Mrs. Wishy Washy Giveaway!

I was recently contacted by Hameray Publishing to review Joy Crowley's new collection of easy reader books. I've used Mrs. Wishy Washy in my classroom for years, so I was thrilled to check out what Hameray was offering!

I received two books to review (Disclosure: I received complimentary products for review.  All opinions are my own and this is not a compensated post.)

"Wishy-Washy Clothes" is a short, easy to read book in the "Early Birds" series that focuses on predictable text and high frequency words.  This would be perfect for emergent readers. If you read aloud Mrs. Wishy-Washy's Farm beforehand they will have the added benefit of making text -to-text connections, as well as having the schema of Mrs. Wishy-Washy and her animals. The humorous text and pictures are high interest as well.

The 2nd book I looked at was "Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Wash from the Joy Cowley Collection. In this book, Mrs. Wishy Washy takers her animals to town to find water. Again, the story and illustrations are humorous, which will make it high interest. As well, the book contains rhyming words and onomatopoeia and would be great for teaching punctuation such as quotation marks. I appreciated that at the back of the book there were some teacher tips for Before, During and After reading.

There are already a ton of Mrs. Wishy-Washy resources at Making Learning Fun, and I often use Mrs. Wishy-Washy when I teach my farm unit, so I think that adding these easy readers to my book library will be a big hit! If you're interested in picking up some of these books you can use coupon code ZJCC13 now through 6/30/13 for 20% off your purchase at Hameray Publishing.

They also have a great Pinterest board for Mrs. Wishy-Washy! Check out all of their fun boards and ideas!

Finally, you can win your own Big Book copy of a Joy Crowley book! My kiddos love big books! Just enter via the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buggy Freebie!

Sigh...its already Sunday night :( I feel like I got so little accomplished - I really need longer weekends! I caught up on sleep yesterday, but other than that and grocery shopping, I am sadly underachieving!

Well, wait, I did manage to take a Mr.Clean pad to my stairway - it is amazing how quickly little fingerprints build up! And, I did manage to get a start on a Praying Mantis Life cycle pack - I was originally creeped out by those little guys, but after hatching them in class one year I am now a big fan - they're actually kinda cute! I also got a start on lesson plans - have to finish those up after this quick post!

Oh, and I used the random number generator thingy to pick a comment to win the Butterfly Life Cycle pack! Congrats to #9, Lisa! It's on its way via email Lisa!
If you are not Lisa, here's a small consolation prize - an Insect Themed CCVC "I have... Who has..?" game! My students love this game format - and if yours are anything like mine, this is the time of the year where you need lots of little fun breaks, otherwise you end up with the squirmy wormies, the ceaseless chatterers or the imps of destruction - I had one young lady actually use a dry erase marker on my carpet the other day! I tell you, spring time makes their little brains go haywire or something!

Anyways, you can check it out here:

And, just to infuse this post with as much Butterfly love as possible, check out this giveaway from Simply Kinder - it ends tonight so be quick! You can win a Butterfly Garden from Insect Lore!

Alright, back to the laundry and lesson plans that are waiting on me! Have a great week!

Our Classroom is ALIVE!

This is my absolute favorite time of year - I look forward to getting to school in the morning so I can check on all the living things in our room!

First up, our plants are growing like weeds! The seed packets listed the earliest germination at 7 days, but ours have sprouted up after only 5 days! So far our forget-me-nots have outpaced the cantaloupe and turnip seeds, but yesterday we saw the first sprouts in the other pods, so it  shouldn't be long now before the whole greenhouse is full of green shoots:

In order to monitor the progress of our plants, each student has their own folder containing their Plant Life Cycle materials. So far we have started our observation journal, completed the plant labeling page and started working on the life cycle pages.

Next, we got our eggs this week! We have at least 3 different breeds of chicken eggs. I put out a call on Craigslist, and had a sweet woman who raises chickens bring 42 eggs to our school! We have green, blue and reddish brown eggs and it was fascinating to see the differences in width and length. We set them up in our incubator in the corner:

Here's what the different eggs look like:

We also started our Chicken Observation Journal, which provided some interesting insight into who my pessimists and optimists are:

I was rather amazed that so many students had so little faith in me to think that 0 of the eggs will hatch! I counted about 6 that said "0" while many chose numbers < 10! I've actually had tremendous luck with hatching - each year we have better and better results. I may soon have to retire and take up chicken farming if I get any better at this! If you have been thinking about hatching chicks and haven't taken the plunge yet, I recommend this incubator and turning rack. This site is also full of great advice!

All of our Chicken Life Cycle materials are kept in blue paper folders, while the Plant Life Cycle materials are kept in green ones. I scored them for 10 cents a piece before school started, and it makes it so much easier to keep everything organized to have individual folders for each student and Life Cycle! Now I can just say "Pull out your blue folders." and know that everyone will have the appropriate materials at their fingertips.

I also have the file saved to my laptop so I can pull it up on the Smartboard as needed. Check out how intently my kiddos were studying our KWL chart:

We also added that we need to find out what the comb and wattle are for, after we completed our labeling page (I honestly had no clue when they asked and decided I would wait until they found out and could tell me). Unfortunately, due to testing our school library is closed for 2 weeks, so we can't go to the library en masse to do research. I will just have to check out a huge assortment of books and have them research the topic in class :)

Before I forget,  Jennifer was the lucky winner of my Plant Life Cycle pack - congrats Jennifer, I'm emailing you the pack now!

 (Who says 13 isn't a lucky number?!)

That's it for our Life Cycles this week, hopefully next week we can start our Butterfly Life Cycles if the caterpillars arrive!

Planting Seeds (and a Winner!)

