Plant Life Cycle Unit

We started our Plant Life Cycle study this week! I started now for two reasons - next week is Spring Break so when we get back to school on March 24th we should have some sprouting action within a few days. This cuts down on the wait time so that the kids aren't checking day after day with no results for so long! The other reason is that I want to start our Butterfly Life Cycle after Spring Break as well, and to do that we need plants! You see, this year I am ordering Brassica Butterfly eggs so that we can see the complete life cycle from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly - in the past with the Painted Lady caterpillars I ordered we always skipped the egg phase. Since we won't be getting that nasty "food" stuff that comes with the caterpillars (and really, the kids are always confused that caterpillars eat leaves but come with brown sludge lol) we need to have some Brassica family plants ready to feed our caterpillars when they hatch!

I start our Life Cycle study by putting together a folder for each student. I make sure to buy enough of each color folder at the beginning of the year when they're on sale so that I have one for each student. The green folders are always Plant Life Cycle, my blue ones will be for Butterfly Life Cycle, and yellow will be for Chicken Life Cycle. This means that when I tell the students to get out their Plant Life Cycle stuff they just have to grab their green folder and they're ready!
In the left side pocket go all of the printable sheets - life cycle calendar, labeling pages, kwl sheets, sequencing sheets, writing prompts and color by code sheet. The right hand side has the easy reader and the Observation Journal.
I always start my seeds in a Jiffy Greenhouse - the kids love seeing the little peat pellets absorb the water and expand! Then everyone gets a turn to poke a hole and plant some seeds. This year we planted radish, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage to hopefully feed our Brassica Butterflies!

I'm lucky enough to have huge windows, so we set our greenhouse in the window and wait for sprouts.
Every day we get our folders out and complete part of our unit.
 The kids love the Plant Life Cycle reader - we take our time coloring it and read it each day:

 The labeling and sequencing sheets are favorites too:
But, my favorite part is the Observation Journal. There are 10 pages of prompts for students to draw pictures, answer questions, and describe the life cycle.

One of the best things is that whenever someone comes to visit us, the students can quickly grab their folder, bring the visitor to our greenhouse area and show off all they know about the life cycle!

Mrs Wishy-Washy Contest and GIVEAWAY!

Woohoo for Spring Break! What better way to celebrate than with a giveaway and a contest?!

First, you can enter Hameray's Joy Crowley Classroom Giveaway 2014 and win an awesome collection of Joy Crowley's books, big books, puppets and more! Joy Crowley is the author of the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books and one of my favorite authors! Check out Hameray's Pinterest boards for some wonderful ideas to go along with the books! Click the picture below to go to the official contest entry site:|4b3d30ce-c326-4a4c-8d4d-d094cecd6223

I've reviewed the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books before and really enjoy them, so I'm happy to be able to giveaway a free Joy Crowley Big Book too (the book you win will be chosen at random)! Just enter via the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Leprechaun Visit! (Freebie!)

We have kicked off our last week before Spring Break with a bang! We are rocking our math benchmark (sigh for benchmarks in 1st grade!) but more importantly, twin leprechaun brothers aren visiting our room all week!

Yesterday we read The Naughty Leprechaun Story which came with a sweet note from Liam that since we have Spring Break next week he and his brother would come visit us at school this week. The kids were quick to brainstorm a list of "school treasure" that the leprechauns might leave, and pranks that might be pulled if we're naughty.
Luckily everyone was on their best behavior and Liam left us a little treasure in the form of stickers, St. Patrick's Day pencils and a new book!
Tomorrow we will be using some of the writing prompts in my FREE How to Plan a Leprechaun Visit and Friday we'll go on our scavenger hunt! The rest of the week we'll be using my St. Patrick's Day Lucky Leprechaun Math unit and playing many of my St. Patrick's Day I have Who has? literacy games! 

I'm not sure if this is my favorite week of the school year because of the magic of leprechauns or because Spring Break is just a few days away!

Bright Ideas Blog Hop ~ Inexpensive Manipulatives - and How to Store Them!

I am so excited to be joining the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!
 My idea this week came about because my school has a distinct lack of math manipulatives. We have the standard unifix cubes and a small bucket of transportation manipulatives, and I think we even have 1/2 a set of bears but not enough to engage a classroom of little learners! I get $0 for my classroom each year and I've got 5 mouths of my own to feed, so I had to come up with inexpensive manipulatives.
If you've ever been to The Dollar Store or Target's Dollar Spot (if you haven't you probably need to hand in your teacher card!) you've seen those little baggies of novelty erasers:
Usually they're only $1 for 50-100 pieces. Many of them come with a few types per bag, but if not you can always buy three bags and mix them together. You can also get novelty erasers at Oriental Trading Company.

These are perfect for math manipulatives! In kindergarten you can use them for sorting, patterning and counting. In 1st grade I use them as addition and subtraction manipulatives or have the kids grab a handful to graph. Since they come in all kinds of different designs, the students are always enthusiastic to use them. I have special themed ones that only come out around a holiday, but others that are available year round for the students to enjoy.
The easiest way to store them is in pencil boxes. This keeps each set contained and separate from the other sets. I purchased the pencil boxces after school started when they were only ten cents each! My students can easily grab a box and take it back to their table to work with.
When I was purchasing the pencil boxes, I also grabbed the cardboard display case off the shelf. Walmart was happy to let me have it for free and it keeps the boxes stacked neatly so they don't take up much space. Plus I can move them from place to place in the room without a hassle.

There you have it - math manipulatives that will keep your students' interest - and you don't have to worry when a piece or two "goes missing" because they are inexpensive to replace!

Now head over to Mrs. Bremer's Class for a Bright Idea about student mail!

Check out the linky for even more Bright Ideas!
Kindergarten - 2nd grade:
3rd grade & up:

Guided Drawing Cat in the Hat freebie!

The best laid plans often go awry and such was the case with my Read Across America lesson plans! We had Snow Days on Monday and Tuesday and then I was sick on Friday, so many of our planned activities had to be skipped. I was going to do deviled green eggs and ham sandwiches as a Friday afternoon snack for example, but the stomach bug that has been going around struck me too. Luckily though, we were able to make these adorable Guided Drawing Cat in the Hats:
This project was Pinterest inspired, but it was one of those pins that never seems to have a start - just pinned and repinned and I could never figure out where it actually came from and see if there were any directions! I am not artistic by any means, but thankfully my kids are always appreciative of my attempts at art, so I decided to try my luck with this. I demonstrated the steps on ourSmrartboard first, and I think it came out pretty well:
We read Cat in the Hat first and then after drawing the Cat we brainstormed adjectives to describe him. My jkiddos loved this activity and I'm thankful that out of all the Read Across America stuff that had to get canceled we were able to do this at least.

I went ahead and made a file of the directions, so if you want to grab them, just click either of the pictures above!

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