Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday- Writing Activities featuring The Groovy Cat

Eekk! I am so excited to be linking up with Jen from Teacher by the Beach for my first Wishlist Wednesday. 

Here is how it works:
I will be highlighting an item from my TPT store that is the most wishlisted item.  The item will be put on sale Wednesday through Friday.  I will also be giving a copy away to the first three to show me some love on this post. (Comments make my heart happy, so the more the better). **Be sure to leave your email address**

Today I am highlighting Writing Activities featuring The Groovy Cat.  This item is not only the most wish listed, but also the best seller in my store.  I am not even joking when I say this item was completely inspired and practically created by my class.  They LOVE that Groovy Cat!  I blogged about it {here}.

In this pack you will find:
Covers for:
-Groovy Cat and His Brand New Costume
-Groovy Cat is Feeling Thankful
-Groovy Cat and His Brand New Sweater
-Groovy Cat and His Secret Admirer
-Groovy Cat Goes on a Trip
-Groovy Cat: A Class Story

I also included a large Groovy Cat to compliment Groovy Cat Goes on a Trip.  Send paper Groovy Cat to a friend or relative or take him on your field trip.  The students can then write about his adventures.

The last thing I included are MULTIPLE Groovy Cat themed writing papers.  Students can create stories about the Groovy Cat.  Then they can add a cover to make a student or class book.

Don't forget to comment below or run to my store to grab it while it is on sale!  Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to visit Teacher by the Beach to see more Wishlist Wednesday post.!

Monday, June 15, 2015

End of the Year Teacher Gift Book

I want to share a great idea I found for a gift to give your child's teacher at the end of the year, but before I do I have to be a mommy and share some exciting news.  My son just graduated from Kindergarten {insert sobbing noises}!!!  I cannot even wrap my mind around the fact that I am going to have a 1st grader.  I feel like I was just sitting here on my computer blogging about our summer Kindergarten prep plans.  Seriously if you are a new mom or heck even a seasoned mom stop reading this, go hug your babies, and then come back.  They grow up WAY TO FAST!  Look at how his baby face changed over the last school year.


 Kindergarten Graduation

Is he not the most handsome boy ever?!


Yes, the chalkboard did go unused all school year and sat in my garage still written on. Don't judge. ;)  It was a little dusty, but all I had to change was 1st to last.

I love the picture below.  I have done this favorite things picture 2 years now.  It is crazy to see how he has changed.  The only thing that remained the same for him was his favorite color.  I used the A Beautiful Mess to add the text.  

So as you may have picked up from the pictures my son has a disability.  He more specifically has Cerebral Palsy.  He currently is unable to walk and communicate effectively, so he has a full time para with him.  What do you give the person who has spent every school day with him all day?  Really I don't think there are the right words or gift to give such a special person, but we tried our best.  I saw this idea from a couple of teachers in my building that received this as a gift and I thought it was too cute.  With my son's disability it would have been difficult for him to write a complete sentence and draw and decorate a book like I had seen from the other teachers.  So I decided to create a template.  The final product really turned out amazing.  The pictures I took were not so amazing though, but I think you get the idea.

How did I know which gift cards she would like?  I sent a teacher favorite's survey from The First Grade Parade at the beginning of the year.  It was perfect for picking out a great Christmas gift too!  

 You can find the End of the Year Teacher Gift Book {here}.  I did update it a little from the pictures you see above.  

 I included 3 different cover types- with ombre, light blue, or white backgrounds.  Each set of covers has 5 character choices to fit any teacher or special helper.  There are 2 different titles for each cover type. One is a generic "my teacher" and the other is a fill in the blank format.

The filler pages come with two different borders and also the generic "my teacher" and fill in the blank pages.

I also created a note from the parent(s) page.

I can PROMISE you that any teacher would LOVE to receive this gift!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Art Themed Birthday Party

I have been dying to have an Art themed birthday party for one of my little ones for a few years now.  I was finally able to convince my soon to be 3 year old daughter that this was a perfect party for her.  I can give her a set of watercolor paints and she will paint for about 30-60 minutes.  It is a magical time for mommy!  

I started prepping for the party by scouring Pinterest for ideas.  I created a board with some of my favorites.  Come check it out along with past theme ideas I have used.

