Sunday, July 29, 2012

DYI Crate Seats

Those milk crate seats I have seen all over the blog world and Pinterest, really had my attention.

So I went to Target this week, as the crates were on sale $3 each. 
 I liked them because they had the lip you need to have the wood sit just inside the top.  
We will be using them for storage.

Home Depot had my buy of the month!  I made four seats, so I need a good size piece of plywood.  The pieces I looked at were nearly $7 a piece and I could only get one required size... so that seemed silly.  My helper was amazing and we found a HUGE piece for $10.  There was a lot of waste, which he said they sell for scrap (I certainly had no other need.)  When we were done, he noticed there was a piece in the scrap bin we could have used... so I got the scrap price!  Fifty cents each!  Yeah!  $1.06 total expense.

My husband helped me staple gun the fabric. It helps to have another pair of hands. 
For detail on how to make them, see Classroom DIY.  Nicole has very easy to follow directions.
I ended up using an old flat sheet from my son.
Frankly, it was an accident (as I had purchased fabric and made a mistake...) and it has finalized my agony over a theme for the year.  Each seat has the patter in just a slightly different arrangement.  

"Reach for the moon..."  Love it!

I highly recommend you make these.  Simple really.  Love the practical part - storage!

The crates are rectangular - not square. They don't look the same size in the picture but they are!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Build teamwork with fun experiment

Years ago I came across this experiment to try at the start of the year in Kindergarten. I have used it to build a team-working philosophy.  Every time it fosters such fun and a memory none of the students will forget!  It is a great anchor event that you can refer to all year. 

You will need:
  • Iodized salt
  • Vinegar (regular or apple cider)
  • Old dull pennies (More than enough with one for each student)

I begin the lesson by gathering the class together on the carpet. I explain that I was looking to give them each a "lucky" penny as a small token for their first week of school.

"I knew I had put a bunch of them tucked away in a special container...  Can you believe how disappointed I was when I opened it  and found this..."

Then I put them out on the floor.

"They were really shiny and I was sure you would love them. But look!"

We look and explore... Next I tell them I that I remembered on old recipe with ingredients listed above. Sadly I am not sure how to do it. "Let's see what we can do..."

So we go back to our tables and I pass out the pennies and we try the salt first. I give each child a small bowl and I sprinkle some salt on the pennies. We all agree that we should try scrubbing. And of course, that doesn't work.



 This leads to the idea of trying the vinegar. So I give them a new bowl. We wipe of the penny and put it in the bowl with a little vinegar. You really do not need much. Just enough to cover the penny.

Repeat the same procedure... rub, rub, rub. Nothing changes. (Some will complain about the smell. So I use the apple cider. It helps a little.)


Inevitably, someone will suggest  "putting the salt and vinegar together."   Let the magic begin.

Have the students pour the salt from the first bowl on top of the penny in the bowl with the vinegar. As soon as the salt hits the penny in the bowl with the vinegar, the penny changes right before your very eyes. Seriously, all you need to do is lightly swish the liquid around. That penny will really shine.
Check this out!  It works every time!

So here it the opportunity to explain that this experiment is like our classroom.
 I as the teacher cannot do the work all by myself. 
The students cannot do it all on their own.
But, together, the possibilities are endless.
I then have children play with the penny, tracing, rubbing... and finally we tape it on the paper for them to take home.
Hope you try it.
P.S. You can even offer some cider and vinegare potato chips as a snack!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Special Award

Wow, what a surprise to come home today from working at day camp, to find a message from
Eileen, at a terrific blog -Second Grade Sunshine!  (Thank you, Eileen!)

The best part is that "Liebster" is a German word, meaning many things, including
sweetest, nicest, cutest, and dearest.
My dearest friend, Isabella will love this! Ya?

Seems this award is dedicated to bloggers with less than 200 followers.

Well, it is time spread some abundant sunshine on others.

Here are 5 blogs you will be sure to enjoy.

First, you should check out Kindergarten Kidlets.  It is bright and cheerful with fun ideas.

Next, is Crystal at Strive to Sparkle  You have love the name!

Third, is a blog with lots of creative ideas Mrs. Thigpens Kindergarten

Then you should check out Juggling with Kids for lots of great ideas.

