Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reindeer Hats

A coworker made these with her kids and I took the idea. It made for good fine motor practice when they had to trace their hands and cut them out.

We did this project the last day before break so I only had a chance to grab a quick picture on my phone.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Can you feel it?

That Christmas itch?

Here's what happened around the K pod today (fortunately only one of these involved my students)...

The morning began with a student that glued their entire paper to the table. I mean full on 8.5 by 11 paper completely stuck to the table. They must have used an entire glue stick.

We got outside for recess (yay!)

Then during a bathroom break a student was climbing on the toilet and her foot "splashed in the water" according to another girl in the bathroom at the time.

Finally to cap off the day, two students decided that their white crayons should just be used on their blue paper but also on their blue chair seats.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My heart is beating thump thump thump...

This is what a student said to me today when she moved her name up to blue on my behavior chart system.  But let me rewind since the above is probably confusing since I have not shared about my behavior management system.

 I (like many a K teacher before me) have found that students respond well when you give specific positive praise rather then just pointing out the things that the bad kids are doing....(cough cough...B. and A. not that I'm naming any names...). The positive praise makes the other kids (most of the time) sit up and pay attention because they want you to say their name. So over the summer while browsing the wonderful world of Pinterest. I noticed behavior charts like this one from The Clutter-Free Classroom

The students can move up for good behavior and down for poor choices. Even if they start a downward path they can improve and move back up. And for those who make more poor choices then others, I try to move them up in the morning so they have some wiggle room.

 I combined the clips system with another idea I saw around the blogosphere...behavior punch cards. I modeled mine after these from Mrs. Steberger's First Grade 

Mine have numbers 1 to 5. The kids get punches for good behavior and when they fill up the card they get to get a prize out of the prize box. If they stay on green on the behavior chart they get one punch, up to blue is two and purple is three. They are in charge of their card and they keep them in their pencil box.

Fridays used to be crazy when I had a system for Friday Prize Days. Now its only a few kids a day in the box. They know how to get it out and put it away and there is so much less management on my end.

The great part about today is that this student is not bad (I can't really call any kid bad)... she just makes poor choices at times and talks way too much...and so when I caught her being good today she was so excited that she was going to get extra punches on her punch card. Some days I feel like I'm doing something right.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Out of the Mouth of Kindergarteners

On the way out to recess...

Student: I like your new scarf.

Me: Thank you Ms. F (my sister who they have met since she subs for me on occasion) 's husband brought it all the way from Afghanistan very far away.

Student: Oh did you lose it?

Sometimes it is important to remember these kinds of days to help combat against the not so good days. I had my formal observation with my new administration this week and get the feedback tomorrow. I'm a little nervous because I need them on my side when I try and look for a job closer to home in the spring. I know I'm a good teacher, but this year it has been really a challenge to feel like I'm doing things right.

Here's hoping it will all work out.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


"When are you gonna put a baby in your belly?"

This was a question asked of me by one of my students. I guess I should be happy that he said "when" and not "is."

When I told them I don't need any babies right now since I have two dogs they replied with a very matter of fact tone, "Dogs are not babies"

Then somehow the topic got turned into how the babies get in the tummies and I got to use my favorite line as a teacher "You know...I think you need to ask your mom about that one!"

These are the moments I have to think channel when I find three kids wrestling in the mountains of coats, hats, and gloves during the packing up transition time :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brain Dump - Fall Edition

So as much as I have been loving reading other blogs, I've really been neglecting my own. This school year has been really rough. Right now school is sucking the life out of me. So this is going to be a little bit of a brain dump... I promise I have some more positive posts with some of the cute things my kids have been doing soon.

My principal said in a our last staff meeting that we need to find balance in our lives so that we are not so stressed are some of the reasons why I can't find balance right now...

- 28 students and one teacher

- My commute takes an hour each way on a good day...the weather has not been good lately.

