Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Skype can bring you the world....it brought us Debbie Clement.

We had the wonderful opportunity this week to have the fantabulous author/musician come to our kindergarten classes.  Now that took a little doing because she was in Ohio and we are in Nevada.

First, a word about Debbie....do you know her?  She writes wonderful songs, songs that are fun...songs that are sweet...songs that teach.  We have been singing her Polywog song for weeks.  Debbie then makes quilts to illustrate her songs and those quilts become her books.  You can find her songs and books here on her blog, Rainbows Within Reach

And at her TpT store here.

But how did we get her to come and visit 100 Kindergarten students without having to buy an airplane ticket?  SKYPE!

Back in the day I thought I was pretty tech savy but somewhere along the way technology took a great leap forward and left me behind.  I have never skyped before, so I was pretty nervous.  We don't have a full time tech person, so I was also pretty much on my own.  I did have a couple of things going for me...a son that is good with computers, and helpful teacher friends.

What did I need for a successful visit?  First you need a Skype account.  It's free it's easy, your school might already have one, but your own personal account works too.  (here is where my computer knowledgeable son came in handy).

Then you need a way to be seen and heard.  At my school we have smartboards in most every classroom.  A way to see Debbie.  Check. Now...how will she see us??  We don't have any webcams.....but we do have ipads.  There you go, that will do.  Debbie can see us.  Check.  Wait...not so quick or easy.  There is no one here to help me figure out how to make what is on my ipad show up on the smartboard.  I have the adaptor cord, but where to connect it?  That's where teacher friends come in.  We played with hooking it up several ways on several computers, until we finally got smart and started looking at the computer that was in the room where we would be skyping.  When we finally got it to work...we said to each other, "that was easy we should have figured it out right away".  Next time it will be easy.

Now, how do we position the ipad so Debbie can see us, and how can we hear her with just little ipad speakers?  More teacher friends.  I borrowed an iHome for the speakers (easy to get speakers that plug right into the ipad).  Rigging the ipad can be trickier.  We used an easle, some books, rubberbands, and duck tape.  Buying a webcam would be easier...but you do what you need to in order to make it work.  It didn't look pretty, but it worked!
We made a test call to be sure it worked and then just waited for the appointed time.  The students all gathered in the music room (large empty floor space) and we got ready to call. 
Students waving to themselves while they wait for everyone else.

When everyone had settled we called and in an instant Debbie was with us.
 From the moment she appeared she had their undivided attention, all 100.

She started by singing the Polywog song because my class had been singing that for weeks.  Then we continued singing and signing.  Each new book was presented as a surprise and the students were so engaged and couldn't wait to see what was next. They danced, they sang, they made funny faces, they learned some sign language.  If you have any questions about students not connecting with Debbie or not participating because she is not in the room, lay those questions aside.  For those 40 minutes the kids did not even think about the fact she was on a "TV".   As far as they were concerned she was right there with them.

You too can bring the world into your classroom.  Check out some other classrooms where Debbie has been to visit.  Here is Kindergarten Lifestyle and Time 4 Kindergarten.  To see a little video head over to Maggie's Kinder Korner.  You could also bring Debbie  Clement into your classroom (Check it out here).  Think about it.....You can bring other friends, scientists, and authors into your room.  The possibilities  are endless.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teachers {heart} Oklahoma

We have butterflies!!  Five of them when I left school today, and my little kinders are so excited.  Now the fun will really begin...but that blog post will have to wait for another day. Today those butterflies remind me of hope.

My heart fills with awe at the sacrifice of the teachers in Moore, OK.  They protected those children they very best they could.  Now they have nothing.  No school no homes, but they have each other.  I have joined with fellow teachers to try to help.  Teachers everywhere want to try to give a little something.  It was reported the best way to help is to donate to the Red Cross.  So that is what we are doing.
If you donate a minimum of 25.00 you will receive over 150.00 in awesome products.  ALL the money will go to the Red Cross.  In order to donate head over to Teacher's Treasure Chest.  The details of all the amazing products and how to donate are there.  Lets show Oklahoma how much we care!

In the meantime...Prayers and hugging your own children tonight will have to do!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Frogs and Tadpoles for the Book Fair

It was Book Fair week at my school.  And that means door decorating!!  I kind-of like it because I get to be competitive and creative and I don't even have to feel guilty (although I rarely do...feel guilty that is).  Others at my school complain a bit, but I secretly like it.

