Friday, July 27, 2012

Playful Learning Chapter 4: Scientific Investigations

Welcome to my first post for the Playful Learning book study over at Teaching My 3.


I hope you enjoy! This has also been posted over at Teaching My 3.
If there were two words that belong together, it's definitely: children and curious. Children are curious about everything around them in the world. It doesn't matter what age or size, they are always observing and noticing. Plus, they typically are asking questions too. We all know (as teachers or parents) about the infamous 'why' phase that kids go through. I love watching my students and my own kids being curious.

Mariah Bruehl says that there are three stages of children developing as scientific observers.
Stage 1: Typically young children are found in this stage. They are very curious about everything! Mariah recommends lots of hands-on activities and explorations. This could be anything from letting them go outside with a magnifying glass to actually taking apart found objects like a flower or acorn. I love to point out different insects to my kids (except for ants... I'm allergic and keep my distance :) )! This summer, we have followed praying mantises, cicadas, and a walking stick. My son thought that they were so awesome! Taking your child to the library to "research" their newest interests. It's important for their discoveries to be linked to the real world. Children in the stage benefit the most when they are learning how their discoveries apply to them.

Stage 2: According to Mariah, stage 2 "is marked by a child's ability to notice, talk about, and document the finer points of the natural world." Depending on which scale you use, this would be Application/Applying on Bloom's or a Level 2 for DOK. (Check out the difference here.) Children in this stage take their observations and collections to new levels by beginning to classify, question, and draw conclusions. You can begin having your child or students form hypothesises and go through the general steps of the scientific method (question, hypothesis, experiment, draw conclusion).

Stage 3: Children at this stage are very comfortable with the process of exploring their environment as creating self-initiated experiments or discoveries. Mariah explains that two of the main characteristics of this stage are the students wanting to name objects and record discoveries. When Mariah's two children reached this stage, she introduced science notebooks to her girls. She made sure that they were accessible at all times but never, ever forced the girls to use them. To encourage them to name the objects, she showed them how to use field guides and made sure that they were always around for her girls to use as well.
How does this work in my classroom?

I love that I do many of these things in my own classroom as well. Kindergarteners are in stage 2 at the beginning of the year and slowly progress into stage 3 as the year goes on. Mariah Bruehl includes some awesome ideas for activities to encourage science investigations. I especially love the terrarium idea! I will definitely be doing something similar to this this year!

Here is another great idea for you to use this year!
Homemade hula hoops! (rosesareblue) Tags: hulahoops
from Flickr

While discussing living and non-living, take the students outside with hula hoops (either enough for each student or split them into groups to share. Provide the students with magnifying glasses, recording sheets, pencils/markers/crayons/etc., clip boards, and let them dive in!
I have the students observe and draw what they see in the circle. Then they can discuss what is living and what is non-living. I've created several sheets that you can pick and choose from. They can be put into a science notebook, projected, etc... However best fits your class/kids and your needs!
Living Nonliving Packet

Please come and visit me over at Teaching with Grace! I'd love to have more visitors and maybe a comment or two. I love reading comments from visitors!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are you like Santa?

Today was one of my favorite days of the summer. I definitely feel like Santa on this day!

Image courtesy of

Why you may ask? Because, I got my new student list for this year!! We can check our list through the on-line home e-mail system. I love checking each day and completely look forward to the day it is updated!!

Today was finally that day! (I've only been checking for the past 2 1/2 weeks!!) Right now I have 18 students (9 and 9).  It may change a little bit before next week with new students registering and everything. But it's usually right about that number. I am so excited!!!! This class will be small compared to last years 24 at the beginning of the year!

What do you look forward to each year?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Last week...

I can't believe it's the last week of my summer vacation! The summer has flown by for sure. I think it's funny that I equate this last week of summer vacation to nesting when you are pregnant. I have spent the past 24 hours cleaning, throwing out, and organizing. Here are my helpers:

Photo: Asparagus is helping too!Photo: Copper is helping clean out the closet :)

Aren't they cute little helpers? Sorry for the cruddy pictures. These were with my iPhone and uploaded to Facebook. My husband helped too but I didn't take his picture :D I'm curious what everyone else does to get ready for the new year. I still have more cleaning and organizing to do. Plus I'm making a trip to my classroom this week. I'm proud of myself because in the past years I've spent at least a week of my summer at school but this week will be the first time I'm going in... and it's only for one day. I got a TON done for this year at the end of school last year. But I know that I'll find a million things to do once I get there this week.

So, what do you do to prepare for the new school year?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blast from the past freebies!

Good morning and happy Friday! I thought that with so many of us heading back to school that I would dig back in my posts from Classic Crafter last year and share a couple of freebies over the next few days to celebrate Back to School!

