Thursday, August 27, 2015

Adorable Apple Craft

This adorable project comes courtesy of our colleague Diane Ramsey. She created this craft to hang on her classroom clothesline. It’s super easy and provides an opportunity for your students to show their personalities through art.

First, give everyone a basic apple pattern and a half sheet of paper. You can vary these colors depending on the color of your apples. We provide green, red and yellow apples and allow our students to choose which color they’d like. Next, pass out white dot stickers for the eyes. Then, make sure you give access to paper scraps, glue sticks, crayons and scissors. Our students cut their own leaves, stems, grass and other props. In the past, students have made apples holding books, wearing glasses, talking to worms, wearing high-heeled shoes and other silly things.
When finished, make sure to allow time to share. There will be lots of laughs to go around.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pete the Pasting Pirate: A Glue Stick Lesson

Every year, when we glue something into our journals for the first time, I like to watch how the students use their glue sticks. Over the years I’ve noticed the same mistakes over and over. I’ve grouped these classic blunders into 3 categories; I’m sure you’ll recognize them.

1. The Single Dot: One dot, big or little, in the middle of the paper. Nothing else. Never sticks.
 2. The Power Pusher: Half of the glue stick ends up on this page. It’s lumpy, it’s bumpy, but it will never fall off. Ever!
3. Full Coverage: Every single spot on that paper has glue on it. The student will be asking for a new glue stick by the end of the day.
You’ve seen them all before, haven’t you? But how do you get them to stop?! Enter Pete the Pasting Pirate. This short tale will have students gluing their papers like pros in no time.

Long ago, there lived a pirate named Pam. She was fierce, she was strong but she was always losing her treasures. If she could figure out a way to stop losing them, she would be so much happier! On one of her journeys across the sea, she met another ship captained by Pete the Pasting Pirate. Pete shared his secret for getting treasure to stick around. When you bury your treasure in the right place you will never lose it! “But how do you find the right place?” wondered Pam.

“If you land on a small island,” explained Pete, “you can leave after you make your mark. This is no place for treasure.”
“If you land on a larger island,” continued Pete, “send out a man to walk the edges of the island. If you discover it’s not big enough, sail on. This is still no place for treasure.”
“But if the man walks the edges of the island and discovers it to be quite large,” finished Pete, “then bury your treasure and mark it with an X. You’ll never lose your treasure again!”
“And remember, matey, never press too hard to make your X."

While you tell the story, be sure to model the three types of gluing on different sizes of paper. I hope Pete can help you alleviate some glue stick problems in your classroom!

If you like this story, you can download a mini-poster here.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Everything Journal

Our school used to order planners for each of our students. But what we discovered was that they weren’t really being used like they should have been. So we turned them into “Everything Journals”. By the end of the year each journal was filled with colorful and imaginative responses.

We no longer order planners, so we’ve turned our planner prompts into journal prompts! The prompts can be used in pre-K through third grade classes. Emergent writers can use a mix of illustrations and words or short phrases to respond to the prompts. More fluent writers can respond using sentences or paragraphs. This makes differentiation a snap.

The prompts can be used weekly, or cut apart ahead of time and placed at a writing or literacy center. We have made both color and black and white options that you can choose from depending on your printers and copiers.

The prompts are so varied that our students never tire of doing them.