Friday, June 25, 2010

Magic Mini Books

About 1/2 way through the year I made a mini book for each student.The book is quite easy to make. All you need is a sheet of white computer or typing paper. Fold it in half ("like a hotdog" from top to bottom ) and cut on the fold line. You will only need a half sheet of paper for one book. Take the half sheet of paper(about 4 1/4"x11") and fold in half lengthwise ( so folded paper is about 2 1/8 x 11 "). Fold paper in half again so folded paper is about 5 1/2" long fold again by bringing each end to the middle fold. Paper should then have one long fold along one edge and four squares marked with fold lines.
With scissors cut a very small sliver along the edge fold line from the second and third squares. Open each section and refold pages of book. Hold book by the back (spine) and you should have four double pages. This makes a small book a little smaller than 3 " square.
This is a true test of my descriptive ability. If you are confused or have any questions call me. I did not attempt to have five year olds make the book. I made the book ahead of time and had line drawings dittoed on each page for the students to color. In kindergarten we used the third verse to a song we had learned. For older people you can write lines to a short poem on each page or choose and illustrate your own story.

What I learned: Children like having their own small-sized book and are creative, not overwhelmed to write a story.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Tangrams were used in eastern Asia anciently. Their origin is not known but we used them in Kindergarten for a variety of objectives. I read a book to the students called Grandfather Tang. I think it is more fictional rather than historical but it introduces students to tangrams. It talks about a grandfather who tells a story to his granddaughter and uses tangrams to illustrate each animal in the story. Tangrams are a group of 7 shapes ( e.g. triangle,square and trapezoid.) when put together like a puzzle, form a square. I glued magnets to the back of a set of plastic tangrams and had my aide make each animal in the story so students could see how they could be manipulated.
Afterward I had students make tangram animal pictures from construction paper. First, they were given a set of plastic tangrams for practice. ( These can be purchased at a "teacher store" or other educational outlets.) I have a set of tangram animal outlines and each puzzle requires the creative use of all 7 tangram pieces to fill the animal outline. They are difficult and as I struggled when I modeled them, sometimes it would turn into a lesson on perseverance. An interesting thing that I learned, was that generally students who had an easy time with other "school" tasks, sometimes struggled with the tangram puzzles. Other students who had a different set of visual perception skills found the activity easier and were proud of their success. We don't often use these skills at this level in school. It helped me see who would get frustrated easily.

What I learned: There are lots of ways to find success. We just have to find what the student is good at.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fruit Loop Necklaces

I have made these recently with 6 of the grandkids and they were a hit. Hailey helped me prepare the strings. To do so you just have to dip the ends of a length of yarn ( It needs to be long enough to slip over a child's head easily when the ends are tied together.) in wax about 2-4 in. (I melt old crayons in a rinsed out can set in a pie pan of water on the stove. Caution: Don't turn the heat up high to avoid fires. When wax is cooled on a paper towel, the melted wax makes a sort of needle suitable for threading through macaroni, rigatoni or similar material. (Hint: To dye dry pasta, place in large zip-lock bag with food coloring and a couple T. of alcohol. Close bag and shake. This results in brighter colors.) Dry pasta on paper towels.
This is a great activity to increase fine motor skills.
Two-year-old Jacob called it a caterpillar so you may have to change the name for boys. Because we did this for our 100's Celebration in kindergarten, we put 100 fruit loops on the necklace in groups of ten, changing the color every 10 fruit loops.
Children can eat the cereal off the necklace for a snack when desired. This makes a good snack for hiking on a trail.

Monday, June 7, 2010

1oo's Day

At kindergarten we would add a number to the number line every day. We would count to that number on a bead rack. (Kind of a very large abacus) If our kindergarten students couldn't count, it wasn't for lack of practice. When we reached 100, I carefully shut the classroom door and they could yell the number as loud as they wanted. The next day we had a 100's Day Celebration.
Students were to bring 100 things from home. We discussed how it needed to be something small like pieces of macaroni, dry beans or paper clips. We also discussed the problems we would have if anyone brought something big like 100 elephants. The idea was to get the students to understand the concept of 100 and have them practice counting.
The next day I had the room decorated like a party with crepe paper and balloons. They counted their 100 things from home, made a book with 100 pictures, (Rubber stamps, 10 to each of 10 pages.) and made a snack of 100 things to eat. (I will BLOG tomorrow with instructions.)
When I began teaching kindergarten I started a 100'z club for student's to be in. I had a mother of a "special needs" student say to me,"I wish you had an "Eight's Club". After practcing and practicing, this student made it to 10. I thought about this and changed it to a Counting Club. Each student received a paper ribbon for every 10 numbers they could count. Our goal was to count to 100 still but everyone was in the club. When students reached 100 I held their arms up like a champion and everyone in the class clapped for them. We put everything in groups of ten because counting to 10 was a reachable goal and it is good practice for our American base 10 system.