Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, September 27, 2013

E is for elephants and eggs

E is definitely for elephant!  We are very lucky to be close to the Fort Worth Zoo, where there are hundreds of amazing animals.  Every year we buy season passes to the zoo, so we can go as often as we want.  Here's one of our favorite photo spots...
 It isn't every time we go that we get to see elephants taking a bath, but this week we did!
 Best of all, this summer the Fort Worth Zoo welcomed 2 baby elephants to their herd - and we got to watch them playing.  Bowie was trumpeting and racing around, while Bluebell stayed close to her mother.
Another fun activity I like to do this week is smashing eggshells.  I saw this idea on www.babble.com last year, and my kiddos love it!  We had eggs for lunch one day, and I saved and washed the shells.  A box, a mallet, and safety glasses rounded out the materials needed.  This is a free, fun, sensory activity that children (and adults!) enjoy!

 I saved all the crushed shells in a zippered baggie, added food coloring and just enough rubbing alcohol to disperse the coloring, and made dyed egg shells.  Once they were dry, the children wrote large letter Es in pencil, and then wrote over them in glue before adding the crushed shells.  This was another sensory activity for the children, as well as a letter review and glue practice.  We got some bang for our buck out of our scrambled eggs!
 I found an awesome Humpty Dumpty activity on skellyskindergarten.blogspot.com. A hard boiled Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, then fell on various surfaces.  The children first predicted (a fancy science word for guessed) whether Humpty would break when he fell on each surface. 

 Humpty Dumpty did not break when he fell on the cotton balls!  He still looks so happy.
 All the children agreed that he was sure to break when he fell all the way to the floor, with no protective surface.  We did a count down from 10, and let him go on 0...
 Oh! Smashed!
 Here's the recording sheet I created to go with the activity. 
 We also enjoyed playing with plastic Easter eggs and finding the letters hidden inside.  We sorted the letters into Ee and Not Ee.

One of our friends is having a birthday, so she and two friends made birthday cake with me.  This was her first time to crack an egg, so I held her hands and helped her.  Next time she'll know how to do it all by herself!

Finally, we finished off the week with a cute Elmo craft that I found at TheCleverFeather.blogspot.com.  While I usually prefer art projects to crafts, this one offered so much that I had to use it.  The children got to tear the red paper into small pieces, an excellent fine motor activity to strengthen little fingers, and to prepare them for future writing activities.  They used scissors to cut out circles, a half circle and an oval - both another fine motor skill and a review of shapes, and then they had to squeeze the glue out of the bottle (more strengthening those hand muscles) to stick on all the parts.  Who could resist Elmo?!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Puddle Stomping

As adults, we know how we are supposed to experience the world, the "right" way to be, the social conventions that we are expected to follow.  Not so children; the world is new and fresh and exciting, and the possibilities endless.   Take a rainy day for example.  Stay inside?  Wear shoes?  Stay dry? 

Every child needs to dance in the rain, run barefoot in the grass, and stomp in puddles sometimes.  If there isn't time or permission to do those things now, when will there ever be?  So out we went, barefoot, to enjoy the puddles and a little light rain.  We felt the grass under our feet...

 Walked on rain-slick stones and soft dirt, brushed past the rose bushes laden with rain drops...
 ...and welcomed the drops on our faces and bodies.

 The crape myrtle flowers hung low with the weight of rain held in their petals, until we brushed them and then shook them, and were showered.
 "I found a creature!"  Snails were eating a mushroom, so we got down close and watched, their snail meal as fascinating as any toy.

 Welcome raindrops!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

C is for cookie!

 Click!  On Monday we enjoyed cameras for snack.  I gave each child a graham cracker with peanut butter on it, a round cookie, and 3 candies, and they created their own camera snacks.  Of course, they had to snap a few pictures with them before eating them!
On Tuesday, I overestimated both the kiddos, and myself, with a Very Hungry Caterpillar lunch.   I thought I'd make a lunch that included lots of the foods the caterpillar ate on Saturday, the day he got a tummy ache.  We had watermelon, a slice of cheese and a slice of pepperoni (I didn't have salami, oops),  a corn bread muffin, and a variety of pickles to choose from.  The caterpillar needed one nice green leaf to make his tummy feel better, so I included a spinach leaf, and we had a very small piece of chocolate cake for dessert.  Lots of the same foods, right?  Really cute, right?  Make a lot of literacy connections, yes?   Well.  Yes.  Same foods, cute, literacy connections... but they didn't want to eat it.  The pepperoni, pickles and even the corn bread had strong flavors, and apparently a plain cheese slice isn't for eating, so the only food everyone ate was watermelon.  
 At snack time, I was much smarter, and served the fruits the caterpillar ate through during the week: apples, oranges, strawberries, pears and plums.  Every morsel of this fruit was devoured, while we listened to the story on tape, and I used my flannel board to act it out.

