Books Teachers Love: Last Day Hooray

Wow, I can't believe that we are talking about June read alouds already! If you are busy wrapping up your school year and looking for great books to keep your class engaged, my bloggy friends and I are sharing our favorite read alouds for the end of the year before we take a little break from our book sharing blog series or the summer.
Lets be real, there are so many exciting things going on at the end of the year it is easy to get wrapped up in all the fun activities and let learning take a back seat. But if you plan ahead you can keep your kiddos working on all of the skills they need while celebrating a great year together.  One of the books I use at the end of the year to engage my students in writing activities is Last Day, Hooray! by Nancy Poydar.
The students and school staff in the story are busy cleaning and wrapping up their school year, dreaming about the summer ahead and planning a celebration for their teacher.  
It is both exciting and a little bit sad to take everything down at the end of the year, so this book is perfect to read on the day that we start packing up our own classroom. While I like to have students help with a lot of the work I need to get done it can get pretty chaotic with 18 students all trying to help clean and pack up at the same time.  So I like to have lots of writing activities for students to work on while I have a few students at a time completing end of the year assessments, and helping me with different projects.

The biggest writing project my students work on is their memory book.  

If I have time I like to print out pictures of my students for the first few pages.

It's fun to see what they remember about their year in kindergarten.

I love seeing students reflect on everything they've done throughout the year.
We also complete a few writing projects to share with parents at the Kindergarten Celebration. Students start by writing the top 10 things they learned and memories they made.
Then they choose one special memory to illustrate and read aloud during our ceremony.
And last they use their top ten lists to help them write a letter to the incoming kindergartners about what they will learn and do in kindergarten.
You can find these printable writing activities, and more end of the year fun, in my Kindergarten Celebration Pack.

Don't forget to enter to win 4 awesome June Read Alouds! And you get to choose any 4 you'd like!

Books Teachers Love: T-Rex and the Mother's Day Hug

I'm so excited to share my May book sith you all because it is finally getting warmer and feeling like spring here in Wisconsin. My friends and I are sharing our favorite May Read Alouds to help inspire some great ideas for your lesson plans. Whether it's life cycles, flowers, Mother's day or something else, you are sure to find lots of great ideas here! 
One of my favorite spring events in Kindergarten is our Muffins for Moms event, which means we spend a few weeks reading mother's day books and preparing lots of fun gifts, writing and crafts to show moms (and other special women like grandmas, big sisters, aunts, etc.) how much we love and appreciate them.  My book this month, T. Rex and the Mother's Day Hug, by Lois Grambling is just right for discussing gift giving and finding a special meaningful way to show our love.

We start out by making predictions about the gift that T-Rex will give to mom.  Then after reading we create this craftivity as a fun gift for mom! Sometimes I have them write about what their mom would be like as a dinosaur, and other years I just have students add the "Rawr!' page for a sweet message.

I use this book along with other Mother's Day books to talk about all of the things that moms would find really special to receive as a gift. Most of all I emphasize how telling mom how much you love her and really being thoughtful is the best present of all! At this point in the year, my kinders are becoming really great writers and Mother's Day is a perfect opportunity for them to practice many different types of writing.  We start with writing rebus stories about our favorite memories with mom.
We also review letter writing and write sweet letters to mom to glue inside personalized cards.
Finally my favorite writing of all is our thank you notes. First we brainstorm ideas together to get students thinking about non tangible things. (Giving me hugs when I fall down, watching movies with me when I am sick, playing outside with me and my friends, etc). Students then write 3 things they want to thank their mom for.  I try to stress not thanking mom for buying toys/treats for them! They should be thanking mom for these too, but I think it is sweeter and makes students think more about the things they don’t thank their mom for everyday.
You can grab this thank you printable FREE here:

And you can find all of the other Mother's Day activities above, along with many more here in my Read & Respond: Mother's Day Pack.
Don't forget to enter to win 4 awesome May Read Alouds! And you get to choose with 4 you'd like!

And check out the other books and teaching ideas for 11 more perfect May read alouds. Take a peek and check some planning off your to do list!

Tot School Tuesday: EASTER

Although we did talk about ovals a little bit, we took a little break from shapes this week and had some Easter themed fun. Here is what we had planned:

And here is what we actually did:
 Here are the 5 books that we used as our focus each day. 

Ten Easter Eggs by Vijaya Bodach
Peep and Egg by Laura Gehl
Happy Easter Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
Splat the Cat Where's the Easter Bunny? by Rob Scotton
If You're Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre

Spring Straw Bead Necklace:
I always see the cutest themed paper straws in the dollar spot, but never know what to do with them.Well I finally found a fantastic use for them this week! I cut them up into smaller pieces and we used them as beads to make necklaces. So pretty!
 Wet Chalk/Tape Easter Eggs:
I saw this idea floating around on Pinterest and was curious to see how the wet chalk effect would work.  It actually wasn't too messy and made it pretty easy for Madelynn to color on paper.  She dipped the chalk into a bowl of water and filled up the eggs that I had taped off. The only struggle was making sure she didn't get the paper too wet.
 Pom Pom Easter Egg Painting:
Painting with pom poms seems to keep M super focused on her task, this was a nice quiet activity that really held her concentration.
 Plastic Egg/Bunny Stamps:
We used plastic eggs in paint to make circles a few weeks ago so I thought we'd try it with a stamp pad this week.  The circles didn't really show up so well, but I found a cute bunny stamp that saved our project and Madelynn enjoyed making the bunny hop all over her paper.
 Egg Pom Pom Color Match:
I found these little felt egg pouches in the Target dollar spot and thought they'd make a cute color matching activity.  I found itty bitty pom poms in matching colors and Madelynn stuffed them in the matching color eggs.

 Bunny Hop:
I found these bunny ears last year and Madelynn likes to use them while playing dress up, so we pulled them out and played the bunny hop song lots this week.  She loved the game, not so much stopping to take a picture though ;)
 Easter Egg Letter Hunt:
I hid magnetic letters inside Easter eggs and tossed them all around the room for Madelynn to find.  She has really learned so many letters since we started Tot School I can't even believe it! I don't even focus much on explicitly teaching the letters other than pointing them out and finding them in books.  She loved opening the eggs to read the surprise letters.

 Chick Fruit Cup:
Sometimes the theme of the snack is simple.  I love that all I needed to do was draw a cute animal for this one and Madelynn was all excited for her little snack.
  Easter Bunny Popcorn Bars:
This was essentially the same recipe as rice krispy treats just with popcorn substituted for the cereal.  Then we added sprinkles and little cadbury mini eggs on top to make it more festive. These were so good we ate them for snack 3 days in a row, YUM!
  Bunny Pudding Cup:
Again I went for simple and drew this little bunny face, and added construction paper ears for a special treat.

  Easter Theme Bin #1:
Included in this bin: Easter Grass, Stretchy Bunnies, Plastic Eggs
 Easter Theme Bin #2:
Included in this bin: Black beans, mini chick and bunny erasers
 Easter Egg Putty:
I found these in the dollar spot again because apparently I need everything they stock there ;)
 Easter Theme Bin #3:
Included in this bin: water beads, LED tea lights, plastic eggs  This one was too much fun! We ended up skipping our last bin and playing with this one all weekend!
And that's it! If you want to catch up on the other tot school posts you can check them out here:

And here are our plans for next week.  We are going to finish up learning about shapes with Triangles.