Monday, October 29, 2012

Election Week

Hi everyone!! I hope everyone had a restful weekend!  Time seems to be flying by so fast.  In just a few weeks we will be getting out for Thanksgiving break!
This week is a very important week for our kindergartners   We are learning all about ballots, voting, voting booths, secret ballots, Presidential election, etc.

Throughout the week we will be conducting several elections and learning the basics of an election.  Today I introduced what an election was with the book "Duck for President".  I had never read this book before and I really enjoyed it.  It is funny but at the same time teaches about an election and what happens after you are elected.  I then explained what a secret ballot is.  We conduct elections almost every other day by a show of hands when we are making different decisions in the classroom.  I loved how as soon as I said the word "secret" everyone became very serious and focused on what was going to be a secret.

Last week my teacher assistant was able to create a voting booth, ballots, and a ballot box.  Students voted on what their favorite snack was: "Fruit Loop Cereal or Animal Crackers".  Students went one at a time to the voting booth, circled their favorite snack, folded the ballot, and placed their ballot in the ballot box.  It was so quite, I couldn't believe it!
I will announce the results tomorrow and naturally we will eat the elected snack during our snack time.
Here is the copy of the ballot we used:

Tomorrow we will be conducting an election on what our favorite animal is: "Dogs or Cats".
Thanks to Greg I have an awesome Election Unit that he made!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spiders: A Kindergarten Lesson

Not-so-scary Spiders: A Kindergarten Lesson
While October is generally a time for spooky stories and Halloween costumes, it is also an excellent time for Kindergarteners to begin learning about different animals, especially creepy crawlies that are usually considered icky or scary.

The Very Busy Spider
Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider is the perfect way to introduce young children to spiders. The book follows along with a spider as she builds a web and catches dinner. If you haven’t read the story before, you can listen to Veronica Francisco’s narrated version here.
Story time is also a time to begin familiarizing students with the concepts of objects and action in regard to English language skills. A simple way to help students make a distinction between verbs and nouns is to organize vocabulary into two separate sections. This story is also excellent for developing critical thinking as students will be able to predict the spider’s behavior after many different animals have similar interactions with her. Spann Elementary in South Carolina has offered a downloadable parent-teacher lesson plan that is extremely thorough.

Watch and Learn
Spiders are incredible creatures with a wonderful natural talent. Watching a spider build its web is captivating at any age. Here are my favorite YouTube videos for spiders.
A spider weaving its web at night. This video is simple and captured at night. Relaxing sounds of running water in the background make this video soothing.
BBC’s microscopic look at the spider and how it weaves its web.  This is more appropriate for teachers than for Kindergarten children. However, it is extremely interesting.
Another video of a spider building a web, but in the daylight and to jazz music! This is a very upbeat video that will get children giggling and dancing as the spider boogies around in circles.
Bring in a Live Sample
Some students are braver than others, especially when it comes to bugs. Though it is important to advise students against picking up certain types of spiders, this can sometimes make them even more afraid of the little critters. Bringing in a live spider to the classroom is a great way for kids to observe the creature in real life – at a safe distance, of course!
Bug Viewers are specially designed jars and containers equipped with magnifying lenses. There are a variety of these containers for sale on Sometimes a simple trip to the playground is all it takes to gather a fine specimen.
Crafts and Projects for Anatomy of Spiders and Webs
After students are equipped with a general knowledge of spiders, where do you begin with teaching them HOW a spider builds its wonderful web and WHY its body is different than other insects?
One of my favorite crafts for teaching children about spider anatomy is the classic egg carton spider craft. However, I would make two revisions. 1) Paint the egg cartons before you  take them to class. 2) Include an additional pom-pom to serve as the spider’s head. The anatomy of a spider is vital to teaching students about how these animals build their homes and how they differ from insects.
To teach children about building a web, you can use popsicle sticks and string to build a small web that each child can take home. (Complete with a plastic spider in the center!) Another option is to engage to entire class by building a web by wrapping string around chairs and desks.
And of course, all of these activities can be learned in sync with songs and poems like The Itsy Bitsy Spider, There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly and Little Miss Muffet.

