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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Encouraging Writing with a Secret PenPal

 When we returned to school after St. Patrick's Day, we found a note from a leprechaun name Patrick that had visited our classroom.  In addition to leaving us Magic Juice that turned teachers' feet green, Patrick left a magic notebook for each of the kids.  Patrick's note said that we could draw or write anything we wanted in our notebook and that Patrick would stop by to read our notebooks and leave us notes.  The kids were so excited to draw pictures and write notes to Patrick.
Norah originally drew a picture of a girl.  Patrick added shamrocks to the bottom of the dress and asked if Norah liked it.  Norah wrote "Yes" and then Patrick added more details.

The kids really enjoyed writing to Patrick.  I learned a few things right away.  After just one or two days, we realized that Patrick should have a special "mailbox" where we put our notebooks after we wrote in them.  After the initial novelty wore off, some days lots of people wrote to Patrick and other days he didn't have any notebooks to read (but he didn't want to check through 20 notebooks each day:).

We also added an ABC line so the kids could easily find their notebook (we have been having lots of fun working on putting things in alphabetical order.)
Next year I will remind them that books start on the first page.  Patrick spent a lot of time looking through notebooks for a page that might have been added in the middle. I think I will also give them a date stamp or put the date on our white board during calendar time (i.e. Today is 4-3-13).
At the end of the year, Patrick wrote a note to each of the children suggesting that they could write to him at the school and we would make sure he got the letter.  We've only been out of school for 3 days and he has already received a letter. Love it!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Moms Are Like Buttons...

Moms Are Like Buttons
They Hold Everything Together.

I saw the quote about buttons on Pinterest and decided to do a very simple button inspired Mother's Day Gift.  I cut out hearts from fun foam.  The kids glued on buttons and chose a pin or magnet for the back of the heart.  Inside the card they drew a picture of Mommy and wrote "I Love You!" and their name.  I also included the adorable survey about Mom that I found at The Crafting Chicks. I might laminate the surveys; their answers are so sweet.
Last year I posted several other cute and simple Mother's Day ideas here.
There are lots of other cute Mother's Day ideas at The Happy Teacher's Linky Party.

Our Farm Unit in Pictures

Last week we completed a School Wide Farm Unit. We had a lot of fun (although it did feel very rushed...there are just way too many things that I want to do!)  I haven't had time to blog regularly but I figured that I could at least post some pictures of the wonderful things we did.

Our Farm Sensory Bin.  I replaced our sand with green rice (I used vinegar and green food coloring to color the rice) and beans and lots of farm toys. I liked this better than other sensory bins I've done in plastic bins because it was so much bigger.  The kids loved it!

Old McDonald's Bulletin Board.  The kids really enjoyed making the animals for this bulletin board. The animals are similar to ones I did with TLC patterns.  I didn't follow anyones pattern but instead just cut lots of rectangles with the paper cutter. The kids then cut corners to make circles or ovals and used little dots of glue to put the pieces together.  The pattern for the pig is here.

Farm Market Baskets.  I found the idea for these cute baskets of vegetables and fruits on Kim's Blog Kinders by Kim.

I think I may have made them more complicated that they needed to be but the kids really did enjoy making them.  I started by drawing the templates for a potato, corn, strawberry, carrot and peas.  I then put the following text on the appropriate vegetable:
My carrot is a _______ that I can eat. (root)
My peas are ______ that I can eat. (seeds)
My strawberry is a _________ that I can eat. (flower)
 (I researched this, and indeed, the strawberry is part of the flower)
My potato is a _______ that I can eat. (root)
My corn is a _______ that I can eat. (seed)
I photocopied the vegetables onto 11x14 pieces of paper.  I then glued 3 sides to a piece of colored paper.  (I originally cut out the vegetable and then realized I didn't need to and I just quickly glued the fruit onto the colored paper).  The kids filled in what part of the vegetable we eat and sponge painted any 3 of the vegetables. If they chose the corn, they painted bubble wrap and then carefully turned ti over and pushed it onto the corn to print the corn kernals. 

After they dried, the kids cut out the vegetable or fruit and then stuffed it with fiber fill.  I stapled the top (with little green leaves).  The kids then wrote their name on this poem:
How does your garden grow?
With ________, _________ and 
__________ all in a row.
I originally planned to have them write the names of the vegetables but decided they would have trouble fitting the words on the lines.  Instead, they glued the proper word on the lines. Although these took quite a bit of prep work, I would probably do them again because they involved a lot of cutting, writing and following directions practice and the kids really enjoyed the painting, stuffing and the final product.

Planting a Pattern.  My class LOVES anything involving patterns.  Unfortunately, the patterns they have been creating recently have become so complicated, I was worried they were forgetting the important repetition feature of patterns.  I solved this when we did these bean patterns by having them roll a pattern first and then show me how they could do the pattern with beans.  They were very good at it. I found these adorable Planting Patterns at Froggy Friends Fun.

The Life Cycle of a Chicken.  The kids made these adorable models of the life cycle of a chicken in Science.

Acting Out Mrs. Wishy Washy. We had lots of fun acting out the story of Mrs. Wishy Washy.

Making Butter. We made delicious butter.  I put heavy cream and a little salt in 4 glass jars.  We then turned on the music and started to dance.  When I turned off the music we froze and then passed the jar to our neighbor so he or she could take a turn shaking.  It was lots of fun!  The music we danced to was
Jazz for Kids: Sing Clap Wiggle & Shake. What a perfect cd for a farm unit.  It included Ella Fitzgerald singing Old McDonald and Louis Jordan singing Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens.  It is impossible not to dance to this music.
Farm Garden.  The kids grew grass in science and then used it for play with little animals.  They really enjoy this too.
Vegetables Growing Underground.  I LOVE melted crayons.  These vegetable were "painted" in science with melted crayons  (pieces of butcher paper were dipped in crayons that were melted on a piece of foil on a hot tray).

Our Big Red Barn. Of course the kids favorite part of our farm unit was probably the big cardboard barn we made.  You can read more about it here.