Sunday, December 27, 2015

No Excuses

It's been nearly two months since I've posted anything. I really don't have any excuses (reasons, maybe, but no real excuses). So, anyway I thought I'd take this lazy day to get caught up. We had a fun and festive Christmas. But, our house is super quiet today. It's a perfect time for getting caught up on my blog.

We spent a lot of time in the fall talking about characters and had fun dressing up as our favorite story book characters on Halloween. I am Lilly ~ complete with a purple plastic purse I made by covering a granola bar box with purple craft foam. It held three shiny quarters, but sadly didn't play music when I opened it. My teaching partners dressed up as George & Harold. (I didn't really need to tell you that, did I?)  The following pictures are of our fun at-home project. This is the first year we asked families to decorate pumpkins to look like their Kinders' favorite characters. It was optional ~ most of my kiddos brought in a pumpkin.

Here comes the bride! This is one reason I haven't blogged in a while. My youngest daughter got married in November. Needless to say we were busy. But, as you can see from the pictures our Cinderella themed wedding was a beautiful success!

 This has got to be one of my favorite photos of the day. It is truly magical.

 Gabrielle was a beautiful bride.

 More magical pics.

 My pretty family. My other girls were matrons of honor, their hubbies were groomsmen, and their darling daughters were adorable flower girls. I felt so glamorous in my black dress. (I did wonder if black was appropriate for the MOB, but Gabrielle approved it!)

 My pretty girls. Emily was very pregnant ~ she made it through the wedding! We were all very happy about that. :-)

 Adorable flower girls. The two older girls are Sarah's girls. The cutie in the middle is Emily's first.

 We had an usually warm November day. (It snowed the following weekend.) The little girls had fun frolicking around the backyard before heading to the church. I like the fancy dresses in front of horse fencing. Too bad the horses weren't in the pictures.

 OK ~ reason # 2 for me not posting. Not only did Madelyn not make her appearance during the wedding, she let us eat Thanksgiving dinner. But, she decided that we really didn't have to sleep off all of that turkey ~ Emily called us at 2:50 Friday morning to say that they were on the way to the hospital. We didn't mind missing a few hours of sleep. Amelia loves her baby sister!

These little girls LOVE each other! As a child all of my cousins were in West Virginia (we moved to Indiana when I was one), so I never got to see them. I always felt a little jealous of friends who got to hang out with their cousins. It is so wonderful seeing my little darling granddaughters have so much fun together. Everyone usually comes over Friday evenings. The craziness is so much fun!

OK ~ back to a little school stuff. We made these Rudolfs to hang on our hallway tree. My brilliant teaching assistant hot glued clothespins to the wall so changing out the art work is now a super simple task. I think these little guys turned out super cute!

 We participated in a school-wide hallway decorating theme. Each class chose a country and decorated their bulletin board in a way that represented Christmas traditions from that country. (I teach in a small rural school in a not very diverse area. As far as I know everyone celebrates Christmas.) We had USA and after some thought I decided that Charlie Brown Christmas is a beloved tradition so we made friends for Charlie Brown & Snoopy. (My amazing teaching assistant made the characters & doghouse.)

 Our December family craft was decorating little paper trees. I love them!

A parent of one of my teaching partners is a former teacher. She offered us the use of her amazing Polar Express decoration that her mother had made. The kids drew pictures of themselves for the windows. We have our Polar Express day on the last day before break. It's also the same day as our Christmas party. We wear PJs and have lots of Yuletide fun!

OK, I think I'm more or less caught up. I hope that I can do a better job of blogging in 2016!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Five for (Fall Break) Friday

I love a beautiful October day! And, if it happens to include a day of Fall Break it's even better! October in northwest Indiana is very pretty. The leaves are amazing right now. In honor of this colorful season my Five for Friday features all things fall.


My kinders worked hard on making numbers to five in various ways using my Apple Basket Number Sense activities. To round out the lessons we made these cute apple baskets to add some fall color to our room (and, to show off their learning of course).

My set includes 42 pages of number sense activities that are perfect for this time of year.
 Purchase it HERE. (PS you can get just the craftivity for free in my store.)

Beautiful autumn leaves. To create some lovely leaves for our hallway tree we had fun sponge painting these papers. I had traced a leaf shape on the back before painting. The kids cut them out once the paint had dried. Because the sponge painting was random they were surprised to see the results. They will stay up until Thanksgiving ~ by then we will need to make some snow for the tree!

Scrappy Owls have come to roost in our tree branches. We made these cuties using my freebie and some left over scrapbook paper I found in the hall. (When we teachers come in to set up for the up-coming year anything that is no longer wanted/needed it put out into the hall with a "Free to a Good Home" sign. I scored a stack of pretty paper from the cast-off pile!) I think the kids did a great job ~ each owl is so cute and unique. 

 Get this craftivity HERE. Please rate it if you download it. And, if your kids make them I'd LOVE to see them. Post a link in the comments or send pictures to via Facebook.

