Saturday, November 5, 2016

Spiders, Spiders Everywhere!

I love fall...but it is definitely the CrAziEst time of the school year for me!  Report cards, conferences, balancing my own kiddos and family events...WHEW!  I can hardly keep up! 
Do y'all feel that way too? 

 I've had quite a few requests this week for info on some of things I've been doing with my littles, so thought I’d share just a few activities from my



Like usual, it took some Thursday night prep...

This week the goal was to cover my room in spider webs and spiders, of course.  I just made a quick stop at Dollar Tree and for just a few bucks I had the room covered! (And YES.. that is a spider scarf I'm wearing!   Picked that baby up at the Dollar Tree too!)  The crazy spider headband is a few years old (got it at JoAnn's)...but I saw several similar ones at Michael's just a few weeks ago!   

We started the morning with a quick spider introduction, compliments of Scholastic's latest "Let's Find Out" Kindergarten magazine.  {LOVE how interactive these resources have become!}

Then we met up with our 6th grade BIG BUDDIES and made some pretty spectacular spider art!    

Want to know how we did it?  
First, we pre-painted the black construction paper.  To be more specific, we filled cups with white paint and threw in some marbles.  We placed the black paper into the lid of a paper ream box, threw in the paint covered marbles, and then tiled the box top all around.   WA-LA!  Awesome spider-web-ish patterned paper!  (We did this the day BEFORE we met with our buddies to assemble the project!)

Next, when our buddies joined us, the kiddos cut their spider-web-ish {Come on.. roll with me.  It SHOULD be a word!} black paper into thin (about 1/2 inch) strips.  The buddies worked together to form their own spider webs on the paper.

 While all the kiddos were working on their webs, I called the buddy pairs over to "my" table and I painted the kinder's palms and fingers (NOT THUMBS) with black paint.   They placed the first had down on a piece of white paper.  Then they placed the opposite hand, palm part overlapping the already printed palm print, so that the opposite hand's fingers stuck out like legs on the opposing side of the spider "body."   Immediately after that, I had the student make a fist and I painted the bottom of the fist with black paint... and had the child make a "head" print with the fist.  

Finally, we cut out the dried spiders and glued on the two "primary eyes."   Then... we took a Q-tip dipped in white paint and added the spiders two fore-eyes and four lower smaller lower eyes, just to be sure were attempting to be as anatomically correct as possible. (Most spiders have 6 eyes.)


On cue, "Dr. Science" {our early childhood director and one of my best friends} stumbled in like a hot mess, completely tangled in a ginormous spider web!  

Note:  I do all of the planning for what Dr. Science is going to do.  I prep the activities and "scrips"...but my awesome (and crazy-fun) colleague, Mrs. Kidd, brings it to life when she comes over and we "team teach" the content.  I LOVE IT!   We are getting pretty darn good at playing off each other to keep the kiddos engaged! #couldnotdoitwithouther  I'm telling you this because I've had followers comment things like, "Well, I couldn't do that because I don't have a co-teacher or an aide."  People, I haven't always had one either!   But if YOU are willing to do the planning, I betcha' you can beg a parent volunteer to come in and play along....YOU CAN do this! And it's FUN!  

"Did I hear you've been studying about SPIDERS??" she asks.

Of course, Dr. Science always brings specimens or tools directly from her lab!  This week, one the kiddos favorite  items was this large wolf spider.   {Oh YES.  It is real... and it is ALIVE!}

Then Dr. Science showed us a multi-media, spider-factual {Hey!  Look at me!  Making up all these new words!  Mr. Webster, you need to update your dictionary! Woo-Hoo!} slideshow movie.  It is just typed facts, pics, and music.  You have the read the words out loud to your kinders, which I kind of loved for this "Dr. Science" presentation.  The kiddos thought Dr. Science made it in her lab and just brought it over to share!

Interested in checking it out?  Click below...

Then, I shared this little snippet...

{BTW peeps, you should really check out the whole line of "All Things Animal TV" videos if you are ever in need of simple animal research or facts!}

Earlier, we had a class discussion on what we already knew about spiders and what we wanted to know.  {Le' ole K-W-L chart activity}  The kiddos came up with two REALLY great questions that I knew I needed to turn into research experiments.   

The first question was, "How does a spider eat its prey?"
So we challenged each student to use their imagination and take the roll of a spider!

