Pumpkin Fun! (Freebie)

We had a great day today! Here are some pictures of our pumpkin fun:

 We had 3 different types of pumpkins that we examined, measured and scooped out!

For each pumpkin we estimated and then counted the seeds. I scooped all the seeds into baggies and then broke the kids into groups to count the seeds into these little plastic trays in sets of 10.

Here's what 346 seeds looks like broken down into 10's:

Here are the seeds from the three types of pumpkins - the first one is from our pie pumpkin, the second is from the white pumpkin and is noticeably thicker and the third is from the large pumpkin:
Tonight I am washing and roasting all of the seeds and we will compare how the different varieties taste tomorrow!

We planted seeds from each of our pumpkins. Each student chose which kind of pumpkin they wanted to plant, labeled a baggie with the pumpkin type and their name and then placed 2 seeds in the bag with a damp paper towel. In the next few weeks we will be charting which variety sprouts first!

We also had a great turnout for our Pumpkin Character Book Report:

 Isn't this buffalo adorable? I have no idea what the tongue is made out of - maybe some type of roofing material?

 Here's Gerald from Mo Willem's Elephant & Piggie series. This one really touched me because it was made by the child and his great-grandpa since he was staying with them while his parents were out of town. 

 Ok...want to know something gross? When I set this pumpkin out in the hallway after lunch it had cut up marshmallows as teeth. By the time I took this picture at the end of the day, all of the marshmallows had been pulled off and eaten!

 We had 3 different versions of Clifford!

 Love this Silverlicious pumpkin! This little girl was soooo excited to have made it - she got the book from our Book Fair and has talked of nothing else since!

This girl's daddy read her this book as a bed time story, one chapter each night. She's already reading independently way above grade level, have to give him props for being a very involved daddy!

I think this little one wins the "most props" award, again, there was a baggie of cut-up marshmallows with this one as little fake "teeth" but it did not survive even 1/2 a day :(

We also did our Favorite Candy Corn tasting! Here's our results:
As you can see the Green Apple candy corn are very popular with Original Flavor coming in 2nd. You can grab the graph for free here!
 Have you ever tried eating candy corn and peanuts? I had several teacher tell me its quite good! They told me this as i was wandering down the hall after school with my left over candy corn, looking for random kiddos to sugar-up. It was my own private mission to send as many students home on a sugar-high as possible - insert evil laugh here - and I managed to sugar up quite a few teachers as well - who knew candy corn was that popular?! 

Alright, I have seeds to wash and roast and our 50th Day to prepare for tomorrow! I created a roll & cover just for the occasion! Grab it here as a freebie!


Happy Sunday Evening! This was the shortest weekend ever! I had a training session on Saturday from 9am-3:30pm so it feels like I haven't had much of a weekend off at all. The training was for our Waterford Reading computer program - there was some good information about running reports and using the data, and I LOVE the program compared to others we have used in the past. I do get a stipend for coming into work on a Saturday and I get to put it in my portfolio for TLE, so it was a worthwhile training all around.

This week we are continuing to work on Spiders and Bats. I have to share with you about a little guy in my class. He's ELL and struggles with reading/speaking/writing. I won't get into the fact that I think it's shameful that he has not gotten help sooner than this, but I will say that interventions for him have been dismally lacking in the 2 years he has been at my school. He's very sharp in math and has no trouble responding to questions during Math time or completing math assignments. However, he bashfully refuses to answer questions during reading or even make an attempt to read or identify sounds or anything really. He just shrugs his shoulders and ducks his head and wills himself to be invisible (that seems to have worked in previous years).

 However....I've got him! Yep, my Colorful Spiders unit has pulled him in! Tricked him into thinking we are doing Sciencey stuff when really it's Language Arts. When I read aloud our non-fiction spiders texts he is all ears. He volunteered information about what we had learned for our KWL chart. He even played the Beginning Sounds game happily without realizing he was matching letter sounds! I am going to have to bust my butt off to get him to anything even approaching grade level, but I now have a strategy to get him interested in L.Arts time!

Next up we'll be doing my 5 Little Bats poem and learning about Bats. I think he'll have a great time and hopefully I can trick him into achieving! I am thinking he needs a series of small successes to grow his self-confidence - and he needs to know that he is never invisible in my class and I will reach him! It is so sad when the quiet, well behaved ones get ignored - I was that shy, quiet child when I was growing up too and I remember how that feels - not good at all!

