Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Super Jonny {how to help sick parents}

I'm often asked to do book, website or activity reviews and I pass on most of them.  But this little guy, Jonny, got my attention.  His mom is sick and he wants to help.  A little guy who wants to help others?  You tell me that doesn't remind you of any little kids you know.  I just couldn't pass him up.
One of my coworkers was diagnosed with cancer, went into remission and was rediagnosed within the last two school years.  She's a teacher, mom of two, and all around amazing woman.  I tried to read this book from the perspective of her son and daughter who are in this situation.  I admittedly put it off for a while because this topic can be scary and hard to breach.  But when I finally got the courage to read it, I let out a sigh of relief because it was just...nice.
What Does Super Jonny do when Mom Gets Sick by Simone Colwill starts by introducing Jonny as a superhero - what kid doesn't relate with that?! - with his sidekick bear, whose next mission is to help his mom.  As the hospital staff is introduced to the reader, Jonny shares his superhero tools with them and they explain how their equipment is similar to the tools he uses.  As the pages turn, the text and illustrations are both upbeat and simple in a way that is inviting instead of intimidating.  While the illustrations are realistic {mom laying in bed, hooked up to an IV}, the hospital setting and staff are portrayed as friendly instead of scary.  It teaches in a way that is basic enough for young readers but would also provide conversation starters for older children who may have questions for their parents but not know where to start.  By the end, after Jonny has exhausted all of his ideas, he learns that he doesn't need to do anything super to help his mom feel better but be there for her.  It's a sweet story about the power of a child's love that would be a great read for any child who is dealing with a sick parent.  The story is also versatile in that it never depicts a specific illness or injury so it would be helpful for multiple situations.

As a teacher, I love that Simone has included guide notes in the back.  These would be helpful for parents reading this book to their own children or for teachers to use in the classroom.  Often when one of our students goes through something traumatic {be it an illness, death, fire, or loss of any kind} we try as teachers to find a way to give enough information to the rest of the students that they can be sympathetic and understanding without going into any frightening details of what could be a very adult situation.  This book's simplicity and guide notes in the back would be perfect to help teachers or social workers engage a student's classmates in a discussion of what their friend is going through and answer any tough - but real - questions they may have.

The guide notes would also help get your students thinking about how to help others.  So if there's a sick teacher, child or community member in your lives instead of a sick parent, it would still be a great jumping point to teach empathy.  It would help your kids try to understand emotions from someone else's point of view as they brainstorm ways to help.

If you are, or know someone who is, a sick parent there is also a great list of ideas of things that you can do as the parent to help your child go through the illness as well.  Since Simone has Crohn's disease, this information comes from first-hand experience and is practical.  It would be a great book for friends or parents who are in this unfortunate situation.  You can get your copy from SickMom.org or Amazon.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ouch! Owww!!!

Teaching all of these sounds is new to me.  I taught short and long vowels in kindergarten and would do some often found spellings like double vowels, ing and the standard digraphs but our 1st grade curriculum has like 73 sound spellings to teach.  What the what?!  I can barely remember the difference between a digraph and a diphthong let alone all of the rules for when a consonant makes a soft sound.  Whew!  Thank goodness for Pinterest...a few of my own good ideas.  ;)

We taught the /ou/ & /ow/ spelling this week and I used these anchor charts from The Teacher Wife.

Then I wrote both spellings on band-aids and let the kids put them wherever they wanted.  Warning: all day long, people will be saying to you "You hurt your head?!  What happened?  Oh no!"  But hey, at least the kids will remember.  And whoever said teaching meant not making a fool of yourself?

I'll have to do these cute Ouchie Owie lists from First Grade Wow next year!

Be careful OUt there!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cosmic Yoga for Inside Recess

Rain, snow, the mud after rain or snow, freezing temperatures...I feel like indoor recess happens a lot more in the winter.  I love letting my kids play in fun centers {blocks, legos, puppets and other things they don't usually get to play with} but sometimes I like to change it up.  My kids like having a dance party with Just Dance Kids on YouTube but new favorite is Cosmic Yoga!

The girl on the videos is named Jamie and she is adorable.  I mean, I'll listen to anyone with an accent, but she really makes the yoga fun.  The backgrounds change and she takes the kids on an adventure every time.  She goes to different countries, looking for different animals and teaching little tidbits as she goes.

The videos last between 15-25 minutes so if I pick one for inside recess we usually still have time for a dance party or something more high energy afterward.  But trust me, your kids will like this.  Even the boys.  Even the ones who won't dance.  Even the ones who are too cool to have fun.  They're mesmerized by her!  It's too cute.  :)

If you really get into it she has other little video clips, too.  She posts a new yoga pose demonstration every week {although you don't really need to know anything because she demonstrates and explains everything well in her adventures}.

She also posts little meditation videos.  This one was about helping kids recognize and name their feelings as she talks to them about wanting to know what is inside a treasure chest and how the feelings change once she opens it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Crayola SALE {limited time!}

Crayola is having another MAJOR sale on Zulily.  This time instead of just art accessories like crayon aprons and table/chair sets {which they still have} they actually have crayons and markers and colored pencils on sale!  I.E....the stuff we use every day!!

If you've never checked out Zulily, take 10 seconds to create an account.  They really won't hound you with emails.  I actually don't get any emails except for the shops I've favorited - like Crayola.  ;)

There are a lot of things in the sale.  Click on any of the pictures to go to the sale page.  In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite highlights.  And act quick - these sales only last for a few days!
I looooove the multicultural flesh crayons.  We use them with every project.  And we draw ourselves a lot in kindergarten!  I've also posted before about how much I love the construction paper crayons that practically glow on even black paper.  I am getting these for sure!

