Monday, July 30, 2012

Oo is for Octopus !

    The little munchkin and I have gone from learning about little fishies in a fishbowl, to now exploring the big guys in the Ocean!
     I am super excited to do a mini Ocean unit b/c with the change of jobs mid-year, my Ocean unit was overlooked! I have lots of fun ideas for an Ocean theme and I hope to have time to play with my little munchkin as she learns a little more about Ocean Animals.
     But first things first: The Letter Oo
     Here are a few things I set out for her to introduce the Letter Oo.
     As I observe her in everyday tasks, I can see how her visual discrimination skills are developing. She can point out things that look the same/different fairly easy. So, the Letter Oo search worksheet was easy for her. This time I changed things up a bit and gave her Crayola Glitter Crayons.
     Her fine motor skills are always at work, and I am seeing improvement in the way she grasps a writing tool.
     She even took to writing the Letter Oo rather than painting the entire letter stencil, as she had done previously with other letters. =)
     I purchased this book from The Mailbox about 2 years ago but never put it to use. They are learning mats with additional paper pieces for different kinds of games.
 In working with little munchkins, I have learned (many times the hard way) that keeping track of small game/file folder pieces is near impossible, no matter how hard I “train” them to put things away correctly! So I hardly ever saw good use for these kinds of learning mats…until a little light bulb went off in my head! I will use tangible items/toys/counters, etc with these mats! Now WHY didn’t I think of that sooner?!

     Anyhow, so I pulled out the 3 different mats that just happened to be Under the Sea Mats! Yay! And to focus on identifying the Letter Oo, I used different sizes of Letter magnets.
     My little munchkin was so into this activity, she even pulled out some number "zero" magnets from a different bucket and identified them as the Letter O. I couldn’t argue with her, now could I? Zero sure looks like a Letter O.  =)  Smart girl, I tell ya! (OK... that is just me being a proud momma!)
     After reading the Book: Octopus' Den, we learned that an Octopus has 8 legs/tentacles. Then we made this fun octopus! 
      I found an Octopus template (which anyone can make but I chose to photocopy from a resource book) and I punched tiny holes with pipe cleaners and attached the pipe cleaners onto the sheet. I grabbed some cheerios and put the little one right to work. 
     It was “Cheerio for the Octopus, Cheerio for Me”, as she worked in her fine motor skills and eye hand coordination! 
    Isn’t that one yummy looking Octopus? =)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Upcoming Giveaway Galore hosted by Teaching Heart!

Teaching Heart is hosting a WHOLE WEEK full of awesome Giveaways!! Don't miss out!
     My fellow teacher blogger over at Teaching Heart is celebrating teachers everywhere! Starting Monday, July 30- August 6th, she will be giving away tons of goodies each day!

Check out her blog by clicking the picture below or go to Teaching Heart.
She also has a Facebook Fan page, where you can check her out too!

One last fishy a FREEBIE!

    Wow, what a busy week I have had! I took a short trip with my little girl to Chicago, came home to my son and hubby, celebrated my ?? birthday,  and then ran a 5k Race ON my birthday (which was on the 25th by the way)   =)
I really meant to host a giveaway in celebration of my birthday. And well, as you can see, that didn’t happen! =(     
Let’s see if I can get something together and host a Back To School Giveaway in the next few weeks.
    This week, busy as it was, I managed to wrap up the Letter F / Fish unit with my little munchkin.
     Here are a few of the random Fish activities that we did this past week.
    Since she is getting ready to enter a Preschool classroom (Year  1), I need to be working a little more with her in her readiness skills. So I whipped out some tot scissors and had her practice cutting some lines. (This sheet came from the Letter of the Week Letter Ff pack, by Confessions of a Homeschooler.) 
    She didn’t really care for the tot scissors, as they were quite awkward, and after she struggled with them for a few minutes, I went ahead and gave her some regular kid scissors, which she liked a lot better.
    Another readiness skill we are working on is her visual discrimination with a little bit of letter identification. So, I went back to the Fish Bowl mats that I created to practice math skills and I switched them up and made Alphabet letter matching mats. It can be used in lots of different ways, such as with ABC stickers, magnets or letter tiles.  I made some quick fish cutouts and labeled them with uppercase and lowercase letters. 
The only mat we used though was the Matching Letters mat, as the Matching Uppercase to Lowercase letters was too much for her right now.
Since it IS Friday, I have linked up again with TBA’s Freebie Friday! YAY!
Click here for your free copy of the Fish Bowl Alphabet Mats!

