Saturday, April 12, 2014

Butterflies: Up Close and Personal (another Bright Idea)

I love, love, love spring.  Why?  Because I get to raise butterflies with my students.  This is my favorite activity all year long and I have a Bright Idea for taking it up a notch and letting my students get up close and personal with the butterflies.

First, you need to order your butterflies.  I just order mine online.  The caterpillars are super easy to work with and actually are pretty hardy.  Even so....I always order a classroom set.  I do this for two reasons....first, I like every student to get a hands on experience, and second, I am still nervous they all won't survive.

Then you watch, wait, and learn. 

When the cocoons hatch....then the fun begins!!  Once the butterflies emerge I set up a screen porch tent.  The tent I use has no floor (so the butterflies can hide in the grass).  I set it up under a tree in our outdoor education area.  Any "quiet" spot in a grassy area would work.

Inside the tent I put some flowering baskets at different heights.  I slice oranges on a paper plate to feed the butterflies.

My students are so very careful.  Even the most rough and tumble kid watches where he steps and is ever so gentle.  My tent is small, so only a couple of students at a time get to go in.  My daughter comes and takes pictures for me (that lets me focus on the rest of the class while the students in the tent have a wonderful experience with the butterflies.  Plus, my daughter is a great photographer and the pictures are outstanding!!).

My kinders are timid and some require coaxing and help to get the butterflies to crawl onto their hands.  My 2nd and 3rd graders liked trying to see how many butterflies they could get on their faces.  The joy and reactions is the highlight of my year.

By taking the time to observe carefully and closely they learn so much about insects.

They see the proboscis and watch it work.

They experience the sticky feet of a butterfly as it clings to their finger and proceeds to hang upside down.
They learn how to take care of things in the wild. 
Getting up close and personal with the butterflies is an experience they never forget.  If you would like to see more of what we do consider joining me on facebook and at my TpT store.

For more Bright Ideas from 150 different bloggers, please browse through the linky below.  Choose a topic or grade level that interests you.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday....Math Manipulatives

I love being able to share ideas....that is what makes blogging so much fun.  I find new ideas, I get to share my ideas, that's why I am so excited to link up with Christina at Sugar and Spice.  Lots of great ideas.

I saw this one several places, including pinterest, but then my good friend Mr. Greg from Smedley's  Smorgasbord of Kindergarten gave exact instructions on how to make them.  So I just had to give it a try:

What do you use to teach and/or practice place value?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Clean-Up

Spring Break is almost here....I am getting my to-do list ready.  It is already longer than the time I have. 

First on the list is to get my grades done....then I can enjoy the rest of my time.

When I need a brain break from grades I am going to go back through my purchases on TpT and make sure I have left feedback.  I have some that are two years old.  I having been using the product all this time never letting the creator know what a great item they have and how much I loved it!!  I was so surprised to find the flashing light saying leave feedback.  WHAT??  I never left the feedback?  Goodness, I have been missing out on all those credits.  Plus, it's kind-of rude.

Then I hope to pick up some of the items that have been on my wish list for awhile.  And maybe even erase a few that I might not need (as I sheepishly look around to make sure no one hears me say that).  My wish list is 486 items long.  ummm....I better spend some time cleaning it up.
To start things off right, I am having a sale!  20% off everything in my store.  My friends are having a sale too.  Look at all the amazing bloggers that are spring cleaning this weekend.  Thanks to Georgia Grown Kiddos for hosting this link up and Zip-a-dee-doo-dah Designs for the cute blog button. Have a little fun!  Save a little money! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Five for Friday...spring has sprung and a freebie.

Spring has Sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is?

The Vernal equinox came this week, and we went looking for signs of spring. So here is a little wrap up (on Saturday), and link up with Doodle Bug Teaching, plus a freebie.

We have a wonderful natural area behind our school.  We saw buds on the apple and pear trees.  We checked out the ones my kiddos thought were bugs, and found they were just a different kind of bud.  I love to check them weekly now and see how things have changed.  Next week we will take magnifying glasses out with us, and journals to draw what we see.

The week started with leprechauns messing up our classroom and sending us on a scavenger hunt/quest to see if we can catch him and claim our prize.

Each stop on the quest had us completing a task.  The favorite was reading these gold nuggets that were scattered about the library.  Each nugget had a cvc word painted on with a black paint pen (I couldn't get my sharpie to write dark enough).  We collected them and then put them in the leprechaun's pot.  They couldn't keep their hands out of the pot and they read those words the rest of the day.  My kinders will find them again in a reading center this week. 

Other tasks including counting to 100 for the office staff and planting a seed on the trip to our greenhouse.  When we returned to our room there was the leprechaun's pot....but sadly no leprechaun.  He left us magic powder (which turned into green pudding) and bubbles.  Both were a huge hit.

The afternoon found us making these rainbow chains with a pot of gold.  Each color of the rainbow was for one of our stops along the way.  My goal was to help each student retell the story of their quest.

What did I do for my own family?  I did not make them dress like a leprechaun. 

I did ask a friend to come play bagpipe music (he came to school too!  Thanks Ron Dickenson!!)

I did make them this cake.

Now for the freebie.  If you have lasted this long, you deserve a reward.  I want you to know that we will be having more rainbow fun next week.  Here is a puzzle that will be in my math centers.  Enjoy the wonderful colors of the graphics of my blogging bestie, the talented Nikki at Melonheadz Illustrating, (and there is also some  DJ Inkers mixed in).  I do have it for sale in my shop with more counting options and in black and white.
Just click on the picture to grab your copy.  Please remember to leave me some lovin' (it makes my heart happy)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Reading Rocks!

I am so excited to be a part of this FABULOUS blog hop!!  There are so many great bloggers with so many great ideas.  I hope you are having as much fun as me finding new and bright things to use in your classroom.
Here is one more.  This is my bright idea for using those stones you find in the floral department of WalMart, craft stores, and even the dollar store. 

The clear stones have the amazing ability to magnify.  That makes the clear ones great for reading.  Place the stone on a word and you can still read it!  Not only that, it makes that word a little bit bigger.

I use them with "regular" books and paper books too.  We find a word, or a punctuation mark, or just follow along reading each word.  The stones help students to focus. 

I also made magnets with some of them.

I have them with both letters and numbers.  You can read how I made them here and here.

We started the year using them to spell our names, and climb the coconut tree (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom).
  Then I made this tree out of scrapbook paper.  Now we are using them to spell words.

 And we are using them with our chalkboards.

There is just something relaxing about the feel of the smooth surface.  Not only when you are reading...but they are great for counting too.  I like to use the smaller ones for math.

Are you ready for another bright idea?  Next up is Jen Bengel from Out of This World Literacy.  She is going to tell you about a topic near and dear to my heart....using picture books in the upper grades.  Since my mom is a children's author, I have always had a great appreciation for picture books.  I could go on and on with my reasons, but I will let Jen tell you all about it.

You can also check out a topic of your choosing by clicking on one of the links below and move along to any other blog on the blog hop.