Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pre-K Week 4: Apples

Week 4 was an apple theme, with the Letter Person A who's theme is feelings.  This was only a 3-day week, and I was sick for one of the days, so we didn't do too much this week.

One of the activities was an apple roll and pick game from tpt.  It was a really cute activity where students roll a die and pick that number of 'apples' (pom poms) from a tree.  I  didn't get a picture of this activity, but it was really great.

The students also made Stained Glass Apples from thefirstgradeparade.  To do this, the students glued pre-cut pieces of red, green, and yellow tissue paper on a piece of wax paper, then glued on an apple cut-out on top.  The adults then cut out the rest of the tissue paper and added string.  This was a good activity to recall the different colors of apples (which is why there were different colors of tissue paper).

We tested different kinds of apples and made a graph on the iPad of which apple each student liked best.

Finally, we made crock pot applesauce from morethanmundane, which the students LOVED making and loved eating, too! Before making the applesauce, I had the students predict what was going to go into the pot, and what we needed to do to turn it from the ingredients into actual applesauce.  I was very surprised at some of the answers... one student knew that we needed to add sugar to the applesauce, and even suggested that we add pinapples to make it yummy.  We also used this process as a lesson to talk about liquids (we used apple juice as our liquid in the applesauce) and heat/ the danger of heat.

Everyone tried it! I would call that a success!!

Pre-K Week 3: Weather

This summer, I decided to plan out my school year in advance to make everything easier and run more smoothly throughout the year.  Because I'm special education and don't really have my own team to plan with, I'm left to do things on my own and sometimes miss opportunities because I'm not aware of them ("wait... why is everyone in the school doing apples this week?"    "What am I doing for Dr. Seuss' birthday you ask? When is it?").  I spent hours and hours this summer planning a theme for each week based on holidays, birthdays, etc.  When I got in my classroom and learned about the letter people curriculum, I had to make a few changes, but many of the letter themes corresponded to my themes, so it all worked out.

My first two weeks were an introduction to the alphabet (including Chicka Chicka Boom Boom)/welcome to school, and fairy tales the second week.  I didn't take many pictures of my projects or activities these weeks.

Week 3's theme was weather.  I did this early because I wanted to incorporate the weather into our daily circle time.  The letter person that went with this week was Ms. W, and her theme was also weather.

These are the projects we did this week:

Cotton ball clouds with raindrops inspired by a picture on tumbler (no longer linked).  In advance, I cut out the clouds, raindrops, and pieces of yarn. The students glued on the cotton balls and practiced taping by taping the raindrops on the bottom and the yarn on the back of the cloud.
Wind Sock from Preschool Learning and Crafts: This was a great project to show the students the wind, when it is not easy to teach.  We made them then took them out on the playground to watch the wind blow them. It was also a great word to practice the letter w.                      In advance, I cut out the construction paper, pieces of tissue paper, and pieces of string.  I also wrote the word 'windy' on each piece of construction paper, changing the level based on the student (some students could trace the letter w, some students could trace all the letters, and some students couldn't trace any letters).  The students decorated their construction paper and were encouraged to illustrate the different kinds of weather we had learned about. They were also encouraged to practice the letter 'w'.  They then glued the pieces of tissue paper on the bottom and helped glue the construction paper into a tube.  The adults then punched holes and added the string.

Rainy day thumbprint project from the Letter People curriculum. - This project was cute and easy, and was great for a side table during rotations.  In advance, I had the papers ready with the umbrella pieces and the word 'rainy' written in highlighter for the students to trace.  At the table, the students glue their umbrellas on their papers, then use a WASHABLE ink pad to dip their finger and put 'rain' all over the page.

 Sunshine Mobile from onecharmingparty - Another mobile (I love mobile crafts... they look great hanging in our room!).  To make this craft, the students were provided with a paper plate with the yellow construction paper strips already stapled on to make the sun rays and the string already hanging.  The students were provided with ripped strips of tissue paper in yellow and orange, and they were encouraged to crinkle the paper (fine motor) and glue it on the plate.

I didn't focus too much on snowy weather since it's not relevant to Florida, but we did mention it and ask who had seen snow.

Every morning, we sing a weather song and look at the weather camera on my iPad (we have no windows in my classroom) to decide the weather. We then choose what the weather bear will wear that day and compare it to what the students are wearing.  Adorbs!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hand-Painted Children's Rocking Chair

And now I present my proudest achievement of the summer!!!

I saw this children's rocking chair at Goodwill while we were teacher shopping, and I didn't end up buying it. I kept thinking and thinking about it, and went back a few days later, ecstatic to see that it was still there!

It had a little damage where screws were poking through, so I added took it apart a little, cleaned it, and added duct tape to make sure nobody got hurt.
Then I spray-painted it white. This took a whole can of spray paint.

