Author Archives: Kristen Poindexter

Painting Like Eric Carle

One of my favorite things to do is to tie in an art project with a literacy study.  As we studied Eric Carle’s books, my students were interested to know more about how he created his art.  I did some research online and found a few videos that gave us some ideas to help us create art like Eric!

The art we created was AMAZING!!! From start to finish, this has to be one of my favorite projects we’ve ever done and it was EASY! Can you believe we had 25 Kindergarten students all creating their art at the same time and there were no spills, accidents, or mishaps? Check out all the supplies we used and some details about making our art come to life here!

Cool Coding ideas!

I am lucky enough to have 2 Sphero SPRK robots in my classroom.  Recently, we got them out to participate in the Hour of Code.  My students had two opportunities to try Sphero out and test their coding skills. Using the robots is fun enough on its own, but I decided to step it up a little bit and add in some extra details! We also practiced retelling one of our favorite stories with a bit of a coding twist!

What you’ll need:

The first thing we did was create a grid on one of our classroom rugs with Colorful Masking Tape.  We were working on retelling stories and so I challenged my students to use paper arrows to help get the Gingerbread Man through the grid and to stay away from the fox! I placed the characters from the story into different boxes on the grid and then let my students work their way through as they placed the arrows.  They then took the Gingerbread Man and tested out their path to determine if it worked or not.  We used Sphero (posing as the Gingerbread Man) later to follow the path and I forgot to get a picture of that!! 😦  The best thing about this grid is that its still stuck on our rug! My students begged that I leave it on the rug so they could use it again and even with all of us walking on it each day, its still there!

Next, we used some more Colorful Masking Tape to create a bowling alley! I taped off a section of the floor with red tape and then added in some white tape to show where the pins should go (and to create an “x” for my students to stand on).  My students set up the pins from the Small Bowling set on the white lines and started bowling! They loved trying to see how many pins they could knock down.  We played just like real bowling, they got two chances to knock down the pins, but we did not keep score.  Eventually, we will add the number of pins knocked down in each turn together as we work on adding to ten, but for now, we are just exploring!  We also left our bowling alley taped to the floor and we cover it with the rug (from above) when we are not using it.  So far, the Colorful Masking Tape has not left any residue on the carpet, so our housekeepers will be happy!

Finally, to make things a little more challenging, I set up an obstacle course with Colorful Traffic Cones for my students to maneuver the Sphero through.  To begin, we set up a simple in and out weaving pattern.  Later, we added in a turn to the in and out pattern and that made it a little more difficult, so we will be practicing that for a little longer!

These ideas could be used with any robot that you might have or if you don’t have any “bots”, you can always have your students “program” each other through the challenges!

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The Three Little Pigs

Around this time of year every year, my students and I read at least one version of The Three Little Pigs.  I love that this story is one that my students immediately connect with (mostly because of the Big Bad Wolf) and are easily able to retell.

I generally have my students try to build houses out of the three materials from the story (sticks, bricks, and straw), and this year was no exception, but I wanted to take the experience up a notch by transforming the space around them, so that they felt like they were in a forest where they might actually run into the Big Bad Wolf.

I’m always a little intimidated by room transformations, but I have to be honest when I say that I’m not anymore! This was so much fun to do and it didn’t take me long at all! I think I spent about 30 minutes prepping the materials and another 30 to hang and decorate the space.  The key is in thinking out what you want the finished space to look like, and in collecting all your materials so you can knock it all out in an hour or so!

My students felt as though they were in the woods building their homes! We had a great time and were able to talk quite a bit about what materials we should and should not build homes out of.  Check out more details about our fun day building with The Three Little Pigs here!

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Fine Motor Fun in November

This month, I decided to bring a little fall to our fine motor drawers! Each month when I introduce the new activities to my students, I am purposeful in telling them what skills they will work on developing and how those skills will help them in the future. I also remind them of other things in our classroom that they may find themselves struggling with and share with them that using these fine motor activities will help those tough tasks become a little easier with time.

I used some very simple materials and some easy ideas to bring these to life! Check out lots more pictures here!

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Exploring our 5 Senses

We recently had one of the most fun days ever in my classroom exploring our 5 senses! I transformed my classroom into a Mad Scientist Lab so that we could learn more about our 5 senses.

In under 30 minutes I had my classroom transformed into a lab! I set up 5 different stations to help my students explore more about each of the 5 senses.  Read more here about how the transformation took place and for more details about each of the stations.

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October Fine Motor Drawers

Last month, I shared a post all about setting up our new fine motor drawers.  My students need as much practice as they can get developing their fine motor skills.  Each month I change out the activities in the drawers to keep them new and exciting, but also to continue to strengthen and challenge the skills they have.

Here’s a look at this month’s activities:

My students love each of these activities! Click here to check out the full description of these activities and to get what you’ll need to set them up in your own classroom!

What else would you add to these fine motor drawers? I have trouble each time narrowing down the activities to share with my students each month!

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Sit Spots Giveaway!

Have you heard about SitSpots?  If you haven’t, you’re missing out!! I have two sets of SitSpots in my classroom and I LOVE them!! I have one set that my students sit on during our large group work and one set that my students line up on.

 

IMG_8852This is the set that we’ve sat on for 3 years now!! I peel them up every summer, throw them in the washing machine and then let them air dry to keep them looking as good as new!  I’ve written numbers on mine (since this picture was taken) so my students know where to sit even when I change the placement of their spot.

