Sunday, March 5, 2017

I love Kwik Stix!

Hey everyone!  I've been beyond busy preparing for the 2017 Spring Teacher Blogger Retreat, but wanted to take a break from the planning to give a HUGE shout out to one of our event sponsors, The Pencil Grip, Inc. Y'all this company not only provides some amazing tools for our classrooms, but they truly, truly love and support educators.  I don't want to give TOO much information away before the big retreat, but let's just say The Pencil Grip, Inc. is ready to spoil all of you who are coming to join us in French Lick, Indiana!

I've been a long-time, loyal fan of The Pencil Grip, Inc. and have used their pencil grippers in my classroom for years to help my kinder-kiddos learn to hold their pencils correctly, but more recently have fallen head-over-heels in LOVE with one of their newer products, Kwik Stix!  If your kiddos love to paint....but you don't like the "clean-up," then Kwik Stix are for you!

Check them out....

Wanna' know how I use Kwik Stix in my classroom?

If you have followed me for a while, you probably already know how much I love art!  Several years ago I began to develop a special art program in my class that I called "Artist of the Month." I began by creating monthly units on different "master artists."  We would study a different master artist each month, examine his/her artwork, discuss the techniques he/she used...and then, using all of those things as inspiration.... we created a masterpiece of our own.  The program was a great success and it soon spread like wild-fire throughout our entire K-8 school, thanks to the leadership of one of my instructional aides, who since has been designated our school art director! 

Well, needless to say, we paint A LOT in my room! I am afraid to reflect on past years and think about how much instructional time I used to spend on getting my kiddos dressed in paint shirts to protect their clothing, let alone cleaning up the "after-paint" messes!  But I don't have either of those problems any more!!!! I am able to use Kwik Stixs tempera painting sticks to complete the same projects....and they look even more incredible than liquid, paint-on paints!

Below you will see pictures of our latest "Artist of the Month" kindergarten student masterpieces based on the work of Pablo Picasso.  Just look at the vibrant colors!

 Gotta' love no mess art! It's incredible!
A peek at part of our classroom "KinderGallery," which is located above our student lockers.
Our art supply closet is always packed with Kwik Stix
Every class uses them... and they last for a very, very long time! 
Are you curious about these amazing little art tools?
If you'd like a chance to win a few sets of Kwik Stix for yourself,
visit my Instagram account (hollyehle) for more details!
(Do it now!  The winner will be chosen on March 10th!)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Spring Teacher Blogger Retreat -- Red Carpet Style!

We are ready to roll out the red carpet,
and announce that we are opening registration for the...

And you WILL NOT want to miss what
we have planned for you this year!

**     **     **    **     **     **     **     **     ** 
Are you ready to be treated like the red carpet star that you are?
Need a weekend of pampering to escape
from the “work” of teaching?
Need to be re-energized and fall in love
with teaching all over again?
Ready to shine and be recognized for the teaching-star that you are?

Then come walk the red carpet with us at French Lick Resort!
French Lick is an incredible resort is located in southern Indiana, but it is within 3 hours of Cincinnati, Nashville, Indianapolis, and St. Louis!

Here are the details...
WHO:  YOU are invited!
WHAT:  Spring Blogger/Follower Retreat!
WHEN: March 17, 18 & 19, 2017
WHERE:  French Lick Resort & Casino - French Lick, IN
WHY:   To meet new friends, share blogging & TPT tricks & tips, 
and just have fun! {LOTS and LOTS of FUN!}

Join us for the whole weekend, or just a day!
Here is a peek at some of the things we have planned…
Friday, March 17th

   OPTIONAL:  Many attendees gather and socialize at the beautiful West Baden Hotel. 

Come early and join us! 

Saturday, March 18th

Blogger Meet-Up Luncheon: 

Get-to-know-you luncheon, teacher product giveaways, and “Teacher Tool” gift swap game

Keynote Speaker:  

None other than PRINCIPAL GERRY will be there to uplift, inspire,
 and create a room full of laughter!

  Teaching, TPT, Blogging Round-table
and Workshop Sessions:  
We will send out a survey asking for topics of interest and we invite you to submit a round-table proposal as well. 

Dinner Reservations at Resort Restaurant/s: 
(OPTIONAL) Meet up for dinner at one of the resort’s casual, but classy restaurants.

Saturday Night Social Event: 
Since everyone who is a teacher knows they went into this profession for the fame and fortune (ya, right!!)……We will be "rolling out the red carpet" for you as we invite you to dress up as your favorite star, pose for the paparazzi, and have some fabulous fun with friends... Hollywood/Oscar Party Style!   (Heavy hors d’oeuvres, non-alcoholic beverages, photo booth pictures and party favors included.  There will also be a cash bar.)

