Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Hat

      One of my favorite winter books is "The Hat" by Jan Brett.  And the lesson we did this week was great.  I love introducing the Jan Brett books to my kinders-- there are so many details to learn from and her illustrations are wonderful.
       The reason I chose this book was because of a super gift my class receives every year from a precious retired teacher.  Mrs. Carney, with help this year from Susan Beuclen, knits beautiful warm hats for each of my children and I let each of them choose the one they wanted.  She has been doing this for about 15 years, and has givens hundreds of these hats to the kindergarten children at Valmead.  Her hands are not so strong these days, so she had a helper this year, and we appreciate all she does for our children.

      We did a little math lesson as we counted and arranged them in groups of five. 

          The boys and girls loved their new hats.

          My assistant brought her knitting needles and demonstrated knitting, since the book was all about knitted winter scarves, socks, mittens, and hats.

           I found a free writing paper on Teachers Pay Teachers that was a perfect ending to this lesson.  The kids colored the hat in the picture just like the hat they had chosen, then they wrote a thank you and a description of their hat.  We bound these into a book to give to Mrs. Carney.


      I love my hat.
It will keep my head warm.
Thank you.
It looks warm.

    This is the best writing I have seen from some of my kinders this year.  I look forward to lots more growth in the second half of the year.  
     What a great Christmas gift!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The (Christmas) Show Must Go On

 This was the night of the school Christmas program, and my kindergarten class performed "The Tale of the Gingerbread Man," a play written by Heidi Butkus of Heidisongs. I had been tempted to try it for a couple years, but this was the year I finally was brave enough to actually attempt it.
  I had lots of help with props and costumes.  My assistant painted the bridge and we propped it in front of steps borrowed from 2 other classrooms -- it was perfect.  She also made the fox tail and ears and sewed buttons and trim on the gingerbread man costume.

  My talented husband made the stove from a cardboard box.  He was sick all weekend, but pulled himself together enough to deliver it to the school this afternoon. It was way better than I expected, and I am blessed to have a husband with skills!

       We had to re-write the part with bears, since we had no costumes.  I did have a great duck costume, so our play had ducks instead of bears. One of the ducks didn't come, so we made a last minute substitution. We also had to replace the little boy, and both did a good job considering they had never practiced the role.  It was a little risky, but worked out okay. The teacher who was going to narrate the story had a sick child, so her assistant filled in and did a wonderful job.  One farmer went home from school today with an earache, and another farmer threw up at lunch so we had to have 2 replacement farmers today, as well. Can you say FLEXIBLE?
       I can't say enough about the kids, though. They learned about 7 songs with actions in less than 3 weeks, and the soloists and small groups of singers were great.  But the best example of " The show must go on..." was the fox.  She was just about to sing the last verse of her solo when she suddenly got a look of extreme distress on her face.  She had to "go" - and it was too late. She wet her pants right there. But after a brief almost panic, she looked at me and sang the last part without missing a note. Luckily, she was wearing 2 pairs of pants, so there was no puddle. I couldn't believe she was able to make a strong finish after all that, but I was so proud of her!

     I am sorry I didn't get a good picture, but I was directing and there was just no time.  But I will not soon forget this night.
      I am so grateful for the encouragement from Heidi to put on her play. It was perfect for kindergarten age children.  The songs were easy to learn, and every rehearsal was fun for the kids. And the audience loved it!
      Now I can concentrate on getting through this last crazy full moon week of school before Christmas.  We still have ornaments to make, assessments to complete, and too much to do. But I loved doing this, and appreciate all the support from co-workers, family, and parents of my kindergarten kids, and Heidisongs! It was definitely a group effort, and a joy! Thank you, thank you, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Growing My Kindergarten! We love when Santa comes to visit!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Meeting Deanna Jump!

      I got up at 5:30 this morning and drove in the rain for 2 hours to go to the North Carolina Kindergarten Teachers Conference in Greensboro. And it was so worth it! One of the superstars of Teachers Pay Teachers, Deanna Jump, was one of the presenters, and I signed up for all 4 of her classes. I sat the front row, taking notes and snapping pictures with my IPad -- what a wonderful invention! I took pictures of everything Deanna brought to share with us.  She was so generous with her creative ideas.  -- and I was especially excited when she drew my name out for a free download from her store!  I love everything she has ever made to sell or give away, so I don't know how I will ever choose.

                            Mrs. Deanna Jump, kindergarten teacher extraordinaire 

     Besides all the ideas about reading, math, science, social studies, and the common core, I needed to hear her presentation about organization. This is my 10th year teaching kindergarten at Valmead, and I have collected so much junk that there is hardly an inch of counter or cabinet space anywhere. Last week I sent out an email request for toilet paper tubes, and my generous friends have sent bags full. I even got a box of tubes in the mail today!

           And then here's this slide in Deanna's talk... 

