STEM Resources for Little Builders

Are you trying to integrate more STEM into your classroom?  

Me, too!





I've gathered a collection of STEM resources for littles builders.  These are some of my favorite items for the classroom.


TECHNOLOGY FOR LITTLE BUILDERS 
Our students are digital natives. We know that they are using technology in and out of the home. Why not give them the best technology has to offer! These tools will challenge your students in new ways. 



Bloxels allows you to create your own video game by creating your own character using the Bloxel blocks and the Bloxel Builder app. This game combines both physical building and interactive online play. 

I am excited to use Learning Resources Code & Go Robot during Hour of the Code.  This little bot is a perfect way to introduce coding to my students.  

PlayOsmo has been a classroom staple for a few years. The games allow for collaboration and increases in difficulty. Tangrams and Words are classroom favorites.


ENGINEERING FOR LITTLE BUILDERS
STEM is all about constructing and creating. That is what I love about it.  These engineering tools have endless possibilities and uses.


Snap Circuits are an oldie but goodie. It is great for someone who likes to discover how things work. 

If you are working on force and motion, a Marble Run is a must have tool.  

Brain Flakes, Squigz, ETI Construction Toys, and MagnaFormers are perfect for open ended building. These toys are fantastic for the engineers in our classroom. 

Lastly, don't forget everyday items like cardboard boxes, paper, and other recyclable household materials. They are great for many STEM related projects that your students might work on throughout the school year.  

What I love the most about all of these STEM resources for little builders is that they help students become creators and thinkers.  We all know that this is what our students need the most; opportunities to shine.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.  

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#BeYou


#BeYou.

Seems easy. But, sometimes it is hard.

When I began this blog six years ago, it was fun. It was carefree. It was easy.

But, then, it became complicated. 



I began to question myself. Is my content worthy? Do teachers like me? Am I good enough?

This in part is why I have blogged less and less.

But, I miss it. I miss sharing #thegood that is happening in my classroom. I miss having an outlet to tell my story with my students.

So, I've decided to tell #mystory.

This blog will be my outlet to share my teaching journey. It may not be picture perfect or Pinterest worthy but it will be real.

And, if you are still reading....Thank you!

Thank you for spending a bit of your time here. I hope that you find something that inspires you in some way because that is what you have done for me. I am a better teacher because you.  So, thank you!

One last thought....

#BeYou
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Integrated Technology with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a timeless classic used by many in kindergarten and first grade classrooms.  

This year, I am adding a technology twist inspired by my reading of The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps. 



I have created a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom hyperdoc which my students will use in Google Classroom. Students will watch a video of the story, sort letters in their name and even sing the alphabet song. This extension activity will be completed in small groups with me guiding them through the process as this will most likely be one of our first activities using Google Classroom and #GAFE tools.  

I am excited to see what other integrated technology lessons I create inspired by our learning.


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Read Alouds For the First Day of Kindergarten

A new school year is almost here.  These are some of the books I will read on the first day of Kindergarten.  I selected these books because they are engaging and kindergarteners can easily identify with the characters.

INTERACTIVE BOOKS
I want my kindergarteners to know that they are readers; even on the first day of school. These engaging, short interactive books get students to actively participating.

Fairly Fairy Tales by Esme Raji Codell is my favorite choral reading book. Within the pages, we find a little girl and her mother reading a bedtime story. Along the way, we discover a story that combines a mixture of questioning and fairy tale characters with a modern twist.
Photo Source



Press Here and Mix It Up by Harry Tullet have readers interact with the book. With each page turn students eagerly await what will happen next. This is a perfect book to use if you want to also teach carpet or rug expectations. Often, even my most squiggly of students, will sit up tall and raise their hand to have a turn.

The songs and videos of Pete the Cat books are just right when your students need a bit of movement and fun. It's all good when you have Pete the Cat by your side on the first day of kindergarten.



FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL BOOKS
I want to acknowledge my students feelings about the first day of school.  For many of my kindergartners, this is the first time that they have been away from home for an extended period of time. These books help to ease and comfort them.


Dad's First Day is a great read if you have parents in the room with their child on the first day. They will be able to relate to the mix of emotions Oliver's dad is feeling.

In I Don't Want to Go To School, Simon says "No way!" to going to school. But as he discovers, school is a fun safe place to learn.





CLASSIC KINDERGARTEN READS
I also make sure to share a few "classic" reads that students may recognize from preschool if they attended.  No, David!, Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom are always within reach on the first few days of school. They are great for teaching many concepts and are timeless classics.

What are your must read books for the first day of kindergarten?

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Wiggle and Learn

Flexible and alternative seating is one of the most talked about teacher topics.  Many teachers are changing the look and feel of their classrooms by incorporating more seating options for their students.

