Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We Are Smitten over "The Mitten"!

   We have fallen in love with the book, The Mitten by Jan Brett!
   One of my challenges this year is that I have six ESL students in my classroom. Each one's ability to speak and understand the language fluently varies. For this reason, I have shifted my literacy focus the past week to include more language activities, where the children can work on their oral language skills.
    The Mitten was a perfect book for practicing different literacy skills, ranging from learning the names of the animals (as some munchkins had no idea what a mole and a badger looked like) to sequencing the animals and retelling the story.    
    In small groups, we focused on oral language skills and retelling the story. I used a free The Mitten resource, by Mrs. Quinn, in small groups.
(I used my own huge white mitten cutout)
They each had a turn piling the animal picture cards on top of one another, which proved to be a somewhat challenging task for some of my ESL kids, as they had trouble remembering the names of some of the animals.
 We worked on fine motor skills as they each cut out a mitten and drew an animal from the story that was in their mitten:
Then we did another story extension in our journals:
(This is from one of my munchkins who has a good grasp of all the letter sounds, and I am encouraging her to work on some inventive spelling! It is absolutely one of my very favorite things to see how children use letters sounds to attempt to spell words.)
The mitten fun extended into our math centers as well, as we worked on couting and matching number to set with these two fun games:
Roll & Count Snowflake Game:
 Count & Match Mitten Game:
(Free Activity from Make, Take & Teach)
And we painted mittens templates and decorated them to add to our classroom door:
(Sorry, it isn't a very good pic!)
Ok, now I think I am over all of this talk about Winter...I am ready for spring!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Snowman Fun!

   Winter is in full effect and we are trying to embrace it! It was a rough and early start to winter, as we were slammed with snow (measured in feet!)- back in November, which is now known as "Snowvember". And it is only the middle of winter, so we have no choice but to try and embrace it, even though I am so over snow already at this point!
   HOWEVER, all of this snow makes planning fun learning activities very easy!
   We have read many books the past week, pertaining to snow and snowmen, and of course, we had to make a snowman craft to spruce up our January bulletin board!
   The munchkins have been getting lots of practice writing their names and I am so proud that so many of them have come a long way! The ones who were not even able to make a scribble, can now write their name legibly! And my munchkins that were not even able to hold and grip a pencil properly can now trace their names.... I love seeing how each child is progressing!
  Anyhow, I extended our name writing to make these cute little snowmen!

 We also talked alot about how to build a snowman! 
   Check out "How To Build A Snowman", as told from 4 year old preschoolers:

With all this snow and snowman talk, I have had many of them ask many times "Are we going to play outside today?"  (I wish we could, BUT I have already planned something I know they will enjoy- I will be bringing some snow into our water table later this week!)
    There is so much to do when it comes to Winter Fun and although I wish we had time to do it all, sadly there just isn't time- especially since Parent Teacher conferences are around the corner.... and you know what that means... the dreaded Progress Monitoring!!
   Well, I know I am going to try and make the best of it the next few weeks...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy 2015!!

   Yes, I have horribly neglected my blog....The holidays hit and everything became chaotic... and there was just not enough time in the day! The holidays really did take so much out of me this year, especially since we had our family come into town this year.
   Anyhow, the holidays are past us (even though our tree is still up) and I am ready for a fresh start...in every little aspect of my crafty, busy life!

   For my goals this year, I added a few more project-y kind of things, just to keep life interesting!
   1) Read more (again!) I ended 2014 with 37 out of 52 books read! I am taking the 52 Book Challenge again this year and have even joined an online book club, hosted by a fellow teacher!
   2) I started a scrapbook a few years back- I started in August and got as far as November. It was too time consuming. But I miss being able to document things that happen in our lives. So I decided to look into SMASH Books. It is a different concept, but I think it is a more "on the go" type of thing. I hope to make random collages and journal at least twice a month! So far, I have two inside pages done (one journal entry and one collage) and it looks good. It seems less time consuming and well, let's hope it is something I can keep up with!
 Check out  what I have so far:
   3) And of course, I want to make sure that I make time to keep up with my wonderful blog! It has been a part of my life for quite a few years now and it has been a place for me to document and share so much of my munchkin's learning... and that is something that I want to definitely continue!
    So, here's to a busy and fun year!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Where has the time gone??