Hedgehogs! I wanted to do something different this year on our hallway bulletin board. (It's to the right of my door & the tree is to the left of my door.) Like our leaves & owls, this bulletin board will take us through November. (Which is great because my youngest, Gabrielle, is getting married in November & I'm not sure how creative I'm going to be until after the wedding...) The cute little hedgies are made from paper plates ~ I folded them & pre-cut the head/snout before the kids painted them. Once dry, I stapled them along the edges & the kids glued on the paper spines, wiggle eyes, and pompom noses. I've never used glue sponges, and really wished that I had some for this craft. But, in lieu of glue sponges I put some white glue into milk bottle caps. (We have a ton of them on hand because our PTO is saving them to have benches made for our playground. Check out the program HERE.) I figured  using 18 caps for glue wouldn't set back our bench goal too badly. :-)

I asked our kindergarten TA to put some words up for our hedgehog bulletin board ~ I wasn't picky, I just thought we needed it to say something. Well, not only did she come up with a title, she created this fabulous harvesting hedgehog! She is a wonder! She looked at some pictures online & painted it!

Trip to the apple orchard with some of my girls (Gabrielle had to work). Sarah (in last car) is also a kindergarten teacher so she was on Fall Break. Emily, in the front car, is an author and sets her own hours. (Check her out on Facebook.) What a fun activity for a crisp fall day!

 A ride on the Moo Choo is a must!

 A harvest of cuties! My little darling granddaughters in a giant cornucopia.

 Enjoying apple cider on the front porch of the apple orchard's big barn.

Background papers by:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Playing with Shapes

As any early childhood educator knows kids learn best through play. This was proven recently by my class as we were learning about shapes. In addition to our "regular" lessons on shapes my Kinders had lots of hands-on experiences with shapes. The materials were introduced during whole group lessons, but then were placed in our "math baskets" for lots of exploritory play.

Super cheap coffee stirrers are perfect for making shapes with sides & corners. I cut some in half so the kids could make rectangles & various sizes of squares during this whole group lesson.

In another whole group lesson we added some Wikki Stix to create shapes with curves, shapes with straight lines, and shapes with curves & straight lines. 

Once this little guy discovered that the Wikki Stix fit into the ends of the coffee stirrers we had all sorts of interesting shapes. After we were done with this lesson I put everything into a basket & the kids had fun playing with them during our free play times.

We started learning the names & properties of solid shapes as a whole group. But, the fun began once I put the shapes into a math basket. That's when the kids really learned which shapes can roll or can be stacked. They also compared & matched faces while building some pretty interesting structures.

The cool outcome of all this play is that when I tested my kiddos everyone was able to name the flat shapes & nearly everyone was able to name the solid shapes! Even those who couldn't remember the names of the solid shapes could tell me why some could roll & others couldn't & the names of the faces. CCSS standard: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.G.B.4 Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes ~ check!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Five for Friday


Happy Friday!  This week just flew by! We were super busy with lots of fun and learning. I'm happy that I am linking up once again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for this week's Five for Friday.

 OK, I know this has nothing to do with school, but I wanted to share the mimosa bar we had at my daughter's bridal shower. I made the sign using the Designer's Calender Cricut cartridge and fancy scrapbook paper. It's hanging from gold ribbon with tiny gold clothespins I found at Michaels. I found the juice bottles in the Dollar Spot at Target. 

Inquiry based play starring my darling granddaughters. I have always been a big proponent of open-ended play. It is so fun watching my little cuties explore and use their imaginations.

Amelia is fascinated with the seashells sent by my niece who lives on Virginia Beach. 

Olivia is delighted by the color exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. I have loved that museum since I was a child, had fun visiting with my daughters, and am so excited to be able to share it with my grandchildren. If you are ever in Chicago you need to go there.

Isabella had fun moving magnetic shapes in this hands-on exhibit.

Monarch butterflies! Our county Agriculture vocational program is housed on our campus, and the Ag students do several program for the Kinders throughout the year. In the fall we get to learn about Monarch butterflies in the courtyard. This brave little guy let one walk on his hand before being released. 

 Busy Builders. I have a class of builders this year! We are fortunate to be allowed time for play. During our 20 minutes of free play at the end of the day the Kinders get to use their imaginations ~ no technology allowed! We use the tablets & computers for learning, but not for play. I figure the kids probably get more than enough screen time at home, so I want to give them the opportunity to play with things that run on kid power, not battery power.

This is a pretty impressive structure! I love his proud smile.

This little guy is an airplane builder. He and another little boy make a fleet of planes from these interlocking toys. Once created, they fly all around the classroom.

Building & sorting. 

These girls were having fun with Duplo. 

I traced the kids' hands & asked my teaching assistant to cut them out for the trunks of these cute trees so they sould be true representations of their little hands. The kids cut the green leaves & used their fingers to paint the apples. 

I love my teaching partner despite the fact that she has a big red bird on her shirt.  Go Cubbies!
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