Thursday, December 29, 2016

Exploring Pushes and Pulls - PLTW

This year I made a career change. One that was a little unexpected, but one that I am thoroughly enjoying. After years of teacher in a preschool setting, in both private and public school, I have taken on the challenge of teaching kindergarten science using the Project Lead The Way curriculum. My district has made a firm commitment to making this program a part of our educational goals from kindergarten through high school. The children are truly enjoying the hands on approach and learning through the engineering design process. Our most recent module explored the uses of pushes and pulls.

By supplying our class with all of the necessary supplies, PLTW has enabled us to create scenarios to help us see and create all of the examples we need to help us understand the concepts of force and motion. After using the game, "Goldie Blox and The Spinning Machine" we were able to re-create some of the scenes featured in the included book and then move on to our own inventions. The video below shows just a small glimpse into what we were able to do. Hopefully I will be adding more examples of the kinds of learning we are all experiencing together with this new and innovative program

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Celebrate Curiosity Day With Curious George

Curious George is my all-time favorite character from children's literature. On September 17, 2017, Curious lovers everywhere will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the very first Curious George book. As part of the celebration, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is sharing a packet of freebies to make your George Celebration even more special. The free downloads include:

- A Curious George curious about reading kit
- A packet of 75th anniversary logos
- Free character art
- A suggested reading list

Click HERE to visit the site and join in the fun.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Book Review - City Fun


City Fun is a simple tale of two friends who make their way through a day in the city enjoying everything there is to see and do. It is written in somewhat of an old style, but the repetition and use of basic sight words is excellent for beginning readers. The illustrations also serve as helpful picture clues. If you are currently using Writer's Workshop with your class this book is an great jumping off point for topic selection. If you are living and/or teaching in an urban setting the children will probably recognize most of what they see on the pages and be able to describe something similar in their own neighborhoods. If the city scenes are something new to your children, then the "what if" possibilities are endless.

There are many different ways that this book can be used to foster reading reinforcement skills. The pictures and actions in the story can lead to many class discussions about things happening in your own town. It is a rich source for a daily topic or a story starter for a writing assignment. The end of the book lists the vocabulary words used throughout the story. If you are using a word wall in your room the children will almost instantly be familiar with this.

There is a bit of a downside though. This book was originally published in 1981. The illustrations seem a little dated, although they have been updated from the original version, and the larger problem may be explaining why the two girls are never accompanied by an adult. I would still use the book though. It is an easy read and offers children a chance to use the skills they are honing to become better independent readers.

Title: City Fun
Author: Margaret Hillert
Illustrator: Karen Lewis
Publisher: Norwood House Press
Publishing Date: July, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mini Word Wall: Summer Words


Download PDF file here

Graphics courtesy of free clip art

Book Review: Stop, Thief!


Max the dog wants to prove that he can catch the thief who's been taking the fruits and vegetables. He wrongly decides that it's a bright blue bug he spots and the chase is on! Children will love trying to figure out where Max will go next and, if my own classroom experience is any indication, they will become very involved in trying to point Max in the right direction.

This book is a great read not only because it's fun but because of the lovely illustrations. I knew I recognized Pierre Pratt's name as the illustrator and it only took a minute to recall some of his other work. If you've read any of the Olaf and Venus books then you're already familiar with his wonderful artwork.

Max is so eager to please that he's sure to appeal to your young readers. I used this title with a class of pre-k four students and they loved it. To any author of children's books, that should be the best review you can receive.

Title: Stop, Thief!
Author: Heather Tekavec
Illustrator: Pierre Pratt
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Published: August 2014

Available here:
Barnes And Noble

Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Review: A Party For Clouds, Thunderstorms

Now that April has finally arrived, I thought it was time to start gathering some weather related ideas. I knew what I wanted to do for science and art, but I was on the lookout for some new books. My pre-k 4 class is into Writer's Workshop this year and we often use stories to jump start our topic selection. I had some books that I've used in the past and I was ready to begin my research when this book popped up on my Net Galley feed. Needless to say, I thought it would be perfect and I was thrilled when I was approved for the download.


This book has everything my class loves. It's a chapter book, so I can start it before lunch and finish it later. It contains a glossary which is a huge plus when we make vocabulary lists. The illustrations are fun and will definitely help the children relate to the fear they can feel when a thunderstorm approaches. Each page also contains a very clear and child-friendly explanation of what actually occurs during a storm. As a bonus, the book also includes a very quick and fun experiment that helps explain the sound that thunder makes.

This book was published in March, 2016. You can find it here:
Barnes and Noble.
Title: A Party For Clouds, Thunderstorms
Author: Belinda Jensen
Illustrator: Renee Kurilla
Published: March, 2016
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pom-Pom Caterpillar

It's that time of year again, and about time too. We're all ready to say good-bye to winter and what better way than adding touches of spring to our classrooms.This project is so simple and the children love getting creative with it. I present it in it's simplest form. Each child selects one paper leaf, which I have them cut out, five pom-poms and a short piece of pipe cleaner.


The fun part comes when the children start choosing. Some will choose five pop-poms that are the same color, some will try to create a pattern and some will choose random colors. A little glue is all you need to put it all together. This has become the first addition to our spring bulletin board. We will be adding butterflies, ladybugs and anything else that we feel will add to our creation. The children love knowing that they have control of what is placed on the board, and since we are discouraged from using anything not child created in our rooms, it's the perfect project.

We get our pom-poms HERE. But any discount or dollar store is sure to carry them.

You can download the leaf pattern HERE.