Preparing for the 100th Day! Freebie!

I took the day off today to go to an appointment and to see my daughter in the city spelling bee. She got out on the word "necessary", because she added an extra c. So we've been teasing her all night - it's amazing how many times you can work "necessary" into a conversation. Before you think I'm a meanie for teasing her, it's the best way to deal with loss for her - if we make it funny she gets over it quicker than if we treated her tenderly.

I stopped at my classroom at dismissal to check out how my sub was - it seems she did a great job, so I will have to make sure to put her on our request list! It is amazing how hard it is to come by good subs! We've had subs in our school this year who have told kids that they were stupid for missing words in the school spelling bee, one told a 2nd grader to "shut his big mouth" for talking in the breakfast line, and of course, the infamous sub who didn't read the kindergarten bus list and allowed a non-bus student to get on the bus which resulted in a 2 hour search for the child before he turned up safe and sound at a local daycare!

Of course I had to clean up my room a little and then I decided to prepare some of our things for our 100th day on Friday! I found some blackline drawings and used my Elmo to blow them up on my Smartboard so I could trace them onto butcher paper. I will be putting my kiddos in groups of 4-5 to cut out and glue 100 gumballs in a gumball machine, 100 pepperonis on a pizza, 100 spots on a dalmatian and 100 fish in a fish bowl! Unfortunately we're out of lamination again, so I have to cross my fingers that my creations survive the process in good enough condition to hang up around the school!

Here are some of the other activities I have planned : putting together 100 piece puzzles (bought them at the Dollar Store tonight!), writing 100 word stories, reading 100 books and doing 100 second math drills! I'm always open to new ideas, so if you have a great 100th Day activity, please comment below!

I decided not to have my kiddos do a 100th Day homework project, because unfortunately only about 1/4 would even participate :( We have a big problem with our parental involvement at our school. Remember the sight word packets I made up (this post)? I made up 15 packets, thinking optimistically. Out of 300+ students, only 4 parents showed up! Granted it was held at 8am when most working parents are busy getting ready to go to work, but we also have a large population of unemployed/stay-at-home parents and they didn't attend either. I have voiced concerns in the past that our daytime events exclude our working parents, but I was told that they can just "ask their boss to let them come in 1/2 hour late". Hmm, reality check folks! In this economic climate, is a mother of 4 who is the sole income earner in the family going to potentially jeopardize her job by asking for time off for school functions or is she going to save that time off for when the kids are sick?

Anyways, here are some of the books I purchased for our 100th Day - I will be reading these all week, and I chose a variety of reading levels, because I have kiddos still reading at a kindergarten level, while others are reading at a 5th grade level!

I also made a quick "make a word" page for using the letters in "one hundred days" as well as a graphing packet based on the question "Would you eat 100?" Please leave me a comment if you use it, I love to know if my creations are helpful! I know the preview looks wonky, but I promise that the actual file is fine - I'm not sure why it always looks messed up, if anyone knows how to fix previews like that please let me know!

100th day

Winners and Tagged!

Wow, what a weekend! Sorry I'm a day late in posting the giveaway winners, but I do have the results now:

In 3rd place was Heather! She wins a copy of my Valentine's Day Math  and Literacy Unit:

2nd Place:
In second place was Rachel! She wins the clipboards AND a copy of my Valentine's Day Math and Literacy Unit!

1st Place:
The 1st place winner was Beth Ann! She wins the rag wreath and a copy of my Valentine's Day Math and Literacy Unit!

Thank you to everyone who entered! I am so grateful to each of you for following my little blog!

The latest thing going around bloggyville is a game of tag apparently! I've been tagged by Rebecca from  Teaching First, Laura from Kinder Kraziness, Cheryl from Crayons and Curls AND Staci from Going Nutty! I must be really slow to have been tagged by so many people! Guess I need to exercise even in bloggy world!

Here are the rules for playing this game of tag:
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the "Tagger" sent you in their post, then create 12 new questions for the people you tag.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
5. Let them know they've been tagged!