If you want all of the details of the experiment we did to answer this question, check out Deanna Jump's FABULOUS TPT science experiment packet.   This packet contains DOZENS of other simple experiments that are PERFECT for every kinder-topic that you teach!   If you have special science activity days or "Fun Friday" days, like me,  it's a MUST HAVE!!!  
Check it out here:
  Simple Science Volume 1
The next great question that they came up with was "Why do insects stick to spider webs, but the spiders never do?"  Well, again.... you have to check out Deanna's Science packet (above) to get all of the details, but let me tell you.... the kids loved discovering the answer for themselves!

As always, a themed snack is an essential part of our Fun Fridays!   But this week, it wasn't me that was doing the preparation.  Our sixth grade buddies worked hard to create these yummy darlins'!  

(Chocolate donuts, pretzel sticks, frosting and m&ms)

(These pics came from a few years ago, but I want to note that now I use two donuts to more accurately show a spider's body parts!)

We also headed to gym with a giant skein of yarn and made our own spider web!
Here are a few pics.   I wish I had more of us trapping our people prey in the web....but I was having too much fun playing along to snap pics at the same time!

Whew!  What a day! 
Again... filled with fun, but filled with rigor as well! Wish I had time and space to post about everything we did...but hopefully you picked up at least a few new ideas/resources!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Going Batty in Kindergarten!

It's that time of year, my friends!
The days are getting "shorter."
The air is getting cooler.
The trees are changing colors.

It's October.

Halloween is right around the corner...

So it's the PERFECT time of year to learn about another nocturnal animal...

That's exactly what we did in my classroom this week!

Check out just a few of the BATTY things we did...

{Included below are some ideas from previous years AND some new things I tried this year!}

This is what the kiddos saw as they came down the hall!
{The black material is the new SmartFab fabric-like bulletin board paper they sell at all the teacher supply stores.  It's reusable and costs the same as regular bulletin board paper!}

This is a pic from last year.  Last year I simply turned my doorway into a cave entrance and posted bats around the room.

These pics are from this year.  I flipped the whole room into a bat cave. I decorated my doorway with SmartFab again, and hung more SmartFab on all walls as you entered my room, including SmartFab fabric flaps that came down from the ceiling that kids had to walk through.  I covered most of my classroom walls with black plastic table covers to make it black and dark.   I also covered all class tables, bookshelves, etc. with black table covering.  Then, I put up purple halloween lights to bring a glow to the room. The kids freaked out!  The LOVED it!!!  I wish I had better pics...but only had my  phone camera, so this is the best I could get! 

And, oh yah... I'm fully equipped with a themed costume, like usual!  #yesihaveacostumecloset
Click HERE to getcha' one for about $13!

If you've followed my blog or Instagram for very long, you've probably figured out that I'm all about "Setting the Stage 2 Engage."  {If ya'll want to know more about how to change your teaching 4-EVER (not to mention be eternally inspired!)... then check out my dear friend Hope King's TPT e-book...
Student Engagement: A Guide to Teaching Outside the Box

Seriously people,  this ebook will reinvigorate your teaching! Not only am I having SO MUCH MORE FUN teaching.... but my kiddos are more engaged than ever and I'm able to teach them more rigorous content because of it!   LOVE.LOVE.LOVE this resource!!  GO AND BUY IT NOW! I mean, the girl teaches at Ron Clark Academy, my friends.  
ENOUGH SAID.  #instantinspiration

To start off our unit, we completed the K (what we KNOW) part of of our K-W-L chart!

{Note that I made this K-W-L chart so that I can re-use it each year.  I simply tape on new white rectangular papers to write on each year....then replace them with a new one the next year! #keepinitreal #timesaver]

Then, of course, we complete the W section (what we WANT to know).  That simple intro K-W-L activity got the kiddos SO excited.  I was sincerely surprised at how excited they were to begin our bat investigations.

We began our investigations with THIS little ditty...

Kids Discover Bats! DVD - Product Image

It's an awesome, VERY kiddo-friendly, super informative 22 minute video all about bats.  It was available at my local library, but honestly after using it in my classroom a few years ago, I bought it because I knew I'd want to use it every year.  You can grab it for $13 by clicking on the pic above!

We learned that there are MICROBATS and MEGABATS.  
Megabats are bats that eat fruit.  So of course, during one of our snack times, we had to do THIS little learning activity...

(Just FYI, I used blueberries, pineapples, strawberries and grapes for this!)

We also practiced our measuring skills during math time with this activity...


We also had our local Children's Zoo bring their mobile zoo program to our school to share their "Winged Wonders" program with us.


