Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jan Brett Activities & Book Giveaway

Back in January, I wrote about the activities I used in my classroom with the help of books from Jan Brett.  This post was widely popular.  Therefore, as a thank you to my readers I am hosting a Book Giveaway!





ENTER TO WIN THE MITTEN
HERE’S HOW:

~ To add your name to the drawing, simply leave a comment to this post.

This giveaway will end on November 21, 2013 The winner will be chosen by Random drawing from all valid entries submitted. The winner will be notified via email and will have up to 48 hours to contact me with their mailing address before another winner is chosen. Open world wide! No P.O Boxes please.

Good Luck!
Michelle Berg
Little Nippers


Jan Brett Activities for Preschool

Last January we began our Jan Brett Author Study in TK with activities inspired by "The Mitten", "Comet's Nine Lives", "Hedgie Blasts Off", "Trouble with Trolls" and "Annie and the Wild Animals". We had loads of fun check it out...


Language and Literacy Activities:
Our TK'ers loved reenacting "The Mitten" as they pretended to be the various characters of the book with the help of animal masks downloaded from Jan Brett's website. www.janbrett.com



We were asked to do this activity again and again!


Art Activities:
While Jan Brett's stories are compelling I noticed that the children were even more interested in her border artwork! This inspired a brainstorming session about what kind of border we would use if we wrote a story about snowmen. This sparked some amazing comments from my students:
"A happy Snowman"
"A Snowman with tears"
"A Snowman dancing"
"A Snowman melting"
"A Snowman sleeping"
After our discussion, I gave them paper to bring their ideas to life!


The next day, we read "Comet's Nine Lives" and I asked them to draw a picture of their favorite part of the story. What I found most interesting about this project was how much my students have grown in the past few months. Back in September, most of them could not draw representational drawings. A few weeks ago in an attempt to make art less intimidating to my students I gave a mini art lesson before we sat down to draw. As a child, I had absolutely no artistic ability at all! In fact, it isn't until quite recently that I discovered how to do it! It's really all about finding the shapes in what you see. I gave this tip to my students as we discussed what our favorite parts of the story were. One child mentioned that they liked the picture of the lighthouse and I explained that a lighthouse is simply a rectangle with a triangle on top. Then, I told them that Comet's face is just a circle with 2 triangles for ears. One child asked how they would make the waves from the hurricane. I drew squiggly lines. Then I gave them paper to work on their own. I was AMAZED with the results! So many of my students drew lighthouses with waves. A few drew cats and even added themselves into the scene! It was very exciting to see.


This boy not only drew the lighthouse and the waves
but began to draw a patterned border around his artwork, Jan Brett style!


Another great activity for older children is a 3-D Diorama. My daughter did the one below for a school project about "The Mitten". She drew 3 separate pictures from the book and glued them to the inside of a shoe box. Then she made an owl and the mitten (with animals inside) out of clay and added them! My daughter is 10 years old, much older than my preschool students but it's a great project and I wanted to add it for inspiration. She was also asked to write a short paragraph about what was shown.


Science Activities
"Annie and the Wild Animals" is another great story by Jan Brett. It's about a little girl who leaves Corn Cakes near the woods in hopes of finding a new pet. Last week for our Science unit we baked our own Corn Cakes but instead of feeding them to wild animals we ate them ourselves! I just used Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and they came out delicious! (This is also a great Math Activity since it requires measuring)

Math Activities
1) We played a game of concentration with character cards from various Jan Brett books. These can also be found on www.janbrett.com

2) I created a few Math Sheets. This counting game was used after we read "Comets Nine Lives":




This one was used after we read "Trouble with Trolls":



I also tried to recreate a page from "The Umbrella" for my sensory table. This was a very popular station!




Fine Motor Activities
We made a class mural of Hedgie in outer space inspired from "Hedgie Blasts Off." You can download the artwork from Jan Brett's website, www.janbrett.com First we enjoyed finger painting with black paint on a large sheet of butcher paper. Once it dried, we colored the artwork, cut them out and glued it onto the mural. It turned out beautiful!


