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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sick Day!

Today, I spent the day at home, taking care of my daughter. She was sick with an awful stomach bug! She lost her lunch (and everything else in her belly) 9 times during the night last night. Not good. While I was home (in between cleaning her up and getting her to take fluids), I worked on the unit that we will be beginning next week. I am excited to begin teaching writing in more depth and detail than ever before! High-lights of the next six weeks in literacy will include: events in a sequence, ordinal numbers, story sequencing, distinguishing between letter/word/sentence, and beginning sentences with a capital letter in the first word. We will still continue to work on letter recognition, primary sounds of letters, color words, sight words, nursery rhymes...basically everything that we have been doing...with more!

I also updated the "Blogs I Love" page. Check out some awesome teaching and learning blogs there!

Monday, September 26, 2011

We Can...

write our color words! My kinders are so smart that they have figured out that if they look around the room, they will find resources that can help them complete tasks. I have color words posted on the board, on the color wall, and they are also written out on the desk nameplates at each child's area. During 'down time' (which is very rare), the class loves to work with their marker boards (or to draw on the tables with our 'magic markers'). On this particular day, I told the class to work on spelling out the color words. They could sing the songs we have been learning to help them, or they could write from memory, OR they could find something in the room to help them out.

 And this it what it looks like when we clean up, after we use the markers! Baby wipes are wonderful things!!! I even use them to clean my chalk/dry erase board.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Journaling is such an important part of learning to write for a purpose. It is also very difficult to do with kindergarteners! Each year, I have struggled with the hows; whens; whats; and whys of journaling with pre-writers. This year, I am just biting the proverbial bullet and doing it.

So this is the journal that I bought. Actually, I bought 20.

It looks like this on the inside...perfect for the drawings and 'writing' of the kinders...

We have only journaled three times this school year. The first time, I wrote part of the entry for every student. It was related to the study that we were doing over The Itsy Bitsy Spider. I wrote "One day, ______ fell from the sky." The instruction was to draw a picture of something crazy falling from the sky and fill in the blank with a word to describe it. Some wrote 'houses,' 'pie,' 'cats,' 'mom;' you get the idea. 

For the last two weeks, we have been using 'Humpty Dumpty' and 'Jack and Jill' in our literacy activities. I had the students tell me how the nursery rhymes were similar. They agreed that all of the characters fell down. I asked them to think of a time that they had fallen down. They were to write a story or draw a picture of a time that they fell down. Were they hurt? Where were they? What caused them to fall? This was one result...
'Jack F. fell on rocks.'
Not to shabby for the 5th week of kindergarten!

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Heroic Homecoming

Today was Homecoming at our high school. Our district always does a parade, pep rally, and then the big game. Today's parade was extra special. A soldier returned home from Iraq. To her children. Her arrival was a complete surprise to everyone. She rode on the fire truck and could barely keep from barreling off of the top to get to her babies when she saw them. To sweeten the day, it was her little boy's birthday!

During all the commotion, here are some shots of the kinders and what they saw:


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Applying What We Learn

Amazingly enough, it is already the 5th week of school! At this point in the year in literacy, we have learned to recognize the letters Aa - Ff, as well as what sound each of those letters usually makes. We applied this knowledge in class on Thursday by writing each letter, and searching through magazines to find pictures of things that begin with the letter that we wrote. This is what it looked like: 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Look Who's Counting!

In years gone by, it has seemed as though I have only scratched the surface of counting and writing/recognizing numbers with my kinders. There has been so much time dedicated to phonemic awareness, phonics, and reading that math has been sadly neglected! This year, it seems the other way around! I am already realizing that I need to slow down with the literacy component in my classroom, but I am thrilled with how much time is being devoted to mathematics. Look at how we are learning (yes, we are just now learning, so please overlook any imperfections) to work with numbers!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Look Around the Room

This post is way overdue, I know, but I wanted to show the new look in my room this year. I went with Owls...The Knight Owls! As part of our new leadership program, each classroom is a part of our schoolwide community. There are rooms themed as a movie theater, a bakery, recycling center, farmer's market, and so on. My room was designated as the quilt shop, as a result of last year's quilt donation. I really struggled with the notion of how to combine the owls and the quilt shop, until I hit upon the idea of The Knight Owls one evening when I was crafting into the wee hours...and here are portions of the result...

Easy to make...Click for template!
New curtains that I LOVE!

Check out the announcement board...just fabric and ribbon!

My awesome owl calendar!!!

The fantastic hall decor hand drawn by my amazing hubs!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Silly Centers on Fridays

As we are acclimating to the new standards and all of the work involved, there seems to be very little time for silliness. Kinders need time to be silly, so my center time on Fridays has been designated as silly center time (basically, play how you want to, rather than structured...but, it helps them learn to socialize, which I feel is a huge part of my job as well as the academics)! It doesn't get much more silly than this...

Monday, September 5, 2011

CCSS Say What???

Like it or not, they are here. Readers that are educators know what it is to which I refer...readers that are parents soon will! "They" are the Common Core State Standards, otherwise known as CCSS. These are standards currently being phased in to replace the Arkansas State Standards which were brought about to meet No Child Left Behind goals of 2001. These standards are expected to be fully developed and ready for use at all levels (K-12) by 2014, among 44 (I have seen some articles claiming 49) states. This year, implementation began in kindergarten thru second grade in our state. Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is, and what the reason was for the change. It is my understanding that colleges and workplaces have been experiencing difficulty because students leaving high school are not entering places of higher education or the workforce with the level of preparedness necessary for success. Thus, the development of the CCSS. For all intents and purposes, these standards have been created to bring college and career ready students out of high schools across the nation. Check out this quick explanation by Dr. Tom Kimbrell, the Arkansas Education Commissioner.

What does this mean for our kinders? It means that they are learning things more at their developmental level. This is good news! Rather than pushing students to learn a million things on a cursory level, we are able to teach them specific skills in-depth. There isn't the pressure of before to move on even if they didn't 'quite' get it. Teach it...and teach it well...when they know it, THEN move on. It means that kids are learning nursery rhymes again. They are really learning their numbers, and how to count those numbers. They are learning colors, shapes, letters, phonics, vocabulary words, sight words...things that kinders need to learn. And shhh...don't get too excited...there will be no high-stakes testing in kindergarten this year!!! It finally feels like kindergarten in my classroom, rather than having the feeling of first grade! It has best been said that students will now learn topics a mile deep, instead of a mile wide. The skills that they will take from each grade level will be built upon at the next level...and if they move in from out of town or even out of state...wait for it...they won't be behind because so many states are teaching the same standards!!!

There is one downside that I have found to these new standards though. These are the binders that I have to have every weekend when I sit down to write the next week's lesson plans!