- I have had at least one parent late (we are a walking school) and have had to call to find out when they are picking up their child almost every day for about 2 weeks. This cuts into my planning time, which is already limited because I have to leave at the end of the work day to go let out my dogs.

- The grading police sent me an email on Friday when we are suppose to have until Sunday to enter grades (Don't even get me started on the fact that I have to enter grades in the first place.)

- I had a parent approach me in the front hallway (We were doing a water/bathroom break and the other bathroom near my classroom has 3 other K classes using it) Anyway, this happened last week the conversation went as follows:

Mom: Are you T. teacher?
Me: Yes (Thinking in my head...We did meet on the first day of school)
Mom: I want to know why he was on the wall yesterday. Why is he being treated so unfair?
Me: Well I was not outside for recess duty yesterday, but if another teacher had a major incident that they would put him on the wall for then they would have told me.  T. come here. Did you go on the wall yesterday at recess?
T. :
Mom: Well he told me that he was on the wall.
Me: Look I can't really have a conference with you right now and we need to get back to our classroom.
Mom: But I want to know why my baby is being treated unfairly.
Me:  I would love to sit down and have a conference with you in fact I have sent a few notices home about meeting for a conference, but you never replied. What would be a good day to meet after school? I'm free most every day.
Mom: What about tomorrow?
Me: Tomorrow we don't have school because of the Thanksgiving break. (HOW CAN SHE NOT KNOW THAT!!!!!)
Mom: Well I have to look at my work schedule.

- Yesterday we had to split up another teacher's class because she got sick at school. It was 9:00. We thought especially since there was only two other teachers out that they could find someone for the afternoon. We find out today that they didn't really call anyone and instead our administration came down to check on us (in the chaos right before lunch with coats and lunch tags, plus 5 other kids who needed to track down their stuff) and what did one of them say...jokingly "Looks like you've got your hands full today" No appreciation for the fact that all four of us will have our day completely disrupted. How hard is a little thank you?

- GROSS ALERT! Poop. Yes you read that right poop. Chunks of poop all around my room. And there goes my planning time. I will spare you the rest of the details.

And on that note. I'm done with today...tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, October 10, 2011


This is a favorite unit of mine since the students really get it and there are always a few creative ones that surprise me.

We start our unit by asking what is a pattern and what makes it a pattern. Then we practice making patterns with manipulatives. Here are some of the patterns my students made using some fun Target Dollar Section and Dollar Tree finds...

Target Fall Table Scatter
Puff Balls from the Dollar Tree

Erasers from the Target Dollar Section
Sometimes they use things in ways you never thought about.

Other students put beads (Dollar Tree) onto pipe cleaners. This is great because you do not have to tie a knot and it is good fine motor practice (I actually moved it into my fine motor center because the kids loved it so much even over the oh so popular playdough)

 The next day we did the same centers only this time they had to record their pattern (which we later glued into their math journals).

Though it isn't all unicorns and roses. I still have a couple giving me this when they work independently...
To be continued....


Have you ever had a day like this...

because I did. Tomorrow is a new day. I have some good stuff on patterns I want to share this week.

Monday, September 26, 2011


I found this great freebie while blog surfing tonight from Homeschool Creations

There are tons of things for fall both literacy and math printables. I know I'll be using some in my centers.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kindergarten Gems

In science we have been studying living and nonliving things.

After a lesson about things that grow and change a fellow K teacher got an...interesting entry...(when you have 27 students you've got to keep your sanity)

She said later it was a person and a hippo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The funnest game ever! - Graphing

We started our graphing unit this week. Here we are collecting data.

 Here is the graph we then made.

Later in the week, we played Shake and Spill ("The funnest game ever!" according to one of my students). I put 5 two color counters in a cup. They cover and shake it 3 times (The best part) and then spill onto a math mat. Their partner sort the counters by color and the cup holder asks "Which has more and which has fewer" after answering they put the counters back in the cup and the other person shakes and spills.I wish I had snapped some pictures of them playing, but we still need a lot of practice working with others and I was just too busy. (We play this game a lot and I try to make it a math center so hopefully I can get some pics then)

The next day we played again only this time they sorted onto a graph page that was in a sheet protector.

