Sunday, October 24, 2010

C is for Compliment

I love new ideas to help with classroom management, so I thought I'd share one that works pretty well in my classroom.

The kids in my room love to collect compliments!

We talk a lot about what a compliment is. Sometimes compliments are about how we look. Sometimes they might receive a compliment about a good job they did, or my favorite...compliments for good behavior.

We collect them as we travel from place to place. As we visit art, music, science or gym. As we eat lunch, play on the playground, or walk through the hall. We collect them when we've been able to sit for a long time during an assembly or when our 4th grade reading buddies come to visit.

I tell them when I hear compliments about their good behavior it makes my heart happy. They also know that I have to hear the compliment with my own ears and they have to come from some one other than me.

I compliment them a lot, but the notice has to come from other adults or students in our building.

Lately, we've been getting a lot of compliments, so I knew it was time to present....The Compliment Frog!

The Compliment Frog lives in her pond on our classroom wall. Each time the class receives a compliment she hops up one Lily Pad, with a great big "RIBBIT!"

When she reaches the top, they earn some kind of special treat. Maybe a movie with popcorn, make your own sundaes, a choice from the prize box or extra recess!

So far the response has been great! When we are lined up and ready to move about the building, I just need to remind them that we are "collecting compliments" and they turn on the good behavior...and my heart is happy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A is for Amigo, F is for Friend

A little boy joined my class today. He and his family have just arrived from the Dominican Republic.
He speaks no English. I can't even begin to imagine how this must feel. 
New surroundings, new people, and on top of it all, a new language. How must that feel, not understanding?
I know he'll learn quickly as he's immersed in a language that comes so naturally to us, but is so difficult for others to learn. He has a big advantage  being in kindergarten where the curriculum is so language rich. 
As I struggled to communicate with him, I found myself wishing I had paid better attention during those 6 years of Spanish I took. 
There are words I remember, but with no one to practice with, any conversational Spanish I may have had is now gone.
I was amazed however, at the vocabulary I did manage to pull out of my head when I needed to. 

"Escriba su nombre aquí por favor." "Write your name here please.
"Es hora para el almuerzo." "It's time for lunch."
"Siéntese aqui por favor." "Sit here please."

Do this, do that, go here, go there. I felt for him.

I had the luxury today of being able to spend a little one on one time with him because my student teacher has taken over for the week. We sat together and played a simple card game. I named the pictures in English, he named them in Spanish. He smiled when I repeated what he said, maybe feeling good that he had taught ME something.

My favorite moment of the day came right after he arrived. I think that the other kids found him interesting. Mostly because he was a new arrival to a pretty well established bunch of kiddos and of course because he didn't speak their language.
One little girl decided to be his friend. She told me she'd stick by him and help him out. 
"I can help him Mrs. Collins because I can speak Spanish."
"Really Tinkerbell, I didn't know that about you."
"Yep, amigo, that means friend."

"Well Tinkerbell, I think it's safe to say the job is yours."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

F is for First Field trip to the Fair on Friday!

After four solid days of wind driven rain I was starting to have my doubts that this field trip I had been planning since August was actually going to happen.
But I awoke to the sun and all my weather fears disappeared. It was going to be a glorious day!

I arrived at school extra early so I could get organized. Name tags ready, chaperones set. I had emailed the bus company two days before just to confirm.

Jayna, my student teacher and I kept the kids busy for the hour before it was time to leave. We made sure they had used the facilities, checked the lunch situation, ordered bagged lunches for the kids that forgot then lined them up to go.  The kids were getting antsy so I made the decision to wait for the bus outside.
There we sat...and sat. We waited...and waited. Thankfully, I have some moms who are very good at singing "The Wheels on the Bus."

At exactly 9:05 I decided to make a phone call to transportation, only to hear this, "We are unable to take any calls now, but please leave a message and someone will return your call."
So I left a message which basically said, "Hello, we are waiting, where are you???"

