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Friday, 7 September 2012

Chill Out Zone

I had been thinking about some sort of cave in my classroom, a place for kids to relax if they get upset or angry.  I was searching pintrest and found some pictures of  a carpet square and a sign over it saying, "Alaska, a place to chill out."  I liked that idea, but thought that it might be difficult for Kindergarten kids to understand... so I took it one step futher.  I took a large cupboard and turn that into our "Chill Out Zone."  Kids love penguins and understand that they live where it's cold so I took that idea and ran with it.  I covered the inside walls with a penguin scene, blue pillows to add to the cool colour scheme and then put christmas lights on the ceiling of the cupboard.
 
For the ceiling, I poked holes in a piece of cardboard then poked the lights through the holes.  I put the cardboard into the cupboard as if it were a shelf and then put another shelf right overtop of it to hide the wiring.  After putting it up and testing it out by crawling into the cupboard I found the lights to be a bit too bright so I draped the cardboard with blue fabric to dim the lights but you still get the overall effect of the lights. 

The kids absolutely love going into the chill out zone and I can usually hear them saying to eachother this isn't a spot for being silly, this is where we relax.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Reading Garden

I was inspired by pictures on Pinterest to rethink my classroom library.  Instead of just a bookshelf beside a wall I decided to make a library centre with a theme.  My reading garden was just a dream until I found the perfect bright green shag carpet at IKEA and from there it just blossomed.  I picked up two pink flower lights, a fence border and some pillows.  To add to the overall appearance of the garden I also covered my old ugly bookshelf with white mactac.  My old frog handing storage was perfect for holding our reading buddies and put some tissue paper flowers on the window ledge to add some more colour and it was finished.  I am so happy with the results! 


Books are changed out weekly.  All other books are organized and stored in file boxes for easy access (behind the green curtain).  I want to get to a point where I am able to put out baskets of books, but I will be taking baby steps to achieve that so books stay organized and are taken care of.

I hope my students enjoy reading in the garden as much as I enjoyed making it for them!


Monday, 25 June 2012

Kindergarten Graduation

         Weeks of planning and preparation finally came together last Friday when we celebrated our Kindergarten kids graduating.  This year I decided to go with a Hollywood theme party complete with a red 'carpet,' walk of fame and superstar photos.
         While going through cupboards I found lots of old record and filmstrips which gave me a great idea for the centre pieces.  I was also lucky enough to find 17 glass vases from Value Village for 34cents each! I filled them with red and white sand, stuck some star garland into them and topped it off with a balloon.  If that wasn't enough I put the vase onto a record with a label 'kindergarten graduation' and wrapped it with an old filmstrip.  The overall look was a success... a couple of them tried to walk away but i managed to hang on to all but one as families left... but 16 is a nicer number anyways so I won't get too upset.

         The red carpet it nothing more than red paper rolled out on the floor and our walk of fame stars are just silver stars glued onto black construction paper with grey handprints on the bottom and their name in a 'hollywood' type font.   I wanted to make a rope to go around the red carpet to add to the look but time didn't allow it, maybe next year?


Maybe I went a tad overboard when I wrapped the cutlery in red napkins and little film strips, but it was all worth it.. it looked amazing.


I had to look everywhere for these champage glasses, but alas Dollar Giant had them 6 for $1.25.  Maybe a bit costly for some plastic glasses but well worth it, the kids really loved it.  And of course, I washed them so they will be ready to be used at our next red carpet affair!



What is a Red Carpet Event without Awards?  These cut little awards we made from a simple wood plaque from Michaels ($1) a wooden star ($0.29... on sale) paint and modpodge.  I can't believe how well these turned out and I hope that my students will keep these for years to come to remind them of the superstars that they are!




After all the planning and prep and the Graduation itself I was happy when it was all over because it finally meant I could sleep!  I just tell myself this will only get easier with time.  Next year WILL be easier because I sort of (?) know what I am doing... but who knows maybe I'll go all out again and plan another ridiculous Graduation.  Dr. Seuss was last year, Hollywood this year and maybe a "Somewhere over the rainbow" theme for next... no wait maybe a mad hatters tea party... there really isn't any end to the ideas...

