Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fire Safety Month

The firefighters came for a visit today, and what a gift that was to a group of kindergartners!  

They give the kids a tour of the fire truck and show them all of the important tools.

They make sure to show the kids that the firefighters and just regular guys inside of their suits.  They want the kids to know that in an emergency, the firefighters are not someone to be afraid of, even if their suits look scary.

It is always an awesome presentation and we feel so lucky to have the firefighters come every year.  We always learn so much!

Ok, friends, now go change those smoke detector batteries.

Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies in Kindergarten

Our first baking project was completed this week!  The kids make chocolate chip cookies and they tasted AWESOME!  

A few years ago I posted a project on Donors Choose.  Donors Choose is a website dedicated to helping teachers raise funds for classroom projects.  I really wanted to buy a convection oven for projects in the classroom.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my own children and wanted to provide the kindergartners with some of those same experiences.  I had an oven in my former building and loved the curriculum tie-ins that happened in our cooking/baking unit.  Well, I'm happy to say that our cooking cart was funded within a week!  The oven was delivered to our classroom and we've been baking ever since.

Both of our full day kindergarten classes made chocolate chips cookies this week.  We tasted (in small quantities) the different types of sugar.  We smelled the vanilla.  We measured, mixed, scooped, and baked.  There were some new vocabulary words introduced and we read books about cooking.  We even dove into real cookbooks and looked for different text features.  At the end of the day, kids wrote how-to's telling how we made the cookies.  WOW!  That's a lot of work for a 5 or 6 year old!

Here's the recipe, if you want to try making these with your kids at home.

1 Cup Crisco shortening (original, not butter flavor)
3/4 Cup brown sugar
3/4 Cup white sugar
Mix until soft and fluffy.

2 Eggs
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix just until blended.

Dry ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
Mix it up and add a package of chocolate chips.

Bake for 10 minutes (or less) on 350 degrees. My home oven is a standard oven, not convection, and this is what I do.

True confession time:  I make these at least once a week at my house.  (I can't believe I just admitted that!)

Happy baking!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

We Need Pressed Leaves

Fall is in full swing and the leaves are showing off a bit.  I really love the beautiful leaves... but who doesn't?  Driving through the mountains this weekend reminded me that it's time to start leaf collecting.   We use leaves in the classroom for math, art, science, and literacy connections.  When I ask kids to bring leaves to the classroom, they are usually GREAT collectors, but the only way we can use these leaves for our projects is when they are pressed.  Pressing leaves is very simple and doesn't take up a lot of space. (Flower petals work well too, if you happen to be the owner of a flower shop or have flowers in your yard.)

I usually start with a couple of paper towels on the table, and then I set a few leaves on top.

Next, you set a paper towel on top of the leaves and another layer of leaves is set on top of that towel.

I keep layering as many paper towels and leaves as I can, and then put a big stack of books on top.  They need to sit like this for several days so they become dry and flat. Once they are pressed and dry, I store them in an OPEN container or ziploc bag.  There will still be a tiny bit of moisture in the leaves, so you don't want to close them up and grow mold.  That's a science experiment I'd rather not do right now.  

I would love it if each child could collect and press 50 leaves.  We are looking for a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors!  Thanks for your help!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Busy Kindergartners

We have been so busy in kindergarten over the past 3 weeks.  We have spent a lot of time building, creating, exploring, learning rules, and learning how to take care of materials in our classroom.

The kids have been so creative and we are really learning what it means to be a member of a community.

Sometimes we need to work together to create things we couldn't have done alone.

We've been working on getting our hand muscles ready to work.

Droppers are awesome to use as little pinchers.

We practiced cutting skills and just cut as much paper as we could.

We used tweezers to pick up toys from the sensory bins.

We used our lacing cards to practice fine motor skills.

Clay is my favorite tool for building muscles in our hands. It's much harder to work with than playdough and gives your hands a real workout!

We've been practicing writing our letters and numbers too!

As I said, we've been busy in kindergarten.  The activities of the day move quickly and we are learning SO much every day!

Happy learning!

Monday, September 18, 2017


I'd like to introduce you to Peanut!  She is our classroom turtle.  She's a 30 year old box turtle and she came to school for the first time today.

The first day that peanut joined us, we spent some time touching her and feeling her shell.  After that, we washed our hands very well and agreed to let Peanut have her space and just look without touching.

The kids love to sit by Peanut and watch her move around.  She's much more active than I expected a turtle to be.

Her favorite spot is her water basin.  She loves to sit in the water and watch the kids or dunk her head under water for a little bath.

I was surprised to find out that a big Rubbermaid container was the ideal habitat for Box Turtles.  We have some coconut shavings at the bottom, a basin for water, and different lights to keep her warm.

This is only my second school year with Peanut and I'm learning that she is very picky.  She doesn't like vegetables, but love bananas.  She likes crunchy bugs, like rolly polly bugs and meal worms.  She'll eat garden worms only when they look really yummy.

We love having Peanut in the classroom and look forward to continuing our inquiry of turtles and their needs!

Happy learning! 

Getting to Know Materials

The beginning of kindergarten is such a magical time!  The kids are diving in and really getting to know their way around the classroom.  They are always so excited and curious to find out what they can explore.  At the beginning of the year, we are careful to add new activities slowly.  

Play time (also called Centers) is a great time to build cooperation skills, but we also encourage the story-telling aspect.

Playdough is great for building the important muscles in our fingers and is a staple in the kindergarten classroom!

We love art!  We've just started introducing  new types of paint.  Ask your child if they remember The Dot.  It was a book we read this week and we'll be painting lots of dots soon!

The kids LOVE building with Polydrons.  We have these in many classrooms and kids have opportunities to build 3D shapes.

We are learning to build and play with our math manipulatives.  Soon we will be using these for lots of math stations.

Our home center is one of the favorites.  Kids play house, coffee shop, and restaurant.  They make up their stories as they go along.

We are getting to know our materials in the classroom and we're showing that we know how to be respectful!

Happy learning!

Friday, September 8, 2017

These are some quotes that were gathered during our family connection meetings.  We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed hearing them and meeting the wonderful people who said them!

I'm very interested in the moon, but I'm not going to outer space.
I like Nutella, tuna, and South Lake Pizza.
Two fives are 10. Two threes are 6. Two tens are 20.
I have two dogs, Luna and Cinnamon.
I love dogs because I love to pick them up.
I can count to 10 in Spanish.
Look at my pattern!
Also, I like to play with my big set houses.
She lives in Minnesota.  There's tons of houses there.
We play I de-clare-war, and Slapjack.
Flag of America!
I really know how to do stuff.
Also, we have Full House.
10...11...12...Hey look I found a shark!
Be a worker.
What will help you when you feel frustrated? - Dancing