Friday, February 28, 2014

Southern California Kindergarten Conference Giveaway!!!

We are so excited to be spending the day at the Southern California Kindergarten Conference!  
We have had a great day so far and can't wait to attend our first blogger bash tonight!  To celebrate we are having a new followers give away!  If you follow us you will be entered into a $25 Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf giveaway!  Just sign up on the follow us sidebar!  We will post the winner on Sunday, March 2nd!  If you see us please say hi we'd love to meet new friends!!!
Good Luck!!!

As Promised!!! Rainforest Mask Instructions!!!

Wow!  What an amazing start to a perfect way to spend a rainy day in California!  Wendy and I are at the Southern California Kindergarten Conference spending the morning with Deanna Jump.  We are getting so many great ideas and can’t wait to share them with our partner who couldn’t make it today!  We are singing songs, laughing, and making great connections. 

We shared our Rainforest Masks from our Rainforest Unit, which we will soon post on TPT, at the art exhibit.  Amazing that they actually got them to hang…a lot of tape!  Thank you so much for all of the ooh’s and awe’s.  We are so glad that everyone thinks they are so great too! Since so many people asked us how to make them we thought we would share:

The project takes a week to make but we suggest you spread it out.  There are many layers that need to dry and YOU need time to rest between steps!


Nasco paper mache face mask (pkg of 12) You can order online…a bit pricy
          ( $1.92 each for 12 or more) but worth it!
Newspaper strips
Light weight tag board or file folders
Masking tape
Tissue paper
Staflo starch
Gesso (optional)
Spray lacquer or Modge Podge
Paint brushes
Plastic rhinestones
Colored feathers
Pipe cleaners
Glue gun

Unfortunately- there is a lot of teacher prep in this project but if you do it with a friend it is a ton of fun and many of laughs.  We have even had some creative parents come in to help with this process!!!

To start you need to use newspaper, tag board, and lots of tape to create each individual animal face.  This is where you need to be VERY creative!  We were cracking up when we made some of the unique rainforest animals like the Walking Stick, which is in the picture below. 

Once you have created each mask (this may take a couple of days depending on your class size) it is time for the students to get messy!

Using small strips of newspaper, students need to completely cover the mask with paper dipped in starch.  We always us starch (you can find it a Smart and Final or sometimes at the Dollar Store) but you can also use a mixture of ½ glue and ½ water. 

Let the mask dry completely!!!

If you want to make the mask dry hard with less bumps, you need to cover the mask with gesso.  Gesso is available at Michael’s or Aaron Brothers. Check to make sure it is kid friendly. We do this after school. We always include this step because it covers the newspaper print and seals the bumps.  It also means the kids only need to do the next step once.

When the Gesso is dry the students choose tissue paper squares in the colors of their animal.  This takes teacher guidance… you may need to help them choose the colors so as not to have rainbow animals.  Students use a paintbrush to apply the tissue squares to the mask using starch.  Let masks dry completely overnight.

If you did not do the Gesso step, students will need to apply a second layer of tissue to make sure that the newsprint is covered. 

Once the tissue is dry you can either have the students paint the masks with semi gloss modge podge or YOU can use a spray semi gloss lacquer.  Let dry completely.

If you want to make the masks wearable art use a nail or a small drill bit make a whole on each side of the mask.  Use elastic cord or twine to make a strap. 

The final step is bedazzling the masks with sequins, rhinestones, feathers, beads, pipe cleaners, and any other goodie you can find!  Students love picking out what they are going to put on their mask!  You can have the students use tacky glue and glue on their own design but we have found over the years it is easier to have students work with a parent or teacher to design their mask while the adult hot glues it.

We always take pictures of our kiddos wearing their mask and post it with the mask and an original animal poem! 

We hope you enjoy this project!  We’d love to hear or see how it works in your classroom!


