I just recently redid my Sunday School classroom.  It was in desperate need of an update and it was just the perfect time!  I share this classroom with another class on Wednesday nights, but they have stopped using this room for now.  I decided to go with a rainbow theme for a few reasons.  The main reason is because it's just SOOOO bright and so stinkin' colorful and fun.  But the other reason is because when the Wednesday night crew needs this class again, their class is called "Rainbows" so it will work for them as well!

Here's a closer look at this Rainbow Reno!
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I made these curtains from some left over black dot fabric and added the rainbow striped fabric I found.  I love how the curtains turned out!

And the crepe paper rainbow is perfect up against the window!

This bulletin board might be my favorite ever.  I can still feel the hand cramps from cutting out the font letters, but it was totally worth it!  I've started adding pictures of our crew and still have a few more to add.  Right now I have a smaller class, but when we get more kids, I'm planning to just take some pictures of some of the kids together in the same frame!

Along with new bulletin boards, I added rainbow block signs to our exploration stations.  I brought this table and chairs from our house that we don't use anymore to set up in our game corner.  I have a memory game in almost all of my Bible units, and several units have other games I can add here too!

Blocks is another station we always have.  I change out the kind of blocks we have depending on our unit and task.

The I Can cards from each unit for this station specifically relate to the unit and give purpose to the station.  So it's not just playing with blocks, but during this unit we are building a tower to tear it down like in the Jericho Bible story!

Our coloring station stays the same too for each unit.  Most of my kids are boys right now though, so this station is less popular! :) We always take about 3 minutes to color after our Bible story though while we listen to music.  This has been FANTASTIC practice for staying focused on one task during our unit song.

We also have a classroom library with fictional books and Bible stories.  I have some store bought Bible stories.  But I also add our printable Bible stories from our units when we finish reading them!

I added part of these tissue paper tassels in the corner to soften the edge.  And I bought white wooden letters for READ and hot glued them to this sign.  I painted the background of the sign blue with craft paint.  Both of these came from Hobby Lobby and were super cheap and easy to fix up!

This is the last station that stays the same throughout all the units.  Sometimes, I pull out a relevant Bible story puzzle if it goes with our story we are reading that day.

The rest of the stations are stored in our closet and come out just for certain units since they aren't always the same for all the units!

This is our Bible time set up.  I hang our unit anchor chart {find the one shown in the pic here} and because it's interactive, this can be used as a station too!  We also have our sticker chart to keep track of who is here Bible Verse pocket chart cards that we practice after our Bible story!

I'm thrilled with how our room turned out!
I'm a big believer that playing is learning.  So any time I can integrate exploration and hands on purposeful "play" in the classroom, I consider it a win!

That's why I love these animal adaptation stations in this Next Gen Science Unit on Organisms!  Let's chat about each station, the adaptation kids explore, how I set it up, and what materials I use.
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Set Up

To set up these adaptation stations, just print out and post these station signs (find them labeled or blank in the unit) and post in 8 spots around the room.  Most stations will be fine on the floor, but you may want to consider using a table for some.  Then, just print out the materials from the unit and set out the materials listed.

If you store these materials in gallon ziplock bags, you can easily reuse and set up even faster next year!

Limit 2-3 students per station to make management and exploration easier.  I find that about 2 minutes is a good amount of time for stations like this and I use an online timer on our smart board.  You can adjust for your kids if needed, but I find that less time is not enough to complete the tasks.  But more time usually means time for kids to get off task.  When they realize they don't have much time, their focus is MUCH better! #teachertips

Bird Beaks

Objective: TSW use tweezers, clothespins, etc. to pick up worms to mimic a bird's beak.
Materials: clothespins, tweezers, chopsticks (these kid ones are perfect!), play worms


Objective: TSW find camouflaged beads and then camouflage them well for the next group.
Materials: colored beads, camouflage printout from unit (laminate)

Can you see the beads?  They hide pretty well on this photo!


Objective: TSW observe a real cactus and/or pictures of animals with prickles.  Then, they will make their own prickled organism.
Materials: toothpicks, styrofoam balls or cups


Objective: TSW feel different types of animal coverings (smooth, light fur, heavy fur, dry scales) and put them in the appropriate "environment."
Materials: fabric samples (just go to your local fabric store and ask for samples of fabrics that you need--it's free and the perfect size for this activity!), environment printouts from unit (laminate)

Webbed Feet

Objective: TSW observe the difference between toed feet and webbed feet by exploring how they work in water.
Materials: clear plastic tub filled with water, wooden craft sticks, plastic (like lamination scraps or clear packaging tape)

Here it is with regular feet/toes.  It moves easily through the water without resistance.

Here is the webbed feet (I used packaging tape on both sides).  This gives the feel of resistance when you move the "feet" through the water to show how ducks and other webbed feet animals can swim more easily.

Smell Me

Objective: TSW observe different smelly stickers and sort/stick them into categories to tell whether they attract or repel other organisms.
Materials: Dr. Stinky's Scratch N Sniff Stickers, sorting mat for each student from unit


Objective: TSW wear the "claw gloves" and practice using them for digging and picking up food.
Materials: gloves, plastic spoons, play food, tub of dirt or sand

Adaptation Match

Objective: TSW match animal adaptations with a tool people have made to mimic the adaptation
Materials: adaptation match cards from unit

You can find all of the print out materials for these exploration stations, plus over 140 pages of detailed plans to cover your organisms Next Gen Science standards!

One of the hats I wear at our church is nursery coordinator.  And our church nursery toddler room was WAAAAAAYYYY overdue for a remodel.  Here's a close up look at our fresh redesign and how we implemented the design and remodel!
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Mural Wall

We painted 3 of the walls a gray (BEHR - galactic tint) that is used as the neutral color throughout our church.  We painted our focus/mural wall a sky blue color (BEHR - wind speed).

