Sunday, May 24, 2015

It's "Bean" A Long Time

We have done a great deal of planting in our classroom recently which was part of a Common Core unit that I wrote with some of my teacher friends for our district. For the first time I got to actually try out my own materials and see how they worked out. This is the Greenhouse I came up with but my friend recommended trying this with corn seeds instead of Lima beans. I found out she gave me great advice! We sprayed a paper towel with water and put these in a baggie that I attached to the back of this little house. The kids loved coloring this in and were so excited to hang these in our window. We crossed our fingers because I have not had much luck with this in the past.

My teacher friends who are amazing gardeners told me to soak the beans or corn first to get the germination going. This was fun because the beans really puff up and the kids are shocked when they observe them the next day. They loved looking at this using a magnifying glass and drawing what they saw. Great activity for you to try next year or even in a summer program.

Here are the corn seeds growing in the Greenhouse and here is a clear cup with a few seeds. Obviously the soil makes a real difference. We also planted beans in soil in clear cups but I helped the students place the seed along an edge so they could see the root system! This was really great to observe. 

 The beans that we germinated on paper towels did not grow at all and only a few grew successfully in the clear cups. I was more disappointed than the kids. We do not get enough sunlight where our classroom is located. I had to check my reaction at the door because the kids were thrilled that anything grew at all! They loved watching it and checking daily for changes. Me, I think my thumb is black.

My teaching friends at another school made their greenhouse like a garden label and put the kids pictures in the middle. They stuck it in their bean plants and got fantastic results. Okay, I am not too green with envy. The idea is clever and would be so cute for Mother's Day. I love when people reinvent a great idea!

These are the observational logs we made in our classroom. I did not have the kids fill them out daily but only when we could record a real change. We did this as a whole group while I asked questions and did a guided drawing. This was a great activity and I was able to build in lots of labeling and academic vocabulary.

Here are some of the books I read to go along with this unit. We also watched a bunch of videos on YouTube that were about growing beans and corn. Next year I think I have to put these outside in the sun to get better results. Looking back we might have over watered some of our plants since the spray bottle was so exciting to use. Just sayin'. What do you like to grow in your room?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Special Events and A Freebie to Boot

Our school does a Parent Volunteer Tea as a thank you to all of the parents that work endless hours in our classroom. I could not run my program without them. They make countless books for me, trace pieces for art projects, and work with children to help them gain confidence and be successful learners. I have so much gratitude for the moms and dads that come through my door each week, filled with enthusiasm and energy! 
I wanted to do a few special things for the tea but I had very little time to pull this off. Here are some simple ideas if you ever get stuck and need "quick and easy" solutions. Any candy in little clear bags with a topper is appealing and easy to throw together. I had tons of skittles so here is what I put in a bright colorful basket (Dollar Tree is my friend). If you want the topper you can grab it here and use it for any special event. It says, "You are better than any treasure found at the end of the rainbow." Leave me a comment if you like this and tell me what you are using it for!

My daughters were in town for Mother's Day (so special for me) and suggested making shortbread since this takes very little effort and the results are gorgeous. We used Barefoot Contessa's recipe and then added a little flower on top to make it look special.
I used candy melts from Michael's for the flower since they would harden (set-up) easily and I just added a hit of pink. The center is just a tiny circular cookie decoration that are bigger than sprinkles and are also available in Michael's. The bags are quick and dirty to use since the ribbon is already woven through the bag and this made it so much faster to wrap!

Mother's Day turned out to be so special in our classroom. We have a grandparent who is a photographer and she came to visit for an entire day. She set up the lighting and backdrop with the help of her daughter. She brought a vintage desk and red apple... The kids were fascinated (so was I).

The results were gorgeous and parents loved them so much. The children told me their mom opened their card and started to cry. Wow! What more could I ask for? By the way this generous lady did this all on her own dollar and refused to let us pay for a thing. She then invited the teacher next door with medically fragile kids to come in and get their picture done. She got beautiful results snapping many pictures and working to get the perfect one. I AM BLESSED TO HAVE THIS GRANDMA IN MY LIFE. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Where Did The Year Go?

