Star Wars Party

This week we had a Star Wars themed birthday party for three of my grandchildren, Owen turning 10, and twins Anna and Lily who just turned 8.  My assignment was to come up with a game, a craft and a birthday cake.  It’s so much fun to be included in their celebrations!

First we hid pictures of favorite Star Wars characters around the backyard.

 

We numbered the pictures and cut them apart, then hid them in non-conspicuous places.  Each child was given this check off sheet where they were to write the matching number by each character.


The other side of this character check off sheet contained the activities the children needed to “master” to become Jedi warriors and receive their own light saber.

The kids had lots of fun completing these activities.

They built towers taller than themselves.

They ran down the ladder, placing one foot in each square.

They stepped on wooden blocks to follow a path that ended at a play structure they climbed through.

We found some little shooters that you squeeze and shoot out small circle disks.  The kids tried to get the disks through the holes in our board.

We set up a course of cones that they had to run in and out of – like figure 8s.

They balanced a Star Wars paper plate on the end of a foam pool noodle and walked a premarked distance.  This was a little tricky because there it was a bit windy, but they had fun anyway.

Probably their favorite activity was using these foam dart guns to knock a Storm Trooper off the table.  We glued a Storm Trooper head onto a few styrofoam cups and set them up on a small table.  Again, the wind was a little problem, blowing the cups off the table, but they still loved this.  Here are the Storm Trooper images we used.

When the children were done, and the light sabers had been awarded we headed inside to make Star Wars sock puppets.

I wanted to give the kids some ideas to get started, so I printed off this sheet of different kinds of Star Wars puppets to help them think about what they wanted to make.  I provided white and black socks, adhesive felt and foam sheets, pom poms, popsicle sticks, jiggly eyes, pipe cleaners and Tacky Glue.  Children’s Fiskar scissors cut through the felt pretty easily.

I am not a cake decorating expert so I frosted it and put borders and the children’s names on the cake.  Then I gave the birthday children Lego Star Wars characters and small vehicles and they set them up on the cake.

I just realized I didn’t get any pictures of the 2 boys at the party!  They were a bit outnumbered by girls this time!  But I think they all had lots of fun.

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Minion Day!

Last summer a local church advertised their Vacation Bible School with a large inflated Minion and a big sign that said MINION CAMP!  It looked like so much fun that my grandchildren asked me to make our own Minion Camp, and it was lots of fun!

Here is the list of our activities!

We started the day with group games – our group included 5 of my grandchildren ages 4-9, oh – and Papa!  The first game was actually created by 5 year old Nora.  3 of the children were Minions, 2 were Bananas and Papa was Gru – who tried to catch them as they ran from one line in the driveway to the opposite.   There were a few safety zones created by red mats.  When the children were tapped by Gru they helped try to catch the others.

Lots of running, laughing and  squealing – very fun!  Here are the pictures for the headbands.

For our next game, Marshmallow Catch, the children were paired with a partner and took turns tossing mini marshmallows into each other’s Minion Cup.

The parachute is always fun.  This time we also tried tossing Minion beanbags and a small Minion ball – and we also tried to keep them on the parachute!

The next game was Minion Hole Hula Hoop.  This was a variation on Freeze.  I played music from Despicable Me movies and the kids danced around.  I would call out various directions – like “Blue hoop – both hands!”  or “everyone into a hole!”  or “everyone in the silver hoop.”

When they all had to fit inside one hoop they had to cooperate and balance!

The last group game was Minion Math.  I wrote numerals on a large cardboard.  The kids stood around the outside of the cardboard – 2 at a time dropped a Minion beanbag on a number.  The next child made up a number sentence (equation) using those numbers.  When it was 4 year old Max’s turn we asked him to name some of the numbers instead.

I wanted to make a Minion lunch but couldn’t think of many things they would all like.  I did make Minion finger jello and found these Minion fruit snacks.

 

For dessert I made cupcakes that really didn’t look much like Minions.  For a birthday party a few years ago I made Twinkie Minion cupcakes that looked much better – but the kids weren’t big fans of the Twinkies.

In the afternoon the kids completed the rest of the activities in any order they chose, they each had a check off sheet to keep track.