LOVED it... of course because it was interactive, but MOSTLY because my kiddos (and our first grade class) were blowing the zoo ladies away with big scientific words and things they already had learned.... like "zygodactyl" and "oviparous."  LOL! {Proud teacher moment! I just LOVE it when visitors are blown away at the depth of knowledge that kinders are capable of soaking up!}

We learned about how microbats (insect-eaters) use ECHOLOCATION to locate their prey.  I gathered the kiddos around a round container with water and quickly poked my finger in the middle.  The kiddos watched as the water formed ring after ring that moved from my finger toward the sides of the container...and then "echoed" back to the center.   I explained that bats produce a high-pitched sound that makes a sound-wave that moves out.... and when it "hits" an insect it "echoes" back to the bat, telling them exactly where the insect is located!

Using echolocation, dinner is served!   {QUICK FACT: Bats can eat up to 1,000 insects in one hour!}

Then we took that new little oracle of knowledge and turned it into a game!  We all joined and made a giant circle.  

The kiddos in the circle were the "trees" that served as our game perimeter.   Then I selected a "bat", blindfolded him and placed him in the center of the circle.   I also chose a few "mosquitoes," who were kiddos that I pulled forward from the tree circle and instructed to stand still or move ultra-slowly inside the circle of trees.   To  play, the "bat" called out the word "FOOD."  The "mosquitoes" were instructed that each time they heard the bat call out, they had to quietly echo the word back to the bat, thus simulating ECHOLOCATION.  The bat then kept calling out, listening, and trying to touch ("catch") his dinner.  When the bat "caught" a mosquito, the mosquito then became a tree in the circle.  This was repeated until the bat had eaten all the mosquitoes.  A new bat was then chosen.  :)   SO.MUCH.FUN.   The kids totally "got" echolocation.

We also did a few incredibly fun and hands-on activities that simulated how a momma bat identifies her baby, among hundreds of other bat family babes.    

I chose a momma bat and told her the sound that she needed to both repeat.... AND listen for one of the babies to call out. (You can blindfold the bat if you want to make it harder!)  I had the kiddos again make a circle and had each of them call out an assigned letter sound softly AT THE SAME TIME.  The mother bat (in the middle of the circle) was told (in a whisper) what her baby's "letter name" was...then had to walk around the circle out and listen for HER BABY'S sound/letter... searching for her baby.   We repeated with other students until everyone had a turn to be either the mother or the baby. The kids LOVED this one!  They really had to listen hard as everyone was calling out their own letters/sounds!

We did a similar activity with SMELLS also, since bats can use their sense of smell to locate their young too!   

Last year, I used necklaces made out of yarn and cotton balls and used a variety of food extracts to play this game!  I used black bats with matching scents taped to the wall for the babies!  

This year, I "scented" cotton balls in 8 different scents.  To prep this, I used the flavoring bottles, as seen above, and wet 4 cotton balls per scent and placed them in baggies.  (All 4 "lemon" cotton balls in a baggie together!)  Then I had the kiddos all sit in a circle, and I went around and picked random scented cotton balls and gave one to each student.  Then, I explained that each child needed to go find his/her bat "family" by smelling his/her own scent...and finding other "bats" with the same smell.   EEKS!  I just loved this one!

Check out some of our bat-scented families after this activity!

No bat study is complete without a super cute, themed snack! 

Check out these babies that I whipped up!

Don't you just want to eat them up?!

 And I don't know what it is about this pic that I took.... but it just makes me giggle!!!

OOOH!  And don't miss this awesome little gem that my friend, Deanna Jump, suggested!  It's super catchy... as in CAN'T GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD catchy!  LOL

WHEW!  This is post in gettin' long!   I'd better wrap it up!   If you are looking for more incredible BATTY resources, check out these resources that I use every year...

Bats Math and Literacy Fun Aligned with Common Core  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Back 2 School Bash GRAND PRIZE!

The Back to School Bash 2016 has been so much fun! Thank you to everyone who has joined us this year.'s not over yet! We have one final chance for you to win! When we say win, we mean WIN BIG! Anyone needing some updated technology for your classroom?

I give you the B2S Bash Grand Prize...

Yes! This is real life!
Yes! This could be in your classroom very soon! 

But you have to enter first! Here's how you do it: 

1) Begin the insta hop by locating @stepintosecondgrade on instagram. You will want to begin with Amy so that you collect the letter tiles in order. Each blogger will link to another letter. Click on the letter and hop to the next location. As you hop...

a) follow each blogger 
b)  collect each letter

The letter tiles look like this....

2. The letters will reveal a question. (Don't worry...the letters go in order so you don't have to unscramble a thing!) 

3. Once you have figured out the question, hop on over to any of our blogs to enter the Rafflecopter to win! You will be asked to answer the instaHOP question! 

You only have 24 hours to enter, so go get your hop on! ;) 

 Yep! That simple!
So have you finished your hop? 

Enter below: