Tuesday, January 22, 2013


This is a picture my 9th grade son drew on a large piece of butcher paper to show how the hydrosphere and geosphere are related. He had to attach tiny pieces of printed paper with labels that had descriptions about how each stream, pond, river, lake, cloud, delta, the ocean, mountain, hill, volcano, lava, magma, the core, the mantle, the lithosphere, etc...all have a relationship and describe how weathering and other forms of erosion affect each one. He also had to identify chemical and physical changes involved in each relationship and identify what inter and intramolecular make up each earth element had. Needless to say, his masterpiece was quite covered up with little scraps of relationship papers!

Funny, but remember the saying, "Everything I need to know....I learned in kindergarten"? Well, it turns out it is true! My students are learning about landforms and the relationship each has with the other. For instance, this week, they are learning about the three stages of water and what effect each stage has on the environment it is in based on temperature and other climate issues such as wind. 

Just showing them pictures and books never really seems to make these concepts stick, so I created a packet for them to work through in the next two weeks. 

I am selling it in my TpT store for $5. If you are interested, here is what it contains:

˚ Landform coloring poster
˚ Landform tracing words page
˚ Landform matching words page
˚ 11 interactive  coloring rebus landform fact pages
˚ 11 concept map pages (1 for each landform)
˚ 6 cut and paste matching words/write landform word pages
˚ 2 sets of matching pictures and landform word games
(Play 3 ways: match landform with correct word, match landform word to landform word, or match landform pictures to landform pictures)

If you would like to purchase it, click on the picture below.

If you are teaching the concept of landforms to your students, I would appreciate hearing about what you are doing!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Writing Ideas: Ways to Get Them to Be Excited About It!

Getting students to try to do their best with writing in kindergarten can be so difficult. I like to try varied ways to get them interested in the process. We integrate the Slingerland method of writing which helps children and adults that have certain language disabilities learn how to read, spell, and properly write. We do large arm writing for each letter in the air and progress to writing each letter on large 11 x 17 paper. The letter on the 11 X 17 paper is written in 3 "windows" (the paper is divided into three windows by folding it into thirds). The first window has the letter written in crayon by the teacher so that the student can feel the crayon as the student traces the letter. The student then writes the letter over the crayon with a pencil three times. The student then writes the same letter in the middle window and the same letter in the last window.

I then call students up to the board and let them draw the large letter on the whiteboard at the front of the classroom. (They love to do anything that the teacher usually does). 

We then progress to writing the letter on our Saxon phonics worksheets (small). However, I always have a number of students who can benefit from a more focused practice time with writing. How do you get students to practice writing who may struggle with dysgraphia (difficulty with writing) or just hate the writing process altogether? Try something new!!

I saw these single line write and wipe off boards at Lakeshore Learning. 

These are perfect because there are only three lines for the students to refer to....blue at the top, red at the bottom, and lined in the middle. I put them in a center and placed these letter lines with them. I explained that the students could use them when they finished their classwork to write, letter, their names, and words from around the room. Let me tell you, they were MOTIVATED!!! Click on the pictures above to see how you can order a set if you like. They are slightly cheaper when bought in sets of 10.

Another fun thing I introduced to make writing fun was these gel boards found at http://www.gelboard.com.

The pens have a magnetic tip and work best when you write LIGHTLY on the board. Over time, the board (with the squishy gel inside) does scratch. However, I have had mine for about 5 years now and they are still pretty good. The students love them. The white pen has a thinner tip than the red pen. The white pen has a hard plastic ball at the end that you can use to push the gel aside to "wipe" off your board. The red pen has a dry-eraser material that I do not care for as it comes off in tufts. You can actually just use your hand to push the gel aside. These boards come in lined or unlined. They also come in graph paper style and multiplication tables as well. The students love to write with these as well. At times, I hand these out to use as whole class informal assessments for them to write answers on and they hold them up so I can instantly see who gets a concept and who doesn't. Click on the picture above to see how you can order a set if you are interested in these.

Greg Smedley, one of my absolutely favorite blog writers also gives some great ideas for how to get kids excited about writing through the use of a ticket system for buying cool pens in his class. Click on his name to read the post about it. Click on his button above to follow all of his really great ideas. He really is a huge resource of great ideas for all elementary teachers.

Enjoy the ideas!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Incorporating Technology into Kindergarten & FREE LABELS

This year, I am participating in a program for teachers that incorporates technology into the classroom for a year. It is called MERIT. One of my more recent challenges has been to create a video about how I incorporate technology into the classroom. It isn't too difficult as the teacher to incorporate the technology. I have a tablet PC that has a pen tool with lots of cool software, a wireless LCD projector, a really amazing Hovercam T3 document camera, a couple of flip cameras, and now a Bamboo Wacom Tablet as well. 

The trick is, how do I have the students USE the technology? I am supposed to create a video about that. Today, I came up with a way for the students to do that!

I made a big deal about how the students were going to get to take turns being the teacher and get to use my computer and document camera. We have small guided readers for our Saxon Phonics that we use in small groups. We have already gone through them once in small groups. I decided the students would take turns helping the class to read the books using the camera with the LCD projector.

