Sundays with the Pups

Every Sunday, we spend the day with the pups and take them to the dog park! They are growing up so much. I am definitely a fan of this breed, always so much fun and entertaining. Stark is now 8 months and 90 lbs and Stella is 4 months and 45 lbs. While they are a big breed, they are such gentle giants. They just love the little kids and are so sweet to everyone they meet!

This week I am teaching my little ones about winter animals! I am hoping that we can bring Stark to school on Thursday so the little ones can feel a winter coat! What a great way for the students to experience a winter animal! They can play with them and pet them and everything! So on Friday, I sent out a letter making sure no one is afraid! Fingers crossed!


This is Stella at 4 months!


This is Stark at 8 months!

They are Alaskan Malamutes!!

Wishing you a happy Sunday!
– A Happy Teacher

Investigation Boxes

Every morning, I would come in and get ready for my day, as the kids sat out in the hall as they trickled in from carpool or the buses which are frequently late. It’s halfway through the year, and I started thinking to myself,

Why let the little ones sit out in the hall when they could be independently learning?

So, over the break, I decided to come up with a plan that would allow the students to work in the classroom and still allow for me to have time to set up and get ready for the day. As I racked my brain, I thought, maybe they could go to centers, but as I thought about that, I didn’t want the students to make a mess of the room before the day had even officially started. Well what else could I do? I wanted this to be something that required very little instruction and didn’t require tons of prep work. I wanted the students to learn and grow independently. Eventually, I was searching the internet and came across sensory table ideas. I started thinking to myself, well I could definitely use something like this, but make them portable hence morning bins were born.

After discovering what I was going to use, I decided to try to find bins that would stack, to make a quick transition. I found them at (of course) Target! They came in a set of 3 for 8.99 each. I bought 3 sets from my 19 kiddos. This made it 8 groups of 2 students per bin and 1 group of 3 students. I grouped my students according to their levels. The higher students had an opportunity to teach, while the lower students had an opportunity to learn from their peers!

Organization time:

Each day, as the students came in I had a chart posted on the Promethean board. This chart told the students who their partner was, which bin they would be working with, what they were supposed to do with their bins. The child’s names were color coded by groups to help them find them easier, as well as each different objective had its own clipart, so eventually they would associate that picture with what they are required to do in each bin. An example below is what I used, and it worked perfectly with my little ones!Screen Shot 2017-01-08 at 11.38.12 AM.png

In action:

After the students read the board, they go and sit by their bins and get to work! The first day I introduced these, I had the kids all stand on the perimeter of the rug. I set my expectations and roles they would play. I told them they can play teacher and student if they would like or they may work independently in the bin on a project! I informed the students how to find their bins, and what each bin was supposed to do. After the first day, I didn’t have to repeat myself again, minus the ones who were absent ;). But, they were a success. Each morning, the kids came in, put their stuff away, found their bins, and I still had time to get ready and start my morning. Plus, if you are are prek teacher, like me. This was GREAT for Teaching Strategies GOLD documentation! Here are a few pictures of my little ones using the bins!

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Sincerely,

A Happy Teacher

New Ideas for the Growing Teacher

As a new year comes around, I was questioning

What new adventures did I want to achieve as a new teacher?

What can I do to challenge myself?

What can I provide to others to help and encourage them to pursue their dreams?

Sitting on my back porch watching my pups run around and play, an idea struck me. I love to draw and create new things, but how could I use that to better myself and encourage others. I began to think back to high school, I was constantly doodling. I always loved to draw, but I wasn’t “professional” like others, I just liked to make silly clipart. In mid thought, thats what stuck out to me, CLIPART! I could create clipart and provide them to other teachers, professionals, and the world. Will mine be the best out there? No, probably not, but it’s something I could do and have a passion for and who better to share my work with than other teachers! Well, let me tell you the first thing I did. I went online and researched all about what will I do to create clipart?

How can I make my work digital?

