Love These Apple Seasons Murals!

There are many wonderful things about being a kindergarten teacher and one of my favorite ones is that we can use paint for assessment! My students were given the task of painting a mural of the seasons of an apple tree.

I have 4 tables in my classroom which works perfectly for the four seasons. Each table was given the task of painting a tree in a way that exhibited the qualities of the tree during a specific season. I sketched the trunk to give them a frame of reference and then told them to work together with their group to make a plan as to how to paint their tree.
It was so much fun to see them put their heads together and make a decision! This was their four seasons assessment!

Hanging next to our four seasons mural are our Johnny Appleseeds and stained glass apples! The Johnny Appleseed craft is based on this packet from Peace, Love, and Learning!

Catholic Sign of the Cross Prayer Buddy craft

Hello Friends,
  I thought that I would share a project that we did in religion. Our lesson this week was on prayer. We discussed why we pray, how we pray, and who hears our prayers. We talked about different ways of praying such as praying a group prayer where everyone says the same words or simply talking to Jesus in our own words.
  Each year when I teach the Sign of the Cross, I have little ones who struggle with what hand to use and what direction to go. There are tons of color sheets around that show the order of the Sign of the Cross, but color sheets just are not enough. I have tried attaching a colored dot to the right hand of my students and that works great for teaching left and right, but some little ones continue to struggle with crossing their body on the holy part of the prayer.
So....... Drumroll, please..... I think I came up with a hands-on project to teach this tricky prayer. My student made a paper person do the Sign of the Cross! I call it "My Prayer Buddy." Now, when we practice the Sign of the Cross, all I have to say is "Remember when we say holy, we go all the way across our body." I also tell my student that when we say holy, it is like we are giving ourselves a "holy hug!"

Here are the directions:
1. Cut a 12" x 18" piece of construction paper lengthwise to create the body. Fold in half. 

2.  Cut paper strips lengthwise from a 12: x 18: piece of construction paper. You will get four strips.
3.  Open up the body and glue the arms under the crease. Glue the top flap to the bottom flap.  

4.  For the hands, I pre-cut skin colored ovals, but you could also have your students trace and cut out their own hands. Attach hands to the ends of the arms.
5.  Use skin colored paper to create a circle head. Attach the head to the folded part of the body. Add facial features and hair.  

6.  Attach the words to the proper places on the paper buddy.
7.  Attach a sticker dot to the right hand of the prayer buddy. This would be the right hand when they are holding their buddy in front of them.  

8.  Children hold their prayer buddy in front of them and do the Sign of the Cross. Yay! It works! The little hands also come together for AMEN.

Click HERE to download the words and template for the head.


Behavior Management Linky Party!

What the Teacher Wants is doing a Linky Party for Managing Classroom Behavior! I started my Puppy Behavior Management system when school started a few weeks ago and it is working great! The kids LOVE earning doggie paws and eagerly look forward to "feeding" our puppy at the end of every day! Click on the puppy image to revisit my post from August. Then click on the"What the Teacher Wants" image to get some more great ideas for behavior management!

Apple Pies!

  Oh gosh, a week has gone by since I last posted here! I was talking to a friend of mine today and related the fact that when I first started teaching long ago, I would come home totally wiped out on Friday. My roommate was a nurse and many, many Fridays she would come home and find me sound asleep on the couch! She could not believe that my job was more physically exhausting than hers and would often shake her head over my Friday after school naps! Well, I STILL continue to need those Friday after-school naps! My favorite TGIF activity is changing into comfy clothes, collapsing on the couch, waking up, ordering pizza and watching a Netflix movie!
  So, I am guessing that part of the reason that I am so tired is that my students and I made apple pie today! I do not have an aide and I made this decision late last night so there was no time to get a parent volunteer, so I was on my own with 17 sweet kinders!

  We read "The Apple Pie Tree" by Zoe Hall last week.  There are so many ways to use "The Apple Pie Tree". The first thing we did was talk about the seasons of the apple tree.The children made an apple tree seasons book. I found this great You Tube video that sings the seasons of the apple tree. Here is one of my little kinders holding up the cover of her seasons book.
At the end of the story, the children make apple pie with their mother. So that is what we did today! We did not use the recipe at the end of the book; although it looks yummy! Instead we made this abbreviated version!

You need:
Flaky biscuits - one for each child
Mini aluminum pans - one for each child
Apple pie filling
Cinnamon sugar
Plastic spoons - one for each child
Waxed paper
A place to bake the pies

1.  Separate the biscuit into 2 parts. Put one part on waxed paper. Set aside the other part.
2.  Students use the palm of their hand to pound the biscuit. I tell them to use their palm; not their fist!
3.  Place the flat biscuit in the bottom of the pie pan.
4.  Children scoop pie filling into the pan using plastic spoons.

