Sunday, June 10, 2012

In Pictures and In Words

Time flies when you are busy, and I can't think of a busier time than the last 2 weeks of school.  I also decided to teach a master's class at OSU during those last 2 weeks.  Needless to say, I have been too busy to blog.  I did want to share my students' culminating art project where they painted a mural to hang around our room to finish our Ocean Inquiry Nonfiction Study.   The class decided to turn our classroom into the "Ocean Express" since we did a train inquiry project last December and ended it with the Polar Express.   I had such a creative class this year and the Ocean Express was their idea.

We brainstormed what should be in our room, and as always, I used it as an opportunity to make a list.  The students then divided the area of the rooms into parts and wrote their ideas on post-it-notes.  They put their post-it-notes under the titles of "Island" "Ocean" "Submarine" and "Sound Effects."  They chose great categories.  Instead of the normal end of the year activities, we stayed busy up until the last day of school building our Ocean Express.  I put butcher paper up on our fences outside, so the painting would be less messy.  So all 25 children had a paintbrush and paints and we created our artwork for the room.  Since it was a hot day, it dried very quickly.  The wind did interfere just a bit, but then we learned a little science lesson about how to secure our murals and protect them from the wind.  I am sure it was quite comical from afar to watch as I got tangled up in the whole painted mess, but we quickly problem-solved that situation:)

Here are the pictures of the perimeter of my classroom.  We moved the chairs and tables to the sides and created a wide area.  We brought beach towels, our favorite books, and just enjoyed our relaxing ocean.  If you haven't seen the Disney Ocean movie, it is an amazing nonfiction movie with great ocean sound effects.  We watched about 15 minutes a day over a period of 2 weeks while we had a snack.  All in all it was a wonderful inquiry unit of study, and I am looking forward to implementing more of this type of study in my class next year.  And when the school bell rang and my darling little 1st graders left my room for the summer, I found it hard to take down all of their artwork off our walls.  It was truly a collaborative project that spanned over 6 weeks of time where we learned so much about each other's learning styles, preferences, and interests and the ocean.  It was a calming end of the year activity where learning continued and authentic children's work appeared everywhere.  

Nonfiction Research Project with Student Generated Facts 
"In Pictures and in Words" - My favorite book - Keep reading below.

Our Island
More of our Island - Working Collaboratively 

Working together sharing time, space, and materials.  Isn't that the early childhood way?

More "In Pictures and In Words"  See below for a book study.

The students chose a submarine to paint for our classroom to take a pretend ride on just like they did for the Polar Express.  6 boys painted side by side to accomplish this task.  I love the details.  Can I say book study again? LOL!  Keep reading . . . 

We needed 2 submarines to go along our wall.  Plus painting a submarine is a lot of fun.  The girls joined in to help finish this one.  
My 2011-2012 first graders taught me so much about creativity and learning this year.  However, it did start by reading the book "In Pictures and In Words" by Katie Wood Ray during the 2010-2011 school year.  Here is what the book looks like:
Click HERE to find the book on Amazon.
There are several amazing Kindergarten bloggers that are doing a book study starting in a couple of weeks over this book.  I highly recommend it.  In fact, I believe it is a crucial "must read" in today's educational climate when play and creativity are being pushed aside for "more rigorous academics."  Can you imagine an Eric Carle book without pictures and color? This book empowered me to see the value in children's drawings and learn how to take those drawings to help all children became writers.

So check out Deanna Jump's blog (yes the famous one:) for a timeline of the book study along with the other amazing bloggers who will be leading it.  I plan on posting some of the pieces of my students' writing samples and what I learned from their drawings as I poured over them the last 1 1/2 years.  I look forward to learning more from this collaborative group.

Here is the list of other teachers hosting the book study:

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten
Kathleen at Growing Kinders
Primary Graffiti
Kindergals - Kim Adsit and her daughter Megan

What else do I have planned for this summer?
*RELAX for a few weeks
*Present at the Las Vegas DI (Differentiating Instruction) Conference July 10 & 11
*Present at the Midwest DI (Differentiating Instruction) Conference in Chicago July 24
*Present at the I Teach 1st Conference in Chicago on July 25
*Present at Frogstreet Summer Splash in Dallas, Texas on July 14
*Present at the OECTA Summer Conference Workshop in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, July 21st.
*Make new materials for Teachers Pay Teachers to complement Growing Dendrites with Kathy Griffin - and a few new surprises.
*LOVE, ENJOY, and SPEND QUALITY TIME with my new grandson (almost 8 months old!)
*Plan my daughter's beautiful wedding that will take place on September 15th.
*Celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary in July!
*And last but not least, clean my office:)

Posts to watch for this summer:
*More examples of anchor charts
*More math (yes I am venturing over to that area too!)
*More Common Core Nonfiction ideas and plans of study
*More organizational tips on how to organize all of my games for differentiating literacy centers and guided reading.
*More technology, Smart Board, iPads, and application to our classrooms.
*More strategies for keep our young students involved and engaged during your group time.
*More posts about empowering YOU to be proactive in your management program.  It's the little things that make a BIG impact on creating a positive, respectful, and engaging learning environment.
*And of course - more singing and movement ideas to get your students ready to learn.

Most importantly - I would love to hear from you!  What are you looking for this summer to get you motivated and ready for your classroom.  There is nothing better than teachers collaborating with each other to solve problems and find solutions.

My favorite song to get me going:  Firework (Glee version).  I listen to it all the time.  Remember, you are a FIREWORK in your classroom and for your profession.

Don't forget to click on the follow me button so you will not miss all of the excitement!

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  Have a happy, safe, relaxing, and amazing summer!


  1. Hi Kathy,

    What a wonderful way to end the year . . . great memories for the kids and so child centered, too. I am adding In Pictures and In Words to my summer reading list. I'm excited about it, because I incorporate a lot of art and actually teach art to our first graders during a rotation group. Your ideas are helpful and MOTIVATING! It's sounds like you have a busy summer! Enjoy!

    First Grade Schoolhouse

  2. Wow! Sounds like you have a very busy summer ahead! I've heard a lot of buzz about the book In Pictures and In Words. I will have to put that on my summer reading list. I really enjoy your blog! Thanks for sharing!

  3. You have a jam-packed summer my bloggy friend. However, it most of it seems pretty fun (well . . . all except that office cleaning bit). I will be in Vegas at the meet up and will look you up. I am excited to say hello in person!!

    Kelley Dolling
    Teacher Idea Factory

    1. Yes, it is jam-packed. I was called out this week to do a 3 day - 3 state - Smart Board Training. So the office did not get cleaned yet:( I still have about 6 weeks left to do it:) Thanks for stopping by and YAY I will see you in Vegas. It is going to be so much fun! I look forward to meeting you too.