Sunday, September 28, 2014

All About Me! (Aa, Square)

The theme for the 3rd week of the school year was "All About Me". We also started our Letter of the Week study, with the letter A. Throughout the year, we also have a focus each week of either a color or shape, as well as number. The numbers will start soon, and this week we focused on the square shape.

This week we readChicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
                                        Always by Alison McGhee
                                        Curious George Feeds the Animals by Margret and HA Rey
                                        LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
                                        Animalia by Graeme Base

Our question of the week was "What animal would you like to be?"

The shape of the week: square was fun to talk about. At our morning meetings, we would talk about the shape and things in real life that are square. We also practiced drawing squares in the air. The children also worked on their fine motor skills by tracing squares. I found this worksheet on Kidzone.

For our song this week we sang "This is a Square". I've seen this song all over (and other shape variations) so I'm not exactly sure where to give the credit. =/

For our theme "All About Me", we made a book! I was given these pages when I started at my school a few years ago, but I believe they came originally from

The letter of the week: A activities that we worked on this were were Absolutely fun! I created envelope games for each letter of the alphabet. I adapted them from activities from Mailbox Letter of the Week projects, both book one and two. The children had to find the apples with "A" words on them to put on the tree.

We began our Alphabet Wall. In the classroom I taped up two trees. As we work through the alphabet, the children will make projects to go on the wall. It's a very fun way for the class to see the alphabet in a new way. This week, we made apples! The children ripped small pieces of red paper and glued them on a round circle of white paper.

The children turned a capital letter A into an alligator. I got the idea from the book Alphabet and Counting from Twin Sister Productions. They give tips for how to make it a glue and paste projects, but I like to give them crayons and the challenge to add the parts of the animal to the letter. It opens up room for more conversation about the shape of the letter AND the features of the animal.

The book Sounds Like fun, Phonemic Awareness has great phonics activities for the alphabet. For the letter A, the children have to cut out and glue the words that "Begin like Antelope". Together we talked about the beginning sounds of the words, and then they work on their fine motor cutting skills.

Playing memory with letter A pictures was a fun way to practice the letter.

We practice and work on our handwriting for each letter as well. The Original Summer Bridge Activities, for PreK-K has great handwriting practice sheets. The kids trace and write the letters and then have a little phonics practice at the bottom.

We made apple print art!! Those apples get slippery, let me tell you. I think we had more paint on our hands than on the paper! =] I cut each apple the opposite way so we could get both prints.

From the book Alphabet, Colors, Numbers and Shapes, the kids practice letter recognition AND direction following. Some weeks certain letters have to be colored specifically and sometimes it's up to them. I love these!

Each child has a journal that they write in every week. When we focus on a letter, they write for that letter. On shorter weeks and during our review later in the year, they write to the theme. This is such a great way to get children excited about writing and reading. This week we started the journals with the letter A. I start the children out by tracing, and once they are comfortable and controlling the crayon well, they move onto copying.

We tasted three different types of apples: Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Honeycrisp. They tried each kind of apple and then "voted" for the one that they liked the best. Great way for us to start talking about graphs. We talked afterward about the most popular, least and what other things the graph tells us (title, types of apples, names)
Our bunnies really enjoyed the extras!

I made a cube of cardboard and glued pictures of "A" things one each side. The children say "Astronaut, Astronaut, what do I see.... I see a ____ looking at me!" They roll the cube and fill in the blank. This came from a Mailbox activity book, and let me tell you, it was a hit!! They loved it! 

During the week we made a list of words that begin with the letter a. Here is what we thought of!

 Leave a comment below and let me know that you stopped by!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Where We Live!

The theme for the second week of the school year was "Where We Live". All of my class but one lives in New Jersey, one lives in Pennsylvania, so we spent the week talking about both.

This week we readWish You Were Here by Kathleen Krull (only the NJ and PA pages)
                                        Goodnight New Jersey by Adam Gamble
                                        Goodnight Philadelphia by Adam Gamble
                                        The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
                                        The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood

Our question of the week was "Where do you Live?"

For our song this week we sang "The Itsy Bitsy Spider".

The activities that we did this week were mostly centered around our theme. We did a few things that continued letting the class get used to the classroom and routines. Last year I made the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree and I love having it at the entrance to my classroom with everyone's name letter on it. We took some time this week to get that project done. I traced the letter and wrote their name on it. The children colored their letters and I cut them out.

We took advantage of the gorgeous weather this week and had went on multiple nature walks on our trail.

Partner play with treasure boxes, puzzles and my eggs boxes were definitely another hit this week.

Our school's back to school night is next week, and I like to have some kind of project out on the tables for parents to look at while they arrive. I found this project on pinterest and thought it would be cute to try out. The kids made their person, and I scribed one thing that they wanted to work on or do during this school year.

