Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Parent Valentine

For our parent valentine gift we turn the kids into love bugs. In fact, they are a giant walking Valentine Bug. The picture doesn't do it justice so I've included some close ups for you,

First the kids sponge paint a giant heart with glitter tempera paint. We usually use pink, red and a shade of purple. They glue it onto a slightly larger piece of white paper shaped like a heart. Then I cut the larger piece to look like lace. Next they take a hole bunch and go to town making little holes on the white portion of lace. Yes, it's a mess and yes, I often end up helping them finish. But the results are beautiful.

 Next, they glue down the following poem right in the middle of the heart (Once again, I have done this forever and have no idea where the poem came from. If anyone has seen it before and knows who the author is, let me know so I can give them credit!). I sometimes outline it with puffy paint. In this picture I smudged it up by accident.

Dear Mom and Dad:
I could not find a Valentine
Just for you that I could sign.
So...I thought, you see..
That I would give you ME!

2 eyes that smile...2 lips that kiss
And all my LOVE goes with this.
So here I am for you so fine...
Here's just ME... Your Valentine!
I love you!

Finally, we take a third heart (same size as the white sponge painted one) and we tie the "shoulders together to make it into a sandwich board and to finish it off we add little angel wings made out of doilies.

The hat is a spin-off from a spider hat that we make in October. You can't see but the feet are made of patterned paper hearts.

Let me tell you that when the boys get a look at this project they always make it perfectly clear  that there is no way they are wearing this cutesy get up, even for mom! I raised boys and I have a picture of them crying in this outfit  SO... the new improved boy version (or girls, if they want) has tennis shoes and sunglasses. Cool dudes!

To keep my current boys from crying, I am thinking of making some neat jet packs from upside down 2-litter soda bottles sprayed gray with tissue-paper flames. The idea came from They called them Bottle Blasters. I have been looking for an excuse to make them and I have a feeling those would be a hit! Now I have to come up with a poem about love that is "out of this world" (and I better get busy drinking soda).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Valentine projects

Years and years ago, when I was a new kindergarten teacher, I was invited by a good friend to attend a class being taught by a well known teacher. Well, all I can say is, after watching and listening to her, I knew I wanted go to every class she offered! She was amazing and her kind attitude towards all of us newbies was very sincere. I took elaborate steps to arrange opportunities to listen to her whenever I could!

It was at one such class that she story-told "Four Valentines in a Rainstorm"By Felicia Bond. I was impressed.  First of all, the story is adorable and stands beautifully on its own. Whether you choose to story-tell it or not, find a copy-you'll love it.

She dressed as the main character. Reaching up to catch hearts, she placed them in her pocket. Then she began making all the same valentines as in the story. It was beautifully done and I promised myself I would work on my own version.

Mine never measured up to hers, not even close, but I still have a lot of fun with it. I have opened our Valentine's Day with this story and I have ended our day with it as well. I recommend starting off your day with it-the kids are exhausted at the end of the party and don't listen as well, my eyes are crossed and I'm usually unable to string together a complete sentence by then. Story-tell when you are fresh!

The picture shows some of the props. So, go find your slicker, galoshes and Sou'-wester - even a navy peacoat, beret and red scarf would do. I can assure you that the kids will love this imaginative story  of kindness.

The other book that I found this summer is called "The Giant Hug" written by Sandra Horning and Illustrated by Valerie Gorbachev.  I'm pretty sure that many of you have already seen it. Oh my gosh! It is just about the cutest story ever! It's about a little pig who wants to send his grandma a hug in the mail-a REAL hug. The story is very entertaining and I love the surprise ending.  Too cute!

After I found the book, up pops the perfect valentine activity to go along with it from I saw their sweet idea on Pinterest and got right to work on a sample. Just measure your child's wingspan in ribbon, cut out their hand prints and decorate with hearts! It was super easy. Their little message that went with it was very cute but I decided to write a poem. Feel free to use it for your own long distance hug project! Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Happy New Year!

New Years Art and Writing project:

I don’t know about your kinders but MINE have difficulty understanding time. Yes, we do the calendar every day and we talk about “yesterday”, “today” and “tomorrow”, but those glazed eyes let me know they aren’t getting it! It is definitely a developmental thing. I find it interesting that the most easily understood way to explain how many days until something will happen is to figure out how many “sleeps” it will be until the event.

This year, when it came time to do the annual welcome back, Happy New Year, resolution lesson, I took out a book that I’ve had for a long time but had tucked away. “Someday” by Charlotte Zolotow is a fun story about a little girl who hopes to someday be able to do all sorts of things. It’s a cute way of looking into the mind of a child and what is important to them, rather than to adults. Those typical resolutions, such as feeding the dog or cleaning their room, fly right out the window!

