Thursday, October 14, 2010

Praise vs. Encouragement

When praise is given repeatedly, a child may learn to expect and rely on it. It also causes misinterpretation of your intent. Your child may begin to assume that your praise means approval, and likewise, the absence of praise means disapproval. It can lead to discouragement and fear to fail, whereas using encouragement can lead to acceptance of natural imperfections. To replace praise with encouragement, use phrases that put the emphasis on the child’s feelings and get rid of phrases that would indicate a personal opinion. Using a phrase such as, “You should be proud of yourself,” instead of “I am proud ofyou,” shows lack of judgment, yet is still found supportive and encouraging.

It is natural for a child to experience the “I can do it” feeling and is something that should be encouraged. A parent’s natural tendency when a child does something pleasing is to say, “Good job,” however this actually shows judgment. It ultimately limits the child’s ability to be proud of his or her own work. It shows an assessment of what the child does and an opinion that you were pleased. The more praise occurs, the more the child will look for ways to please you.
They will then come to you for approval, and will fail to be satisfied with what they do for his or her own sake. Replacing praise words with encouraging phrases such as “You did it,” will promote a healthy sense of accomplishment.

Over-praising can lead to neglect in personal gain. Eventually, a child will not appreciate a task as much and leave an activity they could otherwise have benefited from. Their filter can quickly become doing it for someone else’s satisfaction rather than their own. Knowing this, we see that the greatest benefit comes from personal satisfaction and not the satisfaction of others. When assisting in tasks, try making observations such as,
“You made a tall tree,” instead of saying “I like your picture.” A child will still feel loved and supported through their own learning without feeling the need to hear a good opinion.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forever.

Today we worked more on patterning. This is something that we have been practicing since the start of school, and the kids are starting to get very creative with their patterns. To test their skills, I had the students come up with a pattern of their own and produce it by connecting some colored linking cubes. I mostly had the AB pattern portrayed with these cubes, as it seems to be a favorite, but I got some interesting ones, too, like Katie's for example.

She decided to go all out with her pattern and make it go on forever. Her pattern went something like ABLKASJGKJELKJASJFKLDJSG - no repetition, just a really long line of colors. Being the teacher I am, I had to say something.

"Katie, that's not really pattern if you don't repeat it," I corrected.

Without any thought she boldly announced, "But YOU said a pattern could go on forever!"

I suppose my lesson about patterns repeating themselves "over and over and over and over and over" again really stuck with her. Not quite what I meant, but at least she's listening!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Discovery of Tape.

Today, one of my dear sprouts learned about the wonderful ways of tape. I'm sure he has always been knowledgeable with how sticky and interesting this stuff can be, but today he learned something new: The more you stick it, the less it sticks.

I am simply amazed with how these little discoveries are made. Through play and exploration we can discover all about our world and the things in it. These discoveries are especially popular in Kindergarten, and can be made with abstract concepts and objects. Even tape.


The discovery of tape started Monday morning when Kevin decided his name plate needed to be adjusted approximately three inches over on his desk. On Tuesday, another adjustment needed to be made, only this time, the other direction. Wednesday rolled around, and a new discovery was made: Every time I touch my desk plate, it moves. I'm sure his thoughts went something like, That's crooked now. I can fix that! As an adult, we are all familiar with the way tape works. So you can only guess what his many adjustments was doing to this fascinating product. By Thursday, curiosity combined with the lack of quality adjustments led to this "name plate" becoming a "name tag." You guessed it, right on the chest. With a sweet reminder from Miss Molly and additional effort to make it stick, the name plate went back on the desk.

Finally, today, when nearly all hope was gone that this name plate would ever stick on the desk, Kevin pulled out his last big idea. Maybe... it will stick better on face! And just like that I watched the little name plate (with barely any "stick") fall from his face... repeatedly.


I intervened. "Kevin, please bring me your name plate."