Here is the lower case c craft one of the kiddos made.
On Wednesday, we looked at a piece of art called Castle and Sun, by Paul Klee.  We talked about all the parts of the castle, noticed and named all the geometric shapes in the piece, talked about how we build our block castles from the bottom up, and could build our art castles that way too.  Next we set to work, building great castle art.

 Look how beautiful our art work is!  You can see all of our castles on Artsonia if you follow this link.

On Thursday we read books about cows, and made the cutest cow project, which I found here. We started by drawing flowers around the perimeter (there's that vocabulary again) of our paper with crayons.  We pushed hard, so the crayon would show through a watercolor wash really well. 

Later in the day we made some very geometric cows, reviewing lots of shape words again, while also practicing scissor and gluing skills.  Here are the cows, grazing in our fields of flowers.  You can see more of our cows on this link to Arstonia.

On Friday, we did one last exciting activity for Cc, we baked cookies.  Every child helped to put in one ingredient, and to stir the dough.  

We had warm cookies and milk for snack, and of course, bit the cookies into the shape of the letter c!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Kindergarten math

If you have young children, and you haven't checked out Harry Kindergarten on youtube.com yet, you really must!  Mr Harry really teaches kindergarten, and shares all the learning videos he makes for free, on youtube.com.  We love his songs, and use one during our singing and dancing time almost every week.

Last week we watched Add Em Up, a chant about adding 1, from 1 - 10.  The kiddos sang along and showed the numbers with their fingers, they all understood counting on to the next number.  Later in the week, working with my kindergarteners, we sang the song again, and used unifix cubes to act it out.  The kiddos wanted to do it over and again, so we did.

Next we sang it again, but used the cuisinaire blocks to show adding one each time.  The kiddos hadn't realized that the blocks could represent numbers, and were fascinated.

Exploring with the blocks, we were able to add them up to 10 in a lot of different ways.  As we finished putting this together, one of the kiddos exclaimed, "It's the same!"  We played around for a while with matching the sets of blocks, seeing how 9+1 = 1+9.  This is a really important concept for young kiddos to understand, so I was thrilled to see that connection happening!
Another of our daily math activities is math journals.  We're starting the year off by focusing on each number, making sure the children really "get" what they mean.  We're looking at ways to represent numbers, and learning how to write each one, essential foundation skills to master.  Here's a look at one of our pages, in progress:
Sorry it is upside down!  You can see that we write the numeral, the number word (if they use beautiful handwriting I "let" them do it again in color pencils), put on the correct number of stickers, make a tally, a ten frame, a clock, and dice.  That's a lot of ways to show a number!  I would love to say I came up with this all by myself, but the truth is, I've been looking at a lot of blogs, and some worksheets, and decided these were the skills I wanted to work on.  Thank you to all the teachers who have shared their ideas!

Here's another activity we're doing, this one from Dr. Jean.  It's her Macarena Count to 100, which we also watch on Youtube.com.  We sang the song as each child pointed to the numerals on their 100 chart - which gave me an opportunity to see how well they could match them.  Good news, they did an awesome job.
 To challenge their 100 chart knowledge, I copied the chart onto colored paper, and created "puzzles" out of them.  We started with 4 pieces puzzles, which were too easy.
 I told them the 8 piece puzzles were harder, and they were!  Do you think this child is pleased to have completed it?  Oh yes!
 The children insisted that the puzzles were still too easy, so I played along, and gave them each a colored page, to make their own.  They were sure they could make their puzzles too hard for me!
 I did manage to do all their puzzles, although one had 18 pieces!  Finally I challenged them to do their own puzzle, and to glue it down to take home.  They worked so hard!
We also played a game I came up with that we call Roll, Count, Stick.  I staple paper scraps together to make tiny books (kids LOVE tiny things!), and to play, the children have a dice, pencil, stickers, and blank book.  They roll the dice, count the dots, write the number, and illustrate it with the correct number of stickers.
 Here's one more of our math activities: calendar.  The kindergarteners each have their own calendar, and each day they add the number, and continue a color pattern.  This is one more chance to practice forming numerals, and a fun way to look at patterns.  As the month progresses, the AB pattern we're doing will turn into a checkerboard, and they'll see that the pattern can be looked at in multiple ways.  Math is full of patterns!
 As the year, and more importantly, the children, progress, we'll change out the skills we're working on.  One thing that won't change is the fun.  Math, like all our other learning, should be both enjoyable and meaningful. 

Have fun learning!