After playing on their own for a while they each got a graph page and their own counters to shake, spill, and record so I could assess some skills. I took some dictation to see where they were with the concept of more and fewer and as expected there are still a few that need practice with drawing graphs and many of my level 1 ELL students need more practice with the vocabulary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kindergarten Gems

Student: I need a God Bless You
Teacher: Huh?
Student: (points to the tissues) A God Bless You.

This came from another kindergarten teacher in my building but it made me laugh so I thought I'd share. Can you tell we work with ELL students?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shoes Glorious Shoes

10 bagillion points to anyone that understands that reference to a musical.

So we started our sorting unit today and what better manipulatives then something the kids are intimately familiar with...their shoes!

I can't take the credit for this one because Mrs. Lochel over at Keeping Up with the Kindergarteners (awesome blog name) had it first.

Can you guess how they sorted them here? (The colors might be a little off but it's shoes with pink on the left and others on the right)

The kids thought the whole thing was hilarious! Can't wait to do more sorting tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tired of More Work and Less Pay

This is going to be a bit of a dump so I apologize in advance.

Is it like this for anyone else? More work for less pay?

My district has not given pay increases in 5 years and continues to take more out of my paycheck every year between furloughs and increases to the pension system.

On top of that we now have to have 2 grades per week per subject area in the computer for FIVE YEAR OLDS!!! Up from one a week last year. I mean come on we are still working on walking down the hall in a line and quite a few of my students still can't write their name even with a model.

Everytime I turn around there is another paper that has to be sent home and returned with information, which then I have to track down because my kids are horrible about sending things back in especially if it is only sent home in English.

Then who gets stuck with the morning Technology time (DURING MY READING BLOCK!) that would be me. Great. I'm suppose to run reading groups with 25 (And still counting) kids and we're just gonna throw that routine to the side for that day.

I know I should be thankful that I have a job and that things could always be worse, it's just been a rough day. Here's to hoping that tomorrow is better.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Alphabet Soup

One thing I mentioned in this post about letters was alphabet soup. This is a fun game I play each day to introduce the letters and is something that will transfer to my ABC center.

I use a pot from my housekeeping center and have the bag of letters ready to go. I scoop out the letter and the letter of the day goes on the left and any others go on the right. This is just a cookies sheet from the Dollar Tree with a piece of masking tape down the middle. I am thinking about adding a small yes and happy face to the left and an x with no on the right.

After we finish sorting we count the capital letters and lowercase and then how many together. We may also go over the letters on the other side.

Morning Meeting Time

I love the morning meeting time. There are so many skills that can be reviewed within these routines and we all know how much kinders love routines.

I use equity sticks and do not have an assigned "calendar helper" or "weather helper" etc. I find that it keeps my students more engaged if they don't know exactly when they will be called on to help or ask a question. Once I get all the routines up and running I can run through the entire class at least once and sometimes twice.

I'm listing the routines I start with at the beginning of the school year.  I usually try to add or change some of them each month so I'll update with those as I make those changes.

- Month - What month is it? What is the first letter? What is the last letter? How many letters are in the word? I will sometimes sing a song about the months of the year (I like the Dr. Jean Macarena Months)

- Today's Date - A student will count starting at 1 and stop at the Red Sign that says "Today is" If it is early in the month before we count I might ask What do you think the number will be today? How do you know? After counting if it is a two digit number I will ask what will the number like and I make a big deal about them saying the number in the correct order (i.e. 1 and 2 for 12 and not 2 and 1). We will also create a pattern (I always start with AB) So I can ask What shape and color should we put in today? Why? What will we put in tomorrow?

