Sunday, May 3, 2015

Currently....It's May!

It is already May!  Where did this school year go?  I haven't linked up with Farley very much this's been that kind of year, but I am excited to link up today.

This year has been a struggle for me.  Second grade seems different than when I taught it just six years ago....or maybe I am different.  Trying to find my feet and my voice in second has been a challenge and I think I am excited to continue my growth in second next year.  My students though....FABULOUS!!  They are so fun, so excited to learn, eager to try new things, forgiving when I make mistakes.

This summer I am looking forward to going back to Las Vegas and the conferences there.  It was so motivational last year.  I cannot wait!

I hope I get to go home to PA and spend some time with my mom, and I hope I get to run Grandma Camp for as many of my grandkids I can get to come spend a week with me.  I've done that once before and it was fun!  Now that most of my grandkids have moved far away, it will be trickier getting them here...but I am hoping.

My dream is to have wood floors in my husband has been promising, but something always gets in the way.  Maybe this is the summer.  My other dream is to go to Hawaii...but I know that is not happening.

Check out what all your favorite bloggers are doing over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade.
Have a GREAT month and let's finish the school year strong!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Bright Idea for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is just around the corner and if you are looking for a BRIGHT IDEA......I have one for you.  
In my Kindergarten classroom I always want to do so many things, but these bath salts have been a favorite year after year.

They are easy and fool proof.  
You just need:
Epsom salts
coarse sea salts
baking soda
a container

The measurements don't have to be exact (which is great when kinder kids do their own measuring).  There are many, many recipes on the internet, but mine goes like this:
3 parts Epson salts
1 part sea salt
1/3 part baking soda
few drops of scent (essential oils)
few drops of color
*mix together until scent and color are evenly distributed.

In real life. for each student it looks like this:
measure into a quart baggie:
1 cup Epson salt
1/3 cup sea salt
2 Tablespoons of baking soda
few drops of scent (I use the liquid candle oils, essential oils are expensive)
few drops of color

*mix together, then pour into glass jar (just because it is so pretty)

Add a card or a note, and you are set.  Send home any extras in the baggie (or layer the extras like a sand painting, and give to someone special at your school).

If you want to try something a little different try this:

I gave those to some special friends one year.

If you like this idea consider following me on facebook, TpT, or Pinterest.

 For more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Five For Friday.....Spring Break

Spring Break, Easter, Parent/Teacher conferences have all come and gone.  Time to take a deep breath and look back at what I have been up to.

Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching is a great way to do that.  Thank you Kacey for giving me the chance to share.

First up is Spring Break.  I had a wonderful time visiting with six of my grandkids and learning how to make these sugar eggs.  I wrote about my first attempt here, and we had so much fun I did it again with another set of grandkids.

Easter was a quiet day.  I am LDS, so I spent much of the weekend enjoying conference.

The rest of the weekend was dying eggs, having fun listening to the grandkids tell me about the Easter Bunny, and having a wonderful meal my son cooked for us (didn't get any good pictures of the smoked ham...but it was yummy).

Then spring Break was over too soon and it was back to school.  Parent Teacher conferences were this week.  They always make me nervous.  I like to have my students show off some of what they have been doing, so I created this self-reflection page last fall and I gave it to them this week.  I really want to get them thinking about their learning.
You can grab this from my facebook fan freebie section here.

Finally, as I was working on lesson plans this week, I realized that all week long we have palindromes.  Yes our digital dates all week are the same forwards and backwards.

Have a GREAT week!!

HUGE edit alert!  Next week doesn't work....because it is no longer 2014.  How did I not figure that out sooner.  Next Month...MAY is the fun one!   Here is the revised picture.  Have you ever had one of those days???

Monday, March 30, 2015

A little bit of Easter fun!

Easter is coming, but before we left on spring break, we made these fun baskets.

I found them on Pinterest and the pin led me to FAB DIY:
They were super easy to make and every time those cotton balls and googly eyes went on they took on a personality all their own.

They really were easy!  We filled them with grass and of course...Peeps!
Then I had tons of fun making these!! 
True confessions....I did not make these in my Kinder classroom, I did not make these in my Second Grade classroom, I made these with my grandchildren ages 3, 7, and 8.  Plus one for the baby.  My good friend makes these in 4th grade and asked that I NOT  make them with my students, but she gave me her recipe and let me borrow her molds if I promised to let them stay as a 4th grade project.  They were super easy....much easier than I expected.  They can be messy if you are trying them with a classroom of younger students.  Be prepared for sugar spills. 
I thought I would need more water or glue or spray in the molds, or something more than 2 cups of sugar and 2 teaspoons of water.  But all worked perfectly.  Add the water and the food coloring (go darker, because the color will fade as it dries), mix together with the tips of your fingers (not your whole hand like my one grandson).  Press into the mold, coming to the top and leaving a large dent in the center.  Let dry 24 hours, wiggle free.
Carve a hole in the end or the side (I did this over the sink for easy clean-up).  Add creatures and grass (green coconut might be better, but we didn't have any).  "Glue" together with frosting.  Use decorating tips for fancy frosting designs and other small add-ons for decorations.   Ta-Da!!

