Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Moon Rocks: A Cautionary Tale

Once upon a time there was a kind young teacher.  She was always thinking of ways to make learning fun for her students.  This was usually a good thing, except that it meant she oftentimes changed her plans:


And she never seemed to get enough sleep!

One day this young teacher decided it would be fun to spray paint silver moon rockets for the science center.  On Saturday she said, "I'm too tired today, I will go tomorrow."  On Sunday she did venture forth and bought the magical silver spray paint, but then she said, "It's too cold outside.  I will wait till tomorrow."  On Monday night she said, "It's too dark outside.  I will spray paint moon rocks in the morning." 

Tuesday morning dawned bright and white.  The teacher looked out the window to find the ground covered in snow!  The poor kind teacher was left shivering in the cold, digging for rocks in the snow and spray painting them in her pajamas while her neighbors shoveled snow and sadly shook their heads.


The moral of this story is to never put off for tomorrow what you can do today!  :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Giveaway News!

Hello everyone, I just wanted to give you a heads-up on some exciting giveaways coming your way!

First of all, my friend Khrys at Keepin' it Kool in KinderLand is ALMOST at 100 Followers!  If you could help her reach this goal, that'd be great!  :)  To celebrate she is going to have a great giveaway with contributions from Caitlin Clabby, Amanda Pauley, and yours truly!  Here's what I'll be contributing...

Also my friend Erica is having a giveaway for her first clipart set!  They are the cutest Valentine's cupcakes ever.  Hop on over to her blog at Blooming in First Grade to check it out!

Lastly, don't forget to check my friend Sharon's blog at The Convenient Teacher and her great giveaway to celebrate 500 TPT Followers!  You don't want to miss it!  

That's all peeps!  Hope everyone is having a good weekend!  I seriously need to get off Pinterest and start planning, so away I go!  :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Transportation Take Three: Into the Air & Friday Freebies

Happy Friday!  I hope everyone had a great week.  I don't have as many pictures this time because I spent a lot of this week doing middle of the year assessments, but I'm really glad I did because I have a good picture of what skills we need to focus on in the coming months and I am SO proud of my kiddos' progress.  It really is amazing.  I look back at the beginning of the year, and kiddos who knew maybe 10 letters of the alphabet now can recognize the entire thing (upper and lowercase)!  Yay!  (So I'm completely vindicated for not following the curriculum, right?)  :)

Here's a look out our week all about air transportation:

Art:

Blow Paint Sky Scene

These were also lots of fun!  When they dried, the kiddos drew airplanes into the scene and also glued on stretched-apart cotton balls for clouds.

Paper Plate Hot Air Balloons

I LOVE these cute hot air balloons!  They are now gracing our ceiling.  :)

Fingerprint Airplanes

Literacy:

If I Could Fly Anywhere... Class Book

I just love class books!  They are an especially great alternative to traditional journal writing prompts.  It's still a prompt, but the end product is so much more authentic.  Here's some pages from the book:


(Went here for our honeymoon and loved it!)



Letter H (Helicopter) Handwriting Racers

We spent some time discussing letter H and the sound it makes!  Then I let the kiddos race away with their favorite handwriting activity.  :)

Letter P (Plane) Alphabet Maze

These are also from my Transportation unit.  This time instead of using bingo daubers, I used the alternate version where students had to trace the P's to the end of the maze.  And, as one of my kiddos pointed out, I really should have the sky on top and the plane on the bottom, so I will go back and change this in the unit.  :)

Upper/Lowercase Hot Air Balloon Match
I can't believe I forgot to snag a picture!  This was another fun activity from my Transportation students, in which students matched the uppercase balloon to the lowercase basket.

Writer's Workshop
I am SOOOOO happy I am starting to see books with shorter titles that don't give away the entire story!  Yay!  We have really been focusing on this, so I'm glad it's starting to click!  Here's some of my favorites from this week.



Math:

AB/ABC Patterns with Colors and Shapes

This week the kiddos practiced applying AB and ABC patterns with colors and shapes.  Next week I'm thinking of introducing ABB and AAB patterns, they seem to really have this down! 

