Monday, March 28, 2011

P is for Present

Going to school each day is a gift. I've said it before, I love what I get to do everyday...hang out with kids.  Yes, kindergarteners can be exhausting, but most of the time I don't realize that until I'm home and falling asleep on the couch!

The best part of my job?

Kindergarten kids really are very funny and most of the time they don't even know it.

Today I was doing a lesson on instruments to tell time. So on chart paper I wrote,
"What tools can we use to tell time?"
The brainstorming began. I got "watch", "clock", "timer", "stop watch", "microwave"...all excellent answers.
Then I got a few funnies...
"a llama clock" (alarm clock!!!)

and my favorite...

"The television."
"Yep, great answer! Some televisions have clocks on them, I know my cable box has a clock on it."
"No Mrs. Collins, that's not what I meant."
"Oh, so how does the television help tell time?"
"Well, there's this show called 60 minutes. It has a clock on it, that ticks!"
"Yes it sure does!"

Today during choice time a group of my girls decided I needed presents. They asked to borrow the tape and went at it. They were coloring, and cutting, wrapping and taping. When choice time was just about over, they walked over to me to present me with my gifts, all carefully and lovingly wrapped and very securely taped.

We have been discussing weather the past few weeks and today was water cycle day. I read a story, and talked about what happens to puddles. My little Tinkerbell was obviously listening very intently because she had it down! I was presented with this...
See the blue blob? That's the puddle, and if you look very closely to the left of that puddle you can see water vapor rising up into the air. How great is that?

Then I unwrapped this...

This would be the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza.
"Because you have Egyptian hair Mrs. Collins"
I'm not really sure what Egyptian hair is, I'm thinking dark and straight like Cleopatra Queen of the Nile?

Very well could be, because my next present was this crown!

Perfect attire for a leisurely trip down The Nile!

So it was a good day, my 60-minute watching, llama clocking, water cycling, pyramid drawing, crown- makers helped make it that way!
I can't imagine better presents than that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

W is for Weather

This week is all about weather in kindergarten. First up...wind!
I started the lesson checking on their prior knowledge by asking them for some weather facts.

Once again I was so impressed with all they already knew. I wrote their windy facts on chart paper and we review them each day.

Once we collected our windy facts, I read a story by Pat Hutchins titled The Wind Blew.

Then we tried a windy experiment. We wanted to find out how far wind can move things.

I gathered my materials: A feather, some plastic straws, some masking tape and a permanent marker.

I placed a piece of tape on the floor to mark our starting spot, then gave each child a turn blowing their feather as far as they could. Once the feather landed, I marked that spot with a piece of masking tape.

The following day, we measured our distances with unifix cubes and recorded them on chart paper.

The kids had a great time and learned a little something about air movement and wind.

The measurement piece added some math concepts, estimation, measurement, and addition and subtraction.

Next up...Rain!

Monday, March 21, 2011

C is for Chat

Some of my most favorite moments with the kids are those times when I can chat with them one-on-one.
I had that opportunity today at dismissal.
All the kids had been matched with a mom or a dad except for one, so he and I sat just inside the door and watched for his mom together. He's a great little kid. So full of energy. You can just see the excitement well up inside him when he's happy about something, he just can't contain it.
He has one of those smiles that can light up a room. He can be a little challenging at times, needing reminders about personal space, or to sit quietly, but he's a good guy and doesn't have a mean bone is his little 5- year-old body.

"Mrs. Collins, when I leave you'll be the only one left. Will you be lonely?"
"No, I have some work to do in my room, I'll be so busy I won't have time to be lonely."
"Work? Like what? When we leave you're done right?"
"Well after awhile I go home, but first I have to clean up a little then get things ready for tomorrow."
"That sounds like a lot of work."
"It is a lot of hard work, but it's the best job in the world."
"I don't want to be a teacher when I grow up."
"You don't? You should think about it, why wouldn't you want to be a teacher?"
"It's too much work I think."
"Well what DO you want to be when you grow up?"


"That's an excellent choice! I can juggle."
"You can?"
"Ah huh."
"Can you juggle oranges?"
"Nope, I can juggle kindergarteners!"
"You're funny Mrs. Collins! Kindergarteners are too heavy to juggle!"

"Oh, If you only knew!"


Sunday, March 13, 2011

B is for Bucket

It's inevitable, I've seen it happen before. Right around the beginning of spring a transformation occurs. The cherubs in my class begin to behave more like siblings than classmates. The little arguments begin, the name calling and the tattling that we had a handle on, reappear and it becomes time to pull a new trick out of my kindergarten hat to help resolve these little issues before they turn into big issues!

