Friday, January 16, 2015

Wildcat and Jayhawk Bulletin Board

Harmony between Kansas college mascots CAN happen, especially in kindergarten:

(My post about the purple wildcat craft can be found here.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Cat's Meow (Craft)

Kansas Day is January 29, and as my kindergartners begin to learn about our state symbols, I can't ignore the need for a mascot craft that will partner well with our Jayhawks.

Of course, being the ~mother~ of a K-State Wildcat, I can't very well guarantee future classroom volunteerism from my daughter (she's a rower) if I don't make sure she and her friends are well represented on our bulletin boards.

Purple:  body, ears, legs, paws, tails, feet, and nose
Gray:  tummy, snout, inner ears, and stripes on legs
White:  eyes

Since I couldn't find a cat template online that used enough basic shapes for a math review, I drew my own.  My Stars will describe the shapes and lines they find as they identify each piece, and will follow three step directions to assemble the craft.

Our finished Wildcats will be paired (in friendship) on our hallway bulletin board with the Jayhawks we'll make tomorrow.  Check back to see how they turned out!


Come to think of it, this craft could be fun if you're reading Splat the Cat, or some other book full of feline fun!  


... the cat's meow.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Circle Marks the SPOT

Like most kindergarten teachers, I have quite a few wigglers in my class.  For the most part, the wiggling is appropriate and safe, but every so often...

No.  Scratch that.

OFTEN... ~one~ of my friends can not (will not?) stay in a spot when excessive wiggling is a huge distraction and safety issue.

Calendar... wiggle-wiggle-scootch-scootch.

SMART Board... wiggle-scootch-scootch-bonk.

Criss-cross-applesauce at story time... wiggle-stand-jump-drop-scootch-scootch-bonk-BASH-scootch-scootch-scootch-kick-a-finger-plop.  

Scootch scootch.

This friend is fun loving, sweet, eager, mischievous and is wired to need full contact EVERYTHING.  But the rest of my friends (all twenty of them) prefer their space un-invaded, their fingers un-smashed, and their bodies and booties un-kicked.

If we give our friend too much space near the back of the group, the range of motion and sheer square feet of space that end up being used, explored, bothered and crashed into increases exponentially.

I don't do carpet squares (but used to, years ago), and I'd rather not have to put tape down on the carpet that will end up getting sucked into the vacuum each night.  We've reached the point where my friend is going to have to compromise a bit and try to keep himself restrained and contained for a longer amount of time while we hope he comes to the realization that at school he'll need to share his space with his peers in a way that is safe for all, even if he has acres of space available elsewhere.

Discovering "Sit Spots" in our music teacher's room, I inquired about their price, durability, and ease of removal/relocation.  Imagine my surprise when she pulled one up with the telltale rrrrrriiiiiiiiiip sound of velcro! Inspired, I quickly got online and checked out the products available, experiencing a sinking feeling when I saw the price and realized I didn't have it in my budget to immediately order a set for classroom use.

But I'm a crafty sort, yes sir-ee Bob, and here's what I used to make my own circle-marks-the-spot tools:

Construction paper
Laminating film
The rough side of hook and loop adhesive tape (velcro)

I cut out different colored circles (though my friend's will all be the same color), roughly four or five inches in diameter, and laminated them using my desktop laminator and 3mil film:

I cut out the circles, leaving 1/4 inch border of lamination around each, and then affixed a strip of the ROUGH loop (not the soft, fluffy side) velcro to the back.

Here's what they look like in a row on our carpeted floor:

And best of all, they don't really stick to the carpet until you get them exactly where you want them, and then press down firmly to work the rough loop velcro into the carpet's surface:

Firmly stuck, easy to see, simple to move.  Since I don't teach 400 + students like our music teacher, I'm hoping my spots are durable enough to get a lot of use out of them for the remainder of the year.

Wish me luck as I introduce my friend to Circle-Marks-the-Spot!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Professional Resolutions

As I began to consider new year's resolutions a few weeks ago, I decided to revisit goals I had set last summer for myself as a teacher.  Changes planned in July included:

  • Adding Twitter to my students' digital citizenship curriculum, as a basic introduction to social media on how, why, and what to share with those who might be looking. 

  • Participating in professional chats via my own Twitter account.  I've come to look forward to connecting with other teachers and friends of education on a global level via #satchat, #sunchat, and #teacherfriends each week. 

  • Adding an updated sensory tub into my students' center rotation seemed important too, after having gone without a sand and water table for years.  Dear Husband and The Third Grader made one for me out of PVC pipe and a clear storage tub with lid.  Its popularity rates right up there with the iPads that my Super Stars love to use. 


But I'm a teacher whose annual personal and professional calendar runs August to May, with some professional development activities planned for June and July.  I don't eat, breathe, and sleep teaching, because I'm a wife and mother who is far too interested in exploring my little corner of the world, expressing myself, and learning about other things and other people.  I have hobbies that have little to do with teaching kindergartners the rhythm of public school.  I enjoy loud music and bawdy humor that aren't appropriate for classroom and school settings.  I want to spend time with my family, garden, read, nap, and breathe deeply in a way that just can't be done when every moment is scheduled with objectives to be met and measured.  June, July, many weekends and holidays are mine, for me and my family, though my teacher's eye is never completely closed (hello Target $1 bins, yard sales, used book stores and Pinterest).

Proud to be a teacher, I try to be a good one, and thankfully I can say that the good I find in and feel about teaching young children still outweighs the burdensome, depressing, and defeating events that also find their way into this profession.

What does the future hold?

I'd love to take the next step in having my students collaborate and communicate with other kindergartners via Twitter.  I don't believe in throwing my students into the deep end of the social media ocean, or burying them under an avalanche of new vocabulary, tools, apps, and requirements for mastery listed on seven pages of objectives.  Let's explore, share ideas, and learn from, about, and with other like-minded children, at our own pace.

Though I've shared to #ksedchat (hoping it's Kansas Ed Chat), teachers here in Oz don't seem to meet up via Twitter at any set time.  I'd love to explore the possibility of becoming a co-moderator for a chat.  Anyone else with me?

... and, because I don't have more hours in the day than anyone else, and I believe in an effective and efficient plan for a well rounded life, I'm considering passing the torch of committee work and extra duties to someone else next year.  I want to take more college classes, but just can't while Dear Husband works until seven at night, The Third Grader needs help with homework, and the house requires upkeep.  While many teachers accept their heavy work load, over time becoming adept at meeting the requirements of their contract, such efficiency tends to cause administrators (and the public) to believe that three or four more responsibilities will be also be well managed and executed by capable employees in the same brief amount of time allotted within a school calendar.  So many of us feel we can't say no, so we don't, or fear we shouldn't because we might receive a less than proficient rating on our teacher evaluations.  It's our families, spouses, friendships and our own souls that end up neglected for it.

This is my nineteenth year of teaching.  I'm committed to it.  

But I am no less committed to the rest of my life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Imagine What They Learned

I spend so much time teaching my students safer, kinder, and more productive ways to solve problems and express disappointment, fear and anger. I do hope none of their parents let them see the news yesterday, or let them watch it at all this week. 

My heart hurts for the young children who were likely NOT at home last night, safe and sound in bed, during the chaos in Ferguson. Imagine what they saw. Imagine what they felt.

Imagine what they learned.


My thoughts go out to you, their teachers as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gobble Gobble Headbands

My school hosts a wonderful Thanksgiving Luncheon for students and families each year, and the meal is always followed by recess.

With four classes of kindergartners on the field, playground, and blacktop, it can be difficult to keep track of my Super Stars, unless...

They're wearing turkey crowns!

Here's what you'll need for each headband:

(1) 2 X 18 strip of brown construction paper
(1 each) 2 X 4 rectangles  for the red, beige, and orange feathers
(1) 1 X 4 rectangle in dark brown for the turkey's headband
(1) 4 inch diameter brown circle for the turkey's face
(1) small orange triangle for the beak
black marker to draw the eyes
1 X 1 inch squares in black, yellow, and red for the pattern

Several Stars decided that AB and ABC patterns were "too easy," so they decided to create ABB and AAB patterns across the long brown strip.

The orange beak and eyes were added to the brown circle, and then students glued on the turkey's headband and feathers.  Then the turkey's face was glued near(ish) the middle of the headband.

After fitting each headband onto its owner's head, my Stars insisted that I wear mine as well.

Ta da!  Er, ~gobble gobble~!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Teacher Tip: Use Your Desktop Monitors and Interactive Whiteboard as Anchor Charts

My students and I LOVE using our interactive whiteboard, but there are times when it's apparent that it has taken over a substantial portion of my dry erase/display area, and others when we have so many items open that scrolling through them all without accidentally clicking them closed takes a bit more time than what we'd like for a quick filler activity.  Not wanting to have to work through seven clicks to open a file, or fill the screen with zillions of little icons, I sat down and determined what kinds of content I'd like to have readily available for transitions: letter naming, number identification, plane and solid shape review, and sight word practice.  Finding cute and appropriate clip art, photos, or available wallpaper/desktop patterns online can easily fill a weekend, but it's ~worth it~.

(If anyone knows the source of this adorable autumn image, 
please let me know so I can give credit where it's due!)

Popping the pile of autumn leaves into a Word document, I added a text box and typed in our second quarter sight words.  I like to save documents like this as PDFs so they don't get altered, but I also keep a copy in Word, and take a screen shot when necessary.  Using the new image as the wallpaper on our SMART Board ~and~ on our desktop computers gives my students multiple opportunities in small and large groups as well as individually to quickly review and practice whatever is displayed. 

I too, can quickly reference a targeted skill without having to search, click, open, and wait.  I change the desktop/SMART Board wallpapers by month, but can also have a different image on each of our five desktop computers if I need to differentiate during centers.

How else can teachers and students use the valuable real estate space found on interactive white boards and desktop computers?  Comment below and share your ideas!