April 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I'm linking up with Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday.
When my kids came back from art with these awesome paper airplanes, I knew we had to go outside on this beautiful day and fly them for our afternoon brain break.  We had a contest to see which paper airplane flew the farthest (enter CC standards for length!), and then the kids were able to just run around and fly their planes for a few minutes.  We were only outside for about 15 minutes total, but man, was it a fantastic brain break on this beautiful day.

What are your favorite brain break activities?

April 25, 2014

Five for Friday!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

This week has been totally, 100% cra cra.  We had Earth Day stuff on Monday.  A sick kid on Tuesday.  Park Project completion stuff on Wednesday.  Park Project completion day on Thursday.  Career Day on Friday.  And all of this topped off with chickens.  Here's all you need to know about why I deserve a mani/pedi tomorrow.

On Monday, we finished up our Earth Day PSA mini-project.  Our guiding question was, "How can we, as kids who love the Earth, teach other kids how to take care of it?"  

Last week, we did our Earth Day unit. We did Earth Day stations (available in my TPT store).  All of our lessons for the week focused on ways we can be good citizens of the Earth.  We made anchor charts, watched videos on Brain Pop Jr. and Learn360, and read both digital and hard-copy books.  

These sweet little babies came up with this project on their own.  Look how cute they are.  :)

Our Park Project completion (that was supposed to be two weeks ago) was scheduled for Thursday.  Well, wouldn't you know it, but my sweet boy woke up sick Tuesday morning. :(  Knowing how CRAZY nuts this week was going to be, I had to go in half a day anyway.  It was all good though.  

Thursday afternoon, we packed up our project materials, got on a bus, and headed into town to complete our project.  The kids have worked so very hard on this.  I can honestly say I am more than proud to be their teacher!

These kiddos are making a huge impact, and they aren't even seven yet.  :)

This happened in my classroom this week.

Let me give you some backstory...  Last year was the first year we did the whole chicken life cycle thing.  My chicks did not hatch after days of caring for the eggs.  What better thing to have a Chicken 911 call to a parent to go to Orschelin to get some baby chicks?!?!  The kids never knew the chicks didn't actually hatch.  All was right with the world.

Fast forward to this year.  The same thing happened.  Again.  This time, however, the chickens made it out of the shell, but died not long after being hatched.  One of our recess aides knows a whole lot about chickens, and after playing with my incubator, we came to the conclusion that my incubator is a total dud.  I will be getting a new one next year.  The kids never knew that the chicks that we had all week were not the chicks that hatched out of the eggs, and I'm buying stock in Orschelin.

However, I came into my classroom on Thursday to a crazy scratching sound coming from the incubator.  I had kept it on, just in case the eggs in the incubator were viable.  Low and behold, Wilbur had made it out of his shell.

After nursing him back to health, including giving him a bath in Dawn dish soap, a diet of sugar water, and lots of TLC, it looked as if Wilbur was going to make it.  All was right with the world, and I was getting a pet chicken.  We did a writing prompt about Wilbur.  We made a Popplet about Wilbur.  We KidBlogged about him.  He was everyone's class pet.

Around 9 this morning, Wilbur went to chicken heaven to be with his brothers and sisters.  I was so upset, but I couldn't let the kids see my sadness.  Our wonderful recess aide ran to her house, where she had a chick that was nearly the same size as sweet Wilbur, and replaced him with our dearly departed.  The kids never knew the difference.

I give up on chickens.

That brings us to Friday.  Today was Career Day for our school.  Our class had nine visitors throughout the day, including a prosecutor, a cop, a Walt Disney cast member, a doctor, a carpenter, a representative from Louisville Slugger, two firefighters, a stockbroker, and one of our school's tech guys.  The kids LOVED it!  

Every girl wants to be a cop now. :)

The kids loved FaceTiming with a Disney cast member.

Why, yes, that's Joey Votto's bat.

Our county's Chief Deputy Prosecutor.  Funny story... One of my kids asked if he had ever farted in the courtroom.  We had a little talk after it was over, but I can't say I didn't suck in my cheeks and crack up on the inside.  

Going back to the beginning of the week, we had a great Easter.  My kids had so much fun taking part in the fun traditions of Easter, but we also took time to remember and give thanks for the resurrection.  

My silly kids struck a pose before heading to church Sunday morning.  This might be my favorite picture of all time.

My kiddos look like they are ready for the Kentucky Derby!  Speaking of Derby, I have a great deal right now on my Kentucky Derby Math and Literacy Stations pack.  Head over to my TPT to get your copy before the first Saturday in May!

