Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkeys in Disguise

I used the book Turkey Trouble last week.  In the past, I have had students take a turkey home to disguise, but this year time got away from me and I ended up not sending them home.  The kids were engaged in the story, and I knew they'd enjoy decorating turkeys on their own.

I decided this was a great activity for our classroom art center.  I put paper turkey copies in the art center along with a variety of colors of construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons and markers.  I loved seeing what they came up with on their own with no help from a family member. 

In the past, I have given ideas of what they could do with their turkeys, but this year I left it to chance and they only got the farm animal ideas from the story.  Below are some examples of their work.


This was right after our visit from Todd Parr.

Bing Bong from Inside Out

Do you do a special activity for Thanksgiving?  How much guidance do you give?  After this year, I'm thinking "less is more".  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Little Pilgrims

We had a 2 day week this week and used them learning about Thanksgiving.

On Monday, we talked about the voyage of the Mayflower across the Atlantic.  We watched the Mayflower video on Scholastic's website.  We then made our own Mayflower using a cardboard coffee cup "wrapper", styrofoam, 2 popsicle sticks, Pilgrim clipart, a straw and a small piece of white paper (to make a flag).

After making our mini Mayflowers, we went to the carpet where there was a blue tablecloth with a map of England on one side and the United States on the other side.

Mayflower in England.
Before "making the journey" we talked about aspects of the journey that we learned from the video (how long, what they had to eat, where they slept, etc).  Students then helped their Mayflower make the journey to the US.  

On Tuesday, we were going to be Pilgrims.  Our school does a school-wide feast (all K students), and we dress the kids up with some type of headband for the feast.  I decided to do Pilgrims this year because of some of the activities I was planning in my room.  I usually do turkey hats; they are easy!  I always thought the bonnet for the girls was going to be labor-intensive and the girls wouldn't be able to do it.  They proved me wrong; they were easy to make and the kids were adorable!

I wanted students to experience what it might be like to be packed in a ship (or other space).  I knew they wouldn't be there for a long period of time, but they could have the experience.  I took one table and turned it over (table part on the floor).  My kiddos were already hooked because they thought I was strong if I could do that (stick with my kids!).  I had them, the "Pilgrims" pile into the Mayflower.  Once all were aboard, we built the ship around them by wrapping the table with bulletin board paper to make sure no one fell overboard.  While "aboard", we talked about how it must have been hard to live that close to people in a small space for that long. I don't think they were as cramped as my kiddos were, but they definitely got the idea.

Once the Pilgrims arrived in America, they set to work on Pilgrim jobs.  They had to get corn off the cob to make cornbread, stuff mattresses (pillowcases stuffed with plastic bags), build houses with Lincoln Logs and make butter. 

Making a mattress
Pilgrim homes
After finishing our "Pilgrim jobs", we were able to attend the feast and snack on cornbread muffins and the butter we made later that afternoon.

We talked about life in the "past" and life "present".  We used the book Pilgrims of Plymouth  and a freebie from Teaching Second Grade on TpT to sort photos into "present" and "past".

This Harry Kindergarten song was a huge hit with my kiddos.  It was a sing-along after a couple times of viewing it.

We had a great few days, and I'm so thankful for the time I get to spend with these kiddos on a daily basis!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mac & Cheese In the Bathtub!?!

In conjunction with our Todd Parr visit (click the link to read about the visit), a preschool teacher and I partnered to organize a macaroni and cheese drive for our local food pantry.  In Todd's book It's Okay to be Different, he says "It's okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub."  Sometimes I have some "off the wall ideas", and at first, this seemed like one of them!

Our kiddos worked together to make signs and flyers advertising our collection dates.  We made a poster for each classroom and a flyer to send home with all students.

One of our custodians had a bathtub from her days with horses that she allowed us to use.  The tub was in our atrium.   If we are going to do this project, why not go all out!  We used a red table skirt to dress it up a bit, and to make it match the tub in the book.  I put blue shiny wrapping paper in the bottom of the tub and added "bubbles" (balloons) until the tub started to fill.

