Monday, November 17, 2014

Pumpkin Day

Can I show you a fun day from a couple of weeks ago?  I know, I know, we're supposed to be all about Thanksgiving right now, but we celebrated a fun Pumpkin Day and it's too fun not to share.  Put it in your pocket for next year!

Last year we were told there just wasn't going to be any money for field trips.  So, we decided to create a few fun afternoons that traveled to our 6 Kindergarten classrooms instead.  Two weeks ago we enjoyed a Pumpkin Day that is now taking the place of our field trip to the Pumpkin Patch.  (No, it's not the same. :()

Pumpkin Day wraps up our 5 Senses Unit and kicks off a study of pumpkins.  Each classroom represents a sense with a special pumpkin activity.

For our sense of taste we enjoy making and tasting pumpkin pie in a bag.

To reinforce our sense of smell, we pass around cute little Target Dollar Spot jack-o-lanterns with an essential oil on a cotton ball.  The students then guess the smell, determine if they like it or not, and find out what it was.  We also complete a recording sheet.

We use Linda Williams' The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything for our sense of hearing station. It's a classic story of an old woman walking through the woods.  She encounters two shoes, a pair of pants, a shirt, gloves, hat, and scary pumpkin head all which have a sound that goes with them. We found a fun youtube video that sings the story (you can find it here). Be careful, the song will get stuck in your head! 
I wish I could say our follow-up idea was my idea, but it's not.  We then retell the story using this adorable sequencing puzzle from I Can Teach My Child

I also love Making Learning Fun's retelling pieces - so cute!

We make some pretty goofy glasses for our sense of sight and play I-Spy.

And, finally, what's touch without feeling those slimy pumpkin guts and counting out seeds in groups of 10?

It ends up being a really simple afternoon and a lot of fun.  We get all of our supplies by sharing a google document with our parents and ask for 10 volunteers - two for each classroom.  The parents then run the centers and we rotate to each one with our class and use our P.E. times as the sixth center.  It works out to be a great way to spend a crazy Friday after Halloween! 

Hey, if you can't beat 'em...

I hope you'll put some ideas away for the stealing for next year.  If you'd like the direction pages, recording sheets (minus the "sound" retelling sheet - that's not mine to give away!), pie recipe, and sample google doc, hop on over to my TpT store.  I'll leave it up there for free until the end of the month and then will probably list it for a couple of dollars.

And now...I'm off to cut out Native American costumes!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Highlighters and Powerpoint

This Tuesday is an uber simple tip.

Have you ever noticed that whenever you do a whole-group emergent reader activity, send those readers off to read, they never quite end at the same time, no matter how heterogeneous you make the groups?

And of course, you told them what to do next, but they don't remember and come charging up to you, while you are reading patiently with Johnny Yay-Hoo who can't be trusted to go off and read with a peer, that is unless you want him emerging from Dramatic Play wearing a cowboy hat, high-heels, and a smirk that tells you he put the baby in the microwave, again.

Ahh, the beauty of powerpoint, or smartboards if you're lucky enough to have one.

After reading with a friend, my little friends are to go to their seat and highlight 3-4 words in those emergent readers.  How do they know which ones and which colors?


I have a single slide powerpoint that I can easily change to match the words of the week.  They just check the slide and highlight away.

Disclaimer:  I feel like I should explain that we don't do a whole lot of whole-group emergent readers, obviously because that wouldn't be very differentiated.  But sometimes, I do do them to introduce the word of the week.  When I do use them, I find I write a lot of my own, since it's easier than finding one with my word.  I put what I've made so far up on TpT for $1 each, if you're interested. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Morning Music

Happy Tuesday!

This Tuesday Tip is a fun one.  It was born out of a need to hurry up those slowpokes who take for-ev-er to get ready in the morning.  It's adapted from my friend Marissa's solution to kiddos who wouldn't clean up after freeplay one year.

It's cleverly called "Morning Music" because it's music I play first thing in the morning.

It's nothing more than a timed playlist or CD that you hit play on as soon as your sweeties skip through the door.  My kids know that they have to be finished putting their things away and be on the carpet with their Calendar Binder by the time the music is over.

And how do I speed them along?  I'm glad you asked!

The first song or two are usually jazzy, "I'm glad you're here"/seasonal songs.  The next two review concepts, such as word family songs, counting songs, or rhyming songs.  And the grand finale?  It's a beloved movement song.  Nothing gets those pokey puppies moving quicker than the fear of missing out on rockin' out to the Tooty Ta!

Here's a sample playlist for August/September:
Hello, How Are You?  by Dr. Jean
School is Cool by Shari Sloan
Act Out the Alphabet by Jack Hartmann
The Rules Rap by Dr. Jean

I switch them up each month and have 2-3 different playlists each month.  It keeps things fresh, yet still lets the kids know what to expect.  And it's nice to use all that great kids' music!

