Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Keeping The Munchkins Busy with Cute Fall Crafts!

    It has been a whirlwind 4 months since I moved to California and started a new teaching job within 3 weeks of relocating from NY. Because of this, I am SO excited that we have the entire week off for Thanksgiving! No big travel plans here... the cross country trek this summer was enough traveling for me! This is my week to relax and just do whatever... 
   Last week, as we prepared for our big Thanksgiving feast, we had the keep the munchkins busy and focused as best we could. We know they love art projects, so we went with that.
   We have been collecting leaves for quite some time and put them in our leaf press. We took the leaves out of the leaf press and added them to the art center, along with scissors, a gluestick, a marker, a turkey body, a circle to cut out, wiggly eyes and yellow and orange strips of paper. 
 Check out these adorable Leaf Turkeys that they created:
And in Spanish class, we have begun to learn about the names of the different shapes. I had out different activites for them to do to learn the shapes in Spanish throughout the week.
Turkey Shape Matching Game:
 Shape Owls:
(I used this FREE template from Crafty Bee Creations)
Lots of fine motor practice!
As you can see, they really do love crafts! And they all do such a great (and cute) job!

    Well, back to my vacation...even if I have a long To Do List to plan and prep for the next 3 weeks, which I know are going to go by really, really quick!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

¡Estamos Agradecido Por Nuestras Familias! We Are Thankful For Our Families!

  There are two days left in the week and then we are off for a whole week for Thanksgiving! I am so excited about this because I have never had a full week off for Thanksgiving! Woo-hoo!
   The munchkins have been working hard to prepare for our Thanksgiving Feast that takes place tomorrow. They have learned some fun, cute songs to sing and made some cute owls and turkeys as decorations. I am a little bit nervous as to how everything will play out. Our Montessori Preschool has 52 families...and almost all of them will be participating in the feast tomorrow. That is a whole lot of people... easily over 100 people will be there. So, I have been juggling teaching and some party planning these past 2 weeks or so! But it should all be fun!
   And since it is the season of giving thanks, it was the perfect time to talk about what all of us are thankful for: Our Families! So we learned all about Nuestras Familias in Spanish Class.
   One of the books I read was "The Family Book" by Todd Parr, It is in English, but was simply translated. It is a nice book to portray different types of families. And the cute word wall cards were purchased from Primary French Immersion.
We learned the names of all family members:
And then we focused on the immediate family members (that may or may not live in the same house), 
to prep for our drawing activity.
Each student drew their family members and I am so happy and impressed with how cute they came out. 
A few of my older kids labeled their portraits themselves!
I have framed them all with colorful construction paper and they will all be displayed for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Feast!

I think I need an early bedtime tonight, seeing as tomorrow may going to be a huge, busy, chaotic day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fall Has Arrived!

    Well, it is finally Fall out here in Northern California! It arrived right when they said it would... in November! This year is predicted to be an El Niño year and lots of rain is expected this winter. We shall see... I will take rain over snow any day! For now, I will enjoy my November, filled with chilly mornings and weather in the 60s and be grateful that I do not have to even think about dealing with snow!  =)
    Things have been busy on the school front, as usual, and time is going by just way too fast! Am I the only one that feels this way?? I feel like we are doing so much that I can't wrap my head around it, let alone try to keep up with writing blog posts about everything.
     Recently, we learned how to say the name and color of pumpkins in Spanish. 
We also learned all about the La Vida De La Calabaza and created a mini book!
They created their own calabazas (jack o' lanterns, really, but who cares?) They are cute! 
And the kids really love the independent art actvities that I put out for work time. 
There seems to always a line at the Art Table!
And I kept a few pumpkin themed math activities out on the shelves through last week:
Roll & Cover:
 Counting Pumpkins:
    With Thanksgiving right around the corner, things are likely to get crazy hectic. The past few weeks, I have found that I feel frazzled and can't seem to get organized with my afternoon literacy lessons and activities. I really need to get on that because the literacy activities that I have done with my small afternoon group have been a hit and they are ready to learn more and keep moving forward.     We have the week of Thanksgiving off and I intend to use that time to get organized and keep those munchkins focused during what is always the craziest time for teachers... Christmas! Anyone counting the days yet?  I sure am not... because at this rate, I know it will be here in the blink of an eye!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Learning About Día De Los Muertos!

    Wow, did October fly by or what? And I have already fallen behind in posting and keeping up with my blog...yet again! What else is new? Things just happened so fast and then BAM- Hello November!
   Anyhow, I was very excited to teach the munchkins a little bit about Día de los Muertos this year. I have celebrated it in past when I worked in a bilingual preschool and the holiday was one that all the children were already familiar with. So, this was my first time actually teaching children about this holiday that they really did not have any experience with.
    The book that I read to introduce the children to this holiday was called Día de los Muertos, written by Roseanne Greenfield Thing and Carlos Ballesteros. It was a great book for the children to learn about the holiday!
    The book focuses on different aspects, symbols and traditions that families partake in during this celebration. And it portrays the celebratory aspect of the holiday, stating that it is not a scary holiday, like Halloween. The holiday is not one of sadness either, but rather one of joy and celebration.
     I will admit, this particular holiday is not one that I celebrated regularly as I was growing up with the traditions and so forth...until my father passed away 6 years ago. Now I use this holiday (and every day, really) as a way to remember him and talk about him with my children, especially my daughter who never got the chance to know him, as he passed away when she was only 3 months old.
   So, in explaining about the holiday and the altars that are built in memory of deceased loved ones, I created a small altar, in my classroom, for my father. I brought in some of his items and explained why I brought each one and how each item reminded me of him. I did get a zillion questions about him (and of death and dying in general); which I was prepared to address in simple terms. 
     Each child had to opportunity to create their own calavera art to take home...and wow! I was impressed by some of the coloring skills! 
     We made tissue paper flowers in memory of someone who has past away. (I was touched when some kids left their flower at my father's altar.) These were the easiest tissue paper/napkin flowers to make. All we needed was small paper napkins in different colors, green pipe cleaners and scissors. 
They cut long slits into the edges of a napkin, then opened it up, gathered it up, twisted the bottom and attached a pipe cleaner!  Easy and quick!
(Take a closer look at the ones on the table for the end result)

