Sunday, 19 March 2017

When the Leprechaun Comes Marching In

     While March 17th was intended to be about St. Patrick, the leprechaun has now taken center stage and even seems to have upgraded his status to one that rivals Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.  My own kids were even known to call it  "Leprechaun Day," when they were young.
     In the classroom this can be a tricky time for teachers! We want to feed children's interest and imaginations, yet we don't necessarily want to spend all month looking for leprechauns as children gather evidence in the form of lint specs found on the carpet.
    So here are some activities that I have found, that allow me to embrace the fun and magic of the season, while keeping the leprechaun "fever" in check.

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic


     At the beginning of the month, I introduce a seasonally-themed attention getter and line-up song that infuse fun and imagination into our daily routines.

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
You can find this FREEBIE here:

     Green and shiny things are added to centers and are available throughout the month of March. Pretend play naturally arises from the children's work with the materials they find there!
 
St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
Play dough with shiny loose parts


St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
St. Patty's day themed sensory table

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
shades of green to explore in the art center

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
pots and gold for counting, measuring, and comparing
    
St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
shamrocks in the science center for observing and drawing

     Penny investigations, using mini pots of "gold," are done in small math groups and used to practice skills such as counting, fair shares, measuring, estimating, predicting, missing addend, and more!  Lucky, the math mascot found on each page, guides children through each investigation by asking "math talk" questions. 
  
St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
You can find this here:

     Guided drawings of leprechauns using Arthub provides great fine motor practice!  The children add their own details making each one unique! 

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic

They also write about what they would do if they caught a leprechaun. 

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
Find this FREEBIE here:

     Sight words are practiced using this fun game where children take turns reading a word in hopes of finding the "pot of gold" that is hidden behind one of the cards.

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
You can find this FREEBIE here:

     As the big day draws closer, the magic really begins! With one day to go, we find a poem, some cups, and markers in our snack basket.  The poem invites us to decorate the "hats" and leave them overnight.

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic
Find the poem and directions here:


St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic

     The next morning, the children are surprised to find these "shrunken hats" sitting atop a little bag of gold.  

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic


     In the afternoon we go hunting for more gold.  Each gold piece is hidden with a 100 grid number card. As children find each card, they bring it to the 100 chart and place it in the matching pocket.

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic

Find the number cards here:

     The gold, which is an assortment of pennies, plastic coins, chocolate coins, and candy go into their bags.  

St. Patrick's Day Fun and Magic

     In the end, rather than stifling their imaginations, I've chosen to fuel them and incorporate the magic of the season into their play and learning.  What works for you when the leprechauns coming marching in?

Thanks for stopping by!
Jackie
   
     
     





     
     
       

     

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Classroom Call Backs (Attention Getters)

     Ever stop to count the number of times you have to get children's attention throughout the day? Neither have I! But I would guess we're talking double digits. Multiply that by 5 days in a school week and your clap/clap/stomp, lights out, or "All set/You Bet," gets real old by the end of the first week! So if your "Macaroni Cheese/Everybody Freeze" isn't as "chill" as it once was, you might need to add a few more attention getters to your teacher's toolbox!
     So to help meet my own attention getter "quotas," I created some call and response rhymes/chants for each month of the school year.
Here's how they work:

Classroom Call Backs (Attention Getters)

      In September, I'll introduce a few call backs at a time until the children know them well. When October arrives, the same rhymes/chants are altered slightly to reflect a seasonal theme providing a novel, but consistent routine for getting children's attention.  For example, “All Aboard” invites different characters aboard the train each month.  In September, children are invited to ride (Toot! Toot!), but in October, ghosts join the train (Boo! Boo!) and in November turkeys hop on board (Gobble! Gobble!).  With the "Ding Dong/Knock Knock call back," the teacher pretends to ring or knock at the children's door and they answer as trick or treaters, pizza deliverers, carolers and more!  


