A Farming We Will Go

This week, I decided my class would do better with theme learning so I pulled out my farm binder and went to work.  I pulled out books to make, I searched Pinterest for activities or crafts, and I downloaded ideas from Teachers Pay Teachers.  With all these resources at my fingertips, I planned out our next three weeks of learning.  I was so excited to start on this unit.

As I started planning, I came across this farm packet http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Kinderbykims-Fun-on-the-Farm-Pack-166990 that is filled with amazing ideas that I decided to start with some of them!  I loved the vegetables at the end so  I copied them on construction paper and folded them so each vegetable looked like a book.  The kids could write on the inside and paint on the outside.  We were ready to start the week.

But, I wanted to make sure my room looked and felt like a farm as well as defined the areas for our projects.  So to the internet and blog world I went looking.  I came across www.kinderbykim.blogspot.com and knew just what to do!  She has pictures of large animals around her room when she does a theme.  What a great idea!  I decided I would paint large vegetables to go with our theme around the room.

At the beginning of the week, up went the barn.

Barn

On Tuesday,  we focused on the different things we would find on a farm.  The kids brainstormed people, animals, buildings they thought we might find.  Then we listed foods that could be grown on farms — this was fun because we live out in an area where lots of crops are grown so kids tried to think of things they had seen when they were out with their families.

On Wednesday, we started with the potato.  We brainstormed what we could make out of potatoes.  The kids came up with soup, hash browns, french fries, tater tots, and mashed potatoes.  We worked in small groups to fill in the inside of our potatoes.  Then we pulled out the paint and glitter.  Oh what fun we had!  Later I put them on our board . . . 

Potato

On Thursday, we moved on to lettuce.  We brainstormed what we would use lettuce for.  The kids came up with salad, tacos, and sandwiches.  We worked again in small groups and filled in the inside then brought out our paint and glitter again.  They had so much fun!  That afternoon up went our patch of lettuce . . .

Lettuce

On Friday, we ended the week with making carrots.  We again brainstormed ways we would use carrots.  The kids came up with soup, carrot cake, salad, juice, and a veggie mix.  I was very impressed with their list.  We worked in small groups to write, paint, and glitter.  We left them to dry for the weekend.

My class is so excited about this theme.  Next week, we finish up with tomatoes and turnips.  Then we start talking about all the animals.  I can’t wait!  I just love learning about the farm!

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A Visit From SkippyJon Jones

This last week, our family had a visitor for several days.  My youngest daughter is in preschool and her class has been doing a book with animal friend.  Well, on Monday she was so excited to see that it was her turn to bring SkippyJon Jones home for the week.  The instructions for the week were to share experiences with him, read the story in his backpack and retell the story to share with the class next week.

So, SkippyJon Jones rode around town with us for the day.

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He enjoyed dinner with our daughter.  She taught him to play games (which she won both times they played).

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And when bedtime came each night, she made him his own bed on the floor and kissed him goodnight as she tucked him into bed.

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Perhaps though, my favorite part of SkippyJon Jones visit was our daughters retelling of the story.  After reading the story SkippyJon Jones Class Action, here is her version of the story:

“SkippyJon Jones, he couldn’t go to school because he had to stay home.  But he was able to go on the school bus. The penguin helped him go to school.

The mother cat was a little cat.  Skippito caught him, but he didn’t want the cat.  He didn’t have enough time to get it! So he didn’t want to do to school, but the penguin go him on the bus.  It was only for dogs!

The teacher threw a ball and the dogs traced it.  They were afraid of a little dog in a polka dotted cup.  The dogs weren’t afraid because they didn’t have a refrigerator. His mom met him and he said, ‘Good night, mother.’ ”

She was so very excited the next Monday to take her new friend SkippyJon Jones back to school and share with her friends and teachers her story retell and to show off the pictures of her and Skippy.

After seeing her excitement and joy during the week of having SkippyJon Jones at our house, I am working through trying to decide what story and animal I should send home for my students to enjoy reading with.  It really is a great opportunity for literacy development and building the home-to-school connection for families.

What book/character would you suggest sending home for students?

Friday Top 5 — Back to School Edition

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This week we started back to school after winter break.  Honestly, I would have loved an extra week but it was nice to get back into the classroom.  I was a bit concerned on Sunday about how Monday would go but I was pleasantly surprised at how the kids were ready to get back to school.

Now, onto on our top 5 for this week:

1 — Introducing students to the topic of Winter and talking about animals that hibernate during that time.  After reading a book, one little boy said that he knew lots of animals like giraffes hibernated.  That gave us a good laugh as several kids had just visited the zoo over break and seen the giraffes, they were a bit confused!

2 — Making snowmen this week and one of my students just got glasses over break.  After he had put glasses on his snowman, several others joined him.  They actually came out very cute!

3 — Introducing iPads to the class on Monday, one little guy asks, “We can play all those games?” His smile after my reply of yes was priceless.

4 — Having a mom stop in to tell me that her son was so excited about school because his classroom was way different and cool.  I did a little rearranging of the room over break and changed up my schedule for the kids.  I guess they ilked it, I know I sure did!

