Sunday, October 26, 2014

The pumpkins are coming! The pumpkins are coming!

Ok, so I think I may be the only person on the planet that gets THIS excited about pumpkins. I know, I'm silly, but for's the little things in life you just gotta enjoy and for me it's PUMPKINS! (Really I love all my units of study from now until the end of the year, but this is the start of it and I'm just SO EXCITED I COULD BURST!)

My kiddos covered the life cycle of a pumpkin for this past week and boy did they do GREAT at it! I have to put a disclaimer out there...I HAVE THE BEST BUNCH OF KIDDOS EVER and they make my job super easy and fun. We started off with the plant unit last week to kind of lead into this unit (I totally planned it that way! No really, I did!) and that helped when we got to the different stages of the pumpkin life cycle.

We started the week with a big chart paper and some pictures from a pumpkin mini unit I downloaded from Mrs. Ricca's TPT store here! For my advanced students (who are working on blending and reading) they helped me spell out different words as we worked through our chart.

After we put the life cycle in order and filled in our chart, I taught the kiddos our life cycle song with the motions. (I wish I had video but alas...I did not think ahead!) It's to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell.

The seed becomes a sprout.
The seed becomes a sprout.
Hi ho did you know...
The seed becomes a sprout!

(repeat tune with each life stage)

The sprout becomes the vine.
The vine becomes a flower.
The flower becomes a pumpkin.

Hand motions:
Seed = fist with all fingers curled into palm
sprout = pointer finger extended like counting the number 1
vine = make a flat "shelf" with arm and hand all straight and parallel to the ground
flower = extend fingers like counting 5 or giving a high five
pumpkin = both hands in front of you pretending to hold a pumpkin (or a ball)

My motions were all created on the spot last year, but they worked for me so I reused them. If you have better ideas I would LOVE to hear them. I'm all for cute motions to help the kiddos learn.

Tuesday we did our pumpkin craft. OH MAN! Be prepared for the cuteness that my kiddos created!! (I think I'm biased, but meh I'm allowed.) I cut 6 pumpkin shapes for each kid in my class out ff orange construction paper. I then passed out a sheet with all the stages on it so the kids could cut them out. Before we did anything, we sang the song again so the kids could remember what we had focused on the day before. I hung the completed big poster up on my white board and then we began the craft. Now, I was VERY specific with my kids. Even down to asking them to find specific colored crayons and hold them up, so I could keep everyone on the same step and the same page. Once we colored everything I had them cut them out and glue each step on to the middle of one of their pumpkins.

From here, I planned to have the kiddos glue the pumpkins together...but we were using liquid glue which takes FOREVER to dry so instead I had the kiddos fold their pumpkins in half and I went around and stapled them to make our 3-D pumpkin!

 Adorable right!? Well I hole punched them and hung them from the ceiling above each kiddo.

 Tuesday we "read" through the pumpkin life cycle book that came with this mini unit and the kids got to color the pictures and take the book home. Thursday I planned on giving the kids a sentence strip and the stages again and then we would put the whole project together step by step, to really help them understand the stages...but on a hunch...I handed them all the materials and said "Ok guys...I wanna see what you know. Can you color these the correct colors and then put them in the right order??" I did leave the big poster up on the white board, but all I did was walk around and monitor to see if they really understood everything. I am proud to say...ALL BUT 2 OF MY KIDDOS DID THE PROJECT 100% ON THEIR OWN AND 100% CORRECTLY!!

I nearly squealed when I looked at them to see if there were enough of them correct to put up on the board. Out of 17 kiddos 15 did it perfect (granted some put them in order from right to left instead of left to right, or the pictures are upside down...but hey THEY'RE 4! That's really good for that age, with little to no direction!)
Here are the finished products!

What a great way to end! Like I said, I had planned on doing this activity together and then having them do it on their own on Friday, but rather than go back and rehash I let them come up with their own way to tell me about the pumpkin life cycles. A lot of them just sang the song I taught them, but one little boy (a little guy that is working on reading and blending already) actually came up with full body motions for the song. He curled up fetal position on the floor for seed, stuck his arm up into the air for sprout, Stuck both arms in front of him for vine, stood in star position for flower and tried to make himself a big ball by touching his toes for pumpkin. Oh my goodness, it was adorable. (Again, I wish I had video, but alas...not thinking ahead again!)