As a primary grade teacher, this has been the norm in my classroom.  I have spent all of my teaching career creating classrooms where students have a variety of places and spaces to work.

Yet, every year, I had one or two students who struggled to "sit" to work. They need to wiggle and learn.


Like most of you, I wanted these students to be successful.  I tried a variety of alternative choices like lying on the rug or using a stool but found limited success.

This year, I was blessed to win a wobble chair from Debbie Clement during her weekly #TeacherFriends Twitter chat.  
You do not know how this one chair changed how my student worked and learned. This little one had trouble sitting still anywhere! When I introduced the wobble chair to him, he beamed with pride. This was going to be his seat for learning. He was permitted to use it anytime he liked as long as he was working.  

Now, you may be thinking this was not fair to my other students. While it may not seem fair, in many ways, it gave him equal access to learning.  He had a place where he could move and learn. 
Source

At first, he took the wobble chair everywhere. Over time, he began to choose the chair only when he needed it. In fact, sometimes, he'd start at his wobble chair and by the next activity, he was ready to sit in a regular chair.  

As a teacher, I noticed that with the seat, he was more focused and able to release that energy. 

Click image to watch video.



While I do have plans to purchase more wobble chairs, I know that this is a seating alternative. It may not work for all my students. Keeping seating options flexible gives me and my students choice.  

Would you want one for your classroom?  I am giving one away to a lucky follower (US residents only) of Learning with Mrs. Parker. All you have to do is follow me via Bloglovin', Instagram or Twitter.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!  





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Self Portraits in Kindergarten


Self portraits are perfect projects for anytime of the year. I love how they reflect the personality of the child but also teaches different types of art mediums.

Here are three different ways to create self portraits in your classroom. 

SELF PORTRAITS MADE EASY
For the past several years, I have been using this method for drawing self portraits.  Giving students a bit of a guide helps to create large portraits rather than small pieces of artwork. Once students learn this method, you can use them for other projects like this social studies lesson or this one.

We make Self Portraits Made Easy during the first week of school. Then, again at the end of the year.  Students are always astonished how different they look!


RECYCLED NEWSPAPER
For this self portrait project, you will need newspaper and markers. First, I prep the newspaper for my students.  Each student will need an 8x11 sheet of newspaper. I suggest that you use "fun" print like the comic section rather than the headline page. Students will draw their self portrait in pencil. Then, they will use a black marker to trace their drawing. Lastly, they will color leaving their face in print. Mount on a bright colored paper like AstroBrights to add a pop of color.



TODD PARR INSPIRED
For these Todd Parr Inspired Self Portraits, we read many of Todd Parr's books. We became familiar with his style of art. We noted that Parr used lots of bright colors. We also noticed that the faces were not the usually peach, tan and brown. Rather, people had faces of all different colors; even blue and pink! This got many students excited! Using AstroBright neon paper and construction paper from our scrap box, we made our Todd Parr Inspired Self Portraits. Adding them to a black construction paper gave them just the "pop" needed to stand out in the crowd.


These self portrait ideas are easy to prep and create any time of the year. 

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A Work of Heart

This past school year has been exhausting; physically and emotionally.  
Teaching Has NO On/Off Switch


Only a teacher or the family of a teacher can understand this. 
There is no way to not think about the student who has come to school for weeks without socks. Nor to feel as you have failed because you have students who are not yet reading.
This is what teachers do.  
Teaching is a Work of Heart 
As a teacher, I teach with my whole heart. Every year I fall in love with a group of students. I strive to give them the best of me every day, all day. It is hard work. I fail at times but I don't give up on myself or them. 

I teach wholeheartedly because we deserve it.  I have learned that as teachers we are the glue that holds the classroom together. 

Teaching is My Passion
Little did I know that when I became a teacher, I would do so so passionately. You are not taught that teaching will be more than what you see in the classroom. Teaching takes place along the way. It's the conversations you have with a former student. The lessons you plan late into the night or the professional reading that you do willingly. It's the little things that really are BIG things. Although, I am here enjoying summer vacation, I am also reflecting about what I could do to improve, how I can make my classroom more joyous and how I can keep myself just as passionate. 

Teaching is a work of heart. 
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#Operation55 -The Little Linebacker



I am so excited to team up with Stephen Tulloch and Maria Dismondy to share with you a book about self determination and dreams.  

Based on Tulloch's own life, this book shares how his passion for football and a BIG dream led to a successful 10 year NFL career.  None of this was easy but with self determination, Tulloch was able to turn his can'ts into cans.



This is not a book just about football. The Little Linebacker teaches students to DREAM BIG, persevere, and believe in yourself.  These are traits I teach my students all year long.  