Okay, I'm going to try to make this super short and sweet, here are my 12 fun facts:
12. I was in the Army for 3 years.
11. I met my husband in the military - he's still in :)
10. My husband proposed after 3 weeks and we got married a week later!
9. We've been married for 13 years now!
8. We have 4 wonderful children, but I wouldn't quibble if God decided to send us another girl!
7. My oldest is in the city spelling bee tomorrow! Cross your fingers for her please!
6. I am usually late for nearly everything, even when I try to be on time my children usually end up sabotaging me!
5. I have been hounding people about watching the "Touch" series premiere because I liked it so much that I'm dying to have people to talk about it with! I can't wait until the end of March to see more!
4. I like to eat vegetable dip without chips - the kind with Knorr soup mix and sour cream - I just mix up a container and eat it with a spoon!
3. My idea of an ideal weekend is to spend it at home, curled up with a book and my electric blanket!
2. I am a cheap date - I drink very infrequently so it takes very little to make me tipsy! 2 glasses and I am giggling like a loon and not making much sense at all.
1. I tend to lose track of things - like my purse, which I've left at a McDonald's and a Carl's Jr. and got back both times with all contents intact! This is the reason that I do not have a cell phone of my own - chances are I would "set it and forget it" within a month! By the way, I say "Uh oh, I set it and forget it again!" all the time in class and my kiddos know that's the cue to start looking around the room for whatever I'm searching for - thank goodness for little helpers!

Wow, since I was tagged by so many people, there's no way that I can answer all of their questions! I will use Rebecca's questions since she tagged me first!

1. What is your favorite t.v. show? Glee! I have all the cds and I love watching the show!

2. What was your favorite food as a child? My mom was Dutch and she made a lot of Dutch food - my favorite was the oliebollen that we only ate on New Year's Day!

3. What is one of your favorite quotes? Ohh, hard one! There are so many I love, but I'll have to pick this one:

4. What is your favorite season of the year? Depends on where I'm living! I've lived in Germany and Canada and grew up in Illinois and I loved winter in all of those places! Here is Oklahoma there isn't much difference between fall and winter! So I guess Spring time in Oklahoma is the best.
5. If you could have any technology in your classroom, what would you ask for? I have all the technology I need now - Smartboard, Elmo and some student laptops and desktops!
6. If you could ask a person from history about a past event who would it be and what event would it be? This is a tough one! I'm torn between talking to Marie Antoinette about her "Let them eat cake." comment or talking to Joan of Arc!
7. What is your favorite dessert? Brownies! Or...Baskin Robbins Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream!
8. What is your best quality as a teacher? I enjoy teaching and try to make it fun for both me and the kids - they learn so much more when they are enjoying themselves!
9. If you had one piece of advice you could have give a new blogger what would it be? Reading other blogs is great - but commenting on them is what will get you noticed!
10. What time do you usually get up for work? 7:20am - give or take 10 minutes depending on how many times my husband hits snooze!
11. Where would your dream vacation be? I would love to go to Alaska or Australia!
12. What is the last book you read?  The 3rd book in one of my new favorite series!

Ok, now the 12 questions I want my taggees to answer:

12. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
11. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
10. What's your favorite school night dinner?
9. What one item could you not do without in your classroom?
8. What one item would you love to have in your classroom?
7. If you could change one school rule, what would it be and why?
6. Which subject do you like to teach the most?
5. What one accomplishment are you the most proud of?
4. Where's your favorite place to shop for school stuff?
3. Describe your ideal day in the classroom.
2. Name a secret vice.
1. What adjectives would your closest friend use to describe you?

Ok, here are the bloggers I'm tagging!

Down Under Teacher

Live Love Laugh
Buzzing with Ms. B Button
Preschool Teacher
Keen On Kindergarten

Ketchen's Kindergarten

Whew! Alright, that's it for me for tonight - I'm off to quiz my daughter on spelling words while I fold laundry! Oh what a glamorous life!

Question of the day:
When is (or was) your 100th day of school? I'd love it if you left me a comment answering!

Was it Monday today??

Today was a long, rather horrible day. I got to work at 8:30 and didn't leave until 6:45 tonight. I typed out a whole post about all the sucky situations my kiddos are dealing with, but I'm paranoid about posting too much info so I erased it all. Suffice it to say that DHS and the foster system and parents with belts all suck. Oh, and it really irks me when I get a new kid and see that all the interventions tried were directed at someone with ADHD when that is clearly not what the child has! Mountain Dew as an intervention for someone who is not hyperactive is just silly!

