Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lakeshore Learning and STEM

I don't know about you all, but since my very first days of teaching I've been in LOVE with Lakeshore Learning.  Getting a new Lakeshore catalog is like when my kids receive the Toys R Us Christmas catalog.   Lakeshore never disappoints and their products just simply get better and better. 

With all of the new standards and the emphasis on "21st Century Skills" I was so excited when I saw that Lakeshore now has a whole section of products dedicated to STEM.  If you don't already know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. As you may know from reading this blog, I'm all about hands on learning, open ended questions and having students explore and discover.  These products are amazing for encouraging this.  

Lakeshore offered me a chance to check out one of their new items and I jumped at the chance. One of our standards first grade Physical Science is Motion and Materials.  I knew I had to have the "Engineer-A-Coaster Activity Kit" to help teach this topic. 

Below are some pictures of my students using the coaster kit in our classroom. I love watching them try out different configurations to see what might work.  They love seeing how fast they can make it roll. The kit also provides cards for suggested coasters. Seeing them work together to follow a plan is also so exciting.  

Not only is this a great learning tool, it's also become a favorite at indoor recess.  I don't know about you, but we haven't been outside in months! It makes this teacher's heart happy that my students have something educational, that promotes problem solving while they are stuck in doors.  

In fact we love it so much, I can't wait to purchase more.  These are a few of the products on my list to buy.

If you want to check out all the great STEM activities on Lakeshore, as well as everything else amazing they offer, you can click HERE. Make sure you click the link, as it will give my readers 20% off each purchase until March 31, 2015! 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites, Chapters 1 & 2

I'm linking up with Elizabeth from Kickin' It In Kindergarten for our book study on the book Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites. As I read this book, I'm finding some fun new ideas to use in my classroom, but more so, it's giving me the affirmation that what I'm doing in my classroom is best practice. I always want to do what is best for my kids and I'm happy to read that we're on the right track. 

In Chapter 1 they discuss brainstorming and discussion.  I'm big believer in these two things and below are some ways I use them in my classroom as well as some ways I would like to improve. 
 I totally agree that classrooms shouldn't be quiet. I love when my students are working together to solve problems, answer questions and complete projects.  I'm a big believer in small groups and I use these in many ways.  Below my kiddos had to work together to determine the most important parts of the story they read.  I loved hearing them debate as they had to decide together what they should write. Later they worked as a group to present their ideas to the class. 
Here are my students sharing the stories they wrote. Their partner told them some of the GLOWS in their writing, the things they loved that they did as an author.  Giving each other feedback is so empowering.  
I wish I had more pictures, but in addition to turn and talk, our discussions during Shared Reading and working in small groups, we also have weekly team meetings.  We sit in a circle and share as a group pretty much anything that is on our mind.  We brainstorm ways to solve problems we see in the classroom, I ask my students to tell me the activities from the week that they loved and those that really weren't much fun.  We talk about how we can change things to make them better for their learning styles.  It's a powerful time y'all. The other day they said they weren't crazy about our Calendar Binders. They wished we could practice those skills in other ways.  I had them give me some ideas and told them I would work on some things.  And guess what?... We took our calendar binders home and I took the challenge to find ways to make practicing the concepts more exciting.  

Chapter 2 was all about the arts in our classroom. This chapter focused on drawing, dancing and using music in the classroom. "When children play, draw, dance and sing, they engage every sense and help wire the neurons for learning successfully."-Sousa
If there is an area where I feel is my strength, it's incorporating many different types of learning in my classroom. I love using music and dance to teach.  In addition I believe that drawing and art certainly has a place in a classroom.  Below is a picture of my students retelling a story by acting it out. 
Students artwork makes my heart happy.  Here are a few reader's response sheets where students respond through illustrations. 

Each week we also read a poem that goes with our theme.  At the end of the week my kids take their poem home in the Poetry section of their Go Book.  Before taking it home, we have them use their mental images from the poem to illustrate it. We talk about how we use illustrations as readers to figure out tricky words and help us better understand stories, and they also have to be able to create illustrations to help readers.  

During our data unit, students were able to represent their data in many different ways.  These elves are just too cute. 
So I hope after reading these few chapters you are charged to do something new.  There are tons of blogs joining this book study, and I'm sure going to check them out and see what other great things are happening in classrooms around the world that also believe that... "Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites." 

To Link up (click on the blue button on Elizabeth's Blog) and prepare for your chapter 3 discussion over at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten on Tuesday! Here is the rest of the schedule and you can join in at anytime!
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First  Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump’s Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade  Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle’s Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica’s Ed Ventures  Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
The Inspired Apple Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin’ it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)
If you are not a blogger (which is totally fine!!!) we still want to hear from you! Leave a comment below to let us know how you are incorporating this book in your classroom!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Happy Friday!

I was going to link up with Five for Friday, but really, I can barely keep my eyes open for three things, so I'll just share this random post with y'all. 

This week we studied penguins. I love this unit. We have so much fun. 
Here are my kiddos trying out the blubber glove. Yes, that's water all over my floor. 
Practicing penguin parenting and keeping the egg off the ice.
One of the many activities from our nonfiction penguin reading unit.  I just love how smart my kiddos have become.  They amaze me. 
Penguin 3.5 paragraphs. 

