Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pumpkin STEM

We had fun today creating some "gates" to hold our little pumpkins. The Kinders worked in pairs, so there were only two little pumpkins sitting on each gate, which was probably a good thing. This was our first STEM challenge of the school year, and it was a challenge. But, I have to say I am very proud of the perseverance of my little cuties. They worked diligently for nearly an hour to create a structure to hold their little pumpkins (that, by the way I grew in my garden! This summer's garden was my best ever & I was so excited to be able to bring in enough pumpkins for all 15 kids to get one).  Here are some pictures of our fun.

These little guys worked off a plan they had drawn up yesterday. (It didn't work out how they planned, but they didn't get discouraged.

The first structure is the result of all the work done by the boys in the first picture. After all of their efforts they were thrilled that they were able to support their pumpkins. They cheered, "We have a gate!"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Literacy Stations

We have been in school for a month and my Kinders are really getting the hang of school! Last week they did such a great job during our Literacy Stations. I was so excited at their stamina and ability to stay on task for the (almost) entire time. It takes lots of practice to get fifteen five year olds to be able to work independently, but it pays off big time when you want to run small groups. I haven't started small groups yet because I want to be sure everyone knows how to use all of our stations ~ we are still in the practicing stage. I'm hoping that in another week (or two) we will be ready. I will also ask for parent volunteer once stations are fully up and running. But, for now I'm pretty happy with how things are going. I snapped some pictures of my little cuties working in our five current stations.

Listening ~ I have two iPods that I got through Donors Choose, two old-school discman type CD players, a "boom box," and two iPhone 4s that I found in my husband's office. For both the iPods & phones I put all the apps I didn't want the kids to mess around with into folders on "page 2." The only app that they see on "page 1" is the music app. It took a little while to get my books on CD onto my iTunes, but it was worth it because all of my stories are on all the devices. But, as you can see the kids don't mind old technology.

Games ~ this is a favorite station. I have lots of fun game-like activities as well as actual literacy games & puzzles. These little guys are playing with the Roll-a-Cube alphabet activity from my August/September Literacy Stations set.

More games ~ These boys are playing Oh no! ~ another alphabet activity from my literacy stations set. 

Tablets ~ this week was the first time we got out the tablets & the kids were pretty excited. Like listening, this is another station where everyone needs initial training: how to plug in headphones, adjusting volume, finding, opening, and closing apps. Most kids are pretty savvy with Mom's smart phone so they catch on pretty fast. I only allow kids to use the tablets (and computers) during literacy & math stations ~ no screens during playtime! They get more than enough screen time at home. I want them to use their imagination while playing.

Word Work ~ I know that it almost looks as if the little dark haired girl is crying, but she and her partners were working with rhyming cards. They made up a little guessing game. :-)

Writing ~ In addition to word cards, white boards, and writing paper our writing station currently has some small motor & alphabet activities. 

Other stations that we will add to our line up are Write the Room, Stamping, and Computers. I'll add Stamping or Write the Room this week. The kids need a few more sessions in the computer lab before I turn on the student computers. One thing I'm not going to include in our Literacy Stations rotations is "Read to Self." Over the years I've noticed that most Kinders (who really can't read much for a good part of the year anyway) aren't happy when they get Read to Self. They tend to get antsy and off task. They will have books in their book boxes and will be encouraged to "read" books when they are looking for something to do, but silent reading will not be part of our Literacy Stations. Click HERE for an interesting article on silent reading

Literacy Stations for August & September

Click HERE to purchase my Literacy Stations.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

2016 Classroom Reveal

I can't believe that we are already back to school ~ three days in for me. One of my favorite parts of back to school is setting up my classroom. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I eliminated a couple bookshelves that were old & rickety and clustered some other cabinets together making a more open arrangement. I also spray painted a few tables and added new pillows to brighten things up a bit. Come on in & look around...

The view from my door. 

I backed the math manipulative cabinet up to the kitchen. The bookshelf with the pink tubs is on the end of the mailbox/toy shelf cluster.

I put some toys on the wire shelf just across from the wooden toy cabinet. The rectangle table will be our Word Work station. My small group table is in front of my newly reorganized math & literacy cabinets. (OOPS! I just noticed my double Kinder doodles on the bottom of the page. I guess I was tired when I was making the slides last night...)

My small group table.

The focus wall. I found the little white table at a garage sale. The little crate holding books is from Target.

I spent a good part of the summer helping my daughter to paint furniture for her home decor business 
Aster + Gray, so it just seemed natural to paint my classroom furniture. This little 1970s table looks pretty nice in its new modern color!

My desk area. I will try to keep it looking organized this year! (My goal is not to have any "piles of shame" building up on the floor behind my chair.)

Looking at my desk area. I swear I'm going to keep it neat this year!

Looking into my library. I've had one of those blue chairs in my room for a while and one up in my bonus room at home. I decided to bring the second one in to help define the library area a little more. Two Kinders can fit into each chair. 

A fresh coat of paint and some new pillows make this $5.00 garage sale table an inviting area to work.

Another painted piece. This formerly black table had been in my daughter's room, taken to Purdue, and then stuck in the attic. A little green paint (the same as the 1970s table) makes it look like new!

The view from the library to my small group table.

Looking over the rug by the focus wall toward the door. The mailbox cabinet backs up to the toy cabinet. 

The rug in the cubby area makes a great place to play with the blocks. Get my play poster for free HERE.

Eleven of my fifteen kids will store their stuff on this side of the cubby area. We keep our book boxes on the top shelf. 


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Back to School Giveaway!

It's almost time! Get ready for the new school year with a $10 Teachers pay Teachers gift card! I'll select a winner on Sunday at midnight & announced Monday morning. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

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