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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Count and See

Last week I read the book Count and See by Tana Hoban to my little ones.  It is a very simple book that uses only black and white photos and numbers.  I have wanted to make a similar class book since I first saw Tana's book.  On Friday, we went out to our playground and then walked around the college campus where our school is located.  There was LOTS of counting as the kids pointed out things I could take pictures of for our book. I used my iphone to take the pictures and then used the free iphone  app A Beautiful Mess to make the photos black and white and to add numerals and text to the photos.  It was incredibly easy. I can't wait to share the resulting book with the kids.  I love it.  Here are a few pages:

I think we may have to share this book with the younger classes at our school.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Parenting Philosophy in a Picture Book

        This week I read a book to my kiddos that I wrote as a class requirement when I was getting my Masters in Elementary Education.  My own kids were still in Elementary and early Middle School and the requirement was to write, illustrate and bind a children's book.  Since I am not much of an illustrator, I decided to use photographs.  Here is the book:

        When I read the book to kids we always talk about what they will let their kids do when they grow up.  Even my little ones understand the power that they will have and some get great joy from suggesting that they will let their kids stay up late or eat candy or play computer games.
        What I love about the book is that it actually pretty much summarizes my parenting philosophy.  With the exception of the line about not making my kids keep doing things they don't like (I have been known to say, "you owe it to your team to finish the season") I really do think that most of the sentiments are a good way to raise a child.
        For example, I think that children should be allowed to decide if they are going to wear their coat outside.  I always make my students bring their jackets outside but I let them take them off and put them on the bench if they don't want to wear them.  Sure I've seen kids take off their coats just because a friend doesn't wear a coat.  I've seen kids look cold.  I've also seen kids realize that they wanted to wear a coat even though their friend isn't wearing one.  I've never seen a kid freeze to death (well except my own coatless son who would almost freeze in the morning because his elementary teachers made him wear a coat, if he had one, at afternoon recess when it was much too hot for him).  Allowing a child to decide whether to wear his or her coat is a simple way to give them control of a decision that matters to them.  The downside risk is nothing (they will put on an available coat when they are really cold ;).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thanks to my Blogging Buddies for these Great Ideas ...

     Last week was finally our first week of school. It was great!! I was thinking about posting some of the cool things we did and realized that almost all of the things I wanted to share came from ideas I found on other teachers' wonderful blogs.  So this post is really a thank you note to those teachers for being so generous and sharing their amazing ideas. Here goes...
     On Talk Like a Pirate Day, we had a wonderful Pirate Letter Hunt that  Sandi from Rubberboots and Elf Shoes created.  The kids had a so much fun running around, helping each other, and marking off the letters they found.  As one student said, "It's like every letter is a treasure!" Now that's music to a teacher's ears.:)
     I used Sandi's answer sheet and gave each child a clip board and a pencil  The Kindergarten class taped Amanda's free Shiver Me Letters around the playground. It was simple, fun and as Sandi pointed out, "the kids didn't even know they were learning."
Marking off letters (and talking about the alphabet!)

There was lots of movement...

and collaboration!

Sandi was also the inspiration for my Chicka Chicka Boom Sensory Box.  I am committed to creating lots of different Sensory Boxes this year and I'm off to a great start.
The box included colored rice and pasta letters. plastic and wooden magnetic letters,  pompoms, dollar store coconuts and  a palm tree water bottle, rakes and brightly colored detergent caps for scooping and collecting.
The kids LOVED it!
        We also created a beautiful puzzle that was inspired by Tammy at Forever in First.  I thought her idea of a puzzle was a great way to begin talking about how our class was special because we are all part of the class. I began by going online and finding a universal puzzle piece on the Community Puzzle website.
I enlarged the piece and then made copies on card stock.  I had to make some modifications so that the edges of the puzzle would be straight.  I saw Tammy's idea before I went to bed and was able to get all the pieces copied and cut out before school the next morning.  
some of my traced pieces
Tammy had each child draw a picture on his or her puzzle piece.  I was worried that the pieces would be too small for a full portrait by my little ones so after numbering the back, I drew a chin on each piece.

The kids then did a wonderful job of making the piece their own.  I LOVE the portraits and how we all fit together!

I drew a pencil line an inch from the right side and the top of a piece of poster board so that I could call each child up to add his or her piece to the puzzle.  I think it would have worked well but I ended up putting the puzzle together myself because we ran out of time.  I also ended up tracing around each piece with a colored marker (which added a little color to the edge of each piece) so it was clear it was a puzzle (I was afraid we might fit together a little too well and the puzzle effect would be lost:)

       In addition to Sandi and Tammy's ideas we also played with magic play dough.  I'm not sure where I first saw this idea but I've done it every year on the first day of school.
The homemade play dough is turning orange! (perhaps helped by the squirt of food coloring put into a finger-poke hole in each ball of play dough:) We all put our magic play dough together to make our first batch of play dough for the classroom.
So far the magic play dough has always changed color and has always correctly predicted an exciting and fun year.  I'm sure this year will be no different thanks, in part, to all my blogging buddies.  Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas!