Five for Friday (5/29/15)

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Hey y'all! I know many of you are on summer vacation already, but we still have half a week left, and thank goodness it's Friday! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the fabulous Five for Friday!


We had Monday off for Memorial Day, but I live in central Texas and it P-O-U-R-E-D here. There was massive flooding and tornado warnings every few minutes. It was insane! Luckily, all our family has stayed safe and we've had minimal damage. But it made for an interesting long weekend. 




Our kinder graduation is on Tuesday and we've been practicing daily for the last two weeks. The kids are adorable. I just hope everything goes smoothly. Talking into the microphone in front of 150 students and their parents is not my favorite. 

The class awards are ready, diplomas are printed, the slide show is complete, books are ready to give to the littles, the party is all set, and I am going to miss them all terribly. We have several summer birthdays we haven't celebrated yet, so cupcakes may be in order on Monday. It'll be a very full 2.5 days next week.

This happened Monday: 


Click on the picture to read the article. I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately and just thought I'd share. What would you add to this list?

The last few days of school we spend crafting our hearts out. Today we made this:


Next week, we're making this, this, and this, as well as finishing up our memory books. These guys are going to be busy, busy, busy!




I'm soooooo ready for summer break, but we still have 2.5 school days left. I'm hoping for a little day trip down to San Antonio this weekend for some change of scenery. If you've never been to the Riverwalk or Big Lou's Pizza, you should go. The Riverwalk is like it's own little city and Big Lou's (not on the Riverwalk, but not far from it) has pizza the size of my youngest child. No kidding. I've seen a table full of U.S. soldiers not finish one. The Riverwalk is also walking distance from the Alamo and several other tourist attractions like Ripley's Believe it or Not and a wax museum. 


What do you do to clear your mind or have a change of pace?

Thanks for stopping by and check out Doodle Bugs Teaching to see what everyone else has going on this week. 


Things I Wish I Knew as a New Kindergarten Teacher

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Being a first year teacher is an eye-opening experience. Being a first year kindergarten teacher can blow you away. There are were more than a few things I wish I had known going in that first day that would have made a HUGE difference from the beginning. In case no one has told you already, let me give you a heads up.


I don't mean a little tired. I mean OMG how can I make it to Friday tired. Do not make plans in the evening your first week of teaching kindergarten. You will be ready to fall asleep by 7pm. Do yourself a favor and give in to the need to sleep. You and your students will thank you.



Buy some comfortable shoes, break them in well, and wear them the whole first week (or month). You will not sit down the first week of kindergarten. Make peace with it now and it will be much easier. I keep an extra pair of shoes in my room, just in case. You never know when you're going to need it.



Assume they don't know how to do anything. No, really. And it will be okay. Practice everything. You'll think they know how to hold a pencil/glue stick/water bottle, but they may not. Many more than you think will have no experience doing any of these things. You will have to model how to sit down correctly, and stand up correctly, and walk correctly, and hold things correctly. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! I can't stress this enough. If you take the time the first few weeks of school practicing EVERYTHING, you will get so much more done throughout the year. Some classes get this faster than others. Don't compare yourself to your neighboring teacher's class. She doesn't have your kids. Yours will be ready in their own time, which may be before or after hers.



Law makers seem to think that kindergarten is the new 1st grade. Each year, they add more and more to the curriculum. Kids are being pushed harder and harder each year whether they are ready for it or not. Kindergarten should be, and is, more about learning how to behave in school and get along with others than it is about academics. Am I telling you to ditch the standards? Absolutely not. But count on doing just as many social skills lessons in the beginning of the year as you would academic lessons. Many kids have never played with other kids their age regularly for any length of time. They NEED lessons on how to make it all work. And don't be afraid to go back and revisit those lessons whenever needed (think winter break, spring break, all through May, and any time in between).



Every time we do anything (walk, go to the restroom, start centers) we review expectations. They forget what is expected of them. Even when it's the 150th day of school and you've done the same things the same way everyday up to that point, someone will forget. Scream during Daily 5? It'll happen if you don't remind them (and maybe even if you do).



You will go to the store just for things like superhero bandaids, popsicle sticks, a 20 pack of play sunglasses, lima beans, clothes pins, 75 glue sticks, 15 different kinds of snack foods (for the best lesson ever!), cream of tartar in bulk (make your own play dough, it's way cheaper), a 30 pound bag of  rice for sensory, food coloring, and more washi and duct tape than you ever dreamed of. You will spend an entire paycheck over the course of the year in the Target dollar spot or at Dollar Tree. You will cause a scene in the office supply section because you are squealing with glee over the cutest supplies you've ever seen. Other shoppers will think you are crazy. If you have teenagers, they will think you are crazy. If you have younger children, they will ask for one of the said cute things too. You will buy 8 and wish you had more.



