Wednesday, November 14, 2012

P is for Pumpkins

Wow!  Has it been a long time since I posted last!  (There might be a series of posts coming up so I can catch up....!)

The last two weeks of October we learned about pumpkins.

Science: The Life Cycle of a Pumpkin
 Marble Painting the smaller pumpkins

 Cutting the seed out

 Sequencing the pumpkin cycle together.  Seed, leaf, blossom, small green pumpkin, medium yellow pumpkin, and finally large orange pumpkin

Magnet Center:
Making pumpkin faces.

Art Project:
Mixing red and yellow to make orange.  I told the kids that I ran out of orange paint so what colors could we use?  The inspiration for this project came from here.

Paper pumpkin.

Journal: (for the 3s)
Fine motor to pull stickers off and place on circle, then trace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fun Fall Extras!

When I was sick in the beginning of October, my dad drove 2 hours at 1:30 on a Sunday morning to come and rescue me.  Yeah...I was that sick!  However, I reached a turning point and soon my dad was leaving.  I truly appreciate that he was there for me!

On his way out, he found a praying mantis by my garbage can!  We caught it and I took it to school for that week.  My kids LOVED it!  One mom, who was big into science, looked at it and said that it was a female and it was pregnant.  I believe she said we could have close to 1500 babies soon!  Eek! We don't need that in the classroom.

She also said that it was hungry.  She brought in live crickets and dropped it in the cage.  Before we knew it, the kids were watching the praying mantis catch the crickets and chomp away at it.  Circle of life.  And you know what, the kids LOVED it.

Here's a picture of the bug eating the cricket.

Needless to say, the bug went home with that mom.  The student came back this week and said that the mantis laid the sack.  She can keep the babies at her house!

On another note...

Here's our October bulletin board!

Leaves are Falling One by One

Thought I would share our letter L theme for the past couple of weeks....Leaves!

 Melting Crayons on a candle warmer.  Idea from here!  My kids loved it!  Wonderful science experiment for the children as well because they learned how heat melted the crayons down.


 Finished leaf tree!  
 Seasons of a tree.  Idea from this website!

Leaf Man Rubbings!  Oregano is the texture on the acorn head and feet.

Clifford Scholastic Reader

Leaf patterning.  I bought paper punches from Michael's so it was easier to prepare!  I will keep these for the students portfolios.

The Leaves are Falling One by One (get it here!)  I got the Book on CD from Scholastic and then had leaf cutouts.  The students got to throw leaves in the air when they heard the line "Fly, Fly, Fly!"  They absolutely loved this!  Hopefully you can see the leaf cutouts in the picture.  Hard to capture when all the kids were moving around!

Leaves...Make it Work!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why I Teach in Lutheran Schools

Some of my classes have been tough this year.  Some not listening, some very whiny, some very needy.  However, in the midst of the rough classes, I had one shining moment and reminded me why I am a teacher...especially a teacher in Lutheran schools!  (And just so you know....the tough classes will get's only October!)

For the past couple of weeks I have been teaching the children about creation.  A parent gave me a this CD last year and I discovered it had a Creation Musical on it.  The CD has songs for each day of creation.  The kids are getting a kick out of it.  It starts off with opera music, then it goes country, then it goes rock!

We have been working on learning these songs, and on Wednesday we were in chapel.  One student kept raising her hand and would say "Remember, I have a song to sing for you!"  Well I would say, "Not right now. We are in church and we need to be quiet."  In my head, I was thinking "Oh boy.  This is the girl that says she watches the Katy Perry movie, will sing her songs during play time, and told me she got a rock from California and Katy Perry gave it to her.  I'll let her sing once we go back to the classroom."  Well she proceeded to stand up, move to where I was sitting, looked at me and said "I need some music."  I looked at my aide with a look of "What do I do?!"  My aide started snapping her fingers, I started clapping and my student started singing.

She began by singing some of the same lyrics as our Creation Musical.  She was making her own melody and making up words.  She was signing about creation, about what God made.  And then, in the midst of the snapping, clapping, and random singing, she sang "And God sent Jesus to die on the cross to forgive our sins because He loves us so much!"

I about broke into tears!  This is why I teach in Lutheran Schools!  She is learning the love of Christ.  This was a girl who was very sassy last year, and wouldn't always listen.  I don't even think her family goes to church that often.  And here she was singing about Christ loving her.

In the midst of a bad couple of days with rough classes, she was my bright shining moment.  This is why I teach.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Last week was our Spider Theme for the Letter S!

 Spider Handprint
The Eesny Weensy Spider.  The kids flip the clouds and sun and move the spider up the straw to make it interactive as they recite the song.
 Journal Entry: Crayon rubbing over a hot glue spider web.  Then they use their fingerprint to make a spider.

 Center Activities:

 Spider Ring Patterning

Circle Time:
 Little Miss Muffet.  I want to introduce Nursery Rhymes to the kids this year.  Here's why!  I purchased a discounted Nursery Rhymes book at the local school store.  I cut the pictures out to make a pocket chart.  Check out the book here.

Spiders by Luke Kinley
The Itsey Bitsy Spider Illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

"Make it work!" for spiders!

Monday, October 1, 2012


I wanted to post some pictures from our Apple Theme.

 5 Little Apples Poem on our Flannel Board
 A-P-P-L-E Song (I'll make my apples smaller for next year)
 Apple Investigation Page
 Graphing Apples: Children brought their favorite color apples to school for Apple Day.  Hard to see, but I also have a slot for green and yellow apples.  I need new dry erase markers :-)
 Learning about the stars inside an apple
On apple day, we were full of apples!  We had kids bring in a color apple.  Then we did our investigations.  After that, we went and tasted apple sauce, apple cereal, apple juice, and apple cider.  The kids then made their own apple pies.  They flattened out biscuit dough, scooped apple pie filling in the middle, folded it over like a taco, and then sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on the top.  We baked them and enjoyed delicious pies!

Hope you enjoyed our Apple Theme!

Center Routine

After much debate (with myself!) I finally decided to try a different way of doing centers.  My first year teaching, children just got to play where ever they wanted while I called them to do individual work such as their alphabet book.  This caused havoc in the classroom!  Children really didn't know what was available to play or what they were really doing.

Last year, I tried having them choose what center they wanted to go to.  I had a selection of pictures that showed where they could play.  Below the pictures were stars.  The number of stars on the page told the kids how many could play at that center.

This worked for about half the year and then the children just would play where ever again.  Partly, this was my problem because of management, however, I knew in my heart that the way I had it set up was just not right for me and my classroom.  This makes sense in other classrooms!  But with my goals and objectives, it was just not right.

I wasn't too thrilled when I couldn't find a new way for centers before school started so I went with the same as last year.  Then BAM!  God was helping me.  I stumbled onto this website. Her layout made sense to me.  I believe the problem that I had with the children was that they had too many choices.  They didn't have boundaries.

I liked how Vanessa from Pre-K Pages still gave the students choices, but she was in control of those choices.  They had boundaries, but they felt they were in control of their choices.

Since my room is small, I went with 3 groups of 4 activities to create the centers.  I tried to group the centers together in a way that made sense (location in the classroom, loud vs. quiet toys)

Here is my list:
Board 1:  Sand Table, Art, Discovery Toys (Math Manipulatives/Science), and Playdough
Board 2:  Dramatic Play, Doll House, Blocks, and Trains/Cars
Board 3: Table Toys (Puzzles, Alphabet Lacing), Writing, Computer/Listening, and Flannel Board/Pocket Chart

I then divided the class into groups.  I rotate the groups throughout the week so that each child will get the opportunity to be at each of the centers.  So far, they are sticking with it!  I think it creates an environment that allows the children to not feel so overwhelmed with choices.

