Friday, March 28, 2014

Post Number 50! Let's Celebrate with Rainbows!

50 posts already!  This blog has grown a bit since the first post and I hope it will keep growing. Thanks for all your support! 

So it's been a busy week! My last post talked about teamwork. We continued rainbows this week and had a few surprises.

My favorite part of the week was making the Cloud in a Bottle. I got this fabulous idea from Pinterest and we ended up using it for 3 days straight in order to let as many children try it as possible. If you've never done it before, try it! Just put shaving cream on top of water in a jar (closely supervised) and let children drop watercolors onto the shaving cream. It's a great way to talk about clouds and why it rains. We had a limited number of pipettes, so I'll have to make sure I have more next time. It was a great way to strengthen fine motor skills by squeezing the dropper. When they were done, the children used their scientific skills to observe the jar and record (draw) what they saw. Some pictures are below:

Wednesday, we were visited by Dina from the Incredible Years program. She talked about working together and we paired the children up to put a puzzle together according to skill level, strong skilled with weak-skilled. I was really proud of the way the children helped each other. Some of the children I was worried about were encouraged by their teammate and did a fantastic job sharing and working together. 

Yesterday, we had an unexpected writing activity.  We read "I am a Rainbow" by Dolly Parton, which is about various feelings using colors of the rainbow.  When we were done, one child commented that the color orange is missing from the book. We had a short discussion about what "orange" would feel like and wrote our own verses to it. I wrote the responses down. I wish I'd had time to let them illustrate it, but it was time to go out. 

Some of my favorites:
"I feel orange when my mom plays ropes and ladders with me."
"I feel orange when my mom gives me Raffi."
"I feel green because I'm happy."
"I feel orange when I play with R."
"I feel green when I play Skylanders and Swampforce." 

Today we read "It Looks Like Spilt Milk", which is about seeing different shapes in clouds.
Since it was rainy out today, the children mixed white, black, and grey paint and made clouds out of squish art. They dictated to us what they looked like. When they're dry, we're going to put them in a class book with the same cover as "Spilt Milk." I'll show you some pictures when it's done!

Whew! Next week, I'll be on vacation. Well-earned, if you read regularly. When I come back, it's time to talk about transportation! We're spending two weeks on it so it should give us a chance to really study it and see how everything works.

What will you be working on this week? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

There's no "i" in "team," but there are an "m" and an "e"

First, an exciting announcement:

I've been accepted into the Master's of Education program at UNC Chapel Hill!

It's focused on classrooms that include children with disabilities or are in low-income families. I can't wait to share everything I'm learning with you!  Of course this also means my posts might become more sporadic starting in May and they might be shorter, but they will still be uplifting. Make sure you follow me so you're in the loop! Email signups are at the bottom of the page.

We've been talking a lot about teamwork lately in our classroom, but it can be hard to know where to start.  I've had a lot of help from the IY Dina program , where the class spent two days focusing on how to work in teams. First, they worked together to build according to a model, and then something more freeform the next day.  In between days, we encourage teamwork in the centers.

Most of the kids show teamwork in one way or another; they've had almost a year to make friends and learn how to play with each other.  Of course, there are always some that need a little bit of help.  It's amazing to see the other students step up in this area.  I've noticed several times where a child has had trouble and another child was already helping them when I walked over. It can be easy to guide children who are fighting over toys to work together on it instead; when they do, they learn problem-solving skills and the good feeling that working together brings.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


It's Dr. Seuss week this week and I have a great freebie in Spanish and English on TeachersPayTeachers! I'm hoping it will inspire parents to read with their kids; I'll let you know next week. We got off schedule this week due to snow and an ice storm that knocked out power in my town and the ones surrounding it, so hopefully next week I'll have some great items to share as we make books and rhymes. I'll also share some actual pictures of the Pets.

The last two weeks have been dedicated to Pets. A lot of the children were talking about what they have at home and one just got a new puppy. Perfect!

We made a chart we made of animals that we thought would make good pets and bad pets. I drew a line down the middle. On one side, I wrote "Good" and drew a smiley face; the other was marked "bad" and had a picture of a frowny face. "Snakes" shows up twice, in both columns.  Debate is an amazing tool to jumpstart thought.

Some of these animals showed up as 'good" pets, like the zebra. Jellyfish was a bad pet because of the stingers.
Pic from
After we talked about it, the kids drew in their weekly writing journal a picture of an animal. They told us whether it would be good or bad and why. Some of my favorite responses:
"A shark would be a good pet because you can pet its scaly skin."
"A spider would not be a good pet because it bites."
"A lion would make a good pet because it's nice." (I would love to know what nice lions he's seen!)
One child recreated the chart with happy and sad faces, then drew an animal under each.

What are some ways that you inspire critical thinking in your classroom? Post in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Midweek cheer

Hello all,

Sorry I've been neglecting this blog lately.  I've been: working on an IEP for a picky parent. Trying to get my Personal Statement together so I can apply to grad school (2-3 pages single spaced).  Catching up from snow days with parent letters in both English and Spanish. Whew!

So I heard some good advice today and thought I'd share it. It's March, it's Wednesday. Spring isn't here yet and you might be running out of ideas and patience. Don't worry! That's why this blog is here.

Today and the rest of this month, I want you to think of 3 positive things that happened in your classroom and one thing that made you smile.
Here are mine to get you started:

  1. A kid that's normally aggressive wasn't as aggressive today.
  2. A boy that never comes is going to get bus transportation.
  3. The kids were focused after a day out and we got some great work done wit the Handwriting Without Tears program
   One thing that made me smile: A boy that's usually very quiet told me all about a shark movie he watched. It was great to hear the excitement in his voice.

Your turn! Spread the joy in the comments below. And remember:  3 months until summer. You can do it!