Learning about the Life Cycle of Butterflies

My students are loving our Spring units because we get in a bit more science and social studies, so they get to be a bit more active and enjoy the outdoors. We went on a bug hunt during our insect unit and they loved using magnifying glasses to find the bugs. We are working on butterflies now, which means we get to use one of my favorite books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. They think it's so funny to watch him eat all that food and get so fat.  

This story is a great way to learn about life cycles and work on sequencing. When I made these scrambled sentences this time, I added some sequencing words at the beginning to help them work on this concept. 
We use this style of flip book during our Fairy Tale units, so they know how to use them to retell a story. This time we used it for the sequencing of a butterfly life cycle. 
Can you tell we ware really working on sequencing with this book? I added these cards to our pocket chart station along with a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Students take turns retelling the story (using the book if needed), and the other kids can build the sentence on the pocket chart. 
For more story sequencing practice, my students cut out all of the food that the hungry caterpillar ate and glued in under the correct day. Now they can retell the story and lift the flap to show what food was on that day.
You know my class likes to play "war" so I added these cards to one of their math centers.
 You can find all of these games and more in my Butterflies Literacy and Math Unit. 
During our unit we make a hungry caterpillar craft and coffee filter butterflies. Since we've already had another unit on insects, I kept some of their ladybugs and bees so we could make one big bulletin board titled "Don't Bus Us, We're Learning".   
In the past, I have bought the butterfly garden, so we could watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. By the time I remembered to buy the kit, I knew it'd be too late to wait for the caterpillars to come in. I need to be more prepared for next year! I did find it at ToysRUs for only $13 if you are looking for one. 

End of the Year - Balloon Popping Countdown to Summer

I'm sure you're already counting down the days until your Summer vacation, but have you started a countdown with your students yet? I have done this "Popping Into 1st Grade" bulletin board for the past 3 years and my students ABSOLUTELY LOVE it. I'll admit it...I have a lot of fun with it too and love seeing the excitement on their face each morning as they wait on the whole class to arrive so we can pop the next balloon.

I start my countdown the last 20 days of school and put this bulletin board in the hallway so the whole school can count down with us! I fill each balloon with an activity written on a small piece of paper. I made the clown the old school way - tracing it onto bulletin board paper using my projector and then coloring it. :) This bulletin board keeps my kiddos engaged throughout the rest of the year, because I tell them that if they don't make good choices, they can't participate in the special activity for the day. Yes, I've actually made students sit out and watch everyone else have fun because they weren't making good choices = mean teacher. LOL!
Below are pictures of a few of the activities included. We typically do the activities during our "free play" time at the end of the day, so they aren't losing any instructional time. Well, let's be honest, how much are they really paying attention anyway during instructional time the last 20 days? This day was "use sidewalk chalk day."
We had a "read outside day" and another day was "read with another class". They enjoyed both of these! It was fun going into another teacher's room and getting to pair up with those kiddos and sit wherever they wanted to in that room. 
"Crazy craft day" was a favorite because I dug out a TON of random craft supplies and just let them go to town. They could make anything they wanted with whatever they wanted. For my OCD self, this was a bit hard to watch!
The game below is called "Drip, Drip, Drop" and was probably the class's favorite activity that was in a balloon. I learned this game when I was a camp counselor in college and have introduced this game to all 4 schools I've taught in because it's just that much fun!  Our schools have been doing it during the End of the Year field day. 

This game is similar to Duck, Duck, Goose--just add water! Kids go around and squeeze a tiny bit of water out and say "Drip" on each kid. When they want someone to tag and chase them, they squeeze more water on that kid's head and say "Drop!!!" then start running. This game is so much fun, especially on a HOT day!! I'm in charge of filling the sponge so the kids don't get totally soaked. :)
Doesn't this popping balloons idea sound like a blast? Guess what??? You can grab a list of 25 activities and a clown to trace FREE in my TPT store.  I'd love to hear if you end up doing this in your class!
We actually put up one more countdown inside our classroom because getting through our first year of school is just so exciting! I have each kid in my class make a flower and then we take a flower off each day. 
Just curious, how many days of school do you have left? 

Let's Learn About Earth Day and a FREEBIE

It's almost Earth Day! It falls on a Wednesday this year (April 22nd).  To celebrate, we do crafts, writing, and bring in a guest speaker to teach us more about how to take care of the Earth! I wanted to share with you what we did last year, so you'll have some time to plan activities for next week. 
Last year we made an Earth craft out of coffee filters and turned it into a bulletin board! I'm sure you've seen this craft before, but in case you haven't, here's the simple directions! 
Supplies you need:
-coffee filters
-spray bottle filled with water
-construction paper 

First, students color a coffee filter using blue and green markers. I typically put a big picture of the Earth on our board so students can try to make it look like the Earth. 
Next, they will use the spray bottle to soak the coffee filter so the colors start to blend together. I use a box, because the marker will bleed onto the table underneath. Let these dry. 
While they are drying, students can trace, color, and cut their hands out of construction paper. Next, they will glue them so they are "hugging" the Earth. 
Use this FREE writing prompt for students to write about how they can help the Earth. {find the link below}
If you are making this into a bulletin board, attach their coffee filter Earth to their writing. 
You can grab your FREE copy of this writing prompt in my TPT store here!  There are 2 versions of the lined paper depending on your grade level. 
Someone from our community Waste Management Dept. came to our school to do a lesson on recycling. She taught the students some vocabulary first.
She showed us that by recycling, new products can be made from old products.  Here are a few items she brought in that are made from recyclable products. 
She brought in a bag of trash and had the students work on sorting it into trash and recycling. It's always fun to have a guest speaker come in, especially one that can make things age appropriate for Kindergarteners! 

