Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Classroom Pet Project

We have been doing a really fun project in our room for the past week.  I was trying to think of a fun way for my kids to practice the first 3 habits we have learned (of Covey's 7 habits).  The habits are:
1. Be proactive.
2. Begin with the End in Mind.
3. Put first things first.

Last week, I set up about twenty beanie babies (probably only 5 percent of my old beanie baby collection :) and told my students that they would each get to "adopt" one as a pet.  Their eyes lit up and they started saying which one they wanted.  Then I told them that they had to make a plan and begin with the end in mind, so they had to write about what animal they wanted and what things that animal would need.  

I swear they have never written so much so quickly.  They were so, so excited and thought of so many things they wanted to buy for their pets.  Then, they got to go "shopping," BUT they only had enough money for 4 things so they had to put first things first and choose the most important things to buy. 

They glued their purchases to a strip of paper and they had to show it to me before they could adopt their pet.

Most of them got the idea of prioritizing.  A few of them forgot important things (like food) and I sent them back to change their purchases before they could adopt.  One student tried to sneak an extra dog toy on the back of her strip of paper, because she couldn't limit herself to four, ha!

They were so excited to take their animals back to their seats and now they hang out in their chair pockets most of the day.

For the first few days, they asked to take them out all.the.time, but we've finally worked out they can only take them out for Read to Self and developmental centers and indoor recess, when we have it.

To integrate non-fiction reading and writing, I checked out a bunch of animal books from the library and introduced All About Books with "All About My Pet."  In the past, I have found it hard to get kindergarteners to fully understand the idea of writing facts about a topic (like animals), so this seemed like a good way to personalize the all about writing.  Here are some sample pages.

This student got the page upside down, but she did a good job writing things her pet likes to do!
For the diagrams, we worked on looking at our animals as made of different shapes.  This helped most of them draw a big and clear picture for labeling.
 I'm trying to think of what other academic activities I can center around the animals, because they are so motivating for the students.  The other day, they were getting loud at the end of the day and I told them their animals were napping and they actually tiptoed to line up for buses.  It was magical.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

True Colors Linky

I'm linking up with Tori for her True Colors personality test linky.  There are four color options, based on a short personality quiz.  Because I'm such a data nerd, I put my answers into a spreadsheet and color coded it! 

4's are the things that best described me and 1's are the things that least described me.  After adding all the scores together...I am gold.


Gold people:
  • need to follow the rules and respect authority
  • have a strong sense of what is right and wrong in life
  • need to be useful and to belong
  • value home, family, and tradition
  • are natural preservers, parents, and helpers
  • are caring, dependable, and organized
I thought it was interesting to read that Gold's are the people who most easily adapted to school as children.  I guess it's not surprising then that many teachers who linked up are gold! 

I also thought it was interesting looking at my data and seeing I had some traits of blue and green, but I was definitely NOT an orange (I had almost all 1's here.)  Then I started thinking about which of my students might be "orange" and how we might have more trouble connecting/communicating because of it.  In the document, here were strategies to improve relationships with "bright orange" people:
  • recognize their need for freedom 
  • value their playfulness
  • help them think before they act 
  • spontaneously play with them 
  • realize their stress comes from lack of excitement 
  • praise their skills 
  • assign hands-on, action-packed projects
  • provide opportunities to be adventurous
  • allow them freedom to do things their own way
  • provide opportunities for competition
Kind of interesting!  If you want to find out your color, check out Tori's post and link-up!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Friday Linkys- Valentine Version

Update: If you visited looking for my 7 Habits stories, unfortunately I am no longer able to sell them. Franklin Covey has said that no products should be sold on Teachers Pay Teachers using the 7 habits. So sorry!

Lately my weekends are too busy to keep me on time for all the fun Friday linkys.  So I'm linking up a little late.  First here's Five for Friday with Doodlebugs!
 1. Here are my students doing Valentine's math, with a fun estimation freebie from Traci!  Technically, we were supposed to use candy hearts and estimate how many would fit in the big paper heart, but we had so many fruit loops leftover from the 100th day, we used those instead.  
If we had more time, I would have given them leftover cheerios too, so they could see which took more the bigger fruit loops or smaller cheerios.   We didn't have time to do that, but my early finishers sorted their fruit loops by color and said which was most/least.

