Monday, April 30, 2012

Going to the JUNGLE

I am a thematic teacher at heart! I envy pre-k settings in which they have more time to investigate topics that the kids are interested in. However, I am finding ways to link our curriculum to our thematic units and still find time for some exploration within the topics.  My usual approach to a thematic study starts off simple the first week. I tend to focus on the environment and "little extras" around them room more than anything at this point.  

Some fun jungle themed pointers in our reading/big book centers!

Aren't these the cutest super reader glasses?!? From Target...I love Target!  During this first week I also put out jungle floor puzzles, jungle stencils and of course ....jungle animals in the block area.

After the basic thematic touches are put into place I link many of my literacy and math centers to our topic.  In order to keep my sanity I don't always link every activity to the topic. I do continue to put out literacy/math activities that are simply focused on a skill and not a theme.  Ms. W, my student teacher, is doing a great job of creating some jungle themed center activities this week!  Here's a peek at a few that were introduced today.

Jungle themed books (using window clings) in the writing center.  

Another writing center book...

Sticker jungle math stories.

I love these cubes! I have two sets that I took from my kids' toy closet now that they are older. One set is for sentence building and the other set matches beginning sounds to pictures. These would be easy to make with unifix cubes and I've seen labels put on Duplo blocks as well. 

Our reading series focuses on this big book this week.  Here is  a color word/jungle item matching activity for the chart center.

Another sentence building activity. This one features photos of jungle animals. 

Usually by the second week of the project we've read several books (fiction and non-fiction) and have watched informational videos on our topic. Now we are ready to begin digging deeper into the topic.  If their interest continues this is when we generate a list of things we know and want to know about the topic. This is also when a lot of the amazing art and writing projects seem to take place.  If they are losing interest I try to tie up the project quickly with a final activity such as a mural or class story. You can take a look here to see how we tied up our ocean unit with our sea creature mural. 

I can't wait to see how our jungle theme progresses over the next couple of weeks! This will be our last unit of the school year and one I know they can dig deep into. Stay tuned for upcoming projects.....      Have a wonderful week!
                                                Mrs. M

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Word Wall Linky Party

I'm so excited to be joining a word wall linky party over at The Teacher's Cauldron! I posted earlier this year about my  own word wall evolution and am adding this to the linky. However, I am actually wanting to spruce up my word walls next year so now I have a place to check out some new ideas that I can work on this summer.  My list for what I want to get done this summer is getting longer and longer! I need to get busy already. =(  Have a great rest of your weekend!
                                                                                                        Mrs. M

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Spring fever has hit my room! We are so excited about our caterpillars, we have several "special days" coming up and my kids are bonding with my wonderful student teacher Ms. W. Needless to say....there's a lot going on!  So when I realized the next unit in the math series we are piloting was sorting I breathed a sigh of relief. Ah, sorting. This would be an easy topic that we could just have a little fun with. Now, I really think that next year I may actually do this unit earlier in the school year. But since we are piloting I basically followed the order outlined in the series and now is when it debuts.  This actually has worked out quite well because my kids have been in need of a brain break. We've spent A LOT of time lately on addition and subtraction that this sorting unit has been a nice change of pace that the children have really enjoyed.

Ms. W did a great job of planning the math centers this week. Here's a peek at a few of the favorites!
Sorting transportation stickers! My kids love this one and it's definitely my favorite!  

Skittle sorting!!! Of course they love this. Ms. W also has a Skittles graphing activity planned for next week.

Sorting springtime butterfly and flower stickies. First they sorted by color and then by type.

Money sorting

I'm in for an exciting day tomorrow!. Ms. W is helping out in another kindergarten room and I get the kiddos to myself all day. I can't wait...I've really missed being with them full time!  It's almost Friday everyone ...enjoy what's left of this week!
                                                                                                          Mrs. M

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Overheads and a WINNER!

