Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summer vacation

While most of you have returned to school, those of us in the north east are preparing to return next week.  My school district does not have it's teachers reporting until the day after Labor Day, and the kids two days later.  Seems so late this year!

My family spent it's last two weeks of summer on vacation!  Woo hoo!  Two weeks of family togetherness... hee hee.  We drove from New Jersey to Tampa, Florida.  Two days of in the car togetherness.  Then hopped on a seven day Carnival cruise.  Seven days at sea togetherness.  Since we were in the area, we went to Walt Disney World for three more days of Mickey-inspired togetherness.  Then two more days driving home of in the car togetherness.  Fourteen days of family time. So who's ready for school?  LOL

It feels very weird NOT to be planning for a new school year.  Especially since I started this blog.  I spend a lot of time thinking about teaching, talking about teaching, reading blogs about teaching, and planning products to post (I have three that are ALMOST done, lol) but I have no classroom to go to in September.  I took this year off after a very difficult one last year, and can't decide what I am going to do next.  I need to do something this year.  I will go NUTS sitting home.  I am NOT ready for retirement yet!  My school district will start accepting applications for substitutes in about three weeks, so I may start with that.  We shall see....

In the meantime, it's getting my own two boys ready for their year to start.  I have a brand new high schooler and we missed orientation while we were enjoying family togetherness; so I need to get him to the school, get his schedule and a map, and try to help him find all his classes.  Keeping my fingers crossed his classes are not all over the place!

Happy new school year to those already there!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Music in Math

I love music.  I love it not only for my own pleasure, but in my classroom as well.  There was almost always music playing in the background during free time, during lunch time, and I often played jazz or classical during work time; during my circle time we used music every single class.

Some of my favorite background music comes from my time as a Gymboree Teacher.  For almost seven years I enjoyed the wonderful music Gymboree had to offer, and when they added music to the program it was even better.  The music they put together is all content and age appropriate.  They offer a bunch of CDs with each CD being a different genre of music.  I love playing the African CD during free playtime.

My all time favorite for ME is the Surfin Music.  Here is one that is for sale on Amazon: Gymboree Music: Surfin

Other music I use, to teach a specific skill, comes from many sources.  Wee Play offers an abundance (I bought most of mine at Costco) of finger plays and rhymes that I was able to make flannelboards to go with them.

Everyday Mathematics offers a music CD to go along with their curriculum.  Maybe yours does too?

A parent gave me a copy of the CD Movin 2 Math by Jack Hartmann.  I used track #3 Let's Get Fit (Counting to 100 by 1s) almost daily.  Even my three year olds, who could not count to 100, loved doing the exercises.

One song I used soooo much in the springtime is Five Little Butterflies.  I heard it on Barney once, and thought it was adorable.  I made these cute flannel boards to go with the song:

I added the flowers cause my butterflies needed to fly over something.  Anyway, here is the song:

Apparently this comes on a CD too.  Not a big Barney fan, but the kids love the song when I sing it.  So I just don't tell anyone I saw it on Barney. :)  Shhhhhh.....

What music do YOU like to use?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Carrot Picking...or apple...or pumpkin...

One of my favorite activities to do at the beginning of the school year is to "pick apples from the tree."  I had a set of apples with numerals on them that had been handed down to me by a previous teacher; on one wall I had a big seasonal tree leftover from when I taught science.  The type you buy from a teachers supply store.  I put pieces of velcro on the tree, then on the apples.  Or leaves...which look like snowflakes in the winter when all the leaves have fallen off.  We used little pink flowers in the spring.

I used this tree for so many things; one of my favorite was to pick apples.  On the back of each apple there was a number up to 30.  The students would get a chance to pick an apple from a tree, then they had to tell me the number.  I had multiple apples with the same number on it, and would put up the appropriate numerals based on the age of the class coming in.

This is a great way for me to get a sense of numeral recognition at the beginning of the year.  I would keep a running record of which numerals they got correct and incorrect, and as the year went on I could add to it.  This helped me when assessment time of the year came; if they consistently recognized the numeral 3, I did not need to ask them that one.  I also used the apples to make sets; pick an apple then give me "that many" of something. 