Tooty ta-ta,

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Tip Guest Post: Mrs. Bruhn and A Better Way to Table Label

Just like in my teaching, I sometimes get sick of hearing my own voice.  I thought that I'd ask some of my favorite teachers to be guest contributors on my Tuesday Tips.  Here's a great idea from my good friend and teacher-neighbor, Mrs. Bruhn.

 Hello!  My name is Mrs. Bruhn and I’m so very lucky that I get to teach next door to the fabulous Mrs. Wettersten!  I’m always popping over to see what suggestions or ideas I can steal, I mean borrow from her.   I was also very honored when she asked me to be a guest blogger.  Me?  Really?  Wow!  So, now that I’ve survived my first week back with my new kindergarten friends and the highest humidity (with no AC at school) of the summer, I’m happy to share a Tuesday Tip with you.  

 It involves labeling your tables.  Now, I’m not talking about the student nameplates, but instead calling a certain table to complete a task.  For example, "Table One, would you please line up at the door?(And because we have new kinder friends, I would also need to ask table one to go back and push in their chairs…but that’s a totally different post.)   In the past, I have written the words on a cutout and covered it with contact paper to keep it safely on the table.  The problem was that it just wasn’t convenient to change.   I would end up needing to change the words, but not having the time to make a new cutout, find contact paper, cut the contact paper, chisel the old contact paper off the table, and finally, make the switch.   

This year I decided while sliding the student’s nameplates into the clear sleeves (which are so worthwhile), why in the world didn’t I just add one extra nameplate and sleeve to the head of the table?  That is just what I did.  I laminated the blank nameplate, added an extra clear sleeve to the head of the table, used my vis-à-vis to add “1” (because we have to start somewhere, right?) and slid it in.  Now, I can easily slide it out, wipe it off, and later add color words and sight words into the mix.  What are you waiting for?  Give it a try!

~Mrs. Bruhn

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Shopping Lists

You are never going to believe it.  This Tuesday Tip I came up with all on my own!

It's a novel idea called, "Making a Shopping List."

You're impressed, aren't you? :)

But, hear me out.  Before I got married, I may have spent money on Kindergarten with reckless abandon.  But after I got married, a little somebody would occasionally take objection to all that Kinder-cash flying out of our savings account.

So, I decided to ask for help from my classroom parents, who usually are happy to help.  Throughout the year, I keep track of items that I'm purchasing that could just as easily be purchased by a parent - gum for the green gum/grape gum taste test, Cool-whip for pumpkin pie in a bag, beads for the Native American necklaces, etc.  It all gets saved in a word document that looks like this.

At my beginning of the year parent meeting, I put out the lists, one for each month, and invite them to sign up to help purchase a few things.  Then, when the month rolls around, I put a reminder of who's bringing what in a newsletter, plus what didn't get signed up for.  The parents send in the items by the first Friday and I have what I need for the month.

Yes, you still end up purchasing some odds and ends.  And yes, you have to be organized, but it's easy to just add to the list as you go throughout the year. But it also means my honey has a little extra money in his pocket to take me out to dinner.  Yes!

Enjoy saving,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let's Talk Books: A Homemade Version

Hi, hi, hi!  Are you feeling as panic-y and flustered as I am?  Ahh!  The Kindergarteners are coming, the Kindergartners are coming!

In fact, I was so flustered, I did this:

Good thing my friend Carissa pointed it out.  That would have been embarrassing! :)

Anyway, this is a super-short post so we can get crackin' at school.

And it doesn't have anything to do with school, but my peanut and I are enjoying it and I thought you might find it interesting for a family member or baby shower gift.

For some reason, when you have a baby, Shutterfly sends you a million coupons for free photo books.  So I found a fun way to take advantage of their offer.

Our family is all at least 2 hours away from us, but they do come to visit quite a bit.  I wanted to be sure that Logan would at least have some sort of familiarity with all of them, so I made an easy reader.  Each page looks a little something like this:

 Each page is a picture of him with the family member.  I included both sets of his grandparents, our siblings and their spouse, my nephew, and our grandparents who are still living.  He loves it right now and I think he'll enjoy it even more when he becomes verbal.
I'm excited to link up and learn about some great new teaching books at Mrs. Jump's Class.

Now, back to work!

Tuesday Tip: Keeping Track of Technology Cords

Happy Tuesday!  I hope you came back for the simplest, yet biggest time saver of a Tuesday Tip.  It comes from my friend Lynne, and I think I've mentioned it before.  When you finally get your technology set back up - your smartboard, your document camera, your printer, your scanner, your EVERYTHING, take a picture of where the cords connect.  Now you won't have to figure out next year - just check the picture!

Now, go take that picture!

I'm serious...did you take it?

Happy Classroom Setting,