Friday, March 29, 2013

Science for Kids

   Hi! I’m Sue Cahalane & I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful collaborative blog! A little bit about me I started off as a research scientist, became a science teacher & never looked back! I’ve been teaching hands-on science to children in grades PK 5 for almost 20 years love love love my job! Children are natural scientists! I believe we must nurture and develop their innate curiosity so that they never lose their interest in science.

       Did I mention I love science?! It’s the only subject I teach, I read about it in my spare time, I listen to science podcasts on my way to work and I blog about it weekly at my Science for Kids blog. In order for children to truly understand science, I believe they must have the chance to actually be scientists. I do not demonstrate science experiments while the children watch nor do we read about science out of a textbookIn my class, the children are doing all science experiments and activities themselves. This is where true learning begins!

 I love children’s books & use them to present scientific concepts whenever I can. Here is the latest one I’ve been using to teach animal adaptations and animal classification:

Love this book!  I am also an artist and I try to combine art and science whenever I can. Harnessing both sides of the brain results in greater learning! 

 I LOVE getting my kids outdoors exploring nature. We do several "Science Scavenger Hunts" during the school year where we search high and low for items pertaining to our current lessons. 
With my little ones, I use simple lists like the one below. Click on the worksheet to download:
 Here is a blank copy, you can fill in what you would like your little ones to hunt for:

 I’ll be here on the 29th of every month sharing hands-on science activities with you. I would love to hear from you! I am hoping this will be an area where we can freely exchange ideas on science education. I learn so much from my fellow educators and I am so inspired when I read teaching blogs such as this one. I look forward to hearing about what you do in science is there a specific area that you need some fun hands-on activities for? Please let me know!
Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ducks in the pond, a book & boogie!

By Laura Eldredge

In a post from October, I talked about how linking a story with a music and movement activity can enhance early literacy development in young children.  I introduced our "Book & Boogie" videos, where we bring together story themes with a music and movement dance - and break down some choreographed movements that teachers and parents can use in classrooms or with playgroups.  This month, in time for Spring, here's a book-song-movement combination about ducks in the pond.

Story about Ducks
BOOK: "This Way Rubyby Jonathan Emmett

The story we chose for this theme is one of my favorites! "This Way Ruby" is an engaging story of a little duck named Ruby who likes to take things slowly, while her brothers and sisters like to run off in search of adventure.

This story lends itself to pause at times, pointing out all the things Ruby sees on the pond adventure she has with her siblings. Get the children involved in the story by having them call out “This way, Ruby!”

Music and Movement about Ducks

SONG:  "The Little White Duck", Miss Lisa, Over in the Meadow

This song describes a duck sitting on a pond, and the other pond creatures she encounters (a frog, bug, snake).  In the video, Tressa shows you some simple movements you can do with your group of children to reenact the song.

More online videos are available which provide story ideas, music choices and simple dance choreography can be found on our website, at

Laura Eldredge is a teacher and curriculum coordinator at a NAEYC accredited early childhood program in Connecticut. She also co-founded the website The SEEDS Network, as a way to provide early childhood professionals with ideas and resources that support them in their quest to provide quality care and education to our youngest learners. She blogs at

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hallelujah for the Hallway and a Freebie to Help You Differentiate.

I'm back!  First it was clipboards for differentiating, then a sensory table and now . . .you guessed it . . .the hallway

I've often mentioned that I have the world's smallest kindergarten classroom.   So I'm always looking for ways to combat any restrictions I have in teaching because of the size.  It's also always a concern for any teacher newly embarking on differentiated instruction as well . . .'will my classroom be big enough?'  I always answer as positively as possible with a resounding 'NO.' Which is why you need to get creative. I have lots of space saving tricks up my sleeve, but for today how about just one way to combat close quarters and meet the needs of those kinesthetic learners by sending them to the hall.

If you remember, I'm always harping on you about how we differentiate in response to

And if we differentiate in response to learning profile, we have to consider our students' multiple intelligences, right?

