Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Earth Day - Our Favorite Project!

Earth Day will be here in a few weeks.  There is so much to share about Earth Day, but this post will be short and sweet, about a favorite project of my kinders every year!  We did it today and it did not disappoint!

SO simple!  All you need is white coffee filters, a black sharpie, green and blue thick washable markers, heart die-cuts, and a spray bottle.

Step 1:  The kiddos color the entire coffee filter using the green and blue markers, to have it represent the earth.  (It's important that they are washable markers.)  They write their name using a black permanent marker

Step 2:  This is the kiddos favorite part!  They use a spray bottle to mist the entire filter. The blue and green markers bleed, while the the black marker isn't changed.

Step 3:  Add a heart cutout to the center once the coffee filter dries.  

The possibilities are endless!!  This year, we used the earths to decorate our April calendar project.  (The kiddos take home a calendar at the start of each month that gives the special for each day, shout outs for student birthdays, etc...)  The lighting of the picture above is terrible.  The background paper is actually light green, and the calendar itself is printed on light blue paper.

In the past we have used it to go along with a writing prompt, "I promise to take care of the earth by..."   They also make lovely window decorations!

However you celebrate Earth Day with your littles, this project is sure to be a favorite!

Monday, 14 March 2016

Getting Our Green On - Kindergarten Style

It's the start of St. Patrick's Day week in Kindergarten.  We have a lot planned, and I will follow my kinders lead on how much we dive into some things, but I couldn't help but want to share the start to our week.  

I  happened upon an amazing store during a girls' weekend away last weekend (You can read about that here.).  I was thrilled to find so many fun things to use in my classroom!  Check out the cookie cutters and the shamrock number cubes!!

The large shamrock cookie cutters are 6 inches tall.  I put out a call for green play doh (last night- a Sunday evening), and had 10 containers of it sent in to school THIS MORNING!  Wow!  I am so blessed by the parents of my students!  They are SO supportive of everything we do at school!  The play doh and cookie cutters (along with the biscuit cutters, also in the picture) were waiting for my kiddos at the play doh center for morning free play when the kiddos walked in today.  They were a HUGE hit!  A sneaky little leprechaun just may add some glitter and Kool-Aid scents to the play doh on Wednesday evening...

We used the adorable shamrock number cubes in math this morning for a roll, add, and color activity, and then again during Word Work.  I love having my kinders use predictable activities during Literacy Centers,  It really cuts down on interruptions during my Guided Reading groups, and offers a feeling of self-efficacy to the kiddos.  It's a win-win situation!  This is our absolutely, hands-down, most asked for Word Work activity:

We use them for every season!  You can get them in a Growing Bundle here.

Our read aloud for the week (we started it last week) is "Leprechaun in Late Winter", part of The Magic Tree House series.  My kinders LOVE, LOVE, LOVE listening to chapter books!  This is the first Magic Tree House book I've read to them and they are hooked!

And finally, we finished our class book for the St. Patrick's Day project exchange I signed up for via the Simply Kinder group on FaceBook.  Teachers are paired up to exchange stories...  You and your partner teacher can choose your own stories (class books) to have your classes complete or choose one that is ready to download.  My partner and I chose this one by Simply Kinder.  If you are a Kindergarten teacher and are not part of the Simply Kinder group,  RUN to FB and join the group!  It is a treasure trove of ideas and support!

Phew!  Today was a busy Monday!  We have some fun days ahead of us this week!  What are your favorite activities to do for St. Patrick's Day?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments or on our FaceBook or IG pages!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

"It was just like a movie. It was just like a song."

This past week was a week, well...., a week that left me feeling tired and defeated.  My hubby (who is not a teacher), asked me what was weighing on me so heavily.  How could I articulate that it was nothing earth shattering that left me driving for a weekend getaway in tears after school on Friday? He'd think I was crazy if I told him that a quick trip to the book fair added a layer of stress to the week.  Or that a broken duck decoration caused me to have to head into the hallway to take ten deep breaths.  Or that a look from a coworker made me feel insecure and slightly angry.  None of those things in and of themselves have the power to ruin a day, much less a week, for me on usual terms. Couple them with a new student, an established student who is feeling jealous of the new student, and getting this message dozens of times while working on report cards:

and I felt defeated.  And tired.  And frustrated.  I kid you not, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I hit "save" on my report cards, this message popped up and I lost the latest text I had typed in.  Our report cards are narratives, so this created a huge issue!  I was running out of time to get report cards done and I'm pretty sure ISC was screening my calls and avoiding my stressed self.  After painstakingly getting the report cards finished, they wouldn't print!!  Sigh!  Sob, really!  I finally got the printing issue resolved- at 2:40 pm.  They needed to be in backpacks and ready to go home with kids by 3:00. Phew!  My heart is racing just typing about it.

So- fast forward to 4:30 on Friday.  I was getting in the car by myself to head out of town for a weekend away with girlfriends.  I started to drive.  The tears started.  I didn't want to go away with friends.  I didn't want to do any adulting of any kind.  Yet I kept driving.  As I did, I ran through all of my strategies for destressing.  I relaxed my right shoulder, then my left.  I remembered a yoga instructor once telling us to make sure our tongues were not pushing against the roofs of our mouths, so I paid attention to my tongue.  Really, I just said that!  I relaxed my tongue!  Lol!  I breathed in clear air and pushed out tense air.  And I still didn't want to do any adulting.  I kept thinking about the week.  About the kiddo who hit me with no regard and answered "no" to everything I said ALL. WEEK. LONG.  I questioned my classroom management and my effectiveness.  And then I cried again.  The last thing I wanted to be thinking about was school!  I wanted just one weekend off!  

I drove around a bend in the road I was traveling on and was greeted by this amazing sunset.  The pictures don't even begin to do it justice.  They are not really worthy of posting, yet, pulling over to take the pictures helped transition me from stress to gratitude.

Adele was soulfully singing on the radio as I started off again to my destination.  The lyrics "It was just like a movie.  It was just like a song..." made me smile.  Isn't teaching so much like a movie and a song?  The rhythms of the classroom are magical, moving, and song-like.  The conversations, enthusiasm, and growth are movie worthy.  And sometimes songs are sad.  Sometimes movies are tense.  What I needed was not to block school from my thoughts for the weekend.  What I needed was to embrace the song and the movie of Kindergarten, and of my week.

I finished the drive, met up with my friends at a beautiful hotel, and hit the hay early.  Just what I needed.  And then this morning I woke up, walked to a great shop in the quaint town we are staying in and shopped.  And what did I buy?  Well, things for my classroom of course!!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

A blogger at last!!

Woooohoooo!  I am a blogger!  Well, I have a blog.  I'm not sure one post makes me an official blogger quite yet, though.  Anyway, here's to step one!

Who am I?
That's simple.  I am a woman with a full heart, a cup that's overflowing!  I have a strong faith, a husband who I love walking through this crazy world with, and three littles who take the word "crazy" to a whole new level!

Why do I teach?
I have been teaching for 15 years.  Teaching wasn't a career that I chose.  Teaching chose me.  I don't remember how, or when, probably because I think teachers are often born with 'teaching genes'. Teaching isn't my job, it's my lifestyle.  Actually, if you ask my family, they'd say it's our family's lifestyle!

What do I teach?
I teach children :)  I taught fourth grade for ten years and LOVED it!  In my heart, I knew that at some point I wanted to get involved in teaching children the mechanics of HOW to read, as opposed to understanding WHAT they'd read.  An opportunity came up at the end of the my tenth year of teaching and I spontaneously took it!  I woke up that morning as a fourth grade teacher, and left school that afternoon as a Kindergarten teacher!  And just like fourth grade, I LOVE Kindergarten!  I have a lot to say about how fourth grade and Kindergarten are strikingly similar.  I'm saving that for a future post ;)

Thursday, 3 March 2016