Saturday, April 30, 2016

STAR WARS in the Classroom

I love Star Wars!  The old ones, the new ones, and even the old new ones (AKA Prequels.) BUT more importantly the kids in the classrooms love Star Wars! It is so hard to find a common ground that bridges the gap between generations but this Star Wars film franchise is the perfect way do that. The love of Star Wars spans from the 5-year olds in my classroom throughout elementary, middle, high school and on to adulthood. It's actually pretty amazing when you think about it.




Since I teach Kindergarten, I  have been trying to think of some thematic units to incorporate more science and social studies into our lessons because honestly, they take a back seat to math and literacy. The only way to really be able to include these topics in my classroom are to BUILD THEM IN to our math and literacy time. We are talking interdisciplinary studies here. TWO BIRDS with ONE STONE. BOOM SHAKA LAKA!



All titles can be found on amazon.com

I found some great books for early childhood online and will be ordering asap! I am especially excited about ABC-3PO because the preview looks awesome!


On the drive home from school the other day (it's about 28 minutes but MEH... who's counting) it hit me! We have a day/night sky unit and the idea was born! A few fun clip-art purchases later and... VIOLA!  My units always include math and literacy centers because these NEVER STOP in the classroom. If I know one thing for sure, it's that ENGAGING ACTIVITIES are the keys to the kingdom when it comes to education.


After a little research, I found out that TONS of teachers are taking advantage of this rejuvenated interest in the iconic Star Wars franchise so JUMP ON THE WAGON! If it means success in the classroom, then that's a bandwagon that I want to be a part of. Classroom decor, behavior management techniques, activities, etc. You name it! They've got it!
Get it HERE


Another thing that is great about Star Wars in the classroom is that it can be used year-round and since there are going to be tons of new movies(YAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSS) to come, I don't predict this stuff going out of style for a few decades at least.

I got my creative juices flowing and put together some sweet resources. Here's a simple Star Wars Themed Letter Recognition Activity and a Beginning Sound Activity that is sure to engage your early learners. Card matching activities are a favorite in my classroom so I figured I might as well share ;)







Get this exclusive free resource here.
It just so happens that our state standardized testing here in Texas is called the STAAR Test, so what better way to support our students this year than with these shirts! The whole school has adopted them!




It's never too early to share your love of the force with your kiddos!





Check out these other awesome Star Wars Posts!





Join us as we celebrate Star Wars Day - May 4th with some wonderful galactic inspired crafts, recipes and activity ideas!
Try this Star Wars Sensory Bin from Something 2Offer
The Jenny Evolution has some great Activity Books for All Ages
Yummy Rogue One Ice Cream recipe is a favourite from Nerdy Mamma
Share It! Science News has some fabulous Activities for Exploring Planets with 2 Suns!
Make some of these fabulous Droid Crafts from Play & Learn Everyday
These DIY Party Favours from Kidz Activities would be a hit at any party!
Mrs LeBlancs Learners are learning Star Wars in the Classroom
Defying Gravity! Sounds like great fun from Kid Minds
Make your own Airplane Fly Off like Royal Baloo!
Brush up on your galaxy sums with Daily Math from 3 Dinosaurs
KC Edventures is sharing a great Planets Math Activity
Erupting Death Star plus an I Spy Printable, some fun ideas from Little Bins
Peakle Pie shares some cute Paper Plate Ewoks

Friday, April 29, 2016

Alphabet Countdown X-X-ray

Today we made an X-Ray print of our hand. 


You need:
Spray bottle to mix some white paint and water
Black paper
Q-Tips
Glue

Mix the water and paint, have the kids lay their hand flat and just spray a few spritzes. Now the student will have the outline of their hand to use and glue the Q-tips down.

We also eXchanged autographs. Courtesy of the kindergartensmorgasboard.com You can find the link to his post on his autograph books below.



This is Greg's Post to take you to his  autograph book! Scroll down to the bottom of his post and look for this image:


And of course we popped our X balloon!  Western day is coming up Monday!





We didn't have time to do facepaint today BUT... an X for X marks the spot would have been good, OR a xylophone if you are feeling like a face painting Picasso!




Alphabet Countdown Y-Yellow



Today was the letter Y and it was all about the yellow today. 


A fellow teacher started painting yellow Suns on our kids faces which is always a hit. Face paint is golden! 



