Saturday, December 15, 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

O Christmas Tree . . .

I found the cutest hand print Christmas tree on pinterest last year. (The original inspiration can be found at fivewhites.) I had my class make it and it turned out cuter then I could have hoped for! I was going to enter it into our art walk (silent auction) at the end of last year, but couldn't part with it. It's one of my favorite momentos of my class. It's currently hanging on my living room wall. :)

It was really easy and pretty self explanatory. I used canvas and acrylic paint. I had the students with the larger hands start at the bottom and worked my way up to students with smaller hands. I had 18 kids in my class and I had some of them do their hand more then once to cover the whole tree. So there should be plenty of room even if you have a large class.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How lovely are your branches!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

AHHHH! I haven't posted on my blog in almost two months. I had parent teacher conferences, report cards, my hubby and I started house hunting, etc. life has been crazy. But hopefully I can get back in the swing of blogging regularly. 

We had fun celebrating Thanksgiving last week. We made Thanksgiving placemats.

 They added a feather for each letter of their names. We wrote things they were thankful for around the turkey. They turned out really cute. I love the "chalkboard" look. Really it's just black construction paper and a white crayon. 

We made turkey magnets. These were super easy and the kids had a lot of fun. I got the idea from Momma's Fun World. The feathers are coffee filters "painted" with bingo dabbers. (Which you can find at the Dollar Tree!) Then have the kids cut out a circle for the turkey head, glue on wiggly eyes, beak, waddle, and feet. Tada! (Oh yeah, and add magnets to the back.)

To conclude our week, we had a Thanksgiving Feast. My first year teaching we did a true Thanksgiving Feast with pretty much every Thanksgiving food you can think of. But with one microwave and no access to a kitchen, the kiddos weren't able to help as much as I wanted them to. So last year, we didn't really do anything. This year was perfect! My wonderful and very talented TA made the turkey and I made macaroni & cheese in a coffee pot. It was the perfect amount of festivities. The kiddos loved it. 

Our very realistic looking turkey. 

My TA is carving the turkey, I wonder what's inside? 

The turkey was filled with puff corn! (kernel less popcorn. Popcorn is still considered a choking hazard for our age group.) This was a pinterest idea. Detailed instructions can be found on say yes to hoboken

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Now to turn on some Christmas music . . . 

Friday, October 5, 2012


There's so many things I love about our apple unit! It's the beginning of fall. The students are finally familiar with our classroom rules and we can do more activities. And most importantly, apples are FUN! 

We study apples for two weeks, so I have lots of ideas to share. 


We investigated the inside and outside of apples during small group time. We drew what we saw inside the apple in our science journals. 

Then we taste tested three different colors of apple and graphed our favorite. The green apple was the class favorite this year.

Ten Apples Up on Top

We read the book Ten Apples up on Top for our repeated readings. My students always love this book. 

We use the book to jump start our math. We put apples in order from 1-10 on top of the tiger from the book. This is great practice number recognition. 

We wrote the numbers 1-10 on apple cut-outs and placed them on top of our pictures. 

Another great math game is find the worm. You can read more about that in my post from last year. 

We had a lot of fun balancing an apple on our heads! It's not as easy as it looks. 

Art Activities

We used used apples to make apple prints. Toddler Approved has a great idea on how to make the apples easier for the students to hold. 

We used scrap paper to make apple tree art. 

Another class in our school made these adorable apple sun catchers. Glue pieces of tissue paper onto wax paper to make an apple. Then place it in between a cut out border. 

Other Ideas

We sorted apple cut outs by size and color. 

We used an apple song for our shared reading. 

We put out apple books in our classroom library. My students love reading them and "being the teacher."

We made a KWL chart about apples. 

Additional Resources

Here are a couple great videos from youtube. 

This one is about the life cycle of an apple tree.

Lots of great information about apples in a fun song.

As you can tell, we had lots of fun and learned a lot about apples. What great apple activities did you do this year?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mouse Paint - Color Mixing

This week, we've been exploring color mixing during our science time. I love the book Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. It's perfect for teaching color mixing. In the book, three white mice find three jars of paint. (red, blue, and yellow) Each mouse hops in a different color paint. When they get out, they drip paint everywhere. They discover that the paint starts mixing together and making new colors. 

We read the book together during our large group time, then made our own mouse paint in plastic bags. Each child got to choose two colors (from red, blue, or yellow) to add to their bags. Then they squished their paint colors together.

From experience, we learned that the less paint you use the better. It also helps to put a different color in each corner, instead of just squirting them both in the middle. This allows for all three colors to be shown in the finished product, instead of just the new one. 

My wonderful TA traced two of the mice (from the cover) onto all the plastic bags before we started the activity. 

I also recommend taping the top of the bag, so curious kiddos can't open it! 

Happy Exploring!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Awesome Free Video Finds

My kiddos go crazy over anything that has to do with technology. The smartboard is no different. Unfortunately, I don't always have time to make smartboard activities that coincide with what we are learning. I know there are lots of premade activities out there, but it still takes time to find them and make sure the content level is appropriate for my kiddos. So I was super excited, when I ran across a number of awesome videos on youtube this summer. I pinned them to save them for later. Now when I go to the smartboard with my kiddos, it's super easy to pull something up. I usually make a short smartboard activity that focuses on the content that we are learning. Then, if they made good choices the whole time we watch a few of these awesome videos!

Alphabet Videos

Do You Know Your Alphabet? Rap that my kiddos LOVE!

