Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cardboard Day

Recently my class participated in a school-wide Cardboard Day. We spent the entire day (when we weren't at recess or specials) creating. It was so much fun! My Kinders love to create & build things, so this day of STEM was right up their ally. 

For about three weeks students brought in boxes ~ I wish I had taken a picture of the huge pile of boxes that accumulated. It seemed like an overwhelming amount of boxes, but with the all the K-5 classes participating there wasn't much left over. In addition to cardboard parents donated lots & lots of duct tape. (I spent a lot of the day tearing strips of duct tape for the kids.)

Each grade level chose a task for their kids: kindergarten: something that you can fit in, first: something for their year-end camping theme activities, second: rocket ships, third: something that will hold a third grade, fourth: marble roller coaster, fifth: zoo animal habitat.

We began the day with some planning. Before starting we discussed some guidelines: only take the boxes you need, return what you don't use, don't cut corrugated with classroom scissors, etc. The kids were allowed to chose their partners/groups. Because this was a fun day of creativity I wanted to let the kids pick who they wanted to work with, and it worked out well. They pretty much split themselves into the same small groups & duos that they usually hang out with during play time.

These two pictures show the planning stage. The kids were instructed to discuss what they wanted to make with their groups & to sketch out a plan. 

The bulk of the day was spent creating. It was fun watching the kids figure out what to do when confronted with a problem. These girls are working on a wall for their house.

This group of boys started out making a fort, but ended up making a robot. Not exactly something that you can get  inside of, but, hey! we're in kindergarten, a very flexible kind of place.

This little girl and her partner made a musical "playground." The top of the box features some musical instruments (you have to love their imagination!). M is putting the finishing touches on the dance mat portion of their creation.

These smiling boys had a lot of fun creating an ever-changing project. 
They are the ones who ended up with the robot below.

The little guy in the picture below decided to work on his own to make this car. He was really proud of the fact that it was sturdy enough to hold his weight & had cargo space under the seat.

This girl and her partner worked on a house that featured a chimney, mailbox, and outdoor TV. They even  created a chair to relax in while watching television.

Another solo worker. This little guy made a comfy seat.

This day was tons of fun, but really tiring. One of my kiddos said, "I'm so tired." at the end of the day, and others agreed. It was so busy ~ the kids worked all day long! I think they could have done more than one day of "cardboarding." I guess they will have to wait for next year.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Five for Friday

I can't believe that it's been nearly a month since my last post! Where did May go? Seriously! It seems like the month just started. I'm joining Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky. So here it goes! (I know it's Saturday ~ I fell asleep while I was writing this post yesterday.)

Granddaughters! Everything that is said about grandchildren being the best is so true! I have so much fun with my little darlings.

Cousins! I am so happy that my granddaughter have so much fun together. My family moved to Indiana from West Virginia when I was a toddler, so I never got to hang out with my cousins. It's wonderful that these little girls are growing up together.

 Amelia says hello to Bob.

Sisters Isabella & Olivia have fun with cousin Amelia. We took a walk in the pasture on a sunny day in early May. 

Amelia's sweet baby sister Madelyn. This picture was taken several weeks ago ~ she's a sitting up baby now! Boy, time really does fly!

Our butterflies emerged this past week ~ the kids had so much fun watching them flutter around. Well, not this little guy. He came out with tiny, malformed wings & can't fly. Because of his little wings the kids called him Nemo. After a few days in the net the kids were concerned that the butterflies would knock themselves out hitting their heads on the net, so at their request we let them go. I thought we would be able to keep them for a few more days, but the kids were worried about them. We did keep little Nemo because he can't fly. I hope he can hold out another 7 more days of school, then I'll put it outside.

Pets! Over the years we have had lots and lots and lots of pets. We've had everything from cats & dogs to mice & rats, lizards & snakes, fish & frogs, rabbits & ferrets, birds, a guinea pig, horses, and for a short while we even had a goat! My girls love animals! We are "down" to Macie the chihuahua, and two house cats (Ella & Sweet Little Kitty), three horses, several barn cats, and "foster" German shepherd Vader. Wow! 

Macie & Ella are a couple of little beggers! They are always hanging around the kitchen looking for something to drop. :-)

Recently I broke out my second to last bottle of Spiedie Sauce to marinate some chicken. My husband is from Syracuse, NY and that's where I discovered this yummy marinade. I'm not sure if it's available anywhere besides New York, but you can get it online HERE. (I just have my in-laws send it to me since I can't get it in Indiana.) Cut chicken or pork into strips & marinate, put onto skewers & cook them on the grill. It's so delicious! 