This was meant to be an outdoor party, but it was practically a monsoon outside and our lake town had flooding everywhere!  It actually couldn't have been a better themed party for such a yucky day.  The kids were busy and had a blast!

I found most of the decorations and party items at Hobby Lobby.  They seriously have everything you could ever want for an art party.  I may have gone a little overboard, but honestly spent under $100 for everything.

I chose to use the colors of the rainbow because that is what I think of when I think of art.  It was such a bright and cheerful color palette, especially on such a dreary day.

I kept the theme going with some of the food too.  I created a fruit tray using the colors of the rainbow.   It was bright, yummy, and super easy to prepare.

So ask anyone and they will tell you I can get nervous or excited and my brain begins to go in a million directions.  In order to combat this during our activities I created a schedule.  It was honestly only for me.  One of the little girls caught a glimpse of it and kept referring to the schedule from that point on.  She totally made my heart smile!

Turns out I should have cross checked it with my awesome hubby.  When we were done painting the canvases I looked and saw it was time to eat.  Well guess what... he had not started grilling yet AND it was pouring.  Ok then... onto plan B. 

Once all the children had arrived I gathered them to the table and gave them a picture frame to color anyway they chose.  I got these cute FREE frames from The 3AM Teacher.  They were absolutely perfect for our needs.  

When the kids were done coloring we hung them up in our Art Gallery.  Truth be told we kept this up for almost an entire week.  My daughter kept walking up to it and telling me to look at the art.  Such an easy and inexpensive decoration!

Next up was Canvas Painting.  We needed to do this early on so the paintings would have time to dry.  I purchased tiny canvases.  They were 3 x 3 and came 6 in a package.  They were the perfect size for the little ones who have trouble filling a page.  I also bought paint palettes.  They came 10 in a package.  Believe me when I say all of the supplies were really affordable!

It was fun to see each age group create age appropriate art.  This party theme really could be repeated in a few years.

Since dinner was not ready yet we moved onto Fruit Loop Necklaces.  I took a piece of ribbon and knotted a Fruit Loop on before the kids arrived.  This prevented the cereal from falling off.  We later discovered that we should tape one end of the ribbon like a shoe lace to make it easier to thread the cereal.  This helped the little ones a ton!  It was a great fine motor lesson.  One of the little girls made a pattern too!

It didn't take the kids long to figure out they could eat their jewelry. 

After the kids had some play time and were fed it was FINALLY time to decorate the cupcakes.  I used more paint palettes as a plate for the cupcake.  The little paint holders were perfect for holding sprinkles.

Finally, each guest received an art themed gift bag.  Included in the bags were a box of Skittles, crayons, tub of Playdoh, and a watercolor set.  This was another inexpensive and fun idea!

I created name tags by hand drawing paint palettes.  I then wrote each name and used my daughters watercolor set to paint the paint splotches.  I couldn't have been happier with the way they turned out!  I tied them onto brown paper gift bags using ribbon of all the different colors of the rainbow. 

 We were supposed to do some pictures in front of this board, but time got away from us.  I did have time before the party to snap some pics of the birthday girl.  She is so much fun!

 I think it is safe to say that the party was a huge success!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Academic Field Day

So this concept of Academic Field Day has been bouncing around my mind since last May.  I had BIG plans to create it during my maternity leave after I failed to come up with nothing over summer break.  Well 8 weeks of maternity leave came and went with no progress on my idea.  May came around again and this idea was still tugging on my brain strings.  Our school's annual field day was quickly approaching and there was rain in the forecast.  Usually our field day is a whole day event, but the rain plan was to cut it down to just our 45 minute specials time.  Ummmm there is a big difference when lesson planning for a whole day vs. small spurts of time between events.   I wasn't about to show movies all day!  That was my plan for the last day after all.  Hehe! When I found out this rain plan it was Saturday afternoon and field day was on Tuesday.  I told myself it was time to bring my idea to life and form Plan B.  I scrambled and created over my entire Memorial Day break and I have to say I am so proud of the outcome.  I got all of the items you see at Dollar Tree.  This was such an inexpensive event!  Keep reading to see Academic Field Day in action.  My kids had a BLAST!