5 — The excitement they had when I shared with them that some of our projects on DonorsChoose (www.donorschoose.org) had been funded over the break and all the new things we would be getting.  There were cheers galore from the kids.

It was a great week back but I am grateful for a weekend to rest.

What were your top 5 events for school this week?  I would love to hear from you.

Bullying — Why I Hate It

imagesBullying.  It’s something we address in school starting at the beginning of the year. As we head back to school this week, we will review the topic as we review the rules of our classroom and school.

In the TK classroom, I use the story The Recess Queen to talk with my kids about bullying.  However, bullying is such a hard topic for me because of my elementary years.  I feel as though in talking with my class that I repeat and emphasize it so much because of how hurt I was as a child.

I was the kid that got bullied.  And it hurt. A lot.

When I was in 4th grade, toward the end of the year, our class had a party.  We were encouraged to wear a shirt for everyone to sign.  I chose to wear a special Disneyland shirt with Mickey Mouse on the front.  All morning in class, we got to sign each other’s shirts with our black pens. It was pretty cool. But then recess came.

During recess, a girl asked to sign my shirt so I let her.  What I didn’t know at the time was that she wrote “kick me” on the bottom three times.  Then she and two other girls proceeded to hold me down on the ground while other students came over and kicked my back like my shirt said.  I sat and cried the whole time.  No one came to help me.  No one who said they were my friend went to get the yard aide .They just stood and watched, afraid to do anything–so they told me. Finally, after what felt like forever, the bell rang.  I walked with tears streaming down my face back to class.  My friends tried to cross off the words but to me, the shirt was ruined.

My teacher, a gentle man, saw my tears and asked what had happened.  I explained and he gave the girls consequences but somehow it didn’t seem right in my world.  I was hurt and no one could take away how I felt that day.  In fact, in some respects, it still follows me today.  The wondering if someone is really my friend or if they are just saying those words.

When I got home, I hid my shirt.  I didn’t want to see it ever.  What had started as a great day was destroyed in an instant. When we moved a year later, I threw the shirt away.  I never wanted to speak about 4th grade.  In fact, to this day, I couldn’t tell you more about 4th grade than that very instant. That’s the impact bullying had–it made a such a strong, hurtful impression on me.

I understand how students feel.  I relate to the hurt because I’ve been there.  I strive to teach my students to be respectful, to use kind words, to be patient and talk about how they feel in situations.  I want to do my best to create an environment where everyone can grow and learn each day. So, in my room, we will talk about how to be a friend and how not to bully someone because everyone should be respected.

Elf in the TK Classroom

This year, I had so many students telling me about their Elves at home that I decided we would add a bit of elf to the classroom.  I planned our December unit around The Shoemaker and the Elves story. After reading the story and watching different versions on the computer, we cut the pieces to make our own elves.

On Monday, I put my elf together and laid him in the teacher chair.  The kids went crazy after lunch when they saw him.  Several of them suggested that he had gone to sleep in my classroom. During the remainder of the week, our elf was caught building with Legos, reading and playing in the kitchen.

To extend our elf into the curriculum, I made each student an Elf Journal.  Each day we wrote a simple sentence about what our elf had done.  It was amazing to see the great writing and pictures that my kids did! On Thursday, we built our elves and named them.

We had such a fun time with our elf.

Do you have an elf in your classroom? I would love to know what your elves were up to before the Christmas break.

Learning our ABC’s

One of our main things in my class is to learn our ABC’s. While working on a letter each week, we always make a list of words that start with our letter of the week. However, for so many students, when we go to make our list they just call out words. So many times they are looking around the room and saying things they see.

I can see the disappointed look on their face when we talk about their words being on the not list.  So this year, I have decided to create little readers to help them associate some words with each letter. I am designing letter books that are 7 pages long, have 6 pictures students can color and the word of the object below it.

In this post, I have included the links for letters Aa and Bb.  The letter Aa is a freebie for you!

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Be sure to watch for more TK Easy Alphabet Readers as I plan to make books for the entire alphabet.  What do you do to help your readers associate words with letters?

Ready to head Back to School (again)

A wonderful Sunday at church, followed by an amazing 49ers game, playtime with my kiddos, and then the dreaded time . . . school work.

I didn’t bring much home over break, just some books to put together and report cards to write.  But as I sit down on the couch now, my mind is racing with all the things I could have gotten done.  All the books are put together and the paperwork is gathered to do report cards but what about lesson plans, center plans for the week.  What theme activities and letter work will be doing?  One’s mind could begin racing and yet, I am not concerned.

I know that all the copies for activities and projects this week are run off and on my table.  I know that the books we need are put together and ready.  I know the letter of the week and some of the stories I want to read aloud.

However, the biggest part of tomorrow will be listening.  Each child will have so much to share about the last two weeks.  Where they went for vacation, what presents they got from Santa or their parents, what they did for New Years, or each little thing they did during the day.

And yet, among all of that, there will also be tears.  Tears because they miss mommy who they have been home with.  Tears because they are tired from a long day at school and they want to go home.  Tears because something doesn’t feel good.

I am ready for the little kids that will walk into my room tomorrow.  We will share smiles, tears, laughs, and stories.  We will make it through Monday and enter our second half of the year.  We will enjoy our new day!

Are you ready to head back to school (again)?