I am a little bit worried about this week - we are having lots of weather changes, there's a full moon AND it's Halloween on Wednesday! I'm not sure I can survive the week! Of course, I plan on bribing them motivating them to behave well by having all sorts of fun activities planned for the end of the day. Tomorrow we are doing our Candy Corn Taste Testing and Graphing (click the link to grab this frebie!)! Yep, I plan to sugar them up right before they go home hehe! I figure it's only fair since so many times they come to school chugging a Yoohoo! or soda and scarfing down donuts. You know it's going to be a doozy of a day when certain children come in with powdered sugar clinging to their lips!

Speaking of doozies...on Friday I realized I had a major flaw in one of my classroom management procedures. When students want to go to the bathroom I have them write their name on the dry erase board by the door. I thought about using a hall pass, but personally I don't want to have to touch anything that a 6 year old has brought to and from the bathroom! Unfortunately, I easily lose track of who's in the bathroom, and since we are often out of our seats, either at carpet or doing workstations or small group work etc I can't keep up with students leaving something at their desk to indicate that they're in the bathroom either.

Instead, they write their name on the board and erase it when they come back. In an emergency I would just have to glance at the board to see who's not in the room. It's a great system that has worked well to this point.

Until Friday, when a very sweet, earnest young rule-follower told me "I think I'm going to throw up!" And I said "Go to the bathroom!" meaning "Go now! ASAP! Do not Pass Go! Do Not collect $200 and most definitely do NOT stop to sign your name on the board!" Unfortunately he did not infer all those nuances from my original statement, so he did indeed stop to write his name on the board. Which meant that he ended up vomiting right there, on the carpet, and also on the baggie of magnets for our Syllable Sort magnetic game that hangs right above where the student's sign their name for the bathroom. Somehow that baggie has fallen to the floor and this young darling vomited all over it and the carpeting before I was able to shove a trash can under his face.

Which meant of course that the sweet boy went to the office to go home and my class and I got to spend 30 minutes watching Scholastic videos in the cafeteria while our room was cleaned. Our custodian used the shop vac, but there's still a grody yellow stain - my beautiful new room has its first blemish!

So of course, our new procedure is "Sign your name on the board before you go to the bathroom UNLESS you are about to throw up, in which case you can just yell at Mrs. Knopf that you're going to be sick and then vacate the room immediately." I may even have added that this was also an appropriate time to break the "no running in school" rule, but I will vehemently deny it if anyone higher up asks!

Alright, I am off to finish Lesson Plans and then watch The Walking Dead. If any of you follow The Walking Dead you might find this story funny:

My husband and I watched last week's episode of The Walking Dead together right before bed time on Sunday. On Monday he was up in his building's attic, preparing for a Haunted House he's making for his unit. In the corner he spotted an old pair of crutches and he though "Someone I know was talking about needing crutches." So he grabbed them and put them in his office until he could think of who it was that was looking for crutches. Well it took him about an hour but then he realized that he had grabbed the crutches for Hershel off The Walking Dead! I laughed so hard when he told me that story!

Alright, I promise that this week I'll share more learning activities and less vomiting stories. In fact, I'll share my newest creation right now! It's my new Thanksgiving Question Vs Statment pack! It's for all those times when you say "Does anyone have a question?" and all your little nuggets raise a hand to tell a story! It's Thanksgiving themed, so it'll be perfect for November lessons!

I'll give a copy to the first 3 people who leave a comment about The Walking Dead or share a classroom vomit story!

Trick or Treat Sale!

I decided to jump on board with this Trick or Treat Sale:

(Thanks to The Bubbly Blonde for the cute sales button!)

For Saturday and Sunday all of my Halloween/Fall items will be on sale for 20% off! Click the image above to see more stores on sale or click here to go to my TPT store! Enjoy!

Sweet Fall Bulletin Board & Kiwis

I am a little bit sleepy tonight, so this post is going to be short and sweet. I am tired because I didn't get my coffee. Instead it got spilled all over my desk while we were out of the room at lunch time. So it had plenty of time to drip everywhere. It took me about an hour to clean it up. Needless to say I didn't get another cup, so I am crashing big time. I need to get a spill-proof cup...anyone have a great one they can recommend?

I did want to share the cutest bulletin board idea! My across-the-hall buddy had her 2nd graders make this - I love how she includes them in creating all of the displays! They wrote sentences about fall on the large leaves at the top:

 I also had to share about our snack today. We had kiwis for the first time. They were halved and we scooped them out with a spoon. Some teachers expressed dismay because they were sure the kids wouldn't eat/like them. Well, a picture says a thousand words, so read for yourselves what my kids think of kiwis:

 First time she ever tasted a kiwi, she was just tickled about the seeds!
 This little guy had 3 helpings!

