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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.

Teaching Space with Bookflix

This week I introduced space with books with Scholastic BookFlix. Bookflix is a book resource that takes a subject and presents it with a fiction and non-fiction book. Each book provides users with additional resources that help students expand their knowledge on the topic.

Since we were learning about space, I had the students begin the day with watching Happy Birthday Moon by Frank Asch. The students enjoyed watching the story on the computer. The story is presented with animation and background music that sets the mood of the story. The students are able to follow along as the narrator reads the story as each word becomes highlighted.

Happy Birthday Moon has follow Puzzlers that help the students build their comprehension questions. I enjoyed the puzzle Which Came First? Here the students place the sequence of events in order. I thought it was clever that Scholastic provided ways for younger users to listen to the direction. The students click on the ear and then are able to listen to what they need to do.

After watching Happy Birthday Moon in the morning, I had the students watch the non-fiction book Updated: The Moon. Here the students were able to physically click through the fiction book on the moon. They could either drag the top corner of the page to switch pages or click the green arrow. Students have the option to read the story on their own or listen as the narrator reads the story. Words are also highlighted through the book. These words are vocabulary words. The reader can roll their mouse over the words and listen to the definition.

There are puzzlers for the non-fiction book as well. One of the puzzles is a word match that follows up with the vocabulary words. There is one more puzzle that compares the two books and asks the students to decide if the statement is fact or fiction. 

I also found that it offers a biography on Frank Asch. I thought it was a great way for the students to relate to the author. Again for young readers, it has the option to listen to the biography or for older readers to read it. For teachers there is also a section to extend the lesson online. Scholastic provides websites that reinforce the lesson on space.

Overall, I was impressed with the product. I will always believe teachers should not let the computer to the teaching but let technology enhance learning. This site does have a free trial that I strongly believe you should check out. There are many stories and many topics to choose from!

100th Day Podcasts

This week, I noticed I haven't done any podcasting with my class in awhile. I decided I wanted to do two podcasts with my students for the 100th day of school. While we were recording our podcasts, I noticed how comfortable they were talking into the microphone compared to the beginning of the school year when they were afraid to talk. Podcasting is just like anything else. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become.

The first podcast we recorded was our class book "If I had $100 I would ______". The students had aIMG_0902   blast coming up with ideas of what they would buy. I had many students ask me what I would buy and when I told them I would buy an IPhone, I had one student tell me that I would need more money because an IPhone cost $200 instead of $100. All I could do was laugh. Below is our podcast. Please be patience as it downloads.

Download If i had $100

Our second podcast was the entire class counting to 100. In the beginning of the school year, I had my students listen to my previous class count to 100. I had many students ask if we could record our class counting. I made a deal with them. I told them when everyone in our class could count to 100 we would record. I had many determine students come to me and count. Before I knew it, my whole class knew how to count to 100. I decided to wait to our 100th day of school to record them. Below is our podcast count to 100. Enjoy!

Download Count to 100

Africa

Africa_googleearth

This week we are learning about Africa. I have to admit, I do not have many books or activities for Africa. I have many activities that involve the animals of Africa, but not many activities about the country. I have always thought back to the activities I have done in the past and thought I could do better. I have been thinking about what I could do Africa for weeks.

I was saved this morning when I received an email from a friend who is enlisted in the Navy. His ship is in Africa! I thought to go along with our map lesson, we could following him as he sails from port to port using Google Earth. I thought we could connect with Africa by having someone we communicate with actually in Africa.

I have done activities with my friend in the past. He would send us pictures of the places he has visited and we send him emails about what we are doing. It's a great way to explore geography and include ways to send letters. In the past, he has visited our class, but unfortunately this year he will be gone till August.

I also thought it would be neat to explain the time difference. I'm sure there is a way I can download a clock on my computer that tells the time in Africa. The kids would see that it was dark in Africa when we were in school. There is a feature on Google Earth that allows the user to see what places are sunny and what places are dark. The button is located near the top and has a sun and cloud on it. You can have your class track the sun throughout the day. I feel the more we relate things we are doing to Africa, the more the students would understand that Africa is different than here. I'll keep you posted on what we are doing and what I find throughout the week on Africa.

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!

Teaching Winter to Florida Kids

Growing up, I understood the concepts of the four seasons. I have experienced leaves changing color in the fall, snow falling in the winter, new flowers growing in the spring, and summer being the hottest month. I remember bundling up to play in the snow and waiting for the two months out of the year that it was warm enough to go swimming in the ocean.

When I moved to Florida, that all changed. Floridians like to joke about having three seasons throughout the year: hot, hotter and hottest. I have friends that have never seen trees without leaves let alone snow. I am guilty to wearing flip flops and shorts throughout the entire year. When we do have a day where the temperature drops to the 30s, it really is the end of the world for us.

This is the time of year, where I have to teach my students about winter. I spend three weeks teaching the following themes: winter, arctic animals, and bears. All the topics have to do with snow and cold weather. The two things that Florida lacks! It's challenging for me because I have experiences where I can look back to relate to the topics. But for most of my students, they do not have any previous experiences with the topics.

To help give my students gain a better understanding of winter, I read as many books about winter as I can. I need to read my class stories to build a background on winter. I also find pictures on the internet that shows my students examples of winter concepts. I also have the fake snow where the students can touch and see a form of snow. The fake snow is better than nothing!

I spent time this week writing about different articles of clothing that we could wear in the winter. I did have some students become confused because what they wear in the winter is different than a child who  lives in the north. I remind them of the cold days that we rarely have and ask them if they could wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts.

Present Movies

On my way home from Thanksgiving weekend at my parents I came up with an exciting idea to do with my students for a holiday project. I had over two and a half hours to think about it in the car as I was stuck in holiday traffic. I got to school Monday morning and went straight to our computer teacher Mrs. Paul. I told her I had a brainstorm for a project but I needed her help. I was sincerely gratefully as she nodded her head and jumped feet first into this project.

I went into this project knowing that it would take the three weeks left before winter break to complete the project. For older students it would probably take shorter amount of time but working with kindergartners I gave myself plenty of time.

I titled the project "My Present". The students were to draw a present using Kidspix and write clues to what the present is. I began the project by showing the students a completed movie that I created. I then gave the paper to write their script. The script had the students completing the sentence "My present is _____." In the blank, the students wrote clues that described their present. I had help from Mrs. Paul during the writing process. Most of the students understood that we were writing clues. I had a few students who needed help and between the two of us, we finished the writing part of the project in one day.

The next day the students went to the computer lab and worked with Mrs. Paul. There the students drew two pictures using Kidspix. The first picture was a picture of the present. The second picture was the answer to what was in the present. Kidspix has a great feature that allows the user to export the pictures as a JPEG. I carefully organized all these pictures by creating a folder for each of my students on my computer.

Over the next two weeks, I recorded my students reading their script using Audacity. I did most of the recording during our quiet time after recess where the students are drinking water and reading their library books. I saved the recording of each student in their folder where I saved their pictures.

When it was time for me to complete the movie, it was very easy for me to locate the two pictures and audio files because all the files I needed were in the student's folders. It took me an afternoon to upload the pictures and audio files into Windows Movie Maker and create the videos. I thought about having the students complete the videos in Movie Makers but I decided not for this project. I thought at the end of the year, I would do a similar project and have them use Movie Maker. Here are two examples of the completed videos:

Please be patient as the videos load:

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Early Childhood Teacher are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.