Friday, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Science....A Bright Idea!

Ask this question for creating a science experiment:  
Does the largest pumpkin have the most seeds?

I do not give my students spoons.  I like that they have to touch the inside and truly get to "experience" the pumpkin.  All the seeds go on a large baking sheet where I have taped a piece of their paper as a label to identify the group.  Pulp goes on the paper, then it all goes in the trash.  I don't worry about bits of extra pulp. me, let the seeds dry overnight before trying to count them.  They won't be totally dry, but they will be significantly less slimy and easier to count.

We always take time the first day to talk about what we saw, smelled, felt, and heard (we save tasting for another day) as we were observing our pumpkins.  We record our describing words on an anchor chart and use that to write about pumpkins too.

Every time I have done this activity it has gone smoother with parent volunteers, one for each group.  Even second and third graders have a hard time keeping track counting.

If you liked this bright idea consider following me on TpT, facebook, and here on this blog, KinderKapers.  There will be more tips on what to do with your leftover seeds and how to keep your pumpkin from molding (not forever....but longer).

Next week is Pumpkins and Skeletons and math manipulatives from beyond the grave!

Saturday, October 3, 2015's OCTOBER!!

Time has gotten away from me.....AGAIN!!!  It is already October (my busiest month in school as I try to squeeze in so much).  I want to link up with Farley and Oh Boy, It's Fourth Grade to reflect on the month past and the month to here goes:

I tend to let the TV be on in the background for white noise when I am home alone.  I need to make more intentional choices, because I would really like some beautiful music today.  I also need to figure out how to play music on my phone.....wait!....okay....DONE!  Downloaded and playing.  I am not as technology challenged as I thought.

My mom lives all the way across the country from me.  She came out for my nephew's wedding in September, but she had broken her hip right before she came.  We convinced her to stay here and let us take care of her for a few weeks of her rehab.  It was WONDERFUL!!

My mom is Patricia Thomas, a children's book author, so she came to my school and did author visits for almost every class in my school.  I think I wore her out.  She needed to go to my sister's house to recoop from me.

I also blog at PreK and K Sharing and today is my day to post!  YIKES!!  Between school and my mom I let the month of September slip away.  But I am on it!!  You can hop over there to check it out (all about Zombie Eyes and Bat Wings....there is a freebie).

I have THAT class this year.  Seriously.  I am not kidding.  It is taking all my energy, and skill, plus all the brains I can borrow to make things run smoothly in my room.  My golden tickets (which I stole from The Teeny Tiny Teacher) were just not cutting it.  Whole Brain Teaching wasn't quite working either....last week I changed my whole setting arrangement (stinkers are together and workers are together).  That helped for about one day.  But, we are making progress.  I actually think it will help my workers the most.  They deserve my best.  I can't let them suffer because I have so many that do not know how to work or behave.  My little stinkers will come around and see the is just taking time.

My mom was telling me last night that she and my sister were decorating my sister's house.  I was jealous and realized I hadn't even thought about getting my Halloween decorations and autumn things out.  Autumn is my favorite season and putting my things out will be Boo-ti-ful!

The colors and being outside just make me happy!  Have a wonderful October!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Every Kid in a Park

I just learned the most amazingly incredible news....if you are in fourth grade you can get an annual National Park pass for FREE!!!

Yes, you heard me right FREE!

If you are an educator of fourth grade students (teacher, religious leader, homeschool leader, scout or other after school leader) you can facilitate your students getting a pass.  Check it out here.

The pass will cover entrance fees for your student and three adults or any one he brings with him in a car at any National Park.


Is this for real?  Yes....Yes it is.  Go to the Every Kid in a Park Website here  and follow the simple steps.  Teachers can download the activities for their class and then print off the passes when students complete the activity.  Students can go to the website themselves and download an activity.
I had started counting down the years until I am old enough to buy a Golden Age passport, now I just need to find a fourth grader!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Five for Friday....the First Week of School

Oh My Goodness....There is no tired like the first week of school teacher tired.  I can't remember when I have started off the year this tired.  Either my age is catching up with me or I had so many ideas I wanted to implement after the amazing conferences I attended this summer that I just couldn't do it all.  I tried...but I couldn't do it ALL.

So I am linking up up today with Doodle Bug Teaching to show a few little snapshots of what I did do and how my first week back went GREAT (despite not doing EVERYTHING).

First up...Back to School Night, which technically was last week.  I was not finished with my room, but it was done enough that my parents knew I was working on it.  I had these cute treats for my kiddos and ice cold water for my parents (note to self...there might be more than one parent with their student, so bring more water).  Thanks to Ashley Schroeder from Schroeder's Shenanigans in 2nd for the cute tags and idea!