Anyways, one of the reasons I had such a late night was because I had to prepare for tomorrow morning. We're having a "Curriculum Morning" where we invite parents to come in before school to learn about something their child will be taught this quarter and some ways to help them at home. My teammate did the one for 2nd quarter so it was my turn this time. Last time we only had about 20 parents come from the entire school of 300+ kids so I'm really hoping that we have better attendance tomorrow!

The skill that I am focusing on is fluency via sight word acquisition.  I am hoping that once parents see how easy it is to help their kiddos practice their words that we will have more parental involvement in making sure the basic sight words are mastered. It would certainly help me out if they were practicing their sight words at home! So, after school and dealing with the aforementioned situations, I headed to our work room to cut out some hearts for a sight word game. Only, we don't have any hearts. We do have a tomahawk and some other random dies. I think our Ellison collection is made up of all the dies that no other school wanted! I finally found a doghouse die and a stash of brown construction paper. I am not sure where this paper came from, but we have reams of it and no one ever uses it because it's such a bland color. But it's perfect for a sight word game! Here's the baggy that every parent will get, along with a handout of the hundred sight words divided into ten lists:

I made up a set for my youngest as my example, because he needs to work on his sight words like everyone else! Here's what the doghouse game will look like:
The parent chooses the specific words that their child is having trouble with and prints them on the doghouses. I gave each parent 10 doghouses so they can practice 20 words by using both sides of the doghouses. The parent has the child cover their eyes and then hides the little bone under one of the houses. The child then guess which house the bone is hiding under by reading the word on the house. Simple, fun and free! It only cost me the time spent cutting out the houses with the Ellison! 

The second thing in the bag was almost free too! Remember the old system that libraries had where you used to have to look up the book in a card file? Well our librarian had a box full of blank cards that she was never going to use since everything is computerized now. She had brought it to me at the beginning of the year, knowing I'd find a use for it! I've been using them as quick book marks for my kiddos or to jot down notes when I can't find my Post-its, but really, this is a much better use of them:
Each baggy has ten cards on a ring and tomorrow the parents will personalize them with the 20 words their child is going to work on. This ring can then be stored in mom's purse or in the car so that the child can practice reading while driving to the grocery store or while waiting at the dr.'s office etc. If they flip through the cards and practice even once a day I know we will see the improvement at school too!

So anyways, there you have it - quick, almost free and helpful! I know the parents that do come tomorrow will be appreciative of having something simple that will enable them to work with their child. Oh, here's the lowdown on the binder rings - a set of 16 pretty metallic colored rings for $3 at Staples. I bought 2 sets so I'd have enough plus some left over. Since I used the construction paper we already had on hand, plus the cards and packaged it all in baggies we already had in the classroom, $6 was the sum total for this activity!

Tomorrow the parents will eat breakfast with their child while we demonstrate our activities, then I'm going to have each parent listen to their child read the sight words, writing down any words they miss on the cards. Once they get the cards filled up they can stop and then they have a customized set of notecards for their child to work on! For the kids whose parents don't come tomorrow, I plan on pulling each child aside one at a time and filling out their cards myself. It won't take but 5 minutes per child and hopefully they will all get some much needed sight word practice at home!

Oh, and I scored some other deals at Staples that I thought I would pass on too:
 Here are the pretty binder clips, on sale for $3 which makes them 99 cents cheaper than the plain silver ones!

Also, for $1 each I got a pack of 5 Bic highlighters, a mini stapler, a pencil sharpener with eraser, 15 colored pencils, and a pack of 5 pens

Don't forget to enter my giveaway before Sunday! There will be 3 winners and I think the prizes are pretty neat! Click here to enter!

Are you wearing underwear?

I have a little culprit at school who has accidents in his pants (#2!) and then removes his dirty drawers and leaves them in our bathroom on the floor. The first two times this happened, I didn't find the underwear until the end of the day and the children were all on their way out the door. Today, however, there was still an hour of school left when I made the stinky discovery. So...I pulled each boy into the hallway (in front of the cameras!) individually and asked them "Did you have an accident?" Each on of them said no - some vehemnetly, some confusedly. Then I asked "Are you wearing underwear today?" and had them turn down the edge of their waistband to show me the top part of their undies. Well, as luck would have it, TWO of my little guys were going commando today - and both insisted that they had been that way all day.