Well, to my surprise, this topic really wasn’t covered well. I discovered drawing tablets online through my friend, Tara. She explained that she used the Wacom tablet to draw silly chibi’s for her friends. I didn’t really understand all the lingo, but I was intrigued. I began searching online for reviews of drawing tablets. Through my research, the Wacom tablet kept popping up. I researched even further to find the best product for digital art was the Wacom Cintiq touch tablet. I clicked on the site to see the price….. YIKES. Well, how can i afford that. I’m just a first year teacher who is unmarried and just starting out in the world. Well, I started focusing back on TpT products and November and December came and went. I continually looked back to my dream of making clipart, but couldn’t bring myself to spend so much on a tablet. As time went by, my family became very supportive of my goals to better myself and my side job as they would call it. On Christmas day, my family surprised me with a Wacom Cintiq 13HD Touch Tablet! They told me they had all the faith in the world in me. HOW EXCITING! I could finally start sketching clipart! Being in a world so tech savvy, I was excited to start introducing my work to it. After the Christmas Day festivities with my family, the next day I opened the tablet and set it up! Well to my surprise, you can’t just open a tablet and begin drawing, you need Adobe Photoshop.

Heres my next challenge, How do I use Adobe Photoshop?

Let me tell you, photoshop isn’t easy to start using. I opened the program and looked at the screen with a complete blank face. I called in my boyfriend and asked, “Uhhh, do you know how to use this?” He laughed and said, “Time to start YouTubing!” I rolled my eyes and got to work. Let me just take this time to thank every single Adobe photoshop “how to” video because without them I would still be at square one today. Well, needless to say Youtubing took out the majority of the next few days. But here I am now, I have created a few products for winter and New Years!

Which I will share my New Years one for free! Just go to my store and you can find it there or click the link below!

New Years Eve Clipart

 

-A Happy Teacher

Fall Festival

The last couple days in our classroom have been filled with excitement; not only are we only 2 days away from a week off, but we are about to have our Fall festival! Today, my little ones stuffed our bowling pins with fall items from their  Fall Huntskmtd

After we stuff all our bowling pins with leaves, acorns, and pecans we were ready for more Fall festival fun! Each student created their own invitation to give to their parents. The invitations read

Fall Festival

November 17

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Being my first year in PreK, I am so impressed with how well my little ones can write and draw! The fun for the day didn’t stop here! We had a pumpkin decoration contest as well! Each child was given the option to participate, only four kids did, but they were all so cute!

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After all this, we continued the day during rhyme time. This weeks nursery rhyme was “I’m Glad I’m Not a Turkey.”

“I’m glad I’m not a turkey, a turkey, a turkey.

I’m glad I’m not a turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

They stuff you and bake you and then they will taste you.

I’m glad I’m not a turkey on Thanksgiving Day.”

They absolutely love this rhyme! To go along with the rhyme, we had the students practicing rhyming words all week. We started the week with “Erase a Rhyme.” We drew turkeys on dry erase boards, and as we said a rhyming word for the turkey parts, the students erased the piece of the turkey that rhymed. (Ex: Our turkey loves some pumpkin pie, so you can go ahead and erase his _____!) To continue with the same theme, the next day I created a color a rhyme turkey. (Which can be found for FREE at my store!)  or you can download below:

Color a Turkey Download

Now, it was time for Fall festival! My kids were so excited! The morning of the Fall festival, the students couldn’t wait to show their parents all that they had learned! Surprise! They got to meet the animals in our community! For some of my little ones, this was the first time near real farm animals!

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After petting the animals, we played the games that each class made. There was pumpkin bowling, pumpkin roll race, football, cheerleaders, sac races, corn letter finding, bean bag tosses, apple tosses, pumpkin patch, pumpkin measuring, pumpkin decorating, sugar cane limbo, catch the leaves in the parachute, leaf rubbings, face painting, and more! We had a blast with all the things the classes made! Here are some of the pictures below! The Fall festival was a hit in our Fall clothes, Fall activities, and Fall weather!

