Category Archives: Language Arts/Writing

The Grouchy Ladybug

We began our study of insects/bugs by reading The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle.  After taking a picture walk and reading it aloud to the children, we discussed the clocks that are pictured on most of the pages.  The children learned that we would be learning about telling time and addition (with ladybug spots) this week during math. 


I have several sheets that I will post in the next few days that deal with telling time and ladybug addition…so stay tuned!  You can download pictures to sequence by going to my PDF page and searching for them–they will only download on certain computers (not sure why!!), and so far there is nothing I can do about it!  Sorry!  You can search on Google for images and print those out. 


We also checked in on our beans that we planted last week and noted our observations in our Bean Journals: beanjournal (you can switch these so that the journals take up 1/2 of a page side to side instead of top to bottom like they are here).





Our Painted Lady Butterflies (caterpillars really) have arrived and are eating lots and lots!  They have doubled in size since arriving last Thursday, so we will soon transfer them to our netting we have set up for them.

We also looked at our Scholastic News: “How Do You Know It’s An Insect?”.


I’ve got so many awesome ideas about Science floating in my head right now, and some ideas for Math Work Stations that I’m going to be working on this summer, so I’ll post as I think! 🙂


Kristen 🙂


We are reading a big book this week titled “Seeds”.


Because there are a few students who will be leaving early this week to head out on Spring Break, we did not do a Predictable Chart, however we did do several neat Inquiry Based things in Science.  I like to begin almost all my themes/units with a KWL/OWL chart to asses where my children are at and what they are interested in.  We completed the “K” portion of this chart first, then after Observing the seeds (see below) we completed the “O” portion and the “W” (wonder) section.  I like to change the “W” from “What we WANT to Learn” to “What we WONDER” because it gets the children asking questions of the “I Wonder…” variety, something that is holding them back from exploring the world!  At this young age, they know what they want to learn about somethings, but they have no basis to draw from for many Science concepts (some do!!).  Asking “I Wonder…” questions sets the ground work for them to wonder, so ALL of my KWL charts are either KOWL or OWL charts. 





This is the “Wonder” section continued…


I gave each table of children a random container of seeds that I had leftover from previous vegetable plantings:

Here is the result:





Today, Tuesday, we planted all kinds of vegetables in Containers.  My kids took such an interest in the Seeds book that I went and got many of the seeds mentioned in the story.















The next few months (until the end of May) will be spent on growing things/plants/bugs/insects/Monarchs/Jack and the Beanstalk/and anything else that fits in to one of these categories! 🙂


Kristen 🙂

Growing Vegetable Soup

I’m tired of the cold weather, so I decided to get everyone excited about Spring and do some planting!  But plant what??

That’s when I chose our Big Book for this week: Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert.  


We also started a new Predictable Chart:


(Sorry the computer is being funky here–I’ll try to undo it’s funky-ness later!)

So then it was time to plant:

Each child was given two deli containers, one small and one large.  I cut holes in the bottom of the small one and the children put some wicking through and then put it on top of the larger container.  They then added peat and some soil to the small container and planted their choice of 6 vegetables (squash, cucumbers, radishes, peas, tomatoes, peppers).  We then watered them from the top and all the water seeps through to the bottom and collects there.  The wicking helps keep the plants constantly moist, yet not too wet and so the plants grow much faster and the quality is always better.  This is how you grow Wisconsin Fast Plants as well–those are amazing if you’ve never tried them.  I was going to do them again this year, but I cannot for the life of me find the seeds from last year’s crop! 🙂


We had two 1/2 days this week, so we did a lot of writing and catching up on things.  I need to go type my newsletter now–so I’ll be back in the next few days to update more! 😉

Kristen 🙂

5 Senses/Nutrition and Dental Health

We have been talking this week about 5 Senses/Nutrition and Dental Health–nothing like waiting until the last week of the month to squeeze it all in! 🙂

Monday, we started by reading My 5 Senses by Aliki (Big Book) and talked about how our senses help us in everyday life.  We also made a new Predictable Chart titled, “I can…” and the children finished the sentence with a sense that they can use.  In the afternoon, we took a “Hearing Walk” around the inside of our building and just listened to things.  We came back to the classroom and listed all the new sounds we heard in our school.  We also tried to complete a 6×6 Sudoku puzzle of our own and I had to help with about 1/2 of the puzzle and then they could finish the rest themselves.



