Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gingerbread Friends

Our class gingerbread man has made his return!  We have been reading gingerbread books and we love seeing the gingerbread men your kids have created in our take home gingerbread project! Eleven gingerbread friends have made their way to school and we can't wait to see the rest of them.  Here are a few of our favorite stories that we have been reading this week.

We have several others that we have read too!

Sadly, the version that I grew up with is now considered "vintage".  Wow!  Am I really that old?  We read that version too, and I have to say, it's still my favorite! 

We'll be having fun with some gingerbread activities next week.  Keep those gingerbread friends coming in.  Our neighbors really enjoy seeing them on display in our hallway.  I hope you'll check out a few of these books at the library too.  The kids love hearing them again and again!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Light Table

One of the parents in our class works for a company that will Adopt-A-Classroom.  We received a donation   earlier this month and we were able to purchase an exciting piece of equipment to add to our classroom...

 a light table!

I've been reading a lot about the educational philosophy used in Reggio Emilla, Italy.  Much of their work is done through light, reflection, and natural materials.  Light tables are utilized for a variety of purposes throughout the day.

Right now, we're in the exploration phase of the light table.  Since we're studying rocks right now, the kids have been very interested in our rock slices.

We've been using our table to explore patterning with transparent colored chips, see through buttons, and a few colorful beads.

Kids have really enjoyed trying it out, and I can't wait to introduce new materials.  We will be using the table in art, math, science, and free play.  I can't wait to see what we notice when we place leaves on the light table!

Thank you to our Adopt-A-Classroom friends and the parent who made this happen!  Kindergarten is always filled with happiness and light, but now I'd say there is even more!

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Eric Carle Painting

Books by Eric Carle are perfect for Kindergarten!

We love:

...just to name a few.

Over the past few weeks, we've read at least 25 books by Eric Carle.  Last week, we decided to try our hand at painting like Eric Carle.  Here is a link to Eric Carle's website, where he describes how he "makes" his own paper. 

We use washable paint and lots of different painting materials to get our fabulous texture.  I love Lakeshore Learning, and have purchased most of my painting supplies there.

Texture Brushes

We used brushes, sponges, and painting stamps to add just 3 colors to each paper. 

We looked at lots of paintings by Eric Carle as inspiration.

It was messy, but so much fun!

Most of the kids had never painted with anything except brushes or hands. These painting combs are amazing, when you paint an entire paper and then drag them through.  Although I suggested that kids try this, many wanted to try it their own way.  I love letting kids explore with art materials. 

The new techniques were exciting to try.

We'll be using our painted paper to create a class book in December.

Happy painting!
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Noodle Pattern Necklaces

During November, in Kindergarten, we are usually spending quite a bit of our math time doing pattern work. Today we enjoyed making pattern necklaces and bracelets out of noodles.

The kids were SO focused!  They got to choose if they wanted to make a necklace, bracelet, or both.  They also choose their own colors and patterns.  We spent about 45 minutes developing our patterning skills AND our small motor skills.  

I brought in a beading kit for kids to use too.  They loved this!

This is a fabulous activity to do at home too!  Beading kits are great, but if you're the DIY type, here is a great tutorial on how to dye your own pasta.  I usually have kids tell me the colors they have chosen, as well as label the pattern.  For example, a red-yellow-red-yellow pattern would also be called ABABAB.  A red, red, yellow, red, red, yellow, would be called AABAAB.

Happy patterning!
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Deep Space Sparkle Pumpkins

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the website Deep Space Sparkle.  If you're not familiar with it, stop reading my blog immediately, and click over to it!  You'll thank me later.  Patty Palmer is the website's author.  She's an art teacher at an elementary school and shares hundreds of lessons with step by step photos.  (Before I go any further, let me just say how awesome that would be to have a REAL art teacher teaching art to our students!)

I have never considered myself to be artistic.  I took 2 art courses in college, and suddenly I'm qualified to teach art concepts to young children.  Thankfully, the art objectives I'm trying to meet aren't too heavy in kindergarten.  With the help of Deep Space Sparkle, these kids may actually learn some art concepts after all!

