Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Family Fun: Painting Pottery

Thanks to donors on DonorsChoose, our students and families had the opportunity to meet us at a local paint your own pottery studio, Hot Pots.  The staff is always awesome with the kids, and the kids always have a great time.  It also gives families a time to chat and build relationships.  This year, the Hot Pots staff chose penguin figurines for students to paint.  They then fire them, and they are ready for pick up in 6 days.

After the kids finished their painting, the staff spoiled them with fresh cotton candy.

A great time was had by all!  If you've never used DonorsChoose, it is great for classroom materials and supplies, but also for trips and special visitors.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Have You Tried ChatterPix?

I've seen ChatterPix mentioned on a few different blogs.  I saw that it was free so of course I downloaded it.  It was always in the back of mind and last week I pulled it up and gave it a shot.

Each week, we go to the computer lab where the majority of the class works on iReady, an online diagnostic and instructional website.  We are piloting it in K this year, so not all of my students have accounts.  For those who don't, they typically use Raz-Kids, but this was difficult to engage them for 40 minutes or more.

Two weeks ago I came up with the idea to use our PebbleGo account to have students not on iReady research our current classroom theme: space.  I looked at the information available on PebbleGo and wrote out 5 questions for students to answer from the material given.  When we went back to class, the "researchers" had to share their findings with the rest of the class who used iReady.  The first thing students researched was stars and this past week they learned about the moon.

This week I had 2 students who learned about the moon come over, choose a Google image of the moon and record a couple facts that they had learned using ChatterPix.  After uploading the image and recording your information, you can use "stickers" in the app to decorate your picture.



Please excuse the background nose in the videos; we did our recording in the hallway while students in my class were at centers and another class came to the restroom which is right next to our room.

The app is great for quick projects.  You are limited to 30 seconds of recording time, so it was perfect for just a couple facts.

Each project took less than 10 minutes to create from finding the image, to recording and decorating.  My students LOVED it and were so proud of their little videos.  This is a free app I will definitely use again in the future.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Little Entertainment for Your Day

After 3 snow days, we finally went back to school yesterday.  Here's a little something to make you smile for today.

One of our goals this nine weeks (which ends tomorrow) is to learn our address.  I pulled a little guy over to ask him his address; here was our conversation:

Me: A, what is your address.

A: {puzzled face}

Me: Your address is where you live.  What is your address.

A: With my mom

Me: You are right, you do live with your mom.  Let me tell you your address and you say it back to me. (says address)

A: {Looks at me like he's confused}

Me: Your mom lives there too.  Please repeat your address after me.

A: Smiles and repeats. 

A parent and I were e-mailing back and forth about a child's backpack.  I mentioned that I appreciated the parent sending her homework back even with the backpack mixup.  The parent asked me to please tell her child that it is not necessary for mommy to say "ready read" when reading a story for homework.

{Our curriculum provides books for shared reading. There is a 'teacher' part of the story and a 'student' part.  After I read the teacher part, I say "ready read" and the kids read their part}

Me: Do you make mommy say 'ready read' when you do your homework?

A: Yes

Me: You know, mommy doesn't need to do that when you do homework.

A: But YOU do

Me: Yes, I do it because there is a group of kids reading at the same time, and you wouldn't be able to start together without me telling you when to start.  When it is just you and mommy reading, you don't need that because it is just you reading your part.

A: I'm still telling her she has to say it.

Sorry mom, I tried!

These things made me smile today.  Hope they made you smile too!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Positive Thoughts For Today

I had a long (longer than usual) drive into work today due to our buddy "Mother Nature" and her snowy morning.  I was feeling a bit tired by the time I arrived an hour and 35 minutes later.  Throughout the day, I wanted to find the positives today.

While reading "Duke" (do you DRA?), one of my kiddos was cracking me up.  She reads the first couple lines, looks at the picture and says "He does not look black and white.  I know that is what it says, but he does not look like that".  I told her I wasn't the author or the illustrator and if that is what the story says, then we'll have to go with it.  She continues reading and starts to giggle.  Then she says "Duke is a weird name for a dog because it sounds like "Doofus".  At this point I am laughing out loud; DRA is usually not LOL material.  We did make it through the book and she rocked it, even with her silly commentary.

I sent home a special reading log over winter break.  Those that completed their reading log (half the class) got to have lunch in the room with me today.  We had chocolate cupcakes for dessert too.  They were on cloud 9 over just having lunch in the room.  I'm a huge fan of free rewards that make them happy.  Those who didn't come were super bummed.  I guess we'll be using that reward again!  When they finished eating, they were allowed to play at centers until it was time to pick their friends up.  It was so nice to be able to enjoy them in a setting where I didn't have an agenda of things I needed to accomplish.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself with this class.  I've had lots of great kiddos in the past, and many of them I remember fondly, but this class is different.  My first principal, who is now retired, told me (many times) that you get "that class" about once every 7 years.  This is my 11th year of teaching, and I learned what "that class" is like.  Do we have our moments?  Absolutely!  I am so blessed to spend each day with them and love seeing their excitement everyday.  Many times I can see their wheels turning and can only image what will come out of their mouths next.  At times, I hesitate to share my excitement about what we are accomplishing because I know what it is like to have a class that "keeps you on your toes".  If you haven't had "that class" yet, it is well worth the wait!  I'm definitely looking forward to the second half of the year with them!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back from Break

Today was our first day back from break.  It went really well!  Our nine weeks ends next week, so I got started with our "end of the nine weeks" assessments. Most of it is stuff I've been assessing throughout the nine weeks, just need to do some final checks and DRA.