What is wonderful is that teachers and homeschoolers can access a complimentary Reader's Guide.  


The authors of The Little Linebacker have generously offered to giveaway a book to one reader of this blog. All you need to do is comment below.  A winner will be selected on May 31st. 

Congratulations to Lor! Raines~



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May the Force Be With You: Teaching Force and Motion


Happy May the Fourth Be With You Day!

I just wanted to quickly share how I used this Star Wars based day to teach force and motion to my class.  

We dedicated the entire morning to exploring force and it how it works via hands-on centers.

First, we talked about our science vocabulary:
force motion push pull

The objective at each center was to discover if and how you used force. They also explored what was the reaction based upon the force used. 

Our centers:
  1. Launch Star Wars Angry Birds using various catapults
  2. Build a domino maze and knock it down
  3. Give stuffed animals a ride on a train
  4. Bowling
  5. Car races using different ramps and types of cars
  6. Use Playdoh shapes to push and pull
We also went outside and pushed each other on the swings and tried to do a pull up on the monkey bars.  Had time permitted, we would have pretended to ride on a roller coaster using the fun GoNoodle video.

It was a great day of learning.  How do you teach force and motion to your kindergarten students?




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Creating Green Screen Videos

Have you ever wondered how to create a video using a green screen? Do you consider yourself a novice when it comes to some aspects of technology? If you said, yes to either of these questions, I felt the same way.

For the past few weeks, my class has learned all about the weather. I knew that I wanted my students to become meteorologists. I saw many creations like this one on Twitter that inspired me to stretch myself as a teacher and learner.




Using the app DoInk, I was able to layer a video and image with a few easy steps.

A video posted by Mrs.Parker (@learningwithmrsparker) on


First, I found an area in my room to film. I choose a small corner which did not interfere with our day to day learning. It was a large enough area where I could hang my green screen which I created by using this. Then, I filmed my students in front of the screen using my smartphone.

The app will merge your video and an image together to create the video.

Ta-da! You've just created a layered video! Save and your done!

I wish I could show you the videos my students created. They are as precious as they are. We had a viewing party of Friday as a conclusion of our learning. It was a great way to incorporate technology in a meaningful way.


Please note: DoInk did not ask me to write about their product. 
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Earth Day #CardboardChallenge


This year, my class is participating in the #CardboardChallenge in honor of Earth Day.

What is the #cardboardchallenge?  Inspired by the response to Caine's Arcade, it is a global event which invites children to create, build, and play using cardboard, recycled materials and their imagination.   


I am so excited to be joining this event.  We all know that a child's imagination is endless and their love for boxes is like no other.  I think this is a perfect way for us to honor our Earth.
I am also excited that this builds upon all the good things in education like play, imagination, collaboration and perseverance.
 Go here for more information.  You can also see what others have created via Twitter using the hashtag #cardboardchallenge
Not sure if this is for you, watch this video and be prepared to be inspired. 

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Simple Science Weather Experiments


Weather science is fun!

Here are a few simple science experiments that you can use in your classroom to teach about different aspects of weather.  

Each is easy to do but yields high student engagement and learning.

RAINBOW IN A JAR
Rainbows are always a hot topic in my classroom.  For some reason, kindergarteners LOVE rainbows.  They can not get enough of them. They write about them. Draw them and talk about them. 

My class could not believe when I told them that we were going to make a rainbow.  

You'll need some mason jars. 
Fill the jars with water.
Add food coloring.
Assemble in a sunny spot.
Watch your rainbow appear.




RAIN IN A JAR
This simple science weather experiment in always a hit.  (Just look at her mouth in amazement.)

The shaving cream acts as the cloud.
Water in a vase or jar represents the water in our atmosphere, lakes, oceans and other places.
Food coloring is the water vapor which becomes rain.

By creating a rain cloud, you can show how water vapor absorbs in a cloud. Once it is heavy enough, rain begins.



Afterwards, we used our new learning to create an interactive writing piece.  Working with groups of students, I could differentiate the content based on student need.



WIND CATCHER 
Who knew learning about wind could be so fun?! We did three simple science experiments based on wind but these wind catchers were their favorite.

We learned that wind is moving air.  Our wind catchers helped us see it. 

Simply tie a piece of yarn around the handles of a plastic bag to make your wind catcher.  If it is windy enough, you can even run and "fly" your wind catcher. 




There you have it! Simple weather science experiments that will have you and your students engaged!



Happy Learning!

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My Many Colored Days Emotions Writing

Learning to express one's emotions is difficult. My class has worked for weeks talking about what actions make us feel different emotions. I have tried to model and be clear of expressing how I feel when a child disappoints me or makes me feel proud.  

