Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Letter "L"

Oh what fun the letter "L" turned out to be! Of course the week was filled with lemonade and dancing around singing "la-la-la-la-la" (seriously, that's the song we sang!).

During the first part of the week we decided that LION was our favorite "L" word. So, we naturally we made a lion!

We started with a simple yellow hand print and the children all cut their own mane. I love the difference in the cutting, some were very precise
(Yes, this child is ONLY 4)

While others were more free-flowing

Either way, they were wonderful!
On Thursday we just had to sneak in one more super fun idea. So we took a small break from talking about the Solar System and spent most of the day talking about "lizards". They really are fascinating little reptiles! Later in the day we came up with out own silly "L"izards!
Can you see the the letter "L"?
I'm really looking forward to next week - we will be studying the letter "M" and
starting our unit on Valentine's Day! It is going to be SO MUCH FUN!

The Solar System

To be honest, I don't think I will ever get over Pluto not being a planet, non-the-less, I still love talking with my class about the Solar System. I'll have to admit that I was a little worried this year's discussions because my class is younger than in the pasts. Most of my students are still 3 and won't turn 4 until the late spring or summer. Setting my worries aside I jumped right in. Good thing too because our battle cry this week was "WE LOVE THE SOLAR SYSTEM!" My partner in crime, a.k.a. Mrs. Christi, came up with something a little different this year. "Let's EACH make a giant solar system", she said! My response, "uh, okay?" Turned out to be a great idea, very difficult, but very fun! Each day we discussed and made two planets. Each planet was made with a different craft method. We did everything, First we made a giant sun with our famous "squishy painting). Next, we rubbed Mercury over some sandpaper. Venus and Jupiter were made with marble painting, while Mars was painted and sprinkled with grits. Uranus and Neptune were water colored, and the Earth and Venus were finger painted. Everyone loved seeing the "real" pictures (special thanks to my son, who let me use all his old childhood NASA photos) of the planets. Each child was also assigned a planet to be his/her. At the end of the week we were all calling each other by our planet names - SUPER fun! On Friday we decided that it was time to put our creations all together. WOW, super huge project, too big for our little classroom so we headed to the big music room.

After all the planets were glued on we added some fun colors stars and sang our song about the solar system.
Of course no "Fabulous Fun Friday" (yes, that is what we call it!) would be complete without a fabulously fun trip to the kitchen for a super special snack. This week we ate a rocket ship! Graham crackers, Fruit Loops and M&M's make a super solar snack!

Don't you just love the planet M&M's?!?!? The Fruit Loop windows somehow were eaten before the photo was taken :) !

Oh, and just for the record, we vote on things in our classroom and after much discussion we decided . . . PLUTO should still be considered a planet! Once again, my class surprised me with their wonderful enthusiasm for learning.
My motto - make it fun and they will learn!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weather Week

This year we added "Weather Week" to our curriculum. We have always discussed the weather when we talked about summer, fall, winter and spring but it was really fun to have an entire week to talk about weather. Of course, during this week we had nothing but rain in the forecast, but we made do. but after being out of school on Monday for the Martin Luther King Holiday, we got busy Tuesday discussing RAIN! My husband had received a "sound machine" for Christmas (really, a sound machine when you live with ME!?!) but it did have the most wonderful rain sound programmed in it. So naturally, we had a background of "rain" all day on Tuesday. (There is also a wonderful "ocean" sound that we will use during our "Ocean and Water" week!) We also discussed rain and thunderstorms. I think there are a couple of students who aren't as afraid of thunder and lightening now. Our craft for Tuesday was simple, an umbrella with fingerprint rain drops.

Wednesday rolled around and we decided to heat up the classroom with our suns!

These actually turned out much nicer than I ever expected. The children loved talking about the sun and enjoyed hearing about the "giant ball of fire in the sky". Would you like to make a sun like ours? Start with a large round circle, we used thick poster board paper, and blob on some paint!