Spiders & Handwriting!

Whew! What a day! It seems like today was a catch-all day for everything - 1/2 hour in the library, 1/2 hour in the computer lab,  a 45 minute lesson from the counselor, picture retakes and about a dozen interruptions due to students moving in or moving out. I felt like we  had very little time to actually DO anything!

One thing we did manage to get around to was to start our Spider KWL chart from my Colorful Spiders unit. Have you seen the super cute KWL charts floating around Pinterest? I always wondered how teachers managed to created these charts and I've discovered the secret!

Here's how I do my KWL in class:

Yep, I just write it on the SmartBoard, sloppy handwriting, abbreviations, funky slant and all! This way I can keep up with all of the ideas popcorning from my kiddos. Once we have it all down, I go home and enlist the talents of the artistically inclined members of my family (I am definitely challenged in that respect) to create something along the lines of this:

Much cuter isn't it? And now we can keep it on display and eventually add the "L" part once we finish up our Spiders unit!
We also managed to fit in a little bit of work station rotations:
Play dough stations - word families and spelling words.
Stamping stations - stamping words with digraphs.

Hot Dot station - love that I have cards that range from "reading readiness" to "blends/digraphs" to "vowel dipthongs" so I can just switch out the cards for each group!

I was chatting with a friend on FB earlier about activities to help develop fine motor skills for handwriting. After discussing the merits of torn paper crafts, hole punches, playdough, beads and small golf pencils, I threw out "monkey bars". She had never heard of monkey bars helping with handwriting and so I thought maybe some of you haven't either. This is one of my first suggestions to parents for things they need to try at home to help improve handwriting. Often time I'm asked for worksheets for the children to trace, but I usually won't send any of those home because I find that children will learn to form letters incorrectly if they are just tracing them without actual  instruction. So instead I give parents this advice: "Let them rip up your junk mail into small pieces, buy them some play dough, and make them PLAY ON THE MONKEY BARS!" 

Here is a great blog article on the benefits of monkey bars. I love how he describes the necessary development of the muscles involved in writing!check it out...then when you decide you absolutely must have an extra 10 minutes of recess for your own sanity you can use the excuse that you are "improving their handwriting"!

I am off to snuggle up with a warm blankie and lots of lamination! Have a great night!

Pumpkin Patch, Fall Ideas & a Linky!

We had a lot of fun at the pumpkin patch yesterday! Here are some of my favorite pics:

We had so much fun that I think next year I am going to try to raise enough money for a pumpkin patch field trip for my whole class! Our school's budget is $0 for things like paper and copy machine toner, so there's no chance of getting a field trip this year :(

However, we do manage to have lots of fun at school! One of the things we are going to be doing is our Bat unit! I actually have an affinity for bats now after doing several years worth of units about them. Here are some pictures from last year's Bat unit:

 I divided my kiddos into 6 groups to cut out and glue 100 mosquitoes on a plate. This great number sense activity is from Fun in First Grade!

We made scrapbook paper bats...

and owls!

We read a lot of bat books too, here are some of my favorites:

We are also going to do a Fall Senses Walk and journal about the sights, sounds and smells of Fall. Of course we'll be picking up Fall  leaves as well and since we'll have leaves handy, I thought "Why not make the Fall leaf craft from The Artful Parent's Autumn ebook?" So I spent my Staples ink cartridge recycling money on silver and gold Sharpies today!

I am linking this post up to Pocket Full of Kinder's Fabulous Fall Ideas linky - make sure you head over to find more fun fall activities!

First Year Bliss Linky!

I am taking the kiddos to the pumpkin patch today, but before I go I wanted to join a linky from Michelle aka The 3am Teacher. I LOVE her clipart and use it all the time! She is celebrating her 1 year blogiversary with some freebies and this linky!

I'm supposed to share a favorite memory from my first year of blogging. I am going to have to share 2 favorite memories (because I just can't follow rules lol):

At the very beginning of my blogging odyssey, before I even had very many followers I actually got a comment from DeeDee Wills of Mrs. Will's Kindergarten. She was the first blogger I ever followed and I LOVE all of her stuff, so to get a comment that complimented my blog name from her - wow! I was dancing a jig the rest of the day!
My ultra-favorite blogging moment though, was our OK Bloggers meet-up this summer! Only 3 of us could make it, but we had a blast!! I also got to meet Kaci from Mrs. Hoffer's Spot - she does fabulous work, she's such a kind person and she has become my blogging bestie! Here's the picture from that meet-up (and the cheesecake was awesome as well!)