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Book Character Day

To encourage reading in our school we decided to hold a Book Character Day.  Although student participation was lacking a bit, the staff more than made up for it.  I decided to go as Ms. Frizzle, since I watched Magic School Bus and love the books it seemed like the perfect fit.  I was lucky to find a dress perfect for the costume at Value Village and everything else just fell into place from there- the perfect red curly wig and matching green shoes.
To finish the look I drew on different stages of the butterfly life cycle, a belt, white collar and cuffs and then some extra butterflies on my shoes, in my hair and on my ears.  To top everything off I had my own Liz which was velcroed to by shoulder... he didn't stay on long so I had to carry him around the rest of the day.
Drawing the butterflies took significantly longer than I thought it would, and the dress was much larger than I thought... but it all worked out in the end. 
The dress had all the stages of the butterfly.  The eggs on a leaf, caterpillar, pupation, forming the chrysalis, chrysalis, emerging and of course the butterfly itself.  I wanted to draw more on the top of the dress but time didn't warrant it, maybe I will finish it for the next time I decide to wear the costume. 





Value Village Shoes with Michaels Arts and Craft Store Butterflies
One of the MANY butterflies on the dress
Butterfly Wing Nails
Amazing Red Curly Wig with some Dollarama Butterflies

School Staff
Charity as Japanese Folk Tale Character, Sylvia as Burglar Bill, Me as Ms. Frizzle, Ashley as the Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, Denise as Paper Bag Princess and Lindsay as Katniss Everdeen

Monday, 11 June 2012

Butterflies

Finally all of our butterflies have emerged... unfortunately there are no students today or tomorrow because of some school wide professional development.  Although I feel terrible leaving them in the tank for a couple of days I really want the students to see our last 3 butterflies released, so hopefully they make it to Wednesday. 


As our final butterfly activity we will be making a handprint butterfly.  This butterfly will go in the June page of our scrapbooks as the last handprint for the year.   I will definately raise butterflies again next year, it has been a great learning experience for my students that they have really enjoyed!  To anyone who has no yet raised butterflies I highly reccommend it!  I ordered my butterflies from Boreal Northwest and I am very happy with the butterflies.  There was significantly more larvae in the kit than what is listed which made it possible to share them with the grade one and two teachers!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Caterpillars

Our class has been enjoying raising butterflies in our class and we have successfully released 5 of them outside.  Unfortunately I have forgotten to take a picture of the butterflies before releasing them outside.  But I thought there was some beauty to the chysalis after the butterfly emerged.  I am sure that next time I will remember to take a picture of the next butterfly before I let it go. 

My students have really enjoyed observing the butterflies and recording our observations in our Butterfly Life Cycle Book.   This is one of my little prek students looking at our caterpillars.  They were so captivated by them, the students would just sit there quietly watching the caterpillars crawl around. 

Organization

My latest obsession with reading teacher blogs I have realized that I am not a very organized teacher.  I take pride in my abilities as a teacher but I am admittedly a bit embarassed about the chaos that is my classroom.  So, with this realization I went to Walmart to stock up on containers. My first trip in i purchased 10 small and 10 large grey totes to replace the paper boxes that sat above the cupboards in my classroom.  I was very pleased with the result.  Each container has a small label affixed to the top where I can see it.  This look is a great improvement to the boxes with huge handwritten writing. 

My organizing fix was not over.  Cleaning up above my cupboards really was just the beginning.  My next trip into the city (120km away) I bought small containers to orgnaize the materials inside of the cupboards, 20 to be exact.  I was well on my way until I realized that 20 just wouldn't do... so I bought 35 more this past weekend.  Now there would be no excuses for me not to be organized.  As I went from cupboard to cupboard I got rid of alot of things that I had not used in years, outdated books and even some things that were older than I am.  In all of my consolidating, purging and oranizing I have realized there is alot more cupboard space than I realized and I even have an empty cupboard?? 

I am enjoying the feeling my organizing has brought me and I just hope that I can maintain it throughout the year.  I have no doubt that I will be able to.  With only one classroom, instead of two and 20 students instead of ....46 I think I will have more time and energy to sustaining what I am setting up for myself.  Here's hoping....

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Spring Bulletin Boards

April Showers Bring... Mud

I love this take on the typical "April Showers bring May Flowers" bulletin board and the kids had lots of fun with it too.  The mud was made by the kids handprints in brown paint (next time I will make the brown paint darker) and the umbrellas are a simple cut and paste activity.  The rain drops on the umbrellas was made by putting a drop of blue paint into white glue. 

Cloud Pictures
The next bulletin board was still related to the weather we have been having.  After reading the story Little Cloud by Eric Carle my students were very excited to make thier own cloud pictures.  There are alot of ideas online about cloud pictures using cottonballs, but I decided to go with shaving cream and stencils.  The kids had lots of fun mixing up the glue and shaving cream and choosing thier stencil.  I like using the stencil because it made seeing the picture much clearer than allowing the students to create the shape on their own.  I am so happy with the final product and the kids were too!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Lorax

Believe it or not I was obsessed with the Lorax book before the new movie came out, and I still prefer the old movie version.  It is a perfect story for introducing Earth Day to young children in a way they can understand.  I always use that story as a starting off point for my Earth Week activities.  This year we had lots of exciting things planned for earth week.  Beginning with our Lorax door to get students interested in what was going to be happing in the week ahead.  We did a Lorax writing activity, each student had to decide what they would like to speak for and then fill in the blanks on their paper.  Each student got a lorax mustache and they had their picture taken to go along with their writing.  This made a very cute bulletin board! We also played a Lorax game where students had to be the first to plant thier truffula trees.  Get the game cards here.  Our school celebrated Earth Week with a Trashion Show.  Our class made our outfit from Scholastic Book orders.  Our Outfits were a great success and we even got recognition from Scholastic and they sent us some books and pencils!


Bulletin Board with several students writing and pictures.  The truffula trees were made when we celebrated Dr. Seuss' Birthday from a pipecleaner, styrofoam ball and feathers!


The students really loved seeing thier pictures with the mustache.


Trashion Show Outfits from Scholastic Book Orders

Organization

Planning for 26 kindergarteners and 21 Pre-Kindergarteners has been a challenge this year and there never seems to be enough desk space or counter space to keep the materials for the week or the day.  I have several plastic drawer units by they were often filled with junk that was cleaned out over couple of months.  I decided to do a bit of rearranging and pull those units apart so they fit perfect on my counter top under the shelves.  At the beginning of the year these drawers were labelled Monday-Friday but I found there was so much overlap in the materials for the week so it wasn't working.  Now I am happy that they are labelled by subject area.  Every friday I clean out the drawers from the week and fill them with the materials that will be needed for the week ahead.  This keeps me organized and helps me in planning ahead.  The drawers are also very useful when I have random papers or items that pop up in the classroom that I don't have time to put away at that moment, I can just slip them into the drawer and it will be dealt with on that Friday.  I also have a drawer of 'Notes to go Home'  this also includes any important papers i recieve from parents, book orders or other papers I do not want to lose on the counter top.  the top drawer has a caddy that I keep pencils, pens, tape, scissor etc. on so they are easily accessible and out of the way of little hands that love to take things off the counter.

Classroom Organization

This is a 24 drawer shelving unit. 
My labels are put in plastic sleeves so they can be changed easily.
I make a great effort to be organized in my classroom.  Somedays I pull it off, some days my room is a disaster.  My pride is in my art supplies, they are one thing in my classroom that are completely organized (with the exception of one misc. drawer) and it makes planning and preparing for crafts and art lessons so easy.  I have my art materials in three different areas in my room, one is strickly for the kids where they are allowed to use the supplies at their leisure for crafts during centre time.  Another is the craft materials that are for me housed in a shelf with drawers and the last is a back room where all of my paper, paints, and large items are kept. 

Get my art supplies labels by clicking here.


Friday, 18 May 2012

Caterpillar Craft

Here are the directions to making this cute little caterpillar:



Materials:

- styrofoam ball
- foam sheets
- pipe cleaner
- pony beads
- googley eyes


Step One:
Cut Styrofoam ball in half using a knife.


Step Two:
Using the styrofoam ball as a stencil trace and cut out foam circles.  I used 12 circles, but if you want your caterpillar to be longer use more!


Step Three:
Paint both halves of the styrofoam ball with green paint.  This part gets messy!


Step Four:
Stick pipecleaner in the centre of the back of one styrofoam ball.


Step Five:
String beads and foam circles onto the pipecleaner beginning with a bead.  I like to make a AAB pattern with two shades of green foam.  Don't forget to put a bead between each foam piece!


Step Six:
When your caterpillar is long enough cut the pipecleaner about 1cm from the last bead and place the other half of the styrofoam ball on the end.


Step Seven:
Using the leftover pipecleaner make two antennae by placing a bead on the end and poke into the head of the caterpillar.  Glue on eyes.  Enjoy your wiggly caterpillar!




Caterpillars

Our caterpillars have arrived.  Our kindergarten class is very excited to have caterpillars in our class this year and on Monday we will begin our observations!  This week for centres we will be discussing caterpillars.  We will be observing them and recording how they move and what they look like.  We will also be making some caterpillar crafts including a super cute caterpillar with paint and a balloon.  The highlight of our centres will be making thier very own wiggly caterpillar from a styrofoam ball, foam sheets, beads and a pipecleaner. 


Our little caterpillars