Saturday, July 30, 2011

Crafty Cubbies

I finally finished the redo of the caddies for supplies on the kids' tables. They looked really rough before and they look much better now and fit in with my Eric Carle theme. This is what they looked like to begin with. The kids had colored all over them and drawn on them two years ago. After working so hard on them this year, I'm going to have to really be firm about treating them respectfully.
My groups are busy caterpillar, busy lady bugs, busy spiders, and busy fireflies. I painted the insects on the top shelf and I was pleased with all of them except the fireflies. It wasn't until I finished that I figured out how I should have painted them. I put the group name on one end and then used the primary (well almost primary. I know green isn't a primary color but you know what I mean) to make polka dots. That matches the other things I've made. I'm pretty excited about them and am so glad I finally finished them. It took a lot longer than I thought to spray paint them white and the fact that I tried to buy cheap paint at Wal-mart that didn't work at all.
I've been seeing some really cool caterpillars made out of lanterns and tissue paper balls that I really would love to make next. My problem is we're not allowed to hang things due to the fire Marshall. If I could figure out away around it that would be next project. But since I probably won't, I think my next project is going to be turning a canvas into a sign outside my door. I'm torn between painting the canvas or using tissue paper or scrapbook paper and doing a collage kind of like Eric Carle's artwork. But I have a little time to decide. The craft store here in Sevier County doesn't have any canvases so I'll have to wait to I go to Knoxville at the end of the week to get a canvas. Which do you think would work best? What crafty projects are working on to get ready for school to start?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Beginning of the Year Books

I think the hardest thing about going back to school is going to be having to wear real clothes, dry my hair and put on make up. I've spent the summer in shorts. It's been so hot I can't imagine wearing anything else. I also haven't really been drying my hair. Again because it's been so hot. Next week we have a staff retreat on Tuesday and Wednesday and then a day of screening on Thursday. I guess that will be good practice for when school starts.

Kinder Kraziness is giving away a Miss Bindergarten unit. I love that book and can't wait to see what she has in her unit. Because I go between Kindergarten and First grade sometimes I forget where I put stuff. When getting things organized the other day, I realized I had no idea where my books were for the beginning of the year in Kindergarten. I was in panic mode big time. I have 2 books that my sister and her mother in law got for me my first year. One is the book Countdown to Kindergarten. If you haven't checked it out, it's a good one. It's about not knowing how to tie your shoes and being scared to start kindergarten because of it.
I finally found my books in one of the baskets with a different theme. Thankfully. I have been planning my whole first week of school activities based on one of those books. Check out Kinder Kraziness's blog. I tried to grab her button but it just wouldn't cooperate.
I could talk about picture books forever. There are so many books I want to read to the kids including my own story I've been working on about kindergarteners. I don't have an illustrator but I do have a story. I'm excited to share it with the kids and get actually feedback from my target audience.
What are your favorite back to school books?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Organize! Organize! Organize!

Inspired by all the teachers out there organizing their rooms using cute labels and great containers, I worked on organizing some things today. I got all my craft supplies where I can actually see what I have. Last year someone donated some sharpie  containers, so I used those to sort crafts and math materials. I wonder how long it will last. It seems like I always start my year this way and then by about half way through it's a mess again. Maybe I'll be able to make it a little longer this time. I also used the colorful fabric I bought at Wal-mart yesterday to redo my bulletin boards. I have one that I just never seem to know what to put on it. I've used it for student work before but its location is not great for that. I was searching different learning environment ideas and saw this idea of a graffiti board. You put a topic or question on butcher paper and post it somewhere for the kids to write or draw on. I liked the idea of having something functional so I'll be putting up the butcher paper on my new pretty bulletin board on Monday. Any suggestions for what the first topic should be?

I made some signs for my center areas. I want to try to be more intentional with my centers this year in kindergarten. I've never been able to make it work for me mainly because it seems to require a lot of planning and organization on my part. So I've been working on what they are going to be. My main learning centers are going to be
  • Sight Word
  • Math Practice
  • Math Game
  • Alphabet
  • Reading
  • Promethean Board
  • Writing
  • Theme Center
The students will do 2 centers a day for 4 days a week. We also have a housekeeping area, blocks, art, and other toys. I am going to make these the centers they can go to after they have completed their learning ones. The problem is certain centers get filled up and then there are arguments. So I created some signs and there are dots on them so they can attach a clothespin with their name on it when they get there. Once it's full, kids have to find other centers to go to. Hopefully it will work.

Click here to get your own signs.
Center Signs
If yo grab my signs, please leave me a comment to let me know you like them. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Treasures from the Dollar Tree

After reading so many of the wonderful teaching blogs out there, I went to the Dollar Tree today inspired. I found lots of great treasures that I can't wait to put into action.
These are my finds:
 I'm most excited about the coconut cup I found. I have found tons of awesome activities for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom on various blogs (I can't quite remember where I found them all. But they didn't come from my head.) I plan on reading this book the first week of school. The first things we're going to do with the coconut is count the letters that I'm going to put in there. We're going to pass the coconut around and when the music stops, that child has to count the letters in it. (Saw this spill cup idea on someone else's blog) We're also going to use some coconut matching cards I found over at  Peace Love and learning  and the coconut will be perfect for storing that game. I'm pretty excited about reading this book to my kids and all the activities to go with it.