As he walked over and placed it into my hands, his eyes showed nothing but commitment to the fact that he did nothing out of the ordinary. He boldy pronounced, "It wouldn't stick!"

With this discover made, nothing more needed to be said.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tangent.

I can always count on my kindergartners to keep me in line. Today, I went off on a tangent. Yes, a tangent. You know those things where you completely stray from your original purpose in conversation and dive into something completely off topic? Trying to place it more under the "teachable moment" category, that was me today. It went something like this:

"A, B, C, D, E, F.... What comes next?" I asked. "Yes, G! This is the letter G. The letter G makes two sounds. Can you say /g/ /j/?"

The class gladly repeated "/g/ /j/."

At this time, I recognized that the second sound came out more of a "dgsh" from one of the boys. I gave this young Russian student some additional assistance. I had not planned on talking about the various languages spoken at home, but when recognizing that the Russian sounds he was speaking at home was mixing with our English sounds, I found it the perfect opportunity to bring up the subject of the diversity in our class. This is where the tangent began.

"How many of you speak a different language at home?" I asked.

Nearly all the hands were raised. This took a minute to clarify that we all speak English, but that some of us speak another language. I found it very exciting that our class varies in different languages such as Cantonese, Russian, and Korean, but apparently I'm the only one. After a couple minutes of setting each student apart and excitedly sharing about each language, I was abruptly interrupted by Daniel with a "You've got to be kidding me" look.

"Can we get back to the ABC's now!?" he shouted.

With a smile I replied, "Of course," and we continued, "A, B, C, D, E, F, G....." If he hadn't have stopped me then, I'm not sure we ever would have finished. These little "reminders" are in my class every year. I'm actually quite thankful for them, because honestly, I don't know what I'd do without them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I love my job.

As if the title didn't say it any more clear, it's true - I love teaching Kindergarten. You see, what I love best about my job is the power that I have. No, I didn't become a teacher because I get gratification from telling five-year-olds what to do all day. In fact, that can get a bit annoying. The power I have doesn't come from force, but from a sincere desire to influence an individual's life. As a teacher, I have the power to motivate. I have the power to inspire. I have the power to encourage. I have the power to comfort. But most of all, I have the power to make a difference. Everything I do and everything I say has to be intentional. Without intent, my power is useless.

The school year has begun and I have already found ways to use the power to create excitement in even the simplest of tasks, like counting to three. I experienced so much fulfillment while asking my new sprouts to count to three on the third day of school. Easy? Of course. But I can assure you, with as much expression and enthusiasm that I used, counting to three is proven to be quite the accomplishment. If you were in my class, even you would feel special for doing it. :) For added thrill, we even counted backwards - three, two, one. They walked away from our Daily Doodle Bug with bright shining smiles. Let's just say it was a BIG deal, and they felt proud.

I can't help but look at these five-year-olds and sometimes six-year-olds and see nothing but potential. When I look at them I don't see all in which they do not know (for at the beginning of the year that seems like an abundance) Instead, I look at them and see all that they can learn, all that their curious minds want to learn, and finally, all that I know they will learn. It seems like a big task to teach a child who can barely write their name how to write entire sentences in nine months, and even more so to teach a child who can barely identify alphabet letters how to read. I wait in anticipation. The accomplishment of this task is only a portion of the joy that I get out of teaching. The other portion of joy comes through the entire journey of the school year -- a journey that I am looking forward to sharing with a whole new crop of tender sprouts.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fractions

Today I had the pleasure of taking part in a sweet breakthrough moment of a to-be fourth grader whom I've been tutoring over the summer. He's a bright student, although he does process things a bit differently. Things like word probems are really challenging. For the past four weeks I've really gotten to know the brilliance of his mind.

During our last tutoring session on Tuesday, I discovered how difficult fractions were for him. The worksheet I gave him had pictures clearly drawn out with segmented and shaded boxes. This stumped him. What number was he supposed to write on the top? Which one on the bottom? Do you count the white ones or the dark ones? He wrote down a variety of interesting answers and explained unique ways as to how he got the answers. After showing him a few different ways of looking at it, he came to the point of faking understanding. We moved on.

I was a bit perplexed after that session and was trying to wrap my mind around how difficult this was for him. Something as simple as "two of the shaded three boxes equals 2/3" did not make sense to him. How was he seeing it that I wasn't? More so, I wanted to figure out how I could show him in a way that would make sense to him. Nothing brilliant coming to me, I let it be.

Days later, while driving, a time where all my greatest ideas seem to come to me, I remembered something about this boy that might help him understand fractions. He is musically talented and severely more so than most. "Talented" would be an understatement, considering this boy is a phenomenal drummer and has been since he was three. So I came up with a way to portray fractions to his musical oriented mind.

During our session today I asked him to get his hands ready. Not knowing what I was talking about he looked at me confused. I told him, "We are going to drum." His eyes lit up, and I could tell he was trying to figure out what fractions had to do with drumming. Taking our two thirds example, I told him to make a continuous base beat with one hand that emphasized every three.

He begin to tap out, "one, two, three... one, two, three... one, two, three..." on his right hand.

Once he had that I then told him, "Now we are going to make our left hand only tap out two of every three beats." He looked at me, smiled, and started. Before long, he was tapping out his fractions on his hands with the sweetest smile and brightest eyes a boy can give.

Coming to the moment of truth I asked him, "What fraction of the time is your left hand hitting the table." I nearly held my breath in hopes of him answering this most likely confusing question. Without much delay I heard, "two-thirds" come from his lips.

"And what fraction is your right hand doing the work?" I threw in just for fun.

"Three......(pause) no... ONE."

In that moment, I don't think either of us could have been much happier.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brain Vacation.

Daily, after recess or P.E., which both generally come mid-class, it is time for a much needed R&R. I turn out the lights, have my bursting buds rest their heads on their desks, while listening to soft music playing, and sipping on a bit of water to rehydrate their little bodies. It's both the perfect and worst time to do so. They are all wound up from their most recent exercise, and the last thing they want to do is "rest." However, it is for this very reason why it becomes entirely important for them to settle down.

Our rest time isn't always considered a likable activity. They want to be viewed as "big" and in their minds big kids certainly don't nap. I try to find ways to make it enjoyable, or at least bearable, so they aren't reminded of their younger siblings during an afternoon nap. Reminding them that even Miss Molly takes naps sometimes helps, but sharing that daily gets old quick. When doing some reading I discovered some teachers who call this rest time a "Brain Vacation." Seeing this, I was immediately inspired and eager to try it out.

"OK everybody, it's time for Brain Vacation! You're brains get to rest, and don't have to do any amount of thinking if you don't want them to!" I said in excitement.

It was a lighter way of saying "put your heads down," so they all greeted the new phrase with pleasure. After one enjoyable minute of quiet, one busy thinker just had to break the silence with a pressing question.
"Miss Molly? Are our brains leaving our heads?" he asked inquisitively.

I may have said it before, but Kindergartners have this unique way of taking everything they hear literally. Their minds wrap around the precise details of each word you say, and lack the necessary skills to interpret it differently. Knowing this, I try to filter everything I say through the suspected literal translations I figure will occur. However, there are times like these in which particular phrases slip by that need further explaining. In these cases, including our brain vacation moment, I am happy to oblige and make every effort to explain as carefully as I can so the phrase may be continued to be used.

Now it's your turn to think about it -- Brain Vacation. Odd word combination, right? Naturally, when he heard this phrase, he imagined his brain literally jumping out of his head and running away to catch some vacation time. I wanted to ask him how his brain would leave his head in the first place, where would he go, or how would he even get there. Would he climb out the mouth? Would he go to the beach? Would he grow legs and hop on a bus to get there? I decided that after my initial explanation, further questions were better left alone, as it was interrupting valuable quiet time. Afterall, we all know that brains are exceedingly smart, but somehow I don't think even the most powerful of brains would be capable of completing such an extraordinary task.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Just Like Me.