2. We made really cute valentines for the kids' parents.  I love the way they turned out!

3. On the back, they wrote their parents a note.  We just started talking about writing the date with numbers, and I told the kids it was like a secret code.  This student was pretty excited about that.  Above her date in the top right corner she wrote "That is my secret code."

4. I am always amazed by how my students bless me on Valentine's Day.  Here is one of my favorite gifts - beautiful flowers!

5.  My last thing is a little conversation that's made me laugh so many times, so I'm linking up with Friday Funnies to share, too.  
At lunch the other day:
Student 1: (holding a grocery bag) I lost my lunch box, so now I have to use this.
Student 2: (in a voice of such pure innocence and excitement) You know where you can get a new lunch box?  WalMart.  Have you been there?  They have Transformers lunch boxes.  They have lots of things.  Even this shirt is from WalMart.  You can get anything there.  Even you can get stuff for your dog.  

I really think that student should be in a WalMart commercial.  He made it sound like such a magical place :)

And now for a little giveaway!  Comment below for a chance to win my 3 7 Habit Social Stories!
Proactive Pete: A Social Story about Being Proactive

End in Mind Amy: A Social Story about Goal Setting

First Thing Theo: a Social Story about Setting Priorities

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentines Mailboxes

Have you made your valentines holders/mailboxes yet?  I was looking for something simple and not requiring a lot of materials, and found this cute activity .  The example on the site is a lot more detailed than the ones we made, but I still think ours turned out cute!

Here's what we did:
-paint two paper plates
-staple the plates together and cut out a mouth
-use the mouth you cut out to make fins

If I did it again, I think I would staple the plates before we painted.  You would have to paint one side and then let it dry before doing the other, but I still think it might make the construction process easier.  Not sure though.

I think I'll read one of my favorites, The Pout Pout Fish, by Deborah Diesen, on Valentine's Day to make the *fish-love* connection.

How do you collect valentines in your classroom?  

Monday, February 11, 2013

The 101st Day of School

Today, we had a little catching up to do after our very busy 100th day!  I had one more activity I really wanted to do for 100.  This was another "pinspired" idea (source). Students each got a die cut 100 and had to think creatively to make it into something new.  We brainstormed together and came up with three examples...glasses, a lollipop, and the wheels of a car.  Most of the class chose one of these ideas to create their picture, but I was super excited when anyone diverged from the path and did something really unique!

On a different note, we've been talking about the second habit of happy kids: Begin with the End in Mind.  The kid friendly term that goes with this habit is "Have a Plan."  We read Burro's Tortillas by Terri Fields (a twist on the Little Red Hen) and discussed how the burro had the end in mind.

We also made an anchor chart as we brainstormed ways to make a plan.
We spent some time at the end of last week discussing our long-term goals, like what we want to do when we grow up.  I found out that most of my kids wanted to be a teacher, a police officer, a firefighter, or a mom.  I felt like they needed some more ideas (not that those careers aren't wonderful, but they seemed uninformed of all the other options), so I checked out every career book our library had to offer!
I included some teacher and police books, but hoped they could get some new ideas, too.  Tomorrow, we're writing about our career goals, so we'll see!

And here's a little question for any Big Bang Theory fans out there.  Did you know "Soft Kitty" is a real poem?  I found it in a Words Their Way book today and was shocked.  I thought it was just some crazy song made up for Sheldon!

Friday, February 8, 2013

100th Day

We celebrated our 100th day of school today and it went so well.  Sometimes I feel like these fun days end up being so crazy and I seem like the grouchiest teacher all day.  But today, things went really well!  Get ready for a long post of our 100th day activities!

