Saturday, April 30, 2011

"X" Week and Outdoors

WOW, what a week! This time I'm not talking about the craziness that has been going on at school. Our state was hit by several devastating tornadoes on Wednesday. In case you don't know, I live and teach in Central Alabama and April 27, 2011 is going down in history as one of the most deadly in the history of the state. As of today, there are over 200 dead and hundreds more are listed as missing. It has been extremely sad. We were out of school of Wednesday and Thursday of this week because most of our area is without power. With all that said, we had a great week at school.

We began our week with everything being normal. Just the normal routine chaos. We started talking about the great outdoors! We put together the CUTEST insect ever. It was anatomically correct; 6 legs, 2 eyes, 2 antennas, and 3 body parts. The rest however was left to the imagination of my class! Aren't they amazing! They were done with nothing more than a cardboard egg carton and some pipe cleaners. I don't think I have ever recited the phrase "6 legs, 2 eyes, 2 antennas, and 3 body parts" so much in MY LIFE. But, we got the message! My class officially knows that spiders are NOT an insect! JOB WELL DONE!

On Tuesday we worked on our wonder letter "X". This letter is challenging at best. But we tried. Today we made a giant "X" with a fun x-ray effect. I started by cutting out a large "X" and drawing little "X's" all over it with a white crayon. Then the children painted it with water colors. Don't you love it? I love their faces when the little "X's" appear.

During the week I hid little "X's" made from different colored tape all over my room. I told the children they were to find the hidden "X's". "X" marked the spot. They loved it! Everyone was looking all over my classroom! SUPER FUN!

We also made a bug jar on Tuesday. It is made with just fingerprints. Everyone loved talking about the different types of bugs that went inside the jar.

My favorite moment appear during our snack time. One of my students moved her goldfish around until . . . .


Then Wednesday happened! A severe storm with straight line winds arrived in our area around 5:30 a.m. After that, everything changed. No electricity so no school. To be honest I thought the worst was over and we would be back in school on Thursday. WRONG! The deadly tornadoes arrived late in the afternoon and early in the evening. Thousands and thousands of people in the state of Alabama had their lives drastically changed.

On Friday we were lucky enough to be back at school. I was shocked to find out that during the storms my sweet friend and fellow teacher, Mrs. Christi was hurt during the storms. She has many, many large trees down in her yard and during the clean up process she was injured. I don't talk about Christi much, but she is an amazingly sweet friend. We are completely different. I actually call us "The Odd Couple". She is Felix, nice and neat; I am Oscar, well you know! Anyway, her injury really hit me hard. Just the thought of her being hurt and possibly serious injuried really upset me. We were lucky because not many children were at school so Mrs. Christi and I joined classes. For the first time, I wasn't upset that we only had 9 students. We decided that no matter what, we would continue on! And continue on we did!!! We worked on an eXtra special dragon fly. The entire project came about because I was out of school and TOTALLY bored without electricity and my mind was raging out of control. I looked through my wonderful supply of scrapbooking paper and we came up with . . . .
I hope that you can tell by the photo that he/she is anatomically correct. The precious wings, both sets of them, are made with tissue paper that was salvaged from Christmas presents! I love using recyclable stuff!

We also headed to the kitchen for a fun "spider" snack. Isn't it amazing what you can do with 'Nilla Wafers, chocolate icing, pretzel sticks and M&M's. SUPER FUN!

Hopefully, next week will be less emotional. Even though my students were not effected by the storm other than the loss of electricity and/or the damage of fallen trees, there is still the constant talk and visual images that are on television. We will be dealing with the anxiety of our students for months to come.

As a footnote, I'm not sure how many people actually read or care about my blog. But if you read it, please pray, please pray for the people of Alabama. We have been devastated by these tornadoes. We need your prayers. THANK YOU!

"W" Week and Easter

I'm late once again! Since we were out of school for the Good Friday, Bill and I headed to the lake for a little R&R (not really, we worked the entire time). We had a wonderful visit from our son, his girlfriend and their dogs, so the weekend was perfect.

School was great all week. It seems everyone was busy talking about our big Easter party so it was a little difficult to keep our focus, but I tried. We started Monday by making the most amazing "Stained Glass Easter Egg". It turned out so nice. It is one of those projects that the children (and I) get instant gratification. Something we all need from time to time. We started with a piece of contact paper. We laid our hollowed out egg on top. Next we added our cross and little pieces of left over tissue paper.

