Saturday, April 22, 2017

My Mom is a STAR!

The entrance to our classroom!
***Please disregard our submarine door and pier piling posts.
We were in the middle of studying the ocean, and we turned our room into a "submarine!"
Last year, we decided that we wanted to do something a little bit different for Mother's Day.  We have always made sweet presents to send home, but we wanted to make the moms feel extra special. SO...  we rolled out the red carpet and did a special Hollywood-themed Mother's Day!

The first step was to have the kids take home an invitation to give to their mom or other special person (grandmas, aunts, big sisters - we even had one dad) couple of weeks before the event. We wanted to give everyone enough time to make adjustments to their schedules, so they could attend.  We had a couple of moms "adopt" an extra kiddo too.  We made sure every student had a special person with them.


Next, it was time to create an awards ceremony ambience in our classroom.  We bought most of what we used from a dollar store.  We got a few things from Target and Amazon (affiliate links provided below), but we created a lot of it as well.  If you decide to do this event, you can go all out or keep it simple!  Since we had waves and sharks hanging from our ceiling, we went all out to try and tone down the ocean theme and create some magic.

What awards ceremony is complete without a red carpet and stanchions?  We ordered our red carpet from Amazon but you could also roll out a strip of red butcher paper.  Make sure to tape down the edges.  We put ours outside of our classroom door; however, you could also put it inside of your classroom. We checked with a few places around town to see if we could borrow some stanchions but were unsuccessful. Sooooooooo, we scoured Pinterest for ideas.  We saw several ways to make stanchions including using toilet plungers and painting them gold; however, we wanted to make some that will last for years and can be used for different events. Michelle's hubby, husband of the year, created them for us.  In addition to our Mother's Day event, they've been used for a whole-school Back to School red carpet event as well as for a teacher friend's first day of school welcome, and they still look brand new.  It was initially a little investment to make them, but for us it was well worth it!
If you are interested in making your own stanchions, we have included the complete materials list, step-by-step directions, and photographs to make six stanchions with four ropes at the end of this blog post.

To add some sparkle to our yummy treats area, we used light up marquee letters to spell out MOM (they were on clearance - YIPEE!), garden lights shaped like stars, and gold star confetti.  We bought the lights and marquee letters from Target.  You could also cut out letters from construction paper or use paper mache letters from a craft store, paint them, and add yellow stickers or glue on yellow foam circles for the lights.  We bought "silver" metal  serving platters and candlesticks from a dollar store to display our cupcakes.  We have already used these items several times for other occasions, so it was well worth the six dollar investment.  Michelle's sister-in-law made adorable mini cupcakes with shimmery gold star fondant cut-outs on top.  We also served sparkling apple cider in disposable champagne flutes (also bought at a dollar store).  Red napkins and black construction paper under the platters completed the serving area. We had the kids serve their moms.

Yummy treats!
We covered our tables in red plastic table cloths, gold star confetti, silver stars, mommy and child direct-draw portraits,  and swag bags.  We also had the Academy Awards Original Music Theme from YouTube playing (no video just the music) in the background. Talk about ambience!

Table set up with swag bags and mommy and child direct-draw portraits.

Every Hollywood star needs a swag bag at a red carpet event, so we ordered these little bags and put  gifts from their child inside.  First, we took three pictures of each student holding signs that said "I Love You" (Pinterest inspired).  We printed them out (4"x 6") and trimmed the top or bottom so that it was no more than 5 1/2" tall, cut three inches off of the long side of a 12" x 18" piece of construction paper, and then cut that in half lengthwise (two 6" x 15" strips). We folded the strips into thirds (5" each section), and the students centered and glued down their pictures in order.  it was a very special keepsake.  Each child also made a fingerprint keychain (Pinterest for the win!).  We tried this with both a traditional salt dough recipe (2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and add cold water until it reaches the consistency of play dough. Then, bake at 250 degrees for two hours) and with Sculpey oven bake clay.  We liked the results of the Sculpey clay much better.  We rolled out the clay to be about 1/4" thick, and then,  each student used a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a heart, make a circle on the top with a pencil eraser (very important step), put their thumbprint in the middle (or you could do a fingerprint two times to make a fingerprint heart), and then, we used a pencil to write each child's name on the back.  These baked in the oven according to the directions on the package.  Once they were cool, they lightly painted them with metallic craft paint.  When they were dry, we added a key ring to the hole.   You could also add a silk cord to make a necklace.  Both of these gifts were very precious, and there wasn't a dry eye in the room when the mommies opened up their swag bags. The last piece of "swag" in the swag bag was a "My Mom is a Star"  interview sheet that we completed with the kids before the Red Carpet Mother's Day celebration.

