Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Seasonal Units Part 2

So from late December/January til the end of the year (May for us).  I will say I don't do Mother's Day or Father's Day since those are handled in the classroom.  Plus, you have those students who are raised by grandparents or in foster situations, so I like to avoid those, if possible.

Sorry for skipping a few weeks - we had the shock of our lives when my 18 year old, 4 days post graduation, was diagnosed with leukemia!  He had complained about his leg hurting and my husband thought, at worst, a hernia.  Imagine our shock when he got that diagnosis! So I've been spending a lot of time in the hospital (UVA in Charlottesville VA - good thing it's like 45 min from our house) with him and frankly, haven't felt much like doing schoolwork!  Today we're hoping to hear the news that he's in remission so cross your fingers!

On to the units:

Gingerbread (January):  I sometimes have to scrap this unit if the classes are already doing it, but I LOVE doing the "alternate" Gingerbread stories.  Sometimes I will do this along with the classes, making sure I'm adding a different one than what they are using.  My favorite "alternate" to use is Ninjabread Man by C.J. Leigh.  (The cookie is dangerously delicious!).  To go along with the story as a follow up activity, students do a number of different stations with a gingerbread theme:
*decorate (paper) gingerbread people and houses
*"Roll a Gingerbread" - where they roll the dice and add whatever feature the dice dictates (6=mouth, for example)
*Gingerbread BUMP
*Gumdrop patterns (I usually use colored cubes for this to match the gumdrops on the paper because you're bound to have one kid eat it after lots of dirty little hands have been on it!).

I've had these activities for so long in my files, I'm not quite sure where they are from (sorry!).  I do remember them being freebies so check TPT and Pinterest.  I also have some gingerbread puzzles and counters (where they match the dots to the number), that I inherited with the library.

February:  I love doing Black History Month stories and always try to choose the less mainstream heroes students do not study in the classroom.  Also at this age, it's hard to point out that people discriminate based on the color of your skin. That's why I fell in love with the book that I used this year:  Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue about Ron McNair and his access to the library as a young boy.  It's a fantastic story that doesn't get too heavily into segregation, but is fantastic for this age since he can use the library but can't have a library card because of the color of his skin.  He decides to stand up (literally - on the desk, and not move) until he can get one.  As a bonus, I found his biography in our Spring Book Fair and was able to share it with some of my older students as well. Obviously, the levels differ (it's more of an older grades biography), but I could also use this book with my older students and then show the biography of this man's incredible life.  As usual, the Kinders love the fact that the person is still living and that his photograph is at the end of the book.  As a follow up activity, we colored pictures about space and students drew Ron in his astronaut uniform in space, or a rocket ship with a smiley face out the window, etc.  Again, nothing to share here with you since it's from a coloring book.  I'm sure you can find something online at one of the free coloring pages or you can use mycutegraphics.com, which has astronaut clipart for free.

Iditarod:  I LOVE doing a big unit on the Iditarod for all grades.  Last year, I started using Google Classroom for my 3rd-5th graders and chose a focus for each grade - Alaskan Geography/Climate, Klondike Gold Rush, Dog Sledding (focusing on the Denali sled dogs).  For Kindergarten, I do a much shorter unit on sled dogs themselves.  We decorate sled dog outlines and use the globe to find Alaska, pointing out the distance from where we live, and talk about the weather there and why they would use sled dogs.  I also have some plush husky dogs and a few race memorabilia I've collected from either ordering from the Iditarod store or from a conference I went to when the musher (in 2018) was from Fredericksburg, VA.
May Finds Her Way (amazon.com)  by Betty S. Casey:  The illustrations, as well as the story, help introduce the Inuit culture, as well as the race from the dog's point of view.  May gets lost during the race but manages to find her way back to the trail, where she's found by a volunteer/race official (it's never quite clear) and she's reunited with her musher/owner and the other dogs. 
Yukon Sled Dog by Judith Presnall:  A great story about how dogs are trained from puppyhood until they're ready for their first race. 
Iditarod (Extreme Races) by Sue Hamilton:  A great nonfiction book, I don't read cover to cover but highlight parts to students.  It has amazing photographs and afterwards, students decorate a "quilt square" (square piece of paper that taped together, they can hang outside their classroom) about what they've learned.  I actually save this for my third book since they have so much more information to draw in their square.