My Book Giveaway ends November 21st! 

See above for how to enter!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

SOME ADVISE FROM LITTLE NIPPERS

 

A few years ago, I taught in a TK classroom for 20 kids and 5 of them required special needs.  I was fairly new in this type of setting.  I had been teaching for a while but not for a classroom with quite that many students.  Furthermore, I hadn't any experience working with children with special needs. As one would expect, the first few months were very rough!




During my summer break of that year, I reflected on how I could have done things differently.  I have since planned a curriculum that I think works very well.  It integrates traditional education along with the Montessori philosophy. I'd like to share my thoughts with my readers:

Firstly, I'd like to state that I have not been trained in the Montessori principles. If you are searching for information about this philosophy there is a great deal of material available online or at your local bookstore.  I have, however, done quite a bit of research and have used many of their ideas in my classroom. 

So lets start with the first month of school... September:

Week 1
Typically, the curriculum for the month of September usually involves Apples, All About Me and Fall.  While these themes are tried and true, I think the first month should really focus on Social Development: 
  • What is expect of the child in the classroom? 
  • What is proper behavior? 
  • What does it mean to be a good friend?

I accomplish these very important lessons with the help of Montessori practices.
 I really love the way Montessori schools instills courtesy and respect for others and how they have found a way to delineate work space for their students.  I can't tell you how many times a conflict has developed in my classroom over a child taking anothers toy or disrupting a friends Lego structure!  Montessori students place their work on trays or mats. 

These tools indicate a "boundary" for what they're playing with and the students
 in the class understand (from day one) how important it is not to ruin some else's work.



I found this idea from a great website about "Introducing Rules and Routines in the Montessori Preschool Classroom":
http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2012/09/rules-routines-montessori-preschool.html

It talks about how to introduce classroom rules on the first day of school.  The teacher from this article gives her students a tour of the classroom and demonstrates the proper way to walk around anothers activity.  She has her students practice getting their activities, cleaning up and being respectful of others.  She spends a lot of time the first day role playing  and observing the children to ensure that these simple rules are followed.

I used this concept during the first week of school and it worked wonders! In my classroom, we typically have time allotted for a project after Circle Time.  However, during the first week of school, I didn't plan any projects.  Instead, I used this time to let them practice these basic grace and courtesy lessons, while I observed to make sure everything went smoothly.  There were more than a few students that needed gentle reminders but by Week 2, most of them were already getting the hang of it and we were ready to move on!

A Note About Parent Involvement: Motivating parents to be involved in the classroom was surprisingly very difficult when I taught the TK class.  This was due partly because the center I worked for was set up as a daycare which catered to working parents.  Honestly, I was disappointed because I feel that if you can get the parents more involved it creates a warm, friendly, family-like atmosphere.  Therefore, this year during my Open House I tackled this problem head on!  I requested that the parents stay in the classroom with their child during the first 10-15 minutes to help them do morning work.  I explained that in doing so, it acclimates the child, slowly gets them used to the environment and allows us all to get to know each other better.  What happened?  Well...there are less complicated drop offs, less  separation anxiety and we are all, slowly, becoming good friends! 

 The first week I started off with coffee and bagels.  This set the mood immediately!  Having a "Parent/Child Activity" readily available is also helpful.  During Week 1, I arranged letters on the tables and asked each parent to help their child spell their name and glue it to their "Communication Folder" (just a paper folder I use to store work being sent home and any parent letters).  See below for more ideas on "Parent/Child Activities".

Week 2 - Building A Rainbow
This idea I got from Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten.  If you are unfamiliar with her website, I'd advise you to check it out!  She has become my go to place for creative curriculum ideas.  Below is the link to her "Rainbow System":
http://mrsleeskinderkids.blogspot.com/p/rainbow-system.html

She uses Rainbows for good behavior.  Every time a child is caught doing the right thing, they earn a piece for their rainbow.  At the end of the week, if their rainbow is complete they get a prize. 