Mother's Day trifold card and thumbprint keychain

Thumbprint keychain

My Mom is a Star interview

Red carpet - check, name in lights - check, swag bag with jewelry - check! Now what we needed was a super special gift! The kids made each of their moms a precious Mother's Day drawing and writing. We have been doing this activity for years, but we made it red-carpet worthy by adding a Hollywood twist!  Each student did a direct drawing of his or her mom and of his or her self  looking at each other.  After they were colored, they painted the background with yellow watercolor and then they were mounted on the top half of a 12" x 18" piece of red construction paper.  For the bottom portion, we had each student write reasons that his or her mom is a star.  These were adorable and the moms absolutely loved them!

Directed Draw Mommy and Child Portrait

Creating the magic!  We invited the moms (or another special adult) to come to school for the first 30 minutes of our day.  Students lined up with their moms outside of our door, took their arm, and escorted them down the red carpet and into our classroom.  Our wonderful instructional assistant wore a Paparazzi badge and snapped pictures of each duo as they walked the red carpet (which we later put into their end of year memory book).  Once inside, each child escorted his or her mom to the table spot with her special writing and swag bag.

Now it was time for our awards ceremony!  Before our big day, we came up with candy awards.  We showed them all to each student and they picked the candy award that they felt best described their mom.  You can either purchase full size candy bars or the fun size.  We had ours in a basket, and the kids handed one to their moms after the award had been announced.

Closed Candy Award

Sample of an Open Award

Samples of Candy Awards

We announced each mom one at a time and she came up with her child to accept her award.  The child handed the mom her award and the paparazzi snapped a picture of them.  Once we finished the awards ceremony, we played a special iMovie that we made.  We used an iPad to take a video of each student telling why his or her mom was a star.  "My mom is a star because she _______." We put all of the video clips together in an iMovie.  It was absolutely precious!
Watching the iMovie together.  Isn't this precious seeing all of these kiddos with their moms?
(And yes, our classroom was also transformed into an ocean!)

We used plastic tablecloths as a red curtain behind our "viewing" screen for the iMovie of
"My mom is a star because...!" interviews.
Once the ceremony was finished, the students grabbed a plastic champagne flute filled with sparkling cider for their mom (and a clear cup for themselves) as well as a beautiful cupcake.  They got to spend a few minutes sharing their swag bag and visiting our photo booth.  For the photo booth, we hung two layers of red plastic tablecloths and made a sign for them to hold that said Mother's Day 2016.

We had SO much fun putting together this special celebration!  Click HERE to download the "My Mom is a Star" interview freebie.

Click HERE to check out our entire product in our TPT store including a link to a YouTube video giving step by step directions on how to draw the Mommy and Me portrait.

We hope this gave you a few new ideas for a Mother's Day celebration.  Our kids and moms really loved it. We went all out, but this could also be done with a butcher paper red carpet, an iMovie interview, awards ceremony with or without candy treats (or ask for donations), and the drawing/writing.  The stanchions took a bit of time to make, but we will reuse them every year and have them for other teachers to borrow as well!

