Friday, March 6, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Fun!

Hi!  It's Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding  Hands and Sticking Together.  I thought this month I would share some of my favorites for St. Patrick's Day.  Even though it's a quick little holiday, the kids just love the magic that it brings.  This time of year, at least here in sub-zero Upstate NY, we could use a little magic!

 Here are the "flavors of the month."
Here is my favorite play dough recipe...
Bisquick Playdough
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup salt
2 cups water
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp oil

Mix all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  Scrape and stir the bowl. Microwave for another 3 minutes. If it is not quite ready,  microwave for another minute.
(I made a double batch and put it back in my microwave for one more minute, which worked perfectly.)

For the mint, I just added green food coloring and quite a bit of mint extract.  For the gold, I added LOTS of gold glitter.

Early in March, the leprechauns usually make an appearance, to make their presence known, ...and turn our milk green for snack, while the kids are at specials- SO exciting. I usually plan a day in early March to be my snack day, so those leprechauns can pull this off.

Sometimes, I have some skeptics about drinking the green milk, but all it takes is one friend to say it's delicious, and they are good to go.

Here is another project that makes me smile.  We plant  grass seed to make our Crazy Hair People.  I take everyone's picture up close and print them 3X5.  I use two sided tape to stick the pictures on to the styrofoam cups. The hair grows quickly and the kids just love it.  I have some little tiny rubber bands that the girls love to use to make pony tails.  The boys love to give themselves haircuts.

One of the children's favorites is our gold letters and gold sight words that I put out for centers.  They have so much fun reading the words or making words with the letters- or just playing with the gold!

I found this rug at... TARGET Dollar Spot! ($3 Spot, actually- but still... LOOK at it!)  It is perfect for...  oh so many things. It isn't big at all, but called a doormat, which made me laugh a little. Maybe a doormat for leprechauns. That's probably it.  I am going to use my sight word gold for some activities.  This would be a perfect "something" for the leprechauns to leave.  I like when they take over watching the behavior of the kids.  There is quite a lull between Santa and the leprechauns.  

The gold is SO easy to make, and just so much fun for the kids. 


I wrote all about what I do with the gold at my post called  Literacy GOLD!

Our class makes a We Are Lucky class book, thanks to  Sarah from A Sunny Day in First Grade.  I LOVE her products. Every one is so well made and so perfect to use in the classroom. Plus, she shares so many wonderful freebies- like this one! This book is free at her TPT store!


 I am lucky because I am hape.  (happy)

We also finished our Lucky Journals!  We worked on a couple pages each day, and the children really took their time. It is a simple way to have children write a little, and great even for morning work. If you don't include the "Leprechauns hide..." page, you could use this anytime in the spring.  Maybe you could go on a lucky clover hunt outside on a nice, spring day!


There is another page in the little journal that says, "My last name is..."    On this page, I let the kids write their last name with all different colors and fancy ways- because most of them need practice spelling and writing their last name.
I also made a different cover in case you prefer rainbows...

Every year, I take the children's pictures in a hat they choose, and have each of them tell me why they are lucky.  This first one made me smile. 
This one got lots of  bonus points, as you can imagine...

When St. Patrick's Day arrives, the children  love the mini leprechaun cookies that the leprechauns leave. I lovedeating the pre-made sugar cookie dough using the pre-made sugar cookie dough to make them.

Finally, this project always makes me happy for spring.  I love to have these Spring Smiles up for Open House and Grandparents' Day.  The children love to figure out this challenge.  It's amazing how easy it really is!  These smiles are from last year, and I can still remember every one of them!

I hope you found some fun new activities to use in your classroom.  Happy March! Thank you for stopping by.  I'd love you to follow me at my blog and my facebook page. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Math + Engineering in Preschool with Post-it Notes! STEAM!

How do you turn STEM into STEAM in Preschool? 

The year of 2015 will be remembered as a year of introspection for me: 
personally and professionally. 
We are off to a whizz-bang start on all fronts. 
Which leaves me with a lot of introspection and examination. 

Things I know for sure: 

1. There are amazing people in the Early Childhood world: 
Amazing people directing AMAZING work from very young children! 

STEM + Arts = STEAM at RainbowsWithinReach: Post-it note Geometry in Preschool
Preschool Bulletin Board: Self-Esteem, Math and Engineering QUILTED Together!

I've just finished my first, ever, week long RESIDENCY
 for an entire school district!
My week of visiting all nine elementary buildings for a district, 
took place in Texas. 
You've always heard the rumor about life being BIG in TX? 

I'm here to report that there is validity to that claim!
Take a quick peak over my shoulder and see for yourself.  

STEM + Arts = STEAM at RainbowsWithinReach: Post-it note Geometry in Preschool
Post-it Notes as Geometric Shapes + Fine Motor Work = Awesome ARTS Awareness

These first images are from my fifth and final day.
It was quite a week!!! 
I kicked off the week by giving a day-long
 staff development training on the Arts. 

