Monday, September 25, 2017

Practicing Responsibility

We don't really teach responsibility, we practice by being responsible through our daily routines.
When the children first walk into the room, they pick up their name card and put it on the pocketchart.  As a way to check-in that "I'm here!"
Students are practicing moving row by row, completing one row before starting a new row and moving left to right as we establish this habit for reading.
Each day they return their behavior folder in the tote, and  practice spine on the left, name on the folder shows at the top, and placing the folder in neatly.
Another daily routine to check-in is to mark their lunch choice.  They look at the choices for lunch purchase and select their colored clip or the clip that indicates they brought their own lunch.

Occassionally, I'll verbally remind as I ask, "Did you pickup your name card?"  The students respond "check."  This helps those who may have forgotten.

This is a cute story about responsibility.  Chores help children practice completion of tasks.
Stories and sentences stating "I can" is powerful to encourage self-esteem for students who think they can't.

These two easy readers can help with echo reading statements that "I can."

Using sight words, writing what can be called the Kindergarten Motto.  I CAN TRY!
Helping the children find success, gives them the chance to say "I can."  Even as simply as being the card holder, whether they can read the word or not, they can show how to be an important part in the activity.

Keeping it simple and high expectations...they can.
The more they practice right, the better they will get!
 Hand-in-hand we grow!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Qq is for Quilts

Hanging in our primary hall is a quilt made by students in Mrs. Anderson's 5th grade class in 1975-76.
Students traced around their hand on a fabric square, then learned how to outline by sewing an embroidery chain stitch.  This was a project to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States.  The quilt squares were finished but the quilt was not put together until 40 years later by the teacher's daughter.
It was presented to our school when completed and hangs in the hall along with the class picture and description of the project.

We pass this quilt daily as our class goes to lunch.  So it seems quite the connection to make our own class quilt.

As we learned the letter Qq and the initial sound of quilt, we read a story about a Quiet Quilt and started our own quilt project. 

Each student was given a 6-inch square paper.  They identified the first letter of their name and given that wooden letter to trace.  This is such a good fine motor manipulative skill to be able to hold the wooden letter still while tracing around the letter.  
The students decorated their letter.  Seven-inch squares of colored construction paper were laminated and tied together.  The children's decorated initial squares were taped on the construction paper for our class quilt that hangs in the hall by our classroom.

Counting by 5's

Quilts can be made with tracing students' hands and writing the numbers for counting the fingers by 5's when the children are ready to practice this skill.


We read The Quilt Story by Tomie dePaola and learned how quilts can be special family heirlooms passed down from parent to child.
We read The Quilt by Ann Jonas and learned how quilt squares can be made by using old clothing as a memory and using our imagination about patterns.

My friend's daughter and goddaughter, Abby, was given a handmade quilt resembling the quilt with Abigail's name as in The Quilt Story's quilt.   

Q-tip painting 

Qq is for Q-tip painting a quilt with squiggles, dots and the letter Qq. 

"The queen is sleeping under the quilt."

Draw queen, a head with a crown on a rectangular pillow at the top of a paper.  
Students glue squares cut from wallpaper samples, or colored construction paper or just color over squares printed with a background design to make a quilt.
Glue the sides of the quilt under the queen's head.  Glue a  printed sentence underneath.  
Students can circle each word in the sentence to practice that 'sentences are made up of words.'

Qq is for queen.

Here is a way to provide practice to trace patterns which uses both hands, one to hold and one to trace along the edge.  Edges that are straight, curved and zig zag vary the direction of control.  Students will be crossing their midline and crossing over and around their stationary hand. They will learn to manipulate moving their stationary hand for maximum control.
Purposeful practice is part of the benefit of doing a craft. 

Treat yourself to Donut Muffins

Ok, this is NOT a recipe blog, but I want to share this to treat yourself.
Do you love those apple orchard donuts?  Here is a simple recipe to make baked DONUT MUFFINS.  They taste almost the same.
 Today I had a little extra helper. 

Donut Muffins            375 degrees     24 mini muffins
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c melted margarine
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 c milk
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c melted margarine*
1/2 c sugar*
1 tsp cinnamon
1.   Mix 1/2 c sugar and 1/4 c melted margarine and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Stir in milk.    Combine flour and baking powder.  Mix in sugar and margarine mixture.
2.(spray mini muffin pan with no stick spray) 
  Fill mini muffin cups half full.
3.  Bake 375 degree for 15-20 minutes.
4.  While muffins are baking, melt 1/4 c margarine in bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 c sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.
5.  Remove muffins from cups and dip each in melted margarine.  (I melted 1/2 c  margarine because I dunked the full muffin not just the top)
Then roll in cinnamon sugar.  Let cool and serve.

They don't last long in my house.  Enjoy.  
 Hand-in-hand, we grow!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Many simple acts of kindness

To make a difference
Look to do the simple things. 

When I try to think of things to include in this blog, I sometimes miss the little, spontaneous ways I connect with my students.
 I believe it is still so important to hold hands with our children.  When the students line-up, I try to rotate who is first.  I don't specifically chose a line leader.  So whoever is first in line, I hold their hand and teach them a little hand game.  I gently squeeze their hand and ask them to pay attention to how my hand is 'talking' to their hand.  One little squeeze or two little squeezes, wiggling all my fingers or just tapping with one finger, I say that their hand should 'answer' my hand back. 
Without talking with voices, we are connecting in a special way.  
Some days when my mind is elsewhere, the students give my hand a gentle squeeze AND a smile!

Or how the children teach me about how important those little things are, such as it seems when I am having a particularly stressful day, one little dear will give me a quick hug or even say "I like your.....uh, button."   Without really knowing it, THEY are teaching me about enjoying those little things.

