Monthly Archives: October 2013

Monster Mash (Wa ooh)

This post has been awaiting final touches for a few days now.  It’s been pushed to the side for other things, but after reading other posts by colleagues – I knew it was time to polish it off and get it out there!  Some days, you just need a few minutes to breathe – even if you have great ideas to get out.

I was talking about my topic with my mentor today.  She includes app smashing in many of her posts –  including some of our monster unit.
“It could be called Monster Smash!”  Great minds think alike – and I’m continuously thankful I get to put my head together with hers often.

During our Monster unit last week, we mashed a lot more things together than apps.  We mashed literacies, intelligences, experiences, strengths, and technologies.  This unit is always very popular.  We lead up to it by learning about nonfiction texts and some real life “monsters” such as bats, owls, and spiders.  We compare and contrast fiction and nonfiction, real and make believe.  We read wonderful stories, create anchor charts, and illustrate a monster poem. We discuss the parts of a book, make connections, and form opinions.

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The first read aloud was the classic by Ed Emberley.  I borrowed an idea from a fellow K teacher to read the words and have students draw what they hear.  Many students recognized the book right away, but they continued to draw each part of the big green monster.  We used our iPads and the Drawing Pad app to create our monsters.  They then uploaded their monsters into Showbie and I created a class book using Book Creator.  Some students chose to draw their picture in Drawing Pad and then “smash” their picture into Pic Collage for typing about the monster.

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There was an Old Monster is a great text to connect with others.

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And Leonardo is just the best monster…

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Our math target standard also fit in perfectly with monsters – shapes and sorting.  Using the smartboard, we created monsters from pattern blocks.  We talked about the attributes of the shapes we used, the color they were, and how we could sort the shapes into groups.  Cookie Monster helped us practice patterns online with this game.


Little minds were so creative during this unit.  Writing time was joyful, even for my most reluctant writers.  We wrote about monster lives, monster food, monster homes – pretty much anything monster.  To end our unit, we included some of our writing with a handmade monster.  Scissor skills are difficult for little hands.  The idea of cutting without lines excited some and intimidated others.  It was rewarding to watch them sigh with relief when hearing there was “no right way” to make their monster (a little sad too…).

20131031-082855.jpgMy monster eats poopy diapers.

20131031-082901.jpgMy monster eats fruit.

20131031-082908.jpgMy monster eats bones.

20131031-082915.jpgMy monster eats people.

20131031-082922.jpgMy monster eats tires.

20131031-082929.jpgMy monster is scary.

20131031-082939.jpgMy monster is scary.

Happy Halloween!



Filed under iPads, Literacy, math literacy, Mentor Text, Read Alouds, Technology, Uncategorized

Blogspiration: Linking learning



We all have students we wish we could help a little bit more each day. Those that need one on one time and we aren’t able to provide it everyday. If you’re like me, some days you leave school feeling a little defeated – by time constraints, lack of resources, lack of ideas, lack of personnel. You want to reach every child, every day. You hope that your passion for learning will seep into your students. That your encouragement to take charge of their own learning takes root. That they take a path of self discovery. And if you’re lucky, you get to hear all about it.

This year, a few of my students came to kindergarten absolutely ready to read. One student, Callie, was already reading. She has been following her second grade sister’s lead for some time now. In class, she asks just the right amount of questions to keep me on my toes and challenge her fellow students. She is a self motivator learner and helps her peers just because she wants to. More and more she has become a fellow facilitator of learning in our class.

As we work to create a student centered classroom, voice and choice are extremely important. I believe when a child feels invested and valued, more learning can take place. Also, more chances are taken and children feel comfortable stepping up to challenges. It is ok to not know. It is ok to ask someone else who might know. It is also ok to get excited about learning – and carry that learning over into other aspects of life. Learning at school should translate to home and vice versa. And when that happens, as a teacher, you feel lucky. You get to witness one of those moments.

Here is Callie’s moment, shared with me by her mom. Callie created a book, using Book Creator on her home iPad. Book creator has not been taught yet in my class – she is taking what her older sister has shown her and combined it with her own creativity and knowledge.

I’ve included screen shots of the book pages, all that’s missing is her sweet voice narrating.













Filed under Literacy, Technology

Gender Reveal Party


It all started with our phonics lesson today – I stumbled upon a soapbox.  I felt called to climb on top of it.   Rest assured, it was a five-year-old appropriate soap box.

We began learning about the letter u.  Our district purchased the Journey’s series and I incorporate the Alphafriends into our phonics lessons each week.  Each Alphafriend has its own song and I try my best to make up dance moves to each one.  They function as great cues for students when sounding out words or locating letters.  Often, I can prompt with the Alphafriend and the student will point to it and its letter.

