St. Patrick’s Fun!

We weren’t in school on St. Patrick’s Day, so we celebrated on Monday instead. The kindergartners made leprechaun traps and set them up in the classroom on Friday with the hope of catching one over the weekend. We came to school Monday and had quite a surprise – a mess! There were small green bootprints all over the classroom and a lot of things out of place.

We read a book about a leprechaun who had once been a cobbler. The kindergartners ‘leprechaun’ themselves and did a writing activity based on the book. The kids also wore name tags showing their leprechaun names – Warty McCrackin, Sneaky McTurnips, Warty McRocky, Shamrock O’Dingles, and Potsy McGiggles.

We also had St. Patrick’s day math activities.

Maybe we’ll have better luck next year!

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Mt. Rushmore Presidents

After learning about some American symbols, we spent some time focusing on the four presidents from Mt. Rushmore. We began with George Washington – the first president of the United States. We read several books about his life and made tri-corner hats that included some of the things we learned. We also read the book, George Washington’s Teeth. He suffered with teeth problems for years. In fact, when he became president he only had two left. He wore false teeth made from a combination of human teeth, animal teeth, and ivory. The kindergartners wrote number sentences guessing how many teeth Washington had when he was inaugurated.

Next, we learned about America’s third President – Thomas Jefferson. He was an avid reader and donated thousands of books to the Library of Congress. He was a brilliant man who designed his own house, invented the dumb waiter, swivel chair, and other things. He was the writer of the Declaration of Independence and, as president, doubled the size of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase. The kindergartners used quill pens and “ink” to trace over some of the famous words from the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson spent five years in France. When he returned home he introduced several types of food to America – ice cream, French fries, macaroni and cheese and tomatoes. We had a Thomas Jefferson feast that included homemade ice-cream, and macaroni and cheese made from his recipe.

Abraham Lincoln was the next president that we studied. We learned that he was born in a log cabin and helped his dad build one as well. He loved to read and would walk several miles to borrow books. He was known for his honestly, which earned him the nickname Honest Abe. He wore a tall, black hat where he put important letter and papers.

We also read the book, Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers, which is the story of a young girl who wrote to President Lincoln suggesting that he grow whiskers. In the book are copies of her letter to him and his response to her. The kindergartners crafted Lincoln’s face and added paper-torn whiskers. Their Lincoln also wore a tall, black hat complete with a letter inside.

Theodore Roosevelt was the final president we discussed. During the Spanish-American war, he organized a volunteer calvary called the Rough Riders. He was also instrumental in making National Parks around the country. The kindergartners used colored pencils and watercolor paints to complete a picture of Theodore Roosevelt as a Rough Rider. Then to remind us of his role in setting aside land, they painted forest scenes using paint brushes and their fingertips.

We also learned that the teddy bear was named after Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt. To celebrate that fact we had a teddy bear picnic. Because the weather was not very nice outside, we brought our picnic inside. The kindergartners brought teddy bears to school and we ate teddy bear shaped sandwiches, a forest of vegetables, pretzel sticks, ‘bear’ies, and chocolate ice cream made to look like a bear’s face.

To go along with the President unit, the kindergartners researched one of the four presidents and wrote about his life. They presented the reports to the class and then made paper dolls to go with their reports.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 2nd was Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Since it fell on a Saturday this year, we made Friday our celebration day. We began by dressing up as Things and taking class pictures with The Cat in the Hat. Skippyjon Jones even joined the fun as Thing 2.

We read Dr. Seuss books all day and had activities to go with them. We started with the book, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut and made some fun reading glasses.

We had a special guest come to read our next book. The Cat in the Hat came to read about “his” fun with Thing 1 and Thing 2. After the book, we played an entertaining game called, I Can Do That!

Yertle the Turtle was next on our list of books. We talked about how Yertle was a bucket dipper by standing on the other turtles so his throne would be higher. The kindergartners played a math game by stacking turtles to show the answers to math facts.

When the kindergartners came back from p.e., our room was a little wacky. We read Wacky Wednesday. Then the kindergartners had to find 20 wacky things – including a shoe on the wall – and write them on a list.

After lunch, we read the book Fox in Socks. It is a super tongue-twisting rhyming book. The kindergartners wrote rhyming words on socks and decorated them.

We also made a special snack using bagels, cream cheese, pretzels, bananas, strawberries, and raisins. Yum!

We ended the day with a special rhyming show and tell.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DR. SEUSS!

American Symbols

During our continent unit early this year, we learned about one of America’s Symbols – The Statue of Liberty. We just spent some time focusing on a few more, in our American Symbols unit.  We began by talking about the flag. We learned about its colors, nicknames, and what the stars and stripes represent. The kindergartners made a construction paper flag and wrote a description about it.

We learned that the National bird is the bald eagle. Benjamin Franklin wanted the wild turkey, but we’re glad the bald eagle was chosen instead. We learned that the bald eagle is only found in North America, has incredible eyesight, and represents strength and freedom. The kindergartners made bald eagles with their foot and handprints.

We also discussed The White House. We learned that George Washington picked the place to build the famous house, but he never lived in it. It took eight years to build and has 132 rooms and 32 bathrooms.

Finally, we learned about Mt. Rushmore. This famous mountain carving is found in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There were 400 men who worked on this monumental structure that took 14 years to make.

Seasons and Weather

We completed a unit about seasons and weather. We learned how the tilt of the earth, as it orbits the sun, affects the seasons. Our first craft was to make a sun using red, orange, and yellow paint. I squirted the three colors of paint on paper and then covered it with plastic wrap. The kindergartners spread the paint out over the paper causing it to blend and make some interesting sun pictures.

