Sunday, December 28, 2014

Learn Something New!

We should all have a bucket list, even in kindergarten!  Come on, what new thing would you like to learn, or do? 

Go deeper.  Think about things you never thought of before.  Or things you thought about in passing, and then forgot again. 

If you google hobbies, or flip though Pinterest pages or talk to a friend, you'll find something new that catches your imagination. 

So start a list, even if you're in kindergarten.  That's what I'm asking my kids to do--and put it into their New Year's Keepsake Book.  So when they forget their dreams, there's a place to find them again.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Peace On Earth Cards

Here's a holiday card for every spirit.  It's simple: Peace On Earth--with a torn-paper craft of the Earth.

I fold plain copy paper in quarters and trace a circle on the front.  The kids add their name, the tag line, and then begin the craft.

We start by looking at an aerial photo of the Earth, and note the land shapes and colors.  Then the kids color their circles blue and green.  Some of them draw land mass shapes.

Each child gets a small rectangle of blue and of green construction paper.  This is "torn paper art"--so kids don't cut, they tear, their blue and green into tiny pieces with their fingers.  Then they glue-stick them artfully onto their Earth shape.  Each one is gorgeous!

Inside their cards, they draw pictures of their choice: an evergreen, elf, gift box, candy cane...

And they write a more personal phrase if they wish, such as Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Diwali, Good Bodhi Day!

I love the tradition of home-made cards.  It's personal and creative, and even now, I'll often make a home-made card for a friend.

Teddy Bear Magnet Gift

Nothing beats this Teddy Bear Magnet Gift for cuteness!

No kid can resist adding details like hair, hearts or eyelashes...and then coloring, cutting and choosing their oak tag color to glue it on.
Final touches include matching googly eyes, a craft bow and glitter arm-bands.  When it all dries, they glue a magnet to the back.
And, when kids take it home for the holidays, what parent can resist this cute-as-a-button gift from their child?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Giveaway Bundle!

My friend at TPT, Michelle Dupuis, is turning 40--and she's celebrating by giving away bundles of teacher goodies!--among them is my own Brain Breaks for the 5 Senses.

Check out all the wonderful bundles of freebies here!
These are some of those teacher treasures:

Be sure to visit her blog by December 17th for a chance to win.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

10-Second Brain Breaks

Kids wriggle, fidget, and focus on whatever.   That's just what kids do. 
Here are some quick brain breaks you can do at any time to calm kids' bodies and minds:

1)  Breathe deeply.  Put your hands on your waist.  Let all the air out like a balloon.  Hold breathe in slowly and quietly, fill the bottom (see your hands expand), now fill the top (see your chest expand), hold it...then breathe out.

2)  Eye exercise.  Hold up your thumb.  Look at your thumb, now look at me.  Thumb, me...thumb me...thumb, hands down, squeeze your eyes gently shut...and focus here...

3)  Best stretch ever.  Clasp hands low, behind your back.  Lean forward and stretch down, hold.  Let go.   Breathe and focus.

4)  Palming.  Cup your hands and place the palms gently over your eyes.  Count down 5-4-3-2-1.  Try one eye first, then both.

5)  Shoulder roll.  Shoulders up, back, down...up, back down...back, up, forward hunch...back, up, forward hunch...breathe and focus.

6)  Sniff and Pant.  Sniff 3 times, pant (say a non-vocal "ha") 3 times.  Repeat 3X, and end with one big, breathy sigh and a big up-and-down shrug of your shoulders. 

7)  Twist and count.  Twist both wrists to a count of ten, then fold your hands in your lap.  Twist both hands together or alternate left and right.

8)  Thumbs up.  Thumbs down.  Thumbs out.   Thumbs in.  Twiddle your thumbs around and around.  "Clap" your thumbs.  Thumbs bow down and up.  Fold your hands.  Great show! 

9)  Silent mirth.  Open your mouth wide and laugh hard, but silently!   Count on your fingers up to ten.  End with a big smile and your finger on your lips. 

10)  Say 10 character traits.  Kids show what the trait looks like, but using their faces only.  Suggestions: happy, sad, mad, scared, excited, lazy, silly, kind, fierce, and proud...

If you do it, kids will imitate--they're hard-wired to.  And they actually love to relax, if you show them how. 

If you'd like to print out the eye exercise poster, it's here and it's free.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Calendar Color Coding

I love plain paper calendars!  Here's why:


I get to write in all the special events of the month.  And color coding them makes them pop and easy to read. 

Kids quiver with anticipation as they see each special day approach.  They count down to special days, or skip count by weeks.  "Not this Thursday, but 2 Thursdays from now..."

Blue means it's someone's birthday.  Orange means no school or a half day.  Pencil means it's for the teacher only (which kids love to know about, too).

It's also a way to reminisce.  Kids love to pour over old calendar pages stapled like a "Big Book" at the library center.

Each day, a child places a colored number square on the calendar, and the color patterns create more math talk. 

Calendars can have as many pictures, characters, and events as a great story book...and we get to live through them!

Monday, December 1, 2014

What’s a Keepsake Book?

It’s made of the unique, unexpected, unforgettable, and priceless, things that kids say—and then write about. 

Amazing things happen when you ask kids (or grownups) about their opinions, dreams, and wishes.  That’s why my kids are adding more pages to their Thanksgiving Keepsake Books, long after Thanksgiving is over. 

And maybe in 50 years, when their moms pull those books out of a dusty old box, they’ll be thankful they kept them.