I'm always on the lookout for ways to engage my kiddos while I work with guided reading groups.  I don't do Daily 5, but I do my own version of reading centers.  I'd like to try more components of Daily 5, so I decided to try some "read to someone" (partner reading).  We get National Geographic Young Explorer thanks to DonorsChoose.org.  I was getting organized this morning and realized I never used the November/December issue.

I decided this was perfect for them to try partner reading with.  They love their magazines, and their reading levels are a point that I think they will be able to get through most of it.  My hope is that they will get through 1 article in one-two days.  I made a little recording sheet to keep them accountable and help me see what words/items we need to go over as a class.  I'd love for you to have a copy too!  It is a freebie on TpT.

We are going to give this a try for the first time tomorrow, but I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.  How do you keep your kiddos learning and engaged during small groups?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pajama Day Breakfast

My kiddos were really looking forward to pajama day this year.  I usually don't tell the kids until a couple days before, but this year my little readers discovered it on our monthly calendar the first day of the month.

I wanted to make them a special breakfast this year.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a few of these.  I scoured Pinterest for things my kiddos probably don't normally get.

Thanks to our literacy coach for coming in to help me serve the food!
I made "Stained Glass Jello".  I did not get a picture of this, but it was quite yummy!  I used cherry, fruit punch and lime jello.  Most of the kids liked this, and the staff made short work of the leftovers!

Cinnamon rolls are something most kids seem to like.  I wanted them to have a taste of one, but didn't want it to be overload.  I made these super easy and quick little guys.  I was out of maple syrup, so I didn't make the icing, but they were good without it and the kiddos didn't know the difference!  You'll be able to see these in the picture below.

I saw many versions of santa hats made with strawberries.  I have a kiddo allergic to strawberries, so I made a few modifications.  I just put a little squirt of Reddi Whip (left over from Halloween party...never opened) on the paper plate, put a raspberry on top and a little squirt of Reddi Whip on top.  Cute, easy and delicious!

You can see the Santa Hat and a the mini cinnamon roll on this plate.

I picked up some powdered sugar donuts to make these snowmen.  They turned out really cute and the kids loved them. I used mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth ("pointy" side into the donut) and a mini M&M from my holiday baking for the nose.

Also with the snowman theme, I turned cheese sticks into snowmen.  One of my kiddos asked "When can we have pajama day again so we can have cheese sticks for breakfast?"  I guess we'll be having these again!

I made these guys while sitting in my recliner.  Yes, I took the picture of them drying on my computer!

It was a fun morning of something different and not a ton of a extra work.  Because I already had the Reddi Whip, chocolate chips and M&Ms (both from other baking projects), I think this whole thing was about $10.

Have you ever made your students breakfast?  What did you (or they) make?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Giving to Others {Part 3}

Our biggest project this month was a toy drive for our local shelter.  One of my student's parents suggested this project, and the kids ran with it!

We started off by talking about how some kids don't have a house of their own to live in.  This lead to shocked looks from my kiddos.  I explained that when kids don't have a home of their own, they don't have a lot of the things the kiddos in my class have, including toys.  This really made them want to help.

I e-mailed the teachers in my building asking them to participate in our toy drive.  We were suggesting used toys that students no longer play with.  The teachers who participated allowed my students to come in and talk to their students (about a 2 minute presentation) about what they were doing and why they were doing it.  They would also need to help their students bring their donations to place in the box outside our room.

Their first step was to design a poster for each classroom they were visiting and a flyer for the students in the class they were visiting to take home.  They also had to work together to determine their oral presentation to the other classes.  Each group (6 groups) was able to present twice as our PreK classes are AM & PM.
Designing posters and flyers
Sharing with another class

We collected toys for 2 weeks.  After the 2 week collection, students had to clean the toys (they used baby wipes) and count them.  They would be proud to tell you they used tally marks to count them.  They again worked in their 6 groups to clean and count. We (I) then added all the tally marks to get a grand total.  We collected 238 toys total!

It felt like the North Pole with all my little elves hard at work!
On Wednesday, the director of the shelter came to talk to the kiddos briefly and pick up the toys.  They helped her carry the 8 boxes from our cart to her van.  It was the sweetest thing ever, and I sadly don't have any pictures because I was part of the carrying line.  Our local newspaper covered the story, so we do have the couple photos they published.

I think this was a great experience for my kiddos and one they will remember for quite some time.  It took the focus off of "me" and what I want for Christmas if even for just a moment.  I loved seeing their enthusiasm in talking to other kids about it and the passion they had for making sure everything was just right for the pickup day.  One little boy said he felt sad when the toys were gone because the place in our room where they were looked empty.  I promptly rearranged furniture to fix this.  I feel blessed to work with this group of kiddos everyday and am so proud of them for all they've done in the first half of the school year.