With only seven days of school left I'm going to let my Kinders spend more time playing games & working in our literacy stations. They really love literacy stations! Here a couple of boys are sorting pictures by final sound. This is an activity from my May/June Literacy station set. You can get it separately or in my new growing bundle. January - May/June are done. I plan to finish it over the summer. Click HERE to purchase.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Bees Knees!

Kids love bugs! We ended our bug unit with a visit from a beekeeper. One of my teaching partner's students has a grandfather who grows hops (which he sells to local microbreweries). To help with pollination he also keeps bees. He came to school yesterday to teach the kids about bees and their hives.

Z. was proud to stand with his grandpa as he talked about raising bees. The big jar on the table has a piece of "natural" honeycomb from wild bees. The small jars hold dead bees ~ the kids were a little nervous that he would bring bees that would sting them. But, they did like getting to see the specimens close up without fear of being stung. :-)

Everyone got a kick out of the beekeeper's hat and gloves! 

After learning about how the smoke of burning pine needles calms the bees the kids got to check out the smokers. They had fun squeezing the bellows to feel the air puff out of them.

We learned how the bees make their waxy honeycombs and even got to touch them! The kids made me proud when they recognized the fact that the cells are hexagons! 

Of course, no presentation on bees would be complete without a little taste of honey! The kids got to dip a stick into honey from the very combs we held. On a side note ~ if you suffer from seasonal allergies try local honey. I've been eating a tablespoon of honey every day for the past few years & my allergies are greatly diminished. Not only does local honey make me feel better during the bothersome allergy seasons, it tastes great!

Of course, we needed to create some cute bees for our classroom! I love the personality of the bee in the inset picture. It's one of the quirky, less-than-perfect Kinder craft that I like best. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

I've posted before about how much this year's Kinders love to build & create things. They love to make things out of blocks, Lego, Playdoh, paper, dominoes, etc. so I figured that they would be all over a kite making STEM project. And, they were! To prepare for our big Friday afternoon of kite making I checked out books about kites from the public library, bookmarked a bunch of You Tube videos about kites, and even purchased some kites to examine. We used the books & videos to research kite making. The kids used scrap paper to make practice kites, and sketched out plans with their teams all week during playtime. One little cutie even made a trial kite at home and brought it in to discuss with her team.

On Wednesday they met with their teams to build prototypes. Because I was being observed that day I don't have any pictures. But, I have lots of pictures of our construction & test flights.

Watching videos of kite festivals and looking at design books prompted this team to build a bee kite. The kids in each team were assigned a job: recorder ~ responsible for sketching the group's design, materials manager ~ responsible for getting the materials for the group, speaker ~ responsible for presenting the completed kites, teams with four members had a timekeeper who was responsible for keeping the group on task. Everyone was given equal voice in the design & choice of materials.

Once the design was made, the recorder wrote out the list for the materials manager to take to the supply center. I had sent home a letter requesting donations of kite making materials. I was not disappointed! Parents sent in paper lunch bags, plastic garbage bags, tissue paper, foil, cellophane gift wrap, craft sticks, BBQ skewers (with points cut off), drinking straws, lots of (good quality) masking tape, string, and ribbon. The day before we made our kites the kids got to check out the materials so they could start thinking of what they wanted to use.

It took several attempts for some teams to get their frames put together. After we put the kites together we discussed what was the most difficult part to make ~ several teams said that the frame was the most challenging part. This team used straws for their frame.

These girls worked together to create a butterfly kite. Their collaboration was great! They used straws & BBQ skewers for their frame. 

These cuties really took this project seriously ~ they spent the week planning and discussing their kite design. After we flew our kites outside their kite was pretty ripped up. I asked the kids what they would do differently if they were going to make a new kite. They decided that while the colorful cellophane was pretty it wasn't sturdy enough. I left the kite making materials out this week & told the kids they can make another kite this week if they want to try to make a new one using what they learned from their first attempt. Not surprisingly, these girls are working on a new design.

You can see the foil in the tub that they first tried to use as their frame. It was fun to watch the kids try different things as they worked. I cautioned them not to waste materials, and they didn't. Of course lots of things needed to be tossed, but not in a wasteful way. I wanted them to feel free to experiment, and we had a great supply of materials so we didn't run out. 