We finished by carefully laying another piece of contact paper on the top.

Then we rubbed. We probably over did the rubbing process, but it was FUN! I carefully cut away the extra contact paper. The final results . . . . .

Everyone couldn't wait to hold them up to the light.

Tuesday is always a fun day. We are busy, busy, busy! Today was no exception. I try very hard to emphasize to the children the true meaning of the holidays. I don't want them to think that Easter is all about candy and eggs. So on Tuesday we worked very hard on a beautiful and very meaningful Easter Cross.

Each of the colored squares has the meaning of the color written on it. The Easter lily is made from our handprint. The parents loved it.

I guess most people can tell by what I write that I AM NOT A FAN OF WORKSHEETS! They bore me, so I am guessing they will bore most children. Besides, anyone can color at home, school should be a place where you do "other" things, right???? Well, that is what I think anyway. So instead of copying all those coloring sheets (yawn), I laminate one or two of them a week and we use some donate "white board" markers to practice our writing skills. This week I made us a wonderful Easter egg to change things up a bit. EVERYONE loved it.
When we get finished we just erase it!

Here are our name sheets. Everyone loves practicing writing their names! Yes, this child is only FOUR!

A little side note: These will eventually get nasty looking. When they do, just wipe them off with a Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes or something similar and let them dry. They will look like new.

Wednesday is often referred to as "Wild Wednesday" or "Wacky Wednesday" and this week was NO exception. We had fun. I changed things around in our room and waited to see if the children noticed them. It tooks a while, but finally I heard, "LOOK Mrs. Karen, the pictures on the cabinet are turned upside down!" After that everyone started looking for things that were "wacky". We also made the cutest little wagon with Easter eggs in it of course!Thursday came too quickly this week. It was our big party day and I knew things were going to get crazy. I decided that we needed something very meaning and calming to work on today. We made an Easter bracelet. We used pipe cleaners and colored beads. Each bead represented the colors that were used in cross. They were beautiful, but not calming. It was party day, I tried! ;) We also worked quickly on our letter "W". We hung out the wash! Super cute, super fun!

Our Easter party was a huge success. Instead of "hunting" for Easter eggs we do an Easter Egg Swap. It is just like our Valentine Swap and everyone goes home happy!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Our next week will be all about the great outdoors and the wonderful letter "X". I hope you will come back and visit us!

Friday, April 15, 2011

"V" Week and Spring

This week turned out to be Very interesting and Very fun! I knew it was going to be a short week for me since I had to be out on Friday to take my husband to for a medical "thingie", so I had to make the most out of my condensed week. We started on Monday talking about the letter "V" and we discovered it WAS a fun letter after all! We had the best time making letter vests. I got the idea from Dr. Jean and modified it for our needs. We used old paper bags, cut them, turned them inside out and decorated them. As you can see from the picture, the first letter of each child's name is on the back (we used a free sample roll of blue electrical tape) and the children decorated the front with old stickers and markers. I even found some old alphabet stickers and everyone had a fun time trying to find the letters of their names. Since I knew I was going to have to be out on Friday, we went ahead and did our weekly science experiment a little early. I am so glad we did! It was a big success! Of course since it was "V" week we HAD to do the "Vinegar and Baking Soda Volcano Experiment". I'm really fortunate that my Mom saves all different kinds of containers for me. Because I have SO many, everyone got to do their own experiment. First everyone got to color their vinegar any color they wanted. Next we gave everyone a small cup of baking soda. I wanted the children to understand that we were using everyday items and especially to know that these items are completely safe. Unfortunately, I decided to taste the baking soda to prove my point. NOT a very smart idea! But everyone did get a good laugh out of it! Next, I counted to three and everyone dumped their ingredients into a cup. FUN! The noise level was unbelievable! Then we realized that we had more vinegar and baking soda left over. Well, that simply will not do! So of course, we did one more BIG experiment and WOW it was BIG! We also added a little dishwashing detergent to give it a little more WOW factor. I think it worked!

Tuesday was spent talking about Spring and the our wonderful letter "V". I think we incorporated our letter and our theme very nicely.

Our flowers were made from tissue paper scraps that we wadded up and glued to stems made from scrap paper. I loved how the flowers turned out. Everyones was different, some wanted LOTS of flowers, others only a few.