After about 10 school days of collecting mac & cheese, we had a very full bathtub!

We then estimated how many boxes were in the tub.  After estimating, we worked with our preschool partners to stack the mac & cheese into stacks of 10 to make counting easier.  We then worked together to count the stacks by 10s.  The preschool teacher put each stack of 10 into the tub as we counted it.  We ended up with 382 boxes of mac & cheese!  Additional boxes were added that afternoon and the  next morning, but we didn't recount.  We are guessing we ended just under 400 boxes.

The day after Todd Parr's visit, a representative from the food pantry came to pick up our donation.  The kids worked to pack the mac and cheese into boxes and even carried it out to the car.

The kids did an awesome job with this project!  The author visit was a perfect way to introduce the idea of giving to others.  The kid were excited about the visit and were able to relate to the topic.  Additionally, they found this idea of helping others to be fun, which engaged them and made them want to work hard.  I hope it ignites a passion in them to continue to help others in the future.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Todd Parr Visited!

This week we had the awesome opportunity to have author/illustrator Todd Parr visit our school!  You can read more about our preparation for his visit here.

My kiddos have known since they end of September that he was coming.  Their excitement built over the course of 2 months.  They wrote a book about feelings using is The Feelings Book as inspiration, and I told them then that he was coming to our school.  The rest of our building got excited around the beginning of November, and by the day before the visit, he was like a rock star.  The school was buzzing with excitement, and the kids could not wait for the day of the visit!

There were 2 presentations at our building and an evening program, open to the general public, at our local library.

Each session included: reading a few books, playing a game with feelings cards, an example of Todd drawing and questions/answers.

My kiddos lucked out and got to have lunch with Todd.  They had no idea they were having lunch with him until about 5 minutes before it happened.  I wish I could show you the video I took of their reaction because it was priceless.  I looked a little bit like an Oprah moment when she gave something away.  I wanted the room to be special (it is pretty boring as it is a classroom we don't use), so I decorated with brightly colored tablecloths and balloons.  My friend made AMAZING cookies based on Todd's characters, and the kids made little nameplates for the tables.

Todd took the time to sign any and all books that students and staff asked to have signed.  He posed for photos and made many kiddos (and adults) very happy!  Books were available for purchase prior to and the day of the event.  

This is what one of my kiddos wrote about the next day when given the prompt to write about what they were thankful for.  

In the 12 years I've been at my school, we have never had anything like this.  It was magical to see the kids' excitement.  Todd did not disappoint!  He was down to Earth and genuinely enjoyed interacting with the kids.  He had the crowd (200+ preschool and kindergarten children per session) engaged throughout the presentation.  

Our local library partnered with us to make Todd's visit possible.  It was an amazing day for our students and staff!

Have you ever had an author visit your school?  What made it special?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Planning an Author Visit: Todd Parr

Our school has the blessing of having author/illustrator Todd Parr visit our school today.  I had the opportunity to see Todd present at I Teach 1st this summer, and I really wanted my kiddos to meet him.  Thanks to the generosity of our local library and a contribution from our school as well, it became a reality today.  I want to share some of the things we did to get ready for this visit.  I'll be back to share about the visit soon.

This visit was all about the kids, and I wanted that reflected in the things we displayed and did in preparation for the visit.  My kiddos created a welcome banner to hang in our school's atrium.  In Todd Parr's style, they painted a letter per "box" (page) to spell out "Welcome Todd Parr".

A preschool teacher and I teamed up with our classes to coordinate a macaroni and cheese (Todd's favorite food) drive for our local food pantry.  The kids made signs and flyers to distribute to all the classes in our building.  One of our custodians brought in an old bathtub to fill with the mac & cheese.  In the book It's Okay to be Different, Parr says "It's okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub."  The kids love this project!  It was fun to watch the bathtub fill on a daily basis.

