Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday's Witticism

First Grade Proverbs
A 1st grade school teacher had twenty-six students in her class.  She presented each child in her classroom the 1st half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. It's hard to believe these were actually done by first graders. Their insight may surprise you.  While reading, keep in mind that these are first-graders, 6-year-olds, because the last one is a classic!

Don't change horses
until they stop running.
Strike while the
bug is close.
It's always darkest before
Daylight Saving Time.
Never underestimate the power of
You can lead a horse to water but
Don't bite the hand that
looks dirty.
No news is
A miss is as good as a
You can't teach an old dog new
If you lie down with dogs, you'll
stink in the morning.
Love all, trust
The pen is mightier than the
An idle mind is
the best way to relax .
Where there's smoke there's
Happy the bride who
gets all the presents.
A penny saved is
not much.
Two's company, three's
the Musketeers.
Don't put off till tomorrow what
you put on to go to bed.
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and
You have to blow your nose.
There are none so blind as
Stevie Wonder.
Children should be seen and not
spanked or grounded.
If at first you don't succeed
get new batteries.
You get out of something only what you

See in the picture on the box
When the blind lead the blind  
get out of the way.
A bird in the hand
is going to poop on you. 
And the WINNER and last one!

Better late than

After receiving this via email several times over a couple of years, I started doing something similar with my Pre-K kids. I love the responses they come up with.  Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Location, Location, Location..... a Wee World Update

When we started Wee World, I wasn't sure how it would be received. I originally placed it in a sunny location where it could easily be supervised. We used our empty flowerbed as the prime real estate for Wee World. I knew that if the kids were still interested in playing there by spring that I would have to move it. I thought that it might be a fleeting interest, so I really didn't worry, but the interest has continued and is frequented by at least a few players each day.

With the arrival of warmer weather recently and Earth Day this week, it was apparent that if we planned to start our garden, we would have to either move Wee World or pack it up. I gave the friends a choice and they voted to find a new location. First, we "scouted a location". We have a little shady area on a hill in the corner of the playground. It stays cool and grass doesn't really grow there. We picked a spot in between 3 little trees.

The friends had fun moving all the rock walls and houses, then getting everything all set up.

I am really enjoying this new element of imaginative play. Often when the friends are playing indoors, with Legos for instance, they are limited on their movement and noise level. An airplane can only zoom so far and with limited noise. In Wee World, the kids are free to have the airplane zoom as loud and far as they wish. It's kind of ironic that while for some, it has provided an outlet for some more boisterous play than our indoor classroom environment allows, but for others, it is a quieter spot to play.


 Another advantage to this new location is added space. In our garden area, the kids sat on the outside and had to reach in to play. Now several children can fit inside the boundaries and play comfortably without crowding.

We were able to start our flowerbeds this week and spent the week cleaning out the bed (the friends had transported lots of sand and rocks into Wee World) and getting it ready for planting.  I am extremely challenged when it comes to flowers and plants,so the garden doesn't stand a chance, but I try every year. We planted a ton of seeds, so hopefully something will grow!

I think as the days grow warmer, the respite of a cool shady place to play will draw more interest. I can't wait to see some of the imaginative scenes they come up with!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earth Day

This week we celebrated Earth Day by learning about our earth, recycling and ways we can take care of our planet. We also learned about night and day and the earth's rotation.

We made these lovely tie dyed coffee filter earths to decorate our classroom door by using markers to color coffee filters then used eyedroppers to drop water on them to make the colors bleed together. We often use coffee filters to color, then use a spray bottle, so this was a little different for us. It turns out that mastering the eyedropper is a little tricky, but great for our fine motor muscles.

We needed some extra fine motor practice and thankfully, I was able to find lots of ways to incorporate these skills into our theme. One morning, we tore blue and green construction paper into little pieces and glued them to paper plates to make the earth.