        Obviously I don't need to waste space on these items that "can easily be replaced."
I am determined to start getting rid of the things I don't need. And when we finish using all the toilet paper tubes we need for Christmas projects, I am going to TRY to turn loose of them instead of keeping them until next Christmas!
          Meeting Deanna Jump was one of the highlights of this year.  She was so kind and patient and enthusiastic -- no one would guess that she had made a MILLION dollars selling teaching resources. But it is no wonder her creations are always top sellers -- my brain -- and iPad -- are full of her ideas.
I know what I want for Christmas-- gift cards for TPT and Amazon!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Visit from Mrs. Claus

          It's been a busy week, full of gingerbread stories and Christmas crafts and practicing for our first ever Christmas play, "The Gingerbread Man."  The play was written by Heidi Butkus, a kindergarten teacher, and it is so much fun for the kids.  I don't know how they will do when they are actually on stage, but they are really getting in to the songs and learning quickly.
          We had a surprise visitor today -- Mrs. Santa Claus paid a visit to our class.

           It was so exciting -- like we need any more excitement at this time of year -- and I just wanted to share a few pictures.  I asked the kids to raise their hands if they had been good -- all but 2 hands went up.  I appreciated their honesty, but I wondered if they were worried at all that they might just get a lump of coal...


    And a picture with my assistant, "Mrs. Awesome"-- a well-deserved name given to her by one of our former students.  

            Thank you, Mrs. Claus ( when not busy taking care of Santa and his elves, she also serves on our school board.). 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanks for Thanksgiving

      We just got the call that we have a 3 hour delay tomorrow because of expected ice in the morning.  
The kids have been excited this week -- kind of like the day before Christmas or the day after Halloween --  and personally I am ready for a break.  So, a short day tomorrow is good news.  Luckily we kind of expected the bad weather, so we did most of our Thanksgiving activities already.

     I love the little Pilgrim hats!

         Then on Friday we made turkeys with Oreos and candy corn.  A little messy, but yummy.

      Today we made turkey hats.  I saw these on Pinterest -- I love Pinterest -- and they turned out so cute! 

         At the end of the day -- out of time and trying to do too much at once -- I asked them to write "I am thankful for my mom -- or grandma -- or family --".  After the children were all gone and the room was quiet, look what I found stuck on the board!  (I think "tich" means teacher.)  Aww -- how sweet!
And he even started with a capital and ended with a big fat period!  

   I am thankful for all the hugs I get from this class, all the progress they have made -- and especially for enough energy to keep up with them.  And, thank you, God, that the Pilgrims had that feast in November so we can have a break before we jump in to the Christmas season!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lemons? Make Lemonade!

  Our school participates in a Fruit and Vegetable program, and the children get a nutritious snack 3 days a week. Some have been a big hit -- like grapes and watermelon. Some have been a little strange -- jicama was a mystery to all of us. And the pomegranate was the biggest mess I have ever seen.  We had purple stickiness EVERYWHERE!  But today was the craziest.  They gave us a bag of lemon halves to feed the children. Lemons.  Who eats a lemon for a snack? So, not one to waste food -- I made a quick trip to Wal-mart and bought a container of sugar.  I gave them a cup and half a lemon, and they squeezed out the juice. Then I gave them a spoonful of sugar to stir in before filling the  cup with water. It was great fun--and pretty messy -- and they enjoyed drinking the lemonade. Most thought lemonade came from a powder, so fresh-squeezed lemonade was a new experience.

                                                            NEEDS MORE SUGAR!

                              THUMBS UP FOR FRESH SQUEEZED LEMONADE!

  We started a new writing unit today -- "How-to Writng" by Deanna Jump.  It wasn't in the lesson plans, but we will be writing about how to make lemonade tomorrow.  So, the crazy snack I was complaining about turned out to be a great topic for writing.  I hope I will always try to make lemonade when life gives me lemons!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sight Words. Part 2

   Last week I wrote about putting all my sight words on pocket charts after school on Friday.  On Monday morning, this is the scene when the kids came in the room.

     Five little boys, gathered around the pocket chart, finding their own current list and reading the words!  This is even better than I hoped -- they were drawn to it like a magnet.  Quite a few passed another list this week.  One of my boys is on the last set, and 2 more are competing to be the next to master all those words.  They were both on the same list, and when the first one passed his list on 
Friday, he did the happy dance around the room, singing, "I am ahead of you!"  The celebration didn't last too long, because the second boy passed, too, and he was singing and dancing around, too. We sang the "Teach Me How to Read" chant and I thought again how blessed I am to have the opportunity to teach kids how to read.

     We read "Owl Babies,"one of my favorite books last week and Mrs. "Awesome", my assistant helped the kids paint these owls and put up a new bulletin board -- so cute!

