July 20, 2017

Don't Let the Pigeon Come to School

Unless you've been living under a rock this summer or have vehemently avoided social media, you have probably heard about the Kohl's Cares Mo Willems plush characters and books that have been highly coveted by teachers everywhere.  I personally snagged up Pigeon, Elephant, and Piggy.  Duckling, unfortunately, was not available at my closest store.  Mo Willem's stories are some of my favorite children's literature out there.  Each year, my students beg me to read his funny stories, and if my little darlings start to read independently, there is great rejoicing in the land when a student gets to check out an Elephant and Piggy reader to take home.  Long story short, Willems is nothing short of a superhero to my classroom.

Each year, my school chooses a school-wide theme.  We are a PK-K site, and our principal lets us nominate and vote on the upcoming theme at the end of the previous year.  This May, my colleagues voted in favor of a transportation theme "The Boomer Journey Begins at the ECC!"  I shamefully forgot to vote.  I didn't dislike this theme, but I wasn't really excited about it either.  I know you are wondering, "What on earth does this have to do with Mo Willems?"  Well, it wouldn't be like me to get to the point without a backstory.  Just ask my husband!

I sat and brainstormed a few ideas for my personal theme.  I don't re-do my entire classroom, but I do "theme" our hallway displays and some of the consumable items we use each year, like our take-home folders.  I searched high and low for cute transportation classroom decor.  I found lots of hot air balloons, sail boats, airplanes, even some rocket ships.  Nothing spoke to me.  So I started trying to think outside of the box.  What else "goes?"  I thought about Monster Trucks, for so long in fact that I created a Classroom Basics kit for it.  Then I thought about school buses.  I thought this would go perfectly with "back to school."  It took me a bit, but finally the heavens opened and I settled on "Don't Let the Pigeon Come to School!"  This theme, of course, is based on Mo Willem's popular character, with a school bus in place of a regular city bus.

Again, I struggled to find what I needed to make it happen.  That is how my "Pigeon Classroom Basics" file was born.   I can't wait to get to work on my classroom and show you the finished result! For now, here is a peek at some of the things inside:

In every one of my "Classroom Basics" sets, you will find a student gift tag.  These are great for Meet the Teacher and/or Open House!  I love how this one turned out!  

New to this set is a craftivity and writing project that is perfect for back to school!  I plan on using it to reinforce the importance of rules!

I would love for you all to check it out and give me feedback!  Also, stay tuned for an update once I get my room all put together!

May 8, 2017

Quick and Easy Mother's Day Gift

It's that time of year!  The time where we frantically comb Pinterest for something fast and simple to do for Mother's Day with our precious students.  I want something that parents will actually use/display, and being the recipient of several school gifts, I know parents want something that their child actually helped to make. 

Last year, my students made canvas paintings.  While it was fairly easy, it took a series of days to complete.  I found this new idea on Pinterest, but the link just took me to a photo, so I'm not really sure who to credit with the original idea.  When I first pinned it, I was slightly intimidated, just because it is something new.  New projects give me a little anxiety.    However, I am so glad I gave it a try!

 ****DISCLAIMER:  Please forgive the low quality iPhone photos.  I didn't remember to take my good camera the day we made these!

I found these 2-pack frames at my local Walmart for about $1.80 something for the pair.  They are plastic with glass inserts.  They do have a little kickstand you can pop off the back and attach to make the frame stand up.  There are also holes for hanging it on the wall.  I chose 4x6 size solely based on the fact that it was cost efficient and my store had enough of that size in stock.

Before beginning the project, I cut some scrapbook paper I had on-hand into 4x6 size pieces.  When I do this next year, I will try to find some cute patterned paper to use!  I also cut some smaller lime green cardstock pieces for my students to cut their leaf and stem out of.  Approximately 2x4 and 3x4, if I was guessing.  It doesn't really matter too much.  I let the students choose their paper color and passed out all the pieces for just the paper/stem/leaf.  I modeled for the students how to cut the stem and then the leaf.  I also modeled a curved stem instead of straight.  I could have created a template for them to cut, but I really wanted each student's flower to look unique.  I spend a lot of time during art projects teaching the kids that our creations shouldn't all look the same, and perfect doesn't matter as long as we do our best.

I then collected all the papers and called the students one at a time to my table and asked each one to write his/her name in pencil at the bottom of the paper.  This way, they could fix a mistake if one was made.  I then traced over the pencil with a fine point black Sharpie. After this, I put the paper with the leaf, stem, and their name into the frame.  I DID THIS BEFORE I GLUED THE FLOWER. The student then chose what color of muffin liner (regular size, also found at my local Walmart) he or she wanted.  I placed the student's school picture that I had cut in a circle small enough to fit in the flower and glued it down.  I then hot glued the flower on top of the glass.  Done!  These turned out so cute, that I wish I could keep all of them!  My own little Kinder"garden."  Alas, I must let the little darlings gift their parents. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Donuts with Dad

Hey y'all!  I have been absent for awhile, and for that I apologize.  Blogging while Momming and teaching ain't easy!  My kiddos have been busy with soccer, ju jitsu, and dance.  Now that it's almost summer, we are winding down.

You didn't think I would miss the chance for a mom-brag, did you?

Last spring, I hosted a "Muffins with Mom" in my classroom shortly after Mother's Day.  It was fantastic and I was so pleased with how smoothly everything went.  Because of that wonderful experience, I decided to try a "Donuts with Dad" this year.  Before I get into how it went, let's talk a bit about set-up.  I mimicked my "Muffins with Mom" TPT file to create the one I would use for "Donuts with Dad."  Also, because the timing I chose for my event (late April), it was bananas crazy and sadly we didn't really get a craft done for the fathers.  My teacher bestie, Kayla Pittman did get some adorable jars with building blocks done for her dads.  Click the link to see "The Seasoned Mom's" blog post where she got the idea!

We started by making the crowns and filling out the questionnaire in my unit.  We are also very fortunate to have a VeriQuest cut out maker at our school.   I used a template on the cut out maker to cut out the ties, and then just had the kiddos decorate them.  I also added their pictures onto the ties.  Decor was pretty minimal.  I just put a plastic table cloth on each table and then set out each student's work at his/her seat.  I also hung the "Welcome" banner from my unit and made a quick photo backdrop with butcher paper and a giant Sharpie.  

The morning of, I sat my students down and walked them through the instructions for the event.  I told them they would be seated at the carpet and would go and greet their guest(s) at the door and show them to their seat.  I also told them they were to serve their guest(s) first, and then come back and get their own food and/or juice.

Because I knew that some dads and grandfathers may not be able to attend, I asked my dad and another family friend to come as "stand-in" dads for my students.  This was such a life saver and the kinders whose family couldn't come still had a great time and never shed a tear!

Dad, you're the real MVP!

Just as with the "Muffins with Mom" event, I was so impressed with my students and their manners!  The event went very smoothly and every one had a wonderful time visiting with their student and letting them show them all around the classroom.  This was certainly another successful event that I can look forward to each year!
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