Groundhog Day in K!

Groundhog Day is celebrated in America on February 2 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The legend is that the groundhog comes out of his burrow and if it sees it’s shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather.  If it is cloudy and there is no shadow, it is an indication of an early spring.  Each year we create crafts and make predictions about groundhogs in my kindergarten class.  Here are some ideas:Slide22

  1. Pass out sticky notes and have a chart to make predictions on if the groundhog will see it’s shadow or not on February 2.
  2. Go to the Groundhog Web site to share the history of Punxsutawney Phil and watch the video LIVE STREAM of Punxsutawney.   http://www.groundhog.org/ (You can see the replay here also.)
  3. Use this FREE coloring printable for students to engage in for fine motor skills.
  4. Sing Groundhog Day Poem (Tune: Frere Jacques)Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day

    Is near

    Is near

    Will he see his shadow

    Will he see his shadow

    And disappear

    Disappear

  5. You can make the whole day relate to groundhogs by using activities in all subject areas in this GROUNDHOG DAY UNIT.

Make it a fun day! Students remember connections, not lessons.

School Holiday Door Decorating Contest

This year our school decided to do a door decorating contest.  Although I didn’t win, the contest made the school look festive, challenged teachers to a little friendly competition, provided a fun tour of doors for the kids, and inspired me to share some of my favorites in this blog post. Enjoy!

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Oh Deer Holiday Door Decorating Contest
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Gone to the Beach – First Place Winner – $100 Gift Card

 

 

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Read Your Way Through Some Snowy History Door Contest
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Elves At Work Door Contest
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My Door – Let It Snow Sight Words – Students made sight word snow flakes for the walls and windows.

 

 

Transform Your Classroom into a Movie Theater

I always like to go “all out” during the holidays for my students.  Transforming your classroom is the easiest way to create a magical day for your students to remember forever.  In the past, I used the Polar Express theme for the holidays, but this year I looped up with several of my students from kindergarten to first grade, so I wanted to change my theme to provide a different experience.  I thought about Frozen or WIMG_5905inter Wonder Land, but when I thought about making my classroom into a Movie Theater, it felt perfect!   I could incorporate any movie with the props that I would design or get donated this year and save for future years. The first thing I did was have my students brainstorm ideas for a holiday movie theFullSizeRender (23)y
would like to watch.  They decided on classic holiday movies, like Rudolph, Frosty and The Muppets.  The Muppet’s Christmas Carol was a great fit for the day.  I then found a version of the story on YouTube to show the students the day before of movie day.  I use the story to compare and contrast the story to the movie.IMG_5982

Next I asked parents to for donations by sending a letter home. They donated boxes of various large boxed candies, water bottles wrapped in movie thIMG_5917emed labels, and plastic popcorn holders for the movie theater concession stand.  Our PTA let us borrow the popcorn maker they use at their events, and donated the popcorn. IMG_6112

I called the local movie theater, a local beverage distributor and several sign companies to donate props for the inside and outside of the room for the day.  They all easily said yes.  Just a phone call sometimes will work.  I had one parent agree to help the day prior to the PJs at the Movies Day.  Students always like to wear their pajamas to school, so I wanted to incorporate it.  Decorating took about 4 hours.  Of course you can skip several decoration ideas to make it less time consuming.  We used red bulletin board paper around the movie screen to look like a curtain, but then found cheap red plastic table clothes worked better.  We tied fishing line from the ceiling to hold them up.  The sign companies donated static window clings to stick to the FullSizeRender (21)windows which looked like movie posters, banners to hang in the classroom and Hollywood movie starts for the ground.  We used clear contact paper to write student’s names on and stuck the names on the stars in order to be able to peel them off and reuse them next year.IMG_6070

A parent donated PVC pipes they painted black with a base on the bottom to use and make an aisle.  The students loved waiting in line at the window (Ticket Booth) to get their ticket.  You can make tickets or just buy them from Oriental Trading.  I bought them and used them to pull thrFullSizeRender (22)oughout the day for special trips to the treasure box.  I also found a backdrop, camera center piece, gold starts to hang and a red carpet to roll out there for minimal cost.  At the “ticket booth” students are asked how they are going to pay for the ticket.  I quickly suggest something I see in their hands, like a backpack, folder or their shoe.  This takes about 10 minutes and provides photo opportunities for the parents.

The couple weeks prior to the PJs at the Movies Day, I had students work to create Bios for our Movie Star Bulletin Board.  It made a nice addition to the theme and we could leave the bulletin up for January also.  You can find the free Bio Sheet at my TPT store.

Students wore pajamas, brought a stuffed animal, blanket and enjoyed the movie with a concession/bathroom break.  After the movie we did a Venn diagram of the book and the movie to compare them.  A student said, “This is the best day of my life” at the end of the day.

