Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The World of Eric Carle: A Kindergarten Author Study

One of my absolute favorite units to teach throughout the year has got to be my Eric Carle author study.  Usually my little nuggets have been exposed to Eric Carle's work before they come to me, but it's mostly superficial.  They have heard the classics, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, The Grouchy Ladybug, etc. However, they haven't REALLY been exposed to the amazing person, author and illustrator that he is!! I pack my classroom library FULL of the classics and those lesser known little gems that they have never seen or heard of!! I begin my unit with a video that I purchased on amazon a few years ago called Eric Carle: Picture Writer
I watched this video in one of my Early Childhood classes at Oklahoma State and I fell in love with this adorable little man right then and there!! He talks about his childhood, how he became an artist and author and he demonstrates his technique...which absolutely mesmerizes my little ones each and every year!!! 

Throughout the week we read as many stories as we can fit in and I have thematic centers during our play time that are based upon his stories.  By the end of the week they are begging for more and are sad to see the books go back to the library.  But the absolute best part of the WHOLE unit is when we visit the library for the rest of the year they are practically wrestling in front of the Eric Carle section to check out a book to take home and share with their families.  It makes me smile to see them so excited about books!!! Here's a little glance at our week of Eric Carle in our classroom.....

Eric Carle Thematic Centers

Sensory table based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar...filled with green dyed rice, a plush toy that I found on Amazon and the items that the caterpillar ate throughout the book that the students can use to retell the story as they play.  So simple, but so engaging!! 

My classroom library full of every Eric Carle book I could get my hand on using my personal books, our school library and our local library!!! I didn't want them to miss out on ANYTHING!!! 

ANNNNNDDDD here is my passion folks....my favorite center to plan of all centers in all of the entire universe!! DRAMATIC PLAY!!!! What on earth can you do for Eric Carle week in dramatic play, you ask?? Well, how about basing it on the story Pancakes, Pancakes  !! I purchased a cutie patootie breakfast play set from my second favorite place...Amazon... and set up my kitchen for my little nuggets to cook away!! There's more to this center later...just wait, it's AMAZING!!

You have GOT to have art during an Eric Carle unit, of course. So this week we mod podged tissue paper squares onto our initials to create and Eric Carle inspired project!! They turned out beautifully!! 

For some fine motor work instead of regular old play dough, which, don't get me wrong...they LOVE...but this week I changed it up a bit and made some cloud dough based on the book, Little Cloud. Such a simple recipe!!It's only 2 ingredients...flour and vegetable oil or baby oil.  1 cup oil to 8 cups of flour....can't get any easier than that!!! 

I found this awesome Eric Carle ABC floor puzzle on Amazon!! This kid LOVES puzzles so I make sure I have one every week!!! 

Block area is based on the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear where I have provided some bears and I borrowed these awesome natural blocks from a co worker for my little ones to build bear habitats.  They love these blocks and the BEST part is they were FREE!!! My friend had a log that my handy hubby cut into pieces for her and VOILA you have natural building blocks!! Now, I need to find myself a log and have hubs make me some!!! 

ANNND the most exciting, engaging, messy, amazing, hands on activity yet!!!! We put our learning to work and we CREATE!!! Just like the master himself! My favorite part is how they use his technique and his vocabulary and they are talking about texture and color and mixing!!! It is absolutely and completely satisfying to listen to them create these beautiful papers that we will, as a class, turn into a mural that will hang in our hallway for all to see!!! The mural is still under construction, so I will add it when it is complete!! IT'S DONE! We incorporated our Eric Carle painted papers into our ocean unit and created and Under the Sea mural!! 

Isn't this mural beautiful? I had each child choose an under water animal or plant that they wanted to add to the mural.  Then they chose the color they wanted for their choice. I either traced their choice (on the SmartBoard, just by pulling up an image and placing the paper on it and tracing with a marker) or I free handed what they chose. We then put them all together and hung it in the hallway to show off our amazing artwork!! 

  Next to dramatic play planning, another one of my favorite things to do in the classroom is COOKING!!!! We cook a lot and I have a small kitchen in my room that I have built throughout the years. I have a microwave, crock pot, hot plate, griddle and all of the utensils and products to whip up something on a whim!! Sometimes, I make my kiddos fresh chocolate chip cookies just for fun and they get to enjoy them right out of the oven.....that is heaven!!! But, to end our unit we read Pancakes Pancakes I pull out the griddle and they get to turn their own pancake and put it on their plate and add their toppings.  We do this first thing in the morning so they think it's so cool to have a "second breakfast"....like that's super sneaky!!! 