Another activity we did to work on fine motor skills was making mobiles of the sun, moon, earth and stars. The friends traced different sized lids to make the sun and earth and used large lacing buttons to trace and cut stars and a moon.

 We decided to move Wee World to a shady spot so the friends can play where it's cool and reclaimed the little patch outside our classroom door for our garden. We spent the week cleaning out the bed (the friends had transported lots of sand and rocks into Wee World) and getting it ready for planting. I've said before that I am extremely challenged when it comes to flowers and plants. Honestly, the garden doesn't stand a chance, but I try every year. Maybe this year will be the miracle year where something sprouts! (fingers crossed!)

Finally, on Thursday, we planted a ton of seeds in the patch. The kids had a lot of fun sprinkling seeds and covering them up.

We went on a "garbage hunt" to clean up any litter we could find.

 Our large group activities were a lot of fun this week. One day I had a giant poster sized sun in the middle of the rug. We faced the sun for day time, then turned with our backs to the sun for night. This quickly became a game of "Night and Day", similar to red light green light.

I've mentioned before that we really don't do worksheets in our class. There are, however, some really great ones out there, so I've found creative ways to use the ones I really like. Sometimes I'll make file folder games or learning centers from them. This worksheet I found in my files, collected from somewhere in internetland was designed for the kids to cut the little boxes and place them in the appropriate column. I enlarged it, put it on bulletin board paper and gave the friends the cards. One by one they each got to come up and determine whether the item could be recycled. We the class had to agree or disagree. This turned out to be pretty fun and the kids were really using their thinking caps!

On another day, I placed a large paper pond in the middle of the rug. We filled it with fish and turtle manipulatives to simulate pond life. I then walked around the pond like I was having a big picnic and began throwing "clean" garbage onto the pond.

Soon, the pond was fully covered in garbage and we couldn't see any of the animals. We talked about how this was harmful and how quickly the pond got very dirty even though it was only a few pieces of garbage.

Each friend got to pick up a piece of trash to help clean our pond. Soon the pond was clean and the friends decided the fish and turtles were happy again!

Our Show and Tell this week was quite impressive. I understand the importance of show and tell, but I struggle with the "toy" issue. I encourage the friends to bring in something theme related other than a toy, but often that's all that shows up. I have participated in several good discussions this year and really plan to work on this next year, but with only a few weeks left, I'm just resigned to letting it go. I do, however, really try to promote (not really brainwashing :) bringing in something to share that relates to our theme. This week, a few friends really got creative. A few brought in recyclables like paper towel rolls and newspapers and that sort of thing.

One friend brought this really cool shopping bag made from recycled plastics. We read the tag and talked about how the trash was made into something that is earth friendly, all because someone took the time to recycle. We also talked about the images on the bag and why they are earth friendly symbols.

One of the friends made this really cool music shaker from a milk jug and rice!

And one of my friends (my Little Author, Linny) make this beautiful recycling bin. I love her labels and that she worked so hard to make it all by herself!

Resiklu   (Recycle)

Erf  (Earth)

Notice the green recycle arrows and the happy earth!

And last, but not least, here are some of the great books we read:

The Earth and I by Frank Asch has beautiful watercolor illustrations and a simple message.

The Earth and I

Earth Dance by Joanne Ryder also has bright illustrations and is one I include every year.


I recently got Not A Box by Antoinette Portis from Scholastic. Very simple and cute and gives lots of creative uses for a box in imaginative play.

Not a Box

Here are some of the other great titles we read this week.

I'd love to hear what you were up to for Earth Day ~ feel free to leave a comment or a link to your Earth Day activities!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Metamorphosis and the Great Chrysalis/Cocoon Debate

Late this fall, some of my students found a cocoon on our playground. After some research, we discovered that some species "overwinter", which means they are in the cocoon state for an extended period of time. We are waiting and watching to see if anything will come out.

