Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vocabulary Runway Show

I had posted a few weeks ago about this idea, and got some wonderful suggestions for words to use from my blogger-colleagues!  I know it's a common activity in schools, but I was really excited about it. My kiddos LOVE words! I really encourage them to ask what words mean, even if it means we can't get through a page of our story. :) I purposely read to them above their grade level so they can have experience with that higher-level vocabulary. They also have a kind of fearlessness in using them both in their speaking and writing. When we read Charlotte's Web, I would get to a part where Charlotte would use a bigger word and the hands would go up. And then Wilbur would ask "what does that word mean?"-I think it's one of the reasons they loved that story so much because he reminded them of themselves.

So I assigned each child a word and they wrote their own definition and a sentence using it. We had elegant, innovative, zany, charming. They all took turns walking down the red carpet and performing in front of their parents. It was a fun activity! Here are some examples:





Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wild Thing Details

One of all-time favorite classics is Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. I read the story to my kiddos and asked them to change the word "Wild" to another adjective. What details of the story would change? Instead of "roar their terrible roars", what would their monsters do? Here's what they came up:

                                                     Gotta love 'em! See the last line?!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


I facilitate for a student book club on campus and one of the perks is every year I get to read about 70 books (there are two groups, one K-2 and one 3rd-5th), most titles which are new to me. And I always make some awesome discoveries. My kiddos know how much I value "uniqueness". Being a little odd is often a trait of being truly gifted. We embrace that in our classroom. I have pics of an activity we did that I will post later this week, where the students were making their own version of Klimt's Tree of Life. I wanted them to be creative and make their own "Tree of _________". One of my kids did a Tree of Eyes. Is that a little odd, yes? Do I think it's awesome, definitely! :) If you want to make blue apples in my class, that's fine by me!

Why do I mention blue apples? Because that's what happens in this story. This is about a little girl named Oddrey, who is basically a little odd. Her teacher doesn't understand her and it makes her feel lonely sometimes. But it doesn't stop her from saving the day. I'm going to add this gem to my list of books that encourage risk-takers and marching to the beat of your own drummer.

Speaking of, we had a Dress Like the Eighties Day at our school. 80's I can do, piece of cake-I lived it!

 I had a better hat, but couldn't find it and in trying to make my hair big, it did not come out cute. The funniest line all day was my student who asked me "Miss Trayers, did you know in the olden days they used to roll their jeans up like this?" I told him to watch that "olden days" stuff! I was impressed that some of them recognized music like Journey and Bon Jovi--maybe there's hope for this generation after all. :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spooky Halloween Rigor

Maybe it's just that time of year but "rigor" to me reminds me of rigor mortis! :) Not talking about that kind of rigor! We're talking about stepping up those Halloween activities so they really make the kiddos think. Some ideas:

1) New uses for pumpkins-what can we use pumpkins for other than making pies and decorations?
2) Remake a holiday classic-The Grinch Who Stole Halloween? A Halloween Carol? What details would change if the holiday changes?
3) How would a Halloween celebration change if it took place in another season?
4) Invent the perfect candy to receive when trick-or-treating.
5) Invent a new Halloween tradition.
6) Design the perfect trick-or-treating route.
7) Is it right or wrong to turn pumpkins into jack-'o-lanterns?
8) Adapt a scarecrow for different settings-the North Pole, the desert.
9) Pretend there is a candy shortage-what can people give away instead? How will that change the typical Halloween traditions?
10) How has Halloween/popular costumes changed over the years-past, present, what will it be like in the future?


Saturday, October 19, 2013

If I Were the Dark

I came across this great book quite by accident (don't you love it when that happens). It looked good enough to break my self-imposed Amazon probation and go ahead and purchase it. I'm a big fan of Jon Klassen who illustrates here. The story is basically personifying "The Dark". How it hides when light comes, etc. I think it's a very creative idea for a story!

So I asked  my students to write from the perspective of "The Dark"--how does it feel, etc.

My favorite one: I will be scared of myself. :)

...sad because who would play with me.

...sad because everyone would be afraid of me.

I would make people go to sleep and a nap.

I will go to someone's room when the lights are off.

...feel sad because everyone is afraid of me and no one would play with me.

