Monday, October 20, 2014

Emerging Writers {Mid-October}

In September, I wrote a bit about my plan for writing at the beginning of the year.  We finished the two packets mentioned in that post, and I was definitely ready to move into writing with this crew; they were ready!

I am being a little more flexible with my writing time this year and using more of a Writers Workshop model.  During each 2 week unit (prescribed by our curriculum), students have been creating little vocabulary books.  I put a list of words related to our theme in the center, and students write and illustrate at least 3 words in their vocabulary book.

I had a proud teacher moment when a student brought out her vocabulary book (with no prompting) and said to me "this says 'grandma', right?"  Everybody freeze!  Listen to what "N" just did... Those vocabulary books were flying out of the writing folders and suddenly everyone thought using the resources around the room was a great idea.

I wanted to share a few samples.

"I am going to play at the playground with my mom.  My mom love(s) me."

This was the kiddo with her vocabulary book.  Her sentence says: "Yesterday I went to my grandma's."
"I want to be a spaceman when I grow up."  This was inspired by their new "spaceman" they received to help them remember spaces in their writing.  He actually traced the top part of his spaceman to make the picture.  A spaceman is visible in the photo above.  I purchased them at Hobby Lobby for $3.99 for 24 (I used a 40% off coupon so they were even cheaper!)  The pack comes with 12 boys and 12 girls.

I'm so proud of their progress and their excitement for writing.  We received a IPEVO document camera through DonorsChoose.org, so my kiddos are pretty excited to be sharing their writing with their classmates on the SMARTboard.

How do you teach writing in your classroom?  What motivates your kiddos in writing?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Field Trip: The Nature Center

Last week we went on our annual fall field trip to the Nature Center owned by our local university.  This year, 3 classes went at a time, but each class was split into 2 groups.  During our hour and 30 minute trip, we go for a nature walk looking for signs of fall.  This year, the staff at the Nature Center created an activity similar to a scavenger hunt to find items of different colors.

It rained quite a bit the night before our trip, but the rain decided to scoot out of our area before we arrived.  This definitely made our trip better!

My kiddos were good at finding items in our walk.  Our literacy coach came to the Nature Center for the first time; I learned something new, she has A TON of background on nature!  On our walk, we walked through the woods, chose a leaf to complete a leaf rubbing, walked around the pond where we fed the fish, touched tadpoles and observed a crayfish.  Finally, before walking back to the bus, we were off to the barn where we saw a donkey, 2 sheep and some chickens; we fed the sheep and chickens.  

"Eagle Eyes" (our literacy coach) found a salamander.  Our guide (who was great!) immediately put it in a bug box for students to get a closer look at.  She then released him in wet leaves so he could keep his skin moist.  This was a great start to our trip!

Those are slugs eating some fungus on a log. Most of the kids thought it was pretty cool.

Touching the tadpoles.  They had a really hard time catching them; those buggers were fast!

Feeding and checking out the chickens.

A pretty view from our day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dem Bones

I saw Mary from Sharing Kindergarten share "Bag of Bones" Cheetos on Instagram.  I thought, "we need these!".  Then she shared a freebie pack, Dem Bones, and I knew I would have to use these.  After 3 different trips to WalMart, I finally found my prize, 2 bags of "Bag of Bones"!

I used 2 bags for 18 students to make sure everyone had enough pieces to make their skeleton. I pre-bagged (I think I just made that word up) the pieces for each student in a snack-sized baggie.

Last week's (and this week) theme is the human body.  We focused on body systems last week with a focus on the 5 senses this week.  I decided to pull these out last Friday to wrap up our week of learning about body systems.

We have not done any food projects yet this year, so I went through all my instructions (don't eat the food, we are using it to learn, etc).  I had students graph first.  We sorted directly on the graph.  You could have heard a pin drop!  There was no talking, no looking around, just focused kiddos totally engaged.  Pure joy right here!


After students graphed their pieces, they picked up a paper to build a skeleton and label the parts of the skeleton.  There were different techniques to completing this, but most students just built the skeleton on top of the paper.  The kiddos below decided to build it on her own on the table next to her paper.

Check out his graph; he decided to just online the boxes.

Students used the words at the bottom of the graph to help them spell the words needed on the labeling paper.  Way to use your resources, kiddos!  After labeling their skeleton, students were permitted to eat their pieces.  I earned "best teacher ever" and the day was "the best day ever" thanks to this activity (thanks Mary!).  My kiddos certainly earned another food-based learning activity thanks to to their hard work and great job following directions!  I think we'll try my Candy Corn Math next (freebie).

