Field Trip to Red Butte Gardens

We had a fun field trip on Thursday to a garden North of Salt Lake City Center up by University of Utah. Red Butte is so beautiful this time of year with all the flowers blooming. And the grass was so green due to all of this rain we’ve been having.

Many look-out points, swings, and a duck pond too….

We keep making jokes that is seems like we are living in Seattle or something!

There is a creek running through the gardens…boy was it high Thursday!

The kids loved seeing insects, small animals and birds as well as smelling the fragrance and herb gardens and learning about the medicinal gardens. Kids don’t know how we make medicines so that was very intriguing to them.

The kids loved smelling the leaves of the herb gardens

Melissa was our cool docent for the day…

We had a great time on the busride too. Then we stopped and had a picnic on the way home at Liberty Park. We were sure glad it didn’t rain on our parade.  It was a very fun day. 

This Devastating Week

 It seems like every time I read the paper the news is more and more devastating. The natural disasters we’ve had this year are awful and incredible.  From earthquakes (see a previous post) to tsunamis, and now tornadoes it seems like the end of days with all the bad news I read in the paper every day.

This past week we had terrible tornadoes in Missouri. The pictures are very sobering. I think about how hard that would be to lose your home and all your possessions, maybe even a family member. One woman I read about had several children and they didn’t have much warning of the impending tornado. So she grabbed them all and ran to lay down in the bathtub. Her toddler was torn from her arms as the tornado ripped off her roof and covered her and her kids in debris.

 Now how would you ever hope to recover or even to deal with something that awful? I don’t know if I could.  As a mother, I would probably be in a strait jacket.

Then I open the newspaper and there has been another suicide bomber in Pakistan. The Arab/Israel problems and battles and bombings are escalating.  I don’t see an end to this fighting in the middle East ever again at this point.

There are several big news trials about young girls killing their little babies; one supposedly suffocating her own child with duct tape over her mouth and nose, the other putting her child in a microwave. How could girls become this bad?
And finally all the high profile husbands that have seriously betrayed their highly admired wives. Some of the hurt and pain they cause their families’ is unbelievable. I try to imagine that kind of betrayal and the pain it would cause me. And I think again to myself. “I would not recover from that pain. I would turn inward and start to crumble apart.” You’d find me huddled in a corner weeping.


 And I think to myself; what in the world is happening to us as a people? . Why are we all being so evil? And are we being punished with all this natural disaster?

Last week there was an old, 89 year old civil engineer named Camping who decided that the end of the world was coming. The headlines said “For some, it’s Judgment Day. For others, it’s Party Time.” To me that is good versus evil in a little microcosm.

A loosely organized Christian movement had spread the word around the globe that Jesus Christ will return to earth on Saturday to gather the faithful into heaven. I wasn’t really focused on this story  until my husband read about a guy who decided to milk the opportunity to take advantage of  people who were believers.

The paper tells of “Bart Centre, an atheist from New Hampshire, who started a get rich quick business called “Eternal Earth-bound Pets”. He offers Rapture believers an insurance policy for those furry pets that won’t join them in heaven: 10-year pet care contracts, with Centre and his network of fellow non-believers taking responsibility for the animals after the Rapture. The fee — payable in advance, of course, is $135 since Camping’s prediction”.  How bad is that? Well it got worse..                              

A Facebook page opened up entitled “Post Rapture Looting” offers the party invitation: “When everyone is gone and god’s not looking, we need to pick up some sweet stereo equipment and maybe some new furniture for the mansion we’re going to squat in.” By Wednesday afternoon, more than 175,000 people indicated they would be “attending” the “public event.

Then the supreme court ruled this week that the inhumane overcrowding in California prisons means they need to let one third of the prison inmates back out onto the public. The conditions are so poor that inmates are getting sick and dying. I’m horrified by that as well. Now we have so many bad guys that we can’t contain them all anymore.

 Is it that I’m just so disappointed in the human race? The answer to that is yes. And am I getting more afraid the end of the world really must be close? Yes again. Even so, there are still good people in our world that don’t disappoint.

 Last week Elizabeth Smart faced her abductor in court during final sentencing. She quietly spoke her mind to him, with great grace and poise as he closed his eyes and infuriatingly sang hymns to block out the sound of her voice. I would have wanted to personally dive across that courtroom and scratch his eyes out.           

But Elizabeth talked about the beautiful life that is before her, and that she knows in this life or in the next he will be held accountable for his actions. She showed not only her faith in God and in an afterlife, but her unimaginable sweetness. It came across when she said something that really stunned and stayed with me; “One of the biggest ways to overcome … to heal from any kind of experience is by helping those around you…. because by lifting others you lift yourself”.

 I could not believe what I was hearing. I was so impressed by her as a human being. She counteracts so much of the selfish evil in our world that I have been seeing lately. She’s just one small but resolute voice.

 “I don’t deny that was a part of my life. It certainly has brought me to where I am today. Without it I don’t think I would be here. But I have also seen how many doors have opened to me and how many opportunities have come … How much potential I have to make a difference in the world.”

 So she started a foundation. She has a focus called RAD KIDS. She wants to help kids to be safe by training them what to do in dangerous situations.