If I didn't know it by now, I'm always being watched. I quickly discover what kind of teacher I am when I see my little ones mimic me. I see the direct influence of how I act as a teacher, when I allow them to play the role themselves. This opportunity comes when they read a book to the class, lead calendar time, or present their show and tell. They know how to play "teacher" so well, in fact, it tends to sound just like me.

I noticed it twice today with two different children. One dear friend led circle time. Towards the end, as the recess teacher came in, all the sprouts jumped up and ran to the door. Without any hesitation she quickly shouted, "Come sit back down, I didn't dismiss you yet!" She then waited until the entire class showed her their perfect and quiet listening before she dismissed them one at a time. It was sweet to see that although she was never coached on this, she knew exactly how to be the teacher.

The second occurrence was when another friend was presenting her show and tell. Before she began she did not say a word. She stood there, staring at her class mates, and held her presentation behind her back. After waiting a bit she finally spoke up, "I'm waiting for you to show me five ways to listen." That's my girl! She demanded their attention, as she rightfully should, and again waited until the whole class was quiet before she began.

As their teacher I have a power influence over their lives. They are watching my every move and I am happy to set a good example. This particular technique is used by me on a daily basis. And now, as they watch me wait for them, they in turn wait for their friends. I couldn't think of an easier way to teach them the valuable lesson of respect.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Go Team!

Had I realized how well our class meetings or "team time" would go, I would have done the activity much sooner. I am so very thankful for that hour I had to kill in the bookstore a few weeks back. It was here that I happened to find a book about "Positive Discipline: Developing Mutual Respect, Cooperation, and Responsibility in your classroom, " -- an eye catching title to me, knowing that respect and cooperation in my classroom was something my Kindergartners desperately needed.

The difference made in the past month since we've implemented these meetings has been outstanding. At first the opportunity to share feelings were usually sad ones. They expressed how somebody hurt their feelings earlier in the day. It wasn't said to bash on their friend, but for the rest of us to gain an understanding of how our actions affect others. We came up with a solution for a better tomorrow, and left the day happy that our feelings were heard.

Today seemed to mark two special occasions of classroom cooperation. The first was exhibited during clean up time. I said, like always, "Can we make it in two songs today?" All together they shouted, "No we can do it in ONE!" And sure enough, they cleaned up faster than they have have before simply because they worked as a team. The second occured during the feelings portion of Team Time. This is the time where my friends can talk about any feeling they want. Two students who have never shared a happy feeling before, raised their hands and said, "I have a feeling." We expected their feeling to be sad, but as they began to speak they both started with "I'm happy because..." That alone put a smile on all of our faces. It seems as if our whole classroom is getting turned upside down with pure cooperation and uplifting feedback to each other.

There is now a shared effort to always be on the look out for each other. Every student knows that together we are a team and therefore they act on it. Every team-mate knows that they are valued and their feelings are heard. They feel safe enough to tell others how they feel, and the other team-mates are more than happy listen and help give a solution. Responsibility is a word they both know and follow. They are becoming problem solvers and self-thinkers. They are willing to accept responsibility for their actions because they know how it affects others. They understand the importance of how compliments make us feel good, and are eager for their daily opportunity to put a smile on somebody else's face by giving one. Most importantly, we now leave every day in smiles, as we get our stickers, put our hands in the circle, and shout one big "GO TEAM!"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thomas the Tank Engine.

Our Thomas the Tank Engine toy set is quite popular during choice time. The most valued pieces happen to be Thomas the train himself. Luckily, there are two. It makes sharing easier. Yesterday I became the honorary member of this center. I was invited to not only play with them, but I was also given the other Thomas. Now this is quite the honor, as the Thomas trains are in high demand and always in use. Usually when I am invited to visit this center, I am only given Harold the Helicopter or Sir Topham Hatt to play with.