I plan on using the popcorn containers for our sight words. We call them popcorn words. I'm thinking of having my talented sister draw me a big popcorn box for a bulletin board to post the popcorn words on. But we can use the container to pull out the words and probably make some kind of sight word game out of it. I might find a cool idea when I purchase Fran's at Kindergarten Crayon's sight word pack when she's done. (She has the best stuff!)

I also picked up some random things that I haven't quite found a purpose for yet but I'm sure I will. There were neat speech bubble die cuts, star die cuts, and cupcake die cuts. I found a stuffed caterpillar that goes with my theme of Busy Kindergartners. Some containers for dice and foam shapes that might become stamps after reading the fabulous ideas at Little Miss Kindergarten

I was on the lookout today for materials to make a monkey necklace out of. Another teacher friend suggested making character necklaces to go with my Five Little Monkeys unit. If you have any suggestions for how I can do this I would appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recipe Linky Party

Ok so I'm trying this whole linky party thing. This one is good for me because it involves my 2 favorite things teaching and cooking. I love to cook and have enjoyed having this summer to do some cooking. But I know at least the first six weeks is going to be exhausting and cooking could be difficult. I have a really good taco filling recipe that goes into the crock pot.

Chicken Tacos
  • Frozen Chicken Breast (I've done up to 6 in the crock pot but you can alter it to fit your needs)
  • 2 cans of Rotel Tomatoes
  • 1 can of black beans
  • Frozen corn kernels
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
You just put all the ingredients in the crock pot , set it to low and when you get home you have a yummy taco filling. I usually serve with tortillas, sour cream, cheese and other taco fixings. I don't have kids but I use to make this for my youth group I volunteered with and they always loved it.

Hope you enjoy!
Check out Growing Kinders for more recipes.

Ms. Kerri's Busy Kindergarten and 5 Little Monkeys

I've been so inspired looking at blogs and all the cool stuff people are doing in their classroom. I make class books a lot but I usually just write the sentence on a piece of paper and copy it the week I plan on doing it. After looking at the plethora (I know not a kindergarten word but I love words.) of class books out there, I decided to try my hand at making one. I'm not sure how other people do it but I used publisher and clip art I found on Microsoft. Not too creative. But it's a start. I would really love some feed back on the things I'm working on.

Click Here to see what I've been doing

The week we do the letter M in our reading series (Treasures), they suggest using this song for oral language development. My students loved this book and song last year. I think I have this book on cd.  The reading series also uses baby animals for whole group reading and writing. So I tried to incorporate those things in this book as well as writing numbers and ordering them. Please let me know what you think. I'm not 100% confident in my first attempt.

I've also been working on some things to go with my theme of Eric Carle books, Ms. Kerri's Busy Kindergartners. I made a name plate for their tables, a label for their cubbies, name tags and cover for their notebooks. I also got the the idea while running today to have each student make either a caterpillar, spider, lady bug or firefly depending on what group they are in. It would be good to see where they are at in cutting to have them cut the pattern out of construction paper.I then could add their pictures on the head of the insect and put it outside my door. The more I think about the more I love the theme of Eric Carle for my class.
If you're interested in any of this stuff, I would be glad to share. I'm not that great at uploading stuff on this blog yet so just leave me a comment with your email and I'll be glad to send it your way. If you look at previous posts, you'll see the name plate and everything else has that same theme.

I figured out how to upload so here's the name plate and cubby decoration if you're interested.
Name Plate
Cubby Decoration

If you like any of my stuff, please leave me a comment so I know. Thanks a bunches!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ommmmm! Namaste!

I went to school today and I don't feel like I made much progress. Anyone else feel like they have to make a huge mess before anything comes together? I definitely made a big mess. I did get a cabinet organized, got all my picture books reorganized and brought a couple of projects to work on at home. I'm house sitting for my parents this week, but I ran home to grab a few things and found this wonderful surprise at home.
I'm pretty excited about trying out yoga with my class this year. I like doing it myself and did a few moves with my students last year. But I did a little research and found a  lot of evidence supporting the use of yoga in the classroom. It has health benefits as well as helping them focus and stress relief. I've always done movement breaks and start the day with stretching. We'll see how it goes. I'm excited about it so that's a step in the right direction. What do you do to help your kids have break?

I plan to start on spray painting my table caddies today. Wish me luck! I had no idea what kind of paint to buy at the hardware store. It was a shot in the dark. I'll be sure to post before and after pictures when they are done.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm so excited! I'm so excited!

So I have a blog that I keep up with for all the thoughts I have in my head. I recently wrote about struggles with teaching on there and it inspired me to start looking at teaching blogs. There are a ton of teachers out there blogging about their wonderful ideas and things they do in their classrooms. So, here I am giving it a try and starting my own. I've now spent 2 days just looking at blogs and grabbing ideas and getting more and more excited about the upcoming school year.
Right now I'm working on a new theme for the school year. I think I'm going to focus on Eric Carle's books. My kids are in groups and in the past they've been colors, days of the week, and last year they were fruit (to try to encourage healthy habits.) This year I'm thinking : Busy Spiders, Hungry Caterpillars, Grouchy Ladybugs, and Lonely Fireflies. Each group has a organizer from Really good stuff. I used them 2 years ago when I was in Kindergarten. (I loop so I keep my kids for Kindergarten and First grade.) They look pretty rough from the past class. I'm thinking of using contact paper to cover the wood and then decorating it with picture of the animal of the group. Well that was what I was thinking but now I'm thinking of painting them white and then painting an insect to go with their group on each one.
I did create some nameplates that reminded me of Eric Carle.
What do you think?