To celebrate the last days of winter in sunny Malibu I decided to give them a little cool treat, Eskimo Pies. To start the unit, I read 2 books that take place in Alaska, Danger the Dogyard Cat  and Alaska's Three Bears. We then watched a small video about the life of an Eskimo. As a class we discussed how different Alaska is compared to  our state of California. We talked about the different cultures and animals that we see.  The students  helped me make a Venn diagram comparing the life of an Eskimo living on the tundra and our life living in Malibu. We followed up this activity by making our own Eskimos using paper plates.  They had so much fun creating their Eskimo friend and it was a great activity to practice their cutting skills.  Those paper plates were tough!  We finished up the unit a yummy estimation activity.  I found it in my old AIMS workbooks. It is called Polar Bear Pie. We talked about estimating and what that meant. I shared a handful of crayons and asked them to "THINK" about their estimate, not to guess.  Then I showed them a cookie and asked them how many bites they thought it would take me to eat it.  Again, emphasizing the "THINKING"part.  Then I ate it as we counted the bites.  Boy were they bummed when I got to eat it.  "That's not fair!" was yelled from a few of them. That's when I showed them the Eskimo Pies and explained it was now their turn. They were so excited and ready to begin their estimation activity.  We used our white boards to make tally marks as we ate our ice cream.  It was a bit messy, but they loved it.  After cleaning up all the chocolate hands and mouths, we filled out our worksheets in small groups and graphed our findings on a huge Eskimo Pie in our room!  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy Birthday George!

This week, since were are not off on "ski week", we are finishing up our President's Day mini-unit!  We made these adorable George Washington Crafts last week but ran out of time so they sat in a pile for a while.  We almost finished the rough drafts on Friday but not quite!  Today we edited and recopied our paragraphs in centers.  It was so exciting!  All but two kids were able to write an informational paragraph about George Washington!  Penmanship is a big problem with our little ones this year so we have been using our final draft writing time as a printing review and practice time.  It is definitely helping!!!

We did this project a little differently than other writing assignments.  After reading a biography on George Washington, one that taught me some new and hopefully true facts, the students brainstormed a list of facts they remembered from the story.  We didn't write these in complete sentences, the kiddos had to do that, most of them were able to do this.  We did have to do some major peer and teacher/student editing with a couple of students who didn't put a subject in any of their factual sentences, but for the most part they all did great!

Today our student copied their paragraphs onto the publishing paper and we hung them up above their desks!  They were very excited because they got to stand on their chairs to read their desk partner's paragraph!  Our whole unit is available at our TPT store or by clicking here.  If you only need a publishing paper for a paragraph you can grab a freebie here!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

President's Day Fun!

It is all about President’s Day in our classes today!  We started with a directed draw of ourselves as President of the United States.  Students then dictated what they would do if they were president!  Some comments were very serious and others were very appropriate for first graders!  They will make an adorable bulletin board.

Next we learned about Abraham Lincoln.  We read Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner and a non-fiction book we wrote as part of our President’s Day packet.  We brainstormed a list of facts we had learned about Abraham Lincoln.  Then students completed an All About Abraham Lincoln rough draft.  They wrote a topic sentence, three facts, and ended with a concluding sentence.   We edited the rough drafts and the students recopied them.  We hung them up with our Honest Abe Craftivity.  If you like this project it is all part of our President’s Day Mini Unit.  You can find it at our TPT store or by clicking here.  There is also a book on George Washington and a George Washington Craftivity included in the unit as well as several easy to use worksheets.  Hope you have a great President’s Day Weekend!  We are off to Legoland!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lots of Love for Valentine's Day!

Cupid has arrived!  We decorated Valentine's Day bags last Thursday and our kids started "mailing" their valentines today.  You can feel the excitement in the air!

To practice skip counting in a festive way, our students made heart butterflies.  After the children decorated them we worked as a whole group to count their antennae by twos.  Each time we glued a new butterfly to our chart we recounted how many butterflies we had by ones and their antennae by twos.  At the end we wrapped up by coloring in the numbers you say when you count by twos on a one hundred chart.

Many of our kids are having a challenging time with balance equations:  7+2 = 4+5.  As part of our Valentine's Day Math Games packet we have several LOADS OF LOVE activity sheets to help our students master this skill.  

Today we started by having the kids use hearts to create 2 wheelbarrow equations that are "carrying the same load".  Visit our TPT store to get this easy to use game packet or click here.

The Valentine's Day Math Game packet also includes activities to help your students practice and review :

More Than, Less Than, & Equal To

Fact Families

Place Value 

and Word Problems

Click here to purchase this packet or visit our TPT store.

Happy Valentine's Day to you!!!