I can honestly say that Mrs. Lee's system works!  I have students working very hard to earn their rainbow each week.  For prizes I've got small items from our local toy store such as: a baby slinky, rainbow sketch books and eraser puzzles to name a few.

I also planned a whole week of Rainbow activities to kick off this concept.  If you look online there are quite a few great Math, Art and Science lessons that you can incorporate into your week.  My personal favorite is the Teaching Heart Blog:
http://teachingheart.net/blog/2012/03/rainbow-math/

Parent/Child Activities:  In the above website there are some great worksheets that I used in the morning for my Parent/Child Activity.  Check out the "Rainbow Race" and the "Fruit Loop Rainbow" Sheet.  I've used them both and they are great activities.


Week 3 - Establishing Jobs
By week 3, my students had started to remember the concepts of respect and courtesy and they were working very  hard at earning their rainbows.  This week, I introduced jobs.  Following the "Classroom Economy" concept, my classroom jobs consist of the following:
Banker 
Accountant
Messenger
Substitute
Newscaster
Meteorologist
Pet Caretaker
Calendar Specialist
Line Leader
Caboose

If you are unfamiliar with a "Classroom Economy" it basically means that the kids earn "money" for their jobs and at the end of every month they can buy items in our classroom store with the money they have earned.  The "money", is monopoly money and the "store" consists of donations of small toys and trinkets from the parents and the community.  At first, there were different salaries for different jobs.  For example, the Banker, being the most important received the highest salary.  However, given that my classroom consists of 4-5 year old children, this concept caused some conflict.  Therefore, I now give them each $1 a day for a job "well done".  This means that they have to try their best.  If there is any complaining that they do not like the job that they were assigned to for the week, they get docked a days pay.  I also read on a website (I apologize for not remembering which one) that the teacher issues "violations" for any "off-task behavior" such as running in the classroom, dishonestly and rudeness.  I've adopted this concept in my classroom and it certainly helps with general behavior issues!

Parent/Child Activity:  This week I created my own worksheets to follow our theme; (1) A Librarian Word Search, (2) A drawing of the weather, and (3) Make your own Calendar.  I'm having trouble uploading these worksheets because they were made in Word.  I hope to find a way soon!


Week 4 - Friends
This week we talked about what it means to be a good friend.  There are many books that can help explain this idea to children.  Any book about courtesy and respect will work.  The following are my personal favorites:



Parent/Child Activity:  For this theme, I created 2 word searches.  One with all the boys names in my classroom and another with all the girls names.  They also practiced writing each others names!  This was all very exciting for them!



This concludes my September Curriculum.  Once I've established these basic rules regarding courtesy and manners then I'm prepared to move on!  I have to say, using the Build a Rainbow and Classroom Economy concepts have really helped with Classroom Management, along with increased parent involvement.  Having the parents in the classroom for the first few minutes allows me to bond with them a little better and I've noticed that more and more of them have asked to be involved in other ways (such as reading a book or cooking a meal).  It's really been an eye opener!

Have you had problems with Classroom Management?  How have you solved behavior problems?  I would love to hear your comments!



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Multicultural Activities for PreSchool

With the help of some of my favorite children’s books, I introduced my TK class to different countries around the world!



We began with Pippo the Fool by Tracey E. Fern, a true story about Filippo Brunelleschi, the man who built the dome above the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy.

Pippo the Fool is a very inspirational story about a man who believed in himself even though nobody else did.  It tells the tale of how he persevered through persistence and determination. After I read the story to my students we talked about what they would build if they were Pippo. Then, using Blocks, Logs and Legos my TKers put there ideas to work! 