While the chair was getting ready, I made a list of popular children's books and found illustrations from each book that would work with the chair. I then drew out two scenes on pieces of paper - one up in the sky/mountains for the top half of the chair and one down on the ground for the bottom half of the chair.
The illustrations I included were the grinch on top of Mount Crumpit, the little man from 'Oh the Places You'll Go!' flying in a balloon in front of the mountain, the characters from 'Green Eggs and Ham' hanging out in a tree (with ham and a fox in the box), the tree from 'Chicka Chicka Boom Boom', and Curious George flying from a kite in the sky.  On the bottom, I included the Lorax, the Giving Tree and the little boy from 'The Giving Tree', Thing 1 and Thing 2 hiding behind the giving tree, David from 'No, David!' hanging from the tree, Pete the Cat and the Cat in the Hat hanging out at the bottom, the Hungry Caterpillar crawling along the ground, and Clifford poking his head in.

After I planned it all out, I drew it onto the chair in highlighter first, then in black paint pen.  This took quite awhile, and I worked on the chair all weekend while I had the house and the TV to myself.

Once I drew all the characters, I painted them in using acrylic paint.

And then, since the black lines were now covered in paint, I went over them in black paint pen again.

Finally, I painted the legs and arms and added the word 'Read' to the top.

My students really love the chair, and we use it at the front of the classroom next to my circle time rocking chair for special presenters.

Picnic Table Upcycle

When moving into my new Pre-K classroom, I was also getting rid of a lot of the stuff that was left in the room before I got there.  One of the items that was in the welcoming pile was this Little Tikes picnic table that had been destroyed by... well... little tikes.

My mom saw it as an obvious thing to get rid of, but I had just seen a pin on pinterest and fought hard to keep it.  The project is from Caroline's Crafty Corner, and she has instructions on her site.

My table just snapped apart (there were no screws like in Caroline's) and snapped back together, so that made it a little easier.  I was able to do this project in one night (plus about 15 minutes the next morning). I spray painted the sides with black spray paint and covered the top and benches with fabric, then vinyl.  I had never used vinyl before, but I was pleased to see that it was cheap and easy to use, and found at Joann's with the other fabric.

Unfortunately, I didn't get enough of the fabric I chose (the top... pink zebra) and had to use leftover fabric that I had stored away. The patterns don't match, but it works. Like I said, I wanted to get it done in a night.

I attached the fabric with a staple gun. By the way, I now own a staple gun!

I'm very happy with the way this table turned out, and I would absolutely do this again!

New Classroom!

So I moved jobs this summer to Pre-K disabilities. This meant moving classrooms and starting all over.  Here's the pictures of my new classroom.

Just to give a little background... I walk into my classroom and it is FILLED with all kinds of... stuff. The previous teacher had left the majority of her items there, and they also had to empty out a closet to make it an office, and they put all of those things in the middle of my room.

We spent hours and hours cleaning and organizing and dumping and hauling... and that was BEFORE all my stuff got there!

Here's a before/after shot (more like the middle shot... this was at the end of day 1).

Here are the different areas of the classroom:

Reading area/listening library:

This is the puzzle table with the puzzles on the shelf behind it:

And the house/kitchen/dramatic play area: 

The group work tables: 

The cars area: 

Circle area: 

And the building area: 

I used the same theme as I did last year, Fairy Tales.  This included my Jack and the Beanstalk word wall, the Little Red Riding Hood reading poster, the Work on Fire Dragon Bulletin board, and some new things that I made, too.

Check out some of the new items I made:

This was an original idea! Unfortunately, my classroom doesn't have any windows :( and we had a big blank door right in the middle of the housekeeping area.  I decided to make this outdoor door decoration with red butcher paper painted to look like bricks, windows made out of empty picture frames, and construction paper to make an outdoor scene, cabinets, and that pie. Doesn't it look delicious?? I love it!

I made this job helper chart using the clipart at MyCuteGraphics. I just found out about that website, and it has been SO helpful!

Schedule and schedule fairy - My kids absolutely love this! I just used the same schedule holder as last year, and added a few different inserts.  I then made the schedule fairy, laminated her, and added magnets to the back.  Wherever the wand is pointing is what we are on.  The kids absolutely love moving the schedule fairy, and they follow the schedule so well.

This transportation chart is from lessonplandiva.  I made the circles in Microsoft word using black and white clip art from the internet and coloring it in (no colored printer!).  I cut them out, backed them on cardstock/scrapbook paper, and glued them all on a long piece of ribbon. I then punched flowers out of pink cardstock, laminated them, and glued them to the end of scrapbook-covered paper clips.  This way, I can use rubbing alcohol to remove the names at the end of the year and use them again and again! I don't have great pictures, but I will put more up when I take them.

This naptime sign was another original.  We kept having people walk in and out of our classroom during nap time, so I decided to make a sign to hang on the door. Trying to stick with the fairy tale theme, I chose to put the Princess and Pea on it.  My other option was Rip Van Winkle, but I didn't think as many people would recognize the reference.  So I made two signs, again coloring in the picture.  The little poem says: "Please be quiet/ and take extra care.../ there are little minds/ at rest in here!"  One sign goes on each door.