So, during this time, I'm also reading our 10 nominees for our state awards (Virginia Readers Choice), so if you're wondering why I don't have more going on from January-March, well, the others are filled in with whatever books we have nominated that year, along with follow up activities.  I've put the titles of the books I've mentioned below so you can see the covers.  May Finds Her Way I've only been able to locate on Amazon which is a shame, because the binding in the one I have is broken, so I'll probably end up ordering another one and using the "broken" one to read.  The rest were either already on my shelves or I ordered from the more popular vendors.  Next post, I'll let you know some of the fun units I end the year with, including dinosaurs, oceans, zoos, and I Spy/Hidden Pictures!
Image result for ninjabread man

Click for more information on this title

Image result for yukon sled dog bookClick for more information on this titleClick for more information on this title

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Seasonal Units (Part 1)

Last time I blogged, I mentioned I'd do some lessons on emotions as well as a fall seasonal one.  I am still going to share the "emotions" one, but for this post, I thought I would just throw all the seasonal ones I do together.

If you're like my district, you do have students that celebrate and don't celebrate certain holidays.  I tend to leave some of the traditional ones to the individual classrooms, but there are some that I do in the library that I feel are appropriate for everyone, no matter what you do or do not celebrate!

So let's go!
BookMonster Needs a Costume by Paul Czajak (October)
Who doesn't love monsters?  In this story, a boy and his monster want to dress up for trick or treating, however the "treating" isn't the main part of the story.  Monster sees things, such as cowboys and ballet, and wants to dress up as each one, changing his mind constantly. Finally at the end he does a combination of costumes.  It's a really cute story and like I said, you can downplay the end where they are trick or treating.

So the activity I chose to go with this was using some monster clip art I had, print out several different types of monsters (I suggest checking out Educlips or Creative Clips - they are two of my favorite).  The link takes you to the Educlips blog so you can either choose her website to buy from or Teachers Pay Teachers.  The Creative Clips takes you to the TPT site (since I don't know if she has a personal site to buy from).  

I printed out full size pages of each monster and instructed the children to create a costume for monster - they could do a mixed up one, like the end of the book, or create a brand new one.  They loved it!  I added a line at the top of each one that said, "My monster is a _____" and they (or I helped) wrote in what they chose!

Image result for run turkey run    Image result for a plump and perky turkey
BookRun Turkey Run by Diane Mayr and A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman (November)
Activity:  turkey calls 
Materials: "Solo" cups, twine, toothpick or qtip, turkey head/tail template

So several years back at my State Fair, I received a free Educators box from the National Wild Turkey Federation.  In it was a way to make turkey calls.  I know if you go to their site, it's a $50 box but if you plan on teaching turkeys to multiple levels each year, it's worth it.  However, the turkey calls are easy to assemble, for the most part, so I'll see if I can explain them here.  Side note: when I did this in my 4th grade classroom, one of my hunters used his call he made and it worked!

I pre-did my calls so that all my Kinders had to do were to color the head and tail, cut out, and glue or tape to the cup. (To make your own template, just use clip art with a turkey head and then tail feathers).
To create the call:  Take a "Solo" cup (or any off brand plastic cup that's like it) and using scissors or some sort of punch, make a hole at the bottom of the cup.  String twine through so it rests below the cup, kind of like a bell.  Tie the end of the twine to a toothpick or qtip so that the string won't go all the way through the hole, so it's resting on top of the cup.  A few quick tugs on the cup, and it sounds like a turkey making a "cutting" sound.  If you go to the NWTF site, you can actually play real turkey sounds for students!  I created a powerpoint with different wild turkey pictures that you can access {here}.  I play the turkey sounds in the background while they work (included in the box was a CD so it's continuous, but I'm sure you can look up turkey sounds on youtube for continuous).  

Book: Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes (November)
Activity:  Thankful turkeys
This year, I also added to my traditional "make the turkey calls and drive the teachers crazy" November lesson.  I also did a lesson using this book, Thanks for Thanksgiving.  I know in the classes they talk about the first Thanksgiving, but I wanted the students to understand WHY it's a time people celebrate being thankful for things.  Again, it doesn't have to necessarily be about the holiday (although in the book, it shows them gathering together).  If you have students who don't celebrate Thanksgiving, you can tell them it's a family meal.  After, I had a huge bulletin board turkey I used on the outside my library bulletin board, and the students wrote on feathers what they were thankful for or drew pictures.  I actually did this lesson with K-3 this year.  It turned out really cute!  If you don't have a bulletin board (I asked for one and actually got one!), then you could have students either fill out feathers or clip art turkeys to do the same thing.