Halloween Crafts and Centers

Fall is one of my favorite times of year!  Not only does the weather feel nice, but the fall activities for Halloween are so much fun for children and adults to participate in during this season.  Here are some ideas for family fun crafts or classroom centers when you are celebrating the holiday. This is my sweet daughter img_4475sporting a spider hat she personalized with a bow.  There is also a witch hat a child could add.  I let my students go outside and gather fall leaves.  Then they use the leaves to paint and press to drawing paper to make leaf prints.  You can add writing to it to hit some more standards. Want some low prep or no prep simple centers?  Check out the Halloween Centers Pack full of fun ideas like puppets, books, letter id games, pumpkin math, and so much more. Another fun activity is for the students to read Where’s my Mummy by Carolyn Crimi.  You can find the story on You Tube, if you dohalloween-squaren’t have the book.  Have students make their own mummy and use the printable to help them make a Text to Self connection after reading the book.  It makes a cute bulletin board or window display for your parents to enjoy!  No matter what have fun with the children!

halloween-mummy

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Counting and Cardinality in Kindergarten

Primary students learn when best using all their senses.  I always like to provide a hook for each math lesson.  The hook can be a simple two minute video, a short puppet show, a physical object that connects the learner to the lesson and much more.  Then, I like to get them moving before they have to sit and do an activity.  Counting jumping jacks or hops supports the skill of counting while getting their blood pumping.  In kindergarten, it is so important for students to have a strong foundation of numbers in order to prepare them for many life skills and their school future.  Here are some fun and cute printables to help guide your students to understanding counting and cardinality.numbers-1-10-chicken-egg-square

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Before and After Classroom Pictures and a LABOR DAY SALE for Hard Work

Teachers are gearing up for a great school year!  I moved from first grade to kindergarten this year and had to move rooms.  Well, after teaching for almost 20 years, let’s just say I had a lot of stuff.  I threw out a lot and gave good stuff away to the new teachers.  When I arrived to set up my new class, all Labor Day Sale logomy items were piled high in the center of the room.  I had NO CLUE where to start and just stared at the pile for about 10 minutes.  Then, I did a Facebook Live video and got lots of sympathy, which motivated me to make my room into a “Learning Oasis.” I don’t even know why those words came out of my mouth on the video, but they did fly out like a bee attracted to Grandma’s perfume! So, I’m going to show you my before and after photos AND offer you 20% ALL DAY at my Teachers Pay Teachers store on Labor Day, so you can start your school year off right!  Thank you for teaching students (even the difficult ones.)  You all inspire me to keep making new products.  It’s because of all the dedicated teachers out there working hard that our society will expand into a caring community of self-motivated learners.  Have a great year!

You can see my Interactive Word Wall under the clock.classroom

Here are some of my items on SALE MONDAY:

Properties of Matter - Science by Teacher's Brain     Mini Me Square Cover   Fun Glasses BUNDLE Printables     Life Skills Character Building Posters   The Kissing Hand Home Connection Activity - First Week of School    Biography Book Report

 Slide1   All About Me Book for Primary   Play Parent Performance - Musical - Ocean Themed

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Making a Great Open House

Making a great Open House for parents is actually pretty easy with all the tools and technology today.  I like to use simple scavenger hunts for students to help show their parents around the room.  Taking pictures of families helps keep you busy and not be too available for any “parent conference” type of conversations.  I direct parents to the Mini Me Square Coverconference sign up sheets.  I also don’t let volunteers come in the room until after Open House.  In kindergarten, this helps the kids learn the routine without relying on parents.  Some teachers create easy slideshows to show rules, routines or student’s pictures.  I usually have a few All About Me items out, including an All About Me Journal where the parents are encouraged to sit and write a note to their child at the end of the night.  Students make Mini Me Persons that I tape to their chairs that help the room look adorable!  Smile a lot, and show off what you have helped their children learn in the short amount of time they have been with you.

Useful Desk Name Tags

Students in primary grade levels need all the help they can get at their finger tips.  Desk name tags have always been used to help students discover how to spell their name with proper handwriting.  I prefer to use tags that students can use in lessons as a reference.  Tags that have the alphabet, numbers, colors and show right vs. left  are some oFullSizeRender (65)f my favorite useful tools to have at my student’s reach.  We sing the alphabet and students point to each letter.  We do the same with the numbers, colors and hands.  I’m so glad that I waited a week to put the kid’s names on  these tags because we were over-crowded and added a new unit in Kindergarten this year.    What kinds of desk tags do you use in your classroom?

Thanksgiving School Play – Includes Music with Jack Hartmann

Do you want your students to SHINE this year?  Children are so adorable when they are performing for others!  This is a school play I’ve used with my whole grade level on our school’s stage.  You can modify it to just your classroom.  Whatever fits your needs.  Jack Hartmann, one of my favorite musicians in education, has three songs in this play that your students can sing along to while making those parents snap Thankful Festivalphotos! You can find his music HERE.   If you are lucky to live in Florida, he will come to your school to perform.  He is magical with students! There are 70 pages loaded with easy to follow step-by-step directions.  You will also find signs for the students to hold, headbands, editable invitations, editable programs, poems, sign language and tips.  It is nice to have parents stay after to eat lunch with their child.  This way you can get them in to see the student’s classwork.  It is loaded with suggestions to help you be successful.   I hope your parents enjoy it as much as mine do!

If you like this one, I also have an ocean themed play I like to use at the end of the school year.