Then, we painted a yellow sun rising over grass.  For the sun, I just simply tied yarn around a piece of chalk and made the yarn the radius length of the sun.

Next, I held the yarn end of the string in the middle spot I marked on the wall with chalk and drew the outline of the sun with the chalk end of the string.  Chalk was much better than pencil because it wiped right off with a damp cloth!

My fabulous husband helped me measure out the sun rays.  His idea was genius and SOOOO much better than I could've done.  He drew the middle line of the ray with chalk.  Then, he measured 2 inches from each side and made a mark.  Next, he went up 12 inches and then measured 3 inches from the middle mark.  Then, using a straight edge, he connected those edges all the way from the bottom to the ceiling.  (You can change the measurements to fit the width and angles of the rays for your taste!)

After everything was marked, we taped the sun ray edges with frog tape.  It's SUPER important to use this brand name of tape.  We used this with my son's nursery at our house for his chevron feature wall and it was flawless!

Once it's taped, DON'T PAINT YELLOW!

Paint the blue color first.  This will lock in any bleed over so that if paint accidentally blends under the tape, it will bleed blue and not yellow and will not be noticeable.

Then, paint yellow.

For the grass, I used a poster and drew out the grass.  Then, I taped it to the wall and painted in the relief of the stencil.  Sorry, I didn't get pictures of that.

My goal for this mural was for it to look like silhouettes of the sun and grass.  I think that gave it the modern look I was going for and also made it super easy for me. (I'm not a talented artist for sure!)

Finally, my mother-in-law used her Silhouette machine to cut out the lyrics I designed for "This Little Light of Mine."

Cloud Window Treatments

I knew I wanted something on the windows that reminded me of clouds, but I just couldn't come up with anything that wouldn't be cheesy.

Thank goodness for creative friends!  One of my friends suggested using wooden cloud cut outs for our windows and I think it turned out perfectly!

They go with my modern/silhouette look, too.  My husband used his CNC machine to design and cut these out.  (Yes, I know how lucky I am that he is so talented!)

He cut out 3 clouds...One larger and two smaller.  Then we attached them to a cornice board to install around the window.  It's perfect!

Song Lyric Posters

To continue the bright and modern theme, I made these song lyric posters to hang on one of our walls.  We have 6 units we focus on during the year in our church nursery.  And each unit has a song we learn and sing together.  I used lyrics from these songs to make a poster for each unit.

I love how they all look together on this wall!

I'm super happy with how this remodel turned out.  I also love all of our nursery stations we made work with our small space.  But that's worth it's own blog post, so look for that post coming soon!

Traditionally, in first grade, I've taught animal classification and the human body for our state science standards.  But with the introduction of the Next Gen Science Standards, life science has shifted to organism structures and heredity.  So, I've developed a new unit to align better with these newer standards.  And I'm SUPER pumped about how we are learning our new big idea: "Organisms have tools for survival!"

Here's an overview of what's covered in our organisms unit.
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Week 1: What Are Organisms?

The first week of the unit we learn a lot of vocabulary needed for this unit.  We learn what the difference is between living and non-living things through this sort (a digital interactive version is available too!) and this fun organism song.

Then, we start charting what plants and animals can do, have, and need to survive.  We finish this week by comparing plants and animals to gain a deeper understanding of these two categories of organisms.

Week 2: How Are Offspring Like Their Parents? How Do Offspring Learn To Survive?

During the first part of the second week, we learn how babies are like their parents.  We read about and chart names for different animal babies and how they learn to survive.  And we play find your partner with baby animals and their parents.

Then, we research our own traits that we get from our parents.  We send home a family traits survey (with several options for atypical families with adopted or fostered children, etc...).

After the family traits survey homework is returned, we do a carousel activity to tally our trait data for everyone in our class by observing our inherited traits.

And during our math time, we graph our inherited traits!

Week 3: What Do Organisms Use To Survive?

This week we start off by learning about plant parts.  But our focus is to go deeper and learn their jobs for helping the plant survive.  We make a plant parts jobs flip book with this adorable craft option!

Then, we shift to animals and read about adaptations that animals have made to survive.

We set up adaptation stations around the room for kids to rotate through and explore and experience 8 different adaptations animals make.  You can read more about this in depth in this blog post (coming soon!)

One of my favorite activities during these stations is matching animal adaptations to ways humans mimic those adaptations.  It's a great way to build up that background knowledge for the upcoming STEM project later in the week!

STEM Challenge: Copy Cat

During the end of week 3, we work on our STEM challenge!  This one is called copy cat because students are mimicking an organism adaptation to build something to solve a human problem.  This challenge come straight from the Next Gen Standards.

I'm going to be honest here, ya'll.  When I first saw this engineering standard, I was like, "What the heck????"

No lie.  #realtalk

But once I got into creating this unit, I actually really, TRULY love this challenge now.  I feel like we have set up our first graders with enough background knowledge, examples, and experiences with adaptations to help them be successful with this challenge.

Want to see how this challenge works exactly?  And how to make it attainable for littles?  Read this blog post for more detail! (coming soon!)  Here's a sneak peak...

Organism Trade Book List

Want links to the trade books I use in this unit?

Find all of the affiliate links here!
What's Alive
Animal Babies
Animal Babies On the Farm
All In The Family - heredity
How Animal Babies Stay Safe
Born in the Wild
Raising Babies: What Animal Parents Do
Are You My Mother?
The Ugly Duckling
Experiment with Parts of a Plant
The Tiny Seed
What If You Had Animal Feet?
What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?

As always, snag this unit for 50% off for the first 48 hours!  Or grab this bundle of all Next Gen Science Standard Units for First Grade and save!

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