I was excited to get to play with a train for once, and drove the train at the top of the hill. My fun didn't last for long as my attention quickly became needed elsewhere. At this point, I left my Thomas unattended.

It wasn't but moments later I heard my dear friend with whom I was playing with shout, "Miss Molly! Get your Thomas under control!"

I was then informed that my Thomas had rolled down the bridge and had an accident with hers. I gained control of my Thomas once again and asked if I could then snap a picture. When finished, I showed the picture to another friend who asked to see it. "Thomas takes good pictures," he delightfully told me.

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Because he doesn't blink at all!"

I came to realize how delighted I am to have so many little lessons shared with me on a daily basis. Whether it's details about train accidents or how to be perfectly photogenic for the camera, my sprouts know quite a bit. It is a blessing to be a part of this wonderful experience and contribute myself to their bursting growth and development.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Birthday Bug.

I knew that today would be different, and the energy flowing in our classroom today couldn't have agreed more with that statement. Not only was it St. Patrick's Day, but it was also one of our classmate's birthdays. The latter event was clearly the most prominent. The excitement to his birthday has been building up for weeks. I assume it started when mom started making preparations for his first big boy sleepover party. Since then, every morning he would greet me, his classmates, and their parents with the exact number of days till his birthday. Many more times throughout the day he would repeatedly share this not so new information. This then caused all his friends to run home and tell their parents again, as if they hadn't already heard. That series of events has been on repeat for at least three weeks, so I knew today had to be big.

Enjoying the silence in my classroom moments before the first jumping bean arrived, I heard a faint but clear voice proclaiming, "Today's my birthday!" coming from outside. I quickly got up ready to eagerly greet him at the door, and as I opened I made sure I was the first one to speak, "Guess what?!" I quickly asked him hoping to throw him off from his ongoing birthday excitement. I didn't trick him. "It's my birthday!" he shouted back. Maybe I acted a little too excited with the initial welcome, but I couldn't hold it in. I was happy because I knew he was.

The birthday bug hit the whole class today as it seemed to be on everybody's mind. My class didn't seem to care all that much about St. Patrick's Day. When asking questions like, "Why is today special?" all they could answer is "Daniel's birthday!" This question happened to be sandwiched between a lesson about St. Patrick's Day, but that didn't matter to them. Journal entries were about him, St. Patrick writing turned into writing about him, and he ended up getting "compliments" from over half the class. Today was his day. Can't wait till Friday, as that birthday bug will be staying around for another friend's birthday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Un-Birthday.

My bursting buds always have the best ways of making me feel special. They know I love them, and in return I get the best love back. Their giving hearts are exploding with all the creative ways they come up with to show me they care. Here are a few that have brought recent smiles to my face.

1. This was one of the many pictures I received from a water color paint center. After one friend mentioned that his picture was for Miss Molly, a domino effect quickly took place. One after another were voices proudly proclaiming that their special picture was just for Miss Molly. It didn't take long before it seemed like a contest to see who could make the most just for me.

"Thank you for all the lovely pictures. It's not even my birthday but I sure feel like it is," I shared with them.

"Well this is your birthday present. I'm just giving it to you early," a friend replied.

Birthday or not, I'll take a birthday present any day.

2. Every day my sweet buds are given a choice to give, get, or pass on a compliment. They mostly always give, and on the days they need a little extra love we are all glad to give it.

Yesterday I was surprised when a friend spoke the name of who she was directing her compliment towards - Miss Molly. I'm always at their level and a part of the circle, but who would have figured a compliment would be given just for me? I now fully understand the importance of receiving one little compliment every day.

3. I happened to be working at my desk with a student when a morning journal entry was dropped off in my box. I quickly looked it over, acknowledged her with a "thank you," and got back to what I was doing. After a minute of her still standing there, I looked back up at her and said, "Is there something else you needed."

