Sunday, January 5, 2014

Holiday Season to January

As a child I loved October, November, and December in the classroom. These months were full of themes that revolved around fantastic holidays! I also attended a parochial school which gave a lot more leeway in the art of celebrating. As a teacher I now realize how much planning went into these intensive monthly holiday themes (not including money spent). When I decided to start blogging... I couldn't imagine how busy my life would become this October - January. I didn't want to have a started blog and no finish. I am aware no blog is ever finished technically, but I didn't want it to look like I just gave up. Well when life comes full speed, some things must be put on the back burner.

I found the time to blog today because tomorrow is now my districts 3rd snow day of the school year. Usually we haven't seen 1 by this time. I currently love the time off. It has helped with my personal New Year's Resolutions (throw away all the sh... junk in my house). When June comes around and I am teaching, not summer school, but the 2013-2014 school year... oh I am not going to be a happy camper. But it is exciting to finally have one of the cozy snowed in days ( I only wish my husband was not at work ).

Now that is it January... I first started thinking about how TERRIBLE the second half of the school year is. There are no BIG holidays, scarce breaks, and it is just so darn cold (indoor recess). Now I remember how wonderful the second half can be! It slowly slowly starts to get warmer and the days longer... Progress with your students is incredible... Routine is nice and consistent without ALL the hustle bustle of the holidays... Spring theme units are a joy to look forward too... and then SUMMER is in sight.

This school year has been the best I have seen yet in my career. Well yes I only have 2 other years to compare it to and neither were the same grade or district, but that is beside the point. It is obvious that I am happy even though very stressed. I am only stressed because I am finishing up grad school this year, started selling Mary Kay, and want to do the best job for my little kindergartners!! I have a little rowdy class, but man I wouldn't trade them for anything. I have had a couple students leave and some students come... I will never forget any of them!

Below are a couple photos from our classroom adventures in November and December (when I was MIA)

I am obsessed with "Write The Room" activities... This is from Kindergarten Smiles Bats packet. It is a 10 frame hunt Halloween style.
Then came Halloween... We have a parade and a party!
My Kindergarten Hallway Team
The Kiddos!
Our amazing party planned by a great number of my parents.
I was blessed for my first elementary party.
(I was not allowed to have any last year... and none in middle school ha)

Beginning of November was the Kindergarten Grandparent's Day performance... It was a cute camping, woods themed singing with motions extravaganza. First we had a breakfast...

For Thanksgiving I was adventurous and had a FEAST! I will post about our wonderful feast at a different time. I was pretty impressed with our costumes and food... since I had been very sick during November (took 2 sick days) and had 3 Professional Development days.. I give all my credit to my teaching pal next door in Room 24!
In December we had a day of 70 degrees.. In St. Louis this is not too uncommon to have a random hot day surrounded by days of 20 degrees.
But we decided to have popsicles and play at an extra recess!

We also had a snow day during the 2nd week of December... probably a couple days after the warm 70 degree day (St. Louis for you!) This snow day was suppose to be PJ Day!! It was rescheduled for the following Friday. This day was wonderful. We moved all the tables to the sides of the classroom and we were allowed to bring in pillows, blankets and stuffed animals... all for a movie afternoon. We watched Arthur's Perfect Christmas!  I am not going to lie... this is one of my favorite holiday movies. It explains the different traditions of the various winter holidays through everyone's favorite characters! Thanks to AMAZON Prime Instant Video.

I am tired and want to feel accomplished...
This is the end of this post. I will have a Holiday Season to January Part 2 (maybe tomorrow, but doubtful) to discuss Thanksgiving and our Winter "Christmas" party.
Everyone stay warm and safe!

