Monday, April 29, 2013

"Earth Week" highlights

In our classroom, it's not just Earth Day... it's Earth Week! Here are a few highlights from our week:

Even though we do Dr. Seuss in March, I always save The Lorax for Earth Day. It's the perfect story for developing little tree-huggers. :) I love how the kinders honestly gasp when the Onceler cuts down the last tree. The horrified looks on their faces are just priceless. 

So, we made some adorable Lorax mustaches:

And I took each of their pictures...

... and we made these cute pointillism earths (paint + Q-tips)...

... then we glued our pictures in the middle and wrote about how we can help the Lorax take care of the Earth. Turn out great!

We went on a trash walk...

World's cutest Earth lovers.

Then, the kiddos brought in empty cereal boxes and snack boxes all week long. We spent a whole afternoon making crafts out of the boxes -- reusing!!! The kids were amazed with what we could make for free. And the best part is, we were helping the earth!

We made bookmarks with tracers, hole punchers, scissors, yarn, and markers.

The kids loved them! They turned out so cute.

Then, we cut up box fronts with pictures on them to make "puzzles."

I made direction signs to go along with both crafts so my kids could independently rotate between the two stations... and so we could make these at the science station during literacy workstations this week! Click HERE or on the picture above for the printables.

Then, we made "bird nest bags" by stuffing empty mesh produce bags full of sticks (from our trash walk), yarn, string, ribbon, paper, etc. We will hang them in trees on our playground to help the birds find what they need to make nests. Another great activity for reusing.

Last but not least, if you haven't read this book... stop what you're doing and read it! But, keep some tissues handy -- it will make you cry!!!
I know I say this all the time, but this one really is one of my FAVORITES.
Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel

It was a great week!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

This cuteness MUST be shared!

If you read my last post here, you know about the cute little books my kinders made for Ecko. 

Well, I showed them the picture of Ecko "reading," and of course... after you praise kids about something... you end up with something like this:

Ha ha! Of course, they went crazy with the little books and letters.

BUT... the strangest thing happened. Our nocturnal class pet stayed awake all day that day. "Reading."

I couldn't believe it. Lizards hide. That's what they do. Ecko has always stayed in his coconut shell all day long -- until we feed him. He has never stayed out all day!

I was as baffled as the kinders. But... it makes sense! A lizard who lives in a kindergarten class would love to read!!!

I had to share the little books and letters with you. They are probably the cutest things I've ever seen. I almost cried. :) This class is so genuinely kind, considerate, and adorable. Evidence here:

[You are the best.]

[Ecko is the best. He loves us. He will never forget us. He will love his mom.]

[Love you forever. From Lily. To Ecko.]

[I love Ecko. He is the best. Ecko is a Ecko Superhero. I love Ecko.]

Last, but not least... one of my kiddos wrote Ecko a chapter book. I put my fingers in the picture so you can just how small it is. The title is: Super Gecko.

Seriously?! I know! Cutest thing ever.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Today was a good day

Today = another great day in kindergarten. Funny, joyful, and always entertaining. :)

We had a few visitors come today from a local bank. It was "Teach Kids to Save" day, so they visited each grade and discussed different concepts of saving. They did a great job with the kinders! They talked about safe places and unsafe places to keep money. The kids loved it.

Here are a few little highlights from the bank program:


"A wallet is a good place to keep money. My dad keeps almost $10 in his wallet every week!"


Visitor: "Let's pretend you have your money in your sock drawer. What might happen if your mom goes through your sock drawer?"
Student 1: "She might take your money."
Golden Boy: "I doubt it."
[If you don't know know Golden Boy, read more about him HERE.]


GB: "My friend took a dollar from me."
Student: "What did you do?"
GB: "I took a dollar from him."


After the bank visitors left, I asked each kinder what they were saving their money for. Here are their word-for-word answers:

Mrs. A: "What are you saving for?"
"For college."
"For my vacation to Disney World."
"For a car."
"For a toy -- a Barbie."
"To go to SeaWorld."
"For a Jeep."
"For a Camaro."
"For birthdays."
"For a limosine."
"For college."
"For a yellow car."
"For a convertible and college."
"To buy toys."
"For a laptop."
"For Adventureland."


Last... but definitely not least... my favorite part of today.

At the end of each day, two students are "assigned" to feed, water, and clean-up our class pet, Ecko. Ecko is our adorable leopard gecko. Here he is:

The kinders LOVE him. It's so cute. I love the way they treat him so humanely, speak to him so kindly, and feed him his live crickets without even squirming. :) He has been a wonderful addition to our classroom for the past two years -- and a great lesson learned for the kinders.

Well, today, I was taking the lid on his cage for the kiddos to feed him, and I saw this...

I asked the kids who put them there and two of them quickly raised their hands. After asking them what they were, they simply replied: "They're books. For Ecko!"

Yep. A couple of my sweet little kinders wrote books for Ecko. Tiny, lizard-sized books. They even propped them up in front of his cage.

