Monday, February 28, 2011

Classroom Supplies from Amazon

Geneseo Theater - Now Showing Rango

Synopsis:  A chameleon that aspires to be a swashbuckling hero finds himself in a Western town plagued by bandits and is forced to literally play the role in order to protect it.
Voices of: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher and Timothy Olyphant
Rated: PG  |  Run Time: 107 min

Showtimes starting Friday March 4, 2011:
7:10 pm
Friday, Sunday, Monday & Tuesday
1:30 pm Saturday Matinee
8:00 pm Saturday

BYOBowl Mondays!
Bring your own Bowl Mondays and fill it for only $1!

Ticket Prices:
$6.00 Adult / $5.00 Youth / $5.50 Seniors

Go On An African Safari From Your Own Home

My first experience with Africam, a website which shows wild animals in the African safari live on webcams, was when I watched a herd of elephants gather their young to protect them from danger (click link to watch recorded video of this event).  I was instantly mesmerized while I watched such an amazing part of nature.  This moment is only something I have read about or watched on television that was recorded by professionals and edited.  To be a real-time observer of a moment that was happening on a different continent, on the other side of the world, right on my computer screen was simply amazing.  Nearly every day in my home, I switch to one of these webcams and let it run on my screen while I am doing housework or cooking dinner.  The sounds you can hear make you feel like you are really there.  It doesn't matter the time of day because the cameras are all equipped with night vision, so it is easy to see a wild animal anytime!

Nkorho Pans Webcam
Elephant Plains Webcam
Tembe Webcam
Watch all 3 in one screen

The Africam website provides recorded videos on demand of previous sightings!  If you become a fan on Facebook, you can see real-time alerts when animals are seen on any of the webcams.  The website also provides pages such as "Did You Know?" which is an information blog about the animals seen on the webcams.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jiffy Seed Starter Kit - How To Grow Your Own Plants For Spring!

I became tired of spending a ton of money in the Spring on flowers to plant in my hanging pots for my backyard.  I found this seed starter kit, the organic soil mix, and the 6 seed packets for $17.00 at Walmart.  Below is a step by step instructional walk-through on how I sowed my own seedlings.  The flower packets I purchased were Pansy and Viola, and each packet contained about 20 seeds.  The tray is reusable!

Classroom Use:
-One tray should be enough for an entire classroom, or you could buy multiple trays and have students work in groups.  Walk students through the process below.  Have the students create a book and illustrate the steps completed.  Be sure to begin with background knowledge about seeds and germination!

Lesson Plan Links:
Seed Observation Journal
Plant Life Observation Journal
Plant Investigation Journal 

1.  I filled each area with the soil mixture to the top.   The instructions stated to water the soil thoroughly until it penetrated the walls of the pots.  When I poured water on top of each one, the soil expanded for a short time and bubbled over into the next pot.  Next time, I won't add so much soil to start with.  I ended up having about 1/2 inch of water standing on the bottom of the tray, under the pots.

2. Next I pushed my index finger into each pot, creating a small divot about 1/4" deep.  (I would recommend doing this once you see that all of the water has saturated the soil mixture so you do not create a muddy-type mess on your finger). 

3.  When I opened the seed packets, I realized the seeds were inside of another envelope, which was a relief.  I didn't want to dump my seeds all over the floor because they were so small and difficult to hold.  I poured the seeds into the palm of my hand and placed 2-4 seeds into each divot.  This picture shows the amount of seeds from 2 packets.  My seed starter kit had 50 pots, and the 6 seed packets I bought were enough.

4.  Once all of the seeds were put in each pot, I covered the entire tray with more soil to hide the seeds.  The starter kit comes with a clear plastic dome lid.  I put the dome lid on the tray, and taped the seed packets on top so I knew which side had which flowers.  I placed the tray on a shelf in my pantry, because the seeds need a warm location away from direct sunlight.  As my seeds begin to sprout, I will continue to post my results!  I need to wait approximately 7 days for the Pansy seeds to sprout.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What Is The Best Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener?