We have RAD KIDS at our school.  My class was trained last year. It is an empowering program to teach kids to fight off strangers or any kind of aggression. “Nobody has the right to hurt you” is one of the mantras. The foundation she started has a goal to bring RAD KIDS training to every elementary school in the country.
The other thing that happened this week was Oprah closing her show. She is just another example of how one faithful and directed  voice can change the world.  (See my last post)  I have her high on a pedestal. These 2 fine examples of humanity counteract the evil I’ve seen this week. It’s the power of one in great and graceful display.  Evil versus good. We turn to look because the bright light of goodness draws us in.

It may be getting closer to the end of the world.  All these examples are telling me it is so. And it’s getting harder to live in this world, but I can still see the light and the good. And the stark black of evil and the pure white of goodness  around us, makes it clearer which path to follow.

Making Koolaid Play Dough

Making Play Dough Today!


Kool-Aid Play Dough is colorful, sweet smelling, and lots of fun to play with for end of the year fun! 

Here is a fun recipe for play dough I’m going to use in my class  for a class reading party. I’m making blueberry and cherry and lime  with the Koolaid  flavors I like!  It’s so delicious smelling that you almost want to eat it!  Well you actually could eat it….but don’t……just play with it…’s pretty cool…..

Mix together:                                  

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup salt

2 pkg kool-aid (unsweetened)                           

2 tablespoons cream of tarter


2 cups boiling water

3 tablespoons oil

Mix 3-4 minutes or until cool. Then knead and store in an airtight container in refrigerator.


I think my class kids will love this for the last week of school and I KNOW my grandkids will love it TOO!

STAR “AR” Words and Popcorn “OR” Words

Here’s a close up of our “Star” Words on straws……

My kids have been having trouble distinguishing between “or” and “ar” sounds in their writing and mixing them up. I’ve done all the reminding, rewriting the correct spellings on their sloppy copies during writing workshop AND giving or and ar words on spelling lists. But that hasn’t done the trick!  Now I’m taking another approach.  I’m using a couple of ART PROJECTS to teach  phonics and help us remember how to write AR and OR sounding words!

So this week we did 2 fun activities. First we made a brainstorm list on the board of all the “ar” words we could think of. They had to be words where we distinctly heard the R say it’s own name.  We came up with over 45 words! Then I gave the kids each a “star” cutout and had them choose as many words to write on both sides as they had time in about 6 minutes. They wrote words  on their star using both sides. Then we taped a straw on one side. And then came the fun part.

It was a great idea…and a very motivating and challenging game…..good way to differentiate too!

They all tried to stump me with “carpenter” and “pharmacy” hehe…I played too!

We walked around the room with our stars and found partners. I read you a word off of MY list, and you have to try and spell that word. Then you ask me a word (looking at your star) from YOUR list and I have to try and spell that word.  We help each other if we get a letter wrong. Then we move around to find a new partner.  It was a lot of fun playing the spell a star word game. 

Wow they are really proud of their stars aren’t they? hehe

Next we had to do something for OR words. I  had seen a creative idea from a blogger who had used Let’s Get Poppin’  a cute unit by Babbling Abby  Link HERE.   So we made some popcorn tubs and had a contest to see who could come up with the most “OR” words. The contest was a GREAT MOTIVATOR!

Popcorn is popping in Room 6!

This was a fun  phonics/spelling activity using the OR chunk. I gave the kids 4 minutes to come up with as many words as they could think of. Then I called on each child with more than 10 words to call out and I added the words to the board. Andrew had the most with 16.  Great Job! 

Lots of “bossy E” ore words
Some were just cvc pattern words
Kids will do better spelling “OR” words from now on….fingers crossed!

Then we wrote them all on popcorn shaped papers I had cut out the day before and made a cute popcorn bucket that looks like it came from a movie theatre.  It is a red rectangle with yellow stripes. I typed up the “popcorn Words” and they glued it on the fronts of their buckets.

Now all we need is some a good movie and some butter for our popcorn!

Summer is Coming!

I am getting excited for summertime! I bought these summer sticker sheets at Oriental Trading last fall to use at the end of the year. They make a cute art project for kids to just do their own thing. 

Matt’s poem and art…

The link for the sticker scenes of summer Beach Scene is Here at Oriental Trading. I gave a sticker sheet to each student. Then I gave them 81/2 x 11 blue construction paper. I cut newsprint in half using a scalloped edge to resemble waves on one side, a hilly beach on the other side. Then I had kids glue the “beach sand” paper onto the middle of the blue construction paper. The other stickers are HERE.                                      design-your-own-a-day-at-the-beach-sticker-scenes                      Make-A-Beach Sticker Scenes

Then I asked them to color the water a darker blue on the bottom half.  Then we added white, puffy clouds and black birds to the sky on the top half. Most of the sticker scenes had a nice, bright sun to stick in the sky. 

Peter’s poem and art…
Beach scenes…

Then they just decorated. The sheets had shells, umbrellas and beach balls, kids swimming, dogs, turtles and birds.  It turned out really fun and quick for an art project. 

For Writer’s Workshop then we started a Summer Acrostic Poem.  I have done one for each of the 4 seasons. So this wraps up our whole acrostic poetry unit.

Nova’s poem and art…


Saige’s poem and art…

 We always do a brainstorm on the board of all the words we can think of for the letters of SUMMER and write them out on the whiteboard. Then the kids choose their favorite to start a sentence with. We do it on sloppy copy paper first, then I edit mistakes in spelling and punctuation. Then I handed them cute beach paper and they rewrote the poems.

Kate’s poem and art…

While we were working we sang to one of our Summer songs of the Seasons.   It’s called “Down at the Beach.  A link is HERE at Music K8. It’s a site for kids to download music kind of like ITunes.

