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Monday, April 30, 2012

Harold's Purple Crayon

 As a part of our art unit, we talked about line as an element of art. To introduce line,  I read the classic book, Harold's Purple Crayon.  I love the idea that Harold can go anywhere that his imagination (and purple crayon) take him.  After reading the story I gave each child a purple crayon and asked them what they would draw if they had a magic purple crayon that would take them to whatever they drew.  I loved seeing their pictures of the beach, a field of flowers, outer space, a Phillies game and home to Mommy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


            I was volunteering in a kindergarten class last week and a child I was helping was having trouble writing his numbers.  I found myself saying, "remember, curve around and slide to the right."  He didn't remember because he didn't know Dr. Jean's number song ?!?! I was so surprised because I can't imagine teaching without her.  Without question, she is the person who has most influenced my teaching.  Each and every day we sing at least 2 of her songs.  When my students get to pick a song, they always choose Tooty-ta.  I teach reading by routinely referring to what "good readers do."  When I taught in Chester, the students choreographed the greatest dance to "The Tools of Good Readers."
            In addition to music, there are so many other ideas that I routinely use that came from Dr. Jean.  My children (in both Chester and Swarthmore)  love Oreo Words.  I learned about them (and "kiss your brain," and letter vests, and pinching e, and sight word cheers, and....the list goes on and on) at a Dr. Jean conference I attended in South Carolina. (My daughter was in college down about a perfect weekend - Kiera and Dr. Jean!)
         I know that most people who read blogs know about Dr. Jean... I guess I just wanted to send her an open love letter to thank her for all she does for teachers.   Dr. Jean, you're the best!!
Kids playing with Oreo Words during Free Play!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

22 Reasons I Love My Class

             I have this list on my refrigerator door and it makes me happy every time I see it. I gave it to my class on Valentine's Day (in addition to adorable dinosaur valentines I found on Pinterest).  I've also done something like this at the end of the year.  Another version that I did with my own children was a 70th Birthday Present: "70 Reasons We Love MumMum."  Everyone likes to know that they are loved (and why).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mouse Paint

 We just began an Art Unit in my class.  The first book that I read was Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. In the book, three little white mice play in 3 jars of paint and then find that they have made new colors.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day

On Friday we read The Earth Book by Todd Parr. We then generated the above list of ways we could help take care of the earth.  I did not add "put your underwear in the freezer" although that was clearly the kids favorite part of the book.  I'm just not sure how that saves the environment (instead of air conditioning maybe?) Several of my kiddos were going to try it, so I'll have a report tomorrow :) My poster was inspired by one I found on Pinterest that was made by Terri at A Cupcake for the Teacher. (such cute ideas on that blog!)   Happy Earth Day all!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Very Grouchy Ladybug

These Very Grouchy Ladybugs were made with egg cartons, wire, pom poms, and goggly eyes.  The spots were painted with q-tips.  The aphids are tiny pom poms.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Very Busy Spider

These Very Busy Spiders are so cute (and they are a really quick little project).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

These caterpillars were made with painted egg cartons.  The features were cut out from paper the kids had painted.
My favorite parts of this bulletin board are the leaves.  They were made by dipping paper in melted crayon.  The  crayons were melted on a piece of foil on a warming tray.  I always love the way the colors blend in melted crayon projects.  The kids used a paper punch to make the holes where the caterpillars ate the leaves (some were hungrier than other :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day....

Last night my car (that was locked and in my driveway) was broken into. As the result of a series of weird events, I had accidentally left my laptop in the car. I am so bummed because all of the documents that I have created during the last 4 years (and my photos) are gone.  I am looking for ways to automatically save my work so this can't happen again.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Very Lonely Firefly

 Our preschool is set up so that each day small groups of kids from my class go across the hall to science.  During some units, the science curriculum corresponds with what we are doing in my class and other times they are learning about something completely different.  During our school-wide literature unit (when I did Fairy Tales), the science teachers did a wonderful Eric Carle unit.  The children learned about the different animals in Carle's books and then created cool 3-D animals and beautiful backgrounds.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Show Off Your Classroom Linky Party

I am joining Ms. Fultz's Show Off Your Classroom Linky Party.  I love my big classroom.  

This is where we gather each morning.  I like that everything is at the kids' eye level. During free play this is the rug where the kids can play with blocks.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Earth Day - What a Wonderful World

As part of our Earth Day celebration, my class listens to Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World. I LOVE this song.  After we listen to the music (laying on our backs with our eyes closed) at least 2  times, we generate a list of pictures we could draw to illustrate the song.  I then ask for volunteers for each idea.  This year, I printed the lyrics right on watercolor paper.  I will give each child one page and have them illustrate their page with crayons. They will then use diluted watercolors to paint over the whole page.  It really does make a beautiful book.  Some years I have put a pocket page on the back of our book for a cd of the song.  I then send the book home each night with a different child.
This is the google doc of this year's book: What a Wonderful World Book.  If you have trouble uploading it, please email me and I will send you the word document.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Frog and Toad Fun

Frog's home 

My colleague just completed a fun Frog and Toad Unit in her Pre-K 4 class.  What I love about the unit is that there were lots of opportunities for retelling the Frog and Toad stories with various fun props (including both frog and toad cardboard homes).
That's Frog and Toad in a tree (that the kids made by sponge painting).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Writing Class Letters

