Monday, February 28, 2011

I Love to Read Week & Missoula Smoke Jumpers

I was browsing through the images on my camera and came across some photos that I originally meant to post a few weeks ago during "I Love to Read Week". I suppose that's what you get when you take so many pictures - I completely forgot to share about this special time with the kids. It is so awesome that our school celebrates I Love to Read Month in February. Among the many wonderful things we do to celebrate, an absolute favorite is the celebrity reader(s). Our PTA does such a wonderful job getting community members to come into our school to read. In years past we've had local news anchors, Montana Grizzly Football players, local business owners/workers, and even the Mayor come in and read to our kindergarteners.

This year we had a special treat - a visit from two "real-life" Smoke Jumpers from the Missoula Smoke Jumpers Center.  A field trip to the Smoke Jumper center is typically one of our field trips in the spring. We learn about what they do and take a tour of the facility, and get to see the inside of  Smoke Jumper aircraft.  I'd have to say that the majority of the kids at this point didn't have a clue what a Smoke Jumper was - but it didn't take long to catch their interest. All they really had to say was that they jump from airplanes to fight fires. Not only did the Smoke Jumpers read a story to the kids, they also brought along their full Smoke Jumper gear-  helmet, jumper, parachute, and other items of interest.  I'll admit - there is quite a bit that a Smoke Jumper must strap on before heaving themselves out of a plane, only to land in the middle of a fire. Wow! Here area few pictures of the kids and our Smoke Jumper (celebrity) readers. Thank you Travis and Ashton, for coming to read and sharing about the exciting work you do. See you in the spring!

Reading a nonfiction book about what a Smoke Jumper does. They are firefighters with the special, and dangerous, job of fighting fires in hard to reach places. There approximately 400 smoke jumpers in the United States.
A Smoke Jumper relies on a buddy to safety-check his equipment before boarding the plane. A smoke Jumpers gear is very heavy.
Suited up and ready to go. But don't forget the reserve parachute!
Travis and Ashton demonstrates that the parachute is automatically opened by a ripcord that is attached to a zip-line on the aircraft. The parachute is released by the ripcord as they jump from the plane.  There is also a secondary "safety" parachute attached to the front.  The kids were very "concerned" about the 1st parachute not opening.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentines Week & AM Stations

We have a lot going on this week at Cold Springs Elementary. Not only is it "I Love to Read Month", but it is also "I Love to Read Week".  In this week alone we started out with Valentines Day and a mini-celebration filled with the usual Valentine cards, treats, and crafts. Each day of the week sports a different theme. On Monday all the kids were dressed in red.  Tuesday was snuggle-up-with-a-good-book day where the kids brought in a favorite stuffed animal.Wednesday was sweats day, today is slipper day, and tomorrow - hat day.  Each morning at 9:45 we have "drop everything and read", otherwise known as D.E.A.R. The entire school literally drops everything and participates in 15 minutes of silent sustained reading. It's pretty cool if you ask me. The dragons are reading like crazy and are being rewarded for reading at home. We have a goal of reading a minimum of 400 books in  February - 20 books per student. When we reach our goal, a pizza and popcorn party is in order.

Our AM stations this week were centered around a valentines theme. AM stations is the part of the morning reading and writing block where students have independent learning activities. During this time, half of the class is at learning stations, while the other half is reading, writing books, or conferencing with me on the carpet or at their tables.  After about 20-30 minutes, the groups switch. We practice for quite a while to get this routine down, but done correctly it's a very powerful classroom management tool. The quiet buzz in the background is usually "learning in action". Here are a few of the AM stations we did this week.

At the math station - kids counted and placed conversation hearts on a number graph. When they were completed, I gave them a digital camera to take a picture of their work.  It's simple way to incorporate technology (learning to use a digital camera), and it gives me proof that they completed their activity.

At the arts & craft station - the kids worked on filling in a heart with crumpled tissue paper and dots of glue. This is an excellent fine motor skill activity, and keeps our hands very busy.
I hide conversation hearts in the rice table for the kids to find. Next they wrote the messages they found on the hearts on paper.  "Who doesn't love digging around in rice."
Ahh...the rice bottle.  I put  word tiles in a bottle filled with rice.  They shake and shimmy the bottle, just so, to get the tiles to show the words.  The task is complete when they have found and written all of the words on their record sheet and can read them back to me.  There is an exact number of words they must find to get a prize!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

100th Day

On Monday we celebrated our 100th day in school. It's a landmark day that is typically celebrated by elementary teachers and students all around the country (or at least I think).  I personally don't remember celebrating the 100th day when I was in elementary school. It certainly is a fun filled day though, that revolves around all things "100".  Its the perfect opportunity to read books about the 100th day of school.  We sing songs, count to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's while marching, clapping, and doing jumping jacks, as well as a number of other fun hands on projects. In math we practiced sorting objects by 10's to make our counting easier. We also discussed that 100 of one item is not necessarily the same size as 100 of another. In addition, the "hundreds" place-value was introduced. Three digit numbers are "huge"!

In celebration of our 100th day, our Cold Springs Kindergarteners have a 100 Day Museum. Students bring in a project that represents the number one-hundred. Each year I'm always amazed at the creativity of the kids (and parents) in showing 100. We take some time to walk through the kindergarten classes to catch a glance of the wonderful projects.  Here are some photos, from legos to zip-ties, that I was able take along the way. Enjoy - and congratulations to the KF Dragons for making it to this very special day!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friendship, Peace, Love, & Kindness

In January we spent a good week learning about and discussing Martin Luther King, Jr. In essence, we learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the rules to make things fair. In kindergarten we spend so much time learning about character. We talk about and model friendship, peace, love, and kindness in our classroom.   There is something about the lessons of life that we learn during this time of the year that always brings a tear to my eye. It was a powerful moment in our country's history that paved the way for many of the freedoms we enjoy as a nation today. This video is a few weeks late in its production, but the dragons really put their hearts into this one and  I couldn't just let it go. Here is an Animoto that shares some of their thoughts, and illustrations on paper, accompanied by some very poignant words from Dr. King's famous I Have a Dream speech.