A goal of mine this year is to be slightly more organized. If you know me, you're probably laughing and wondering how is that even possible. But I promise, I have a few ideas up my sleeves to do just that. Here is one my ideas: a student information sheet. Now, I have done this since my second year of teaching thanks to one of my really good friends sharing her document with me. However, the other day I was surfing on Pinterest and saw another friend pin up this:

So, I used Creating and Teaching's version (Pre-K) and made my own version to fit my classroom needs. Feel free to grab the freebie. Plus, don't forget to go check out Creating and Teaching to leave some love too. She did a great job on her awesome sheet!

Student Information Sheet

I hope that this freebie helps you! I used this info sheet last year and it was perfect for my room! I hope you are able to use it as well!

I'm on a countdown to my last week of vacation. How long until ya'll go back?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rocking with Pete!

Have you ever had a book that you just had to have for school? Well, Pete the Cat was on the top of my list. I'm really happy to say that I got it in my Scholastic order about 3 days before the end of the year last school year... but then (there's always more).... I saw this one:

Product Details

And I'm so excited because I finally went and bought it yesterday! Then, I promptly created this awesome writing packet to go with it:

Writing With Pete

Enjoy! I'd love to hear how you start off your writing at the beginning of the year. I will be filling in the blank for my lovelies while they draw their activities from the beginning of school.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Don't forget to join in...

Our book study for Playful Learning has officially started! Click below to check it out on Teaching My 3!


I can't wait to share with everyone what I have learned!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How do you 'manage' in your room?

Over the past five years of teaching I have tried many different ideas for classroom management. I've seen a ton of different ideas as well. I thought, as we are all gearing up for back to school, I'd share some and let you know how it worked for me. Just rememeber, ALL classes and teachers are different!

- Pull-a-card system- I know a lot of teachers who use this system with a set of green, yellow, and red cards for each student. Some teachers that I know even use little smiley faces instead of cards. This system works great for many different types of classes and students. You just have to make sure (like with all systems) that the expectations and consequences are very clear to the students. Also, make sure that, while it's reachable for the kids, that it's in a spot where little hands can't flip themselves back very easily.

- Sliding scale- There have been so many of these that have popped up lately! Here's a picture of mine from last year:

It works so well for so many reasons!
*The students are able to go up AND down during the day.
*It's a positive behavior management tool, not just a negative.
*Easy to understand for parents and kids.

There are so many awesome versions of this chart. I've seen it done to fit themes as guitars, rainbows, etc. Love it!

2012-2013 Management System

This year I'm doing a mix of last year's plan and a couple of new tricks that I've seen around. Since I haven't been to my classroom yet this year to take pictures, I'll just have to describe it to you :) I'm using a full sheet of poster board (instead of the long chart) and listing the actual consequences instead of the different step downs. My third graders could remember "Think About It", "Teacher's Choice", and "Parent Contact". Kindergarteners... not so much. So now it's more "5 minutes recess", "15 minutes recess", "All recess", and "Parent Contact". Anyone who doesn't move off of "Good Day" will get a "Thank you ticket" towards treasure box trips.

This way my students get more rewards for their good behaviors. After they earn 5 "Thank Yous" they can visit the treasure box. They can still slid back and forth along the chart. It's all about where they are at the end of the day. I will be going into my classroom this week to take my growing pile of classroom things. I'll post pictures then.

What classroom management system do you use in your room?


I just found the best idea ever from Under the Alphabet Tree's Jessica! Take a look at this picture:

Do you see those adorable monkeys! Click on the picture to see how she uses them. I'm totally doing this this year!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Faithful to Giveaway Madness!

I am so excited to be included in an AH-MAZING givewaway over at Faithful in First!

She just reached 400 followers and is giving away 32.. ( yes, 32 ) prizes. How awesome is that!?!?!? Check it out! You could even win any two items from my store! The great thing about this giveaway is going through next Saturday.

Good luck to everyone!

Monday, July 9, 2012

School Supply Bonanza

I know that a lot of us (like 99.9% of us as teachers) see the words "School Supply Sale" and get a tad giddy :) But, there are so many places out there that offer great sales! I typically don't do the "office" stores. I am lucky enough to live in a town with a Walmart and a Target but I know that some people have to drive to get to one or both.

Today my mom came to visit after her chemo visit and we had a great day running around and "shopping" for school supplies. I'm not going to go shopping until Friday so I decide to price different items that I'm buying. Since some of you may have to drive a long way to do this (and the prices on the website seemed really weird to me this year) so I thought that I'd share what I found today in hopes that it helps somebody else.

Packs of 100 lined index cards .64 (1.28 for 200)
60 pencils 4.13 (.07 per pencil)
12 presharpened pencils 2.24  (.19 per pencil)
Plastic folders with prongs .50
Paper folders with prongs .15
Pencil pouch 1.99
White glue .50
Packs of 15 pencil caps .99

Packs of 25 erasers .88
Packs of 200 lined index cards 1.88
Plastic folders with prongs .50
Paper folders with prongs .15
Pencil pouches .97
White glue .50

Overall several of the things are the same the only ones that differ are by a few cents. I think I'll be puchasing from Target this year. I know in years past Wal-Mart had some things for .10 but maybe they'll run some sales on things later this month.