April 23, 2014

The Best Two Minutes in Sports

Here in Southern Indiana/Louisville area, the Kentucky Derby is pretty much one of the most exciting times of the year.  We really get into it here, and it trickles into our classrooms.  

At my school, it has been a long standing tradition to do a stick horse race on Derby Eve.  After making these horses with yard sticks (donated by Home Depot) and a paper pattern that is probably older than the school itself, we compete in the Run for the Reeses.  

This little guy was last year's winner.  Get it?  Run for the Reeses??? :)

While there aren't many picture books about the Kentucky Derby itself, we use this theme as an introduction to our farm theme, which always follows Derby week.  We read a lot of books about horses, and then lead into other farm animals.  It's a great week, and I hope that you are thinking about celebrating the best two minutes in sports in your classroom!

Last year, I created a small little mini-unit for TPT all about the Derby.  While traveling to my in-laws for Easter dinner, I expanded this unit to a whopping 83 pages.  I love these math and literacy stations, and I know my students will love them as well.  Make sure to add your copy to your cart so your kiddos can enjoy some Derby Fun!

I can't end this post without a giveaway. :)  Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy for yourself!  

April 20, 2014

It's an Easter Sale!

Happy Easter, everyone!  

To celebrate this most special holiday, a bunch of my best bloggy friends and I are marking down the prices of our favorite products on TPT.  For today only, you can find thousands of amazing products for 20% off!

Here are some of my favorite products from my store that you may want to add to your cart:

Just in time for the Kentucky Derby!  I've added ***70*** pages to this pack.  And... SHHH!!!... I'm keeping the price at $2 until Monday afternoon!  Go get it NOW!!! :)

Just in time for April 22!  My kiddos loved these activities last week.  Your's will too!

Even if you don't check out the goodies on TPT today, remember the real reason for the holiday.

April 11, 2014

What Are We Up To?

Today was supposed to be our project completion day for our park project with the Scott County Street Art Initiative.  All week, the rain chances have been 30-50% for today.  Thinking of that risk made it an easy choice to postpone our completion date to a couple of weeks from now.

Low and behold, did it rain today?  NO.  It was the most beautiful day we've had so far this year.  I'm just going to take it as we were just meant to have a little more time to make this project even more amazing.

Let me walk you through where we are at this point.

The Entry Event

Although I knew about the basis of this event for weeks prior to the entry event, I kept it a secret from my kiddos.  For our entry event, we were working in our classroom when FaceTime started ringing in on my iPad.  It was April Ramoni with the Street Art Initiative at the site of our future pocket park.  

Just in case you are asking, "What is a pocket park?", it is a small strip of land that is beautified so that people can enjoy it.  They are so small that they are mainly just places for people to sit.  

I reflected the FaceTime onto the big screen so the kids could see it well.  April explained to the kids that she really needed their help in helping to make our city beautiful.  The kids were excited about everything that April said, and instantly had great ideas for the space.  

FaceTiming from the classroom

April and Ms. Josie, the owner of the property.

They were 100% engaged!

While on the FaceTime with April, we were able to see the property we would be working with on our project.  The location is just off of our town square between the local United Way building and an orthodontist office.  The property owner owns the pet store that is just in front of the property, so the kids were instantly intrigued by that. 

Here is a peek at the property.  We have a lot of work to do!

The Guiding Question

After we were done with the entry event, the kids gathered at the circle to discuss how we would proceed with our proposed project.  We came up with the guiding question, "How can we, as citizens of Scottsburg, make our community a more beautiful place to live?"  

The Project

We began this project as we do all of our projects:  Deciding on roles and responsibilities for the project.  The kids and I came up with three main committees for the project.  The kids thought it would be important to disguise some of the things in the alley that could be considered eyesores.  They also thought it would be a great idea to plant flowers and vegetables there for people to enjoy and the animals at the pet shop to eat.  Finally, we decided that the big white wall needed something.  How about a mural?  :)  

From there, we broke into three committees:  Reusing, agriculture, and mural committees.  We elected two project managers and committee managers to help with the responsibility of the project.  Each group researched their topics using BrainPop Jr., MyOn, and met with experts in each area specific to their topics.  Committees met and made decisions about their specific projects.

The reusing committee was responsible for finding recyclable/reused materials to disguise the eyesores.  I don't want to give anything away until the big reveal, but they have done an AMAZING job coming up with creative projects for this.