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Leaf rubbings!

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Bean Bag Toss!

This Fall festival could not of been possible without the support of our PRE-K team, our administration, and the parents! So thank you to all who came and supported our little ones.

For more about our fall festival please read my other posts:

 Monday – 3 days before Fall Festival

Saturday Mornings – FALL Investigations PBL

Louisiana Fall Investigations Project Based Learning!

OR

If you would like to do Louisiana Fall Project Based Learning in your classroom, my store has all you need: Louisiana Fall PBL

Sincerely,

A Happy Teacher

Monday – 3 days before Fall Festival

Today was like any other morning. I woke up, put on a cup of coffee, and went to school. As I entered the classroom, I was excited to see what would be the result of the past month of learning about Fall. The children came in with smiles on their faces. As I pulled up the flipchart, we went over our calendar and the weather. In front of their eyes was a picture of the first Thanksgiving. I asked the students,

what do you see in this picture? What do you notice? 

The answers I got were absolutely perfect! The students noticed men with feathers in their hats.

Who do you think those people are?

I heard the answer right away! INDIANS! I told them you are right! They told me they knew because they have seen indians before!

What else do you notice?

They told me they saw a table, food, and people with funny hats on. I was smiling ear to ear. They were identifying the items from our first Thanksgiving! This lead into the discussion. Well,

What do you think they are doing?

They said, “EATING and SHARING!” Then I told them this is a picture of the very first Thanksgiving. This is where Thanksgiving came from! The students were excited to learn more. So, we watched a story on Thanksgiving. At the end of the morning message, I let the students know if they were really good in centers maybe we could go for a Fall walk and find Fall items we could place in our bowling pins for the Fall festival!

During centers, I took a few students out at a time and we went on a Fall Hunt! We went in search of things that represented Fall to put into our bowling pins and this is what we found! Below are pictures of our hunt!

sixpn Walking to explore what we can find!

sixvkFinding Leaves!

sixxfBig Leaves that fell from the tree!

sixavMs. Christina this is Fall plants we planted! Can we place them? Let’s let them grow a bit more! 😉

sixgsWe found nuts that Louisiana black bears can eat!

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This was truly an exciting Fall Day!

If you would like to see our Fall PBL flipcharts they are available at my Store at: Fall PBL which is on sale until Nov 17, 2016.

Come back to find out what we do tomorrow!

If this is your first time reading my blog: check out my past blogs about Fall PBL: Louisiana Fall Investigations Project Based Learning! and Saturday Mornings – FALL Investigations PBL

Sincerely,

A Happy Teacher

Saturday Mornings – FALL Investigations PBL

Saturday mornings are filled with coffee, sleep, and for me the realization that I have so much to do to prepare for the following week. As a new teacher, I am always working on my laptop or at school. I woke up this morning, brought my puppies outside, put on a cup of coffee, and opened my laptop. Like many of you I’m sure, I procrastinate all the time. I began wracking my brain, what will I need for next week to make sure this festival is a success? How can I make this something the kids will remember forever? How can I impact the lives of not only my students, but the community?

Well, as I sat on my couch writing to you, the answers kept swirling around my brain. On Monday, I will have my kids create their own invitations, inviting a family member to come and learn what Fall means to them. But what else can we do, I asked my kids this yesterday. They were so excited, they wanted to decorate the pumpkins and bowling pins. I can’t wait to begin. So this morning, I am running to the store to buy some bowling pins, well not real ones! We are going to make them out of 2 liter bottles and stuff the insides with Fall items! I can’t take credit for this idea. The 2 liter bottles idea was my colleague, Hope. She is amazing! Always so supportive and helpful, I would be lost without her. I hope every new teacher has someone who will collaborate and help them as much as she does. But, stuffing the bottles with fall items was the kids idea! So, on Monday morning when it is nice and cool, we will be taking a Fall walk outside the school in search of Fall items we can stuff in our pins!

Last time we went on a Fall walk was at the beginning of the unit, this was before the kids actually understood what Fall really was! Now that the unit is almost done, it will be exciting to see how things have changed! I think I will create a slideshow showing their progress and how much they have grown!

In my next post, I will show you pictures of what the kids found that reminded them of Fall and what we will stuff in our pins! So stay tuned!

If you are wanting to do your own project based learning, I would love to help and give you ideas! My Louisiana Fall PBL is available in my store at: FALL PBL

Also if this is your first time to my blog, please read my first post! Louisiana Fall Investigations Project Based Learning!

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My Fall bulletin Board. All about the number five! 5 fingers and 5 pumpkins.

Sincerely,

A Happy Teacher

Louisiana Fall Investigations Project Based Learning!

To all my readers,

I wanted to share with you something special! This theme we are working on is Fall Investigations. So, in order to spice things up a bit our Pre-K team decided to do a project based learning (PBL) unit. Well, not to anyones surprise, we were totally scared to death to try something completely different and throw the last couple of years down the drain and start a whole new way of teaching and learning. Not only were we starting a new way of doing things, but we are also learning how to infuse all of our lessons with technology including google hangout, h@tch, google drive, promethean flipcharts, and much more. Well, given that I am a first year teacher, I was all for it! The first thing we started with was what was our driving question?

A driving question in project based learning is a question where a student cannot google the answer but is a series of answers and something that can not easily be answered. Well, if you have ever done project based learning. This is probably the hardest part, because I mean, what can’t you google now-a-days? Well, I thought about this a lot. The other teachers had some good ideas, but none of them really jumped out to me. Then, I had a break through, I was driving home, and I looked around. I live in a small town, where they grow sugar cane in the Fall. This was perfect, I finally had an idea! My question could be, “What is fall in Louisiana?” I googled the question. NOTHING.  I mean of course they had swamp pictures and stuff, but nothing that really resembled what Fall actually was in Louisiana. Our trees don’t always change colors, not everyone lives by a swamp like everyone thinks, and it really isn’t cold here just yet. So there it was, my driving question!

After finding my driving question, that was just the beginning. We found ourselves wondering well how do we do this? How can we let the children lead the lessons? How can we let them discover, if we don’t tell them what they are trying to look for? How can we prepare for the week, if we don’t know which direction it will go?  We were completely overwhelmed. But luckily, we had a mentor to help us with what to do next. Our school board was behind our team 100%. They took time out of their day to train us with PBL and the new technology. They even gave all of us webcams so we could hangout with people around the world and other classes! It was truly impressive how much support we received.

After all the trainings and discoveries, we were ready to start. I began my charts with my driving question. I let the children tell me what they thought fall was in Louisiana. I let them lead the way. I let them discover and tell me what they wanted to learn! This unit was truly eye opening.

Now let’s fast forward to now. We are one month into the PBL and next week is our culminating activity. For our activity, the students decided to have a fall festival! At the festival, we will have activities that let the parents know what fall means to the little ones.

This week, after the students decided to make their own fall festival, I asked the students, “Well, what will we do at a fall festival?” The ideas we heard were perfect. All around the room we had: pumpkin carving, pumpkin patch, pumpkin rolls, fall clothes dress up, leaf rubbings, etc! Fall to my kids was all about pumpkins in my class! They loved them. So naturally, what did we decide to do? A pumpkin investigation! We were going to have pumpkin races, pumpkin measuring, pumpkin bowling, and pumpkin carving! But where were we going to get all these pumpkins? Well, to help my little ones I bought a lot of pumpkins for my lower income kids, but most pumpkins were donated by parents.

I can’t wait to start our fall festival. I will let you know more when it happens!

Our Louisiana Fall Project Based Learning flipcharts, lesson plans, and activities are located in my TPT store available at this link! Fall PBL

sffhtSincerely,

A Happy Teacher