Saturday, December 20, 2014

Kindness Elves: Experiencing Thinking About Others Over Ourselves

When we came back from Thanksgiving Break, we found these little cuties in the room waiting for us!

They are the Kindness Elves! They had heard about how kind we were to fill a need for another class and wanted to share more experiences of kindness with us! I found this idea came at as a spin on the Elf on a Shelf idea.  Check her out!  She has an amazing blog!

They voted on names for our elves.  It was no surprise that they chose Elsa and Olaf! Our elves gave us many ideas to show kindness to each other. 

They encouraged us to catch others being kind and write down what they did. The kids put these notes in a Kindness Jar. They caught 26 acts of kindness in our room and wrote them down! 

Instead of me sharing what they wrote, the kids read about the acts of kindness they caught others doing. This was a great authentic writing experience for them!
The Kindness elves also encourages us to create Christmas cards for our friends and family! They had even wrote one for each other for the kids to see as models. 

Another idea they gave us was to make a Gingerbread book for another class to enjoy! They decided they wanted to make a big book and give it to Mrs. Garrabrant's class since they were so kind to teach us the song we sang at our Friendship Feast. We are still working on this story. They voted on the main character and the setting of the story. It will be a Gingerbread Girl and she will run away in our school. Supporting Characters will be people from our school trying to catch her. The problem of our story is that she will run away. The solution was me sneaking up on her while our gingerbread men distracted her and eating her!  This was a great way to get the kids to learn about the elements of a story and work on story comprehension. It is also helping us learn how to make our writing easy to read! They have realized that for Mrs. Garrabrant's class to be able to read it, we need neat writing, spaces between words, good spelling and good picture clues! They are also applying this learning to their individual writing to make their writing easier for themselves to reread and others to read. 

Our elves also asked us to show kindness to those in need by bringing in food for the West Carrollton Food Pantry. 

They wanted us to show kindness to the birds since they have a harder time finding food in the winter. They even brought us materials to use!

The kids loved these elves! They even built a house for them! One friend had a vision for this project and was the project manager. She took this job very seriously and did a great job of managing a group of five friends to collaborate and create this house! 

They ran into a problem. Since this took multiple days, it kept getting knocked over by friends walking by. One friend came up with the idea of creating traffic cones to direct traffic around the elves house. 

This created an impromptu lesson on the attributes of a cone and some problem solving as they figured out how to create cones out of orange paper that would stand up! The project manager drew up a plan. 

They were very persistent and didn't give up until they figured it out!

The elves also inspired some art!

In the end, the Kindness Elves taught us about kindness and we also learned a lot about reading and writing in the process!

Here are some other things going on in our room!

Looking closer at poinsettias and documenting what they notice using water colors. 

Creating pictures using shapes and documenting how many of each shape is used. 

Creating sparkly CD art to hang in our room. 

Timing how fast we can read sight words. 

Creating games to help each other learn sight words. 

Using our Data Folders to see what we still need to learn, create goals and use materials in our room to help us meet those goals. 

Many friends have come up with the goal of writing numbers to 100 which is beyond kindergarten standards!

Many are showing what teens are: A group of ten and some extra ones. 

The obsession with 3D shapes continues. 

One friend used these Magnetix to show the difference between 2D and 3D shapes. 

This friend created two different kinds of pyramids!

Some are starting to create some very complicated shapes!

They love to practice drawing shapes and are even trying to draw some 3D shapes!

Of course they still love our engineering and architecture area. They love to find things in the books to build. They are also experimenting more with patterns and force and motion. The friends below worked together to create this pattern than showed how each one would hit the other as they fell down if one end was pushed (like dominoes).

These friends tried to duplicate this recipe in our home living area. 

Creating beautiful things such as this crown has also been fun for them. 

As you can see, there is a lot of learning and exploring going on before our Winter Break! I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Gingerbread Man

For the Holidays, I set up materials for the kids to create a Gingerbread Bakery. 

They loved it!

We started reading many different versions of The Gingerbread Man. We are focusing on story comprehension. They are identifying the characters, setting, problem and solution. They are also working on retelling the stories.

One day, we had a couple surprise visiters come to our class! Two gingerbread men named Candy and Mingy! 

One day we came in and found this massage!

The kids created posters and taped them all over our school so that if anyone found them, they would bring them to us! They knew they had to write neatly, use spaces, write every sound they could hear in each word, spell sight words correctly and draw a good picture in order for others to be able to read their poster. They all tried their hardest!

The signs caught the attention of many other classes! Many told us that they were also keeping an eye out for our gingerbread men. 

The next morning, I showed the kids this picture on our promethium board that came from the security camera right outside our classroom! It shows our Gingerbread Men in the empty hallway!

They were beside themselves with glee! The kids decided to create traps. We had a discussion about what a good trap needed to do. It needed: 1) Something to lure the gingerbread men in and 2) A way to trap them and keep them from running away. They started creating plans. Some even used our art studio to make plans. 


Materials were gathered and the work began! They were so engaged in the process!

We couldn't use real candy as bait because we didn't want to attract mice so they made their own and we sprayed the "candy" with peppermint spray to trick them!

The next step was setting them up!

The traps caught Mrs. Holton...

but no gingerbread men. 

The kids wrote letters to the gingerbread men saying how much they missed them. We taped them all over the school hoping they would find them!

Mrs. Rigg's class had been very obsessed with finding our gingerbread friends for us! They were looking everywhere! After they had made some gingerbread houses, guess who showed up in their room! The GBM had a note for them.

Now our friends are back safe and sound! What a wonderful, magical adventure we all had with so many authentic reading and writing opportunities, along with many 21st century learning skills being practiced as they planned, collaborated and built their traps! This is why I enjoy teaching this age so much! Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.