Wednesday, February 15, 2017


We've been working on our second shape unit in math, which focuses on combining shapes to form larger shapes and pictures.  In science, we've been learning about the sun and how it provides light and heat.  What better way to combine science and math than making a sunprint with shapes!?

I first learned about sunprints when my sister ordered a little stocking stuffer for me from Restoration Hardware.  They always have the coolest stocking stuffers.  I had a ton of fun making them using items I found in nature, and I figured the kids would be intrigued by the idea, too.

First, students had to design a picture using attribute blocks.
Once they set their blocks on the sun-sensitive paper, we carefully took them outside to expose them.

The part exposed to uv light changes from blue to white.  

When we came back inside, we had to rinse the paper in water.  This step is like magic!
The white part turns a dark blue and the part that was blue (where the shapes were) turns white.

As the paper dries, the part exposed to the sun turns darker and darker blue.  
Once dry, we matted the prints and let the students sign their art!

If you're interested in doing this at home or in your classroom, you can click the first picture above (super sunprint kit) to find the kit for sale on Amazon.  That's the same one I used and includes everything you need!

We also explored how sunscreen and sunglasses protect us from UV rays using some sun-sensitive beads.

The beads change color when exposed to UV light, so properly working sunscreen or sunglasses will prevent the beads from changing color.  You can find the beads here!

This week, now that the sun is in full force again(!), we'll experiment with a solar oven!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Passing the Positive

I was reading about this idea over on Simply Kinder and immediately knew I wanted to implement it and what the special item was that would be passed around!  A few years ago, my mom bought me a little owl carved out of stone that sits on my desk.  I think he's so cute!  And I knew that the kids would enjoy having him perched on their desks, too. 

So today, I brought up the idea of Passing the Positive during our morning meeting.  We talked about how I would start by giving the owl to someone I saw displaying positive behavior, but how the student who has it should pass to another child if they see him/her doing the right thing.

I was so impressed with how well this works!  The kids really want to get the owl, but even more importantly than that, the kid who has the owl really wants to find someone else to celebrate!  This builds great peer support in the classroom. 

The child who happens to have the owl on his/her desk at the end of the day gets the prize box!  It will change each day, and we talked about how you can't "hoard the positive" and not pass it because you want the prize box.

Sophia said, "I think we should call it 'Passing to the Positive' instead of 'Passing the Positive' because we are passing it to the person we see being positive."  So precious.  We talked about how it could be accurate either way: we are passing the good feelings as we pass the owl to someone else, so that's passing the positive, but we're also passing to the positive by passing it to someone who's doing the right thing.

The owl can't leave the room (we don't want to lose him in the trash at lunch or get him germy in the bathroom), but I am going to start a similar reward system at lunch with a light-up tea light.  Someone was talking the other day about how those displaying good behavior in the cafeteria could "let their light shine" so everyone knew they were doing a good job.  Basically, one student will be chosen each day for good behavior at lunch and get to have the tea light in front of them as they eat.

I just love positive behavior incentives!

I was working with a student today on pointing with one-to-one.  His concept of word seems to be hit and miss - he's able to point to poems and he's able to isolate a word in the text when you ask him to find a certain word.  But he definitely gets confused the more words there are on the page.  Sometimes he gives up and just makes up entire sentences.  We've tried the dots under each word to press as you go, and we've tried cut-apart sentences, but the thing that's been working the best is using unifix cubes (or any concrete material) to move as he says each word.

You just have to keep working with students until you find something that clicks for each individual child!  Teaching is never a one-size-fits-all job.

And since the kids had something to pass the positive today, check out what my sister sent me for my birthday!  She's living in Korea right now, and she knows how much I love Asian stationary after visiting Japan and spending way too much in their stationary stores...

Tell me how you cannot use these things and smile every time you see them?!

The adorable emoji binder clips and post-its! The fancy Kate Spade gold owl push pins!  The gold paper clips!  I forgot to grab a picture of the little owl and chick stickers which are just too cute! 