"I need to read it to you. This one is important," she replied.

The journal entry read, "Miss Molly and I love each other and hug each other," with the following illustration:

I had to respond to this. I gave her a big hug and told her how it made me feel special.

Once again a bold leader has inspired the rest of the class in the gifts to Miss Molly. " I was gonna write about that too ya know," another added maybe feeling a little left out. Tomorrow I think I might just get more. After all, it is my un-birthday.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Routine.

Routine is an incredibly important aspect of any early childhood classroom. Children thrive off of the security they feel when clear and consistent schedules are implemented. Knowing what comes next allows them to feel safe and in control of their environment. It helps them to focus on their current activity, finish it efficiently, and prepare for what they know will come next. In the larger picture, it allows those previously thought of as "rough" transitions carry on a whole new a steady flow that puts the whole class at ease.

For my Kindergartners, they know what comes next. So much that sometimes it feels like they're going on throughout their day ahead of me. We have those catch up moments where I'll have to bring to their attention, "Yes, you're right that's next, but not yet." This concept only proves their strong need for independence and their ability to flourish from it.

There are days when our schedule doesn't quite go as planned. I'm not talking about straying from lesson plans, but the daily routines that never change, like our welcome song. Today I got so busy trying to complete all the items on our morning agenda before the music teacher arrived, that I completely forgot to sing our welcome song. We went on with music class and the rest of our morning as scheduled, but those little tikes certainly didn't forget to sing the welcome song. I thought for a moment we could easily have a day without it, until I remembered the disaster it created last time. It threw off the entire pace of the day.


It's amazing what difference the lack of a one minute song made, so for their comfort (and my own sanity) I was sure to accomplish singing it as soon as they reminded me. It's a good thing to remember just how important routine is to these five-year-olds. I most likely wont be forgetting our welcome song anytime soon, but if I do, I can always count on my sprouts to remind me. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Successful Secret.

Today we did a written phonogram review of all 26 letters. It was an exciting experience to see the progression of writing that they've gone through since the start of the year. However, I noticed one small detail that many of my students continue to keep doing. They insist on writing their letters from bottom to top. We've gone over this many times, yet no matter how creative I get with the way we write them, they always have their own way of writing letters.

Since my previous techniques were not working out so well, I decided to try a new technique to hopefully get some better results than the ones that I was previously getting.

Before I continue, I must admit that this technique was largely inspired by Mr. Halpern, a fellow Kindergarten teacher, whose blog I simply admire. This idea came from one of his recent blogs, Secret.

(Back to my story...) "I have a secret to tell you," I whispered, "but you have to show me you really want to know first before I can continue." At this point they all got intently focused as they were more than determined to hear my secret.

"I know the secret, Miss Molly!" a friend shouted. He was right. I've told him it before, and I suppose he accepted that it really was a secret.

Now, the rest of the classmates were especially intent on knowing the secret, for they couldn't be left out!

"If you write your letters from top to bottom instead of bottom to top they will be straighter," I said enthusiastically. "If you don't believe me, then try it with our next letter L."

They got straight to work and before I knew it I heard all sorts of excitement, "It worked! It really worked Miss Molly!"

"Can I tell my mom?" a little voice asked.

"If you think she must know, then yes, I will allow it," I told her.

"How about my sister? She doesn't even know this one!" another added.

"How about you choose to keep it to yourself or share it. I'll leave it up to you."

"Ok, but I think she needs to know this one!"

Success! I am happy with the way this "secret" technique turned out. Hopefully I'll be seeing some straighter letters coming my way.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Compliment Jar.

"Get your hands ready! One, two, three *CLAP*."

This short little phrase inserted several times in the day makes a world of difference. It occurs right after I give a verbal compliment for something the whole class has worked hard to earn. Whether it's for good behavior or wonderful teamwork they all carry happy smiling faces as soon as I pull out that compliment (pom-pom).When the compliment drops in the jar, we clap once, and it's settled.