We had such good participation with our kiddos wearing yellow. We were so bright and shiny! 

We picked yellow flowers, did yellow crafts and had yellow face paint. 

Some great ideas for yellow snacks...
Bananas
Yellow Oreos are a thing right now
Twinkies 

Crafts -
Chicks
Sunflowers
Lions


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Alphabet Countdown Z-Zebra

Looking for a fun way to end the year? Look no further... This is going to be a FUN countdown.

The official start of the Alphabet Countdown was a total success!

Z-Zebra


So of course I had to wear black and white stripes. Some of my team thought I looked more like an inmate that escaped jail (lol) but hey... my kids got it!


We have a balloon each day to pop (WHICH IS REALLY SATISFYING FOR ME) and something with that letter.



Today we made zebras. Each teacher did them a little different which was very cool to see.






And what fun zebra day would be complete without these little beauties...



It was beautiful outside today so we took our snacking OUTDOORS.

If you are curious about the other things we are doing for the countdown, you can find that post HERE.




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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Listening Center Update




After my first post on implementing my listening centers, I knew I had to do an update on how they have worked out so far this year.



I have to say that these little MP3 players are amazing! My kids are extremely engaged in their stories and it wasn't very hard to catch on how to use them. I modeled it in small group once and then, BAM! Experts. ;) Kids are so technology savvy. I love using technology to keep them engaged.

I put the mp3 player, headphones, and books all in the baskets.


When the kids choose this center, they can take the whole basket anywhere in the room.


These kids LOVE this center. 

After they finish a book, they do a quick sheet on whether or not they liked the book. They write the title, color the  smiley face or frowny face, and draw a picture from the story. We are literary critics here in Kinderland!



I can do a post on how to load the music on this if anyone has them and is having trouble. I bought these from amazon for 25$ a pop. Leave me a comment if you would like a tutorial.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Manic Monday




Weeeeelcome to MANIC MONDAY. I'll be your host on what was, of course another CRAZY Monday. I have decided to post my weekly plans and preparation for the week on Mondays because it's always crazy getting back to the grind after the weekend. 

Anyway, we are doing an ALPHABET COUNTDOWN to the end of the year. It's hard to believe there are only 28 days left in the school year. WOW! Time seems to fly.

Our team was inspired by none other than GREG SMEDLEY of the Kindergarten Smorgasboard. If you don't follow him then you should because he rocks! He was my first and true #TCT (Teacher Crush Tuesday.) As in, I want to be like him when I grow up. :)

Our countdown starts Wednesday 4/28.

Z- Zebras
Y-Yellow Day
X- eXchange autographs
W-Western Day/ Where the Wild Things Are
V-Violet Day
U-Umbrella Day
T-Thank You Notes
S-Sunglasses Day
R- Rainbows
Q- QU Wedding
P-Picnic 
O- Oranges
N- New Name Dau
M- Mustaches
L- Luau 
K- King Crowns
J- Jump Rope
I- Ice Cream
H-Hat Day
G- Glitter
F- Finger-paint
E-Elephant Craft
D-Doughnuts
C-Cookies
B-Bubbles
A-Apples


Apples - We eat apples and do an apple craft
B- Blowing Bubbles outside
C- Cookies as a snack. I also have cookie centers!
D- I will bring doughnuts to the kids.
E- Elephant Craft
F- Fingerpaint activity
G- Glitter Craft. We may even do balloon filled glitter bombs and pop them outside.
H- Wear hats to school.
I - Ice cream craft & Ice cream snack
J- Jump Rope outside
K- Making crowns fit for a KING
L- making Luau leis 
M- Mustaches- Reading Mustache Baby and painting mustaches on our faces
N- New Name - Writing prompt for out new names and wearing name tags
O- Orange day. Wear orange. Eat Oranges. Do Ostrich craft.
P- Picnic outside.
Q- QU Wedding Craft.
R- Rainbow Crafting
S- Wear sunglasses
T- Write Thank you notes to our favorite school staff. I.e. Janitors, lunch ladies etc.
U- Umbrella Craft
V- Wear purple/violet
W-Western Day. Read Where the Wild Things Are. 
X- Greg Smedley's Autograph book.
Y- Wear Yellow
Z- Zebra Craft

Click Here  to get to the post that has the eXchange autographs book!