Friday, October 25, 2013

October has kept me quiet. Finally a New Post

Holy moly. I have not written a post since the end of September. October has really kept me busy. Grad School is taking over a lot of my time, as well as keeping up with the attention spans of Kindergartners. I love all the change of themes in Kindegarten. It makes my job a little busier to create apple centers, pumpkin centers, bat poems and you get the idea. I wouldn't change my job for the world, but it does keep me busy. Here is a look into what has been happening!

We shared our writing from our first unit in Lucy Calkins. I have some super writers; I am very proud. 

In my classroom Fire Safety Week is a blast because my husband is a fire fighter. I had to some slight begging, but it was worth it... We had a visitor! 

I really enjoyed having him meet the kiddos I talk about everyday. 

We also made our K-9 Unit hats! 

I have recently decided that math centers would be the best use of our class time. They have gone off like a hit! I am extremely thankful to my math coach who helped create many of the activities. Here is a quick look into some of them... 

Here is draw a number and put that many counters next to it. Really creative name ;) 

I love these games from TJMax and Marshall's! It's quick and easy. 

Who doesn't love Tanagrams!!! 

Patterns galore. Now I need to add AB information, but we are getting there! 

These were a couple games I got for free from a retired kindergarten teacher when I taught second grade... I thought when will I ever use these?? Well now I can!! They are wonderful. My hoarder self is glad I keep everything. 

These are a great idea from our math coach... Put numbers and ten frames in order! 

Here is how it looks all together... It's a great way to help with ways to 10
During calendar time we count days in ten frames... We discuss how many dots our in our ten frame and find that number on our strip. We then determine what color it is and find it's matching color! That is how many more days we need till 10 or 0 The Hero comes!! It is amazing. 

Bats have been a theme in our classroom this October. The Reading Rainbow about bats was a great way to have my kids learn about bats. 
Here is my new bulletin board! I am obsessed with how it turned out. Our labeled bats are on display. 

And of course we need some cute bat craft and writing! 

This is about it for all... I am ready for three weekends out of town and four PD days coming up. It will be a crazy month. Say a prayer for me. 

Natalie Gragnani

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Apples, Apples, and Apples

When I imagined being an elementary school teacher way back in the 1990s (Yes I know.. not that old, but I feel old)... I always pictured APPLES everywhere. Well my dream has become reality this week in my classroom. I decided, yes content is important, but if I could move around things here and there... shuffle curriculum up and make it apple friendly then SUCCESS.

I feel as though my students have been the most engaged this week since we started school. I used a lot of ideas from Kindergarten Smiles's unit Apples. I will be honest I am obsessed with Caitlin's units. They fit right in with my students' needs this time of the year.

For Math my students did an Apple Roll race with numbers. Most of my students can identify their numbers, but writing them is good practice. (Also bringing in graphing skills was a little scary at first and then they got it!!!) Another reason to bring in this quick easy "game" with my students was to introduce them to these types of activities. I want to be able to do this "games" as my main source of teaching, but I need to be able to make sure my students understand the procedures.


I will say I was surprised that my students were nice and kind during this game. I have a couple of "leaders" in my room, but all were bucketfillers with taking turns!
For Math we also completed a Ten Frame Hunt... Who knew that my students would eat up this idea. THEY LOVED IT. It was even quietly done. I don't understand that with my loud crowd, but maybe we should go on some more hunts. My curriculum wanted to students to practice writing numbers and counting up to 5 this week. Well 10 frames are a little different, but a connected topic. Along with the Ten Frames I added the number card and number word. This was to reinforce what each number would look like and for my couple readers (YES, readers!) I wanted them to write the number word as well.

This was a great activity....
For Math tomorrow I have a lot planned. We are tasting apples and graphing our results. My favorite activity is to measure each of ourselves with APPLES! I hope we can stay on task and not eat our apples. Ha
Math must have been my favorite planning activity... We also read Ten Apples On Top by Dr. Seuss and created a "pattern" (I did not fix students who thought they created a pattern and hadn't) with 10 apples and placed them on top of our head! We then needed to place numbers 1-10 on our apples.

