Friday, April 30, 2010

F is for Funny, S is for Sweet

I don't have a long thought provoking post today, but sometimes kindergarten kids say things that are just so funny they need to be written about.

It turned out to be a beautiful spring day today, but it was pretty chilly this morning. When the kids came in from recess all hot and sweaty, "Margaret", realizing she would not need her jacket on the way home, asked me to help her force her jacket into her too small back pack. I tried to explain that it was just not going to work.

Me: Margaret, it's just too small, you wont' be able to zip it, and it's going to squish all your hard work.
Margaret: But Mrs. Collins, you HAVE to make it fit.
Me: I think you can manage to carry it. Leave it on your hook and we can tie it around your waist when you leave.
Margaret: No, that's not going to work.
Me: Why not, I think that's a perfect solution.
Margaret: Well you see Mrs. Collins, if I put it on my hook I'm going to forget it.
Me: No, I'm sure you won't.
Margaret: Oh, yes I will. I suffer from Short Term Memory Loss!

I wasn't about to argue with that logic!

And sometimes they say something that is just so sweet, it needs to be shared.

"Katherine" was having a particularly difficult day. She cried easily and I suspect she was over tired or hungry for lunch, or maybe a bit of both.
In the middle of our guided reading group she started to cry claiming one of the other kids called her ugly. I don't doubt this happened because as we get to the end of the year they are becoming more like siblings than classmates. They've spent a lot of time together and frankly they are just getting tired of one another!

As I was trying to get to the bottom of what had happened, "Kevin", one of my little cherubs got up out of his seat, walked over to Katherine, put his arm around her and said,

"Don't cry Katherine, because you are a pitty, pitty, pincess."

Her tears were gone, and in their place a smile.

I have a tiara that I sometimes wear to remind the kids that I can not be interrupted when I'm working one on one with a child. I placed the tiara on the pitty pincess' head and didn't see another tear for the rest of the day.

Funny and Sweet, they are what makes my job so perfect!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Sign of Diversity

I am very fortunate to have a very diverse classroom of kindergarteners. I have some whose parents are from Haiti, Africa, The Dominican Republic and Brazil.
In addition to English, many of my children speak Spanish, two speak Portuguese and one speaks French Creole.
One child, whose mother is deaf is fluent in American Sign Language. This has presented some challenges with parent/teacher communication and technology certainly helps with that. Text messages, and email have been the norm rather than the exception, and translators for parent/teacher conferences have to be scheduled weeks in advance.
The children have a natural curiosity about how "Jackson" communicates with his mom and I have to admit, I'm fascinated as well.
"Jackson" is a very active and endearing little boy. I watch as he runs around on the sidewalk chasing his friends at dismissal time and when all the other moms are yelling for their children to come to them and stop running, Jackson's mom waits patiently to catch his eye. He instinctively knows not to run too far and to check back in her direction on occasion. It makes me wonder about all the challenges she has to face on a daily basis in raising a child in a silent world.

The other children have experience at least in hearing other languages but for many this has been their first exposure to watching people communicate with ASL. They are fascinated by it and ask a lot of questions. I am still learning too! At the start of the year Jackson told me that he wanted to have a play date with a certain child, so I suggested that he talk to his mom about it. He looked at me funny, then said, "But I don't know how to spell "Matthew"!"
During a parent teacher conference, his mom brought to my attention that there was some difficulty helping "Jackson" complete some of his homework because she could not help him decode and sound out the words. An issue that had not occurred to me. It's been a learning process for all of us, but it's been a welcomed one!
The other day during choice time one little girl asked me if she could use my lap top because the other computers were being used. I set her up and left her to it. She went right to one of her favorite web sites, Starfall. This is a great web site, full of letters and sounds, stories and learning games. After a time, I noticed her concentrating intently on the computer screen and when I realized what she was doing, I quickly grabbed my camera!
I often call on "Jackson" to help me sign the letters when we sing the alphabet song, something he jumps up quickly to do, but it looks like soon he'll have a little competition for that job!