Sunday, March 19th
9:30 am - Sunday Breakfast/Brunch
(OPTIONAL) Meet at the resort’s famous breakfast buffet for our last g
athering of good food, good conversation, and goodbyes!

The cost for attending this event is $75, which includes your lunch and beverages, a portion of the meeting room rental fees and our Saturday night social event (including food and non-alcoholic drinks).  This is the ONLY required fee for the entire weekend!  The rest of the event (hotel fees, if you choose to stay on site, and the remainder of the meal fees will be on your own, based on your choices!).  If you live close, you may choose to drive in for the day.  This fee needs to be paid by Feb.12 to guarantee your registration.  Also, note that due to the increasing popularity of this event, registration may have to be limited due to size.
Wondering if this event is something you
might be interested in?  

Check out what some of last year's attendees have to say...
Hannah F.Last year was my first year at French Lick and I was so nervous! I remember driving up there and imagining all the things that could go wrong! (of course) But, when I arrived I was overwhelmed with the kindness of every single person there. Everyone felt like they belonged and they did! The whole weekend was full of fun activities that helped me grow as a teacher and as a person. I made so many brand new friendships that I will carry with me forever. I remember driving away feeling refreshed and so ready to get back into my classroom! This weekend will refresh your love for teaching from the very instant you step into the hotel! “

Heidi N. "It was so refreshing to be surrounded by like minded teachers!  I left the weekend with new perspective, new ideas, and a lot of new friends!"

Maja A. "Last year's meet up inspired me to do so many new things, I finished out the school year strong with the things I learned from the other teacher/bloggers there!  I am so excited for this years meet up!"

Are you ready to sign up for a
"star-studded" weekend of fun? 
Simply click HERE to register for the event.
Questions?  Feel free to contact us at

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Spiders, Spiders Everywhere!

I love fall...but it is definitely the CrAziEst time of the school year for me!  Report cards, conferences, balancing my own kiddos and family events...WHEW!  I can hardly keep up! 
Do y'all feel that way too? 

 I've had quite a few requests this week for info on some of things I've been doing with my littles, so thought I’d share just a few activities from my



Like usual, it took some Thursday night prep...

This week the goal was to cover my room in spider webs and spiders, of course.  I just made a quick stop at Dollar Tree and for just a few bucks I had the room covered! (And YES.. that is a spider scarf I'm wearing!   Picked that baby up at the Dollar Tree too!)  The crazy spider headband is a few years old (got it at JoAnn's)...but I saw several similar ones at Michael's just a few weeks ago!   

We started the morning with a quick spider introduction, compliments of Scholastic's latest "Let's Find Out" Kindergarten magazine.  {LOVE how interactive these resources have become!}

Then we met up with our 6th grade BIG BUDDIES and made some pretty spectacular spider art!    

Want to know how we did it?  
First, we pre-painted the black construction paper.  To be more specific, we filled cups with white paint and threw in some marbles.  We placed the black paper into the lid of a paper ream box, threw in the paint covered marbles, and then tiled the box top all around.   WA-LA!  Awesome spider-web-ish patterned paper!  (We did this the day BEFORE we met with our buddies to assemble the project!)

Next, when our buddies joined us, the kiddos cut their spider-web-ish {Come on.. roll with me.  It SHOULD be a word!} black paper into thin (about 1/2 inch) strips.  The buddies worked together to form their own spider webs on the paper.

 While all the kiddos were working on their webs, I called the buddy pairs over to "my" table and I painted the kinder's palms and fingers (NOT THUMBS) with black paint.   They placed the first had down on a piece of white paper.  Then they placed the opposite hand, palm part overlapping the already printed palm print, so that the opposite hand's fingers stuck out like legs on the opposing side of the spider "body."   Immediately after that, I had the student make a fist and I painted the bottom of the fist with black paint... and had the child make a "head" print with the fist.  

Finally, we cut out the dried spiders and glued on the two "primary eyes."   Then... we took a Q-tip dipped in white paint and added the spiders two fore-eyes and four lower smaller lower eyes, just to be sure were attempting to be as anatomically correct as possible. (Most spiders have 6 eyes.)


On cue, "Dr. Science" {our early childhood director and one of my best friends} stumbled in like a hot mess, completely tangled in a ginormous spider web!  

Note:  I do all of the planning for what Dr. Science is going to do.  I prep the activities and "scrips"...but my awesome (and crazy-fun) colleague, Mrs. Kidd, brings it to life when she comes over and we "team teach" the content.  I LOVE IT!   We are getting pretty darn good at playing off each other to keep the kiddos engaged! #couldnotdoitwithouther  I'm telling you this because I've had followers comment things like, "Well, I couldn't do that because I don't have a co-teacher or an aide."  People, I haven't always had one either!   But if YOU are willing to do the planning, I betcha' you can beg a parent volunteer to come in and play along....YOU CAN do this! And it's FUN!  