Material List and Directions for the Stanchions

  • 20 feet of 1 1/2" schedule 40 PVC pipe
  • 6 - 1 1/2" PVC pipe cap
  • 3/4" MDF or particle board for bottom of stanchion circles (about a 4' by 4' piece) - you could use 1/2" plywood or MDF; however, the 3/4" made them very sturdy
  • 4 - 6' lengths of 1/2" pipe insulation 
  • 16" of 1/2" wooden dowel
  • 8 - threaded eye hooks with nuts (about 1/2" eye and 1" length)
  • 8 - screw in eye hooks (about 1/2''eye and 3/4 - 1''length)
  • 8 - bolt snap hooks
  • gold metallic spray paint
  • red spray paint
  • primer paint (optional; however, it will use less spray paint if you prime first))
  • silver duct tape
  • Gorilla or other wood glue
  • 1 7/8" hole saw
  • drill and bit for eye bolts
  • jig saw or similar saw to cut stanchion bottom circles

Directions for Stanchion Bases:
  • cut six 12" circles out of the 3/4" particle board or MDF 
  • cut six 8" circles out of the 3/4" particle board or MDF
  • center one 8 1/2" circle on top of one 12" circle and glue together using the Gorilla or other wood glue (complete for all 6 stanchion bases)
  • use the 1 7/8" hole saw to drill a hole in the center of the stanchion (both glued wood pieces)
  • prime the bases (optional) and allow to dry 
  • spray paint with gold metallic paint and allow to dry
Stanchion base glued, drilled, and painted

Directions for Stanchion "Ropes":
  • spray paint pipe insulation red
  • cut 1/2" wooden dowel into eight 2" pieces
  • add a little Gorilla or Super glue into the center of each pipe insulation end and insert one wooden dowel piece 
  • screw in a screw eye hook into the wooden dowel piece
  • wrap and cover the ends with silver duct tape (helps to make it look like metal ends and helps to hold the dowel in place) 
  • attach a bolt snap hook to each eye hook (use split rings, key chain rings, or even small zip ties  to attach to eye bolts if necessary)
Painting the pipe insulation

Adding the bolt snap hook to the eye hook and duct tape at the end of the insulation rope

Directions for Stanchion Poles:
  • cut 1 1/2" PVC pipe into six 40" pieces
  • paint PVC pipes and caps with gold metallic spray paint and allow to dry
  • drill 2 holes into each side of one end of a pipe piece right below where the PVC pipe cap will sit (ONLY DO THIS ON TWO PIECES OF THE PIPE - these will be your center poles) 
  • drill 1hole into one side of one end of a pipe piece right below where the PVC pipe cap will sit (ONLY DO THIS ON FOUR OF THE PIECES OF PIPE - these will be your end poles) 
  • insert threaded eye bolts into each hole and attach and tighten nuts
  • use PVC glue to glue on caps to top of poles near the eye bolts
  • use Gorilla or Super glue to glue the painted PVC pipe pieces into the holes in the stanchion bases
Adding eye hooks on to center posts.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Superhero Training School

Attention Superhero Trainees!!!

We wanted an engaging way to kick off our school year as we focused on learning classroom procedures and routines.  We also wanted a fun way to tie in content such as learning letter names and sounds. What better way than to kick off our year with a Superhero Training School!  

At our Meet the Teacher Day which happens before school starts, parents were given a special note with superhero confetti attached to read to their child the night before school.  This could also be mailed home, given out to parents, or however your kiddos find out who their teacher is.

Superhero note to students with superhero confetti

Now it was time to turn our classroom into Superhero Training Headquarters!  We painted cardboard boxes black and stacked them together to create towers of buildings.  We cut squares out of yellow construction paper and glued them on to the boxes (although another student said we could have used yellow sticky notes!)  Then we drew kid-sized silhouettes of flying superheroes on black butcher paper and cut them out.  We used plastic tablecloths from a dollar store and cut them out to look like capes.  The superheroes were hung from our ceiling to create the illusion of them flying through the air in our classroom.  We hung four, but the next time we do this, we will add one more layer of boxes to the buildings to make them a little taller. 
Superhero skyscrapers and "flying" superhero

We wanted to be in costume when we met our superhero trainees, so we made a design on the computer (Superhero Training School), printed it on t-shirt transfer paper, and ironed it onto our shirts.  We ordered our capes from Amazon, but we could have also made them out of Dollar Store plastic table cloths. We were officially Superhero Training Instructors!
Our TK/Kinder Superhero Training Instructors