      We learned about Veterans Day on Friday with a visit from my own veteran, Mr. Spencer.  He was in the Army for 25 years and he was glad to come to our class.  I forgot to take a picture, but I think the children will remember now that we need to honor the brave men and women who have served our country in the military services.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sight words

   In our county, kindergarteners are only required to know 30 sight words by the end of the year.  But every year I have children who learn well over 100 -- even 200 words. And the more words they know instantly, without trying to "sound out," the more fluently they will be reading . So this year I made sets of words on pretty cards and they learn the Yellow Words then the Green Words and so on. Today I had an idea -- I put the cards in rows on my pocket charts. Then I put name cards at the top of each row so I can see at a glance who is working on each list.  It will be a quicker way for me to assess their progress, but it will also be a way for them to see who they can ask to help them practice their words. The other advantage to this display is that they can easily see the words on their list to practice Word Work for Daily 5. They can use stamps or tiles or Wikki Stix or any of our Word Work supplies to practice spelling out their own words. I can also zip through them for a review with the whole group.

    Some of my boys are especially motivated to master each new list.  One comes in every morning saying, "Can I say my words?"  Another child has a sibling in a higher grade, and they are both working on the same words. I asked him if his brother knew the words. He shook his head no, and said,
" He gets yelled at, but I get candy."  No wonder he is motivated, but I feel sorry for the one who is having trouble keeping up. In our class we celebrate every time a child masters a new list. They get a certificate to take home and admiration from the teacher and class. I am eager to see how this moveable word wall will work.  I think it will be great for making sentences, too -- and easy to see where the cards go when it is time to replace them. 
      I'm expecting some really good readers this year!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Happiness

     First of all, I am happy because we only had school for half a day on Halloween, and, even better, there is no school tomorrow, the day after we all go into a sugar stupor.  Whoever planned out the school calendar this year really got it right!
      I am waiting for the first trick-or-treaters to make their way to my porch.  I brought my jack-o-lantern home from school to do double duty as a decoration on my front porch.  I thought about changing my flag to a Halloween one, but since it would only be up for one day, I'll just wait until time to put up the Christmas one -- if I don't remember Thanksgiving!

      The Halloween Song is by Heidi Butkus of Heidisongs  -- we loved this song and the book is pretty easy to do -- if you have a great assistant to cut out all the pieces!

    (He is wearing a crown because he is "The King of Ing" today -- first one to recognize the -ing word in the morning message.)

      October is so full of interesting kindergarten subjects!  We made bats with toilet paper rolls -- they look great on our bulletin board.  Today we finished making a fun Halloween book that I bought from Heidisongs.  We sent home a pumpkin cut-out for a family decorating project.  But we ran out of time to do all we had planned, so next week we will paint the cute owls from the "Owl Babies" book and finish up a few other HAlloweenie things.

     On the afternoon before Halloween, I invited the parents of my kinders to come to school to share some cookies and chips while we entertained them with songs and poems and showed off some of what they had learned in the first 45 days of school.  It is pretty amazing to me to hear them reading after this short time, so I knew it would make their parents proud.  Their favorite activity was performing the "Five Little Pumpkins" poem -- we had to do it 4 times so everyone had a chance to hold a pumpkin and say a line. Over half the kids had a parent or other family member in the audience, and they enjoyed my great little actors.

                                       What a great job I have!  I love these kids!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fire Safety

It's Fire Safety Week, and I have a few pictures to share.  When I was a little girl, there were some children in my town who were killed in a house fire -- they were playing with matches and then hid in a closet when a fire started.  It was tragic and for this reason, I always try to really emphasize the dangers and safety procedures that they need to be aware of.
There are lots of books to choose from, but one of my favorites is Stop, Drop, and Roll.

  The kids always love the fire hats we give out every year during this week.

But the highlight of the week is the visit from the local firefighters.  They bring that big red firetruck over and let the kids see inside.  They tell them all about fire safety and answer all their questions.

This is a great inspiration, and they were eager to draw a firetruck and write in their journals. some even wrote sentences that I could read! 

It is funny -- the children have no sense of space at this time of the year.  Very few can remember to leave a space between the words, even though I demonstrate every day, sing the "I Need A Space" song, and put my finger down to show a "finger space" or a "meatball space" again and again.  But it will come --  it is still early.  Very few get the concept of writing on the lines, either -- but we are working on that, too.  I have to remember that most could not even write their name just a couple months ago! 
They were eager to share their "stories" and I love watching them grow as writers!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Apple Orchard Field Trip

  Our first field trip was a great success! We went to the Apple Hill Orchard in Morganton, NC.

First we made a stop at Freedom Park to try out their climbing, sliding, swinging fun.

We were glad our student intern could come, too.

Then we got back on the bus for a short ride to the orchard.  This was the first bus trip for some.

Here we are!

Our guide took us to the sorting room where the apples roll down the conveyer belt.  The are sorted by size and quality.  Some will go the store, some will be made into cider, and the rest will be sold for deer food.

Then we found out about bees and honey -- they are very helpful for apple trees.

We took a look at the very COOL storage room next -- it made us shiver!

Then we got to taste the cider and 2 kinds of apples. We even got to fill a bag with apples to bring home!

Now it was time for the last adventure -- a ride in a wagon through the apple orchard.  There were many kinds of apples growing on the trees. 

It was a lot of fun and we were glad Nate's mom and Aniyah's mom came along, too.
There were some very tired kids -- and teachers -- at the end of the day!