This project really held their attention like no other! They built Firehouses, Towers, Cars, Airplanes and elaborate Houses! It was so exciting to see our young architects at work! In addition, I created a Math and Fine Motor worksheet that looked like Pippo’s dome and asked them to count the bricks and practice writing Pippo's name. We set our expectations high and asked them to try as hard as Pippo did.

A few months later, one of my students visted Florence
and sent me a postcard of the Dome!

"Dear Ms. Michelle, Last week I was in Florence and saw Pippo's Dome. 
 It was fantastic and really big!  Looking forward to hearing from you. A big hug!"
From,
Matteo

Recieving this postcard, made my day! To know that one of my lessons made
a difference in a childs life is amazing! I just love being a teacher!



We also introduced them to Chinese Culture by reading The Empty Pot by Demi and Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel.

The Empty Pot is a story about honesty.  After I read the book, we enjoyed a great discussion about different occasions when each of us were honest with our parents and the resulting outcome.











For Math:  we counted the letters in Tikki Tikki Tembo's name and were very grateful that our name did not have so many letters!

For Art:  I researched the meaning of all my students names, wrote them in Chinese characters and asked them to trace the characters with a paint brush.  My students LOVED to find out what their names meant!  It proved to be a very fun project!




We also learned about Mexico and Africa and discovered that even though there are differences among us, we are indeed very much the same! In addition, a few of our friends brought in items from their own culture.  A boy from Germany treated the class with a large bowl of German Pudding! A boy from England brought in the British Flag and to another boy presented a Map of the World!


Great Books about Africa:


 
 
If you have any questions about my curriculum, please feel free to leave a comment!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jan Brett Activities for Pre-School




Last week we began our Jan Brett Author Study in TK with activities inspired by "The Mitten", "Comet's Nine Lives", "Hedgie Blasts Off", "Trouble with Trolls" and "Annie and the Wild Animals".  We had loads of fun check it out...


Language and Literacy Activities:
Our TK'ers loved reenacting "The Mitten" as they pretended to be the various characters of the book with the help of animal masks downloaded from Jan Brett's website.  www.janbrett.com



We were asked to do this activity again and again!


Art Activities:
While Jan Brett's stories are compelling I noticed that the children were even more interested in her border artwork!  This inspired a brainstorming session about what kind of Border we would use if we wrote a story about snowmen.  This sparked some amazing comments from my students:
"A happy Snowman"
"A Snowman with tears"
"A Snowman dancing"
"A Snowman melting"
"A Snowman sleeping"
After our discussion, I gave them paper to bring their ideas to life! 


The next day, we read "Comet's Nine Lives" and I asked them to draw a picture of their favorite part of the story.  What I found most interesting about this project was how much my students have grown in the past few months.  Back in September, most of them could not draw representational drawings.   A few weeks ago in an attempt to make art less intimidating to my students I gave a mini art lesson before we sat down to draw.  As a child, I had absolutely no artistic ability at all!  In fact, it isn't until quite recently that I discovered how to do it!  It's really all about finding the shapes in what you see.  I gave this tip to my students as we discussed what our favorite parts of the story were.  One child mentioned that they liked the picture of the lighthouse and I explained that a lighthouse is simply a rectangle with a triangle on top.  Then, I told them that Comet's face is just a circle with 2 triangles for ears.  One child asked how they would make the waves from the hurricane.  I drew squiggly lines.  Then I gave them paper to work on their own.  I was AMAZED with the results!  So many of my students drew lighthouses with waves.  A few drew cats and even added themselves into the scene!  It was very exciting to see.


This boy not only drew the lighthouse and the waves
but began to draw a patterned border around his artwork, Jan Brett style!


Another great activity for older children is a 3-D Diorama.  My daughter did the one below for a school project about "The Mitten". She drew 3 separate pictures from the book and glued them to the inside of a shoe box.  Then she made an owl and the mitten (with animals inside) out of clay and added them!  My daughter is 10 years old, much older than my preschool students but it's a great project and I wanted to add it for inspiration.  She was also asked to write a short paragraph about what was shown.