Nancy Wood is a freelance blogger for She loves writing about education, health, and college life and works to provide helpful information on the best colleges for all students. She welcomes comments and questions below!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Have 2 Ways Out!

Fire Prevention Week is this week!
This year's theme is "Have 2 Ways Out!"

Here is the interactive website that I use every year with my students and they really do love it!

The following are FREE or DIY activities that I have found on Pinterest or other blogs that I found really beneficial to incorporate in this week's lessons!


Have a great week!

Friday, October 5, 2012

5 Great Children’s Books that Teach About the Seasons

5 Great Children’s Books that Teach About the Seasons
Every season brings a distinctive change to our everyday lives. We wear different clothing, eat different food and even take part in different activities and traditions. Students love to learn about the differences between the seasons and how the year is organized around them. The following books can help teachers illustrate these differences and are perfect for kindergarten through second grade classes.
The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen
A personal favorite, this book shows how the seasons direct what happens on a farm throughout the year. It takes readers through the farm chores and activities, month by month. The text is simple and softly humorous.  The Year at Maple Hill Farm is a great story that teaches both about the seasons and farm life.
The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons
This book tells the story of a young boy and an apple tree. Throughout the year, Arnold uses the tree as a tool for imaginative fun. As the seasons change, so does the tree and Arnold’s use of the tree. The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree shows the unique relationship between people and nature, helping readers understand how much we depend on nature for food and fun.
Sunshine Makes the Seasons by Franklyn M. Branley
The new edition of this book is a lot more colorful and easier to read than the original. It tells the science behind the seasons; how the earth is tilted and rotates around the sun to create what we know as winter, spring, summer and fall. An experiment using an orange, pencil and flashlight is included to help students better understand the concept.
The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri
This book is perfect for children who are just learning to read, thanks to short, easy-to-read sentences and repetition. It’s about a busy squirrel that can’t stop to enjoy time with his friends, because he’s working to gather food for the winter. Because squirrels are common all over the country, kids will be able to observe what they read in their own back yards with a new understanding and fascination.
Seasons by Blexbolex
This book is a visual story told by through the stunning illustrations of artist Blexbolex. Seasons explores the relation between time and the seasons by showing how everything that we see and do changes throughout the year. The book encourages readers to observe the world in greater detail to see the associations between the seasons, time and the cycle of life.
The concept of seasons can be taught using all the subjects, including math, science, art, music, history, writing and, of course, reading! I hope your students enjoy reading these books!

As a freelance writer, Melanie Foster enjoys sharing valuable information about pedagogy and life-long learning. In addition to regularly contributing articles to, Melanie also writes for numerous other websites and blogs related to self-guided learning and teaching. Please leave any questions or comments for her below.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Hello everyone! I sometimes forget how much fun fall is and especially incorporating "October" related materials into our lessons.

It is just October 3rd and we have done and learned so much using pumpkins, leaves, and apples in our lessons.  We began our Pumpkin Investigation today during science.  We have 4th grade buddies and we teamed up for this special project.  Mrs. Alvarado, my fourth grade teacher buddy, found this neat planting project on pinterest!  We all usually open up our pumpkin, count the seeds, measure the pumpkin, weigh the pumpkin, and it can go on and on and on.  How about Describing the outside, How many lines does it have?, and How about describing the inside?  Then, how about leaving the seeds inside the pumpkin and add either top soil or potting soil, add some light, and water and BAM!! You have a plant growing!!
(In two week we will do the measuring, weighing, counting, and cooking of the pumpkin during our science lab time.)

