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Monday, January 31, 2011

The 100th Day of School!

We are 100 days smarter! This year is flying by so fast, it feels like I have blinked and it is more than halfway gone. Today we celebrated the 100th day of school. The babies were so excited all day long! We had so many activities to do. We started the day with a connect-the-dots 1 -100 page. I have never done dot-to-dot with them, and they did exceptionally well, especially for one so massive! The next activity we did was to take a vote on which was heavier on the balance scale, 100 spoonfuls of dry rice or 100 spoonfuls of water. The rice won, and 14 of 17 babies chose correctly! The rest of our activities are shown in pictures:

We shared our collections of 100 things...

We made a new collection of 100 stickers...

Our snack was a mix-up bag of 100 things, made by Mrs. her house! (They were so excited to have food from my house...go figure)...

We built a house of 100 bricks...on paper, that is...

And finally, the culmination of our day...we released 100 balloons into the wind!!!

They loved the release of the balloons! Their squeals and faces as the balloons went higher and higher were priceless. Definitely a favorite activity!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Read All About It!

When the second semester begins at my school, kindergarten gets ready. Ready to read that is! This year, I am blessed with several 'natural readers' and several more that are 'eager readers.' I am so excited to be their teacher!

The natural readers have just picked up the necessary skills more or less on their own and were reading in August and September. The ones that I call 'eager readers' are the students who are just on the cusp and they know it! They are like race cars with engines revving in anticipation of the take-off. This week, three more have shot forward!

We have worked on blending phonemes for the last two weeks, and began working on CVC words in particular this week. Our focus is on the short vowel sounds for the most part, although the natural readers have begun working on silent /e/ and long vowel sounds. One activity that the class really enjoys is making their own mini-books. We have made two books for each short vowel sound.

In the beginning there is a sheet of paper. The babies illustrate (color) the story and then cut the pages apart. The next step is a bit tricky for them, as they must put the pages in order. If the book pages do not have page numbers on them already, we add them before cutting. When they have the pages in the correct order, I staple their book together. Finally, when all books have been assembled, the 'class reader' tells the story by decoding and reading the words. The final result is a bit like this...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Literacy Caravan

Today brought good news to my world! I would love to eventually be a literacy coach/specialist, and so it was with great excitement that I read the email telling me that I will be going to a 'literacy/reading caravan' in a couple of weeks. Now, I have not been to one of these before, so I am only assuming that this will be to choose our new literacy curriculum and texts for the next adoption. How fun! Yes, I know it is rather nerdly of me to be so overjoyed at choosing texts...but it is books...teaching materials...programs...scads of them to look over and see!

Thinking about the possibilities leads me to think about everything I will need to consider when perusing the materials available. Since our state is moving to Common Core State Standards for K-2 beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, it is important to identify materials and resources that correspond with those, while at the same time builds upon or correlates with those that we already use. Our current materials have been in place for at least eight years, possibly more, so they are definitely in need of updating...I hope that positive changes are coming for us in literacy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Day!

There are only a few days a year when I am happy to get phone calls before six in the morning. Those days would be the ones when my principal is calling to say 'go back to bed, no school today'! Today was one of those days...and the call was actually made before I got in the shower!!! Yippie! I am sure that the babies were all thrilled to have snow; they had enough to make snowmen. I live 30 minutes away from my school though, and did not have quite that much at my house this time. Still, it was lovely to have an extra day at home.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Major Project Complete!

Previously I mentioned that I have some awesome students this year. They are kind and compassionate, and I love them! A few weeks ago we were working on the letters Qq and the sound that is made when you read the letter Q. A word that comes up often when kindergarteners discuss the Q sound is quilt. The babies did not really comprehend what a true quilt was. Since we were also learning about Pilgrims at that time, I tried to explain that quilts were blankets made of leftover pieces of fabric or old clothing. They, of course, wanted to make one of their own. I, quite possibly out of my right mind at the time, decided it would be a fun project. And fun it was! I packed my sewing machine up and hauled it to school. It was set up on my kidney table, with the pedal on the table for the students to press with their hands as I guided the fabric. The supplies were completely donated by the children, and everything except the batting and backing was sewn by them as well. Here is a display of our quilt project in progress:

The babies were so proud of our project! They got so excited when someone got a turn to sew completed blocks together, and they literally cheered when they were able to see it 'grow.' Unfortunately, they all wanted to take it home. We decided that since it was the holidays and growing colder, we should offer the completed quilt to a family in need in our school district. I called our school counselor, who agreed that she would be thinking of a family that could use a quilt. When she came to collect our finished project, she cried as she told us of the family she had chosen. They had just enrolled in our district that morning. Their house and all of its contents had been lost in a fire over the Christmas holiday. They had nothing and were to be living with relatives until something permanent was decided. Wow. Three of the babies in my class cried when they comprehended the magnitude of the little boy's loss...and they were more than eager to offer him our gift.

This truly is a special group, and I am beyond proud of them!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Breakaway Post!

It was my hope that I would be able to get everything out that I wanted to in one blog, but I was very much mistaken! I have decided to use this blog as my teacher blog. Here I will regale you with stories of my life in kindergarten, day after day and year after year. I hope I never graduate!!! I have a terrific group of babies this year; they are kind-hearted and well on their way to being top-notch students already. It is my hope that you are able to get to know them here, through me. The students that I have this year have already made me fall in love, made me laugh, and made me cry. It is a group of students that I am excited to watch grow as the years go by, which is a huge benefit that I have in working in a small, rural school district. Today's post isn't much, but I do hope that you enjoy reading the ones that will follow.