Monthly Archives: December 2008

GBM Question/Review…

I got a few questions from Becky about my thoughts on the GBM: Holidays Around the World Unit that I completed and wanted to share my responses as well as some more ideas that I may use next year:

Q: Hi Kristen,
Thanks so much for your wonderful ideas! I check your blog often and get many great ideas. I love the gingerbread man twist on holidays around the world unit! I have done both of these units seperately in the past and was wondering how you liked it this year? Reflecting on the experience, are there things you would do differently? I am working on making up my unit for next year while it is all fresh and just wanted input from someone who has done it like this. Also- your Brazilian bird project… was there a link for the pattern? Did the finished project work out okay? You had mentioned something about them not drying as well as you anticipated. One more question- sorry this is long- what did you do for Australia? Thanks so much for your input/ ideas/ willingness to share!!!!!

A: I loved this whole unit and will definitely be doing it again next year.  I really liked how I could get both things in and give both topics the time I think they should have devoted to them.  Intertwining them helped to save time, but also make it exciting for the children and they looked forward to everyday, coming in and finding a new package.  I’ll also be working to get boxes and bubble wrap envelopes together to vary the packages.  I’ll also post a shopping list soon of everything I purchased from the grocery to make it all happen! 🙂
Suggestions….I think I would have more community members or staff members find packages and deliver them–I want the kids to get to know areas around our school a little better too–It could almost be an Around the School theme within a Holidays Around The World theme.
I would also spread it out over more time–because of the point when I got the idea, I could not start as early as I wanted to.
I also need to rework the beginning. I would love for the GBM to either be cookies baked and shaped by the kids or have a package delivered from the beginning.
Because my kids took this in a CSI direction, this year, it would also be fun to get the police/security persons in and help take a description of the GBM.
In an economics workshop I took this summer, it was suggested that you could interview members of the community and video tape the. You could ask them questions about economic concepts (scarcity, abundance, production, loan, etc.) and then ask them if the GBM had been there (bank, car dealer, grocery store, etc.–think–places you use/get money/do business.
Also, bringing the police in would help to reassure the children that even though they could go missing, we will never stop looking for them–you could also get them all fingerprinted and photographed at that point too.
I would have also loved to have gotten to decorating the felt GBM that I cut out and that I was going to have the children earn our classroom Bull Dog Bucks towards–starting earlier would have helped, but we just never got there!
I’ll be beefing up the basic idea and adding/taking away some new things this year and into the summer. More books, crafts that work, letters that are written better and with more age level content.
A note about the Brazilian birds: I found the pattern by googling “brazilian/toucan bird pattern”. I found it on a site that had rainforest links for kids and was somehow tied to a play in a particular community–but I can’t find it now! ) I would recommend not painting them with vegetable oil–it was a mess, didn’t dry well, and didn’t really look any different than the birds that weren’t painted! )

I would also include more writing, and GBM related math.

For Australia we got our letter, and included were items to make an Australian bellflower.  I took pictures and thought I posted them, but I can’t find them on the blog right now.  I think they may be on my computer at school.  Basically, you take one of those paper condiment cups and glue yellow petals around the open bottom lip and then glue two green leaves on the top.  We punched a hole in the top (really the bottom) of the cup and strung a bell on a piece of yarn and threaded it through to make a “bellflower!”.  Again, I’ll post pictures when I’m back at school 🙂  We also talked about how Santa rides in to Australia on a surfboard and is pulled by white kangaroos.  I’m sure that there is some site out there with more information-so I’ll be working to find it! 🙂

I hope this helps and I’ll post it on the main page as well!
If you have anymore questions, please ask–I’m more than willing to share what I know to help others or spark something in you! )

The Jacket I Wear In The Snow Pictures

I posted the pictures that go along with this story under the Lang. tab. (it is the 2nd up from the bottom) I use these pictures over several days to help the children work with oral sequencing skills.  I also write the names of the items on sentence strips.  On Day 2 of this book, we will sequence the pictures.  Day 3 we will sequence the words, and Day 4, we will sequence both words and pictures.  Day 5 we will use the pictures to help us act it out.  Day 1 is used to make our selves familiar with the book–I would never expect the children to be able to sequence the story after just one reading! 🙂  After we are finished using them as a class, I will put them into my pocket chart station and let the children try for themselves.  I will also put the Big Book version into our Big Book Work Station for the children to explore.