Cover with clear plastic wrap and SQUISH it!

We really like the feel of the paint under the clear plastic wrap!

Next we glued our sun to a piece of very large blue construction paper and added the sunrays!

Some children wanted BIG sunrays . . . . .

while others were happy with teeny, tiny rays.

either way, they were amazing!

By the time Friday rolled around we were ready for a fun weather snack! So, we decided to eat a rainbow! Yep, you heard me - we ate a rainbow! It was so fun and yummy. First we started with a rather funny looking template of a rainbow and started adding the color - with Fruit Loops of course!
It never ceases to amaze me how precise some children can be
while others are way to much LIKE ME! Either way, they were very, very yummy!

Our science experiment was all about the clouds! We started with a jumbo cotton ball (I had NO idea that cotton balls came in JUMBO) and a very small cup of water.

Next we put the cotton ball into the water, and squeezed it.


For our last science experiment we took a clear plastic cup and added plain water. We put a small amount of shaving creme on top. Then came the fun - a few drops of red and yellow food coloring. The food coloring slowly found it's way down into the water to make ORANGE rain! What fun! AND yes, we did it again with blue and yellow. And again, with red and blue! SUPER FUN!

Next week, my FAVORITE week - the SOLAR SYSTEM!!!! I hope you come back and as we rotate our way around the sun!

Facing our Fears

Monday, January 17th was Martin Luther King Day so we had the day off school. We all arrived back ready to go on Tuesday but there was a small bump in our road - one of our classmates, "A", had surgery. I tried to keep the day as light and fun as I could. It was still a rather difficult day even though her parents assured me it was "minor outpatient surgery". I still worried. "A" is a wonderfully sweet and kind hearted child. There is always a void in our class when she is not with us. Everyone loves her. I knew if I felt this way then everyone else would probably feel the same way. It was the first time that we had to deal with this as a class. So we did what we do best, we talked about it! Several students wanted to say special prayers, so we did. Others asked lots and lots of questions. Not being very medical minded, I did my best to answer them. To keep the mood light we made "A" a giant card and sent it home by her younger brother. "A's" Mom was very kind to call the school and let us know that she did fine and was on her way home from the hospital. Again, we prayed. We thanked our Lord for taking such good care of "A". On Wednesday, we wanted to do something special for "A" and since her parents and doctors were certain she would be back at school on Thursday, we made her an e-mail card! Her Mom said she loved it! Of course, the doctors and "A's" parents were right, she rejoined us on Thursday, hospital bracelet and all!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pay it forward!

Pay it Forward: The first five bloggers to follow the directions below will get something handmade for free from me!
Philippa from House of Baby Piranha was worried that to join in this little blogging adventure, that she would have to make something to give away and no one would like what she made:) I decided to join Philippa even though I have no idea what I might be able to come up with either!
In order to get something handmade from me, you need to be one of the first five bloggers to make the following promise on your blog…
“I promise something handmade to the FIRST 5 people who leave a comment here.
However, to be eligible, you must repost this message, offering something handmade to 5 other people. The rules are that it must be handmade by you, and it must be sent to your 5 giftees sometime in 2011!”
So if you would like to join me and the others who are paying it forward, then go to your blog – write a “Pay it Forward” post kind of like this one. Then come back here and leave a comment below with a link to your Pay it Forward blog post.
The first five bloggers who make their “Pay it Forward” promise through their blog,will receive something handmade from me sometime this year. Be sure to come back here and let me know you have written a post:) Ready – Set – Go!
Please join me too in Paying it Forward…

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ice Painting

What a great day we had Friday at school! We were finishing our unit on winter and of course we HAD to finish with a BANG! First we started off our day by making our wonderful snowflakes! Aren't they beautiful?!?!?! We started off with big old ugly craft sticks and transformed them into an

amazing work of art. The students painted them with "Mrs. Karen's Magical Paint" (okay, Elmer's Glue and white paint) and sprinkled on (okay, threw on) Epsom salt. As soon as we get back to school on Tuesday we will take them outside and spray them with a clear varnish spray. The children love to tell me bad the spray smells but the results are amazing. The snowflake will literally sparkle and shine.

