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Monday, December 19, 2011

Decorating Gingerbread Houses

This is how each table was set-up with supplies.

Trader Joe's Gingerbread House Kit.
We always love to try new things so this year we decided to have the students work in teams and decorate Gingerbread Houses.  We are fortunate to have wonderful parent involvement and were able to get all the supplies donated.  The Gingerbread House Kits came from Trader Joe's and cost $7.99 each.  We like these kits because they are easy to put together.  To save time, we had the parents donate containers of white frosting and food coloring.  This was much easier than making your own frosting that comes in the kit.  We also had the students bring in small Ziploc bags of assorted candy labeled with their name.

Before we could get started, we had parent volunteers prep each table with the kit pieces, two small cups of different color frosting, bowls of M&M's, mini marshmallows, frosted shredded wheat cereal and peppermint candy.   Teams were able to swap frosting colors during the decorating process.   This made each Gingerbread House unique.  We had one adult with each group of 5 students to help as a guide.  When the houses were done, each team had to come up with a name.  As one of our students said, "today was the best day ever!"
Our finished product.

We will use these houses as table decorations for our upcoming Holiday Party and then we will have a raffle and send them home with some lucky families.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Follow Up to the Gingerbread Man

Here's how the Gingerbread Man homework turned out . . . so cute! The kids had so much fun taking their Gingerbread People out with them during the week. Some students took their Gingerbread People to local places like Costco, the library, to pick out a Christmas tree. Others went to places like Disneyland & to watch the Nutcracker. I especially like the postcards with actual photographs of what they did together.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

3D Sculptures Using Home Made Paper Mache

Who knew tearing paper could be so much fun?

Last week the students looked at sculptures created by two artists: Kate Costello and Francois Pompon in preparation of making their own 3D sculptures. The students then tore newsprint, construction paper, toilet paper and napkins to make their own paper pulp. It was a class effort! Once we had enough paper to fill 1/2 of a trash can, it was filled with enough water to cover and left to soak for a week. The water helps to break down the paper and turned everything mushy.

This week the students got to mold the paper pulp into a shape that would eventually become the body of an animal. They had to first squeeze out the excess water, and as they did this it would help to shape and mold the pulp. The pulp was then put onto a small piece of cardboard that the kids had already covered with tissue paper. The "body" was then covered in glue with brushes and tissue paper was layered over the body. Not only will the tissue paper add color to the sculpture, but it will also help to hold everything together.

Paper turning into mush.

Paper pulp with water squeezed out.
Table set up.

Partially finished sculpture.
After everything has dried the students will use construction paper to add details to their animals like wings, fins, trunks, etc. Can't wait to see the finished product!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holidays Around the World

We are going to visit one country each day to learn how they celebrate winter holidays.  We found these really cute simple passports from PBS Kids Sprout the Mr. Mailman show and the stamp template from Fiar Circle that you can change the country name and the date.  Each day we visit a country, the students will glue a stamp in their passport.  We will also make a page in our Holidays Around the World book.  At the end of the unit, they will have a wonderful souvenir and book to remember each country and their Holiday traditions. 

Click here for the stamp template.

We will begin our journey in Sweden where we will engage all of our senses while we learn about Saint Lucia Day.  We will look at pictures, watch a video, color in the Swedish flag, and eat a Danish pancake.

Then we are heading to Mexico to learn all about Las Posadas.  We will start off by watching a Disney video, color the flag of Mexico and enjoy some tamales.

The next country we will visit is Israel where we will learn about Hanukkah.  We will read Hanukkah! by  Roni Schotter, sing The Dreidel Song, color the flag of Israel and eat latkes.

Our last stop will be Africa where we will discuss Kwanzaa.  We will read My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz, color a kinara and eat bananas, oranges and apples.
Click here to see this book.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Gingerbread Man Visits Students!

A while back we were exhibiting at a kindergarten convention and a teacher came by and told us about this great Gingerbread Man activity she did with her class. The Gingerbread Man would visit student's homes and spend time with them . . . the students would record what they did in a journal and bring it back to school to share with the class. We are assuming this takes several weeks for each student to have a turn. Kind of like what you would do with Flat Stanley. We took that idea a tweaked it a bit:)

The students will all make their own Gingerbread Man (from our Winter Theme Pack) this week.
Each student will take their own Gingerbread Man, plus a blank post card and letter with an explanation of what to do for the "host" family. The student will keep the Gingerbread Man with them for the entire week. The letter encourages the host family to take the Gingerbread Man with them to share about places they visit in the community. The students are to fill out the postcard and either draw an illustration or add a photograph of their time together and return to class to share. Once the students have shared we will display the Gingerbread Men and postcards on a bulletin board.  Can't wait to begin!

 Click here to get both of these freebies!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Feast

Here are a few pictures from our feast today.  We had all the turkey ingredients on the table and the students served themselves family style.  Making the turkey was fun and it kept the students engaged.  Each turkey was so unique.  What a wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


This is a great new free app that we just found.  You can make digital story books with your class.  This is a sample book we made for Thanksgiving.  We took a picture of each student and then recorded their voice saying what they are thankful for.  When we finished our story, we uploaded it to the StoryKit web server and they e-mailed us a link that we forwarded to all of our parents.   Our students and parents absolutely LOVED it!