So even after all that, I am STILL no closer to finding the mystery pooper! I gave a big talk about how everyone has accidents and they can come to me and let me know and I will send them home or get them clothes etc. I honestly have no suspects in mind, because all of the boys I did suspect were wearing drawers when I checked lol! Aside from having a bathroom monitor to check after each boy uses the restroom, which I'm sure I would forget to keep up with, what else can I do? Oh, and it occurs to me that I was a bit sexist and should have checked the girls too, but I assumed it had to be a boy because it was boy's underwear. I am thinking of writing a note to parents to let them know what is happening so they can do a daily undie check of their own!

My students are also suffering from excessivechatitis - you know, that disease that makes it impossible for them to stay quiet for even two minutes! Seriously, we had our heads down, waiting for everyone to quiet down so we could begin inside recess, and I still had kiddos talking - about the silliest stuff! I've gotten to the point where I am writing notes to parents, and I never write notes to parents! I'm sure the inside recess is not helping, but instead of snow we're getting rain, so it looks like we'll be trapped inside quite a bit in the next few weeks. So far all of my usual tricks are ineffective, so until I hit upon a new idea I just keep praying for patience - deep breaths and looks skyward are becoming commonplace - one of these days a kiddo is going to ask why I keep looking at the ceiling!

Would you like to see a picture of my beautiful bulletin board? So would I! Unfortunately, my end of the hallway has become the graveyard for all those things that no one wants in their room, but for some reason we can't just get rid of. I took a picture of the pile of debris just so you'd feel sorry for me:

See that door on  the far side of the pile? That's where our new addition is - you know, the one that was supposed to be finished in October, December, maybe by Spring break! I am hopeful that when the addition is finished all of this stuff will find a home and I can finally display work outside my door again. In the meantime I have started encroaching on other teacher's space - my theory being, if you're not using it, you're losing it! My next door neighbor still has apples from September up - I wonder if she'd notice if I took them down and used that space??

Here is a mini display I made using the snowmen I bought after Christmas at Walmart (best time to buy snowman stuff, it was all 75% off!). It's 4 classrooms down from me, on the little space of wall above the recycling bins. I had each student write a story about building a snowman and the cut it out using our "fancy" scissors. It's cute and I loved their stories, but I wish our paper was more uniform - I have a very small ocd tendency that is irked by these mismatched papers! Of course, it's also irked by the smudges and wrinkles too, so unless I ironed every paper I still wouldn't be happy (come on, you know you're tempted to break out an iron from time to time too!).
Well, on to more pleasant things: my giveaway is still running until Sunday night so you still have time to enter to win one of 3 fabulous prizes! Click here to go to the giveaway!

I have been working on some more Groundhog Day things and I found this great clipart from Graphics by Ruth and Chantelle and it's free! Her TOU are great too - you can freely share anything made with her clipart - you just can't sell it! So yay for more freebies for you! She's got a lot of different clipart available, but so far I have only used her groundhogs. Here is a Roll & Cover game I made with it - there are addition and subtraction boards.
Groundhog Day Roll and Cover

Well that's it for tonight - I will leave you with a traditional Irish teacher blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you. 
May the wind always be at your back.
  May the sun shine warm upon your face, 
and rains fall soft upon your fields. 
And until we meet again, 
May your students keep their undies on!

Finally!! 250 Followers Giveaway!

Wow - sorry to have been gone for so long, it took longer than I thought it would to get these prizes together! Anyways, without further ado:

Woot! I have over 250 followers and I appreciate each and every one of you! When I started this blog in the summer I had no idea that I would have this much fun with it! You all make me smile with your comments and support! To celebrate this milestone, and to show my appreciation, I'm going to have a little giveaway! Here are the prizes:

For the 3rd place winner:
My new TPT Valentine's Day Literacy and Math Unit! It is a whopping 96 pages long with 8 literacy activities and 5 math activities!

For the 2nd place winner:

A set of decorated clipboards for your classroom - one large and one small, handmade by me, plus my TPT Valentines Day unit!

For the 1st place winner:

A  Valentine's Day heart-shaped rag wreath, handmade by me, plus my TPT Valentine's Day unit!

Here's how to enter:
1. Follow my blog and leave a comment.
2. Add my button to your blog, leave a comment.
3. Add my blog to your blog roll, leave a comment.
4. Post about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, leave a comment.
5. Blog about this giveaway, leave 2 comments.

