Well, I was barely at school this week due to being sent off to a district inservice on Tuesday and Wednesday. I learned how to give a direct instruction lesson. (You see, I am a brand new teacher, ha ha.) I was back just in time on Thursday for our Great American Shake Out, in which my kids made their mark on society by being the only class to sing practically the entire time they were out there! They sang the refrain from the Zero the Hero Song from Sing and Spell Vol. Five (just the “Z-E-R-O, ZERO the HERO!” part) over and over and over and over ad nauseum until I was getting dirty looks from some of the teachers and smiles from many of the parents that happened to be there.
We had only sung it twice up to that point, (and not at all since Monday,) so all I could do was shrug and say, “I guess the lesson stuck….” When we got back into the classroom, I asked the children, “So how do you spell the word zero?” Luckily, most of them immediately replied, “Z-E-R-O!” Phew! I was afraid that after all of that, I would get a bunch of blank looks that could only happen in Kindergarten, LOL! (Well, HOPEFULLY, anyway!)
Have a great weekend and a wonderful week coming up! I hope that we get something productive done next week, other than just thinking about ghosts, goblins, and jack-o-lanterns all week long.
1. A “Hayride to the Pumpkin Patch” Bulletin Board
A couple of weeks ago, our school was asked to decorate the district office board room with student work, so I decided to create something special for my contribution. One of my favorite teachers with the cutest ideas is Kim Jordano, and so I looked at her website for some ideas. She has a really cute idea for a “Jungle Cruise” bulletin board, so I took my inspiration from that and decided to create the same type of thing, but with a farm theme, and this bulletin board is how it turned out.
My class wound up making two complete sets of these bulletin boards so that there would be one for the district office and one for my room, but I think it was worth it. The instructions are included today as a free download. I hope you enjoy it!
Meanwhile, my class finished up their Farm Song Book (from Little Songs for Language Arts and Printable Projects for Singable Books) and had their annual Farm Day this week, too! I wish I could have been there to see them riding the ponies and petting the animals, but alas! I was stuck in a district training instead. (Sigh….)
2. Guided Drawing: David Shannon’s No, David!
If you have been reading my blog for a couple of years, you will remember me blogging about this activity before! You can find the directions for this guided drawing activity on this blog entry here. Well, it has been a while since I have done this activity again, but we did it again last week. To introduce the activity, I read them a little “David Goes to the Computer Lab” guided drawing book that I had made with my class and saved all the way back from 1999-2000! The funny thing is that when I read it to them, I began to notice that the names on the pictures were familiar, and then I heard some giggling at the back of the room. It was coming from the daughter of my instructional aide, Sarah! Sarah was in my Kindergarten class in 1999-2000, and she is now in high school!
She burst out with the comment, “That is TOTALLY my PICTURE!!!! I REMEMBER drawing that!” Then everybody started laughing! It was pretty funny! So my aide, Rachel, managed to round up a picture of her daughter Sarah when she was in Kindergarten, and we have scanned it so that you can see Sarah now. She is still friends with the little girl that is sitting next to her in the picture, so we invited her to come down and pose for a picture with her, just for fun. Time sure flies!!!!!
Last time, I did it in small groups, but this time I did it as a whole group. It was our first guided drawing project of the year, and I am always a bit nervous about how it is going to go, because the tendency is for kids to grab that paper and pen and immediately start drawing without waiting for directions. (I try to show them what we are going to do, and then REMOVE THE PICTURE and tell them we will do it just one step at a time, and they can only do what I do, and NOT draw ahead of me!) I prepped them as much as I could for it, but two of them went right off and started trying to draw David without waiting for me, of COURSE. But at least it was only two of the 23 children. Once I stopped them before they got too far and then got the whole group going on a step by step basis, it went just great! We did the drawing on the first day, and the coloring on the second day. And I did do the coloring as guided coloring, and told them that since we were going to make it into a book, they would need to color it exactly as I said, and could only use the colors that I told them to use.
Guided coloring is not something I normally do- and it is not something I even enjoy doing! BUT- if you want David to look like David Shannon’s David character, he has to be colored in that same way, or it will look just like any other little boy, so that is what I told them, and there wasn’t any complaining- this time!
Next, we are going to have them dictate a sentence about what they think David might do wrong in the classroom if he were here. So the sentence would be something like, “No, David! Don’t run inside!” Then we’ll make it into another class book, but this one will be our own version of “David Goes to School.” I had wanted to make one about David going to the farm, but since I was out this week for those meetings, it just didn’t work out.
