Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Merry Breeze

The Merry Breeze
by Enid Blyton

Round about the orchard went the merry
little breeze,
Playing with the butterflies and teasing all
the bees,
Sending showers of apple-blossom down upon
the ground,
And spilling half the dew-drops from the
grasses all around.

He ruffled up the feathers of the ducks a-sailing
And hustled all the lazy clouds that floated in
the sky,
He swung the beeches to and fro, then darted
off again
To dry the shiny puddles scattered down along
the lane.

The chimney smoke he twisted in the queerest
kind of way,
Until at last the little breeze was weary of his
He crept back to the orchard, where the
daffodillies peep,
And there it was I found him lying, curled up
fast asleep!

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Hiawatha Paper Cuts Restored

       Below are the Hiawatha paper cuts restored for those of you who are teaching Native American studies to your little ones, enjoy.
       The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem in trochaic tetrameter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow which features American Indian characters. Read more...
       Read the original poem by Longfellow here.

The wigwam of Nokomis.
Nokomis nursed Hiawatha.
Nokomis bound Hiawatha's cradle with the sinews of the reindeer.
Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!
The owls spoke their native language.
The birds hid their nests.
The birds sang to Hiawatha.
The reindeer, Hiawatha talked too.
I am Adjidaumo, the squirrel.
The warriors and the women all praised the hunter.
They called him Strong-Heart, Soan-ge-taha.
They called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-tay-see.
Hiawatha is running by the Big-Sea-Water.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Free Paper Cuts of Sheep

Perfect for arts and crafts projects in the Sunday School or classroom. Use them in personal craft too.

Vintage Paper Cuts for Fall

Here are a few old-fashioned paper cuts for Fall. A turkey,
haystack and pumpkins for personal craft projects or the classroom.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Our Nature Table and Center

"Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink the wild air." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
        The two things I love most about this area of our room is that it's mostly been built by the students. It houses their treasures (as they deem them) which they constantly show off to one another. And second, behind each of their nature finds is usually a story or memory of some special outing they had with a friend or their family---which they're always eager to share! Many of them even chose to write their personal narratives about their nature related adventures at the beginning of the year.

       Many of our treasures don't stay for long though as the children are constantly bringing in new finds and there's only so much space! Here have been some of the favorites though so far this year...

       One student brought in a birds nest, so I found some quail eggs online to order to go along with it. We've had sea shells from various summer vacations, parts of bee and wasp hives, butterfly wings... and the list truly could go on.

       Probably by far the most favored part of our nature center is our class pet toad, Frodo (because The Lord of the Rings was a tad to long of a name). Frodo also has a book (class community journal) about all of his many adventures authored by the students. 

       We also keep a small--yet most used--part of our class library dedicated to nature related books. Here have been some recent favored books from it:

The center also houses the students' phenology journals and nature study sketchbooks:

"We need the tonic of wildness... At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. "~Henry David Thoreau

Provocation: Abraham Lincoln and Cabin Building

       In addition to our social studies curriculum, where we learned about George Washington, we took some of our morning work time to also explore more about Abraham Lincoln's life to celebrate President's day. I set up a provocation for the students where they were asked how they would design and build a log cabin. To aid them, I set out the following materials: books on Abraham Lincoln and a Eric Sloan's book American Yesterday--which has tons of illustrations on early American houses, a few drawings of log cabin plans and blueprints, the My Plan paper, Lincoln Logs, and a Presidents Field Guide
       Here were a few of their creations they built based off of the plans they drew...

       The students then brought their plans to our morning to meeting to share with one another and discussed what worked and what didn't work when they were building their cabins, as well as what sorts of items they would house their cabins with and why. 
       Later on, we extended our learning by taking the book Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books to further practice our ability to infer the meaning of unknown words when reading:

Snapshots: Going on a Noun Hunt!

       Here's a couple of quick snapshots from one of our recent language arts lessons where we learned about nouns. Students were introduced to the definition of a noun and its many examples through a read-aloud of the book If You Were a Noun by Michael Dahl. We then drew our own examples of nouns and created an anchor chart for them. Snakes and aliens were popular choices today =)

       Students then picked a book from their book box to use along with Beth Gordon's noun scavenger hunt printable (download here for free). They tried to locate as many different nouns as they could while going through their chosen book.

S.T.E.A.M. Basic Insect Hotels

       One of our recent STEAM projects came out of our entomology unit: insect hotels. After seeing dozens of elaborate insect hotels in my own Pinterest feed, I decided to try and find a way to let me students build a mini one during one of our afternoon science blocks. We had been reading about insects and their habitats, so we collected our research on what we had learned attracted really beneficial insects. Pine cones, dry leaves, branches, bark, and--yes--even straws--these were the (primarily) natural materials we gathered to arrange into snug nooks and crannies in tin cans to create these mini homes for our insect friends. 

 and here's a finished one...

We tied our up with Baker's Twine to be hung, and the students got to take them home to find a garden for them.

