Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Spy Letters: DIY Containers

I love finding new ways to interact with letters.  The "I Spy" bottle is an old stand-by, but can be used in lots of exciting ways.  Kids love the chance to spin the bottle and find hidden treasure.

I created my own "I Spy" containers with my daughter.  She wanted to be a part of the process.  We started out by getting some plastic containers from Oriental Trading.  I used two different sized containers.  One large one for home and a smaller one for traveling.  You can see the two I got here, but you can use any type of recyclable plastic bottles.
I found some Melissa & Doug alphabet beads on clearance and those became our letters for the jars.
We dye rice for our sensory tub, so she was able to choose the colors that she wanted in the containers.  She poured, I swept up the rest :)  We followed Jenn Drake's directions to dye our rice.  You can see that here.
My daughter layered letters and other interesting objects between the different colors.  I have collections of buttons, and all sorts of little objects.  She went through all of them and we identified the beginning sound of each object, as she dropped it in the jar.
 Here is the completed container.  We left about an inch and a half of empty space at the top.  This allows the objects to move freely around the jar.
I did not glue the top of my bottle, because I am using it with children in my home.  If I were in the classroom environment, I would definitely super glue the top on the container.
Here is our "I Spy:Scavenger Hunt" center.  I kept the wooden box from the Melissa & Doug beads, to contain the "I Spy" bottle.  This allows children to roll the bottle, but keeps it in a contained space.  I have a focus wand and interactive letter worksheet from my Going On a Letter Hunt pack.  This particular worksheet is focusing on the lowercase letter "c".  The letters in our bottle are all uppercase, so my daughter had to recognize the lowercase letter and identify the corresponding uppercase letter.  
She had a ball with this activity!  First, she found the letter "c" with her focus wand.  This helped her to really bring her attention to the specific letter that she needed to find.
 Then, she spun the "I Spy" bottle until she found the capital letter "C".  She immediately scooped up her focus wand and highlighted the letter "C" in the bottle.
 She completed the rest of the letter hunt.  This includes tracing the letter, writing the letter, using visual discrimination to highlight the letter, and completing a cut and paste activity.  
The cut and paste activity is differentiated.  There are two differentiated worksheets. 
In the easier version, there are less letters to cut out and students match the letters when gluing. 
In the harder version, there are more letters and students must identify and glue the correct letters in the four squares. Students must differentiate between the letters provided.
We had more fun with the "I Spy" bottle.  My daughter would find a letter and then write the letter on a dry erase board.  She also was the teacher and gave me a letter that I needed to find.  The possibilities are endless.  You can set this up as a partner station, where each student gets a chance to be teacher.  The other student needs to find the specific letter.  You can add writing the letter on dry erase boards to the activity.
We use the Going On a Letter Hunt activities in so many ways!  We use so many types of text: leveled readers, pocket chart poems, environmental print, word walls, picture books, chapter books, work sheets, posters, even words on food! My daughter LOVES them!
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I created a Going On a Word Hunt series for my son.  He wanted to get in on the fun.  The beauty of these scavenger hunts is that they can be used with any text.  I hope that you found some fun ideas to use with your kids!  You can make your "I Spy" bottle with sight words, numbers, or anything your heart desires.  
 You can get them here:
Uppercase Letters
Lowercase Letters
BUNDLE: Upper and Lowercase Letters
Dolch: Pre-Primer Words
Dolch: Primer Words

Monday, September 22, 2014

Best Birthday Present Ever!

I had one of the most amazing weekends of my life!  My mom gifted me a membership to the Children's Music Network and a trip to their annual international conference.  It was a weekend of rejuvenation and getting energized!
Children's Music Network is an amazing organization.  It is for anyone with a love of music and children.  I am not a musician.  I sing in the shower and for kids, but that is the extent of my musical talent.  However, I was embraced into this community with open arms.  The experience was phenomenal.  

I learned new ways to integrate music into your classroom.  I heard all types of music that fits right into the common core standards.  I learned so much about how to use neurologically directed movement to help with self regulation, and so much more. 

There was so much more packed into this wonderful weekend.  As I gather and organize my thoughts, I am going to start sharing some amazing artists with you.  Hopefully, you will find some new and wonderful music to inspire yourself and your children.