Alright, I am out for now - beware, there may be pumpkin patch pictures when I come back!

Fall Break, Flash Freebie Plus CVC and CVCE!

I have been using my Fall Break to be productive - at least on the computer! I probably should have spent this time cleaning and organizing, but what fun would that be? I have to stop though because otherwise I won't have time to cut out and laminate all the goodies I've been making!

First up is a Fall Themed CVCE Word Game. According to our Scott Foresman readers (which I'm required to use) that's what's up next for my firsties! About 2/3 of my class is ready for CVCE words, so I created a game bundle for each vowel and put them altogether in one pack. This way I can start with just the long /a/ words, then move on to long /o/ etc. Once we get the hang of CVCE words I can start to mix all of them together for a real challenge! Speaking of challenges, I have a group of 4 kiddos who are way advanced - for them I included CCVE words! This way they're still practicing their long vowels, but are getting a bit of a challenge with blends and digraphs too!

Remember I said only 2/3 of my kiddos are ready for CVCE words? For the other 1/3 of my kiddos I made a similar Fall Themed CVC Word Game pack! They get pulled for small group tutoring and I know they'll love to have a new game to play with their tutor! These kiddos came to 1st grade not knowing all of their letter sounds, so I am way proud of their progress!

These games can be played in 3 different ways, so I can get my ink's worth out of them! Sometimes we play as a Memory style game where they simply try to find pairs (reading each card as they turn it over). Other times it's a Snap! game style where they pick the card from the pile and keep it if they can read it. There are some fun specialty cards for this type of play - lose a turn, give a card away, take a card, take another turn etc. The kids LOVE playing this game!  Our favorite though, is Hide N Seek! I arrange all of the cards face up on a table or in a pocket chart. Everyone hides their eyes while I hide a little card behind one of the word cards. Then they take turns guessing where the card is hiding by reading the cards. For example they might say "I think it's behind "cat"!" and so they get to turn the "cat" card over and see if it's there. They have so much fun during this game they beg me to play it! Hop over and check them out in my TPT store if you need CVC or CVCE word reinforcement!

I also made a "Five Little Bats" poem pack! My husband and daughter helped me write the poem - so this is a Knopf Family original lol! It's based on the "Five Little Pumpkins" type rhymes but with bats of course! This one gave me absolute fits while making it. I wanted to scrap the whole idea at various points, but I persevered and actually think it's a fun little pack now. I am offering it as a Flash Freebie until midnight tonight! Click the picture to grab it now!

 You'll also want to head over to Rainbows Within Reach to enter Debbie's monthly giveaway for a free set of her incredible books/cds! I was lucky enough to win and I LOVE her music! On Wednesday, at the end of the day when everyone was wound up with Fall Break excitement and all of my clasbacks were falling on deaf ears, I simply put in her "I'm Wonderful" cd and immediately all the chatter stopped because everyone was singing/doing the motions and i was able to get my planners signed in peace! The giveaway ends today so hurry!

 Oh and a special thank you to Nikki from Melonheadz! I won a giveaway for a custom Melonheadz of me and she did a fabulous job! Look how cute I am as clipart!

In the picture frame is my World of Warcraft character "Slabofbeef" - yes I am an online game geek in my "free" time!

I also got to guest post for Greg over at Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten yesterday. Head over to check it out and say hi to him. He IS the newlywed after all!

Now, a while ago I came across a "Pay It Forward" post over on The Gypsy Teacher. The first 3 commenters were supposed to get a gift and then pay it forward. Except that she had that funky comment moderation thing on where she has to approve comments before they become visible. And....I never checked back to see if I was one of the first 3 commenters. Which I was. So she emailed to let me know my gift is coming and I realized I had never actually Paid it Forward. Oh the shame! So I let her know that I had not purposefully broken the chain (by the way, I tear up just thinking about that movie!) and that I would definitely Pay it Forward today.

Only, I am switching it up. The Post Office and I are not friends. I never manage to get there before closing, even on Saturdays. Things that need to get mailed tend to sit in my car for a week or two before actually getting into the postman's hands. So, I am switching it so that the first 3 commenters who promise to pay it forward will get their choice of something I can creat for them! This way I can email it to you as son as its done and not have to worry about making a trip to the P.O.! Now, of course you may choose to do the same OR mail a package - your choice if you're one of the first 3!  So here goes:
Pay it Forward
The first three people that comment on this post will get a gift from my TPT store.
 All you have to do is follow the rules below.

