Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Buggin' Out on Insects!

Spring weather is finally here and we have been taking advantage of it for sure!  With warmer weather comes the perfect time for all things buggy.  We have had a blast observing insects and learning about several different types.  This year we focused mainly on bees, ants, ladybugs, praying mantises, and butterflies.  I wish there was time to cover them all!

Here are a few pictures to sum up our fun.

A photo posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on

I just free styled a bee hive pattern for this and asked my kids to make their own bees to go with it.  We used wax paper for the wings and orange paint daubers to dress up the hives.  The handout came from Lyndsey Kuster's Nonfiction Pack {LOVE!}.

This anchor chart was modeled off of Cara Carroll's here.  Though hers is much better than my quick attempt, this chart definitely had my kids excited about recording ant facts.  :)  You can't learn about ants without reading Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose!  I snapped a picture of each kid holding the book and we added it to our opinion writing using the question posed at the end of the book.  My kiddos wanted to add their Fab 5 rubric to it as well since we are working so hard on becoming fabulous writers!

Last Friday we released our butterflies and our ladybugs.  It's amazing how attached we become to our little insects as we watch them go through their life cycles.  We are still waiting on our praying mantis egg case to "hatch" so we can observe the tiny insects before letting them go.

We have been practicing substituting sounds to make new words.  I have had these Word Ladder Caterpillar Cards in one of my morning work drawers and they have been a big hit!  Students use the pictures to change either the beginning, middle or ending sound to make the new word.  There are 40 cards that are color coded by short vowel.  There are mixed vowel cards too that make for great review.  I let my kids put the cards inside of the small dry-erase sleeves but there is a reproducible included for those that need them.

My class really enjoyed learning all about insects from our non-fiction and fiction texts, Let's Find Out Scholastic News magazines, Magic School Bus videos and more.  We wrapped up our unit by making these adorable entomologists from Caitlin at Kindergarten Smiles.  I think they turned out super cute!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Video: Sentence Building in Action with Letters Alive!

Today's sentence building practice is brought to you by... Letters Alive!  There are so many ways you can use this kit and I am still discovering them!  We have been working on capitalization and punctuation as well as sentence order so I thought I would spice up our lesson a little by adding in a some Augmented Reality.  Here's a 2 minute video of part of my lesson.

I love how my kids realized that the sentence could be a telling sentence OR an asking sentence.  I totally meant to do that.  ;)

This is the Fab 5 we use to check our work with (mentioned in the above video):
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
If you are interested in the posters and rubric you can get them {HERE}. can check out a previous post where one of my students takes on sentence building with the Letters Alive kit {HERE}.
Also, here's a video from the beginning of the year that explains a little more about the kit.  By the way, these kits are available through a Donors Choose project now too!

I love having this available to enhance my lessons.  Last week I had a few visitors stop by for a tour and I happened to be using my kit when they walked in.  They were amazed by the Augmented Reality and how well my kids responded to it!

There are many more videos of Letters Alive in action that you can view {here} on the Alive Studios website.  Make sure to explore their site for more information!

    Sunday, April 3, 2016

    Got Eggs? Let's Skip Count!

    I realize that Easter is over but we are still using plastic eggs in my room! There are just too many ways to utilize them in the classroom!  Last Thursday we conducted a small-scaled egg hunt inside the class during math time.  Common Core asks that our kindergartners be able to fluently count by ones and tens so I wanted to give my students a fun way to skip count (and sequence!). I revised the "Find Those Eggs!" freebie to include a skip counting by 10 checklist.  It still has the even/odd pages for those that can use it!  I asked for donations of leftover eggs and received exactly 200 eggs!  Perfect for 20 sets of 10-100!  I spent about 30 minutes numbering the eggs and then scattered them around the room.  No baskets this year....I just gave my students a Ziploc bag and the checklist and had them search for each one of the numbers 10, 20, 30....100.  It's amazing how quiet they are as they concentrate to find those specific eggs! 
    Once they collected all 10 of their eggs I asked them to sequence the numbers in order.  This little fellow asked if he could arrange his eggs in a circle instead of a line.  LOVE it! Another Common Core skill that took this activity to a new level.  Thanks to him my future kinders will be sequencing their eggs for me in more than one way! :)

    Download the checklists for FREE by clicking {here} or the image below.