You can get the March FREEBIE here:

Classroom Call Backs (Attention Getters)



or the whole set here:


Classroom Call Backs (Attention Getters)



You might also like these:

   
Have fun with those Kinders and thanks for dropping by!

Jackie

 



    





  



    

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Class Cheers

    When I was pregnant with my first child, I noticed pregnant women everywhere! Certainly pregnant women were nothing new, but I was tuned-in in a way that I had never been before. Positivity is like that too! The more you look, the more you’ll find! 
    While there are lots of ways to reinforce positive behavior, I’m not a fan of many of them.  Mostly because there is often a flip-side to these techniques where something is taken away or witheld when behavior is not-so-positive.  There’s a lot of see-sawing and keeping track and I have a hard time being consistent and equitable.  Maybe that’s just me! 
     Class cheers, however, are something I can really rally around!  They encourage me to look for the positive and, together with the children, celebrate accomplishments, good deeds, kind words, and more! They are also just plain fun and the kiddos light up like a Christmas tree when the cheer is for them!


Class Cheers



     So, if you’d like a few cheers in your “back pocket,” I’ve written one for each month of the school year allowing you to introduce a new seasonally-themed cheer from September to June. Use these to recognize individual children, partnerships, teams, or even the whole class while building classroom community and creating a positive learning environment. 

You can get the March Cheer FREEBIE here:


Class Cheers



or the whole set here!


Class Cheers


You might also like this:




Thanks for dropping by!

Jackie



   


  
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Thursday, 2 March 2017

Hands-in-Your-Lap Rhymes

      While criss-cross applesauce might seem like magic in September, it has usually lost its charm by December.  So if you’re like me and find that your classroom management needs a tune-up right about now, try these monthly hands-in-your-lap rhymes to provide a consistent, but novel routine for gaining children’s attention. 


Hands-in-Your-Lap Rhymes Transitions Songs Rhymes



     The first two lines of each rhyme invite children to move their hands in fun and engaging ways such as flickering like a candle, kneading dough, or flying like a bird. In the third line, the word “lap,” introduced in the September rhyme, is playfully switched out to match a seasonal theme and children can imagine their lap as a mixing bowl, mailbox, flower pot, nest and more.  The last line, Ready, set, go! is repeated throughout and signals to children that teaching and learning is about to begin!

You can get the March Hands-in-Your-Lap rhyme FREEBIE here:

Hands-in-Your-Lap Rhymes Transitions Songs Rhymes



or the whole set here!


Hands-in-Your-Lap Rhymes Transitions Songs Rhymes


You might also like this:



Thanks for dropping by!


Jackie

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Monday, 13 February 2017

The 100th Day of School: How it All Began

     Did you ever wonder how the 100th day of school began?  Many years ago, I had the pleasure of connecting with one of its originators while writing a book about this time-honored tradition. 

Here's what I found out:

     Back in 1979, Lynn Taylor, along with her colleagues David Cooper and Mary Hurdlow, celebrated their first 100th day of school.  The idea grew from their experience with a program called Math Their Way and an activity called The Days of School Graph.  Lynn published the idea two years later in the Center for Innovation’s newsletter and it all grew from there.
      On that first 100th day, Lynn remembered using Sesame Street’s The Count to do a magic trick, where he transformed 100 pennies into a one dollar bill. Presto chango! 

   
The 100th Day of School Magic Trick


     She also shared her 100th-day snack, a recipe she called Hiyaku, named after the Japanese word for 100.


The 100th Day of School Snack


     Our 100th day is coming up this week and we are inviting parents in and setting up Investigation Stations.  

The 100th Day of School: Investigations
Check it out here!


And what's the 100th day without a fun hat to wear! 

The 100th Day of School: Freebie Crown
Grab your FREEBIE here!


So, what's in store for your 100th day? 

Thanks for dropping by!
Jackie
     

       


Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Envelope Project

     We recently did an engineering and design project that was inspired by a child who came to school with a homemade envelope containing his Scholastic book order. 

