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! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tech Tip - Tiny Pictures

I'm linking up with blog hoppin' this week for teacher week 2012. Today is Tuesday, so I have a tech tip for you!

I'm going to show you how to size pictures down, so you can fit 16 head shots on ONE 4X6! These pictures are awesome for using around the classroom. I put them on their work, in their portfolios, folders, names for the writing center, gifts for Mother's/Father's Day, etc. 

First, you need to download gimp. Gimp is a free photo editing program. (similar to photoshop, but free!) You can download it here. 

STEP 1 - Starting a new project.
To begin, open gimp. Go to File - New. When it opens, you will see a window that looks like this. 

Make sure you are working in inches (NOT PIXLES). You'll want to set your image size to width 16 and height 24. This will print as a 4X6, but keeps your resolution/quality high. Then Click OK. It will look like this.  

STEP 2 - Open up your picture. 
Now you need to open up a picture file. Go to File - Open. Select the picture you want to work with. It will open in a new tab. 

STEP 3 - Scale down the image. (make it smaller) On the left side of the screen, their is a tool bar. Select the scale image button. 

Click on the picture. 

You'll see the scale window pop up. Make sure your measurement is set in inches. Change your width to 4 inches and your height to 6 inches. (When it is printed, your image will be 1 inch by 1 1/2 inches.) Click Scale. Your image will look like this.

STEP 4 - Crop the image.
Now you'll need to crop out the smaller image. Select the crop icon from the tool bar. 

Now click and hold on the bottom right hand corner of your picture, and drag your mouse up to the top left hand corner of your picture. Then, click in the middle of your picture. Your image will look like this. 

STEP 5 - Transferring the Image
Then click ctrl+c. Open the tab with the original project you opened in step one. click ctrl-v. 

On the top right of the gimp window. It says "Floating Selection."

Right click on the "Floating Selection" and choose "To New Layer."

STEP 6 - Moving your picture. 
Now choose the move tool on your tool bar. 

Then, click on your picture and move it to the top left of your larger image. 

STEP 7 - Fill in the other 15 picture spots. 
You can use the same image for all 16 pictures by repeating steps 5 and 6, or if you want to use multiple images, you can open up a new image and start at step 1. I used the same image to fill up the picture below, but when I do this with my students, I use all of their different pictures. 

Now you have 16 images on ONE 4X6! 

STEP 8 - Saving your image. 
If you want to save your image to work on later. Go to File - Save. You'll want to save it as a .xcf file. This will allow you to be able to edit it later. When you are finished with you picture, go to File - Export. Save your image as a .jpg file. This will allow you to upload it and print it through your photo printer of choice. 

That's it! It seems overwhelming at first, but after you do it a few times it's pretty easy. I love having small pictures! And since a whole class will fit on 2 4X6's, it's only 30 cents or so to get a colored picture of everyone in your class. 

Don't forget to check out blog hoppin' for more Tuesday Tech Tips!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Teacher Week - Must Have Monday

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin for Teacher Week 2012. 

Today is Must-have Monday. So here are my current top 10 must haves. My favorite things change almost daily, so in a month or so this list would probably be completely different. 

1. Good ole' classic Coca-Cola. Oh yeah I'm obsessed. I actually did a decent job cutting back over the summer, but now that school is back in full swing, it's a soda a day for me! I've been to the world of Coca-Cola and I have Coca-Cola pajamas.

2. CHOCOLATE - Along with my ice cold can of Coca-Cola, I must have chocolate. The only downside is that since we are a peanut free school, I must satisfy this craving at home. (Since my favorite 25 candy bars all have nuts in them.) Except for twix. I was shocked when I found out twix were nut free. 

3. BOOKS - If I ever have a mid-life crises, my new career would be a librarian. I probably have around 400 books in my personal library. AND that's only counting my picture books. If you include my boxed up chapter books in storage, there's even more!!!!

4. LOCKER CRATES - These are a must for storing all my wonderful books in our classroom library. I only have one small bookshelf for our library. The crates are perfect for lining up against a wall. They give my students a large selection of books and keep them sorted. 

5. POST-ITS - Okay, maybe this one should have been number 1 on my list. I love post its. The dollar places I shop at keep an ever changing stock of colors, shapes, sizes, and awesome designs. I just can't pass them up. I have an entire stack of them in my drawer.

6. LABELS - My classroom HAS to be organized. It's the only thing that keeps me sane with all the other organized chaos that happens in the classroom. EVERYTHING (almost) in my room has a label. I even labeled the items on MY teaching shelf. (I might need an intervention.)

