Yay! I'm on Spring Break ~ only it doesn't look too springy out. Because we aren't going anywhere I have time to relax, catch up on projects, hang out with one of my three granddaughters (2 of them are in Disney World), and generally do as I wish.
I do wish, that the weather is a little better. OK, I wish it was A LOT better. At least not snowy...
What's going on? We didn't have a flake of snow in December when we would have appreciated it!
Here is a little color for this dreary weather. One day these two little cuties got out the tub of buttons to sort. I didn't even realize that they were rainbow colors! They did this on their own! I emailed this picture to our art teacher. She was very happy to see that they arranged them in correct rainbow order! (I'm not sure if the picture in the background served as inspiration...)
Last week my Kinders enjoyed playing this St. Patrick's Day themed game. It includes an Easter version of all the game boards ~ and is only $1.00! Click HERE to buy.
Cabin Fever followed by Spring Fever left some of my little darlings a bit out of sort. We created Positive Posies to help us to remember happy thoughts. First, we brainstormed a list of feel-good ideas. The kids chose bright paper, traced & cut out pieces, and then decorated their creations with positive messages. Everyone was left feeling pretty happy with these colorful flowers!
The postcards are back! This is what we have so far. Last year I offered a giveaway to readers who sent me postcards. If you would like to win any product from my TpT store, please send me a postcard from your state (or country). On the back, clearly print your email address and the name of my product that you would like to win. I will select a winner on April 4, 2015. Good luck & THANKS! See info below to enter.
OK, I know it's March and the last thing anyone wants to think about is penguins... Well, I never got around to writing a post about our fun with penguins (in January), but I guess it's better to be late than never.
Our hallway bulletin board. The wonderful ~ realistic ~ penguins were made by our wonderful primary aide Mrs. O. They really complimented our penguin writing!
Are you bigger than a penguin? My kids had fun measuring themselves against the different sizes of penguin breeds.
The following are some samples of our penguin writing. Every level of learner successfully wrote about penguins. We really had a lot of fun researching the flightless birds!
The little author of this piece was very concerned about what penguins do during storms. It was her "What do I Wonder." I had to do a little Google research to find out that they "huddle up together in a storm."
If you aren't totally sick of all things winter, then hop over to my TpT store and get my top-selling Penguins unit. It's half price for a while. (Grab it now & prep it at your leisure. It will be ready for you next January!) Click HERE to purchase.
Not too long ago as my class was walking to a special one of my little girls asked me to help her tie her sash. Our school secretary was also in the hall. She made the remark that she was surprised by the fact that Kindergarten Teachers do so much more than "simply teach." That got me to thinking about all the different hats I wear as a Kindergarten Teacher.
In the course of the day I often am asked to play one or more of the following non-academic roles: wardrobe fixer (untied sashes, twisted straps, bunchy sleeves, stuck zippers, etc.), first aid administer (bandage applier, nose bleed stopper, lost tooth baggie giver, tissue hander-outer), lost & found director ("Mrs. Phillips, I can't find my other glove!" "Did you look in your pocket?"), drill sargent ("Walk facing front & keep your hands to yourselves."), coach, ("Keep up the good work!" "You can do it!"), yoga instructor ("Take a deep breath." "Let's stretch."), mediator ("How do you feel when she said that?" "What is another way to handle that?"), mommy (I give out & receive lots of hugs!), and the only stable adult in your life (this role makes me sad & happy ~ sad that it's needed, but happy to be it).
Don't get me wrong ~ I'm happy to wear those hats. But, it's no wonder I come home tired! My good friend (fourth grade teacher) asserts that there is a special pass to Heaven for Kindergarten & First Grade Teachers! (I taught fourth grade for one year. I liked it, but do prefer working with the little kids.)
Here are a few more Truths About Teaching Kindergarten...
Kindergarten Teachers need to be crafty and organized. Pinterest has really upped the creative teacher ante. I have always been a crafty sort (it's in my genes), but now I find myself wanting to make things that are Pinterest-worthy. (I do love to see my things pinned by others!) With eighteen busy little kiddos to keep in control, I need to keep my stuff in control. (This is a real challenge...)
Kindergarten teachers really appreciate the small stuff. I was over the moon when a student gave me a pack of Sharpies during Teacher Appreciation Week last year. Our elf had fun sitting in the sleigh a student made for me (it's sitting atop JOY blocks given to me by a student). We are also peace keepers. Helping little kids to learn to respect others is a a part of our job.
Kindergarten Teachers are good sports. I DO NOT like bugs on me (in fact I really don't like nature to touch me). But, when the agriculture vocational students included the Kinders in a Monarch release I allowed this butterfly to ride around on my shoulder ~ to delight of my students. When the Rainbow Loom craze was in full force I was gifted with many of these colorful accessories. One day I wore them all! I was such a fashionista!
Kindergarten Teachers know how to include others. We plan field trips (we went to a county park & saw farm animals & hiked through the woods). We schedule special guests (we learned about different types of soil by using food products, and got to touch the pelts of animals native to Indiana while we learned about what they do in winter). We host parent (and in this case grandparent) volunteers.