I can't wait to start our "Halloween" unit with our Pumpkin Olympics on Friday! We have some pumpkin math planned and some pumpkin science! Oh man. I'm so excited!!!

I hope everyone is having a blast in their class as well. 

And always remember: Every moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I redesigned my room...a little bit

So...I get bored with  my room fairly quickly...and that has already happened in my Rainbow paradise (as my lovely team lead as deemed my room.) So I rearranged some stuff just recently and wanted to share them with you guys! We'll start with my "new addition"...

I was struggling with how to track my kiddos progression with counting. I had a "race to 50" number line above my board and every kid had a paw print with their name on it (our mascot is the panther...this was the best I could do.) but it was above my board and required me to climb on furniture to move paw the race theme looked thrown together and crummy. I changed it to a "Leap frog to 50!" number line that I put on one of my cabinets right by the front door. It's a great visual for the kids to see where they are, AND for parents to see where their student is. They can see the progression and know how high to work with their student on counting each week. I'm LOVING THIS!
This is a shot of the whole thing with student frogs

Each student has a frog with their name on it.
Every student has a frog with their name on it. Each week we set a goal for where we want to be. Surprisingly, the kids are really excited about counting to 50, so they picked their first goal for the first trimester (I was a late hire so my kiddos started a month behind everyone else in the district...and I'm STILL getting new kids because I haven't reached my cap.) Our first goal was to 10. Seeing as how I got a lot of kiddos that couldn't count past 3 when they started...I'd say we did a great job meeting the goal by the time report cards came out! They're already thinking and talking to each other about our next goal. (A lot of them want to make it to 100 by the end of the year...we'll see how far we get.) 

Some great ways to have them work on their counting, aside from the obvious math assignments and curriculum, every morning I have them practice speaking in complete sentences "Hello, my name is _______. My favorite color is _____. I have a pet _____/I would like to have a pet _____." They also practice counting with each other. They get to pick their partner and count as high as they can. If their partner knows the next number they can prompt each other, if not they compliment each other and the other person takes a turn. It builds counting AS WELL as classroom community! Like I tell everyone in my class, we are all friends in here and we work together to make sure we all shine!

I also received MOST of my furniture (I'm waiting on my computers-I have loaners right now from our computer lab- my rug, and a teacher printer so I can print stuff in my classroom as well as some developmental play equipment that I have NO IDEA where I'm going to put...but hey...I'll take everything I can get.) so we have NEW student desks with name tags, MY KIDNEY TABLE (just about cried when they brought that beautiful baby in) and big kid roller chairs. That's right ladies and gents, this teacher has a chair that doesn't put my knees up by my ears! Can I get a hallelujah?! HALLELUJAH!

I kept my desk layout but moved a lot of stuff on my walls...
Our new "Parent News" board!
 I've always had a "Parent News" board in my room. It's an easy way to post things and newsletters for parents to see, without cluttering up my counters and keeping a zillion copies of everything in case parents ask for something specific. I noticed about a week ago (when a parent asked me about our Peek at the Week newsletter) that I *gasp* never made one this after school that was the first thing I set about doing. It's small, but it's there and it has our current information of things going on in class/at school. My parents LOVE this. (I never realized how much parents rely on this board for information....or maybe it's just my parents?)
I received bookshelves that I didn't know what to do they went into my library/developmental play organization.
 The day I received my student desks...I also got 2 big black bookshelves that I had NO WHERE to put! I decided to rearrange my tactile wall and library area to include these new bookshelves. I'm not sure I like it yet, because it cuts off my view of the carpet area when I'm doing one-on-one work at my beautiful kidney table...but I'm sure I'll make it work soon enough. 

