Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Writing

This is the "edited" versions of their spring writing assignment. 

1. She said I'm the girl on the left.    
2. I love how he likes to "discover" and how he labeled his magnifying glass!
3. I asked him why the people were naked, so he drew a line around the person on the left. :P I also like how he has a skate board with fire coming out the back, And he signals that he is going up the tree. 
4. Jumbo skateboard with flames and a treehouse

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


This was my bug center during student teaching a couple of years ago. The parts were Velcroed on, so they could label the bug themselves. They could dig for a bug (plastic), too. How fun, right? I created a worksheet that had them draw a picture of their insect, name it, and answer a couple of questions about it. Bug books and puzzles were there for any time leftover.

I made a similar center in my own classroom last year, but my insect wasn't quite as big (no room!). I did make it more accurate second time around though.

I taught three songs with my unit:
1. "The Ants Go Marching"
2.  "Head, Thorax, Abdomen"
3.  "Bugs, Bugs, Bugs"
They LOVE these songs.

Fireflies are flying around my door this year! We've begun our unit with the songs and some great books. The center will be open next week!

April 15, we're heading to the zoo! In May we'll begin our intensive unit study on butterflies, featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Flowers

(Part of our Discover Center) Today we went on a nature walk to look for signs of spring. We collected several pretty weed flowers, seeds, nuts, clovers, and green onion. The daffodil was brought to me this morning by the school counselor to cheer me from my rough day Friday. So sweet! 

When we came back inside, we watched "Peep Plants A Seed." I just discovered this show, and I love it!! 

Future activity:

We also  read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. 

Something cute I found, but do not remember the source (sorry!)... 

Of course we will also plant flower seeds, which will make a beautiful gift for Mother's Day, and we will observe bean seeds growing. 

Easter Activities

"My little yellow duck is really very funny.
For when I turn him over, he becomes the Easter bunny!"

Our Egg Hunt will be on Thursday. When I was student teaching, I picked up this perfect idea for having the best class egg hunt. Each student in the class has to bring in a candy-filled egg (no chocolate). Then we have parent volunteers number off each set of eggs with the number of students in the class. Then the eggs are scattered in a field (each class has their own section), and the kids have to hunt for eggs with their number on them. It makes the hunt last a while longer and it's fair to everyone.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Out Like a Lion," and I don't mean the weather!

*A child read the crayon (, "! Who wants to go to!"
*Which brings me to something a kid said last year while peeling the paper off the crayon... "It's getting naked!"
*S-Team meeting for child I mentioned in "March Madness"
*Final book club meeting for The Laughing Classroom, much needed after long and difficult day

*As part of the School Beautification Committee, I helped in the flower gardens for a couple of hours in beautiful weather
*Game night at my old boss' house - I had tons of fun and it was good to see her since her last round of chemo and all the radiation. She's doing great!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010



I need to add handmade dollhouses to my list of favorite things.
I love things that are miniature. I love antiques. 
I'm so glad I met a little girl playing with this family heirloom...
so much prettier than plastic. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First Day of Spring

Yesterday was a gorgeous spring day. We finally had warm enough weather to take down the blankets covering our windows and let in the sunlight. As shown above, Sadie has been trying to do this very thing for months now. Our front window is their second favorite place to be. (The first is their cat tree.)

My husband and I did our spring cleaning, which included everything I almost always do every weekend plus beating the rugs and doing a very thorough sweeping and dusting. We cleaned out pounds of cat hair and dust. We opened the windows and let in fresh air. Then we grilled out on the front porch with some friends. The last time we did this I was eaten alive by mosquitos and our food was attacked by flies. This time, no bugs and perfect weather. :-) Good times.

Today is rainy and cool. Tomorrow there is supposed to be a rain/snow mixture. :(  I'm so over the cold. At least tomorrow I will get to see my kiddos again. We are learning about spring, seeds, and subtraction! Maybe we should do a study on "S" while we're at it. :-P

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easter in Centers

Egg Sort

Addition with erasers

Easter Tracing Boards:
I have about 8 different pictures for them to choose from. They put a piece of tracing paper on top, and use the skinny markers to trace the picture. Then they color the picture in with colored pencils. If they have time leftover they can do the addition cards or Easter spiral art. (The trays are to the right on our "Home Living" center oven, which hardly gets to be used. :(  )

Pom-poms and mini Easter baskets

Easter Egg flash cards: Count the stickers, check with the answer on the back. I also encourage the students to put the cards in order or sort them by color. 

Number Word and Numeral Matching

Eggs to match uppercase and lowercase letters


I do this writing process no more than once a week with small groups. We usually write on a particular theme that we have been studying or experiencing, etc. This assignment was done as a culminating activity of our unit on trees and wood. We brainstormed about what we know about trees, and I wrote them down on a small white board. 

Then I had a student dictate a sentence to me, while the other few begin their illustrations. I scribbled what they said down on a piece of scratch paper, because they sometimes forget. Then I wrote a line for each word as I said the sentence with the child. The student wrote the sentence to the best of his/her ability on the lines. 