I wanted each event to have an academic twist, but still get the kids up and going.  I created the events to work in fairly small spaces.  I came up with 6 events.  They are a mix of ELA and Math previously taught skills.

I decided to bring 2 of my other teammates in on the action.  One teammate included Mel D from Seusstastic.  You may or may not know that she teaches High Ability 1st Graders, so when I was creating the academic portions I knew I had to make some things a little more challenging.   There is a nice mix of higher and lower level questions.   I should also mention she was the photographer of this event.  I think she did a great job!

I do strongly suggest if you do this with more than your own class that you have a few parent volunteers to help at each station.  We divided into 3 groups since their were 3 classes.  There were about 22 students per team.  If you were doing this with your own class you could divide them into smaller groups and the activities would run a lot quicker.  Next year I will be reserving our LGI room to spread out the activities a little more. Luckily for us it did not rain on our regular field day, so we were able to use these activities as a last day wrap up.  What a fun way to end the year!

The 1st activity we did was Beach Bucket Dig.  The students lined up in a single file line as if they were walking down the hallway.  The first person in line was in charge of digging through the beach bucket that was filled with shredded paper and foam shape pieces that had words written on them.  The last student in line was collecting all of the shape pieces to form 3 different sentences.  The kids in the middle were doing an over/under pass down the line.  Boy was this a noisy time.  My teammates and I were yelling, "over, under, over" and "pay attention."  The kiddos did not get the concept at first that more pieces were coming their way.  It was so fun to see the last few kids in line work together to build the sentences.

The next activity was the Dice Throw.  I originally was going to do this as a Bean Bag Throw and have a numbered target drawn on plastic tablecloths, but I couldn't find the bean bags at the Dollar Tree.  I did find these awesome foam dice.  They came 2 in a pack for $1.  I was so excited about the possible uses for them in my math centers, but for now I was going to use them for the Dice Throw.  Each team had to roll 3 dice then add them up.  Another version of this could be to toss 2 and find the difference.  See so many possibilities! The team with the largest sum received a point.  After all players rolled once the team with the most points was the winner.  I loved seeing their hard work with facts this year pay off.

The 3rd activity was called Use Your Noodle.  The kids had to answer a math question from the task cards I created.  Some of the questions were really hard for my class, but really easy for Mel D's, so I created a level 1 and level 2 set of task cards.  They look exactly the same, but are differentiated to meet the needs of many!  After they got the answer correct they got to pop a noodle popper into the pool.  My husband cut these for me, but I could have easily have done it myself.  Don't tell him that though!  He cut the noodle into about 1 1/2" rings.  We just eye balled it.  Then he cut the rings in half.  You hold the cut side toward you and pop.  Kids of all ages enjoyed this. I know because I tried it with my own and the neighbors kids.  Cheap fun!  After all players have been through once we counted the different color poppers.  The team with the most won!

We moved outside for the next 2 activities.  The 1st was called Scrambled Egg Relay.  I got a heck of a deal at Target after Easter and bought a ton of plastic Easter eggs.  I suggest the big ones for this game, but we used small ones too.  Each egg contained a scrambled up sight word.  The player was supposed to unscramble the word, put it back into the egg, and walk to the cone and back.  Well I am here to admit that this was HARD! I have since added plain 'ol sight words too.  I will use this next year and have them use the word in a sentence.  The first team done is the winner.

The final activity was the Beach Ball Relay.  This activity uses the ELA task cards I created.  A player has to answer the question and then put a beach ball between their legs.  They have to waddle or jump to the cone and back.  I purchased 20" balls and that was a big mistake, so we pulled a Tom Brady and deflated the balls to make it easier for all the kids.  LOL! It was so fun watching them try their best!

We had one more game, Watermelon War, but we ran out of time and had to go to lunch.  It is a version of a game we play often in my own classroom.  Each player draws a card.  The player with the largest number gets to keep the card.  The team with most cards after 1 time through wins.

We ended our day with a cool freeze pop as a reward for being great team players and working so hard throughout the year. I got 100 for $4.99 from Target

It is hard to believe another school year is over, but this was definitely a fun note to end it on!