 

I bought some wooden circles and squares and spray painted them blue and yellow.  Before Minion day Owen drew Minion faces on the yellow circles and bananas on the blue squares.  Then we drew a tic tac toe board on the driveway.

The kids love to play in water so we hooked up this waterboard.

I bought a Minion coloring book at Dollar Tree and cut apart all the pages.  The kids had lots of choices to color – watercolor paint, colored pencils, markers, or crayons.

I pulled out a Minnie Mouse Hopscotch rug and used the Minion beanbags that I made – but Owen decided to make it more complicated!

For Measuring Minions I made them each a Minion ruler and recording sheet.  They had to find 6 things to measure and record.

Bean bag toss is always fun!  To make the game last longer I had them graph how many they got into the basket each time for 5 turns!

My favorite activity was Make Your Own Gameboard.  I copied a few different gameboards on cardstock.  I also printed some typical game directions like – lose a turn, etc.  I got a bunch of Minion stickers from Dollar Tree and provided markers to decorate the boards.  I gave them each items for each player to move and a die.  You could also use coins or buttons.

There are many free gameboards online – I just did a search and found lots!

I also found this Minion Cootie Catcher online!

I had already spray painted some rocks and the kids decorated them with paint pens.

The rest of the activities were things I purchased for the kids to use.  I found a new (to me) website named Hollar that had a great sale (really cheap!) on Minion card games and MegaBlocks.

And at Dollar Tree I found a set of Minion Colorforms – some of the kids had never used Colorforms before!

Of course we had to have prize bags too!  I got some fun Minion toys from the Hollar site.

It was a really fun day!

Bones!

Halloween is a great time to talk about how skeletons are not just a scary decoration, but really part of our body.

One of my favorite things to do around Halloween was to teach my Kindergartners the BONES Song by Dr. Jean Feldman.  You sing it to the tune of Macarena.  If you would like to hear it, I found several examples on YouTube by typing in Dr. Jean Bones Song.

 

Here are the words:

My Kindergartners would touch each part of their body as they sang the words.  The best part was when parents told me their kids would sing this when they visited their Pediatrician!

Here are a few fun skeleton books:

We also made these big skeletons and posed them in funny ways around our classroom.  Sometimes we cut the sides of of the paper plate faces to look more like skulls, but I kind of like the round, happy look!

I liked this project so much I still use it to decorate for my grandchildren!!

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Another Year, Another Kindergartner!

This little girl is starting Kindergarten!

I have been blessed to care for her while her Mommy worked for the past five years.  I know she’s ready – of course she is dazzlingly smart, brilliantly beautiful, and astoundingly kind.  She just turned five years old.

During my teaching career, the age cut off in our state was December 1, making a child with an August birthday usually in the middle of the age range of my students.  For years we fought to change the date to September 1 so all children will be five at the beginning of the year.  This was especially important when we moved to full day school with the expectation that all children will be reading by the end of the year.  Now she will be among the youngest kids in her class.  I know she is ready, I know she’ll do great.  But here is what I hope her teacher will remember – not just for Nora but for all the little ones walking through her door tomorrow…

I copied this quote from the wall of my other grandchildren’s Kindergarten classroom.   I think it is so important for all of us to remember – for children going off to school, for little ones tottering through all those early developmental stages, for teenagers making sometimes questionable decisions, for all of us growing, learning, struggling, throughout our lives.  Even for teachers who struggle to convey concepts and skills to groups of kids who have so many different levels of readiness and prior experiences.  We need to remember that it’s okay that we don’t all learn the same things at the same time.

I am praying for all five of these precious little ones, as they begin the school year; and for their teachers.  Owen is starting 3rd grade – he seems so confident and grown up!  Anna and Lily are going into 1st grade, Nora starting Kindergarten and Max going off to a few half days of preschool.  This time of year highlights how much they are growing, learning and changing – (no, I am not going to cry!)

Today I’m baking cookies for their lunches and printing off notes to be tucked into their lunch boxes.  I love to hear them giggle, so I have used jokes for their lunch box notes since Owen started school.  Sorry, I can’t give credit for the jokes because I find them all over – joke books, online, etc.  The girls are all becoming good readers, but I added clipart that might help them figure out tricky words.