Why?

Well, because I have many students who are unable to express their feelings. And, at times, resort to hitting or yelling to express their needs. I knew that I needed to support them but also to give them the words to share appropriately about their emotions.  

This week, we are working on including emotions as writers. I decided to incorporate My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss into our learning for Read Across America.  This book seamlessly weaves color and emotions.  



I created these sentence starters for my class and used this template to create a Many Colored Person. The students simply placed tissue paper onto the template and I laminated it.  This could also been completed by using contact paper.

Here are the finished mobiles.  I love how it brightens our room.



This was a perfect way to talk about our many colored days.  


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A Look at My Week Instagram Style











Instagram has become one of my favorite ways to share what is happening in my classroom. Here are a few Instagram photos I shared this week my IG account.  

Recently, I became one of our school's writing coaches. The program we are using has some scripted activities but allows us to teach creatively and to use practices that best support the needs of our students. My kids are loving the TPR that is included throughout the unit.



Instagram has become one of my favorite teacher resources for "must have" items.  I am using these Scoop Rockers with a few of my kiddos who have difficulty during whole group lessons on the rug. I am finding that they are more focused and less disruptive.



This bulletin board is one of my favorites spots in my classroom. I can easily change out what is on display. Currently, hanging are our first research reports.  I love that I can integrate technology but also continue to do age appropriate arts and crafts.




I think that the most teachable moments sometimes come at the spur of the moment. My students were captivated by this lizard. It became our classroom pet for the day.


Finally, here's a pic I shared of our city during a typical California winter.

A photo posted by Mrs.Parker (@learningwithmrsparker) on


Do you love Instagram? I'd love to connect with you there too. Follow me on Instagram.

I'm linking up with Doodles Bug Teaching.




Happy Photo Sharing!

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Creating a Hyperlink to Use In Google Classroom

Hyperlinks. What are they? And, why would you use them in the classroom? More specifically with Google Classroom.  

A hyperlink, more commonly known as link, is a word, phrase or image that you click on that takes you to another site or document.  

I have been using hyperlinks with my kindergarten students for several reasons.  First of all, this is one way to deliver content to my students that does not involve me.  Students are able to learn using 21st century skills; collaborating with a peer or group while using digital tools.  Students have as much time as they need when the assignment is given via a platform such as Google Classroom.  I am a facilitator rather than the person delivering knowledge. Students are given full responsibility of their learning.

Creating a hyperlink is easy.  I like using Google Slides but any #GAFE tool would work.  First, I create a directions page and embed the link usually on an image like seen below.  To do this, you would highlight the word or image and go to Insert link. 

Easy peasy.  



When students access their document via Google Classroom, they would see the directions page first. By using a simple icon and the words Click Here, students know instantly what to do. When students click on the hyperlink, the link will appear on the bottom as shown. Students click the blue linked line and are "taken" to the site that you directed them to.  



The possibilities are endless.  

Would you like to see what the document looks like?  Click here for a sample of how you could use Brain Pop Jr. to introduce US symbols.  


Have you tried using hyperlinks with your students?  I would be fascinated to see what you are doing with your students. 



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Groundhog Day Books and a Freebie

Groundhog Day is almost here! This is such a fun day for exploring our shadows.  Over the years, I have collected some great books that I love to read aloud or add to our listening center.


My all time favorite read aloud is Ten Grouchy Groundhogs.  I purchased the audio version years ago from Scholastic and it is always a big hit in our classroom.  It is so cute to hear my students chanting along with the story.
We usually begin subtraction during this month so this title lends itself naturally to learning how to subtract.   
This Grouchy Groundhog Freebie can be used while you read the story or it can be used by students to create their own subtraction sentence.  
Have a great Groundhog Day! Here's to an early spring!
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Books for Young Learners: MLK, Jr., Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges

Finding "just right" books for young students can be a challenge when dealing with sensitive topics like social injustice. As a teacher, I want to make sure that the books I read to them are age appropriate and cover the topic thoughtfully. 

Here are some of my favorite books for young learners about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each of these books highlight the work of Martin Luther King, Jr.; many weave in quotes from his most famous speeches throughout the book.

These readings provide knowledge that we will use in our writing throughout our unit of study.  We create a tree map together using the verbs: was, changed, and dreamed. It is interesting to see each year what learning makes an impact on my students.  Students, then, write about MLK, Jr. using the sentence frames we created.


Learning about Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges provide us another opportunity to learn more about this time period from the perspective of a woman and a child.




Writing like this one and art like this guided drawing lesson will also be included.  

Teaching about sensitive topics can be intimidating, but, thankfully, there are plenty of excellent books for young learners which we can use to help us.



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