This year we have been singing Debbie Clement's polywog song and learning about the life cycle of frogs.  By a happy coincidence one of my kinder kids brought in Frog and Toad are Friends.  She wanted to know if we could read it...of course!!  It just happened to go with EVERYTHING we were doing last week (from our anti-bully lesson on how friends are different, to attributes in math (buttons), to characters and describing words in reading).  So we read a little chapter a day and then we did these super cute frogs and toads from Once Upon a First Grade Adventure  (I confess to finding this on Pinterest, but found out she has a great product at her TpT store too).

After our lesson about character traits and adjectives, we wrote about frog and toad.  Then I let them paint (just toad).  The next day, morning work was writing on a circle about Toad (I reminded them what we wrote and talked about yesterday), then they could paint frog after their writing about toad was finished (uhmmm I was in a bit of a time crunch and I neeeded them dry by afternoon). 

After lunch we made Toad, and wrote about Frog.  Recess....Snack...and just enough time to make Frog! I thought I would do this a little bit each day but things got backed up and Friday was our do it all day.  Sometimes you just have to do that!

Here is our finished door!

Our door went with our bulletin board (which I also wanted to have done because Monday is our Parent's night/ice-cream social/art show).  We once again used Debbie Clement's Polywog song and pictures (you can get them on TpT here).  My kiddos love the song and the pictures so much I wanted to make something kind-of like them.  So we used bubble wrap to paint a piece of white paper.
Paint the bubble wrap, put paper on top and rub (I forgot to get a picture of that part).

Then we colored a pond scene with crayons and painted it with a wash of blue (actually just watered down poster paint...I didn't want to use up the blue in my watercolors and I have access to loads of poster paint).

Then we cut out some frogs and polywogs and glued them on our pond pictures. 

Voila!  Nonfiction pictures for our bulletin board.

I think it turned out sooo cute!  Now to pick the book we get for winning second place.  But first my Kinders have to write me their opinion and convince me which book I should choose (I won't tell them I already have both choices covered).  Can we say CCSS  W.K.1?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Currently....it's May

Where has this year gone??  I can't believe it is already May.  May Day...Mother Goose Day...time for Currently Day!!  I am hooking up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this monthly fun.

I love Criminal Minds...but sometimes (often) it creeps me out.  EEWW just had a shining moment!  There's another movie too creepy for me.

I love that I got the first feedback for any of my products just today!  Two feedbacks and they were both positive.  Even though right now I only have freebies in my store, it is still always nice to know someone likes what you have created.

I have two cars...both paid for...both barely run.  My husband is a great fix it up man and he keeps me running.   Even he thinks I should get a new car.  One was given to me (a long funny story).  It isn't supposed to be still running...but it is.  The other we bought used and it has an oil leak somewhere and has started flooding easily, leaving me stranded until it decides to start again (makes it tough to run errands...starting and stopping).  But car payments!!  I don't want them!! 

I have wanted to go to I Teach K since I first heard about the conference..  The amazing ladies that I have been stalking are presenting or hopefully coming.  I honestly don't know if I want to go more because of the amazing things I know I will learn or the amazing people I will meet.  Vegas Baby!!  I want to be there!

I am ready for spring to actually show up!  It did a couple of days last week.  Now I want more time at home to plant and garden and fix things up, and more time at school (without the kids) to clean-up and organize.  Winter, however is back today and I was freezing at recess.  It wasn't freezing, but I was.

What do I want to do this summer??  Spend time with my mom when she comes in June and head to Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah.  We go every year for the preview shows.  This year I want to go early and hike Angels' Landing in Zion's National Park.  Then I want to head back to PA and visit my family there (including of course my mom again...twice in one summer, I would be in heaven).  I miss the east coast.  Maybe I would even get back to Brigantine and the beaches of NJ.

Lastly I want to a find time all my kids and grandkids can be together.  I would love a beautiful picture of my family to hang in my living room.  My daughter is a photographer, but finding the right weekend or occasion could be tricky. 

What are you doing on this first of May?  What do you want to do this summer?  Link up with Farley and have some fun.
      Oh' boy fourth grade