Here is a link to a bunch more notes!

2017 easy lunch notes

You can find lots more on Pinterest too!

For all of you going back to school, or sending off your little ones, I hope you have a wonderful school year!  I hope Nora does too!

Thanks Miss Julie!

I had been looking for a library story time for Max.  The problem was that most nearby programs began at 11 a.m. and I had to pick up Max’s sister Nora from preschool at 11:30.  Finally I found a time that worked great at the West Acres Branch of the West Bloomfield (MI) library, and they allowed residents from nearby communities to join in!   I loved having this special opportunity for Max, and I was very grateful and impressed by Miss Julie – the story hour teacher.

This story time was special because Miss Julie has really mastered the art of presenting to preschoolers.  She understands early childhood development, she is always well prepared, and her enthusiasm and attitude make it so much fun for the children.

Each week there are between 25-30 children who attend this free program, along with their respective adults!  The little ones range in age from small babies to 4 year old preschoolers, with an occasional older sibling visiting too!   One of the challenges Miss Julie takes in stride is that this room also contains dramatic play equipment, built in along three sides of the room.  There are some children actively playing throughout story time, going back and forth between the program and playing.  There are many other disruptions, such as parents calling their child’s name across the room, phone conversations taking place within a few feet of Julie reading a story, upset toddlers and babies… but Miss Julie just smiles and goes on with her program.

Because Julie understands that young children need consistency and feel secure when they know what to expect, she has a basic format that she uses each week.  She begins the program by encouraging the children to move around and stretch different parts of their body – that also helps them develop self and body awareness.  Then she sings/chants a simple tune:

Come on everybody clap your hands, come on everybody clap your hands

Come on everybody cause we’re gonna read a story, come on everybody clap your hands.

Then she changes it to stomp your feet, pat your knees, wiggle your body, etc. and the final verse is:

Come on everybody take a seat, come on everybody take a seat,

Come on everybody cause we’re gonna read a story, come on everybody take a seat.

Julie uses a wonderful combination of noticing individual children, acknowledging those who blurt out or come up very close to her, and ignoring disruptive behaviors.   Some parents sit on the floor with their kids, others sit in small chairs or stand next to tiny babies in strollers.  Some children are very attentive and follow every move and direction, some come and go, others seem oblivious of the fact that a program is going on in the room.  With so many children and adults in the room, what could be chaotic and unmanageable just seems to work out okay.

Each week Julie has a theme and choses an appropriate story, movement songs and a simple craft that all tie together.  She usually has at least two books that go along with the theme, but often only reads one with the group.  Sometimes she is able to sit down and read to the group, but occasionally she has to stand up to read, carefully holding the book so the children can enjoy the pictures.  Her voice is strong and loud enough for the children to hear without sounding like she is yelling over the crowd.  Her enthusiasm and inflection make listening to the story fun for the children.

What impressed me the most from the first time I brought Max to this story time is how well Julie manages transitions.  After releasing their wiggles, the introductory song ends with the children sitting down ready to hear the story.  She often follows the story by passing out finger puppets that encourage the children to interact in a thematic song.

Sometimes she uses recorded songs for the children to sing along and dance, other times she just plays and sings with them without music.  Her use of technology is seamless – she prepares a playlist on her phone or iPod and simply presses the button to play the next song on a reliable, small speaker.  I never saw her take any time away from the children to find the song or materials she needs – her preparation and organization are remarkable.

I also appreciated the wonderful materials the library made available for these preschool story hours.  I especially loved the amazing variety of finger puppets they shared; and they always had enough for every child.   She always has all the materials she plans to use organized and close at hand.  The first time I took Max I thought he would cry when it was time to give the finger puppet back, but she had the children trade in the puppets for scarves (or rhythm sticks, or another play prop).

Julie gives the children opportunities to follow directions with the materials she shares.  She uses concepts like fast and slow, quiet and loud, up high and down low, as she plays along with the children.  Sometimes she encourages them to make letters by holding the two rhythm sticks in the shape of a V or a T.  The music and songs she uses go along with the weekly theme.  Sometimes she adapts a familiar song to go along with her theme – like instead of 5 Little Monkeys swinging in a tree – 5 Little Fish swimming in the ocean, along came a shark… hungry as can be!

