Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Apple Tree

We are FINALLY to our apples week! I've been looking forward to this week since the beginning of the school year. It's the beginning of a great season! Today we read a book about apple picking and then picked our own apples. (unfortunately not from a real apple tree . . . )

We read Apple Picking Day.

Then we went on a "hunt" for our apple tree.

We found it hanging in our courtyard.

The kids took turns picking an apple.

The back of the apple had directions for the kids to follow.

The kids followed the directions on the apple.

I think I enjoyed this game as much as the kids did. Tomorrow we are making applesauce. Yum Yum!

Like what you've read? Check out my website.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oil Spills and Car Washes

One of the many reasons I love early childhood and our curriculum is how flexible and child guided it is. Activities/Lessons never seem to go as I planned. I start them out a certain way and many times, the children take them in another direction. Most of the time the activity/lesson ends up being 10x more fun and beneficial then I'd planned.

Activity Planned - Painting with Cars

I covered the table with paper, then set out black paint (the kids corrected me when I called it black paint, it's "oil") and gave the kids cars. The kids thought painting with cars and oil was the coolest thing ever. The activity entertained them for a good 40 minutes. Slowly, the children's interest started dwindling and participation dropped from about 12 to 2. But those 2 were happy to keep going. 

Guided by Child

While painting one of the kids noticed how oily the cars were and commented. "Ms. K, we need a car wash." I thought, a car wash . . . hmmm. . . a car wash. Yeah that would be cool . . . How would we do that . . . We should do that sometime . . . Why not now? . . . *Look at clock* . . . Yeah let's do that now. . . 

Awesome Result - Car Wash

So, I grabbed the 6 pans we normally use for our magnetic letters. Filled them with water, added some dish soap, gave each kid a Q-tip, and the car wash began. This was some of the most creative and engaging play I've seen from my kids this year. Two Thumbs up for learning through play!

Like what you've read? Check out more on my website!
Early Childhood Scribbles

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Developing a Successful Writer

This summer I read Literacy Beginnings, as part of a blog party hosted by pre-kpages. It's one of the best teaching books I have ever read! I learned so much about how to encourage and inspire developing readers and writers in these early years. I am implementing many different strategies for teaching writing. Recently, we did a week long theme on the pigeon books by Mo Willems. During the week, we began writing our own pigeon book titled The Pigeon Finds a Skittle.

Today while going through A's work, I saw how much these writing strategies were developing her skills as a writer and an illustrator. Below are three examples of her work ranging from middle of August to middle of September.

"It's my mommy."
August 17, 2011

"Mommy and me."
September 6, 2011

"It's my mommy. This is her ears. And her cheeks! She's going to go eat."
September 21, 2001

It amazes me how much her writing and illustrating has changed in five short weeks. As a teacher, it's a great feeling when you can see the learning taking place in your classroom in such an obvious clear way. Check back soon to read about our Writer Talks.

Like what you've read? Check out more on my website!
Early Childhood Scribbles

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Writing Our Own Pigeon Story

During our week learning about Mo Willems and his pigeon books, I mention writing our own pigeon story to my students. They went crazy about the idea. We've only completed the cover and first page, but I have never seen my kids so excited about writing. I feel it is very important to teach kids how to express their own ideas in a story that is all their own. The pigeon books have made this task very engaging and exciting for my class. 

To begin, we decided if we wanted to write a "Don't Let the Pigeon . . . " book or a "The Pigeon Finds . . . " book. The children decided they wanted to write a book about the pigeon finding something. So we explored the book The Pigeon finds a Hot Dog. We focused on the cover. 

What is on the cover?
1. The Title The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog
2. A Picture
3. The Author and Illustrator's name

We followed these "guidelines" to make our own cover.

The cover of our book was very teacher directed. I asked the children what they wanted the pigeon to find. It was almost unanimous. The pigeon would find a skittle. (We use skittles as rewards in our class, so obviously it was the logical thing for the pigeon to find.)

After writing the title and drawing the pigeon with a skittle, we talked about who would write the words and draw the picture in our book. I told the children that our book would be very special because EVERYONE in our class would get to help write the words and draw the picture. So we included everyone's name in the author/illustrator list.

The next day we started the first page of our book. I also started sharing the crayon and letting the children participate in writing and drawing the story. 
I asked the children what the pigeon would say when he found the skittle. We discussed a few options and we decided on the words to the left. I had three different students write the "s's" on skittle. I also guided the children in drawing the pigeon and skittle. I would have one child come draw the eye, the next would draw the head, then the neck, etc. 

We've only finished the cover and first page. I'm excited for writing time this week. I want to know what the pigeon will do next!!!

To find more ideas for the pigeon books, check out my website!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mo Willems

My absolute favorite author is Mo Willems. I love how engaging and hilarious his books are. He makes it so easy to get my students excited and eager to read and write! 
Because my students (and I) love the pigeon books so much, I decided to spend a whole week focused on the books. I'm excited about updating my website and adding all our Mo Willems activities. 

Today, we visited Mo's website at www.pigeonpresents.com and my students absolutely went crazy. (Just like the pigeon!) We learned about Mo, watched videos, learned more about our favorite characters, and played games. During one of the videos, Mo said he wanted people to read his books so they would be inspired to write their own books that he could read. Our class talked about what this meant and how exciting it would be to have Mo read one of our books. We used interactive writing to start our own pigeon book titled The Pigeon Finds a Skittle

Tomorrow we will be reading The Pigeon Wants a Puppy and making puppychow. (Using sunbutter because we are a peanut free facility) We will also be playing the pigeon matching game I got at Border's for 50% off. For more ideas for a Mo Willems theme, check my website in a few days.