Once our superhero trainees entered the classroom, we wanted a fun way that went along with our theme for them to learn their classroom number (we use their classroom numbers for lots of things (line order, cubby number, etc.). We had seen the scratcher idea on Pinterest and thought it would be an exciting way to reveal their "Secret Superhero" numbers!  All you need is dish soap, clear packing tape, and silver (or any color you would like) acrylic paint (the cheap craft kind)!  We used one small bottle of paint to make 88 scratch offs. Simply put some  paint in a bowl and add the dish soap.  The recipes vary the ratio of dish soap to paint.  Some say one to one ratio, and others say two parts paint to one part dish soap.  We started with the the two to one ratio, and that seemed to work just fine.  We figured that we could always add more if we needed to. Print your design and put a square of packing tape over the area that you want to reveal.  Paint a layer on top of the packing tape and let it dry completely.  Then paint a second layer so that you cannot see the design underneath (in some of the projects we have done, it took three coats).  When our students walked in the door, they found their name on the table and scratched off the square to find their secret superhero numbers.  They were SO excited!  Most of the parents were even more excited than the kids!

Two parts of paint to one part of dish soap
Dish soap and acrylic paint

Painting the first layer

We created the wording on the computer using the Jumping Jack font by MTF, printed it out, and cut out our student superhero silhouette out of butcher paper.  We then glued everything to another piece of butcher paper and hung it on our front door with magnets to make it look like the entrance of Superhero Training School.  The kids loved it!  We saw this idea on Pinterest and recreated it.

Superhero Training School front door

We gave our students their official training badge.  We bought lanyards and badge holders off of Amazon, and slipped the badges that we created inside.  The students wore these all week as everyone was learning each other's names.  It really helped when they went to the cafeteria or any other place on campus.  To be perfectly honest, it helped us as well get to know their names more quickly.  The badge holders and lanyards were an expense, but we wanted them to use throughout the school year.  We could have easily made the lanyard with yarn and just printed on card stock (laminated or not).  We also could have printed in black and white.

Official Superhero training badge 

We took each student's first day picture in front of our cityscape (Amazon).  We had planned to create this with butcher paper, but we ran out of time!  At that point, we had more money than time!  LOL

First day school picture in front of the city scape

We created a superhero call and response that we taught the students.  We would call out, "Superhero Trainees!" and they would respond with, "Shazaam, Kabam, Yes Ma'am!"  They punched their arms forward on the first two words and put their hands in the air for "Yes Ma'am."  It was a fun way to get their attention!

Throughout the first month of school, our trainees learned classroom routines and procedures.  They also learned our alphabet song and movements for each letter, practiced writing each letter, and so much more.  But that's a whole other blog post!  

At the end of the month, we wrapped up our Superhero Training School with a special ceremony. We purchased capes from a dollar store (we ordered online), and two of our awesome class parents affixed each student's initial onto a cape.  These also could have been made out of construction or butcher paper or plastic table cloths. Each student also received an "official" certificate of completion from us and had his or her picture taken wearing the cape.  

After 20 amazing days, our Superhero Training School was officially complete!  It was a ton of fun and the students were SO engaged!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Glow Day in TK/K!

Glow sticks?  Check!  Black lights?  Check!  Highlighters?  Check!  
It's time for a Glow Day in TK/K!

We are SO inspired by Hope King at Elementary Shenanigans.  She does a phenomenal job of engaging her students while focusing on rigor and content.  One of our favorite activities of hers is when she uses black lights and highlighters to work on close reading with her students.  We took that idea and adapted it for our kinder kiddos!

Materials Needed:  Black lights (we used three 24" black lights for our classroom), black plastic sheeting or black garbage bags to cover your windows, highlighters and/or invisible ink pens, tap lights (this brings in a tiny bit of light), and glow sticks.

Before "Glow Day," we sent a note home to our students asking them to wear white or neon.  Of course, we had white on as well.  The kiddos could hardly wait to come to school to see what exciting thing we had planned for them!

Literacy Centers - Glow Style: During our literacy center time, the kids rotated through four fun glow centers. 

The first center was sight word building with glow sticks.  We used a big pack of glow stick bracelets.  We kept them straight and built the words like we had on the cards. We used highlighters to write the sight words on index cards. We wrote the letters with all straight lines, so the the students would have a model to build from. We were able to differentiate this center by writing the sight words in a different colored highlighter for each reading group level.  For example, we have a group of kinder students that are working on the first grade sight word list.  We chose some of those first grade words and wrote them in neon pink highlighter.  Another group of students working on kindergarten sight words, used words written in yellow highlighter.  They absolutely LOVED this center!!!

