Wednesday, November 23, 2016

It's November before Thanksgiving

It's November
The first early days of November I still do pumpkin activities post-Halloween.  We color, cut and sequence four sizes of pumpkins and show from left to right sequencing large to small.

We traced numbers in pumpkins and played a partner game to roll a die and coverup the numbers in order.  Who covers all their numbers first. 

Disguise a turkey home project.  TURKEY TROUBLE by Wendi Silvano was read and an invitation to disguise the turkey picture with their family at home.
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The Turkey-in-disguise creations were displayed and the school could vote on which turkey they liked.  Our families are very creative!

Tell this story and conclude with a yummy popcorn snack.

The Magic Seeds by Ann R. Lee

All the Pilgrim women of Plymouth, Massachusetts, were busy cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  Some of them cooked over fires out-of-doors.  The dinner table was out-of-doors too.  It was set and ready for the Pilgrims and their Indian friends.
The Pilgrim women were happy as they cooked.  At last they had enough food to eat.  Their Indian friends had helped the Pilgrim men to plant corn, catch fish, and hunt birds and animals for food.  The pilgrims were very thankful that they had enough to eat.  So they had decided to have a Thanks giving dinner.  Because the Indians had helped them so much, the Pilgrims had asked the Indians to eat dinner with them.
The Indian chief and many members of his tribe came to this first Thanksgiving dinner.  They brought food and gifts for the Pilgrims.
One of the Indians who brought gifts was Quadequina, the chief's brother.  Quadequina stood with two deerskin bags in his hands.  The Pilgrims crowded around him.
Quadequina reached into one deerskin bag.  When he pulled his hand out of the bag, it was full of fluffy, little white things.
"What are they?  They look like tiny white flowers!" a Pilgrim girl said.
Quadequina laughed and put some of the white pieces on the Pilgrim girl's hair.  But next, he did a strange thing.  He popped a few of the white pieces into his mouth!
"Why, it is some kind of food." a Pilgrim man said.
Quadequina nodded his head.  He reached into the other deerskin bag.  He took out a handful of small seeds that looked like corn.  Then he walked over to a cooking-fire that was burning inside a circle of rocks.  He put the handful of seeds on one of the hot rocks.  Then he stood waiting
Pop!   Pop!   Pop!
Quadequina laughed as the Pilgrims gasped in surprise!  The seeds jumped off the hot rock as they popped.  And as they popped, they turned into the white fluffy things that Quadequina had taken from the first bag.
"Look" a Pilgrim boy shouted, "It's magic!"
One of the Pilgrims tasted this new kind of food.  "Ummm Delicious!" he said.
That's how the Pilgrims first learned about popcorn.  The Indians were eating popcorn long before the Pilgrims came to America.  Indians wore strings of popcorn around their necks and one around their heads when they danced.
It was thought that popcorn was eaten by people thousands of years ago.  But Pilgrim women were the first mothers to serve popcorn for breakfast with sugar and cream.  Popcorn was the first "puffed" breakfast cereal.
Today not many people eat popcorn with sugar and cream.  But each year, lots of people eat popcorn with butter and salt as a tasty treat.

One year a teaching friend was the narrator and I acted out the part of Quadequina.  I donned a headband yarn braid and a Halloween 'native American' costume.  Even to this day, I get the giggles about it.  The adults enjoyed it as much as the kids.  We used a hot air popcorn popper to dramatize the popping.  


Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving and friendship

THE INDIAN BOWL by Jean Marzollo
I found this story in Scholastic's LETS FIND OUT weekly news in my early years teaching. (It is dated November 1974!)
Every year I tell this story about an Indian (Native American) girl who sees another girl (pilgrim) and wants to be her friend.  Despite the language barrier, she presents her with a homemade bowl.
This is a wonderful story to discuss sharing and making friends.

Once upon a time Moon Flower decided to make a small bowl by herself.  She had watched her mother do this many times and had even helped some, but never had she made a bowl from start to finish all alone.  Now she wanted to for Moon Flower had a new friend.  Well, not exactly a friend..yet.  The day before when Moon Flower was picking berries, she had seen a girl like herself, but different.  The other girl had lighter skin and wore strange clothes.  But Moon Flower liked her and wanted to give her a gift.