We started the day by making necklaces with 100 beads.  I found a great deal (5 dollars for 3200 beads) on mini pony beads from WalMart and they worked great!
Kids Craft Small Plastic Pony Beads, Multi-Color 
They organized their beads into groups of ten on these mats and then strung them onto their necklaces.
 This was easy to differentiate.  I have one student who can't count to ten yet, so I had him make groups of five.  When he filled his paper, I saved the beads in a cup and had him do groups of five again.  Then I gave him all the beads back to string on his necklace.

As the kids worked, I also painted "100" on their faces.  I love kindergartners.  They're so impressed by my limited face-painting skill:

 While the kids went to specials, I set up a trail mix buffet with marshmallows, raisins, butterscotch chips, peanuts, M&M's, craisins, pretzels, and 3 kinds of cereal.  The kids counted out ten of each treat.  Yum!

Then, we did our 100th day stations.  Two wonderful moms came in to help with the different activities.  The kids dug for 100 pennies in rice:
Made crowns with 100 stickers (divide a sentence strip into ten boxes - 10 stickers in each)...if nothing else, they better remember that 100 is 10 sets of 10!
Built buildings with 100 blocks:
And {my favorite} wrote and made art for what they'll be like at 100 years old.
When I am 100, I will be grandma.  And I'll be using a walking stick.  I will have a grandchild and glasses.
I am going to get a house all by myself.  (I asked him if he wanted to get married and have kids.  He laughed :)
(You really have to imagine this one read in my student's old lady voice: "I will have a wheelchair when I am old.  Bye bye.  I need (cough) I will (cough) just write on a (cough) paper."  She added..."Because you know the old lady coughs too much to talk."  Too sweet.)

After recess and lunch, the kids searched for 100 Hershey's kisses around the classroom.  I had written a number on the bottom of each kiss and we matched them up on a 100's chart.  This was the first time I tried this and it went really well.  The only thing I'd do differently is use a bigger chart to organize the candy.  After we counted and confirmed we had 100, we figured out how to share them equally among the students.  

At the end of the day, we squeezed in a few minutes to do our 100th day glasses.  (I got these from a blog last year and don't remember whose it was.  If it was you, please let me know so I can give you credit!)
There was one last writing/art activity we didn't get to.  We'll do it Monday and I'll let you know how it goes!  

I'm linking up with Teaching Maddenness and Learning with Mrs. Leeby today.  Join in - post on Friday Flashback about your week and 100th Day Fun Linky with all your 100th day activities!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Five for Friday on a Sunday

With all the linky's this weekend, I missed my favorite weekly linky - Five For Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching.
Here are 5 random pictures from this week...

1. On Friday, we made this super cute graph to predict whether the groundhog would see his shadow.  (Idea from Kindergarten Rocks)  We've been working on seeing numbers in groups and I was so excited when one of my students said "I didn't have to count to see how many people said no."  I asked how he knew and he said "I saw two groups of 4 and that makes 8."  Woohoo, love when kids make those connections! 
2. We learned this week about "Be Proactive" the first of the 7 Habits of Happy Kids. We read these books and wrote about how the characters were proactive.  Seeing the characters make proactive choices really helped the students understand the principle.

3. We used a modified version of the Frayer Model to show our understanding of the first habit.  We also had a visit from 2nd graders who did skits on ways to be proactive instead of reactive when dealing with classmates and friends.  The kids loved it!

4. Now that it's February, I finally took down the Christmas-themed artwork I had hanging in my kitchen and replaced it with my monogram and a bible verse printable.  I guess it can't say "Tis the Season to be Jolly" on my wall all year long :)  I made the bible verse one - click {here} to download and I got the monogram free {here}.

5. Just in time for the TpT sale, I uploaded my latest emergent reader focusing on short vowels and the sight word "get."  It also has an option for students working with beginning sounds.  This book, and all my other products, are on sale (20% off) tomorrow and Monday.  Don't forget to enter the code "SUPER" at checkout today for an extra 10% off. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!  I'll be posting about our 100th day of school (this Friday) and learning about the 2nd habit - Begin with the End in Mind.

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