FIRST LEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition

I am partnering with FIRST® to showcase their FIRST® LEGO® League programs, which are hands-on STEM programs for kids in Pre-K-8th grade. For children in grades PreK-1, their offering is called FIRST®LEGO®League Jr. Discovery Edition.  Developed in conjunction with early childhood education experts, this is a playful introductory STEM program in which children collaborate in teams of four to explore a real-world theme with an exclusive LEGO®Education Discovery Model.  Using this model as a starting point, they design and build an idea as a team using LEGO DUPLO elements. I love that they are asked to use DUPLO elements because most of the students are familiar with these and have the skills required to build creatively and intentionally on their own.

I wanted to give you a little background on FIRST!  FIRST (founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamenis a robotics community that prepares young people for the future. They are the world's leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education. But the impact of FIRST is bigger than just building science, technology, engineering and math skills! FIRST recognizes that it is critical to prepare students for the future workforce, and early exposure to STEM – especially in early childhood and elementary school – provides students with the foundation necessary to fulfill an increased number of STEM-related careers. In all their programs, FIRST encourages students to work as a team and build important “life” skills such as leadership, communication, and problem-solving.

FIRST partnered with LEGO Education to create FIRST LEGO Leaguein 1998. The program is the most accessible, guided, global robotics competition of its kind, and it is built around theme-based Challenges to engage children in research, problem-solving, coding, and engineering. Each year, the program engages nearly 300,000 children in 100+ countries in playful and meaningful learning while helping them discover the fun in science and technology.

New this year, FIRST and LEGO Education have introduced FIRST LEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition. This offering ignites children’s natural curiosity, supports the development of social and emotional skills, and builds their habits of learning. Following their participation, students emerge more confident, better equipped to face future challenges, and show an increased interest in STEM. 

There are two components to this program. One is the BOOMTOWN BUILD Discovery Set and the other is a STEAM Park Set.  

Each year, FIRST LEGO League launches a new design challenge for the students, and this year's challenge for their youngest participants iscalled BOOMTOWN BUILD. The FIRST LEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition "Class Pack" is a solution that you can use with your class in which they work together to design and build their idea of what their growing town will need. They will use the LEGO DUPLO bridge model as a starting point and from there they will work as a team to build their very own BOOMTOWN. Through the process and 10 sessions they will learn about the theme, learn how to make their ideas move and work, solve challenges presented to them through the experience and have an opportunity to share their work at the end. 

The Class Pack solution comes with:
·      Seven BOOMTOWN BUILD Discovery Sets
·      30 Discover More parent engagement sets: (for each student to take home and extend their learning with their family members) 
·      Two Team Meeting Guides for the teachers
·      30 Engineering Notebooks (one for each student to document their thinking and learning)

The Team Meeting Guides and Engineering Notebooks are formatted so you can complete 10 different lessons with your class in which they are practicing working together, accomplishing STEM challenges, and designing and building their team’s creative ideas.  

Students are challenged to solve a problem and the Discovery set provides a guided solution.  Then, the STEAM Park set is used along with the Discovery set to explore and solve architecture-related challenges. It is recommended to purchase one STEAM Parkset for each group of four – this is a first-year investment only, as the STEAM Park set is reusable from year to year. The Class Pack needs to be purchased each year because the Challenge changes annually. The Engineering Notebooks and Team Meeting Guides within the Class Pack are updated annually as well.

What I love about this program is there are 10 detailed lesson plans included that correspond with the students’ Engineering Notebooks. There are TONS of resources given to the teachers to support their lessons, so we can feel comfortable with walking the students through the 10 STEM lessons.  There are pictures with models and mats to provide the students with a starting point to build their DUPLO bridge and town, all while having the freedom to create their own design.  After the 9 lessons there is a Celebration Event where the parents and guardians are invited to see what the students have built and learned through their STEM challenge.  

I highly recommend this program for your Pre-K-1st grade students!  The whole goal of this program is to encourage the children to think and behave like engineers: developing their ability to observe, question, gather information, make changes, and ask more questions.  There is so much flexibility in this program that the students can take their time in the building process, while you guide and discuss what they are building and thinking as they make their designs.  

Follow the link to learn more and purchase FIRSTLEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition for your classroom. 


Gingerbread Man Book Buddy

Use this Gingerbread Man Book Buddy to accompany the read aloud!   I love doing a whole Gingerbread week where we read multiple gingerbread books and do activities!  This Gingerbread resource has minimal prep and will give your students extra practice with the alphabet, numbers, and CVC words. There are 6 gingerbread activities included so you could use these for your weekly center rotation or just pick and choose which activities you want to use during the week!

Here is what is included:
-Gingerbread Man and Gingerbread Girl craft 
-Gumdrop letter and first sound hunt: this activity challenges the students to recognize the letter (upper and lowercase) or isolate the first sound in a word. Upper and lower case recording sheets are included.
-Gingerbread cookie sequencing. The students sequence how to make a gingerbread cookie at a center and it also includes a cut and paste sheet.
-Gingerbread number trace. The students pick a card, trace it in sand and then trace it on the recording sheet.
-CVC Spelling- the students pick a picture card (short a, e, i, o u words are included), but it with letter tiles, and then write the word on the recording sheet.
-Gingerbread addition: the students pick two cards of gingerbread cookies and make an addition sentence. Numbers 1-10 are included for addition.

Grab the Gingerbread Book Buddy in my STORE!