Student tables and a piece of my lovely kidney table.
 I spy some BEAUTIFUL kidney table and some awesome student tables! My old student tables were on loan from our preschool classrooms and can I just say what a difference these tables have made?! They're wider so I can sit 2 kiddos across from each other without someone getting kicked or not having enough room to do their work. They're also big enough that I *could* put 3 to each side...but why crowd them? Now they have enough room to spread out and keep their little crayon box next to their name tags. No more "Mrs. P...this kid is touching me!"
I love my elmo and projector.
 A LOT of people have asked me why I put my elmo and projector at the back of the class and I have one simple answer...I can watch everyone while doing the guided practice or the example on the board with them! I don't like not being able to see what I'm doing...and with my back to the board I feel like I can't see what the kids see...and it is just awkward to have to turn around to check that they can see exactly what I'm pointing at or where I'm working. This is just so much more simple for me.
Missing a rug...but our learning carpet area is almost complete!
 The kids have access to everything they can use for play time and I have access to everything I need to teach. This setup (albeit a little blocked off from the rest of the class) is amazing and really helps get the kids to understand "This is where we learn."
Our new entrance with our Leap frog to 50 number line.
 Kiddos come in, hang up their backpacks, put their folder in their cubby and then sit down to do breakfast. It makes for morning routine to go VERY smooth. Honestly my kids are so set in our routine already (30 days into the school year) that parents are astounded that the kids say bye and go about their business. No tears, no fussing. My parents have even, playfully, complained that the kids just go on without them...they're growing up too fast.
Technology nook
 This is our technology nook. I put my classroom rules on the divider walls for all the kids to see, and the number posters (from my number posters pack) on the wall too. The next 2-3 weeks will be spent REALLY establishing number recognition 0-5. I've introduced the number, but have had so many new kids start, and some kids leave that I don't feel like we have a solid understanding. So before jumping into number 6-10 I'm going to make sure we're solid on 0-5. I'm responsible for recognition up to I think spending some time reteaching 0-5 will be good for when we get to higher numbers. 

I don't know if anyone can see it, but we've also got some words on our word wall. The kids can't really read them but they're history vocab that I really try to get them to recognize by sound (I say the word and they tell me what it means) and I will be adding the colors as well. I don't like adding words when the kids are around because I have to stand on the computer counter...and that's a big no-no when kiddos are around, so adding words is a hassle (hence the reason I'm not regular on doing it.)
My front wall with our new BOOK BAGGIES!
Our new front board. It looks so bare now, but I'm sure I'll add stuff to the wall sooner rather than later. For now I've added our book baggies. I use these alot during our UA (universal access) time. The kids usually have a worksheet they work on and then when they finish they have to grab 1 book out of their book baggy before they can do developmental play. They are responsible for coloring the pictures and tracing anything that might need tracing. These books go home for parents and students to practice reading together. I want to put a disclaimer out there...I'm a TK kinder team has told me to get them ready for reading...but DON'T have them reading fluently by the end of the year. They don't want bored kindergarteners and if I teach them EVERYTHING (adding, reading, writing) they will be super bored and it will just make life miserable for teachers and students alike. So I am really pushing that the kids HEAR good reading, rather than practicing the reading least for now. 

I love my room...and I'm excited to see how it grows, changes, and becomes more like home through out the year. Thank you for joining me on this (long-winded) tour of my room.I hope to see you soon.

And always remember: every moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,

All about plants!

As a preview to lead us into out pumpkin life cycle unit I did a plant unit. I actually had a science workbook that has a chapter all about plants so I was lucky enough not to have to create my own! The kids had such a blast with this little mini-unit we did all week. 

Monday we started off with a BIG poster that we did together during our carpet time.

Yes, I know 'leaf' is easier than 'leaves' but I made the thing pointing to more than one, so when the kids said "Those are leaves!" I couldn't argue with them! Smart little kiddos! I introduced the concept of phonetic spelling (my kids are still trying to learn all their alphabet letters so this was more for my advanced students who know the sounds and letters already) and we spelled plants and stem together. I also worked on color identification by holding up the marker and having them tell me what color that particular part was. Apparently, light colors are called "baby" colors. So light blue is baby blue, baby pink, and in our case it was baby green. Adorable! 

After we did the poster together they stood up and we did little motions to help us learn what each part does. We would echo each other for the chant but here it is with motions (as best I can describe):

My roots hold me to the ground (point to feet and make a strong grabby motion with hands.)
My stem makes me stand up tall! (Hands on hips in superhero pose.)
My leaves give me food! ( jazz hands out to the side and make a sweeping motion to the mouth.)