Unfortunately my tree got destroyed and I cannot not locate a good picture of it to show you.  But I do have a picture of some young 3s (and visiting toddlers) "Carrot Picking" in our circle time area.  This was an activity I did in May, I think.

The kids had so much fun and did really well taking turns.  This is a simple shape to draw and copy onto colored construction paper.  I laminated a blank piece of green construction paper and made the tops, then taped them on.  Super quick and easy!  I know EVERYONE has an apple graphic somewhere in their files, and I bet everyone has a pumpkin too.  Fun hands-on activity, helps practice taking turns too.  My Kindergarteners had to pick two carrots and tell me the sum or difference, depending on the unit.  Great workstation if you have the space.  Let's those boys who need some movement in their learning get it out. you could have the kids order or group the numbers on  a clothesline... :)

Enjoy!  Kathy

Monday, August 13, 2012

Clothesline Fun

I am working on a product for the clothesline activity I mentioned a few posts back.  I am trying to decide what pictures to include.  A clothesline does not need to be used with only "clothes" but they sure make it more fun.  I love how the spring clothespins strengthen the hand and finger muscles that are oh so important for writing.

So I am thinking some seasonal clothes; short sleeve shirt and shorts; long sleeve shirt and pants; hat and mittens; tank top and of course socks.

So what is the problem you may wonder? Finding the clipart that I can legally use and sell with my product. I don't draw well enough on my own.

Does anyone have favorite clipart sites they want to share with me?


Sunday, August 12, 2012

I survived.

Mother-in-law came at 12pm to help. BBQ invites to start at 1pm. Sis in law & family showed up at 1:15 with chairs and tents.  First guest arrives...2pm. Sigh. Final guest arrives at 3:20pm.  The rain happily stayed away until 6pm.  House empty by 8:30pm.

We are in the process today of putting the house, the yard, the basement back in order.  Last of the dishes are drying in the sink.  Bowl of leftover chili next to me as I type.  As promised, here are a couple pictures. Unfortunately I did not get them in until after the food was served, so the bowls ar ea bit moved around, messy and empty, but you get the idea.

I have to say it was worth all the work planning and making the toppings, as the hot dog theme was a hit.  I have to say everyone really enjoyed creating their own dogs.  I did not do any of the more obscure ones, like pineapple salsa that I wanted to, but what I did choose in the end worked out well.  The hardest part about it was trying to decide how much of each topping to make; what if all 32 people wanted onions on their dog?  So of course I had to over plan for all.  Not one topping completely went, and I have tons of leftover onions & peppers, but that's okay. 

My favorite side dish was the coleslaw I made.  I found the recipe here: Creamy spiced coleslaw. I am not a fan of coleslaw in general, but this recipe was fantastic.

The biggest hit?  One of the hot dog choices. I bought them at my local Costco.  They are Kirkland brand, 1/4+ pound dogs, the same ones they serve in the food courts. They went so fast!!!  I bought long torpedo rolls, which are normally used for subs, and they were perfect for these giant dogs & all the toppings you could fit.  Problem was they were so filling, no one was eating up the side dishes! :)

Overall a great day, great company.  Now to finish cleaning up and open a bottle of leftover wine. :)


Thursday, August 9, 2012

What a week it's been around here!  I realized that it was August already and had not done most of what I said I was going to do this summer.  When I say most, I mean pretty much everything.  So I have spent most of last week and most of this week on task #1. Spring cleaning.  Yes, we are more than half way thru the season known as summer, and it is almost time to do my fall winterizing, but I have been spring cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning.  I have 3 more rooms to do and I am finally done.  Curtains have all been cleaned, walls dusted, furniture moved and vacuumed under, light fixtures cleaned, tops of ceiling fans dusted, blinds get the idea.  Now what is this such a big deal for me? I have horrible dust allergies.  Horrible.  Even with a mask and daily allergy tablets I still have been miserable.  I can really only handle one room a day, then have to leave the house so fresh air can clean out my lungs.  It's terrible and yes I realize I should do it more often since I have such bad allergies, but alas I have not learned my lesson yet. 