For Literacy we worked on an Apple Book along with a Johnny Appleseed craft! I forgot to take photos of our pages inside. I might add some on my next post with my Apple Celebration tomorrow. The pages went along with our graphic organizer: Apples Have, Apples Are, Apples Make. We also included a diagram of an Apple and our favorite fact about Johnny Appleseed. Now these books were heavily prompted on my part and most of the students copied what I wrote for display, but all that I wrote came from students and a couple students wrote their own ideas.  

Lastly... All of my centers this week were apple related. We had a fun time playing CRUNCH with letter identification and letter sound; very easy to differentiate.  Students grab an Apple Letter Card and if they know the sound or letter name they get to keep it, but when they get a crunch all their cards go back into the pile. Our writing center was an apple poem... we traced out our poem, we could read our poem to others, or we could build our poem with cards. Our other center was an Apple Sight Word match! (Listening and Read to Self could not be made into apple themes sadly)...

I have been one happy teacher this week.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Behavior Management: Individualized

I love Kindergarten. Everyday I find something new and exciting to support my thought that, "Kindergarten is for ME".

Yesterday was not one of those days. I slipped into old ways and was very discouraged (mostly with myself). My students were only reacting to my reacting; positivity went out the window. Positive reinforcement makes the world go round and smile! I had to review a couple ways in which I could positively encourage a few students of mine. I was never Great for individualized behavior plans... Because let's be honest, it takes a lot of extra planning, time, might over reward or students become jealous. I decided I was too exhausted to have another day like yesterday and went for it!!!! My plan was to relax after my two doctor's appointments after school, but I pushed through and Ta Da today was fabulous. 

Here is my first individualized plan... "I can walk with my class" badge. This is for a student that runs and hides every time we walk back from lunch, recess and specials. They have the chance to receive 6 WOW pieces a day... 

This was through half the day! The student did awesome... Some other problems I usually saw were extinguished too (crying for not first in line, pushing, talking and need to be by their best friend). 

My other friend is having a very hard time following directions, not in a defiant way but in a "I cannot understand or focus to remember" kind of way. This child received individualized Velcro strips that are changed to show what is expected at different points of the day. 

This worked pretty decently. At least I could point as a reminder rather than repeat and repeat and repeat. I am just concerned with this functionality everyday. We will see! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Five for Friday on Sunday

Time for my first five for Friday.. even though it is Sunday. This sure does explain how tired I still am after 2 weeks of teaching in my new grade Kindergarten!
Now for the sad part, I realized I do not take enough pictures of the happenings in my classroom. That is my goal for next week (even if we are testing all week long!).
I am starting with my end of the week... Pedicure.
My feet hurt so bad and this women was heaven. It might need to be a weekly tradition.
This week marked Grad School. I am on my last year (4 more classes!). I am very proud of myself for sticking with this and finishing a year after all my Grad School "friends". Wedding and Wedding saving got in the way of summer class, but I am almost there. Wish me luck on my Psychology class.
This was last week, but my picture of YELLOW is on my classroom picture. We have been learning how to spell and read our "color" words. It is so much fun. There are a lot of YouTube songs to sing for each color word and my school also has the Heidi Songs. Each color receives 2 school days and on the first day it is dress up time! I have loved how into this dressing up my students have gotten. Here is one of my favorite Orange day outfits...
This week also marked the time I put up my wedding pictures on Facebook. Now I know you must be thinking "I don't need to see all your wedding photos". BUT I must offer them up for all my family and family friends who do want to see them. It is also SO much easier to show people at work or at grad school (if they ask) when I can just pull up a Facebook album. Here is a favorite!
Lastly room 25 is hopefully getting a classroom pet.. Thanks to Pets In The Classroom for giving some relief on the financial side, but my husband went a little overboard on his care. Which I do think his care is important, so I guess it is in "Herald's" best interest.
Have a great Labor Day Weekend!