As I prepare for my future classroom, I have been researching what are the most important tools that I will need. Since I have been a substitute teacher, I have the ability to see a variety of classrooms, and I noticed most of them have the same electric pencil sharpener. Some of the teachers allow students to sharpen their own pencils, some have a it setup as a classroom job, or the teachers sharpen them at the beginning or the end of the day.

The common sharpener I have seen is the X-Acto School Pro Heavy Duty Electric Pencil Sharpener. I did read both pros and cons for this product.  The most important information I found was colored pencils and decorative pencils should not be used with this product.  Also, Amazon seems to have the lowest price.  I received this sharpener from my parents for my birthday, and I am anxious to see it in action!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Wellness - Teriyaki Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 cup Splenda (1/2 regular Spenda and 1/2 Brown Sugar Splenda optional)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 skinless chicken thighs
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  3. Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush chicken with the sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn pieces over, and bake for another 15 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Literacy Center Ideas

Making Words
Students use teacher-selected magnetic letters to make words.  After making words, they determine the "mystery" word that can be made using all of the letters and sort the words for spelling patterns.

Short Vowel Picture Sort 
At this center students practice matching  pictures to vowel sounds.  After determining the short vowel sound, they must attempt to spell the word using what they know about CVC words.  Teaching students to recognize specific sounds helps them to spell more accurately in their everyday writing. Download Zip File

 Basket Writing
Students draw pictures of three objects out of a picnic basket file folder.  They have to come up with a creative story including all three objects.  The story must have a well-defined problem and solution.  This center is a favorite for room 10 students!

 Common or Proper NounsStudents use a spinner to practice the concept of common and proper nouns.  It is important that students learn the difference between the two types of nouns so that they capitalize the correct nouns in their writing.
Student Sheet
Spinner Template

Word Family Spinner Game
Spin one of the word wheels below.  They then use the worksheet to record words that can be made in the time the sand timer takes to empty.  The can use initial consonants or consonant blends to make words.  Students then read the words they have made.  They must cross out any words that other players also made.  They get a point for each word they make that no one else made. (You can purchase spinners to use with the wheels below.)
Spinner 1         Spinner 2           Spinner 3

Sticker Story
This is a favorite literacy center!  Place a bunch of old stickers and a story form in the tub.  Students select 3-4 stickers to incorporate into their own illustration.  Then, the students write a 3-5 sentence story that coordinates with their stickers.  The kids never get tired of this activity!!!

Clap A Word
This box contains a pair of gardening gloves, a variety of picture cards, and a recording sheet.  Students put on the gloves and pick a card.  They say the word, clap it, and then write the word and record how many syllables are in the word.  This a fun activity!  Encourage students to write the vowels in red or highlight them with another color.
Activity Sheet 

Treasure Chest Writing
This is a very high interest center!  Inside the tub is a small treasure box.  Add 4-5 different items to the box.  Students take out the items and write the word for each item on a recording sheet. Then, they use the words to write complete sentences.  Change out the items as the kids tire of the old items.  You can find these type of boxes usually at dollar stores!

Letter Writing
Students love to visit the letter center!  The tub contains all kinds of stationary and fun pens for writing letters or notes to friends, teachers, classroom pets, or family friends.  Students love to do this and it is great practice for improving writing fluency and mechanics.  

Scholastic News Response 
Don't throw away those old Weekly Readers or Scholastic News!  Laminate the big version if possible.  Then, students can visit the center to read one of the newspapers and respond to it.  Students can also use a marker to complete the activity on the back of the Weekly Reader. 

Build A Sentence
This box contains plastic word tiles I purchased at Walmart.  Students get to make sentences with the tiles. Then, they write and illustrate two of the sentences they created.  I also have flip charts that I will add to the tubs.  The flip charts focus on capitalization and punctuation.  Sometimes, I will add scrambled sentences written on either sentence strips or index cards.  Students love working with a partner to put the sentences together.  I heard recently that teachers have experienced trouble finding the word tiles at Walmart.  