I would like to claim this one as an original, but I'm sure someone has thought of it before. Last year, my posters were an absolute mess and I never used them. I decided that this year should be different, and I came up with the solution of a Hanging Chart Poster Organizer.  For this, I just used skirt hangers (the metal clips had little grips which I think helped a lot) to hang my posters on a chart rack and tuck them in the back of my office. It worked out just as I hoped it would in my mind (which never happens)!  We did have to do some quick thinking when it came to adding stoppers, and we just taped some pieces of foam to each end so the hangers wouldn't slide off. I can hang multiple posters from each hanger (up to 4 or 5) so I separated them by theme.  I can then rotate the hangers so the organizer lays flush against my filing cabinet.

These cork board circles were inspired by muyingeniouso.  The picture directions on the pin told you to buy cork circles from ikea and cover them in fabric... easy enough right? Unfortunately, they don't just sell cork circles at Michaels and I wasn't going all the way to Ikea. I bought a sheet of cork and cut out two circles. Ugh... that was annoying.
Then I covered them in fabric. Like it's sooo easy to cover a circle with fabric. It was all bunchy and annoying and they didn't turn out perfect, but they work. I added magnets to the back so I could hang them on my file cabinet next to my desk.

This was my Fairy Tale bulletin board for the beginning of the year. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it was one of the last things I got done before meet the teacher.  To do this, I cut out a scroll/ribbon from brown butcher paper and the words 'Once Upon a Time' from light brown paper. After I finished, I realized the letters should have been bigger and the scroll could have been better, so this is sometime I will probably do when I get extra time during the year.  I then drew an open book on a piece of white butcher paper and laminated it. This way, I can write whatever I want on the book with dry erase markers and change it as often as I'd like.  For meet the teacher, I printed off little princes and princesses with each child's name, and crowns for my name and my assistant's.  This picture has their apples that they made, too, but they had blown all around and were taken down right after.

Finally, one of my favorite projects for my classroom was my teacher supply toolbox!  This was from createteachshare and blew up on pinterest.  I used a template that was free on teachersnotebook and printed the labels out on pink zebra/ light pink card stock I already had on hand. This project was super easy, only cost me the price of the toolbox ($22 I think? It was at Lowes, NOT Home Depot).  It keeps me much more organized and I always know where everything is. Best of all, when I have visitors in my classroom or my assistant asks where something is, I don't have to be embarrassed and say "I don't know... in my desk somewhere?"... I can say, oh that's in my toolbox and they know right where to look. Love it! (And adding it to my top 10 crafts). I would definitely recommend this. Would also make a great gift!

Oh, the labels I included were pencils, pens, markers, clips (binder clips), change, rubber bands, push pins, Large paper clips, small paper clips, band-aids, brads, tape, staples, sharpies, post-its, rings, expos, highlighters, glue sticks, misplaced items, and I left one blank because I figured I could just write it in later when I realized what I needed to put in there.

The last thing I want to show you is the result of my __ day of school frame. Each child took a picture with the frame within the first week of school (ok, I forgot on the 1st day).  This one was one of my favorite pictures because this student is tiny and had just woken up from nap, so he looks so little sitting inside the frame. If I were to do it again, I definitely wouldn't use black on the blue surface, but oh well!

 I have two more very special crafts that I worked hard on and am very proud of... I will be sharing those in their own post next!!

Recent Recipes

I haven't done too much cooking or trial of new recipes, but here are 3 that I have tried:

Recipe #136 - Summer Vegetable Crepes from Eatingwell - These crepes were fun to make, and I love crepes! The filling was very good, but I messed up on the topping. I didn't have chives so I replaced them with a whole lotta seasoning... it just ended up being too much seasoning that messed with the sourness of the sauce.  I re-made crepes the next night without the topping and ate with sesame salad dressing... yum!

 Recipe #137 - Pumpkin Oatmeal Double Chocolate Chip Cookies from FamilyFreshMeals - It's officially pumpkin season! Logan decided to start eating oatmeal for breakfast, so the only obvious solution would be to go to Costco and buy a lifetime supply. 3 days later Logan had given up and his plan, decided he still didn't like oatmeal, and we were left with a 20 pound box of it.

So I made cookies.

I followed the recipe given, and I paid careful attention to the part that said the cookies will still be soft when you take them out of the oven, but once they sit out they will cool to the perfect density.  These were still too soft to eat whole and fell apart when you tried to pick them up, but they were really delicious!

 Recipe #138 - Spanakopita Strudels from Alexandra's Kitchen - I had bought some Phyllo dough awhile ago to make a phyllo dough apple pie, but lost the recipe in the realms of the internet and never made it. When I found this recipe to make Spanakopita, I jumped on it. It was really easy, except for the irritation of the paper-thin phyllo dough.  It's spinach, feta cheese, egg, etc. Yum!

 Recipe #139 - Spinach Phyllo Roll-Ups from Kraft Recipes - With the leftover phyllo dough, I made these Spinach Phyllo roll-ups a month or so later.  They were still delicious!!