Sunday, July 31, 2011

More Crafts!

I have just had a weekend full of crafts! I did not stop after making the tissue paper flowers and the paper lantern caterpillar yesterday...I just kept going! I've finally gotten around to making several of the cute things I found on Pinterest and I'm very excited to get these crafts into my classroom to start decorating!

The most time consuming craft I did involved spray paint. I have been seeing this craft all over the internet lately and just had to give it a try. I spray painted several jars and they turned out great!

Here are my spray painting tips:
1. Spray paint outside (the fumes are terrible-you will probably want a mask too-I wish I'd had one!)
2. Lay down lots of newspaper- more than you think you'll need (the spray paint goes everywhere!)
3. Be patient- do many light coats and let the paint dry between coats (if you spray on too much paint you get drips!)

I'm going to bring some in to school to put on my desk to organize my supplies. I'm also going to keep some of the jars at home and plant flowers in them- I think they will look lovely on my kitchen windowsill. I think I might even spray paint a few more jars, but this time try spraying the inside of the jars so they look more glossy.

I had never used spray paint before...but I'm afraid that I'm addicted now! It's amazing how easily a coat of paint transforms something (okay, more like 5 coats of paint, but still!). I'm on the lookout for other things I can spray paint now since I have so much left over paint. Any ideas for me? Has anyone ever spray painted something really say a beat-up old bookcase with chipped paint that looks terrible in their classroom (I might just have a few of these...).

Here's a sneak peek at my next craft...

I bought this huge stack of scrapbook paper at Michaels. I lucked out and was able to use a half off coupon so it was only $10 instead of $20. My plan is to run up to school tomorrow and use the die-cut machine on this scrapbook paper to cut out the entire alphabet A-Z. Then, I want to string it together to make a garland like this fantastic one I found here.

Wouldn't this look amazing hung on one of the walls in my classroom? I know mine won't look exactly the same-but hopefully it is similar. I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Getting Crafty

Since I haven't been able to work in my classroom yet, it seems I have been directing all of my energy at making things at home for my classroom. I'm going a bit decoration overboard...and Pinterest isn't helping! I keep finding pictures of darling classroom crafts everytime I'm on that website!

So, here's what I've made so far this weekend...and I have more projects in the works!

These big tissue paper pom poms just make me happy. They look like big flowers and will be hung from the ceiling somewhere in my classroom. I was surprised at how simple they were to make. Click here for directions. I have also seen kits for making them at Michaels and Party City...but that's no fun! Choose whatever colors of tissue paper you like and make your own.

If you're wondering what this is....imagine that it has antennae and a body (still working on those details!). It is going to be a Very Hungry Caterpillar made out of paper lanterns.

 Click here for directions on how to make this darling caterpillar. I found inexpensive paper lanterns at Party City, and just used some colored cardstock I happened to already have at home to make his face. The eyes and nose glued on very well with a little modge podge (I would have used my hot glue gun but it's packed away at school!).

I'll have to do another post next week on the rest of my craft projects. Please share what projects you have been working on for your classroom!

Friday, July 29, 2011

This week's finds

I've managed to stay out of Target for an entire week now...might be a new record! You'd think this would help curb my classroom spending...but no. Wherever I am, my mind somehow drifts to my classroom.

I was able to spend a few days out of town this week visiting my sister and enjoying the end of summer break. While we were out shopping one day, we happened to find this darling little apron!

And now for a close up (it's still a bit wrinkled from being shoved into my suitcase)

It was clearly meant for the classroom-I mean look at that cute print with kids swinging! I love how it has so many little pockets too! Do any of you wear aprons in your classroom? Please share how you use them! I have a basic denim apron I have been using for years during messy crafts-but no way do I want the kids and their projects to destroy this sweet little apron!

After I got home from my trip, I had many errands to do. My first stop was the grocery store...where apparently they now sell books?! And not just any books...but books about kindergarten. Seriously! So, of course, into the shopping cart the books went along with the milk, and the eggs, and the ice cream (because ice cream is a requirement when you're in the middle of a heat wave like this!).

The first book was A Place Called Kindergarten by Jessica Harper. It's no Pete the Cat, but it's still cute. It's about a little boy who lives on a farm. One day the farm animals can't find the little boy and wonder where their friend is. They soon learn he went to his first day of kindergarten. The farm animals have never heard of kindergarten and are very curious about it. When the little boy returns home he tells the animals all about what he learned in kindergarten.

The second book was Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells. Rosemary Wells is one of my absolute favorite authors! I thought I had almost all of her books, but apparently not! I had to get this one to add to my collection since I always do an author study of her books in the spring. My students just love her Max and Ruby books! Of course this book might be better to read the first week of school since it is about a little raccoon's first week at school. At first Timothy has a hard time making friends at school. However, by the end of the story, Timothy is loving school and his new best friend.

Ok, so I know I said I didn't go to Target this week...but that doesn't mean I don't have any Target finds to share with you. I got these sparkly little zipper pouches on one of my trips to the Target dollar spot a few weeks ago and completely forgot about them! Any ideas for how to use them? I'm imagining some sort of math or literacy game.