Ok, onto the lesson.  I've been following Patty's website since I was introduced to it by my teaching partner last year.  When I saw this lesson, I fell in love.  Here's the link to Patty's step by step instructions.

I didn't notice this until just now, but look at the cute little smiley face on the pumpkin below.  It's so subtle, I didn't even see it before!

Very briefly, I'll tell you about a few concepts we learned.

We did a directed drawing of pumpkins.
We mixed yellow and red paint to make orange for our pumpkins.
We used paint to highlight certain areas of our pumpkins.
We used chalk to add starry night details.

Aren't they beautiful?  The Deep Space Sparkle website has art lessons by grade level or subject area.  It is a fabulous resource for parents and teachers.!

Happy painting!
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Wild Thing Math

Who doesn't love the book Where the Wild Things Are?  It's a true classic.

We use the Expressions math curriculum in our school district, and when one of the lessons asks kids to label parts of a monster, I think Wild Things.  The lesson asks kids to draw a picture of a monster, count the different features, and write the corresponding numbers.  Kids are supposed to draw things like 4 eyes, 8 teeth, 10 claws, etc.  After reading Where the Wild Things Are, I pass out large black construction paper and brand new boxes of oil pastels.  This lesson is more than just math.  It's math, art, reading, writing, and phonics, all rolled into one.

We spend a lot of time talking about the book, thinking about what's happening to the main character in the book, and looking closely at the Wild Things that Maurice Sendak has created.  After a very quick introduction to oil pastels, a reminder to "think big" as they draw and fill their paper, and a brief modeling of how to draw a Wild Thing, kids are off to create.  Once their Wild Things have been created, we ready to count and label.  I give kids a form that says:

Wild Thing Math
by __________________

My Wild Thing has ______ _____________.

My Wild Thing has ______ _____________.

My Wild Thing has ______ _____________.

I model how to count the Wild Thing features, talking about parts of numbers as we go.  For example, 5 claws and one hand and 5 claws on the other, gives us 10 claws altogether.  We count, add, and then write the numbers on our papers.  Then I model how to sound out words by saying the words slowly and writing the sounds we hear.  We sound out words like horns, teeth, claws, stripes, and hands.  I usually write the word EYES on the board for kids, because that's a tough one to sound out when you're in kindergarten.

I love to have parent helpers (or 6th grade girls, in this case) help trim around the Wild Things. It gives them a bit more shape, and let's be honest, sometimes kindergartners' art projects are tough to decipher. Once cut, we mount the writing with the Wild Thing.  This year, kids did an especially nice job with their writing and sounding out words.  This lesson takes a while, but I love it because it wraps so many different curriculum areas into one project.  It's integration at its best!

Happy drawing, counting, adding, and writing!
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Playful Learning Mini-Ecourse

Playful Learning 101 miniCourse

I'm signing up for the Playful Learning 101 mini course!

It's only $15.  I'm going to register today.  I'd love it if you'd join me!

Happy learning!

Watercolor Leaves

A few weeks ago I shared our first watercolor experience of the school year.  We looked at pictures of fall leaves, talked about fall colors, and then painted on watercolor paper squares.  The kids learned how to wash their brushes before changing colors, experienced the way the colors blend, and learned that lots of water makes the painting kind of blurred and dreamy.

We could have stopped the project right there and the kids would have been happy.

Each child painted 3 squares of paper.  Once they were dry, we used our leaf die cut and punches the squares.  Mounted on fall colored construction paper, they look beautiful lining our hallway.

I love starting off the school year with this project because there is no such thing as an ugly leaf.  All kids are successful and feel proud of their work.  Now, I know some of you truly artsy folks are questioning the artistic value in simply die cutting the leaves and mounting them.  But, let's remember... these are kindergarten students, some of whom have never held a paint brush before.  We paint ALL THE TIME in kindergarten.  There is plenty of time to paint pictures of anything they want.  This time was just a simple learning experience in the way we use watercolor paints in the classroom.  

So pretty, mixed with our sponge painted leaves in the hallway.

Happy painting!
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