But…SitSpots just announced this news…

Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 7.22.50 PMAs of a few days ago, SitSpots can now be purchased with numbers already printed on them!! They look so much better than the numbers I wrote on my SitSpots–I may see a new numbered set in my future!!

 

My blogging friends Maggie and I are sharing our experiences with Sitspots and you can enter to win one of 2 $25 SitSpots gift cards so you can try them out for yourself!! Click here to enter!!

 

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Super Scissors!

I’ve got a few beginning of year ideas to share with you today using some super scissors (and punches)!.  My friends at Fiskars sent me some of their cutting products so that I could share how I use them to get ready at the beginning of the year and to help my students beef up their fine motor skills!

Fiskars Post

First up, these Preschool Training Scissors are the most fabulous beginner scissors! I love using these scissors with my students who have little to no previous experience with scissors before they come to my classroom.  We use them to cut modeling clay or dough.  This helps my students “sharpen” up their cutting skills.  The dough provides just enough resistance that they begin to understand the open and closing motion of scissor cutting.  The Preschool Training Scissors also have a nifty arrow located on the side of the handles that let you convert the scissors to regular scissors when your students are ready for that.  Between the arrow on the side of the scissors that provides resistance and the dough, my students quickly develop their cutting skills (and have some fun cutting those dough snakes into smaller pieces)!

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Next, to help us practice fine motor skills, we used the Paper Edgers.  My students love that these scissors can cut fun edges on their papers! I give my students scraps of construction paper and card stock to cut up.  They love cutting the paper into little bits and using those little bits to create designs on their paper.

I also place scraps of paper into a clear bin and let them snip at the paper as one of our center choices.  They love trying to cut the paper into small pieces and they don’t know that they are developing their fine motor skills at the same time.  We also bring out the Paper Edgers out anytime we need to make thank-you cards to give the sides and edges a fancy trim! There are 6 different Paper Edgers included in this set and there is a design available for almost any need. My own boys love the Mini-Pinking and Lightning pairs of scissors to make teeth on all their monster creations!

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Finally, as a way to help organize myself, I make several sets of name and picture cards.  I use my 3XL Square Lever Punch and some card stock.  I measured out from the first opening in the punch out 3 inches and drew a line.  I then insert the card stock (that I cut to 2 and 1/8 inches wide) and bring it to the line and punch.  Then, its just as easy as punching and cutting a whole class set!  I then take a picture of each of my students and cut those out with the punch as well and glue them onto the bottom of the card.  I then write each student’s name at the top of the card and surround it by a dashed border.

I laminate 4 sets of these cards and use them for lots of different reasons in my classroom.  I use one set for bathroom cards.  I attach magnets to the back and my students place them on an aluminum board  when they leave the room to use the restroom.  I use two sets to help my students rotate through our literacy and math stations/tubs.  I have one set of cards on blue card stock and one set on green card stock.  I have each student paired with another and I keep them side by side in a pocket chart.  I move each set of partnered cards down to the next station/tub each day so the students can complete new activities.

The last set goes in the “pick-me deck”.  I keep this deck on my table in the front of the room and use it to help me choose students to complete different tasks.  Sometimes I use the deck to choose who is next when we are playing a game on our whiteboard, I sometimes use them to choose partner pairs for games we are playing, and I sometimes use them to help me keep track of who I’ve already called on to answer a question and who I still need to call.  This deck is also handy for guest teachers.  They can easily call on a student and see their picture next to their name.  It helps them to know who is who by their name and face.

I hope you’ve gotten some ideas you can use to help your students develop their fine motor skills and to help you get organized for the upcoming school year!  What are your favorite Fiskars products?  They are my favorite brand of scissors both at home and at school!

Thanks to my friends at Fiskars for providing me with all the goodies!  All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

 

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Brilliant Bowls

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Do you know about these AMAZING bowls from IKEA?  They are from the KALAS collection and are currently $2.49 for a 6 pack–which is a great deal! I may or may not own 10 sets of these bowls. 🙂

I use these bowls for everything in my classroom!  I use them to sort out math materials, prepare materials for group work, and use them to organize materials in work tubs.

They are terrific for quickly passing out materials!  Our new math adoption has lots of games that my students play and having these bowls helps me to prepare them the day before.  I have enough bowls that we can all use one set individually and still have another set leftover.  I might be a tiny bit obsessed with these. 🙂

There’s also a set of plates and cups that are in the same line (along with silverware!) and I have class sets of those too:

We used the plates as trash plates when we were doing activities that had lots of little scraps to throw away.  The children can just put their scraps on the plate and empty it when they are done.

 

You can see how we use the cups to store our crayons.  They are very easy to transport when we want to work in our science notebooks or for writer’s workshop.

They are a GREAT organizational tool for any classroom! And, I love that after we use them, I can bring them home and put them in the dishwasher to clean them and take them right back to school. 🙂

 

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Starting STEM Early

Instead of having my students work on papers or worksheets when they come into our classroom each morning, I have them use STEM boxes.  These boxes help my students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.

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My students loved using these boxes so much that they would race down the hallway each morning to grab their favorite one!  Read all about them here and get your own supplies to create some! 🙂

 

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EDITED TO ADD: You can download the labels for these STEM Boxes here. 🙂

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