Monday, October 20, 2014

Fire truck!

   Such a busy week -- learning all about bats and starting math assessments and progress monitoring --  but we did squeeze in a little visit with the firemen when they came to Valmead for the Boys Book Club.  We just had 10 minutes before dismissal, but I got a few cute pictures to share. It is past midnight and I have bus duty in the morning, so no time to write an actual blog. So here are the pictures and I am going to bed!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Help! Teaching Math to 5 year Olds -- STRESS!

    If you read my blog regularly, you probably know that I sing with Carolina Style Chorus, part of an international organization of woman who like to sing together in the barbershop style -- a Capella  -- the Sweet Adelines. This was the weekend of our big yearly fundraiser, so I left school and went straight to work setting up tables and chairs and gathering all my best dishes and table decorations for the event, the Festival of Tables. My son made cupcakes for the dessert table, and by 2:00 a.m. we
were done for the night. This morning I left the house at 8:00 to continue the preparations. We had about 27 tables to decorate,  served the food to our guests, then took off our aprons and put on our sparkly outfits and stepped up on the risers to do what we love -- sing. It was great fun and we got a standing ovation. But then it was time for all the clean up and pack up. I got home at 3:30, left all the decorations and dirty dishes in the car, and stumbled to the bed, where I collapsed and slept for about 2 hours.  Here are a couple pictures  -- the first one is my table. Can you tell that I love cardinals?

Here's another pretty one

And my favorite, the dessert table!

      Although I love my job, it can be stressful, and singing helps me unwind -- and makes me a happier and more relaxed teacher.
       Speaking of stressful -- it has been one of those weeks as I tried to find a way to cover the required math standard.  "Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way... And record each decomposition by a drawing or equation."  In other words, I need to get them to understand the different combinations of numbers that are equal to each number -- like 5 is 1+ 4 and 2+3 and 0 +5.  We always try to give them hands-on manipulatives, so I started by giving each child a set of 6 connecting cubes. The plan was to let them trade one cube with a partner so they would have 5 + 1. But before I could even get all the cubes given out, they were making guns or crosses, taking their partner's cubes, losing part of the 6 -- it was impossible.  I was ready to beat my head against the wall.  So I took up all the cubes and just demonstrated with magnetic buttons on a cookie sheet.

   Then I saw an idea on another teacher's blog, so I made some little bracelets with pony beads to demonstrate the concept the next day.

   These helped - at least they weren't making guns -- but still didn't seem like they were getting it.
Back to the drawing board.
     Then my blogger friend, Heidi Butkus --creator of many songs and games and videos we use in my class-- shared an idea about using a jack-o-lantern picture to make combinations using teeth. 

I had the little equation cards that I bought from Teachers Pay Teachers -- Guiding Kinders Math Workshop by Deedee Wills and Deanna Jump. These worked very well to help the kids start writing equations.  
Heidi also sent me a pattern for trees to use for this activity, and I already had some little apple erasers that I bought a few years ago, and this worked great -- they finally got it and were even able to work with a team to do some equations.

     So, looks like they are starting to get it -- and I am so grateful for all those teachers across the country who are helping me teach in a way that the children understand. You can't always just turn to the next page in the workbook in kindergarten -- sometimes you have to explore other ways to get the lesson across and go beyond the book. It will still take lots of practice, but that is what kindergarten is all about!

    We learned about fire safety this week -- a subject very near to us, since 2 of my students have had house fires in the past year. I asked them to sit down with their family and work out an escape plan, and so I feel a little better about that.  The " stop, drop, and roll" message was fun, but had to correct the misconception that some had -- you only do that if your clothes are on fire. "What do you do if your house is on fire?" STOP DROP AND ROLL!! " "No, you get out of the house and call 911!" 
 Look at the cute fire trucks they made.

    I am seeing progress in their writing, too -- some wrote describing sentences this week about apples. They were so proud.

   Still working on spaces between job isn't finished I will keep singing!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We Survived the Field Trip!

             Today we went  to the apple orchard on our first field trip, and thanks to some great parent and grandparent volunteers,  I think almost everyone had a good time! The bus ride was kind of long, but we sang lots of songs and that made the time go by faster..
            First off was a trip on a wagon pulled by a tractor through the apple orchard. We saw apples growing on dwarf trees and bigger trees and even some baby trees.

    After the wagon ride, we went in to see the conveyor that graded the apples as peewee, small, medium, and large. We found out that the best apples are sorted to be sold, the slightly bruised ones are squished for cider, and the rest are called deer apples because they are fed to the deer.

    After we saw the cider mill, we were able to taste a cup of cider and some apples.  We even got to choose 6 apples to take home with us. Then they let us go in the cooler room where they store the apples. It was COLD!

     We had a picnic lunch, then got on the bus for the trip back to school. Everyone had a good time except for one of our little friends who had an ear ache. He was in great pain, and he cried until he finally fell asleep on my lap. I am so grateful for the moms, grandma, and a dad who came along to help.  
     This is  one tired teacher now, but I am sitting at the eye doctors office, waiting for my eyes to dilate so he can finish the exam, and trying not to fall asleep. Tomorrow we will write about our adventure at the orchard