Friday, June 29, 2012

Cute Ideas from Vacation Bible School and BUILD

So, I plunged in to our church's vacation bible school and had the experience of being a preschool "guide."  Our church did stations, so in essence, I became a sheep herder/songstress/bathroom escort, etc. for 12 little ones.  I dug deep for songs and games that would be appropriate for 3-4 year olds (five little monkeys....bed and alligator/crocodile versions were a hit!).  It was quite the experience!  Let's just say there were days I came home and took a nap! Fortunately, it was from 9-12 each day.  

I think I'll stick with my second graders, but it HAS given me more confidence to one day explore first grade....but not yet.

Our theme this year was ocean-based and I wanted to share some really cute ideas we did this week!  

One of the stations was "creative snacks."  There were two that really stood out that I want to somehow build into an ocean theme in my room.  The first was "sushi."  Take a large marshmallow and place a gummy fish (in this case, the fish were sliced in half) on or side.  Then, take a fruit strip (like a Fruit Rollup) and wrap it around the marshmallow.  It was a hit with the kids!

The second was a clam/oyster.  Take two vanilla wafer cookies.  We used pink icing (vanilla with red food coloring) on one side of the cookie and placed a mini-marshmallow in the front (the pearl).  Then, place the other vanilla wafer on top, so that it rests the back on the icing of the bottom cookie and the front on the marshmallow (open mouth).  Add mini chocolate chips to the top as eyes.  It was adorable!

The other, simple yet a bit hit with the kids (maybe it was the sprinkles).  Blue icing (vanilla with blue food coloring) on graham crackers.  Add graham goldfish and sprinkles (coral reef).

I really wish I had taken my camera with me!  I hope my descriptions were some point, I may make these with my kids again this summer and post pictures on here or Pinterest (or both!).  There were some cute crafts as well, but I'll save that for another post.

I recently came across an idea that's probably old, but it was new to me!  I have done math centers and small group math for years (and trust me, the Investigations series we use does not gear well towards small groups, but I force it anyway...I can't stand teaching whole group math when I know I've lost half my little learners 5 minutes into the lesson!).  I was delighted when I came across the concept of "BUILD."  It's a great way to organize my centers, rather than putting out a themed basket with the previous and current units. 

BUILD stands for:
Buddy Games
Using Manipulatives
Independent Working/Reading
Learning About Numbers
Doing Math

Adventures In Teaching has a great description of this, and First Grade Frog Blog actually has a sample of her centers.  It's become another summer project (do we EVER give ourselves a break from teaching?  Nope, probably not!).  I'm building an EXCEL sheet to organize my Investigations games as well as math centers I've found and/or created for at least the first unit of the series.  I'll be sure to post it as soon as it's finished!  So, if you're looking for a way to organize your centers, this is a GREAT way to do it!  Be sure to check the blogs mentioned above...they were a big help!

Stay cool...we reached triple digits today :(  I'm hoping this current heat wave won't last long!  It's making those 90 degree days seem better and better!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

More Read Aloud Activities!

So, I've been putting together packs with 3 more read-alouds to use in the classroom--something that would be great to pull out when you have a sub!  Directions are included, so it makes it a little easier to leave it all together in a packet to pull when you need it. :) 

The books I focused on this time are Julius by Syd Hoff (Danny the Dinosaur fame), Zack's Alligator, and Billy and the Magic String.  These can all usually be found in your school library if they're not already in your classroom! 

Through today, they're only 50 cents at my Teacher's Notebook store!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Vacation? Not Really....

Any of the rest of you have that?  I mean, I can sleep in and set my own schedule (yippeee!), but right now I'm helping a friend in her classroom merge her items with that of a retiring teacher who left her 30+ years of things (which are GOOD!).  I always have my "to do" list over the summer, so other than sleeping in and not going into my classroom (they ban us until the floors are done!), it's very similar to my school-year weekends! :)

Well, as we merge the 1,001 books together :) and organize them into categories and tubs, we ended up with a pile of classic, good stories, but nowhere to classify them.  I suggested we make them "sub plan" know, where you're able to pull one and have a sub read it aloud to the class and have a few follow-up activities.

I mean, if you're like me, don't you write about 5 pages of sub plans?  I drag myself in unless I'm running a fever because those plans are so lengthy (but they have to be!).  

Anyway, so last night I focused on two of her books...In a People House and It's Not Easy Being a Bunny and came up with two activities.  I LOVE working with books and follow-up activities (guess it's the media specialist in me!), so I enjoyed doing it (yes, my husband says I'm weird!).  This way, I also know I'm helping her out (and myself as well...even though she teaches Kindergarten and I am second...I could use some of the activities for my lower readers!).....we're going to slip the book and activities in a ziploc bag and have it in a tote so she can just pull it for her sub to use, with directions and everything!  

Thought I'd share the idea as well as the links to the two books below on TpT and TN.  Still having my sale on if you'd like to check it out....each packet is 50 cents through this Saturday or Sunday, I believe!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Currently and Last Week of School!

Wow!  Okay, so this was the last week of school!  Monday was field day/5th grade graduation (that would be my "baby"...well, really, my oldest, but aren't they always your baby???), Wednesday was 11am dismissal, Thursday teacher workday, and Friday I got to be a mom and go register my son for 6th grade -- middle school!  
To explain, we live in one county and I teach in the county next door.  So, the plan has always been that the kids would attend elementary school with me and then go to middle and high schools in the county we live in.  