Besides the cleaning, I have 32 people coming over for a BBQ on Saturday for my baby's 13th birthday. Yes, it is supposed to rain. 50% chance. So that means 100% it will cause it ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) rains when we have a BBQ.  I put a raindate on the invite, for Sunday, and when some RSVPs came in I was told that they already had plans for Sunday.  So if I move it I will be losing a bunch of guests.  Which is not a bad thing, right?  LOL Except for all the food I will be stuck with!  Plus, there is a 30% chance of rain on Sunday.

Today I started prepping the food.  I was browsing picnic food ideas and I found many references to "themed" picnics;  the food follows a theme.  Well, I thought this was fun, and my son loves hot dogs, so I decided to do a hot dog theme!  Food Network had about 30 different hot dogs listed on their site, so I got creative and picked a bunch that looked fun (and shared toppings so as not to drive myself completely crazy) and off I went.  My hubby thinks I am nuts, but understands that this is my "teacher energy" driving this party.  I am feeling a bit bored, not planning a room, curriculum, lessons, etc that I have to put those planning skills to use elsewhere.  So the party gets it!! 

The bad thing about this theme idea is that I have no idea how many people will choose which dogs, which buns, which toppings, so I have to way over plan everything and how much of everything so I have enough.  Which means I will be left with a LOT of leftovers.

I'll try to take pictures to show you all what the end result is.  I can share right now the guests will have a choice of three dogs (one boiled - Nathans, one grilled - Kirkland 1/4lb, and sausage.  There are three buns too (reg hot dog buns, Portuguese rolls, and torpedo rolls.)  The Kirkland dogs are so big they need the torpedo roll.  For sides, we have a green salad, coleslaw (which is also a topping), cucumber tomato salad, chili (which is also a topping) and a pasta salad.  I made the sides today, except for the chili.  Going to make that in the crock pot tomorrow.  But I prepped the ingredients today; chopped onions and browned the ground beef.  Tomorrow I make everything else; onions & peppers, bacon, other toppings, and cookies to go with dessert.  It is so hard to know how much to make of everything!!  I sliced the onions today, filled an entire gallon-sized ziploc with sliced onions, knowing when it's cooked it'll be 1/4 that.  I just hope it is enough.  Is it okay that when one topping is gone, it's gone?  Or should I have reserves to cook up real quick if they run out? 

Did I ever mention I am not a big fan of having parties?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Using Literature in Math & Book Boxes

Howdy folks!

As I have mentioned before, I LOVE using literature as part of my math (and science) lessons.  I will eventually get to talking about science, I promise.  Math is most recent for me, so it is freshest in my thoughts.

Anyway, here is a great list of math-related literature:

Love 2 Learn 2 Day

I have personally used almost ALL of the Stuart J. Murphy books.  I was lucky to work at a school that owned almost the whole complete set; it was so great the have these books at my disposal.  There were a few titles I needed to get from the library, but the majority sat on my desk.

I also was the proud owner of the NumberTales series from Scholastic.  These two were a great series, if you have ever used AlphaTales you know what I mean.  The set came with a Teachers Guide with worksheets, mini books and other activities.  I loved the mini-books; the students could have their own copy of the story to put in their book boxes for free reading.

What is a book box?  Basically, it's a small shoe box that the students use to collect the books they make throughout the school year.  During quiet times, free read times, or as a center, the students get their box off a shelf and read over books they have created.  These books come from all the subjects; when I taught science I think I provided more books for the box than the literacy teacher. :)

I will admit that the boxes took up a lot of space, but it was well worth it.  Since my students were still young, the boxes were on the smaller side.  Not sure you can do this with older children who have giant feet.  I wish I had a picture to show you! I have no pictures from my first four years of teaching, and during my last three years they stopped using the boxes.  Much to my dismay.  But I continued to make the books....hee hee.

Another option to shoe boxes would be to use file folders; you can buy ones like these that expand on the sides and are already sealed on three of the sides.

The kids can "check out" their folders to bring home and share with their families, or they can be wonderful things to have out for waiting parents during conferences or back to school nights.

 One of the things I love the most about the book boxes is how proud the kids are of their work when they go back and to read and re-read their books.   I have had students proudly show me books they made at the beginning of the year, comparing to what they just made, and they can see their own growth.  They can see how much better they write, or color, or even cut & fold.  The students notice their own progress!