I am able to download the pictures on my computer, even though I created it on my laptop.  I am hopeful that it will work for you too, but I know that with the Grouchy Ladybug pictures there was some problem.   I created the document using Word and because there are graphics involved, I am unable to convert it to a PDF file.  If anyone knows another way for me to post them to make them accessable for all, please let me know and I will do what I can to make it happen! 🙂

Finding Old Posts

I added a few new things to help you find older posts/topics on my site.

Search box:  Up at the top right corner, just under my classroom picture is a search box.  You can enter topics/tags (ex: Literacy Work Stations) and it will pull up all the information I’ve posted on that topic.  See below for a listing of all my categories and where to find them.

Categories/Tags: Down the left hand side you will see a box listing all the categories/tags I have things filed under.  If you click on one of them it will show you a listing of all the things in that category/tag.

Essentially, these two things will get you the same results.  It’s just user preference! 🙂

I hope this helps you find older posts!

Kristen 🙂

Lesson Plans for part of January 2009

Here are what’s done already of my plans for January.  You will see that I still have a few big holes to fill in.  Sometimes I get the most important things out of my brain first and then mull over the missing parts.  The DNC BK. 2 that you will see referes to Developing Number Concepts Book 2 (Addition and Subtraction) by Kathy Richardson.  This is where my kids are (95% of them) and so we will work our way through this book.

Click on them once then again for a bigger image.







The 2nd week and into the 3rd, I will be working on filming and creating my lesson for National Boards.  You can see that those are very detailed and I think the kids are going to have a blast!  We are going to be working with The Mitten by Jan Brett.  Over the course of that week and 3/4 we will write our own script for the book, act it out, burn DVD’s for all families, make story boards so the children can do voice overs, and get to know about all the animals in the story.  It will be so much fun!!

The area for National Boards that I have chosen is Early Literacy; writing, speaking, and listening.  I think this fits all 3 areas with technology thrown in and a good home school connection! 🙂

I’ll try to post when we do those things, but I’ll see how in over my head I am first! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

The GBM Day 8 and 9

Last week, we wrapped up our GBM theme with letters from 2 more countries. Germany and The North Pole.

I started off the week knowing where we wanted to end up, so I decided that our theme would be Polar Animals.   We read a Big Book:


and this got us started.

We then made a KWL chart so I would better be able to focus my instruction:


We then read several books over 3 days about Polar Animals:






During our whole GBM theme, we were keeping track of all the places we learned about with the GBM’s travels: (it is not updated)


Look what was also delivered to our room this week:


The GBM also shared with us that there are no penguins at the North Pole, but there are ice bergs.  I showed the children how to make them:


After reading one of our books on Polar Bears, some of the children wanted to know what the predators of Polar Bears were.  I was telling them about how humans are the only predators of the PB.  They wanted to know more about how we were hurting PB’s, so I showed them how acid rain and other chemicals we put into the air/rain are melting the icebergs:




This blue water was meant to represent the chemicals we put into the air.

The children were asked to see how fast the ice berg would melt with the “chemicals”.


We then got another round of icebergs and put salt on those (acid rain) and compared how fast they melted:


We graphed our favorite Polar Animals (don’t you love my spur of the moment drawings???!!!  I can’t draw!)





This is our package from Germany!


We were left with instructions how to make cinnamon applesauce ornamanets.  I decided to show my kids how to do this without measuring anything!  Bad idea!!!  We ended up adding all sorts of extra things (oats, glue, powerded tempra paint, more cinnamon) to get it to thicken and harden, but after leaving it over night, no such luck.  Next year, I’ll measure!! 🙂  Lesson Learned!