From my house to yours...Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bright Ideas....Last Child in the Woods

Hi!  It is time for another BRIGHT IDEA blog hop!  I always get so many wonderful ideas.
I have a great idea for a field trip that won't have you spending money on buses.  Go exploring outside!
It's the first weekend of spring, and I am going to step up on my soapbox for a bit and tell you that I believe in order to take care of our planet we need to reach out and touch our planet.

If there is one thing I am passionate about in education it is getting kids outside.  That's one reason for my tag line....where everyone is dancing their merry kinder kapers.  Movement....Excitement....Curiosity.  Hopefully you can catch the vision and see those little ones "dancing" about outside having a wonderfully educational time.

Richard Louv  affirms all that I believe to be true about children and getting them outside. He is the author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.  He reminds us that,

"Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart.  If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature."

Can we take time from our school day to explore?  Of course!!  Is it common core??  YES!!

Does it need to be work?  Hard? Time Consuming?  No!

"If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection or the chore defeats the joy.  It's a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together.  And it's a lot more fun"

Try a scavenger hunt...what interesting things can you find in your schoolyard?

Can you collect things (perhaps with a camera)?  Can you sort them?  Can you count them?  Is there more of one thing...or perhaps you could compare colors?  What about Kindergarten conversations.....what are your students excited about...are they asking questions?  Are they taking turns, and carrying the conversations on through multiple exchanges?  What did they find...can you help them take their learning in another direction?  Did your students record their findings (in a journal, chart, graph, table)?

Can I do it if I live in the city?  Yes again.

Learn to use the tools of a scientist or naturalist.  Above we were learning to read a thermometer, so we could test which color was the warmest to wear.

Try growing some seeds.  Clear cups are the best for seeing those roots go down.
We planted sunflower seeds ahead of St. Patrick's Day.  My students were so so excited the day they sprouted.  We left them untouched for a few days as they grew taller and taller.  They watched the seed coats fall off and were fascinated!  When we picked up the cups to look closer, my students discovered the roots down the sides of the cups and across the bottom.  They discovered those things.  Now we are learning the scientific words we need and writing our own nonfiction book about plants.  Common Core...yes!

It won't be long and we will be ordering our butterflies.  I order a classroom set because everyone gets a turn to work with the caterpillars, everyone gets their own to examine closely, and I don't have to worry if a few don't make it (there are plenty of extras).

When the butterflies finally emerge I set up this tent and we take turns getting up close and personal with those butterflies.

Whenever we go outside, we do have to have some rules.  It is school after all.  The rules are simple.
1.  It is not recess, so we do not get to run around or yell.
2.  Students must stay close to me or within the boundaries set for the day and activity.
3.  Students must not harm (pick, break, or squash) living things.
4.  Students must follow the directions given.  Sometimes it will be okay to collect many things, most days we collect only 1 specimen (especially if we are collecting living things like leaves or seeds).  
Pears from the trees at school (last September)
Do I need special equipment?  No...You can get outside with none at all.  There are a few things that might make it more fun.
1.  magnifying glass
2.  digital camera of some sort
3.  container for specimens
4.  paper, pencils, and a hard surface to write on (I use our whiteboards and binder clips)
"Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health (and also, by the way, in our own).

What do I use to help me plan our time outside?  Along with the common core standards and our state guidelines, I love using Project Wild and Project Learning Tree.  I also use the books by Joseph CornellSharing Nature With Children is my favorite.  There are so many resources available, many unique to your location.  Each National Park and many state parks have Junior Ranger programs.  The activities are adaptable for most grade levels.  The Forest Service and BLM have lots of free resources as well. 

But what do I really need?  Time, natural curiosity, and a no worry attitude about dirt and bugs.

I will be highlighting ideas and activities I use in my classroom throughout the month of April and stop by Kinder Kapers, or follow me on facebook and see what we are doing.
"We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this earth, and to tell our stories.  These are the moments when the world is made whole.  In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist."
~Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
 For more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!
An InLinkz Link-up