     I then created a quick sheet and used Alphabet stickers that I found in the Dollar section at Target. She did a very good job matching the sticker to the letter! She even added the extra letters as well!
    I had seen this fun idea somewhere (sorry, I can't remember where) and really wanted to do it with my little munchkin. It can be using done small counting cubes, but I do not own any cube blocks! =(  So after thinking and searching for something to use in place of cube blocks, I found…. Legos! My son has a TON of them and so I snatched a few and put them out with a Letter Ff Mat….FUN stuff!
      And of course, we couldn’t get through the week without some fun art activity and a yummy snack!
     I had some fun stencils that I had found on clearance at Michael’s last summer and when I came across them in an art box in the garage, I knew she would love to use it with her new Crayola Paint Markers. Look at this masterpiece! Ok, I admit, I helped her a bit b/c she kept saying, “Mommy, wanna paint with me?”   =)
   And this super cute Color Sorting Mat is FREE- just visit Criss-Cross Applesauce Blog!
 A fun, learning snack!
         And I think that about wraps up our Fish Unit....The Last Fishy Catch! =) 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Art of Cooking meets the Art of Teaching...Awesome Stuff !

    It has been a few days since my last post, hasn't it? Well, I took a little break and flew out to Chicago for a few days to visit family and friends. It was quite the exhausting weekend and I must say that I am glad I can sleep in my own bed tonight!
    Anyhow, while I was in Chicago, I had the opportunity to take a look inside the talent and work of my younger brother. And today I am going to highlight the awesome work that he is doing with kids these days.
   He is currently attending culinary school at the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago, and works at an awesome place called The Chopping Block, on the north side of Chicago.  The Chopping Block is a recreational cooking school and a gourmet shop. It offers hands on cooking classes for adults and children. My brother, George, works as a Lead Chef Instructor for Teen & Kids Camp.
    He invited me to attend the final day of the Teen Cooking Camp that runs weekly throughout the summer. The weekly camp consists of kids between the ages of 11-16 years old.
    By being there for the final day of their week, I could see that the kids had learned so much from him in a week; from Day 1 when he teaches knife skills to how to break down a recipe,  all the way through to Day 5 where the kids partake in his own version of an Iron Chef Competition; which is what I was honored to be a Guest Judge!
    He has expressed an interest in getting his certification in teaching to go along with his culinary degree, and so as I watched him  do his thing, I have to say that his unorthrodox teaching techniques remind me of School of Rock meets Good Eats... But it is quite fun and effective and I was able to see the end product of the work he is doing with kids this summer, at the Iron Chef Competition.
    I noticed firsthand how each member of each team contributed. Each person or pair took something from the menu and focused on it, while working together and communicating the whole time (2 hours) to prepare, cook and present their dish. (Under the supervision and guidance of George and his aide)
I was TRULY impressed!
Check out some of these dishes:
Team Spain:
Albodingas (Meatballs) Virgin Sangria, Spanish Butter Cookies (Dessert)
Team New Zealand:
Grilled Leg of Lamb Steaks w/Grilled Vegetables and Pavalova Cake (Dessert)
Team Greece:
Saganaki, Cinnamon Braised Leg of Lamb & Potatoes, Pita Bread, Deconstructed Bakhlava w/ Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream (Dessert)
Team American Gastro Pub:
Southwest Steak Slider, Philly Cheesesteak Slider & Bbq Steak Slider w/ Chipotle Chips, Orange Iced Tea
    Keep in mind that these dishes were all cooked and presented by kids between the ages of 11-16. Wow, huh? Don't they just make your mouth water? Doesn't this just make you super jealous? They sure made me look bad! I could take a few cooking lessons from them!! =)
     The winners of the Iron Chef Competition this week was: Team Greece
     AWESOME job all around, from both the kids and George! I felt like pointing at him and saying "Yup, that's my brother!" 
Food, teaching and kids: That is George's passion!
    Am I a little proud of him for choosing to pursue a career that deals with teaching children? 
You bet!
     It was quite the experience to see the art of cooking and the art of teaching, together in one place! 

For more information about The Chopping Block and to read more about the Kids & Teen Cooking Camps, visit The Chopping Blog where George has his own weekly blog. 

    Hope you all enjoyed reading something different from me today!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Colorful Fish Art !

    So, earlier in the week we stopped at Michaels to grab a few things to have an Art day dedicated to... guess??  FISH !
    But FIRST... I am so excited to share my Garage Sale finds!! I try to check out garage sales whenever I can but so far this summer, I haven’t done it too much. While I was checking out some stuff online about New York Teacher Certification, I came across an ad for a small child care program that was closing and first thing this morning, my little mucnchkin and I were out the door!
    One hour and $8.00 later, we came home with a Fishing Game, A Duck, Duck Goose card game, 8 books, 2 Sesame Street puzzles, 2 My Little Pony stuffed animals and 1 Unicorn doll!
The favorite of the day was the “Let’s Go Fishing Game”  =)
Perfect game for our Fish Theme!
    I often try to link a book with an extension activity that is either an art activity or a writing activity. Since it was Art Day, I opted for some fun and colorful art activities after we read “Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister. There are so many different art activities that anyone can do with this book! TONS can be found on Pinterest alone!
    Here are the 2 art activities that we did:
    We made a Rainbow Fish with a CD disc and some plastic gems.      (This one I found on Pinterest) 
    And then I grabbed some colorful tissue from my art supply box and instead of using aluminum foil, I found some metallic tissue paper in my Christmas box! I cut all the tissue into squares and then cut a piece of cardboard into a fish shape. The little munchkin then used a paintbrush to spread glue onto the fish shape and we both covered up the entire shape with the tissue paper. (This one is an activity I do almost every year with my preschool munchkins)
Wa-La!  Rainbow Fish again!  =)
    And what is an Art day without paint?! Here is the fish we made using her handprint and some colored circle stickers, as bubbles.
    We ended our Art day by reading the book “Swimmy” by Leo Lionni, (one of my favorite Fish books) and then we ate a little Swimmy snack!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fishy Math Fun plus * FREEBIES*

    Well, I have had quite the busy week! We had familly from Texas visiting this week and it was tons of fun! We went to Niagara Falls (American Side) and my husband and I literally walked across the border to Canada, with my cousin! 
    Then we went on a boat tour along Lake Erie. It was so fun to have famliy visitng because being out here without family and friends can get lonely, so we are more than ecstatic when we have visitors!  =)
    Now that the kids and I are settling back into our routine, I am back here blogging! I have some fun Fishy Math activities to share, and since Teaching Blog Addict is hosting FREEBIE FRIDAY, I also have 2 FREEBIES for you! =)
    My little munchkin and I do a lot of math activities throughout the day. She loves to count everything and she is very good at it! Here are a few activities that we did this week.
   We start everyday with our calendar, which gives her practice counting and I try to  focus on one number a day to help her with number identification. 
    I saw this bulletin board idea in this Mailbox Ocean Animals Theme magazine and loved it. 
    All you need is some fish cutouts, magnetic strips and a chalkboard or magnetic whiteboard. Everyday I change the amount of fish that I put out and I also put out 2 numbers that she can chose from. This helps her identify numbers and match it to the set of fish that are on the board. 

I absolutely LOVE The Mailbox magazines!

     Also using another Mailbox resource (Literacy Envelope Centers), I used these Fish Twins mats to help her with her visual discrimination and matching skills.

     Since I loved this mat so much and figured other moms and teachers might too, I created my own. I had a fishing set from Lake Shore learning and instead of having her use paper cards, I used the plastic fish that were in our Scoop & Play Fishing kit, from Lakeshore Learning.
(There are several other things that can be used, like other types of plastic fish, fish erasers, goldfish crackers, etc.)
    We took the learning fun outside on a warm day, and I poured some colorful gravel into  her water table along with the fishing set… Water Table Fun!
    Another thing that my little munchkin is working on is matching number to set. So I made another math mat, similar to the Fishy Twins mat. I gave her fish erasers and some magnetic numbers. I helped her identify the numbers and then she counted out the erasers and put them on the Fish Bowl mat.

Click either of the pictures below for your FREEBIES!

I also linked up with TBA's Freebie Friday! Click here or below for more fun freebies!

    Today we are heading to Michael's to pick up some arts & crafts materials to create some fun fish art! =) Stay tuned....