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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving Sensory Bin

Ugh I know it's been awhile.  There's lots going on in my house right now...hopefully I can start being a better blogger soon!  For now, here's the Thanksgiving sensory bin I created for my son.  He absolutely LOVES it!  Basically, I raided the dollar section at Target (as always).  There may be 1 or 2 things from a craft store too.  He plays with it daily.  He tells me he wants to play "rice" haha.

 He really enjoys all the small things in there such as the rice, tiny plastic leaves, fake cranberries, and small felt pumpkins.  They are great for scooping up with his trucks!

Yes, that is orange rice.  Where did I get orange rice? Nowhere.  I had to make it.  I found a recipe for pumpkin spice scented rice at Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.  I did find that after following the directions, my rice still smelled like disgusting wet rice.  I had to add more spice which in turn meant adding more food coloring.  Messy, stinky, but in the end, it smelled good.  My only complaint (I feel dumb for not thinking of this before) is that my dog wants to eat it.  I can't blame him.  It smells good.  So, I suggest either not doing this if you have a pet or keep a watchful eye on everything.  We usually put my dog in his crate and my son knows the lid has to go right back on when he's done.  He's also very careful about spilling it.  I just make sure to pick up any stragglers because of the dog.

Here's a sneak peek at some of the things I have for his Christmas sensory bin (not everything in each packet ends up in there...that would be a LOT of erasers haha).

I haven't decided what I should do as the main component.  I try to avoid rice.  I really meant to do dried corn or even popcorn for the Thanksgiving one...butttt I forgot!  I thought about cotton balls (snow) but I want to save that for a winter bin.  I MIGHT do cinnamon scented rice or at least put some cinnamon sticks in it.  Another idea is those clear or white stones you can buy to put in a vase.  I might do those and maybe I could find some that are red or green as well.  Or beads!  Ugh so many ideas and so little time to shop!  What's in store for your Christmas sensory bin?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

From the Imagination of an Almost 3 Year Old

I've become quite accustomed to cars being all over my floor and I am fully aware that it's only a matter of time before I have TWO boys contributing to the mess.  Today was probably the largest car mess in my house I have ever seen...and I helped :)  I couldn't help myself.  My oldest woke up soooo happy (if you follow my posts you know this is rare lately).  He's been overall so much happier lately.  I think it's because I've made myself more aware of my own stress level and how I react to it. I firmly believe it was unfortunately rubbing off on him.  Back to my story.

He woke up SO happy.  I just wanted to squeeze him and keep him in my pocket all day lol.  He asked me with a huge, excited smile "Would you like to play cars with me?"  I paused, about to say "No, mommy needs to get ready for work right now."  That's my usual response.  But I thought twice and just looked at that smile.  Instead, I smiled back, grabbed the baby, and we all sat on the floor.  It started with my son separating the cars by their type and job.  This is what it ended up being:

 Here are some close ups of how his imagination works.

 This is his fire station.  He put all of his emergency vehicles there.

Here is his truck stop/junkyard.

The school buses along with some visitors apparently haha.  I took these when I got home from work so there was some mixing (or throwing) since the morning.

Mommy stepped in and drew a quick parking lot on the back of one of those obnoxiously large coloring sheets.  We needed something to do with all of the "regular" cars!

My personal favorite the "around town" picture I drew a few months ago.  Again, on the back of one of those large coloring sheets.  I drew his favorite places, Walmart, Target, Stop & Shop, the gas station, Dunkin Donuts, the park, and our house lol.  HE LOVES THIS!  Can you say FREE ENTERTAINMENT?

Last, but not least, the construction site...and a dinosaur.  Perhaps an archeological dig?  Just kidding, but I wouldn't be surprised!

You're probably asking yourself, why did she post this?  Well, for several reasons.  The first being, pre-schoolers are fascinating and have incredible imaginations.  Second, hours of fun can be pretty simple.  Third, sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, stop and play cars.  Should I really have been getting ready instead of doing this?  Probably.  Cramming everything in when my mom gets here is tough.  But, I would have missed on some quality time with my son and a wonderful way to start my day.  I left for work feeling relaxed and happy.  Enjoy your children.  They grow so fast.  And don't get mad about the cars all over the floor.  One day, they won't be all over your floor. That will be a sad day.  Enjoy today and watch where you step ;)


Monday, November 11, 2013

Rainbow Loom

Warning:  Corny joke ahead.

