Saturday, October 25, 2014

I am a Kindergarten Teacher and I still do patterns! A Fun and Easy Halloween Patterning Project

Hello Friends,

Holy Moley! It's been two weeks since my last post! Yikes! That is too long, but Friends, this has been one of "those" years and life just gets in the way sometimes!

I am a teacher who sees nothing wrong with the Common Core. It is probably because I teach in an awesome school with an awesome administration who told us to adapt our curriculum to the Common Core; that we did not have to totally adopt it. We were told that the Common Core is a foundation for learning; not a curriculum. So, we have been doing just that with our kindergarten curriculum mapping..... adapting the standards that we feel are appropriate and retaining those that we feel should continue to be a part of our curriculum. One standard that was removed from the kindergarten CCSS was patterning. When I asked the reason why patterning was removed, I was told it was because patterns are a preschool standard, so it was redundant to repeat it in kindergarten. Well....... I agree that patterns ARE taught in preschool. My kinders come to school knowing how to create a SIMPLE pattern such as red, blue, red, blue, red, blue BUT when it came time to creating a more complex pattern, they were stumped. So our kinder team made the decision to retain patterns in our Math curriculum. Looking for number patterns and sequences is the key to unlocking algebraic equations. If we take this basic foundational skill away from our littlest learners, we are doing them a huge disservice. So..... I AM A KINDERGARTEN TEACHER and I STILL DO PATTERNS! :)

One thing about patterns that  I DO agree with the Common Core writers is that attaching letters to patterning i.e. ABAB, AAB, ABC..... adds confusion to understanding the basics of patterns. In this older style of teaching patterns, my students would see a pattern on a piece of plaid fabric, for example, and try to convert it to a letter pattern. It usually could not be done and they were confused. When you remove the letters from the patterning experience, they begin to see patterns in the way in which they SHOULD be seen. I have been amazed at how creative my students get with their patterns when they are allowed to see the overall picture and not become confined into a letter pattern. 

So.... here is a fun and easy Halloween project that we did this week. If you are a follower of my blog, you know that I do not give my students many templates and this is again, one of those projects. I gave each child a 12" x 18"  piece of black construction paper and told them to place it vertically in front of them. I cut strips of brown construction paper and showed them how to create a fence with them. After gluing them down, they drew a BIG circle upon a large piece of orange paper. I told them to think BIG; that the goal was to have hardly any scraps when they cut it out. After it was cut out, they glued it upon the fence. They used scraps of yellow paper to create eyes and a nose. THEN I gave them sticker dots and told them to create a pattern for a mouth with the dots. I told them that they could use no more than 3 colors. I was HUGELY impressed with their abilities to create a pattern. EVERY single one of my students, regardless of their skill level, created a mouth with a pattern! Woo hoo!

After creating their sticker mouth, they glued the title sheet to the top of their paper. They then had to re-create their pumpkin's pattern mouth upon the circles on the title sheet. Once again, they ALL were 100% accurate in their re-creation! Hurray! 

If you would like to do this with your students (and if your admin allows you to teach patterning!), you can click HERE for the words to this activity.

Until next time!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Five for Friday - Bees, Flowers, Scarecrows.... Randomness......

Hello Friends!

 I thought I would link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching today with 5 RANDOM thoughts because that is exactly how my brain has been working lately

1.  We had a successful trip to the Apple Orchard this week! Yay! I was a little nervous because my class is a bit challenging this year, but they were ah-mazing and I was so proud of them! The focus of our trip is the apples, of course, but also the role that bees play in the life of an apple. So, to cement bees (and insects) into their brains, my kinders created bees from Styrofoam balls. Yes! My kindergarten kids did these all by themselves and it was only ME and them! (My Bright Idea.....Use condiment containers for glue - it works wonderfully!!)
I made the project easier this year by having my kiddos use markers to draw stripes on the abdomen rather than paint! Worked like a charm!

Here is the finished product - kind of...... I actually removed the long stick from the end. This is a shish kabob stick that I pushed 3 Styrofoam balls through.... The eyes are felt circles attached with Elmer's glue. The wings are made from leftover laminating film and attached to the thorax with straight ball pins. Yes, my kinders DID this all by themselves!

2.  It is so nice to STILL be able to see flowers here in Central Illinois; even though it is the middle of October. These little guys are from my garden and they warm my heart that they are still hanging on!

3.   Look what arrived in the mail the other day! I have only unpacked it and hope to figure it out this weekend and put in my classroom next week! Looking forward to it!

4.  I love this little scarecrow that my kiddos made this week! It was quick and easy and made a fun bulletin board to celebrate Fall...

5.  Finally, I added a new product to my store this week as well as revised an old one. I am always in need of quick things to do in my guided reading groups as well as things for my early finishers to do. So, I made a few Folder centers that are based upon core literacy standards in kindergarten. I like being able to store them in a folder; it makes them compact and easy for my students (and me) to use. We did them in group this week and I plan to place them in Word Work next week.

My revised unit is my Spider unit..... I added a realistic picture book to the literacy pack. 

 Link up to Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Randomness!

Until next time!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Assessing Knowledge of the Seasons of the Apple Tree using Murals

Hello Friends!

I have to say that I am a-strugglin' this year a bit with classroom management and discipline. What has worked in the past just isn't doing it for my sweeties this year. It has been awhile since I have had to work so hard on classroom management/discipline. I have just the sweetest bunch of kinders this year, but they are FULL of energy and emotion. Because of this, I am spending A LOT of my time re-directing this energy and emotion positively. BUT,  despite this fact, we HAVE managed to fit in some fun kindergarten Apple projects and I thought I would share them with you. One of the projects that I love to do is the creation of Apple Tree murals. I use these as an assessment of their knowledge of seasons.

Part of our kindergarten science/social studies curriculum is the study of the seasons. I link this to our Apple unit. I love to begin this unit with "The Apple Pie Tree" by Zoe Hall. This is such a fun book and covers most everything that I want to teach in our Apple unit.

 I also love "An Apple a Day" by Melvin Berger. I purchased this as a big book many years ago. I am not sure if it is still in print, but I love it because it covers the social studies part of our unit which is what happens to an apple after it is harvested. It describes being loaded in a truck and taken to a market or storage facility and then sold as apple products.

We do all the little books inside my "Apples, Let's Make a Book" Science packet, but I am not going to share pictures from those books as I am sure I have already shared them! I really like doing the books inside this resource, though, because it covers all aspect of Apples from growing to marketing...
I like to use our Apple Tree Seasons murals as an assessment for Seasons. It does take some set up time, but it is worth it! I set up the tables while they are at Music so that when they come into the classroom, all they have to do it put on their paint shirts and start working! I already have the paint poured and placed in the proper season's table. I sketch the trunk of the tree so that they have a baseline in which to paint their tree. If I did not do this, we would have some really TINY trees or trees that were so large, the branches would come off the paper! I like for them to use SMALL sponges to paint because sponges seem to work better for larger projects. Plus I think sponges allow my kiddos to be more precise in their painting. This is the ONLY thing I prepare for them; the rest is up to them. I put them into groups and tell them that they have to make a plan as to how they are going to paint their tree i.e. who is going to do what part and make sure that EVERYBODY gets to participate.

Here is what the tables look like before they start:

Here they are painting their murals:

Here are their words describing the Apple Tree seasons:

And here is the finished product!

We also sort and graph apples and taste test them, of course!

And finally, we talk about the parts of the apple and make this cute apple project... This is not a new idea, but I love to do it because when finished, it shows me that they understand that an apple has many parts and those parts serve a function in the life cycle of the apple.

So that's it for now, my friends! Time to get started on Saturday morning chores!

Until next time!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cute Daily 5 Posters with the Cat!

Hello Friends!

I just could not resist replacing my old Daily 5 posters with these CUTE Cat posters and I thought I would share them with you!  I made half page posters and smaller sized cards that can be used for a rotation/choice chart. I did not add words to the smaller cards; no need - the pictures speak for themselves! 

Click HERE to download the Google doc. Enjoy!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Organizing Crayons and Markers AND No More Clogging Glue Bottles!

Hello Friends,

I am linking up with another Bright Ideas linky! Yay!

I posted this idea awhile ago, but it continues to be one of my favorite organizational tricks.....

First I removed the inner trays from a cupcake carrier. (I purchased my cupcake carrier at Hobby Lobby, but I have seen them at Walmart and Target.) I attached a piece of heavy duty Velcro to the bottom of each section and then attached cute cupcake wrappers to the Velcro. I attached clear tacky dots to the bottom of a plastic cup and affixed it to the inside of the cupcake wrapper. I then sorted crayons into the plastic cups and VOILA!.... no more "I can't find a red!" "I don't know where the yellow is!" I absolutely love this crayon tray! This year the cupcake wrappers match the tables, so that also makes it super easy to return the crayon holder to its proper table. The neat thing about this is that the cupcake carrier can be used from year to year. The only changes are the cupcake wrappers and plastic cups.

I store Unifix cubes in the carrier itself which makes a cute and HANDY way for my kiddos to take their cubes to the tables.

I also organized our classroom markers in a similar way.... I used a regular sized cupcake tray and added cupcake wrappers and plastic cups. Through trial and error, I found that you MUST use HEAVY DUTY Velcro as the fixative to the bottom of the pan. Nothing else will work. Hot glue does not work. Gorilla glue does not work. Duck tape works for awhile.......

I love how easily my students can find their markers and this helps WONDERFULLY with keeping lids on markers and not rolling around on the floor!
One more Bright Idea that I wrote about a few months ago STILL is working wonderfully..... Using condiment bottles for glue. Each condiment bottle holds about 2 bottles of a regular sized glue botte. It works so well; honestly! No clogging glue; kids can work independently. LOVE!

For more Bright Ideas, please browse through the links below and find a topic that interests you!

Until next time!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Find your Pirate Treasure!

Ahoy, me Hearties!

Today is 'International Talk Like a Pirate Day'! To celebrate, I have joined with some friends to give you the chance to find lots of pirate booty!

Each blog will have some different treasure for you to find!

I want to share with you a free sample from my MAPS and GLOBES For Little Kids resource. Yer all know how much pirates love maps, right mateys? 
You can find it by clicking on the image below, and download it from Google Drive:

If you like this sample, click on the image below to find the entire packet....

You can also click on the image below to find my whole TpT store on sale! Blimey, that is good news!

And here is the direct link to my Pirate Fun Drawing and Writing Pack!

Don't forget to pillage some other bloggers buccaneer's posts for more great teaching treasures!

Thanks for stopping by!