Science Activities
"Annie and the Wild Animals" is another great story by Jan Brett.  It's about a little girl who leaves Corn Cakes near the woods in hopes of finding a new pet.  Last week for our Science unit we baked our own Corn Cakes but instead of feeding them to wild animals we ate them ourselves!  I just used Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and they came out delicious!  (This is also a great Math Activity since it requires measuring)

Math Activities
1)  We played a game of concentration with character cards from various Jan Brett books.  These can also be found on www.janbrett.com

2)  I created a few Math Sheets.   This counting game was used after we read "Comets Nine Lives":




 This one was used after we read "Trouble with Trolls":



I'm also tried to recreate a page from "The Umbrella" for my sensory table.  This was a very popular station!




Fine Motor Activities
We made a class mural of Hedgie in outer space inspired from "Hedgie Blasts Off."  You can download the artwork from Jan Brett's website, www.janbrett.com  First we enjoyed finger painting with black paint on a large sheet of butcher paper.  Once it dried, we colored the artwork, cut them out and glued it onto the mural.  It turned out beautiful!


FREE WORKSHEETS:  If you would like any of my worksheets, simply become a follower and post a comment. I will mail them for free!   Offer ends January 31, 2013.
Yours in Learning!
Miss Michelle


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Winter Curriculum for Preschoolers

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a great book entitled "A Snowman Named Just Bob" written by Mark Kimball Moulton and illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch. It's a rhyming story about winter, snow and friendship that my students absolutely loved! It inspired the following ideas for my classroom:

Language and Literacy Activities
1) Wordsearch - I drew a picture of a snowman that looked like Bob and made him into a word search.

2) Class Story - At circle time, we wrote a class story about Bob and what he would do if he visited us in Massachusetts. I began with the following sentence:
"Once upon a time there was a snowman named Bob who visited Massachusetts every winter. This year he came back on Christmas. That morning Bob and (students name) went _______________."
The story took off from there, with each student coming up with a different idea for where and what they would do if Snowman Bob visited their house. The best quote was:
"Bob played and sang supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"

Fine Motor
Paper Snowflakes - We made snowflakes the old fashion way with a piece of white paper cut into squares and a pair of scissors. I was surprised by how popular this center was! I cut 30 squares and the kids went through all of them and even wanted more. This was a great Fine Motor excercise!!

Science
In Science, we posed the question “Why is it cold in the Winter?” and recorded our responses.  (The funniest answer was "It is cold because Ice Cream is falling from the sky.") Then with the help of a globe I explained that the earth is tilted away from the sun and the loss of sunlight during the day makes it colder this time of year.  We also, looked at pictures from other parts of the world and discussed what the weather was like there.

Art
Winter Scenes - During circle time I shared a book about Monet.  Together with the students we examined winter landscapes and discovered how many shapes we could find in each painting.  Before I asked my students to make their own pictures, I talked about how drawing is really all about finding shapes.  "A house is only a square with a triangle on top" and "The sun is only a circle."  Many of my students cannot create representational drawings yet, so I tried to make it as least intimidating as possible.  The results were phenonmenal!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

About Me 


 Hello! My name is Michelle Berg and I live in Massachusetts.  I am a proud mother of two and I've been teaching for 4 years. I began my career in Advertising. I worked as an Account Representative, Print Production Manager and Copywriter. While I loved my job, becoming a parent changed everything for me. I became a stay-at-home Mom and I loved every moment I had with my kids. Most of all I loved finding new ways of teaching them. I went back to school and got a degree in Education. I am now a Lead Teacher for a Transitional Kindergarten class and I have never been happier! I started this blog years ago as a way of sharing great children's books and parenting information. I've decided to change it to curriculum ideas. Planning curriculum is my favorite part of my job and I feel that I learn something new every year usually from my co-teachers. So I am sending this blog out with ideas from my classroom in hopes that it will inspire others to do the same. I welcome your comments and feedback and hope that I can learn from others that have been in this field longer than me. This week I am starting a unit based on a book I found entitled "A Snowman Named Just Bob" by Mark Kimball Moulton and Illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch. I'll let you know how it goes! Yours in Learning! Miss Michelle