Yes, it's winter, but when it's actually spring and warm enough to go outside and play with these cool chalk things, will any of these outside lovelies be on sale?  Definitely not.  Ordering NOW!!

I really like these big activity books for my students for a few different things.  I've given them away as Christmas or End of the Year gifts before.  I also like to have them on hand for the end of the year when the big kids are testing for days on end and we have to be quiet and stay in the classroom.  Since the pages are oversized, they get to lay on the floor and color.  They love it, it's somewhat quiet and they're busy in case you need to start taking anything down.  ;)  Princess for girls, Ninja Turtles for boys and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Bubble Guppies for your own littles at home.  There are other options too.  Check out the sale!

I love this easel and it's almost 50% off!  There's a chalk side, a paper holder, a dry erase magnetic side and a supply tray.  Check out the product listing on the sale page.  So awesome.

Click any of the pictures to see more of the Crayola sale.  It's only going on for a few days!!  I can't wait to smell those new crayons!!!!!!!!!!  :)

Monday, January 19, 2015

super. simple. snowmen.

Last week we compared fiction & non-fiction with snowmen.

The first day we read Snowmen at Night & made an anchor chart about the elements of fiction stories.  {they have illustrations, make-believe elements, a problem/solution, a beginning middle & end, characters and you read it just for fun}

The next day we read How To Make a Snowperson on Reading A-Z and made an anchor chart about the elements of non-fiction stories.  {they have photographs, teach you something, don't have to be read in order, may have a table of contents, labels, etc}

Then we wrote on snowballs to show what we learned!  On the top snowball, they wrote to tell how they know that Snowmen at Night is fiction.  On the bottom snowball, they wrote to tell how they know that How to Make a Snowperson is non-fiction.  The middle snowball was optional and used as differentiation for students who finished quickly or I knew could be challenged with thinking on the next level.  They wrote about whether they like to read fiction or non-fiction books in general, while providing a reason, of course.

Then I got out the scrap bucket of construction paper and let them go to town with hats, gloves, boots, arms, bows or whatever they wanted to create!

They're super cute hanging in the hallway and I figured you'd think so, too. Click the picture below for your free snowball template download!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Base 10 {knowing you're ready to trade in}

I'm really working on building number sense with my kids this year.  I've beefed up my calendar and am working in more counting, grouping and just thinking about what numbers mean.  My 1st graders are able to count base 10 blocks in front of them but the wording of the standardized tests threw them {don't get me started} so I decided to have them dive in and look at grouping as much as possible.  In the words of Mr. Wonka himself, we're going sideways, slantways, longways and backways with place value.

One station was to take a Base 10 card and write the number.  I got these for free from TpT.

Another station was the reverse skill where they chose a number and had to build it.  If they could figure out then tens and ones by looking at the number I let them do that.  But the kids who still need some place value help had to count out the ones and then make groups of ten to trade in.

A third similar, but still different, station was to choose a dot card, count the amount and build it.

And then there was that group of little kinders that just. didn't. get it.  I even made up a little jingle about trading for a 10 but hey, if you can't count to ten, it doesn't do much good to sing, am I right?  :)  So for these little babies, I made a workmat.  And it made all the difference in the world!

Here we are, actually working through it as a group.  I picked a number and we all counted it out as ones.  Once we had the right amount, we filled up the ones on our workmat and pushed them over to the ten outline to double check that we had enough to trade in.  After I checked, they traded their 10 ones by giving them to me and receiving a ten stick.  Then they finished putting the rest of their ones on the workmat and we counted by adding on.  {10...ll, 12, 13}

The next day, they practiced without me {sshhhh...kind of} with these color coded baggies I made.  They chose a bag practiced just counting one to one and knowing when there were enough to trade in for a 10 stick.

You can download your free workmat by clicking the yellow picture above or this picture of it below. There are actually a few options.  I preferred to have my ones all scattered but there is also a workmat with the ones in an array of two rows of five.  Then both of those pages are also duplicated with a place for two 10s in case you want to be able to work on teen numbers.

Let me know if these help you out!  I have a feeling it'll be a regular tool in my room for a while.  :)  Happy trading in!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Friendship writing {Valentines, MLK or just because you're special}

I knew I wanted something to start the new year on the right foot.  As tight as my class is this year, everyone can use a reminder of how awesome they are, right adults?  ;)  So I read "The Crayon Box That Talked" and we talked about how each of us is unique just like the crayons.  It was super fun this year because I have twins in my class.  I held up 2 blue crayons that looked the same on the outside but when I colored with them, they were different shades of blue.  The kids immediately pointed my twin girls out as those 2 colors.  So cute.

But instead of having the kids think about how themselves, I put everybody's name in a bowl and they picked one out.  We talked about how fun it can be to have a secret and be able to surprise a friend so most of them made the long 24 hours without telling.  We drew the names after reading the book but didn't write until the next day so they'd have plenty of time to watch their secret person and see what makes them really special.  The next day, they revealed their secret friend and wrote about what makes them special.

We used this as a class bonding activity but I'm going to keep them hanging up for a while because it goes along perfectly with Martin Luther King {and the spirit of getting along with everyone} as well as Valentine's Day and sharing the love.

We just wrote on notebook paper but if you prefer to have an outline, I have two free downloads for you.  One has a picture space and one is just lines.  You don't have to do anything as a trade, just sharing the love!

You are ALL special!  Thanks for reading & loving on your kiddos.

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