Sunday, August 3, 2014

Crickets are chirping and school is getting closer.

The crickets are chirping.....You know what that means, the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year.

This is Terri Izatt from Kinder Kapers and I am always sad to hear those crickets start to sing.  But it is not too late for a little end of the summer fun with your preschooler/kindergartener.

Have you been out catching fireflies? (or do you call them lightning bugs?).  That is one of the things I miss here in fireflies.
In Search of Fireflies
Once I was camping in the Great Smokey Mountains and I saw a firefly mountain.  The entire side of a hill along the road through the park was covered in twinkling lights.  It looked like someone had strung Christmas lights from the bottom clear to the top.  It took our breath away and we had to stop.  We parked in the empty visitor center parking lot and just stared in silence.  It must have been about midnight.  Later my mom (Patricia Thomas) wrote a story, not exactly about that experience but about waiting all day to see a Firefly Mountain.

That got us interested in other critters.  Have you ever scared a moth?  We probably spent entirely too much time in the campground bathroom when we learned this trick.  A moth needs some kind of defense to keep from getting eaten by the bat.  So what they do is, when they hear the frequency that a bat would make they go a little crazy and start flying all over the place (so the bat's echolocation can't pinpoint where they are).  You can make the same noise by rattling your keys.  Yes we would find a bathroom that had moths flying around the light and then rattle our keys. worked.  It was so funny to watch them go crazy for about 10-15 seconds.

Helen Cocker
Introducing your 4-5-6 year old to the fascinating world of insects is a great way to help them develop the confidence and curiosity they will need as they start school.  But those are not things we can do at school.  They happen at night.

It is essential to start the year getting to know your students and giving them opportunities for success.

One thing I like to do the first day is make magic play dough.  Magic play dough is white and it magically turns colors if it is going to be a magical year.

My Favorite Recipe
* 1 cup flour
*1 cup water
*2 tsp cream of tarter
*1/3 cup salt
*1 Tbs vegetable oil
*food coloring

Mix together all the ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan.  Cook over low/medium heat, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring until mixture thickens and forms a ball.   Remove dough, finish kneading into a ball, and let cool.  Add the food coloring to a hole, hidden in the play dough.

Just a few tips:
*each batch makes about 4 good-sized balls of play dough
*doubling the recipe is fine, but it takes muscles to stir more than a double batch.
*I like adding the salt to the hot water, then the cream of tarter, the oil, and last the flour.  The salt dissolves into the water and the texture of the play dough is very smooth.
*gel food coloring seems to be less messy
*more drops, the deeper the color....the more impressed your kinders will be.

Scott from Brick by Brick had some great ideas about things to do with the play dough.  You can read about it here.  I am going to let them sculpt something and then share it with the class before putting it back in their baggies to take home.

That first day....and those first few weeks are all about learning the rules and getting to know each other.  I have a couple of fun activities I like to use with my kids those first days.  First, is an eating activity:  Friendship Salad.  I gather the ingredients and then relate them to character traits I want to emphasize in my classroom.

Apples are hard working students, grapes are students who can work together, canned fruit cocktail is the diverse nature of our classroom (we are all different and that is good), pineapple for the willingness to try new things, mini marshmallows for soft, kind words, yogurt is the glue that holds us together.  Add a sprinkle of fun (instant pudding).  But wait, we might find this rotten banana in our classroom.  Do we want to put it in??  NOOOO!!  Hopefully my students will yell that out and then we can have a short discussion about what kinds of behaviors are rotten banana behaviors.

I have another game I like to play with my kids...I call it,  Stand Up For Friendship.

You ask your class a simple question, Do you have a baby at home?  Everyone who can answer yes stands up.  Do you like pizza....yes?  Then you can stand up.  Each time the students stand up, you can see commonalities and they can see it too.  It is your choice how much discussion to allow after each question.  You can play this game anywhere (waiting in line) or for as many questions as you have time for.  You can find already made questions on my facebook page here.  Just like the page and click on fan freebies.

If you need a more detailed recipe for Friendship Salad I do have that for sale in my TpT store,  along with some activities to go with it.

Enjoy the last days of summer and remember to have fun those first weeks of school!


  1. Terri, I LOVE this post! I was having a hard time getting back into the swing of thinking of school- and this helped! I LOVE the magic playdough idea and always love that friendship salad. Oh- and I call them lightning bugs. I always do a graph with the kids about what they call them- and it is usually fireflies! Thanks for the great post! :)

    1. Carolyn....thank you for your kind words. I really don't want this summer to end just yet. I want to keep going, but I am getting excited about meeting a new crop of kids.

      Terri Izatt

  2. I agree with Carolyn, a great post Terri! Friendship salad is fantastic! All the best for getting back into the school year!


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