Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Day

There is something in the air this time of year. I can feel the buzz. I see the occasional school bus rumble by with drivers new and old rehearsing their routes. The newspaper is stuffed with circulars with deals to be had on supplies, new clothes and shockingly new white sneakers. The shelves are stocked with lunch boxes and back packs. The days are still warm, but the nights are cool now and the crickets have come alive with their late summery songs.

Back to school means something different to everyone. Those without a vested interest might think of it as busier roads and a harder commute in the morning with those big yellow busses with their red flashing lights in the way or too crowded aisles at the local Staples.
For kids it marks the end of running around barefoot and dirty grass stained feet that leave footprints in the bath tub. The end of staying up late and sleeping in, of playing in the waves and digging the biggest hole on the beach. It marks the beginning of homework, soccer practices, football games, and figuring out new schedules, report cards and meeting new friends. The beginning of getting out of bed to the sound of an alarm and eating their Frosted Flakes with their eyes half-shut.
I am a parent AND a teacher. 
The start of school holds so much promise for me but in different ways. As a parent I was never sad to see my boys start school. Maybe it's the teacher in me, but I've always known they were where they were supposed to be.
They were adorable walking into kindergarten for the first time, lunch box in hand and L.L. Bean on their backs. I was full of questions. Would they succeed? Will someone hug them if they cry? Will they make friends? Will they ever have to visit the principal's office or sit in the "thinking chair"? Will their teacher love them as much as I do? There was really no way to know the answer to those questions as I sent them off for their first real experience without me, but time does tell and I'm happy to say I can answer "yes" to all those questions. 
As they have grown older I don't worry so much of their school success because they have proven themselves as students, but the question now is what kind of people will they become? 
I have come to realize that school doesn't just teach kids academics it helps teach them how to be people. How to get along with others on the playground, how to share, how to take responsibility for their actions, how to be part of a larger community and hopefully to become life-long learners.
Being a parent has made me a better teacher. I understand how those mommies and daddies feel dropping their children off for the first time.  The building is bigger, there are more kids, and the expectations are higher. I try to greet those nervous parents with a reassuring smile, a comforting touch on the shoulder and even sometimes a hug and a tissue to wipe the tears. I want them to know that yes, I will hug their little boy when when he cries, and give a band-aid to her little girl when she scrapes her knee. 
When the school year begins and I look at those  scared little faces looking up at me from their spot in the circle I do my best not to let them see that I'm scared too. Will they like me?  How will I possibly teach them all they need to know? How to walk in a line, pack up a back pack, write their names, when it's okay to read!!! But every year I take their little hands and lead them wherever they let me, wherever they need to go and wherever OUR learning will take us. It's just what I do, but mostly what I do is  love them as if they were my own, because for 9 months of the year that's exactly what they are.

I first posted this in August 2008, I'm repeating it now, because I don't think I can say it any better than I did then. One thing has changed however, this year I'm sending my oldest off to Syracuse University, farther away than he's ever been from me. So even though I've never been sad to see them start school, this year might be just a little bit different in that respect!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

W is for Winners!

Thank you all for the wonderful response to K is for Kindergarten's Very First Giveaway!
I am pleased to announce the two winners of the Bob Books giveaway.

Winners were chosen randomly and have been notified by email, they are

Diane B. and Laurie C!

Diane and Laurie will each receive...

  • A Bob Books Lunch Box
  • Copies of Bob Books Sight Words Kindergarten
  • Copies of Bob Books Sight Words First Grade

Congratulations Winners!

Since my first giveaway was so successful I will be doing others in the near future. Thank you to everyone who entered and for checking out K is for Kindergarten!

Please come back often!


Monday, August 9, 2010

K is for Kindergarten's Very First Giveaway!

I was approached earlier this month to provide an opportunity for a giveaway for you, my loyal readers!
Having never done a giveaway before I was a little skeptical. I wanted to preview "the goods" before posting them to my blog.
After receiving my preview package of Bob Books I decided to go ahead with the giveaway. To be honest, I was also thrilled to have the opportunity to fill up a little blog space since my posts over the summer come few and far between!

Here is what Scholastic has to say about Bob Books...

"From the #1 bestselling learn-to-read program come two brand-new sets focused on learning and practicing Sight Words.

Sight Words are words that are recognized by sight rather than sounded out, in order to achieve reading fluency. They are the most frequently used words in the English language, and are often unable to be read phonetically (“was”, “are”, and “out” are examples).  Bob Books Sight Words feature the top Sight Words in two sets – one for kindergarten and one for first grade – in order to allow parents and children to read, learn, and practice easily and enjoyably."

Two winners will each receive 
  • A Bob Books Lunch Box
  • Copies of Bob Books Sight Words: Kindergarten
  • Copies of Bob Books Sight Words: First Grade
The giveaway will run until Saturday, August 14th and the winners will be announced on Sunday August 15th.

To enter click here, and Good Luck!

A quick thank you to Scholastic for sponsoring this giveaway!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

L is for Listen

     One of the most popular literacy centers in my room is the Listening Center.
In our school we are lucky to have a book room full of leveled books and literacy material as well as our school library where we can borrow books on CD or tape for use in the center.  I also have various titles in my room, but I am always looking to add to our choices.
Buying multiple copies and CD's of favorite stories can get expensive, most starting at $35.00 for a CD and multiple copies of books to accompany it.

I love to read aloud to my students, especially books with rhyme. I find rhyming books are engaging for them, and entertaining for me as well. I have favorite stories that I could read over and over and the kids certainly have their favorite stories, so I decided rather than spend my allotted instructional supply money or my own hard earned cash, I would make my own.

I still needed multiple copies of favorite stories and thought using up some of my Scholastic Points would be a good way to get copies without having to pay a lot of money for them.
I chose 7 titles, books I love to read aloud and books I know they would want to listen to and ordered 4 copies of each book.
Titles such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
 and my personal all time favorite, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes.

All tallied I got 28 books for less than 10.00 in shipping cost, quite a bargain!

I know a lot of teachers tape their own CD's but since I had never done it before I was just a little intimidated by the little microphone on my computer. I never really like the sound of my recorded voice, but it's something I just had to get over!

So I pulled up the Garage Band Application on my Mac and got started.
I began by reading the title, author and illustrator and didn't forget to say, "When you hear the chime, please turn the page!"
The hard part was remembering to ring the chime before each page turn!

It took a few "takes" before I was happy with my expression and clarity but once I was, I was pretty happy with the final result.
A carefully designed CD cover, and tah-dah...instant listening station!

After listening, I always give the kids a task, sometimes I'll ask them to journal about what they heard, sometimes simply to draw a picture, or often I'll give them a "book report" to complete. As the year progresses I make these a little more challenging by adding a space for their written thoughts.  I collect these and include them in their reading portfolio which goes home at the end of the year. These are a good way for the me and the kids to keep track of all the books they've read...or in this case listened to!