Spring! Some are still waiting for the weather to warm, others are in full bloom, while some are already in the gardens picking strawberries. We are all brought together online and can share our spring activities. Make sure you buy your dry beans for sprouting in a local feed and garden supply store. Sprouting dry beans from the grocery store can lead to some smelly situations! Look in your refrigerator and you may find potatoes and onions sprouting on their own. Or cut off a celery stalk or lettuce base and re-sprout it. A “kitchen garden” is just as exciting as sprouting new plants!
I am getting back to my site that has been sadly neglected, but sometimes real life becomes important and other things must wait! There is a popular video making its way around FaceBook these days asking people who they would want to have dinner with if it could be anyone in the world. Many famous people are mentioned, but then they ask their children. The amazing thing is that these little ones only want to have dinner with Mom and Dad or “just family”. When I gave it some thought… I do wish for a few more evenings at the Smurf Table, when my girls were small. Those years go by so quickly. I still treasure them and hope that we all realize how important it is to have dinner with those who are most important to us…
Happy New Year! Each new year brings a sense of a fresh start. Even when life is being difficult, it is best to keep setting new goals and moving forward. That is what I am hoping to do with my site… Last year’s focus was on activities and science. This year I will continue to share my ideas on software for classroom computers. These are the things that I teach in my room. Each day I see six groups of children for 30 minutes. They have a chance to use a computer, study an animal in it’s habitat and participate in an experiment. This year I hope to add more about what goes on in my classroom as well as have extra pointers for teachers.
How to start? Every teacher needs to find a way to organize their information on a computer. Each year will be come easier as a career progresses. A program that I have found to be a great value is Apache OpenOffice. It is the leading open-source software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and works on all common computers. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose. Best of all, it’s free! Did I say that already?
Download the program from Apache OpenOffice and get ready to organize classroom curriculum for the rest of this year and be ready for next year. I will share some ideas of my own for putting together lesson plans and monthly letters.
October is over! Time and weather change. Holidays cause pressure as everyone scrambles to keep up. The computers took on a change that required students to have better skills using the mouse and critical thinking. Each program is scaffolded so students can enjoy the computer experience while improving computer mouse and small motor control.
Stellaluna by Living Books
Designed to be used by young children, pre-school to K-2. Stellaluna on a discovery of the difference between bats and birds and more! There are many surprises to be found. Even small children can navigate their way around easily, with just a click of the mouse.
Plus, children can select the “Read to Me” mode.
Putt-Putt Enters the Race
Putt-Putt is invited to participate in a race. He needs to collect four pieces of equipment to be in the race. By keeping his eyes open, earning some extra money, and helping others in cartown, he is able to gather those materials. Objectives change if the game is not saved to create a new experience each time the program is run. The goal is not a competitive one where students have to “WIN” or “LOSE”. It’s more of a goal of getting the tools needed to complete a certain job. Putt-putt models polite language and a positive demeanor. There are no bad guys
I Spy Jr.
The game engages children with clever and colorful scenarios and builds learning skills through riddles, puzzles, and games. It has 6 different activities that really help with important learning skills for preschool children as they recognize and put together patterns, following directions, and independent thinking…and it’s fun! The software uses familiar looking objects, such as colorful toys and beads. The oral directions are very clear and simple.
Four exotic animal habitats offer adventurous fun: the African savanna, a temperate forest, the Amazon rain forest, and a tide pool. Each habitat comes with its own set of animal games and activities. Students interact with and learn about a variety of animals or create their own animal habitats.
September is a BUSY month! Everything is set ready and new. Rooms change, schedules change and everyone is running to keep up, so to speak. Please don’t run in the halls! It helps to have the computer center set up with basic programs that introduce basic computer skills for students new to the computer. Other students will be happy to see old friends and familiar games.
Reader Rabbit Baby and Toddler
Teaches basic computer skills, mouse skills, language development, auditory discrimination, coordination, kinesthetic development, cause and effect, sound patterns, visual patterns, tracking, predicting, matching, letters, numbers, counting, body parts, identifying emotions, music appreciation, and identifying animal sounds.
Key concepts are shapes, colors, and numbers and letter recognition. Also helps develop vocabulary through music, names of animals and body parts, and the wonderful fingerplays that accompany songs.
A Publix community service program to help children think about shopping for healthy foods. Basic computer skills taught through seven fun game zones which introduce preschool concepts like early counting, listening skills, the alphabet, food groups, and art to students. Children play three levels of each game and earn coins every time they complete a level.
Putt Putt Saves the Zoo
Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo is a point-and-click adventure game using critical thinking. Putt Putt helps his friends find all the baby animals just in time to open The cartoon zoo! Help Putt-Putt track down everything he needs so he can find the missing baby animals. Fun music videos and mini-games are included to keep things lively.
