Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Party Idea

Have you ever noticed around this time of year that your classroom supplies dip low? Well, last year I came up with an idea that I thought probably would not work, but it actually worked out beautifully! I sat down and constructed a list of items that my classroom needed to run for the remainder of the year (i.e. glue sticks, crayons, construction paper, labels, printer cartridges, markers and such). I then cut up the wish list into strips and put them into a bowl so that the kids can draw an item from the bowl. After they have drawn an item, I send a note home explaining the process to the parents along with the item that their child had drawn earlier that day. I usually have them bring in their gifts as soon as possible and bring in extras just in case someone forgets theirs (you do not want any child to go without). I then ask that no matter how many items they bring they need to wrap them up in one box. Otherwise, children will want to know why they have more to open. On the day of the party, I call each child by name to sit in the share chair and open their gift. Once they open their gift, all the children give a round of applause and say thank you for contributing to our classroom. THEY LOVE THIS! The kids feel like they are doing something and they really ARE! Last year a little girl brought in wiggle eyes and every time I got them out to use them they would say "Oh these are from Emily! Thank you Emily!" That kind of thing went on for the remainder of the year and it relieved me of having to go out and purchase things with my own money. I realize that this may not be a "FUN" gift, but the kids have fun. I feel that children get SO MUCH for Christmas and a $5-$10 gift does not seem to go far these days and most of the time ends up in the back seat of the car before you even get into the garage. So, this benefits everyone. Trust me- it's been fabulous the past two years! I'll upload pictures from my party on Monday! Click here for the note home to parents explaining the process (as this can be the most difficult to explain). MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Photobucket

Party Tip

So the past couple of years I have had the toughest time organizing my classroom parties. Sometimes I'll end up with tons of extra cupcakes and no chips! So, the past two years I decided to take up an activities collection to cover all winter expenses. I usually ask for around $10.00 a child depending on the year and the activities I have planned. Now, this money will cover ALL crafts and ALL party supplies. This way you (the teacher) can grab everything you need and will not have to rely on anyone to get anything and you also will not have to worry about parents forgetting or the dreaded... extras! This has worked out so well for me!Photobucket

Thursday, December 9, 2010

FREE Reindeer Unit

Hello! Over on my other party design blog, Moo Moo's & Tutus, I posted a FREE printable unit full of reindeer activities to use with little ones!  I wanted to share it with our readers today too! 

Today's unit is "R is for Reindeer," and I'm so excited to do all of these activities with Noah during the next two weeks.  It is 18 pages full of theme, literacy, math, and special snack ideas that you can use with your little one at home or with a room-full of little ones if you teach Pre-K or even Kindergarten!  I hope you enjoy!  If you decide to download my unit, as always, please leave me a comment!

Here's a little peek inside!

Just click the picture below to download the unit!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Playful Penguins

Petroleum Jelly 
To start off the Winter season I always like to being with a unit on penguins. I find them to be an easy transition from turkeys to gingerbread, reindeer and etc. There are so many fun things to do with penguins. When I first starting teaching, I had trouble coming up with activities so I would do polar bears and penguins together. What was I thinking? I'm sure many of you teachers have thoughts just like that. Needless to say, polar bears and penguins are completely separate units now and I have trouble figuring out what activities to do for both! I want to share my favorite activity and one that is most loved by my kids. I found this idea from Mrs. Jumps Class
so I cannot take an credit, but I have tweaked it and made it my own, of course!

First we start out with petroleum jelly on our hands and I go around to all the kids and have them dip their hands inside ice water and pull them out. They notice that the water rolls off just as it would on a penguin's feathers.

Glove & Ice
Penguin Puppet
Next we put on a winter glove (just like the penguins winter feathers and blubber) and put a plastic bag over it. Then they put that hand inside ice water and their other hand without the glove inside ice water. They notice that the hand without the glove and bag are FrEeZiNg! This is how penguins stay warm during the winter.

They love this! I am actually doing this experiment with my class tomorrow and will upload pictures as soon as possible. In the mean time I will include a recording sheet that my students use to record their findings.
Enjoy the freebie!!
How do penguins stay warm?