I allowed the student to sit in my chair (that was cool enough for them, they were over the moon!) and gave them a thin, translucent, colored pointer. They placed the book under the document camera, put the pointer on the word they wanted their class to read, and I pressed record to capture the moment.

I also gave my Android phone to another student who videotaped my assisting the "teacher". 

The students were told that those who participate well and make great choices during the lesson would be given a chance to be the teacher for another part of the book. I can tell you, it was the most they paid attention to a reading lesson that I can ever remember! They loved the experience so much, I think we will start making it a regular occurrence.

I plan to put the video from the document camera together with the video the other student took to show how I am teaching my students to incorporate technology in the kindergarten classroom to make learning a more engaging experience.

I would love some ideas, how do you incorporate technology into your classroom?

Also, today, just for fun, I created some free labels using the new numbers I designed using my Wacom tablet. You can have the labels for free! Here is a picture of how I am using mine.


Friday, January 11, 2013

No-Fail Trick for Getting Names on Papers

I have a confession: I really love Crayola products! Even though I really never need any MORE Crayola things for my classroom, every time I am in Target or Walgreens, I can not help myself from meandering down the supply aisle just to see what cool new thing they have. 
The Mini Expressions Stampers Markers are not new, but I have a new idea for how I am using them in my classroom and I would like to share it with you. Did you know they take away headaches?

Ok, not really. However, how many times have you told your students to write their names on their paper TODAY alone, only to pick up the stack for grading to find at least 3 children STILL missed the boat? In my case, every year, I have "the one" I can count on not to put their name on their paper and I can easily identify who it belongs to. However, when you have 3 to compare, the headache begins and I stand in front of my kindergarten class and try to convince them to tell me.

"Who colored their dot-to-dot ice cream with these really cool rainbow colors?"

My theory is, if I advertise the paper as if it is something EVERYONE wants, I MIGHT get the true owner to pay attention long enough to tell me it belongs to them. 

However, this ploy doesn't always work, and rather than heading for the ibuprofen, I toss the nameless paper into the recycle bin.

This week, I came up with a "haven't-failed-once-in-three-days" trick! I told the students on Monday that if they put their name on their paper, they get to put a small happy face next to it (like I do when they do a great job on their paper)! They were so excited, they even started to do it next to their names on their homework sheets. 

Now, I upped the excitement by putting a small can with a few Crayola stampers at each table. After each student writes their name, they get to choose their own stamp to put at the end of their name. I like this option better because the size of the mark is controlled (unlike some of their rather large happy faces they drew) and the element of color and different designs really get the kids excited about doing this.

Do you have any great ideas for getting students to remember to put their names on their paper? I'd love to hear from you!


If you can not find the Crayola stampers, you can order them from Lakeshore Learning HERE

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Colored Heart Numbers 0-9 Graphics

This is my newest graphic creation. I am selling them in my TpT store for $2. I created them in Autodesk Sketchbook on a Wacom Bamboo Capture tablet. 

To create these numbers, I set my canvas size at 4x6 for each number. Using the pencil tool, I hand drew each number. I then used the felt tip tool to create one small circle. I selected the circle and copied and pasted it to the work surface. I then copied and pasted the small circles all around the number so that as I did, the circle would be segmented in half by my original pencil drawing. I then chose two colors and painted every other side of the circles, alternating the two colors. Then, I used the blur tool and dragged it from one end of the number to the other, stretching the colored circles into feathered hearts. Finally, I used the sharpen tool and went over the entire number to make it look clear. These numbers are not perfectly sharp in their detail as a result, but I liked the feathered look of the hearts, so I left it this way. I then saved the picture and uploaded it into the free online image manipulating program called Gimp to add a transparency channel layer to take away the big white box I created the number in. These numbers can be sized and rotated in any way you like.

If you download these number graphics and use them in a creation, please give credit to me as the creator:
Created by Christina Aronen 2013  http://seabearskindergarten.blogspot.com

I have no training in creating graphics and have been enjoying learning how to do this simply by trial and error. If you have any great tips for creating your own graphics, I would LOVE to hear from you!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Heart Graphic Freebie

I was blessed by many generous parents in my classroom at Christmas this year. One parent gave me a gift card to Amazon.com. I was so excited because I have been spending some time looking at Wacom drawing tablets. I purchased the Bamboo Capture. It comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements, Autodesk Sketchbook, and Express and Nik Color Efex Pro. 

I had been trying out the free online image manipulator called Gimp by just using Microsoft Publisher shapes and my touch pad. This tablet has been so fun to try to work with!  

Here is the first graphic I created on it. I am enjoying learning how to work with the varieties of mediums available. I would like to share the graphic with you. If you download it, you may use it on any personal or commercial product. You can even add text over it. If you do download it, please give credit to me as the creator: Created by Christina Aronen 2013 http://seabearskindergarten.blogspot.com. The graphic does not include the purple background I put it on. It is a transparent graphic and can be sized and rotated as you like.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about my newly created multi-colored Numbers 0-9 Feathered Heart Graphics!


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