The counter behind these guys served as our supply center. The materials managers brought their teams' tubs to collect the items on their lists. I helped them the first time they stocked up on supplies, but after that they were free to get what they needed as they worked.

These boys used a plastic garbage bag for their kite sail & a combination of BBQ skewers & straws for the frame. Their kite was really simple in design, but flew really well.

The speakers got to present their kites to the class. We ran out of time for this part of the project last week, so we shared & flew them today. If you want to try this activity be sure to plan for more time than you think you will need. The kids were pretty disappointed when we didn't get to try the kites Friday. But, as it turned out today was an unbelievably warm & sunny day (83 degrees in April is a gift!).

This team used lots of ribbon and part of a TP tube as their handle. 

I love this team's handle ~ the little designer is explaining how his handle is a ring made of folded paper that will fit on your wrist for "hands-free" kite flying. When hearing that this design left your hands free one cutie quipped, "You could text when you fly your kite!"

We went outside to try out our kites right after lunch (which was perfect because no one else was on the playground at that time). The kids were so happy to have the entire soccer field to ourselves! They were so good about taking turns flying the kites. I took a bunch of pictures, but because they were moving so fast only a couple of them turned out. 

This was such a fun & educational project! With only 31 days left in this school year and a school-wide "Cardboard Day" coming up in May I'm not sure if I'll have time to plan another STEM day. But, then again I do have to keep Kinders engaged for 31 more days, so maybe I will. :-)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Five for Friday ~ April Fool's #2

OK, I know it's April 8th, but does Mother Nature?? We've had rain, sun, snow, sleet, rain, snow, sun, rain, snow, sleet, snow, rain, more snow... All TODAY! Seriously! What is happening???

This is what the Weather Channel says our overnight/early morning forecast looks like. Ahh ~ April in northwest Indiana! Tomorrow my daughters & I are participating in a "Chocolate Walk" downtown. Twenty + businesses will be giving out chocolate delights. I can't wait ~ but I wish it was warmer.

I love picture books! I'm a serious picture book junkie. I can't go into Barnes & Noble without coming out with a bag of them, my Amazon cart usually has several of them every time. But, there is nothing better than FREE picture books! This is my latest haul. My order came in the same day that we got our freebies from the book fair (our PTO runs three book fairs per year & they let teachers order books based upon the sales. This year we each got to choose about $120 worth of books, so I got a bunch of hardcover books).

Do you use interactive notebooks? I really hadn't until this year and I love them! So do my students. They provide engaging practice of important skills, and because they are in a notebook the kids can go back to refer to them as needed. Below are some examples of my CVCe interactive notebook. 

I like how the little cutie labeled this page as a "book about lazy e and not lazy e." :-) 

Click HERE to purchase my CVC & CVCe bundle.

It's Science Fair time again! In the past few years participating has been required. The primary grades do grade level projects ~ we do my Watching the Grass Grow project. It has all the elements of the scientific process, is easy & cheap to do, and the kids have fun doing it. Here are some pictures of my Kinders working on their observations. I created our display board the first time we did this project and kept it so we only have to plant seeds & print out the booklets each year. It's a pretty easy peasy science fair project!

Differentiation! The little darling on the left is typing her observations on an iPad using the Super Duper Story Maker app. It's a great app that lets her create stories and write responses with ease. 

Click HERE to purchase.

I've started to revamp some of my older products. I've learned so much about creating products, making things look nice, and what to include in products since I've started selling on TpT. This is a before & after shot of one of my very first products. EEK! It didn't even have a cover! When I created it I didn't own much clip art or fonts so my products weren't as cute. This freebie has been download well over 1,000 times in its old form. Hopefully the new version will be downloaded (and rated, please) even more times! Check it out HERE.

BONUS!! Recently we took our darling Amelia somewhere nearby for the day ~ can you guess where we went? The picture clues below include: Amelia on a John Deere harvester, at the wheel of a big ship, sitting on a trolley, and the attic of a Fairy Castle. One more clue: we were in Chicago. Leave a comment if you know where we were. :-)

In addition to the regular displays we took in an amazing Lego display. There were some incredible structures, but this replica of Cinderella's castle was our very favorite creation. 

Now be sure to hop over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to link up your own Five for Friday. Have a great weekend!

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