3. A Science Center- Our Tarantula, “Spanky” the Spider!
I am starting to fall in love with the idea of borrowed class pets! I contacted a friend of mine that teaches biology at the high school nearby, and asked her if she had a tarantula that we could borrow to observe in my classroom during the week before Halloween. It turned out that she did not have one, but she put a note up on her board, and by the end of the day, she had four different offers of tarantula loans from her students! And one of them really didn’t even want her spider anymore, so she thought that would be the perfect one! She offered it to me permanently, but I politely declined…. I really only wanted to borrow it for a little bit and then send it back. And this arrangement is really great! She has sent her students down to clean the tank, and even showed up once to do it herself. She also provided the crickets that he ate.
The children have been enthralled, as you can imagine, and it has prompted a lot of questions and interest in spiders in general. We have read lots of books about them, and the children have spent lots of time gazing at him in wonder! We have also written about him, as you can see in the picture. We have been concentrating on writing phonetically, listening for all of the sounds that we can hear in the words that we want to write, and trying to get them down on paper.
We also have tried to draw pictures of spiders as they really are, which is difficult, since children already have definite ideas about what a spider looks like, never mind what they really see right there in front of them!
By the way, turning the document camera on the spider (still in the tank, of course!) has been a great way for everyone to see what is happening. I also took some little videos of the spider with my iPhone after the children left (since that is when he started moving around more) and then played the video back by placing the iPhone right under the document camera! It worked just fine. Some of the children actually thought they were watching the spider move in real time.
We have also been having a grand old time singing the Halloween Song, Making the Halloween Song Book, and also singing the Eight Song from Sing and Spell Volume Five, (see it below- it’s sung to the tune of the Eency Weency Spider!) This song talks about the eight legs on the spider over and over. Now all of my kids know that there are eight legs on a spider. That was easy!
I think that the best thing about borrowing a class pet is that around the time they start to lose interest, I will get to give it back. AND, it’s FREE! What do you think about that???? I highly recommend getting friendly with your nearest neighborhood high school teacher with a lot of animals in her classroom. Or, you might even consider asking the local pet store if you can borrow any of their reptiles or pets for a week! Another idea would be to post a notice on any social media you use, such as Facebook, and see if anyone is willing to let you borrow their small animals for a short time.
My friend, Mrs. Black, says that we can continue to borrow animals for as long as we like. But then I taught two of her daughters in my class before, so that probably helps her willingness to be of assistance, LOL! I put an optional assignment in the homework for next week to have the children look for and bring in any harmless spiders that they may find around their homes too, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m sure that you can do these very same activities with any spiders. They would just be smaller and therefore harder to see.
4. A Halloween Reading Book
Here is a little gem I made up a couple of years ago, and then promptly forgot all about! But at the time, I had decorated it with D.J. Inkers clip art, which made it impossible for me to share with you anyway. However, the other day, I walked into a team mate’s classroom, and there on her table was this little book I had written and I thought, “A-HA! I should get that out and do it again!” And then I realized that I could easily share it on my blog by just replacing the artwork with my own, which I do have now, but didn’t have before.
So this is how I use this book, and other printable books like it. I take an index card and a black permanent marker and write some sight words on it that come up often in that book. Then I take some crayons and color each of those words different colors. I tell the children that their job is to find each of those sight words on the page and color them the different colors shown on the index card.
I find that this activity really helps kids focus on word boundaries quite a bit. Once they do that, they can really tell you how many words are in a sentence, too. At the beginning of the year, it helps a lot to have a separate index card for each child so that they can put the card right next to the book and match it to the words exactly, so you have to save time for this prep work. Later in the year, two kids seem to be able to handle sharing one card, so you can get by with prepping fewer cards.
As the children were coloring and finding the words, I stopped just ONE of the children and asked him or her to read me the book. I really found this to be a great management tool, since it allowed me to focus on just one child at a time and listen to him or her read. In each group, I was able to listen to all five or six children read the whole book in the twenty minutes that we had, and all of the children did finish finding all of the words in the book, so it worked out well. I highly recommend using printable books like this! Plus, the children that finished finding the sight words enjoyed coloring their books while they waited for their peers to finish. A couple of them even finished coloring it and were ready for something else, so I gave them my iPad to work on. They sure are loving that!
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