So that's 3 winners, and 5 ways to enter!
I will do the random generator thingy on Sunday, January 29th at 7:00pm so that everyone has time to enjoy their prizes before Valentine's Day!

Groundhog Day Ideas & Support Needed!

I am caving to the inevitable...I think we will be having school on Groundhog Day :( This makes me sad because we usually have several snow days at the end of January, early February and I always enjoy that extra time off, but this year we are having a very mild winter, so it does not look like we will getting any snow at all :(

 Even though we haven't been in school on Groundhog Day for 3 years straight I've still celebrated it with my own children at home, so I've managed to collect quite a few Groundhog Day books. Here are some of our favorites:

I saw a cute Groundhog Day idea from Jennifer over at First Grade Blue Skies  which you should definitely check out! I decided to whip up some cards for a class graph - I usually make my graphs on butcher paper, but you can also use a large pocket chart.
Pocket Chart Groundhog Day Graph

Alright - onto the less fun stuff:

One of my new students breaks my heart every day. She's in a foster situation right now and she did have her older sister with her up until this weekend when foster mom decided she was too much work and traded her in for another kid (seriously, she returned the sister and got another kid instead). Sister is in another home now with the 2 youngest siblings, so that's good but now my little one is all by herself in this foster home without any siblings to support her. She's a clingy little thing (with good reason obviously!) and a bit immature (understandable!) and I'm desperately trying to give her the attention she craves without upsetting the class dynamics too much, plus I don't want her to get too attached because her situation is so changeable at the moment. Today she told me she wished I was a foster mom so she could come home with me :(

And, let me be completely honest here, she has driven me to exasperation quite a few times in the last 2 weeks and yet she still thinks I'm the best thing since sliced bread! Meanwhile I am desperately trying to fill her black-hole-of-neediness without having everything else in my class get sucked up. I say a prayer daily for patience in dealing with her in particular (I know "presence" is supposed to be my OLW, but I might have to change it to "patience" just for her!). I just need some good thoughts sent my way so that I can walk that fine line of supporting her without enabling her dependence, know what I mean? Thanks in advance for any advice or words of wisdom you can give me!

 I am definitely probably maybe going to post my giveaway tomorrow night, so make sure you check back - I really hope you like the prizes!! I pinky promise to have it up before the end of the weekend, it just depends how drained I am after tomorrow!

How Many Brain Cells Died Today?

I have a splitting headache and my stomach keeps turning. But, I guess that's to be expected since I spent the day surrounded by paint fumes. You see, we're having an addition to our school built on right down the hall from me, and today they decided to lacquer the new cabinets. Apparently the workers had the windows open and fans running, but the fumes still permeated our part of the building - stinging eyes and noses and turning stomachs. My students commented that it smelled like markers and at one point during breakfast I found several of them standing by the wall closest to the construction, just sniffing away!

You know, it's hard enough getting all of this curriculum into them without killing off all their brain cells with paint fumes! I'm pretty sure that they lost all of their brain capacity for procedures because they were nuts today! We ended up having to practice line procedure during recess today because they were so out of control (of course, it could have been me, because I know those fumes were affecting me!). By about 1:00 my butt was dragging and I had to make a new pot of coffee to stay awake, not to mention I started getting the munchies...

I also got another new student - this makes 4 new ones since we came back from break! It's a bit hard to deal with all that change all at once - we're constantly having to reteach procedures and adjust to new personalities. It's amazing how one student can change the whole dynamic of the classroom.

One of the interesting things we did today was to explore the states of matter through our snowman.Yesterday we filled 3 balloons with water and stuck them in the freezer. Today they were frozen solid and I peeled them out of the balloon (that was fascinating for the kids, they were so excited that the balloon didn't stick to the ice!) Then we stuck our little Frosty together and decorated him with felt and pompoms. About 1/2 of my class had never made a snowman before, so this was a new experience for them.

Here's what he looked like:
 Then we went to the computer lab for 1/2 hour. When we came back we could tell he had started melting. Within an hour he had fall apart and this is what he looked like at the end of the day:
So he's gone from a solid to a liquid and tomorrow we will boil the water on a hot plate to turn him into a vapor!

Alright, I'm going to go lay down and try to sleep off my paint-fume-induced high. I have almost finished putting the finishing touches on my giveaway prizes - hopefully I can finish them tonight while I watch American Idol!