Allie’s poem and art..
Andrew’s art and poem…

Here are our finished products. They remind me of hanging out on Hermosa or  Redondo Beach in Southern California all those summers of my teenage years. I can’t believe how many times we burnt ourselves to a crisp with baby oil!  What were we thinking? Those were fun time….Down at the BEACH!

Surf’s UP!

The Little Red Hen

I CANNOT believe that school is out in less than 3 weeks now! I’m sad and excited at the same time! I guess it could also be that I feel like I”m living in Seattle, Washington with ALL THIS RAIN! I cannot believe it even snowed this week! It’s almost the end of May for heck’s sake!

Check out those skinny “straw” legs!

Anyway, I”m on a reader’s theater kick. We did Jack and the Beanstalk last week LINK HERE and this week we are doing The Little Red Hen.  I found a cute script for it online at HERE at Joanne’s wikispace. and then I found some puppets for the story and made copies and blew them up for each student to do a set of 4.

 Afterwards I realized the animals don’t match to the reader’s theater. So I just used a white out pen and changed out the characters of the  pig and duck  to the mouse and cat throughout the story on my copy of the reader’s theater.  Then I made copies for all the kids to read it too. They LOVED reading and acting out the parts. I gave each table a character to read chorally.

Some other readers theaters can be found at the Grandview Library. Some of them are illustrated. The link is HERE for Reader’s Theaters.

I had some big, white stickers we used for eyes…the kids added black dots inside…and I had cute “chick”
illustrated paper for them to write on and color for their final copy. We went through the whole writing process. 

They made puppets by coloring them and cutting them out. Then we taped popsicle sticks to the backs. While they were doing their puppets I read them a VERSION of the little red hen in rhyme. It is called The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza)  It is a funny story where she is actually making a pizza and all the animals are doing funny things like listening to boom boxes and laying out by the pool on a chaise lounge.  We will compare and contrast the stories when we are done with both the reader’s theater version and the book version. I had no idea there were so many out there!!

Venn Diagram of the 2 Stories of Little Red Hen
Andrew, Trace and Vera…painting party….

My kids are really good at using expression and getting into doing character voices. It’s such a cute story. And as we were getting into the readers theater  I thought about how fun it would have been to bring in some homemade bread dough and have the cafeteria ladies bake it for us! Super FUN! (too bad I didn’t think of it sooner! duh!)

Then after sloppy copies, editing, they wrote their final copies and colored illustrated paper. 

This story reminds us all to jump into things and be assertive, even when others around us are not helpful.  We can be independent thinkers, movers, shakers, just like the RED HEN!  I think we will do this for next week’s art and drama rotation!I think the other first graders will love it too.

Then we painted LITTLE RED HENS!  Here’s Emma and Addie painting their hens….
We painted paper plates red and added white sticker eyes, a yellow beak, wings and a feather on top. The legs are drinking straws and we added little hen feet to the bendy part of the straws. They turned out ridiculous looking but funny. pick a peck a….cheep cheep cheep! 
Peter’s funny Red Hen story… Lots of kids had dialogue with quotation marks….yeah
that is not my favorite thing to have to edit….snicker….

Instead of doing a retell I gave the kids this assignment; REWRITE the Little Red Hen in some way. Change the food she was making, make one of the characters come and help her, or finish the story in a little different way. We had the hen making spagetti, cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies and meatball pizza. These stories are going to be hilarious. Much more fun than a simple retell…

Wacky Red Hen bulletin board….with our funny stories….I LOVED them ALL! 

Next  we’ll do the Stinky Cheese Man!   It’s actually my favorite. The story….not stinky cheese…hehe

The Bear Lake Classic Bike Race

This weekend John had his favorite bike race up in Garden City; The Bear Lake Classic! It is a 51 mile bike race around Bear Lake up near Logan Utah.  I love to go with him since we bought our cabin up there 2 years ago because I get to hang out on the deck and watch the bikers come down near our house as the finish line is about a 1/2 mile away. 

Johnny is #925 in the Bike Race

Last year John was on the Cafe Rio Team. This year he decided to be a loner, I guess. Here he is just before we parked the truck to go get his number for the race.  He had to play Dire Straits on the CD player before he got out of the car. “Mood Music” Or maybe just “getting pumped up music”. It was pretty cute. I’ve never been an athlete so I don’t get that part I guess. I was just an interested bystander.

He’s making fun of me cuz I don’t know how to work a video camera. :O The next video they are about the 9th group to go out. There must have been 250 bikers in the whole race. I even saw kids in the race.

 Johnny has #925 on his back…

He finished the race in about 2 3/4 hours. He did better than last year. I stayed in the cabin and watched a movie and read some magazines. Then when he came back he took a hot bath and we ate lunch. Then we had to get down to Heber for my good friend Heidi’s wedding reception. We passed through the thriving metropolis of Randolph, Utah. Look at this “Smallest Store in Utah” pic I took. So funny!

It is crazy! This tiny store looks like a Tuff Shed!

We passed by some sheep, cows and antelope. I tried to snap pictures while we were going 60 mph. That doesn’t work too well as it turns out!

Where the deer and the antelope play?

I’m thinking the antelope didn’t like John’s choice of Leonard Skinnerd on the CD player? They skeedaddled!

