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Planet Movies

I wanted to share with you the space activity I did with my students. I had the students create their own planet on Kidspix. I encouraged them to be creative. I had a balloon planet and a planet that only cooked blueberry pancakes. After they were done creating the planet, I printed each child's planet and gave it to them. They then had to write about their planet. I told them I wanted at least 3 sentences but most of my students wrote more. They had a great time coming up with new ideas for their planet.

After they were done writing about their planet, I recorded them reading about their planet using Audacity. Each student had a chance to record. They are now so comfortable recording, it only took 19 students about 20 minutes total to record. I was impressed.

When the student were done recording, I exported their planet pictures out of Kidspix as a JPEG and took the MP3 from Audacity and created a planet movie using Microsoft MovieMaker. Here is one example:

You are Cordially Invited to the Wedding of Q & U

This week we prepared for the wedding of the letters Q and U to make the "qu" sound. IMG_1048 Many arrangements were made. The vowels were invited and presents for the bride and groom were made. Girls wore veils and carried flowers and the boys wore top hats. The bridal party marched down the aisle to Cannon in D as the shushers held Quiet signs. The flower girl threw the paper letters and our principal conducted the ceremony.

IMG_1063We started having this ceremony last year to help remind our students that Q always needs U during spelling. The week leading IMG_1035 up to the ceremony, we did activities and read books that helped the students understand the concept. One of the activities is a word blend sorting. I made index   cards that have words begin with "qu", "th", "sh", and "ch" blends. I have the students sort the words and then type the words onto an alphasmart.

After the ceremony, we opened the gifts that the students made for Q and U. The students brought in quarters, Quaker oats, Q-tips, a quarterback, quills, a quilt, and a crown fit for a queen. The students had a blast during the ceremony. They enjoyed sharing their gifts with the class and they will always remember the wedding of Q and U!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

"The more that you read, The more things that you know. The more that you learn, The more places you'll go." Dr Seuss - Oh, The Places You'll Go!

In honor of Dr. Seuss birthday, I read as many of his books throughout the entire week.DSC03180 The students love hearing the stories and enjoy reading along with me. I think it is important to read as much as I can with my class. Reading is truly a meaningful learning experience that opens many doors for the reader.

One of my students brought in the Dr. Seuss book "There's a Wocket in My Pocket". This book is filled with tongue twisters and there is a warning in the beginning of the book that states that this book is dangerous. The class thought it was hilarious to hear me reading the book that they actually started counting each mistake I made. I'm proud to say I only made nine mistakes.

We also made green eggs and ham with another kindergarten class. As Mrs. Miller made the green eggs and ham, I read the book. I tried to have each student try a small amount but I did have some students refuse to touch it. I love asking the students if they think they might like it before hand. I get so many wrinkle noses and scrunched up faces but after they try it I have many begging for seconds.

I always take time to share facts and pictures of Dr. Seuss because I have many students who do not realize he was a real person. The students find it fascinating to hear how he came up with his stories and that he illustrated his books. I always have fun during the week of Dr. Seuss's birthday.

We have a visitor

I love being in position where I can still learn new things. I feel that I am at a job where it would take a huge amount of energy not to learn new things. This week I had the pleasure of having my intern from the University of Central Florida begin her semester with us. We immediately clicked and she instantly formed a bond with my students.

Her first day was a teacher's workday. We spent the day organizing my class and looking over her assignments. It was nice not having the students there because I had the entire day to answer any questions. Once we started doing lesson plans, we began bouncing ideas off of each other and coming up with great ideas.

One of her assignments was to create a discovery box. The discovery box was filled with items from outside that she had collected from her backyard. She filled it with sand, dirt, leaves, rocks, sticks, etc. The assignment was meant to be open-ended and watch what the students did with the items. I let her chose three students and I took the rest of the class and did a whole group lesson.

As I was working with the rest of the class, I occasionally looked back at her group. I saw the students engaged and working with together exploring the items. I was impressed at what she was doing but I was far enough away that I couldn't hear what she was telling the students.

After we were both done with what we were doing and the students were at specials, I asked her what exactly she had done. I was impressed to hear, that she never gave the students directions. When she was talking with the students, she was asking what they were doing. The students answered that they were sorting the leaves, using the magnified glasses to search through the sand and dirt, measuring the sticks, and recording what they found on paper.