I will not lie to you friends, this week was HARD! We had 3 days of rain (ie inside recess) AND our Music teacher was out for 3 days so planning time got cut to 20 minutes. I don't know if its the pregnancy thing or what, but one 20 minute break from 8:30-4:00 just isn't enough any more!

Luckily, we had some good times with our Plant Life Cycle unit. I love teaching this unit since we most of my kiddos have very little experience with growing things. Most live in apartments or a trailer park, so gardening is not an activity they usually take part in. We started our unit by reading two books:

I love how well these two go together - and the personification of the seeds in The Tiny Seed makes reading the book aloud so much fun - the kids gasp and call out and there are many choruses of "Aww!" when a seed "dies".

Once we read the books, I showed the kids our little greenhouse and some seed packs I had purchased. The greenhouse has 36 peat pods, so I figured we'd plant use 12 each for 3 different seeds. Here's what it looks like:

We had a choice of 6 different seeds, so we did some quick internet research on each, then we voted. I don't know about your class, but in mine the kids always tend to vote together - so if little Johnny chooses Turnip all of his little buddies do the same, and the same with little Mary and her friends. It drives me up the wall for some reason (I want them all to be leaders, not followers - even in the instance of choosing seeds lol!). So, this time I turned our board around and called them behind it one-by-one for secret voting.

Surprisingly, most of the boys ended up picking the Forget-me-nots - I had totally thought they would go for the cantaloupe or turnips, but maybe they envision taking a flowering plant home to mama (after the seeds sprout we will be transplanting them to individual pots to take home).

Then it was time to plant our cantaloupes, turnips and forget-me-nots. The neatest thing was the difference in seed sizes:
Here are a few pics of little hands taking turns being gardeners (disclaimer, I do not garden much myself, so I just have them plant 3 seeds in each pod and cross my fingers that we get enough to sprout so that everyone has a plant to put in a pot later! Maggie from Maggie's Kinder Corner told me a great idea - plant  flower seeds, then go to your local nursery and purchase enough plants to replace the seedlings with - that way you can swap them out one Friday afternoon and the kids will be wowed on Monday to see how much their flowers have grown! This would be a perfect Mother's Day gift too!)

After planting we made predictions on which type of seeds would sprout first. We read each package to see the germination time table and then tried to make educated guesses from there. This was a tricky one for my kiddos - only 2 were able to really ignore which seed they had personally chosen and make a true prediction based on the germination info - the rest just chose the kind of seed they wanted to grow the most lol!

Once each pod had been planted, we replaced the cover and set it on our windowsill in the sun:

I absolutely love my windowsill - I try to keep green plants on it year round, along with our aquarium and crabitat!

Now that our seeds are planted, we can get to work on all the goodies in my new Plant Life Cycle pack! It has a labeling page, observation journal, KWL charts, life cycle pages, an easy reader and more! You can win a copy for your class by Rustling Up a Comment below! Just tell me what kind of seeds you plant in your classroom :)

And, the winner of the Chicken Life cycle pack was #8, Erin! Your pack is being emailed right now Erin, thanks for your comment!

Bunnies, Chicks and A Chance to Win!

This is the time of year that I love to teach! Not only do I get to hit all the fun topics (we are doing life cycles and our eggs are coming this week!) but the kids themselves are so much more capable and independent!

Last week we did a fabulous Egg Hunt craftivity and writing prompt from Valerie of All Students Can Shine. She blogged about how her class made the craft here. Once I saw it, I knew my class had to make it too!

I was so stinking proud of their writing! We started by writing a story whole-group. It was great! Everyone was thoroughly involved in brainstorming ideas, making suggestions and making sure it all flowed together. My little ELL guy who usually doesn't take part in discussions had his hand in the air nonstop! Here's what we wrote together:

Once we had written the story whole-group I sent them back to their seats with their own paper and they got to work writing their own versions. I even had several students request multiple sheets of paper - I had to run down to the copy machine to make extras since I hadn't planned on that! Here are some examples:

Once we were done with the writing (and what is it with my kids and coloring this year, none of them enjoy coloring at all - its like pulling teeth to get them to do it!) we got to work on the bunny! I worked with them in groups of 5-6 and everybody did a great job, although I did have to repeat instructions a lot. It boggled my mind that I had to keep repeating "Trace 2 ears." because so many kiddos were apparently under the misapprehension that bunnies somehow only have one ear, regardless of the fact we were sitting right in front of my example! Sigh....

I didn't get any pictures of the basket weaving part because my phone died, not to mention, trying to do this with 26 kiddos and no aide was a little tricky! I did this part whole group because I am crazy that way. I mean, who knew "Over, under, over, under." would be that difficult for kids to understand?! Luckily we got through it without too much trauma on my part, and I have to say that the results were well worth it! Here are some of our cuties:

So, yes, we are actually getting it now! Those lightbulbs are going off daily, if not hourly! Today, after my kiddos had finished their work I was so proud of how they scattered through the room, eagerly working on different things. This pair was reading Elephant & Piggie books together - they each had a copy and one read the part of Gerald while the other was Piggie - wish I had been able to videotape it because the voices and expressions were priceless!

Others worked on sight word practice, still others were writing sentences with our spelling words on dry erase boards (I bought new markers last week and they are in dry erase heaven! It is amazing how engaged they are simply because we have colorful markers again rather than the standard black) and a few even asked for some dice so they could create math problems for their friends to solve! Gotta love it when they love practicing their skills and helping each other!

I mentioned that we will be getting out eggs this week. I am so excited! I created a Chicken Life Cycle pack for it, that you can find here:

I'd love to give a copy away to a random commenter, just Rustle Up a Comment below! The pack would be great if you hatch eggs in your classroom, but if you don't you can just skip the observation journal and still have 10 activities to use!

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