So, what awesome finds have you found so far? Where do you like to shop?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Congratulations to....

Yay! Congratulations Peggy! I have sent your information on to Mariah Bruehl. Look for her to contact you soon! Thank you to everyone else who participated. I love giving things away! I'm currently working on a project that I'll be giving away soon... But for right now, don't forget to go back to New Listing and a Freebie. I still have another free copy of my Contagious Coins activity pack!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Daily 5 Freebie!

Daily 5 is so big right now! But for Kindergarten it's some times a challenge to have working on word activities. It was really hard for me this past year since I was new to teaching Kindergarten and Daily 5 was a new program to our grade level. Since I've been able to reflect this summer I have thought about things that I want to do differently this year. I have also been creating a new activities for my students to use. This is on that I plan on using this at the beginning of the year. I thought everyone else might want to get a copy too :) Enjoy!

Writing Letters

Have a great day!!

I'm so excited... I just can't hide it...

I know, I know... that I can't sing :D But I try my best at everything else that I do! I must be doing some of those things right because I got the sweetest comment this morning and it comes with an award! I am so touched!

I love knowing that some one else out there loves what I'm doing and thinks nice things about my blog :D I was awarded this awesome award by Lynn Kasserman from Inside this Book. Now, when you receive this award, you get to do several things to spread the love.

1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image to your post.
4. Include the award image on your blog.
5. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
6. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
7. When nominating other bloggers, include links to their sites. Let those bloggers know they have been nominated.

Now for my 7 random facts:
1. I've lived in Georgia all of my life except for one year that I spent in Peacham, VT during high school. I loved living both places.

2. I am trained to be an assessment specialist. I can't write the most awesome test questions! Of course that was way more useful in third grade than kindergarten!

3. I just got a new puppy! He's a Papillon (French for Butterfly) and his name is Copper. Isn't he adorable?

4. I long to be a runner. I was doing really great last week... lol I walked/ran for three days straight. I simply need to join a gym. If I pay for it, then I'm more likely to go.. but I can't stand giving up my account number for automatic withdrawal. I'm a pay by the month kind of girl :)

5. I love watching Disney movies with my kids. Beauty and the Beast is on right now. Yesterday we watch The Lion King... I knew pretty much all of the words!

6. I love to read! I currently am in charge of a book club with the ladies from my bible group. I love discovering new books to read! Right now I have Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and the 2nd and 3rd Hunger Games' books.

7. I used to think that my dream job in teaching was being a Literacy Coach.. until I started teaching Kindergarten. I L-O-V-E it so much! I sometimes play with the idea that I'd like to teach high school Literature.

Now for the really fun part... my nominees! Here are the teachers that I absolutely love to read!

I love Little Priorities! She is so real and down to Earth. She has a ton of wonderful ideas that she shares!

Stellar Students is an excellent third grade blog! She mixes it up with including posts about her awesome family. I love to see what she makes on her Made it on Monday posts. Definitely check out the adorable birthday frame that she made!

My Photo

Little Miss Glamour Goes To Kindergarten is an awesome blog to read. While I don't know if I could teach in stillettos, I love everything else that she does!

Kindergarten's 3 R's: Respect, Resources and Rants

Michaele was one of my first teacher blogs that I ever followed and she does not disappoint! Her content is amazing and inspirational!

Teaching My 3

Wow, Teaching My 3 makes me "almost" want to home school my kiddos. She is AH-mazing! She also does fantastic graphics and images that a lot of us use in our digital documents on TPT.

I know that this isn't 15 blogs but it's hard to find 15 blogs without this amazing award. Please make sure to check out these awesome blogs that I follow and leave them some love!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

I know everyone probably has an awesome day planned out. Don't forget to celebrate our awesome country and all the amazing men and women who have made this day possible!

Monday, July 2, 2012

New listing and a freebie!

I am so excited to be opening up my Teacher Pay Teacher store to bigger and better things! I will be adding a LOT of new items over the next few days. One of the first items that I have added is my Contagious Coins Activity Pack. I am so excited about this packet! Last year my Kinders, really struggled with learning their coins. We did a ton of work with coins: shopping, buying, counting, matching, on and on.. I've put together some of my favorite activities that I think worked the best. You can click below to see my packet:

I giggle at the name I gave it. I hope that your kids "catch" on to these coin activities. But, if you are the lucky and you are one of the first three people to comment on this post, you can get a copy for FREE! How awesome is that right?! One activity I didn't post include in the packet, because I just wanted to give it for free, is my Coin Concentration (Memory game) below. Enjoy and good luck!

Coin Concentration