 For the most part, teaching about this holiday was either hit or miss with the children, which is what I expected. Some understood it, while others really had no clue and were fixated on the fact that skeletons and skulls are scary. But I expected that, too... 
I had fun teaching them a little about this holiday that is celebrated in most Latin American countries, in honor of those loved ones who have passed on. 
It was a great way, too, for me to share and honor my father's memory...he was a great man!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Waiting for Fall Weather....

   Even though the temperatures here in the Northern Bay area feel more like summer than autumn, we have been learning about the Fall Season in Spanish class!
   I am discovering that the munchkins are really enjoying learning new words in Spanish (despite the one comment about not singing enough, made by one of the older kids as she compared me to the previous teacher) Yea, someone said that... I wasn't offended though because there is so much more to learning Spanish than just being able to sing words in Spanish! While we do sing, I try to keep a focus on learning words and phrases in Spanish and have the children practice how to speak those words and phrases...hence "Learning Spanish"!
  Anyhow, sorry for the rant and enough on that. Back to learning about Fall...
Here are some of the words that are on our word wall:
We tied in colors when learning these words and my K group worked on color word sentences:
   (I am tweaking these printables, along with my Spanish Color Pack and they will be uploaded on TPT later this week!)
    I again took a look at my work shelves and thought about what activities were meaningless and basically unpopular with the kids. I went ahead and replaced those activities with other fall related activities to spark their learning interest and put some focus on some fun math activities.
So, as we wait for Fall to arrive, enjoy my Fall Literacy & Math Packs available on TPT:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Baking Fun...Fall Leaf Tortilla Chips!

   On Monday through Thursday I teach Spanish to my munchkins and then on Fridays, I take off my Spanish Teacher hat and put on my Chef hat!
   Every Friday, we engage the kids in some sort of cooking/baking project. Seeing that the summer-like temps (in autumn), in the North Bay area don't seem to be cooling off anytime soon, we needed something that was either a no bake snack or something that required little baking time.
   And so we made some Leaf Shaped Tortilla Chips!
 Our school has these cute baking mats for the kids to each have their own spot. 
All we needed was corn tortillas and leaf shaped cookie cutters:
Each child was given one corn tortilla and was able to cut out two different leaf shapes.
(We later found out that two tortillas chips were definitely not enough.
Most of the kids wanted more!)
After they had their two tortilla shapes cut out, we brushed on olive oil onto both sides of each one.
Then I sprinkled some salt onto them and popped them in the oven. I let them bake for 4 minutes and then turned them over and let them bake for another 4-5 minutes. 
They came out perfect!
(This batch was a little crispy and brown on the edges, but still yummy!)
Cute, simple and delicious!
Try making your own Tortilla Chips with kiddos! 
Below is the recipe:
Fall Leaf Tortilla Chips:
Corn Tortillas
Olive Oil
Cookie Cutters (any shape)
Pre-heat oven to 350. After chips are cutout, brush on small amounts of olive oil on each side. Bake 4-5 minutes on each side, for no more than a total of 9 minutes. Allow them to cool and enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Happy Planner Life!

    Okay, I admit it, I catch on to creative trends very easily once I discover them! It all started four years ago when I came across the hobby of scrapbooking. I was all into it and then life got busy and there was just never enough time to indulge into that creative side of myself. So then about a year later, I discovered SMASH Books and tried to get going with that, thinking it was just like scrapbooking, without all the time and effort to put into it. Yea, that didn't last long at all!
   It was hard to find time to just sit and let the creative juices come through, so I spent time reading or just browsing Pinterest and creating boards about things that I wish I had time to do. I have missed the papercrafting and all the creativeness that comes with it. 
   So, it comes as no surprise that when I stumbled across pictures on Instagram of decorated planners (usually by teachers, Mrs. Harris to be exact) and then the name Erin Condren kept popping up, and  I was onboard quick! Decorating planners... why not, right?
   I had nowhere to really start so I began with the planner I was already using. So I got started with whatever scrapbooking supplies I had on hand.  THEN I started seeing more pictures and discovered the Planner Life... and "oohed and ahhed" over all the pretty and cute planners that others were creating. So I took myself to Michaels (not ready to indulge in an expensive Erin Condren planner quite yet) and sought out something similar, but more affordable. I also picked up a few starter things to get going.
And here is what I have created for this week: 
(It is simple and cute...but I have bigger ideas for the coming weeks!)
And here is where I am linking up...a few days late, but I jumped on the boat a little late!
Click on it to get to Kreative in Kindergarten's blog post and check out others who are linking up and showing off their Fall/October Themed planners!
    There is SO much papercraft stuff out there for this fun, new hobby of mine! I need to make a Spending Jar just to be able to buy all the cute stuff on my Etsy Wish List!
   Will I keep up with it? Maybe. I really think I will though, even when life gets too busy. I do lesson plans and meal plans every weekend, so all I have to do is squeeze in some extra time to make my weekly spread in my planner look pretty!! And by linking up with Plan With Me Sundays, I can try to keep myself on track!