Storybots (robots) teach the kids their abc's. Another huge hit. They have also have a video for each individual letter. 

We also visit starfall each week and work on our letter of the week. 


Color Mixing Song by OK GO

All About Me

Awesome all about me song from and Sesame Street.

What videos or smartboard resources do your kids love?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Connecting Home and School - Photo Albums

Photo albums are a great way for students to bring a "piece" of their home into the classroom. This is also a very simple way to bring in all the different cultures in your room!

At Meet the Teacher, I send home an empty photo album and ask the parents to fill it with pictures of their family. This way, the students are able to have pictures of their family, to comfort them, on the first day of school. 

I keep the photo albums in a basket on our library carpet. They are open to the children during choice time and transition times. They love sharing pictures of their family with their friends.

I found photo albums at the Dollar Tree for well (obviously) $1 a piece! I kind of had to dig behind the picture frames a bit, so look carefully. They had a flower picture on the front which I replaced with the student's names. 

How do you help your student's connect home and school?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Our Five Senses

I received such a great response from this post, I created a Five Senses Unit using many of the ideas below (plus a few more)! 

Don't miss the freebie!

We had a great week learning about our five senses! I started using science journals this year and so far I am loving them! It's such a great way for all my students to be able to participate during our large group time. During our large group time, we drew our five senses in our journals. 

Nose - Smell

We explored smelly jars for our sense of smell. The jars are really simple. You can use film canisters, baby food jars, or empty spice containers. Place a cotton ball in the film canister and then drop a few drops of "scent". I used cinnamon, chicken bullion, peppermint extract, chocolate, perfume, and vanilla.

Eyes - See

We explored the outdoors using our sense of sight. I had my students draw what they could see. We talked about what color the grass is and what color we would use to draw it in our journals, etc.

Ears - Hear

We played a smartboard game to explore our sense of hearing. It was really simple. I just went into Microsoft Powerpoint and used the sounds already in the program. On the first page I put a sound, then on the next page I put a picture of what makes that sound. I added about 10 sounds, which was the perfect amount for the attention span of my kiddos. After I played a sound, the kids tried to guess what makes that sound. 

Skin - Feel

We added different textures to a hand cut out for the sense of touch. I got this great idea from pinterest of course! I was really suprised at how much of a vocabulary lesson this turned out to be. I ended up sending the hands home with a note to parents encouraging them to go over the hand with their child and go on a "hunt" for textures around the house. 

soft - cotton ball (or pom pom as shown here)
smooth - scotch tape
rough - sand paper
hard - uncooked pasta
bumpy - rocks or pebbles (aquarium pebbles shown here)

Tongue -Taste

The last sense is taste. We talked about this sense some last week when we made our friend mix. We will also be talking about it this week when we make pancakes. We didn't get a chance to do a specific activity for this sense, since I was out of the classroom for meetings that day. 

It was a fantastic week. We really got a lot accomplished. I'm really excited to actually begin teaching! The first few weeks are routines & rules, routines & rules, routines & rules, it's nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel! We also focused on our names last week. I'll have to include those activities in a future post. 

Hope your school year is going smoothly. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Social Skills - Being a Friend

I love ALMOST everything about the beginning of the year, but what I don't like is teaching social skills. I would consider this to be my weak area of teaching. It's such an abstract concept, that I find it hard to teach in a concrete way. This is my third year of teaching, and I feel like every year I get a little bit better at teaching social skills. This past week we learned about how to be a friend. Here are some books & activities I used to teach about being a friend. 



Dot and Dash Learn to Share - In this book, Dot and Dash go around grabbing other friends toys, until they tear off teddy's arm! Then, they learn to share. This is a very short book. Geared for young children. 

How to Be a Friend - This really is a GREAT book, but it is REALLY wordy and almost geared toward older kids (K-2). It's very "non-fiction". So I would only recommend reading a couple pages at a time. 

Since I couldn't really find a book I really liked for teaching social skills, I wrote my own book over the summer. It's called Happy Friend are Super Friends. It uses the enticing world of super heroes to engage the reader and teach them how to be a super friend. (You can download it from my TPT store.)  I was really pleased with how well my kiddos latched onto the super friends concept. I feel it really helped them remember how to solve their problems. 


Introducing Yourself - We learned how to introduce ourselves and ask a friend to play. We practiced saying, "Hi, my name is ______. What's your name?" and inviting a friend to play. "Would you like to play _____ with me?"

Sharing - I modeled how to share. I used stuffed animals and had a couple friends at a time model how to share them. We modeled how to wait and take turns, play together, and trade. 

Ignoring- We practiced ignoring a friend who is bothering you. (Such as whispering to you during carpet time) The kiddos really liked this, as we were REALLY silly while trying to get the other person to react. 


Draw a picture 

We drew pictures of how we were a super friend.
"I helped my friend make cookies with play dough."

"I said, "I don't want to play that right now.""

Make a Friend Mix. 

I sent home a note, asking parent to send in their child's favorite "dry" snack to add to our friend mix. We received a great assortment of food!

Before making the mix, we discussed how friends are different. And how our differences come together to make a really good mix. We continued to talk about this while eating our delicious mixture. 

Our Friendship Tree

As a conclusion to our friendship week, we made a friendship tree. We discussed how our tree was going to be really special because everyone was going to put their special fingerprint on the tree. You can download the tree template here at onefabday. 

Well that was our week in a nut shell. Next week, we will be focusing on our names!