And lastly, there is Nicole at Lanier Lions so fun!

It was fun selecting these blogs for you!

Spread the sunshine!

Sara, Auf Wiedersehen!  (just couldn't resist)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Must have picture books

I have been a little hesitant about "linky parties." 
But, today I found one about picture books.
I just cannot resist that.

How hard can it be for me to share 5 of my favorite picture books?
So, here it goes. (There could be so many more!)

Check out the five I am recommending.   Then head on over to The Teacher's Wife and find more!

This is a great play on the Three Little Bears.  My class always hollers "Again!"
Great play in the situation and role reversal.  Must read!

Great wordless book.  One of my all time favorite wordless books.
There is great illustration and my favorite page includes pancakes with wings!
Can be a good book on tape done by your class.
Then put it in your listening library!

Great play on the "catching" a cold.  
Can it be done with a baseball mitt, a net...
Check it out!

One of my favorites to read aloud.
You can have the students count the baby ducks in each page,
follow the butterfly,
and you can change your voice for each "friend" mother duck asks for help,
ie, the beaver with a stick in its mouth (read with my finger in my mouth like a stick...)
or the underwater conversation...
The class loves to imitate it when the read it on their own.

Cannot say enough about this book.
Terrific book that calls to body language,
making friends,
and seeking acceptance.
Have read it the first day for 12 years!
They always seek it out for independent reading...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

1st day "Sticker Swap"

This fall I will be going back to Kindergarten.  I started teaching there and never imagined doing anything else.  I love them!  Kindergarten students are so eager to learn and to please.  Trust me, I know that they are a lot of work, but I am ready!  I have been teaching 2nd grade for the past 5 years and I love them, too.

One of the activities I look forward to doing again involves "swapping stickers."  Each student shares their name sticker with each other.   Don't all 5 year olds, love stickers?

Here is what you need:
  • Laminated cardstock -one for each student
  • Mailing label "stickers" for each student with only their name on it.  Have an amount equal to the number of students in the class.

Create a paper on "Word" that reads:

Friends I made in my class today!

Have that up at the top of the paper and copy it onto cardstock. Laminate the papers.  Write the number of the students in the bottom corner.  That way the students can count the names... to make sure they have one from everyone.

Next, make stickers for each student with only their names on each sticker.  I usually did their first names only and the first initial of the last names for the repeats.  (One year I had 3 Jacks!)  You can get as creative with the font... as you like.  You can do each student a different color, different font... lots of possibilities here.

Then let the fun begin!  Have them share their stickers.

And now you will have a great paper for the students to take home that they can share with their family...  They have a lot of new names to remember, and it is great to have them like that.  '

I make one, too.  It gets hung in the classroom.  We all like to see our names...

Such a simple activity, but so fun and meaningful!



Saturday, July 7, 2012

In Pictures and In Words

I usually spend June and July reading only for pleasure.  I love that so and spend very little time doing it during the year...  But I found this book at a few blogs, and Melissa at Joyful Learning in KC
decided to do a book study, so I was in!

What a great book.  I highly recommend it and suggest you head over to her blog (click above) to get motivated. 

I am moving back to Kindergarten from 2nd grade this fall.  So I was intrigued.  What a find!  Here are some of the simple things I will be doing!

  •  Adding pictures of the author and illustrator in each book (that does have that included.)
  • I will talk about the decisions writers and illustrators make in the books.  It sounds so simple but I just never thought about how that could help get the minds of the students to see themselves as making decisions just like the writers and illustrators we "study" in class.
  • Get my students illustrating right away at the beginning of the year in empty page books. (Honestly can't wait.)
  • Looking at all of my picture books in new ways!
  • Encourage my class to look at illustrations and see things like, perspective, background, close-ups, emotions, inside/outside, above/under, in new ways.
Here is a great book to think about and to talk about perspective with your class.  It is a wordless book and a Caldecott winner!  The author is Barbara Lehman.  It is one of those books that says so much with so little.  The boy finds a book and when he opens it, the page shows a page that shows a page... deeper and deeper you go.  It is great for talking about where we are: in this classroom, in the city of ..., in the state of..., in the country of ... and more!  Do check it out.

More about this book.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Simple tips that save lots of time!