5.  Using the set aside biscuit half, spread over the top of the pie filling.
6. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 - 17 minutes.

 When the pies cooled, the children glued a construction paper apple onto a white paper bag and we closed the bag with a staple. The children took them home, so I cannot tell you whether they enjoyed them or not! I told them to take them home and share with their family!
 I was lucky because I could use our church kitchen to bake the pies. But another alternative would be to use a toaster oven in your classroom. If you had helpers, you could ask them to take care of the baking which would be even better!

Until next time!

Peace and blessings,

Kevin Henkes inspired Projects for teaching Kindness

I have the good fortune of working with 2 wonderful kindergarten co-partners! Because of our partnership, it is so much fun putting our heads together to come up with something fun and educational for our kinder classes. This week we wanted to start the year off right by teaching and discussing ways to get along. Of course this is not a new concept for the beginning of school! But we wanted to put a twist on it by using children's literature and attaching a "craftivity" to it. Since we teach in a Catholic school, we actually used these activities for our religion lessons this week, but they can be used in any school setting, of course!

We started the week by reading "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes. This was our second time reading this story. The first time I used it to discuss the specialness of each of our names. The second time I read it, we talked about how words can hurt as much as hands. I am sure that many of you do this activity: Have a paper heart ready when you begin to read the story. Every time the children in the story make fun of Chrysanthemum's name, crumple a part of the heart. When the story is finished, show your students the heart and ask what they think should be done to repair the heart. When someone says to say "I'm sorry", put a band-aid over the heart and ask how the heart looks now. The children should realize that even saying "I'm sorry" doesn't fully repair the damage made when mean words are said to one another. Words hurt and we must think before saying them. Saying I'm sorry is the band-aid needed to heal the hurt that the mean words caused.

The second Kevin Henkes inspired story that we used was "Lily's Purple Plastic Purse". In this story, Lily draws a mean picture of her teacher and then feels badly for what she has done and writes a note to her teacher saying "I'm sorry!" Her teacher forgives her and Lily learns how wonderful it feels to be forgiven.

We decided to have our students create Lily and her purple plastic purse. We added words to the paper that said "We read the story of Lily and Her Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. We learned that saying I'm sorry and asking for forgiveness makes us feel wonderful inside!"

When I do step-by-step drawing and cutting with my students, I usually project the steps onto my Promethean. This makes is easy to keep up with the steps and follow along. By the end of the year, all I have to do is project the steps onto my board and my students simply look at them and create their project. We are not there yet, of course, this early in the school year! I do the project along with my students one step at a time demonstrating how to make shapes from different sized rectangles. This Lily project took us about an hour to do. That is a long time, I know, but at the beginning of the school year, things just take longer to complete!

Here are some examples of their work. I think they did very good for this early in the year! Oh, by the way, I traced and cut out Lily's head and body - we aren't THAT advanced! :) If you would like the Lily activity, click here.

If you would like more ideas for teaching kids to be peaceful, I have a "Peaceful Kid" character education packet available. Click on the picture to take you there!

Until next time! Blessings,

Our Pete Fun!

   MANY kindergartens are doing PETE THE CAT activities and I decided to join the fun and do a Pete activity, too! I have to say that I did not expect my kinders to be so totally absorbed in this story! I read the book to them first and we did the activity. Then today, I showed them the You Tube video and I WISH that I could show you how much they LOVED the video! They were singing and repeating the words - what fun! I especially like the moral of the story which is (in my opinion!)..... to not worry when things don't go your way; just accept them and keep walking along!  
    So...... we made a paper Pete the Cat. Of course, this type of activity is all over the internet! This is just my interpretation of what everyone else is doing! Plus, to my wonderful kinder parents who read my blog, this is a fun way for you to see what your children did this week! :)
   This is only the 8th day of school for my little kinders, so I really was impressed with what they did! Of course, this activity took us about an hour to complete! We have been studying shapes and learning that you can make shapes from other shapes. The only shapes that they received were different sized rectangles. We looked at the rectangles and discussed how we could turn them into ovals, circles, and triangles. I showed them this step-by-step drawing (which I imported onto my Promethean board) and we took each step one by one. They did not cut out their shoes, though. I cut shoes in many colors and they chose which colors they wanted and glued them onto the bottom of Pete's legs. If you want this step-by-step document, click the picture!

    I am excited with their work and am looking forward to many more fun projects!
    Thank you to Melanie, From the Pond, for the BEAUTIFUL Chevron borders! Click on the image below to get them for yourself!