The Envelope Project - Kindergarten


     I invited him to share it with the class and he told us how he came to make the envelope because he couldn’t find one in his house.  I used this opportunity to share that engineers often design and build things because of a problem they want to solve. I then asked him to talk about the materials he used and we explored how well his envelope worked. I asked, "Was the envelope big enough to hold the book order? (yes!) Did it get the book order to school safely?" (yes!) 
     Later that month, we wrote letters to Santa and designed and built our own envelopes.  To begin, I brought in a variety of envelopes for the children to observe. 

The Envelope Project - Kindergarten

Here's what they noticed about the envelopes:

They come in different sizes.
Most are rectangle shape.
They come in different colors.
Some have bubble wrap (padding).
Some have see-through windows.
Some close differently (clasps, stickers, gum seal). 
Some let you see what's inside and some don't

     We talked about the structure and function of these envelopes and how they had to be the right size for whatever they were meant to hold and how they must be able to close in some way in order for them to work.
     Next, the children drew a design for their own envelope.

The Envelope Project -  Kindergarten
  
     They then worked in small groups to make their envelopes.  The only guidelines were that the envelope had to be big enough to hold their letter (folded or unfolded) and that the letter must not fall out when I shake it upside down and all around!
     Some children willingly accepted this challenge. They enthusiastically got right to work and enjoyed the creative endeavor.  Others were less comfortable and would rather have been shown how to make the envelope step-by-step (I married this type!).    

The Envelope Project - Kindergarten


The Envelope Project - Kindergarten



The Envelope Project - Kindergarten


The Envelope Project - Kindergarten

The Envelope Project - Kindergarten

The Envelope Project - Kindergarten

The Envelope Project - Kindergarten
  
     There was lots of trial and error, experimenting, redos and remakes and tape, tape, and more tape involved in the process! In the end, they all passed the "shake test," and were free to decorate them.  While the sequins didn't add to the functionality, they sure made them look pretty!

The Envelope Project - Kindergarten

     We ran out of time and not all envelopes made it home before Christmas (such is the Kindergarten life!), but we continued the work when we returned in January.  We also took some time to talk about addresses and what happens to an envelope once it goes into the mailbox.
     While we started this project in December, it's also possible to begin in January with thank you letters to Santa (see below for a great literature tie-in) or in February for Valentine's Day.


     What projects might you do in the new year that could be inspired by children's ideas and interests?
     




     


    

Thursday, 5 January 2017

What's New in the New Year?

     When you work in a school, the “new year” comes twice - once in September and once in January.  A bit confusing for the Kinders who also think school ends on the 100th day (how many times have you explained that one?!) Anyhow, both are about new beginnings and fresh starts and after all the hullabaloo that December brings, January is a welcome change!  
     While there were no party hats, horns or ball drops to greet the children when they arrived, they quickly noticed that the tables had new names to reflect the season: snowflake, evergreen, and pine cone and that they had new tablemates. 


New Year in Kindergarten

There was also a new “trophy” for the VIP table (the weekly reward for good table manners).  


New Year in Kindergarten


     Amidst this morning buzz was lots of talk about holiday happenings so we began the day with a “toss and tell” to share one thing about our winter break.  

Toss and Tell Kindergarten


     We then got out the calendar, crumpled up the December page and threw it in the garbage (they love this)! 

     After reading Squirrel's New Year's Resolution, they did a turn and talk to share one thing they'd like to learn or get better at in the new year. 

Squirrel's New Year's Resolution

Turn and Talk Kindergarten

   In previous years, I’ve also read The Wishing Tree and An Orange in January and we celebrated the New Year by eating an orange and making wishes!

An Orange in January


New pencils, new crayons, and new name cards (for our last names) were also part of our first day back. 

new pencils in the new year



new crayons in the new year

last name name tags


last name name tags


     Best of all, we've had a lot of new skills to celebrate as we complete the winter pages in our Show How You Grow Books and see just how much we've grown since September! 


Show How You Grow Winter Drawing

     What's new in your new year?