Tuesday, We read another book about using our senses and finished up our Predictable Chart.  We also had tasting day.  I had three things for the children to taste–these are things that are easy to get! I got them from restaurants! 🙂  I had them taste soy sauce, taco sauce, and honey.  I put a little bit in each paper cup and then had the children taste it.  We then made a chart telling how it tasted (salty, sweet, or other):


We also talked about how to care for our teeth.  I show the children every year how to best brush their teeth by using a dry erase board.  I draw some teeth covered in plaque:


And then I take a tooth brush and brush it gently away.  I usually use a yellow marker to show plaque, but I couldn’t find it! So we went with a black marker:



Wednesday, we talked about the Food Pyramid.  I made cards for each of the food groups and put them on the floor inside my Venn-Diagram circles:



The children sorted our play food into the groups and then we talked about what a serving size of each would look like.  I got these placemats and work booklets from Teacher’s Treasures early this year when I was there and they were great for today’s lesson. 




Monday, I also added a new pocket chart poem to Pocket Chart Station:


Kristen 🙂

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

This week, we have been reading If You Give A Mouse A Cookie:



We used it to make our Predictable Chart:


Monday, we took a picture walk through the story and then I read it aloud.  We had 1/2 of the class finish the sentence on the Chart.  

Tuesday, we retold the story and then Choral Read it aloud.  The second 1/2 of the class finished their sentence.

Wednesday, we used props to tell the story and then touch read the sentences aloud.

Thursday, we echo read the story and then did cut up sentences.

Friday, we read the story one last time, acted it out and then we made a class book using the sentences from our Predictable Chart.


We’ve also been learning about Abraham Lincoln and celebrated his 200th birthday.  We looked a the 4 new pennies that are being released in honor of the day and read a book about pennies (see below).  We also read a book called Honest Abe (see below) and the children had a good discussion about honesty.  Pictured below are the books that we have been reading this week (a few will be next week!)














This is my favorite book about Money–in pictures it shows the process of how coins are made–very cool! 🙂



This is my MOST favorite book about Abraham Lincoln–it’s written for a young child’s level (I usually leave out some of the details about how he died from the story though), but has just the right amount of details and the pictures are interesting to look at (they’re all paintings).


Monday, I introduced my students to the wonderful world of Sudoku.  We started with a 4×4 puzzle and have worked our way to a 6×6 puzzle and the children did a great job! 🙂  Tuesday, I gave them a blank 4×4 puzzle and they were able to finish 2 on their own.  I got several Sudoku books at Books-A-Million and also at Borders and Barnes & Noble in the kids section.  I also found one last year at BAM called “Sum-doku”.  The children have to add while filling in the boxes in the puzzle, so the sums have to add up across and down–way to hard for most Kinder. kids, but I had several students a few years ago who LOVED them! 🙂  Some days I put them on the overhead, ELMO or I just hand them a copy.  We are all addicted now! 🙂

Tuesday, we did another Sudoku puzzle and then finished our pattern block heart (found on the PDF page under “P” or do a search on my site for “Pattern Blocks” and it will come up.  

Wednesday, we completed the graph that went along with the heart.

Thursday, we sorted, counted, added, and graphed our candy hearts. Those pages can be found in my last post (below this one):



Friday, we also did our Roll-A-Valentine (see 2 posts below for the sheet we used).


I also introduced a new Literacy Work Station called Playdough Station.  We were having trouble keeping Name Work Station organized, so we substituted this one in it’s place:





I explained to the children that this station is meant to help develop their fine motor skills (we talked about what that means) and help them become better readers and writers in the process.  There are laminated file folders with numbers, shapes, and squiggles, as well as rings of upper and lower case letters and sight words for them to form with playdough as well. 

Next week, we will be reading Silly Sally! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

The Mitten

For the last 2 weeks, my children and I have been reading and learning about The Mitten by Jan Brett.

