Sunday, February 21, 2016

There is "snow-body" like me! {God made me unique!}

Isn't it amazing that no two snowflakes are exactly alike!?! (It's hard for me be to believe considering how much snow we get in a given winter!) Pretty crazy!

When I share this fact with my students I tell them that God, our wonderful creator, never says "Oops! Accidentally made those to snowflakes the same!"

He makes each one unique. Just like he creates each of us special. When I do this lesson, I spend time having students share how they are unique.

We also read The Tiny Snowflake by Arthur Ginolfi.  It's about a small snowflake named Lacy looking for what makes her special. Each snowflake she floats past has a special purpose - to make the snow fluffy, or slippery...

What makes her special?

 We make our own unique snowflakes out of folded coffee filters after reading this story.

My students LOVED cutting their own designs. They begged to do more than one. (Good thing coffee filters are cheep AND our classroom was scheduled to be vacuumed that day. It looked like it had snowed in our room.)

 The most ornate snowflakes were turned into an art project with Psalms 139:14:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I don't add glitter often...but how can you resist when the end result looks so pretty?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Time Saving Tip {Math Boxes}

Do you spend time every day passing out counters, dice, unifix cubes, or coins depending on the math lesson?

Do you always have to check and recheck to make sure you have the correct number of math manipulative for each student?

I did.

I did until a fellow teacher introduced me to the genius idea of Math Boxes. *angels singing Alleluiah chorus*

They are a HUGE time saver!

All of our most frequently used math supplies are stored in individual pencil boxes. Whenever we need manipulatives... each student grabs a box.

Need counters for ten frames or addition?

       Got 20 of them counted out - ready to go!

Need dice for (a million different) math games?


Cubes are for measuring, representing addition problems, patterning, and for playing one of our favorite math games - BUMP IT!

I love that I can say "Please bring a math box..." and we have everything we may need to start our math lesson.

I bought the small square containers at the dollar store - 10 for $1! They fit perfectly! One is for counters and the other for coins. At the beginning of the year the "coin purses" (or "wallets" for the boys) only have pennies. The other coins are added as we learn about them.

They stack nicely in the shelf where our math journals are stored. (Here they are pictured on top but they fit nicely in the shelf. I love how organized it looks now - compared to the random stuff I had stored in the shelf.)

I've thought about adding a laminated 100s chard and number line to the boxes as well.

Some ideas you try one year and think, "Probably won't do that again next year." Not these. I'm keeping these around.

How do you manage math manipulatives? I'd love to hear other ideas!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday! I hope all of you had a wonderful week! Thank you Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting the link up!


This last week in January feels like the lull before the storm...by lull I mean peaceful productivity. (February is jam packed with everything from the 100th day, our Moms Valentine Tea, School Spirit Week, conferences -  I'm just lucky to keep up with all of the events in February!)

We continued our space unit this week and used what we'd learned last week to set up a dramatic play Mission Control Center and space shuttle. It was so cute to overhear them "calling" back and forth about dodging meteors and explosions from the sun. 
Students used our solar system word wall to draw and label the planets to decorate our space station.

Two old keyboards with the cords cut off.

Nap mats, cardboard box, and tinfoil.. TA-DA! A spaceship!
And the pretend play doesn't stop there. When we go out for recess, we aren't putting on our snow gear. Oh, no - we are putting on our space suits! On the cold days we are obviously visiting Uranus or Neptune. (I think I may be teaching some future astronauts.)

We made our own constellations after reading  Seeing Stars by Dandi Daley Mackall.

I love how one student made a constellation of themselves. A whole new meaning to being "a star"!

We also started our All About Mom questionnaires that we display for our Wall of Fame at our Mothers Valentine Tea. (To see what our adorable Mothers Valentine Tea is all about check out my post here.)

Moms always have a good laugh over some of the responses.

This kiddo thinks their mom likes to "dust the floor". (Just because you see your mom dusting a lot doesn't mean she likes it a lot. Haha!)

In preparation for our Mothers Valentine Tea we made some heart decorations. The math challenge was to make their design symmetrical.

I think it's safe to say they have the concept of symmetry down.

The Kind of "ing" made an appearance this week. It's so funny how a crazy hat and a silly song will make  a word ending stick. (A teacher friend of mine bought this hat and poem duo at a local Kindergarten conference and was so kind to share.)

