Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SunnyD Book Spree

Have you heard about the SunnyD Book Spree

Submit 20 UPC codes from SunnyD products and they will send you 20 FREE books for your classroom!!

I've done this in years past and have gotten a great box of books in the mail delivered right to my school. 

The deadline is November 30 so HURRY and click on the link. 

Pass this link along to any teacher you know!! 

What I'm Loving Wednesday


Here's what I'm loving today--

I'm loving that one of the new teachers on my team is inspiring me  to keep looking and planning ahead.  We are both planners.  The only difference is, she takes action on it all and gets it done on the spot!  I'm a thinker---and sometimes spend too much time thinking instead of doing.  We are working together and getting prepared for the weeks ahead.  It feels so good to leave school on a Friday afternoon with everything already prepared for the next week. 

I'm loving that I got accepted to the STAR Teacher Conference in October.  I worked on the application this summer and just got word this week!  More details to come!

I'm loving my Five Senses unit that I am teaching right now.  It brings me such joy to see the children experience their senses one at a time.  Today we smelled different items without using any other sense.  Some of the scents were peanut butter, mint, cinnamon, and popcorn. 

I'm loving that I have gotten THREE Donor's Choose projects funded already this year.  I am so grateful for generous donors in support of public education.  I will work with my students next week on writing Thank You notes. 

I'm loving that a loooonnngg weekend is coming up!  This teacher needs to catch up on some sleep!!

So much to be loving today!! 

Link up with Jamie here and tell me---

What are you loving today?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Name Game

How do you even begin to describe the importance of one's name?  Whether it was found in book, taken from a memorable member of the family, or even created just for you, your name is a gift that was given; it is yours and only yours to keep for the rest of your life.

As a kindergarten teacher, I am presented with this list each year of 20 or so names, usually around the end of July.  I get to know these names like the back of my hand before I ever even lay eyes on the sweet children that will make those names come to life for me in the next 180 days that spend together.

It was my third or fourth year teaching when I hurried up to school to retrieve the aforementioned list to scan it and begin learning the names. One name jumped out at me immediately-- Harvey.  "Oh, how cute!" I thought.  I was going to spend the year teaching a cute, red headed, freckled faced little boy!  I could see him like a character from a book.  Needless to say, Harvey was not a he, nor did he have red hair or freckles.  In through the door came sweet sweet Harvey Ellen; super stylish in a monogrammed dress and shiny blond hair. 


I first learned about The Name Game from Mrs. Meachem's website.  She "plays" about 4  or 5 rounds of The Name Game with her students.  In my kindergarten class, we play two!  It is a very exciting moment when I decide on and announce who is going to be--The Name Game Person of the Day! 

I begin by writing the name on a sentence strip.  We all cheer for the child that is chosen!  Then, I show the class the name as a whole and then cut it apart into letters.  I place each letter in the pocket chart one at a time, saying the name of each letter as I do it.  Then I shout, "What does THAT spell?"  And the children shout back the name.  Very exciting stuff here!! 

Next, we play "Mix it. Fix it."  I mix the letters and the child has to fix the letters, say each one in order, and then ask, "What does THAT spell?"  Then, we count the letters in the name and compare it to the ones we've done previously.

Each child then draws a picture of "The Name Game Person of the Day" and writes the name somewhere on the paper.  Mrs. Misenheimer, our Kindergarten Assistant, then binds the pages so that child will have a book to take home and keep.  The children LOVE taking home a collection of drawings of none other than themselves!

The Name Game is an important part of community building as we get to know the friends we'll be spending our kindergarten year with.  Round 1 lasts as long as the amount of children you have in your class.  I go through each name once and then begin Round 2. 

There are two big changes that occur during Round 2.  While playing "Mix it. Fix it." other children get to try and fix the child's name and then during the drawing/writing time, the children must include at least one detail about the child.  We interview them for a few minutes before going to work. 

We are about half way through Round 1 as of now......let the Name Game fun continue!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Correct Terminology

Just how important is it that we use correct terminology with our kindergarten students?

Onomatopoeia--instead of "sound words"

Schema--instead of "background knowledge" or "what you know"

Exclamation Point--instead of "happy" or "excited mark"

Ellipsis--instead of "dot dot dot"

Umlauts--instead of "dots"

As a class, we were working with ChloĆ«'s name today (notice the umlauts).  All the children quickly commented on the "dots" above ChloĆ«'s e.  I was very quick to describe those dots by their proper name--umlauts. 

But, this got me thinking-- just how important is it that we use correct terminology with our kindergarten students?

Just like the incident today, I make it a point to almost overuse the correct or proper name of new words.  I feel like I am broadening the vocabulary of these young people-- even if they don't come across these concepts for another week, month, or year.  At least they will have heard it.

But then I think, "Am I filling their heads with unimportant jargon?"  Is it just more important that they understand that this symbol (!) is used at the end of an exciting sentence and not necessarily know what it's called? 

I could argue with myself for hours. 

Let me know what you think--

Sunday, August 28, 2011

All SORTS of Fun and Learning

It was our first full week together in kindergarten and we experienced all sorts of fun and learning! 

We started off with the simplest of math concepts: Sorting.  The children worked in small groups most of the week as I led small, guided math groups.  On Friday, we all came back together for a SHOE SORT! 

Each child took off one shoe.  We made a big pile and then took turns sorting them in different ways. 

Can you guess how Abby sorted these shoes? 

(flip flops and sneakers)

What about how this child sorted? 

(girls shoes and boys shoes)

Small groups worked on sorting pictures of various items like this flower and fruit sort.  These tasks are designed for children to complete independently while I work with guided groups. 

Then, we all sorted items that begin with the letter A or B!  A great review to the end of our letter A and letter B sound practice this week. 

We even got to celebrate another 5 year old birthday---actually TWO!!  Happy Birthday to Chloe and Audrey!  

Here are the girls with their Mom.

To my teacher followers out there---how do you celebrate birthdays in the classroom?

We ended our week with my favorite snack activity.  Cheeze-it ABC letters!  Each child has to correctly match each letter before they can enjoy their snack!

Here's to many more great weeks ahead!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Letter B

It's time to celebrate the letter B! 

Our homework assignment for Wednesday was to bring in a item from home that starts with the letter B!

Here are two Barbie dolls.

Here are two Baseballs.

Here are some Bears and Books.

Here is a Bicycle, a Basketball, a Balloon, a Boot, and a Battery.

We did some handwriting practice on some basic "B" pages.  These pages provide clear pictures and simple practice.  They are from the download center on StarFall.

And, of course we used our letter B pocket chart!

Every Friday one of our families acts as "Produce Manager" and sends in a fresh fruit or veggie snack.  This week, Mrs. Claire B sent in some bananas and a gallon of milk for us!!  I added a few Nilla Wafers and a spoonful of Nutella.  It was a hit!  The other favorite B snack was a bagel and cream cheese. 

We sure stayed busy with the letter B on Thursday and Friday! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Here is what I'm loving today--

I'm loving that this is our first full week of school!  We actually started school last week, but it was only 3 days. It's always so nice to get into a routine.  The children appreciate it and so do I! 

I'm loving this new creamer--I always say that I enjoy a little coffee with my creamer--it's the truth!  Natural Bliss Sweet Cream--enough said.

I'm loving that we are having a couple cooler days this week!  I am ready for Fall. 

I'm loving that I am finally going to go and see the movie The Help this weekend!  I read the book a while back, but am really excited about the movie!  I have a feeling this might be the first time I ever say that I enjoyed the movie more than the book.

I'm loving my Dream Dinners that I ordered and picked up last week.  They are Yum-O!  I ordered and picked up 12 pre-made dinners.  They are in my freezer and ready to be cooked.  What a saving grace after staying at school so late!

What are you LOVING today?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Letter A

It's time to celebrate the letter A! 

For the first few weeks of school, I will do a quick review of each letter of the alphabet.  We learn about and explore two letters and week and then combine both letters on Friday for more practice.

"/a/ /a/ /a/ Abby is sad and /a/ /a/ /a/ is A!"  This is the chant we learned for the letter A from The Phonics Dance

"A for Apple, /a/ /a/ /a/!"  This is the beginning of Dr. Jean's "Action Alphabet" song that I use all the time.

I purchased this Letter of the Day Pocket Chart from Lakeshore through a Donor's Choose Grant last year and it is awesome!  It is an alphabet pocket chart.  There are many elements to it: handwriting practice, picture cards, an alliteration poem, and a tracing card.  I have this set up with each letter we study and the children get so excited to come in a see what letter is next.

Snack time is always a great time to integrate more letter practice!  On Monday we had Apple Jacks!  We cut apart the box and taped what we could all read to our "Environmental Print Wall".  On Tuesday, we had apples.

Then, we did a little handwriting practice! 
Look at those Awesome A's!

We were even making A's during cooperative play center time!  Here is an A made out of blocks!

I'm trying something a little new this year in the form of ABC books.  Each child has their own blank book (13 pieces of construction paper bound together).  On the second day of a letter study, we fill the page!  Since we are just starting out, the children only had 4 items to get on the page.  They had to write the letter, find the letter sticker, find the letter in the newspaper, and draw a picture of something that starts with that letter. 

Of course, we found items that start with the letter A and made a list of items that start with the letter A too.  The best part is--we have THREE friends in our class who start with the letter A!!  Abby, Austin, and Audrey really helped me out this week.  There is a lot to be said about the power of the children's names! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The First 3 Days

It was 4:00 on Friday afternoon as I sat at my desk and reflected on the first 3 days of kindergarten.  The quiet of the classroom that seemed so normal during the summer months now seems almost eerie. After hearing the sounds of voices and laughter from 19 new friends fill the four walls, I just can't wait for Monday to come back around.

I feel so blessed that our district allows us to begin school on a Wednesday.  This may seem strange to most, but getting back into the groove of school is a big transition!  Teachers use the first 3 days to get to know the children and teach procedures for the classroom, hallway and cafeteria. 

We learned so many things about school during our first 3 days together and had some fun along the way!

As we talked about working together and being friends in our classroom, I shared two books: I Call My Hand Gentle and Hands Are Not For Hitting.  After reading, we talked about all the nice ways we could use our hands and what we could "call" them.  Each child gave me a word that I wrote underneath their hand print.  We created a class book with these.

We shared in a reading of the "Weekly Reader" Back to School edition.  The children then drew a picture of what supply they needed to come to school.

On Friday, we  had a "working" snack!  The children had to match their cheez-it to the appropriate letter before they could eat!  I found this idea on Pinterest and the children loved it! 

We learned about all the different cooperative play CENTERS--

The Homeliving/Kitchen Center

I add menus from local restaurants to the bookshelf.  Megan is looking at one of my favorites-- Captain Steve's! 

The Puppet Center

We even got to celebrate our first birthday!  Samuel turned 5 years old!  Helllloooo colored icing!

 Samuel and his Mom!

What a FANTASTIC first 3 days!