So this is all in addition to our regular curriculum because "FUN" is something we have to schedule ourselves and is not built in to the curriculum. 


Also, I am working on a Farm Animals Unit. Here is a sneak peek. ;)



AND... I have tidied up my Pinterest Boards. I am considering making this collaborative. If anyone is interested then leave me a comment below.




Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tips to Survive The End of The Year


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I don't know if anyone else feels me on this but the end of the year is tough.

Like... Make you question your career choice tough. 😂.  There are some things I found this year to make it easier.


- Don't put extra work on your plate- don't start spring cleaning and get overwhelmed at school. Wait and use your work days for that. I know spring cleaning is a "thing" but resist the urge and go read a book. Now is not the time to redecorate and stress yourself out.

- Take your lessons outside- Anything that you can do outside, do it! Read outside, do a nature walk, take your worksheets outside on some clip boards. Enjoy the weather when you can because it will be HOT soon.

- Do something daily for yourself- Read a book, get a pedicure, or buy an outfit.  Reward yourself, you are almost done with the school year!

- Try some new things in your room- I don't mean changing your routine, but if you haven't used paint or water colors yet, now is the time to get artsy with your lessons. Loosen up and have some fun with the kids.

- Brain breaks- GoNoodle.com is the place to be. I dance with my kids to the best brain breaks from Koo Koo Kangaroo. It makes for a happier classroom and this is something you can do all year.

- Extra recess- shhhhhhh. This may not be an option for some if your admin is strict about recess times BUT research has shown the more than one recess a day can be beneficial for our students (and IMO the teachers.)


ALSO, remembering that there are only 6 Mondays left in the school year helps. Have any tips??? Comment below.




Saturday, April 16, 2016

I-Spy Jars

So this easy little DIY center has been a favorite of my kiddos ALL YEAR LONG.

As a matter of fact, I had to put less options to do it in the set-up because all the kids were choosing this one! Not that there is anything wrong with that but I need them working of different skills. 


I found these little plastic jars at dollar tree (a teacher's best friend) and filled it with the following:

  • Plastic Letters A-Z
  • Shape Buttons
  • Colored Bears
  • A few misc manipulatives (tree, house, man, dog, car)

I didn't put numbers in there but that would work fine too. Next, I filled it with Epsom salt and SUPER GLUED the lid on. No accidents here! ;)    They love it!

I have the students record everything they find on a recording sheet. This includes letter recognition, colors, shapes etc. 

If I want to differentiate, I have the kids write the letter pair, or word that starts with the letter they find, or a sentence about the man, tree, dog etc. I have listed the recording sheet that I use for this under the freebies tab.

I wanna hear if you use I-spy jars in your classroom and what are your tips?!

There is a link to my I-Spy Jar Recording Sheet on my Freebies page at the top!



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Math Small Group


Math small groups have always been a little daunting for me. I have a confession. I probably shouldn't say this but... I am not a big fan of math. I feel that there are math people, and then there are ELAR people. I am definitely the latter. I love Reading and English Language Arts. Math.... not so much.

However, I recently attended a two-day workshop on math centers and THEN had to go back to my school and present what I learned to the group.  The workshop was great. It was 20+ teachers in a room doing centers(fuuuuuuun!.) While I got to experience OVER 50 centers, here are a few quick ones with stuff you probably already have in your room.

These were a few of my favorite.

Hide the Bears

I know this seems so simple but this really shows if a child can compose/decompose numbers. You show the children 5 bears/cubes/counters and then put the all under the bowl. Take out different numbers of cubes and ask the child to tell you how many are hiding. It was really fun to see the kids do this and it was really fun for the to see if they were right.





Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons was fun because it incorporates my favorite thing... Literature! ;)

On this one the children take turns rolling dice and either adding or subtracting buttons depending on the still that you are working on. It would be very easy to add a recording sheet to this for an individual center. You can click  HERE for the template.

 Click Here for Template


I couldn't find these Hefty animal plates anywhere so I ordered the from Amazon but people assure me that you can still get them at the store. These are great for part-part whole, composing decomposing, addition and subtraction. In the small group activity, were given a word problem and used the cubes to represent bracelets and given them away. There are a lot of possibilities with these plates. 