   Wow, Halloween came and went so fast and it seems like we just wrapped up our Pumpkin unit, and now I am planning Thanksgiving and fun turkey activities. The time is just going way too quickly for me! I feel like I have had zero time to sit down for a few minutes to blog...
 Anyway, here are a few pics of our Pumpkin fun from earlier this month.
 I snagged this super cute and super fun activity from Miss Kindergarten, that I used through Halloween and into early November:
    I had to tweak it a bit for those muchkins who are working on letter identification, so I modified it for my pocket chart that I use with my small groups:
     We worked a little bit on measurement, and used foam (and later wooden) cube blocks to measure the different heights of our classroom pumpkins. They found that stacking foam blocks past ten wasn't working and towers kept toppling over, so we switched to wooden blocks.
They really enjoyed working together to measure our huge pumpkin:
We took a few days to learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin and created a little diagram:
We also learned the poem "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater" and created this very CUTE craft! 
I am in love with it and I don't want to take them off of my wall to send home! 
Now we are just about to wrap up a our Fall fun, even though it is already snowing!
 I am telling you, time is going way TOO fast!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Monster-iffic Fun!

   It has been a little quiet here because Fall assessments are underway, and thankfully almost done!! It really is tedious and time consuming, even though it does provide me with a general snap shot of where my munchkins are. However, by my own observations and working with them in small  groups, these assessments are only reinforcing where I believe each child is in terms of their own development and skill level.
   Anyhow, that has taken over classroom time and fundraiser & school events at my own munchkin's school has kept me busy for the past week or so. But now,hopefully as the month winds down, things will get back on track... only to get all shook up again when the holiday season hits!
   Last week, we did some fun Monster activities after reading fun books like Where the Wild Things Are and Go Away, Big Green Monster! Little munchkins always love Go Away, Big Green Monster... It is one of my favorites too!

    They created their very own monster, and some of them looked pretty scary and creepy, while others looked funny and cute! They each glued a sentence onto their paper and we added the color word of their monster.
    I added some fun little props (googly eyes, straws, beads and ghost & pumpkin cookie cutters) into the playdoh area so that they could get creative and make their own playdoh monsters. This was such a fun activity for them. We had the activity during our learning center time and when it was time to switch, many of them were too involved with making their monster, they gave some resistance in having to leave the table! 
Check out some of the awesome creations:
    I really enjoyed watching their creativity come through and the smiles on their faces as they were doing this... it makes me smile when I see how much they enjoy the activities that I put together for them.
    We also worked on print concepts, as the munchkins learned how to track words in a sentence. I created sentence cards with the predictable text in Go Away Big Green Monster. And they put a smile on my face at dismissal time, when some of them proudly showed their mom that they could "read" the monster sentences!!
This is only the start to all the Halloween themed fun we plan to have... and I say "plan" because my time in the classroom in limited until the Fall assessments are all completed and so, anything goes... !

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Falling in Love with Fall!

   I must admit that ever since we moved from Chicago to the suburbs of Buffalo, I have fallen in love with Fall... I had never really seen the beauty of Fall until we moved here. With tree lined streets and a huge backyard, the scenery is gorgeous. Fall has since become my favorite season, hands down!
   And I have come to look forward to planning and making Fall themed activities for my little munchkins. A few weeks ago, I stopped at Michaels and caught a great sale (and had a 25% off entire purchase coupon)! I picked up two of these fun craft foam party trays.  Once I walked out of the store, the ideas started coming!
    I feel like I haven't posted much about what my little munchkin has been working on these past few weeks. She is determined to master her sight words so that she can start reading and writing! Those are her two biggest interest areas right now. 
I made two different Sight Word Activities for her to review and practice writing & spelling sight words.
Read & Write the Sight Word
Spell the Sight Word:
And of course, I found ways to use these in the classroom, as the preschool munchkins are currently learning how to Make Sets and how to Match Number to Set:
 And I used this exact setup to teach the concepts of More and Less:
    There are so many other ways that I plan to use these throughout the month for math activities, such as making patterns and graphing and counting.
    The kids love to use them, they save on having to print anything and they can be used over and over, for so many fun kinds of learning activities!
    AND if you are reading this blog post, I have a little secret: Tonight I am hosting a Fall Giveaway and will be giving away my Fall Literacy Pack:
(Here are samples of what is included)
    There will be 2 lucky winners on my Teaching Munchkins Facebook Page... I will pick a winner tomorrow afternoon! So if you are not a fan, head over there now and become one... I will be posting within the hour!