Baby birds!

Spring is here!  Flowers are blooming, birds are busy, and eggs are everywhere.  We had fun learning about spring in the classroom last week.  The kiddos made little spring baskets using berry baskets from the farmer's market.  They used 1/2" strips of colored paper to weave through the sides and two standard pipe cleaners twisted together for the handles.  It sure is good fine motor work for young students.  They were excited about the baskets and what we would make to go inside.

We read some fantastic books about spring and the signs of the season in nature and the world around us.  This topic always includes baby animals and eggs, so, we learned a bit about them too.  This is my all time favorite non fiction book on eggs:


It has lots of interesting information about eggs and the many animals that are born from them.  The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous!  If you don't have this book in your collection, it is a must have.  And I just found this one below as well.  It is brand new and will be released on April 14th, 2015.  I have ordered it for my classroom and can't wait for it to come.  I have most of the books in this series.  They are all wonderful.


They are a perfect compliment to these oldies but goodies:






This year, we decided to make baby birds to go in the spring baskets.  We cut toilet paper rolls in half.  The kiddos painted them as an independent center one day.  Each child did two.  Then later in the week, the kids added eyes, beaks, and feathers with an adult.  These items were glued on using a low heat  hot glue gun, which is why it is an adult supervised activity.  The adult does the gluing, but the child is the creative director regarding color, size, and placement of the items.  If you have a way to make these kinds of projects happen in your classroom, they are very special to the students and will be treasures for years to come.  Here are a few of ours:

Aren't they adorable?  The kiddos also added colored eggs and some sweets used for math problem solving to the baskets as well.  You can see more about our colored eggs on this blog post: Coloring Eggs in the Classroom.  Our last day before break was super special because we also got to see and touch these cool things:

A big thank you goes out to my AMAZING instructional aide, Stacey Grant, for bringing in those cool eggs to share with our kiddos.  I also want to thank the student in my class who brought in the baby chicks.  He was so excited about them hatching at home and I am so happy that he was able to share them with our class.  Thanks so much!  It made our day!

I have so much more to tell you about our studies of spring.  This post is getting very long, though, so it will have to wait for the next one.  Hope you are enjoying all the fun curriculum connections that spring provides.

Happy spring!
Happy teacing!

Coloring Eggs in the Classroom

Do you color hard boiled eggs in your classroom?  I do.  We always do a little unit of study on spring and all the signs of the season in nature and the world around us.  I do not use any frame of reference to Easter other than it is a holiday that some people celebrate at this time of year.   I like to do this activity on our last day before the kids go on spring break as a fun way to end our unit.  We always talk about baby animals and baby birds.  Eggs inevitably come into the discussion as well.  

Do you know how few children are doing this at home with their families?  I have such sweet childhood memories of doing this with my mom.  When I ask my kinder students if they have done this before, most say no.  The few who say yes, have often done it in a preschool or after school care program.  That makes me a bit sad.  But, it is another reason I do it with my students.

I know what some of you are thinking, "coloring eggs has no academic value".  I disagree.  I see this as an art activity and art activities have great value in my classroom.  We want 21st century students to be creative and think outside the box.  We want them to be problem solvers finding unique solutions to difficult challenges.  I know all the art teachers in the world will agree that all these characteristics  can all be learned through the arts.  When I say the arts, I am not talking about a classroom "craftivity" where each child's product looks exactly the same.  I am talking about providing the tools and materials for students to make something completely their own.  OK, I know we are talking about coloring eggs.  Yes, it is a simple activity and will not produce a grand masterpiece.  But in kindergarten, it is practice that gets students' creative juices flowing.  All these art experiences build on each other and help students see themselves as "creative".   And when these art experiences are combined with opportunities to be creative in math, science, and other subjects, we are reaching our goals to help prepare students for a successful future.

OK, thanks for reading my rant on art and why it is still very important in education.  Coloring eggs is a very simple art project that is inexpensive and easy to set up.  Kids think it is FUN, which is another very important part of kindergarten.  I get the color pellets at the dollar store.  I got the colored egg cups in the photo at the top from a set years ago and keep them for this activity.  They are very handy and if you want to color eggs, it is worth getting them and keeping them for the future.  We just use crayons to decorate the eggs before they go into the dye.  Make sure you get the eggs out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before you color them.  If they are too cold, the condensation and temperature make it hard to use the crayons effectively.  