The response is always laughter and they get the idea of “someday” much better than the idea of a “year”, which is what adults think of when making a resolution. “Someday” can be more long-term and I like that idea for my little ones, it makes more sense to my kids.

Anyhow, once they understood “someday” (and once they understood what a resolution was), they were off and running with all sorts of ideas!

We have just begun writing full sentences with capitals, spaces and punctuation and they are in full swing with inventive spelling (as you can see if you look carefully at the pictures). I absolutely love this stage! Their spelling is adorable and I can actually read it! What you can’t see is that I have correctly written the misspelled words below in pencil.

When teaching them how to write or sound out words, I first have them figure out how many syllables or claps there are in the whole word. Then we just concentrate on writing the first syllable, then the second syllable and so on, depending on how many syllables are in the word (FYI there are nine in: “remote control alien spaceship”) I model this over and over at circle before they ever try. This has been very successful.

I have also taught them about long and short vowels. They write a line over the vowel (put a hat on) if they want a letter to say it’s name or long vowel sound. Again, this has worked beautifully. So, the word skateboard might look like:
I am looking for content and want them to feel free with their writing, not too hung up on spelling perfectly. This is their sloppy copy, so to speak. We look at how many sounds they got correct and write it the “book” way underneath. These are those teachable moments when you can talk to them about special phonetic rules that make no sense! I always tell them their way is better and whoever thought up these rules is nuts!

The art project is the same one everyone does. We tried to make our mouths look like they are about to blow the horn that makes their teacher jump a mile in the air.

Hapy New Yer!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bank of Kindergarten

We've been using a really cute behavior chart with clips moving up and down accordingly. I saw it somewhere on a blog, but don't remember where. Thank you to the clever person that came up with it.

Anyway... I occasionally change things up a bit to keep the kidlets interested. A very dear friend, now retired, gave me yet another way to motivate good behavior while also teaching them about coin names and values.

Find some baby food jars and use paint pens to write first names on them. Make sure the jars have lids to keep the "banks" secure from thieves - yes, it happens!

I always explain that I'm a teacher and I get paid for doing a good job. If I don't do my job, I don't get paid. It's the whole behavior/consequence discussion that we have all the time. They totally get it.

Next, I let them know that I will be paying them for doing their job, which is to be a good student and classmate. Their jar is their bank. I immediately begin passing out pennies for good behavior. They respond quickly and we're off! I have bowls of pennies for my parent volunteers, yard duty - everyone! We give out pennies for all sorts of things: being kind, sitting still, doing good work, cleaning up their space, etc. Extra pennies for being quiet.

On the flip side, if they are not following our class rules or if they are keeping others from learning, they may have to pay me some of their hard earned cash.

After they earn their first five pennies they may go to the "Bank of Kindergarten" and trade them in for a nickel. Once they earn another five pennies they may trade those in for another nickel or include their nickel and exchange them for a dime. You get the idea. Eventually they will have twenty-five cents to trade in for a quarter at which point they may go shopping at the "Class Store".

About the "Bank of Kindergarten"... I usually have a few children that are great with money and who can handle being our banker. However, this year I am inviting last year's banker back. He was nothing sort of amazing - he could make change so quickly in his head! I was impressed. Anyway, he will arrive during journal time, put on his banker's visor and put out the "Bank is Now Open" sign. He invites quiet kids over one or two at a time to pour out their jar. The kids must count the coins out and place them in his hands. He has been trained to ask which coin they think they should receive and helps them if necessary. I am nearby and can step in if needed. They learn coin names and values very quickly.

A note about fraud: some of the kids are wise enough to sneak in money from home. It's not hard to tell who is doing this because you'll notice three quarters suddenly appear in their jar. It is helpful to address this at the very beginning, but I have been doing this for years and it never fails to happen.

Another problem: the jars are made of glass and can break. We have carpets so it's not much of an issue for me. There may be a better option.

Have fun! I go to the bank and get rolls of coins and add it to my own change jar so I am never caught short. If they are going back to the bank enough you'll get your pennies back for circulation.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Martin Luther King Crayons

This is another art project that I have done for years. I can't remember where I got it and would like to give credit to the original creator. I'll see if I can find it and post again with their name.

I always start off by reading a book called "The Crayon Box That Talked" by Shane Derolf. The content is simple enough for my little ones to comprehend and it has a wonderful message about being unique and working together. It's the perfect way to introduce Martin Luther King and his dream. The quote on the box is from the book.

I should have used a darker color when tracing around the letters. Also, the kids wanted their names visible so I think that next year I will have each person holding a name tag. I used multicultural construction paper and let them pick out the shade they felt matched their own skin color.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013