Even better... after school I saw him popping his head out and reading.
I can't wait to show the kinders this picture tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Monday Mailbox [one day late]

Monday Mailbox is one day late. But, there were two goodies in there that made me smile today, and I know if I post them here, I'll never forget them. Love these cuties.

[As always... kinder translation provided.]

[Dear Mrs. A, I will miss you at the end of kindergarten.]
Simple and to the point -- cute! Also... amazing writing, huh?!

If you have read my mailbox posts before, you will recognize this little girl's drawing and writing. She loves me. Seriously. I'm quite concerned about our "break-up" at the end of May. She is hilarious -- and so sweet. This is from her rest time notebook:

From the top left -- [Can you rip this out? Love it! That is the best! Yay! Yes! We are going to the zoo. And we are going to the theatre. We love the earth.]
Pretty much sums it all up! :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Golden Boy learns about Earth Day

Happy Earth Day to everyone... although if you're in my kindergarten class, it's Happy Earth Week! I love this week. There's so much to do, make, learn, and read about. I'll try to post some highlights after the week is over.

Well, Golden Boy was pretty excited about Earth Day. And, oh my, he was on fire with the questions this afternoon. I know every time I call on him, it will be golden. But today, it was extraordinary. What a hoot.
[If you don't know know Golden Boy, read more about him HERE.]

One of the best things Golden Boy has started doing is quantifying his questions so he makes sure I take the time to hear them all. For example, I'll call on him and he'll say: "Yeah, I've got... (pause and mentally count)... 3 questions." Anyways, here we go.


Golden Boy: "Yeah, I have two questions."
Mrs. A: "Okay."
GB: "Like, how do the trees make clean air?"
Mrs. A: "Well, their leaves help breathe in air and breathe out oxygen while they're making the tree's food." (We've learned about the leaves' job in the past.)
GB: "Okay, but how do we have clean air in the winter then?"
Mrs. A: "Well, that's a good question, bud. Maybe the coniferous trees do all the work in the Winter because they don't lose their leaves?"
GB: "Maybe, but that's not fair."


GB: "Umm, Mrs. Anderson, if we need trees so much, why do people cut them down?"
Mrs. A: "Well, sometimes trees get sick so we have to cut them down. Or, sometimes people need the wood for fires or houses or furniture or paper. Remember when we learned about that in science? We should just always try to plant new trees, too."
GB: "But, how do they make paper? Because paper is so floppy and trees are so hard!"


GB: "Is today the Earth's birthday?"


And, just a super cute conversation I overheard today:

Mrs. A (to Student 1): "Oooh! I really like your vase of flowers we made in math today. You knocked my socks off!" (A term I use often with the kinders.)

Student 1 beams. :)

Student 1 (to Student 2): "Did yours knock Mrs. Anderson's socks off?"

Student 2: "No, mine ripped her socks off!" 

Ha ha -- too cute.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Digging for CVC words

Earlier this year, I introduced the sand table to my kids with "Digging for Letters". They loved it. It was a fun, novel way for them to practice letter identification. I loved how much fun they were having, the great fine motor experience it provided, and the responsibility it instilled in my kinders. 

Well, the sand table is back! This time, my kinders are "digging for" CVC words to decode.

I wrote a variety of CVC and CVCC words (using all 5 short vowel sounds) on small, plastic tiles (from our math kits). 

The kinders have been digging for the tiles, sounding out the word, and drawing/labeling the word on the recording sheet.

FUN, FUN, FUN practice with CVC words -- I love keep those little hands busy during literacy workstations. :)

Click HERE or on the picture above to download the recording sheet.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A "hail" of a day in kindergarten!

Today was hilarious.

It just was.

Everything that happened today was funny. I love this class so much -- they bring so much joy to my days. I had to come home and write about today. 

[If you don't know about  "Golden Boy," read more here.]

Golden Boy (looking at our class pet): "Mrs. Anderson, how do you know if leopard geckos are boys or girls?"
Me: "Well, that's the funny thing about geckos. You can't tell if they are boys or girls without taking them to a very special doctor. So, when I got Ecko, I decided he would just be a boy."
GB: "Well, that's good because I know he's a boy."
Me: "How do you know that?"
GB: "I can just feel it when I look at him."
Me: "Oh, I see."
GB: "Plus he has that long pointy thing on the back of him."
Me: "Well, dear, that's his tail. Remember when we learned about his tail?"
GB: "Yeah, do the girls have those, too?"
Me: "Yes, they do."


Today, we had a guest teacher in the classroom next door to us (in Mrs. S's room). She is a little person, and I have worked with her before. She is a great substitute teacher -- and, as could be expected, our little kinders were quite amazed. Mostly... Golden Boy when he first arrived at school.

GB (looking quite astonished): "Did Mrs. S shrink? Or is that a different person?"


But, the funniest thing that happened today was this morning at calendar time. I am so glad another adult (a para) was in the room at that time -- it was so funny! I'm so glad I had someone to laugh about this with. Like I always say about my job -- "You just can't make this stuff up!"