The second center was "Glow" write the room.  We differentiated this center as well by writing sight words for the different levels in three different colors of highlighters.  Each group knew what color their words were written in and whether those words were on the top, middle, or bottom of the word card.  We taped the words around the room and gave each student a clipboard and an invisible ink marker (Amazon). This would have worked by using highlighters as well. The students walked around the room and hunted for their sight words and then recorded the words in boxes on their recording sheet.  They loved seeing their words glowing under the black lights! 

The invisible ink pens have black lights on the end!
Differentiated by writing sight words for each reading group level using different colored highlighters

Our third center was glow writing.  The students were SO engaged as they wrote letters, words, and sentences.  They had the choice of using highlighters or invisible ink pens.  We also had tap lights out on the table in case they wanted to have more light.  You can find tap lights at the Dollar Store or Walmart.

Our fourth center was book bag reading with finger lights.  They read books from their reading bags and used little finger lights to follow along.  

Reading with finger lights!
We also did a fun whole-class STEM activity.  After reading the book Iggy Peck, Architect, students used neon straws and marshmallows to try to construct the tallest tower.  Next time, we will use more large marshmallows or Playdoh and maybe even glow sticks for building.  The straws worked pretty well but didn't glow as much as we thought they would.  Glow sticks would be even better!

Glow Day was a blast and students were completely engaged in content!  We are so excited to do another Glow Day in the future with different grade level content.  The possibilities are endless!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Meet the Teacher Day - Pirate Style! Ahoy Matey!

Do you meet with your kiddos before the first day of school?  We've always done a Meet the Teacher Day a couple of days before school begins.  It's a chance for our new students to meet us, take a tour of the classroom, find their cubbies, explore manipulatives they will be using throughout the year, and meet new friends.  We also hold our back to school parent meeting immediately after the classroom tour.  

Our kiddos always have a good time, but we wanted to make it even more exciting and engaging!  So...we did our Meet the Teacher Day - pirate style!

We started by mailing each student a welcome letter and an invitation postcard.

We used strips of black electrical tape on the sidewalk that led to a red "X marks the spot" in front of our classroom door.  Thank you, Pinterest, for the great idea!  What would we do without you?  We hung an "Ahoy Mateys" banner outside to welcome our new crew.

We met the kids at the door wearing our pirate hats (you can get them at the Dollar Store or from Amazon) and handed them a treasure map that was rolled up inside of a bottle!  They used the map to visit different stations around the classroom including an "X Marks the Spot" where their loot was hidden inside of a treasure chest.

We printed our maps on fun antique looking paper from Amazon.
We made signs that matched the treasure map titles set up around the room explaining each station.
We put each sign in a clear plastic photo frame and placed them on the tables.
We had six different stations for the students to rotate through.  We had different kids start at different stations to avoid too many kids at a station at once.  We set up enough items at each station, so that six kids could be there at the same time.  Most of the goodies we used came from the dollar store or Amazon.  Honestly, what would teachers do without those two places?
Count Yer Loot Game - roll the die and put that
many gems in the treasure chest.
Our treasure chest of photo booth props
Pirate-themed pattern block puzzles
Book time!
Here are some of the pirate books that we
found and put in the treasure chest.
We save this and add it to their memory book
 at the end of the year.  Click here to download your editable freebie.

When the little pirates completed the stations and found where "X marked the spot," they received a bag of pirate loot (Pirate's Booty Popcorn with a few gold Rolos) in a baggie with a cute topper and poem.

We added black and white striped table runners to our tables, sprinkled gold coins around the classroom, had pirate music playing, brought in pirate decorations (ship's wheel, lantern, cargo net, Jolly Roger flag), and put anything we could into treasure chests.

The kids and parents had a great time and couldn't wait to come back for our first day of  school.  It was our favorite Meet the Teacher ever! 

Check out our complete Pirate Meet the Teacher and Back to School Parent Meeting resources by clicking here.  

 Pirate Meet the Teacher Day

We hope you have a swashbuckling day!