Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interactive Butterfly Lifecycle Craft & Poem

It's that time of year...

Butterflies arrive in my classroom this coming week!
I am super excited because I own Insect Lore's Butterfly Tent- so all my students have the opportunity to climb inside and interact with the butterflies!
Now before you go crazy looking for it, I have some sad news...they no longer make it!
I don't understand why- to me it is worth every cent it cost ($40)- and it is truly the most exciting experience for the children to actually have the opportunity to interact with the butterflies they worked so 'hard' to raise!  I have seen others teachers use kid tents to do the same, so don't lose all hope!

My 2 sons attend the same Daycare- one in Preschool and one in Pre-K.  I was assigned to be a mystery reader back in November, BUT both of them decided that was a great time to get a week long combination of stomach bugs, ear infections and I missed my chance.  I sent in all the materials I had prepped to make some super fun 'T' turkeys when they returned and the teachers were happy to do the craft with them.

BUT...I was so sad to miss out on some fun!
So this week I get the chance to 're-do' my visit!  By some type of magic I am able to coordinate a visit with an already scheduled appointment that I needed to take some time off for!

And guess what they are learning about...

They watched the caterpillars grow big and fat and make chrysalis' ('cocoons' in the Preschool class) and are ready to see them emerge some time this week!

They already read:

So I thought of these two as my possible story choices:
And I think I have decided to go with Ten Little Caterpillars for the sake of time!

I also wanted to bring in a little craft- but being that my time was limited I was racking my brain as to what to do.  I have made emerging caterpillars with my class before- but that required a toilet paper holder, coffee filter, clothespin and tongue depressor for each drying time for the coffee filters.  Being that there are 55 kids I needed to prep for, the toilet paper holder would pose a bit of a challenge!

So I thought if I print a chrysalis/cocoon on cardstock and roll it to look like a toilet paper holder I could get the same effect...

Now what about that 'emerging' butterfly....hmmm....
So I printed some butterflies and practiced folding it all different ways until I got it JUST RIGHT.
fold in half

and back over

and back again

 and flip it over and do the same on the other side

And then I got to thinking...what if I had a caterpillar crawl in and push the butterfly out...

And of course I would need some type of poem or song to go along with it...

So I slid the butterfly into the chrysalis/cocoon so that s/he is 'hiding'

And then along comes the caterpillar

and as he pushes down into the chrysalis/cocoon 

out emerges the butterfly

until it is all the way out!

To play again...
Fold the butterfly back up and slide it into the chrysalis/cocoon.  Use the caterpillar to push the butterfly out!

For the interest of time (and their ages, stamina, etc!) I printed all the chrysalis'/cocoons in color but left the butterflies in black & white so that they can make them into their own beautiful creation!

As for the little poem...for the Preschoolers:
Caterpillar, caterpillar on a tree.
How hungry can you be?
Crawl in your cocoon-
Nice and tight!

Out comes a butterfly- colorful & bright!

and for the Pre-K:
Caterpillar, caterpillar on a tree.
How hungry can you be?
Crawl in your chrysalis-
Nice and tight!
Out comes a butterfly- colorful & bright!

And yes...there are 55 prepped and ready to go!

And you betcha I will be doing this with my kinders!
BUT they will be completing more of it on their own!

So would you like to give it a try with your kiddos- either at home or at school?
It's even a perfect activity for a summer camp too!
I put all the pieces- in both color and black & white together, as well as the photo directions from this blog post, in this download that you can find for FREE in my TPT Store!

All I ask is that you show your appreciation for the freebie by leaving feedback after download!

I'd love to hear how the crafts came out and/or about butterfly experiences you've had in your classroom or at home!

I'll be posting more about our little friends once they for me...I am off to cut and bend some more caterpillars!

Until next post,
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day Blog Hop!

I'd like to start this by saying 'Thank You' to all those that have served our country, and continue to serve our country.  Your dedication and service does not go unnoticed, and the sacrifices you make are beyond what words could express.  

So as we kick-off summer and relax with family and friends this weekend, think of all the service men and women who have made this day possible!

And onto the million dollar question...drum roll please.......
Are you ready for summer?
Are your ready for bare feet, sandy toes, fireflies and fireworks that light up the sky?
Barbecued delights, watermelon bright and ice cream that is sweet and drippy?
Vacations and fun with family, lazy days and s'more making nights?
I know I am!!!

Memorial Day is the unofficial kick-off to summer and I could not be more anxious after the mounds and piles of snow that blanketed us this year!  Thanks to Old Man Winter, my Memorial Day weekend shrunk from 5 days to 3, and I have a day added onto the school year- plus 2 other make-up days we already gave back!

But...I am ready to move on from that, so lets...

