Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ladybugs

I am not a huge ladybug fan.

My first house was a charming 140 year old farm house. I LOVED it.  But baby number three meant we were in need of more space.

So on the market it went.  Right before 9-11 and the huge economic issues that many are familiar with. Although I loved our house I knew it wouldn't be an easy sell.  I just took a deep breath and waited patiently. 

We kept the house on the market and as luck would have it the ladybugs moved in.

Someone told me ladybugs were lucky.

I wasn't so sure about that.  Especially when I had to vacuum swarms of them off of the ceiling every time we got the call the house was going to be shown.  The ladybugs were not my friends.

But....as luck would have it our house sold rather quickly (by December of 01) and I no longer hated the ladybugs that much.

I began to really enjoy reading various ladybug books to my kiddos and always shared my vacuum story with them. They found it cute...I just love Kindergartners.

Our current reading series has a book about beetles.  This year my kids really seemed to enjoy this topic.  Here's a peek at what we worked on with ladybugs last week.  Enjoy!

Our big book from our reading series and our beetles anchor chart.



At the science center they labeled their ladybug creations!


A ladybug CVC game for word work.  The letters are stacks for vowels and consonants. They work with a partner to pull three cards and see if they can make a real word out of them.


Our ladybug addition story problems. The kids then could do their own in their math journals.



In the block area they planned a butterfly house.....

They created their butterfly house....


Finally they recorded their structure in the block book.

Hope you enjoyed our ladybug fun! Have a great week!
                    Mrs. M







Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Three Favorite Spots In My Room....Linky Party

As teachers many of us spend more time cleaning, organizing and decorating our classrooms than we do our own homes. =)

I try to achieve balance with this but as I'm typing this I have just finished cleaning up and organizing my classroom. I'm not going to mention the huge "to do" list of chores waiting for me at home that I probably will not get to tonight.

Since our classrooms are such a home away from home for many of us it seems quite natural to want to share some of our favorite aspects of our environments.  I was quite excited to see the linky party from Flying Into First Grade that encourages us to share our three favorite spots in our classrooms! I have enjoyed seeing what everyone appreciates most in their classrooms.  Stop by and visit those that linked up....there are some great ideas that they are sharing!

So here are my three favorite spots in my room......

The Science Center

My science center changes and evolves throughout the school year but this is how it looks currently.  You can see our plants and our butterfly condo. On our green shelf the documentation from our rock project is stored and many other items of interest such as shells, scales and magnets. Off to the side (not pictured) is a book shelf of books thematically sorted by our "science" topics and a place to store our science journals.

The Writing and Post Office Center

This is the hub of our classroom! Next to the writing table itself you can see my thematic word books that I am currently using instead of a thematic word wall. We also have a book of our popcorn words.  Next door is our post office area.  The baskets contain envelopes, letter templates, seasonal cards/paper and stickers to use as stamps.  In the post office book there is a picture of each student and their address (mailbox number.)  I have helpers deliver the mail to the mailboxes several times a week.  

The Reading Center
Photo


I LOVE to check out the reading centers that other teachers set up....so many great ideas out there. Mine seems to change each year but for now this one is working out great! =)  We have books thematically sorted and the white book tubs contain leveled readers the kids shop for and keep in their book tubs.  

Thank you for stopping by and seeing my favorite spots in my room! Don 't forget to link up and share your own.  

Have a great week!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Designing a Butterfly Condo

My little scientists are so excited this week! Our caterpillars have finally formed their chrysalises!

This year I'm using a butterfly unit created by Denise Sachs who happens to be one of my fabulous co-workers!  It has lots of great centers and my kiddos are loving her observation journal!


  
It seemed like overnight our caterpillars grew from very tiny to VERY BIG.  Below you can see that one of my friends noticed this himself!


Then the real excitement began this morning....our caterpillars had formed their chrysalises!!

Although I have plenty more butterfly excitement planned for them we began slowly today by designing our butterfly condo.  Today's group was able to decorate the interior and started on the exterior. You can see some of their design work below although there is an awful glare from the plastic cover.  Each day I'll have a group that adds decorations to the condo.  Later as the decor increases I'll read  "A House for Hermit Crab" and compare our butterfly condo to the hermit crab's shell. 