I'm so excited for next week. We love celebrating Read Across America week.  
We'll be doing many fun activities and my Silly Centers. 

And finally...
I haven't been the best blogger or creator of new things and I just want to say I'm sorry. I do have to say, I've enjoyed the break.   For the first time in a while I took time for myself. I've tried really hard to keep up with being a mom, wife, blogger, teacher, and creator of new activities for the past few years.  And over the last month or so I decided to take time to just breathe.  I actually sat and watched TV. And it felt good. Now I'm back, and can't wait to share some fun new ideas. 
But I will say, I've enjoyed my shows. 

Do y'all watch these? And this is why I can't blog or workout. It doesn't really look good on me. So I'll spring into this next month determined. Until then, I'm going to jump off and watch what I've DVR'd.  :) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Super Teacher Sale

I'm super excited because TpT is finally having a sale! I am starting to stock my cart tonight. I'll be joining in the fun.  Below are links to many of my most popular products and products I'll be using this spring and summer.   

Button courtesy of Karen Jones
Image Map

Image Map Image Map Image Map

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It's all about Penguins!

Last week I had all my Presidents activities ready to go and then just like that we were snowed in for 5 days.  We actually had 2 days off for extreme cold.  Now, I'm totally not complaining, because I welcome a good unplanned winter break, but I'm about over winter.  If I could wear flip flops, I would be a happy girl.  So we're moving on, and going Arctic, to fit with our weather, and studying penguins. Last year I created a nonfiction literature unit on Penguins. It covers tons of the common core and my kiddos loved learning about Penguins. This year I also created a unit for the adorable book, Tacky the Penguin. I had lots of requests for a new unit on Tacky, and I finally completed it.  

Below are previews of both units:

Tacky will be on sale through this evening. You can click on either of the pictures above to check them out. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites, Starting February 28th!

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for."- Socrates

As teachers we should always be trying to improve ourselves. There are times in our career when we just get tired, we feel less passionate and we need rejuvenation.  We need a reminder that what we do is one of the most important jobs in the world.  We are put here to change the lives of children, to make their learning memorable and give them experiences that will help them to grow.   I can tell you that I've had many of these moment and thankfully just when I need it, an experience comes along that breathes new life in me again.  After visiting the Ron Clark Academy, we were all so inspired to find new ways to reach our kiddos!  My sweet friends suggested we do a book study and I was all over it. I'm so excited!   
Starting February 28th, we are going to be hosting a linky party each Tuesday and Saturday with chapters from this book:
Linky parties will take place on these different blogs each time. Here is the order so you can plan accordingly :)
Kickin it in Kindergarten- Chapters 1 &2 (February 28th)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump's Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica's Ed Ventures Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)
You can join in for whatever part you like! If you are not a blogger, that is OK! We will want you to join in on the fun. You can participate in the conversation in the comments. We want this to be a positive collaboration between teachers! The whole point is to encourage each other with inspiring ideas while still using research based best practice.
We hope you will join! Here is a YouTube video where you can hear a little more about what the book is about.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Smorgasbord

As you may remember last summer I did a linky party called Sunday Smorgasbord. Because I have so much randomness inside this little head of mine today, I thought I'd bring it back just for this week.  


Last week we celebrated Valentine's Day with lots of crazy fun, but my favorite learning activity is also party.  While we learned all about economics during the week, we ended our unit with our Sweetheart Shop.  My students started their party with "Cupid Cash".  They each had $12.00 to spend in my store.  They knew they were the consumer and I was the producer. We talked about how I was providing them with goods, so they could create their Valentine bags.  They also learned the hard lesson of scarcity.  They all wanted things they either could not afford, or things that were no longer left, because of supply and demand.  What better way to learn these things than with concrete examples and hands on experiences.  

 A hot ticket item that taught them all about scarcity.
 Eager shoppers!
 A finished product.

In addition to learning all about economics, we also read Love, Splat.  I just love that cat and I'm not a cat girl.  Who doesn't love kiddo illustrations. My kids are super talented and smart! 
We are also loving practicing fluency. My kiddos really enjoy timing each other on their phrases. 
These 3 products are amazing for fluency.  
We love Cara's passages and her roll a phrase work! 
These phrase cards are perfect for practicing sight words. 
 I'm using Katie's homework fluency stories as a home to school connection. 

Random #3
This week we'll be reading Duck for President and doing presidential centers. Here are a couple of freebies for you. A write the room center and listening center.

Random #4
My sweet hubby bought me these pretty earring for Valentine's Day because he know how much I love Kendra Scott! 

 Of course another pair, made me itch for more, so I had to check out Nordstrom's sales.  They have some great deals right now.  They also have 6% back on Ebates, which to me is like getting free money, so I might just have to buy these things in my cart. 

Random #5
My students have been working so hard to become great writer's this year. Now we just have to add more detail.  The best way I know to get my kiddos to make their writing more exciting is to add adjectives. I can't wait to use my friend Hope's activity Suzie Adjective.  Her stuff just makes my teacher heart so happy.