Welcome to Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten! My class blog is the place I share information about some of the fun learning activities we are doing at school. I hope to provide parents with insight into what we are doing, and why, and to share ideas with 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!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring is in the air #Kinderfriends bloghop



Wouldn't it be nice if there was an activity that would bring out the very best in your students?  Something that would get them excited about learning, behaving better, engaged in a writing activity, and eager to revisit their learning?  While we're wishing for so much, we might as well make it age appropriate, and good for their physical well-being.  And free, free is always good!  Let's aim for the moon!

So what free miracle activity is healthy for our bodies and minds, age appropriate, and exciting too?  It's really pretty simple - the simplest actually:  fresh air and nature.  This spring, I hope you can find a way to take your learning outside, to observe whatever plants and animals are available to you, and to incorporate them into your teaching and learning.

Step 1: Before they can concentrate and focus, our students need a chance to run, to stretch their bodies, and let loose.  Remember in the olden days, we had a thing called recess?  Students took a break from sitting and focusing on adult directed activities, and ran around outside.  By the time they were done they were hot, sweaty, thirsty, and ready to sit down and focus again.
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Step 2: Slow down and pay attention to the things around you.  Kids are inherently good at this.  Junior scientists from birth, they naturally observe and investigate the world.  I like to make notebooks, pencils and magnifying glasses available during our outside time, it still amazes me how often students choose to draw and write about what they see.  Stop and look with them - you won't be disappointed (although disgusted and freaked out are definitely possible).
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
Step 3: Take some "inside" activities outside.  If you can do nothing else, simply take a basket of books outside and sit together to read.  Maybe you could eat lunch outside...
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
...or take your sensory play outdoors...
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
... or explore physics for that matter!
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Dig for worms, watch roly pollies, and compare slugs and snails.
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

I know for many of you, the reality is that you have to justify this kind of learning, to have paper and pencil grade-able tasks to show that learning is happening, and that you have a limited time to cover approximately 75,103 required skills.  Well, I know it's just a bandaid on a gaping wound, but I've created a free printable for your students to document what they're learning as you do hands on fun learning activities.

There are 4 pages, each with room for a drawing (or photo) of the activity, and room for students to write about the experience.  You can use the same printable over and again, and collect the pages in a bradded pocket chart to make individual writing books that will show the growth in students' drawing and writing over the course of the year.  Best of all, students LOVE to read their own books, or those of their friends - so they'll be motivated to both write and read about the activities you set up for them.  Field trip?  Write about it!  Cool bug on the playground?  Write about it!  Lost a tooth?  Got new shoes?  Did that exciting thing that you just have to tell your teacher all about?  Write about it!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Observe-and-Write-Free-Writing-Paper-3071742

Yes, eventually you'll have to go back inside, but you'll all be invigorated, a bit hot, sweaty and thirsty, and maybe even ready to sit down and focus again.  To help you be ready for those times, I've put all of my spring resources on sale for 20% off through 3/23/17.  Here are just a few of them, including one more forever freebie!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spring-Math-Bundle-For-First-Grade-FREEBIE-KinderFriends-2475271

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spring-Math-Bundle-for-First-Grade-KinderFriends-2472675

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spring-Tangrams-KinderFriends-2472112

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spring-Hundreds-Charts-KinderFriends-2466213

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Spring-Sentence-Picture-Match-Reading-Center-KinderFriends-1715248

Just search #KinderFriends on TpT to find discounted resources just right for spring! 

Thank you for stopping by!  Now hop on over to my friend Pamela at Pocketful of Centers, to find even more spring ideas, inspiration and freebies!
http://pocketfulofcenters.blogspot.com/.../spring-blog...

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tips and Tricks for using Mystery Pictures in Your Classroom

Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 My students love mystery pictures.  No, not just a little bit, they really LOVE mystery pictures.  Do yours?  I'm all for anything that motivates my students to do skills practice, so I thought I'd share a few tips I've figured out along our learning journey.

1. For our youngest learners reading the color words can be a challenge - so start out by looking at the puzzle as a group, and have the children color over the words with a matching pencil or crayon.  This also ensures that they HAVE the matching color, and know where it is. 
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)

2.  Keeping track of which spaces you've colored can be tricky, especially if there's a long list of numbers.  I teach my students to color one space, then cross out the corresponding clue before going on to the next one.  They can even pick up where they left off after a break, because they can see exactly which clue to tackle next.
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)

 3.  Do you have a young perfectionist on your hands, the child that always turns in picture perfect work, but takes  f  o  r  e  v  e  r  to complete anything?  This trick will help you both stay sane:  teach your children to mark the color for each space, but not to color it thoroughly right away.  A quick scribble scrabble in each space will allow them to see how far each color extends, and to color the whole picture at once, rather than one space at a time.
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 I prefer to color one direction (for me that's up and down)...
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 ...and then to touch up the unfinished top and bottom with some sideways coloring afterwards.  It neatens everything up. 
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 4.  Those tricky edges!  You don't have to slow down to color all the way to the lines if you put your finger along the line and use it to stop your pencil. 
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 5.  Of course, you want to find puzzles with the right level of challenge for your students.  We all know that you'll never ever have a class with everyone at the exact same learning level, so you'll need to differentiate.  My hundreds charts mystery pictures come with 3 skill levels for each puzzle, so it's easy to find one that's just right.  The ladybug mystery picture in these photos is a level (a) puzzle:  the hundreds chart is numbered, there are clues for the picture itself, but no background (so fewer spaces to color), and the text is a little bigger.  Level (b) puzzles include a numbered hundreds chart with clues for all 100 spaces, and regular sized text, while level (c) puzzles come on a blank hundreds chart, so students have to fill that in before solving 100 clues.
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 6.  You don't have to limit mystery pictures skills practice to numbers!  You can find puzzles for letters...
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 ...sight words...
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!) 
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
7.  If coloring this much is an issue, or if your class is just beginning to work on numbers to 100, try doing hundreds chart mystery pictures in your pocket chart!
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
There are even pocket chart mystery pictures for double digit  addition and subtraction:
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)

