Desk Pets

What encourages positive behavior and gives students a chance to engage in creative writing? Desk pets, of course! The kindergarten students were introduced to these cute little items yesterday.

I chose to have ocean animal-themed desk pets, as we are still studying oceans.

Desk Pets are just like real pets. They need food, shelter, and exercise. I am using mini erasers for food and exercise and these great little boxes from Dollar Tree for shelters.

During Literacy Workstations, students met with me to fill out an adoption application. They took this activity very seriously.

The application asked for details such as the age of the desk pet, the potential name for the desk pet, and why the student would be a good owner. Then, students had to agree to:

-keep their pet in their provided home

-check-in on their pet each day they are at school

-always work hard in class to earn food, games, and decorations for their pet

-keep their desk clean.

The application was signed and dated….we’re very official here in kindergarten.

Then, they waited in anticipation as I reviewed each application overnight.

This morning during Literacy Workstations students were presented with their official certificates of adoption. There were big cheers all around!

After our math lesson, we had a few extra minutes for the students to read books from their book bins. I was delighted to see so many of the students reading aloud to their new desk pet.

In the days to come, students will keep a journal about their desk pets. I will also provide them with materials to make blankets and rugs for their pets. Some students are even incorporating their desk pets into their Choice Time activities! The possibilities are endless!

 

100 (Now 111!) Days Smarter!

We celebrated our 100th day two weeks ago with a very special day filled with learning and fun! We began with the hunt for 100 Hershey Kisses.

Next, I organized eight different learning rotations for the students to enjoy. Each student received a passport for the day to help keep track of the activities they completed. The stations included:

100 Licks!

Students predicted how many licks it would take to get to the middle of their mini-Tootsie Pop.

Would you believe it took more than 100 licks for most of the students?!

100 chart puzzle

Next up was a custom 100 chart puzzle I created for each student. I differentiated these puzzles by cutting the 100 chart into a certain number of pieces that best met the needs of each student. They LOVED this activity, and I put the puzzles in baggies for students to take home and to use over and over again!

Students made a 100th-day crown. They used stickers to make ten groups of ten. I love how these turned out!

Students used polka dot daubers to make 100 gumballs.

Students linked numbers zero-100 together in order from least to greatest.

Using ten groups of ten different colored pony beads, students made a festive necklace.

But the surprise favorite was building with 100 cups!

Students brought in collections of 100 items. There was a fun variety of collections!

But my favorite 100th-day activity this year was the writing activity and the aged-photo I created to go along with it!

I used the app AgingBooth to make each students’ 100-year-old photo.

 

Ice Fishing

It has been chilly for Santa Barbara recently, so the kindergarteners did some ice fishing. They fished for short vowel and long vowel words!

Once students had multiple fish, they put them into ABC order.

There was excitement all around! Students asked to be able to go ice fishing during Choice Time….nothing tells me that an activity is a winner like students wanting to play with it during Choice Time!

 

Glowing Under the Sea!

We went diving into our new ocean unit! I wanted to make the first day of this unit BIG, so I went with a glow-in-the-dark theme…like the bioluminescent animals in the midnight zone! I painted coral reef backgrounds. The students had made glow-in-the-dark jellies in art class last week that I had planned to use as part of the display.

I recorded students’ reactions as they entered the classroom when they arrived at school.  They were so surprised that almost every student was silent! After their outside playtime, I recorded again as they all entered the classroom together.  THIS was the reaction I was originally expecting!

I planned different activities….each activity had a glow-in-the-dark component. I displayed the rotation of activities on the SmartBoard. Students knew which group they were a part of according to the sea animal on their headband.

Here is a closer look at the activities:

Students searched the room for sea animals with pictures on them. They then spelled the words on their activity sheet using a highlighter.

Using a glow-in-the-dark ruler, students measured sea creatures and recorded their answers in inches. They again used a highlighter to record their answers.

Building items found under the sea using glow-in-the-dark rubber bands and geoboards was a hit!

There were many fun designs.

Coloring CVC words using neon crayons was fun as well.

Students identified 3D shapes, including the number of faces and vertices each shape has.

Students strengthened spatial awareness and practiced identifying shapes by building sea animals with pattern blocks.

The final activity was using glow-in-the-dark perler beads to make an ocean animal. Glow-in-the-dark perler beads?! Who knew?! This activities is a great one for strengthening fine motor.

 

We had so much fun learning in the midnight zone. I was impressed with how well the kindergarteners focused in the glowing classroom. What a special day!

Dinosaur Reports

Students have been working on a dinosaur research project for the past month, and today was the day they finally had the opportunity to share their hard work. The research process began in January when students chose a dinosaur that was unfamiliar to them. Using the website Pebblego, students browsed through dozens and dozens of potential choices that included herbivores, carnivores, sauropods, theropods, bird-like dinosaurs, and more. I created a special research folder for each student that I personalized once they chose their dinosaur.

