Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has a wonderful day today!  Merry Christmas!


I am the Grinch..

I am very ready for a holiday break!  The kids are OFF THE WALL.  I am SUPER jealous of those of you who are already off.  But come tomorrow at 3:30 I will join you! 

Today we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  I just love this story.  I was so amazed at how many did not know this story!   I even had Max join us today.  He sat with the students who seemed to be listening the best.  (which worked VERY well by the way!  I will keep that idea in the back of my pocket!)

We also did a story response to the movie.  If you give a grouch a grin I would... and they drew what they would give a grouch.  This was in a mailbox magazine (1998-99).  The kids LOVED it and they had some really cute ideas too!

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Now tomorrow is Gingerbread houses... please pray I can have patience!


Reindeer Text talk- Day 2

Day 2 of our non-fiction text talk went pretty good!  Today we discussed how the reindeer live and change. 

Did you know that reindeer adapt to the cold weather and their hooves change if it is snowy and icy?  Interesting!

Also that they can run very fast, like 50 miles per hour!  WOW!

Of course one of my students said they had to run fast to pull the sleigh but that is okay!  That was my giggle of the day!

I asked at the end why the author didn't include the parts about Santa and they all had ideas that were creative like:

The author must celebrate Hanukkah instead.
The author must not have had time to write about Santa.
The editor must have cut the part from the story.
Santa asked him not to include it since his reindeer are special and he didn't want to hurt the other reindeer's feeling!

Gotta love kindergarten!


Non-Fiction Reindeer Text Talk

Have you heard about text talks?  Basically, it is using the ideas from Questioning the Author QtA and having the students lead their own thoughts and ideas about text.  It is interesting and we are working on it a lot in my district. 

So I did a non-fiction text talk using this book:
Notice the sticky, that is my questions about the book that I ask as I read.
We first made a schema chart getting to know what they already know about reindeer.
Of course, they said things like: Reindeer fly, reindeer help Santa, reindeer have black noses except Rudolf.

This is a two day lesson so we are going to continue it tomorrow.  The BIG IDEA of this book is that reindeer are real life animals that do more than help Santa.  So tomorrow my plan is to finish discussing reindeer and going back to my schema chart and saying, "did this author mention this in the book?"  This way they learn that not all authors or books give the same facts or the same information.

The idea that kids can learn that we have to go BACK to text to find answers will only help them in the future.  Plus, sometimes we need to put our schema aside and gain new knowledge about topics.  I am hoping that that is a success.

If you are interested in doing a reindeer text talk and you just happen to have this book, email me and I will send you my lesson! 


Making the most out of the writing center

So many years this center was a thorn in my side.  Students are at such different levels that it makes finding the right thing for them very difficult. 

FINALLY, the light bulb goes off and here is my super writing trick.  As I am introducing sight words, I incorporate them into the writing center.   

Here is what the center looks like:
I have enough of these sheets on the table for all the kids to see.  Typically, I have no more than 4 kids at a center.  This week the focus words were Look at...

Here is one students work.

Look at the candy cane.

Look at the wreath.

Look at the tree.

Look at the candle.

Present.  Look at the present.
So, I know what you are thinking, I can't draw like that!  Well, if you can't do it how can your kids?  So I draw between 10 and 12 pictures on the papers so they have plenty to choose from.   By you drawing the pictures, they see how to draw it themselves (for the most part).  And you know, that is a fine motor activity right there!

Here is my next book:

The best part of all is that students who are higher can write MORE and students who are lower can draw and label pictures.  But I have to say, all students in my class are writing.  It makes writing a risk, without it being too scary!  Also, it gives them a little reader they can take home.  A lot of times when I see students finished copies, I send them to read it in the office where the office ladies or our principal makes them feel SUPER special!

I hope you find this as helpful as I find it!  Let me know!


An Easy Art Project... and cute too!

First, sorry I've been MIA.  We hosted a wonderful Thanksgiving and so that pretty much kept me busy!

Our school is all business, no holidays, we'd hate to exclude anyone or make anyone feel uncomfortable.

So I have the perfect project!  Let's make Symmetrical Evergreen trees!

They are super easy and a good cutting and thinking challenge for the kiddos!

I always demonstrate the project whole group, then hope they remember when their day comes along and they get to do the project.

So here are the step by step directions:

1.  Have students fold the paper in half.  Line up those corners!

2.  Here is the tricky part.  I go over and over how they tracer needs to be on the fold.  So I have the paper talk moving the opening part.  Then I talk with my lips zipped to show they want the fold.  Lay the tracer on the fold and trace.  Also discuss how the tree is symmetrical.  Tell them the fold is called the line of symmetry.  They might remember that when they get to 3rd grade and need that!

3.  Keeping the paper folder, cut it out.  If you did it right, you should have an evergreen tree!

4.  They I put up the shapes and foam pieces and let them decorate the tree.  They are just so adorable!  I love it!

They do it all themselves!  I know some with do it wrong.  I know some will struggle with cutting but I love them anyway!


Our Thanksgiving Feast

If your school is anything like my school, they are scared of food.  Food is not for sharing.  But it is an important element of Thanksgiving.  Those days of having a yummy thanksgiving feast are long gone for us.  But my team teacher, Mrs. Shields and I have found a way around the problem. We have snack, together!  Each student brings their own snack that might have been around at the time of the pilgrims... like bread, fruits, berries, goldfish (well, we can pretend they are the fish that was caught for the special feast!)

Here are a few pictures from last years feast!
My class is the pilgrims.  Mrs. Shields class is the Indians.

We sit together to have our "feast"

Then we sing a few songs together! 

