Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kindergarten by the Numbers

1...the number of boo-boo'd fingers I had to kiss.
2...the number of goldfish funerals this week.
3...the number of times my toes were stepped on.
4...hours spent prepping for Open House.
5...the number of shoes I tied on Friday. (apparently there is a lot of velcro in my classroom!
 6...Macintosh Apples in a pot to make applesauce.
7...families who attended open house.
8...the number of kids who like red apples best.
9...really good books read aloud.
10...days of school.
9...little girls
8...little boys
7...days in a week who only like applesauce from a jar! days until the weekend.
4...sunny days
3...trips to the nurse
2...two new HEALTHY goldfish!
1...very tired teacher.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

F is for Friends

I am falling in love with my new little ones. They all have such great little personalities. They are all so different and of course I'm still getting to know them, but I think we're going to have a great year together.
But, as much as I love the prospect of a new year, and new kids to teach, I go through a time when I really miss the ones who just left. I see them in the halls from time to time, so confident now than the day they walked into my room over a year ago.

Over the course of the 9 months they spend with me I get to know them pretty well. Their likes, their dislikes, their strengths and their struggles. By the time June rolls around I know them pretty well, and it's a little unsettling sometimes to have 18 new ones to get to know in September.
I know it's a journey and I often wonder if I'll ever get to know them as well as the ones who have become those confident first graders. I also wonder if they'll come to love me as much as the ones that left! Today, with one little girl in particular I found out.

I was sitting on the floor helping a little boy with a puzzle when she walked over to me, pointed to the letters written across her t-shirt and said, "Mrs. Collins, you're my new B.F.F."

One friend down, 16 more to go!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

H is for Hug

artwork by Shel Silverstein
It's official, my kindergarteners and I made it through our first week together. The first week is always the hardest but I feel as if I've just had the smoothest beginning so far. Perhaps that comes from experience, or maybe I just have a really nice group of kids, but whatever the reason, I'll take it!

I've always said, the first 10 minutes with a new class is the scariest for me. When they are finally all sitting in a circle looking up at me with those little eyes, waiting for me to begin, waiting for some reassurance that this kindergarten thing is really going to be fun!

There were no tears on the first day, at least from the kids. There were however a few teary eyed parents looking for some reassurance, and just for the record, I hug parents who need reassurance too.

The kid tears came on the third day, when those little kids, babies really, realize how long a day it is. Mostly they are just tired from their new experience, but I'm ready for the tears. I'm ready with the tissues, ready with the kind words, and ready with the hugs. I tell them, that even though I'm not their mommy, I am someone's mommy and I'm really good at hugs. The hugs help.

Thursday evening our school held its annual Welcome Back Cook-Out. I was tired, but because I promised my now fifth grader that we'd go, I went. I'm glad I did. One of the best parts about being a kindergarten teacher is you know the kids in the school better than any other teacher. You've known them all from the start, when they were little and unsure. I still get hugs from my former kindergarteners, and I get them often. I make it a point to chat with them when I can because even though they are much bigger and have moved on from my classroom, I still want them to know how important they are to me. Maybe in some small way I'm still important to them too.

My favorite hugs Thursday night came from my newest students. I've known these little people for only 4 days and I've already become hug-worthy. The feeling is definitely mutual!

Hug O' War

I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins. 

 -Shel Silverstein

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Body in Motion...

I have a whole new flock of kindergarteners!  They are all adorable and tiny and year after year I forget how little they know. I'm not talking about the academic stuff, but the everyday, navigating through the school day stuff.

Last year's flock are doing well in first grade, I know because I've checked on them. I always take a few minutes on the first day of school to check in with my cherubs because even though they leave my room, I still think of them as mine, and I always feel a little bit like a rock star when I walk in the room. I suppose it's because I'm something familiar and comforting in an uncertain world.

Now it's time to get to know another bunch, and even though it's only day two, their little personalities are starting to appear. There's the little one who's decided it's her job to make sure everyone is doing what their supposed to from not touching the fire alarm on their way up the stairs to pushing in their chairs.
The ones who have a really hard time sitting up in during circle time, because it's really a lot more comfortable to lie on the floor.
There's the little one who claims he can tie shoes, but really just likes to make knots that are impossible to untie!

Mostly, they are just really really funny, and even though they are still have a lot to learn I am amazed at what they already know. I have readers, and writers, incredible artists and creative thinkers.

It is a really long day for those little ones, we have full day kindergarten and it's busy...really busy.
Some kids are coming from preschools where they take naps, or even just attend a few days a week, so when they suddenly find themselves in a pretty busy full day they have some adjusting to do.
I had led a "Guided Discovery" today on the correct way to use scissors and glue and in order to practice their knew found knowledge, a quick cutting a pasting work sheet. I explained that not only did they need to cut and glue, but they needed to color too.
So off they went to get their little paper done. After a little while, one of my little ducklings brought his paper to me and explained in no uncertain terms that he was done. I took a quick look and reminded him about the coloring.
"Actually Mrs. Collins, that tree is covered in snow, so I don't need to color it. Snow is white."
"Hmmm, I think you're trying to snow me my friend!"
I chuckled, but continued, "can you at least color the bird, because he wouldn't be covered in snow, and really it's part of your work."
"Well, I'm not really a worker, I'm more of a player."
"You know, I'm thinking you might be!"
And really I know he was spent, and just needed to play so I let him put his paper away and just have some fun.

Now I mentioned earlier that I was amazed at the knowledge these little five year-olds have managed to gain in their short little lives, here's a little example of what I was talking about...

Our school is unique in that we are located on the campus of our local state university. Our building is an old one, celebrating it's 100th anniversary this year so it is with it's limitations. For one thing, we do not have a gym in our building, so each gym day we load the kids onto a shuttle bus and drive them to the college's gym down the street. The kids love the bus ride, they think it's cool.
Because of our unique situation I had to give the bus safety talk. I explained that the school bus does not have seat belts and for this reason it's important to sit with our bottoms on the seat and our backs as far back as they can be because if the bus stops fast, you don't want to slide off your seat.
A hand shot up.
"I know what it's called when you slide off your seat, it's called inertia!"

A five year-old Sir Isaac Newton!

It's going to be a good year!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ready, Set...GO!

I know many of you have already started school, we have too, kind of. Our upper grades all started last week, but because of our schedule and screening the new little ones our official first day of kindergarten is tomorrow!

I've been doing this awhile now, and I still get a little nervous when 7:50 a.m. nears and it's time to usher in the newbies! Having spent the last three school days meeting them, I'm anxious to get started. They are a cute bunch already entertaining me with their cuteness and things they have to say.

One little guy in the middle of his screening looked at me and said, "Mrs. Collins, I'm SO happy!"
I hope it lasts.

Then there was that little girl who pointed to me and asked her mother, "Is she going to be my teacher?"
Then shouted, "YES!" when he mother told her I would be.
I hope that lasts too!

So tomorrow is the day, and I think I'm ready for what they have in store for me. If I'm not I better be soon.

At least my room is kindergarten ready!

The Front of Classroom

Part of the Reading Corner

The back of my room, and the play house

The play house...everyone's favorite spot!

Inside the Playhouse, Newly painted and redecorated!

I'm really fortunate to have such a great space to teach in. I hope the kids love it as much as I do.

I'm really looking forward to another year of sharing my kindergarten stories with all of you!

Stay tuned!