That is exactly what we did today!! Check out the great pictures.  If you have never buddied up with an older grade level you should really try it out.  The 4th graders really gain and learn so much by helping the little ones.  My kinder students love to have an older friend who is caring and wiser.  :D

GREAT BOOK ALERT!!! "SOMETIMES" when I have time I try to go and visit our school library during an open slot.  I don't like to go through the library catalog online... I will tell you why..I don't think the title of a book, author, or level of a book can tell you if it is a good or appropriate book all of the time.  I go shelf by shelf and look at the covers and illustrations of a book.  I usually find some great titles that I have never thought of or knew about.  WEEEEELLL, Guess what!! I found an awesome book.  I saw it on the shelf and I thought the title was interesting so I check it out and read it for the first time today.  I LOVED EVERY BIT OF IT!! The illustrations were super cute and the story was really cute.  The ending also left it suspenseful and it left the students wondering and saying what if...  It is almost very similar to Eric Carle's Tiny Seed.  You have to check it out!!

You can surely do so much with this book! Students can:
  • Build a pumpkin town in your classroom, hall, or school.
  • Draw a Pumpkin Town
  • Write and Illustrate a spin off of the book. What would you do? What could happen next?
  • Carve pumpkins and display them in your classroom. Add a light inside your pumpkins and turn off the classroom lights. :D

I hope what I wrote makes sense.  I guess I am just on TEACHER EXCITED mode this afternoon.  I love to find new things to add to the traditional activities that we already do every year! :D
Happy October to you!!

HOORAY Day #6 and they are growing!!
This is our latest October craft thanks to Deanna Jump's Glyph on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Check out our pumpkin on Day 12!!

Check out our Pumpkin Patch Field Trip that we took on October 19th,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

4 Fun October Projects for Kindergarten Students

4 Fun October Projects for Kindergarten Students

The leaves are changing color, and the days are growing colder. Here are some great ideas to spark your students’ imaginations!

How much does Mr. Pumpkin weigh?

To keep the spirit of the harvest season alive throughout the month, you can keep a pumpkin in the classroom with the end goal of having students guess the weight. To keep the pumpkin fun and exciting, you can use Mr. Potato Head decorating kits to give your pumpkin a new look. Over the month, the pumpkin will become a mascot for your classroom. Depending on the size of your class, you might allow different groups to decorate the pumpkin at the beginning of the week to promote teamwork and collaboration. The end goal will be to teach the concept of weight, giving teachers the opportunity to weigh a series of different items.

 What really goes Bump in the Night?

What’s better than ghosts and goblins during Halloween? How about the real-life creatures of the night! Owls, cats, mice and bats are all nocturnal animals that are common in the U.S. Throughout the month, students can learn about animals that sleep during the day and play during the night! Bats are strongly associated with Halloween and can seem pretty frightening, especially considering their associations with vampires. However, students seem to find bats extremely interesting. Teachers with large enough classrooms can even make their own bat cave, complete with stalactites, bats and other creepy crawlies (like glow worms and centipedes).

The Discovery of a New World

Through the story of Christopher Columbus, students can learn geographic concepts of navigation by looking at maps and compasses. Have students follow along with Columbus by taking part in their own journey. The teacher can act as the Captain or students can be broken up into three ships (Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria) as you chart the path across the ocean. Using a compass as a guide, students can uncover clue after clue – either on the playground or in the classroom. At the end, students will uncover gold, spices and Native American artifacts. After the treasures have been found, you can explain how each item represents a piece of the nation’s history and how it pertains to Columbus’s journey.

By the Campfire

Storytelling is a part of the Halloween legacy, and there is nowhere better to tell a spooky story or mysterious legend than around the campfire. Recreate a campfire setting by creating paper logs and fire. You can even bring in the noises of the outdoors with an iPhone app or CD that has nature noises. This exercise is perfect for building on the legacy and history of the Native Americans who aided Christopher Columbus. (Also, this is a great way to keep their history relevant and fresh before teaching the children about Thanksgiving.) The campfire tale is all oral presentation, hand gestures and voices. Common fairy tales and fables are good substitutions for scary stories and legends.
Caroline Ross is a former educator who writes for She is an avid reader and advocate for global education and equality. Please submit any comments or feedback in the section below!