Tuesday, May 31, 2011

G is for Grow!

Our little garden project is coming along quite nicely! We've finally had some beautiful gardening weather so I felt it was safe to plant our little seedlings into the ground where they can spread their roots.

Although the kids have helped in the classroom, sowing seeds, watering and measuring their plants,

I've done all of the outside garden work. Tomorrow will be the first time I march my kids down to the garden to see their sprouts in their new home.

They will finally get a chance to plant their tomato plants that have gotten really tall and have more than outgrown their little paper cups.

I can't wait to watch them get their hands dirty!

June 3, 2011

The weather finally decided to cooperate and we were able to plant our tomato plants this morning.
Our little cherry tomato seedlings are soaking up the sun in their new garden home.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

T is for Tattle

My kindergarteners have now spent the better part of the year together, working, playing, and learning.

I really have a great class of personalities. We've had to overcome some difficulties but for the most part we have persevered with a lot of hard work. Some who couldn't speak a word of English, suddenly are conversing as if they have been all along. Kids who joined our class mid-way through the year are part of our community as if they have been from the start.

They have become readers and writers, mathematicians, and scientists. They can solve problems, share, and negotiate. Some can now tie shoes and zip zippers. They know how to follow routines, like packing up a back pack, cleaning up a mess when they make one, walk in line quietly like mice, or snowflakes, or butterflies and they can also tattle on each other. They have become pretty good at tattling on each other.

It's that time of the year, when they suddenly behave more like siblings than classmates. They have spent a lot of time together and it's starting to wear on them and to be honest, me too! Listening to them argue over the littlest things is tiring and the tattling has suddenly become relentless. I hated to do it, but once again I've had to pull out....the tattle jar.

I really didn't think I was going to need it this year, they have all gelled so nicely, but it's happened despite my best efforts. I won't go into detail about how the tattle jar works. I've written about it before. You can find that post here: Tattle Tail, Tattle Tail.

There are three really great things about the tattle jar. First and most importantly it cuts down the tattling by at least 80%, at least by my best estimation. I've never really done the research.
Second, it gives them all a little writing practice even if they are telling on each other, and third I get a really good chuckle when I dump them out and read them at the end of the day so I thought I'd share the chuckles (names blurred to protect the not so innocent).
"_____ is bothering me in my spot. "

"_____ is mean because he was lying."
"_______ stole a pencil from me."
"______ was blocking the tattle jar!"
"______ be'd mean to you." (thank you for your support!)
I love it when no caption is necessary!

And my all time favorite.....

"_________ flushed a squirrel down the toilet."

This required a little clarification.

Me: Does this say what I think it says?
Kid: It says, _______ flushed a squirrel down the toilet.
Me: Did this happen at school?
Kid: No, she told me she did it at home. I just had to tell someone.
Me: Well thank goodness you did.
Kid: I know Mrs. Collins, I hope she doesn't flush anymore animals!

Monday, May 16, 2011

C is for Carle

Eric Carle of course! C is also for caterpillar, cocoon and chrysalis! For the past week or so we've been reading and doing activities surrounding The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It's amazing to me that this book, first published in 1969 is probably one of the most widely used picture books in any kindergarten classroom.
It lends itself to so many different lessons, the days of the week, art, author study, nutrition and of course the life cycle of the butterfly.

The kids love the colorful artwork and the funny adventures of the caterpillar as he eats through some of their favorite foods.
Since our caterpillars will be arriving by week's end, I thought it would be a good time to pull out "Caterpillar".
I started by introducing some of the vocabulary. I chose words that they would be using in the writing activities I had planned for them. We placed the words and corresponding illustrations onto a portable word wall which I created from a tri-fold project board. I trimmed it so I was only using 2/3 of the board, which makes it much easier to transport from center to center as needed.
During the week, I read the story a number of times and also provided multiple copies for children to choose during quiet reading. Because the story has predictable and easily remembered text, even the lowest ability readers can feel successful.