Kindergarten Career Day with a FREEBIE

I know many of us K teachers do some kind of unit on our community in the Spring. At our school, we talk about what a community is, how to help our community, and jobs in our community. Of course students always want to talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Since this is always a favorite topic, my co-workers and I decided to host a Career Day. Even though they are only 5 and 6, we thought it would be a lot of fun to meet people with all different kinds of jobs and see what exactly they do! 
Of course this takes a bit of planning, so we send out notes to parents about a month or so in advance asking if they'd be interested in helping with our Career Day. If we don't get enough volunteers, then we contact places around town ourselves. We ask each person to bring in props that go along with their job and let them know they will talk to many groups of students, but for only about 5-7 minutes  each rotation. (you know Kindergarteners can't sit that long) :) 

We set up about 10-12 stations around the gym and divide the whole Kindergarten into groups. We let each volunteer just do their own thing with the kids at their station. We had such a variety of jobs for the students to experience. Look at all the fun we had!!!!

This mom is a regional manager at McDonalds so she taught the kids how to pack happy meals! She also talked to them about making healthy choices for their kids meals and gave them all a certificate for a FREE happy meal!
This family owns a local Tae Kwon Do so they brought in these GIANT gloves for the kids to fight with. They are so big, many students had to have the volunteer help them hold the gloves up. LOL! They also taught them some cool moves and exercises.
We had the local beauty college bring about 5 girls. They painted nails, did crazy hairdos, and let the kids practice on wigs. This was by far one of their favorite stations!! 
 Even the boys had fun at this station!
This mom is actually my masseuse & a parent volunteer in my room! She brought in her massage chair and would give them a quick back rub or hand rub. I could've stayed there all day!!
This is one of our teacher's husbands and his family owns the local radio station. He let students talk in the microphone and he would change how their voice sounded. He also played some music for us. 
My dad is a doctor and always volunteers for Career Day. He brings in stethoscopes, hair nets, syringes, and blood pressure pumps for the kids to play with. They love giving pretend shots! 
One of our parents is in EMT and they brought EVERY kid a goodie bag of safety tips, pens and notepads!
We grabbed some blocks from our room and let the students pretend to be construction workers. 
This is one of our student's older sister who was able to get out of high school because she could count Career Day toward one of her classes as volunteer hours. She taught the students how to dance. 
Another favorite station was with the police officer. Students got to try out his walkie talkie, see his badge, and get handcuffed if they so chose. 
This day was filled with fun and learning! I know they'll be talking about Career Day for awhile. After our Career Day, I had my class do a writing prompt about what they want to be when they grow up. You can get this writing prompt for FREE by clicking here!!! I have 2 versions of lined paper depending on your grade level. 
This writing in particular was cracking me up, he's excited about getting a gun! I told my students to add details such as what is your job, how do you help the community, where do you work, what are some things you use at your job, etc. Give him credit, he followed directions. :)

Beginning Sounds Activities for Kindergarten Students & New Brain Breaks

I recently made an alphabet bundle to help some of my struggling students that still don't know their whole alphabet. You can read about about how I use my Letter RTI Bundle in my previous post here. Beginning sounds have seemed to come a bit easier for those students, but they still need some extra practice; therefore I created this Beginning Sounds RTI Bundle. The activities in this bundle will give my students the repeated practice they need.
This beginning sounds book can be used as a flip book or you can glue the pages down and make it an interactive notebook. 
For each activity, I try to find a few ways to use it. These worksheets can let kids find the letter that matches the beginning sound in the picture or find the picture that matches the beginning sound shown. 
My students LOVE dice games so I created this simple worksheet that lets students roll the dice, say the sound that letter makes, find a picture with that beginning sound, then color it.
These beginning sounds worksheets can be easily differentiated for your students. You can have students match the letters to the correct picture or matching the pictures to the correct beginning sound. 
Spinner games are always a favorite as well! They have to say what the beginning sound is in the picture they spun before they can color their stars.
I've been busy this week creating new products, so I wanted to share with you my new editable Brain Break cards. I've been using brain breaks for a few years in my classroom. Previously, I had written down ideas on popsicle sticks and kept them in a cup so they were easy to grab. I decided I wanted to spruce them up a bit and make them into cards. I wanted to be able to keep them on a ring and hang them by my rocking chair, but also on the other side of the room by our door. 
There are 30 brain break activities with directions you can print on the back of the cards so even a substitute will know how to use these. I included an editable slide, so you can make up your own brain breaks! Some of the brain breaks are games, songs, stretches, movements, etc. to give your students a chance to get their jitters out!