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!

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1st Five for Friday

Happy April 1st! I always kinda dread April Fools' Day at school ~ Kinders aren't really good at "fooling." One example from one of my little cuties: "Mrs. Phillips have you ever petted a bird?" I said yes. His response was "April fools!" Hmm, I don't think he really gets the spirit of the day. :-)

We began our science fair project (Watching the Grass Grow) this week. As a kick off we brainstormed this list of things Scientists Do. I'm pretty impressed that the very first thing they came up with was "think!" 

I was "mugged" at school this week! This fun little treat was given to me by an anonymous coworker who must know me pretty well ~ there is a Chapstick in the mug. I'm never without a Chapstick. The rules of this game is that I fill & give away two mugs. It will be fun shopping for two teacher friends!

What's in your pocket? I'm sure you have taken small treasures home, too. It's always interesting the things that I pick up throughout the day. 

#teacherfeetupfriday is a fun Instagram link up! I wore my glittery Kate Spade Keds today and had to snap a picture of my feet. :-) Look me up on Instagram HERE.

A little girl came bounding into the classroom and handed me this gift card. It wasn't in an envelope or card, so I thought that it could be something plucked from her mother's purse or picked up off the floor of their car. I went on Steak n Shake's website to check if it had a balance before contacting her parents. LOL ~ it was not even activated! She apparently lifted it from the display at the restaurant. 

Well, that's it for me! Hop over to Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky.

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