Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tooth Fairies

Tooth Fairies

We did a quick mini unit on dental health this week. Here is a small sample of our Tooth Fairies. They were painted with liquid watercolor paints. Notice that we have boy Tooth Fairies too!  I loved listening to their thoughts about fairies! Precious. You can tell that this was a directed art lesson but they got to design their own crowns, wands and designs on clothing. Here is a cute poem to go with it. I don't know who wrote it but I'd love to give credit! If anyone out there knows the author, leave the name and I'll post it.

Tooth Fairy, Tooth Fairy
Here is my tooth.
It finally fell out after being soooo loose.
Take it and turn it to stardust at night,
And put in it's place a prize that's just right!

Whoops! Some of our fairies are missing wings!!! Soon to be fixed!

More to post this weekend!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Wish List

Another linky! yea!
I'm linking up with a Teacher Wishlist linky party over at First Grade Smiles.
I'll try to be brief...
I teach art in the afternoon and need materials but adapt many of the lessons for my kinders so, with that in mind, here goes:

*A really good laminating machine (we have a hand crank dinosaur)
*A Cameo Silhoette machine
*Sharpie Paint Pens-I have started writing their names on the tables with these pens. Yahoo! no more nametags!
*Crayola window pens-use these to let them practice writing sight words and numbers on my windows. So much fun!
*Liquid water colors- These are so much more vibrant than the trays of paint
*Watercolor paper
*New Pastels and chalks
*Glitter- Martha Stewart's are beautiful and I need lots for b-day crowns
*Patterned paper
*Scented marking pens
*ipod Nano-so we can sing and dance during clean up
*A new camera
*A new set of musical instruments

I could go on and on. The laminator would be wonderful. Sadly, I usually have to spend my own money on most of the other things. The district will buy watercolors, chalk, pastels and paper-grateful for that!

Time to go for a long walk outside! I have been staring at the computer too long!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hall Pass

Help! I don't know how to do a Linky Party! I signed up and have no idea what to do!! Now I have to wait until my husband gets home to help me! Yikes...

My husband has informed me that I need to respond first so here goes...

Product or thing that I have created: mmmmmm. I guess the thing that I created most recently that I like would have to be the poem to go with the adorable long distance valentine that I saw on Pinterest ( I'm sure many of you saw it-two hands are traced and cut out, attached to a ribbon that matches the length of the sender's wingspan, lots of little paper hearts attached in between. I glued my poem in the middle and my little ones sent it off to a long distance love. It was actually a hit!! I was so excited. Lots of times I try things and they don't work.  Here it is for anyone who would like to use it: (I'd do the PDF thingy if I knew how)

The hands at the end of the little thread
Are as far apart as my arms can spread.

It's not very far because I'm still really small
(And it's not very far because I'm not very tall).

But hold them up and this will astound you:
It's far enough to reach around you!

So when I am gone and things are bugging you,
Just pull this out and pretend I'm hugging you!

Favorite area of my room: that's a toughy. I am so lucky to have an old, traditional kindergarten room. It has attached bathrooms, more square footage and storage than any other classroom on our campus and my own loft and playground.  My windows look out at snowcapped mountains. Sometimes though, on tough days, that extra large walk in closet looks like a tempting place to go hide. They'd never find me...

There is a special place in my classroom that I like a lot; it's lovingly referred to as "Teacher Land." This is  the mine-only spot ( I actually have a few Teacher Land locations). It is the place where I keep all the things I don't want them getting into- white board pens, glitter and other art supplies, things I need for the calendar, you know exactly the kind of things I am talking about. It's tucked in behind my easel. Anyway, it's off limits and the kids learn this from day one (As a matter a fact, I think last year we danced around the room pointing to anything off limits to M.C.Hammer's "U Can't Touch This").The best part is that I really don't have to monitor it closely because 5 and 6 year olds make great sheriffs! One move in the wrong direction and the alarms go off!

I've included a picture of my dramatic play area for fun!

Signal for transitions: I use a variety of things but the ring-for-service bell is a proven success. I ring it once and they are supposed to look for me immediately. I am using a money reward system (see an earlier post)  right now so I throw in a penny for the first person to respond. It works. I also have them point where they are headed next-it helps with traffic issues!

Sanity: believe it or not, my 40 minute commute home on country roads is very calming. The claw foot bathtub waiting for me is not bad either!