The kids and I were sitting in the reading pit and we just finished up our quick calendar routine (date, day of the week, etc.) My kids were dying to talk about the weather, so we took a nice long 10 minutes to talk about last night's weather. Around 8:00 last night, a brief, but violent, hail storm came. It only hit certain parts of the city, but hurt lots of cars and skylights.

We were discussing the storm and what happened (they learned a new word -- damage). One little girl said the hail did not happen at her house, so we were describing it for her. We were showing her with our fingers how big they were (about gumball size) and describing that they look just like round ice cubes.

One of the kids says: "Mrs. Anderson! There's one under your chair!"

Sure enough, I look under my chair, and there is a perfect hailstone on the carpet. The para and I look at each other very confusingly. I am quite shocked and I immediately start looking at the ceiling. 

The para and I are searching for a hole, when I say: "Boys and girls, do you know where this hailstone came from?"
One of my little guys says: "Oh! I do! They're right here in my pocket."

He then casually whips out two handfuls of perfectly preserved hailstones from his sweatshirt pockets!!!!

I was in tears laughing! It was probably the funniest, most innocent thing I've ever seen. He just brings them out like it's the most normal thing he's ever done.

I have no clue how he kept them frozen, but it was hilarious. The little girl who didn't see the hail sure was happy to see them. :)

A few new articles

A few new articles to share...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mailbox Monday

Okay, my mailbox is seriously getting out of control on a weekly basis. I need to get back to weekly "clean-outs!" And, of course, sharing the gems here.

As always, kinder-language transition provided. :)

[Dear Mrs. A, I like you being my teacher. I like you.]

[I love Mrs. A. She is the best. I like science. It's the best. When I grow-up I want to be a teacher. I like writing.] -- Hooray! Be a teacher! :)

I love this cute picture of me and Frankie saying, "I have the best owner." Cute, cute, cute!

The next few pictures are of a "book" made for me by one of my students (who seriously brings me things like this everyday!) She's so darling -- I'm a little concerned about her leaving for 1st grade... ha ha. You will see. :) I seriously cannot read this without laughing. 
[Mrs. A and Me]

[We are going to miss each other.]

[I am going to give her a present. I miss you, too.]

[I woke up. Mrs. A and me love each other. I wish it was summer.]

[I love my teacher. I miss you.]

[I love Mrs. A. Mrs. A loves me.]

[I miss you Mrs. A.]

Ha ha... oh dear. Love this little girl.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Back to Writing! Hooray!

Well, my Master's program is slowly (very slowly) come to an end. The next few weeks of class and the summer of internship hours will be incredibly stressful... but I can see the end in sight!

One great thing this impending end brings is the return of something I love -- freelance writing. I started educational and child-focused writing in my free time for Demand Media Studios in 2011, but I have been so busy with classes that I haven't written article in a year!

I'm slowly getting back into it now that I'm nearing the end -- and I'm loving it once again. My new degree has further qualified me for more articles, and currently, my assignment list I can choose from is overflowing.

As I get back into it, I'll be sharing my articles here. Here's my first "comeback" article. :)

"Activities for Children in the Sensorimotor Stage" on GlobalPost.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

3D Shapes Unit

We just finished up an awesome math unit on 3-D shapes. This has always been a subject my students enjoy, and that I enjoy teaching, but this year, my kinders really "got it." We did lots of guided exploration activities -- and the kids know, label, and recognize the shapes better this year than they ever have before! We had a lot of fun, too!

Here are a few highlights from our 3-D shapes unit:

3-D Shapes + Playdoh

This was a really fun, student-directed activity. After introducing the 3-D shapes and hunting for them in our classroom/books/lives, we explored the faces of the shapes. The kinders pushed the four major 3-D shapes (cylinder, cube, cone, and sphere) into a flattened disc of play-doh. They then recorded the shapes (indentions) each 3-D shape made. This was a great way to explore the properties of the shapes.

Click HERE or on the picture above for the printable.

3-D Shape Card Sort [Math Workstation]

My kinders go to 2 math workstations everyday, so I'm always needing new ideas. This is a simple way to provide rigorous practice with the 3-D shapes. The kinders sorted the picture cards by shape on a pocket chart and recorded the pictures on the page below. 
[I always use a recording sheet at my workstations. It provides my higher-ability learners with an enrichment opportunity. It also helps hold my kiddos accountable at their workstations.]

Click HERE or on the picture above for the printable.

3-D Shapes Snack [Celebration!]

This was a definite highlight of the unit. We celebrated our new knowledge by sorting, discussing, and eating 3-D shaped snacks! They loved it! I had the kids draw/label the snacks in each box.

We used: Bugles (cones), marshmallows (cylinders), cut-up pieces of Rice Krispie treats - not pictured (cubes), Kix cereal and cheese balls (spheres).

Click HERE or on the picture above for the printable.