We also colored and hung these NOEL banners I made a few years ago, but the GBM brought them this time!

We got a package from the GBM on Wednesday (we are in our jammies).  He sent us our last package from the North Pole.  Inside was a copy of the Polar Express movie, the soundtrack, tickets to ride the Polar Express, a letter and these puzzles:



The children had to work in their table groups to put them together.  It was very intersting to see who took charge and divided up the pieces and who just sat there waiting for direction.  It took them about 10 minutes to get it all together.  We did this as a time filler right before lunch and after their puzzle was all put together they had to get their lunch boxes and sit quietly, so we would know that they had finished their puzzles.

All the puzzles were the same:


I found an image of the book cover somewhere and cut it into puzzle pieces.  The kids had such a blast with it!

We also wrote about where we would go if a train came to our door and could take us anywhere we wanted to go–there were lots of Hawaii’s !!! I imagine they all wanted somewhere warm! 🙂

If you look at my previous post: December15plans, you can see how all this fit into the week.  I posted my lesson plans for last week in that post.

I’ll be back in a few minutes to post the plans for our first week back (I like to plan ahead!!  I’ll be getting the rest of January in order by Friday).

Kristen 🙂

Literacy Work Stations–How to get started…

I had a great comment posted and I thought I would share it and then answer the questions for all of you who have questions about Literacy Work Stations: (You can also click on any of the “tags” at the bottom of each post that designate where I file each posting.  Look for Literacy Work Stations and it will bring up everything I’ve posted on that topic)

Do you change the activities at your Literacy stations weekly or daily? Can you give me some ideas as to what you have the children do at those stations-I know some are self explain. like listening, leap pads, etc. but what do they do at the others? Just getting some ideas to maybe change how I do things in my room. Also wondering if this is guided reading time or is it a time where you introduce a new concept to the kids you meet with? Sorry to keep asking questions but you seem to have a very organized day and at times I feel like I am pressed for time to get everything in. Do you have an assistant in your room during literacy and discovery station time? What about students who need extra review or help with letter recognition and letter sounds–do you have an AIS provider?

Wondering if you have any ideas or activities for Arctic and snowmen theme?

Thanks again for your time, I greatly appreciate it!


Q: Do you change the activities at your Literacy stations weekly or daily?

A: I change the activities in my LWS (Literacy Work Stations) once a month or every other month depending upon where the children are at with that activity.  If they are not on task, I know it it time for something new and exciting!  It would be WAY to much for the children any for me to change them daily or weekly and since we have 14 different stations, we can go at least a month before everyone has had 2-3 times at each station.

Q: Can you give me some ideas as to what you have the children do at those stations-I know some are self explain. like listening, leap pads, etc. but what do they do at the others?

A: Writing Work Station-the children use various posters, environmental print, and a variety of writing materials to practice letter formation, copying words and letters, and writing to the best of their ability.

Big Book Work Station: The children use the Big Books that we have read during the past 2 months.  I choose key words from the story and write them on index cards.  The children use these cards when they are reading the story and use highlighter tape to find them in the books.  I also have pointers (pencils with fancy erasers) that the children use when they read to each other.

Drama Work Station-I have props or make props for each of the big book stories we share duirng our Shared Reading time.  The children use these to act out the story and work on oral retelling and sequencing.  Some are props that are their size (apron, bar of soap, stuffed pig, duck and cow for Mrs. Wishy Washy) and some are flannel board or flannel glove sized for a smaller retelling.

Library Work Station-the students find sight words and other words they know while visiting our classroom library.  They will often tell a story by looking at the pictures or read our class books to their partner.  I have several stuffed animals here and they also will read to them.

Name Work Station-you can see the boxes in this post:    Name Work Station Boxes The children practice writing their friends names and matching magnetic letters to outlines.  I have seen them all increase in their ability to write letters and recognize their friends names.