On the first day we tried to open with major excitement by doing some minute to win it and get to know you games.  We timed to see if we could get an Oreo cookie into our mouth in just a minute (sorry no pictures) and we played Stand Up for Friendship (a freebie in my store).  Just ask general questions, like who has a brother?  And then they Stand Up.  Give your students a chance to see who has interests similar to theirs and maybe talk about it a bit.

Pete the Cat helped us take a tour of the school as we looked for his shoes.  Each of our specials, our lunch lady, principal, secretaries, and nurse decorated a shoe.  We collected them as we went along.  Later we will use them again when we write about our school community.

We ended the day making friendship salad.  I like to use different ingredients to describe the behaviors I want my students to exibit.  Then when it came to our banana they all yelled NO!!  Why no banana?  It was a rotten one of course!  This gave us a chance to talk about those rotten banana behaviors we don't want in our class.

We revisited this discussion later in the week, when we made our own little recipe books and chiefs.  The books came from my unit...but the chiefs belong to Miss Kindergarten.  Hers are so so cute!!  Don't you just love them??

Home to collapse and rest up.   It is going to be a GREAT year!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Let's Talk Bulletin Boards

Bulletin Boards can be the bane of our existence or the best part of teaching.

I like making bulletin boards easy....cute...impressive to parents...useful to students.  Let's look at those four things.

I like to pick a paper or fabric that will get me through the whole year.  Blue and black are good choices, but when I go back I may try brown wrapping paper....Look for that in my reveal.  Get at least one extra set of hands to help hold the paper while you get it in place to be stapled.  Use push pins to hold the fabric in place while you are getting it straight.  Staple, when everything looks good.  Minimal words at the beginning of the year.  I like students to build up content for the boards.

You want your bulletin boards to tell people something about you like modern clean lines, or comfy cozy spaces?  Are you all business or a little more right-brained?  Keep your colors so they don't clash with each other.  Keep them all within the same color pallet, or have them complementing each other.  You could do one main color and then others that make things "pop".  Your color and pattern choices can tell your students a lot about you.  Things don't have to be perfect, but you do want to make a good first impression.  A minimal room can tell your students....we are going to work together in here.  This is your room too!

I hate to say it...but your bulletin boards are what people see first.  You want to make a good impression. Check out these from Katie King at Queen of the First Grade Jungle (now exploring 2nd grade)

The one below was a special door contest.  Notice how big the whale is compared to the ladybugs the students made.  3D can be awesome if your fire marshals will allow (we get away with more during certain celebrations, like this book fair).

If you have a word wall use it!!  Everyday...keep it growing.  If you have anchor charts, build them, use them, build another (storing or giving the old one to the students to keep for reference).

 You can use your walls and doors as bulletin boards too.  I like to attach things with hot glue or that super sticky foamy adhesive tape.  That stuff is strong (things won't fall down), but it leaves a mess.  Hot glue has become my adhesive of choice.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

HELP!! I am drowning in clutter!

I am a hoarder....There I said it.  I am not really proud of that fact, but I have a Bright Idea on how to fix it.

I searched high and low for ideas and a plan of action that would work for me.

I read blogs, checked pinterest, and ended up back where I started 30 years ago when I first realized that my kindergarten stuff wasn't fitting very well in file folders.  I kept my samples and stuff in paper boxes (have your custodian save them for you), then labeled them by months.

In the mean stuff has expanded and the boxes are gone (three schools, and two states ago).

True confessions....Do you have a mess like me?  Maybe not this bad, but teachers are notorious. We save things because we might need them.  You never know....projects, grade level changes, and just the money invested.

That is why I came up with this Plan of Action!!  Join me on this journey (it is not over yet).

It is hard.  I am not going to lie, this is not easy on me emotionally.  I have a lot invested.  I am afraid of changing grade levels.  I am afraid of not having something I need (or want).  But speaking those fears out loud, make them seem not so scary.  I am already getting psyched for this journey!!   I can do this!

Don't take too long on this step.  Don't think too much, there is more sorting to come.

But what about the things you don't use every day??  Set them aside for now....and when you are done with yes and no, group those seasonal things into categories that seem to make sense to you.

My thought is one tub for each month (right now my stuff is scattered in lots of different tubs and all mixed up), but I may need to add one for holidays that have lots of stuff (like Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and Thanksgiving).  I may also designate a tub for math and reading, so I can store things that do not fit a month or theme.  My tubs must fit along my garage wall, and I will bring them to school as I need them.  I do have a craft closet at home and my supplies will have to fit in there.   My space available will determine my limits.

Now comes the hard part.

Keep getting rid of those NOs

There in a nutshell is my plan of action.  And I am already getting started!!

Join me on this journey by following me on facebook or here on my blog.  I will be posting pictures of my progress.  Now that you all know my troubles.....I don't think I can quit.   I have someone watching me.  I can do this.

Check out these other amazing bloggers and their ideas.