The last thing that I would like to share with you is that I was star struck throughout the weekend.  I was meeting the actual singer behind the album.  After I got over my amazement at actually meeting these "rock stars", every single singer spoke to me as an equal and gave me a sense of belonging.  Every single person, at this conference, collaborated with each other and got the creative juices flowing. 

I could go on and on, but I just wanted to share how special this experience was for me.  I look forward to sharing everything that comes my weekend with some absolutely amazing people!  Follow on Bloglovin
Keep on singing, even if it is only in the shower... 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Talk Like A Pirate Day + Freebie!

Some of my favorite activities are centered around the pirate theme.  Kids seem to love the mystery of buried treasure, maps, and intrigue on the high sea!  What better time to play like a pirate, than "Talk Like a Pirate Day".  You can check out the official site for "Talk Like a Pirate Day" here.
I have some fun pirate activities that we are playing with all week!  Did I mention that I love pirates???  We started out by making "Pirate Gold Play Dough".  We used a recipe from Kids Activity Blog.  To make the play dough more like treasure, we added glitter to the dough.  The kids got to pour it in and knead it into the dough.  Great fine motor practice and FUN!
 We used the "Treasure Dough" with my Pirates: Interactive Play Dough Mats Pack.   The kids used the play doh to create the numerals.  Some kids made snakes to create the numerals, others smashed the play dough down on the numeral.
I always have them trace the letter, after building it with play dough.  It lets kids really experience the letter formation in a very tactile way.  It's also a great way for kids to take ownership of the numbers.  They build the number and trace it themselves.
Below, the students used the play dough to create the numeral and to make the matching number of "pirates".
 Another way to use the pirate manipulatives is to press them on top of each play dough ball.  This will really help students to focus on one-to-one correspondence.
I include treasure chest mats and cards to make these mats more interactive.  There are three types of cards: numerals, ten frames, and addition cards.

Here the student chose a ten frame card and created the same number of play dough treasure in the chest.
 Here is an example of a numeral card.
Here is the addition card.  I have students use two different colors to represent the addition sentence.
 Then, students will use their fingers to physically touch and count each piece of "gold".  This student smooshed each piece, as he counted.  It really gives them the kinesthetic experience of counting each piece of play dough.
We also got out the "Missing Pirates" Missing Addends pack.  Students will use counters to identify the missing number in the addition sentence.  You can get a free sample of this pack here.

 Students will record the addition sentence on the recording sheet.
 Here is an example of how I set up the center.  I include the missing addends mats, the pirate counters, and the recording sheet.  Check out this post to get the little story that goes along with the mats and more suggestions!
 We also experimented with pirate treasure!  We used a recipe for dinosaur eggs from Projects for Preschoolers.  See it here.  We used the same recipe.  My son wrote it down for us to follow.  On the last part, he was experimenting with cursive.
The kids were able to use measure each ingredient.

 They mixed it all together.
Added the water and started to hide our treasure!
 We used all kinds of "treasure".  Pirate coins, beads, costume jewelry, even real coins.
They had a great time hiding the treasure in the "rocks".

Costume jewelry peeking out.
When they were done, we put them on an old cookie sheet and let them dry overnight.  We put them in a window, so the sun helped dry them.
While we waited for the treasure to dry, we created treasure chests.
I cut an egg carton in two pieces.
The kids painted them and decorated with stickers.
The next day, I hid all of the pirate treasure.  They were able to go on a treasure hunt (with maps) to find all the pirate treasure.  They wore their pirate hats and the eye patches (for about one minute) to complete the pirate look.
After collecting all their treasure, they got to break open the "rocks".  It was really like hunting for buried treasure.
They wanted to use pirate tools, but you could just break them open with your hands.
They got to use old toothbrushes to clean their treasure.
Then, they added the treasure to their treasure box!
 It was such a fun experience!
I hope you have a fabulous "Talk Like a Pirate Day" tomorrow!  If you would like to use any of my pirate resources, you can click on the pictures below to purchase them.  Ahoy, matey!!
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I linked up with Manic Monday at Classroom Freebies!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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