"Did I hear you've been studying about SPIDERS??" she asks.

Of course, Dr. Science always brings specimens or tools directly from her lab!  This week, one the kiddos favorite  items was this large wolf spider.   {Oh YES.  It is real... and it is ALIVE!}

Then Dr. Science showed us a multi-media, spider-factual {Hey!  Look at me!  Making up all these new words!  Mr. Webster, you need to update your dictionary! Woo-Hoo!} slideshow movie.  It is just typed facts, pics, and music.  You have the read the words out loud to your kinders, which I kind of loved for this "Dr. Science" presentation.  The kiddos thought Dr. Science made it in her lab and just brought it over to share!

Interested in checking it out?  Click below...

Then, I shared this little snippet...

{BTW peeps, you should really check out the whole line of "All Things Animal TV" videos if you are ever in need of simple animal research or facts!}

Earlier, we had a class discussion on what we already knew about spiders and what we wanted to know.  {Le' ole K-W-L chart activity}  The kiddos came up with two REALLY great questions that I knew I needed to turn into research experiments.   

The first question was, "How does a spider eat its prey?"
So we challenged each student to use their imagination and take the roll of a spider!

If you want all of the details of the experiment we did to answer this question, check out Deanna Jump's FABULOUS TPT science experiment packet.   This packet contains DOZENS of other simple experiments that are PERFECT for every kinder-topic that you teach!   If you have special science activity days or "Fun Friday" days, like me,  it's a MUST HAVE!!!  
Check it out here:
  Simple Science Volume 1
The next great question that they came up with was "Why do insects stick to spider webs, but the spiders never do?"  Well, again.... you have to check out Deanna's Science packet (above) to get all of the details, but let me tell you.... the kids loved discovering the answer for themselves!

As always, a themed snack is an essential part of our Fun Fridays!   But this week, it wasn't me that was doing the preparation.  Our sixth grade buddies worked hard to create these yummy darlins'!  

(Chocolate donuts, pretzel sticks, frosting and m&ms)

(These pics came from a few years ago, but I want to note that now I use two donuts to more accurately show a spider's body parts!)

We also headed to gym with a giant skein of yarn and made our own spider web!
Here are a few pics.   I wish I had more of us trapping our people prey in the web....but I was having too much fun playing along to snap pics at the same time!

Whew!  What a day! 
Again... filled with fun, but filled with rigor as well! Wish I had time and space to post about everything we did...but hopefully you picked up at least a few new ideas/resources!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Going Batty in Kindergarten!

It's that time of year, my friends!
The days are getting "shorter."
The air is getting cooler.
The trees are changing colors.

It's October.

Halloween is right around the corner...

So it's the PERFECT time of year to learn about another nocturnal animal...

That's exactly what we did in my classroom this week!

Check out just a few of the BATTY things we did...

{Included below are some ideas from previous years AND some new things I tried this year!}

This is what the kiddos saw as they came down the hall!
{The black material is the new SmartFab fabric-like bulletin board paper they sell at all the teacher supply stores.  It's reusable and costs the same as regular bulletin board paper!}

This is a pic from last year.  Last year I simply turned my doorway into a cave entrance and posted bats around the room.

These pics are from this year.  I flipped the whole room into a bat cave. I decorated my doorway with SmartFab again, and hung more SmartFab on all walls as you entered my room, including SmartFab fabric flaps that came down from the ceiling that kids had to walk through.  I covered most of my classroom walls with black plastic table covers to make it black and dark.   I also covered all class tables, bookshelves, etc. with black table covering.  Then, I put up purple halloween lights to bring a glow to the room. The kids freaked out!  The LOVED it!!!  I wish I had better pics...but only had my  phone camera, so this is the best I could get! 

And, oh yah... I'm fully equipped with a themed costume, like usual!  #yesihaveacostumecloset
Click HERE to getcha' one for about $13!

If you've followed my blog or Instagram for very long, you've probably figured out that I'm all about "Setting the Stage 2 Engage."  {If ya'll want to know more about how to change your teaching 4-EVER (not to mention be eternally inspired!)... then check out my dear friend Hope King's TPT e-book...
Student Engagement: A Guide to Teaching Outside the Box

Seriously people,  this ebook will reinvigorate your teaching! Not only am I having SO MUCH MORE FUN teaching.... but my kiddos are more engaged than ever and I'm able to teach them more rigorous content because of it!   LOVE.LOVE.LOVE this resource!!  GO AND BUY IT NOW! I mean, the girl teaches at Ron Clark Academy, my friends.  
ENOUGH SAID.  #instantinspiration

To start off our unit, we completed the K (what we KNOW) part of of our K-W-L chart!