The second jar is to keep track of how far we have to go. As we watch one jar goes down, the other goes up. Meanwhile, excitement builds as we are that much closer to completing our jar full of compliments. The smile that each compliment puts on their sweet little faces could be enough of a reward, but to show further appreciation I have for them a special treat to work towards—Friendship Fruit Salad.

This salad is filled with different kinds of fruit, each symbolizing all the wonderful things we'd love to have in our classroom. Peaches, sharing, apples, listening, bananas, hard workers, marshmallows, kind words... etc. I brought it on the first day of school, and it has become one of those very special treats we look forward to having again. With about 20 more compliments left, we should be sharing this delightful treat within the next week or two. Yay!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Boogers For Breakfast.

"You don't scare me! I teach Kindergarten!" This t-shirt I find particularly awesome. I think I might just need it. It can be applied to moms and many other teachers, but there's just something about Kindergarten that I have a certain bias to.

Before I worked with children, many things would gross me out. I would have typically walked away from snot and throw-up, but being a Kindergarten teacher has taught me how to embrace these quite natural parts of life. I am not a mother, and I sincerely applaud all of you who are. I'm sure you've dealt with far worse, but at least I can say I've had my share.

Not out from the ordinary, but yesterday my sprouts and I caught a booger eater. Typically we would just have ignored this common occasion, but this day a conversation was started about it. I could tell the influence of all of the parents preventing their own booger eaters, because their comments reflected just that:

"That's dirty you know."

"Now you have to go wash your hands!"


"Yeah you are gonna spread germs!"

"It's OK, I do it all the time," she quickly defended herself.

Interested in her reasoning behind the matter I asked, "And why do you do it?"

"Because I get hungry OK?!"

Alright, that's funny, but boogers don't fill you up. Certainly it had to be a joke! "Are you serious?" I asked with a smile.

Her reply was no more than a straight face and simple "Yes."

Note to self: Remind parents to feed their children breakfast. ;)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Facing Your Feelings.

Feelings is one of those things that there is just no way getting around of. Everybody has them and whether good or bad, we all must learn to face them. For a Kindergartner, learning how to both process and respond to feelings, as well as deal with them appropriately becomes an especially difficult task, yet a vital part of their personal and social development.

It is my goal for the Kindergartners whom I have a large influence over, to be put in a secure enough environment where they know they can express their feelings freely without feeling put down. I want them to understand that everyone has feelings of sadness or even anger and that by expressing them we can together solve them appropriately.

During our first week of my newly implemented Team Time or class meetings, they were given an opportunity to express their feelings with the complete attention of their peers. I brought out my feelings faces chart, and as each of them held our Talking Monkey, they were able to share their I-statements in a safe environment.


Our structure for the I-statements goes something like:
“I feel____, because _____, and I wish _____."

When these tender sprouts would share with us a feeling in which they felt earlier, I noticed them starting to grasp empathy and how their actions truly affect others. Some of the feelings shared were expected, yet others came as a complete surprise. It was a unique discovery to see that the more outgoing ones in the class had already let everyone know how they felt, whereas the more reserved ones didn't feel bold enough until the Talking Monkey was in hand to express their feelings. That physical stuffed animal gave them a sense of ownership and allowed them to immediately have the respect of others as we listened intently.

It is delightful to find my sprouts learning how to cooperate and listen to each other in ways that they haven't before. It is obvious that an awareness of others is especially starting to take place, and resulting in a much more enjoyable classroom.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Developing Mutual Respect.

