Five for Friday!



I made these adorable little Earth Day crafts with my kindergarteners my first year of teaching and it was only 1/2 day, so I had everything cut out and prepped ahead of time. Well that seemed like an awful lot of work this year, but my teammate was insistent we make them, because "they are just so adorable!" So I said we should have the kids cut out their own shapes. "No, no," she said. "I will cut them out for both of us," she said. She did. That morning, and out of Time magazine. Not child friendly. But I am responsible and realized that before passing out trees cut out of tobacco ads and flowers featured a man's chiseled abs. So I whipped up a few tracers, and let my kids go to town. I think they had more fun that way, anyway. The background was printed on paper from the recycle bin and we were reusing the magazines. All they needed to do to complete the 3 Rs was to REDUCE the mess they made... they don't ever laugh at my witty jokes.



We used Katie Mense's Where Does Garbage Go? Experiment and had a blast learning about reducing and recycling. So much fun! We used Cheerios as our tires and got to smash them up to reduce how much space they took up, and then we added Plaster of Paris and water to turn our "tires" into roads. It was a fun time all around.


We have been working on persuasive and opinion writing and today we wrote letters to the principal, and our goal was to persuade her to give us more time for recess. They had some hilarious ideas. I think she'll really like this one, since it involves a week off and a foot rub. Oh my word!


As soon as I saw A Teeny Tiny Teacher's post about The Message Center, I knew I had to try it. We have 22 days of school left and we needed something new. So yesterday I decided to whip it up on the spot. Literally. "Okay, bring me 2 chairs... let me just grab this ribbon here... I need a notebook... I promise, guys, you will be amazed!...a keyring!... let me just tie these ends into loops now...oh, I'm a genius!...guys, you really should be really excited...have I mentioned this is called the message center?..." And what do you know? They were amazed. One kid even cried because he didn't get to test it out with me. So yesterday we modeled, and today we tried it out for real. I think I only had to say, "No, this is not limbo. Do not crawl under the rope!" once. I stumbled upon some bungee cord last night and thought that seemed suitable enough. I also had the genius idea to tie loops at the end of the cord and then connect them with a binder ring. Now the kids don't have to mess with knots. Genius, I know.


I'm done with TRCs for the year!!! Happy dance!! The rest of my DIBELS will be done on Monday, and that leaves me 3 solid weeks to drag my feet through math. #almostthere


Five for Friday!

We've been working on fractions and equal shares, so we busted out some real pennies ("Oh my gosh, Miss Weck is letting us use REAL pennies!!!!") to practice making equal halves, thirds, and quarters. Switching to guided math has been amazing for opportunities like this. It's a million times easier and more effective to pull out manipulatives and let every single student have a hands on experience when I have a small group of students.

One of our skills this week was pronouns, so we made these super cute pronoun flowers (from Teacher Idea Factory). I had students work in small groups to write, cut, and assemble, and it made me realize that I really need to do more activities where students have to work together. Teamwork makes the dream work.

More teamwork to make the dream work with these adorable sunny suffixes from Smitten with First. Please just look at some of those words. Funful...loveful...sadful...

We have been studying soil in science, so I asked students to bring in soil ("Please ask permission from your parents first." "No! Please do not dig a hole in the playground at your apartment complex!") You would never know from the above picture, but a spider had just crawled out of the dirt and minutes before these girls were screaming and crying (granted, it was a scary spider). After the spider was captured by the brave teacher, observation of the the soil continued on. We are going to make a worm habitat in a few weeks and I can't wait!

Warm weather is here!! I pulled out sandals AND capris today! Oh happy day!

Daily 5 Spring Cleaning: Work on Writing

I'm not going to lie... work on writing has never been one of my personal favorites. If I get a group of students that doesn't particularly love writing, I struggle to keep them engaged. I'm not the best at introducing new things and putting them out and keeping them stocked... #thestruggleisreal Truthfully, I don't care what they are writing about, as long as they are writing! I have found a few things that have worked for me this year, and some new technology has made a world of difference.

Here is my writing center. Literally some counter space with enough room for 2 kids to sit. Plus, of course, a cute WRITE banner and some pictures of students modeling work on writing. Most students grab what they need and then find a spot around the room to work. At the beginning of the year, it was one set of trays, and we had a few simple options.

It started with simple list writing.

Step by step drawing and then some sentence starters to use with the picture. Nothing too crazy. *Side note: they still really like this one! #win

Then I gradually (I mean reeeeeally gradually, because I'm slow at introducing new things) adding some more activities, and eventually, another tray of options.

We always start off with some thank you notes a month or 2 into the school year for one thing or another, so writing letters and cards got introduced and then added. I was using full sized cards from Mel D's pack and Miss Kindergarten Love's All Done! Now What? pack, but my kids were literally going through 50 cards in 3 days. I don't even know. So we talked about writing quality letters (aka writing more than 1 sentence) and I got the genius idea to just print them half page, like a postcard. Except we write on the whole back. I have always copied lined paper on the back, to help with handwriting.