Congratulations to Jessica from Learn Play and Have Fun  the winner of the Llama Llama Red Pajama Emergency Sub Packet from Barb at Kinderzoo!!  Jessica be on the look out for your packet later on this evening! Thank you for following!  I also want to thank Barb for participating in my giveaway! I do not have a TPT store myself and she came to the rescue when I decided I'd like to host a giveaway. Thanks Barb!!

I also wanted to share a quick center idea from Mrs. B who teaches down the hall from me. Mrs. B's class is currently learning about oceans and sea creatures. Check out this very cute PUFFERFISH activity I posted earlier this month.  Earlier this week I popped into Mrs. B's room and saw this adorable overhead center activity!  She used laminating film as a clear background and drew fish onto it with permanent markers.  The bowl on the floor contains number tiles made for the overhead.
For this activity she focused on counting. There are seven bubbles (colored overhead counters) to match the number 7 tile. You could make equations easily by creating + , -, = signs out of some extra laminating film squares.  I've had difficulty finding a good spot for my overhead center. Each time I find a blank wall to aim it on I end up having to put a table or shelf in an odd spot to set the projector on. I like Mrs. B's solution of putting it on the floor and using the white space under her white board! Very clever!

Many of us are lucky to have the overheads that were tossed out once smartboards become so common in classrooms. There are some great center activities floating around among us I'm sure! I'd love to hear if you have any clever ways in which you use the overhead as a center in your room. Please share!
                                                                                  Mrs. M

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Memoirs of a Goldfish

Have you seen this book?!?  

Ms. W., my student teacher, brought this in. It is hilarious!! I can honestly say I haven't laughed this hard at a children's book in a long time. It's about a goldfish who is bored in his bowl all by himself. However, as more and more creatures get added to his world it becomes crowded and he is a bit upset with the situation. Ultimately it is a wonderful book about friendship and patience.

I usually tie up my ocean unit with a large mural of some type. When I mentioned this to Ms. W, being the superstar that she is, she suggested we do a fish bowl of sea creatures instead since the kids were so excited about this book! Genius!!  Soooo....onto the mural.

Ms. W first began at writing time by having each of the kids write about their favorite creature from the book. She then took a small group of kiddos and they drew a "plan" for the mural together.  Each group member made suggestions and drew one or two creatures.

For some reason I've always done my ocean murals on clear shower curtains. I first saw this in some BEAUTIFUL Reggio based preschools in St. Louis quite a few years ago. They look great in front of a window or light source of some type. It took me years to figure out that they used acrylic paint though! My tempera paint looked great but just kept flaking off. Trial and error I guess.

Here is the completed outline all ready for the kids to begin.

The painting of the mural usually takes 2-3 days. On day one the kids painted the back with the blue water and gravel. This way their creatures would show up better on the front.

On day two each group member took a turn reviewing the original plan with Ms. W. After reviewing they began painting their creature.

Now by the second day of working on this mural some of the kids' interest had fizzled and they only chose to do one of their creatures.  Also, one of the group members had some difficulty painting his creature to scale with the size of the mural. On paper his plan was fairly easy. When he first attempted to draw his slime eating creature it came out teeny tiny. We discussed that it wouldn't show up once we hung the mural up. After a few practice paint strokes he was able to create the adorable creature!  Overall this is a great cooperative activity that they did a great job with  and it's one I plan to repeat next year!

If you haven't seen it yet I'm teaming up with Barb from Kinderzoo to have a giveaway for my blog reaching 100 followers! Here's the link to this post. Enter soon and you can possibly win one of Barb's amazing emergency sub packets. I'm announcing the winner Tuesday.  I hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

100 Follower Giveaway

I now have 100 followers...yay! In order to celebrate Barb from Kinderzoo is teaming up with me to give away one of her amazing emergency sub packets! What a great concept!  I love the idea of having a packet ready to go on my desk...just in case. I've always left out a sub folder with busy work, general info and an attempt to explain my plans for the day....  but this is a bit different and by far more organized. What sub wouldn't love to have a day's worth of meaningful and engaging activities all ready for them?!  This summer I plan on getting a couple of these ready for next school year. No more "getting ready for a sub" stress! So if this sounds good to you too and you would like to win the Llama Llama Red Pajama sub packet from Barb just do the following and each action gets it's own entry.

