Sunday, 27 January 2013

Penguins, Letters and Snowmen...Oh my!

 This week we did a multi-media art project with Snowmen.  We painted our snowmen with tempera paint, then we went outside and gathered sticks for the arms of our snowmen...the kids absolutely LOVED going on a stick hunt.

It actually tied in really nicely with math too as they had to measure their sticks to make sure they were the right size. I suggested that the stick be about the same size as their hand.
They then embellished their snowman.  They cut hats and scarves out of felt and fabric, they glued on the sticks for arms and buttons down the front of the snowmen, they drew on the carrot noses and cut squares of black sparkly ribbon for eyes and the mouth.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

We also started our Penguins unit.  The kids have been having a blast learning about the cute little creatures.  We started the unit off with a Mystery box which the kids loved!  They recorded their predictions on what they thought was in the box after 4 clues had been read to them.

We also learned about where they live, the climate in the Antarctic, we labelled a penguin , we learned about the adaptations that help the penguin survive in that climate, and we learned a cute little penguin poem.  All of these came from my Penguins unit.  You can click on the picture to go to my store if you would like to take a look at it!

With our big buddy class, the students used digital cameras to take pictures of themselves making the first letter in their names.  They had a blast doing it!  Next week we will be uploading them onto Kidblog and writing sentences about other words that start with that letter.

What are you teaching in your classrooms right now?
Hope you have a wonderful week!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Technology in the Classroom

So, as I type the post title, I'm thinking to myself:  I really have to get better at remembering to take photos of the kids doing all of our great activities...hmmmm.....I guess I have a ways to go with technology in the classroom!
Our school (until 2 years ago) has been in the dark ages when it comes to technology.  We only had one smartboard in the entire school, no IPads, a computer lab that worked only sometimes and only 1 or 2 computers in each classroom...SAD!!
Now, because of our WONDERFUL, AMAZING parent advisory council, in the past two years we have managed to get a smartboard in every classroom, have purchased a class set of cameras and 5 Ipads....Not bad considering the PAC had to pay for every single piece (and installation) themselves!

So it is all a bit new to me, but this is what we are doing:
Each morning I do learning stations: (basically math and language arts centers)  Sometimes we use the smartboard for one of the stations.  Last week kids had to sort pictures by initial sound.  They LOVED it.  I love when they can work independently and be successful at it!  Gotta love self-correcting activities!

We have also started taking photos with our big buddy class and uploading them onto the site Kidblog.  Do you know about that is fabulous!  Talk about writing for an authentic purpose....real people read their blogs and make comments on it....the kids are amazed!  The big buddies helped my Kindies upload their pictures.  Then the little buddies dictated sentences to the big buddies about their photos.  Everyone was so engaged and both groups were learning.
There were so many great photos taken.

"Our ice castle is very pretty. The  sparkles are so pretty too. The ice castle has so many different colours. I like the colour pink with sparkles the best."
"Elyssa's Masterpiece: A green leafy hill.  There are yellow, orange and red leaves on the trees."
"I like the rock because there is a lot of moss on it and the rock is huge!"

This was our first attempt at it, and I think it went pretty well. Kidblog is should totally check it out!
That is just a couple of  ways we are using technology in the classroom.  What ways are you finding to use it in the classroom?  I would love to hear!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

New Year, New Ideas, New Freebie

I still can't believe how quickly the time has gone! We are half way through the school year....can you believe it?!? I always feel so old when I talk about how time flies, but it is true!  Time seems to slip away quicker and quicker each year. 

I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions but this year I did.  I have decided to try and spend more quality time with my family.  I spend lots of "time" with them, but over the holidays I realized that a lot of it isn't "quality".  The kids are in the room and I'm cleaning or making dinner, or reading emails on the IPad, but I'm not really "there" with them.  So this year I am going to make a conscious effort to put down the broom (our world will not fall apart if the floor doesn't get swept for a day!) and just be there and enjoy and play with my two beautiful children.  Since making the resolution, we have been on so many more walks and we have had such fun just playing on the floor together.  It has been wonderful!

So I am making that same resolution in the classroom.  We do a lot of work, but I'm going to make sure that all of the work that we do is "quality" work so that we have more time to play.  Play is so important and I think sometimes that is forgotten....not just structured play, but good old-fashioned run in fields, build fairy houses, and get dirty kind of outdoor we used to do when we were kids!

Yesterday we read the book  "Squirrel's New Year's Resolution" by Pat Miller.

If you don't know it, it is a great book for New Year's Resolutions.  I shared my resolution with them and then they created the most wonderful, thoughtful and insightful resolutions themselves...I wasn't sure what I was going to get, but almost every child had a different thing that they wanted to work on...and they were pretty dead on with areas that they struggle with.  I had everything from "I want to read more books" to "I will learn how to swim without a floatie" to "I am going to be nicer to my mom" to "I will put my toys in my toy box more" to "I won't argue with my cousin as much".  I love Kindies...they are so cute, yet so self aware. We partner talked about their resolutions and I think that really helped them figure out what they needed to work on this year.  When they are all done, we shared them in a "Talking Train".  I love love love talking trains!  You put kids in two rows, side by side (so two kids are sitting shoulder to shoulder with the next two behind the first two and so on).  The kids love getting on the talking train!  I have a little toy whistle that I blow and call out "All Aboard!"  That's the cue for partner A to talk and share their writing.  B listens.  I give them a warning when it is almost time to switch to partner B's turn: "train is coming into the station!" so that A can finish up.  Then it is B's turn to comment on A's writing and then share their work.  Did I say that the kids LOVE this?!? It also takes a lot less time than having the whole class share out one at a time!

Here is a copy of the New Year's Resolution page if you would like it.   The picture will take you to my store to download :-)

I have also just made 7 new differentiated math centers and activities for learning the teen numbers.  More on how that goes in my next post...this one is so long already!!  I'm really excited to get using it in the classroom though!

Have you made any New Year's Resolutions this year?  I would love to hear them!
Take care,