Sunday, November 27, 2016

 Welcome back! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving (if you're in the U.S) and are getting excited for the Christmas season.  To help you get your class ready for the quick few weeks you'll be there,  I'm joining with some amazing teacher-authors to share some of our most wish-listed items in our stores.  We hope you will find some much needed resources and see what other teachers have said about them.  Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site-wide sale Monday and Tuesday November 28-29 so get your carts ready!

I wondered what all the fuss was about with interactive notebooks. I thought they looked cool, but what's the big deal.  Now I'm hooked! This Interactive notebook bundle was a spin off of my K-2 regions bundle (below).  I know not a lot of K-2 teachers may get to the regions of the U.S., but I'm sure 3-5 grades do.  This U.S. Regions bundle takes the boring pages of a geography book and bring them alive! Short of visiting the states themselves, this pack will excite your students as they learn more about this amazing country! Color, cut and glue pieces into a notebook which becomes more than just taking notes as they interactively move pieces and review information they have learned.
As a kindergarten teacher and mom of two boys (and one girl), I often try to think like a boy. What would a boy like to do in school? What  better way to learn than to use Legos! Print out in color and laminate or place in sheet protectors. The students can build right on the mats, or use them as a guide as they build on another surface. The mats could also be printed and used as letters for a word wall or your classroom alphabet.
They are differentiated to fit many learning needs.
A beginner learner is going to simply build and identify the letters. An on-level learner will complete the letter and the on-level worksheet. An above-level learner will build the letter and complete the more advanced activity.
The alphabet mat which contains all the letters on one page, can be given to each student and has many uses.

When I got to my new school 4 years ago, I was told to teach the regions of the U.S. but there was no curriculum for kindergarten. This unit was what got me started on TPT.  After a couple of years of editing and fine-tuning each region, I came up with a product that I love to teach and the kids love to learn from.  I figured if I needed it, maybe other teachers were looking for something too.  And the rest, is history...(or geography).  Each unit includes everything you need to teach your k-2 students about the region of the Midwest, West, Southeast, Southwest and Northeast. Included in this pack are Thinking maps, matching, cut and paste, sentence building, an assessment and end of the unit report.

Hop on over to the lovely hostess of this lovely link up, Amanda from Daisy Designs! Click the picture below to view other teacher-authors and their top 3 wishlisted items!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Stone Soup

Since coming to my new school four years ago, I have fallen in love with the deep seeded traditions we continue each year.  These activities have been going on for years, some even for decades! We try to do a couple of fun activities per month. Apple Day, Pumpkin Day, Praise and PJ's...the list goes on and on.  Not only is it super fun for the kids and teachers but they're learning at the same time! Imagine that ;)  I always start our day with "I know it's a fun day, but fun day does not equal crazy, so we still follow the rules. If we do, we will all have a better time!"  They usually do pretty well. Because guess what? They're kindergarteners and they need to have down days to just have a good time. It's what we called "Developmentally appropriate." (insert sarcasm here for all my friends who know what I mean).

On Stone Soup Day, we ask the students to bring in one ingredient to make our soup.  Everyone gets a turn to put it in the slow cooker. They can't believe how easy it is! To those students you know that won't bring anything, we tell them to bring pepper and salt or another ingredient that doesn't make or break the soup (croutons for the topping). Ingredients may include: Potatoes (already diced), Celery, Chicken Stock, Cooked pasta (add the last 30 minutes), carrots, peas, tomatoes and any other veggie you would like to add. And of course some stones (washed of course)! Some students are in charge of bowls or spoons. Don't forget your can opener! (I've done that before) Croutons and grated parmesan cheese are great toppers.

You can either read Stone Soup on that day, or in my case I read it during Creative Writing that week. We read the story and did the following writing activity. That way by Friday, they already had an idea of what we were doing. One student even brought in our stones!

This activity is not only meant to help them begin to see what a sentence looks like, but to be able to follow directions and work on their fine motor skills

Day 1

After reading the story, I passed out the page of vegetables to be colored and cut. I told them if they felt comfortable they could cut closer to the veggies.  Some students aren't quite ready for that step so I added the dotted lines for their convenience. I then put them in a zip top bag and wrote their name on it. That was one class session. If you're in a district that dictates your time to the minute, you could put these in a center or for early finishers so you aren't taking class time to color.


Day 2

We review what we did in our last class together and get started right away with writing and making the pot.  We have 20-30 minute writing class and we were able to finish in just two days.  Ahead of time I cut a 2 inch strip along the short side of a black piece of construction paper (below).  Either you can have the students cut that small strip in half or you can do it for them.  They draw large ovals on each of the two smaller pieces and cut them out. I draw a large example on the board and they did a great job.

The next part is the trickiest.  You may want to pre-draw the curves on the bottom of the pot or let them give it a shot. I drew an example on the board of how to draw the curved (rainbow) line at the corners to create a curved look. You could also just tell them to draw a big hill and it would be more of a rounded pot or kettle.

They glue the handles to the back top on the sides so they are sticking out.  Then together you make a list of vegetables and they fill out the "I made a yummy soup with my friends" page. This is a great time to emphasize using the word "I"in writing. They glue this on the front and you staple their bag of veggies on the back (make sure to open the bag, staple, then close it or they won't be able to open their bag).

Now they have a fun activity to go home and share with their family! You could even include a picture of them making or eating the Stone Soup on the front as an extra special memory.  I've attached this activity for you to do with your class! Click the picture to the left to download it.

I'd love to hear how you celebrate Stone Soup day and if you try this activity, tell me about it!