Welcome Spring: Planting Bean Seeds

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Spring begins this week (yippee!) and my favorite way to welcome the season is by planting some seeds.

It's still winter weather outside our window, but at least we can create some green and growing things on the inside!

Bean seeds are always a hit!

Soak them for 6-8 hours at room temperature.  Once they have softened, give one to each child to split open.  Invite them to remove the seed case, split in half and search for the parts of the plant on the inside.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

Use the remaining seeds for planting.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

They can use this Bean Plant Journal to learn about the stages of growth, make predictions on how many days it will take to sprout, and observe and document the growth on 3 separate occasions.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

While they are waiting for their beans to sprout, read some books about bean plants...

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

...and put out some dried beans for them to explore. These can be great for sorting, counting, measuring volume or just to free explore in a sensory bin.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

Bean seed mosaics are also a lot of fun and great for strengthening those fine motor muscles.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

And then one day...

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

Wishing you a smooth start to the new season and hoping you are soon blessed with lots of sunny, warm weather!

Thanks for stopping by,

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10 Ways to Celebrate Read Across America Week

Saturday, 2 March 2019

If you search Pinterest for Read Across America week, you will find a bazillion activities around Dr. Seuss and his beloved books. No surprise there!

Yet, if you visit the NEA site, the organization that sponsors the event, you will find something very different!

Read Across America ideas and activities

This year's theme is Celebrating a Nation of Diverse readers, and challenges us to share literature that allows every child to "see themselves as the main character in a story."  

Here's what the NEA has to say about the purpose of Read Across America Week:
"Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school."

Not trying to be a "Grinch," but I do question whether a series of Seuss-inspired activities are really motivating children to read and discover themselves through books.

So I put together a list of a few ideas we might try that I think are closer to the original intent for Read Across America week:

Book Breaks

Most teachers have more books than they have time to read!  Pull together a collection of favorite read alouds  and set a timer to go off at various points during the week.  Each time the timer rings, do a quick book talk on one of these books to entice your readers.  Choose books you know they won't be able to resist, like Creepy Pair of Green Underwear! and place them in a special basket. Books that might have been stuck on the shelf, will now find their way into children's hands.

Read Across America ideas and activities

Reading Reunion

This is a school-wide event that is as much fun for the teachers as it is for the kids! At a designated date and time, invite children to visit their previous teacher's classroom for a reading reunion! Once they've arrived, share a favorite read aloud and ask them to share what they have been reading in their new grade.

Mystery Reader

Invite parents and/or school staff  to "pop-in" throughout the week and share their favorite books. Give children clues about the "mystery reader" or the book they are going to share to build anticipation.

Mystery Reader: Read Across America ideas and activities

Unwrap a Read Aloud

Looking for an excuse to buy some new books? Use gift cards, book clubs, or visit your favorite store to obtain some new read-alouds.  Wrap them or use gift bags to conceal their identity.  Enjoy opening them throughout the week and sharing them with children.  Once all the books have been opened, let children vote for their favorite! Consider purchasing an extra copy of the book, letting the children wrap it, and surprising another class with your new favorite.

Staff Favorites

Survey school staff members to find out their favorite read-alouds.  Gather copies from your school library and share them with children.  For added fun, have kids guess the staff member that goes with each book.

Book Picnic

If weather permits, pack a picnic basket full of books, grab a blanket, and head outside to enjoy some outdoor reading.  You might choose books about the outdoors such as Our Tree Named Steve or other nature-themed read alouds. 

Book Picnic: Read Across America ideas and activities

Book Tournament

Capture the "March Madness" fever with a book tournament. On the first day, read two books and let children vote for their favorite.  Do this for a total of 8 days (think Sweet Sixteen).  Next, move to the Elite 8 by pairing up the 8 winning books and asking children to vote for their favorite.  Repeat with the Final Four and Final Two to determine your book "champion."  Create "brackets" to keep track of the results and share with others.