Please share any center ideas in the comments that work for you! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Make A Story With Your Fingertips

Lift up your Thumb – Name your character. Think Tom Thumb, Goldilocks, Harry, or any name in the world you want.  Remember, the story will happen to this character.
Then extend your Pointer Finger- The pointer finger points to the journey the character will take.    Decide where the character is going and very importantly, why?  Usually it’s something the character wants or needs. (Think finding a buried treasure, hero’s glory, or castles in Spain).  You will be amazed by your child’s suggestions.  Now the adventure begins!
The Pointer and Third Finger- Make a Scissors as the journey is cut off by a problem situation. What is the problem?  Does a fire-breathing dragon appear? Did we lose our way in a dark misty forest?  Now what do we do?
The Ring Finger – The ring finger reminds us that our main character owns a magical ring that gives wisdom about what to do, who to ask, or where to go, to find a solution to solve the problem.  Don’t give up now, your almost there!
The Little Finger- Comes at the end of our story to remind us of the little lesson we have learned from the stories adventure.  Ask your child what lesson the character learned by going on his journey.
Bonus TipA good way to start is to say to your child, “let’s play a game and make up a story together”.  Kids love to play games!   *provided by*

Kohl's Cares Eric Carle book and plush sets

This is the current promotion at Kohl's for their Kohl's Cares foundation. There is a total of 4 Eric Carle books with matching stuffed animals. Each set is $10 ($5 each item), which is a total steal! I have utilized this promotion to increase my classroom library! These also make great birthday or Christmas gifts! I ordered mine online because the stores have been sold out of most items.

How to make Traditional Play-Doh

Visit the "Fun Recipes" link at the top of the site for more!

The following recipe is a big batch recipe. It is intended to be enough for a party or group of kids and makes about ten cups of play dough—the equivalent of twelve commercial Play Doh ® containers. If you want a smaller batch, divide the recipe in half. If you are having a really big party and want more play dough, make two batches--this recipe is about all that can be made in a stand-type mixer at one time. You can also make this play dough by hand.

If you want multiple colors, divide the dough and knead in the food coloring after the dough is made. If one color is sufficient, add the food coloring with the water and save the step of kneading in the coloring.

7-8 cups all-purpose or bread flour
3 cups salt
3 tablespoons cream of tartar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups hot water
food coloring

Mix seven cups of flour together with the salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand-type mixer. Add the oil and water and knead with a dough hook in your electric stand-type mixer for five to six minutes. (If you are kneading by hand, knead for eight to ten minutes.) Add more flour to
get a soft, workable dough.

Store the dough in a sealed container to keep it from becoming dry. If it becomes too dry, place it back in the mixer bowl and knead in a dribble of water.

Happy Birthday Elmo!

Borders - Davenport, IA
4000 East 53rd

Saturday, February 26, 2011
2:00 - 5:00 Join us to celebrate our favorite furry friend! Celebrate Elmo's 3rd birthday with music, stories, crafts and more! Please note that this is not a costume character event. Activities will vary by store.

The ISAT test and how to prepare

It is that a time of year again! ISAT testing will begin Feb. 28-March 11. Below are some resources for students to practice and prepare their bodies for the test! These links can be practiced daily until testing time! During test days, make sure your child gets plenty of sleep and eats a good breakfast.

Practice online interactive multiple choice questions (link)

Print sample test booklets (link)

Play fun games that are focused on ISAT practice (link)

How can we celebrate President's Day?

Presidents' Day, originally known as Washington's Birthday, falls on the third Monday of February. This year Presidents' Day falls on February 21, 2011.

1. Read a story about Honest Abe and George Washington. Then answer the reading check questions at the end!

2.Make a pretzel log cabin

3. Watch a patriotic movie with your family.

4. Play the President's Day Webquest.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Children's books wanted for future classroom

This is a photo of the books I currently have in my collection for my future classroom library! These books have either been donated by friends or purchased by me. If you have children's books in your home that your children no longer read, I would love to add them to my collection!