I live on Long Island and am fortunate to live a short 7 minute walk from the beach!
After school we grab hands, and sometimes buckets and shovels, and walk down to the beach!

We dig for awhile...

And even fly a kite!

My boys have no idea how fortunate they are to have this as their 'playground'/'backyard!'

When summer rolls around, we bring much more down with us

...and some days we don't even worry about bathing suits!
My porch is covered in sand and shells...and I wouldn't have it any other way!

But one of their FAVORITE things about summer is...

And I honestly can't think of any kid (or grown kid!) or doesn't like ice cream (unless you a have an allergy- and even then- science has made it possible for you to enjoy this treat- in some form- too!)!!!

So my blog hop freebie is:
It will only be free during the hop (May 24th-26th)!
Feedback is greatly appreciated, as well, under 'comments and ratings' for the product's page!

My students LOVE 'read the room' activities and I have had to get very creative this year thinking of different ways to have them practice skills while reading the room!

This is my latest 'brainstorm'- they will read the room to review sight words we have learned and then use picture clues from the words they collected to fill in and finish sentences!

Next week they will be giving it its first 'go round' with a butterfly theme version:
which is part of my Memorial Day Dollar Deals- and is only $1 this weekend only!!

Since I go until June 27th, I made the ice cream version for us to use in June to 'cool us off' and 'keep learning sweet'!!  
BUT ice cream isn't just for summer, so if you are ending, or already done, you can still use this freebie as you return to school or at anytime during the year!

As for me...I am looking forward to the lazy days of summer where my boys and I get to relax by the water

and have days that are full of fun and less of rush and stress
because that is what summer, family and love is all about!

Now if you promise not to tell my boys...this is what I am most looking forward to this summer...
We're going to DISNEY WORLD!!!!!

Everything has been booked for months- and have kept the secret thus far!  I CANNOT wait to see their faces when we tell them...or better yet as we venture into the happiest place on Earth!
It will be the vacation of a lifetime- although I have been there before I can't wait to live it through my boys eyes!!!

Now before you go running to the beach or your vacation destination, be sure to click to download your freebie and take a moment to enter this giveaway!

Since schools start and end at all different times, rather than me choose what product for you to win, I am giving away a $10 shopping spree in my TPT store!  Use it now for end-of-the-year activities, memory/lapbooks, centers, books & more OR save it for back-to-school fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

One last 'gift!'

I have SLASHED the prices on multiple products in my TPT Store for this weekend only!
Several of my products are only $1 or $2 this weekend- including end of year lapbook and other summer goodies!
Click HERE to find all the discounted goodies!!!

Ready to hop to your next destination?
You are on your way to Sweet Integrations!

As for me....Looks like I am chasing the boys over the dunes and heading for a dive into summer and fun!
Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
Hope to see you stop by over the summer!

Until next post,
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Launching Persuasive Writing In Kindergarten

Can I persuade you to read this?
I sure hope so!

Here are my reasons why you should read this post:
1. You will see amazing writing from kindergarteners.
2. You will see how a little idea has the possibility of becoming a BIG event- kindergartners really do have the power to empower change!
3. You will learn about mentor texts for persuasive writing that are tried and true!

So... did I persuade you to read this post?!
If not, then I am apparently not as great of a persuader as my kindergaretners!
If so, I am so glad to have you lets get to it!

We follow Lucy Calkins' Writers Workshop units of study and are embarking on the 'Persuasive Writing' topic.   This is new to me this year- in previous years we used her K-2 kit and did not have a persuasive writing unit!  I was nervous, but excited, to try it out!

It suggests launching the unit by having conversations with the children about 'problems' that they think need to be fixed, and how they think they can be fixed.  I knew if I opened up that 'door' the 'problems' that would be detailed may be more than what I bargained for, so I guided their discussions just a bit!  I also chose to take a week to do persuasive writing using interactive and shared writing, rather than having my students dive in and try it independently.  I felt it important to take the time to truly model and explain persuasive writing so that my kinders would be more successful when we moved toward independent writing.  

I asked them to think of our playground and what they like about the playground.  From that we went to what we didn't like about it and then into what we could do/add that would make it better.  From that I got an overwhelming consensus...SWINGS!

The Pre-K/Kindergarteners in my building have a separate playground.  It is a lovely playground, and I am happy to say I was a part of the fundraising and building efforts for it over 10 years ago, but it doesn't have any swings.  The 'big kids' playground, on the other had, has swings.

So the children decided they wanted to write Mr. Davey (our principal) a persuasive letter convincing him that we needed swings on our playground too!

They came up with what they wanted and 3 reasons as to why it was a good idea:
and each signed it!

I was so proud of their writing, I invited Mr. Davey into our classroom so that the children could read him their 1st, yet very convincing, attempt at persuasive writing!

