Beautiful Oops

Creativity is our Swooper Citizens theme for the month of March. We started the lesson with a quick brainstorm….imagine you are in art class and your friend walks by your table and spills paint on your artwork. What do you do? We heard so many thoughtful and kind ideas. “I would help my friend clean up the spill.” “I would ask the teacher for a new paper.” “I would make the spill into something else.” Bingo!

Watch this video clip with author Barney Saltzberg: (It won’t center itself on the page for some reason!)

Mr. Saltzberg wrote a wonderfully creative book called Beautiful Oops. Read it here:

We followed up the book with a Beautiful Oops project. Each student was given a piece of paper with an oops on it. Look what they created:

“footsteps in the grass”


“a dog and a tiger”

What beautiful oopses!

Happy 100th Day!

Morning car line was quite exciting today as the kindergartners entered school dressed as they might look when they are 100 years old.

We made 100 Day hats and did some fun writing activities about the number 100.

Next we made trail mix using 100 pieces of food. Students counted by tens to 100 and represented the number 100 with tally marks. Then the enjoyed their trail mix.


We set up our collections of 100 items on our desks and were ready for the 100 Day Parade!

100 Lego bricks

100 Barbie shoes

100 jewels

100 buttons

Below are some fun collections we saw in other classrooms:


We ended the day with a 100 cupcakes celebration!


Here’s to many more special days of learning ahead!

Swooper Citizens

We discussed citizenship this week. Citizenship means being a part of a community and taking pride in it. The lesson began with students brainstorming the communities to which they belong: Laguna Blanca, Santa Barbara, California, Girl Scouts, United States, and so on. Then we discussed ways in which we show pride in our communities, like by picking up trash, or saying “please” and “thank you.” This discussion was followed by a read aloud, If Everybody Did, by Jo Ann Stover. This books shows what might happen if everybody did something that was unhelpful, like if everyone picked flowers, the plants would be bare, or if everybody left their toys on the stairs, there would be a huge mess.

We took this idea of If everybody did and paired students up to create a poster depicting what would happen if everybody did something positive, like pick up trash or clean up their dishes. The students did a great job working with their partner to come up with and illustrate their idea.

We made the posters into a class book that the students can enjoy.

That reminds me….I eagerly awaiting the bright pink compassion slips to be returned. You may remember last week, each student was given a slip of paper with an act of compassion on it, and they were encouraged to complete that simple act. If your child did, please have them bring the slip of paper back to me with their name on it so we can record how we showed compassion. Thanks!

Fossil Day

As our dinosaur unit is coming to an end, it was most appropriate for students to learn about fossils. We had a wonderful addition to our learning day today when a parent offered to come in and lead a fossil exploration! Look at what happened:

Students participated in a fossil dig in our very own sandbox!

I followed the activity with an in depth presentation of how fossils are created. Next, students evaluated two dinosaur skull fossils to determine facts about them.

This student extends her learning….she notices the sharp teeth and then makes inferences that the dinosaur had sharp claws and walked on two legs….because carnivorous dinosaurs had sharp teeth, claws and walked on two legs.)

Such a great example of how students’ learning has come together!

We ended the lesson by playing a fun online fossil finding game and eating dinosaur bones that Dr. Kia-Keating prepared.

Here is the link to the game, if you child wants to explore at home:

Thank you so much Dr. Kia-Keating for preparing such an engaging activity for the students! I will be asking to borrow your molds next year!

Put a Little Love in your Heart

What a special Valentine’s Day! Kindergarten started the day singing a beautiful message at Tecolote Tuesday.

Did you notice that some of the students were serenading specific audience members? Adorable!

After the performance, our third grade buddies came over for a STEM project. Students worked together to construct a Valentine’s Day catapult. Tomorrow, scientific data collection begins, but today, they had fun figuring out a way to make a catapult that will launch a Sweetheart Candy the farthest.

The day continued with a Swooper Citizens lesson on Compassion. We played a game “Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes.” Students were paired up and given a shoe card with a scenario on it. For example, “Mary spilled ketchup on her white shirt. How does she feel?” or “Joe was not invited to Steve’s birthday party. How does he feel?” The partners discussed these different scenarios, placing themselves in someone else’s shoes. When we came back together as a group, I chose a few scenarios to expand upon. I asked, “How did Mary feel about the spilled ketchup?” and then challenged, “How could you show Mary compassion?” The students offered great ideas, like “help her clean up,” or “offer her a new shirt.”

In order to give students an opportunity to practice being compassionate, they were asked to choose a piece of paper from a special box. On that piece of paper I had written an act of compassion. Students are encouraged to complete this act of compassion at some point during the week and return the paper to me with their name on it.