The last thing she passes out to the group every week is small bottles of spill proof bubbles that must need to be refilled often!

After a few minutes of enjoying the bubbles and songs she encourages the children to return the bubbles by singing their good bye song.

“We had some fun and now we’re done!  Good bye!  Good bye!”   Of course you could use any good bye song you like, but it is a clear, friendly signal that story time is over.   Following that the children go out into the main part of the library where materials are organized and available on tables to make a simple thematic craft.

Julie circulates around the room and stops to notice the colors or techniques children are using, and appreciating their effort.

Attending story time each week has been a highlight for Max!  He calls it Story School and always gets excited when Friday comes along.  I just wanted to tell Miss Julie thank you… Max loved it!

 

Fairy Tales

One of Nora’s favorite things to do is act out Fairy Tales.  I love to see how she has taken ownership of these simple stories after “playing them” over and over.  Lately we have been playing “The Princess and the Pea” a LOT.   Max plays the Prince, Nora – of course, is the Princess, and I get to narrate and be the Queen, although Nora often chimes in to help tell the details.  Oh – and Nora also has to be the one to hide the ‘pea.’

She is quite dramatic when she explains what a terrible sleep she had because of that lumpy pea.   Nora loves to play this story, and she certainly knows it and understands it; but she has not wanted to retell the story by herself yet.

 

Many years ago I bought this Frank Schaffer book that contains simple versions of Fairy Tales along with 6 pictures for each story.  I used them in lots of ways to retell stories.  I have shared a few of them on this blog, and I have received many, many requests for a copy of the entire book.  I have tried for the past couple of years to obtain permission from the publisher, but have not been able to contact the right people.  I wrote to the address in the book and got no reply.  Then I found out that Carson Dellosa had bought out Frank Schaffer products but when I contacted them they had no record of this book.

I make no profit from my blog – I don’t charge for anything that I share.  I am happy to help teachers develop materials that they can use to help children.  I am sharing the stories from this book but I am giving full credit to the author Sue Ryono.  Please do not use these images for personal gain – or on TPT or any other site that charges a fee.  If I find out that I am infringing rights I will remove them from my blog.

So today I gave Nora the pictures from the story “The Princess and the Pea” and asked her to put them in order.  It was fun hearing her talk about what was going on in each picture.

After she got them all in the right order she did a great job telling me the entire story without any prompting.  Then she wanted to take the pictures home to tell the story to Mommy and Daddy too!

Acting out stories is a wonderful way to help children with comprehension and developing new vocabulary.   I also see children making connections between stories and other things that they hear or experience.   Last week I baked cookies with my Grandchildren Owen, Anna and Lily.  They went home with a container of our cookies, but when their Dad asked to sample one, Anna asked, “Do you remember the Little Red Hen?”  Since he had not helped she wasn’t sure she wanted to share!

I think these pictures can also be a great resource to encourage children to retell stories.  I hope they are helpful for you!

In the original book these short stories are all in the back of the book, 4 stories on each page.  I enlarged and separated them so I could put each story under the matching sequencing pictures.  I never worried about telling a story exactly as this is written, but they are helpful if you are trying to remember details of some of the stories.

 

 

I hope you love using these as much as I have.  And if you can – take some time to act out stories too!  So much fun!

Holidays Around the World – and a Give Away!!