Next, students created a pencil sketch of their dinosaur on their title page.

Then the research began! There were six questions the students used to guide their learning.

Students were encouraged to write using their best guess spelling. At this time in the year, our goal is to write using spaces between words and beginning capitalization with some ending punctuation.

As part of this collaborative unit, the kindergarten class learned about dinosaurs in each of their specialist classes. In Technology, for example, students drew and labeled their chosen dinosaur.

In art class, students used oil pastels to draw their dinosaur in their habitat.

The final piece was a clay sculpture!

We took all these collaborations and put them together using an app called Shadow Puppet. Here is the end result:

I am so proud of the students’ projects!

Dino Day!

We are finishing up our Dinosaur Unit, and today was our official “Dino Day,” where it was dinosaur activities ALL DAY! In preparation for our big day, students made a paleontologist hat to wear while participating in the activities.

Our paleontologists worked deep in the jungle today.

 

We used our time from the beginning of school until before lunch to complete seven different rotations. I structured the activities like this:

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the activities. The Fizzy Dino Egg activity started more than two weeks ago when the students each made their own dinosaur egg using baking soda, water, and food coloring.

Students mixed the ingredients.

Then, they molded the mixture around a plastic dinosaur toy, creating the shape of an egg.

We let those eggs dry, and then today, students used pipettes and vinegar to melt the egg and reveal the dinosaur inside!

It took a lot of patience and fine motor work to finally hatch the dinosaur!

The Dinosaur Discovery activity was a write the room activity, where students took their clipboards and walked around the room in search of dinosaur-themed words. They then recorded these words in the Dino Dig Day notebooks. Activity three was Dino Dig, where students had to chisel away and reveal a dinosaur.

Students then had a chance to build dinosaurs using pattern blocks.

For rotation 5, students chose a variety of dinosaur stickers to use as inspiration for writing dinosaur sentences. They LOVED all the sticker choices!

“1. This is a carnivore.
2. It hunts.
Pterodactyl is not a dinosaur.”

I love how students are using their best guess spelling to demonstrate what they have learned!

“1. This is a dinosaur eating a plant.
2. This is a mommy dinosaur that’s coming to its baby.”

Rotation six had students measuring dinosaur footprints and comparing their size to their own feet!

Another dinosaur-themed math activity was the Dinosaur Math Toss where students tossed a bean bag through a hole. They then chose one of the numbers on the hole and used it to write an addition equation, which they later solved.

After the rotations were finished, students had a chance to practice being a paleontologist. They were given paleontologists tools: a chisel (toothpick), a shovel (gelato spoon), and a brush (watercolor brush) to use to excavate chocolate chips from a cookie. Once removed from the cookie, students counted and compared the number of chocolate chips.

It was a fun way to end the day!

What If You Had T-Rex Teeth?!

We had the most fun with this activity! I read aloud the book What If You Had T-Rex Teeth?! and Other Dinosaur Parts to the class.

From Amazon: If you could have any dinosaur body part, which would you choose?

What if you woke up one morning and you had sprouted a dinosaur body part overnight? What If You Had T. rex Teeth? — the next imaginative book in the What If You Had series — explores what would happen if you looked in the mirror and saw that you had become part dino! From a Velociraptor’s sharp sickle-tipped toes to a T. rex’s giant curved teeth, and from the body armor of an Ankylosaurus to the long neck of a Brachiosaurus — discover what it would be like if you had one of these wild dinosaur parts! Readers will also learn what makes a dinosaur a dinosaur and why they aren’t still around today.

I created an activity for the students where, using the dinosaur that they have researched, they chose that particular dinosaur’s most important part and imagined what would happen if they had that body part! Students had so much fun imagining what they would look like with a Lambeosaurus’ crest or a Maiasaurus’ tail. To add a little extra flair, I took a picture of each student, which they transformed into their special dinosaur part. We are working on spelling using best guess spelling. I love seeing what sounds the students hear and how that translates to the letters they choose to write words.

Too much fun!

The Color of Us

As we were heading into the three-day weekend where we have Monday off to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., I felt compelled to help students understand why we have this day as a holiday. I began the lesson by reading the book:

From Amazon: With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmonies, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity, are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. Vivid illustrations of children’s activities for all cultures, such as swimming in the ocean, hugging, catching butterflies, and eating birthday cake, are also provided. This delightful picturebook offers a wonderful venue through which parents and teachers can discuss important social concepts with their children.

I then told the students that we would not have school on Monday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I asked if anyone had any information to share on Dr. King. One student raised his hand, and he said, “He wanted all people to be treated equally.” I asked the student to expand upon that thought. What does it mean to be treated equally? The student told the class that people who had black skin had to drink from different water fountains and had to ride in the back of the bus or on a different bus entirely. “Yes,” I said, “Dr. King gathered peacefully to educate people that one’s skin color does not matter. Everyone deserves to have equal access to water fountains, buses, education, and so much more.”

