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More Planet Movies

Here are two more planet movies:

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:

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.

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.

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.

Nocturnal Animals

We spent the whole week learning about nocturnal animals. During a whole group lesson, we used Google to search for nocturnal animals. The students are becoming familiar with Google. When the students started building Mount Everest on the playground, I had many students ask me information about the mountain. We used Google to find pictures and information about it.

After we search for nocturnal animals, the students made a list of the animals. I let the students use clip boards as we made a list. The students wrote the animal's name and then drew a picture to illustrate the word. I had the students raise their hands to name a nocturnal animal. Then I wrote the word on the chart paper and the students copied it. Last, I did my best to draw the animals. I had many terrible drawings but the students kept encouraging me and telling me they were great.

Another great activity I did with the students was creating an illustration on Kidpix. I drew a tree in the middle of the page. On one side of the tree, I painted the background black to represent nighttime. The other side of the tree I painted blue to represent daytime. Using the stamps Kidpix provides, we sorted the nocturnal animals from the non-nocturnal animals.

The students became a little excited during this activity. Mainly it was because I did not know all the features on the software. I had to ask for directions on how to do something. It gave the students confidence and it showed them that I did not know everything. I was impressed at how well the students knew how to do different things with Kidpix. Some of the features are taught during computer class, but most of them are self taught when they have free time on the computer.

Click here to browse more early childhood animal themed activities!

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.

Science Table

Science has always been hard for me to teach. Out of all the subjects, I have the hardest time coming up with a science activity for my students to do. I'm always looking online or asking co-workers for ideas. You can find many science activities and articles on Early Childhood Today. If anyone has any other great science website for early childhood education, please share the site with us in the comments.

Img_0497I came across the idea for a science center before I even started teaching. At first, I used a desk for the science table but I have acquired many new things that I started using the back counter. The science table is a collection of science objects that the students can explore. I have added rocks, shells, sea glass, snake skin, a bird's nest, science books, games, etc. I always have magnified glasses for the students to study the objects. As the school year goes by, students have been bringing in objects from home. I also have students finding objects on the playground and bringing them in for the science table.

I started collecting so many of the same objects that I started using the Zip-lock bags with the easy zipper for the students to add to the collection. The Zip-lock bags make the science table a little more organized. During our afternoon play centers, the students are allowed to visit the science table. Img_0493_2

To add to the science table, I started letting my students bring out magnify glasses and binoculars out  to the playground during recess. Each day the students take turns with the magnify glasses and binoculars. I don't have enough for all the students. The   Img_0492students use the tools to explore the playground. I like having them explore the playground because it is a place we visit every day and they have free range to explore what they like.

The science table is not the only thing I do for science but I do thing it encourages the students to become involved in the world around them. The only thing I asked of the parents in the beginning of the year is to make sure their child does not bring in live snakes or bugs!

Five Senses

Last week we learned about the five senses: touch, hear, see, smell, and taste. I started the week with touch. I made a four square on my classroom floor out of painter tape and labeled each square rough, smooth, soft, and hard. I started the lesson by finding examples for each square. After allowing each student to feel the different textures, I had the students one by one find other objects to add to our square. I liked doing this activity on Monday because as the week went by the students were bringing objects from home and sorting them in our four square.


Tuesday we focused on hearing. I took the students for a walk around campus and had them use their ears very carefully. I made sure to take them out to the playground and pass the P.E. pavilion. When we returned to the classroom, the students shared what they heard. I recorded their thoughts on a graph that sorted Human Made Noises and Nature Made Noises.

Wednesday we did seeing. I had the students find a partner and look over their friends' very carefully. I let them observe their friends eye color, hair color, clothes, etc. After one minute, I blindfolded them and had them describe their friends. As they were describing their friends there was a lot of laughing. The kids had a great time!

Thursday I had the students smell the "smells cups". The smell cups were made by my co-workers. They filled Dixie cups up with different scents like perfume, chocolate powder, pepper, lemon juice, peanut butter, and garlic. The cups were covered with wax paper and little holes were poked into the top. We sat in circle and passed the cups around. I had many shocked faces when they smelled the cups.

I saved tasting for Friday. I brought in sour worms for sour, M&Ms for sweet, pretzals for salty and bakers chocolate for bitter. I saved the bakers chocolate for last. I made sure they saved M&Ms for after they tasted the bakers chocolate. I had students running towards the water fountain because it tasted so bad!

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