Image result for enjoy the little things in life quotes 

I  like to share information with my families with little notes handwritten.  I tell the children that I love to write moms and dads and love to get a note back from them too.  The more I get excited, the children get excited so they don't worry when they see I have written a message on their papers or give them a note to go home in their school bag.  I also try to make sure that I send notes about GOOD things so they don't think a note is bad news.
I also send messages through texting with a Remind app.  (formerly Remind 101) I like how the parents can use the texting back option which was added a few years back.  Though a 10:00 PM or even 2:30 AM text message, startles me with worrying what could be wrong!!  Remind also has the option to set an "I am or I am NOT available time span."

I was contacted to share an informative poster.  I'm new at this but it has a message that connects with me.

 It's because.....
Hand-in-hand we grow!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Follow-Up Patriot Day, 9-11-17

This is a good thing.
Let there be peace on earth,...

After our Pinwheels were displayed for a full 24-hours, we helped collect them.  The ground was so dry that some pinwheels blew away.  I was lucky that all from my class were safe. 

I had painted the pencils red, white and blue so it was easy to distinguish which were my class pinwheels.

Prior to our celebration, I had taken a picture of each student holding their own pinwheel.  I trimmed the pictures and the students glued them on the inside of a card.

They also had a picture of the display around the flagpole to glue inside the card.  

The students pinwheels were placed in a large zip bag with their card and a description of our Pinwheels for Peace celebration.

"Patriot Day     Pinwheels for Peace
Dedicated to all our First Responders every day. 

On September 22, 2001, a tragedy occurred in the United States.  Thousand of police officers, fire fighters and ambulance medics responded to help the people in emergencies.
This day is remembered as a thank you for all they do everyday.
Fire fighters are called to fires to rescue people.  They also rescue pets.  Sometimes fire fighters go to accidents to rescue by cutting cars open.
Police officers help by keeping us safe.
Ambulance medics help when people need to go to the hospital in emergencies.
We are making pinwheels to honor and remember all who help keep us safe everyday.  We wish you to be safe too.
Our wish is for peace everywhere.

*The siren means they are on their way to an emergency.  Move back out of the ways  Cars move to the side of the road to let them pass easily.
*People stand still, close to your house to allow them to hurry to help.
*911 is ONLY for emergencies, when help is needed right away to save a  life.
*Smile at police officers, fire fighters and those in uniform."

So "let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bb is for Bear and Buttons

Bears, buttons

My favorite story to begin with is Corduroy by Don Freeman.  Remember Corduroy lost his button on his overalls and he began searching everywhere.

 Paperbag Puppets for retelling

Button sorting
Over the years, I have requested buttons from my families to fill my tins and tubs.  With the generosity of many, the children have a lot to sort through.  At first, when given free exploration time, they enjoy the feel and sound of the buttons randomly examining them.  Some then sort by color, size and shape.  Buttons continue to fascinate them.  They begin to look for details that others may not have noticed before. 

I love the story The Button Box by Margarette S. Reid.
Grandma has a button box.  There are buttons with two holes and four holes and some with shanks.  So many different kinds of buttons and ways to sort them. 

Other bear stories:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr.  The more you read it and use choral reading, the children will be able to imitate and practice reading by looking at the pictures with memorized phrases and rhythm.

Our first Show and Tell experience is with bringing their own teddy bear.  Students who don't have their own bear can borrow a bear from parents, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, etc.  I also have a large tub filled with bears who love to be a friend for the day.

Where's My Teddy? 
by Jez Alborough 
My Friend Bear by Jez Alborough


Any version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" or better yet, TELL the story.  Ham it up and the kids will love it.

Count and pattern with color sorting bears.

Use bear pattern cut outs and make matching cards with letters to match capital to capital, capital to lowercase, letters to initial sound pictures, numerals to sets, colors to color words.
Go on a bear hunt with Dr. Jean .

Have you ever watched "Cosmic Kids Yoga"?  I just found that Jaime has a bear hunt story with yoga positions. 
I use the yoga stories, peace out and meditations when they come in from recess to calm down and focus.

Raffi's song of "Teddy Bear Hug" is a great calm song to listen to while the children bring their bears in the room to start the day.

You've gotta do the Teddy Bear game with your bears,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, show your shoe.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, that will do. (bow with your bear)
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, climb the stairs.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say your prayers.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn out the light.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say good night.  (Cuddle your bear and give him a kiss on the nose.)

Letter Identification
  • Clip cards from Making Learning Fun. These cards show a bear with a capital letter and students put a clip on the cave with the lowercase letter.  You can make these self-checking by putting a dot on the back of the card for the correct match. 
  •  Print cards with button shape.  Write letters on cards to match letters and beginning sounds.

Hand-in-hand we grow!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Patriot Day

September 11  Patriot Day

Pinwheels for Peace
Each  year our school has celebrated September 11th as a rememberance day and a day to honor our first responders in our community.  Each grade level is given a precut 6-inch square of red, white, blue wrapping paper.  Students color and decorate the backside.  The squares for kindergarten are divided into four triangular sections, drawn on the diagonal to designate areas to decorate.  

The squares are laminated and cut slits toward the center.  

The corners are pinned to the center and secured with a pin then attached through the eraser end of a pencil partially sharpened. (We partially sharpen the pencils so they can be poked in the ground easily.)

On Monday morning, students are given their PINWHEEL and we meet outside at our school flagpole.  The principal welcomes our guests of local firefighters, police, EMT first responders.  All together we recite the pledge of allegiance and show our appreciation by raising our pinwheels to the wind.  
We leave the pinwheels for the day for the community to admire.  It is pretty impressive.

Kindergarten students have also traced and cut out their hand shapes and we've made a large flag at the end of the hall.  
God Bless the USA
Hand-in-hand we grow!