Friday, December 21, 2012


Construction continues on the igloo.   Students help by holding the jugs together while they dry and then help bring them to the wall to put on.  We are three rows up and will begin the doming of the igloo next!
We played a game as a "team."  

Students took turns rolling the dice, counting the dots as the roller points, and then the whole team colors the spot on the gingerbread man that matches that number.  This game is now in our center area after we have practiced it as a class.  The game is available on TpT and my Freebie Page.  There are 5 different forms (so they cant peek at their neighbors')

TpT Link

On Wednesday, we worked on our presents for the parents!  We made our own wrapping paper, present, and card. 
The making of the wrapping paper worked on their fine motor skills, expressing self creatively through art, and following directions of increasing complexity.  

Making the present consisted of fine motor skills, expressing self creatively through art, and the mathematical skill of shapes, and counting.  

The card worked on fine motor skills, expressing self through writing, and the understanding letters make words, words make sentences, and that all tells somebody something.  I wrote the words on the lines on the board and the students wrote it on their paper.  They did so well I am so proud of them!

We had a snow day on Thursday (and no classes on Friday) so parents were not able to get their gift.  They will receive them on the 2nd of January.  

With the CT tragedy, I received this letter on facebook from a friend: 
If you know a teacher, or have kids in a school, please pass on:
A building has been designated to house the students from Sandy Hook Elementary School. They are in the process of transporting desks, chairs, supplies and so forth to this location.

My neighbor is the president of the Newtown PTA and we met tonight discussing what we can do to make these children feel comforted upon their return to school.
Please join us in "The Snowflake Project".
We are asking your students to make and decorate a snowflake. We will hang them in the hallways at the stark, new building where the Sandy Hook students will be returning. PLEASE NO WORDS! We want just a cheerful, happy (glitter and sparkle) environment for the students entering the new building.
Please pass on to any teachers you think may want to participate.
When you send your snowflakes, please include a note to tell us where they are from (your school, class, town, etc) to display along with your snowflakes. You can send them to me directly, and I will give them to our PTA.
Bonny Marsicano
22 Pine Tree Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470
Thank you so very much!

  Though we are not talking about the tragedy in our class (due to their age as well as our school believing it should be up to the parents to decide how much their young child knows), I thought it would be still very nice for these students to have this gift.  I told the students that some kids are getting a brand new school and they are not getting a snow storm like we are.  We are going to make some snowflakes to make their classroom and school bright, shiny, and fun when they come to their first day of school.  They were excited about it.  I will be shipping them out tomorrow.

Herbie got into quite the mischief this week.  On Monday, he built himself a little fort and played in there.  Tuesday he was reading the book about him!  He was open to the page about him going to Santa and telling what he sees and it is up to Santa to decide what list to put the students on.  I wonder if he was spreading a message?  One Wednesday, he was  hanging from the ceiling on our tree house sign!  Birds eye view of all that was happening in our classroom!  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Snow, Winter

Our theme was Snow and winter again.
In our small group we talked about how all the snowflakes in the whole world are different.  Though some are close, they are all different.  Students put glue on a snowflake however they chose and then chose between rainbow, white, or silver glitter.  They then shook their own snowflake off using their fine motor skills, and then put it on the drying rack.  They are on our 3D tree in our classroom and look great!

We have been practicing The Gingerbread Man.  We have been practicing the role playing of the skit and showing how a story can be made into parts. Students are very excited.  

We also made snowmen.  I had printed three circles on white paper with a 30pt thickness line to allow ample cutting room.  Students wrote their own name on their paper.  They then cut out the three snowballs out.  They then put them in size order, small, middle big to make a snowman.  I gave students the choice to decorate the snowman with their scraps and/or crayons.  Students chose both options and they turned out great.

Through out the week, students come into the room looking for the trouble Herbie got into during the week.  He was hiding on the pencil sharpener on Monday and Tuesday, we think he liked it because it goes around and around.  The kids thought this was funny when I demonstrated!  (pathetic save, I know :-/) Wednesday he had drawn on the board!  It was a Christmas tree, his picture and his name.  We couldn't believe it!  Thursday he was perched up in the 3D tree just hanging out watching!  He is holding a piece of paper a student wrote his name on yesterday.  He was so happy a friend thought of him he HAD to show Santa!

I found a project in which the students can make an igloo IN the classroom.  (How to make a Gallon Igloo).

Igloo Progress

Afternoon class helped us make a circle.  One student held the middle
of the string and we went around the circle, each student applying
tape around the circle

Taping in progress

Taping in progress

Making our way around the circle

The circle is complete.  We did it!

This many friends fit in it right now!

I put the hot glue on the milk jugs, and then passed it
to the students.  They held it together while the glue dried

After students left today I finished gluing everything together and got as far as I could with the jugs we had.  This is a total of 48 milk jugs so keep them coming so we can build it up!  Also, upon reading the directions again, they did use some half gallon jugs as well.  If you have some bring them in!  I am so excited for them to play in the igloo!

Skills used thus far: counting jugs, sorting caps, making a circle, team work, taking turns, following directions of increasing complexity.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Snow, Elf on a Shelf, & The Grinch

Our theme was Snow and winter.  

We read The Elf on the Shelf and introduced Herbie to the class on Monday.  Students were told they could write a letter to Herbie while he was watching and it would get to Santa.  I saw more students writing than I had ever seen before! They were trying to sound out words, write letters they had never written before and more!  It was amazing to see!