The player takes control of Putt-Putt with the goal of rescuing six missing baby animals and having fun along the way. The game is played by using the mouse to interact with the environment. By clicking on various areas called Click Points, the player can collect items, talk with other characters, and watch funny animations. Items are collected to help the player solve puzzles.
Using the letter of the week can insure that over a year’s time a child has been exposed to all of the alphabet, lower and upper case. It can also mean that the letters in a child’s name are not covered until the end of the year. At a perfect time for P when there is pumpkin pie the letter of the week may be T for thanksgiving. It can be frustrating to try to add this into a teacher’s theme. I personally feel that while there maybe a letter of the week schedule in your curriculum, there needs to space left for special events and freedom to choose letters with your themes.
After a week of A is for Apple, we had made apple prints, used sign language for A and apple, circled every A or a in magazine clippings, made an A with popsicle sticks and playdough, and read about Johnny Appleseed. We had even covered how A has two sounds. There was an apple taste test at snack time and I reminded the students that for Show and Share they should bring something from home about the letter A.
“Everything starts with A at my house,” remarked one student as he munched away at his apple slices.
“Everything?” I said. “What do you have in your house?”
(Really, I should have known better)
“Oh, a chair, a door, a rug, a bed, a table…”
The first day of school. That is the day when the very young must adjust to new surroundings and leave the comfort of home. It is often very trying and stressful. Yet, the very young bounce back and settle in and make new friends.
The first few days in my classroom I try to reduce the stress by having familiar items and activities out for the students.
The Art Center is stocked with lots of paper and crayons. We had just begun to do some free art at the art table when a little guy gasped, “Oh no! This is not my color.”
“What happened? Did you get your crayons mixed up?” I asked.
“Uh huh, they both had orange paper on them, but this color is different,” he almost looks tearful.
“The colors both look orange to me, one is just a different shade,” I say trying to soften things for him.
“Yeah, I guess it is just a violet-orange,” he says, giving me a very wise look for a four year old.
I do not laugh. It is very endearing to see this young boy come up with a solution and a name for the other orange. He colors around the offending color and makes a picture to take home. I am left to ponder if there really is a violet-orange and what the color would look like…
An Imperial Moth Caterpillar was brought to the enrichment room back in the late fall of 2013. A habitat was quickly put together and the caterpillar would not eat or rest. I knew they pupated underground and made sure the sand was deep in the little enclosure. By morning the caterpillar was gone! All that was left was a small hole in the sand. Then we waited.
The same day the butterflies started hatching out popped a moth!
This is the casing the caterpillar rested in for the winter.
The wings of the moth were small, but lots of pumping they were able to grow!
This moth is a beauty.
Sometimes life can get VERY busy and there seems to be little time to get the things done that one would WANT to do. The good news is: The monarch butterflies hatched anyway! Students in our first classroom session saw movement in the habitat and spent most of the morning watching the butterfly pull itself out of the chrysalis.
The wings are small and limp, but grow as the butterfly pumps them.
I have a 24 hour rule about keeping butterflies. There is butterfly food on cotton balls so the next day’s class can see the butterfly and then it will be released.
All 5 butterflies hatched and were released. They will search out milkweed and lay more eggs to continue their life cycle. Keep in mind that when plants are sprayed to control insects, this will also kill butterflies. Most of us do not spray milkweed! Other butterflies like plants, though, that might be sprayed. The Giant Swallowtail eats citrus plants like the orange, lemon, tangerine and kumquat. Anise Swallowtail eats Parsley, Fennel, and Dill. The Gulf Fritillary eats Passionvine.
Chia seeds look like teeny, tiny beans and have some interesting properties. The outside of the Chia seed is covered in tiny hair like fibers. When the seed is wet, these almost-invisible tiny fibers stand on end and begin trapping liquid. A Chia seed can hold 9 times the weight of the seed in water! This action causes a bead of gel to form around the seed.
See this in action by adding 1/4 cup of water with 2 teaspoons of Chia seeds. Stir the mixture and watch it thicken. Let the seeds soak while getting a clay pot or several small clay pots. You will also need a draining dish, cotton balls, and something to spread the seeds on the pot.
Rinse the clay pot in water and then stuff the clay pot with cotton balls and set it in the draining dish.
Now the pot is ready for the Chia seeds to be “pasted” on its sides. This can get messy because the seeds will stick to everything. Cover the pot, allowing room at the bottom so the water in the draining dish will not touch the seeds and allow it to sit for a few minutes so the seeds will stay put. Add water in the draining dish. The cotton balls will absorb water and keep the pot moist. Then watch for 5 loooooong days. There is still lots to do. Mist the seeds several times a day and make sure there is water in the draining dish.
Sometimes, as early as 3 days there will be small sprouts visible. Have several magnifying glasses on hand to get a closer look.
Over the next week the sprouts will grow until the pot is covered with tiny green Chia sprouts.
The snails in the classroom terrarium discovered that Chia sprouts are a good treat.