Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reading Week Celebrations

I know that Dr. Seuss' birthday is coming right up and many are celebrating reading week....and do I dare say the words....Read Across America.  I am a little confused by what I can do and what I cannot do when it comes to celebrating reading Seuss-style.  I have a million Dr. Seuss books in my room (well almost), and many Seuss characters I have collected from Kohls.  I am still planning on letting my kinderkids dig in and really explore those early readers.  I have been saving them for just this occasion. 

We will have a low-key school-wide reading celebration (partly because our school reading specialist position was cut two years ago and no one is stepping up to take charge) the first full week in March.  We will have a visiting author, Green Eggs and Ham breakfast, and dress up days.  Any other activities seem to be up to the classroom teacher.

We will have a wonderful truffula tree forest in our reading center.  I made  these wonderful trees last year after reading about how to make them on Mrs. Lodge's Library Blog.  She gives a great, easy to follow tutorial.  They are inexpensive, quick, and easy to make.  Most of mine were whisked away to grandkid bedrooms...this is the only one left for my classroom.  So I will be making a new forest this week.

Last year I found these wonderful white boards at Target Dollar Spot.  I have been waiting a whole year to use them.  I also scored some You Did It and You Are a Star certificates.  I don't know if Target has anything wonderful this year...I just don't live anywhere close to one (and haven't been to the big city since New Years), but I would certainly stop by to check if I was close.

Then looking through my things I noticed I had these squirreled away to make games.  Not sure what I am going to do...But I have a week to come up with something brilliant.  Any suggestions?

We have a striped hat die cut and I will be making little books this week for my students to complete.  I will have them draw a picture for each of the books I read to them, or they read themselves.  In second and third grade I made them think of a quote from each book they read and include that on their page.  The little instruction page is from third grade.  I may try finding a quote (favorite part) with my kinderkids.  Even the simplest Dr. Seuss books have great words of wisdom.  I have to admit one of my favorites is from Red Fish Blue Fish..."I don't know, go ask your mother".

We will also make silly daisy hats for one of our school dress-up days.  I used the styrofoam plates and pipe cleaners to make the daisy.  I wore the fake flower on the headband as my hat.

We will make these wonderful treats.

(We practiced at home today so I could show you how easy they are).  
Gather your ingredients...Oreo cookies, marshmallows, red sugar.
 Start by separating the cookies...tell your little ones to eat the side without the creme.
Look...I have the same plates as last year.  Just a few, they must be leftovers.
 Dip one side in water....then the red sugar.
 Turn them over, then the other.  Yes your fingers will turn red.
 Place on top of the creme.  If you have any white frosting, sometimes it sticks better with a little dab of frosting.  

We will make these silly blue least I hope that is still okay.  Last year I cut school blue butcher paper into strips, folded them in half lengthwise and drew a line to show how far you should cut.   A couple of staples will hold the two halves steady and makes it easier for little fingers to cut.  They cut on the open side and the folded side becomes the bottom of the hat.  See how cute we were.
Here is a quick look at the measurements to make these silly wigs.


I'd like to show you the wonderful things I used from Deanna Jump, Vickie Plant, and Kathleen Pederson last year.  But sadly I cannot.  Check out the new things they have created to celebrate a silly week of reading fun. Just click on their name to go to their store.  Then try Deedee Wills and Rachelle Smith.  They also have some wonderful things to go with your silly week of reading.

What are you planning?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day!

This was probably the best Valentine's Day I have ever had at school.  I am still amazed that everything came off so smoothly.  Seriously I am thinking did that really happen and where did the time go?  The day went by sooo fast.

First my Kindergarten team decided today would be a good day to do a switch around day (we need a better name, but we each prepare a 30 minute craftivity, lesson, game....our choice and then share that same activity 4 times.  The students rotate to each class).   I chose to do the old AIMS activity where you sort conversation hearts, then count them, then graph them.  Last night my husband and a couple of friends counted out 100 baggies of 20 hearts.  I just needed to make copies and my morning was ready!

However I don't know if your are ever prepared for 5 year olds.  During my second rotation, I was explaining what we would be doing and beginning to pass out my baggies of candy hearts.  One little, little guy told me he didn't need my bag of hearts because he already had one.  He then proceeded to pull a bag of hearts from the sweatpants he was wearing.  ewwwww...put them back, I think were my exact words as I shivered and tried make sure they did not make it all the way out to my table.  It took me a minute to realize that those candies had come from the class before mine and she had told them to put them in their pockets..  His response to me was are you sure as he tried to pull them out again.  No, No, No....use mine to sort.   I do think they fell down his pants leg when he stood up.  Still gives me the heebie jeebies, but I have smiled about that all day long.

I set-up my afternoon to be centers.   One center was passing out valentines into the bags we made yesterday (and I had a wonderful mom helping them get their valentines into everyone's bags).
One center was making ice cream.  I have a hand-crank ice cream machine, so lots of muscles and help.  Another mom took total charge, including bringing all the supplies for me.  I can not thank her enough for that...and it definitely made my afternoon easy.

Another center was making these mustaches and lips.  I LOVE them!!  Are they not stinkin' cute!  On my list to do again next year.  Two more moms helped.