A Little of This and That

Wow, I can't believe I made it to 250+ followers! That is just amazing to me! I am going to have a giveaway this week - I have few things to finish up for my prizes - hopefully you will like them as much as I do!

Today I tried to get some good snow vibes going since we have not had any snow yet this year. In fact, it's supposed to go up to 50 degrees on Thursday and stay warm for the rest of the week! Usually we get a few snow days in January and early February, but things are not looking good for that this year.

So, today we wrote about building snowmen and started making the snowmen ornaments I found on sale at Walmart right after Christmas. I'm thinking they'll look wonderful in the hallway! Of course, I should have specified that we were not writing about homicidal snowmen - I got a couple of stories from some of my boys where the snowmen were serial killers :( Guess that will teach me not to be suspicious when they approach a writing assignment with so much enthusiasm!

Here's a great book that I read aloud today in preparation for our writing, I love the photographs in this book!

I got a new student today - she seemed sweet and quiet, but at the end of the day as I was helping her put her pencil box and homework in her backpack I discovered she had helped herself to a double fistful of my manipulatives - and this just after I had commented on someone else's blog about how I didn't have any sticky fingers in my class this year!

One of my darlings is forever trying to butter me up - today she said "You're the nicest teacher in the class!" I guess that's not much of an achievement when you're the ONLY teacher in the class!

In preparation for some of the other writing we'll be doing this week, and because we're studying penguins, and just because it's fun, here's what I did to my sand and water table today!

I used Insta- Snow powder that you just mix with water - it expands like crazy - you can even use food coloring to color it, but this time I just left it white since I wanted to simulate the Antarctic. Then I added the penguins from the Safari Penguin Toob along with the seals, orcas and whale from this Animal Planet playset. Since polar bears and Eskimos are from the arctic, those pieces went into our block center to stimulate pretend play there! We don't always get a chance to use our sand & water table or our block center in 1st grade, but I can squeeze it in there as part of our geography and writing - I have them write down the story they were acting out while playing. Plus, we've been having inside recess a lot lately - so there's always someway to incorporate play into our day! By the way, did you see this article about the importance of play in The Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics this month? I am printing it out and saving it just to cover my butt in case anyone ever questions the amount of play in my day - so far no one has (and my test scores are on par with everyone else's) but I live in fear of having to justify my teaching style!

Oh and can I get a woot woot?! Our district finally lifted the youtube restriction! Access was blocked in early December due to it eating up too much bandwidth while the high schools were doing online benchmark testing. Thankfully testing is over for now so I have youtube access again! My kids were sooo excited to sing our songs - I felt like a dj as they called out the educational songs they wanted to hear! It truly is amazing how much they remember through songs - not to mention how much skip counting practice we get in while we wait for videos to load! I've got the trained so well - as soon as they see the loading circle thingy appear on our Smartboard they start skip counting by 5s to 100. If it hasn't loaded yet they skip count by 10's to 100. If it still hasn't loaded we do our 2's to 100! Needless to say, we are getting very good at skip counting!

Ok, it's time for me to go watch Glee and finish working on the prizes for the giveaway I'll be posting this week! I'll leave you with this video - my husband showed it to me this afternoon and I loved it! Hope you enjoy it!

Share the Love!

We have an opporutnity to help out some fellow teachers! Here is an email that Mrs. Wills got from a teacher in Joplin, MO:

I teach in Joplin, which made worldwide news last May when our town was cut in half by an F5 tornado.  Many of our elementary schools were destroyed or damaged, and as teachers, we have had a roller coaster year.  I came from a meeting yesterday where many are struggling with the weight of all we are dealing with.  My request is this:  would you be willing to donate a created pack of your choosing to give away at a drawing at our upcoming district Kindergarten grade level meeting?  The meeting is Monday and I am sorry for the short notice but I did not realize until the meeting how down everyone is feeling. 
Mrs. Wills decided to take this one step further and make this into a linky party of love!
1.  Send your TpT product or Teacher's Notebook to Erica
2. Then link up over at Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten
I've sent over my January Penguin Word Work Unit, my Penguin Math Unit and my Valentine's Roll and Graph unit. I hope that a Joplin teacher enjoys them! If you have a TPT or TN unit you would like to donate please link up!