It is hard to see the crayon lines on the eggs, but some of them are super cute!  Each child did two and that is the perfect number of eggs to fit into the little baskets they made.  I let the eggs dry in the carton just as you see above.  I write the child's name on the lid of the carton to keep track of the eggs and then it is easy to put them in the baskets when they are dry and ready to go home.

You can see the eggs with the other goodies in the spring baskets in this shot from above.  We also put some cute baby birds and a few treats in there as well.  My sweets kiddos were so excited about their spring baskets and the "special" things they made to go in them.  That made me feel so happy as we said good-bye for our week off.  Happy kids, happy teacher, life if good!

Here is a little FREEBIE  for you that I use to do scrambled sight word eggs in my classroom.  This is a recording sheet for students to write the words they make and color the egg to match.  You will need ten different colors of plastic eggs to put the letters for each word inside.  I write my letters on colored paper squares.  You can use letter tiles too.  This activity is great because you can use it with any word list that is appropriate for your students.  I have two complete sets of eggs to make it easier for a small group to accomplish this task at a table.  In kindergarten, I find that it works best to have an adult at the table while kids are working.  Just click on the image below to go get  your freebie.  Have fun!

Happy spring!
Happy teaching!

Reading Fluency

Need some simple activities to help your young students develop reading fluency? Here are a few things I am doing with my class (in addition to our normal familiar reading practice).  We are done with CVC words and have moved on to blends and digraphs, but, it is really important to practice "putting it all together" to read and write with ease.  I have made some helpful little sheets to practice reading, sentences, and punctuation.  And it is so easy to make them into a literacy center for the class before I send the pages home in the homework.

The kiddos work together in a small group to read and answer all the questions on the pocket chart.  Then, they sit down at the table and do a little recording sheet to practice and review.  Some of the questions are silly, so it is fun.  Anytime they get to use the do-a-dot dabbers, I have happy students.  So, this little activity was a success!

You can get this little pack for only $1.00 in my TpT store.  It took me less than ten minutes to write out the sentence strips to make it into a literacy center.  Woo hoo!  Just click on the image below to go get it.

This is another activity that helps build reading fluency but also helps young students understand what makes a complete sentence.  I did the same thing as the Read and Answer center above.  I used one of the sheets from the pack and wrote out all the sentences and phrases on sentence strips.  I added a couple more into the pocket chart just for practice.  After working together in a small group to complete the pocket chart, the kiddos went to the table to do the practice page with dabbers.

I also made this mini anchor chart to introduce this concept in a simple way to my kindergarten sweeties.  The idea of complete sentences can be a bit tricky.  But this literacy center went very well and the "Is it a Sentence?" sheets will be going home in homework packs throughout the remainder of the school year.

This was a standard 8.5 X 11" sheet that I enlarged to ledger size paper (11 X17").  I put it on the yellow construction paper and laminated it.  It was a really helpful tool to help students with the activity, and you can get this for FREE down at the bottom of the post.  Just sharing the love.

You can get lots of practice pages for this concept.  I have two 6-packs!  Just click on the images below to go get them.  Yes, they are only $1.00 each.

The last item I made to help young readers cover a big concept is Pick the Punctuation!  I know it will be helpful to both kindergarten and first grade teachers.  Students need to read each line and choose the correct punctuation to end the sentence.  I will introduce this just a bit later in the year, but we have already been working on these concepts for quite some time.  This is an example from the pack:

This activity helps with so many areas of reading and writing.  It helps students understand and differentiate the end marks and read with appropriate expression, which in turn helps reading fluency.  These can also help kiddos improve correct usage in writing as well.   This would be just as easy to turn into a pocket chart center like the ones above.  You can get these sheets in my TpT store by clicking on the image below.  Yup, you guessed right, only $1.00.

I have lots of little 6-Packs! in my store.  Each pack is a single skill with a single format and includes six different versions.  I think $1.00 is just the right price and hope that it makes your life easier to be able to get just what you need in little packs.  I hate nothing more that paying for a big pack and then only using a few pages. 

OK, here's your freebie!  Click on the image to go get it in my TpT store.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I hope these ideas help you in your classroom!
Happy teaching!