To further illustrate this idea that what we see on the outside does not make us who we are on the inside, I used an activity that I was given during our last professional development day earlier this month. In fact, in our PLC (Professional Learning Community) group, it had been my turn to present. Each of our presentations this year has a DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) focus. I wanted to discuss creative and innovative ways to integrate people of color into my curriculum. With an already full schedule, I was finding it challenging to attain this goal in meaningful ways. I strived to do more than read a book authored by a person of color or that has a Black main character. I also wanted to teach the students about Black leaders who have made a difference, including artists, musicians, scientists, writers, doctors, and more. My colleagues brainstormed many ideas with me, and I am thrilled with the innovative lessons and collaboration ideas we discussed.

One of the lessons a colleague suggested involved showing the students two different colored eggs to illustrate that people are like eggs…different colors on the outside but the same on the inside. Because my family has 13 pet chickens, I decided to bring in all the colored eggs laid daily in our coop. Look at the beautiful range of colors:

When I began the lesson, I asked the students to describe what they saw. They noticed that the eggs looked different, describing the colors that they saw. I had them choose two eggs to draw on their worksheet. Next, I carefully cracked each egg into a bowl. Here is what we saw:

“Mrs. Delwiche!” one student exclaimed. “It’s just like us! We might look different on the outside, but on the inside, we are all the same!” I could not have said it better! There was so much excitement in the air as the children recorded their findings.

Each week for the next month and a half, I plan to introduce a Black leader who has impacted our lives today. These leaders range from scientists to artists to athletes to t.v. personalities.  I have compiled mini books that share information about these leaders in a kindergarten appropriate way. I know the students will be excited to learn through this collection of mini books.

Gingerbread Celebration

Wooden gingerbread house craft

We finished our gingerbread literacy unit today with a fun celebration. Before I get to the activities from today, I want to share a little bit more about the gingerbread unit. We began by learning about the history of gingerbread and then moved into reading more than a dozen versions of the folktale The Gingerbread Man. These versions included The Gingerbread Girl, The Gingerbread Boy, The Gingerbread Pirate, The Runaway Latkes, The  Runaway Rice Cake, The Runaway Dreidel, Stop that Pickle!, The Gingerbread Baby, The Gingerbread Cowboy, and MORE!! We compared the characters, setting, and plot of these stories. Students also used their five senses to explore a gingerbread cookie. Throughout the unit, we completed two experiments. First, we tried to figure out why the gingerbread cookie would rely on the fox to cross the river. We put a gingerbread cookie in water and watched what happened. It quickly became clear that the poor cookie would disintegrate!  Next, we each made a hypothesis on which liquid would dissolve the gingerbread cookie the fastest. Here is a time-lapse of that experiment:

The liquids we used (going clockwise from the top) were water, milk, apple juice, and rootbeer soda.

Back to today’s celebration! For Friday Fun, there were three activities: making a gingerbread necklace, building 3D shapes using gumdrops and toothpicks, and designing and painting a wooden gingerbread house.

A student beads a gingerbread necklace.

Students use gumdrops and toothpicks to create 3D shapes.

They used their Gingerbread Notebooks to record how many gumdrops and toothpicks they used for each shape.

Finally, students designed and painted wooden gingerbread houses. I found this project a few weeks ago and was so excited to bring it into the classroom. It took some prep, and thankfully, I have a handy husband. He cut different shapes and sizes of wood. I then sanded each one to get rid of any splinters or sharp edges.

Next, I stained each piece of wood with a rich brown wood stain.

My six-year-old son, 16-year-old daughter, and I each created a prototype.

During our celebration, students first used paper and pencil to design.

Students then sketched their designs on the wood using a pencil.

Pencil sketch

Next, students used a paint pen to trace over their pencil lines.

Finally, they painted their roofs white.

I just LOVE how these turned out!

Next year, this will be one of the first projects we do in December so that we can have them up during our unit!

 

Busy Little Elves!

The kindergarten students had a big surprise when they arrived at school today….our classroom had transformed into an Elves Workshop!

Each student had an elf hat on their desk. (Would you believe I glued the ears all on UPSIDE DOWN?! Yikes! We all got a good laugh about that!)

I had four activities planned for the students.

Students wrapped the gifts that they made for their parents. This was great fine motor work!

After wrapping their gifts, students chose ribbon to add flair and created a personalized gift tag.

Another activity was a hidden word activity where students used magnifying glasses to find CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words hidden in the picture of an elf.

Students also used unifix cubes to measure gifts.

The final activity had students searching the classroom for stockings. They read each CVC word, found the matching picture on the recording sheet, and then wrote the word.

I absolutely adored hearing the students’ excitement and responses to the activities. After we had completed the workshop stations, I gave students a few minutes to decorate their desks. This was perhaps the best gift yet:

Have I mentioned just how much I LOVE my job?!