Top Ten Earth Day Freebies!

Earth Day is April 22nd, how will you celebrate this year? I already shared my favorite books, products and pinterest finds in a post last week (If you missed it you can check it out here), so this weekend while you are getting your plans ready you might want to check out some of these top 10  Freebies over on Educents that would be an awesome addition to your plans! (Including my Survey and Graph activity listed at number 7!)
Top 10 Earth Day Freebies for Kids
  1. Earth Day Sort - Help kids learn the difference between reducing, reusing, and recycling!
  2. Happy Earth Day Writing Activity - Kids of all ages can reflect on ways their family, school, and themselves can help keep the Earth healthy. Also encourages handwriting practice!
  3. Earth Day Coloring Pages - Creative kiddos can color the Earth with their colors of choice, or follow the color-by-code page to add critical thinking to art hour.
  4. Earth Day Poof! Subtraction to 5 - This Earth Day themed game builds fluency with subtraction facts to 5. It can be played in a small group or as a partner game. It is a fun way to practice those facts!
  5. Earth Day Word Search Freebie - Enjoy this Earth Day themed word search puzzle with 21 eco-friendly terms like atmosphere, compost, and recycle.
  6. Earth Day Bookmarks - The perfect Earth Day treat for your students. Available in full-color and black-and-white.
  7. Earth Day Survey and Graph - A fun and different way to practice graphing in your classroom while encouraging collaboration between students.
  8. Spring Coloring Book - Let your little ones COLOR & SPELL Spring words.
  9. Love the Earth Mystery Picture Graph - Students will love discovering the mystery picture by coloring in the correct squares on the alphanumeric grid using the coordinates given. This is a great addition to an Earth Day or recycling unit!
  10. April 2015 Journal - A month of free journaling for learners age 8 to 100! Read about important historic, artistic, and current events that happened during the month of April - including J. Robert Oppenheimer's birthday and Earth Day on April 22nd. Then develop vocabulary and critical thinking skills.
Want to turn your Earth Day celebration into an educational experience? Discover new ways to learn about the amazing planet we live on (without breaking the bank!) --> Earth Day learning resources.

Earth Day Essentials

Are you looking for ideas for Earth Day? Well you are in the right place! I am bringing you my favorite books, printables, and Pinterest finds today to help you check those Earth day plans off your to do list!
Here is a quick summary of each of my favorite books for Earth Day:
Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel - Michael Recycle, a Earth conscious superhero, flies into Aberdoo-Rimey just in time to warn the townspeople about the importance of recycling.
The Earth Book by Todd Parr - In this book, Todd Parr uses his signature bright colors and playful illustrations to discuss simple and important ways we can work together to be kind to our Earth.
Energy Island by Allan Drummond - This is an inspriational true story of how the citizens of Samso, Denmark worked together to conserve energy through wind power and help our Earth.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein - This classic story about a tree who loves a little boy is perfect for Earth Day and leads to great discussion about what trees give to us and how important it is to protect them.
The Wump World by Bill Pete - The sweet "wump" creatures in this story love their lush green world, until they are invaded by the Pollutians that are on a mission to take over the land.  But the ending gives hope that all is not lost.
The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden - The town of Wartville is covered in litter until one man discovers he can transform his town with his {humorous} magical powers.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss - The whimsical story of the near extinction of truffula trees and the importance of conservation is a must on my Earth Day reading list.
The Busy Beaver by Nicholas Oldland - This careless beaver doesn't take care of his forest habitat until some friends teach him the importance of caring for others and the world around us.
Curious George Plants a Tree by Monica Perez - George has great intentions to do all that he can to help the Earth but as usual he gets himself into a bit of trouble along the way.
It's Earth Day (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer - After watching a video at school, Little Critter makes it his mission to make a difference and slow down global warming.

Next I wanted to share with you my favorite go to resources for celebrating and learning about Earth Day in the classroom.
Earth Day Read & Respond -  I just finished creating this pack with activities for 5 of my favorite picture books above (The Earth Book by Todd Parr, Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, The Wump World by Bill Pete, and Curious George Plants a Tree by Monica Perez) First, it includes comprehension skills practice for each story (activating background knowledge, asking questions, recording new learning, cause & effect, retelling, visualizing, and story elements) Next it includes 5 writing activities, both narrative and informative, and 2 adorable craftivities with printable patterns and easy to follow directions.
Earth Day from A Year of Many Firsts - This fantastic packet includes a True/False Motivator Activity (with real pictures), "Don't Be a Litter Monster!" story, All About The Three R's mini-book, "Whole World In Your Hand' Craft, Vocabulary Cards, and so MANY different Earth Day writing activities and graphic organizers. Check it out!
Earth Day Reader with Writing Activities by A Teachable Teacher - Here is another adorable interactive Earth Day Reader, "We Can Help the Earth" (First, Next, Last) writing prompt, "I Love Nature" Fold & Snip Book, "I Love the Earth" (First, Next, Last) writing prompt, "On Earth (I see, smell, hear, taste, see)" writing prompt, and EARTH acrostic poem
Last up are just a few of my favorite Pinterest finds!
Trash Rainbow Collage from No Time for Flash Cards - Practice reusing and recycling with this adorable spring craft!
Earth Day Cupcakes from Hello Mess - How cute would these little cupcakes be for some Earth Day celebrating?
Anchor Charts from Mrs Tehune - Because seriously, who doesn't love a good anchor chart? There are even more ideas on her blog if you follow the link!
Oil Spill Experiment from Almost Unschoolers - Love this hands on, visual of how oil spils affect wildlife and how difficult it is to clean up.
Reduce and Recycle Experiment from Little Warriors - Students simulate recycling tires with cereal and turn them into a new road. So much great hands on learning here!

I hope you found some books, resources and new ideas to try! If you are looking for more Earth Day ideas on pinterest check out my entire Earth Day Board here.

Using iPads for Research

For this month's "You Oughta Know Blog Hop" I wanted to share my favorite tips and tricks for using iPads as a tool for student research.  (Some of these tips can be used without iPads in the classroom on a desktop computer, laptops, or other tablet)

Before I decided to stay at home with my baby girl, my school district was moving towards a more inquiry based approach to teaching content.  We often had students engaged in different projects requiring them to investigate and find information on their own.  Yes, even in Kindergarten! It can be kind of scary to send kids off to conduct research not knowing what they may encounter, especially on the internet. So here are some things that have helped me make the most of research while teaching students independence and embracing their curiosity.

1. Conducting a Web Search
  • Teach students to type their question into a search engine
  • Have students add "for kids" afterwards 
  • This will bring more relevant results and be less likely to lead them to inappropriate content
2. Image Search
  • Students can learn a lot from pictures!
  • Allow students to do an image search (if it is appropriate for their question)
  • Use Google Images and be sure students use "for kids" again to filter content
  • Alternatively you could have students search their topic on a stock photo site such as Shutterstock or Dollar Photo Club (even without a subscription you will be able to see image results)
3. Use the iPad Dictation Tool
  • This will make searching the web so much easier and faster for young students with limited typing and spelling abilities!
  • Students simply click the search bar in Safari, then tap the microphone button and ask their question. (e.g. How do bees make honey? How many different kinds of penguins are there? What machines do apple harvesters use?) 
  • Poof! Results just like that!
4. Use the iPad Text to Speech Option
  • Turn on the text to speech option so that students can have web pages and other text read to them.
  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech Selection
  • Slide it to "on" then choose the speed you'd like the text read
  • You can also turn "Highlight" on so that the text will be highlighted as it is read aloud
  • Teach students how to highlight a word, sentence, paragraph or entire page of text.  When you have the text highlighted you will now have the "Speak" option along with the other options such as copy and define.
  • The voice is a bit robotic, but you no longer have to answer "what is this word?" 127 times during research time (total game changer for me in a kindergarten class full of emergent readers!)
5. Other Websites/Apps that may be helpful
  • Brain Pop Jr.
  • NSF Science 360
  • Science Kids
  • Watch Know Learn
  • iTube List (This is a FREE App that you can use to search You Tube playlists of videos regarding a topic. I usually find a set of videos and load it for the group to view so that I know the content is appropriate.  They cannot click to other You Tube videos and there are no advertisements. You can set up parent controls so they cannot even search without your code.
6. Use QR Codes
  • Download a FREE QR Code reader
  • Create QR Code links to content specific for your topics of study
  • QR codes can be generated for free on many different websites.  Here is the one that I like for it's simplicity: https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/
For more help with creating and using QR Codes you can check out my post here:

Thanks for joining me for this month's You Oughta Know Blog Hop!



Classroom Schedules Link Up


Good morning! Sorry to overwhelm you with 2 blog posts in one day, but I just had to link up with the awesome Angie Olson of Lucky Little Learners and Ashley Schroeder of Schroeder's Shenanigan's in 2nd for their 2gether we are better linky.  This month we are sharing schedules:

I'll share my schedule from my last year of teaching kindergarten because my schedule these days consists of whatever Madelynn's little heart desires on any given day :)

This is what my schedule looked like:
















Here's a little more info about what each part of my day entailed. 

AM Routines/WTW Sort
Students come in drop off their BEE Binders, make their lunch choice (which is also how I took attendance), and start their Words Their Way sort for the week.