That means those little Bodily Kinesthetic have to move!  They don't care if you have an arena sized classroom or a closet-sized classroom.  So you can either make room for them to move, develop routines for them to move and get creative, or they're gonna find ways to move all on their own.

So if you do decide to venture into the world outside your classroom, what could they possibly do that would be academic, developmentally appropriate, safe, engaging and fun?  Well, let's take a look and find out.

 I was fortunate enough that when I arrived in my building my neighbor teacher, Kerri, had already started a tradition of using the hall with her students.  Each month there are die cuts with various letters, words and numbers written on them depending upon the time of year, readiness levels, themes and skills being introduced.

These die cuts hang from our hallway ceiling and our kinders can use pointers to tap them or point as they read them.  It is HUGE to give them a different environment to work in and to have it be kinesthetic to boot.  And tell me, what kindergartener doesn't love to use a pointer . . .I have a wide variety from which to choose. 
My letter pointers are a favorite.  Yes, they are just some SASSY bathtub letters on the end of a rod with some rhinestones for effect and bling, but my kinders LOVE them.

So these are used daily for 'tapping' out words, numbers or letters depending what's 'hanging.'

I know what you're thinking, 'How do we get them to hang?'  Well, there are these little clip hooky thingys (that's a technical term)  you can get from Home Depot that work great. Don't pay attending to the S hook.  What you'll want to do is thread a string through the end and tie a clothes pin or binder to the end.

click on the picture for a link
 Students can also read other parts of the hallway . . .

fluency charts with a sand timer can be utilized and changed out as students' abilities change.

other seasonal die cuts are used for basic sight words

and 'popcorn words' are placed in a popcorn container where students can pick a card, attach it to the front of the container (we use velcro)

then tap out the letters to spell the word with their pointers.  (I wish I could tell you where I acquired these cute little letters, but I couldn't find it on my computer so if you know who I can credit, please drop me a line.)

We also purchased two oil pans to velcro up in our hall from our local Walmart (approximately $10.00) so that we could extend not only our math stations to the hall,

Number Squeeze is a local favorite.  Pick copy up from Over The Moon by clicking on the picture above.
but also use it for word work. 
On this oil pan we use elkon boxes (by the way, those are picture frame mats with magnets on them) and large (like 8 inches tall or so) foam letters that you can purchase from Lakeshore. 

We can store everything for this station easily in a crate/seat (Yes! That is a total Pinterest inspiration.)

They just grab their seats and go.

If you're looking for more ideas for oil pan uses, check out my friend Julie's blog at Make, Take & Teach.

At the beginning of the year we use our alphabet area a bit more than it is being use these days, but my kiddos like to take different flash cards
or in this case, environmental print and put them in alphabetical order.

Lately, my write the room activities can also be found out there on occasion (this is one called 'Bug Inspectors' where my kinders use magnifying glasses to find the hidden picture within the picture and then write the word they see- you can click on the picture if you want to learn more about it). 

When you suffer from small room syndrome, you need to be creative and think outside the box . . . or in this case, think outside the classroom.

To get you started, I've whipped up some cards for you to hang from your own hallway ceiling.  Make sure you grab your copy.   Then leave me a note to let me know how you use YOUR hallway. 

Have fun!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Craft Stick Roads

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

Planning is an important part of teaching. It's also an important part of repurposing. I often look at something and think about it and see some possibilities...or maybe read about an idea online before I put materials out for the kids to use.

Then...sometimes I just try something because I had a flash of an idea.

A few weeks ago, we were using cars with the blocks. When we were planning, we talked about using masking tape for roads. We decided not to use it this time. As I was putting the cars in my bag with the classroom materials, I saw the craft sticks. I decided to toss them into the bag, just as an idea.

We put the craft sticks with the blocks and cars. For a while, I thought my idea was a flop. The sticks just stayed in the basket.

Brick by Brick

Then, one boy decided to use them.

Brick by Brick

Brick by Brick

Sticks make great roads. They are the perfect width for the cars. It's easy to make roads and crossroads.

And they are easy to change into other configurations. When we use tape (and we like to use tape), the roads are much more fixed. But the sticks made it possible to rearrange.

