Saturday, February 27, 2016

100th Day of School Creative Printable

Here's a fun and easy way to be creative on the 100th Day of School.
 I call it A Handful of Hundred.  Kids draw or glue 20 objects onto this printable--to see 100 at a glance.  

Kids can get as creative as they like: 100 hearts, smiley faces, flowers, stars, suns, rainbows, birds, or bubbles.

They can even add a creative feature.  If they draw bubbles, they can also add the little boy who is blowing bubbles on the bottom of the page.

This one shows 100 full-fledged characters, printed on orange paper.
 I've learned from experience, that kids loooove to add fun stuff like silly finger nails.

One kid drew 20 rings on the fingers, and she glued a tiny jewel on each one.

Super-cool!  And a fabulous display piece, too.  If you'd like the printable, and other cool and creative 100-related projects--not just for your 100th Day of School--it's here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

100th Day of School Inspiration

The 100th day of school is approaching, and my kids watch the calendar with a little thrill.   
In our small New York City classroom, this is how we count up the days:

After 100 days, we add a ticket that says 100+ …and we start again from the top.

The 100th day is a perfect way to show that everyone’s growing, even the teacher!  Here’s my 100th Day Super Hero Mask—the new and improved version:

…and here’s last year’s model:  

It’s a lesson in the importance of tweaking things, even when they already work wonderfully well.  It’s a lesson I love to pass on to my kids.  My motto could be, “Always growing!”

My—kids and I—are 100 days smarter, kinder, richer, better, older and wiser.

If you’d like the template for the 100th Day Super Hero Mask, as well as super-creative activities in math, reading, writing, social studies and science (which, of course, you can enjoy all year), along with a Counting MP3, please stop by and take a look.

I’m wishing you a wonderful and wiser 100th Day of school!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

After a School Vacation…

After a school vacation, I welcome the kids back…
…and re-set the class culture, and I don't just dive into academics.  I want the kids to see the big picture.  Why are we here?  How can we enjoy the school experience—and the bigger picture: life!

I’ll review school rules, as if it were the first day of school--it is.  A world of non-school has passed since kids were last here.

I’ll read this book: Is There Really a Human Race, by Jamie Lee Curtis.  Yes, the Jamie Lee, the famous actress, with the even more famous mother-actress: Janet Leigh, the one who screamed in the shower in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.  Jamie Lee is one of the finest children authors around.

This book’s little boy hero asks:
Is there really a human race?
Is it going on now all over the place?
When did it start?
Who said, "Ready, Set, Go"?

To the question: Is the human race an obstacle course?  He realizes that everyone is different, everyone has challenges, and everyone can show kindness to make the world a better place.

I'll ask my kids what human qualities or experiences are most important to them.  I know their answers will surprise me, but I imagine some might say:
“I am racing toward…”

·         Friendship

·         Kindness

·         Love

·         Happiness

·         Loving life

·         Loving the Earth

·         Springtime

·         Goodness

And they can draw a picture of themselves racing toward their own vision of goodness.  It'll make a beautiful display piece, and also a beautiful welcome back to school.  
School should be a grand welcome to the human race!

If you’d like to ease your transition back from school vacation, you might find this useful: a packet of school rules, with step-by-step directions for teaching rules, and kid-friendly discussions on why we should follow each one.

Enjoy every moment of your vacation, and your transition back to school! 

P.S. I had to report that one of my kids smiled wryly and said, "I'm racing toward a taco stand."  A real beaut!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

100th Day of School Story Books

The 100th Day of School has a great roster of story books to read.
On the 100th Day of School we talk about the importance of the day, read a short book about the 100th Day, and we make our 100th Day Masks.
My kids don’t just color their masks.  I challenge them to mark off 5 equal areas on each numeral, and draw 5 groups of 6 objects on each—plus 3 more on the zeros and 4 more on the one.  

Early finishers can help the kids who need it, or they can go to one of my 100th Day centers.  

Don’t forget to set out a 100th Day book basket with all the usual suspects, some of which are listed below.  And, add a task for each book, to keep kids enthralled.


Read Aloud Books for the 100th Day of School:

1)      I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words by Michael Frith

·         List your 100 favorite words

2)      Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of School, by Joseph Slate

·         How could you celebrate the 100th Day?

3)      100th Day Worries, by Margery Culver

·         What would you love to collect 100 of?  Draw it and tell why.

4)      One Hundred Hungry Ants, by Elinor J. Pinczes

·         Write you own book of animals: One Hundred Hungry ______

5)      The Wolf’s Chicken Stew, by Keiko Kasza

·         List 100 things you could put in a stew

Since we've been in school for 100 days and read 100 books, I like to have kids cut 100 tiny book covers (from those Scholastic Book Club glossy cover pages).  My kids help me glue them to a large chart sheet and we write the numbers 1 - 100.

If you’d like the template for the 100th Day Super Hero Mask, as well as super-creative activities in math, reading, writing, social studies and science (which, of course, you can enjoy all year), along with a Counting MP3, please stop by and take a look.

I’m wishing you a wonderful and memorable 100th Day of school!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Presidents Day - Coin Activities for Kids

Presidents Day is a perfect time to look closer at coins.
Whose face is on a penny?
Who is on the quarter?  Why do you think we put presidents' faces on our coins?

You can compare and contrast the two faces, and the two men...and also the two coins.  What are the coins' color, shape and size?  What are their texture?  Are the edges ridged or not?  Is one coin bumpier? 

Drop each coin on a table.  Do they make different sounds?  Why do you think that is?

Put both coins into a box or a bag and close your eyes.  Can you pull out the coin with George Washington's face?  Just by touching it, can you find the coin with Abraham Lincoln's face? 