Reading Rally

With this event, each teacher involved creates a special themed reading spot in their classroom such as a "beach," "campsite," or "bear cave" using props and books to showcase the theme. Classes take turns "traveling" to each room and enjoying some independent reading in a new setting with the themed books and props they find there.

Reading Rally: Read Across America ideas and activities

Book Tasting

Create a "dining" atmosphere in your classroom using tablecloths, placemats, napkins, flowers, etc., and display books for children to "taste test." Invite them to rotate through each "place setting" and browse the selection presented there.  Provide time for children to discuss their "samplings," and share the ones that they found most appealing!

Book Swap

Invite children to bring in books from home to trade with others.  This can be done school-wide or with just your own class. For every book the child donates to the "swap," they are able to select the same number for keeps!  Check your own collection for books you could donate so that all children may participate.  

A Fun Week Ahead

Hope you found some ideas to make the most of Read Across America week!  We'll still be making those cute red and white striped hats, but keeping the focus on growing our love for books and building a community of readers!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Using Live Cams for Animal Research in Kindergarten

Monday, 25 February 2019

While bringing real animals into the classroom can bring about wonder, curiosity and natural learning, it isn't always possible for teachers to do.

Lucky for us technology has opened up a world of animal possibilities via live cams, and there are some advantages to going this route when it comes to animal research.

Using animal live cams for animal research reports and informational writing in kindergarten or first grade.

Here's why!

The Fishbowl Effect

Observation is a very important science process skill for young children to develop and one that can lead to much critical thinking and dialogue.  Gathering the class around a "fishbowl" gets a little crowded and the conversation usually ends up being more about waiting your turn than animal behavior.  Using a live cam, allows the whole class to view the animal at the same time while sharing what they notice and wonder.  Children naturally begin drawing conclusions based on their observations and growing their knowledge with little help from the teacher.  It is inquiry at its best!

Checking In 

In order to draw some accurate conclusions about animals, children need multiple observations over long periods of time.  When animals are brought into the classroom, their time is usually short-lived.  Live cams allow children to "check in" with the animal several times a day, over many weeks.  It's also extremely practical, for busy teachers with an already overloaded day, to be able to view the animal when a few minutes arise, such as during snack time or while waiting for busses.  

Home Sweet Home

When you bring animals into your classroom, you are removing them from their natural habitat and the classroom conditions aren't always best for their wellbeing.  Using a live stream allows children to view the animal in their natural surroundings and learn a great deal about why they live where they do.  Through repeated viewings, they will be able to accurately identify their food source and understand the need for living close to where they eat.  

Video Backup  

When I hatched chicks, I always worried that the hatching would happen overnight or during the weekend.  Many of the live stream resources capture animal highlights such as egg hatching, predator invasions, and feeding times on video so if a "big event" happens during a time when your kiddos aren't watching, they can always catch the replay!  This is different than just watching an animal video on Youtube, because the children have a personal investment in this animal's story and truly care about what happens to it.

Up Close and Personal

There are many animals that children are interested in, that they will never be able to see live, let alone bring into the classroom.  Yet, web cams make getting up close and personal possible!  Your animal options open up to include polar bears, penguins, elephants, pandas, gorillas and many more when you choose to go live stream.

Are You In?

If you are interested in giving it a try, check out Explore, EarthCam, and SanDiego Zoo, which all serve as a "home base" for several animal live cams.  Not all are created equal though, so spend some time reviewing them before sharing with children. 

We began our animal research journey earlier this month using the Decorah Eagle Cam which can be found on the Explore site.  Hoping to share more about this with you in future posts!

Using animal live cams for animal research reports and informational writing in kindergarten or first grade.

In the meantime, TPT is having a sale (yippee!), so all the Ready, Set, Research resources are on sale for the next two days!

Using animal live bald eagle cams for animal research reports and informational writing in kindergarten or first grade.

Thanks for stopping by!  

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