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.

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Friday Top 5 — Family Fun

As we dawn a new year, I have been thinking about what I would like to do different and new this year.  I settled first on my blog — I want to expand and share more with you this year.  With that being said, I am going to plan to do a Friday Top 5 each week, focusing on an area of my life (family, school, teaching, classes, etc) and share my favorite 5 events of the week with you.

This week to start off the year, I am focusing on my family as we have had lots of fun memories, some silly, serious, new, and exciting.  So, let’s get started!

TOP 5:

1. For the first time, my middle daughter was able to stay up until midnight and ring in the New Year.  She participated in our annual toast with grape juice and laughed away with her older sister.  It was such a big accomplishment for her and a joy for me to watch her.

2. Enjoying family time at home for New Years Eve and New Years.  I am usually the shopper, needing to be on the go, but this year, I chose staying home and enjoying time with my girls and hubby.  It was such a refreshing two days together.  I’m glad I chose to enjoy time at home.

3. This week, I have taken time to pick up an old hobby I had — reading a book.  There is nothing like physically picking up a book and just sitting down to read.  This year I am starting off with a book about making time for myself, something I really needed to start my year off with!

4. As Christmas has come and gone, new toys have made there way into our house.  This would especially apply to all the new Barbie toys my girls have received. But the best part of these new toys coming is the precious sister time I get to listen in on.  Our two youngest daughters have spent many hours playing nicely together.  I have loved listening in on their conversations and watching them play together, it makes a mom’s heart happy!

5. There is always something special when I can sneak a peek at my hubby as he has been diligently working on a project that is so important to him.

That’s my Top 5 for this week, a focus on my family to start the year.

Let’s hear from you — Do you have a Top 5 for this week?

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)?

A Renewed Start

As the end of my Christmas break draws near and another year starts, I took time to reflect on the last 12 months.  There were so many things that happened that I could be thankful for yet I found myself refecting more on what liesahead.

I went into my Christmas break very tired and worn out from my group of kids.  Honestly, I was very drained from them.  They are a very active group that needs lots of attention, plus coming home to attend to my own family just added to it.  I needed this break!

This last week I was able to focus on my family and our home.  We cleaned, rearranged, trashed, and donated.  It felt good to declutter some of the rooms and gave me a sense of a new start.

Then today I began to think about my classroom.  I put some of the books we would be working in together, searched through Pinterest for ideas, and found a smile returning to my face.  I am ready to see my active crew again.  I am excited to see the growth they had over break and what new, exciting stories they have to tell. I am sure that Monday will be a very busy day!

I also found myself evaluting other areas of life.  I have a terrible way of letting self doubt enter in things that I do.  I found this particularly true with my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  I was really good with creating product for the first several months last year and then by the start of summer, self doubt kicked in.  I hardly touched my store.  Yet, today, I found myself reading some of the comments left by others.  People, like me, that were grateful for something I created.  I felt a spark of joy and realized that I need to focus more time on my passion of developing things.

To this end, I am also stepping out and opening another store on Teachers Notebook as well!  I am excited to see how God uses these two businesses this year.

For me, 2014 isn’t represented in a word or a list of resolutions that will be broken within a couple weeks.  For me, it represents a fresh start with the things I love: time with my family, a new and fresh outlook on my classroom and students, and a renewed joy in creating materials and selling it for others.

What does 2014 represent for you?

Technology and 5 year olds

As a Transitional Kindergarten teacher, I begin the year in August with a room full of 4 year olds and by the beginning of December my whole class has turned 5.  It is such a fun and exciting age to teach but this year I wrote two grants to get some additional technology into my classroom.

At the beginning of the year I got an iPad.  As soon as it arrived, the kids wanted me to load all kinds of games that their parents or siblings had on ones at home.  I had to quickly explain that this iPad was special for school and we were only going to put certain games on it.  I spent hours with my husband looking at suggestions online, downloading and playing games to figure out ones that my little guys would enjoy.  I created folders to hide apps that I didn’t want the kids to get into and created a page with all the apps for them.  We had long talks about how to use the iPad.

And then I sat it out on the table.  The first 4 days it was a big hit and I had to set up a 10 minute rotation for it.  Then, it just sat one day.  No one touched it.  A few weeks went by with hardly anyone wanting to use it.  I wondered why so I began to assign kids a day to play on the iPad so that everyone got a turn.

Then just two weeks ago, after all the birthday celebration was done, I had a little hand touch my arm during free choice time and request that I bring the iPad out for them to use.  I gladly pulled it out and sat it at our little green table.

I watched in awe as 4 kids gathered around the table and played together for over 45 minutes.  Not one mean, harsh word spoken or argument at all!  I was amazed.

The next day, I again had students requesting the iPad to come out and so we set it up at the little green table and four kids sat for over 45 minutes playing.   This scenario played out like this everyday until winter break.

I’m not sure what clicked for those kids.  There was nothing new or exciting added to the iPad during the fall months, but perhaps some growth from turning 5 helped to play a part.

What I do know is that the technology in our room is growing and kids are getting excited about what they can do with it!