After reading our letter he had some questions he wanted us to answer:
1. Can I go on the swings too?
2. How many swings will we need?
3. How much will they cost?

He said to let him know when we had answers to those questions.  I am not so sure he thought we would really carry through with it...but they were adamant about these swings, soooooo.....

The next morning they each wrote a 'proposal!'

  They each answered Mr. Davey's 3 questions, as well as drew a picture of the proposed swings!   

Everyone said he could go on the swings...yet the numbers of swings and cost varied greatly!

We decorated a cover:

Stapled it all together:

And added a special message at the end of the book!

I invited Mr. Davey back in and he sat before the class and read each proposal!  When he was done he told them he needed the weekend to think it all over and will get back to us on Monday.  

He said he needed to ask 'his boss' (the superintendent) and asked to borrow our proposals and original letter!

So now we EAGERLY await Monday and the answer to our burning question... Will we get swings on the kindergarten playground?  Was our letter and proposals convincing enough to persuade the school to purchase them for us?  Only time will tell!   And if they do get them...I am personally purchasing a plaque to attach to those swings that they are here because of my 2013-2014 persuasive kindergarteners!

Do you want to know if we got the swings or not???
Come on by and read this post on The Primary Pack!

But that was not the end of our launching week with persuasive writing!
I used 
as our first 'mentor text' for persuasive writing.

If you are not familiar with the story, it is a conversation between a kid and an ant.  Each gives their reasons as to why to squish/not squish the ant.  At the end, the author leaves you with 
the 'raised up shoe' and lets you decide what the boy should do!

I polled the class and 18 of them decided they would not squish the ant and 2 said they would!  So my teaching assistant took the 2 'squishers' and I took the 18 others and we worked in groups to write persuasive letters to the kid to convince/persuade him as to what to do!

After the letters were finished we drew happy and sad ants to match the letters they belonged to!
And may I just say that both letters are equally as persuasive?!

From there we moved into working into even smaller groups- I want to wean them off the whole group writing so that they would be read for independent writing!

We were working in our 'plant' unit and had discussed both vegetables and flowers over the course of the week.  So, I read the following books:
And had them think about a farmer's decision- does he grow flowers or vegetables?  Why is one better than the other?  How do you get him to grow what you think is best?

Both books provided examples of why each is best- so I left it up to them to decide!
I polled them...and it was nearly split down the middle!
We broke into two groups again and got to work:

 Here they are side by side after we were all done!  
It surely is a hard choice...which persuades you more?

My veggie lovers:
and look at all the adorable veggies they created to make their letter even more a'peel'ing!

 My flower lovers:
and their beautiful flowers to distract and convince you that flowers are best were a great added touch!

I feel they are now ready to branch off and begin writing more independently!
They understand what 'persuasive' writing is and how to go about writing a persuasive letter!

I collected a bunch of mentor texts that I found from a post on Library Thing as well as other Google and Pinterest searches so I am all ready for next week!  These are just a few of the ones I found!  You can also find great ideas, anchor charts and examples of student work via Pinterest searches about persuasive writing!



And now that it was time to send them off on their own I was getting a big anxious/nervous, so I purchased Kim Adsit's Writing An Opinion pack from Teachers Pay Teachers as a supplement to the lessons and sessions Lucy Calkins lays out.

Kim's pack is phenomenal!  She has anchor charts all set for you- just print on cardstock, laminate and create together with your class!  I have used her Readers Workshop anchor charts with much success, so I assume these will be just as great!
I also LOVE her modeling chart to do with the students and all the 'choice' cards she provides. 
Just click the cover above for more information!

Next week we are learning all about bugs so I will be having my kinders use one of the bug pages from Kim's pack, as well, as this one I have created:
They will choose whether or not the caterpillar should stay as a caterpillar or change to a butterfly.  They will have to give 3 reasons to persuade the caterpillar to choose what they think is best!
I can't wait to see what they decide...and what they write!

Feel free to click to download it and use it with your class!
The adorable caterpillar and butterfly graphics are from Kari Bolt- and she has them for free!

So as this post comes to a close, I am curious to hear the answer?!!
I obviously persuaded you to the read this post...
1. Are you glad you read it?
2. Did you find it helpful?
3. Are you better equipped to launch persuasive writing with your class?
I am hoping the answers to all three are YES! 

Looking for more persuasive writing tips, mentor text and ideas?
I am linking up with The Reading Tutor for Mentor Monday and this week's topic is Persuasive Writing!
Click this link to see all the other bloggers that have linked up to share their experiences and expertise with persuasive writing:

I am truly excited to see how my students independent persuasive writing takes off!  I hope you will stop by again to check up on them too!  
Until next post,
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