Friday, June 3, 2016

Five For Friday

I'm carrying around such a mixed up bag of emotions! Do I sing or cry? I'm just not sure yet, but I'll let you know when I figure it out! I'm linking up (seems like all I've done this year is link up) with Doodle Bugs Teaching for FIVE FOR FRIYAY! (I think I just sang that!)

 One of my students had her last day today. She has been a delight to teach and have as a student. Her mamma just graduated from law school, so they are moving back home to her dad and brothers. I'm singing for her family being back together and no longer having to drive hours to spend weekends together. Her mom was an inspiration for many as she studied, worked, and mothered! This family has left their fingerprints on my heart!
I traced around her arm and hand leaving the fingertips open. Then we all used green paint to put our fingerprints on to make green leaves. I used three shades of green. I thought about putting a brown fingerprint on and making an owl somewhere in the tree!

I get to pick TWO winners! One will get a set of 12 Kwik Stix  and the other a gift card to Starbucks! Oh how I love giving stuff away. Congrats to the winners!!

 Three. More. Days. Water Day, Field Day and Last Day are all that's left. I just cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by. I'm hoping for really nice weather for Water Day. Come back next week to see what my kindergartner partner in crime and I think up!
 We are finishing up memory books to help us remember the special times we've had this year. I found THIS on TPT to help me wrap things up and put some closer to the school year. The details that some of my kiddos came up with were amazing! Here are FOUR pics from the books...
Look how long my arms are. They either got stretched out from carrying bags to and from home, or too much hugging!

We spent a lot of time thinking of the shapes we can see on our school and playground. I pressed them to add as much detail as they could. Our skies were blue most of May!
So many of my Owlets chose The Wild Robot as their favorite. It was certainly mine for the year!

Here I am again. This time I'm birdwatching...Imagine that! The artist said I was watching a Pileated Woodpecker! Made. My. Day!

 Five Eastern Bluebirds are getting closer to becoming fledglings. How I love sharing my love of birds! How can you NOT love these bluebirds? Since putting up ten boxes three years ago we've had nesting pairs in them each spring. Wouldn't it be awesome if they flew away on the last day of school?!  Take a quick peek before I close the box back up! Can you see the little hint of blue?
You can read about our bluebird house building project HERE!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Best Year Ever! GivEAway Time!!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. It's a time I can share five random things about my week...Okay this may be five random things about the year!
In so many ways this has been the best year ever. I think I probably feel that way at the end of MOST years. (Come on we've all had THAT class!) This years group was eager, curious and excited about learning. They responded well to instruction and handled their mistakes as opportunities to learn...most of them most of the time! I have know several of this years students since they were babies or toddlers and looked forward to having them as students. The relationships that developed with parents helped to support the learning in and out of the classroom. You have to love a class that gives a disappointed sigh when you announce the day is over!

Reflecting on different "Bests" of the year I think about the "best" read aloud, "best" field trip, "best" TPT find, "best" after school activity and the "best" new school tool! Ready? Here we go!

 Best Read Aloud goes to ... Peter Brown's The Wild Robot! It was a tie between this and The Giggler Treatement with my class, but there were was so much depth and meaning to be found in The Wild Robot that I have to pick it as my favorite. You've probably read Peter's picture books. This novel has short chapters making it easy to read just one more a couple of times. When taking a walk in our school woods and hearing students discuss what we'll do if we run into Roz the Wild Robot meant they were as invested in the book as I was. You must read this book! Peter has already told me that there will be a sequel. Yep! He commented on my picture of The Wild Robot on Instagram...twice!

Best Field Trip goes to... Country Dairy! This family run farms employs over 100 people and has around 1400 cows. They take time to run Moo School and give tours to city kids so that they understand where there milk and cheese come from. You can eat in their restaurant and buy cheese and milk as well as other wonderful products and books to take home. My family and I love stopping on bike rides for their homemade ice cream.
A three month old calf checks us out!

Best Teacher Pay Teacher find award goes to...Cathe McCoy's My Amazing Brain packet. My students and I were fascinated by the facts and information Cathe shares in this engaging interactive  resource. This really helped me to guide my students deeper into a growth mind-set. You've got to check it out!
All About the Brain

The Best after hours activity for me has been...Mahjongg. Playing this complicated game has been a great way to meet new people and it's a great stress reducer! It isn't the online solitaire game I'm talking about. This is game requires lots of concentration and practice!

The Best new school tool for me has been....Kwik Stix!

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has come up with a fun way to paint that isn't messy and makes a stunning picture. My students LOVE to use them and I don't mind letting them use them because they are so easy to clean up after! My favorite way to use them is to just set them out with white paper and let my Owlet's creativity go wild. Here is a sample of two pictures made with these fun paint sticks.

This beauty was painted on Earth Day. I love the way you can paint over the paints and maintain the right color!

This picture of all four seasons was created by one of my reviewers. They commented that they felt like they were using oil pastels, but without the smearing or mess.

Kwik Stix 12pk picture
You probably can't wait to get your own to play with this summer or put away to make Back 2 School something to look forward to! You can try your luck at winning your own set of 12 below or follow the link HERE to order some right now! I love love love the metallic Kwik Stix! Thank you for letting me try this amazing product. I wish they lasted forever, but with the affordable price I'm able to keep my classroom stocked for all kinds of fun creative projects!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patty's Day! I'm more excited than ever for St. Patrick's Day. I've always loved the shenanigans of our classroom leprechaun. I've never said no to a Shamrock Shake and who doesn't like rainbows and gold? BUT this year I have my very own lassie in Dublin, marching in the parade. I'm so excited to see her marching with her marching band streamed live into my classroom tomorrow morning. It's been amazing to share some sights from Ireland with my Owlets this week as she toured beautiful sights on the Emerald Isle. Here she is with her good friend at the  Cliffs of Moher the first day of their arrival.
This is the only cloudy day they've had! 
My classroom leprechaun, Seamus has been up to his usual tricks; knocking over supplies, hiding chairs, dumping the classroom library books in a pile on the floor and today he wrapped the room in yarn. My students will be so delighted to clean this mess up. They'll have to wrap the yarn around a pencil to get to a prize at the end of the string. I wonder whose string will be the longest and shortest. I wonder if we line all the strings together if they'll stretch down the entire length of the hall...Hmmm

We did try to catch that leprechaun. Each child designed their own trap at home and brought it into school. They were so proud of their projects and loved giving a presentation to show how it worked. We thought we'd caught a leprechaun until we looked closer and realized a leprechaun had tricked us...again!  Here are a couple of our traps. Aren't they fabulous?

See! Caught in our traps!!

If you need some great resources for St. Patrick's Day, I can't say enough about Sunny and Bright in First Grade's St. Patrick's Close Reading Passages. I paired my students up and had each pair take one of the 10 passages and work on that passage together. We are working hard on fluency, so we practiced our passages and then read them to the class. The photographs in this product are beautiful. I'll be able to use this for many years to come! Click HERE to take a look at it.
Wishing you the happiest of St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Five For Friday on Saturday!

Why did this four day week seem soooooo looonnnng? It wasn't bad. In fact, it was a lot of fun! It just seemed to be a bit draggy! Maybe it is the mid-winter if the ground hog saw his shadow why isn't it spring yet blues! As long as it is too cold to head outside, I'll link up with Doodle Bug Teaching for a little Five for Friday fun.

Did I tell you I'm having a Give Away? Consider yourself told! You can find out more about it HERE!

Wondering what to do with old calendar pictures? You know they are two beautiful to throw away, but what can you do with them to turn them into a learning tool? I've recently started to cut mine into strips to help students practice skip counting and putting words into ABC order. They have been a big hit in my room. I have so many bird calendars that I'm having them do double duty...My kiddos are learning the names of some amazing birds, and what birds aren't amazing?

Chinese New Year is coming to a close. My Owlets and I loved celebrating it's coming in and we'll celebrate its going out with a festival of lanterns. A friend of mine lived and taught n China for five years. She visited and brought many beautiful items that delighted and thrilled us. We loved dancing around with dragons over our heads. Of course we came up with a long list of words that begin like dragon and used them to decorate our own dragons.

I found the template for the head and tail HERE! You'll find a plethora of pretty cool ideas at that site to explore!
Long noodles for a long life, anyone?

Do your students like or love Mo Willems? Mine happen to love everything about the guy. So when I stumbled across Diva and Flea on a Friday night, I couldn't wait until Monday to start reading it. It is perfect for every reader in your classroom. Even if the reader happens to be seventeen years old. Ah... The joys of having my own personal chauffeur! After buying said book, my chauffeur drove me home while I happily practiced my read aloud skills. She was, my daughter who also happens to be my driver, laughing and so engaged, I almost had to stop reading. The friendship between two unlikely characters, who are really quite a bit alike, will find their way into the hearts of your youngest reader. I've already gifted this books several times. Oh, Mo...You've done it again!

I wish I had loved numbers as a first or second grader. It may have helped my math curse as I had grown older. I do a good job of hiding my disdain for math. It's probably because I've changed my thinking about math. I've changed my mindset and have come to fully love math and numbers. I've been helped tremendously by Bedtime Math. If you don't know about this website you must click HERE to check it out. I frequently read the daily Math Problem of the Day to my Owlets. The story and three questions take only five minutes at the most and are easily incorporated into a Morning Meeting.  I love the videos and ask to watch them over and over again. My kiddos love them too so they put up with my watching them again and again. Please, Bedtime Math folks, more videos, please!!
Look! They have a section just for us!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pencil Grips and a Give Away!

What is squishy, * "feels like a booger without being slimy" * and comes in some pretty cool colors?  If you guessed a pencil grip you may win a set of your own! When asked by The Pencil Grip Inc. to review their pencil grips, I had just been given two of these same grips by our occupational therapist. She has been at her job for a long time and I feel she is one of the best in the business. She gave them to me saying she had tried many over the years but these are by far the best...So would I be willing to review them? Yes, please!    *Directly quoted from a first grader!*

Look at that concentration! 

I had an eager batch of students ready to try them. Their excitement did wear off when they realized that they would not be able to hold their pencils the wrong way. Over the years I've noticed more and more students struggling with correct pencil grip. I can only guess that it could be that children are asked to do more and more writing at an earlier age than they once were. Perhaps their fingers are not developmentally ready for such small motor skill tasks causing them to form pencil holding habits that are quite difficult to break. I can see that these pencil grips may be a great tool to helping break some of these bad habits.

I would recommend several practices when implementing them into your handwriting instruction. Make sure they are placed low on the pencil. Keep your initial times using the grips short and keep it fun. Sit with your students and show them the right way to grip the grip! I used pens to introduce them making it even more fun! Monitor their grip as they begin using them. The grips won't do what we want them to do if they are not used properly. Our goal of course is to get students to be able to grip the pencil correctly and not fatigue too quickly. I would highly recommend these grips and found them to be an effective tool in handwriting instruction.

 Which grip is right for you?  From the left is the  Crossover Grip  provides support while keeping fingers from crossing over each other. The middle Pinch Grip is possibly my favorite for my students. It guides fingers to the right position without being too rigid.  The far right is The Pencil Grip that worked great for my over grippers! I liked using this one the best myself. I was able to hold the pencil comfortably and had good control all while feeling that my pencil was riding on a pillow!!
And look at all the cool colors...
 The most amazing part is you could win a set of  the three grip training kit for yourself. I'm able to give away three kits. I hope you are one of the lucky winners! To enter, just comment below. Please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you are a winner.
Can't wait to get some of your own? You can buy your own right HERE!  Winners have been notified!