Here is the letter I send home the week before to give the parents plenty of time to think of Thanksgiving together!

Thanksgiving Letter


Our Veteran's at the public Library

After making the oh so adorable veteran's using Deanna Jump's Veteran Unit.  I took them to the library for all the world to see.  While me and my partner in crime (Mrs. Shields my team teacher) two of our students were ready and waiting to see their soldier displayed!  It was very heartfelt (and if you know me... I cry at the pledge).

Here is a picture our vets!

There is actually 2 more bulletin board of our soldiers!  Aren't they adorable!

Thank you Veterans.


Writing in our journals

I admit it.  I have never been a good journal teacher.  Even when I taught 5th grade way back when I just found it difficult to manage.  How to you continue to help kids grow in their journals and check in and get all the other stuff done.  It seemed like an impossible task. 

So this year, I have put it on my I must accomplish, is to have successful journal time.  And, believe it or not... I am actually enjoying it.  The kids have grown so much.  On Friday, I told them they need to be the writers.  I want to see what they know.  Of course, there is one or two who are stuck to me like glue and require me to hover over them to get their words our.  But today I saw a rainbow of amazing writing! 

So let's start here.  This student used words that are not in the room.  Soldiers are brave.  Well, soldier was available to them but the rest was all on his own.  Amazing!  Also, notice the lines.  This is now I know they are planning their writing.  They draw lines for each word they want to say.

Notice this one.  Great job.  But, see that question mark.  That is because I had a question on the example paper.  It was a great opportunity to discuss when to use and not use a question mark.

Now this one is great.  But every paper in her journal is I like __________.  Boring.  So I told her she could no longer write that sentence without an additional sentence to go with it. 

I love this one the most, because he didn't just draw a soldier like me.  He drew the tank.  Here we discussed the use of I as a capital and we need spaces between our words.

This student gave up.  She couldn't figure out soldier, although it was on the board.  But I still have her big props for giving it a try.  So I need to work on initial consonant with this one!

So, I hope I continue to see growth.  Of course I will right?  But believe it or not, the journals are almost FULL!  I think I have until Christmas before they will need a new journal.  Yeah!  What kinds of journals do you use?


Share and Conferences

So I survived parent conferences.  I realized at about conference 15 of 32 that I was losing my mojo.  I have so much to share and not enough time to get it all in meaningfully.  What is the purpose of conferences?  Is it to compliment?  To show where improvement is needed?  To simply check in?  I just am not sure?  Anyway... I will step off my soap box, but I wish it could be easier!

Now, for my share!  Thanksgiving is really one of my favorite holidays.  It is simply about family and togetherness.  So I would like to share The Legend of the Five Kernels.  It is about how the Pilgrims struggled through their first winter.  I have my class make a book about the legend.  I then encourage them to share it at their own Thanksgiving celebration.  Parents LOVE it!  So I am sharing it with you!

I hope you enjoy it.  If you can't open it let me know.  I am not exactly sure how to embed documents.  I would love your feedback!


OMG Look what I got!  I am SUPER excited about it too!  Thank you Jennifer!

Check it out!

Thank you!  It is nice to know someone is reading this!  I hope it is worthy!


Snow.. in October

How crazy is this?  It snowed A LOT last night!  There is power out all over the state of Connecticut.  The beautiful white outside is delightful... but I feel like dragging down the Christmas tree instead of getting spooky!

There are rumors going around that my school is out of power and there are just enough trees down they may have to cancel school tomorrow.  Secretly inside I am happy.  Halloween and school (with no party or Halloween celebrations) is just no fun!  Although, the extra day plus the days we accumulated before school started with Hurricane Irene is not good... not good at all!

So, let's just say there is no school tomorrow?  Would you still have Halloween centers on the next school day.. or just cancel them altogether?


Bat Hats

I love Halloween!  Every year I spruce up the house and spook-a-fy it!  But, I can't do the same in my classroom.  And I don't know about your school, but my principal is kinda anti-Halloween altogether.  But she does have a good point and it could exclude people.  So I like to make rhyming Bat Hats.  The kids LOVE them!

So I am sharing it with you!

You need:

1 4x4 black square for the head
2 6x4 black rectangles for the wings
2 goggle eyes
red scrap paper for the mouth
1 12x2 rectangle strip to form the head band

You will need a cat head tracer, they are super easy to make and then make a wing tracer as well.

Let them do the work and staple!

Attached to the hate I have 4 pictures that rhyme with bat: cat, hat, mat, sat
I actually mix a few non-rhyming words with them and they have to pick the ones that rhyme.  I will try to attach these words later.



Fire Safety Week

This week we studied Fire Safety Week!  I used  Kreative in Kinder's Fire Safety Unit from Teacher's Notebook

Click Here to get this unit

First, we discussed what fire fighters can and are.  My AM class really had a hard time with this, but the PM class got it pretty quickly.

For centers I had this:
This was my listening center.  The kids LOVED it... we kept saying all week: Only you can prevent pant fires!

This is the art center.  Paint fire... mixing colors to get orange.

Math center... The coloring here isn't great but they had to draw cards and find the corresponding number.

Literacy Center:  they had to put the cards in ABC order then match the lower case letters.
I modified the book from Kerative in Kinder and made it a book using our sight words.

This is our journal writing.  

Another journal topic.

The last day they all made fire fighter hats and got a book mark!

We didn't get the fire truck, they were busy but he is suppose to come sometime next week. 
It was a good week.  But I also noticed it was a little scary.  Kids don't want to think of having a fire at their house.  It scares them.  I guess that is what makes it an important topic.