But, the biggest Truth About Teaching Kindergarten is ~ I wouldn't want to do anything else!
This is the time of year when Kinders tend to really blossom in their reading skills. It's so exciting to see them with their cute little noses in books! I usually have several kids following me around with a book that they want to read to me. :-)
In order to best support student learning I am always thinking about ways to improve and add to our literacy block. I am fortunate to have two amazing teaching partners ~ we collaborate and share ideas every day. We all do Daily 5, which has been a great factor in helping our kiddos to become readers. "Read to Self" is such a powerful way for students to practice reading. Here are a few pictures of some of my little readers. They are free to choose where to sit ~ as long as they are able to read without getting (or being) distracted.
The little guy in the corner in the upper left picture really likes that cozy reading spot ~he goes there almost every day. I was a little hesitant to bring in that blue chair ~ I thought there would be squabbles over who could sit in it, but to my delight the Kinders have been great about taking turns!
More readers. (I guess the kids in the lower right are reading to someone, not self.)
Another component of our literacy block is writing. The Kinders in these pictures have chosen "Work on Writing" as their Daily 5 choice. In addition to writing in their journals I have lots of writing activities and materials available in our Writing Station.
My latest find is the WONDERFUL new reading program from the fabulous DeeDee Wills & Deanna Jump. OMG!!! I am sooooo excited about it! As I mentioned earlier, I am always trying to improve upon what we do. For the kids, but also for myself. Our adopted reading series is so boring, and I found myself supplementing so much that I felt that I was writing my own curriculum. Well, no more! Thanks to the work of such talented ladies I now have a comprehensive reading program with trade books that make sense for the month in which they are taught. ( I could never understand why our reading series had My Garden for the unit we do in late December/early January. Yes, I know it is warm in some places in those months, but it is still winter... Why not have a book like The Snowy Day? Sorry about my little rant.)
Anyway, Guiding Readers is now available for January & February and contain everything you need to teach all the skills with quality trade books. The units are full of easy prep lessons and materials.
One component I really like is the response to text writing. Here are some pictures of some of my little cuties' writing in response to The Snowy Day. (Hey, that's a great book for January!)
I copied the writing pages I wanted to do with my kids & stapled them into booklets. By keeping the pages together the kids are able to go back and work on a a previous day's writing if they want to. In this lesson we talked about visualizing as we read the book together. They shared what they visualized with their partners, and then got their booklets and wrote about it. This page not only helped my little students, but it served as a "light bulb moment" for me ~ as I was walking around conferring with my students, I came to the little girl who wrote the piece on the left. I was about to ask her why she drew/wrote herself into the story. Luckily, I caught myself. She not only visualized what was happening in the story, she visualized herself into the story! Pretty cool, huh?
This page is the writing activity that turned "DS" into a writer! Really. Up until we did this page, his writing went kind of like this: scribble, scribble, bother the person near him, walk around looking for words (not ever really sure which words he wanted, but on a word hunt never-the-less), make funny noises, and say "I'm done!" But, something clicked with this response to literature. His paper is the one on the right.
I like that this set has pages for opinion writing. These kids made me proud ~ they didn't say they liked sunny days because they "like it."
My little Cutie Pies. Of course, no post on reading would be complete without some pictures of my darling granddaughters. Eighteen month old Amelia loves to "read!" (And she should, her mommy is author Emily Goodwin!) Sisters, Olivia 2, and Isabella almost 5, share a book. This was taken one morning after a snowy sleepover at Mimi & Papa's house. I texted the picture to their kindergarten teacher mommy Sarah of Kinder Cakes ~ of course she loved seeing her girlies reading in the morning!
We FINALLY got to have our 100th Day of Kindergarten. It should have been last Wednesday, but with snow days, it was pushed to yesterday. But, you guessed it ~ another snow day!
My driveway & the street ~ not much difference!
We had two of our little sweeties stay with us over the weekend. We built "Jeremy the Snowman" on Sunday. By Monday he looked "a fright!" Soon to be five Isabella said that he reminded her of the snowman in the book (Snowmen at Night). Her mommy (daughter Sarah) is also a kindergarten teacher, so I was sure to text her ~ being the teacher nerds that we are, Isabella's text to self connection made us very excited! We had an extra day of fun yesterday.
Well, back to 100th Day...
100th Day shirts.
100 cup structures. Who knew red Solo cups could be so much fun empty? ;-)
The kids had fun creating gumball machines with 100 gumballs!
Counting 100 small items & 100 piece snack.
Writing their name as many times as possible in 100 seconds, writing 100 tally marks, creating books with 100 rubber stamp imprints, and doing 100 exercises.
It started snowing shortly after school let out. The weather man predicted another 1 - 3 inches over night & maybe a little freezing rain mixed in...
Crazy Indiana weather! I'm so happy that we finally reached our 100th day of kindergarten!