cover
D. J. Inkers has done it again!!    Take a look at this wonderful set of clipart –  http://www.djinkers.com/clipart/christmas/holidays-around-world-clipart-collection.html.  I used this clipart to create the activities throughout this post.
They are also giving away one of these wonderful clipart sets to one of my readers for FREE!!!
All you have to do is at least 2 of out of 3 of these options:
1) Join one of DJ Inker’s email newsletter lists.
2) Follow one of DJ Inker’s boards on pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/djinkers/
3) Like DJ Inkers on facebook
To enter this contest please leave a comment on this post
by  Monday, December 12
telling me which  of the above options you completed!
Holidays Around the World is a very popular theme in lower elementary grades.  There are lots of wonderful ideas online, and on Pinterest.   I love the idea of creating a Passport to be stamped as you learn about different countries.  Many people shared how they made a suitcase to collect projects that represent different celebrations.  There are countless great suggestions, and using this clipart would enhance any of those ideas.
I am sharing a book I created that highlights five countries, and includes a couple of pages about each one.  I would use it, not only to teach about the holiday customs, but also to reinforce features of informational texts.  I used to read lots of expository books about different countries and their holiday celebrations, so I thought it would be a good time to reinforce the parts of information books.
I wrote a previous post about how I taught the parts of an information book:  https://dbsenk.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/informational-text/, check it out if you have a chance.
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I would use this book along with lots of fun activities that help children get a glimpse of the different customs and celebrations.  I would probably spend a day or two on each country, and have the children do the pages that go along with it.  I would like the children to label things in this booklet that are usually found in informational books.  On this page I would have them label the title and the author – which of course would be their own name.
text-features
I might run off these words on a different color of paper.  Then the children could cut apart the words and glue them next to the text features.  Or I might just have the children label the parts of informational texts by writing on each page.
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I included pictures to help the children make associations with each country, and to help the emergent readers recognize the different countries.  Another great thing about DJ Inkers clipart ‘Holidays Around the World’ is that it includes fun facts about each country that lend themselves to great discussions and simple activities.  I highlighted some of those facts on a page about each country.
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This page features bold text, so I would have the children add that label.  I would also have them color or highlight January 6 on the calendar and talk about how the children have to wait that long to get their gifts!  It goes along with how the Three Kings brought gifts to the Christ Child.
On the day we were learning about Mexico I would bring in a simple pinata, and an artificial poinsettia plant.
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The children could use phonetic spelling to label the stick, pinata and candy.   Then they could also add the word ‘labels’ to show they recognize that text feature.
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It would be so much fun to have the children leave their shoes outside the classroom door and ask a friend to put a small toy or candy into each child’s shoe.  You might include a simple T graph about whether the children’s families have put up a Christmas tree.  You might even have some fun with a good luck pickle.  I might laminate a copy of the pickle and put it on a table of quiet or helpful workers.  Throughout the day you could move the pickle to reinforce good habits.  This page would also be labeled ‘bold print.’
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It would be fun to do lots of gingerbread activities while talking about how it is an important German tradition.  The children could color this page and label the caption.
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I would get out a globe to discuss how Australia is in the middle of summer at Christmas time.  I think the children would love to hear about how Santa might give his reindeer a rest and use kangaroos to pull him around instead.  Again the children would label the bold print.
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The children would label Santa, the surfboard and the waves on this page.
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Here is more bold print, meant to emphasize the important words on the page.  I think the children would love to hear how Scandinavian children hear stories of little gnomes who are supposed to be taking care of farm animals, but get into mischief instead.  They might each create a gnome to take home and add to their own Christmas tree.  It would be fun to bake some buns and have a cup of “glogg,” too.
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The children would label the caption on this page.  I also would make a chart comparing what Scandinavian children put on their Christmas trees and what we usually put on our trees.
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Of course we always need to be sensitive to the customs and traditions of the children in our class.  In this book I was highlighting Christmas traditions, but I always spent time discussing other celebrations like Hanukkah and Kwanza.  ‘Holidays Around the World’ includes great clipart for those holidays too.
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Here is a pdf version of this book.
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As I introduce the customs of each country I would post a picture to help remind the children of our discussion, and also so they could see how to spell the name of each country.
mexico
germany
australia
scandinavia
usa
At the end of our unit I would ask the children to draw and write about which country they would like to visit at Christmas, and I would give them space to explain why.
where-visit
I had so much fun using Holidays Around the World.  Please take the time to check out their website and enter the contest for your own copy!  D.J. Inkers is also having a special sale for the holidays (Dec. 1-12, 2016)!  It’s called 12 Holly Daze Sales, you don’t want to miss it!  Here is a link to their website;  http://www.djinkers.com/ and sign up for their email newsletter at http://goo.gl/8OS0D4  .
Happy Holidays!

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