Flyin' High Math Mats

These were so great!  I loved the combination fine motor/teen number practice all rolled into one.  They were also easy to differentiate: with my lowest group, I drew little circle spots for each cloud.  That way they count count if they couldn't recognize the number.  This activity is anther goody included in my transportation unit.

Color by Number Planes

Another transportation unit activity.  I am so excited because my highest group has started to sound out and recognize color words!  Yay!  :)

Science & Manipulatives:

This week I basically just let the kiddos fold different pieces of paper and test them out as airplanes during science.  It was a great free discovery time, and I was careful to make a special "flying ground" for them to test their creations!  They also used play-doh to build airplanes this week.

Dramatic Play:

Cardboard Box Plane Prop

Oh what fun!  :)  I seriously love this cardboard box prop idea for various modes of transportation.  This week they took their suitcases aboard the plane!  They also used our pilot hat and serving trays.  :)

Here's a look at some great books from this week.  Let me just say that ALL of Patricia Hubbell's books on transportation are amazing and are well-worth buying!  They have great illustrations and are also great for noticing rhyming words.  Angela's Airplane was also a favorite (who doesn't love Robert Munsch?) and what's even better is you can download the audio version read by Bob himself from his website!



I've totally spaced it, but I wanted to tell you about some fun games we've played outside in the past weeks. We played Red Light/Green Light during our Land Transportation Theme (of course), and this week we played Can Fly/Doesn't Fly.  This is similar to Red Light/Green Light, except the kiddos listen for what I call out.  If I call out something that can fly (e.g. bird, airplane) they have to fly around the playground like that flying object.  If I call out something that can't fly, they have to freeze!  These games were a ton of fun and they were great for getting back in the habit of "listening ears" after coming back from break.  :)

While we're on the subject of things I've forgotten to mention, it's been too long since I posted a song freebie!  There are so many great songs to help kids remember and learn about transportation.  We used this song for three weeks, but changed the lyrics depending on the theme (so this week during air transportation, we sang about airplanes, helicopters  hot air balloons, etc).  Click on the picture to be directed to the freebie, and remember, your feedback always means so much to me!


Also, don't forget to grab my assessment freebie while you're here!  I have created a PreK assessment pack with recording sheets and resources for the beginning, middle, and end of the year.  You can download this freebie at my TpT store by clicking here.  And don't forget to grab all the other great Friday Freebies from TBA!

Freebie Fridays


Have a good weekend everyone!  I'm off to plan for our upcoming adventure into outer space!  :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Around the Year in Basic Skills: Manic Monday Assessment Freebie!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Happy Monday!  If you're like me, then you're busy trying to update your assessments.  If you're also like me, it drives you crazy that your assessment resources are all in different places (if you even have any!)  I've been working on putting together a PreK basic skills assessment for the beginning, middle and end of the year and it is finished!  (For the most part.  Going to go back and add a beginning sound assessment!)


I am so excited and can't wait to start using it this week!  This assessment resource includes both recording sheets and visual charts to use.  Click on the picture for your freebie, or you can download at my Teachers Pay Teacher store by clicking here.

*Note: There was a typo in the lowercase alphabet charts that has been fixed as of 01/22.*

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Giveaway Winner!

Good morning everyone!  And the winner is...


Comment #2!  Check your inbox Heather!  Congratulations!  (Note: I used the number 10 because even though there were 11 comments, one of them was removed).

Thanks everyone for entering!  If you would still like this unit, I'm having a 20% off sale now through Wednesday.  Come check it out!

~Jessica

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday: Sweet Deals at the Dollar Spot

I'm baaaaack!  (I've always wanted to say that!)  Told you I wouldn't be long.  :)  Here's some of the great things I found at the Target Dollar Spot.  They really should just rename that place to be the Teacher Spot!

Stacking Boats & Fisherman Pails
Stacking boats for our transportation water table!  Fisherman pails for our fishing for letters game!  They've also got the pails in a TON of other colors, including cute Valentine's Day ones and primary colors.  I use the primary colored ones to hold supplies for our color-coded table groups.

Double-Sided Dry Erase Boards
Glad I found some more of these, I needed to restock a bit!  :)  And of course they have the dry erase markers, and the mini magnetic dry erasers which are absolutely amazing.

Pretend Play Money & Coins
I have been looking FOREVER for pretend play money and coins that's not ridiculously expensive, and here it is!  Yay!

Valentine's Scrapbook Paper
I love using their scrapbooking paper to spice up the writing center!

Assortment of Items for Valentine's Day Centers
Not sure how I'm going to use all these yet, but I'll figure it out.  I love the funky foam heart sunglasses and the pink dice!  I also love the mailboxes but I am bummed that they only had red.  Last year Target had at least four different colors.  I KNEW I should have pounced on them (even though I didn't have a classroom, and we were living in a cramped apartment...)!

Stickers and Sticky Notes
Yay for cute glitter stickers and sticky notes!  I bought cute cupcake sticky notes for all my coworkers for Valentine's Day.  I LOVE these glitter stickers, going to use them to spice up our handwriting letter racers if my foam cubes ever get here in the mail.

Don't forget to enter my transportation unit giveaway!  Today is the last day to comment on the blog post to be entered to win.  I will be picking the winner tomorrow!  :)  I just revised my transportation unit to include a 2-D shape memory game, more rhyming trains and the fishing for letters/letter sound activity, plus some other revisions.  Good luck!

What Did They Say Linky Party!


What Did They Say!?

No, it's not Wednesday, but I have to share some of the hilarious stuff my kiddos said this week!  Don't forget to hop over to Jessica's blog at A Turn to Learn to check it out!  :)

These made my day...

  • While eating at lunch:  "My grandpa doesn't eat food.  He only drinks coffee."
  • While getting ready for naptime:  "When you get married you get to sleep together.  I know because I see my mommy and daddy sleeping when I sneak in their bed at night."
  • While watching me work on making dramatic play props for the next two weeks:  "Ms.Jessica, I love this rocket.  I love it so much.  I love it times a hundred.  Ms. Jessica, I love it SO much I don't even know what to do!"
That's all folks!  :)  Hope you're having a good Saturday!  See you soon (going to finish updating my transportation unit and be back with my Target Dollar Spot finds).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Transportation Take Two: Wild about Water, Friday Freebie and a Giveaway!

Happy Friday!  :)  I am so exhausted/achy/drowning in mucus... okay sorry, that was gross!  (But true.  I hate colds!)  Luckily I have the best class in the world!  They are so sweet.  They were very considerate of my voice (or lack thereof) all week, and we still had bunches of fun.  I am so blessed!  And I am starting to feel better with the warmer weather.  55 today and loving it!  :)

This week was all about water transportation!  The kiddos and I are just loving this transportation thing.  Read on and take a look!
Art:

Sea Scene Sponge Painting

Who doesn't love painting with sponges?  The kiddos used two different colors of blue and sponges to make the water.  I loved how ripply the sponges made the water look!  After those dried, they drew a way to travel on water.  I could really tell how much they had learned about different kinds of water transportation from what I saw.  :)  I bet you can guess which one is my favorite...

Submarine

Aircraft Carrier

Speed Boat

Yep, it's this one.  I just love the expression of abject terror/extreme happiness on the guy's face!  :)

Shape Boats

More fine motor practice!  :)  I had several kiddos sick last week, so this was good practice and make-up portfolio practice all in one.  We did these after reading Toy Boat by Randall de Seve, which is an AMAZING book with great illustrations.  It was definitely my class's favorite book this week!

Seashell Prints

Painting with seashells!  :)  This was lots of fun and a great way to explore the texture of seashells.  Next year, though, I want to try using ink pads.  I think the pattern on the shells would come out clearer.

Literacy:

Letter B (Boat) Handwriting Racers

Another activity from my Transportation unit.  My class never gets tired of these!  They get so excited when they see the dice they start jumping up and down, no joke.

Sand Names

What fun!  Again, I'm really trying to cram in that fine motor/glue/scissors skills practice before sending them to kindergarten.  They traced over their names with glue, then sprinkled on sand (which I put in an old empty glitter container).  Voila!

Fishing for Letters/Letter Sounds

Have you ever woken up at 5 am and decided you were totally going to change your day's plans because you had a sudden stroke of inspiration?  Well, I certainly did this week!  I decided that on Wednesday, since we were learning about different purposes of boats, we were going to fish for letters and letter sounds.  Now, it was too late to buy this cool Phonics Fishing Set from Lakeshore Learning (and too expensive anyways), so what did I do?