1.  Follow The Daily Cupcake...A Kindergarten Blog  and leave a comment letting me know that you are. Also, please leave your email so I can send your prize if you are the winner. 

2.  Follow Barb's blog  Kinderzoo and leave me a comment that you are.

3.  Follow Barb's Teachers Pay Teachers Store and leave me a comment that you are.  Barb Gaither's Teachers Pay Teachers Store

I'll announce the winner on Tuesday! Good luck!
                                                                                      Mrs. M

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Under the Sea

Our ocean theme continues! This class seems to really enjoy this topic! As a whole they are more interested in ocean creatures than shells or the ocean itself. You just never know and I of course had several "shell" activities planned so we are shifting gears to reading and writing about the creatures themselves.

Our big book for this week is pictured here. They LOVED  reading about the different types of sea life!! You can also see a poster used for writing prompts and our ocean word list.  We generated the list together in class and each child copied the words they found the most interesting into their word rings.

Here is a sample from one of the word rings. Somehow this class has begun calling the rings "your handy dandy word ring!"  Not sure how this happened but I think it is adorable! They keep the rings with them as a picture/word reference when writing.

On the easel above you can see some blank sea creature books. Each child could choose which creature they wanted to write about.

We have been discussing adding details to their stories and pictures. This student is really embracing this concept!   "I see a sea horse. It is pink. I like pink because it is pretty. The sea horse is eating some sea weed. She threw up!"   We've also been discussing the /oo/ sound...can you tell?!

"She felt sick. I felt sick from being in the water and I got sea weed in my eye. I was crying and my tears were tickling me. It made me happy!"  When we discussed this story during author's chair the class loved it! They pointed out the details and they especially loved that the main character was happy at the end of the story!

In our writing center this week we have new stickie stories...we love these! Each story had different stickies on the front and as I introduced them I said that the stickies represented their characters that they should be writing about. We are still working  on these, but I can't wait to see how they turn out!

This next activity is one of my favorites!! We read A House For Hermit Crab and had a discussion with Ms. W about Hermit Crabs! Now it would have been fun to have a real Hermit Crab in the classroom for the kids to observe, but let's just say that I haven't had the best luck with this creature in the classroom in the past. Poor things just don't make it very long for me! So the next best thing was to create our own homes for hermit crabs. The kiddos each painted their own shell and we attempted to use play-doh and create the crabs to put on the inside of the shells. The play-doh part didn't work out very well so they just glued the eyes to the shells instead. I think they turned out great!  We have just a few more fun ocean activities and then we will be tying up this unit. Also, I hit 100 followers yesterday! Yay! Thank you everyone who follows and reads this blog. I'm having a great time writing it! I think a giveaway will be on it's way soon...stay tuned!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ocean stuff and TAG!

Happy Sunday! I've always liked to stay home on Sunday nights and get my upcoming week planned and organized. With three kids in sports it's the only way to stay sane at times! So as I sat down to review my lesson plans I realized that I didn't put them on my flash drive when I left school on Friday. Ugh. I was having one of "those" afternoons. So I guess I won't be doing any school work now. Oops.  Well now I have more time to do a little blog stalking and a quick post of my own!

Last week we began our ocean theme. I never know how long I am going to spend on this one. I usually judge how in depth we get by how interested my kiddos are. Many of my kids have never seen the ocean so this can be such a foreign concept for them.  We began with some basic literacy and math ocean themed activities that I posted about last week.  Here's a few pics of some additional center activities...

As part of our calendar time I often post a "question of the day."  We discuss different math concepts with the question (counting, more/less,etc.)  Sometimes we sign our names or make tally marks. For this question each child put a dot for their answer. Our concept was more/less.  I also had a student draw the shark...they love when they can contribute to class charts or graphs!