Also, since the Holly Bloggy Christmas exchange was so much fun, Caitlin and Sarah are hosting a "Be My Valentine Exchange"!! Head over to sign up to participate in the exchange - not only will you receive a fabulous gift from your Valentine, there will also be giveaways that only Valentine Exchange participants can enter!

I also have to show off my newest favorite thing:

I won it from Hadar at Miss Kindergarten!! Isn't it fabulous?!

And, just because this post is all about love, here are some pics of my new pups, Max and Lola!
Oh, and Mr. Nibbles wanted to get in on the action as well - he really loves chin scritches!

The Cafeteria Ladies Are Zombies!

Today was a fun day! Not for any reason really, except that we finished our Title I Math test and could relax a bit. We had an extra long indoor recess, read a lot of books and did a lot of laughing and playing games. I found some great Smartboard games for ending blends and divided the class into 2 teams, for some reason they are so motivated when I assign teams, even though I always make sure to end the game on a tie (it's amazing to me that no one has caught onto that yet!)

In the afternoon I found a great book on Storyline Online and my 19 kiddos sat completely silent as Amber Tamblyn read it aloud to them. I think it is particularly appropriate considering the holiday on Monday!

If you can't access the website in your classroom, I highly recommend purchasing the book to read aloud yourself. It is a story of how a little black girl's misunderstanding of a "whites only" sign leads to the black townspeople standing up for her and the sign's disappearance forever. My class was  very interested in the story and we had a great discussion about it afterwards. It will be great to refer to during our MLK activities tomorrow!

At the end of the day we got to try a new fruit! On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays we get a fruit or vegetable snack as the result of a grant that our PE teacher got for the school. It is a great way to expose the kiddos to a greater variety of fruits and veggies. I stress that everyone has to take a "no thank you" bite - i.e. you have to take one bite to try it before you can politely say that you don't like it and throw it away. When we try something that I know is probably not going to go over well (like grapefruit!) I have everyone take a bite at the same time. This prevents the kids from seeing that so-and-so doesn't like it and then refusing to try it themselves.

Today's fruit was blood oranges. I had never tried them, and neither had any of my kids. We talked about how in the color song for orange it says that oranges are always orange but in this case the orange was not orange on the inside. They had to use their inferencing skills to figure out what color the orange would be inside! I peeled 2 oranges and handed every kid a segment so that we could all eat it at the same time. They tried to convince me to try it first, but I didn't fall for that trick! There was some talk about whether eating blood oranges would turn us into vampires! On the count of 3 we all popped the orange segments into our mouths at the same time. My kids were so excited and they loved them!

I told them that anyone who liked it could have their own orange to peel and eat and almost every child took another orange! I even had kids begging to take oranges home to share with siblings and parents! No one turned into vampires fortunately, but I did overhear one kiddo remark "This is proof that the cafeteria ladies are zombies!" I can't wait to share that conclusion with them tomorrow!

Oh yeah, and I mentioned my math test at the beginning of this post right? I have to brag just a bit. My only students who didn't score above an 85% on the test were my 3 new ones that I've had less that 2 weeks! I had some kiddos show a 50% improvement over their scores in October! This is why I love January - you can finally see the growth that has been occurring on a day-to-day basis! And why I love working in Title I schools - I can now get my newbies some tutoring help and remediate them in the areas that they need!

Oh yeah! I forgot to mention in my last post a great Dr. Jean song for MLK Day! It is simple enough that the kids learn it quickly, but we performed it last year at our city's MLK Day celebration and it was great! It's called "Stand Up For Martin Luther King" - click the link to see Dr. Jean's free printable book. The tune is "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" so even if you don't have the cd you should be able to figure out how to sing it. If you do want the cd (so many good songs on it for all occasions!) it's this 2 disc set with 51 songs:

I have to give a shout out to a couple of blogs that are having super giveaways right now too:

Miss Chrissy B of Buzzing with Ms B. is having a giveaway for one of her sweet Valentine's Day TPT units! There will be four winners and it ends on the 18th so head over to her cute new blog!

Growing Up Teaching is having a giveaway for a $10 TPT gift certificate AND a handmade 100th Day of School shirt! This one ends Sunday so head over to enter asap!