About 2 weeks ago, the friends found another cocoon, so we added that to our butterfly pavilion as well. As I was trying to take a picture, I took the cocoon out to get a better shot. It was rocking a little on the paper I used as a background. I figured it was probably due to the uneven stem, but as I held it in my hand, I could feel lots of movement in the cocoon. I have to say it really freaked me out for just a minute!

We have really enjoyed observing our cocoons. This has been a great experience and we have really increased our vocabulary. One of our favorite activities is to clap syllables of the words we say. Usually, most of our words only warrant one or two claps, but we had lots of fun clapping the syllables of words like: met-a-morph-o-sis, co-coon, chrys-a-lis, an-ten-nae, ab-do-men, and thor-ax! Check out the post Going Bug-gy! for some of the other fun things we did while learning about bugs.

When we studied the life cycles last week, I learned about a hot little debate going on ~ cocoon, chrysalis or pupa? We read several books about metamorphosis and noticed that there were three ways the pupa stage is referred to. It got a little confusing, so I decided I needed to do some research.

We learned that in the pupa stage, the butterfly caterpillar spins a hard outer covering called a chrysalis. Moth caterpillars form a softer cloth-like covering called a cocoon. The chrysalis and the cocoon are both coverings for a pupa. This was a little confusing, but since we realized we had a cocoon, we didn't really worry about the semantics.

Okay, so why does Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar refer to a cocoon? He explains:
 Here’s the scientific explanation: In most cases a butterfly
does come from a chrysalis, but not all. There’s a rare
genus called Parnassian, that pupates in a cocoon.
These butterflies live in the Pacific Northwest, in Siberia,
and as far away as North Korea and the northern islands
of Japan.
And here’s my unscientific explanation: My caterpillar is
very unusual. As you know caterpillars don’t eat lollipops
and ice cream, so you won’t find my caterpillar in any
field guides. But also, when I was a small boy, my father
would say, “Eric, come out of your cocoon.” He meant I
should open up and be receptive to the world around
me. For me, it would not sound right to say, “Come out
of your chrysalis.” And so poetry won over science!
~ The Caterpillar Express~An Occasional Newsletter from Eric Carle, vol. 1

Very Hungry Caterpillar
I came to school this morning and as I began to settle into my early morning routine, something caught my eye. There was movement in the butterfly pavilion. I walked over and this is what I saw:

This was a magnificent creature. He was bigger than my hand!  He had large fuzzy antennae and beautiful spots on his wings. His body was very large and hairy, almost like a giant brown bumblebee. We set him free this afternoon. This evening, I've  had the chance to do a little research. I believe this was a Polyphemus Moth. I guess I didn't realize that moths could really be beautiful and not just those annoying little brown things that cluster around the porch light. (I mean, I read Silence of the Lambs, but until I saw this thing, I just didn't get it.) Some moths are just as breathtaking as the most brilliant butterfly! Here is a clear picture of another Polyphemus Moth I found on the internet, so you can see the colors a little better:

What started as a teachable moment from finding a cocoon on the playground has been an amazing learning experience for both the kids and myself. I hope I have the opportunity next year for such an experience. For that to happen, I'll need to replace our sad, dilapidated butterfly habitat~ our butterfly pavilion has had it. I inherited it with my classroom, and it has clearly seen better days. It is held together with clear packing tape, a wish and a prayer.  I really need to get a new one. I'll probably go with the smaller version of the one I have now.

.....But, I have found the MOTHER of all Butterfly habitats! How awesome is this? A butterfly tent that the kids can crawl into and interact with the butterflies! I think they are made by Insect Lore, but they didn't have a picture or purchase info. seems to have them at a pretty good price. How cool would it be to sit in the tent with butterflies all around? hmmm.....

I know, it's a little extravagant, but my old one really has had it. : )

Mrs. Ayn on the Farm

As I was uploading pictures today, I found this picture I'd forgotten I'd taken a few weeks ago.

"Tell me about your picture" ~ my usual line. I say it so often that the kids just accept it as part of the process. "Oh, Mrs. Ayn, that's you on the farm with a chick egg!"  