Lastly, this is so simple that I can't believe I never thought of it. It's called Sticker Store. Each child gets a small back or container of coins and there are bags labeled with the names of the coins. They have to buy them from you with their money. In Kindergarten we are just working on coin recognition BUT if you wanted to make this harder, you could easily charge .99 cents. :) 



There you have it. My favorite centers from my workshop. Hopefully, these are something you can use in your classroom. If you have any easy math small group activities, I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment. 





Monday, April 11, 2016

Center Storage On a Budget




If you are like me, you find yourself buying a lot of things for your classroom. Cubbies are not cheap (like 300+ not cheap). Sometimes I feel that teacher stores do not understand that we are an underpaid profession. 

Most of the cubbies at our school were purchased with grant money and those are given out twice a year. Also, TONS of teachers apply and the likelihood of getting one is not very high. So I decided to improvise.

I have turned shoe racks and dollar tree baskets into my math center storage AND rainbow rolling carts (organizers) for my literacy storage.

This is a picture of my library center sitting on top of my math center storage. There are 4 shoe racks there and 24 baskets!



These shoe racks were purchases from Lowe's for 13$ a piece. There are 4 total. They also hold my classroom library center as well on top perfectly! Great way to save space.  13x4= 52$

I couldn't find this exact one on the Lowe's website but target had something similar for only 10.50! That's even cheaper. Yay target!!!



These are stackable and I have them in a Mocha brown. 


The dollar tree baskets were 1$ and it holds 24 of them. I also have colored shoe box size containers that I can use but I liked the baskets because they can hold recording sheets. They only came in 4 colors so I spray painted the purple and the yellow ones. That way I can have center groups go to color coded centers if I want. EVERY students gets their own center this way. GAME CHANGER! 

Total cost: 76$
Total time: 20 mins of assembly 
Total storage capacity: 24 centers

You may able to build something cheaper with PVC pipe but this was definitely the EASIEST DIY and convenience is key for me! 


Literacy center storage cost a little more but still much cheaper than buying cubbies. I found these for 25$ each at Sam's Club. Grand Total 100$. As you can see I put yellow duct tape on the front of 6 of them because I have 6 groups I put my students in for centers. If you don't have that many, you can skip the duct tape.



What is so great about these is that I have 40 individual centers ready that the kids can rotate through. 40 CENTERS!!! You will have to train the kids on how to pull the tubs out and put them back in or you could have a helper do it for you. It really only took a couple of days to get used to it. These will also fit a clipboard and recording sheet. I use baskets on the top for the students to turn in their recording sheets and the jars are my I-Spy jars. That'll be in another post. My kids LOVE those.

You may only need one or the other but each option cost less than 100$!!!

Total cost: 100$
Total time: 1-2hrs of assembly 
Total storage capacity: 40 centers

The great thing about having so many centers is that you do not have to change them out very often. TUBS are only part of my rotation as well as the BASKETS for math. I give my kids a ton of choices and centers run smoothly but I'll save that for another post. ;)



Sunday, April 10, 2016

Classroom Party Planning



I don't know how I didn't manage to post this sooner but better late than never. This may help those that do end of year parties. We do a field day at our campus which is great but these ideas will work for any party throughout the year.

Let me start off by saying that last year's parties were a chaotic mess with students hyped up on sugar. YIKES!

This year, I'm thrilled to say...My parties were a BLAST!


This year, I had to factor in dietary restrictions so a sugar fest was not an option for my classroom. Truth be told, I'd rather get over that "junk food party" idea all together anyway. I tried doing my parties a little different this year and they were a BIG success.


First off, I had parents help me which was a tremendous relief! Since centers/workstations are my comfort zone, I decided to set up my room with games and have the students rotate.

Well the rotating didn't really work out according to plan but since I was flexible, I just let the kids do whichever station they wanted to.


Christmas Stations:

-Christmas Card Making
-Pin the Nose on Rudolph
-Snowball Toss (foam balls and wreath)
-Face Painting
-Food



Valentine's Stations:

-Valentine Card Making (surprisingly the most popular)

Card Making Station
-Pin The Heart On The Love Bug

-Cupid's Arrow Toss

I made this out of cardboard box and clearance duct tape. The arrows were from the Target Dollar Spot.
-Face Painting
-Food





This worked out so well, I have adopted this as my new party method. The kids honestly, didn't even want to eat and I kept having to remind the of the Big Red Floats and Pizza. Obviously it was a big hit if the ice cream got overlooked!!!