From the sample above, I got a lot of information about what the student understands about writing. He understands concepts of print and that words are made up beginning, middle, and ending sounds. He knows the letters ow say /ow/. He does not completely understand capitalization rules. I go over the sentence with the child, discussing editing, and I write the sentence correctly. We read it together. Then I draw the lines again, and the student copies it.

This method helps the students feel at ease about writing, because they aren't afraid to make mistakes. They don't mind being corrected, because it's not negative red markings. They listen to the constructive criticism, and they often praise themselves for getting parts right. They love writing the sentence correctly afterward, and I always hang the work in the hall to show it off. :)

Also shown above: 
1. Labeling of tree parts
2. First, next, last of an oak tree's life

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Morning Meeting

We're on Spring Break, but today I went to school to work on a few things (like report cards). This is my calendar/morning meeting stuff... Busy, huh? :) 

The Star Student (changes daily) gets to stand and help, while everyone participates in singing, counting, etc. First I ask them the following questions: What is today? What comes before? What comes after? And we add the signs to "Yesterday was..." 

Then we sing to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?" “Today is ____. Today is ___; All day long, All day long. Yesterday was ___. Tomorrow will be ___. Hip, Hip, Hooray! What a day!” 

Then we go right into our next song, "Days of the Week," to the tune of the Addam's Family theme song. It goes like this: "Days of the week. ** Days of the week. ** Days of the week. Days of the week. Days of the week. ** There's Sunday and there's Monday. There's Tuesday and there's Wednesday. There's Thursday and there's Friday. And then there's Saturday. (Repeat intro.)

And, we sing  “There are 7 Days...” to the tune of “Oh, My Darlin’.”

Next, we count. First we count the days up to today's date using ordinal numbers. The Star Student will point with a pointer to the days. Next, I write the date in two ways, and we say it together.

I really stress place value every day. I write the number sentence in two ways and we solve for the number of days we've been at school. We add a straw and count to see if we are right. I ask them if it's an even or odd number. I help them with this concept by counting the straws in the ones place by twos. If a straw is by itself, we say "Awww...odd, and if not, we say "Yes, it's even - everyone has a partner." 

We also add 1 cent, 1 unit, and 1 tally. This gives us so much practice counting in different ways and seeing the same number represented differently. It's also a good review of coins, and a good introduction to place value. Once a week, we estimate how many whatever are in a jar, and then count it out to get the actual answer.

We talk about the seasons, and then we sing "What's the weather like today, like today, like today? What's the weather like today. Today is ____." The Star Student goes to the window and answers us with sunny, rainy, etc. We turn our weather dial, complete the weather sentence, and add to the month's weather graph. We discuss the graph using terms more than, less than, fewer, equal to, and we predict what the weather might be like tomorrow. We also refer to the thermometer and discuss the temperature and how that affects what we wear.

After all this, we usually go right into a Morning Message or a graphic organizer that relates to what we will be reading next. Sometimes we have a lot of wiggles though, and we have to stand up and sing and dance. We love "Macarena Math" on Dr. Jean's album. We also sing the months of the year to the same tune.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Break

Monday afternoon I drove up to Kentucky to visit my dad and little brother. I had to leave Tuesday afternoon, but I really enjoyed the time I had there. The top picture shows him when he was pretending to be a dog fetching the yellow bowl on his head. In the next picture I was reading to him and he got on the back of the couch and bent over me so I saw him upside down. He's so silly!! The last picture shows him playing with one of the best toys a child could have - an empty box! Is he a snail or a hermit crab? He's a smart and funny kid.

Today I baby-sat for a family that I have kind of grown a part of over the past 5 years. They had been doing some spring cleaning, so I have 3 bags full of books and things to take to my classroom. I feel so fortunate for everything this family has given me. We had a fun day of eating lunch out and beginning a painting project that we will finish on Friday. We also noticed that one of their parakeets, Blueberry, has laid 2 eggs! They look just like the Cadburry chocolate eggs that I love sooo much. We watched the birds for awhile, because Blueberry looked like she could lay another egg at any moment. When I was leaving their house, I could hear so many birds singing. I took a picture:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Few Favorites

Making Lists and Organizing.


Learning. Teaching.
Babies. Children.
Foggy landscapes.
Sunny days with birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and flowers.

Cotton candy clouds. 
Branches and vines. Weeping willows.
Dusk with fireflies. (Photo by Kate Pulley)
Rain and rainbows.

Strings of lights.

Bonfires and s'mores. 

Wind chimes.
The beautiful hues and crisp air of autumn. 
Guitars. Pianos. Music. Singing. Dancing.

Holding hands. Hugs. Kisses.
Drinking cool water.
Creativity. Painting. Mosaics. Doodles. Multi-Media.
Waterfalls, creeks, rivers, lakes, and beaches. 

Chocolate. Brownies. Cookies.
Dresses, especially white. (Venus)

Wide open spaces.
Adventures. Climbing. Kayaking.

Popping stiff joints.
Laughter. Silliness.
Holding a warm mug.
Cuddling  and cozying up under blankets.
Quilts and antiques.
Reading novels.
Rice milk in cereal. 
Photographs and memories.
Smoothies. Fruit. 
Movies and television. 
Board games.