"All penguins have soft feathers"
"A penguin has blubber"


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgivings Past

As most of you prepare for that traditional classroom Thanksgiving Feast, my thoughts turn to my 7 years of feasting, which led me to take a trip back in time through my old classroom pictures.  I thought I would share some of those pictures with all of you (embarrassing as they may be)!

We start our journey in 2001, when I was a young Student Teacher! 
My apologies for the bad picture quality (before my days of digital photography)

Then, on to my very first Kindergarten class in 2002 (pay no attention to the bare classroom)!

My first feast experience (60 Pilgrims & Indians together - WOW)

My 2003 Crew ~ getting a little better with the outfit design!

My 2004 Table Design (notice the cute little pilgrim hat napkin rings) :)

2005 ~ I finally got the Pilgrim Costume down!  Yay!

3 Little Pilgrims

2006 Feast

My last class before having my own Lil' Pilgrim!

Me as a Pregnant Pilgrim with our own Queen Bee!
Don't shoot me for posting this picture, Mrs. Huskey, we look pretty cute!  :)
So, I wish all of you out there the best of luck as you prepare for your classroom Thanksgiving Feasts!  Even though I'm not teaching right now, I fully intend on making a Pilgrim or Indian costume for my Little Man this Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Organize It Tuesday!

Being organized is a difficult task.  One minute everything is in its place, and then in a blink of an eye you cannot find your desk.  One of the hardest things for me to keep organized in my classroom is my learning centers.  I have found a wonderful way to keep everything in its place, and give students some of the responsibility!  I created center cards for each area.  I took pictures of how I wanted the centers to look at clean up time.  I put them in a file folder, laminated the folders, and placed them in the corresponding centers.  At clean up time, students pull out the cards and check to make sure things are put away correctly!  This has been FABULOUS for my classroom!  If you have trouble with students putting things away correctly, creating task cards for them to use may be the answer to your troubles!  Happy Organizing! :)Photobucket

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thanksgiving FREE Printable Unit

Do you teach toddlers, Pre-K, or Kindergarten?  If so, this unit is for you!  I compiled lots of ideas from around the web & from when I taught Kindergarten to bring you this 32-page Thanksgiving unit including crafts, math, books, snacks, & more!

To learn more about this unit, and download your FREE copy, click the picture below!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Salute to Soliders

I just wanted to share an awesome activity that I found last year from Mrs. Jump's Class. I thought it would be fun so I had my creative assistant draw this up and my kids all constructed their own solider to salute last year. I just pulled this project out to do for next 
Thursday. I love these types of activities because everyone's is different. I love Mrs. Jump's website- it is so helpful! Here is a picture from last years class of soldiers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Crafts {Under Cover Turkeys}

Hello, all!  I'm sure that everyone is starting their Thanksgiving lesson plans, so here is an activity that you may want to do with your "Little Turkeys" this year!

For several years, I did a Family Turkey Project with my kiddos around Thanksgiving.  The families had to work together to decorate a turkey & then I displayed them in the hallway!  So, why not make it into an UNDER COVER TURKEY Family Project!  It could be like an FBI project where the kids have to design a disguise for their turkey so that it doesn't become Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thank you to Miss Renee's Kindergarten Pond for the "Turkeys in Disguise" idea!  

I made an UNDER COVER TURKEY activity including the turkey template and the parent letter!  

It can be yours today for only $1.00!  Get yours today & start disguising those turkeys!!

Click HERE to purchase this activity!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Organize it Tuesdays!

As an elementary teacher, I have a lot of music that I use in the classroom.  Keeping music organized can be difficult!  When I started teaching, I used Cd's.  I would have to pre-load what I needed, then change out Cd's when I needed a new song.  This was NO fun.  I no longer have problems with finding the music I need!  I am so THANKFUL for my ipod!  Ipods are great for organizing classroom music.  After I got all my music on my computer, I was able to create play lists on my ipod.  I have a play list for Calendar Songs-which include weather, days of the week, months of the year, etc.  I have songs sorted by themes and subjects.  I have a play list for transitions, alphabet, and fun songs.  This is a quick way to get music.  Everything is organized, simple to use, and easy to find. My assistant loves it, because she can find things too!  If you do not use an ipod in your classroom, Christmas is right around the corner-add it to your list!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Organize it Tuesday!