Not sure where to start?  How about some FREE RESOURCES?
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/100s-chart-mystery-picture-free-1257743

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Alphabet-Mystery-Pictures-FREEBIE-1993493

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sight-Word-Mystery-Picture-FREE-3063061


Is there a skill or theme you'd like to see as a mystery picture?  Let me know in the comments, I'm always looking for new ideas for fun learning projects!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

USA Flag Craft Tutorial

USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
We've all seen USA flags made by elementary age children, and while they're almost always cute, sometimes they really don't resemble the flag at all.  If you're looking to make an adorable flag craft, and you'd like to teach your students about the flag at the same time, you've come to the right place!

Do you know the standard dimensions for the US flag?  I certainly didn't until I looked them up!  This craft doesn't use exact dimensions - I've designed this with elementary teachers and students in mind - but it is close.  For each flag project, you will need:
USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
- 1 sheet of white construction paper 9" x 12"
- 1 blue rectangle 4.75" x 5.5"
- 3 red strips 12" x .75"
- 4 red stips .75" x 7"
- glue
- white chalk

I've made this flag craft with 20+ first graders working at the same time, but you need to judge your students and how well they'll follow directions.  Your students will need to know how to draw a five pointed star in order to put the stars on their flags.  I like to read Eric Carle's Draw Me A Star to my class, and then use the tutorial in the book to teach them how to draw their own stars.  His star has 8 points - but you can easily modify it for 5!

Directions:
- Lay your white rectangle on your work surface landscape style.
- Glue on one of the short red strips into the top right corner as shown below.
- Position the blue rectangle landscape style in the top left corner, but DO NOT GLUE IT.
- Use the blue rectangle as a guide, and glue another short red strip horizontally, even with the bottom of the blue rectangle.
USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
- Place the last 2 short red strips between the ones you've glued down, and spread them evenly into the gap.  When you have them positioned correctly, glue them down.
USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
- Now you can glue on the blue rectangle!
USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
- Next you'll glue on one long red strip along the bottom of your flag.  Evenly space the remaining 2 red strips in the resulting gap.  When you are satisfied with their spacing, glue them down.  You now have 13 red and white stripes, which represent the original 13 colonies.
USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 There are 50 stars on the flag, representing 50 states.  It's hard to just draw and count that many stars, unless you break it down into simple steps. If you look carefully at a US flag, you'll see there are 5 rows with 6 stars each, alternating with 4 rows with 5 stars each.  We'll draw the rows of 6 first.
- Get your piece of white chalk.  In the center of your blue rectangle, draw a row of 6 tiny stars, spreading them across the available space.
USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
- Next draw another row at the very top of the blue background, and one at the very bottom of the blue background.  Add in another row in the center top portion, and the center bottom portion.  You now have 5 rows of 6 stars - 30 stars so far.
USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
- Now we need to make 4 rows with 5 stars each.  These will be centered between the other stars.  I like to imagine four stars as the corners of a square, and then add one more star in the center of each square - a lot like the numbers 4 and 5 on a dice.  Add all those stars in, and you'll have 50 in all!
USA Flag Craft Tutorial by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
-Ta-da! Great job!  You've made a flag with 13 stripes and 50 stars.  To learn more about the US flag, check out http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/faq.htm






Monday, March 6, 2017

Feeling Lucky March Giveaway

Hi friends!  March is here, and it's beginning to feel a little more like spring is coming.  It was so chilly out this morning - but the cherry trees are in bloom, and the garden is exploding with green, so spring isn't too far off!  To celebrate the new month and all it brings, I'm participating in a $75 TeachersPayTeachers giftcard giveaway!  Who's feeling lucky - someone has to win!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

  Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 3/13/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Texas Flag Craft Tutorial

Texas Flag Craft for Texas Public Schools Week, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Texas public schools week is fast approaching - and if you're a Texas teacher that probably means it's time to learn some state history, and to get your classroom ready for open house.  It's spring, and time seems to slip away quickly, between testing, field days, assemblies, and planning end of year activities (Yikes! Already?).  You need some quick, easy, and amazing looking activities that can double as open house displays!

Here's one super simple, absolutely adorable activity that your students can probably even complete on their own during centers or for morning work!

To make this Texas flag craft, you'll need the following materials for each student:
Texas Flag Craft for Texas Public Schools Week, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 - 1 piece of white 9" x 12" construction paper
- 1 blue 4" x 9" rectangle
- 1 red 8" x 4.5" rectangle
- 1 white five pointed star (die cut, or print these and have each student cut one out)
- glue stick

Step by step directions:
- Lay your white paper landscape style on your work surface.
- Glue on the red rectangle landscape style in the lower right hand corner of the white paper. 
- Glue on the blue rectangle portrait style along the left side of your paper.
- Center the white star on the blue rectangle, and glue to the flag.
- Ta-da!

These look beautiful on a wall, or hanging from the ceiling above student desks (paper clip 2 flags back to back so there is always a front side facing out).  If you make a blue bonnet craft like this one, mix the flags and blue bonnets in a display.

If you're looking for some Texas learning that's ready to print and go, I have some fun Texas resources in my TeachersPayTeachers store,
including my most recent addition: 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Texas-State-Symbols-3-Differentiated-booklets-2950256
Next time I'll share a tutorial on making a US flag!