Board 3 causes some kids to say they feel board, so I might add in a Lego table to that board.  I do want them to experience new parts of a balanced literacy program so that is why I created a "Quiet Board" and will work more with those kids that day to show them the pocket charts and flannel board activities.

I pull kids that are on Board 3 that day to do their Alphabet Book and Journal time.  My aide pulls kids from Board 1 to do a project that relates to the theme of the week.

I have also learned that I was trying to do too many projects in a week.  By changing to this rotation, I can have the aides take time with the students and get through one project while they are at their center allowing them not to rush through the project to do the whole class.

Here is a picture of where I placed the boards in the classroom.  I used cookie sheets and magnets (so I could change the grouping of centers if I need to).  Please note that on this one, I have two groups.  This is for the 3 year old class so that it initiates social interaction for the first time school students.  Later in the year, I will most likely add the third board once my young ones are accustomed to the class!

Here is my "Make It Work!" moment for the classroom.  I hope you will find it helpful!

Friday, September 28, 2012

New and Improved Classroom

I am finally getting around to posting pictures and describing my classroom for the year.

I have worked extremely hard this past summer to research and rethink my current layout.  I knew what I had last year just wasn't right.  However, I felt horrible for switching up the layout and the way I do centers (more on centers in another post!) because some of the parents have been with me since I started teaching.  I didn't want them to think I don't know what I'm doing!

But despite these thoughts in my head, I went ahead and changed the classroom around.  What's my first goal?  To help student succeed, and parents would agree that!

Another reason I switched things around was because the accreditation team gave recommendations on creating different environments for the students.

Storage Solutions:

 When students are the Star of the Week, they will get the Mystery Letter Bag or the Number Bag during the week.  When they have the Mystery Letter Bag, students choose from 2 letters in a folder in the bag.  They will find something that starts with that letter and bring that for the Show and Tell.  This helps with Letter Sound Recognition.

The Number Bag is a concept that I got from another blog found here.  This will help accomplish more math throughout the year!
Journal Shelf.  Students have journals this year based on this idea!  Their binder portfolios will also go on this shelf once I get those started.
 Storing sentence strips and calendar months with binder clips and command hooks.

Classroom Setup

 Sign in system for our older class.  Our younger class just put their Apple Names on the board.  This helps them practice writing their name!
 Our BRAND new art shelf!  I am so excited that I found a less expensive version of the really fancy ones.  The kids have really got into finding what supplies I have there.  Some of the boxes are wrapped.  I slowly unwrap the presents to show what new supply is in there.  That way the students aren't overwhelmed with a ton of new tools to use.  I got this idea from
 Discovery Shelf/ Bible Shelf: All of our math manipulatives and science exploration tools are on this shelf.  Again, some of the tools are wrapped to not overwhelm!
 Center Time Bulletin Board:  Calendar, Weather Chart (based on a Pinterest picture!), Daily Schedule (my students love to say "CHECK!" when we accomplish something in our day.  In fact they yell it they love it so much!), a Number Line, and a Noise O Meter (again a Pinterest picture!)
 Quiet Center: Puzzles, Library, Potato Head, ABC Lacing Game, Whisper Phones, and Magnet Board
 Jesus Loves.... Board: Students draw a picture of themselves on the first day of school and we hang them up there.  I will put these in their portfolios at the end of the school year to see how they improved in their ability to draw themselves.
 Dramatic Play and Doll House
 Messy Area! Sand Table and Art Easel

 Listening Center:  I bought iPod Shuffles for the classroom and use my computer and an iPhone ding to record me reading the books.  Some books will be from a CD from Scholastic.
 Birthday Cupcakes, Let's Count Number Board (I change the number of items on the board each day.  The Count or Countess will help the class count and identify the correct number), and My Job Chart
Computer Center: Using my old laptop.  Working on finding Preschool friendly websites and computer games.

I finally feel like I know what I'm doing.  Three years in the making!  But I feel that makes a good teacher.  If you become stagnant in your teaching, then I feel you become ineffective.  Change is good!

Hope you enjoy the pictures!