Hey friends!  Hope everyone is having a fabulous week so far!  It is hard to believe October is almost over! As for getting organized this week, I am going to follow up with my notebooks.  I am glad to hear you all like this idea!  I LOVE my notebooks!  They make planning so much easier.  I am including some pictures of one of my notebooks this week.  Lets talk about the "guts" of the notebook.  I had to go through my files and get rid of some stuff.  All teachers are guilty of hanging on to way too many things.  I found that I had multiple copies of different items.  I also found that some things had been filed in the wrong folder (easy to do when using a filing cabinet that is FULL-LOL!)!  So, I went through all my materials, keeping only one master copy of each item.  I marked my masters with a yellow highlighter.  When you copy, the yellow does not show up.  Great way of keeping up with the originals!  After I weeding through my paper work, I then organized them, hole punched and placed in the appropriate notebook.  If I had a project that I made an example of I placed it in front of the papers need to create the project.  The notebook is divided on the inside by letter and theme.  There are so many options to use with this organization technique.  We would love to hear if you use notebooks to organize your materials, and how you do it!  Enjoy the picture!

                     Front Cover of "H" Book

Spine of "H" Book (just labeled with a sharpie)

                Inside tabs for letter "H" book

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Going Batty!

So this week our class studying spiders and bats. I found some awesome activities thanks to Mrs. Larremore at Chalk Talk: A Kindergarten Blog. This was the first year that I did anything with bats so I had a little trouble coming up with ideas. We tried most of her activities and the kids LOVED the all! Thank you to Mrs. Larremore for sharing your ideas with teachers all around!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Halloween Activities

Hello, friends!  So sorry we have been absent for a while.  We have been doing some restructuring to the blog, but now we're back with some great ideas coming your way!  Today, I would like to give you some fun & spooky ideas for Halloween activities to do in your classroom or at home with your kiddos.  Some of the ideas came from My Delicious Ambiguity, an awesome blog full of ideas for children!  You should check it out!

1.  Hot Pumpkin:  Play like "Hot Potato," but pass a fake pumpkin instead.  When the music stops, whoever is holding the pumpkin has to answer a review question.  Take this time to review any skills you have learned up until now (sight words, letter sounds, numbers, etc).

2.  Spook-E-Do: Tell the children that each one of them will have a chance to show the others in the group a trick.  Call on a child and lead the group to chant: "Hello, (Child's Name), Spook-E-Doo. What is the trick you are going to do? Will you hop, or bend, or spin around? Stretch, or wiggle, or touch the ground?" Continue until all the children have had a chance to show their trick.   

3. Monster Freeze Dance: Play Halloween music and have the kids dance around like monsters! The Monster Mash is a great song for this game. 
When the music stops the kids freeze in their monster positions. 
The first kid to move is out, and the game continues until only one child is left.

4. Pumpkin Patch: Have children find places in the room and crouch down to look like pumpkins. Adult walks around the room saying: "Pumpkin Patch, pumpkin patch. Looking for a pumpkin in a pumpkin patch. Here's one nice and fat, turn into a jack-o-lantern just like that!". Adult stops and taps the child closest to her on the word "that" and then child gets up and joins adult by the hand. The activity repeats until all the children have been chosen. 

5. Halloween Exercises: 1. Pumpkin fists (make tight fists)
2. Boo hands (have the children stretch their hands as far as they can saying "boo!!")
3. Spiders (tapping fingers on the table/floor).
4. Smashing spiders (smash "spiders" with flat hands onto table or floor).
5. Witches hats (use pincer fingers to make a triangle, place it on your head and cackle like a witch).
6. Two ghosts flying (have the children take their hands and press the palms together and "fly" with their arms).
7. Frankenstein sitting (chair or floor sit ups with flat palms).
8. Shake the scaries out (shake your whole body).

6. Guess The Ghost: Start by having the kids sit/stand in a circle.
Have one child leave the room and take a large sheet and have another child stand and hide under the sheet. Mix up the remaining children in the room and then allow the child who left the room to come back inside. That child has to guess who's the ghost, by process of elimination they need to figure out which child is hiding under the sheet. Then that "ghost" goes out of the room and a different child becomes the new ghost, mix up the remaining children and repeat until all of the children have had a turn being the ghost.