We discussed the order of the seasons and what temperatures are like in each of them. We talked about how we dress, how animals behave, and how the seasons affect trees. The kindergartners made pictures showing the same tree during each season. They painted the backgrounds and used their fingers to “paint” the snow, flowers, and leaves on the tree.

While learning about summer we read the book, How Will We Get to the Beach?. The kindergartners wrote their own version of the book on paper beach balls and played a beach ball popcorn word game.

We read, Snowmen at Night. The kindergartners made droopy snowmen, and wrote about the things their snowmen did at night.

We looked at a lot of books about seasons and weather and learned about clouds, rainbows, and precipitation. We even made it rain in the classroom!

On the last day of our season and weather unit we read the book, Thunder Cake by Patricia Palacco. It is a childhood memory telling how Patricia’s grandmother helped her overcome her fear of thunderstorms. When thunderclouds appeared on the horizon, Patricia and her Babushka would gather the ingredients to make thunder cake. They had to collect the eggs, milk the cow, pick the tomatoes and strawberries, etc. The cake had to be in the oven before the storm arrived or it wasn’t true thunder cake. We read the book and made the cake from a recipe included with the book. This year, our cake did not come out very well. We ate some of it anyway, but I remade one at home and brought it to class for us to really enjoy!

 

100th Day of School!

Today was our 100th day of school. We had such a fun day celebrating this milestone. We came to school dressed as 100 year olds. What a sight to see!

The students arrived to a room decorated for the festivities including 10 balloons hanging from the ceiling. Throughout the day we popped them to discover notes inside. Each note gave us an exercise to do ten times. By the time the day was over we had completed 100 exercises.

The kindergartners completed a poem about turning 100 years old. We added a picture that showed what each of them might look like at that age. They were not too excited to see themselves that way.

We read the book, I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words. Each kindergartner was given a stack of popcorn words to trace and make into a chain. Adding all the words together gave us 100.

We also read the book, Hetty’s 100 Hats and made 100th day hats. The students put 100 things on their hats including, dots, stickers, thumb prints, numbers and letters.

To end the day we made a special snack. The kindergartners counted out 10 pieces of 10 different snack foods which gave them 100 items to eat at home. We combined the leftover pieces and ate some of that in class. They were each given 1/4 cup of the 100 day snack to count, tally and graph. What a great way to end the day!

Now there are only 80 more days of learning fun!

Holiday Fun

We spent some time before our holiday break learning about Hanukkah, St. Lucia Day, and how other countries celebrate Christmas.

Hanukkah, the eight-day, 2,000 year old holiday is also called the Festival of Lights. At a time when the Jews were fighting for religious freedom, a lamp in the Jewish temple was very low, but miraculously continued to burn for eight nights. To honor this extraordinary event, Jews today celebrate by lighting a special candle device called a menorah. People give each other gifts, make special foods, play Dreidel, and remember their ancestors who fought to take the temple back. The kindergartners learned how to play Dreidel and made a paper menorah to remember the Jewish celebration.

We learned about St. Lucia Day, which is celebrated in Sweden. Families, businesses and schools choose a girl to be St. Lucia, the patron Saint of Light. She wears a white dress, red sash, and crown of candles. Then she delivers saffron rolls and tea. The boys wear star boy hats as they celebrate the day. We didn’t have saffron rolls so our St. Lucia served cinnamon rolls that were shaped like saffron rolls.

We had fun learning about Christmas in England and popped Christmas crackers with each other. Inside each cracker was a tissue paper crown, a toy, and a joke. We also read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and talked about the Christmas pudding that is enjoyed in England.

We learned about Christmas in Germany and that many Germans celebrate with Advent calendars and wreaths. A former student from Germany sent me an Advent calendar to use in class. The kindergartners had a great time picking out the daily surprises. The kids found bubba teeth, eye rings, finger flashlights, and Rudolph noses. The kindergartners made a Santa Claus advent calendar to count down the days at home. We also learned that in Germany kids put their shoes outside the door so that St. Nicolas can fill them. The kindergartners put their shoes outside the door and found a surprise!

It is thought that the Christmas tree originated in Germany. We had a classroom tree and hung homemade gingerbread cookie ornaments on it.

We talked about a well-know Christmas flower that was brought from Mexico to the United States by a South Carolinian. Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett was the U.S. minister to Mexico. When he returned to the United States in 1830 he brought cuttings of the plant with him.

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We talked about Christmas in France and made a version of their Yule log dessert. We used snack rolls, green icing and red m&ms. Yum!

In Russia, Ded Moroz (Father Frost) and his granddaughter Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) deliver gifts on New Year’s Eve. We read a story about Snow Maiden going to the North Pole to help Santa Claus. In the book, Snow Maiden has a matryoshka doll that looks a lot like her. We made a paper version of her doll. We also read The Nutcracker and talked about the Russian connection with the famous ballet. We watched a few minutes of a Nutcracker ballet performance from the New York Ballet Company.

During the last week before our Holiday break, we had a Polar Express Day. We all came to school in pajamas and spent the day enjoying some fun – centered around the wonderful book and movie. The students followed train tracks to get to the classroom and walked in to see the tables turned into a train and another area of the class turned into the North Pole.

Our language and math activities were centered around The Polar Express. We played a Santa’s reindeer popcorn word game and read the book. We also played a math fact game and an odd and even activity.

After lunch, we hopped on the classroom train and began watching the movie. The kindergartners enjoyed a snack of cookies, popcorn, and hot chocolate with marshmallows and peppermint sticks.

When the Polar Express arrived at the North Pole, so did we. The kindergartners watched the rest of the movie in the snow at the North Pole.

It was an exciting day that ended with a short “snowball” fight. We had a great day making memories.