Over head Work Station-I have several pencil boxes filled with magnetic letters and several transparencies with various letter sequencing/word making activities that the children use.  They love to make words, their names, friends names, and word family names on the overhead.  You can see pictures by clicking on the last link at the bottom of this post.

ABC Work Station-I have alphabet stamps, letter cards and various other activities for the children to use.  My main objective is that the children become familiar with the letters and have the ability to sequence them in the correct order.

Work with the Teacher Station-I have two of these stations, one with me and one with my assistant.  We use a Intervention called, “My Sidewalks” and take the children through the activities in their books.  My assistant works with the same children every day until they are able to test out of that level, then we move them up.  I work with rotating groups–I see 3 children everyday for a total of 15 a week.  I am showing my students how to blend letters to make words and to identify beginning, medial, and ending sounds in words.  We play games, look at picture cards, use letter tiles, etc. It all came with our My Sidewalks kit.

Pocket Chart Station-I put a new rhyme or song in the pocket chart each week and choose letters, words, or rhyming tasks for the children to complete while there.  The rhyme or song corresponds to our big book and theme for the week.  The children can use pointers to read or sing the words.

Computer Work Station-The children use a variety of websites that I have bookmarked on the computers (,,, and many more)

Q: Also wondering if this is guided reading time or is it a time where you introduce a new concept to the kids you meet with?

A: I use my Work With the teacher station for some guided reading.  We are fortunate to have many sets of readers for children that are science and social studies themed.  I would usually pull children during science time and do some guided reading with them then, just because it ties in a little better at that time.  We also have a Scholastic News that we use for guided reading weekly and those are usually science or seasonally themed as well.

Q: Do you have an assistant in your room during literacy and discovery station time? What about students who need extra review or help with letter recognition and letter sounds–do you have an AIS provider?

A: I am very lucky to have an assistant all day.  She comes in at 8:30, and so for the first 30 minutes I am alone, but she is there the rest of the day.  During LWS she has a group and so do I (our district provided training for our assistants to run our My Sidewalks groups for us).  She generally works with those children who need a little extra help, and works with them on a daily basis.  I do more “maintaince” with my other children–helping them at whatever level they are at.  She also takes care of lunch and recess and discovery time for me, which frees me up to do assessments or work with individual children, or to get things prepared for later in the day.

I hope this answers your questions!  I would start by getting a copy of Debbie Diller’s Literacy Work Stations book and read that.  I would have been lost without it!  Jessican Mecham also has a large part of her site devoted to LWS and can share her organizational ideas as well as a variety of grade levels.

Pictures of my LWS:

Kristen 🙂

Let it Snow!

WordPress offered this free snow to put on our blog pages–so I didn’t want you to think something was wrong with your computer–it’s just snowing on my blog!

Kristen 🙂

Good Bye Hoosier Dome!

Today, the RCA Dome/Hoosier Dome was imploded here in Indy to make room for a bigger better convention center.

It’s so sad to see it go!  I went to my only Colts game there and many, many workshops and conventions were held on the floor of the Dome.  They already have taken away Market Square Arena–where my hubby and I both graduated from High School, so I’m hopeful that there’s nothing left to implode!  It’s so sad to see a place of such rich history be blown up in 25 seconds!

I’ll be back later this weekend with updates from our short, busy week!

If I don’t get back before the Holidays, have a wonderful, restful holiday with your friends and family and don’t forget what this holiday is truly, truly abou!  Merry Christmas!

Kristen 🙂

Polar Express Letter from the GBM

Here is the letter I am using tomorrow for my kids with the GBM.  I will “find” this letter in my mailbox after recess.  We will enjoy watching the movie tomorrow in our PJ’s along with hot chocolate, popcorn, marshmallows, and whipped cream.  It is always a fun day!


Polar Express

Here are some links to some Polar Express sites if you are planning on using that theme this week!

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