Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It is Happening!

Today the first Painted Lady Butterfly emerged from its chrysalis and we were there to sing "Happy Birthday" to it!  We are wondering how many will be out by morning!

At first the wings are wet and wrinkled, but they slowly change.

The first of our five Painted Lady butterflies to emerge.

A Big Thank You!

A big thank you goes out to our local seed store who gave each child some bird window/mirror clings!  You could put these on the window where you watch birds from and then when a bird zips over to the feeder, you could compare it to which one it was.  What a great way for the kids to learn their birds!  Be sure to thank these folks when you see them!

The kids were very excited about this gift!

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Song Created by a Kindergartner!

A kindergarten girl wrote a cool song about birds!  She asked a friend to sing it with her.  It is one rockin' song!  You can watch it when you check out my Flickr site by clicking here.

These girls love birds and enjoy singing about them!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Original DUCKumentary

The Original DUCKumentary is a wonderful film about ducks and Wood Ducks in particular.  I have shown a bit of it for a couple of days to the kids and they love it!  It is a very educational and fun show to watch.  I learn something new every time I watch it, so grab some popcorn and watch a cool documentary with your child.  I think they may surprise you by knowing some of the ducks already!  Click below to watch it.

The Original DUCKumentary

I took this photo at one of our local lakes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Their First Cedar Waxwings

As you know...sometimes I will be throwing in bird identification lessons for those of you who are interested.  I have this post along with more bird posts on my other blog - BirdTeach.

There are many Cedar Waxwings in the area right now, so when I saw a huge flock of them a block from school yesterday, I walked the k-kids over to see them.  After watching them for awhile, they all lifted off.  The kids were pretty excited when that happened as it was a loud whoosh of wings.  If this was their first time to see a Cedar Waxwing, it will be a life bird for them. That means it is the first time that they have seen that bird in their life.

I often see Cedar Waxwings sitting at the tops of trees, feeding on Cedar berries or flying over in flocks that sound {to me} like crickets.  

The Cedar Waxwing is a striking bird with its black mask, yellow belly, and a tan crest.They are about 5"-6" from head to tail.  The yellow stripe along the bottom of its tail and the red marking on its wing are also diagnostic in identifying this bird.  Read more here at All About Birds.  Check out the videos by our filmmaker,Tim Barksdale, on that page as well.

I took this photo of a Cedar Waxwing in August at the refuge.

It is a very pretty bird!

This group was a block from the school.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Waiting for Wings

Excitement is mounting as our five caterpillars have grown so much over the weekend and now one has turned into a chrysalis.  It happened during school.  How did we miss that?  Now we wait...for wings.

Waiting for wings!

A Salamander Visits the Classroom

A child brought a salamander that was found in the area.  The kids thought it was fascinating!  We could not believe how quick it was.  Several children and one of the teachers that stopped in had no idea that they lived in our area.

Usually when a child brings in an animal in to show, I seize the moment and teach a lesson about it.  We watched a really neat video called "The Salamander Room"  Click on the book's title to watch it. 

We discussed that just because we might not like how an animal looks or if it creeps us out, we shouldn't be mean to it because it is a living thing.

We did a bit of research on salamanders and found out that:
  • a salamander is an amphibian like a frog, but is closely related to a newt
  • it has a long slender tail, a long slender body and four legs
  • they have moist skin and live in a many places in the world
  • there are more than 700 kinds of salamanders
  • it is able to regrow lost limbs and body parts
  • salamander numbers are decreasing
  • in South Dakota we have the Mudpuppy and the Tiger Salamander
The Field Guide to South Dakota Amphibians site is interesting.  Click here to see it and look on page 42 for information on salamanders.

Here are some photos of our visiting Tiger Salamander.

Here is "Sally the Salamander" in its temporary habitat.
She loved her salamander!
Some kids wanted a closer look and some did not!  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Our First Nature Hike

This morning we rode in the school van to the lake in town for their first nature hike and birding trip.  First, we drove around the lake to see if we could find a Great Blue Heron and we did!  It was right by the shore and it flew by us.