I always secretly hope no one drops in my room to see me being the crazy teacher - singing in a manly voice I am the king of "ing"... 

It's for the kids!

The King of "ing" made quite the impression as we were able to easily spot the "ing" word family during guided reading. Chunky Monkey helped us look for the work chunks we knew.

This part of the year is so rewarding. I live for the moments when my kinders eyes light up after they've surprised themselves by reading a challenging word using the strategies we've learned.

Here are two new addition games we've learned how to play. I'm slowly adding games each week until I have several choices students can choose from independently while I work with small groups.

Have a relaxing weekend heading into February... and be sure to join me in eating some pre-Valentine chocolate! (I bought a bag of the Truffle Hershey Kisses. You should too. Trust me on this one!)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Five For Friday! {Space}

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! Four day weeks just zoom by! It's time to share a few highlights. Thanks Kacey for hosting!

Educator Appreciation Days at Barnes and Noble sucked me in again. I can never pass up a sale! I picked up a few more books on CD for my listening center and...

...won myself a gift card and some other treats from their drawing! Woo hoo! Thank you Barnes and Noble - you will see this gift card again very soon.

We started our Solar System unit this week. I spread it over two weeks since kinders are always fasinated with all things space! So far, we've focused on our Sun, moon and Earth.

Each day I read a simple book and we write a fact. Tomorrow we will wrap up our writing with a fact about the important planet. :)

To go along with our solar sentences, we do this adorable painting project.

All you do is take a white paper circle and have the kids drop various "sun" colored paints on it. I used yellow, orange, red glitter, and shimmery gold.

Next, the fun part! Lay 1/2 of a Gallon Ziplock bag on top and spread the paint around.
Just peal the bag off when they have mixed the paint to cover all the white spaces. No Mess!
 It was so cute when one student said "Everyone's suns are different! Just like every picture scientists take of the sun since it's always changing!" (Yay! They were listening!)

 Today we painted our Earth and moon and added them to our suns.  Don't they look cool?!?

We painted them using a balloon dipped in paint.

I learned the technique when I subbed for a kindergarten class right out of college. (It was memorable - the balloon POPPED!!! Yes. Paint. Everywhere! I learned not to blow the balloons very big. And to always wear a paint shirt!)

In January I start adding coins to our calendar time. I have students try to figure out how to make the date with coins. I was impressed yesterday when they came up with these combinations. (I told them we spent all of our pennies and needed to use other coins.) I think adding coins is finally starting to make cents! (Haha! Sorry!)

Have a wonderful Friday!

Listen Up {Setting up the Listening Center}

I have been teaching 7 years... and have just now FINALLY gotten around to setting up a listening center.


Here's the backstory:

Inherited casset tapes... Not easy enough for Preschoolers to use.

Moved to Kindergarten.

Slowly accumulated books on CD... (They slowly accumulated dust.)

Too many other projects... Not enough time.


...One day I received some books on CD as gift from one of the first grade teachers. I decided it was time. I found a few CD players to get the listening center up and running over Christmas break.

(Ideally, iPod Nanos would be my device of choice if it weren't for the age old problem... $$$)

Luckily Wal-Mart had these portable CD players in stock. Perfect for the humble beginnings of my listening station.

I added green and red sharpie to help my littles find the Play and Stop buttons.
(Brought back memories of my teenage years when I would clip one of these bad boys to my pants waistband and jam out to Rebecca St. James. But not too crazy... or the CD would loose its place!)

IKEA wins again with this adorable sign holder.

I bought 2 CD players with headphones to start and found some random storage containers to organize everything.

The CD players were about $23/each and the headphones $5/each. Instead of buying more, I found a great idea on another blog to use a splitter so more than one student can listen on the CD player at a time.

My students LOVE the listening center! I'm talking choose it during free choice time LOVE it!

I've already purchased several more books on CD to rotate through the center. I plan to keep only a few book in their at a time to help with making choices and keeping the center new and exciting. (That will also help with finding the corresponding CD.)

If you are like me and have put off setting up a listening center... start small! Get a few books with audio using Scholastic bonus points and you can even ask your class families if anyone has some portable CD players not in use that they are willing to donate.

Listening to reading is a great way for students to hear reading fluency modeled. This is also an engaging center to use during guided reading - students are rarely off-track when they are listening to a favorite story!

If you have any helpful tips or tricks for me as I grow this center, please share by leaving a comment below. Thanks!