Intervention
We have a school wide RTI time. So as grade level teams we would choose a focus and group the kids that needed help into specific groups.  Students not needing help in that area would work in a larger group on enrichment activities.  Because our whole school was involved we were able to have smaller groups in intervention with classroom teachers while the enrichment groups were taken by the music, art, and other non-classroom teachers. I started out with a letter naming group and just LOVED this RTI pack from Abby at the Inspired Apple:
Message/Poem
I used a morning message each day to go over basic skills and talk about the day ahead.  For example each day start something like this: "Good morning kindergarteners! Today is Monday September 1, 2014.  We will have PE this afternoon." I also leave things missing such as beginning/ending sounds that we may be working on or punctuation for extra practice. Then I add additional skills practice on a rotating basis. Monday may be a question about our behavior focus for the week "How can you make someone's day better today?" Tuesday we may practice reading our reading wall (based on No More Letter of the Week) On Wednesday we may review our sight words and letters learned so far. On Thursday We might practice ways to show 10. And on Friday, I always have students help me make a list of what we learned that week in each subject. 

Our poem changes each week and is based on the theme we are studying.  We use our poem to practice concepts of print and fluency, as well as a variety of other ELA skills.  We work on the poem first as a class and then students work on their own copy of the poem which is great for differentiation as you can give different students different tasks very easily. (ex: Students A, B, C please go circle all of the letter b's you can find, and students X, Y, Z please find at least 10 sight words you know)  You can find the poems I use here:
And the poetry tasks we do with our poems here.
Writing Workshop
We started using Lucy Calkins New Units of Study in writing this year which I just loved because the lessons are grade specific. If you used the previous units of study you know that there was a primary and secondary version so K-2 and 3-5 had essentially the same lessons for 3 years just beefed up a bit each year.  I also use my Writing VOICES menu to set goals and focus my mini lessons with students.  I revamped all of my goals to match the CCSS and Lucy Calkins' rubrics this past year :)
Math Calendar/Journal
I absolutely could not live without this Calendar Set by Growing Kinders. Seriously, I used to hate calendar time because it just got so monotonous for me, but this set changes every month to add more skills so it always feels fresh.  I would post it on the smartboard and go through it together as a class and towards the middle of the year I began to have students lead and teach each other which spiced it up a bit more.
I also use the math journals I created for each strand of math.  Students complete the journal for the day independently with a partner or a small group.  The goal is to get them really thinking and talking about math in a way that makes them think critically. Often the journal has multiple means of reaching an answer and multiple possible answers.  This leads to great math discussion when we have our math circle share after journal time.
Math Small Groups/Stations
I use a guided math model in which I take 3 groups each day while students choose to go to different math stations.  I do not have a rotation set up where every child must go to every math station because I conference and goal set with my students based on my Math COUNT menu so they know which stations they need to go to based on their goals.  
Daily 5
My literacy block is set up with the structure of the Daily 5/CAFE. I usually have 3 - 15 minute rotations in which students choose one of the Daily 5 while I meet with a small group and them conference with individual students.  I created a FREE CAFE menu to math my VOICES and COUNT goal setting boards if you are looking for one for your room.
Inquiry
Our district model for science and social studies is based on the Inquiry model.  We focus on comprehension and collaboration as well as student motivated choice and engagement  vs. covering content. This means that we may have an inquiry unit on famous americans for example.  And while I have chosen the broad topic, students will be immersed in some content to peak their interest and get them thinking, but then will choose what they would like to study.  Some students may want to learn about Neil Armstrong, while others may want to learn about Rosa Parks.  Students learn to conduct research and collaborate effectively with a team to collect information, and then synthesize their findings into a project. The focus is on the essential question of "What makes a person famous and why do we remember them?"  This may seem crazy for kindergartners to be able to do, but the results have been amazing! I am working on creating unit resources for other teachers that teach using an Inquiry model because that was one of the most difficult things about teaching inquiry units.  There is really very little out there to help organize and plan inquiry units. I'd love to know if any of you use inquiry based teaching for content so that I can get some suggestions on what you'd like to see included.

Read Aloud
Finally I end the day with a read aloud from a chapter book such as Charlotte's Web, so that we can end our day on a relaxing note as students are preparing to go home. Students also get picked up early to go to their busses and our after school program so it is a way to have everyone ready and not just sit around for 15 minutes waiting.


Wow, that was a super long post, so if you made it this far THANK YOU for reading.  I hope you may find something in there that sparks an idea for your schedule.  I always love reading other peoples schedules to see how they do things because I tend to change a lot each year! So check out these other posts about schedules!