Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dog Toys - Yum!

See this table setting in our play house center?  Looks delicious, doesn't it?  That's because I stopped using that dinky, plastic play food you usually buy for children to use, and starting buying dog toys instead.

Yes, you read that right.  Dog toys.  Tough, durable, able-to-take-a-beating-from-a-mastiff-and-a-class-of-Kindergarteners dog toys.  Yeah, they may cost a bit more, but they last for YEARS.  Plus they're very realistic.  And more importantly they're non-toxic if the kids put them in their mouth (which we all know they will at some point.)

Hint:  Check out your dollar stores!

(The dog toys are as follows (from lower left and going clockwise: hamburger, hot dog - chicken quarter, bacon - hamburger, t-bone - hot dog - and of course the sundae in the middle.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Science Scavenger Hunt

By the end of the school year my Kinder can sound out/read these words. I divide the class into groups of 4, and give each group a list and a paper bag (a plastic grocery bag works just as well.)  Taking them out to the vacant lot/playground, I let them search for the items on their list. 

The list has the following words:  rock, leaf, flower, grass, seed, and wood, plus a ? and an X.  The ? means they don't know what the item is, and X is for anything that's not on the list - their "eXtra" choice.

When we're finished, we go back to the classroom where each team can then dump the contents of their bags, and they discuss with the class what they found.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Counting to 20

The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (aka TEKS) for Kindergarten require that all children be "fluent" up to the number 20. That means addition, subtraction, identifying and writing the numbers, and making groups up to 20.

This is an activity that helps them count to 20 by 5s, reinforces fine motor skills, and is just plain fun to do.

Take a sheet of construction paper and have them fold it in fourths.  They then cut out pictures of objects from a magazine and glue 5 in each square.  Thus 5 x 4 = 20.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Learning to Write Their Names

Mondays are my "slow" days, meaning I have one break all day.  Last year it was Friday.  I'm sure every teacher has a slow day during their week. 

Normally, when the students have to practice writing their names, they do it on a single strip of paper and turn it in.  But on slow days, I make them take their time writing it on a laminated sheet with a Vis-a-Vis, or wipe-off marker.  After finishing and getting a quick approval from me, a wet paper towel or sponge cleans it off nicely, and the sheet can be reused repeatedly.

As you can see from these two examples, we concentrate on just the first name during the first half of the school year.  We add the last name after we come back from the Christmas holidays.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The "Walking in Line" Song

I have two of them.

(Tune - "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush")

This is the way we walk in line,
Walk in line,
Walk in line,
This is the way we walk in line
So early in the morning.
*(On Monday afternoon.)

This is the way we hold our hands,
Hold our hands,
Hold our hands,
This is the way we hold our hands,
So early in the morning.
*(On Monday afternoon.)

*If it's afternoon, substitute the day of the week.

(Tune - "Turkey in the Straw")

Put your hands in your pockets or behind your backs.
Put your hands in your pockets or behind your backs.
Put your hands in your pockets or behind your backs.
Show me, show me...right now! **

** This last line is to the "Shave and a Haircut, Six Bits" tune.

(P.S. His t-shirt reads "I love Monsters, Mud, and Mess.")

Friday, March 18, 2011

Next Countdown...Easter Break!

Now that Spring Break is about over, when we return to the classroom, we're going to start our next countdown.  This time we'll be counting down (using our calendar and straws) to Good Friday and Easter break.

Some teachers count down the entire school year.  In a way, we do that as well (when we use our 100s chart).  But with Kinder kids, they can't quite grasp that long a wait.  It seems like FOREVER to them.  So I chop up the year into smaller increments - Labor Day (we start school in August), Halloween, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, Valentine's Day, Spring Break, Easter break, End of School.

Hint: For every 10 days, rubber band the 10 straws together to give the class a visual reminder.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's Spring Break!

Hope you're taking advantage of this week and relaxing.
Or at least recharging your batteries.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Making Bubbles

I found out very quickly that my students had never been taught proper handwashing techniques.  In short, they pump soap in one hand, then basically wash it off their hands under the water.

So I gave them the little speech about "invisible germs", and how soap bubbles capture the germs and kill them.  To demonstrate, I had the children hold their breaths and pinch their noses to "simulate" being inside a bubble.  They quickly understood.

Now we Make Bubbles every time they they wash their hands.  Get enough water on their hands to make the bubbles to kill the germs before they wash off the bubbles.

Although I do have colds and such in my classroom, I have very few children out due to illnesses.  I think Making Bubbles has helped.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

But What About the Glue?

Monday I showed what I do with the school supplies brought by the children at the beginning of the year.  You emailed me and asked about glue.

Our school district requires our students to bring glue sticks AND bottled glue.  Of course, the sticks run out (or dry out) within a few weeks.  But to put a bottle of glue in a Kindergartener's hands is asking for trouble, as well as running rivers of white stuff all over kingdom come.

What I've done is collect little plastic containers (what you see here is from a fruit cup).  I pour glue into the container and then add several toothpicks.  Not only can each child scoop and smear to their heart's content, but there's no chance of ending up with blobs of glue dripping down walls and arms.

Furthermore, the cups are reusable!  Once the leftover glue is allowed to sit for a couple of days, it hardens around the toothpicks.  A little pressure and pull on the toothpicks, and the dry glue peels right out nice and clean.  (And it's fun to do!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

The "Community" Bucket

I've had several teachers adopt my "community" bucket idea.  Instead of each child having their own individual plastic case of glue, pencils, crayons, etc. (remember the "cigar boxes" of olden days?), I have a plastic bucket on each table.  The long side holds crayons and markers.  The 2-pocket side holds pencils and scissors.

This way I can monitor usage.  And when the crayons start to get worn down, I can dump another box in.  Markers going dry?  Open another box.  Ditto for pencils.

Believe it or not, the supplies each child brings at the beginning of the school year last from Aug. to June.

(Added plus: each bucket is a different color, so I can dismiss/call each table by that color.  Ex: "Red, go get your journals.")

Friday, March 4, 2011

Highly Recommended

Looking for good programs to use on your classroom computer?  I highly recommend the following.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The "Magic Piece of Paper" Song

I discovered a long time ago that constantly telling the kids to pick their trash up off the floor wasn't working.  So I made a game out of it.  It's called the "Magic Piece of Paper".  In short, I sing the following song while the kids scramble to pick up that one piece of paper that will earn them a sticker for their reward chart.  What I really do is let them clean the floor spotless, and at the last second choose a child who picks up that last errant miniscule dust particle as the Winner.  Voila!  I have a clean floor!

The "Magic Piece of Paper" Song
(Tune: "If You're Happy and You Know It")

There's a magic piece of paper on the floor
There's a magic piece of paper on the floor
There's a magic piece of paper
There's a magic piece of paper
There's a magic piece of paper on the floor