Sunday, September 25, 2011

Safari Birthday

My baby boy celebrated turning one this weekend and here are some pics of our party. We had a fun safari theme...animals on the cake, monkey cake pops that mommy made, decorations from oriental trading co., and my little guy diving into his cake.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let's Play Nice

It has been a long time since I've had a full class of 30 kiddos. I honestly forgot how hard it is for them to play nicely (and share toys). That's a lot of little bodies to squeeze onto the rug for morning play time/choice time. I have decided that I really need a new system to help make their play time more equitable and friendly. Now that the kiddos are into an enter room - make lunch choice - then go play routine, I want to show them more playing options. This will hopefully spread out the kids so the carpet isn't so crowed, relieve the fighting over the cool toys, and help kids who can't make decisions find something to do besides sit at their desks. It will also help during rainy-day recesses which are often in our classroom.

I was "pinspired" by Caitlin over at Kindergarten Smiles. Her free choice board with dots/clothespins is the inspiration behind mine. I have specific toys in my room so I googled pics of them and added a text box to label them. I'll cut them out and glue to a piece of tagboard like she did and get everybody choosing centers soon. I wish I had a magnetic white board right now because this would be perfect with magnets like I do my lunch count. Stay tuned for pics on how I decide to get the board going.

On another note, tomorrow is my son's 1st bday party. I am sooo excited to spoil him with everything I can possibly give him. We're having a little safari theme with monkey cake pops, a jungle cake, and some fun treats for friends. I have some of his little buddies (and big buddies) coming over tomorrow to celebrate. I love watching him play with other kids. I seriously cherish every moment with my baby boy because he was growing for many years in my heart and now I finally have him. Baby G...I hope you love your party. Love, Mommy

Choice Time

Friday, September 16, 2011

TGIF and managing with CHAMPS

So, it's Friday and I'm finally able to breathe, enjoy some peace and quiet, and rest my poor feet. I'm soooo worn out from this week. I have 30 little darlings, 5 of whom are native English speakers (thank heavens for them) and I serioulsy feel like I'm running a circus. My cuties speak so many different languages at home and answer to different names than their "school name" it's making things really difficult. But as always, I'm trying to find ways to make it work.

As I was surfing the net, I found a cool blog: Aloha Kindergarten and she has some cool ideas for management that I had never heard about before (and some other cool links/freebies). There's something out there called CHAMPS. I looked into CHAMPS a bit and basically it's a management system that asks teachers to review the expectations before each activity. The acronym is for: conversation, help *how to ask for it, activity, movement, and participation. I loved this idea and am surprised I've never stumbled upon it before. So, I printed her picture cards and made my own voice-level cards. This is a very ELL friendly thing to have so students know appropriate times to use the bathroom, water fountain, how to ask for help, and so on.

I attached my picture cards to the side of my teaching easel with velcro and rather than doing the whole "CHAMPS" format...I just post our activity, the voice level cards, how to ask for help, and the movement (bathroom/water) cards. I also added a card that is a picture of my mailbox/paper sorter thing where kids turn in their papers. This has helped eliminate the major problem of having all the kids want to go to the bathroom at the same time. You know how it is...once you break the seal...they all have to go. The kids are catching on and are even helping me change the signs and are really buying into it (more so in the am than the lonnngggg pm).

I'd like to end on a happy note. I am feeling really thankful to have a teacher's aid this year for 2 hours a day. Mr.'re rocking my Kindergarten world with all of your help. I am thankful to have a wonderful practicum student who is pitching in and is so great with the kiddos. And, I also am thankful for the teachers I work with. The crazy stories we get to share with one another (like my little friend to decided to go potty on the playground, and many more) make me laugh and keep a happy spirit when all else is going crazy and I think my head is spinning. I really love this class of mine, and I can't wait to watch their language skills take off. My goal numero uno is that everyone answers to their name. Oh, if that happens...then we'll be doing all right!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oh my freaking word!

Today was a challenge from you know where. Eek...I'm seriously wishing it was Friday at 3;30 right about now. My first 2 days were awesome. I have some of the cutest and smartest kids ever. But today was a challenge. At my school we do gradual entry so for 4 days 1/4 of the class comes - 1/4 each of the 4 days. We do this so I can do letter ID testing, counting, and sounds, and shape recognition. It's really nice to meet my students in a small group before I'm ambushed by 30 students. Oh Monday, how I'm scared of thee...

I met a new kindergarten friend who wore me out. Needless to say, I'm exhausted from monitoring and adjusting trying to make today run as smooth as possible. My mental-mantra was "monitor and adjust." Today I'm glad I could reflect in peace that even though I was TOTALLY not following my lesson plans, I did get the students to complete some activities that were planned without throwing the room into total chaos. Hooray for me.

I think the biggest hits of the day have been doing dance/movement time with the kiddos...the song Bop Til You Drop was a major blast. The other great part of our day was when I passed out the baggies of cereal at the end of the day. The students loved this extra special snack. Plus it was something I could use as an incentive for them to earn a special surprise at the end of the day.

I'm praying that the last 1/4 of my class is as good as the other 3/'s hoping.

What do all of you bloggers do to document behavior of students who have major issues that affect the learning of others? I'd like to hear your tips on this topic.

Thanks, Laura

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Day Schedule

My room is ready, and I think I am too. What a process! Today I finished the last of my to-do's (for now). I'm excited for my first day of Kindergarten with my 7 little ones. I can't wait to spend time with them. On my first day I'll have quite the diverse class: 5 languages spoken (Karen, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, and English). You might guess, I use a lot of visuals and miming to help these students navigate through the day.

As school is getting under way I was humbled to be reminded by a parent of one of my new kiddos of what a special milestone this is for students and parents. They are trusting us with their children, often for the first time. So I'm going to keep that at the forefront of my mind - that I will care for my students with the love that they deserve and I will make sure that they feel safe and cared for. Alas, that is what I would want for my child.

Here is my schedule for the first day: First Day of School                                                                                            

Here are some daily schedule cards that were posted free online with pictures. I adapted them to fit my schedule. You can easily add times to them by using Preview, grab, screenshot - and saving the tiff. Then on Word upload the file as picture and stretch it to enlarge. Then add a text box and add you time to the cards. They were originally posted on I added a couple new cards to match my schedule. The order is kind of random because the boxes were being jumpy.
2011 Schedule Cards New                                                                                            

I'm also attaching a couple of new CAFE signs I made (larger this time) and I found some great signs from that had the Kindergarten CAFE menu listed. I'll post these below the CAFE signs as I introduce the skills. I take no credit for these:CAFE Half Sheets
Emergent Cafe Final

I'll try to keep up the blog but who knows how busy I'll be. Enjoy your 3 day weekend teachers!