Whew! I am stressed out about this linky thing. It's time for a bubble bath.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Birthday celebrations

A word about birthdays!

I think birthdays should be special.

One year a little boy told me that his family couldn't afford a birthday for him. Well, that pretty much did it for me, and from that moment on, we have celebrated classroom birthdays in a big way!

I start off by asking the parent what they remember about the day this amazing child was born; what the weather was like, how much did the baby weigh, who visited...any details they can supply. We make a fuss and interview our birthday child about their hopes and wishes for the day.

Next comes the crown (this is all done at circle time). After they tell me what color paper they want, I cut out a fancy crown in front of the class and use a border  punch along the bottom edge. They think it's magic already!  Next, we all watch as our birthday child picks out glitter (I have an amazing collection - every color under the sun) and stickers for their crown. I handle the glue and they sprinkle (and sprinkle and sprinkle) the glitter. They end up with a unique crown that I know they love because they refuse to take it off. The crown above was not as bedazzled as usual. Kindergarten is famous (maybe infamous) for these crowns and even big kids will come to let me know it's their birthday! Our secretaries, principal and cafeteria people love them. I'm telling you, everyone wants to be/look special on their birthday, even adults!

Next, we let them bake a cake! That's right, a cake! I ask them about the flavor and buy the ingredients ahead of time. Everything is out on the table and ready to go when they arrive! I have written and illustrated the recipe on a large piece of butcher paper for all to see. So, once we are done decorating the crown, all the kids bring a chair over to the cooking table and, after we have stopped arguing about the seating arrangement, we begin. You could hear a pin drop! Once I have witnessed the washing of the hands, (very important) and the b-day apron is tied, we take a look at the recipe. First, we highlight all the sight and cvc words in the recipe. Then the b-day child touches each word with the magical birthday pointer as we have a reading lesson and clarify the instructions.

After we have discussed the different utensils and measurements, we are off.  I have to hold my breath sometimes as the bowl nears the edge, and they do spill a lot, but I am proud to say they make the batter completely by themselves! Yes, sometimes there are egg shells that I have to retrieve but mostly, it is uneventful. I usually end with a grand stirring of the batter (to get the lumps out and practice our counting). Lastly, the birthday child tries to get the batter into the pan (another hazard). Ha!

We either walk the pan to the cafeteria oven or I take it at recess. I fill the class sink with sudsy water and let the b-day child and a friend wash the dishes. Surf's up!!

Once the cake is cooled, the b-day child will frost it under close supervision! Then, after I move the cake out of reach, I let them take a few licks from the spatula, just like you do at home! I take a picture of the birthday child with a chocolate face and crown, sing happy birthday, make a wish and we gobble that cake up! I hope they feel loved. We made a kindergarten memory!

And if anyone says you are taking away from academic minutes, be sure to mention: the reading lesson, finding sight and cvc words, liquid to solid, following a set of verbal directions, measurement, counting, discussion of temperature and lastly, sink and float! Allow them to be a child and celebrate!

What do you do to celebrate birthdays? Please leave me note!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Whew! Goodbye to Valentine's Day and President's Day. I'm posting just a few things. I was absorbed with the holiday craziness going on and didn't even think about the blog - that's probably how it should be.

Valentine's Day is always huge with little ones and this year was no exception! We had a morning full of station activities that deceptively covered math and reading. Of course they did the candy hearts graphing activity and played a reading game called Broken Hearts where they pulled CVC words and sight words out of a decorated can (if you pull out a broken heart, you have to put all your cards back)! We broke some hearts... someone always feels sad having to return cards!

But the station I really wanted to share with you is one that I think may have come from Math Their Way (remember, I'm old) that our first grade teachers used to do for all sorts of occasions.
Because I have been using a money reward system (see one of my first posts), this was the perfect activity for my kids!

Each child is given a dime and a sugar cookie. We begin by spreading icing on our cookie (and faces) and then discussing all the yummy treats they can purchase. Dots and M&M's are a penny each, white chocolate chips are two for a penny, etc. It is really interesting to see them struggle (and negotiate-HA!) with their selections. Everyone must watch while their buddies figure out how much their items cost. Change is made as they work their way through the choices. All their items are placed in a little cup while they wait for the others to finish. When everyone has had a turn, it is time to decorate! They love these crazy looking cookies and place them at their snack seat for later. You can imagine that this is a big hit! You can do this activity with art projects too. It is a great way to reinforce names and values of coins.