Then we got out of the van and we hiked around the lake.  We saw turtles, grasshoppers, a spider, ants, a squirrel and lots of birds.  The teacher talked to us about how it is still summer for a few more days.  We looked at the trees and noticed that they were mostly green, but some were changing color and some leaves were falling.
We didn’t each see all of the birds that were there, but here are some:  Killdeer, Eurasian Collared-Doves, Mourning Doves, Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Red-headed Woodpecker, Wood Duck, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, American Robin, Blue Jay, European Starlings, Chimney Swifts, Barn Swallows, and some sparrows that were too fast for us to see well.

Then we hiked through the “spooky forest” and it was fun!  One girl said, “This is the forest?  I’m not going in there!  There are wolves in a forest!”  Later a child said in a mysterious voice, “Where is Teacher taking us?”  They ended up liking the short hike through the spooky forest.

They were very excited to ride in the school van!
Flowers for Mommy!

They loved the bridge!

Most children tend to be very interested in nature.

We hiked through the spooky forest! 

The Kindergarten Birders
Great Blue Heron {photo taken a few weeks ago}.  It is as tall as a k-kid.
Meet Maynard, the young Wood Duck, who seems to have been left behind.

I've noticed that many townspeople love to check out these turtles.

Homecoming Week

Monday night was coronation night at AHS.  Here are the two kindergarten representatives or "small fry".  They did a great job!   After skits, watching the band, the evening was wrapped up with the burning of the "A" and a pep rally.  That is always a favorite of the kids!

We had a great turnout for float-building night and everyone worked so hard. Thank you to everyone who was able to pitch in!  I really appreciate it!  I think this night is a great time for the parents and families to get to know each other.  It will be a beginning of many years of togetherness as the children go through grade school and high school.

It was a hot day for the parade with temperatures in the mid-80s.  The kids enjoyed the parade, but some seemed to be pretty wore out by the end.  They sure were cute Oompa-Loompas!

The Kindergarten "small fry" - chosen by the AHS student council.

They are looking pretty spiffy!

It was a hot day and the kids got pretty warm and thirsty.

Our hard work paid off!

The k-kids each designed a letter and that is their hand prints.

Quite the Oompa Loompas!

Here is the king, queen and small fry.


Rascal is our class mascot and he is a raccoon puppet.  In fact Rascal has been the class mascot for some 21 years for the kindergartners in our school.  Rascal is...well...a rascal and he is a bit naughty.  

When he visits with the children in the morning he poses questions and problems and I think that the students learn social skills and manners from him.  Rascal is also very funny!  

Yesterday Rascal told the kids that he wanted to be in the parade and he wondered if they would design a float for him and draw him on it.  They did such a nice job that I thought I would display it in the hallway.  We also made up a class story about it.

Can you find Rascal on each float?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hat Day

Today was "Hat Day" and the kids enjoyed wearing a hat in school.  It was fun seeing all of the different hats in school today.

Check out the cool hats and such!
Look at those faces!  I love it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Finally Happening!

Their interest in birds has grown.  It only took a few lessons for them to see how amazing birds are.  

They can name 44 birds now!
There is "standing room" only at the bird center.

Bunny Comes to Visit

Someone brought in her daughter's beautiful, brown rabbit.  The kids really liked it and they couldn't believe how soft it was!  I encouraged the young students to ask a lot of questions about the rabbit.  Asking questions is how they learn about the world.

A cute, calm bunny.

The kids loved to pet it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pedometers on the Kids

The school received a grant for physical education and to show that the kids are meeting their goals, they need to wear the pedometers at different times throughout the year.  The pedometers will be sent home at some point, so be sure to send them back.  Each day I record the number of steps that its tracked.  Most of the students were in the 5,500-7,000 range today with one boy being over 12,000.  Hmmm...

The kids love the cool, techy pedometers!