So alone she went to the river bank and picked some rushes. (reeds--tall thick grass)  Back at the camp, she boiled them for strength in an iron pot over a wood fire.  Before they dried, she wove them in and out to make a "puki," a rush basket.
When the basket was dry, she went back to the river bank to dig clay.  She spread the clay out on a stone to look for pebbles.  (If there were any pebbles left in the clay, they would later crack the bowl.)  She worked the clay with her hands to find any small pebbles that were still left.
Back again at the camp, she flattened the clay into a pancake shape and pressed it over the puki, which was now turned upside-down.  When the clay was dry, she asked her mother to fire it.  Her mother, surprised that Moon Flower had made a bowl by herself, was   

pleased.  She put the bowl in an open pit in which there was a fire covered with hot stones.  The bowl
sat on the stones for several hours.  The rushes burned away but the bowl didn't; instead the heat made it harder and stronger.  After the fire had burned out and the bowl had cooled, Moon Flower picked it up.  It was perfect; inside she could see the marks the rushes had left.
Carefully she walked back to the berry patch and waited.  Sure enough, after a while the girl in the odd clothes came along.  Moon Flower quietly and shyly walked over and handed her the bowl.
Moon Flower and the other girl couldn't talk with each other because they spoke different languages.  But it didn't matter.  Their smiles made it clear that they were to be friends.

I have used this story so much that I just tell it.  I also act it out pantomiming which gives it a real feel to the kids.  I once had pressed playdoh on the back side of a rough basket as in the story.  Then showed them the indentions of the basket weave.  (Aw wow effect) 😲

We also use homemade playdoh and make pinch pots to take and share with their family for Thanksgiving.  We left these by the window to dry for at least 4 days.  I always make a few extra in case they crack too much when air drying.

In Art class, they have made clay pots which are glazed and kiln fired.
These are much 'fancier' and stronger.

It may be too late to make these clay bowls this year so file the idea for next year.
Tomorrow I will  share a story about Magic Seeds.  Get out your popcorn popper to demonstrate.  Enjoy.

Thanks for the giving

I love the new Walgreen's commercial with the phrase "Thanks for giving."  It took me awhile to get the flow of it. 

The power of change!

Things have been stressful....coming off a full moon and end of the grading period.....
So for this Thanksgiving I am trying to be more thankful for my students and all that I learn from them.  In addition, I want to try to help them realize more of how they can be thankful, grateful for what they have and can be.

 I read:
Image result for thanksgiving is for giving thanks         
 These are short stories that put the concept of thankfulness in the kids' perspective.  From the stories, I introduced the pie craft for them to illustrate what they are thankful for.

The "I am thankful for pie" craft  project is easy to do.  I made a circle and flood-filled it and drew a pie shape to cut out.  The children cut out the circle and pie piece.  On a paper plate that was premarked in six sections, the children trace the edge of the circle line and inside the triangle shape they draw a picture and on the outer bumpy edge they 'sound-out' the word.  We attached the pie with a paper fastener so the wheel can turn to show one piece of the pie.  I am impressed by their ideas and effort.

The First Thanksgiving fingerplay

When the Pilgrims came (one arm out for 'land' and other palm flat with thumb up for the Mayflower ship)  

to this new land (ship turns into person walking up on the land)    

They met the Indians (hands flat with
                      thumbs up for people meeting
And shook their hands (shake hands)
 They made a feast (gesture hands out to    
             show food on the table)
  With turkey (link thumbs together finger 
                     spread for turkey feathers)
   And corn (imitate eating corn-on-the-cob)
And that's the way (gesture hands out again)
Thanksgiving was born! (put palms
                    together as in a 'prayer' motion) 
 I hope you have time to try these.  

Friday, November 11, 2016

Five for Friday November 11, 2016

Thank you Kasey for this link. 

As the children were coming into class, one of my little girls was crying because she left her lunchbox in her mom's car.  I hugged her and said "Don't worry.  We can call her.  Does your mom have a cell phone?"   She continued to cry and answered sobbing, "No she only has an Iphone!"  

So, besides not calling those initial sound pictures 'telephones' any more, I now need to be specific on the phone pictures also.

 I developed a cutting rubric and 'lesson' to go along with the coloring rubric I shared last week.
I plan to use a red circle with a line through for the way NOT to hold scissors or cut.

With time, practice and patience, they will improve.