- Day of the Week - We sing a song about the days of the week. (I have a few I use because I can't sing the same thing all school year) What day of the week is it today? What was yesterday? (We also review the number) What will tomorrow be? I have students put in the red tabs.

*September Addition*
10 Frame Date - I start this at the beginning of the month since there are already so many routines to teach the first week or so of school.  Each day we decide how many dots we need to add to make the number (This is always fun to ask on a Monday after the weekend) After another student fixes the number at the bottom a student will use a pointer to count the dots. After counting one way I'll ask Can we can count another way (by 5s of 10s)? How many dots until we have 10? 20?

- Weather - This is pretty straight forward. I have students pick from a chart with velcro although with my ELL students it is fun to stop and discuss the weather on days when it is foggy or there is frost on the ground. I always have a student "read" the weather with a pointer practicing the one to one correspondence.

- Counting the Days of School - I have a student put one more straw into the pocket chart and then two student count all the straws. Then I have students help me figure out how we need to change the numbers and how we need to change the straws. Do we need to make a group of 10?

Then as something new this year (that I read in a Mailbox magazine) was to get a 100 piece puzzle and put a piece on every day. I put it together, wrote numbers 1 to 100 on the back and then each day we add a piece to the puzzle. My students are having so much fun trying to guess what the puzzle will be. (Edit: I just glue the pieces on with regular liquid glue)

- Letter of the Day - Our reading curriculum begins with reviewing the alphabet so right now I ask What letter do you think it will be today? and What sound does this letter make?
I usually take a break to stretch here since they've been sitting a while and they need to move.

- Morning Message - This is one of my favorite parts of the morning meeting. I write mine out on chart paper and each day my star student (who also is my line leader and paper passer for the day) gets to pick the color. I write the same message everyday. I forgot to get a picture but here is what I say...

Dear Class,
Today is (Day of the Week) (Month) (Day), (Year). We can see ____ girls and ____ boys at school. We will go to (special of the day).

(My Name) and _______

My star student counts the boys and the girls and fills in those numbers. I use this time to review sight words and letters and sounds. Then we use our pointing fingers to read our morning message together.

And then we continue on with the morning. Right now it takes FOREVER to get through this while I train the students how to stand so they aren't blocking everything when using a pointer and where to put the different cards and things. Some of it is getting faster and the students are getting better about understanding that they can't call out all the answer and that they will each get a turn.

Rockin like a hurricane

So the beginning of the school year hit with full force!

This was my neighbor's house. To say its been a rough start to the school year is an understatement. We've had two days off so far and we are only 8 days in! Plus my class has grown from 23 to 25 with another possible next week. The late registration is a killer when you are trying to establish routines.

I'm ready to settle into this school year and although I didn't have Internet for most of last week I did start to write up a post about my morning meeting time which I'm hoping to get up with pictures either tonight or tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday - Earthquake Edition

I wasn't going to post anything for today's link party at Blog Hoppin' because I've only been teaching for five years and I guess I don't feel like I've been teaching long enough to be a veteran teacher who should be offering advice, but then today happened.

Today was the second day of school with my kinders and just before 2:00 with my students practicing how we keep manipulatives on our math mats, I heard this really loud noise. We have a first grade class on the floor above mine and I thought at first they were moving furniture or stomping on the ground. Then I realized the room was moving. Just as I was about to tell the kids to get under the tables because I was hoping it was just an earthquake and not something worse (being just outside of DC will make you slightly wary of loud noises) everything stopped.

I was scared and by the looks on the kids faces...they were pretty scared too. My principal came over the loudspeaker immediately and said to stay in place. With knees shaking I had to put on my big girl panties and carry on. The kids took my lead and we finished up the day without too much fuss.

So if I could give any advice it would be that your students take their cues from you. If you are stressed and panicked then they will pick up on that. If you can remain calm, especially in an emergency situation, then things will go much smoother.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. This has already started out as a crazy school year. I'm really ready for routines to be established!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Putting myself out there into the blogging world today at the BlogHoppin link party.

