Monday, January 31, 2011

Hibernation Day

This is just a bit of a spin off of pajama day.

It was really simple. I set up a couple tents, some stuffed animals, and some pillows; and the kids came to school dressed in their PJ's, with their favorite stuffed animal, and maybe a pillow or blanket.

We talked a lot, and read a ton of books, about hibernation. My favorite is Bear Snores On. I love books that rhyme, and that one is masterfully done. We also read: Time to Sleep; Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep, and we looked at books like Animals that Hibernate and Animals in Winter.

We also watched a live video of hibernating bears online. The video was from the North American Bear Center. It wasn't exactly a thrill a minute (it's a pretty dark picture), but when you did get a glimpse of the bears it was neat, and I think it help to solidify the idea of bears hibernating.

Unfortunately my T/TH class got the raw end of the deal on this. The bears hardly budged the entire class. All they could see was a big brown mass. The MWF class got a number of great views of the bears though so I think the other guys were just unlucky. I'll try to put it on for them again sometime.

Anyway, It was a lot of fun. I will definitely do it again next year. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Polar Bears!!

This is a project we did as part of a unit on winter and polar animals.

To create the template, I took the picture I found of a teddy bear outline, ( inserted it into word, and wrote "My polar bear's name is.." underneath it.

For the class... I gave the children just the glue and the template to start off, and I showed them how to cover the entire inside of the template with the glue. Next, we used medium sized cotton balls to stick to the glue. Once most of them were finished, I talked to the group about what the bear was missing. With a little encouragement they figured out that he needed eyes, a nose, and a mouth. I then set out some plates with various materials on them: cut pieces of string, buttons, pom poms, and googly eyes, and let the kids go for it.

Now, I realize that these aren't your typical polar bears, more like polar bears from planet X, but I'm really not interested in cookie cutter artwork. I think forcing children to adhere to some adult idea of what is "right" just stifles them creatively. Not to mention having 12 polar bears that look exactly the same sounds kind of boring to me.

I have these displayed in the room right now, and they are pretty hysterical. I have some with 20 eyes on them, and others with nothing but buttons.

The children got pretty creative with the names they gave their bears as well. We had our fancy bears: Gabriella and Eala. Our islander bears: Tiki and Jaga. Our country music bear: Hank-O-Mise. Our traditional bear: Snowflake. Our big bear: Tiny. And last but not least the undefinable (and my personal favorite): Chicken. :)

Pasta Snowflakes

Like many of my projects, I adapted this idea from one I got online. It is quite simple actually... You give the children pasta wheels, and have them glue them together with regular school glue, give it a day or two to dry, then paint it with white paint and silver glitter. Once they're dry, you can tie a string on one end to make them into ornaments. (I didn't do this since it was past x-mas time when we did it).

(These really weren't this shinny... it's just my flash.)

They turned out cute, but here are a few tips for anyone wanting to try this:
  1. Do this on wax paper. You don't want to have to pick them up until they are dry, and once dry they will just stick to anything else.
  2. School glue really does work, but try to make sure the children glue them in a bunch, not a line. I had some that did really neat designs pasting the wheels end to end, but they fell apart when I tried to remove them from the wax paper. An idea may be to draw little circles on the wax paper and ask the children to fill them in. I didn't do that.. it's just a thought.
  3. I used the small pasta wheels because I thought it would be a good fine motor activity for them. It was, but I do think they would have looked much grander if we had used the larger ones. I also think they probably would have been easier to paint.

All in all... it was a cute 2 day project the kids really enjoyed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Penguin Number Game

I got the printout for this on The idea is the same. You place the number of goldfish crackers on the penguins belly to match the number on its fin. However, I wrote the number on its belly instead, and placed dots in specific spots on the numbers. Why did I do this? Well... as a child I remember being very frustrated when I was told that I couldn't count on my fingers so I developed my own system of counting on the actual numbers. This was something that helped me immensely as a child, and something I would like to pass on to my students. You see, by counting on the numbers the children are connecting the physical amount that the number represents to the numeric symbol. My hope is that this will help them to identify numbers, count using numbers, and as one parent pointed out, in the future write numbers.