I would wonder what it would feel to be in the sun all day.:)

It is just boring because every day I am trapped in a door behind it

I would feel good because the boy likes me (from the story).

I will feel lonely because I don't have any friends, only 1 star.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Joy in the Classroom

I read this article and think it is a really good reminder for us:

We have objectives and curriculum. Many of us have standards we need to cover in a certain way because that's how it will be tested. But I think we should also remember the "joy" part of school. It made me think about how I try to bring joy to our classroom:

1) I burst into song a lot! I can't help it. I saw a quote on Pinterest once that said "my brain is 75% music lyrics"--that is totally me. I was entering students on our Kidblog account and a student said "put me in" and I started singing "put me in coach, I'm ready to play, today". Or Hit the Road Jack, never know what might trigger it and of course, the kids all laugh, because I am not American Idol material! :)

2) I make jokes quite often. I have one student this year who always laughs at my jokes!

3) We dance! They love the ones from The Learning Station

 and If You're a Kid. I put them on in the morning as they come in--gets those brain cells pumping and in a fun way! This is the current favorite:

4) We take the classroom outside sometimes! Just for fun we do our silent reading outside in the grass or our science lessons involve exploring our limited nature.

5) The favorite of our students--we do activities sometimes that involve food! Tens and ones with pretzel sticks and M&M's, tortilla self-portraits, Christmas trees with ice cream cones.

6) Lots of cheers for our whole group participants. Johnny got that right, let's give him a firework cheer! The kids even start making up their own cheers. My favorite attention-getter this year (and I wish I could remember where I saw it)-Class, are we on fire? and they sing "this class is on fi-re"!

It's something that I'm going to really think about making sure I incorporate in the future. I want their memories of school to be good ones. I want to help them develop that passion for learning we all know they can have.

What things do you do to keep the joy in the classroom?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Characters In Costume

So I got this fabulous idea from Ian over at ( ). We did it last year with the Wizard of Oz characters and since we now wrapping up our Charlotte's Web unit, I thought it would be a good way for the students to think about character traits and translate that into what the character would wear as a costume for Halloween. Here's what they came up with:

Charlotte as Dorothy because she was thankful for what she has. Wilbur as the Scarecrow, because he's humble. Templeton as a monster-with 3 yellow eyes (great details!) because he's mean.

Charlotte-a helpful lady, Wilbur-a person because he's cute and Templeton an evil witch.

Charlotte-a computer because she's helpful and smart. Wilbur as a monkey because he was always doing something or helping. Templeton as a fat man eating fish :) because he was always eating something and only cares about himself.

Wilbur-a daisy (isn't that just the cutest illustration!), Charlotte a heart for her babies.

Charlotte-a fairy so she will not get stepped on. Wilbur dresses like Charlotte- (love this-he was always trying to spin webs, etc.) Templeton like cheese!

Charlotte-something elegant and dazzling (vocab words :), Wilbur as Miss Trayers because he was nice. Templeton as a trash monster.

Charlotte-a love bug because she sings to Wilbur. Wilbur as a heart because his heart was in the right place. Templeton as the trash garden-he is in the dump.

I know they are hard to read, but I thought they just nailed their characters!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Owl Art

I am a big proponent of using art in the classroom. First of all, I think it's a great way to teach students how to think creatively, which can then translate into other areas like writing. And I also think it's a great way to reach those students lack confidence in other academic areas. True art, I believe is open-ended. I never tell them what colors to use or that their owls have to have 2 eyes (you'll see what I mean in a minute). For a science lesson, yes, you are recording and documenting-things should be realistic. But when it comes to art in my class-the sky is the limit--owls even carry purses! If you couldn't tell already, I am not a cut-and-paste kind of gal\:) I absolutely love that they are all unique and that it is truly their vision.

He said it was an "owl-clops". :)

This is by one of my little divas--can you tell?

I love these web cam feeds. It says the owl one is no longer live-but it does have highlights. (Sometimes I will put the puppies or kitten ones on just to de-stress a little bit! :)     My Kinder group that are now 4th Graders and I watched an owl named Molly hatch her little owlets and I can't wait to share with them that there was actually a book written about her-it seems to be out of print, but I bought a used copy. 

They still talk about Molly the Owl! Since they no longer get much experience with nature, for the most part, I think it's a great way to bring nature to them.