7. GIMP - Isn't my new blog header awesome? (If I may say so myself . . . ) I designed it using GIMP. It's kind of like photoshop, but free. The learning curve is a little high, but you can do so much with it.

8. CLIP-ART - This is a new must have for me. I've caught the clip-art bug. I love KPM Doodles. I have quite a few of her clip-art sets. I opened up my TPT store just to pay for my clip-art obsession. :)

9. COLORED PENS - I love colored pens. You should see my lesson plans. I think I have an unspoken three color minimum. 

10. SKITTLES - I'm not a huge fan of skittles, but my kiddos go bonkers over them! They are great for bribing rewarding my students who are following directions. (They don't melt in little hands like m&m's) I reach for my skittle jar and it's amazing how fast all the little bodies sit down on the carpet. :)

That's it for today. Head back to Blog Hoppin for more Monday Must-Haves. Check back tomorrow for my tech tip. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Parent & Welcome Bulletin Board

I've never really minded bulletin boards, but for some reason this year I kept putting them off. I think it was because I didn't really have a vision. Once I finally figured out what I wanted to do they were done in no time! 

Our school uses some Reggio philosophies. One of them being that we try to keep everything looking very natural. Because of this, we do not put backgrounds on our bulletin boards. Sometimes it can be a challenge to create an engaging board without going overboard. But I'm relieved to say my main boards are finished! (which considering school starts tomorrow, is probably a very good thing)

Here is my welcome board. (of course I found this idea on pinterest! You can see my original inspiration here.)

Here is the parent communication board. 

I had some left over space on the right side of my parent communication board. This space will normally be filled with student work, but I put some pictures up to fill the space for now. 

Now on to bed, 6am will be here in about 8 hours. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Where Are We Sign - FREEBIE!!

Tomorrow is my first "official" day back in the classroom. (I've been working in my classroom at least every other day for the last two weeks.) I have three more days to finish up the last couple (50 or so) things on my to do list, and the kiddos start on Thursday! Woohoo! I love the new year. It's such a great feeling to start fresh and make changes from the year before. AND meet a whole new group of wonderful students. 

SO . . . I have a freebie! 

Hop on over to my TPT store and download your Where Are We sign for free! And while your at it, feel free to grab my (just designed yesterday) button to add to your blog! Comments are also appreciated. 

Sending you wonderful back to school wishes!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School TPT Sale!

Pre-K -

In honor of back to school, TPT is having a 10% off sale! I am also participating in this sale by adding 20% off my store. That's a total of 30% off! So head on over and grab my I Love My Shoes book for 30% off. The book goes great with Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin. You can read about the book here. 

I'm also hoping to have a couple new projects uploaded in time for the sale! To find more stores having TPT sales, head on over to Blog Hoppin'

Happy Shopping! 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Super Friends Book

The start of the school year is the start of so many beginnings! As a preschool teacher, I am my students first teacher. This is a very special and crucial time in their lives. I'm laying a foundation that will continue to be built upon for the rest of their school years (and lives! How awesome is that!!!). I will be teaching them to love books, recognize numbers, count to 30, how to make patterns, and on and on. But just as (if not more) important then these academic skills are social skills. I'm teaching my students HOW to be in school, HOW to be a friend, HOW to function in a group, and so much more! In order for the academic skills to be taught, a strong "how to" of social skills need to be taught first. 

Learning how to be a friend is perhaps the largest task my students have in front of them (especially at the beginning of the year). This is why it is the first unit I teach. Each year I've taught, I've made this unit a little bit stronger. This year, I'm leaving the boring "How to be a Nice Friend" unit behind and using the world of super heroes and super powers to teach my students about being a friend (a SUPER friend)! I feel this fun and enticing parallel will help my students remember the "secrets" of being a good friend AND be a great resource to refer to throughout the rest of the year. 

The book talks about the "secrets" to being a super friend. The secrets are; stop when you notice a problem, think through your super powers for a solution, and act on your thinking. 
1. stop 
2. think
3. act

The super powers presented in the book are; use nice words, share, walk away, get a teacher. 
I also made a poster to hang on our wall for easy reference. One poster is for the secrets, and the other is for super powers. 

I can't wait to introduce this theme! Now when a student comes to me with a problem, we can walk through the steps of a super friend. The goal is to help them become independent in their problem solving. 

If your friend unit needs some SUPER help, hop on over to my tpt store and download your own copy for only $3.00. I have to fund my clip-art addiction somehow. ;)

Clipart by Scrappin Doodles.

YOUR friend,