{Note that I made this K-W-L chart so that I can re-use it each year.  I simply tape on new white rectangular papers to write on each year....then replace them with a new one the next year! #keepinitreal #timesaver]

Then, of course, we complete the W section (what we WANT to know).  That simple intro K-W-L activity got the kiddos SO excited.  I was sincerely surprised at how excited they were to begin our bat investigations.

We began our investigations with THIS little ditty...

Kids Discover Bats! DVD - Product Image

It's an awesome, VERY kiddo-friendly, super informative 22 minute video all about bats.  It was available at my local library, but honestly after using it in my classroom a few years ago, I bought it because I knew I'd want to use it every year.  You can grab it for $13 by clicking on the pic above!

We learned that there are MICROBATS and MEGABATS.  
Megabats are bats that eat fruit.  So of course, during one of our snack times, we had to do THIS little learning activity...

(Just FYI, I used blueberries, pineapples, strawberries and grapes for this!)

We also practiced our measuring skills during math time with this activity...


We also had our local Children's Zoo bring their mobile zoo program to our school to share their "Winged Wonders" program with us.


LOVED it... of course because it was interactive, but MOSTLY because my kiddos (and our first grade class) were blowing the zoo ladies away with big scientific words and things they already had learned.... like "zygodactyl" and "oviparous."  LOL! {Proud teacher moment! I just LOVE it when visitors are blown away at the depth of knowledge that kinders are capable of soaking up!}

We learned about how microbats (insect-eaters) use ECHOLOCATION to locate their prey.  I gathered the kiddos around a round container with water and quickly poked my finger in the middle.  The kiddos watched as the water formed ring after ring that moved from my finger toward the sides of the container...and then "echoed" back to the center.   I explained that bats produce a high-pitched sound that makes a sound-wave that moves out.... and when it "hits" an insect it "echoes" back to the bat, telling them exactly where the insect is located!

Using echolocation, dinner is served!   {QUICK FACT: Bats can eat up to 1,000 insects in one hour!}

Then we took that new little oracle of knowledge and turned it into a game!  We all joined and made a giant circle.  

The kiddos in the circle were the "trees" that served as our game perimeter.   Then I selected a "bat", blindfolded him and placed him in the center of the circle.   I also chose a few "mosquitoes," who were kiddos that I pulled forward from the tree circle and instructed to stand still or move ultra-slowly inside the circle of trees.   To  play, the "bat" called out the word "FOOD."  The "mosquitoes" were instructed that each time they heard the bat call out, they had to quietly echo the word back to the bat, thus simulating ECHOLOCATION.  The bat then kept calling out, listening, and trying to touch ("catch") his dinner.  When the bat "caught" a mosquito, the mosquito then became a tree in the circle.  This was repeated until the bat had eaten all the mosquitoes.  A new bat was then chosen.  :)   SO.MUCH.FUN.   The kids totally "got" echolocation.

We also did a few incredibly fun and hands-on activities that simulated how a momma bat identifies her baby, among hundreds of other bat family babes.    

I chose a momma bat and told her the sound that she needed to both repeat.... AND listen for one of the babies to call out. (You can blindfold the bat if you want to make it harder!)  I had the kiddos again make a circle and had each of them call out an assigned letter sound softly AT THE SAME TIME.  The mother bat (in the middle of the circle) was told (in a whisper) what her baby's "letter name" was...then had to walk around the circle out and listen for HER BABY'S sound/letter... searching for her baby.   We repeated with other students until everyone had a turn to be either the mother or the baby. The kids LOVED this one!  They really had to listen hard as everyone was calling out their own letters/sounds!

We did a similar activity with SMELLS also, since bats can use their sense of smell to locate their young too!   

Last year, I used necklaces made out of yarn and cotton balls and used a variety of food extracts to play this game!  I used black bats with matching scents taped to the wall for the babies!  

This year, I "scented" cotton balls in 8 different scents.  To prep this, I used the flavoring bottles, as seen above, and wet 4 cotton balls per scent and placed them in baggies.  (All 4 "lemon" cotton balls in a baggie together!)  Then I had the kiddos all sit in a circle, and I went around and picked random scented cotton balls and gave one to each student.  Then, I explained that each child needed to go find his/her bat "family" by smelling his/her own scent...and finding other "bats" with the same smell.   EEKS!  I just loved this one!

Check out some of our bat-scented families after this activity!

No bat study is complete without a super cute, themed snack! 

Check out these babies that I whipped up!

Don't you just want to eat them up?!

 And I don't know what it is about this pic that I took.... but it just makes me giggle!!!

OOOH!  And don't miss this awesome little gem that my friend, Deanna Jump, suggested!  It's super catchy... as in CAN'T GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD catchy!  LOL

WHEW!  This is post in gettin' long!   I'd better wrap it up!   If you are looking for more incredible BATTY resources, check out these resources that I use every year...

Bats Math and Literacy Fun Aligned with Common Core