The agriculture group studied plants that would be good for the small animals at the pet shop and decided to plant lettuces, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, and flowers.  They also discovered it's way too early to plant these things. :)  We will be planting the seed starts in our classroom and then transplanting them when the freeze risk is over for our area.

The mural group designed three concepts for the mural.  They were all three fantastic!  I uploaded all three concepts to a Google Form and sent the survey to family, friends, and other teachers in our school. 

110+ votes later, this concept was declared the winner!

I mentioned earlier that we had experts visit our classroom to help teach the kids about their specific committees.  We were fortunate to easily find people who are truly experts in each area.  

April from the Scott County Arts Council came to talk to the reuse group about things they could use to make art in the area.  Dale Armstrong, Master Gardner, came with seeds and lots of information for the kids about planting.  Local artist Bruce Merriman came to give the mural committee input on their mural ideas.

I will say, one of the most important components of PBL is the community connection.  Making those connections with outside sources is vital to the authenticity and success of a project.  Finding those resources is probably the most challenging aspect of PBL, but I have found that once you give the kids the resources they need, they really can run with it.  These 22 kids have amazed me with this project.  They are making a mark on their community, and they are only kindergarteners.  These kids will do big things in this world. :)

There is still lots to share about this project.  Check back after April 24th to read all about our project completion!

April 5, 2014

Spring Blogger Meet-Up BLOG HOP!!!

I don't really know if I'll ever stop talking about all the fun we had that one time when we went to French Lick.  If you ever have the chance to participate in a meet up, DO IT!!!

We started off the weekend at the beautiful French Lick Resort and Casino.  My family and I are regulars here, so the hotel's beauty wasn't anything new, but entering the lobby always takes my breath away.  If you have kids, I very highly recommend going at Christmastime for The Polar Express train ride.  All of the local hotels have packages that include tickets to the event, and the train ride itself is my favorite family tradition we have.  Seriously, you should check into it.

The meet up was best described as legend... wait for it... dary.  (Sorry for the How I Met Your Mother reference.  I'm still in mourning.)  Holly is Super Woman.  Should she ever leave education (which she definitely should not), I can see her making it big as a party planner.  From the beautiful decorations from Schoolgirl Style, to the swag, to the communication, she is on it! 

The meet up started off with a Teacher Tool Swap.  We played a fun game to get a random teacher tool.  In the end, I was THRILLED to get my favorite FLAIR PENS!!!  

Not just a small pack, either... But every. single. color.  Love everything about these things.

Then, Holly turned into Oprah and gave away tons of GREAT things!  I was lucky enough to win a gift certificate to Crystal Springs Books, which will come in handy if I get to go to VEGAS!!!

This weekend was wonderful for SO many reasons, but I want to share my three favorite takeaways for the weekend.

First of all, I needed this weekend.  Teaching is my passion, but let's face it... sometimes it's easy to get really close to burnt-out.  Not only was I surrounded by rock stars all weekend, but I also got to spend time with great friends.  

(From left--Lindsey, Tiffany, Jena, Marissa, and me)

Professionally, a takeaway from the weekend was the amazing POOL NOODLE!  One of the bloggers gave pool noodles for her favorite teacher tool, and not because she's an avid swimmer.  Basically, you cut pool noodles into pieces to represent tens and ones.  I have an entire blog post devoted to this very thing coming on Monday!  Check back for how I am using these in my classroom!

Finally, this meet up was an amazing opportunity to network.  I don't have aspirations of becoming a millionaire from this gig, but I do have high hopes of showcasing the amazing things my students do on a daily basis.  Meeting all of these rock star bloggers gave me lots of insight to how to get yourself out there.  Greg gave so many great tips during his "blogger talk", and I walked away feeling very motivated to blog more often.  Sure, life gets busy, but there is ALWAYS time to blog! :)

Now... for the good stuff!  All of my BFFs (Blogging Best Friends) and I are giving away lots of great stuff from some of our meet up sponsors.  Here is a look at what you will get:

(Mega Pack from Creative Teaching Press, an amazing Vera Bradley tote, Scentos overload, and Jamberry extravaganza!)

(A gift pack from Kaeden Books, Dry Erase boards from Crayola, Boogie Boards, and an Erin Condren gift card!)


All you have to do is follow along on this amazing blog hop until the very end, and enter to win in Rafflecopter.  You won't be sorry!

Now, hop on over to THE Mel D.'s (otherwise known as Seusstastic!) blog to read about her experience and get one step closer to winning some SWAG of your own!  You won't be sorry!

Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations