Sunday, December 7, 2014

Winter Wonderland!

These darling snowmen are a great addition to our classrooms. We made them in both Kindergarten and First Grade. The first graders used a writing template with first, next, then, and last. They wrote directions on How to Build a Snowman. In Kindergarten, the students finished the starter sentence, My favorite thing to do in the winter is...  They both were fun to make and a successful activity for both grades. This  project is perfect for differentiated instruction and is easy to adapt depending on the skills of your students. They loved making them... but we love them more because they are perfect to hang up  in the classroom until the end of February! Its definitely the only snow we will be seeing in Malibu. If you would like to purchase this visit our TPT store by click here!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Reindeer Pops!

Well I had to bring a dessert to a holiday party and I thought Reindeer Cake Pops would be fun!  I had my 4 year old help- he had more chocolate on him than the pop but that was half the fun!  They turned out great!  Everybody loved them and they were easy to display!  If you want to try them make sure you have pretzels, red hots and eyes handy!  They are easy to assemble but they cool quickly!

Here is the recipe I followed:

Make your favorite cake.  (I used Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge- it was on sale at Target for $1.00.)
Allow cake to cool.  Crumble cake into a large bowl.  Add one batch of frosting- I chose to use chocolate fudge from scratch but a can would work too!  Mix frosting and cake together.  Chill dough.  Once chilled roll cake mixture into small balls and freeze.

Heat chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.  Before dipping add stick to the cake ball.  Dip cake ball into the melted chocolate.  Press eyes, nose, antlers, and ears into the cake pop.  Allow chocolate to harden. Once hardened add a mouth if desired with white or black royal frosting.  Hope you have a  happy weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holidays Around the World!

We started our Holiday Celebrations Around the World unit.  Today we learned all about Christmas in Germany!  Our firsties did a directed draw of a nutcracker and made boots to put out tomorrow for St. Nicholas Day!

If you like these activities they are available by clicking here.  We are saving all of our holiday work in our "Suitcase"!  If you want this FREEBIE suitcase you can grab it by clicking here!

Hope you have a great weekend!  Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reindeer Glyphs!!

So we finally found an easier way to do our reindeer glyph!  The rainy weather had us inside so we decided to let our firsties do an art project (little did they know they were also doing math)!  During center time students completed the reindeer glyph worksheet.  Then each student wrote their name in the center of each of the 8 pieces they had to cut out.  Once they had cut the pieces out we paper clipped them to their worksheet and headed for lunch.  After lunch we assembled the reindeer one step at a time.  We started by designing our bow ties!  Then we carefully glued each piece of our reindeer glyph together.  They did such a great job following directions!  Our only problem was a little too much glue on a few of our reindeer.  We are going to hang our reindeer in the North Pole Stables as soon as the weather dries up!  If you want to try this project we have it available on our TPT store or by clicking here!

It's Raining Snowmen!!!

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had fun with our families and ate too much turkey. The day before the holiday, we enjoyed a feast in our classrooms.

Students made apple turkeys, placemats, vegetable soup, fresh butter, and homemade pumpkin pies. We invited all of the parents to share in the fun with us. Having parents there was the perfect opportunity to have help taking down our fall bulletin boards and get the projects home safely. We thought we were so smart...the only problem was we had to come up with some cute bulletin boards quickly!

To get into the spirit of the holiday season, the "snow" blew into Malibu and our classrooms are filled with wintery crafts and projects. We love to integrate art and math and we had our firsties write their own addition story problems using a snowman and snowflakes.

We used scrapbook paper that we bought at Michael's for the hats and bows.  Michael's was having a fantastic sale - $5 for a 48 page pad of scrapbook cardstock!  We only had to use 1/2 the pad to make these adorable snow-people! The kids loved doing the craft and didn't realize they were doing math at the same time!

This project is perfect for differentiated instruction. In our Kindergarten class, the students did the same project but used a template to write a subtraction problem.
They used snowflake manipulatives to practice solving subtraction problems and a snowflake 10 frame slipped inside a plastic sleeve with a dry erase marker to find the answers and practice writing equations. The activity was such a huge hit that they asked to use them during their free choice time. Now that is what we call a  successful lesson!

If  you like this project it is available on our TPT store or by clicking here!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fire and Floods and Slides Oh My!

The rain finally showed up today in sunny California and the weather changed quickly from being in the 80's over Thanksgiving Day to the low 60's.  The rain brought landslides and downed power lines to Malibu, closing Pacific Coast Highway to traffic and making parents very late for pick-up. Our quick thinking staff sent out a rolling phone message to have parents come pick up students early.  The teachers gathered all of their  students together to watch  a holiday DVD in the cafeteria, as a few of us lucky ones braved the elements and ran kids to their parents in waiting cars at the pick up line. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. Next time I will remember to bring my umbrella!  Soaked and a little bit tired it felt great to finally head home and sit by the fire with a cup of hot tea. I guess we will see what tomorrow brings... just one of the hazards of working in beautiful Malibu.  Maybe school will be closed tomorrow... can we say MUD DAY!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Turkey Pops! A Fun Thanksgiving Treat!

So we were at a Fall Festival and they had these adorable Turkey Pops at the bake sale.  My almost 4 year old wanted them to be the "kids only" dessert at Thanksgiving so we set out to replicate them last night and they came out adorable!  If you want to try this activity here is how I did it!

Materials Needed:
Chocolate Candy Coating
Round Cookie or cracker (1 per turkey)
Eyes (2 per turkey)
Candy Corn (6 pieces per turkey)
Cake Pop Sticks
Cellophane Bags
Ribbon or twisty ties

Bake your favorite cake!  We made chocolate (and we cheated and used a boxed cake mix!) Let the cake cool.  Once cool crumble the cake into a large bowl.  Mix in one recipe of your favorite icing.  Again, we used chocolate!  I found it easier to work with the cake mixture once it had chilled for about an hour.  Form the cake mixture into 1 1/2" balls.  If you have a cake pop pan you can use it to shape the balls but if you don't that is okay- just roll into balls with  your hands.  Freeze the cake balls for at least 1 hour (I froze mine overnight).

When you are ready to dip your cake balls melt chocolate coating in either the microwave or double boiler.  I found it easier to heat in a double boiler.  Take your cookie or cracker and cover one side with chocolate.  I used the chocolate side of a Keebler Fudge Striped cookie so I didn't need to cover the whole cookie- only the top half.  Arrange 4-5 pieces of candy corn around the top half of the cookie/cracker to make the tail feathers.  Next put a pop stick into your frozen cake balls.  Dip and cover the cake with chocolate.  Set the ball on top of the tail feathers so the stick is pointing down.  Add a candy corn for a beak and two eyes.  Repeat for each turkey pop.  Allow turkey pops to cool and put into cellophane bags.  To display you can cover a block of Styrofoam or aqua-foam with paper and stick pops in!  I will add this picture later today!  I have to run to the store to get the foam!  Hope you enjoy this project!!! It takes about an hour to make the cake balls and then another hour to put them together.  I found it easier to make all the tail feathers and then start dipping the cake balls and adding the eyes and beak!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Turkeys and Native Americans! The Perfect Thanksgiving Craft!!!

This craftivity was easy to prep and fun for any primary
grade student.  We made these years ago and remembered them yesterday when we attended a wonderful Native American Dance Show performance by the group, Red Thunder.

The turkey and Native American can be made and displayed separately or students can make both and glue them back to back. They match up perfectly! These look great hanging or you can add a stick in between them before you glue it and it would make a great puppet for acting out a Turkey Poem or Native American Song!  We opted for gluing ours back to back and they are hanging from our classroom ceilings! It will be perfect for our upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

We made our craft in small groups this year and let our students use pinking sheers to cut the feathers. We have done this craft whole group and students used regular scissors! It also looks great using scrapbook paper for the feathers.