I love that kindergarten children have such a natural curiosity to learn and I especially love it when they are willing to embrace and learn about the things that make each of them unique.

Diversity is a wonderful thing!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Miss B Travels!

With the impending departure of Miss B on her whirl wind across the country, I'd like to introduce her new travel blog, Miss B Travels!
Here you can keep track of her travels across our great country!
Stop by and check it out!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Every year in January I start introducing chapter books to my class. I start with simple ones like Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant, I move on to Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park, and when I think they're ready I move on to the classics James and the Giant Peach and Charlotte's Web.

I still remember my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Vangel reading Charlotte to my class. I loved listening to her read. It is such a sweet story about friendship. It's so descriptive and language rich that I now look forward every day to reading it aloud to my cherubs.

It can be a little wordy and the chapters sometimes a little too long for their attention span, so I will occasionally stop, retell and ask comprehension questions along the way to be sure they are understanding.

Today we read the Chapter III. Escape.

In this chapter, Wilbur the pig is convinced by the goose that squeezing through the boards in Wilbur's pen is a good idea. Poor little Wilbur has no idea what he's in for, being chased by a dog, Mr. and Mrs. Homer L. Zuckerman and Lurvy the hired man. With the goose and gander yelling directions at Wilbur is it any wonder that Wilbur decides following a pail full of slops right back into the safety of the pen is a very good idea?

After reading about the escape I really wondered if they kids understood what I had just read, so I asked...

Me: "How do you think Wilbur felt when he first got out of the pen?"
Matthew: "I think he felt good."
Me: "I think you're right"

Me: "Do you think the goose and gander were being helpful to Wilbur when they were yelling directions at him?"
Jack: "No way Mrs. Collins, that goose should have just SHUT UP!"
Me: "Jack, we don't say 'shut up'. But I think you're right, he should have been quiet and left Wilbur alone."

Me: "Now, how did Mr. Zuckerman get Wilbur back into his pen?"
Margaret: "He used the old food in the bucket trick!"

I think it's safe to say they understood every word! 

Travels with Miss update

Wow! I never thought the response to a visit from Miss Bindergarten would be so amazing! I am truly overwhelmed!
I have gotten over 50 responses and it is obvious that Miss B will not be able to get to everyone before school ends for us in June.

However, there's always September!

If you have responded, thank you and you will be hearing from me within the next day or two. Miss Bindergarten will leave Salem,   Massachusetts by the end of the week...her first destination is a secret!

Thank you all!


Monday, April 5, 2010

T is for Travel

Meet Miss Bindergarten, created by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff. Most kindergarten teachers not only know her, but identify with her. In my class we read her books all through the year starting with Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten.

Miss Bindergarten, at least the doll version lives in my classroom. She sits on top of my easel, keeping watch on all that goes on. 
In my last post I mentioned that the wheels in my head were spinning. Realizing the limits of my kindergarteners geographic knowledge, I have been trying to come up with a way to take them on a field trip of sorts, to teach them a little bit about the country and maybe even the world they live in. 

I have decided it's time for Miss Bindergarten to go on a trip. A trip to visit other kindergarten classrooms across the country. I'm still working out the details, collecting a few trinkets for her to bring with her, a travel journal, a map to chart her travels, a disposable camera to take pictures of her new friends and the places she visits,  a passport and a few of her favorite books.

In order for her trip to be successful she's going to need the help of some very eager and willing kindergarten teachers. These teachers must be willing to treat Mrs. Bindergarten kindly, help her with her journal and picture taking duties, and send her on to her next destination when her visit with you is over. 

If you are willing to host Miss Bindergarten or would just like a little more info, just send me an email at with "Miss Bindergarten" in the subject line, and I'll be sure to add you to her itinerary. 
I'm excited to see how far Mrs. Bindergarten can travel before our school year ends in June!

Thanks for your help!