Veteran's Day hats
For our school program each year, kindergarten has to look cute.  We always wear an "Uncle Sam" red, white and blue hat that we make.  This year, I am having them write/glue the words "Thank you!" on the back.  
They all did so well during the program.  It always brings tears to my eyes hearing each class sing their song honoring our visitors and veterans.
Our kindergarten this year:

My son-in-law to be, is an army veteran and came to our celebration last year.  

We love Pete the Cat.  This week we did a directed draw and a painted handprint and made a Pete.  Each time the children had to write a sentence about "I love my (color word) shoes."

And there's a full moon Monday.  But I didn't need to remind you of that, did I?

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

I'm Bored!

Image result for black child thinking

"I'm bored!"  
"It's  boring!"
"They will be bored if they have to do ___ again."

This is one of those words that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.  
Over the years I've heard this way too much from parents and students, let's face it, people everywhere.

It is overused and misused.  I once heard "smart kids don't get bored, they can always find something to do."

Many times that children use the term "bored", it means they are tired or the information is too hard for them.  They don't want to put the effort into what must be done.

Parents use the term to explain misbehavior or when they want to complain that they already learned 'that.'  
So when I say 'smart kids' don't usually get bored (and I whisper it as if it is a bad word), because they can take in the known information and gain confidence they already know it.  They can take their knowledge to a deeper level of understanding.  A self-differentiation, so to speak.
For example, during a lesson about letter sounds, /m/  a student might think "hey my brother's name is  Mark and it begins with /m/.  There's a 'm' in Monday, it must have /m/ sound too."

The brain needs to have a rest at times with all the stimulus around us.  Some children just tune out because of overload.  They need time to process and rest the brain.
Some people are unaware that being quiet and listening is not to be misconstrued as being bored. Children need to learn to put effort into listening and thinking.
Image result for black child thinking

And what is wrong about being bored?
I still do NOT like that word and believe that our lives are so filled with activity that just doing nothing for a while is a good thing.  It helps us sort out what else to do, think of things, process, let our minds wander, etc. 

Image result for child thinking

Take time to WONDER.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Five for Friday November 4, 2016


Thank you Kasey at Doodle Bugs for linky party this week.

My colleague Pam Cochran has shared a 'lesson' on coloring that she did with her kindergarteners.  
We have found that they need specific of guidance and a rubric to understand what they should be striving to do.
 We put this on a large chart tablet so they can refer to it while they work.

The more they practice RIGHT, the better they will get.

 It is still pumpkin harvest time these first early days of November.  
The students traced or wrote their numbers in the pumpkins. (Differentiated lesson) 
Then they learned a partner game.  One player rolls a die and counts out the number of counters (Pumpkin erasers, candy corn or uses a bingo dobber) to cover the pumpkins in number order.  The game ends when the first player to cover-up all their numbers.
We knew these needed lots of review this week as they worked out their sugar highs from Halloween Monday.   

More review of matching letters.  I selected the letters that were most missed when checking letter recognition.  Students remove a letter from the pumpkin on the left and matched it to their paper.  Students could also trace the letter with a marker or use a bingo dobber.  Then place the plastic letter in the bowl on the right.  (Reinforcing the left to right habit.)
The next step is writing letter pairs and saying the letter name while they are writing.  
We have found that repetitive writing of the letter pairs whether in alphabetical order and/or as shown above, helps the students learn the letters and sticks in their memory.  It has also greatly improved their ability to write the letters.

For the past few years, I have asked the children to bring in their candy wrappers and we have sorted and graphed the various kinds.
Thanks to Dr. Jean to remind and extend this to more sorting.  It inspired me to write up a list of activities.
The day after Halloween I sent home a note in a baggie requesting empty candy wrappers.  I specifically asked them to cut the end rather than tear it.  They need MORE cutting practice anyway.

They sorted the wrappers.  I found a bit more control sending one row (table, group) at a time prevented a chaotic scramble.
I taped 26 pages on the chalkboard and labeled with the alphabet.  Students took turns getting a wrapper and finding the page to tape their wrapper on.  It was clear who could and could not identify the beginning letter of the words.
The next activity was to make SETS of candy wrappers.  Again, row by row, (table or group of 5 at a time) picked up a wrapper and decided where they were adding theirs.  As each group came, it was becoming more challenging to make sure not "too many" or "not enough" on each set page. I was excited when the students used the math vocabulary words we've identified as they described each page during our conclusion.

Woohoo....CUBS the way!