We sang. We danced. We jumped. We laughed. We signed. We learned. 
Each teacher in attendance received a copy of my first picture book, 

"You're Wonderful." 

Quilts of Fabric become Traditional Picture Book Illustrations! "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement 

Quite an exuberant way to begin!

Then Tuesday through Friday I visited each of the nine buildings, 
making a total of 17 Author-Illustrator presentations 
to the youngest students in each building: 
the preschoolers! 

2. I LUV LUV LUV what I get to do for a 'living.' 
Children are so VERY capable of learning! 
That learning is designed and directed by a brilliant teacher.
Extending a picture book's style through a collaborative ARTS project builds bridges and makes connections between the disciplines!

This is what I call an Arts Integration Project! 

3. Teachers inspire each other! 
The pictures above are two different teachers in the same building, piggy-backing from each other's approach. Each are using Post-it notes as the 'fabric' for examining the possibilities of geometric shapes. 

Who is the mentor and who is being mentored. 
You might be surprised. 

Wait till you see how the third teacher in the same pod
directed her students to respond to my quilted illustrations! 

I felt like I was playing "Where's Waldo."
Three teachers. Three variations. 

Debbie Clement Appreciates AUTHENTIC Preschool Art: Patterns, Colors, Shapes
Shapes! Shapes! And MORE SHAPES in Preschool Art Response to "You're Wonderful" by Debbie Clement

4. My photography skills are challenged by massive Art displays. 
There's collaboration within classrooms 
and there's collaboration within a building! 

Look what happens when there are thirteen different approaches from teachers in the same building. 
The colors are vibrant and the approaches are numerous!

Why yes. 
My heart does literally JUMP when I walk into these displays!  


It takes vision and planning and resources and an excel spread sheet to pull off something of this magnitude! 

It takes insight and administrative support. 
It takes a willingness to step outside the box!

I am fortunate to meet passionate ECE educators at national events! 
That's how an Artist RESIDENCY unfolds! 

The next national event on my dance-card is Frogstreet's SPLASH this summer. 
I am so excited. I'm so VERY excited at the opportunity to return! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Amazing Music

Music is amazing - with what it can do to people and for people.  I have always watched how through the magic of music people of different shapes, sizes, colors and ages can unite.  It always makes me smile.
Recently, someone posted a video on Facebook that stirred many thoughts and emotions for me.  As I watched it, I thought of how intense and happy the students looked.  I thought "Wow!  What a teacher to make this happen" and, I thought, "Look at the variety of children." Though we all worry and concern about diversity, we have to look at this and think "We have come a long way."  This would not have happened when I grew up in the 60s.  Children of different races, gender and ages are working together to play music that the teacher must have loved as a teenager.   (And, I'll bet none of them even think about those things.  For this generation, it just is.)
                   Children's MS Band Plays Zeppelin
The value piece :
1.  Working together
2.  Using 'classical' instruments to play 'classic' rock
3.  Benefits of musical training - timing, coordination, math skills, language
4.  Feeling of achievment and pride
5.  Being an individual, yet part of a group

When I first started teaching middle school, the first
MTV Video was produced.  I copied it onto a VHS tape and brought it into class.  We watched it and a couple of the other new videos.  I told my students "Look.  Through music and video, the walls that divide us will come down as people join together to make these productions."  It fascinated me, because in the 60s, there were still "Black" and "White" radio stations. Most of the time, we didn't know what the artist looked like.   Today, we have a wonderful variety.  

So, this short blog isn't about something you can make or an idea for the classroom.  (Well, maybe in a way it is.)  It is about looking at the faces of the children in this video and realizing all that is happening because one teacher took the time to combine two things she obviously loves (teaching and music) and created an experience these children will NEVER forget.

To follow me, please click here   Brain Facts on Facebook
Or visit : Music with Mar.
See you next month - on the 25th!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Seeing Possibilities

Hi! It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended use.

Recently we had fun using cups and pet food containers for art. We used them for stamping.

Press a cup into the ink and stamp circles. We were thinking and talking about families, so I encouraged kids to use the circles as faces. 

Some did. Some didn't. 

But exploring and using the cups and small bowls with the ink pads was a fun and creative experience.

So often we get locked into ways to use things. I do this even with my repurposed materials. We use things this way.

But letting a little creativity and a little "out of the box" thinking can encourage lots of new possibilities.

I hope as you work with preschoolers, kindergartners, or any young children, you open up to possibilities. Place a few items on a table and encourage the kids to think of what to do with them. Place a few unusual items in the block center. Paint with something other than a brush.

We are living in a quickly changing world. Thinking in new and different ways is (and will be) a valuable skill. 

Encourage new and different thinking. Even if that's just putting paper cups and ink pads on a table and seeing what happens.