Friday, August 19, 2011

A month ago Little Nippers posted a review on A Kid's Guide to Being a Winner, a book which helps teach the meaning behind words such as Respect, Responsibility and Thoughtfulness, to name a few. Below, C.D Shelton author of this great book, writes about a few more important words: Stereotyping and Generalizations, as he shares a recent discussion he has with his 13 year old niece:



Stereotyping and Generalizations
by C.D. Shelton

By listening, you can learn a great deal from young people. My niece is thirteen and lives with my wife and I. She is entering the eighth grade. And, as one can expect, she is subject to peer pressures, which shapes her thinking and interests.

On the topic of class selection, and our recommendation that she select “Orchestra” as an elective, her response was “Orchestra” is for “Nerds” ergo, not for her. Patience is required in these kinds of exchanges. We explained that the interpretation of some words go through a sort of evolution as time passes, based on the usage. We explained, that years ago, the word “Nerd” referred to a person that was not particularly athletically inclined, not as, in today’s usage, a person who is intellectually adept. Not finished with the topic, we pointed out that labels that stereotype people are usually wrong. It places people in categories into which they don’t necessarily belong, (like, women are bad drivers or blonds are dumb).

Like “stereotyping”, broad, sweeping “generalizations” are usually wrong. For example, this conversation on the use of mascara, again with my thirteen your old niece. “But Aunt Dani, ALL of the girls are wearing it and they have their parent’s permission.”

As I mentioned earlier, if you listen to young people you’ll learn. You’ll learn what they don’t understand. “Orchestra and mascara” were the operative words that stimulated a discussion centered around the uniqueness of each person. By stereotyping or generalizing we place individuals into categories, to which, they may not belong. In other words, stereotyping or generalizing ignores the uniqueness of the individual.

It’s a tough lesson, but one we all need to learn at some point in our life. It’s a lesson better learned early, than later.

C.D Shelton is a College Professor who enjoys writing Action/Adventure novels. A Kid's Guide to Being a Winner is his first non-fiction and inspirational book for kids. See below for a Little Nippers review:



It’s a fact; when you ask a child to define the word respect many will become tongue-tied, however, if asked what a brontosaurus is most of them can answer! This is an interesting observation that I cannot take credit for. Fortunately, my two children attend Tae Kwon Do with a very insightful teacher who has not only made this observation but has taught them the meaning of the word respect.

Nevertheless, it is a tough concept for young children to grasp. Recently, however, I’ve discovered a book that can help parents teach the meaning behind this very important word along with a few others. A Kid’s Guide to Being a Winner by author C.D Shelton is written for the young reader and is an excellent resource. C.D Shelton knows how to reach kids! This book is straightforward and easy to read. And although it is not your typical story book it successfully captures the attention of its targeted audience. My children have asked to read it quite frequently.

Every spread has an illustration that corresponds to the text and teaches the meaning of the words: Responsible; Thoughtful; Respect; Gratitude and Positive Mental Attitude.

At my house, we read this book in an interactive way. At the beginning of each chapter I asked my children to try to define the meaning of the highlighted word and after every page I asked them to describe the illustration and find the meaning behind each. For example; after we looked at an illustration that showed 2 children holding baseball equipment in their hands, knocking on the door of a house with a broken window, I asked “How is this child being responsible?” The responses that follow usually initiate many more discussions.

I honestly cannot say enough about this book. Parents and teachers, I urge you to seek it out for your youngsters! It can be found on Amazon.

Thank you C.D Shelton for writing such an inspirational book that addresses the values I’m trying to instill in my children!