I must admit that I love reading all the blogs out there!  Being out of school is a nice change.  I have actually read some books not related to school.  4 in the last 2 weeks!  Love that.  I try to read as much as I can now until August 1st.  Then it is back to mainly school related books...

Anyway, here are some tips I heard a while back.

Use a dry erase marker to "erase" permanent marker on laminated materials.

I have these great ice cream cones that I use for my birthdays...  There are 12 of them and I write the names of each student and their date on it...  I have used them for 3 years now.  A fellow teacher saw me struggling with the nail polish remover... and said, "Don't you know about the dry erase marker?"  and showed me how it works.  Simply, write over your printed permanent marker (any color works) and then erase with a dry paper towel, dry erase marker...  And there you have it.  Done.  So simple.  I am happy every time I do it! 

And my all time favorite!

Use a yellow (only yellow not green or pink) highlighter to save your final copies in centers.

Guess what!  If you use a yellow highlighter and write "Last copy" or draw a big happy face, or write "See me"  whatever you want on your final copy of a document in a center...  you will never run out or lose your original copy.  I have tried using "post its" or paper clipping a note... but that never works.  Trust me and I am sure you know it, too.  A student will not use the final copy that has yellow highlighter on it.  They will always let you know it is time for more copies!  And, the best part is that the yellow highlighter does not show up on the copies when you xerox it.  Smarter not harder!  Yeah!

So that's it for my tips for today!  Happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Year End Classroom book

I love to end the year with a special memento that the class will cherish, and so will I!  A few years ago I came across the book "The Important Book" by Margaret Wise Brown.

The Important Book

A fellow collegue introduced it to me.  It is a simple yet powerful book.  My favorite page is the one about the sky.  "The important thing about the sky is that is always there.  It is blue.... but the most important thing about the sky is that it is always there."

The pattern in the book is readily identified by the class.  So we get to talking about what exactly is the most important thing about each other.  I model my own writing for the class.

"The important thing about Mrs. B is that she LOVES teaching 2nd grade!  She has 2 children, Audrey and Alex and an amazing husband.  Mrs. B's favorite subjects are reading, math, writing, and science.  Some of her hobbies include walking, reading, sewing, spending time at the beach, being with her family, spending time with friends, and she just loves chocolate! Oh, she loves to collect hearts and giraffes.  But the most important thing about Mrs. B is that she LOVES teaching 2nd grade!"

I give each of the children a graphic organizer.  A simple chart with four columns:  My family,
My favorite subjects, My hobbies, Other important things.  On the back, they have to write a complete sentence about "The most important thing about me is...."

Here is a link to one you can use from "Read, Write, and Think." Check it out.  I have them add anything else they want, such as collections, places their families visits often...

The students need not work in complete sentences on the graph.  Bullet style is fine.  I just need to be able to read what they write.  We conference.  I may add a detail or two that I have come to know about them... and then I type them up.

The most important thing about ***** is that he loves going to restaurants with his mom and his sister. His favorite subjects in school are sports, music, computer, handwriting, extra recess, art, and fabulous Friday.  *****’s family includes 1 brother, 1 sister, 1 dad, 1 mom, 1 dog, 7 fish and 1 dog in Texas.  Outside of school he enjoys hockey, skate boarding, long boarding, street hockey, riding ATV’s, dirt bikes, going camping, having fun, being outside, and playing with his sister.  ***** is also an expert with the class pet frogs. But the most important thing about ***** is that he loves going to restaurants with his mom and his sister. 

Here the student draws/illustrates his favorite memory from the year.

Below, there are lines for them to write (those that can are welcome to do so in cursive- very big deal as they are ever so eager having completed learning all the letters...) about their favorite memory.

My favorite 2nd Grade memory is___________________.

 We are lucky enough to have a color copier.  So I color copy the final pages for each student and assemble them as books.  The cover reads:

"A Very Important Class"
"Insert a class picture"
This book belongs to:_________________

I add a photo collage with special photos from the year, and a summary of our final homework "A - Z Memories of 2nd Grade,"  and an "Autograph" page at the end of each book. 

Each student gets their own copy on the second to last day.  They love the entire process and really apply themselves.

Should you be interested in a full copy, or have any questions,  just email me at Kinderaffe@gmail.comI will get you a copy directly.