I’ll give you a run down of what we have been doing day by day, then I’ll post separately about 100’s day tomorrow! 🙂

Monday: We took a picture walk through the book and then I read the story aloud to them.  To incorporate a little science, we read a book about the Mole (from the story) and we made a chart listing all the things we learned about moles.  The children were fascinated with the idea of a mole, so of course, I had to go back to the school libarary and find more books about them!  Our Predictable Chart for the week was called “The Mitten…” and the children each gave me ideas about the mitten from the story.  We also learned another addition/subtraction game, I’ll post that in another post as well.

Tuesday: We took a “Memory Walk” as I like to call it, through the story and the children told me about what they remembered happening on each page and then I read the story to them again.  We also learned about Snowshoe Hares/Rabbits and made a list of all the things we learned.  We also interviewed a child in my class who has a rabbit at home and she shared with us how to care for and feed a rabbit, so we added that to the chart as well.

Wednesday, I read the story once and then the children choral read it with me.  Up next, the Hedgehog!  He had a long list and we found out that another child in our class had previously had a hedgehog for a pet and he shared his feeding tips for hedgehogs!

Thursday, we told the story using the masks from Jan Brett’s website. We had to do this twice so that everyone got a chance to be an animal.  We also used sentences from the Predictable Chart that I cut up and we put them back in order.  The children loved learning about badgers and the chart about them was FULL of facts!  We had a 2 hour delay.

Friday, we made a class book from our PC sentences.  I have had the children write their sentences at the bottom of their papers instead of me copying them and printing them each week.  They are doing a great job, handwriting is improving, and so is that left to right concept.  I’m also noticing that the spacing between words is getting better by having them do this.  The book is really cute and I have to make copies of it for my National Board portfolio before binding them together. We also read about foxes and made a chart about them.  We had a 2 hour delay.

Monday: No School-MLK Jr. Day

Tuesday: We gathered to watch the inauguration as a school, so we did pretty much that all day! 🙂

Wednesday: We played catch up learning about owls and bears.  Two charts in one day!  One in the AM and one in the PM parts of the day.  I also talked with the parents of incoming Kindergarten students for next year, so I was out of the room for 45 minutes during our AM literacy time.

Thursday: We read about mice first thing and made our chart.  At 9am, I recorded my video for my National Board Certification.  Here’s the basic idea of what I did.  Using the charts that we have been making for the last 2 weeks, I made a Venn Diagram and the children helped me to sort the animals into groups by eating habits; herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.  I then had them pick two of their favorite animals and write one thing that was the same about them and one thing that was different about them (that was my assessment).  They did a great job! 🙂

Friday: 100’s day–see my next post! 🙂

I am preparing to speak to the district Kindergarten teachers in two weeks about Literacy Work Stations as well as websites for Kindergarten students.  If you are intersted in seeing other, please leave me a comment on this post (which automatically e-mails me) and I will post them if I am able! 🙂

I’ve also been asked to speak at the ICE (Indiana Computer Educators Conference) next week about my Monarch Migration project and how I use technology in Kindergarten.  I’ll post the info for that, just as soon as I get it finished.  Again, if you would like see that, leave me a comment and I’ll try to get something posted for you.

I hope you all know that what I list each day is not all that we do in a day–we actually do MUCH, MUCH more, I just post the highlights and things that change from day to day.  I didn’t want you to think that our whole day was taken up by this! 🙂

On to 100’s day! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

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! 🙂

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 🙂

This Week’s Lesson Plans

Awhile back, I had a request to see what a typical page in my lesson plan book looked like, how I get everything in in one day or in a week.  I’ve completed my plans for this week (December 15th-18th, 2008) and I’m going to post them below.  They are very general, as this week is kind of a crazy one with a All School Holiday Sing/Convocation, Winter Party, All School Volley Ball Game, Polar Express, and anything else that is happening that I forgot to add.  I’m going to start saving all my plans on the computer, just for sanity’s sake next year and the following years–it will be easier to make updates that way! 🙂  Let me know if you have any questions–there are some abbreviations listed that mean something to me, but may not to you! 🙂


Also, our lunch time was switched from 10:40 to 10:30 so my schedule changed a bit from the one I posted at the beginning of the summer/school year.  I had to move Writer’s Workshop to the afternoon-right after recess/lunch, so you will see that change, but it did buy me 10 more minutes for Literacy Work Stations! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

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