They also thoroughly enjoy writing plain ol' letters to their friends...and me... I'm clearly the best teacher ever. #fanmail

This has slowed down a bit, so I'm not killing the copier, but they really still do enjoy writing cards and letters.

I also threw in a class picture and a faculty picture, both of which are labeled with names, so the kids love to use that to help write their letters.

One of the activities I introduced later in the year was I Can Write Sentences. They kids got super into this when I first put it out, but the enthusiasm has died down a bit. There is a cute recording sheet that goes with it too, where they can record their sentences and add a picture for each one.

We started our opinion writing unit last week and this was one of the activities we did as a class, so I threw it in the writing center, as well. They had some hilarious responses last week, and they were super into it. 

All of these activities are great fun, HOWEVER, I will now reveal my secret to those who are still with me. Sharing opportunity + document camera. That is how I've been able to get my students writing. Sure, plenty of them enjoy all that other stuff, and yes, you'll still find kids writing fan mail to me letters, but, 5 out of 6 kids (plus a handful from free choice) will be writing in their journals. Now, to be fair, I will give some credit to A Teeny Tiny Teacher and my teammate who gave me the idea to do a short share time between rounds of stations.

So, share time started as just Read to Someone Share Time. I would let a few groups of students share their plays or stories they'd been practicing between stations, and it was a hit. Well then my teammate said, "Oh, they share writing too!" So I said, "By golly, that's a great idea!" So kids would take their journal up to the front of the room and hold it up, but of course, no one could see it and then the kid is trying to turn their journal around so they can attempt to read their ludicrous handwriting... well, not as much of a hit. Shortly after this whole share time came about, we were lucky enough to all receive document cameras. So first thing I did was move the person sharing to the document camera. The rest is history.

First, students write something fabulous in their journals. They get lots of inspiration from our foam die-cut stencils.

Next, students wait patiently to be chosen to share (I do not call on people who come waving their journals in my face during teacher table or shout out asking me if they can share).

Then, if a student gets to share, they bring their journal to the document camera, and they read their writing to the class. 

Look at how enthralled those kids are! They ADORE share time!

Finally, the student sharing may call on 1 person to give them a compliment about their work. 

I have more students writing than ever before, and I owe it all to sharing under the document camera. They are proud of their work and I love giving them the opportunity to share it, as well as model good writing for their peers. 

Next idea to try will most definitely be A Teeny Tiny Teacher's Message Center (I think I have a teacher crush on her)...ohmyword I can't wait!

Five for Friday


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Can I just say how much FUN we had with March Book Madness?! It was such a blast! I'm not going to lie... I really thought The Book with no Pictures was going to win it all. Solely because my kids love the page that says Boo boo butt. They think it's the most hilarious thing in the whole wide world. Although they really like when the peach crayon complains about being naked in The Day the Crayons Quit. Oh my word. The Day the Crayons Quit won in our classroom, as well as the overall competition. 

In addition to having lots of laughs, we were able to incorporate all kinds of math and writing with it, and even social studies (voting process)! By the last few rounds, I put most of the books out for the students to read during stations and I had them read the books to the class. 

Since this week was the championship round, we incorporated the 2 books into quite a few of our activities. We talked about author's purpose for the 2 books and then wrote our own persuasive essays about which book was better. 

After the winner was announced, we wrote our own crayon letters. They LOVED that I let them write with crayon and some of them were really cute! 

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We were learning about prepositions this week and we started out with a fun little Youtube song. The kids had a grand time singing along. Then I pulled out The Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! card game. Students had to draw a verb card, a location card, and a fish card, and we identified the preposition words in the sentence.They had so much fun being goofy!

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We also played Charades from Kristen Smith's Cause and Effect Resource. We used many of the other resources from the packet earlier on the week to focus on cause and effect and then we put our skills to the test with charades! With how dramatic they are, I thought they'd be much better actors than they were, but they still had a fabulous time. They were begging to play it again!

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We introduced fractions this week in math. We only spent one day on it, so it was just a quick introduction. Since I only had 1 day, I wanted to make it memorable! So instead of using the boring Everyday Math paper crackers (okay, I could have gone to the store and bought real graham crackers, but I wasn't prepared), I pulled out the sticky notes! The inspiration came from Smitten with First, but I clearly didn't pay close enough attention (it's the week after spring break...I swear I'm usually slightly more on it) and had the kids cut their sticky notes and glue them in their math journals, instead of draw the lines and then STICK the STICKY notes in their journal. So I ended up with kids who couldn't put their pieces back together right and, of course, kids who glued on the non-sticky side, so then both sides were sticky. So if you do this, please, for goodness sake, just have them fold and draw the lines. But, hey, they loved it! And I think it helped them understand the concept.

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We were practicing 'oi' and 'oy' at teacher table this week and we spent just a few quick minutes on this phonic sheet. I told the students to write the word with fancy letters and every single student at the table write with curly spiral letters. That is my go-to for fancy writing and I have clearly taught them well! I couldn't help but smile!

Have a great weekend!