(My favorite ink pads - ones that will totally wash off hands, arms, etc. with soap - are from Discount School Supply. I get nothing from that company. Just wanted you to know about these great 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chinese New Year 2015 - Looking for Year of the Sheep & A Good Friend!

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Ms. Brigid here, from Merit School of Music  in Chicago, IL, wishing you a Happy New Year – again! Thank you for joining me!

Today is New Year’s Eve of the Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year. We’re leaving Year of the Horse and entering Year of the Sheep on Feb.19.

I wrote about customs associated with this 15-day celebration in last year’s post, Gung Hay Fat Choy! You’ll find a rich and colorful resource of song suggestions, favorite books, fireworks and Chinese instruments apps, and links to stories, a parade, lion dancers and dancing dragons.

Looking For A Good Friend

Dance into the new ear with How Pung Yo, a popular Chinese singing game. Full disclosure: I teach the game in English. The version you chose depends on the personality of your class and what level of movement you want to encourage, but the progression below is from the simplest to the most complicated and active. Those lucky enough to own I Will Be Your Friend or Roots & Branches can listen to lovely and distinctly different versions of the song on the accompanying CDs – but never fear! YouTube is here to help!

My kiddos delight in this YouTube video (“Looking For Friends”) of cheery animals dancing together. I share it on my iPad before introducing the singing game, and ask children to watch closely and imitate the animals’ movements. It is helpful to practice bowing and shaking hands with a partner before starting.
Please Note: YouTube links are subject to change, and sometimes material disappears. Download the video to your mobile device to circumvent any nasty surprises!

(1) Single player. One child changes place with another. All sing.
Teach the song to the children. Make a circle, with one child in the center of the ring. This child is “It,” and walks or skips inside the circle while children are singing. He/she stops in front of another child at the end of the line, “Now I find a good friend.”  On “Jeeng gah lee ah/ I bow to you” the two bow to each other, then shake hands on “Wah guh sho/ I shake your hand.” On the last line, they trade places, with the new friend going into the center.  Repeat. Continue until everyone has had a turn (no repeats!).  Teaching Tolerance: I Will Be Your Friend (Gao Hong - I Find a Good Friend)                                               

(2) Everyone looks for a new friend while singing.
 All the children play and look for a friend simultaneously. Everyone walks or skips for the first two lines of the song, then turns to the nearest friend, bows and shakes their hand. At the end of the song, dancers wave goodbye to each other. Repeat, finding a new friend. Chinese American Service League (CASL), Chicago

(3) Long dragon-dancer trains of new friends weave around the room while all sing.
Follow directions for #1 (above), but instead of trading places, the new friend holds gently on to the shoulder of the first child (“It”). Repeat the song, adding a new friend with each repetition.  New friends are added to the end of the train, until everyone is selected.
Note: Only the first child (the leader) shakes hands with children as they are added. 
(Hao Peng You - Looking For a Friend)

Music & Lyrics:
            Jow yah, jow yah, jow yah jow,                        Looking, looking, looking for,
            Jow do wee guh how pung yo.                         Now I find a good friend.
            Jeeng gah lee ah.                                             I bow to you.
            Wah guh sho.                                                   (I) shake your hand.
            Nee shur wah duh how pung yo.                     You are my good friend.

Den-Den Daiko Drums for the New Year!

Spin-drums, including one made by Briana a decade ago!

After dancing, it’s time to scare away any bad luck that may be lurking about! I bring double sided spin-drums from different parts of the world and let my kiddos explore the sonic difference between drums while madly twirling the drum’s spindle!  Things we find out: Big drums are lower in sound, small drums are high. Wood sounds different than hide or plastic or paper, etc. Speed of spinning alters the sound. We’re musical scientists!

Whether they’re called den- den (Japan), bolang jo (China), damru (Tibet, India), flip, spin or pellet drums, they are fun for one and all. I’ve made versions of spin-drums, mostly with paper plates and beads, but this year I’m going to try something new, inspired by a Learning 4 Kids post: Homemade Musical Instrument: Den Den Drum, which uses wooden spoons as the instrument base. Look out world!

Learning 4 Kids photo: Janice Davis

Keep your heart open to the wonders of the new year, and banish your preconceived notions of what it means to be a sheep on this turn of the zodiac. Life is full of surprises!

I am continually inspired by The Children’s Music Network (CMN) community. an international group of socially conscious musicians, educators, librarians, families, songwriters and good people, who “celebrate the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas, and creating community.” Please visit CMN, and find a gathering in your region.

©2014 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *

Apr.  Staccato & Legato/ pt.2                             
Aug.  Midwest & Great Lakes – Listening Locally / pt.2
Sept.  Midwest & Great Lakes - Listening Locally / pt.3
Jan.2015 Multicultural Children’s Book Day - The Lions of Gir

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