It's so stinking cute when they do it. I just look like a fool but they rock it during carpet time!

Tuesday we did our science notebook page where they had to color their plant parts the correct colors. (Mrs. P didn't read directions very well the day before and her big chart example was backwards!) The did an awesome job with it ALL ON THEIR OWN!

 I think they did a GREAT job coloring inside the lines! Our coloring rules are REALLY starting to work!
Silly I know...but this little guy finally wrote his name ON HIS OWN!!

I posted the finished papers on our science board and the kids were so excited to show mom and dad when they came in the next morning. 

Wednesday (you can't see it) they had to draw their own plant on the back of their science notebook pages. It REALLY gave me a clear idea of who understood the different parts and who didn't. We did our dance/chant again to finish off the lesson. 

Thursday we did a nature walk and they got to find all the plants on campus and point to the different parts. The roots of most plants were a bit of a challenge because they wanted to rip up the plants to actually SEE the roots, but I can proudly say not a single plant was harmed in the making and learning of this unit!

Friday was our craft day. Now I was nervous about this part because it was complicated and a bit tedious but I plugged along and they turned out really cute! We made plants from straws pipe cleaners and paper leaves!

I got Starbucks straws and cut them in half to use for stems. Everyone received a straw, some brown pipe clearners and 4 leaves. The first thing we did was push the pipe cleaners up into the bottom of our straw. Then we filled our straw with glue to hold the pipe cleaners in. The kids rolled and pushed some green tissue paper into the other end to "cork up" the other end so glue wouldn't spill out everywhere. From there I used a glue stick to put glue on their straw and they had to stick their leaves on their straws ( I went back with white glue and glued the leaves on after school because they kept popping off!) Here is the finished product!

My students will be taking these home on Monday to show their moms and dads. They are really excited to start our pumpkin unit! Hopefully I'll have more pictures for that unit than I did for this unit. It's a lot more involved. We do a science experiment to see if pumpkins sink or float, we do ten frames from the seeds, we stick letters to individual pumpkins, we count how many cubes tall our pumpkin is, we even do a sequence of the pumpkin life cycle on a 3-D paper pumpkin. So much fun and all in time for Halloween! I can't wait to show you our Pumpkin Olympics! Anywho, that's another blog post for another day.

I hope your classes are having as much fun as we are and your kids are enjoying the season too! 

Always remember: any moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Everything for Free

EVERYTHING IS FREE!! EVERYTHING IS FREE!! (Did I mention that everything is free?) To build trust in my work and hopefully help others create fun learning opportunities I've made everything in my TPT store completely free. The only thing I ask is that you leave me some feedback in the feedback or comments areas so I know how my products are doing. I would love to know exactly what everyone likes or dislikes about my products so that I can keep creating fun new things for everyone to use. =]

So please, stop by my TPT store and take a look at what I have.

Thank you! And always remember: every moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Flash Freebie!!

Alright, so last night I got creative and now YOU get to benefit! I created a cute math center that (I feel) can be used all the way up to 1st grade (as a review or a foundations check.) It's called Candy Corn Number Match and it's going to be free for the next 2 hours.

What I have included in the pack is a set of colored candy corns that can be printed out on card stock, cut apart and then laminated. For those with very limited color ink (when I have to print in color I watch my $$ fly out the window) I have also included black and white pieces that can be run off on construction paper, card stock, any color your little heart can imagine! The colors typed on the pages are ONLY SUGGESTIONS. You can leave them as plain paper or laminate them for extra life and use them again year after year. 

Students must match the white part of the candy corn (that has a number and number word on it) to the ten frame in the correct orange section, to the correct set of tallies in the yellow part. Once they have matched all three parts they have correctly identified that specific number in 4 different ways!

I printed out five sets of the colored candies, cut them apart, laminated them and VOILA a new math center that my kids love to play at. 

I hope you love this (or just like is cool too) as much as I loved making it, and I hope it helps make identifying numbers that much more fun and simple!

So, until next time, always remember: every moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,
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