Thursday, December 29, 2011

A look back...and some thinking...

This morning as I finally take the time to reflect on our pre vacation days, I remembered that I forgot to blog the last day!  So here it is for you to see. Here's our last mystery reader before the break and the joyful Kindergartener who discovered it was her Mom who would be reading for us.
 She brought several books to read, but in S's mind there was NO CHOICE.  We had to read...
 THE NUTCRACKER!  What a beautiful version of this story by Susan Jeffers.  It was a new version for me, but I'm pretty sure it will be joining my classroom library very soon!
 We made some more crafts today.  Candy cane ornaments.  Each child created their own pattern.

 And I have to say, this was one of my favorite writing activities where we decided what Santa would say.  I don't know why these turned when I put them in the blog so here's the interpretation:  "For Christmas what do you want?  My bag is full.  Were you good?  Merry Christmas.  Ho Ho Ho!"
 And, as a parent, my personal favorite:  "Do you need any more toys?"
I'm so excited to see my kiddos again in the new year.  I know that there are exciting things ahead for all of us.  I've been PINNING AWAY on Pinterest in anticipation of all of our new learning adventures.  I even got some fun things from Grandma and Grandpa Nations for our classroom that I can't wait to share!

I'll see you in the New Year!  In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your break.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ornaments and more Mystery Readers

So, yesterday I alluded to the fact that these sweet little ornaments were being finished in our room and I couldn't NOT share the result.  I think they turned out A-DORABLE!  Of course I'm wondering if my 23, 22, 17 and almost 13 year olds would mind wrapping THEIR hands around an ornament so I can have one on MY tree too!  :-)


 Then we topped our day off with another Mystery Reader.  As I've said in other blog posts, I LOVE this moment of discovery.  You can see it on his face and there are no words needed to explain it!

Today's book was a fun little Hallmark book called "What's Shakin in Snowflake City?"  This great book has a ton of prediction possibilities as kids find out just WHY Snowflake City keeps getting shaken up!

As we head into the holidays, the kids are excited and teachers are tired...but I can honestly tell you I am more fulfilled this year than I've been in a while.  It's such a joy to share the wonder of this season with little people who still find it all so amazing.

Gingerbread Fun...

Wow! Gingerbread House building is tough work.  I'm so glad we had so many wonderful parents here to help out with this project.  Although we had a few catastrophes, there were many MORE smiles, laughs and happy conversations.  And the kids have plenty of icing, candy and sugar residue on their uniforms to prove that it was a fun event. Your kids ROCK and so do YOU!  Here's a little glimpse into our creative morning:

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I am SO THANKFUL for each of you and all you give to make our classroom a fun and happy place.  Thank for all of the contributions to make today go well.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A busy place...

Our Mystery Reader fun continued today.  I only wish I could have a hidden camera in the hallway to capture this moment even better.  It's so sweet to see their faces light up!  Of course, it's also resulted in a few tears for those who find out today's not their parent.  Soooo I've talked to them and tried to help them understand that we're continuing into January and we'll get everyone in somehow!

I'd say our Mystery Readers are helping us read voraciously this week! Our day is FILLED with text and thinking about them...which I absolutely LOVE.  Today's morning book was The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. It was fun to find out that the author visited our Mystery Reader's school when she was in the second grade. What a special memory!

Two other (non-mystery) guests came in our room today to help us finish a fun handprint ornament. You can see them hard at work here in the art center.  We hung them from our line to dry and they are going to be SO CUTE when they are finished. I hope to have pics tomorrow to share.

Of course, we're having a blast with all this holiday FUN, but there's STILL learning to be done.  One book (and song) we've enjoyed this week is The Marvelous Toy by Tom Paxton (performed by him as well as Peter, Paul and Mary). This is a very fun story of a toy that the writer received when he was a child and passed on to his little boy later on. Today our thinkers created their OWN marvelous toy in their reading journals complete with its own sounds. So cute!
  Here they are coming up with their toys....

And we also practiced reading the sight words "I see the______" and matching the sentence with a picture.  This is a little hard for some of us because we have to think about what the holiday word might look like.  It was fun to watch the kids problem solve this activity.  Some asked neighbors.  Some listened for the first sound. Others pointed and tried until the word popped out! These are all good reading strategies.

And since it was a handprint day, we made these cute little reindeer too!
 Here's the it a herd? Or is it a "team"? Anyway, here they are!

 This afternoon we played Roll a Tree where we practiced counting and trying to be the first to fill in our holiday tree.

 And we capped off our day with another Mystery Reader who shared the book "Snowmen at Christmas". This is a GREAT book.  If you have it at home, did you know there are hidden pictures in it?  Check it out and let us know if you find any.

  We discovered that the author and illustrator, Carolyn Buehner and Mark Buehner have written another Snowmen book.  We pulled it out and read and compared them.  It's so fun discovering all the text to text connections that can be made with these books.  Then we talked about that great vocabulary word:  similar.  Have you found books with your reader that are similar?

Tomorrow we will decorate our Gingerbread Houses with our families.  It should be a fun time.  Watch this space for details!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Fun and Mystery Readers...

And our Mystery Reader fun continued this morning...Here's our wonderful learner discovering her Mom at the door:  

And she shared with us a VERY FUNNY book called "Santa Duck and His Holiday Helpers" by David Milgrim.  I will definitely use this book next year to teach "speech bubbles"...I LOVE the dialogue and the speech bubbles throughout.  

 THEN Grandma and Grandpa Nations came in to help us with our "sneacrets" (see this week's newsletter for an explanation of that vocabulary word).  Grandpa even donned his best antlers for us.

 While they were helping get presents wrapped to bring home, some of the kiddos worked on some more holiday decorations.
 I LOVE when I found these two friends tucked away to revisit Jerry Pallotta's "Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight?" shared by yesterday's Mystery Reader.
 Even the computers have some holiday fun for us while we practice our reading...

 This afternoon, some of the kids played with the new art supplies Granmda brought us.  Here are some "earmuffs" for the dog.
 And, what would a day be without a "Mahi-Mahi Mask"?  I had to laugh as he was asking everyone if they knew what a Mahi-Mahi is...and admittedly, I think I got a little hungry listening into the conversations!
 We rounded out our day with another great Mystery Reader.  She shared Max Lucado's "Best Of All" with us--a great story with a powerful message that we all need to be who we are and understand that we all have something special about us.
I'm loving the Mystery Readers...and my kiddo's reaction when they hear the phone ring to tell us another one has arrived.  SO SWEET!

Mystery Readers

As our last week before the holiday is upon us, we will be opening two "packages" every day with some visits from some VERY special MYSTERY READERS!  Here is a little glimpse into our first two visitors:

Our first "guest" was truly a "mystery reader"---complete with mask!  I love seeing the kids' faces when one realizes it's her Mom!

And it was SO COOL that we got to hear a new book by Jannell Cannon.  The book was called "Pinduli".  We were able to compare it to the book Stellaluna that we read back in October.  And the kids were making text-to-text connections everywhere.  

Our second reader came in the afternoon and "opened" THREE books for us!  

The books we heard were "Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight?" by Jerry Pallotta, "I Wonder Why" by Lois Rock and Mommy Time! by Elisabeth Brami.  It was fun to read Jerry Pallotta's book because we read "Who Will Carve the Thanksgiving Turkey?" back in November.  These two books are VERY similar.  So, once again, we were able to make some text-to-text connections!

We cannot WAIT to open the rest of our holiday mystery reader packages this week!