Image result for how the grinch stole christmas
Book: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (December)
Activity:  Spreading Kindness
I actually went the easy route and showed the original animated film (Boris Karloff) with this.  They were using my library for the "PTA Holiday Shop" and I wanted an activity where students who didn't bring money to buy trinkets would have more to do than just watch a movie.  I'll include a picture of the finished bulletin board, but we discussed how the Grinch grew kinder at the end of the story and each child decorated a heart and (at lower levels), drew a picture to show a way we've been kind to others.  Older students (and yes, did this K-5) wrote down a kind act.  The Grinch's example was how he always fed Max and took care of him.  That's what's hanging from his hand on the bulletin board.  The kids who were not buying were the ones who would go with me to hang everyone's heart up.  It made a great display and went with our kindness theme this year!  Oh!  We also collected canned goods for our local food pantry, to show kindness as a school.  

So that's it for the first semester.  I also do a gingerbread comparison (depending on whether teachers do it in class) some years - take the original, then do some of the "other" ones like Ninjabread Man and the Laura Murray books, then kids create a gingerbread man.  I actually do that one more in January because December is so short, so I'll share it then!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Friendship and Sharing: Kindergarten Unit 2

The second unit for Kindergarten was "Friendship and Sharing."  It's a hard concept for those that are not used to a school environment or a class size of 20.  Not to mention the playground!  So, using the following books, we focused on positive messages:
Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen
Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems
Groovy Joe by Eric Litwin
Snatchabook by Helen Docherty

I would have used Pete the Cat and I used to do a unit on different Pete books, but now it's part of Kindergarten curriculum, so I didn't want to "double up", but it is fun to read later because the whole "Did Pete cry? Goodness no!" is so cute coming from Kinders who know the story!

BookHow Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? (or any other book dealing with sharing/friendship in the  Dinosaurs series)
Materials: plastic eggs (24 per group), 24-piece puzzle, picture of completed puzzle (i.e. box or tin it came in), buckets to put eggs in as they find them

How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? is an excellent book for this unit.  My only problem is that I could only find it in board book form at the time I ordered it.  It's got a great message though and is definitely worth reading!  I love being interactive with this group and depending on the personality of the class, we'll either do a verbal yes or no or a quiet thumbs up or down as we read.  After reading, I had my older helpers hide eggs in the library (because dinosaurs lay eggs, right?).  These are leftover from Easter and I try to buy the patterned ones so that each group had a different pattern to find.  For example, one was sparkly, the other had butterflies printed on them, and so forth.  I have about 4-5 different kinds I've collected over the years.  Inside each egg is a puzzle piece.  I have purchased these 24-piece puzzles in the tin from Dollar Tree because they're small enough to fit in the eggs.  If you are unlucky enough to have smaller pieces like that in a 24-piece or (gasp!) no Dollar Tree near you, it is possible to cut up pictures, like old calendars, into however many pieces you want and have students put these together.  Just like the dinosaurs had to share and work together in the book, student groups (of no more than 4) work together to "crack open their eggs" and put the puzzle together.  At this time, I would be circulating around tables, helping find "lost" eggs (if they didn't have all 24), and reminding them to put together matching colors with their pieces.  Also, reminders to share like the dinosaurs because there's always that child who wants to do it him or herself!  If it's taking too long, I have them check out, then come back to their puzzles to complete.  If you have time, it's fun to have them hide them for the next group!

BookElephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems (almost any will do)
Materials:  centers/stations with items students have to share to play (see examples below)

Since these stories are sort of short, we read two:  A Big Guy Took My Ball and Can I Play, Too?  These are great to use to talk about including others, as well as playing together nicely.  I am lucky enough to have Gerald and Piggie stuffed characters, so I use them to introduce the story.  As we read, students give a thumbs up/thumbs down about whether they think the characters are doing the right thing/playing nicely.  We go over, after we read, some of the scenarios, and I get students opinions on what they should/should not have done.  Another good one to read is, Should I Share My Ice Cream?  A great follow up activity for any of these books are to have students do activities that involve sharing, whether it's putting together a puzzle, playing with a limited number of Legos/building blocks, sharing a limited supply of something (View Masters and the Train Table are two big ones we have to work on during the year!), or whatever you think students would enjoy but need to remember to share.  You can also do the inclusion in there as well, reminding students that not everyone plays the same or looks the same, but we can all find a way to play together!