From the website I make a worksheet for each child with their full name, first and last. It has 3 lines for the children to trace their name and one line for them to write it on their own. I like to do these a few times throughout the year to see how their fine motor control really does improve, so I always stick them into their portfolios.

Alright, back to our theme activities for the week. Using pictures of New Jersey Symbols I made a New Jersey memory game that we played in small groups.

Since we're talking about where we live, I thought that I would challenge my kids to draw a picture of their house. Early on in the year I like to get my class comfortable with "trying". Immediately I get "I don't know how", or "I cant" which just makes me so sad. I love children's art, and as long as they are trying I love it, and I want them to be proud of their abilities and their accomplishments.

We made handprint state bugs. A lady bug for Pennsylvania and a Bumblebee for New Jersey!

I printed out the state flag of New Jersey (and one Pennsylvania) and showed the children pictures of it. We talked about the colors that are one the flag and the pictures. Then we painted our own!

Using dot painters, we painted New Jersey Violets.

To end the week on a super fun note, we had a Bon Jovi dance party. It was awesome!

 Leave a comment below and let me know that you stopped by!

Welcome to the School Year! Building a Classroom Community

The theme for the first week of school was "Building a Classroom Community". I wanted to really get to know my class and let them get used to the room and to our daily routine, so we focused on becoming friends and some fun activities.

This week we read: Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anne Dewdney
                                        Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton
                                        Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard
                                        A Book of Friends by Dave Ross

Our question of the week was "What was your favorite thing about the summer?"

For our song this week we sang "The Wheels on the Bus". It was fun to let the children pick what parts of the song to sing each time.

The activities that we did this week really helped us to become a tight classroom community! Everyday we went over class rules that the children helped make. We sat in a group and I asked the children what they thought some rules to keep us safe and happy in the classroom might be. I fit in my own too! We also took tours of the classroom so that the children get used to where the centers are.

We played "Just Like Me" to help get everyone comfortable with each other. I start by modeling with a few statements, i.e, I like vanilla ice cream. If a child also like vanilla ice cream, they stand up and yell, "just like me!" After I model a few statements like that, each child has a chance to be the leader. It's so cool to see them thinking about what they want to say!

The kids drew "first day of school" pictures. These are fantastic to throw in their portfolios! I have mostly blank piece of paper that on the bottom says, "I drew this on the first day of school!" and the children can draw anything that they want. It's an easy project for them to complete, and it also lets me see how the kids draw, and how they hold the crayons.

To help get the children playing with each other we used puzzles and treasure boxes to partner play with. They get to take turns choosing what they play with and work/play with new friends. To learn more about my treasure boxes and other ways they can be used, check out this post from last year!

We walked on our school's nature trail in the woods. All of the new children to the school LOVED it! Since our school is so connected to the outdoors and we are always looking at and talking about the seasonal changes that we see, I started us off by asking the children to look for different color flowers as we walked down. They were so excited when they saw purple, white, pink and yellow.

At morning meeting one morning we played body drumming, another game that helps the children become comfortable leading the group. I model 3 or 4 different motions, like patting the knees, clapping, snapping, and stomping while the group follows the change of the motions. Then any child that would like a turn (I do not force children to do something like this if they really don't want to) leading the group.

The children made paper plate snakes. Such an easy and fun activity. Either the teacher or the child draws a spiral on the plate, and then they color it however they choose. When they are finished coloring, they cut along the spiral that they drew, and voila! A snake!

I traced the children's hands and they colored them in. Again, a simple project to help the children get used to coming to the table to do projects and following directions.

We played "I Have, Who Has" with colors. We played a few times because the kids loved it. I have these games on hand that I made simply out of index cards. I have a shape and alphabet version as well.

The children made lions out of paper plates. They drew faces and the manes, and then growled for me!

We also played Simon Says.

We had a great first week of school, how was yours? Leave a comment below and let me know that you stopped by!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Setting up the Classroom!

I can not believe an entire year has gone by! It feels like I just started this blog. It has been so fun each week reflecting on the projects and activities that we've done. As it got to the end of the year I wondered whether I would continue blogging, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought... YES! It was just too fun to stop!

So, I start this new year with setting up the classroom! An important part of any teacher's beginning of the school year. I got the room sparkling, the toys and shelves scrubbed, all my paperwork set and the room rearranged.

 First came cleaning.

Then came organizing and arranging.

 I reorganized my bookcase and files. I bought this filing cabinet at GoodWill and painted it... 
I love it!

 I updated my classroom bulletin board for parents with our schedules, important dates, my teacher bio and interesting articles and information.

Im so ready for the new school year!! Can't wait to meet my new class!