Get Well Card with Post-it note signatures

I think that letter writing is an important skill.  Accordingly, we write lots of thank you notes and get well cards (particularly when I taught kindergarten).  Usually, we write a card as a class.  First we generate a list of of things we could mention.  For example, if it is a thank you note after a field trip, the list might include what we liked best or what we learned.  Next, I write the letter drawing attention to the writing conventions I'm using. I put the letter inside a folded piece of poster board.  I then give each child a post it note or a small piece of paper and have them sign their name and draw a small picture of their favorite part of the trip (or sometimes a picture of themselves).  I can then stick the signatures to the bottom of the letter.  The advantage is there are no giant signatures and mistakes are easy to correct (otherwise those perfectionist can drive you crazy).

The picture above is of a Get Well card we recently made for our Science teacher.  Each child made one flower for the front.  They then dictated specific advice about how she should take care of herself and signed their own star.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Preschool Lesson Plans wrote about me (actually my lesson :)

I was just looking at Pinterest and saw a picture that I knew I had taken but that I had not pinned.  It turns out that the Preschool Lesson Plans website has written about my "I like mud" activity.  So cool ... because they always have great ideas on that site!  I am doing the mud activity with my Pre-k'ers this week.  The original post was here.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Teaching Empathy Linky Party


        Maria Dismondy, the author of  Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun and Pink Tiara Cookies, has started a linky party titled "Make a Difference Monday" on her blog. On the first Monday of every month, Maria will focus on a different character trait. This month's trait is empathy. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another's place and recognize that they have feelings just like you.
       I have always tried to have my class participate in service projects where the children will be able to feel empathy for those that they are helping.  In December, we did daily Random Acts of Kindness. When I introduced the day we were going to bring in a toy or book from home to give away to a school in the low income district where I volunteer, we talked about how lucky we are.  I explained that last year I worked in a school where the children did not have as much money as we do. I also told them that many of my kindergartners shared a bed with their brothers and sisters.  I explained that I sent home a book each night for their mom or dad to read to them because many of the children didn't have books at home.  But more importantly, I told my class that the kids in last year's class were just like them in other ways. I told them how much they loved when I played freeze tag with them and how much they loved doing OREO words.  I think that it is much easier to be empathetic when we recognize the common experiences that we share with others.

The kids in Chester love to play Freeze Tag

The kids in Swarthmore love to play freeze tag

Friday, April 6, 2012

People Alphabet

        What fun we had making a class alphabet book (using our class for the alphabet :)  The kids loved figuring how many kids each letter would need and how to hold their bodies to make each letter. I usually print out the photographs and cut out the letters (some are hard to recognize otherwise). I then glue them on blue paper and laminate the pages. I've also used the letters to decorate my classroom door.  I think it would be really cute to make a name plate for my door with these letters...maybe next year.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Like Mud - Adjective Activity

One of my favorite spring time activities is to make mud with my kinders.  We start by talking about the expression April Showers Bring May Flowers.  I then tell them we are going to make a bulletin board titled "April Showers Bring...Mud!"  After talking about how mud is made we make our own mud with dirt and water in a big bin in the center of each table.  We then brainstorm adjectives to describe the mud (ie. smooshy, dirty, yucky, brown, fun...) We then take turns adding the adjectives to our I Like Mud poem that is on a pocket chart. Finally, we go to our seats and finish our own "I Like Mud" poems and add a picture of us playing in mud.  The poem template is here: I like mud.pdf The kids pictures are often influenced by the photo that is on my desk of my four children playing in mud when they were little (one of my very favorite pictures :)

Finally in First: Giveaway #4 Spring Break Countdown

 Finally in First, a blog with LOTS of great ideas, including the adorable 100 year old portraits, is having 5 days of giveaways.  Check it out!
Finally in First: Giveaway #4 Spring Break Countdown

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


The rug where we meet each morning for circle time.

I love the letters that I made to run across the front of the area where we have circle time each day.  I made large die cut letters and then added something that began with each letter.  I  glued the letters to a piece of folded bulletin board paper.  They have held up really well.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fairy Dust Teaching's Safe Pocket System

I am so excited to have just bought this Safe Pocket System from Sally at Fairy Dust Teaching. When I started teaching Kindergarten 5 years ago in a very difficult district, I resisted any Red, Yellow, Green card sort of behavior management system. I didn't like how negative it was and I didn't like the idea that there were prescribed results for red cards (no recess, call home,etc) because I thought that they would not necessarily be responsive to an individual child's behavior or circumstance. I seldom called parents because I knew the child would be beaten (or there would be no response) and I wasn't comfortable with either response. I therefore did without a formal system but tried to respond to individual behavior.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Jack and the Beanstalk Math

After reading Jack and the Beanstalk, we counted A LOT of beans. First, as a class, we counted how many beans fit in the giants hand (I just drew a large handprint and made copies of it).  After covering the hand with beans, we put the beans in piles of 10 and then counted by 10s. Then, at the project table, I traced each child's hand and then they glued  beans inside their hand and then counted how many beans they had used. Next year I will probably just use the beans to measure "how many beans tall"  the hand is.