I know some of you may not find a picture of a floor puzzle too exciting but my class is OBSESSED with floor puzzles this year! They literally CHEER when they complete one and everyone in the class has to come running to see the finished product! You can see a portion of the castle puzzle behind this one. They finally finished it for the first time this week and they had been trying since about February! Very exciting day in our room when this happened!

A little abc matching fishing game for our fish theme.  Very simple but they love it!

Now onto some of the activities planned for next week. I KNOW that I saw this next activity on another blog but I can not remember which one!! I also know that theirs was much cuter than mine! If this belongs to you I apologize and please let me know...I liked yours better!

Here is my version of the recording sheet for a shark tooth subtraction activity. I attempted to download a link on google docs but it is not cooperating with me at all right now.

This is my attempt at the shark mouth for using manipulatives with the above subtraction problems. I know I'm not an artist, but (usually) my kids think I do an awesome job! Gotta love Kindergartners!

In our science center the kids love observing shells! I have several activities planned for shells this upcoming week. One of them includes a recording sheet for their observations.

For this week Ms. W and I have some fun stuff planned for the kiddos revolving around our ocean theme! I can't wait!  One more item for this post and it's I've been TAGGED!!! I love this game! This time it was by the lovely Brittany Johnson from Little Miss Teacher

Little Miss Teacher

You really need to check her site out....just adorable!! I've already tagged ten others in an earlier post but here are my answers to Brittany's questions:

1. Favorite t.v. show?  Friends or any of the Real Housewives series (especially NJ) My guilty pleasure!

2.  Favorite grade to teach?  KINDERGARTEN!!

3.  Mac or PC?   PC simply because I have never really worked with a Mac.

4.  Favorite Disney character?  Snow White

5.  Glee or Grey's Anatomy?   Grey's Anatomy

6.  Summer or Winter?  I love sitting by the fire in the Winter, but I'd have to say I'm a Summer girl.

7..Favorite holiday?  Christmas

8.  Morning or night?  night

9.  Favorite Pinterest board?  Well I have "Kindergarten, Kindergarten Literacy & Kindergarten Math" boards but my two favorite are "Hair ideas for Syd" and "Syd Stuff." Syd obviously is my daughter!

10.  Dog or cat?   Cats! I have a Persian and a Persian mix. So fluffy...I just love them!

I hope you enjoy what's left of your weekend....have a great Monday!
                                                                       Mrs. M

Friday, April 13, 2012


In an earlier post I mentioned how much I love working with student teachers. Now my original student teacher, Mrs. B, is getting to work with her own student teacher!  We are both so excited! Ms. H. just began her full time period of planning and teaching. She was kind enough to share some of her fantastic ocean particular PUFFER FISH!  Here are a few pics of the activities taking place in Mrs. B's room this week.  Enjoy!

After reading some ocean books with the class Ms. H asked them to think of a question that they had about sea creatures.  Each child wrote their question on a card and together they sorted them into topics.

Together they decided that they were going to focus on one question. The winner was "Why do Puffer Fish puff up?"

After reading about Puffer Fish the class brainstormed a list of Puffer Fish facts. Each child then wrote their own fact chart. They used their chart to help them plan for their Puffer Fish fact story they would be writing.

Here is one of the finished stories along with a PUFFER FISH!!  Ms. B found these adorable polka dotted balloons at Target! Although you can't see it on this photo each kiddo got to draw on a face on their own puffer fish. Check out the adorable one at the top of this post!

The next few photos are not about Puffer Fish, but we continue with the ocean creature theme. Mrs. B  loves to have her kids perform puppet shows! In this pic you can see the title of their play "Five Little Fishies."

Here is a close up of a few of their puppets. I love the big Puffer Fish!

Back stage of the puppet theater the kiddos have their "script" for Five Little Fishies.  Next week they plan to write their own scripts for their original puppet shows!

The kids each created their own sea creature to decorate the front of the puppet theater!  I hope that you enjoyed this post. I think that Ms. B's class did an amazing job!  Have a great weekend!
                                                                                   Mrs. M
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