She definitely passed me the positive. What a teacher nerd. :) 


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Meet Miss White!

Y'all. I have wanted a student teacher for such a long time now! When my assistant principal came to me and asked if I was interested, I could NOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT.  I love teaching, and to teach future teachers is such a blessing!  I feel like this pairing was a match made in teacher heaven.  Miss White and I are on such a similar page in our teaching styles and demeanor, and I know we will learn from each other and our students will benefit greatly from having both of us in the room.  

Here is an introduction letter from her to parents!

As I was sitting with Miss White and her professor, I remembered what it was like to be on the other side of the table.  Wanting so desperately to have my own classroom, but feeling nervous about teaching a lesson for the first time.  It's funny how time flies. This is my seventh year! Goodness gracious. My enthusiasm and passion for teaching are still as fresh as ever, but having Miss White and seeing her excitement certainly reminds me how fortunate I am to be in a job that I love.

Pinkies: A Lesson on Segregation

Friday morning, the routine started as it always does.  Students came in and completed their morning work.  When the bell rang and announcements were over, though, we had a slight change.  Instead of coming to the carpet with book boxes as soon as I'd checked work, students were asked to remain seated as I marked their hands with either a green or a pink dot.  I used my scented Mr. Sketch markers and I alternated as I walked up and down the desks: Green, Pink, Green, Pink, Green... Pink.

When I finished giving each student a dot, I asked those students with green dots to go clip up before coming to the carpet.  I told them not to sit in their regular seats, but instead to sit in a spot I assigned them.  The green dot students all got seats right up front.  

When they finished coming to the carpet, I told the pink dot students that I would now refer to them as "Pinkies."  Pinkies were asked to go clip down and then sit in a spot I showed them on the carpet.  The pink dot students all got seats at the back of the carpet (or even as far back as some desks).

When we went over the morning message and said the alphabet, Pinkies were asked to remain silent.  They were not permitted to join in our conversation or move in their space.  A sound - or a movement - would result in another clip down.  

Partially through the alphabet, I had Pinkies clip down again anyway, and I passed out candy to those with green dots.  "Man, life is pretty good for those of you with green dots, isn't it?"

"Pinkies, hurry up and get back to your spot."

Can I interrupt my own story and tell you something at this point?
I teach this lesson EVERY year right before the Martin Luther King, Jr.  holiday.
This moment of segregation lasts about three minutes, but it is HARD to teach.
I feel like such a mean person! Don't worry. I make it up to them.

"Pinkies, how are you feeling at this point?"



"Because you made us move our clip down and we didn't even do anything," a child said as tears welled up in his eyes.

"You guys, I am so sorry! This was actually part of a lesson.  And as soon as I'm done explaining it, if you have a pink dot, you'll be able to clip up to purple and I'll give each of you TWO pieces of candy for having to endure this lesson."

At this point I explained that what the kids just experienced was segregation.  I told them that I didn't look at who was getting which dot (which explains why some kids cry - because they've literally never clipped down before this lesson).  I just randomly marked hands in an alternating fashion as I came by the desks.  I told them about how, not so long ago, people were treated differently based on the color of their skin.  That just like the color of the dots on our hands didn't really matter, neither does our skin color.  But to some people, it did - and to some - it still does.

We looked at pictures of segregation on buses, at water fountains, and in schools before reading a book about Martin Luther King, Jr.  We listened to part of his "I Have a Dream" speech before writing about our own dreams for peace:

Later in the day, we did the brown egg/white egg comparison.  Once we cracked them open, students were reminded that we can't judge people by their outer appearances.  Many students assumed that the brown egg was rotten, not a chicken egg, or somehow bad.  I let them know that they had inadvertently made the same judgment that people used to make based on skin color.  That because the shells were different, the contents must be different.  But just like the eggs both had the same interior, so do we.  We all have hearts, and feelings.  

We need to treat each other with respect and dignity, and appreciate the differences among us that make each of us unique.  Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr!

If you'd like your own copies of the MLK Handouts, click HERE and grab them for free!