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.).