We also headed to the kitchen to make another version of snowman cookies. These were made with little white donut holes! (Sorry for the bad picture but we were in a big hurry to eat these.) The eyes were little chocolate chips and the nose was candy corn which was left over from Halloween.

Since we were already in the kitchen, we covered our table with a couple of sheets of butcher paper and painted with ice! On Thursday we had mix our regular paint with a little water, then stuck in some coordinating colored craft sticks and stuck them in the freezer. On Friday we pulled out our paint-cicles and got to work!

It was a huge hit and everyone loved it! To try and make it a little more "educational" we started playing some games. I would call out a shape and everyone would try and make that shape! Then I started calling out colors and if you had that color you got to do a quick "ice dance" and start painting! What fun!
At the end of each year our school holds it's annual "Art Show". It is a wonderful way to highlight various art work from throughout the year. Our project for January was a snowman of course. He was made with our palm and finger prints. Don't you just love them?

Oh, one more little item from this week, our collage penguin! He is made by using contact paper in the middle. Then I had a huge pile of white objects for everyone to choose from. So cute and everyone had a great time picking our their white items to put in the middle! My favorite part of this activity was the huge discussion it started. It seems some of my students didn't think a dried butter bean was white but others did. I loved hearing them debate this issue! Quite exciting!
Thanks for stopping by and checking on us! I hope you will come again!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Winter Fun

As hard as it is to believe - we had 2 days off this week due to SNOW! Yes, real snow and ice. It is crazy, fun, but crazy. When it snows in Alabama no one gets on the roads, we just don't know how to drive in that stuff. So while we were out of school I was busy collecting and making things to go into our classroom. Needless to say my poor husband was very glad to see me and my junk leave this morning :)

As expected our classroom was buzzing today as some of my students braved the cold and came back to school. My southern style snowman took a strange twist today as he wore the colors of the BCS Champions, the Auburn Tigers. He wears #19 in honor of a dear friend and Auburn player, Neil Caudle. The class of course loved him even more.

We also played our new mitten match game. I had no idea the class would enjoy this so much! By the end of the day everyone ended up playing "Go Fish" with them. FUN, FUN, game!

Our snowman file folder game was a big hit too. Again, a simple game, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. I also made a few puzzles out of old cereal and rice boxes. Here is our "Minute" puzzle (that's what the class called it when I read the title to them).

I have a letter going home to our parents tomorrow that will ask them to save us their cereal boxes. The best part is, if a piece is lost, no one cares!

The biggest hit of the day came when I pulled the new "shape" dice I made during our snow days. Everyone loved running around the room trying to find their shape.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will take some pictures of our wonderful penguin and snowmen. It was a cold but great day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Weather Week

Living in the south and studying winter weather usually isn't too exciting. Sure, we talk about snow but we hardly ever get to see any. Well, that seems to have changed this year! We actually got snow on Christmas Day this year! Something that has not happened since the mid-1950's. AND as an added bonus, we are out of school today because of an ice-storm. My house doesn't have much snow but the driveway and streets are one large sheet of ice. Good day to update my blog!

For Christmas a friend of mine, Laura (you remember Laura, the x-ray technician who visited us in October) gave me some instant snow.Once I saw what this was I had to go get more! Unfortunately, this was a hot item (remember we don't get snow in the south) so I ended up buying all the lady had. I have no idea what it is really made of but I think it is the stuff that is inside of a disposable diaper. Since most of the product information was written in Chinese, and I don't speak or read Chinese, I quickly gave everyone instructions not to put the "snow" in our mouths! With that one and only bit of information out of the way, we added 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 packet of instant snow! Let the fun begin!

We had such a good time, a messy good time, but still a lot of fun!

