Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Earth Day

I read several books to the children about Earth Day and we have been talking about it for a couple of weeks.  Today we decided to get to work and do something to help the earth.  We walked to the lake with trash bags in hand.  Of course all good birders always remember to bring their binoculars with them everywhere they go!  

When we got our first look at the lake, we saw Northern Shovelers and then we saw a wonderful sight!  There was a Great Egret standing on the far shore!  It was beautiful!  The kids were cheering, "Life bird!" Later it flew over us in a circle and landed in a tree next to two Double-crested Cormorants.  We saw quite a few birds on that windy afternoon and we picked up a lot of trash!  We put all of our bags in the trash can out there and nearly filled it to the top.  The kids did their good deed for the Earth.  Now we all need to be more mindful of caring for it all year long.

They are scanning the lake for birds.
The Common Grackle was nearby watching the kids and 
thinking that it was time to go to my house and 
empty the bird feeders!
This was a funny photo with two Canada 
Geese, the Great Egret and a Northern 
Shoveler all in the same photo.
Check out its beautiful plumes blowing in the wind.

We were happy to see the Great Egret landed in the 
tree near two Double-crested Cormorants.

Kids were shouting, "Life bird!" when they saw birds they 
had never seen before.
Here are the wonderful children who did their part to help 
their lake, town and earth!

Arbor Tree

Every year for 30+ years our county has given a small tree to each kindergartner to plant.  This year's tree is our state tree - the Black Hills Spruce.  They just happened to get their tree on Earth Day.  They were sure happy after the presentation, when she gave them a tree! They were not expecting that.

Our very own tree!  Wow!

Lemons and Limes

The cooks brought around lemon and lime wedges for the children to taste today.  There were some funny faces and reactions from the kids.  They definitely learned what the word "sour" means!
They learned what the term "sour" means.

These girls didn't like them, but some kids ate them 
without any problem.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Create a Bird!

The South Dakota Innovation Lab is being showcased at the Clinton Global Initiative in June.  They are creating a minute and a half little infomercial.  Montana State University’s Documentary Film program has agreed to edit the podcast for SDIL.  SInce I am a part of the this group I was asked to come up with a project and video it, so I got right to work. If they choose to use and of my clips, it will be a small segment of the infomercial.

I was at a loss of what to do and then just like that I came up with an idea. Create a bird.  The rules were simple.  Create a bird using a pop can, construction paper and straws.  Give it a name, tell what it eats, its habitat, its behavior and what its nest is like.   Then after they created it, they had to draw and write about it in their journal.  This took a couple of sessions to complete and they really enjoyed it!

They loved this project and they were actively engaged in creating their bird.  These birds have some really wacky names too.  Check it out!
The Jace Eagle
The Bald Eagle Fish Eagle
The Pokey-billed Hummingbird
Gabe's Whooping Crane
The "Frank the Tank" bird
McKay's Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise
Smart and creative kids!
Lincoln's Marissa
Lexie's Warbler
The Purple-and-Blue Macaw
The Princess Bird of Paradise
The African Fish Eagle
"All the Birds in the World" Bird - "It eats humans!"

A Crazy 5 Minutes!

Someone hollered, "Look!"  We looked out the window and there were Franklin's Gulls flying over the playground and a couple were right by the window.  We raced outside and watched them swooping around.  It was exciting!  Those gulls have black heads and pinkish bellies.  

Then as we were about to go into the classroom someone spotted a huge flock of birds in the distance.  They thought it was a flock of Sandhill Cranes, but after we used binoculars we realized that they were American White Pelicans soaring over Armour.  They kids were shouting, "Life bird!"  They were so excited!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Chickadee Birders

Here they are!  Meet the Chickadee Birders!  These are the kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade students...and me.  We meet on Friday afternoons for 20-30 minutes for a bird lesson.  Sometimes we are all together and sometimes the 1st and 2nd alternate.  The reason we get together is to keep that bird knowledge fresh in their mind and to have fun!  I try to teach them other things about nature as well.  It is my favorite time of the week.
This has also helped to build friendships between younger 
and older students.  Also the older birders are good 
mentors to the younger ones.  That second grade class has 
always been great about asking those deeper thinking questions.
Sometimes things get a little crazy!