I cannot believe how the year is flying by right under my nose. Here we are in May and I am slamming past Mother's Day and moving right along trying to plan for closing out the year. This has been one crazy, demanding year for me with Common Core and a new teaching partner. Whew, it makes me reflect on how lucky I am to be a teacher but how little down time there is.
This is Teacher Appreciation Week across the country and it forces me to stop for a minute and acknowledge all the amazing teachers that have influenced my life in so many important ways. Teachers who have encouraged me, stretched my thinking, tried to organize me, enlighten me, and just plain love me for the mess that I am.
Kindergarten teachers are the mostly loving, generous people on the planet. There, I said that out loud and I mean it.  When I attend conferences I am flabbergasted by the kindness of my peers. Everyone loves "their kids" and spends endless hours prepping and planning to give our youngest learners the best and most engaging activities to make learning powerful. We have a huge influence on our littles and their attitude towards school. If you are reading this I am sending you a huge cyber hug and I want to thank you for being there for our students each and every day.  You know who you are. You are loving, kind, generous, fast on your feet super heroes. Your students could not do without you. I appreciate all that you do.
Teachers Pay Teachers (they rock in my world) has decided to participate in Teacher Appreciation Week by throwing a sale so you can grab some of those amazing products you have had on your wish list forever. Oh I see you jumping up and down at your computer! The year is coming to an end and you better keep your eye on the prize and grab a few winners to wind down with. What? You are teaching summer school? Holey Moley you are one dedicated educator. That's all the more reason to grab a few goodies that will make the last few weeks easy, breezy and some that will make your classroom so much fun in the sun. What about a camping theme? I don't know about you but I need easy at this point. So here are a few of my favorite little printables that are minimal work if you want to pay attention: My friends love this little number. Click on the picture to grab this kindergarten memory book. Your parents will love it and bet yet so will your administrator!

This is one of my favorite pack and go summer goodies. It is a simple review of both Language Arts and Mathematics. It is learning "on the go" and the campy theme keeps it fun. It has been carefully aligned to the Common Core and is a perfect addition to a summer program with kinder kiddos. You can even send it home for the summer with your little ones to keep their skills sharp as they enter first grade. The next group of teachers will love you! Click on this little picture to zip line over to my little shop for this hot number.

Do you own my Sparkle Readers? If you have enjoyed them you might want to grab this additional one that is beachy. Yes, it has the dots under the text to help young children with tracking. Click on the picture to swim on over to my store.

 You loved the first Camp Common Core Pack and Go Set so much you asked for more so I split up the Language Arts and Math and gave you two more packets for your summer journeys! No summer slide on my watch:

Remember to use the promo code Thank You to save an additional 10%. Grab my stuff for even less than imaginable!
Check these out by just clicking on the picture and sailing over to my store! Have fun shopping and I hope we meet each other in Vegas in our flip flops! Woohoo! Have a great rest of the year and stay connected.
Much love,

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mothers Are Magical

Mother's Day is right around the corner and this year I decided to try something a little different. One of our grandma's is a professional photographer and I asked her if she would be willing to take a picture of each student for a Mother's Day card. I loved the idea of it being in sepia and looking like an old fashion picture. She was so sweet to agree to this and bought a "brick" backdrop to use. I think these will be sensational. Now what do I use for a card? I thought about this for a long time and came up with this:

I knew these papers would be perfect for this kind of picture so I bought both and luckily they were on sale. I was rolling along when I found this little number on another aisle...

I decided to add a little pizzazz to the card and make it look a little more antiqueish (okay not a word) but you know what I am sayin'

 I made this for my students to cut and paste on their card but they can do this any way they want to. I will try not to be a total control freak but I will show them some samples like this one:

The picture will go on the other side (right) and the set comes with an envelope they can decorate as they please. I will share some of these when they are finished but I think parents will love these. What are you doing for a Mom gift?
If you need a card I have one you can grab if you would like. It looks like this and allows your students to do a bit of writing too. You get a little bang for your buck as the saying goes. It can be downloaded in my TpT store. Just click on this picture. While you are there check out my end of the year memory book. I can't wait to send this home.