Some weeks are crazy. Parents will help you cut things out, laminate, make copies, etc. if you ask. I have even paid my teens at home to help with these things when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Your teammates are your support, your family is your support, and parents will help if you ask. You do not have to be Superman. (Although, you'll soon find out you already are.) Kids LOVE to help the teacher. Give them jobs. Things will be much more smooth than if you try to do it all yourself.



Contact parents about good stuff. They automatically assume the worst when you call if you don't also send out shout outs every once in awhile. When you contact parents with the great stuff their kid does, they will be more inclined to back you up if you have to call with bad news.



I've heard teachers say, "Don't smile till Christmas." That's absurd. Your classroom should be a second home for you and your students. After all, you and your crew will spend half your waking hours there for 175 days this year. Do everything in your power to make your room warm and inviting. That includes smiling.



You may get licked. You will have something stuck to your butt at some point. Someone will throw up and/or have an "accident." You will be sneezed on. There will be unidentified stuff in your room or on you. Wash your hands. Take your vitamin C. Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Have some "you" time. You'll need it.



Yes, you will. With every single one of them. Even the one that drives you up the wall and makes you start your countdown to summer in October. You will fall in love with them. Their smiles are contagious. They say the craziest things. You will have STORIES to tell--things no one but another teacher will believe. You will love all of their quirks. Even the ones that exhaust you.



They will talk about you at home, write you love notes, call you "Mom" on accident, and insist that you are right when their mom and dad say otherwise. You matter to them. Some days it will feel like you are talking to the wall and not a single little in that room is listening to you. But they do. They hear everything you say and it resonates with them forever. Please be nice. They will look up to you. Be their light.



You guide them on a daily basis. You know how they work and what motivates them. You know which ones you can give a "look" to when they are forgetting the expectations, and which ones need something more than a look. You will keep data on your littles, but you won't need a data wall to tell you what they need. You will advocate for them, you will be their voice, and you will be their rock. You will be just as proud of their accomplishments as their own parents are. You'll know how much work they put into those success and you will be their biggest cheerleader.



Kindergarten is a calling. You have to want it. You will live, breathe, eat, sleep, and dream about your kinders. You will stay up at night thinking about them. You will worry about them when they are not with you. You will pray for them. You will cry for them. You will be grateful for the honor of being called their teacher. Every bit of it is absolutely worth it.


Year at a Glance

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All right friends, raise your hand if you're a planner like me. I HATE waiting till the last minute to do lesson planning and the longer I teach, the more I want to put a long term plan in the works as soon as possible. I don't mean full lesson plans, but a general idea of what we'll be focusing on when. Our district has always had a prescribed scope and sequence detailing the standards to be taught during each three week period, and our team has supplemented it themes.

So here are some of the themes we use each year:


Do you teach in themes? Are there any other themes you would add?



Peek at My Week (5/24/15)

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We're down to two weeks of school left before summer vacation! I don't know who's more excited, the kids or me. They definitely have more energy. 

This week is all about wrapping up our school year and preparing to continue our learning through the summer. 



We'll be putting together these summer writing journals from Freebielicious. We'll review math concepts from the throughout the year and taking home our GoMath! workbooks. We'll write about what we would do if we had S'more Time in Kindergarten. And we'll be putting together our class memory books. It will be a busy, fun, and short week! I can't wait!






Five for Friday (5/22/15)

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My blog got a facelift!!! I am so excited! I've been waiting soooo long it seems. AND. I. LOVE. IT! Megan did such a great job and she was so easy to work with! 


We're in the second half of our ABC Countdown to summer. This week was letters O-S. We wore orange, had a picnic in the classroom, had a quiet day (yeah...right), wore our rock star gear, and had a sun and sand day. 

When we were all done being quiet (like, lunchtime), we went outside for a little kindergarten Quidditch. We had 3 kids on each end hold up hula hoops for goal posts, one on each side for goalies, and everyone else tried to get the beachball in the hoops. They loved it! At least until the ball went onto the roof. Live and learn, right?




We researched ocean animals this week using this set from 1st Grade is WienerFUL. I hooked them up with books from the library, put together research notebooks, and sent them forward. Thursday, they got in groups, shared their findings, then wrote about their favorite animal of the bunch. 

I LOVE kinder research notebooks. They get so excited about their projects and become wonderful teachers themselves. One of my guys finished presenting and asked his group-mates, "Does anyone have any questions about clown fish?" So stinkin' cute.





We reverted to an old school reading strategy this week called D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read). Now we consider it Read to Self. But the difference is, with D.E.A.R., the teachers also drop everything and read, modeling the love of reading by actually reading to themselves in front of their students. I had a couple students come up to me to talk the first time we tried, and by my telling them I was reading, they stopped and went back to reading themselves. When the timer went off, they wanted more time, every time. They asked for MORE TIME TO READ!!! They like daily 5, but not as much as the whole class reading at the same time. 


Can you find the hidden readers?



We made our Popsicle craftivity today thanks to Miss Kindergarten. They turned out so cute.


And now it's time for my daughters' band party and award ceremony. I'm chaperoning. Wish me luck!




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