"The Butterfly Condo!"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Little Tricks to Encourage "Read to Self" and "Listen to Reading" Choices During Daily 5

Let's just say I am not a naturally techno-savvy person.  I'm really not sure how I even set up this blog last year! =) However, I did and I have loved blogging ever since I began.  Imagine my alarm though when earlier this month I tried to view my blog and it had totally disappeared!

Ugh.

At first I assumed it was something simple.

As it turned out .....it was not so simple.

Anyway, after countless emails and phone calls I was finally pointed in the right direction and my blog reappeared once more. Thank you Jon from Google Enterprise  support!

Yay!

Now some of my family/friends just did not understand my frustration and sadness of having this blog vanish. But once you've put so much hard work into something you want to see it continue to grow and flourish.  I literally squealed today when it showed up again!


So onto blogging............

Throughout this year I have continued to add various aspects of the Daily 5/Cafe to our day.  I may not follow the program exactly the way the sisters describe but I pick and choose the aspects that work for me.  I have loved working with the program in this manner.

Lately though I have noticed my kids not choosing "read to self" or "listen to reading" as quickly as they might  the other Daily 5 choices.  After observing this for some time I decided to move a few things around to help encourage an interest in these choices once more.

Listen to Reading
In our classroom we use our traditional "listening center" as our method for listening to reading. For "read to someone" we use our charts/big book area.    I have found that partner reading during our Daily 5 time was just a little too noisy for me.  The charts/big book area doesn't seem to get as noisy although I'm not sure why.

For the majority of the year this system worked just fine.  When I first introduced the "listen to reading" choice I only had a couple of books on CD/tapes available and it was a very popular choice.  As the year continued  I added more books/tapes each in their own storage bags. The bags began to pile up near the CD player and the files containing any papers they needed to complete were a jumbled mess.

So after a little room re-arranging I had some extra shelf space.  I took our books and the coordinating tapes (or CD's) and displayed them on the shelf.....

We also have our little work table and supplies for any papers I want them to complete after listening to reading.  In this picture you can also see our reading pointer storage.



You can also see the old storage bags I haven't found a new use for. =)

Read to Self
Over the years I have had various items in my reading centers to encourage children to practice reading to themselves.  A bathtub, a rocket, wicker furniture, rocking chairs, bean bags and bouncy seats have all made guest appearances in my reading areas.

My favorite has been the claw foot bathtub which is sadly collecting dust in my basement now.  I should think about having it make a return.... if I can get my husband to haul it out of there that is!

For now I have "the red couch on the stage."  They love the red couch! However, just like anything else they lost interest in this area lately.  This is where most of our "read to self" time occurs so I really hated to see this happen.

Sooooo.............
I moved a few things around and came up with this:



We still have the red couch on the stage but now we have our blue chairs and bean bag for more seating.  I also have some bumpy seats under one of the chairs.  The children can choose from thematically sorted books as well as the leveled tubs they are currently book shopping from.

For now we've had success! Their interest in choosing "listen to reading" and "read to self" has increased!

So I'm very interested in what types of tricks do you use to keep your kids motivated and engaged in reading? Please share!  =)

                         Thanks for reading and I'm so happy to be part of the blog world once again!
                                                                                                                 Mrs. M

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Math Station Fun

I love Springtime in Kindergarten! So many fun things to do! We recently returned from spring break and now it's time for some springtime fun with a couple of new math stations for this week. 

 
Kite Addition
 
 
 
I've done this activity for a couple of years now with my students. This is one that they all seem to enjoy!  Some years I have them draw their spring items on each side of their kite and some years we use "stickies." 
 
 
Addition / Egg Cartons and Counters
 
 
 
There are so many great activities out there in the blog world that involve egg cartons. Here's one that I've been doing for a while.  For this one we mix up using the traditional dotted dice and numbered dice. This year I managed to find foam dice which managed to really help with noise reduction.  Yay!!! 
 
 
This week we are just beginning to dive into the many fun activities of Spring.I'm getting our seeds ready to plant our our caterpillars are on their way! Now I need to get my HUGE box of Spring activities/centers out of the closet but I am procrastinating. :-)   I hope you have a great week! Thanks for stopping by.
                                                                                                        Mrs. M
 
 


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