 We have not so fond memories of Randolph, Utah.  John got a ticket last summer when our boat died in the middle of Bear Lake and the rangers towed us in. Did you know you needed oars and a whistle on a boat? Oh yes, AND a fire extinguisher? Yeah we didn’t either. We got a ticket! That was nice of those rangers.  So you can’t just pay the ticket. You HAVE to go appear before the judge! So I had a Monday furlough day off the day John had to appear so I went along to watch the fun.

The tiny Randolph, Utah courthouse (Kangaroo court)

 Jeez you wouldn’t believe it unless you’d been there. It was like that show Night Court! The judge had cowboy boots and a flannel shirt on! I said kinda loudly “THAT’S the judge?” and John elbowed me in the ribs. hehe  But they had bailiffs, a bouncer cop, lawyers for the county, clerk of the court, the whole 9 yards. Then they read every little offense you made in front of like 50 kids sitting in this miniscule courtroom that had all been busted for drinking (underage) on the beach It was crazy! Then dramatically, the judge says that all these offenses (including no insurance on the boat, who knew you needed insurance? NOT us obviously) they all added up to $400 bucks fine. WTH! 

We stopped here the day of the ticket and inquired about getting a giant teepee for our grandkids at this fun little shop!

John in his good natured way told the story of he and I packing a nice picnic and then getting stranded in the middle of Bear Lake on our boat. And finally calling a ranger and giving him our GPS address, he  towed us in and gave us a  ticket. So everybody laughed in the whole courtroom! Even the judge was caught laughing. 

This giftshop in Randolph seriously is a 12 x 12 building with a gazillion gifts of every type inside!

John was sitting next to a guy in a blue jumpsuit who was handcuffed.  He almost asked him, “what crime did you commit?” It is only funny now. At the time it was very quiet and serious in the courtroom. Anyway, the judge read off that John had purchased insurance that very morning, like an hour before we met in court, he read off the exact time and just looked at him. I felt pretty sorry for him at that moment. I slid a little lower in my seat at the back. He saw from the fax our insurance agent had sent to the courthouse!

We saw lots of deer as we drove down Highway 80

 That started another loud guffaw of laughter in the courtroom. By then all the clerks and cops were laughing too It was kind of a slap in the face to the “system”. I was wondering if this was daily fare for the court people. But the judge started chuckling too after John just smiled and admitted it all. Then the judge gave John some fierce advice about oars and whistles and he knocked the charge down to a $100 fine. It was a total embarrasment to us as we both slinked out of that courtroom. The strong arm of the law and all that.

Windmills for sale along the road…

Anyway we were on our way through all these small towns and it started really raining hard with lightening and thunder. We were almost to Evanston and I saw this cute little windmill advertising in a little old farmer’s yard. There were big windmills and cute tiny ones.  I’d like to get one of those for my cabin…very cute!

We stopped for a snack at McDonalds and returned our Redbox movie too. Did you know you could return Red box movies even interstate? We rented it in Utah and returned it in Wyoming!

Everything is so green too! Spring has finally sprung!
I noticed all the rivers were right up to the edge! EEK, floodin’ may be a’comin

We went past Echo Reservoir and I remembered having our whole family together there the first time we took out our jet skiis. All the boys could get up on the older ones where you have to get to your knees first and then try to stand. Those were fun times. Good memories.

Echo Reservoir…a fun place to go boating in the summer!

We finally got to Park City and turned off to go through to the small valley of Heber, Utah.

Beautiful green Heber…It’s one of my most favorite towns!


Snapped this pic out the car window…so green and pretty!

 I wrapped up a pretty wrought iron and glass beverage dispenser and we went to the reception. It was in this million dollar vacation home in Heber. It had the most beautiful view which I forgot to take a picture of. We met up with lots of friends and had a great time. The bride and groom looked so happy together.

Cute Couple!

They had little crabcake appetizers with corn salsa in little clam shells…mmmm yummy!

Eric Olson and Layne Halverson kept us in stitches telling stories (both are business owners) of finding skunks, racoons, and bats in other people’s homes and how they went about getting rid of them, or working with them. Too funny!

Yummy salads and salmon and grilled meats…so delish!
We really laughed at the racoon and gopher stories…the guys were so funny!

Heidi and Alex…Congrats you guys!

  All in all it was a very fun weekend spent doing stuff we love with good friends and yummy food. Life is good.

Farm Stories (Plants, Seeds, Gardening)

Kids this age love farm animals so much. We went to the zoo for a field trip last year and the kids talked about the animals for weeks afterwards.  We are starting a unit on plants and seeds so talking about farms and farmers  is one way to introduce the topic.  So we sing  “THE FARMER IN THE DELL!”

I have a Farmer in the Dell game I bring out for the kids once  a year where they become the characters in the song. It’s a stuffed version of the I bought at a teacher convention that has the farmer, the wife, the child, the nurse, the dog, etc. And the kids hold them as they go around the inside of a giant circle during P.E. and pick their friends to walk around in the circle with them. My class is so small though that everybody is in the circle just about, by song’s end!

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert  is such a terrific book. I LOVE the artwork in it. It’s an interesting and quick read about what grows in this garden. It’s filled with super colorful illustrations of many different kinds of flowers and how they grow from different kinds of seeds.  It is a perfect springboard to a study of plants and seeds. We always plant something in small, clear cups so the students can see the roots growing out of the seeds.  It’s a cool process to watch. We also have grow lights, so that makes things grow even faster and healthier. They were a gift to our school from the Red Butte Garden’s outreach program in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Very nice of them if you ask me!


We finished our flower garden mural showing parts of a flower plant….


Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert is a great book for going through the process of planting vegetables from seeds to veggies, to making soup! I bought some seed packets for many different veggies and flowers and I’ll let the kids choose. After we fill their clear cups with potting soil, and they pick their seeds, we water them and label them with popsicle sticks. so they remember what they are growing 😀  kids LOVE to  have their choice of seeds to plant and LOVE even more seeing what happens over the weeks of growing.

 There are so many jobs on a farm to do.  As a city kid, I was fascinated going to visit my Uncle Merle’s  farm in Iowa and seeing the silo, the automated grain feeders and how they grow popcorn. City kids love farms!
Alphabet Soup Rap (snap or clap)
Reader 1 : A-B- CDE, Down on the farm is where I want to be!
Reader 2: F-G- HIJ, Milking the cows and bringing in the hay!
Reader 3 : K-L- MNO, Where trees and plants from seedlings grow!
Reader 4: P-Q- RST, Riding a horse across fields so free!
Reader 5: U-V- WXY, But it’s time to leave and say good-bye!
All: Z-Z- ZZZ,  Down at the farm is where we want to be! Ye Ha!

Copy and glue this on the back of the farm scene for a shared reading/singing activity.

Pop up books we made before Spring Break

Naughty little Peter Rabbit, running through the vegetable garden….

ROOT VIEWER – Kids love to watch the roots growing…

We finished making Peter Rabbit story pop up books before Easter break. They depict Mr. McGreggor’s Garden.  They always turn out super cute. So this is a perfect time to introduce the plant and seed unit we do in our K-2 core.  I have a Root Viewer set so kids can see 3 different veggies growing inside.
A few years ago I won my root viewer from a teacher science workshop. It is a really fun addition to my plant and seed unit.  It shows the roots growing in the long, clear tubes and kids like that. Then we all planted our own plants in recycled soup and vegetable cans and we covered them with cute scrapbook paper.

AUTHOR STUDY: I love the author Joy Cowley because her books always have a surprise ending. Mrs. Wishy Washy is a big book by Joy Cowley most of my students got last year in Kindergarten. So I tell them that the fun author has written lots of other stories like The Rusty, Trusty Tractor we will be reading. They all love Mr. and Mrs. Wishy Washy.  I wonder if we wrote a class letter to Joy Cowley if we would get a response back? Hmmm….. LOIS ELHERT is another great author we will study her 2 books above in our plant and seeds unit.  She does quite a few good science books that are excellent for introducing the topic.

Copy off and have kids cut out a construction paper red barn from clip art. Glue some yellow crinkled, shreded paper onto the front of the barn like hay falling out of a window. Then choose blue or yellow background paper. Color and have the kids choose which animals to glue around their”Farmer in the Dimple Dell” barn collage. We will take pictures in cowboy hats and bandanas around our necks and use them as our farmer selves on a green, John Deere tractor, (or in our case “Vera Deere”, or ” Matt Deere” tractors of course!! The wheels we had help cutting out with fancy scissors and then a brad in each yellow circle “just for the hubcap look”.  I just used PHOTOBOOTH on my school laptop to take instant pictures of all the kids in hats and then printed them directly into the computer lab color computer. Super easy! But they are not super clear. They look like a cross between black and white and color, but they will do in a pinch. I found the farm animals and the barn and the writing paper in one of the Scholastic Monthly Idea Books.

Andrew’s farm
Nova and Allie’s farms

Close up of the cute art project.

A fun FARM wordsearch can be downloaded HERE at

Nova’s art and multiplication array…

did you notice who is sitting in the tractor? All the kids in my class!

  A Fun Math activity designing a garden for Frog and Toad for their 24 plants can be found HERE . It is a math “problem solving” that is challenging and fun. I will give the kids icons of plants to color and choose the amounts to use to make a “GARDEN ARRAY” and multiply the rows and columns.  The book is called Frog and Toad Together. The chapter is called The Garden. This will go great on the back of the farm art project. We’ll just call them “Farmer John Dear”. hehe. Then we will graph how many of each plant we planted in our garden. It was easy for my first graders.


After we did our arrays last week we graphed our vegetable gardens this week!

Trace’s farm  4 x 3 = 12
Addie’s farm…the kids chose the veggies, and the amounts to make their arrays…
Vera’s Farm…… 3 x 4 = 12

Peter’s Farm… 3 x 3 = 9

Kate’s Farm and her math array… 2 x 4 = 8

For our writing workshop to go along with our farm and planting week, we are going to become farmers.  The cute writing paper I found is called “A Day on the Farm”. The kids’ assignment was:  Make up an animal character, his friends, the problem, and a solution. We divided our sloppy copy paper into 4ths and on one corner wrote the problem, on another corner the solution, another corner the 2 character names and who they are, and the 4th corner was the setting. Was it in the field? Or was it in the Barn? Or was it in the farmer’s house?
Then I modeled a story on the board about a farmer whose pig runs away. The kids all had their own ideas as we talked about possible farm problems.

Here’s Peter’s story…the rooster stopped crowing! Oh No!

Here’s Andrew’s story…the cow stopped giving milk! How Awful!

And Matt’s story is about the tractor hitting the barn! Bonk!

This tractor really did hit the barn!  (photos of us in cowboy hats) on the tractors!

Well, now that Spring has finally arrived in Utah, maybe I can actually get my own garden planted!
I better get on that real soon.  I’m kind of excited to grow some stuff after doing all this planting and
“farming” in my classroom. : D

Plants and Seeds and JACK AND THE BEANSTALK!