I admit it, some of my best ideas come from the other blogs I read. There are some very talented and creative kindergarten teachers out there and I'd be crazy not to tap into some of that talent.

As I was searching I came across Rachelle's blog, What the Teacher Wants.
This is where I discovered Bucket Filling. I was so inspired I knew I needed to buy this book!  I couldn't wait to read it to my class. The premise of the book is that everybody carries around an invisible bucket to hold all their good feelings.
You are a bucket filler when you do or say something nice to someone, but you can also be a bucket dipper. A Bucket Dipper is not something you want to be. Bucket dippers try to fill their own buckets by saying or doing things that hurt feelings,but it doesn't work like that. Buckets can never hold bad feelings, only good ones.

So I read the book to my kids, and they immediately embraced the idea. We talked about it a lot, but I knew I wanted to do something more.  So I took Rachelle's idea which she posted on her blog and made it work in my room.

I found these really cute little metal buckets in the dollar aisle at Target and added clear labels with the kid's names on them.

I have 18 kids in my class and at a dollar each it is bordering on pricey, but I really felt like it was a worthwhile expense.

Then I added a little basket with little bucket filling papers (which can be downloaded from Rachelle's blog) and a pencil, then explained what I wanted them to do.
I told them that when they wanted to make a friend feel happy, they should write down something nice and put it in their friend's bucket. It can be as simple as a smiley face, or a compliment, or a little note to tell them how much you like being their friend.
I wasn't really sure how they were going to handle it, I was pretty sure the first day would be over the top bucket filling, but I was wrong. It seemed they really were careful about what they were writing and who they were writing to.

I also got in on it, mainly because I wanted each and everyone of them know they are special to me too, each in their own way, and I was rewarded with my own little filler.

 At the end of the day I gather all the bucket fillers and send them home with the recipients so their parents can see what wonderful friends their kids have.

Since starting the bucket filling project, I have noticed a difference in how they interact with each other, after all, nobody wants to be a Bucket Dipper!

Friday, March 4, 2011

S is for Seuss Part 2!

Today we said good-bye to Dr. Seuss week with a Green Eggs and Ham lesson.

I'm pretty sure by now I can recite this book from memory but I still enjoy reading it. Even though most kids have heard it quite a few times in their five short years they still sit quietly as I read each page and rhyming word.

I started the lesson with a question...

Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham? 

I gave each child a green fried egg with their name on it and asked them to place it on the graph. As you can see, we only had a few hold outs. I was surprised to be honest, because eggs?!?

Then I settled them down for the book. As I read each page I gave them the opportunity to finish the rhymes for me. It's a great way to assess their rhyming ability and it keeps them engaged too.

After the book we had a quick discussion about lessons learned.
Me: "Have you ever thought you wouldn't like something and then you tried it then realized it was   really good?"
I got some really great answers!

"Pepperoni Pizza"

Then I pulled out a surprise. My version of Green Eggs and Ham.
In the past I've made actually green eggs and ham, but this year I have a child with an egg allergy, so I went with a safer version.
So easy! So tasty!

A close up!
These were so quick and easy to make. I melted some white chocolate chips in the microwave then plopped some onto two pretzels to represent the bacon (ham) and added a green m&m to finish off the egg. They were a huge hit!
This is what our graph looked like after sampling my green eggs and ham!

Good-bye Dr. Seuss...until next year!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

S is for Seuss!

I love celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday! His books are my favorite to read aloud because they are just F-U-N!

This year was especially fun because our school held its annual words and numbers extravaganza!

Each participating teacher was responsible for planning one literacy and one math activity. The collective creativity of some outstanding teachers provided children and their families with lots of learning opportunities all while having a great time and promoting some great school community spirit!
The Cat was there to greet our visitors.

These signs hung above each activity.

I started with a graphing project based on One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Each child went "fishing" then had to add their fish to a graph I created that hung above the our fish pond.
The kids loved this and came back over and over again. I was actually afraid I was going to run out of fish!

My literacy activity was a simple "at" word activity based on The Cat in The Hat.
The box held ziploc bags of magnetic letters.

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My Lego table transformed into a word building center!

Each child was awarded one of these after completing the center.
 The evening was a huge hit, but made for some very tired kids, not to mention a few tired teachers too!