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!

Friday Top 5 — Summer Vacation

Well, we are officially in the middle of summer vacation! It seems to be flying by so quickly, which makes me a bit sad. On the upside, it does mean that we are having a blast on our family vacation!

So, in honor of summer vacation I want to share with you my top 5 highlights of summer vacation.

1 — Summer school — my youngest daughter was thrilled with the talk of going to summer school but then when we pulled up to her school that first Monday, she cried that she didn’t want to go back to her school but she wanted to go to a different school for summer.  What sadness for the start of summer!

2 — Family Vacations — We have been on a road trip and loving all the sites across the United States. Our children have traveled well and made lots of new memories!

3 — School shopping — My brain has already hit the school shopping mode.  It is crazy how a teacher knows like clockwork when sales start! I have picked up some great sales over the last week!

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4 — College Campus Previews — Since we are on this amazing trip, we decided to spontaneously throw in checking out college campuses. It started with my husband wanting to see his old campus, which our kids loved because of the lake and tower they have, but we have included several others. At each campus, I am making a point of picking up a college t-shirt or two so I can wear them at school on College T-shirt Day to promote colleges around the U.S. (My husband likes that we now have shirts to wear during college football season!)

5 — Summer School Art Week — I taught summer school this week and we included an enrichment subject each week.  The last week we did art — focusing on Pop Art. The kids had a blast! We got to do bubble art and I must say, they did some amazing art.

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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!