A Special Day for Special Athletes!

We had our big field trip today to the Santa Barbara Special Olympics! Our cheering squad brought their enthusiasm and some very special posters and flags to wave to cheer on the athletes!

Once we were seated, the students spotted Andrew running by, practicing before the event!

Cheers erupted from the Laguna students!

We also enjoyed the Opening Ceremonies.

I am hoping to get some “on the field” pictures and videos of Andrew from his mom that I will post! What a special day!

Spring Musical-A Job Well Done!

The kindergartners are still glowing from the excitement our musical play performance created! We are astounded by what the classes accomplished in three short weeks. Ordinary Mary’s and Ordinary Jerry’s Extraordinary Deed taught an important lesson that the students will hopefully remember to use in their own lives: a child’s compassion and good deeds CAN change the world.

“Blueberry Hill”

I brought my old school Blackberry in for Dr. Tom to use….he got such a kick out of it!

“Honesty, is such a lovely word. And that is what I heard from you….”

I want to give a BIG thank you to Ms. Atkinson for her clever song writing and adaptations of the book and music. It was extra fun for me to work with music that was recognizable and so upbeat. And, who doesn’t love a little Billy Joel?!

Here is a link to ms. Atkinson’s blog…she has some additional video footage you will enjoy.

Bravo, First Grade!


We had a fun week exploring crabs. Students learned some fun facts about these creatures including they have eight legs and two pincers. (I had to convince the students that they are indeed called pincers and not pinchers.) We also learned that the largest crab is as big as a person! (eeewwwww!) I showed students this video on hermit crabs….so interesting!

On Tuesday, students participated in an experiment where they used the three types of claws that crabs can have: scooping, grasping, and scraping. They tried to “eat” different types of food to determine which type of claw worked best for them.

Students try collecting food using a scraping claw (small spoon), like that of a shore crab.

Students use a scooping claw (ice cream scooper and large spoon) like that of a porcelain crab.

H. uses grasping claws (chopsticks, salad tongs, clothespin), like those of a hermit crab.

After each student used each type of claw, we came back together to discuss our findings. Watch the funny video below. The crab eyes on the headbands are super wiggly!

During Friday Fun, students made a crabby crabwich. How cute are these?!

We changed the recipe a bit adding blueberries instead of olives for the eyes,  strawberries instead of peppers for the pincers, a slice of mandarin for the mouth instead of a slice of radish…we also added the CORRECT number of carrot legs…EIGHT!!

The added bonus fro this activity for me was that the students ate almost ALL the crab pieces! Looks like a good, healthy snack!

Earth Day

We love Earth Day! Students listened to a few of my favorite Earth Day books, including Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a girl who promises her grandfather that she will make the world more beautiful. As she grows up, she sees that the world is already a beautiful place. One spring she plants some lupine seeds. Two years later she is surprised when she sees that the seeds have spread all over her town, causing beautiful lupines to bloom! She decides that she will make the earth more beautiful by sowing more seeds.

I then asked students to make an Earth Day Pledge. What are some things they can do to make the Earth a healthier, more beautiful place to live?  Here are some of their ideas:

We also made earth paintings using a marbleized paint technique.  This technique is so fun…you will want to try it at home!!

First, students added liquid water color to shaving cream.

Then they mixed the colors with the shaving cream….I used my hands, but the students used a craft stick because the liquid watercolor tends to stain a bit!

Next, students pressed a cut out circle into the mixture.

Lastly, I scraped off the excess shaving cream and viola! Marbled earths!

I put all the pieces together and now have a beautiful, fresh bulletin board!

Happy Earth Day!

There’s an Athlete in the House!

We were very lucky today to meet an athlete who will be participating in the Special Olympics next week. Andrew and his mom dropped by to teach us a bit about Special Olympics. We also got to learn about Andrew himself. He is six years old, like many of the students in our class, and is in kindergarten. Andrew loves ice cream, swimming, running, and playing, also like the kindergartners. The students were excited to learn about these similarities and were eager to share with Andrew what they like to do. Andrew’s mom, Amber, also mentioned that there are some differences that Andrew has, like he has just one hand, and he has Downs Syndrome which means his brain and body are a little different than theirs. It makes it hard for Andrew to talk. Andrew has learned to do many activities with his one hand, like cross the monkey bars, swim, or swing.

Next Friday, Andrew will participate in three events including the 50 yard dash, the softball throw, and the long jump. He quickly won over the hearts of the students and received many hugs and high fives before he left. The kindergartners are already planning what their banners and flags that they will make for the Special Olympics will say!

