Happy New Year!

Well, we’re wrapping up another calendar year, and getting ready to go back to see our little "Kindies" again! For me, that’s next week on Monday. So this week, I’ll be telling you about some things that I have planned for next week.

This past week, my husband and I started making fresh video tapes of Sing and Spell Volumes One and Two! He is working on making them available as digital media, for use with interactive whiteboards and custom Powerpoint presentations for teachers who would rather use this in their classrooms than DVDs! This will give you the ability to customize your lessons by rearranging the songs in any order, just by moving the song slides around to your liking. I think that this will be a great tool! Here is a picture of me in our “studio” which is our really just our garage!!!

1. Winter Themes
I always begin my unit on winter when the children come back from school in January. So we begin by learning the Winter song from Little Songs for Language Arts, and talk about the difference between fall and winter. This can sometimes be a challenge out here in southern California, where the change in seasons often seems minimal! I actually had a second version of the Winter song recorded especially for use in my own class that has slightly different words in it. Here is the real, published version:

It’s winter time, it’s winter time!
There’s snow outside to play in!
I have to wear my jacket and my fuzzy hat and mittens!
Let’s all build a snowman,
And have a snowball fight!
And then we’ll go inside
And have some hot chocolate tonight!

Now my “warm climate version” of the winter song goes like this:

It’s winter time, it’s winter time!
There’s snow up on the mountains!
I have to wear my jacket and my fuzzy hat and mittens!
Let’s drive to the mountains,
And go play in the snow,
Cause you can’t build a snowman where there isn’t any snow!

The funny thing is that I taught both versions to my class last year, and they were disgusted with the one about there not being any snow to play in around here, and only wanted to sing the “cold climate version.” So I just let the “warm climate version” drop. So much for reality based season songs!

We also usually make the Let’s Build a Snowman book from Little Songs from Language Arts, but this year it looks like time will permit us to just make the last page of the book. Well, that’s the fun part anyway! So we’ll just do that, but also learn the song with it as well. Another song that goes well with this unit is the “Snow” song from my play, “The Mitten.” The kids always enjoy that one, too!


2. Beautiful Bulletin Boards! Another thing that we do is study “winter” animals such as penguins and polar bears, read books about them, and then make a related art project. We also spend one day talking about Eskimos and the fact that they are Native Americans from Alaska, and then we make an Eskimo project as well. I cover up the bottom half of my walls with white felt so that it will look like snow, and then add an igloo that I drew onto butcher paper and laminated. I love the way it turns out!


A. Eskimo:

This cute little Eskimo is made with construction paper and a paper plate head. You can find the directions and tracer pattern here.

My favorite book for reading with this project is Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joose.  

B. Penguin:

This little penguin can be posed in lots of different ways! I like to show the children how to make him dance, run, or stand still, based on how his feet or glued on. You can find the directions and tracer pattern here.

My favorite book for reading with this project is series of books about Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger.  Also, Cuddly Duddly by Jez Alborough runs a close second, though!


 C. Polar Bear:

This little polar bear is a fun addition to the winter themed bulletin board. You can find the directions and tracer pattern here.

My favorite book to read with this project is the Little Polar Bear series by Hans de Beer.  

3. Nature’s Best Photography Magazine- FABULOUS Pictures for Teaching!  

I stumbled upon my first copy of this magazine several summers ago on vacation in Washington, D.C., while visiting one of the Smithsonian museums. They had some of the most beautiful animal pictures blown up very large and hung on the walls there. Later, I discovered that they were actually displaying some of the prize winning photos from the Nature’s Best Photography magazine! They were selling copies of the current version in the museum store (don’t you just LOVE those gift shops???) for about six dollars. I opened it up to find some of the most fascinating photos of animals that I had ever seen anywhere, and I just knew that I had to have a subscription to this magazine! It only comes out four times a year, and the annual subscription cost me $25, I think. Each time it comes out I just want to pour over that magazine! Then I cut out any pictures that are relevant to any theme that I teach and file them away with that art project. I usually post them using magnets on my white board easel each day when I set up the art project for the next day after school.\

That way, when the children enter the classroom the next morning, they usually come in and are immediately AMAZED at the beautiful pictures that they see right there at eye level! Then I hear things like, “I know what we are making today- a LION!” etc. The pictures are fascinating and are great conversation starters- not that Kindergartners seem to have any trouble coming up with anything to talk about!! In any case, I ordered a bunch of their back issues of their remaining copies of previously published issues and was able to really fill out my file cabinet with gobs of wonderful pictures of practically everything! The neat thing about it is that if I happen to lack a certain non-fiction book about a certain animal or season, etc., I can usually just “fake” my way through a lesson just by discussing the pictures that I have collected. I highly recommend this magazine for building a picture file!

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