This repurposing idea was a spontaneous choice – and one that I will definitely use again. 

What spontaneous and quick ideas have you had in your classroom? How did those work out?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Let's Dance About Plants! The Carrot Seed Dance Story

Happy Spring!

photo of: Let's Dance About Plants by Connie Dow at PreK+K Sharing

Here is a dance story based on the classic children's book The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, that I have developed and danced with many groups of children. This dance story is in my book, Dance, Turn, Hop, Learn!  Enriching Movement Activities for Preschoolers (Redleaf Press, 2006), as part of an expanded  movement lesson about the spring season.  It is a wonderful way to celebrate spring, as well as to give children an appreciation for the outdoors, gardening, and of course, the optimism that seeds will grow and flourish.
photo of: Preschool Children Engaged in "The Carrot Seed" Dance Story Activity at PreK+K Sharing
Let's Do a Free Dance About the Carrot Seed Story!

The Carrot Seed Dance Story

Title:  The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, Pictures by Crockett Johnson
Musical Selections:  Two or three upbeat instrumental selections, and/or a song about gardening (such as “Dig, Dig, Dig” by Debbie Clement, or "In My Garden" by Raffi)

Props or Other Materials: 

1. The book The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, pictures by Crockett Johnson
2.    Seed packets (small envelopes) -- draw, or have the children draw, a carrot on the front:        
Carrot Seed Packet 

Directions for the Activity:

Gather the children together and read the book aloud.  Tell the children that they now will dance the story of the little boy who plants the carrot seed.  Pass out the seed packets.  Continue with the following ideas:

1. (Play one of the musical selections) and say to the children: A little boy planted a carrot.  Let’s plant our carrots! Let’s dig a big hole with our imaginary shovels. Now, shake your seed packet into the hole, and cover up the hole with lots of soil.

2. Now that we have planted our seeds (set the packets aside), what is the next thing we should do? We should water them!  Hold your pretend watering can or hose, and give your seed lots of water.  

3.  Plants love the rain, don’t they?  Let’s imagine we are outside when it rains!  Let’s run and jump in the rain.  Stomp through mud puddles!   Move like the rain as it falls slowly, then very fast and hard.  Now let’s imagine we are running inside to get dry.  Dry off your arms, head, and body with a pretend towel. Now let's go out and feel the warm sunshine, because it stopped raining!

 4. We need to give the carrot seed lots of space to grow, so now we will weed.  Take out your hoe, and weed all around your carrot plant. 
photo of: Digging the Dirt: "The Carrot Seed" Dance Story Activity at PreK+K Sharing
Digging the Dirt!
Let’s get down on the ground and take the rest of the weeds out with our hands, just like the little boy in the story. 

5. Stop the music, and take the next few minutes to create a little sound improvisation. Borrowing the idea from the book The Carrot Seed about the little boy who is so sure his seed will come up, but everyone else doubts it, say to the children: “I don’t think that seed you planted is going to grow!”  And encourage them to say, “YES IT WILL!”  Repeat this exchange several times.  You can further develop this idea with non-verbal gestures, such as folded arms, head shakes, stamping feet, etc. 

6. Now say to the children:  Let’s count to three slowly together, one…two…three!  Look!  A carrot plant came up!  It is a giant carrot!  Now, let’s count again, and we will pull the carrot out of the ground! Repeat several times, as  you encourage the children to explore what it would be like to pull a very large carrot out of the ground.  The same idea applies for trying to carry the big carrot.  Point out to them the difference in body movements when we are carrying something very heavy versus something very light.

7.  We will finish our dance story with a free dance.  I will play some music (another lively musical selection), and you can use all of the ideas we have talked about in the story:  planting the seed, watering, dancing in the rain, the sunshine, pulling out the big carrot, and trying to carry it home.  You may also add any other ideas you wish as you do your free dance.

8. Let’s finish by picking up the big carrots that we grew, very carefully so that we don’t drop them, and take a bow for the end of our Carrot Seed dance!

Copyright 2013 Connie Bergstein Dow

Happy Spring, and keep on dancin',



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...