Okay, stop reading right now please. I'm blogging about this next giveaway so I can get an extra entry - not because I want you to go enter for yourself. Did you stop reading yet? No?! Honestly, it's in your best interest to stop right here! Taming My Flock of Firsties is having a giveaway for a not very nice prize at all. In fact, it is absolutely not worth your time to click the link. You're thinking of clicking the link aren't you? Please, trust me on this, there is no reason to go check out her blog or her're not buying it are you? Darn! Well, hopefully I have a lot of good luck stored up so I win even though you're entering the giveaway too!

Martin Luther King Jr. Lesson!

I need to watch my calendar better, I almost missed that it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday! Once I remembered I thought I should post about the lesson that I'm doing on Friday - I've done it before and it always goes so well, it's probably my favorite lesson to teach!

I have 2 books that I read aloud:
 (Click on the picture to see them on Amazon!)

The first thing that I do is get some black, red and white construction paper, along with black, red and white crayons or colored pencils. I have all of the children gather at carpet and I hand out the paper and crayons - making sure that the children with black paper get black crayons, white paper gets white crayons and red paper gets red crayons. I give them the instructions to draw me a beautiful picture while I read to them. At this point, a few smarties might pipe up and say something but I shush them and pretend not to understand.
I pick up the book and begin to read the title and within a few moments more and more kiddos are whispering and fussing and raising their hands to let me know that their crayons aren't showing up on their papers. I act confused and ask why they aren't drawing me beautiful pictures like I asked them to. At this point the kids will let me know that they need more colors and I tell them they can only have 1 crayon each for this lesson. Then they'll propose that they trade crayons so that they have a crayon that's different from their paper colors! I act shocked like I can't believe they want the red crayons to draw on the white papers etc. My kiddos earnestly assure me that it's okay to mix colors and that they'll be able to draw much better if they have a multitude of colors. I look worried and ask if they're sure it's the right thing to do. Finally, after much debate and discussion I let them trade crayons with a neighbor and they show me how they can make beautiful pictures now - there is much crowing and "I told you so!" is heard often.

Once I settle them down again I pick up "Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."
and begin to read it aloud. If you don't have this book, you need it!! It has gorgeous illustrations,the stained glass windows are breathtaking and the story is told so well that one by one the children stop drawing and just sit, so involved in the book! By the end, when Martin Luther King Jr. gets shot, there is usually complete silence for a moment as the children sit in shock, almost disbelieving that it truly happened. There are usually several tears and a lot of angst - we have a discussion on how people don't always agree with each other, but it's important to solve problems peacefully. We talk about the changes that came about because of Dr. King - usually I point out that some of the best friends in the class wouldn't even be going to the same school because they're not the same race.We talk about how we feel about his assassination and his dream. It is truly amazing the way these young children can verbalize how his message touches them and how they're glad that he changed things so we can all go to school together and be friends.

I collect all of the pictures and let everyone calm down a bit. Then I pick up "The Crayon Box that Talked" and read it aloud. It's such a simple story, and yet it really emphasizes how important diversity is - and the students automatically make the connection between Dr. King's story and the crayons! Next I give every child a large crayon to color - they may color it any colors they want to, but I ask that at the tip they draw a self-portrait. Those are usually the best coloring job I'll see all year! The children work really hard to use a bunch of colors and make the crayons unique. Once all of the crayons are colored I display them inside a poster board "crayon box" that says "Mrs Knopf's Crayons" and hang it on our door for everyone to see! Unfortunately, I can't find my picture of my crayon box from last year, but here's an example from site where I found my crayon pattern - I found that making the box from a single poster board and markers was easier than using construction paper - especially since my husband helps make the box each year!

At the very end of the day, just to see if they remember the message of Dr. King, I randomly hand about 1/2 the class a piece of candy. I usually base it on whether they're wearing the same color shirt as I am or some nonsense like that. When the other children ask why they don't get a candy I explain that I'm only giving the candy to children who look like me today - so since I'm wearing a green shirt, everyone who's wearing green can have candy! Someone always starts in about how it's not fair and I let them get ramped up a bit - until eventually someone mentions Dr. King and how he wanted everyone to be treated equally. I ask them what they think we should do and some of the children with candy will volunteer to give share their candy with those without. At this point I give everyone a candy and tell them I was just checking to see if they remembered Dr. King's dream!

I'd love to hear about how your lesson plans in honor of Dr. King!

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