In our small group we worked on patterning with snowflakes.  We started with an AB pattern and if students were able to complete that we moved onto an AAB or an ABB pattern.  Students are doing very well with patterning. This product was not mine, but can be found at the following link: Click here for source of snowflake patterning.

Tuesday we read The Gingerbread Man.  We began practicing the role playing of the skit and showing how a story can be made into parts.  Students were very enthusiastic about it!  On Wednesday we assigned parts and began practicing.  Students are very excited.  We are doing this in a reader's theater style, I read the stories and the students in those parts reenact it as I am reading.  

We read The Grinch that Stole Christmas on Wednesday focusing on the first two pages; The Grinch hated Christmas because his heart was 3 sizes to small.  He needed to learn about love before it could grow.  We then made a large Grinch for our classroom and are going to write the kind things we see our friends doing that made our heart grow and showed us love.  So far it is off to a slow start, but as we talk about it I feel they will get the hang of it.  I will encourage this to be a writing activity as well, brining in letter sounds and seeing if they can help with any of the letters while writing it out.  We also watched the cartoon movie of The Grinch that Stole Christmas.  Children enjoyed the change of pace.  

They also began a measuring unit with snowflakes. We measured how many "big snowflakes" tall we were, and measured how many small snowflakes a variety of objects were in our room. We then wrote these numbers on our data sheets.

Freebie available on TPT

Through out the week, students come into the room looking for the trouble Herbie got into during the week.  He was hiding in our drop bucket (where we put a drop in when we made good choices) on Tuesday.  He must be looking how many great choices we had made thus far to tell Santa all about them!  On Wednesday, I caugt him coming into the classroom when I turned on the lights and he had to hang from a rope on or window all day until we went home.  Thursday, he must have gotten hungry, he was sitting in a bowl full of home living food!

Organization, Jobs, & Line Up Procedure

 I purchased this set of drawers they day after Thanksgiving for a great deal.  I used the bigger packaging labels to write the  label for the drawers.  The perfect thing about these drawers is that they are not to deep. This depth allows to break down my sorting rather than the large drawers you see a bit of on the left of the photo.  (Those are my daily bins, art supplies and all the supplies for that day go in there.  This makes that depth ideal for that activity.) 

RSVP-as part of the 4k program, we are required to have 80 planned parent child hours.  This includes events planned monthly by the district as well as a separate reading night planned by the teacher, as well as seasonal activities and field trips.  I put the little rsvp slips I get in here as well as my checklist of who has turned them in for easy access.  

Grade- Though I dont do much "grading" in 4k, when I collect assignments I do write short notes on their progress or what they do and do not understand.  Once done in here, I put them in their folders to go home.  

Copy- I put the copies I need to make for the week as well as things that come up to copy in this drawer.  Drawers are removable, so I pull this drawer out and take it with me to the copy room.  It works well to bring things back in then as well.

Reading with the Stars- This is the monthly reading program I do with the students and for the parent hours.  I put the stars the decorate with the monthly reading calendars, any copies for that month's event, and any other supplies needed for the event (a list of if to large).  This way I can pull this drawer out on event night and hand out supplies.

ABC Books- Each week for the letter of the week, students color a coloring book page with an image that starts with that letter, a bubble letter decorated with something that depicts that letter (letter of the week page), and a hand print activity that depicts that letter (letter of the week page).  I then file these letters into a big file box to make an ABC book at the end of the year/alphabet.  I put them in this drawer when done when they need to be filed by student name.

Classroom Helpers- I have classroom moms and grandmas that come in pretty regularly  to help out.  They often ask what they can do to help.  I realized I was 1 wasting time when I had to stop and think of something for them and 2. not using them to their full potential.  I created this drawers so I could collect things through out the week for the next week for them to do. I then can pull the drawer out, give short directions and continue teaching.  I also put a part in my lesson plans to think of things I may need, which I then take and put in here.  

Make up Work- In 4k there is not a lot that I have the students make up that they may have missed, but I do want to make sure they all get a complete alphabet book (at least the handprints) at the end of the year.  If they are not at school I put the sheet with their name on it in here.  On a short week when we do not have a letter of the week, I pull students aside and catch up on all these handprints.  

Literacy Bags- Weekly the students take home literacy bags to work on with their parents. These bags are included in the parent/child hour we log as well.  I use this to keep the originals (there are worsheets in each bag that need to be replenished weekly) as well as the checklist of who has had what bag thus far.  

Table Time- School starts at 8:00am, but students arrive as early as 7:45 for "early drop off"  I originally had the students playing while they waited for the day to start.  The problem was clean up was taking much to long in our morning.  I came up with (it was suggested by veteran teachers) table time in which they work on an activity at the table that does not take long, but is teaching vital skills.  They turn these in and I then put them in my "grade" drawer, evaluate, and send home.  They are doing very well with the routine in the morning, and this gives me a great place to store ideas to throw out in the morning.  

I created a job list for every student in my class as suggested by Conscious Discipline.  It is available at TPT (

Each student is assigned a job weekly.  This has helped greatly with "everyone being a team player"

I noticed a problem my class was having was often at line up time.  "I was there first" "I want to be first" "what is my job?" Etc.  I also couldn't remember who had certain jobs and certain jobs should be in certain places in line:  my door holder should be towards the front to hold the door for everyone rather than the back, door closer should be towards the back, etc.

My solution was to print the student's job chart a second time (in black and white to save my school on color printing) and contact paper them to the floor so that students stand on their job when in line.  Only one person has each job, the students remember their job, and I already have their place picked out in the line in a logical order.

It has helped GREATLY in line up time, classroom management, as well as classroom safety.