Teaching Social Emotional Awareness in Kindergarten

 Teaching Social Emotional Learning and Mindfulness in Kindergarten can be intimidating, but I have found some helpful tools that can make it simple and inviting for the students to get to know how to express and label their emotions, calm down when upset, and learn how to be mindful of their feelings.

My favorite book to introduce emotions is The Color Monster.  I love this book because it starts out with introducing 5 emotions: calm (the goal for all students to have the best chance for academic focus and success), happy, fear, anger, and sadness.  These are basic emotions to get the topic started on what emotions are and why we feel them sometimes.

Book overview: The book is about a little monster that is all mixed up and feels his emotions all jumbled.  He learns to separate his feelings by color and put them in a jar.  This allows for a great discussion to talk with the students about what each feeling is.  

Once you read the book with your class (or pull it up on YouTube) I have some activities that accompany the book that you can use whole group, small groups, etc.

Find all of these resources in my STORE.
Students can sort different experiences that they might encounter at school according to how it would make them feel.  They can even have a Play Dough emotions mat in-front of them and make the face on the mat to match their response.  I included little color monster crafts where the students can pick from one of the 5 Color Monster Crafts and then write about their feelings on one of the jars.
This feelings flip book is perfect to have the student identify different feelings.  It is a perfect discussion starter to let the students know we ALL feel different emotions at different times, and that is ok!

I've found that teaching my students how to work together as a team will often offset conflict in my classroom. Most arguments start when students are trying to complete a task together and someone has a hard time working together.  The thing is, young learners need to be explicitly taught HOW to work together.  We can't assume that they enter school with social skills that can allow them to successfully work well in a group....especially when it isn't fee play and an academic task is involved.  Here are some ideas on how to introduce and teach teamwork to your students:

When students start to feel frustrated or upset it's important for them to be able to know WHY they are frustrated.  But first, students need to be mindful of their body and change in feelings before they even can label their emotions and then decide on a solution on how to resolve it.

Once students have been taught to notice cues in their body to tell them they have changing emotions, then can then work on labeling their feelings. Our goal for academic success and participation in class is for each student to be calm during instructional time.  Any other emotion can be distracting or throw their attention and mood off of instruction and onto something else.  You could have a daily check in, where the students share with you how they are feeling.

If students find themselves feeling anything other than calm you can provide a calm space in your room for the students to "calm down" (I would suggest looking on Pinterest for "calm down corner" examples).  Once they remove themselves from the group, they can check in and determine what they can do to reach a calm state.

Lastly, often times when the students are frustrated it is because there was an incident that happened at school in which there was conflict with another student.  It's important to teach your class how to resolve conflict with one another so they can have a safe atmosphere where they know a resolution can be reached when someone hurts their feelings.  As well as, they know they are responsible for apologizing and fixing the problem if they hurt a classmate.

If you are interested in the resources that I shared, you can check out The Color Monster Book Buddy that includes everything in this post!

Grab the resource HERE.


Spookley the Square Pumpkin Craft and Activities

Use this Spookley the Square Pumpkin craft and activities to accompany the read aloud! I LOVE reading Spookley during the month of October and it is always a fan favorite for the students! This Spookley Book Buddy has minimal prep and will give your students extra practice with the alphabet and number sense. There are 6 pumpkin activities included so you could use these for your weekly center rotation or just pick and choose which activities you want to use during the week!

Here is what is included:
-Spookley craft and writing paper included
-Pumpkin letter match: upper and lowercase options- the students draw a card and color the matching letter on their worksheet
-Halloween play dough mats, includes: hat, spider, pumpkin, candy corn, eyes, ghost, boo, bat. The students copy the shape onto the mat and then trace the vocabulary word.
-How to carve a pumpkin sequencing: cut and paste and center version that you print and laminate
-Pumpkin shape match: students pick a card and match the shape. It includes two mats, one with 8 shapes and the other with 15 shapes for differentiation 
-Pumpkin seed counting: students pick a number card (1-15) and place that many manipulatives onto the pumpkin mat. The cards include seeds to count (1-10) or number cards (1-15)

 Grab the Spookley Book Buddy in my STORE!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Craft and Activities: Book Buddy

Use this Chicka Chicka Boom Boom craft and activities to accompany the read aloud, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! This Chicka Chicka Boom Boom resource has minimal prep and will give your students extra practice with the alphabet. 

There are 6 Chicka Chicka Boom Boom activities included so you could use these for your weekly center rotation or just pick and choose which activities you want to use during the week!

I hope you enjoy this Chicka Chicka Boom Boom mini unit, you can grab it in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!


Taking the #PaperMatePledge to Support Box Tops for Education™

Join me this back to school season in taking the #PaperMatePledge. Paper Mate ® will be partnering with Box Tops for Education™, a program that helps invest in local schools through the purchase of select, everyday consumer goods. 

Paper Mate ® is the only writing utensil brandparticipating in Box Tops for Education™, giving both parents and teachers an easy way to give back to their local schools by taking the #PaperMatePledge. 

While you are doing your back to school shopping, kill two birds with one stone and support your local school while you are enjoying your favorite Paper Mate ® pens and pencils! 

Take the #PaperMatePledge and purchase Paper Mate ® products this back-to-school season to support Box Tops for Education™ - all while crossing an item off your school supplies shopping list. 

Paper Mate ® is my favorite writing utensil so I am EXCITED they are partnering with Box Tops for Education™ so I can give back while still enjoying my Flair pen obsession.