A bus pulled up, but sadly, not our bus. I did ask the bus driver to radio in to find out where OUR bus was, was it coming? Did they forget us?
She assured me there were only two buses out that day, the one she was driving and another waiting at Collins Middle School to take those kids to the Topsfield Fair.
"Umm, could it be remotely possible that they sent the bus reserved by Mrs. COLLINS to COLLINS middle school by mistake?"
Nice bus driver relays the message, gets her reply and politely says to me, "we're sorry there seems to be a mix up. The bus will be here in 10 minutes.
Now the only reason I even thought that was a possibility was because last year 10 giant boxes of file folders were delivered to me at my school, but were supposed to go the middle school, but I digress.
Exactly 30 minutes past the time we were supposed to leave, 54 kindergarteners and 15 grownups were on the bus headed for the fair! Hurray!
Because of our late start we hit some traffic. Arrival 10:15, 45 minutes later than planned. This was going to be a world record tour of a very large fair.
We split up into our groups, Jayna and I took 5 kids with us and headed off. The first stop, snack in the arena while we took in a horse show.
While I explained the fine art of walk, trot, canter and posting (yes, I know this stuff) the kids ate their snack. Because if we were going to run through this fair, we needed some energy!

Look how happy they are! (sorry for the smileys...privacy rules and all that.)

We stopped briefly to look at this amazing sand sculpture on our way to the sheep barn.

If you've never had the "pleasure" of smelling sheep, you haven't lived. 
Yes, they are quite cute, and fuzzy, but they are not nicest smelling of creatures. 
                                                             The kids didn't seem to mind though.
It's funny to see kids with farm animals. Some make friends instantly, some aren't so sure. This little girl wanted to take this one home with us.

One of my little guys imitated every animal noise he heard. He baa'd when we visited the sheep barn, until he saw the cows, then he mooed. Until he saw the roosters, ducks and alpacas. I had no idea what sound an alpaca made until I heard the little guy make it.

Funny, no matter how much  you tell a kid NOT to put your hand near an animal's mouth or into a cage, they will attempt it anyway.
These little horses named after the Seven Dwarfs may looks sweet and innocent, but they BITE, and little kindergarten fingers look an awful lot like carrots!

The hit of the fair, as always is the Giant Pumpkin. The kids are always amazed at this thing. Is it any wonder? Three of them could fit inside this amazing orange squash.
But the highlight of the fair this year had to be my friend the animal impersonator, he's kind of a funny little kid.
We saw this...
I said to Jayna, "Here come the duck sounds."
I readied myself for the quack, but it never came. Instead I heard....


It was a great day, and you know you had fun when the kids (and chaperones) fall asleep on the way home! Can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I'm pretty proud to be able to call myself a teacher and even more so to be able to call myself a kindergarten teacher. Not everyone understands how difficult a job teaching kindergarten can be. 

I don't mean to diminish what other teachers do because I know how hard they work. I see it everyday. The planning, the patience, the paperwork and the preparation. The planning of field trips, differentiating instruction, notes to parents, meetings to attend. The school day begins long before the kids arrive and ends long after the kids go home, and more often than not we are working at home too because there are just  not enough hours in a day.

I am not complaining. I love my job. We don't do it for the money or the summers off. We do it because we love kids and it's pretty reassuring to know that we are making a difference in the lives of children.

Even though we know in our hearts we are making a difference sometimes we just need to hear it. Just as we let the kids in our class know when they are doing a good job, sometimes grownups need to know it too.
For  teachers it might come in a note from a grateful parent, a good review from a principal, another teacher, or the best thank you of all...the smile on a child's face.

I'm also really proud of this blog. My own little spot on The World Wide Web. I write from the heart, which is why I don't post as often as I might otherwise. I am thrilled with every new follower both here and on K is for Kindergarten's Facebook Page, and every little comment left. 

Today I received an email message from congratulating me on K is for Kindergarten being named as one of their Top Teacher Blogs! I don't receive any actual "prize" for this distinction, but I do get to post a little badge on my blog page. Which is really enough for me, because sometimes all you really need is someone to say,

"Congratulations, you did good."