Monday, October 13, 2014

What's Inside Me?

We completed our first big PBL project last week.  We answered the question: "What is inside my body?"  Throughout the week, we learned about different body systems through books and completed our own book about the body systems.  The systems we learned about are: skeletal, muscular, digestive, respiratory, nervous and circulatory.  Each day, students filled in their own individual books (fill-in-the-blank) about the different body systems.  You can find the book here; the packet also has a 5 senses book. It is on sale through Tuesday.

Sample book page

Students were put into 4 different groups (2 groups of 5, 2 groups of 4).  Their first task was to trace someone.  I left it up to them to decide who to trace.  Much to my surprise, there was no arguing in any group!  We were off to a great start!

This was one group deciding who was going to be traced.  I loved their spontaneous huddle!


After learning about different systems of the body, students filled in the friend they traced with the "insides" we learned about.  Students gave me a shopping list of the materials they wanted to represent each body system.  I set them loose with the materials available. They had their books they filled in to refer to and were reminded about teamwork.

Materials used: white copy paper for bones (I gave each group 1 less sheet than the number of people in the group- had to problems solve), red yarn: muscles, yellow balloons: lungs, paper (copied) brain & heart, purple yarn: intestines, plastic baggie: stomach (drew food on scrap paper and put in stomach), rolled copy paper: esophagus.
Adding bones
Teamwork: coloring a brain



After attaching all the "parts", the person was labeled and all were hung in the hallway to share.


All 4 groups were so excited and proud to show their work to others who walked by.  These will hang for a few weeks to give families a chance to view them as well as others in the building.

I think they did an awesome job for their first group project.  I am proud of them for working together to accomplish a task!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Letters {October 12}

I'm linking up with Michelle from Big Time Literacy for Sunday Letters.  Papers are courtesy of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs.


I'll be back this week to share their "What's Inside My Body?" projects with you.  They are pretty awesome for kindergarten kiddos!



Be sure to stop back this week to read more about our "What's Inside My Body?" projects!  I'm hoping to get the post up tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Applesauce, Yum!

Yesterday I wrote about our trip to the apple orchard on Sunday.  After picking apples, I told the kids we would be using some of the apples I picked to make applesauce.  So, applesauce day was yesterday.

I peel and core the apples at home. I also cut each apple into 8 slices.  This year, I tried soaking the slices in cold water with a bit of salt (thanks, Pinterest) then putting them in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.  No brown slices this morning!

The kiddos are responsible for cutting the apple slices into smaller chunks and dumping them into the crock pot.



We cooked our apples in the crock pot with cinnamon and a little bit of brown sugar all day, and our applesauce was finally ready when it was time to go home.  2 students wouldn't try it at all, but everyone else loved it.  They were pretty proud of their "cooking" today!  I love homemade applesauce, so this is a must try for me every year.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Apple Picking

Fall is in full swing around here in Ohio.  The leaves are turning, and I'm finding more and more in my yard each morning.  The weather is definitely much cooler (the highs have been in the low to mid 50s the last couple days), and apples and pumpkins are everywhere!

Yesterday the students on our team (there are 4 K teachers per team; 3 K teams in our building) had the opportunity to meet us at the apple orchard.  The orchard we went to is about 10 miles out of town with a kid-friendly staff.  Parents were responsible for purchasing their own apples, their own transportation and the supervision of their child.  The orchard is very accommodating in respect to purchasing apples- they offer a smaller bag for $3, which is the perfect size for kindergartners.  Many families took advantage of the larger bags as well.


The orchard staff gave a quick presentation sharing what they grow at the farm and asking for and answering questions for kiddos and families.  Our tour guide then took us out to see the 4 types of apples we could pick, showed us the giant heads of cabbage they grow and showed us the pumpkin patch.



After the presentation, kiddos and families were free to pick apples and pumpkins.  Teachers were around to help pick, chat and take pictures (that was just me on the pictures).



This is the 8th year I've done this trip, many times with different staff joining me.  Each year the kids love it, and I've had quite a few families tell me they've gone back in other years because their kids liked it so much.  That makes this a win in my book; giving kids experiences that they may not otherwise get.  Happy Fall!

How do you celebrate fall in (or out of) your classroom?