I also picked up this cute apple tablecloth at Target a few weeks ago. I think I'll use it to decorate the table outside my classroom for kindergarten orientation. Of course tablecloths always come in handy inside the classroom too-I love being able to lay them on the floor and create an instant activity area.

So, what have you found this week? If you've been to Target, link up for Fab Finds Friday, over at the Target Treasures blog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pete the Cat Videos

I know that many of us are obsessed with Pete the Cat lately. I think my summer school class made me read the book nearly every single day!

Not only does Pete have an awesome book,  but I found these fun YouTube videos with Pete. Have you seen these? So cute!! The first video stars Pete in a classic- The Wheels on the Bus.

In the second video, a Pete the Cat doll practices some groovy dance moves to the music.

I know my class is going to love these! I might have to cave in and buy one of those Pete the Cat dolls...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Farmer's Market Fun

One of my favorite Saturday morning activities is going to the local farmer's market. Fresh fruit and veggies have got to be one of the best parts of summer. Of course my farmer's market also sells lots of other not so healthy goodies (love the fresh croissants!).

Inspired by the farmer's market, I created a game for my students to play. This game is to practice counting syllables in words and I also snuck in a few math skills as well.

To play this partner game, students each take a basket (either one of the printable ones I included in the game or any little plastic basket you happen to have in your classroom-I know I have tons of little Target baskets!). Then students take turns picking fruit and veggies. Student take a card and count how many syllables the fruit/veggie on their card has. Students then earn one penny for each syllable that the word has (they put the pennies in their basket).

Once all of the produce has been picked, students count up their earnings. Finally, they spin the spinner to see if the person with more or less pennies in their farm basket wins. Simple, right?

I tested this game out on my summer school students expecting it to be a piece of cake-after all I'd spent tons of time with them practicing how to clap the syllables in words. However, students still found this game tricky because...apparently they don't eat very many fruits and veggies and had a hard time identifying what was on the game cards! Scary! I guess I should have made a junk food version!

After a quick nutrition lesson that reviewed the different fruit and veggies in the game, things went much more smoothly (the game cards also have words on them so that students can try to read the name of the fruit/veggie in the picture). It has even inspired me to try to create a farm stand in my dramatic play area this year (wouldn't that be a fun way to practice money counting practice and other math skills!).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Decorating My Library: Target Style

I think I have the organization under control in my classroom library. I've got plenty of shelves, colorful little baskets, and labels. However, since I'm moving into a new classroom this year, I'd really like to spruce up the decor in my library. That's where Target comes in!

I found Corduroy on sale in the clearance section for $6.99. I will definitely be adding him to my growing collection of storybook characters that I use to decorate my library shelves.

I absolutely love the classroom library pic posted on Kindergarten Kindergarten's blog, and have been wanting wooden letters to spell the word "READ" on the wall in my classroom library. 

I lucked out and found these fabulous letters in the dollar spot (of course they were $2.50 each instead of a dollar-I always gravitate to the most expensive things in that "dollar" spot!). I hesitated to even share this find since I couldn't find all the letters I needed at my Target and had to beg my mom to track down the letter "E" at her Target (which she did!). You know you're a Target addict when you begin involving family members!

My final find at Target this week was a bit pricey (if I remember correctly it cost $20). I bought these wall stickers that you can stick on your wall to make a tree (the stickers also peel back off). I just had to have this though! How cute is that tree?!

Now, I did manage to show some restraint at Target this week. I desperately wanted to buy some of the dorm furniture they had on sale to put in my classroom library (such darling little storage cube benches and corduroy dish chairs!). I might cave in and go back for some of it next week...

Now head on over to Hadar's blog, Target Treasures, to link up for Fab Find's Friday. Hadar is so nice to have featured some of my Target finds on her post today!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wish I Was Setting Up My Classroom!

I can't believe it's almost time for a new school year to begin! I'm definitely starting to think about how I want my classroom to look this year. I could honestly spend all day looking at the classroom pictures on Clutter-Free Classroom's blog.

So, I stopped by school today to get an update on my room. It's still not ready! They have just started installing new windows, and after that they need to clean and wax my floors. With kindergarten orientation in exactly 3 weeks, I am desperate to start getting set up! The classroom is a disaster-boxes cover one entire wall and all the furniture is huddled together in a pile on the other side of the room!

This is only my 7th year teaching, but already this is my 5th classroom. I'm ready to settle into this classroom and not move grade levels or schools for a long time! To make myself feel better, I took some measurements and made a floor plan for where I think I want the furniture to go. I think a trip to Target would also take my mind off this nightmare of a classroom!

I hope your classrooms look better than mine!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gingerbread Hunt

Each year, on the first day of school, my class goes on a gingerbread hunt. The other kindergarten teachers at my school had been doing this for years when I joined their team-not sure who came up with this darling idea but it is so much fun!