Ever try coin rubbings?  Do it artistically!  Draw a large pig shape on a paper, with a money slot on top.  Now place coins under the paper and rub lightly with copper or silver crayons (brown and grey will do).  Trace around the coin shape, then rub inside the circle.  Practice on scrap paper first, because it's a little tricky.  

Count how many pennies you rubbed.  Then how many quarters.  Add up their value, starting with the quarters first.  Write it down using $ or ¢.

Take a handful of coins.  Guess how many of each you have, then create a visual graph and draw a picture of it.

Heads or tails?  Drop a coin 20 times and tally up how many times for each.  Now try a different coin.  Did you get very different results?

How much money would it take to buy your top wish?  How many pennies is that?  How many quarters?  How long would it take to save up for it?

Why should you save money?   How can you show respect for money?  Now we're talking!
If you'd like the template for this President's Day Money Bank, it's here.  If you'd like the Money Bank and also Lincoln's Log Cabin Craft that stands upright, and Lincoln and Washington Puppets and Masks, take a look.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Fun for Kids

Will you be my Valentine?

Yeah, I'm talkin' to you!

I'll admit it, I'm in love with a Number Chart Robot.  Why?  

He's colorful, smart, and he makes me smile.  'Nuff said! know and I know that chocolates are nice.  But nothing makes a teacher's heart flutter like something like THIS!
Something that helps kids learn number sense, counting, organization...and enthusiasm?  Love, love, love!

Must add: stickers, paper cut-outs, and bling, of course.

Optional to differentiate with simple or complex robots:
1 - 30 Number Chart Robots or 1 - 100 Number Chart Robots.

If you can't choose, and you have to have both--100 Robot, 30 Robot, and Soothing Counting Songs that will lull your sugar-pumped kids into calm joy--yes, you can have it all.
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody.  And please, save some chocolate for tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Presidents Day Crafts

Presidents Day Crafts are the best way for young kids to celebrate.

Coloring, cutting and gluing are the way kids absorb facts.
After you’ve discussed Presidents Lincoln and Washington, their bios and history…

…there’s no better way for kids to reflect, than to play.
Play is like dreaming.  The subconscious takes over, and facts go deep.
Kids can wear a Lincoln or Washington mask, and pretend that they’re chopping wood, leading troops, or giving a big speech.
Or they can simply realize that Lincoln and Washington were once kids.  And that maybe this new generation of kids will have a president emerge thirty years from now.

My favorite book on Lincoln is:
Just Like Abraham Lincoln  by Bernard Weber.   

It humanizes Lincoln.  Mr. Potts lives next door to our boy narrator.  He looks just like Abraham Lincoln.  He’s also kind, thoughtful, interesting, and he loves to read—just like Abraham Lincoln.  Mrs. Potts makes lemonade to drink, while Mr. Potts tells stories about Abraham Lincoln.  

Mr. Potts grows a beard.  Now he really looks just like Lincoln, and he reads the famous Gettysburg speech at the school auditorium for all the kids.

At the end of the book, Mr. Potts is moving away.  (This is when all my kids look like they’ll cry.)  The narrator wonders what the new neighbor will be like.  (He happens to look…Just like George Washington).

If you’d like to create Presidents Day Crafts; Lincoln and Washington Masks or Puppets, Lincoln’s log cabin that stands upright, and a Presidents Day Money Bank or Keepsake Box, take a look here.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chinese New Year Dragon Art

Chinese New Year Dragons are beautiful art pieces.
I didn’t realize just how beautiful, till I looked closer at my kids’ work.   We discussed how we might color them neatly and carefully.   Also, color each part a different color, use a lot of red, and the fire colors; red, orange and yellow.  And be creative, artistic and enjoy!
I didn’t expect my kindergartners might color the eyebrows the full spectrum of the rainbow, from red to violet.  Or each horn a different color.  I didn’t expect blue eyes; or blended colors, like pink and orange, blended on the mouth so artistically.
I didn’t foresee that they’d cross over lines with their colors in sophisticated ways, with red bleeding into one eye, and 2 eyes of different colors…
…nor green and turquoise spokes on the wheels of one eye.

Our Chinese Dragons look like frame-able masterpieces.

I’d be tempted to frame them, if they weren’t so fun to dance with.   And boy, did we dance!  We made big arcs with our arms, fluttering the dragon tails in high circles, figure eights, and zigzags—to the clanging cymbals, drums and flutes of Chinese celebration music.

Dancing with our masterpieces—I mean our Chinese New Year Dragons—was as thrilling as always.  Every year, near the night of the new moon, I relive that thrill with two dozen kids.

If you’d like the template for the Chinese New Year Dancing Dragon, with dance instructions, links to the best Chinese New Year music, printable cycle of animals, and a kids’ mini-book, here it is.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wanna See a Chinese Dancing Dragon Fly?

Wanna see a Chinese Dancing Dragon fly?

Only in person, my friends, face to face.

My legendary Chinese New Year Dancing Dragons—like vampires—resist photos. 

I tried!  I snapped dozens of pictures of jumping, dancing, smiling kids.  But the dragons are a blur of red scales and fluttering tails.

No worries; that captures it best, I think!  That, and our memories of dancing and laughing with our dragons.

At the end of the day I asked my kids what they’d like to do with their dragons.  They said…
·         Dance all night
·         Do ballet
·         Eat it
·         Feed it
·         Watch it grow
·         Do magic
·         Put on a magic show
·         Sleep with it
·         March in a parade
·         Put it in a doll house
·         Ride a scooter with it
·         Destroy it (said with a cartoonish swagger)

A dozen ways to celebrate the night of the new moon.  Gung Hay Fat Choy, everybody!
If you'd like a Chinese Dancing Dragon, and all the memories and joy that come with it, it's right here.