And there you have it folks!!! That is my Eric Carle Author Study in a nut shell!!! I hope you find it inspirational and as enjoyable as we do each year!!!! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

We are 100 Days Smarter!!!!

Well, we made it!! We are at the 100th day of school and are so close to first grade!! YIKES! We had so much fun this week.  I used to do 100th day only on 100th day....then I realized there were WAY too many cool fun activities out there to do so I stretch it out over the whole week! and why not?? 100th day is kind of a big deal!!
Here are some of the activities we engaged in over this week.  Now, I am 100% positive these are NOT original ideas!! How did we teach before Pinterest, TpT, and blogs??? I love love love all of the available resources teachers have out there for other teachers!! It really is life saving at times, right?? Ok, here we go...
For the Library corner it was difficult to find several 100th day books, so I added books that we about school as well.  Since we were studying 100 days of school I thought it was completely perfect!! They love walking in and seeing what new surprises are in the library corner!! 

Dramatic play, anyone??? If you read my previous post on play in the classroom you know that I am passionate about dramatic play!! It is my favorite center to plan, can you tell?? I simply tossed together some "teacher" things that I wasn't currently using and I had a great little classroom! If 5 year old me could have walked into kindergarten to this as a center she would have had a smile on her face for a week!!!! This was a very popular center this week...everyone wants to be the boss  teacher!! 

I love Dollar General , Dollar Tree, any store with the word dollar in it has MY attention!! Putting together this 100 piece puzzle with my littles was pretty exhilarating!!! and I was a bit obsessed to get it finished before PE!!

Sensory table this week was pom poms and a muffin tin with the numbers to count to 120 by tens.  Using the tweezers they would count ten pom pom and place them in each compartment.... and then "sell" me the "cookies" for $1.00 each :) 

Race to 100! Easy Peasy to put together!! copies of 100 chart inside plastic sleeves, beans for counters and foam dice.  They would roll the dice and place that many beans on the chart.  First one to 100 wins!! 

OH MY GRAVY!!! Talk about a HIT!!! they love, love, LOVE building cup castles!!!!! Giggles and screams galore!!!! 100 cups from the dollar store, of course, and you can make some kids SUPER happy!!!! 

Building structures with 100 marshmallows and toothpicks.  DISCLAIMER: I did not count out 400 marshmallows and 400 toothpicks (since there are 4 people at this center) so I cheated a little and put a bag of marshmallows in a pan and 2 bowls of toothpicks on the table.  But the amazing contraptions they built were genius!!! 

Our 100th day hats...nothing fancy, just FABULOUS!!!

100th day snack ideas!! I used to do the "Count out 100 snacks at home and bring them in for a 100th day party mix" activity.... and then, I really, really thought about it and I realized that was kinda risky with all those pesky germs out there, so I had a new plan of action!! I have 10 parents send a different snack and it goes as follows.  FIRST we all wash our hands and tables!! Everyone has a 100th day mat that I made out of construction paper and laminated.  There are 10 circles in 10 different colors on the mats.  I then put each snack in a small Styrofoam bowl and place it in their tables.  So each table will have 10 bowls.  I then instruct them on how to count their snacks out of the bowl and if you touch the fruit loop, then it is YOUR fruit loop because it has YOUR germs!! I realize there is still a possibility to spread germs...however, it is GREATLY reduced when there are only a few hands reaching into that bowl instead of 23!!! After they count 10 of each snack and their mat is complete I give them an empty bowl and they are ready to snack away!! I love this activity and they do too!!! Here's what we used for our snack this year: animal crackers, fruit loops, Oops berries cereal, Cheeze-Its, chocolate chips, marshmallows, mini MnMs, pretzles, goldfish, and Cookie Crisp!! 

I mean, come on!!! Can they be any cuter doing this in their cute little hats?!?!

I love how careful they are to place each snack inside the circles!! 

So, there you have it!!! Our 100 days of school week is complete!!! Stick a fork in me because I.  AM.  DONE!!! It's exhausting, but I love it and wouldn't want to be anywhere else!!

100 down....only 75 to go!!!!