Apple Back to School Letter

Happy Back to School!!!

I loved sending out back to school letters to my new Kindergarten children about 2 weeks before school started.  They were so excited to get a letter in the mail just for them.  Here is an apple back to school letter I used one year.

 

Dear little apple seed,

Welcome to the apple orchard!  I am the caretaker of the apples, and I am glad that you are in my class this year!  Please meet  me in the orchard on _________________ at _________________.  We will be growing and learning together and having so much fun!  You will be learning to do math, to read, to write, to sing fun songs and to play! I will see you on the first day of school.  Be sure to wear your apple name tag and be ready to have a great time!

Can’t wait to see you!

Love, Mrs. Wilson

 

It was fun to greet each child at the door! Of course they were wearing their apple name tag that I had sent in their back to school letter. (I was sure to have extra apple tags that I could put their name on if they had forgotten or lost their’s.) Any apple pattern would do for the name tag.  I copied these apples on red card stock for mine.

I had my room decorated with all things apples, including examples of any art projects I was planning to do in the next few weeks, plenty of apple trees and apple activities.  I had apple sauce cookies for a treat and plenty of apple books to read to them.

All in all, it was a very successful first day of school for these lucky Kindergarten children and their teacher!

 

Check out our theme book, Apples, and our many art projects featuring apples.

 

 

Happy Birds!

I love Spring!  There are so many fun projects to do that go with this season.  Making different colored birds is one of the funnest projects to do in the Spring!

This project just screams a bulletin board or hall display to me.  When I was teaching, I tried to create a display for the hall when doing each art project.  Try to imagine a fun bulletin board or hall display using these cute birds.  The title could be, Spring is Here! or Welcome Spring! Gluing the wings and head to the body in different positions makes the birds look different. It’s always fun to see what the children come up with!

To save time, 6 inch circles of card stock paper could be used instead of coloring the small paper plates.  However, I liked the small motor skills used when coloring the plates.

My Dream!

So, did you have a dream as a child to become something special? I have always wanted to be a teacher, even when I was little!  I loved going to school and learning, and I even remember the smells of the classrooms of my youth. I had many favorite teachers, Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Basset and others that I knew I would become like!  I remember thinking that when I grew up and became a teacher I would do this or that in my classroom.

This is a picture of me in Second grade, already dreaming of becoming a teacher.

 

In 1963, I graduated from high school and went to college to become what?  A TEACHER!  After a few years of college, I graduated from Utah State University as a certified elementary teacher.  It was a great day in my life!

I accepted a job teaching second grade in my home town.  My goal was to teach a year, save some money by living at home with my parents, and then striking out for more adventurous pastures.

Here I am in my elementary school picture my first year of teaching.

 

Well, all good plans go out the window when you fall in love.  I met my future husband in January that first year, and we were married in May.  I then quit teaching for a few years to raise a family of seven children, but never gave up my dream of getting back in the classroom.  While raising the children, I kept taking classes for my certificate and had a little preschool in my home for 4 year old children.  When our youngest child was in Kindergarten, I went back to teaching, and taught until 2009 when I retired.

This is a picture of our little family about the time I went back to the classroom.

 

I found that when I retired I still needed to keep a close connection with teaching.  My daughter, Lorane, who is a teacher as well, and I decided to begin this new journey creating materials that would help out busy teachers.  We know, as teachers, how crazy busy it is in early childhood classrooms.  Our materials are designed to save you time by letting us do some of the work.  Lorane, who is now taking a break from teaching to raise her girls, has a background in art and was the art docent for her girls’ school in Washington State.  She now lives in Maryland and I live in rural Idaho.

Penguins, penguins, all kinds of penguins!

I found that children love to create things!  We made these paper bag penguins when we did a Winter unit in Kindergarten.  Just the other day, I helped two cute home school girls make one, and I loved their creativity!

First we talked about penguins, where they live, that they are actually birds, and what they eat.  We talked about what eats them, as well.  Most children who have watched the movie, Happy Feet, know quite a bit about this subject. It makes for a lively discussion!

Next, I showed the children the penguin that I made, but explained that they were free to make their penguin look any way they wanted.

I love to see the creativity of this age!  Here are a couple of pictures of the home school girls with their penguins.

Snowflake Man

When we made this snowflake man in the classroom, it was a blast!  It always amazes me how different and unique each child’s completed project is.  I love to see each child’s personality play out in their art!

We started off with the patterns:

 

After the children colored and cut out the patterns, it was time for them to put the man together.  This is the best part!  You never know what the children will come up with.

Interactive Story Time

One of the ways I tried to involve the children in our story time was by using an interactive board and characters from the story.  I would pass out the characters, and as I read the story, the children would place the characters on the story board.  The story boards could be large like a poster board, a flannel board or they could be as small as an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of cardstock  paper.  Many times I would prefer the smaller one, depending on how many characters were in the story.

Above is my flannel board.  On the right is a portrait version of a 8 1/2 x 11 card stock story board.  I also use a landscape version of the card stock.

One of our favorite stories to read in the Winter was The Mitten, by Jan Brett.  On the internet there are dozens of free printables to use with this story.  Here are the ones I used.

I literally found hundreds of free printables online to fit any story you may read.

An all-time favorite book was Bony Legs, by Joanna Cole. The children loved to get the shivers when we read it at Halloween time!  I just typed Bony Legs into the search engine and voila!  Tons of pictures to download!

 

 

Another fun way to involve the children is to use craft stick puppets.  Most of our theme books include a set of puppets to go with the songs and poems in that book.  Illustrations from the internet could be used as stick puppets as well.

 

 

 

 

Spiders!

A unit about spiders is a great topic for the month of October or around Halloween.  This paper plate art project would go great with your classroom materials.

To make this paper plate spider, start by coloring a small paper plate black, either with marker or crayon.  A crayon would certainly be less messy than a black marker!  A small 6″ circle of black card stock would work just fine, but would cut out the coloring step and the small motor skill practice.

Next, cut out legs and eyes.  Glue the eyes on the top of the plate and the legs under the plate, four per side.

And voila!!  you have a fun paper plate spider to play with or use on a bulletin board. 

They would be cute hanging from the ceiling with fishing line. This pattern is sold separately or in our theme book, Spiders!

 

EEK! IT’S FRANKENSTEIN!

This cute little monster paper bag puppet is so fun!

This one is colored with crayons.

The one below is colored with markers.

Start with the printed pattern,  then color and cut out.

 

 

 

Glue the head to the flap of a small paper bag.  Then glue the body under the flap, matching up the mouth.  There will be tons of fun at school and at home!

 

We Are the Birds

Kids of all ages can create these cute little birds in the style of James Rizzi’s We Are The Birds!  

We learned about the artwork of James Rizzi, an artist who lived in New York City and is known for his simple black lines and bold colors.

            

First, we made the outline of the birds with a black oil pastel.  This was a directed line drawing, but each bird turned out unique!  Next we used watercolors to add some bright colors.

This was a great project that could be adapted for kids from K-5.

Weather Graph

At the first of the month, I passed out a weather graph to the children to keep in their homework folders.  At circle time each day, we would talk about the weather, whether sunny or cloudy, rainy or snowy, windy or calm, or foggy.  When they went back to their seats, they would color a square in the graph for the weather that day.  At the end of the month we would discuss the graph, which weather had the most squares colored and which had the least.  This was a great example of more than, less than for the children.  I had two sessions of Kindergarten a day, and oft times the morning and afternoon graphs were quite different.  This also led to more discussion about weather changes.