I made my own of course!  I already had the fishing poles (which I got from Walgreens at the beginning of this year for only $1).  I just had to find the perfect clip art online, quickly make up some alphabet fish, run to FedEx Office and print onto colored cardstock, run to school and cover with contact shelf paper, quickly cut out and hot glue paperclips on the back.  And I did all this by 9 am.  Not going to lie, I felt pretty awesome (albeit insane)!  :)


So.  Literacy centers roll around and here we are, fishing for the alphabet (NOT using the reels on the fishing poles after a disastrous first attempt).  This was GREAT letter identification practice and letter sound practice!  The rules were simple.  Once my kiddos caught a fish, they had to name the letter and make the letter sound to get to keep it in their fisherman's pail (which I got from the Target Dollar Spot).  If they didn't know, they had the choice of throwing it back in the pond (our sensory table) or taking it to the alphabet chart.


It probably goes without saying, but this was hands-down the favorite activity this week.  My kiddos loved it so much I decided I have to incorporate it into the Transportation unit and make some recording sheets so that it can be used again as an independent center.  SO know this: I am working on revising the unit to include this activity (and another boat-themed math activity).  If you win my giveaway, I will send you the revised unit as well as soon as I have it completed!  :)

Math:

Alphabet Patterns

My class just loves patterns.  It's great!  I catch them making patterns all the time now when they're just free-drawing pictures.  This week we started talking about how AB and ABC patterns can also apply to letters of the alphabet, not just colors.  By the end of the week they were even making their own!

Color by # Boat

This one's from my Transportation unit as well!  :)  I am so excited because some of my kiddos are actually starting to recognize the color words!

Science/Sensory:

Build a Boat

This was a blast!  We built boats out of sponges, straws, and foam paper (sails).  This was great for teaching about the parts of a sailboat.  Unfortunately, they fell apart in our water table more often than not, but they still had fun.  :)  We also used stacking boats in the water table.

Seashell Exploration

My little scientists explored seashells this week with magnifying glasses!  They picked their favorite one and illustrated it in their science journals.

Sink vs. Float Experiment

We did this experiment after reading Who Sank the Boat by Pamela Allen!  I went about it two ways.  With my first group, the kiddos each took turns holding the different objects and used their scientist brains to make predictions.  Then they marked their predictions with an X.  After that, we used our scientist eyes to observe what happened to each object.  Then we used our scientist hands to record our findings by coloring in the appropriate box with the result.


This proved to be kind of complicated for a lot of kiddos, so with my next groups we just made our predictions out loud and recorded the results with an X.  Next year I'm thinking of having "What I Think Will Happen"/"What Happened" columns where the kiddos can mark F for Float and S for Sink.  I think that'd be easier to understand!  :)

Manipulatives:

Transportation Lacing Cards

Now these I got for a STEAL at Carson Dellosa's website the other day.  I got these cuties for only $6 (and some farm animals ones, and alphabet sounds bingo... check it out!)  But I also made four transportation-themed lacing cards for you.  Click on the picture below to be taken to the freebie.

I hope you enjoy them!  (And if you do, please let me know!  My hibernation song freebie has had over 400 downloads on Teachers Pay Teachers, so I know someone likes it, but it has nary a rating!)  Speaking of freebies on Teachers Pay Teachers, if you missed out seeing my color by number train freebie last week, grab it by clicking here.

Lastly, here's a look at the great books we read this week.  (Amazon won't let me add this book, but it's great for teaching about what powers boats and is an emergent reader to boot: The Boat Book by Samantha Berger).


Next year we need to do something with pirates.  I was thinking that all this week, but was too sick to do anything about it!  It would be a blast to have a pirate ship with costume accessories at dramatic play.  AND how cool would it be to dig up some treasure in the sand table?  Oh, the possibilities!  :)

That's all peeps!  Don't forget to comment on my giveaway post to be entered for a chance to win my new Transportation unit!  The giveaway is open until midnight on Saturday.  :)  And don't forget to grab all the great Friday Freebies at TBA!
Freebie Fridays


P.S. Remember those fisherman's pails I mentioned for our Fishing for Letters activity?  I will be back soon to blog about some of the fantastic finds at the Target Dollar Spot!