For the past 15 years I have tried unsuccessfully to find a violin to use during "V" week. I have had NO luck, well, no luck until this year! Yep, that's right on Tuesday we were officially know as "the class making that funny noise". Now not only did we GET a violin, we got to PLAY the violin! We loved it!

We also discovered that it was a little bit harder to play then we thought!

Wednesday was a wild day! It didn't help that we made a vulture and talked about it ALL day! Everyone was fascinated about a bird that "eats dead stuff". Nothing gets a young child's attention like talking about very gross things. Our "Very Valuable Vulture" was a big hit with everyone! I'm not sure you can tell by the picture, but his neck is a piece of construction paper (about 2x5) that the children accordion folded. This way his head kind of bobs around.

Thursday was spent talking solely about Spring and the wonderful changes that are going on now. We all agreed baby birds were one of our favorite things so we made a little handprint baby bird nest. Here are the instructions - BIRDS IN A NEST Have your child paint their hand blue this time. Next, have them spread their fingers and make an impression in the middle of a piece of paper. When the print is dry, give them a nest shape (1/2 circle), cut from a tan piece of paper. Have them glue the nest across the bottom of the blue impression. Next, take shredded paper and glue it to the nest. You now should have a nest with 5 blue birds in it. Let your children add eyes and v beaks with a thin black marking pen. I hope this makes sense. Since my poor camera died I am relying on the kindness of others for pictures. Hopefully, one of my Moms will be e-mailing me a photo soon.
LOOKIE WHAT I FOUND! hehehehe! One of my students wasn't at school on friday either so I took a picture of her bird's nest.Well, like I said, this was a short week for me. Today was spent at the hospital with my husband but I did leave a fun scissor project. We made palm leaves in honor of Palm Sunday this weekend. I cut giant leaves out of green construction paper and the children made diagonal cuts to make the leaves. They were to glue on a stem made from cardboard. Now, they will be ready to tell their parents the wonderful story of Palm Sunday.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you will come back again next week and see the fun and hopefully exciting ways we will studying the letter "W" and Easter.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"U" Week and Spring

What an UnUsual week! No really, it was unusual and it was that way on purpose! Last Friday was by far one of our best days EVER in school, so I knew once again I had to find something great for this week. Unfortunately it was "U" week (insert a very confused face here!), and well, to be honest, the letter "U" isn't THAT exciting - or is it?????? It is now! Here we go, the letter "U" and Spring Week - Mrs. Karen style . . . . We started on Monday introducing the letter "U" just as we usually do. We made a very simple umbrella (yawn) BUT we added something unusual. We mixed glue and paint together and made "Mrs. Karen's Unusual Paint" - PERFECT! This ended up being the perfect craft since we had a severe thunderstorm later that day. On Tuesday we talked about spring and all the wonderful things we see during season. Of course everyone commented on how many bugs we are seeing now so we made a ladybug. Isn't she cute? Can you tell how we made the spots on her wings? I'll share our secret - we used little umbrellas!
I found these little umbrellas up in our supply closet and BAM we had instant fun! Everyone enjoyed dipping their little umbrellas into our "unusual paint" (paint and glue for a thick effect) and making spots!

Wednesday was a day for us to work on our letter of the week. All day long we made the "U" sound. My entire classroom sounded like they had the stomach ache! UH, UH, UH, UH, UH! Lots of fun but very noisy. We also painted a beautiful butterfly in a very unusual way. For this put big blobs of paint on 1/2 of the butterfly then folded it over and rubbed the two sections together. INSTANT beauty!

Everyone added a fun little body and just the perfect little faces! They were all so pretty that I backed them with black paper for an extra little pop. I love to see the children's faces when their projects are completed. There is such pride in their eyes!

Thursday is our busy day. We have Chapel and a Spanish class in the morning, so it makes for one hectic day. On Wednesday I had the children make their hand prints around a circle. I didn't tell them why so it made things really fun. On Thursday we added their fingerprints to the middle and I handed them some scissors. We have been working very hard on our cutting skills and it really shows. I drew a leaf and a stem on a large piece of green construction paper. The children took it from there. WOW! Their stems and leaves were amazing. Here are the end results

Aren't they amazing! Now, after they glued in their stems and leaves I mounted them on brown construction paper and cut them out. It seem to make their work stand out. I liked that!