I was amazed at what she had done with them. Later, I thought about what she had done and realized the amount of skills the students used while they were discovering what was in the box. They used their own problem solving skills to research what was in the box. I thought what a meaningful way for the students to learn at their own pace. I observed from a distance using skills that came natural to them. I love that I am learning new things daily at my job. Having that feeling makes me think that it's not a job but something I love to do.

Google Maps

After spending a weekend at FETC, I realized how important it was to teach geography to early childhood students. I have always been interested in reading maps and discovering where things were. I started thinking about what made me gravitate towards loving maps and traveling to new places. As a child, I remember exploring maps with my grandfather. I had a world puzzle that I remember doing often. And of course, I played Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? I still remember watching it on TV and singing the theme song!

In the beginning of the week I sent home a note asking parents to share where their child was born. I also asked them to share where they were born too. After receiving the responses, I created a Google Map. Creating a map was very easy but also time consuming. The school computer at school does have a slow internet connection so I think that was the reason why it took a long time. All I had to do was create a Google account and create a new map under My Maps tab.

I mapped the responses and was pleasantly surprised that my planned worked wonderfully. I had students and parents that were born all over the world. It worked out great because I started with the placemark that was farthest away and worked towards Florida. Google Maps has a feature called placemarks where you can describe the placemark. Each placemark I titled using my student's name and added mom or dad if needed.

While I was presenting the map, I asked questions like:

  • Who was born the farthest away?
  • Who was born in Florida?
  • Who was born the closest to me?
  • Why do you think most of the classmates were born in Florida?
  • Who was born near an ocean?
  • Who do you think was born in a state where there is snow?

Tomorrow, I will be mapping where each student lives. I asked the parents to send in their addresses so I could create another Google Map of their homes. I thought it would be interesting for the students to read the map and find who lives near each other or the closest to school. I will let you know how it goes!

Interactive Whiteboard

I was very excited last year when our school purchased a Mimio Interactive Whiteboard. Being that whiteboards are expensive one board was purchased for grades K-3 and one more board for grades 4-5. There were some teachers that were scared to use the board but being that I love technology, I was the first to begin using it.

I took the students to our Multi-Purpose room where the board is located. I used my favorite software Dsc03084_2  Kidpix to create a math lesson. I used the idea of Domino Math and drew a domino on the board. The students wrote the appropriate addition problem on their hand held board. I chose two students to come up to the board to write the problem.

The students who were not chosen to write on the Interactive board were still involved in the problem because they were given boards of their own to write on. This activity kept all the students involved. The students did their best work because they wanted to write on the Mimio.

Being that I am getting my Masters in Education Technology, I still never heard of a Mimio board. I have been to workshops for Smartboards and Promethean and was blown away of what these boards could do. I was also blown away at the price of the boards. Mimio boards are significantly cheaper and in my opinion easier for the younger students to write on. The pen is easier for my students to hold and write with because it is thicker. The students had a great time learning with the interactive whiteboard!

Sand vs. Soil

Img_0560I always struggle with science activities. I hate doing science worksheets because I believe the students need to actually experience the skill instead of reading about it. Our science unit that we covered this week was about sand vs. soil. The worksheet had the students circle pictures of sand and putting an X on the pictures of soil. I decided instead of doing the worksheet we were going to be scientists.

I gave each student a Dixie cup and paired them up with another student. I gave each pair a spoon and we went outside. The students were asked to collect a small sample of soil in their cup. As the students were collecting the samples, I asked two students to fill my cup with sand from the playground.

When we came back to the classroom, each student was allowed to pour out their soil sample and begin using magnify glasses to explore the soil. AfterImg_0561 allowing the students to look at the soil, I added a small sample of sand so they could compare the two samples. As the students were comparing, I prompted a discussion about how the two samples were the same and different. As the students started becoming more interested, I allowed them to use pencils to separate the soil and sand.

I thought this activity turned out great. I was nervous about doing a discussion but the students took turns talking. Many students found pebbles or acorns in their samples. The students shared with their friends what they found. To take it a step farther, I should have written what we found out during our discussion. It would have made the activity just a little bit better if I had written things down.

Superstar Videos

One afternoon, our computer teacher, Mrs. Paul and I were brainstorming ideas on how to have the students become more involved in technology. Having such young students, we were limited at what we could do with them. We finally came up with the idea of allowing the students to take home a digital camera and take pictures of their family, home, friends, etc. After they took the pictures and brought the camera back to school, Mrs. Paul would sit down with the student and upload the pictures into Animoto. The students would choose their music and watch as the movie is made.

Each year I pick one student to be the Superstar of the week. During that week, we learn different things about the student. The student fills out a questionnaire and brings in things from home to share. In the past, I would have the students bring in pictures of their family. After brainstorming the idea with Mrs. Paul, we decided to do the Animoto videos instead.

Mrs. Paul found the digital camera on Ebay for $8.00. The camera is a little dated. It uses 3 1/2 floppy disks but it does its job. I ask for the students to take at least 15 pictures. The first student to take home the camera was Adam. He took around 25 pictures. Mrs. Paul came into our classroom and showed Adam and the rest of the class how to create the video. Mrs. Paul took them through all the steps of uploading the pictures and choosing their music.

The video turned out great! Animoto adds effects to the movie automatically during the process. The videos look like they were professionally done but instead were created by a 5 year old! Below is an example of one of our Superstar videos. Enjoy!

An Unexpected Teaching Moment

I was out on the playground last week when I heard three girls screaming behind me. They were digging in the sand, building Mount Everest, when an insect flew down and plopped in front of them. I hurried over to see what all the fuss was about and found a moth hobbling in the sand. In my opinion, the moth look scared and wanted to bury itself in the sand probably to get away from all the noise

More and more students were coming over to see all the commotion. The students were pushing and jumping to see the moth. I somehow got the moth onto a leaf. I asked the girls who originally found the moth to take him inside to the classroom so we can place him in a container. It was near the end of recess and we eventually met the girls in the classroom.

To my surprise, the girls had already found a small plastic cup to put the moth in. They had found a cup with small counters in. They dumped the counters out on the table and put the moth inside. I was impressed that they figured out where to put the moth that I wasn't even thinking about the counters all over the place. As the students were washing hands and drinking water, I put the moth at each table so all the students could see the moth.

I then started getting questions about the moth. To be perfectly honest, I do not know a lot about moths. I asked the teacher next door to me if she knew anything but she didn't know either. Instead she had a book about moths and she let us borrow it. I let the three girls who found the moth, take magnified glasses and the book, and allowed them to become scientists.

The girls worked together and studied the moth. They compared it to the moths in the book and found one that was similar to the one they found. As they were being scientist, the rest of us used Google to see if we could find anything. We found one moth that looked similar and read information on it. We had a lot of fun doing research on the moth. At the end of the day, I allowed one of the girls to take it home. I feel that even though it was an unexpected teaching moment, the students will remember it and maybe use the same skills when they find something later in life.

Pumpkin Time!

During our field trip to the pumpkin patch, I did have enough time to choose a Img_0498pumpkin for our class. I  didn't want to purchase a huge pumpkin because it was a walking field trip. I didn't want to carry a huge pumpkin back! I had help from my students and we choose a pumpkin that was just right. The pumpkin sat on our table for a few days. Each day the students would ask what we were going to do with the pumpkin.

Finally the day came when it was time for us to explore the inside of our pumpkin. The students sat on the floor as I passed the pumpkin around so the students could feel how smooth the pumpkin was and how heavy it was. There were many giggles as the students passed the pumpkin around. Many students could not believe how heavy it was. As the pumpkin was being passed around, we talked about how pumpkins grew. I was surprised at how Img_0501_2many students knew many interesting facts about pumpkins.

After the pumpkin was passed around, it was time to open it up. I had a hard time cutting the pumpkin open because I do not have a lot of experience carving a pumpkin. The kids didn't mind though as I took my time being careful not to cut myself. When the top finally opened, I started taking out the seeds. I had many volunteers offering help to take out the seeds. I was surprised to see how many students wanted to stick their hands inside the gooey pumpkin. I allowed every student who wanted to help a chance to take seeds out.

When all the seeds were taken out, I laid them on a paper towel to dry them out before we countedImg_0503_3 them. Being extremely careful, I carved two eyes, a nose, and a mouth onto our pumpkin. The students were very excited throughout the process. When we were finished, I picked quiet tables to sit the pumpkin at. I never had such a quiet room! As soon as every table had a chance with the pumpkin, it was time to count the seeds. There were 557 seeds inside the pumpkin. We made small piles of one hundred seeds to make counting easier. I took the pumpkin seeds home to roast. During our fall celebration, I had the students tasting the seed. I had a few try them and like them. The rest wouldn't touch them!

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