As part of our Valentine’s Day activities, students presented their February Family STEAM Project…a mailbox! Once again, these creations were amazing!

Then it was finally time to pass out the cards and enjoys some special snacks!

These Cupid’s Arrows were a hit!

I loved watching the students’ sweet reactions to their friends’ cards. It was wonderful to have the classroom completely focused on friendship and celebrating each other. They were each so appreciative of every Valentine and spent time taking in the details.

Parents, be sure to look in your child’s backpack tonight for a very special gift, made for you with love. (Thanks Room Mom’s for all your help!)

Our hearts are full!

Kindergarten Paleontologists!

The kindergartners became paleontologists today during Friday Fun. Their task? To excavate chocolate chips from a chocolate chip cookie!

Using professional-grade paleontology tools, like a pick, brush, and small shovel, students worked to carefully unearth the chocolate chips. (Just kidding…students used toothpicks, paint brushes, and fancy square spoons…)

The results were exciting. Many of the students were able to dig out the fossils without breaking the “ground”! They recorded their data:

 Most students felt that being a paleontologist is hard work!

The Grand Finale!

Though our dinosaur unit is far from over, the kindergartners made their dinosaur presentations today. I was thrilled to start the presentations with a song they have been working on in music class We are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner. What is even more exciting is that they are learning to play the ukuleles!

Next, students shared their research through the app Shadow Puppet. We put all their artwork and research into one fabulous video!

After the presentations, students enjoyed a dinosaur shaped sandwich while showing their parents their reports and dioramas.

What a dino-mite day!

First Lego League, Jr.

I had the opportunity to accompany our third grade class to Legoland this past weekend for the culminating activity in their First Lego League Jr. experience. Back in December, I joined Ms. Svedlund as the second coach for the Laguna Lego League team. The theme for this year was Creature Craze, and the challenge was three-fold:

  1. Choose an animal that lives within the same habitat as the honey bee
  2. Learn about the animal and its habitat
  3. Show what you learn through a LEGO model and ShowMe poster.

Our team met once a week after school for eight weeks. Students began by choosing their animal and creating a team name. We were thrilled to have three teams: the Butterfly Bunch, who chose to research the butterfly, the Tweeters, who chose to research the mountain blue jay, and the Peregrine Falcons, who researched the Peregrine Falcon. In conjunction with their animal research, we educated students on the honey bee and the honey bees habitat. Students built the honey bee hive kit that the Lego League provided for each team and began to brainstorm ideas on how to incorporate the hive into their habitat.

The next step was for the teams to sketch preliminary plans for their model. Then the building began!

One of the requirements was that each model had to have a moving part. Using the WeDo 2.0 kit, students used a motor and constructed a moving part. They then modified their piece to better fit their animal. The Butterfly Bunch, for example made the butterfly move using a motorized pulley, while the Tweeters made their mountain blue jays beak open and close using simple gears and a pulley. The Falcons built a sweep that they transformed into spinning talons. Teams then programmed the moving piece to do its movement.

Students were also required to create a Show Me poster that included information about themselves, their research on both the honey bee and their animal, and the process for creating their model.

The final step was to meet at Legoland for the Expo! We set up the models and posters and waited for the reviewers to visit each group.

Here are a few clips from the Expo that highlight the moving parts of the model.

 The students presented their creations and were confident in answering the many questions the reviewers asked.

The Expo ended with a High Five Ceremony, where each participant received a ribbon and a certificate, and the reviewers spoke about each project.


What a fun and educational day! We are very proud of our third grade teams.

The Amazing Tomatillo….

Did you know that scientists discovered fossils of tomatillos that date back to the end of the Cretaceous Period when the last dinosaurs were roaming the earth?! I sure didn’t! A parent sent me this recipe as an idea for Friday Fun. And the students ate it up!! They loved chopping the ingredients and making their own batch of salsa.

Students had to wait until after PE to enjoy their hard work! But it was worth it!

The craft activity this week was a two-step process. Today, students chose a cardboard cutout of a dinosaur and used colored glue to add details and patterns. Once the glue dries, students will paint over the entire surface with tempera, creating a resist effect. I am excited to see how these turn out!

This was a great activity for building fine motor strength.

Dinosaur Creative Writing

Students wrote these creative writing stories a few weeks ago, but they are so fun, I just have to share! The writing prompt was, “Imagine you wake up, and there is a dinosaur in your backyard. What would you do? How might you spend the day?” In addition to focusing on leaving spaces between words and ending punctuation, students were encouraged to write using only lowercase letters, except when a capital letter was necessary. That’s a lot to think about!! Here are some responses:

It is exciting to see how the students’ writing is transitioning from best guess to more conventional spelling.