The Challenge

I could tell by how they were reading words and sounding out words that they should be able to write more than one sentence, so we had a talk.  I challenged them to write more than one sentence.  Then I challenged them to attempt to sound out the words as best they could without my help.  Here is the result.  Some of them had a bit of help, but some of them came up with a whole lot of wonderful all by themselves!  Wow!  I was so happy to see what they could do!  I just knew they could do it!  To think that most of them came into school last August ready to learn the letter names and sounds.  They have learned a lot!  Young children are much smarter than most people think they are!

You will see that we have been discussing Earth Day.
What a creative mind!
He is talking about a video game.

It takes a lot of practice, but they are getting there.
Do you?
I love how they incorporate birds into many of their drawings!

They don't realize how big the earth really is, but I don't 
imagine that I do either.

The kids' vocabulary has really grown throughout the year!

Knowing where and when punctuation marks are to be used 
is what we are working on now.

They love to express their feelings in their journal.

The journals serve a snapshot of what they did during 
their kindergarten year.

Morning Writing Practice

Nearly every morning I have the students copy a paragraph telling about a bird in our area.  Then they draw a picture of it by looking at my example.  At first this was difficult for some of them and they greatly complained, but now they can do it!  I am so glad that they realize that they can write more than one sentence at a time.  Since it is about birds, they are happy!  I will add some more pages soon.
I use mostly words that we have been working on, so that 
they can learn to read them.  I am stapling them into a 
booklet, so that they can use it to practice birds and reading 
during the summer months.

April Art

They loved designing these Easter eggs!
The kids made these baskets and then one day they 
were missing!  They looked around the room and 
when they found their basket, they were surprised 
to see it filled with candy!  Hmmm...was it the Easter Bunny 
who did that?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Math Night

Tonight was Math Night.  This is a time to show parents what kind of math their child has been doing during the year and to give them some ideas of what to work on at home especially during the long summer.  It is important to keep the skills fresh to avoid the "summer slump".

I had different activities set up in the room:
  1. Place Value Matching - match the tens and ones picture to the correct numeral
  2. M&M Math - That was a favorite!
  3. Giant Number Line - They solved the addition and subtraction facts on a huge number line taped to the floor.
  4. Pattern Blocks - By looking at a layout, try to make the same picture on the table.
  5. Bird Story Problems - The teacher reads the story problem and the child uses a white board to solve the problem.  They are "rock stars" at this!
Here they are solving the bird story problem. I use real 
bird photo cards to help tell the story.
This group is matching the place value cards.
He read the flashcard and is hopping out the answer.
The group on the left is making pattern block creations 
and some are doing the M&M tally and counting sheet.

Kindergarten Round-up

Meet the preschool class! {minus one who was absent that day}
14 Preschoolers + 12 Kindergartners= busy teachers
 On the Thursday before Easter, I had "Kindergarten Round-up" for preschoolers that plan on attending my kindergarten class this fall.  The fifteen children were here for half of the day.  I was so thankful to have the help of the local Headstart teacher.  She was so helpful and we work together so well!  I wish I had her help everyday!

K Round-up is intended to ease the anxiety of attending kindergarten by helping the children to see what school will be like.  I introduced myself and had this year's class read and show a drawing of what they like about school.  They met Rascal, the raccoon puppet.  I read them some good books, had art centers, gave them a tour of the school, did a fun science lesson, taught a lesson on American Robins and of course they had recess and playtime.  They were a wonderful group of children and I look forward to getting to know them better!  It was a great day!
Some kids enjoyed doing puzzles at playtime.
Others enjoyed playing with cars and building.
Play dough was a big hit!
At the art center they designed a chocolate egg using 
Q-tips and paint.
Very nice!
Some kids enjoyed drawing pictures.