Finally, it was Friday! Our Fabulous Fun Friday did not disappoint! This week I call it our "Unusual Fabulous Fun Friday" and unusual it was. We started off by NOT being in our classroom! That's right, we traded classrooms! OH FUN! I also took away all our springtime themed books and traded them in for . . . . CHRISTMAS books! Our blocks were replaced with all different sized bottle caps (I haven't thrown away a bottle cap in 2 years!). I also brought in a HUGE box of my son's old baseball uniforms for us to dress up in! OH THE FUN! But I wasn't quite finished . . . for our craft activity we drew Under the tables!I tapped large sheets of construction paper to the under side of the tables and the children had the best time! I do believe there were two little girls who would still be drawing if we had not run out of time. FUN, FUN, FUN! My favorite part of the day is listening to the children while they are getting into their cars. NO, not because they are leaving, but because they tell their parents about the fun they had at school.
Oh, I almost forgot to show you our wonderful springtime snack.
We had so much fun putting this together. I think you can probably tell that it is 2 pretzels joined in the middle by white Almond Bark.The little antennas are broken pretzels (with our budget we don't want to waste anything!) and of course we had to add 2 little M&M's because everyone loves M&M's!

Next week we will continue talking about "Spring" and the letter "V". I hope you will come back and visit us!

Monday, April 4, 2011

"T" Week and Ocean

Yes, this is actually me and I am wearing a tiara, a tutu and a tangerine shirt while trying to twirl a baton. Goodness gracious, is there anything I won't do to get a child's attention????? Obviously not! ;0) Keep reading and you will find out why I am wearing this lovely outfit!

Well, you've probably guess by now that we had "T" week and it was terrific. The only bad part of the week was when my camera died. I had no idea how much I used it until I didn't have it. So a big "thank you" to our director, Cynthia, for taking all these pictures. I enjoyed this week because there was just so much to talk about. We started on Monday and made the cutest shark. He turned out so cute. We cut triangles out of a circle for his teeth. I just loved him.

I especially loved how the children recognized all the triangles we used in this project and then they started screaming "triangles start with T!" Ahhhhhh. . . success!

We also painted a silly looking fish this week. We used our regular paint and watered them down a bit. After they dried we stuffed them with some old polyester batting that one of our Mom's donated. I love the look, especially those big 'ole eyes! One of the girls in our class said they looked like a pillow. Hmmm . . . I guess they did.

Our Thursday was filled with FUN! We had a guest speaker, Ms Diane McKinnon, a Marine Biologist, come and talk to us about fish and all the other interesting creatures that live in the Mobile Bay and Gulf of Mexico.

I was really proud of our classes. But I guess it is easy to listen when you get to see wonderful pictures of fish, crabs and even sharks!

Our Fabulous Fun Friday was so much fun! We started off making our very own fish aquariums our of old 2-liter Pepsi bottles. (Sorry, no pictures). We used our hand print for the fish, added some seaweed that the children cut out of green construction paper and then dropped in real shells. We held the whole thing together with blue tissue paper stuffed inside to look like water. SUPER CUTE and I'm trying to see if one of my Moms will take a picture for me.

We also made an apple tree cookie out of graham crackers (for the trunk) and vanilla wafers (for the leaves) which had green icing spread on top. YUMMY! But to top it all off we added red M&M's for the apples!

We headed back to our classroom to work off some of the sugar and I dumped a HUGE supply of wrapping paper tubes, paper towel tubes AND of course toilet paper tubes, right in the middle of the floor. I then pulled off big long strips of masking tape and told everyone to "have fun!" Boy, did they ever have fun. We had all kind of towers and even a trumpet! Super fun and believe it or not, no one fussed or complained. WOW!
Now comes the reason I am in that lovely outfit. You see, my sweet friend, Mrs. Tiffany, came to school (she's the cutie in the other tangerine shirt with the "T" on it) and twirled her baton for us. She was originally in the tutu, the tiara, the tangerine shirt, and the tube socks then she shared them wish me. I don't get many opportunities to wear a tiara and a tutu so I took full advantage of the situation and literally wore it the rest of the day. Oh my, next it the letter "U" hmmmm . . . I wonder where my son's old "u"niforms are????????