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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Rock Unit

I love doing my rock unit with my class.  They are so interested in rocks and there are so many activities you can do with it.  Each year, I have a parent tell me that their child is so interested, they wanted books and rock collections to keep at home!

My favorite activities is making the anchor charts for each type of rock.  This chart demonstrating how metamorphic rocks are formed, was done as a group. Colored pencils and markers were taken out and we placed the chart paper on the table and gathered around. I drew lines and rocks in the middle and class helped to color it in.  Later, I added the labels and arrows.  

This was our very messy brace map that we also created together.  I wanted the children to understand the way a sedimentary rock is created.  We used layers of sand, dirt, and gravel with insane amounts of Elmer's glue on a science fair board.  We took turns adding layers. We had a little trouble putting it all together on the left due to the confined space, but the children understood the concept of sedimentary rocks.  


This is the unit wall with the big idea and essential questions.  The bottom right hand corner is the interactive writing chart showing how igneous rocks are formed. I had a couple of student who were enamored with this type of rock.  They couldn't get enough of pumice and obsidian.

The left has an interactive writing on how minerals make rocks.  The right is integrating print concepts. We sort letters, words, sentences by using vocabulary and sentences that are unit related.

Sometimes I challenge the children with a higher level thinking question.  I don't expect them to be able to write the answer at this stage, but I will take dictation and they are expected to draw a picture for their answer.

This was an experiment with floating and sinking.  The children were given a baggie with pumice, obsidian, granite and marble.  They were asked to inspect each rock.  Then make a prediction about whether it will float or sink.  I charted the predictions.  

Students were given the chance to try out the rocks.They were asked to place them in the correct category of the chart.  The only floater was pumice.

Here was another higher level thinking question that followed up our experiment.

This is our rock unit integrated into math.  We have counting collections, word problems, and number bonds.

Finally, we created our projects.  We needed to create something that uses rocks
This is a stage made of rocks.

This was a rock extractor.  It removes rocks from the water so they can be used to build things.

Rocks used for landscaping.

I hope you found this interesting.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

CTA Good Teaching Conference

Image result for cta good teaching conference

Last month, I had the good fortune to attend the Good Teaching Conference in Orange County.  It was a great time and a wonderful learning experience. 

One of my favorite sessions was the "Spectacular Books to Make and Take" presented by Mary Peterson.  

Mary taught us how to make very clever books using her skills in origami that she learned as a child. Some books were too advanced for my skill level, but some of them I will make with my class soon.  She sells a digital copies of her book on TpT and here is the link to free directions for the Pull and Peek Book.  Also, visit her website https://www.teachertreasures.com/   
She has resources on Guided Math, Reading and Writing.

My other favorite session was "Art It Up."
My inspiration from the session directed drawing insects and pattern block art.


My other favorite was "Easy and Exciting Science Experiments You Can Do."
Here is a fun activity you can do with your students.


From Brain Science to Instructional Practice 
by neuroscientist, Kenneth Wession

Key points from his presentation:

  • Give students think time for better responses.
  • They need to discuss their thinking in order to make it clearer
  • Add regular movement in lessons- moving adds glucose to the brain
  • The brain makes no distinction between physical stress, emotional stress or intellectual threat
  • For faster learning provide safety, acceptance, inclusion, interaction and involvement

Design lessons for children's developing brains use:

  • Patterns
  • Emotions
  • Relevance
  • Context, content, in cognitively appropriate forms
  • Use sense making models, like stories
  • Add visuals
  • Add manipulatives (touch turns on the brain)
  • Connect new material to prior knowledge, new knowledge is connected to what we already know
  • When students struggle it is in the absence of  mature brain development, not curriculum development
  • Students of kindergarten age need a change in instruction every 7 minutes
  • Novelty activates the brain


Visit WWW.CAST.org
for resources on 

Universal Design for Learning


Join me this June, I will be doing a book study on Dr. Delahooke's new book!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

All About Me Unit

This year I added a new unit of study entitled "All about Me." 
It incorporated lessons on feelings, name activities, and Conscious Discipline ideas. When I started to get my classroom ready, I was asked to go through my old Pre-K Splash curriculum.  I was absolutely delighted to find that these four Shubert books were included  in the kit as well as the "It Starts in the Heart" music CD.

Using the Shubert books, I was able to introduce the important concepts of Conscious Discipline and using the CD we were able to start bonding into a school family.
These students are practicing their breathing using the feeling dolls.  These are homemade dolls that are based on Becky Bailey's "Feeling Buddies."

This student is explaining how we use the feeling dolls after we read the "Feeling Buddy" books.

You can get a copy of  my Free Kindness Recording Sheet through my TpT store.

As part of our procedures, we developed a voice scale to learn when and where certain voice levels are appropriate.  

The unit involved explore feelings. Notice that children gave different responses to the same picture.
Using some terms of the unit, we created a "word, letters, sentences" chart.

This predictable chart was used to help students learn name recognition and create a book entitled "My School Family." Each page of the book included a photo of the child named.

This is the unit of study wall.  It included feeling faces and emotion names as well as the breathing posters.  These are available free at https://consciousdiscipline.com/free-resources/
You simply have to sign up to access these resources.

We read many books about feelings and used interactive writing to combine the learning of print concepts with learning about our emotions.

I introduced the time machine when students began having conflicts that they were not able to handle on their own. Students have begun to ask to use this tool when they feel it is needed.

Students were asked what emotions they have trouble dealing with, what they could do to handle it, and what could they create that would help them. We used this information to create projects.

I am not in any way affiliated with Conscious Discipline.  I simply own two of Becky's books and decided to incorporate the ideas into my unit.
I hope you found something useful today.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Insect Unit

This year our school was tasked with creating units of study based around project based learning.  Our final unit was the insect unit.

Here are some of the activities.

When solving word problems, the children were required to add all the details of the story.
Example, "Justin found 6 ladybugs in the park. 2 of them flew away. How many ladybugs does he have left?" In this story children needed to draw the setting (park),the character (Justin), and the plot (ladybugs leaving).  In this way, they are practicing detailed drawings as suggested in "Write From the Beginning." After, they may write the answer as a number or a number sentence. 

This was a drawing activity that challenged the students to listen carefully to the directions. Students were told draw:
  • a square, yellow head
  • an orange, triangular thorax
  • a green, oval abdomen
  •  2 antennae
  •  6 legs
  • a grumpy face on the insect
  •  the setting (grass and sun)
Then we were able to tie math into this by having the children measure their insect with cubes.

Our essential learning involved discovering how insects can be helpful or harmful. 
We used these resources to lead discussions.

We created a double bubble map comparing insects.

The final project was to create a 3D insect with all of its parts (head, thorax...) and to tell what the insect does to help to or hurt the environment.  The students were required to design their project and were allowed to add special features to the insect.
The insects were created with adult help.

Materials List
packing foam, felt, pom poms, pipe cleaners, egg cartons, wax paper, left over laminate, paper towel tubes, construction paper, craft sticks, cotton balls, masking tape

Have fun with your units!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Bearded Dragon Unit

I am very excited to share my Bearded Dragon Unit!  We have completed our projects and are in the process of sending these home.

Since we have a bearded dragon as a class pet, students were familiar with some of the behavior and needs of these reptiles.

The first activity was taking a look at our bearded dragon and to observe his physical make up and thinking about why he is built this way.

The next step was to create our pet using clay, toothpicks, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners. (A bearded dragon actually has 5 claws, but we only had room for 3.)

Children have had the opportunity to observe the behavior of our pet, but there are other things they have not been able to see. So, I created this slide share to teach the children about common behaviors they could see.

Bearded Dragon Behavior from stinablossom

We kept a journal and did interactive writing lessons throughout our learning.

After talking about nutrition, we went on to learn about common bearded dragon illnesses.

Bearded Dragon Illnesses from stinablossom

The children used some plastic lizards in the vet center to attend to the injured or ill. 

Our Banker Boxes were set up and the thermometer and substrate were put in.

The bearded dragons were not able to move into their homes until they had the required heat light and a UVB light "installed." 
The children were asked to bring in some rocks and branches to create a hide for the animal's comfort.

These projects were displayed during a science night for parents.