Next we talked about ice! What fun is just talking about ice? We had to make some ice. Everyone received a little cup of water (we used those little containers that instant drink mixes come in) and dropped a plastic fish in it. Some of the fish floated, some sank. Then we popped them all into the freezer. When they came out we talked about what happened to the fish. Some children wanted to rescue the fish so they started rubbing the ice. Soon our fish were free!
No winter discussions would be fun without a making a few snowmen or snowladies. Our class made dancing snowpeople!

We called them our "Dancing Snowpeople" because they would sway with the music thanks to some old yarn that held them together.

Of course no week would be complete without a good snack! This week we made "snowpeople" cookies! 'Nilla Wafers, vanilla icing, pretzels and some leftover Halloween candy sure do make yummy cookies!
One of my favorite things that we do in our class each year is the snowman! Yes, we make a snowman, well a southern snowman. It all starts by making lots and lots of snowballs. We use newspaper! Once we have enough snowballs we HAVE to have a snowball fight!

Lots and lots of FUN!

Then we stuffed some white garbage sacks and made our snowman!

Next week we continue our discussions about Winter and the animals who live where it is extremely cold!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 New Classroom Ideas

Happy New Year! It is so hard to believe that it is the year 2011! I am looking forward to a happy and healthy year. I have worked most of the Christmas break organizing and getting ready for the remainder of the school year. I was very fortunate to be able to attend a Dr. Jean seminar in December. Unfortunately, all those wonderful ideas had to just sit in my head because I was way to busy at school (and my second job and Christmas shopping and Christmas decorating, etc.) to implement any of the ideas. HOWEVER, I have worked so hard these last couple of weeks and I must admit, I am very excited about starting school. Let me share a few things with you that I am going to do. . . .

One of the challenges that I have faced this year is during my "Circle Time". I usually try to divide my large group sessions into two or even three separate times. This way the children (and I) don't have to sit still for too long. Even though it is only just a short time it seems like everyone wants to talk at once. Even though I enjoy the enthusiasm, some of my students are getting left out. I hopefully will solve this with an idea from Dr. Jean - my new microphone! Our new rule will be "you can only speak when you are holding the microphone" and of course everyone will get an opportunity to speak. By the way, the microphone was made with left over wrapping paper (that's the blue part) wrapped around a paper towel tube. (note: my husband suggested that I stuff the paper towel tube to keep it from collapsing. Great idea! I used old plastic grocery sacks.) The top is an old plastic Christmas ball that was on it's way to the garbage, covered in aluminum foil. The entire base was wrapped in clear packing tape to keep in from falling apart. This cost almost nothing!

My next dilemma has been walking from our classroom down the hall. It seems a have one or two that love running and yelling! My solution . . . .

The front of the bottle.

The back!

Mrs. Karen's "Quiet Spray"! It is an old spray bottle (completely cleaned and dried out!). There is nothing in the bottle but it does make a little "squirt" sound when you pull the spray trigger. Everyone will get a squirt of "Quiet Spray" as we walk down the hallway.

The next little item I decided to try is "Brain Sprinkles"! I borrowed this from Dr. Jean. It is an old coffee creamer bottle with the label removed. First I filled the bottle with about two tablespoons of rice. Then I put a piece of plastic wrap under the lid and glued the lid with my handy-dandy E-6000 glue. (If you don't have this glue - go get some!!! It will glue anything together.) The plastic wrap allows me to actually open the lid. Everyone will get a little sprinkle before our "Circle Time" begins! Very low tech, but I am hoping it will be effective!

The last thing (for today) is another new game. Does this look familiar??? It's the little lid that comes off the top of baby wipes! I asked my fellow teachers to save them for me. I laid 15 of them on a piece of poster board and wrote our numbers on the top.
On the inside there are coordinating "dots"! I believe this will be a fun way to help my students count and review our numbers.

Again, this is virtually free and very, very low-tech!

Thanks for checking in with me. See you soon!