We decorated cookies (no good pictures).  The mom who helped with that center had the brilliant idea to put the cookies into ziplock baggies so the sprinkles didn't get all over.  We set them aside until the eating portion of the party.  All tucked on the shelf neat and tidy.  :)

I like letting my kiddos create, so one center was making cards.  I had lots of die-cut hearts, old stickers, stamps and I just let the kids have at it.

Because we did centers I was able to teach everyone my favorite games....Don't Eat Pete!  Thanks to The Teacher Wife, I didn't have to make one just for Valentine's Day.  She had it all done up!

The kids went out to recess except for a few with treats to pass out...and my moms helped get all the food passed out.  Yummy ice cream and cookies.  All dished up and ready to go when they came back in.  We ate, we packed up, we went to our special, my moms helped finish cleaning up....Wonderful!!  My moms were the best and I got to enjoy the day.

I was very mean and told everyone they could not touch their bags until time to go home.  Timewise there just wasn't time...and I didn't want to mess with it.  Perfect.  They waited, and they left with wonderful bags of love to look at when they got home!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Groundhog Project: Community Description

Hello Groundhog Friends!

Here is a little bit about our corner of Nevada.  We are the biggest town for at least 300 miles in any direction.  We are right on I-80 so it is a straight shot to SLC (a 4 hour drive, where most go for major medical stuff), and Reno (a 5 hour drive, where our high school teams go to play sports)  North is Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho (4 hours and 2 1/2 hours...yay!).  All can be considered "day trips", over and back.  Vegas is a little farther...7-8 hours.  Sometimes I think that people don't realize how out in the middle of nowhere we are.

We are in the high desert so we get hot and dry in the summer and snow and cold in the winter.  It is known as basin and range, so you go up and over one mountain range and into a wide, dry valley, then up over another mountain range and into another valley.  All of the streams from the mountains flow into rivers that end up sinking into salt flat deserts on both sides of the basin.  The mountains around us are very beautiful!
Needless to say this is good cattle country and we have a lot of cattle ranches (big and small).  We also host the National Cowboy Poetry gathering each January.  That is where amateur and professional poets, singers, and songwriters gather to share.  FUN!!!!
Elko is also mining country.  Gold mining.  Most of our families work in something that is connected to mining. 

Elko was founded in 1868 by the Central Pacific Railroad when they were building the transcontinental railroad line.  Before then is was just a wide spot on the California Trail.  We have a great trail center now, where we can go to learn more about that part of our history.

Nevada school districts cover the our school district is huge in land, small in population. We have several one and two room schoolhouses and go from the Utah border, to the Idaho border, to just 30 miles past Elko to the west and south (that would be a total of 17,182 square miles....and yes you read that right...17 thousand).   Elko's population is just around 20,000.  My school is K-4.  For some reason we have lots of young families moving in and we have 4 Kindergartens.  My class has 26 students, 10 boys and 16 girls.

Our little groundhog is Sarah.  I know she looks like a hedgehog, but remember they are related.  During a warm spell we got to out and check our own shadow.  I blogged about it here...but, winter came back and it snowed!!  Out my window today it looks like this.

I know our groundhog said 6 more weeks of winter...but I am really hoping he is wrong.  This winter has been extra cold and I am ready for this to melt and spring to come.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My new look!!

I am ubber excited!!  My blog design was finished this week and I could not be happier!  Honey Bunch Blog Designs did it!  I love all that Misty, Erika, and Nikki (from Melonheadz Illustrating) did for me.  They were so easy to work with and they listened to all my ramblings and  unsureness and turned it into a blog that is me. 

Don't you think it looks great!  I LOVE it! I put it up on my computer at school and just stare at it and smile all day long.  I got all excited and opened a TpT store (with just my freebies in it right now) and a facebook page.  To be honest I need facebook followers.  So pleeeease click on my cute new facebook button and like my page.  I promise this is the only time I will beg.

You can stop by my store too...but there isn't much there yet.  One baby step at a time.  :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Groundhog Shadows

Is it sunny where you are?  After weeks and weeks of cold...bone-chilling...brrrrr...cold, and dark dismal days, Groundhog Day beamed beautiful sunny skies, beautiful Nevada blue.  That darn groundhog saw his shadow and now we will have 6 more weeks of winter.  Here is our little Groundhog checking out the weather Saturday.

Today we voted on a name for our groundhog.  Sarah won (I have 10 boy to 16 girl ratio in my class).  Oh you should have seen some of the tears and tantrums from a few of the boys.  Lessons in democracy can be so tough.  We now get to report the name and our groundhog's prediction to Project Groundhog and begin keeping track of the weather. 

To celebrate (luckily) we traced and watched our shadows all day.  We started out first thing in the morning tracing the shadows of two students.

Then we traced again at morning recess.

Then after lunch.

And finally at our last recess.  Everyone was sure our shadow would continue to shrink....SURPRISE!!  I love how excited they get when they discover something new.

Actually not true...just for good measure we traced one more time as we were walking out at the end of the day.  Oops...didn't have my camera that time.  Too bad because we got to see how really tall it got, everyone was amazed.  That will have to be a ChitChat topic tomorrow.

Loving literature and poetry I had to share My Shadow by Robert Lewis Stevenson.  After watching the second tracing they got the lines about shooting up like an India rubber ball and not growing like proper children.  I think we may try drawing shadows tomorrow.  Today we made cute little paper plate "stages" and groundhog puppets complete with shadows, sang with Harry Kindergarten, and decided that the groundhog was wrong.  Spring really must be coming soon.