Monday, June 13, 2011

New GIveaway!

Click here to visit this very cute blog...she is giving away a calendar set that she created and it is too cute! at peace, and all will be well...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Few of MY Favorite Things!

As the year has come to a close, I wanted to share a few of the things that made kindergarten a little easier and/or a little more FUN!  We had such a blast this year - I can honestly say that I had the perfect class.  I was so blessed with a supportive and trusting group of parents.  Being the "new girl" at school, I was prepared for lots of parents to show concern with my abilities to be a good teacher for their children.  I was honestly ready for it.  Not in a defensive was simply something I expected.  I was blown away by how much the parents of my students trusted me.  I work so hard to find fun and interactive lessons as well as fun take-home projects.  It was a blessing to find that they saw this and appreciated it.  I only hope that my next batch of kinders proves to be as supportive and loving.  I hope that all the parents of all of my students - past, present and future - will see and feel how much I love each and every one of my students and will see that I want to give them the best education possible.

ANYWAY!  :o)  Here are some recent finds at the Dollar Tree (my favorite discount store!)  Both of these are "window clings."  I bought them thinking we could use them for decorations in our windows, but guess what??  They stick to the white board!!!  I can use them as instructional aids!  Yes!!!!

Here are clocks that have detached hands.  All you do is stick the clock on the whiteboard and have the students come up and change the hands to show the time you tell them!  OR they could stick the hands up and then write the time under the clocks.  OR the clocks could later be used in the Math Center on the small white boards we have!  YES!!!  :o)

Next are some similar Window for shapes and one for numbers.  Again, PERFECT for the beginning of the year and use for math lessons!  YESSS!!  :o)

I'm sure that most teachers have already found these and will look at this and say, Duh Brenna, but I discovered the wonderful world of Glue Dots this year.  All of that wasted time spent in years past breaking out the hot glue gun.  Don't get me wrong, I love my glue gun - I actually have about 4 of them in my classroom art closet.  But the thing about glue guns is that the students don't have ownership over the projects we do with glue guns.  They are simply too little to use a glue gun.  It take the fun out of all of those art projects.  But not when you use Glue Dots!  PS: I used them on all of our Googlie Eyes and saved money because I didn't have to buy the kind with the sticky-back.  YESSS!!  :o)

Flair Pens.  Enough said.


I've blogged about these books before, and the first helped me to take my centers to the next level.  I started with it last year, and this year I adapted the ideas for kindergarten.  I also love my Kindergarten in Photographs.  

Outside my classroom are arch-ways that were pretty blah-looking and not fun.  I had the idea to use Command hooks to string lines across the arches.  Then I used clothespins to hang up student work.  This was the perfect place to display all of our papers and great work to the rest of the world!  I used an idea from Kindergarten in Photographs to spruce up our clothespin hangers.  We took a picture of each student on the first day of school.  We cut out each face and glued the pictures to sturdy cardstock and laminated them.  Then I hot glued each picture to a clothespin.  It received many compliments, and some of the other teachers on my side of the hall did the same thing with the clotheslines.

"Once you go Mac, you don't go back." 

I was blessed with a new laptop this year.  My husband and I bought our first Macbook Pro last year.  It's true - "Once you go Mac, you don't go back."  We have forever traded our PC's for Mac.  I made countless projects and printables with such ease this year!  I also used iMovie and iDVD to create our end-of-the-year slideshow.  I am typing as we speak on my Macbook the school gave me.  LOVE!  :o)

Dr. Jean, oh how I love thee!

Dr. Jean is where my kindergarten obsession began.  If you have not heard of or used her ideas in your classroom yet, Shame On You!  You are missing a world of creativity and FUN!  I went to her workshop Camp Kindergarten 2 summers ago and was able to use almost all of her ideas in my first grade classroom.  My kinders this year LOVED all of the activities we did together.  Her CD "Silly Songs" was our favorite.  Another favorite was her book of fingerplays that you can download on her website  PLEASE promise to check it out.  Please!  :o)

Mrs. Jump has been an inspiration to me from day one of kindergarten.  I found her original website last summer and was able to adapt many of her first grade art projects to our kinder classroom.  I discovered her blog as well and have purchased many of her TpT units.  We LOVE Mrs. Jump.  She is a true inspiration!  (She also inspired this "favorite things" post)  :o)  Thanks Mrs. Jump!


Then there is Stella and Dot jewelry.  The earrings in the picture were my birthday present from my handsome.  I babysit every Thursday night for the most adorable, spunky, beautiful red-headed little girls ever!  Their mom just recently became a Stella and Dot consultant.  I love all of their pieces, and get to see all of the latest products every Thursday...I'm currently saving for some more.  Find a consultant in your area and check it out!  :o)

And last, but never least, my handsome!  He is truly a rock for me.  He is a teacher too, so he knows how to talk about school with me.  Most men who are married to teachers think that we want advice when we share how our day went.  But my handsome knows that most of the time I just need to get something off of my chest and let it out!  We have the most amazing form of communication, and I cannot wait to grow old with him and hopefully watch our family grow in the future. Last summer we were married (our one-year anniversary is NEXT SUNDAY!!).  We spent the entire summer "honeymooning" because we were married the weekend after school let out.  We came back from our honeymoon and still had 2 months with no work!  It was fabulous and time we definitely needed.  This year we have another whole summer to spend together and I am SO excited to share it with him!

PS: I just realized that I'm wearing my Stella and Dot earrings in this picture!  :o)
PPS: I left out a favorite thing: Ross (the discount department store).  It's where I bought that shirt that I'm wearing in the picture.  It was under $10.  Pretty much awesome. at peace, and all will be well...

Happy (VERY LATE) Mother's Day

Again, I have got to catch up!  Hopefully next year I'll be a little more efficient - I may even post ideas and pictures BEFORE the actual holiday/event passes!  :o)

Here are some of the things we did for Mother's Day...

First in the Art Center the week before Mother's Day, my students sat down with my assistant and made a flower that is technically a bubble map.  In my days as a public school teacher my school district was pushing Thinking Maps.  I LOVE Thinking Maps, so I brought the ideas with me to my new school.  That week we were discussing "sparkle words" also known as adjectives.  Each group came up with a list of adjectives as well as things that their moms do best.  They took a pre-printed flower blossom that had the word MOM in the middle.  On each petal they picked an adjective and wrote one per petal.  They snipped "grass" and glued it to the bottom of the page, and then they cut out a stem with some leaves.  The white paper that you see as the backing is actually a large white envelope.  This is what they put their framed picture in as well as a writing project about their moms.  They turned out so darn cute! (And I was also proud to show off how smart they are too!) :o)

THEN the week of Mother's Day, my first round of reading groups got together with me and wrote a note to their mothers.  They thought of the things their moms like and told them what they would give their moms if they could get them anything in the whole world.  Then they each drew a picture of their loving gifts.  I loved these - they turned out so cute. I cannot remember where I found this printable...I think it was out of an ancient Mailbox Teacher's Helper.

Last, but definitely not least, we made a picture frame for our moms.  I took a picture of each students holding a sign that says "Mom, I love you to pieces!"  I think I'm going to do this every single year until I cannot teach anymore!  They were PERFECT!  After I had the pictures developed, I glued each picture onto a piece of foam purchased from the Dollar Tree.  The students got to pick the color.  I had each of them come and help me hot glue puzzle pieces from small puzzles I also bought at the Dollar Tree.  This made a frame all the way around the picture.  As you have read before, I have limited funds when it comes to my classroom.  If you can afford it, I would recommend buying those cardstock picture frames from Michaels or any other arts and crafts store.  When we put our purchase order together at the end of the year, we made sure to purchase a set of these frames in Bender Burkot's catalog.  Then you can just glue the puzzle pieces to the frame.  I'm sorry to say that I do not have a picture of the final project, but hopefully the description is enough to picture it?  Here is one of the photos (and I always block my students' pictures out using iPhoto, so I know it looks weird, but I also know that all of you understand!) :o) at peace, and all will be well...


I found this blog while "blog surfing" as I have come to refer to it.  Ashley's latest post includes a freebie packet of her shapes unit.  It is so cute and so FREE!  Just the right price for me!  She has other games and printables that are darling!  Please go see!  Right now.  Go!  :o)

The Cutest Project EVER!!

One more thing I'll add to my post even though it has NOTHING to do with butterflies...I have to show y'all our homemade Chia-Pets!  I got this idea from my dear friend Cindy who was my mentor at my old school.  She had this idea, and we took it a step further this year....

Materials needed: 
  1. Panty Hose cut in 1/2 (I bought a 12 pair pack of knee-highs this year from K-Mart for $5 and we only used 1/2 of the pack!)
  2. Good potting soil
  3. Winter Rye Grass Seed (I can always find it at my local hardware store or nursery)
  4. Small Styrafoam cups (don't get the paper cups because the water at the bottom will leak after a few days)
  5. Googlie Eyes!
  6. Glue Dots
  7. Colorful Yarn
  • Tie a knot in the top part of the knee highs that have 2 open ends (the 1/2 that have the toe are fine - no knot needed)
  • Mix grass seed with a little bit of soil (maybe a cup or two of soil max!) and soak it over night in water.  Drain the water the next day.
  • Take a panty - hose and stretch it over your hand like a sock
  • Grab about 1/4 cup of grass seed and make sure it stays at the top of the hose
  • Grab another BIG handful of soil
  • Take the hose off of your hand and secure the bottom with a knot (make sure you have a very tight ball of seed/soil before you tie the knot (you'll have a thin string of panty-hose that hangs down - DO NOT cut this off!  It will act as a wick for water later)
  • Pour some water in the bottom of a cup.
  • Place the seed/soil ball on top of the cup, making sure that the "wick" reaches the water.
  • Put a glue dot on the back of each of two googlie eyes and stick them onto the front of the ball.
  • For Girls: Use the balls that have a knot in the top and bottom, and tie a piece of yarn on the top knot
  • For Boys: Use the balls that have the toe-end of the hose for a smooth head of hair :o) Use a glue dot to glue a bow-tie to the top of the cup.
  • Put the cups in a sunny window and watch them grow!

*We let our students draw clothes on the front of their cups.  Because You can only make one ball at a time, this keeps the other students in the group occupied.  When we did this project, my teacher assistant had the "art center" children with her, so there were 3-4 in a group each day.
**We did not soak our seeds this year so it took 3 weeks before our grass grew!  Last year we soaked the seeds and they grew within the week.  
***Students can cut their chia-pets' hair and it will grow back.
****Make sure to pour out the water in the cups before sending them home with the students (Yes, I learned this from experience!) :o)

Have fun!  They are so cute and so easy!!!  Perfect ending to our plant unit!  :o)


Since the last month of school was a total and utter whirlwind, I did not get a chance to update my blog with all of the fun things we did together!  Our first activity for May was our butterflies.  We talked butterflies to DEATH because we love them too much!  First we discussed the life cycle process and made a circle map about insects.  We wrote about insects in our writing center, made beautiful insects in the art center, and in our science lab we followed up and reviewed them.  THEN it was time for butterflies!  Most students learned the basics last year in our Transition class (that's what our school calls preschool).

Our butterfly unit correlated with our symmetry discussions in math, so we made butterfly symmetry art projects.  They colored the butterflies and glued them to a construction paper backing for morning work, and then later that afternoon we reviewed lines of symmetry, and the students glued paper decorations to their butterfly wings.  Look how great they turned out!

The following week we had butterfly centers, and the students made a butterfly book that my k-teammate found from Enchanted Learning.  It's a very simple book and is perfect for centers because it reviews important vocabulary and gives them a chance to decorate when we would not be able to have enough time in a whole-class setting.  Let me tell you how much my kinders LOVED to color this year!  :o)

The last piece of our butterfly puzzle was to actually watch the process ourselves.  Our school ordered butterfly larvae and they came overnight!  We watched as the little baby caterpillars grew and grew and then made their chrysalises.  Surprisingly enough, I have never seen this process from start to finish, so I think I may have been as excited if not MORE excited than my students!  :o)  I promise, if you knew me, you would not be surprised at all...
I only took pictures of our caterpillars when they were big.  Again, school being as busy and hectic as it was the last few weeks of school, I totally missed the photo-op of the chrysalises and the butterflies.  But ask any of my kinders and they will tell you that the butterflies came out just in time for school to be out - I'm talking about 3 days before we graduated!  Whew!  Here are the snaps of the caterpillars and our butterfly pavilion borrowed from one of my k-teammates.