When the bathtub arrived, I had each child sit in the tub with their favorite play food and pose for a picture with a shower cap on. They then used the app Balloon Stickies to add a speech bubble telling us what it is ok to eat in the bathtub.  These were hung on the wall around the bathtub.

Each class worked on some Todd Parr inspired artwork to decorate the gym where presentations would take place.

Self portraits in Todd Parr style
The Underwear Book.  This was my team's artwork.  Each child designed a pair of underwear to hang on the clothesline.
Watercolor Todd Parr-inspired faces with the kids names above them.
Bright faces
A quilt of Todd Parr drawings (from his website)
The library took care of the money related to book pre-sales.  This certainly helped me as the craziness of November has been upon me.  As the books came, I put a post-it on the front with the child's name and teacher's name. Then, on the title page, I put a second post-it with the child's name (in my best "teacher writing") for easy signing.

The night before the visit, we had a little welcome bag at his hotel.  We included some Ohio-made products: maple syrup, Udder Cream (hand cream made locally), candy from the local candy shop and an ornament created by a parent.  My kiddos designed the gift bag.

His characters are spelling O-H-I-O.
I'm excited to come back and share our visit with you.  The kids are SO excited!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Learning on the Move

We had an assessment/review week in math last week.  We are starting a new math curriculum this year (Eureka Math) and haven't had much time for math games.  I decided this was the perfect time to start incorporating games.

One of my students' favorites was hopscotch.  I had a hopscotch rug that was safely tucked away and all but forgotten about.  I pulled it out this week along with a "spiky ball".  My kiddos took turns rolling the ball and saying the number that makes 10 with the number the ball lands on.  For example, if the ball landed on 4, the kiddo would say "6".  After telling their small group the number the needed to make 10, they were able to hopscotch across the board.

At the end of math games, I asked students to give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down; 2 gave it a thumbs down and the rest were a resounding thumbs up.  They asked to play it many more times throughout the week.  I have a feeling it will reappear in math and literacy centers in the future!

I love that the kids were up and moving while practicing math skills.  Do you have any games suggestions that get your kiddos moving or that they love?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pumpkins Galore

Last week, we learned all about pumpkins.  My kiddos this year love "nonfiction" type topics.  They are into anything that they can get their hands on and learn about.

We started off the prior Friday with my preclinical student (she'll be my student teacher in the spring) teaching the kids about the pumpkin life cycle.  This was one of the 4 lessons she needs to teach this semester.

Monday we started by talking about what students already knew about pumpkins.  Each child had the opportunity to share an idea, then additional ideas were added after each child had a turn.

On Tuesday, we drew and labeled a pumpkin. They loved this activity when we learned about apples, so I knew it would be a hit in the pumpkin learning too.  While we were working to draw our pumpkins and label them, we also snacked on pumpkin seeds.

On Wednesday, we compared apples and pumpkins using the freebie you see below from Reagan Tunstall.  We saved this for Wednesday because I felt like they had a good background on pumpkins to be able to compare them. This was our first time using a Venn Diagram and talking about comparisons, but I think they rocked it!  We did this together with me writing on the SMARTboard while they worked on their own papers at their seats.

We wrapped up our unit on Thursday as our Halloween party was Friday (thank-you early dismissal).  The last thing we did was a gallery walk.  I placed different types of pumpkins on each table along with brown bulletin board paper.  I got the procedure for this activity here.

This was also the first time for this activity.  It took 2 rotations to get the hang of the routine of writing what you see and not talking. Students REALLY wanted to share with one another what they saw.  After visiting every table and writing about what they saw, students then went back to their table and discussed what was written on their sheet of paper.  They also compared this to what they saw at other tables.  My students loved this idea, and it is something we'll definitely do again.

What do you do to learn about fall and pumpkins in your classroom?