During our computer lab time, I pulled up a slide show of Eric Carle creating some of his art work.
When we got back to our classroom, we jumped right in creating some masterpieces of our own!
First we drew and added details with crayons.
Then brushed watered down school glue over the tissue paper on our drawings.

And got some very nice results!

They really added pizazz to our new bulletin board. I love the way this brightens up the room!
And the kids think having a caterpillar in the room is pretty cool!

Monday, May 9, 2011

G is for Grow

I was pleasantly surprised today when I walked into my classroom! Sprouts EVERYWHERE!
It won't be long now and those little baby plants will find their way into our Kinder-garden raised beds.

Some of them began as a little experiment. The old, "Seed in a Baggie" experiment. This is a great way for kids to see the beginnings of plants.
All you need is a few quickly sprouting seeds, I chose green beans, a paper towel, some water and a zip-log bag.
I am always amazed how quickly these little things grow! Kind of like kindergarteners!
materials set out and ready to go.

1. Fold the paper towel.

2. Then soak it in some water. You want it wet, but not drippy.

3. Place the wet paper towel in the bottom of a zip-loc bag.
4. Place two seeds on top of the paper towel and seal the bag tightly.

5. Hang them in a sunny window and watch the magic!

Seeds after only 2 days! You can see a little root shooting downward.

After one week!

Transplanted today!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

G is for Garden

Kids aren't the only thing growing in my classroom these days. We're getting our hands dirty playing with soil, worms, and all things green and flowery.
I usually plant a seed or two over the course of a kindergarten year, but this year the project has gotten bigger than ever.
It all started with a letter I received in the mail from my neighborhood park association. The school where I work, and the neighborhood I live in are one in the same. The park association is fixing up our park, adding new play ground equipment, and generally making it a safer and prettier place to play.
Within this park lies a tennis court...well at least what used to be a tennis court, but now is home to a beautiful community garden!

The wheels in my head started spinning. The park is in walking distance to our school. So why not turn this into a kindergarten project?
I approached one of our fifth grade teachers thinking that this would make an excellent collaborative project, mostly because the thought of marching 18, 5 and 6 year-old children down to the park alone was a little overwhelming. So now not only do we have Reading Buddies, we have Garden Buddies too!
So I secured my 4 raised beds, bought some seeds, pots and dirt and let them go at it!
Our garden center, with directions it's become pretty independent.
garden word wall, portable of course!
Our Little Nursery

Waiting to Sprout
Cherry Tomatoes!
I'm hoping to get something planted into our garden beds sometime this week or next, I'm just waiting for some warm weather so our little sprouts will be warm and sunny!
I can't wait to see what pops up!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

T is for Texting

It's been a school year full of changes. Some good ones, and some that have been very hard to get used to. We've had our share of drama, snags along the way but I have no doubt we'll all come out on top feeling good for having persevered.

 Because of all these changes, as much as I love teaching, and love those kindergarteners there are some days, when it's just hard to  hard to get myself out of my cozy warm bed and go to school. The one thing that this sometimes difficult year has taught me is to be grateful. Grateful that I have the friends that I do. We support each other when we need support, we make each other laugh, or are there for each other when we just need a little boost of confidence or a listening ear or shoulder to lean on.

I was reminded of that today. I was in the middle of a conversation with one of my little cherubs. I was trying to convince her to stop telling on her friends and get back to work after getting out of her seat for what seemed like the millionth time. I had one foot inside the room and the other in the hallway so I could keep my eye on the camel munchkin getting HIS millionth drink from the bubbler.

One of my friends walked by. I must have looked like I needed one of those "you can do it" hugs because I got one and it was just what I needed.

"Cherub, go back to your seat and be friends, no more tattles, give hugs instead of tattles."
"OMG! You mean go be BFF's like you two?"
"Yes! BFF's just like us."
 "'LOL Mrs. Collins'"