Language Arts and Reading

The kindergartners have been working very hard this past week.  They have many skills to learn during their first year in school, so we don't waste anytime.  I teach a reading lesson in the morning and whenever we have a spare moment we review.  They work in large groups, small groups and individually with me.  Some students are still having difficulty paying attention and/or focusing on the lesson, but it will improve.  Here is a list of what they are working on:

  • Naming the letters of the alphabet - later they will have to know how to write the letters and know the sound of each letter
  • Matching the upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet
  • Knowing the first sound in a word - for example I say, "What is the first sound in girl?"
  • Tell the parts of a word - I say, "What sounds do you hear in truck?  They say the sounds, "/t/ /r/ /u/ /ck/"
  • Reading the color words 
  • Reading sight words:  like, I, to, see, me, mom, dad, go, can
  • Understanding and matching rhyming words
  • Reading grade level booklets
  • Eventually they will be doing more writing of letters and sentences
Please get into the routine of practicing these skills with your child at home.  Good study habits will be needed throughout the school years and you might as well start now.  Some families have a set time like after supper when their child knows they are going to work on their skills at home.  Keep it low-key and positive.  It can be good quality time spent with your child and you can play a key role in helping your child to be successful! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Patriotic Songs

If you hear your young child singing patriotic songs around the house, that is because I teach them the songs and we sing them after the "Pledge of Allegiance" each day.  It doesn't take these young ones very long to memorize them and they really like to sing them.  They know two so far:  This Land is Your Land and You're a Grand Old Flag.

Today's Message and Funny Comment

Today's cute message...

And today's funny comment...

I was showing a U.S. poster to the kindergartners and I told them that it was a painting of George Washington and that he was our first president.  One boy said, "Hmm...I thought that was Johnny Cash."

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chickadee Bird Club

On Friday mornings the kindergarten students go to the first grade room for a Reading/Language lesson and in the afternoon the 1st graders come into my room for Chickadee Bird Club.  

Today was the first meeting and it was really a lot of fun!  I try to incorporate as much science, nature and deeper thinking skills as I can during the lessons.  Today I kicked it off by telling them why birds are so cool!  The kids were full of enthusiasm and loved what I was telling them.  I think kids naturally love nature, so it is good for them to gain an understanding and deeper appreciation of it.

They are watching a short video of the Ruffed Grouse. They think it is so funny!
Here they are trying to beat their "wings" against their body like it does.

Weekly Testing

Each week I will test the students individually to see how they are doing.  I have found that this is the best way at the beginning of the year.  I use flashcards, games and toys to find out if they understood the skills taught for the week.  This is a good way to monitor where they are at and who needs more assistance.  The other students are in small groups working on activities in different areas of the room.  They did a great job at staying on task today! 

I would love to send the report home on Fridays, but I will need the weekend to get them scored, so they will be sent home on Mondays.  You can check the Parent Portal on DDN Campus to see how he/she is doing.  

I also take the time to ask the kids how they are feeling about school and what is going good for them or what concerns they may have.  They enjoy testing time and beg to be next!

He is matching upper/lowercase letters and naming them as he goes.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Our First Bird Lesson

I taught my first bird lesson of the school year. I started out with a Power Point slideshow that I created for the Ohio summer bird camp that I directed this past summer. We watched the show at the huge Promethean board in our room that is 4' x 6'. What a great way for kids to learn!

The slideshow was titled "Why Birds?"  In this slideshow I tell some of the reasons why I think birds are amazing and well...I think it worked!  The kids were saying, "Wow!" and "Cool!"  Then later on they laughed and laughed at the bird videos that displayed cool bird behavior.  They were quite amazed too!

I told them I'd put some of the video links on this blog, so that they could share them with their family.  One boy kept asking, "Is this real?"

Cool Bird Behavior - Video Links:

Belted Kingfisher fishing on ARKive  This bird has been at our lake in town lately.

Shoebill on ARKive  This is a tall African bird.

Clark's Grebe on ARKive - Have you ever seen a bird walk on water?

Osprey fishing - There were three Osprey at the lake in tow on Wednesday.  I saw them plunge into the water talons first to catch fish.  I didn't see them today however, so maybe they have moved on.  They are migrating through the area.

This Osprey was at our lake last April.  I took this photo of him flying over the water.
 Click here to read more about Osprey and hear their call.

Fruits and Veggies

Our school was awarded a "Fruit and Vegetable" grant, so every afternoon the K-4 students get a different fruit or vegetable to try.  If they do not like what is served, they are encouraged to try it.  Some of the healthy foods they have been served lately were:  apples, kiwi, sweet peppers, carrots, and celery. We talk about the food and what part of the plant their fruit/vegetable is from. It is a great deal if they eat it, as it is so-o-o healthy for them!

Today's selection was carrots.