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!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mother's Valentine Tea

Moms are amazing! They are always giving of themselves. Always putting others needs before their own. They are the givers of unconditional love. In kindergarten we throw a mini "Thank-you!" tea for our moms on Valentine's Day.

This is one of my favorite events to host! Not only do mom's deserve a little pampering, but it's a great excuse to baptize our classroom in pink and purple!

Each year on Valentine's day we transform our classroom and invite our moms for a morning tea time.

Right before our moms arrive, we wait outside our classroom to escort them in. Some years I've purchased a bouquet of  flowers so students could hand their mom's a rose or daisy as they arrive.

Earlier in the week we talk about compliments and think of some kind words to bless our moms with when they arrive.

Our glamorized entrance to the tea room
As we wait for all of the moms to arrive, those that have arrived pour themselves a drink and find a seat. 

There is tea, hot cocoa, and pink lemonade to choose from. I also provide apple juice for the students since it looks like real tea. In the invites, each mom was informed to bring a tea cup or mug for them and their child. I always have extras on hand... just in case. :)

The centerpieces are my re-purposed bridesmaid bouquets from my wedding!

At each table spot I have a box of chocolates and a sweet poem for each mom to enjoy. The poem talks about the impact that mothers have in their child's life. You can download the poem for free HERE.

When everyone has arrived (and filled their tea cups), we put on a short little program of a few songs and poems we've practiced in class.

The mom song gets everyone laughing! We just sing the choruses and add actions to some of the verses. (We jazz-bop, head-nod, improve-dance... whatever you want to call it.. to the verses we don't sing along with.)
The very last poem talks about valentines and ends with ...and here is one for YOU! We hold our mom letters for the poem and finish by bringing them to our moms to read.

Each letter has a note and drawing inside. It's so sweet to see all of the students reading them aloud.

We also play a "sweet" getting to know you game. Each mom and child receive a bag of M&Ms and a note that explains the game. For each color M&M they pick out of the bag, they have a question to answer.

 Click on either of the activity directions to download the full game from Over the Big Moon.


(It's much easier to buy individual packs of M&Ms instead of making little bags, but I waited too long and all of the individual bags had transitioned to Valentine colors which wouldn't work for the game. Live and learn!)

After our program, we pass around trays of delicacies to snack on. I usually ask a few weeks before if any moms would be interested in providing treats. Past menus have included mini cheesecakes, fruit and cheese trays, scones, cupcakes, cookies... I let the moms who volunteer have freedom to bring what they wish.

While everyone enjoys their treats, each table takes a turn at mailing their valentines.
I place all of the girl bags on on side of the room and boys on the other to avoid overcrowding.

I usually buy a big pack of paper bags at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon and we decorate them in class. I've never done Valentine boxes. Don't think I ever will. The bags quick, easy to transport home, and I love that they match the rest of the decor. (A little over the top?)

Before the party ends, a school photographer (parent from another classroom) comes to take pictures of each mother/student pair in front of our homemade backdrop. (We painted the hearts during our review lesson on symmetry.) I save the pictures to give families either at conferences or I put them in their end of the year scrapbooks.

As moms leave, they check out our "Hall of Fame".

In the days leading up to our Valentine Tea, I help each student draw a portrait of their mom and fill in an All About Mom questionnaire. It's hilarious to see what some of them will down for their mom's age. 88? (Uhh... I have a few questions.) One year I laughed when a student wrote that the best thing his mom cooks is Ramen Noodles. (Hey! If that's what they like best - don't kill yourself over making a fancy meal!)

The best part is their answer to why their mom is special! *pass the tissues*

I'd love to hear how you celebrate Moms at school each year? Do you stick to Mother's Day or do a whole school event?

I'd also love to hear some of your favorite songs about moms to add to my collection!