Another great feature is that you can  illustrate stories by drawing on the screen or you can take pictures of student drawings to create a story.   They even allow you to rewrite and rearrange a few classic books like The Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winter Sale at Kinder Learning Garden!
Come see these products and more:

The Gingerbread Man Book
Happy Chinese New Year Book
Winter Holidays Around the World Book
America I Love You Book
Winter Theme Pack
Math Homework Set 2 (available in Spanish)
Theme Homework Set 2 (available in Spanish)
Writing Homework Folder (available in Spanish)
Word Family Flip Books
Sight Word Bingo

Go here to visit our store.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Snacks

These Thanksgiving snacks are too cute!  We are going to have our students make these for our Thanksgiving Feast we are having next week.   We will make sure to take pictures and show you how it all turns out.  Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Patterns in Nature

Our art teacher did an art lesson on patterns in nature today. 
First, the kids looked at artwork from 2 artists. Then they sketched their own leaves in their journals paying special attention to adding details like the veins.

Georgia O'Keefe

Andy Goldsworthy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Technology Resources for Thanksgiving

Here are 3 great technology resources for teaching about Thanksgiving! 
If you have a SmartBoard it's even better!

Scholastic has partnered with and has created a site with videos and interactive activities to do with students.

Here is a great interactive from where the students become the historians and learn about life in the past from a Wampanoag boy and Pilgrim girl.

Lastly, with Google Earth your students can virtually "fly" from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fantastic Apps for Teachers

Last weekend we attended the CUE (Computer Using Educator) Conference in Los Angeles. 
We attended 3 workshops and came away with some great ideas!

Here are 2 great apps for the iphone that we have already started using this week in our classroom:

This app allows you to "check for understanding" without having to write students names on sticks and keep in a can. You can assign each child an ELD level or a Bloom's Taxonomy level for a list of questions to ask the student if needed.  Also, there is an option to keep track of whether a student answers correctly or not. 
Love this app!

We just made our very first book using this and emailed it to our student's families. All you have to do is take pictures using your phone, choose the photos you want, add written or recorded text and voila you have a book! The students were doing a great job writing "the" sentences on their dry erase boards today and we wanted to share it with the families so what we did was not technically a "book" but such an easy way to share good happenings in class with families.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Four Seasons

T Chart


The students sorted the picture cards.
We love to use different kinds of thinking maps with our students throughout the year.  They work well because they are great visual tools for kindergartners.  A great place to introduce students to this kind of tool is with the letters of the alphabet.  We spend 2 to 3 days working on one letter at a time.  We sort picture cards that begin with the sound, brainstorm words and then we have the students show us what they have learned by making a web of the letter.  We leave our class brainstorming web up for students who need a little extra support.  However, most students are able to come up with their own words and they will amaze you.  This year we have a very high class so we decided to extend their thinking and have them use a T chart and compare two different letters.  You can click here and to get our T-chart freebie.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaching Syllables

Students use dot paint to count the number of syllables.

Syllable Center
We have been working really the hard the past 2 weeks on breaking words into syllables.  We started by teaching our students syllable blending.  They would listen to the word parts and blend them together to say the word.  For example, shore, line would become shoreline.  Then we taught them syllable segmentation in which they distinguished the word parts.  The two word parts of shoreline are shore and line.  Last we have been working on syllable deletion.  We would give students a word like shoreline and they would delete the first syllable and tell us the word line.  As a review, we have been using Dr. Jean's song called Clap the Syllables on her Totally Reading CD.  The students really enjoy listening to her sing one, two and three syllable words and clapping along.  We created this fun center where students can see their friends pictures and use dot paint to count the number of syllables in their names.  You can get this syllable center freebie on our website by clicking here.  We also have a syllable homework where the students write the names of the members of their family and count how many syllables are in their names. 

Assessing Kindergarten Students


This week we have started assessing our students for the first trimester report card.   Assessing kindergarten students can be a long and tiresome task.   We started using ESGI two years ago and absolutely love it.  ESGI is a software tool that was created by a kindergarten teacher to assess students.  It is easy to use and it helps you to assess your students at a faster pace.  One of our favorite parts is that after you are done assessing your students, you can print out letters that explain to parents exactly what their child has mastered and what they need to continue to work on. We have had so many parents comment on how much they like knowing what areas to work on with their child.  Parent communication is key when it comes to a students success and ESGI makes it effortless.  We highly recommend you try ESGI.  If you click on any of the ESGI links in this section, it will take you to our friends page and you click on the ESGI logo to watch their 3 minute video.  We know you will love it just as much as we do!


Students painted trees with brown paint first. Once the trees were dry, they used the technique of pointillism (like the painter Seurat) but instead of brushes we used the eraser ends of pencils to make our dots.

Student Made Winter and Spring Pages