1. Within a month, I will create something unique to share with the first 3 people that comment on this specific post - just tell me a skill, subject or type of file that you would like to receive (ir "I need a game for blends." or "My kiddos need more practice with number sense.")
2. ...but, in order for your present to arrive, you must play along. Spread the love on YOUR own blog promising to send a little something special to the first three that comment on your post.
3. You get 72 hours (that's 3 days) to re-post this SAME post, or I'll have to move on to the next person.
4. PLEASE, only comment if you are willing to pay it forward.

So, if you are interested, comment away! Please include the following in your comment:

Blog address
E-mail address 
A skill or subject you'd like me to create a custom unit  for!

It occurs to me that this post needs closure: "Today we learned about new CVC and CVCE word game packs, a Flash Freebie for "Five Little Bats", a great giveaway from Rainbows Within Reach, what Jennifer looks like as clipart AND a Pay it Forward opportunity! Have a great day!"

Spiders, Graphing and a Freebie!

Yeeehhhhhaaaaaaa! It is Fall Break! That means 5 days of nonstop house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and entertaining my own 4 kiddos. Wait....ummm can we go back to school please? I'm pretty sure that's less work!

Honestly though, I'm glad of the breather - a chance to get caught up and relax before the long haul to Christmas. I even left most of my work at school (and I'm going to mightily resist the temptation to go in this weekend!).  I did stay late to decorate my classroom tree to set the scene for my Colorful Spiders unit that we'll be doing the rest of the month:

 Yes, that is glow in the dark webbing....why yes, we might be doing some black light activities! The kids will be so thrilled with what's in store for them!
Poor Max got stuck in the web. That was my daughter's addition to the tree - I bet my kiddos will think it's hilarious! There are a few more spiders and webs adorning our classroom now, but I'll save those for another day when I share some of the cute learning activities and crafts we'll be doing!

I wanted to share a a little graphing freebie with you today. I do a lot of graphing with my kiddos - we do one pretty much every morning during calendar time. Sometimes we just sort our class in different ways - like favorite ice cream flavor, how many pets we have, hair color, shirt color etc, and then just fill out a graph on my big chart paper, but my kiddos really love doing my Roll & Graphs. It's hilarious because they will start rooting for a particular image and really get excited when it's "winning" (getting rolled the most times). I use these in my math work stations too, but I introduce the concept whole group during calendar time so everyone understands what to do.

Here's how I do it whole group: I always print out my cube on cardstock and tape it together (I have different sized images in my packs because I know some people have picture cubes that they want to insert the images into or want to print onto labels to make more durable wooden cubes etc but I love the cardstock cubes personally):

I use my Elmo to project the dice onto the Smartboard so the whole group can see and follow along. My kiddos all have their own dry erase boards (I use a timer to time us as we hand them out and then collect them afterwards, we can get all 26 handed out and everyone ready to go in under 2 minutes!) and they use them to work on when we're sitting at carpet. Here's a picture of them doing a dice addition activity - it's the same setup as we use when graphing:

One student comes up to roll the dice and then fill out the graph or write the addition problem on the board. Everyone else follows along - either by writing the addition sentence and solving it on their board, or by filling out their own graph with crayons.Once our graph is finished we discuss the More Than, Less Than page, and complete the Addition worksheet together as well.

Every time we do it the graph comes out differently. We just keep rolling until one image has been rolled 10 times. This means that we can use the laminated pages an unlimited number of times! Each time we do the addition page we use the numbers from the graph, so as the graph changes daily, so do our addition sentences!

Once we've gotten the hang of filling in the graph by rolling the dice I can move the Roll & Graph activity into work stations to be worked on in pairs or small groups or even independently. This means that for the rest of the year I have a ready made work station activity that the kiddos love that focuses on addition, graphing and number sense all in one! I just switch out the particular Roll & Graph for another that matches our theme or time of year. For instance, since we just got finished with our Apple unit this Apple Kids Roll & Graph will be retired to the Apple Unit tub until next year and a different one will take its place! Still the same skills, but my students are once again highly motivated because of the new images!

Here's a Color Bats Roll & Graph freebie for you! We're going to be throwing in some bats and owls in with our spiders, plus some of my little ones still need some color word reinforcement, so I decided to combine color words, bats and graphing all together in one activity! I hope your kiddos enjoy this activity as much as mine do! Just  click the picture to grab it for free in my TPT store!

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