Well folks, I've hopped on the bandwagon.  Haha sorry I had to!  What does that mean?  If you have any school age children or work with them, then you know what I'm talking about.  Colorful rubber band bracelets made by a rainbow loom kit.  Why am I doing this if I have two children under age 3?  For one very big reason:  My students LOVE them.  They can't get enough of them.  Some of them are fortunate enough to have the kit or be able to get the bracelets.  Most of my kids can't.  I decided I wanted to add them to my prize box.  I knew buying them individually would be very expensive and since I like things like this, I bought the kit :)  My husband thinks that I'm nuts.  I think I'm awesome haha.  If you haven't seen this kit, you start with these:

The kit comes with a package of random colors.  You can also buy the bands separately.  Don't do what I did and just assumeee Amazon was the cheapest way to go.  I bought a few colors for around $5.00 (some slightly less, some slightly more) only to discover Michaels (a local craftstore) had them for $3.99!  MAD.  This is what the actually loom looks like:

Now you can get seriously crazy with these things by complicating the design, adding an extension loom, etc.  But I have two little ones and I'm seriously lucky I even have the 2 minutes it takes to make the simple design bracelet.  And to be quite honest, my students were super excited and grateful just for that!

I added a few to my prize box on Friday.  My lucky few who earned enough check marks that day were so excited to see them in there!  It was also nice to see the kids who already had bracelets hold back and choose something else.  They were eying them but I was proud at their choice.  I plan on making glow-in-the-dark, school colors, and town color bracelets...after I play with my babies and do my real work!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Conversations With 5th Graders About Reading

We all know how much 5th graders love to talk...about everything except what you want them to!  My group is pretty good and we have had some great conversations.  Now that they've been with me awhile and they're "used" to me, they seem to be getting bored.  I found this on TPT (of course).

They are these great cards by iHeartLiteracy.  You can download this product here.  They are Reading Comprehension Sentence Starters that come in 6 categories; Predict, Connect, Clarify, Question, Comment, and Synthesize.  I used them as conversation starters to discuss what we are reading.  Currently, we are reading this:

This text is from Reading A-Z.  Some of the cards don't really go with this non-fiction piece so we set them aside.  They were a great way to get my students to really think about and reflect on what we are reading.  Some of them had difficulty with what the card was asking them.  I thought that was actually a good thing because they would have had difficulty with it as a test question.  Talking about it while reading allowed us to address what the difficulty issue was.  We helped each other respond should someone be stuck.  I was happy with the result.  It can be a quick activity and be a nice break away from our typical discussion!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pocket Chart Letters and Sounds

While browsing Amazon tonight in search of magnetic letters or letter tiles I noticed something. OMG are educational items massively overpriced! Ugh! With that in mind, I finally decided to make my own pocket chart letters and sounds (another thing I was looking at). 

Here's what I came up with: 

*3 of each lowercase consonant (blue) 
*3 of each lowercase vowel + y (red) 
*3 of each uppercase consonant (blue) 
*3 of each uppercase vowel + y (red) 
*1 of each l-blend bl,cl,fl,gl,pl (orange) 
*1 of each r-blend br,cr,dr,fr,gr,pr (pink) 
*1 of each s-blend sc,sk,sl,sm,sp,st,sw (aqua) 
*1 of each n-blend nd,ng,nk,nt (lime green) 
*1 of each digraph ch,sh,th,wh,ck (gray)
*1 of each bossy r ar,er,ir,or,ur (black) 
*1 of each talker ai,ay,ea,ee,ey,ie,oa,oe,ue,ui (green)
*1 of each whiner au,aw,ou,ow,oo,oi,oy (purple) 

 I'm super excited to start using these on Monday!  Of course, I need to go and buy more laminating pouches and probably more ink with the way I've been printing things!  Head to my TPT store to purchase this!  Happy Friday and keep checking back for more!

Five for Friday (Linky Party) 11/1

Whoa!  November already! Crazy!  Let's start it off by linking up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their great linky party!


On Saturday, we took advantage of the membership my dad bought us to our local aquarium.  They were encouraging folks to come dressed up and meet Spiderman.  Since my son LOVES their meerkats and is a meerkat for Halloween, we had to go!  Here's my meerkat watching the fish.

My second graders finished up with Reading A-Z Initial and Final S blend lesson.  They did really well with it. I'm excited to see that it was a good idea to break away from the LLI kit for a bit to focus more on decoding.  Wrapping up R blends soon then heading back to LLI to see how it goes!
Took some time to do some much needed catching up/organizing of all my copies, things I've laminated and needed to be cut, grading, etc.  It's amazing how everything piles up!  Not enough storage in my cubicle for this madness!

Happy to see my wordhouse is doing well!  The kids are responding very well to it.  They are so excited to participate!

Trick-or-Treat?  Hopefully you picked treat because this is the stash we gave out!  Our neighborhood is quite a happening place since we have a couple of "haunted houses" in people's yards.  It goes fast!