Reader’s Theatre
We had a lot of fun this week doing a Reader’s Theatre of Jack and the Beanstalk to go along with our plant unit. I found some puppets for each of the 3 pages of text using these coloring book pages found at HERE at Sparkle Boxes.   Then we divide up the parts and have readers use their most expressive voices. This is the way I did it this year.

 Another way I’ve done it some years is to have each child bring in an empty cereal box. Then I cut out a square out of one side of the box after school (to use as a puppet theatre stage). Then we put the characters on Popsicle sticks upside down. Students paint black poster paint on their cereal boxes or cover them with paper (or spray paint them with a can of black paint after school). As the readers theater is read the kids can act out the parts on their own individual puppet theater stages on their desks. It’s a lot of fun. (but a lot of work too!) A picture and link to how to make a puppet theater out of a cereal box is HERE at Toddler Crafts. Or another cute one that shows how to do the puppet on a stick is HERE at Flipflops and Applesauce. I can’t find my sample or I’d snap a pic of it. Another cool tutorial is
this website HERE       

 I blow up the characters large for a class puppet for some kids to act out the parts too. The link for character masks is HERE at Sparkle Box. You will need a color printer for the masks. I just put them on poster board and taped them to rulers to keep them sturdy. The kids LOVE doing these mini reader’s theatres. A link for a cute but long 4 page readers theatre is HERE from the Grandview Library.

There is also a crossword puzzle of Jack and the Beanstalk at this link from ABC teach.  It was a fun activity for my kids to do after reading the story and acting out the reader’s theater. My students loved this activity and didn’t even need the word bank. 

 On Monday when we plant our seeds we will watch the time elapsed seeds growing into plants on one of the utube videos below. Then we are planting our seeds in recycled soup cans. You can use washed out soup cans from home, some washed out pint size milk cartons covered in paper, or make a terrarium out of liter or 2 liter bottles cut in half similar to the example picture below. I just use the spout for air hole and I cut out about 3 inches of the middle section of the bottle.

TERRARIUMS (using empty 2 liter bottles)

A really fun activity to teach seeds and plants is to make individual terrariums. A good step by step how to is found at this link to Teaching Tiny Tots HERE. I love how she used ivy. I’d like to use fast growing grass seeds or radish seeds so the students can see the roots and how they grow up into stems and then on the radish, leaves. Start by reading the book From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons. She is a master of children’s science books.
 2 Liter bottle terrarium instructions HERE

Another fun planting activity is doing “Sprout Houses” in a zip lock baggie. That’s what we are doing this year. I pass out Lima bean seeds that have been soaking overnight. Then I pass out wet cotton balls. A link to a fun lesson plan using Lima beans is HERE at A to Z Teacher Stuff. We use the Lima beans as our seeds for our sprout houses which are another kind of terrarium. Tape them up against a window for light. Watch what happens in a week!  I really like the kids to plant radishes because they come up within about 2 to 3 weeks.  I’ll post our sprout houses tomorrow.

Lima bean and cotton balls make up our Sprout Houses

Some of my girls making their Sprout Houses”


Flower Garden by Eve Bunting
Sunflower House by Eve Bunting
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

From Seed to Plant by Gail GibbonsFrog and Toad Together by Arnold LobelJock in the Beanstalk by Stephen Kellogg One of my favorite books that my own children loved was The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. It goes through the plant cycle in a really fun way that kids will enjoy. ART PROJECTThen afterwards we make an art project using real sunflower seeds as the round middle part of a sunflower plant.  I’ve done it with yellow hands traced and cut out  around the circle of seeds, I’ve also used yellow paper petals, and I’ve used painted dots of yellow inside traced petals (pointillism) with Q tips dipped in yellow paint.  I will post pictures of all of my samples. Each year I tweak it a little bit.

WORD SCRAMBLEAnother fun link to a plant and seed word scramble of plants and seeds vocabulary is HERE at ABC Teach.  I would attach the word bank to the page so kids will have that to use which makes unscrambling a LOT easier! (My kids all told me it was “too easy” with the word bank. Oh well!                                   MUSIC  (use percussion instruments) A Seed Needs (To the tune of “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay” )           I see you are a seed,Tell me what DO you need?I need some soil to grow,And then the sun to glow,Water to make me wet,Air for my leaves to get,Space for my roots to spread,I’ll make your flower bed! by: Iram KhanI always look for a poem to put on the back of art to sing or read together for shared reading. This is a great one for the backs of our sunflower art projects or our veggie garden arrays. A fun MATH ACTIVITY designing a garden for Frog and Toad for their 24 plants can be found HERE . It is a math problem solving that is challenging and fun. I will give the kids a page of clip art plants to color with 4 of each plant and they will choose the number of plants to map out a garden “array”.  The book is called Frog and Toad Together  by Arnold Lobel. The chapter is called The Garden.  I turned it into a lesson on “arrays” and multiplication. They lined their garden veggies up and multiplied the “rows” times the “columns” of veggies. Here are a few finished ones.  Some did larger arrays and some just did 2 x 4. So it is a great lesson for differentiation with that open ended aspect to it. I also modeled one on the board and wrote in “column 1, column 2 and Row 1, Row 2 etc. So they could refer to mine. Everybody did it a little differently. 