I also have a different way to deliver Valentine cards if you don't mind noise (messes and noise have never scared me). This idea came from a friend who decided he wanted the Valentine delivery to be over quickly and who didn't want to spend his time reading all the names on envelopes and reminding his kids where everyone sat. He had them simply sign their names and not address the card to anyone special. My kids like addressing and picking out special valentines for particular friends - it makes it a little more difficult but not bad. Here's how it works:
  • Tie a ribbon on their classroom Valentine bags and place it over their head so the bag is on their back like a back-pack. (Next year I think we'll make our Valentine bags look like backpacks).
  • Define a space that they must stay in (I use my circle rug).
  • Have each kid take out ONE Valentine for delivery.
  • Model the activity!!!!!!
  • Let them WALK around delivering their Valentines into the backpacks.
It's fun to watch and it works! Of course, you are nearby to help for those who have addressed special cards to best buddies. I wish I had a picture...AND I hope this makes sense!

I included this picture to show how to make a hat that fits every size of head. I am sure most of you already know this trick but I thought it might help a new teacher. Simply attach two brads at either end of the strip of paper used for the base of the hat and stretch on a rubberband. Just be careful -  putting it on a head of long hair can be a tangle-fest. You can put tape over the back of the brads to get rid of this problem.

This is a picture of a very busy Valentine bulletin board that got a bit busier when we put up our love bug hats - (maybe too busy!) Before we added the hats, the kids did a quick recital of the poem in their full outfit - SO cute! Parents with phones recorded it and sent it on to loved ones.

Onward to dental health (I can't wait to show you some hilarious Tooth Fairies) and St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

kandinsky valentine

Twice a week I teach art to first and second graders. It's a great way to spend the afternoon and I find that the kids love it too. In fact, they all behave beautifully because they want so badly to be there. While I do believe that there is a place for directed art, I prefer encouraging their individuality. So, whenever I can, I look for projects that showcase their creativity.

These are Kandinsky circles done on black paper with pastels. It took two 40 minute art periods to complete.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

100th day portraits

Here are our 100 year old pictures (the upper left-hand corner picture has a typical problem; my little one didn't spread her glue out and ended up with a swirl of glue showing through).  I had them use crunched up brown coffee filters for faces, black eyed peas for the eyes and two kidney beans for the lips. I wish you could see the gold glitter glasses! Too funny. We had a great day but I definitely felt like a 100-year-old teacher at the end of it all. Happy to retire my hairnet and cane until next year!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hello February!

Here we go with the 100th Day of School, Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day and President's Day. I'm already tired

This is a little project that my kids adore and they look beautiful hanging from the wall before Valentine's Day. I can't remember where I got this idea, it's one I've used for years.  It's made with clear plastic and card stock. Go to a fabric store and look at the different weights of clear plastic and pick a thinner one. The thicker versions will give your hands blisters when you cut the heart shapes out. I always purchase about 1 yard. This year I've only got 18 children so a yard will be too much but I will just save it for next year.

Next, cut a heart shaped pattern, lay it on the plastic, and cut out however many hearts you need. Take the heart pattern and cut out the same number of colored card stock hearts. This year I used patterned paper for fun. Don't use regular weight paper or the hearts will collapse.

Now, place a clear heart on top of the colored card stock heart. Using a hole punch, go around the perimeter, holding the two hearts firmly together as you go or the holes won't line up and you will have mutiny on your hands. Place the holes fairly close together or the candy hearts will fall out. Been there done that!
Next you'll need some ribbon (not yarn - I coud never get these to work with yarn). About a yard per heart should be enough. Don't skimp or you have to start over!

Leaving extra ribbon where you start "sewing" will make it possible to tie a bow when you are finished. Teach the kids that the ribbon is like a snake. It comes up the hole, around the edge then back up the hole. I'm not going to say this is an easy project but it can be done in small groups. I always get them started to make sure there is enough ribbon at the end for the bow.

Stop with about 2 inches to go and have them put in their candy hearts and a little tiny love note for the person it is going to (we make these the day before so that I can roll and tie a ribbon around each one. Some kids just sign their name with some x' and o's - secret admirers!).

Finish "sewing" and tie a bow after you have checked to be sure the ribbon is tight all the way around. Attach another longer ribbon for a necklace! Done! Go home and take a hot bath.