If you notice, I referred to the Alphafriends as it.  While some are clearly supposed to be male or female, there are some characters that are not so clear.  I have noticed this year, more than others, that knowing the gender of the character is important to the students.

When Umbie was introduced today, almost IMMEDIATELY, a child asked “Is Umbie a boy or a girl?”  Another student started searching the words of the song looking for “he” or “she” – none.  So she looked for “his” or “her” – none.  This stumped the students.  I couldn’t resist… I sat down with the students and asked “Why?” – why is it so important to know whether Umbie is a boy or a girl?

Well, this question had them silent.  I could see the wheels turning in their heads.  The little girl wasn’t sure how to answer or what to say.  So, I gently probed again, “Why is it important to know whether Umbie is a boy or a girl?”  With sweetness in her face, she finally said, “I don’t know.”

I asked, “Will Umbie’s song be different or less fun if Umbie is a boy or a girl?” All the little children said, “Noooooooo.”

I asked, “Will the letter u make a different sound if Umbie is a boy or a girl?” And all the little children said, “Noooooo.”

I finished by saying simply this, “Sometimes we like to know if someone is a boy or a girl.  That is ok.  But, it’s not important.  I knew we would all have fun even before I knew who was a boy or a girl.  Being kind is what is important.”

Cue music, I slipped off the soapbox and we went about our lesson.

So, what does this have to do with literacy? Besides the fact it happened during my phonics lesson?  Well of course I”m going to give you some resources – picture books, et al, to discuss these issues with your own kiddos.  The topic is deep and mature, but in my opinion, not to heavy for our smallest learners.  Gender roles are brought up almost on a daily basis in the classroom.  Boys are playing “too rough”.  Girls are being “too bossy”.  Johnny is wearing a pink shirt – pink is a girl color.  Susie wants to play with the trucks but those toys are for boys.  Blah blah blah… Use these small moments to bring to a child’s attention that there are no such thing (in my opinion) as boy toys or girl toys, boy colors or girl colors, etc.  At least once a week, I see a story like this and my heart is broken.  I strive to do what I can to create an environment in which my students feel safe – physically and emotionally – no matter what.

A simple way to do this is to read books where male/female characters don’t conform to stereotypical gender roles.


One of my favorite books to read is The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch.  The Princess slays the dragon – not the prince.

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Love Cornelia Funke and this beauty – The Princess Knight.  This princess is as brave and strong as her brothers and she is willing to prove it to everyone. (A la Merida and Mulan)

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In William’s Doll, Charlotte Zolotow inroduces us to a little boy who wants a doll more than anything.



In Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, Sam thinks men should be able to quilt just like women.

We are Free to be You and Me

Other resources:

Upper grades –


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Filed under Literacy, Mentor Text, Read Alouds

Connecting with Global Read Aloud 2013


This week we started connecting globally with other kindergarten classes through the global read aloud.  We tweet everyday and read posts from other kindergarten classes, but this project really hit home with them.  I explained that so many kindergarten classes would be reading the same book at the same time.  They were mesmerized.  They were excited.  They wanted to know what it would look like.  Being a part of the global read aloud means that my students are part of a bigger community and I am also a part of a larger network.

For primary grades, the global read aloud is focusing on Eric Carle for six weeks.  This week was week one:  The Hungry Caterpillar (one of my all time favorites).  We were already studying farm animals and it seemed to tie right in.  Using my edmodo group, I was linked to a great puppet show of the story.  Many of my students were already familiar with it.  We watched the puppet show on the smartboard and then we moved on to the read aloud.  I always love to hear what the students think Eric Carle uses to make his pictures.  Several students thought crayons.  One budding artisit thought he uses crayons with “water paint” on top.  We visited the Eric Carle website to learn about his collage technique.  Needless to say, the students loved it.

Our next step was to respond to the story.  We discussed our favorite parts.  I modeled using the Hello Crayon app on the iPad to create a picture of my favorite part.


My favorite part was Saturday – the day he ate just about everything.

From that point – they were on their own to create freely.  We started this during our writing time and worked diligently, productively, almost silently straight through our afternoon rotations.  They explored the app and its finishes with the colors.






The creations are beautiful.  I loved hearing why they chose to illustrate what they did and why they made the drawings look a certain way.






I then uploaded their creations into the Showbie app (more on Showbie from my mentor here and here).  This app gives us the opportunity to curate class projects and digital portfolios with the iPad.  I am still in the process of compiling all student illustrations to complete our class book.  I will share once it is complete! (Technology is a wonderful, albeit fickle at times, tool).

For more information on Global Read Aloud 2013 – Please visit:


Filed under Global Read Aloud 2013, iPads, Literacy, Mentor Text, Read Alouds, Technology, Writing Workshop