Allie’s vegetable garden array…
Nova’s veggie garden array…
Kate’s veggie garden array…

Math: Attribute Seed SortAfter reading How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan we will do a fun math activity. I buy a package of dried 7 bean soup mix (found in rice section of the grocery store). It is in a plastic bag. Give each table a Dixie cup full of  the bean mix. Then give each table a construction paper Venn diagram drawn on it in black marker. The task is to use the Venn to place the seeds into 2 groups depending on what attribute the students decide as pairs or a table. (bumpy, smooth, black, spotted, oval, round, white etc.) It really helps to first do a brainstorm of all the words to describe the many beans and list them on the board. Have table captains write the 2 attributes on 3 x 5 cards and place at the top of each circle of the Venn. If they can then find one with both attributes to go in the center section they get a gummy bear each.  Then have students walk around and see what other attributes the other tables decided on to give their Venn’s.  

7 bean soup and venn diagrams..I add a few seeds, large peanuts, pods from outdoors….a great activity!


Hi Girls! They are sorting their beans and seeds…
Some wrote white and brown,  others seeds and nuts,  others big and little….
They added their own category titles on the yellow stickies…

We’ve also do a few worksheets and a journal entry about our “Sprout Houses” and how our lima beans are doing in the wet cotton balls. We sorted out the ways SEEDS TAVEL as partners using this file folder activity page I made up.  We read a few books on  HOW SEEDS TRAVEL too. (wind, water, nature, people, animals).                                    PLANT A RAINBOW!!! Veggies and flowers Another  thing we do in this unit is plant some flower seeds in a clear cup or else from a small milk carton or recycled can.  I have kids cover the can or milk cartons with cute scrapbook paper. A Fun plant tags can be found at this link HERE at Chart Jungle.  Names can go on tags too with sharpie marker. I’ve had good luck with beans and radish plants. I’m a black thumb usually, so I go with what has a quick germination. Radishes are 3 weeks!!! 😀

I will post pics of finished cute cans with our plants…

ART/SCIENCE MURAL So we end our unit by doing a mural. After reading Flower Garden by Eve Bunting, I give each child a small 5 x 5 piece of colored paper (flowers- use all colors), a long strip of green (stem), a 2 x 2 piece of black (seeds) and some green crepe paper 3 x 3 pieces (leaves), and a 4 x 4 piece of white (roots). I tell them they each have 4 jobs to do. They must take the papers and do a root, a leaf, a stem, a seed and a flower. (some years I delete the seed and pass out real seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, large ones that show up on the mural). Then I give them all about 5 or 6 minutes to cut out.

If you look close you can see a real seed or “bean” between the stem and root…

Then I start the mural as soon as a few are done.  I say,”If you have a cool looking root come on up!” If you have a cool looking stem, come on up!”and I have a glue bottle I put a few dots on each root, stem, etc. and we start to put the mural together. Kids glue down the parts of the plant on a  blue piece of butcher paper with brown glued along 5 inches of the bottom for dirt. .  Little by little the flowers will start out mixed up but will be finished as a flower collage. Nobody gets to put their whole flower together. And I don’t use all the kids flower parts. They put their root on some one’s seed, their flower on someones stem etc.  Then I have the fast finishers take black sharpies and label the 4 parts of the plants on about 5 of the flowers across the mural. Some kids make a sun, some clouds, etc.  It always looks fantastic.  I label it PLANTING A RAINBOW. Of course we have to read the story too! It is such a beautifully illustrated book on planting a flower garden.

Here is a sample center activity I have along with 2 similar matching activities  at the magnet center.

 PARTS OF A PLANT – MAGNET CENTER This idea was taken from a Red Butte Garden docent that came into my 2nd grade classroom and did this one year. I loved it and have used it ever since.  I  have the parts of a yellow sunflower plant I made up and laminated and put magnets on along with the labels that I place out at the magnet center. Kids love to put the flowers together and label them. The other center has pictures of parts of plants we eat and what type it is (root, leaf, flower/fruit, stem etc.)  I hope you enjoyed my plant and seed unit. I will post our “plants” very soon.  Happy Spring Planting!


The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Eric Carle Author Study

We used oil pastels to decorate the green covers and do all the art inside…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is another of my favorite books. It is so clever and cute, and it’s a great addition to the insect unit we are about done with!!!

As a class we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and students orally retell the story using  character cut-outs from DLTK’s website link HERE. Then we did a Butterfly Life Cycle earlier as part of the science rotation I did in our first grade team. So my class adds this writing project retell to our science unit on life cycles.  

Lots of the kids drew bright and colorful fruits for the caterpillar to munch on…
It’s so cute to see the holes punched in each page. I punch 1 hole for page 1 where he “eats through one item”….then I punch 2 holes for page 2….3 holes for page 3….4 holes for page 4 etc……
The end of the story has a chrysallis and then a pretty butterfly pops out! That dark green thing in the middle is the cocoon. I just freehand drew them, along with mini caterpillars to draw on each page and copied them off with the butterflies…


 We do a fun and creative innovation on Carle’s book. I cut construction paper into 4 inch wide strips the long lengthwise way. Then  I staple them into pages with these lengths; 4,5,6, 7,8,9,10 inch lengths. Then punch 2 holes through 2nd page, 3 holes through 3rd page, etc. See my sample. The only real instructions they had after we brainstormed food items on the board, was to use 1 adjective or describing word on EVERY PAGE!  They are getting good at creative writing now!


Emma did these cute illustrations..5 holes on Friday, Double that on Saturday.
I punch holes in the pages 1 hole Monday up to 10 holes Saturday
The kids have to come up with a ton of stuff to have that poor caterpillar eat!