First I read the book The Gingerbread Man to the class. I always tell them it is one of my favorite stories. I also have the felt board set for this book, so I like to move the little felt characters around on my easel as I read the story (the kids love retelling the story during center time later in the week with these felt pieces). I try to get the kids really engaged in the story, and have them start chanting the repeating line that is on nearly every page - "You can't catch me-I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

After I've read the story, I tell the kids that I have a special treat for them. Since we just read a book about a gingerbread cookie, I brought them all cookies for snack. I make a big deal of walking over to my table to get the tray of cookies and then dramatically say "Oh, no! Where are all of the cookies?" I pick up the empty tray of cookies and show the kids. Of course they then point out to me that there is a gingerbread shaped note on the tray. The note says that the gingerbread man took our cookies, but he left us a clue about where to find them.

The kids help me figure out the clue and we're off to find the cookies. We go all over the school finding clues and looking for the gingerbread man and our missing cookies. Along the way we meet important people like the school nurse, counselor, principal, secretary, music teacher, art teacher, P.E. teacher, librarian, cafeteria ladies, etc. This serves as a tour of the school for my kindergarten students. Finally, the last clue leads us back to our classroom where we search for the cookies and find that the gingerbread man has returned them! My little detectives are so proud of themselves for figuring out the clues and very excited to eat their cookie snack!

Since the whole kindergarten team at my school does this activity, one of us hides the clues all over the school in the morning (and then we all use the same clues). The last teacher to do the gingerbread hunt that day then collects them. The only tricky part is either having another teacher sneak the cookies into your classroom while you are gone on the hunt, or managing to "find" them yourself while the kids are searching the classroom.

I really like this as a first day of school activity not only because it gives the students a tour of the school, but also because it takes a LONG time. The first day of school seems to drag on forever...I always forget how much work beginning of the year kinder students are! They require a lot of patience and can hardly do anything independently. However, by the time I've read the gingerbread book, gone on the gingerbread hunt, and given the kids time to eat their cookie snack....the morning is nearly over! As an added bonus-if you have any criers or students that are really missing mom and dad-this gingerbread hunt usually distracts them!My students always go home and tell their parents about their exciting first day at school!

Yesterday I went to Borders since I had a gift card to use and noticed a fun new book in their children's section. It's called The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray. The author is a former teacher that used to do a similar gingerbread hunt with her class! In the book, the students bake a gingerbread man at school. Then while they're waiting for him to cool they decide to go out to recess. Of course the gingerbread man wants to be with the he goes on a hunt all over school looking for them! In the meantime the kids come back and try to find their missing gingerbread man. It's a very cute story and I will definitely be adding it to my first day of school list!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elephant and Piggie

Please tell me you have read Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie books. These books are hilarious and they make great read alouds. I have been reading a different book from this series every day to my summer school class and they are completely hooked-I think it is their favorite part of the morning! There are currently 15 books in this fabulous series and I wish my school's library had them all!

The books are very simple and a few of my students are even able to read them on their own after I've read them aloud to the class. All of the text is written through speech bubbles, so you are basically reading what the characters are saying to each other. The main characters are Piggie and Gerald (the elephant). The expressions on these two in the illustrations crack me up!

Yesterday I realized we were nearing the end of our tall stack of Elephant and Piggie books and started to worry-what will my summer school class look forward to now? That's when I realized my students know these books so well they could probably write their own Elephant and Piggie books! And Mo Willems is totally cool with this-I happened to see him a few years ago at a local book signing and he told me that he drew the characters in his books very simply so that kids would be able to copy them!

So, today's writing workshop mini-lesson was: speech bubbles. I drew Piggie and Gerald on my chart paper, and then modeled drawing speech bubbles and writing what the characters were saying. The kids thought it was a hoot watching me try to draw Elephant and Piggie - I am no artist! They were beyond excited when it was finally their turn to give it a try and make up speech bubble conversations between two of their favorite characters! Check out their awesome work:

Since this is summer school, many of my students really struggle with writing. However, even my reluctant writers loved this assignment. I think there is something less daunting about just writing a few speech bubbles compared with tackling a whole story. Let me tell you-their writing was SO funny. They had Piggie and Gerald talking about going to the pool, ordering pizza, and even skateboarding!

I definitely recommend introducing speech bubbles into your writing workshop. Not only do the Elephant and Piggie books show great examples of speech bubbles, but the Pigeon books do as well. Looks like I might need to do a Mo Willem's author study in reading and in writing next year!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Adding Up Summer Treats

Is it hot enough outside for you? It's SO hot here today that I think it's the perfect day to stay inside and enjoy the air conditioning - and maybe even make some popsicles! Here's a fun little game for your students to practice adding up summer treats. It would make a perfect math work station!

Students pick a card with an addition problem, solve it with manipulatives, and then find the card with the answer. If you picked up any pocket charts or popsicle/ice cream erasers at Target then this is the perfect way to get some use out of them! Don't worry, if you didn't buy those erasers I included some counters on the last page of the game.

Click here to grab your copy of this game. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spare Change?

I think we all know why this is necessary.....

Make your own "Target Fund" out of a spare jar from your pantry (I used a baking powder can). Print this label, cut to size, and attach it to the jar.

Happy saving and shopping!