Tell us a little something about you...

I just started my sixth year teaching kindergarten. I love my children(students)...since I don't have any of my own yet. I have taught at the same school and it has been really cool to see my first kindergarten babies grow up into big fifth graders!

My husband and I (check out the awesome picture on my sidebar that one of my kids drew when I got engaged a few years ago) spend most of our free time with my two doggies.
 This is Max the 90lb Rottie.

And then there's Sophie from the land of misfit dogs. She's truly a mutt with boxer, greyhound, pit..and who knows what else. She may be a little funny looking but she is a cuddler. In fact she is sitting by my side right now as a type this. 

You might not know...
As much as everyone around me thinks that since I've been married for a year that it's time for babies...we are both quite happy with just the dogs for now.

What are you looking forward to the most this school year?
My new administration. It was time for some change and I'm really happy about it.

What do you need to improve?
I really want to improve my use of centers. My county recommends only a 20 min time slot for centers, but I'm trying to fit in an extra 20 into the rotation.

I'm also incorporating math journals (which I start tomorrow). The concept fits in with some of the trainings I have done in math and math is something I am extremely passionate about.

What teacher supplies can you not live without?
I love my hot glue gun! I teach in an open space pod that they divide up with large magnetic walls with no bulletin board space and so this is the only thing that keeps up the papers and borders on the wall.

I also love the Dollar Tree. I seriously have to limit myself when I go in there to one baskets worth of stuff.

I'm hoping to try and jump in more to the blogging world. I want to figure out how to upload documents so I can share with everyone.

Oh and one more doggie picture because I love them!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Introducing Letters

I found this awesome blog post that I want to incorporate into our Welcome to Kindergarten theme where we introduce the alphabet. We do one letter a day and I really like how this teacher uses their student's names.

I got my class list and found out that I have FIVE letter A names so we will see what happens when school starts.


Well I'm trying to start this year on a good foot. I was suppose to transfer to a school closer to home, but the county refused to put it through. So I still get to drive a hour plus each way. Still not quite over it...

Anyway I wanted to state my goals for this year and check in each quarter and give myself a grade.

1. Remove independent work from my 3 group rotation. I'm tired of the seatwork and it's more hassle then its worth. So students will rotate between two centers and my guided reading group. This will require me to change up my centers a bit more so the kids don't get bored.

2. Write up weekly plans at least 1 week in advance. I'm keeping it all on the computer this year so hopefully I can keep things updated with what works and make planning easier for future years.

3. Attempt daily math journals. I really want my students to be able to draw and write about their math thinking.

I think these are plenty. I'm not sure how they will go and even though I am staying in the same school I will have new administration so things may change based on their preference.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Target Finds

$1.00 Sorting Cards, Dr. Suess erasers and two sets of puzzles!

$2.50 The blue container spins! And will work well for my art center. (With a special appearance by Sophie the Sockeater!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Felt Letter Tiles

So my new favorite website is I think it is a great way to bookmark cool ideas from other teachers, plus you can add a picture for all us visual people out there.

So one of the first projects I added while trolling the internet were these ABC Felt Tiles.

So on one of my many trips to the Dollar Tree I spotted sheets of Felt and picked up the puffy paint from AC Moore and one REALLY HOT Saturday afternoon later I had these...

My first use for them will be for students to make their name in my Making Words center.  I will make some black felt strips for them to make their names on.


So we have hit the point of summer that I'm ready to go back to school. Ready for the routine. Ready for the kids. Ready to get out of my house! Even if it means leaving these two at home.

I love vacation for a little while, especially going on trips, but this being home all day thing just ain't for me. I am about 2/3rds of the way done with my big summer project which is painting my cabinets in my kitchen. When I need a little break I've been searching out kindergarten blogs to follow. I've found some awesome stuff and I'll try and get some pictures together and post about it!