BookGroovy Joe by Eric Litwin
Materials:  ice cream cone patterns, ice cream scoop patterns (3 per child)

Groovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs is a great one for sharing and like the Pete the Cat books, have that repetition the kids love to join in!  Since it talks about sharing during the story, there isn't much to stop and discuss, but it's fun to have the students predict what will happen next!
After, for our activity, students had a lot of fun coloring a cone and then creating 3 different ice cream scoop flavors, then gluing them all together.  For the sake of time, some classes I had the scoops precut and laid out on tables (for those that were still struggling with scissors and cutting).  A triangle ice cream cone wasn't too difficult for most of them.  We created ice cream cones to remind us of Groovy Joe and we sang, "Love our doggy ice cream!" when the teacher came to pick them up!

BookSnatchabook by Helen Docherty
Materials:  stack of books (4-5)

I love the story of Snatchabook!  It was one of our state reading books a few years back and I was happy to "revise" it for this unit.  If you're not familiar with the story, it takes place in a forest village of animals and each night, the bedtime books keep disappearing!  Eliza Brown decides to get to the bottom of this mystery and captures the "Snatchabook" who was only taking books because no one would read to him.  So, Eliza offers to read to him IF he returns all the books, which he does.  It really resonates with this age because too often, it's the "I want" and then they grab it without thinking of the consequences.  We have some great discussions on other ways Snatchabook could have asked to be read a bedtime story, even if he felt shy. 
For our activity, we then play a game where I show students 4-5 book covers and then stack them up.  I pick a student who goes out of the room and I "snatch" a book from the stack and hide it.  The student has to figure out which book is missing when they return.  Very similar to the "Doggy Doggy Where's Your Bone?" game.  Since these are quick rounds, I try to give everyone a chance to play.  We then go out to our tables and students draw and color a picture of Snatchabook and his new friends.  Many will draw Eliza reading to him.  It's very cute what they come up with!  I walk around and students share with me what their picture is about (because at this age, sometimes it's hard to tell!). 

So that is my unit for Friendship and Sharing!  Next is two mini units on Emotions and a fun one:  Monster Needs a Costume.

I blogged two weeks in a row!  I have to admit, this is a great way for me to review my year as well as share some ideas that worked pretty well!  I hope you're able to use some!  Thanks for reading!

Image result for snatchabook

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Flexible Schedule and Starting Over

So here's to keeping up with my blog (again)!  Next year, I'll be leaving our resource rotation and going to a flexible schedule.  I'm excited, but a little nervous about it.  I had to wait to announce it, so I haven't had too much time to work on teacher buy-in before the end of our school year.  So, I'm compiling a list of questions and ideas on a Google Doc to talk to my administrator as well as keeping all my ideas in one place (and not on various sticky notes that can get lost!).  I have the wonderful help of a Facebook Group - Learning Librarians - which is super helpful!  Out of our four elementary schools in our district, only two of us are going to the flex schedule, so we'll also be planning together.

That leads me to looking through lessons that I've done this past year and either tweaking them to include in my "presentations" to grade levels or in the case of Kindergarten and First, I'll be doing a weekly 30 minute read aloud/activity/check out with them.  We also have a preschool and autism self-contained classes in our building, so I'll be looking at those as well (although not "fixed" they've indicated to me they will want a weekly time slot!).

So, I decided why not review by blogging about it?  This way, I can share my ideas with you as well as "talk aloud" about it because who doesn't talk through their thoughts, right?

So, first up is my first "unit" with Kindergarten:  Introduction to the Library (which includes book care).  Most of these little rascals have never been in a public school setting before and not used to sitting for long periods of time at the beginning of the year (when I say long periods, I'm talking maybe 5 minutes).  We have steps we sit on in a "story room" in my library and yes, they have actually tried to roll down them before!  Yes, the beginning of the year with them (and strangely, also the end of the year), is truly like "herding cats."