If you want to try this with your class you can find it on our TPT store or by clicking here!  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We Are Thankful... For YOU!

With Thanksgiving a week away we wanted to be sure to thank everyone who has taken the time to view our blog and decided that this was the perfect way to do just that!

We used this frame to teach our students how to use commas to separate items in a list.  First we had them draw one thing they were thankful for in each of the three leaf frames.  Then we had them write a sentence stating the three things they were thankful for using commas and the word and correctly to list them!  We worked in small groups so we were able to carefully focus on the proper use punctuation and penmanship!

After we completed the sentences we had our firsties make these easy Pilgrims to display their writing.  We hung some on our bulletin board and hung others from the ceiling to make our rooms more festive for our Thanksgiving Feast!  If you want to try this project the writing frame is available for free by clicking here.  You can also grab the Pilgrim craft templates by clicking here!  We hope you like the project!  We would be very thankful if you would follow our blog and/or our TPT store!  Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We Love Dice !

Our obsession with dice began years ago...

One of our former grade level partners and still a wonderful 2nd/3rd grade teacher at our school, had a Casino Night company that she helped run on the weekends.  They had lots of dice and lots of playing cards!  We used them in class to enhance our math instruction!

Our cool dice collecting began ages ago at the annual Math Conference in Palm Springs, California.  Kim Sutton, a fabulous presenter, sold all kinds of dice at her booth...doubles dice, triple dice.  Now I buy dice whenever I see them...big, small, foam, etc!!!

A few weeks ago we began teaching the "Doubles" math fact strategy and pulled out some of our old favorites and added a new thematic game (including Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Stars) to our collection. Our kids love playing Doubles Dice!  It's fun and some of them really need practice mastering those facts! Our Doubles Dice packet is available at our TPT store or by clicking here.

We've also been inspired by other teacher bloggers and Pinterest to make our own cool dice holders! We've used small containers from the 99 Cents Store and mini snack containers (by Ziploc for example) to hold two or three dice for our games.  The containers have actually worked better than the more expensive dice within dice because our kids get so excited and roll them so hard that very often a side will pop out and they end up loosing the tiny dice :( .

We revamped our Dynamite Doubles Graphs
*Thanks for the cute clipart:  
<a href="" title="Clip Art"> Clip Art </a>

The easier version uses doubles for numbers 1 to 6.

The more challenging version uses doubles for numbers 1 to 12.
Click here to get both Dynamite Doubles Graphs free!

We also have a Turkey Math Freebie for you!  Click here for this fun math addition fact practice sheet!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Turkey Time !!!

Last week we dove into Thanksgiving even though we had barely recovered from Halloween and Fall conferences!

Turkey Math Glyph Bulletin Board

We began with our silly Turkey Math Glyphs...looking at them just makes everyone smile!  The kiddos had a great time completing the glyph worksheet and then creating their own original turkey that tells all about them!

Click here to get these happy turkeys from our TPT store!

Next we morphed last year's Thanksgiving Craftivity (click here) into a word families lesson! We actually did this in two sessions. First, we had the kids make the turkeys.  

Next, in small groups we handed out turkey pilgrim hats with word chunks (-at, -ell, -id) on them.  We focused on short vowels and gave every child a different word family to work on.  Students wrote their word family words on the worksheet. 

You can decide what works best for your class - sticking with one vowel sound might be appropriate depending on your students' ability levels.  Doing this activity in a small group (ours actually had 8 students, not so small!) worked well as we were able to give hints for some of the more challenging word families.  **I often google "words that rhyme with ___" if I can't come up with words and hints!**  After we checked the word lists, students wrote a word on each feather. 
One of our students came up with a fun, creative name for our project! He told his group, "We're making Word Birds!" Download this fun learning project as a free addition to our Thanksgiving Craftivity by clicking here or add it to your own turkey.