Makes sense, right?  

Well, we were a little nervous UNTIL Jack found out 2 things:  Spring semester, he'll be taking a computer course for one of his electives where he will design and build robots and rockets and 2) there's an after-school Lego robotics club.  Oh yeah, that went a LOOOONG way with him! :)  Makes me happy that HE's happy and excited to go!  Of course, I joked with him in front of the counselor that I could teach up to 8th grade (where she then stated that they have openings in the English department....very politely told her I was happy where I was!).  It seems like it's going to be a good fit for him.  Fingers are crossed.  Calendars ALMOST match up.  We start Wed. August 15th.  He'll start August 22nd.  We'll figure something out.  

Last day of school is 11am dismissal.  We spent the first hour cleaning and stacking chairs, desks, and things on the counter.  I had downloaded the free "Minute to Win It" game from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits to fill the rest of the time.  OMG!  The kids LOVED LOVED LOVED it!!! What a FANTASTIC way to end the year!  They had a blast!  We split into teams (although I told the kids they were playing against the clock, not each other) and did 2 students at a time for each "event."  I got lots of pictures, but missed on one of the funniest ones because I was laughing too hard.  It was the one where the kids have vaseline on their noses, and they have to transfer cotton balls from one plate to another, using only their nose.  Too funny!!!!!  The best pictures came from the kids trying to move cookies from their forehead down to their mouths using only facial muscles.  Classic!  I promise I will post pictures when I can find my camera.  It was just in my purse this morning.  Hmmm.

Okay, the summer to do list...obviously, the house has been severely neglected during the school year.  Embarrassingly so.  So, I'm trying to do one room every couple of days.  TRYING to get my husband involved as well.  He did okay with our closet today, I have to admit!  Laundry mountain needs to be conquered as well.  Then, there's the "self-improvement" know, the ZUMBA.  I swear, it's the only way I can lose weight!  Dieting does NOT work!  If I do it every day (the 20 minute express on my DVD), it will actually help!  I'd LOVE to walk into teacher workdays a few sizes smaller....strutin' my stuff, so to speak!  I will also have to repeat my mantra that Sheetz is still 15 minutes from my house and I do NOT have to go there each day, even if I'm eating a salad!!!!  Then, of course, there's the little projects I want to do for school units, things I want to make for TpT/TN, etc.  

Then, there's my best friend who teaches Kindergarten.  Who every year, I finish my room then I go to help her finish her room (at another school).  This year, it's not just her stuff.  She accepted things from a retiring 30+ years teacher.  Granted, it's GOOD STUFF.  But there is NO WHERE to put it!  And we are trying to organize it and merge it in with her things.....can we say "teacher hoarders"???? LOL  

I admit, I'm one too.  I was doing the disclaimer for my assistant principal as we were going down the hallway to check me out for the summer.  I mean, last year, our old assistant had said "GOOD GOLLY! THAT'S A LOT OF STUFF!!!" when she came to check me out (we have to get everything off the floor, and since I use a lot of shelves, baskets, bean bags, etc, it was all piled on top of my the ceiling...hey, we have no closets!).  Funny thing was, he didn't say anything.  He just nodded, signed my paper and left.  Well, it was lunch time, so maybe his mind was on that.

So, anyway, I am spending the next week helping my friend combine her things.  It's a bit overwhelming.  I mentioned the organized classroom blog and got a glare from her today.  So, we're trying.  The books at least got somewhat organized today.  Then, we're combining hers with them tomorrow.  Whew!  

So, she did NOT want me to ask for any suggestions...she just said we have to work through what she has.  No money for extra containers - we have to use what she has (she has a teenager, so she has no money!).  Good thing is, I don't think she'll ever have to buy anything for school again. EVER!  AND I get to borrow whatever I want, like this life-size teepee for Native Americans.  However, if you want to comment a suggestion....well, maybe she'll be too busy to read this post. :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

End of Year Ideas

So, this week and last have been hard because 1) end of year testing 2) disruption of schedules (field day/awards assemblies, etc) and 3) the kids are CRAZY this time of year!  

So, in order to review, but also keep them focused and somewhat calm (hah hah).....I first created an ocean theme that turned into "Animal Afternoons", as my students called it.  We used our writing/read aloud time to explore the oceans and then during reading groups, students worked on murals and ocean-based literacy activities.  It was a big hit!  

In reading groups, I used books I picked up from the Target Dollar Zone on animals, and students picked an animal from the book and filled out an animal matrix.  I have these free on my TN and TpT stores if you like what you see!  Just click on the picture to take you to Teacher's Notebook or here for TpT. :)

Then, as a review for math, we created "Fraction Monsters."  Students had a great time using our scrap we accumulated during the year to create monsters, then during the next lesson, they created fractions based on shapes or colors of their monsters (they had to count the total parts they had used to create their monster).

So, we have an interesting theme in our hallway right now - space, ocean, and monsters!  Ah well, it's the end of the year. :)  It's kept the kids interested while we've been fitting in our 4 end of year tests (reading, math, science, history) and our crazy schedule!  

Next week, we'll be doing some activities for Father's Day, which is new for me...normally, we are out before Memorial Day, but due to that lovely rattle and roll we had in August, we don't get out until this Wednesday.  Two and a half days...think we can make it! :)