Then we rewrite the story doing our OWN version…. filling in food items we choose to write about. I bought the caterpillar and book at Kohls last year for $5.00. Actually I got the caterpillar for $2.50 because they were leftover on clearance! Gotta love a bargain! Hard to believe huh?  I love Eric Carle books! He’s a great one to do an author’s study on….kids love his books!

Author Eric Carle

Other fun books by Eric Carle are out so
kids can read them and we can add to ourknowledge base on insects…..And we cancompare and contrast them to spiders!


A cute butterfly coloring page is HERE at Twisty Noodle. We will attach the  poem below to the back of our Hungry Caterpillar books and read it together! The best part about the book is using Crayola oil pastels to do the pictures of all the foods the hungry caterpillar eats during the week.


POETRY or MUSIC (Sing to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider)

A little, green caterpillar crawling on a leaf,

Spun a little chrysalis, and fell fast asleep.

Then while she was sleeping, She dreamed that she could fly.

 And later when she woke up, she was a BUTTERFLY!


I have bugs, handheld viewers, cards to look at….
I bought a kids microscope on sale with strips of butterfly life cycle slides…kids LOVE to go to this center



Graphing- What is your favorite bug? Butterflies? Honeybees? Grasshoppers? Dragonfly? Ladybugs? These were our top 5 we voted on. Guess which one was the winner?

The dragonflies were the winner on our Weekly graph….
We gave these Dollar Store bug holders out to a few kids to find “bugs” at recess….Joe brought in a centipede!

Here we are doing our +10, -10, +5, -2, Math Caterpillars


Estimation- Estimate how many Dollar Store bugs  are in the jar?I don’t have very many so everybody is really close on this one! I give a ring pop for 1st place. Everybody else gets a GUMMY WORM!

Estimation Jar….Nova won! 30 bugs!
We are making our caterpillar math projects….roll 2 dice…write number… Plus 10, minus 10, plus 5, minus 2…


Watch a monarch butterfly come out of its chrysalis on video.

 http://www/  Do a life cycle of a butterfly. A link for a black line page of the 4 stages of a Butterfly can be found Here at Digital  They have lots of games, a podcast and another video of a butterfly pupa stage. You can also buy the butterfly larva at Carolina Biological Supply for about $15.00. The link is Here for Carolina Biological Supply. I usually don’t send away for them until April anyway so now would be a great time to do it!


I have 2 big boxes full of insect material and about 15 books….


 P.E. “Bug Garden”.  Have students sit in chairs in a big circle. One student is in the middle without a chair. Give students names;1 ladybug, 2 dragonfly, 3 butterfly, 4 honeybee.  Then start over going around and around the circle till all are named. Then tell the caller to call out an insect name. (bees) All the bees must jump up and fly to another chair. Nobody who was a bee can stay in the same chair. The caller grabs one of the chairs and sits. The one who is leftover is the new caller. Then one fun part of the game is if the caller says “Fly Away Bugs!” then all the bugs get up and trade places. Last one to find a seat is the new caller!


More of my insect book collection…I like text “sets” of fiction with a non-fiction topic…

ART: Mosaic Butterflies– Children cut out butterfly pattern out of black paper. Cut out a few circles and ovals out of each side in symmetry. Then cut tissue paper squares to fit over the ovals and circles. Then  glue metallic mosaic tiles on the wings surrounding the circles. Put a ball headed clothes pin you have painted a bright color and pin in the middle and glue. Put black sharpie or wiggly eyes on and bright colored pipe cleaner antennae on top (wrapped around the ball head “neck” of the clothes pin.


 Another idea is to use Karo syrup and food coloring and make designs on a card stock butterfly. They take about 3 days to dry but they turn out beautiful! Back them with colored paper or black for a real dramatic effect! A teacher friend of mine does a cute trick when painting butterfly colors on large, white butterfly cut outs. She has the kids blob paint in about 5 places on the butterfly. Then she folds the butterfly in half and they smooth over it. Open it back up and both sides have a symmetry of paint blobs. It looks really striking on her bulletin board too! 

More Math:
Caterpillar Shake Up!  – Use an egg carton. Put numbers 1 – 9 in each “egg holder”. Place 2 chips in the carton and close it and shake. Whatever 2 numbers chips landed in write them down as a 2 digit number. Then add + 10, take away -10, add +5 and take away -2. This will give you 4 math problems for each of the double digit numbers. example 21 would be 31,  11, 26,  19.  Then we glued down circles with the double digit numbers written on each circle. Then we glued all the circles together forming caterpillars. Put 2 eyes and antennae on the last one and some legs on each circle. Here’s a picture of our finished math caterpillars! 

Roll dice twice…use both numbers to make a 2 digit number
Then add 10, subtract 10, add 5 and subtract 2 to make 4 new numbers…
color them the same color as the caterpillar’s circle color….
We put the math on the back…caterpillars on the front…super cute bulletin board!

We then put the Caterpillar Shake Up egg carton at a center with new rules. Just shake it, write down the 2 digit number you choose (ex. if you roll a 3 and a 4 you could make 43 or 34) Then Have a partner do his shake and he puts down a double digit number he creates. Then you both  add the 2 numbers together to get the total. Then go again taking turns.

I hope we get some better weather soon so those caterpillars really WILL come around! But in the meantime we just put some ants into our blue gel antfarm. We will see if they make tunnels this week and we will post a picture when they do!