Snapshots: Exploring Herbs with Descriptive Writing

Today students had the opportunity to explore three different herbs--mint, sage, and rosemary--after having read selected poems from Anna's Garden Songs for our current study on botany and gardening. Before I gave each student their specimen we conversed on how these different herbs have and can be used. Students then had to use their five senses to then write descriptive words about each herb. Here's how a couple of students described sage:
"It feels soft and fuzzy--kind of like how the leaves on pumpkins feel soft sometimes."
 "It smells a little like mint, but it smells more like the stew my mom makes for dinner."
"It's furry-like and reminds me of fall."

30 Loose Parts to Use in Story Workshop

        If you're interested in incorporating story workshop into your writing lessons, you'll be needing a stock of open-ended materials, or loose parts, that students can manipulate as well as use to represent different aspects of their stories in as many different ways as possible. Here are 30 ideas of materials to get you started:
  1. Glass marbles, round and flat
  2. Playdoh
  3. Pine cones
  4. Small sticks 
  5. Bark chips
  6. Various fabric squares
  7. Fake flowers (detached from wire stems)
  8. Small plastic animals or play figures
  9. Various types of blocks
  10. Toilet paper rolls
  11. Small stones
  12. Seashells
  13. Buckeyes and acorns
  14. Buttons
  15. Beads
  16. Various types of paints
  17. Small containers
  18. Lincoln Logs
  19. Straws
  20. Sand
  21. Plastic and wooden spools
  22. Corks
  23. Fabric place mats (great for representing landscapes as a story's setting)
  24. Round clothespins
  25. Popsicle sticks
  26. Pom-poms
  27. Pipe cleaners
  28. Foam shape cutouts
  29. Leaves
  30. Wikki Stix

Block Play into Learning

       I'm an architect's daughter, and one of the very first toys we had lying around our house were blocks. Different brands and types littered our home's floors through the years--from Lincoln Logs to Lego's to cardboard boxes. Even now I still firmly believe that giving children blocks to play and create and manipulate serves as one of the best toys. 
       The benefits of block play have been researched in depth on the great many skills they build in children. Here are five of those skills that as an educator I greatly appreciate:
  1. Development of  visual discrimination, the recognition of detail in visuals--particularly with descriptive and comparative language, as a pre-reading skill
  2. Development of small and gross motor skills, along with hand-eye cordination development
  3. Basic mapping skills are often learned through blocks
  4. Offers introductory math and science concepts to children such as problem solving via trial and error, pattern creating, categorizing and classifying, and identifying sets, size, shapes, and weight
  5. Ability to visualize spatially--to mentally manipulate 2D, 3D, and 4D objects--often a skill that is stronger in boys than in girls simply due to their time spent with constructive based toys (blocks)
       Even more, I've always loved how blocks are one of the most open-ended toys. Regardless of the age and interest of the child, they can utilize blocks in countless ways. While I was planning curriculum with first graders in mind this past school year I wanted to find ways to incorporate blocks into some of our various learning activities. My favorite was when the student had to build a zoo using blocks and small plastic animals, followed by drawing their creation as a map, which you can check out here. What ways have you integrated blocks into your students and children's learning?
What are you able to build with your blocks? 
Castles and palaces, temples and docks. 
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam, 
But I can be happy and building at home.
~Block City, Robert Louis Stevenson~ 

*To learn more on the importance and history of block play check out The Yale-New Haven Teacher Institute

Study on Mammals and Camouflage

       We recently wrapped up our integrated study on mammals, camouflage, and map-making (geography) in room 14. From day one of this unit the students have shown genuine enthusiasm and interest in learning about their favorite mammals and discovering new mammals from all over the world. 
        Our unit began with the reading of Mammals by Adele Richardson. From the read-alouds we learned what makes a mammal a mammal (as opposed to reptiles, amphibians, etc.) and mapped out our acquired information with a bubble map. I also took this opportunity to introduce features of non-fiction texts. Throughout the rest of the week we continued to participate in shared readings that introduced new vocabulary words, which we illustrated on post-it notes as we were reading.

       The historical figure that was integrated into the unit was Jane Goodall. We had two read-alouds that the students had to narrate back at the end of their reading on her life working with the chimps: Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell and The Watcher by Jeanette Winter.

       The students were really excited when at the end of the week they were partnered off and given a big zip-lock bag of plastics animals, which they then had to sort out the mammals from the rest of the differing creatures found within our huge animal kingdom. They then had the choice to play some of the various mammal and camouflage file folder games I had on hand, or they could participate in a challenge sort: sorting their group of mammals into groups of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.

       Students were then divided into small groups to collaborate in designing and building a 3-D zoo with exhibits for four mammals of their choosing. The groups had to then look at all the materials provided to them (which consisted mostly of construction paper, markers, and various types of blocks that were pulled from our classroom tinker station), their mammals, and then consider what their exhibits would have to have in order to reflect the mammals given habitats. As the children were building, I interviewed each group--asking them questions to explain and support their decisions.

       The final component of our unit integrated information writing. Each student picked a mammal of their choice to research and write on. During this latter half of the unit, students learned that researchers read informational texts to gain knowledge on their topic, the difference between writing information and narratives, and the structure of paragraph writing. Student's were given a plan to help support them in their writing.
       After the students had written on their mammal, they then edited, and published a final paragraph as a zoo plaque (with accompanying picture they drew) onto our whole class zoo map.