations for Pies with Grandparents next week, and trying to pick a holiday song for our class to sing at the Holiday Program because, as the office keeps kindly reminding us, Christmas is JUST AROUND THE CORNER. Makes me exhausted just remembering!

Anyways, here's a look at some of the fun art, writing center, dramatic play, math and science stuff we did this week!


Vegetable Soup Stamping

This was so much fun (and a great way to use some leftover veggies from a stew I made)! First, we talked about what do you eat soup from, a plate or a bowl? Then we discussed what shape a bowl is, since this week was the kickoff of our Shapes math unit. The students then attempted to draw a circle for their vegetable soup bowl. After that they vegetable stamped away!


Traffic Light Colors Food System Shared Writing

After reading Eat Healthy, Feel Great! on Monday we worked on this shared writing all week during our morning meeting. We brainstormed different foods for each category (Green Light Food being very healthy and good to eat, Yellow Light Food being slow down and don't eat too much, and Red Light Food being stop and don't eat it!) 

We have been practicing listening for the beginning sound in words and identifying the letter that makes the sound, so the first letter is what most of my students wrote. Some of my more advanced students, however, wanted help sounding out the whole word, so they were allowed to write more if they wished. And I drew the pictures! :) Afterwards I hung the anchor chart in the kitchen for them to use as a reference while concocting in the kitchen.

Letter V Awareness Time

We spent some time with Letter V.  We practiced writing V in the sky, making the /v/ sound, and brainstorming words that start with a /v/ sound, such as violet, volcano, etc.  Then we practiced handwriting with this cute Letter V: Vegetable tracing sheet from First School!

Halloween Candy ABC Environmental Print Book

This, I must say, is one of my best ideas ever. Well, the idea actually comes from Kids Count 123, but I can't believe how well the project and the timing worked out with my PreKinders!

The weekend before Halloween I sent home the request for candy wrappers (my parents are used to this; I have used environmental print in the classroom since the beginning of the year. We call it Word Detectives!) But, as time went on, I despaired of ever getting enough candy bags back to compile our book. As it so happens, every student had returned their candy wrappers by Wednesday this week, which was perfect because Wednesdays are what we call "Word Detectives Wednesdays" AND we were also talking about unhealthy food! We read The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food to jumpstart the conversation. Afterwards, I met with my small groups to help them sort their candy wrappers by the beginning letter/sound. Once sorted, they searched for the appropriate letter page to glue their letter onto. 

Voila! A new classroom library favorite!


Clean vs. Dirty Hands Experiment

Alas, this is the only part of the week that backfired. Last Monday, in anticipation of this week, we passed a piece of bread around and touched it with our dirty hands right after centers. Then, we washed our hands using the cute song below (click on the picture for the FIRST of my Friday Song Freebies) and touched the bread again.

We sealed the bread in Ziploc baggies and met in our science groups to discuss. I asked questions such as, "What do you notice about the bread now? Is it the same or different? Do you think it will stay the same? Why/why not?" They recorded their observations in their science journals.

Fast forward to this Monday, seven days later. The bread is STILL the same! First of all, how gross is that? How many preservatives are in white bread anyways? Secondly, how am I supposed to demonstrate the importance of hand washing when the science experiment is an epic failure? Well, like true scientists, we recorded our observations and revised our predictions. Here's my favorite one:

Hopefully next week we see some results! Next year we are going to do the clean vs. dirty hands apple experiment instead!


This week was the introduction of our shapes math unit, starting with 2-D shapes. We were mostly consumed with coloring and doing the activities in the student book version of Favorite Shapes (from Pearson's Big Math for Little Kids), but we found time to go on a shape hunt mission. Check out this great Secret Agent Shape song from Harry's Kindergarten:

Dramatic Play:

Shopping at the Grocery Store & Cooking in the Kitchen

Throughout the week our Dramatic Play Area served variously as a kitchen and a grocery store. My kiddos practiced shopping for and cooking healthy food, along with identifying healthy recipes in some cute recipe books for kids. I found some great additions to our Kitchen at Walgreens for only $5 each- a blender and a toaster!

Somehow I hadn't noticed before, but while being treated to my tasty stew I saw that my students were pretending to eat food off the table and disregarding utensils such as plates, spoons, forks, and cups. I asked to be served my stew in a bowl and pondered what I could do to remedy this apparent lack of table manners! :)

I found the idea for these cute table setting placemats here, and decided to make some of my own to help remind my students to use their silverwear while at Dramatic Play. I used the actual dish and silverware from our kitchen to trace the placemats, then covered them with Contact shelf paper for durability. We read How Do Dinosaurs Eat their Food? by Jane Yolen, one of our favorite authors, to start the conversation about why and how we eat with table manners.

Much better!

Here are some of the great books we read this week or had available at Listening Center:
Lastly, check out this super cute and super fun song entitled "Oh Do You Eat Your Vegetables?" We had a blast singing this song all week! Click on the picture for the freebie!

Thanks for visiting and I hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five Senses Fun and a Friday Freebie!

With parent teacher conferences looming next week, can I say Thank God it's Friday any louder?  :)  Here's a look at some of the fun activities, art projects, and centers we've done for the past week learning about Our Five Senses.


Taste Class Book

We made a class book of our favorite tastes. I met with each group to work on the pages during our literacy rotations in the morning. For my lower groups, I directed them to sound out and spell only the first part of the word, and then I finished the rest. For my highest group I led them through sounding out and spelling the entire word.


"Scentsational" Name Writing

First, the students traced over their names in marker.  Then they traced over their names in glue (great fine motor practice!)  I had placed different distinctive spices in cups, which we smelled and tried to guess the name of (cinammon, pepper, and garlic).  The students then picked their favorite spicy smell to sprinkle over their names. 


Magic Paint Bags

First, my kiddos picked 2 different primary colors they'd like to mix.  I used large Ziploc bags, 1/2 cup of liquid cornstarch, and just estimated on the paint, adding more as needed.  They mixed the colors and viola!  Magic paint bags that we used all week for a variety of different activities! 

We used the magic paint bags for name-writing practice at the writing center all week.  With my lower groups, it was simply practicing writing their names using upper and lower-case letters.  With my higher groups they practiced writing their full names using upper and lower-case letters.  We also used the magic paint bags for number writing practice and free drawing in art!   

We also had "letter digs" in our sand table, again combining sense of touch and sight.  We combined sense of touch/smell with shaving cream painting in art!


Hear & Go Seek Everyday Sounds (Bingo)
To introduce sound, we talked about what do we use to hear?  Then my class closed their eyes while I proceded to make different sounds (bell chime, music sticks, etc.) and guessed the sound.  We took a sound walk outside and recorded what we heard in our science journals, and ended our exploration of sound with a round of Everyday Sounds Bingo!  You can purchase this great game from Amazon by clicking on the picture, or from Beckers' Shool Supplies.

Next year (I seem to say this a lot...) I want to use hair gel, glitter and food coloring for our magic bags, as detailed here.  I think the writing would appear for longer!  I also want to make scented playdough, do a scratch n' sniff painting project, and make a sound memory match game. I looked EVERYWHERE but no one has Easter Eggs in November!  :( 

Here are some of the great books we read or had available at the Listening Center this week. 

Lastly, check out this cute Five Senses Song we had a blast with all week!  Click on the image for the freebie!

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!