Ocean Animal Presentations

What a great way to start the day! Parents joined students for their BrainPop movie presentations.We have been working on this project for three weeks! It all started with research. Students learned about their ocean animals habitat, life cycle, body, and diet. They were encouraged to add a fun fact as well.

Once they wrote down their research, students began the process of making a BrainPop movie. You might remember that BrainPop is a teaching tool I use frequently in the classroom. They offer a large variety of short animated movies on a broad range of topics. With a recent overhaul of their website came the addition of Make-a-Movie. To help students prepare to make a movie, I created a template that outlined the steps needed for each slide, such as choosing a background color and deciding what text or images were necessary. Here is what that looked like:

The makers of BrainPop are still working out the bugs, so sometimes the iPAD was the best option for students…

and other times the desktop was necessary. I was very appreciative with the students’ flexibility with this project, as several times as they were working on a slide, the slide was unable to be saved and their creations were lost. The students definitely demonstrated resilience!

After the slides were created, each student narrated their facts. I loved the enthusiasm and sense of humor they infused into their presentations. Enjoy! (There is currently no way to share the movies from the Brainpop site, so I have recorded the movies…I apologize in advance for the shakiness!)

Humpback Whale


Gray Whale


Sea Lion


Sperm Whale

Blue Whale

Sea Horse

Tiger Shark


Our Swooper Citizens theme of the month is enthusiasm, the perfect character trait to learn about as we work together as a team to put together our musical play. Ms. Atkinson and I also have planned a very special field trip for our classes where students will have the chance to demonstrate enthusiasm. At the end of the month, the Special Olympics will come to La Playa Stadium. The kindergarten and first grade students will be official “fans in the stands,” where they will cheer on the athletes. In preparation for this, students will paint banners that will offer encouragement and show enthusiasm.

I was delighted to hear that my friend Amber’s son, Andrew, will be participating in the Special Olympics this year.

Amber paid a special visit to our classroom last year when we were learning about the character trait of understanding. Here is the post I made about that visit:


I was even more delighted when Amber accepted my invitation to bring Andrew to Lower School for a visit. It will be a wonderful opportunity for the students to get to know Andrew before cheering for him and the other athletes!

MOXI: Museum of Exploration and Innovation

The newly opened MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation was the stop for our first field trip in April. What an exciting and hands on place to visit! Below are some of the innovative exhibits the students found most enjoyable (Descriptions of each activity are taken from the MOXI website):

“Speed Track: Feed your need for speed as you build your own race car and send it down our test track. Prototype designs for a marble roller coaster.”

“Foley Studios: Be a part of Hollywood magic when you step into our Foley Studios to create your own sound effects for a popular film clip.”

“Fantastic Forces Courtyard: Conduct test flights in our Wind Column Workshop. Play with all these things and more in our grand Fantastic Forces Courtyard that soars up three stories to the glass ceiling of the Sky Garden.”

“Light Track: Explore the world of lights, colors, shadows and more in this area where science and technology beautifully combine with visual arts and creative expression.”

Sky Garden:

“Play and experiment with fluid dynamics in a spectacular way at Whitewater, our fully interactive water feature including a giant Archimedes screw.”

“Create a wind-, sun- and human-powered symphony with the Weather Orchestra.”

“Step inside the Lookout Tower to see the city a bit differently through the lenses of five different observation scopes.”

“Walk across our glass Sky Deck for a unique view of the courtyard below.”

“Tech Track: Discover a unique showcase for a wide range of digital interactive experiences designed in partnership with area artists, educators and scientists.”

What a memorable day of learning this was!


We learned about how ocean animals use camouflage. I showed these amazing images from National Geographic, and we tried to find each of the ocean animals.

Here is the link to these great images:http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/photos/undersea-camouflage/#/camouflage01-tasselled-angler-fish_13507_600x450.jpg

(All images are from National Geographic)

I then read aloud Mister Sea Horse, by Eric Carle. While the book tells the story of how male sea horses and a few other “male mothers” give birth to their young, it also illustrates the concept of camouflage nicely.

Students then created their own camouflage picture using a page protector, permanent marker, sea horse drawing, and tissue paper.

I love how these turned out!

Ocean Zones

When we first started the Ocean Unit, the students were taught that the ocean has four zones: the Sunlit, Twilight, Midnight (below called the Dark Zone), and Abyssal Zones.

I made a bulletin board in that classroom that illustrates these zones. As you know, each student is researching an ocean animal. They have illustrated their fish, mammal, or invertebrate and placed it on the bulletin board in the zone in which it lives.


I love having this visual as part of our classroom decor!