Here is the sheet I made:

I told them we were feeding the penguins, and the the penguins needed the number of crackers listed on their bellies. I made sure to that the children were counting the fish as they placed them on the dots. The children really took to this activity. It might have been the fact that they got to eat the goldfish once they finished :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Okay... So this started out with the idea being that we would split up into teams, make walls with the large cardboard blocks, roll toilet paper into balls, and have a snowball fight. Instead it was more like a tearing, throwing, rolling, jumping, diving, super-crazy free for all.

And it was sooooo much fun!!

I had each child bring in one roll of toilet paper and we went crazy ripping and trowing it all around the room. The kids had a ball, and so did I, but there was one problem... lint. Holy &*^%) the lint!! It was so thick that I had to make the kids go outside to let it settle because it was starting to make us cough. Then, cleaning it up was ridiculous. I basically vacuumed the entire room.

I realized after the fact where I went wrong. You see, with my first class it wasn't so bad, but a lot of those parents had forgotten to bring in the TP, and I used some cheapo toilet paper I had on hand. I did, however, remember to send and email out to parents the night before my second class to remind them to bring a roll for their child so they all remembered. Well... I guess I have some families with sensitive tushies because I got some really high-class TP. And as you may know, the softer the toilet paper the more lint it creates. So my advice to anyone who would like to do this with their class is to get the cheapest, roughest, just short of sandpaper toilet paper you can find and go nuts! :)

Play-doh Snowmen

This is such a simple idea, but it touches on so many important concepts: fine motor skills, ordering by size, and producing representational art.

For this activity I made white playdoh. (To make white play-doh, just follow the Homemade Play-doh Recipe and omit the food coloring). I also used some red play-doh that was ready to be replaced.

First, we talked about how a snowman looked. I drew a picture on the white board showing how a snow man was made up of three balls that got progesivly smaller as they were stacked on top of each other. Then, I showed (i.e. reminded :) ) the children how to roll play-doh into a ball by rolling it on the table. One at a time, we rolled the play-doh into 3 balls (small, medium, and large), and stacked them up largest to smallest. Next, we rolled the red play-doh into a snake, and placed it around the snowman's neck like a scarf. Finally, we added pipe cleaners for arms, and drew the faces on with marker. Here's one that a little girl in my class did. So cute!!

Tip: Place them on wax paper and give them a couple days to dry. They harden nicely but are very fragile.

Shape Firetruck

This was an activity we did as part of a unit on safety and community helpers. This activity was adapted from an one I found online. The online project called for painting a fire scene with the shadow of a house in front. I had two problems with this: 1. I would have to make the house for it to look right since the kids are too young to cut out windows and such, and 2. it seemed a bit morbid to me. So I figured out a way to make it less morbid, but also create a project the would help the children learn how the things we see are made out of shapes.

First, I had the children paint a white piece of paper with orange yellow and red paint. I told the kids to really glob the paint on. Then we placed saran wrap over the picture and rubbed it around to mix the colors, then quickly pulled it off in an upward motion to create the look of fire.

Next, I created some shapes that the children could use to make a shadow form of a fire truck. I made circles (wheels), squares (the cab), a large rectangle (truck), and a long rectangle (ladder). Then I showed the children how they could use these shapes to make the image of a fire truck, and let them past it on their paper. I think they turned out great!!

I know, I know.. I'm a creative genius. :P

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Number Train

This is an activity that's super-fun, but is also really good for number recognition.

First, I cut up blank index cards and numbered them 1-5. These were the "tickets." I made enough that every child in my class could have 5 tickets, but my class is small so this worked. (With a bigger class, it might be best to hand each child only a couple of tickets and rotate). Then I wrote the numbers 1-5 on full index cards.

For the activity, I told the children that we would be riding the number train, and handed out tickets. I held up my large ticket for number 1, and said "Boarding train number one. " Then I collected the children's tickets while doing the whole train conductor thing - saying "all aboard" and stuff like that. The children made a train by holding onto the shoulders of the person in front of them. I was the engine, and the children were the cars. We went once around the room making train noises, then stopped back at the "station" (i.e. blocks center) where the passengers on train #1 got off. This process was repeated over and over until all the trains (1-5) were boarded.

It was a ton of fun and the children wanted to do it over and over again.