Pattern Block Turkeys

More turkey mania!! Next we began working on our Pattern Block Turkeys.  This year we put them on black plates...we think it looks a little better!  The black background seems to make the colors pop out more! Each child completed a tally chart and graph to show what shapes they used to design their turkey's tail feathers! 

Our Pattern Block Turkey is available at our TPT store or by clicking here.

We are also working on our First Thanksgiving Alphabet Book. We have students do a page a's great printing practice and we do a directed draw which the kids love!!!  Everyone is successful!

To purchase our First Thanksgiving Alphabet Book click here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins!!!

Yesterday we went on our first field trip to the Pumpkin Patch!  The kiddos had a great time learning about the pumpkin farm and the life cycle of a pumpkin. We are lucky to have a real working pumpkin farm less than an hour away so our students got to see the actual pumpkin plants and pick out their own pumpkin.  We even got to go through a corn maze and take a hayride.

As a follow up to the field trip we read Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington.  Students then wrote the stages in the life of a pumpkin and made this adorable 3D pumpkin life cycle to hang in our classroom.

If you like this project you can get it for free from our TPT  store or by clicking here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Color Poem Craft: Thanksgiving Comes Early!

In TK we have been practicing reading color poems to learn color names and introduce sight vocabulary words. Every student gets a chance to be the teacher and using a pointer leads the class in the different color poems. As a child "successfully" reads the poem, they receive a "feather" for that color to add to their peacock. Students also follow-up with an activity by making their own color book to practice at home.
Color Word Books Avaliable at our TPT store
In the past I have used construction paper peacocks and added real feathers to make the peacocks but it becomes messy and the students have a really hard time gluing on the feathers. I saw these colorful peacocks this year on and loved them. What a clever way to reuse those paint chips! My students loved being able to see the peacock's feathers grow each week as they learned a new poem. They were so excited to take them home when we finished with the last color. I loved it too when I overheard one of the mothers say "This TURKEY is so cute, I'm going to put it out for Thanksgiving!" You can't beat that...a 2 for 1 craft!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Spooky Halloween Cats

We just can't get enough of Halloween!  
Today our first graders made Spooky Halloween Cats!

First we practiced reading and sequencing a poem called "Black Cat."
 We snuck in some vocabulary instruction by discussing the meaning of the word roam.

Our kids got pretty creative with the cats' faces and tails 
and the pictures they drew for each page of the poem.

Go to our TPT store or click here to purchase this easy prep activity!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Creepy Coffins!

I am usually very skeptical of "easy" holiday crafts but this one was as easy as it gets.  I found these Martha Stewart Coffins on sale at JoAnn Fabric and Craft and decided to give it a try for some cute little holiday goodies!

We tried them today and they came out adorable!  First we made the boxes and then we filled them with candy and sealed them up to give as Halloween treats!

We filled our first batch with Hershey Kisses but my older son wanted to make fudge so we are going to fill our next batch of coffins with pieces of fudge!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Halloween Fun with a Language Arts Twist!

As teachers (and magicians) we are always trying to squeeze so much learning into each and every day but at the same time we want the kids to have fun. We do this by incorporating art and games into our learning activities.

This week while teaching our first graders about nouns and verbs we added in some Halloween fun by having them write and illustrate Halloween poems.  First we read the "Dogs Bark" poem from our Halloween Poetry Activity packet on TPT to review nouns and verbs. Then we introduced the noun and verb word cards from the packet.
We wrote one poem together using the "Dogs Bark" (noun, verb) format and then each child successfully completed their own poem!

To purchase our Halloween Poetry packet click here or visit our TPT store.

Later in the day we used the Halloween noun cards again for another writing activity!  This time we talked about adjectives and added color words to our pocket chart.

Our kids had previously written and illustrated an Eric Carle inspired class book called Yellow Bee, Yellow Bee (We are the Busy Bees!) and they loved reading it over and over! For this book, each child completed a page for our Purple Spider, Purple Spider class book!  We are sure it will be another class favorite!

To get this Spooky Halloween Class Book FREEBIE click here or visit our TPT store.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!