It's a nice reminder that I am an important part of their life. Just seeing it again made my day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom

Ahh, it's Wednesday again, and time to try to make it through the rest of the week. Today's post is a poem that I include every year with the orientation packets I give to my parents. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

by Lelia P. Fagg

You say you love your children,
And are concerned they learn today?
So am I; that's why I'm providing
A variety of kinds of play.

You're asking me the value
Of blocks and other such play?
Your children are solving problems.
They will use that skill everyday.

You're asking what's the value
Of having your children play?
Your daughter's creating a tower.
She may be a builder someday.

You're saying you don't want your son
To play in that "sissy" way?
He's learning to cuddle a doll.
He may be a father someday.

You're questioning the learning centers;
They just look like useless play?
Your children are making choices;
They'll be on their own someday.

You're worried your children aren't learning,
and later they'll pay?
They're learning a pattern for learning,
For they will be learners always.

---Leila P. Fagg---

Saturday, April 17, 2010


This week, we learned all about bugs and pond life as part of our unit on Spring. This is such a fun unit to teach~there are so many great books, songs and activities to do with the unit. One of the hardest things is figuring out which great ideas to use. There are so many and there just isn't time to do them all!

This week, I set out a variety of art materials and asked my friends to make a bug using whatever materials they chose. I expected the friends to use the pipe cleaners as one material, but many made bug sculptures made solely from the pipe cleaners. Coffee filters and tissue paper were particularly popular, as well.

 A dragonfly and a butterfly

A spider

Unknown species

A ladybug

Coffee filter and pipe cleaner butterfly

The ever popular tissue paper butterflies

I have this really cool book, "Learn to Draw DoodleBugs" that has a little story and step by step diagrams of how to draw each bug. Each morning, I posted the steps on one of our whiteboards. Yesterday afternoon, we bound each child's bug drawings in a little book for them to take home.

 Buzzy Doodle bumblebee
Anty Doodle ant
Zoom Doodle dragonfly
Leggy Doodle spider
Flutter Doodle butterfly

Our name caterpillars turned out really cute, I think, and were great for learning left to right patterns of writing, learning the letters of our names and fine motor practice. I laid out different sized plastic lids for the friends to trace around and cut out. Once cut, the friends put one letter of their name on each circle to form the name caterpillar.

As we studied life cycles, we made paper plate representations of the life cycle of a caterpillar in small groups. Some of the groups used art materials and others used pasta. I'm not sure which ones I like better!

Late this fall, some of my students found a cocoon on our playground. After some research, we discovered that some species "overwinter", which means thay are in the cocoon state for an extended period of time. We are waiting and watching to see if anything will come out. About 2 weeks ago, the friends found another cocoon, so weadded that to our butterfly pavilion as well. As I was trying to take a picture, I took the cocoon out to get a better shot. It was rocking a little on the paper I used as a background. I figured it was probably due to the uneven stem, but as I held it in my hand, I could fell lots of movement in the cocoon. I have to say it really freaked me out for just a minute! I hope this means we'll have transformation soon!

We also learned about the cocoon,chrysalis and pupa debate. I've done a little research and will be writing a post soon about this.

We read some fantastic books with this unit. Here are a few of our favorites:

We sang lots of songs~there are so many good children's songs like the "Eensy Weensy Spider", "I'm Bringing Home A Baby Bumblebee" that are traditionally sung in preschools everywhere. As an added bonus, I received Deborah Stewart's new CD, "Simple Songs for Preschool" in the mail this week. I was thrilled to discover "There's an Ant" on the CD. It became an instant favorite. Check it out:

I highly recommend the CD. The songs are simple, easy to sing and just downright fun. My students love them! You can check out "Simple Songs for Preschool" and order from the "Little Fingers That Play" site.

I'd love to hear what you are doing in your bug unit!

Thanks for stopping by!

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