So, to keep them engaged, I stick to a pattern I keep up all year.  We have a welcome song we sing when they enter, I introduce what we're doing to them (for the first days of course I introduce myself), we talk about what the library is, read a story, and then go to the tables to do an activity while I call individuals to check out.  My first year in the library, I learned VERY quickly to create name cards because they hardly know their last name, let alone their first!  However, if you call it, they will come!  We check out by "lunch number" (which is their student number) so I have that on their card as well.  This coming year, I will be doing self-checkout and in an attempt to get ahead, created cards during Spring Break which, unfortunately, came late and it was my last week of checkout so we didn't get the practice in I wanted!  But, they're all created and ready for next year (except for new students and incoming Kindergarteners), so it wasn't too much time wasted.  I'm still not sure if this is what I want to introduce to my Kinders, but I might use them so they can at least see them so hopefully by the second semester of first grade, they'll be able to come and check out books on their own!

So, back to the schedule.  We sing our song (I can't remember where I got it from but if you Google library songs, it'll come up I'm sure) which they love (and I do the same song for first grade) that I call "Clap and Sing Hello" (to the tune of "Farmer in the Dell").  It's a good way to settle them down.
I also have a "get ready to read" song but somehow made it too wild over the years so by the last month of school, I "forget" to sing it with them, but it's "If You're Ready for a Story".  Again, Google it but I don't think those are the names, just the first lines.  They love it, though!

So, my first unit:  Introduction to the Library
Week One:  What Is a Library?
Featuring:  Mr. Wiggles Book (sometimes I "edit" as I read depending on their reactions or attention span); and The Library by Julie Murray; Book Care Boo Boos (mentioned below)
*Note:  I sometimes change these books up over the years, depending on what I get in my collection but these are the two I used this past year*
We read the book The Library and discuss what we do at a library, if you've ever been to a public library, how we choose one book at our school library (because we have to share), how we bring books back, etc.
We then read a somewhat shortened version of Mr. Wiggles' Book (because they're starting to get squirmy) and I usually use a stuffed caterpillar (TY has one off of Amazon) to "tell" the story to keep their attention.  I shorten it because (of course) attention span and honestly, sometimes the book is downright depressing! 
We go over our "Book Boo Boos" poster and I talk to them about what will happen next (activity; check out).  They then work together on a sort about treating books "happy" or "sad" (based on the poster), and then color bookmarks to take home.  If we have time, they also cut them.  I created the Book Care Packet several years ago and put it up on TPT if you're interested.

Week Two:  A Perfectly Messed Up Story
Featuring:  A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell, vocabulary cards you can find free on TPT
I LOVE this book!  Even at this age, the kids get the humor in it although many want to touch the pages to make sure it's not real.  I always have a few who think I messed up the book as a lesson, but I tell them the author/illustrator made it that way to teach about how the characters feel about their stories being messed up.
As an activity for this one, students play a matching game with the vocabulary cards.  They have pictures on them of different parts of a book and library terms.  I like to use them because even though they're matching the pictures, at least they're being exposed to the words, right?  After, they are able to choose activities off a cart I have that I change over every once in a while that include things like puzzles, Hi Ho Cherry O (they love that), playdoh, Legos, other building blocks, Viewmasters, etc.

Week Three:  The Library Doors
Featuring:  The Library Doors by Toni Buzzeo
By now, it's a review for students and they're guessing the routine - welcome song, introduction, story, activity/check out.
For this lesson, we sing the "Wheels on the Bus" song together.  I then tell them I have a "musical" story for them and it uses the same tune but different words, all about the library!  I read it to them first, then we go back through and sing it together doing kind of an echo reading/singing.  If my voice is up for it, I'll sing it the first time (I do not have the greatest voice, but the kids don't complain!).
After, we head to our seats for our activity and checkout.  I also use the cart again this week, but I do explain to students that sometimes, we'll be doing other activities as well. 

Well, I hope you liked the first three weeks (our first unit) in Kindergarten.  I hope there's something you can use!  I'm off to pick up my son from graduation practice (ugh, how is he a senior and 18???) so next time, hopefully soon, I'll post our friendship unit - the second unit I did with K this past year - which honestly was sorely needed!  My plan is to share by grade levels what we did all year so hopefully by the end of the summer, if not before, I'll have K-5 done with maybe some PreK and Autism thrown in!