Last week I walked into Barnes & Noble Bookstore to kill time before my next appoiment. I walked in convincing myself I would not buy anything. With my general love for teaching and education it is hard to come across the areas of the store that apply to this subject without adding to the list of books I feel the urge to buy. First stop: Children's Books. I spent some time in this section smiling at all the books I'd love to have. When I left, I managed to avoid any books in hand. Next stop: Teaching & Education. I flipped through the pages of many books and wrote down titles of interest for later reads. Then I came to one that sparked a particular interest, "Positive Discipline In the Classroom." The subcaption reads, Developing mutual respect, cooperation, and responsibility in your classroom. Just what my class needs. Determining this book as a "need" rather than a great want, I purchased the book, and dove into its inspiring contents right away.

This week I have started implementing many of the techniques shared in this book and am already experiencing more than positive results. The book shares "Class Meetings" as one of the ways for students to have a say about their feelings and together solve problems of concern, but before you can jump right into these meetings they must have practice in communication skills. As an introductory to these brief meetings which I will call "Team Time," we sat in a circle together and practiced the basics of listening.

Each student had the chance to tell the class a story that they wanted to share. I first had them walk out of the classroom to come up with their story, while the rest of us came up with a plan that would exhibit poor listening skills. While the storyteller came in excited to have their turn holding our new "talking monkey" friend, we listened most intently. After three seconds we then did our poor listening action. Things we came up with were: covering our ears, talking to our friends, hiding under the table, walking away, turning our backs, closing our eyes, clapping our hands etc. I was surprised to see that even though each child knew that we would probably do something rude or distracting, they were stilll thrown when we did and felt sad. We all had the opportunity to share our feelings of how this made us feel, and then execute proper listening skills the second time around.

I don't expect listening skills to be mastered right away, but we will continue to practice, practice, practice and get better in time. We are taking small steps to developing a mutual respect in our classroom, but in the end will make a big difference.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Danny Dog Delivers Delicious Doughnuts.

It wasn't but a week ago that I wrote the blog "Back To The Basics." It was here that I shared one of my discoveries for the need to go back to some simple concepts that will help enhance their reading skills and strengthen their phonemic awareness. I have since then come up with new activities to build these skills and went back to some of the early fun ones that we stopped working on. While working on strengthening awareness of the initial consonant we brought back our alphabet alliterations. They remain up in my classroom all year under our alphabet line, yet somehow these fun little friends and phrases were forgotten.

While working with these alliterations and ultimately tongue twisters I decided to record on mp3 their hard work of practicing them. They had a blast repeating their one phrase was recorded at the point of near perfection and enjoyed learning each other's phrases to help friends out. Afterward, I did some editing to the track, so that listening to themselves stumbling over phrases would not frustrate them. I then let them hear their individual voices for this fun class track. They were in awe as they tried to guess every one's voices, and we ended up in all sorts of smiles and laughs. I have yet to stick it on a CD or my iPod for us to listen to during snack time, but I have no doubt they will be excited to hear their voices once more when I get around to that little surprise.



Monday, March 1, 2010

Busy Bees.

As humans, we are all seekers of personal independence. We want our voices to be heard and our opinions to be known. We desire to be self-governing beings who are not subjected to the control of others. We find it is a great thing to feel respected by others, and value feeling like important and useful members of society.

The need for gaining independence starts at a very young age. Children desperately seek to do everything themselves and have a need to be recognized for their successes. The phrase, "I did it!" does not run far from their lips. Although they still need guidance in the way they think and act, it becomes the responsibility of caretakers to nurture this need. This nurturing comes by teaching something that goes hand and hand with independence—responsibility.

To become independent one must first learn how to be responsible. Responsibility is not learned by having things done for you, but by having the opportunity to make the right choices. It is very important for eager doers to positively be thought of as capable. They are capable of making good choices and will often exceed expectations when their caretakers believe they can do it. If young people see themselves as the ones making choices, they're more likely to take responsibility for their choices. If they own up to the choice, they own up to responsibility.

I strive to allow my Kindergartners to develop this necessary tool through every area of planned curriculum and presented learning opportunities. I look to give them opportunities to develop responsibility and think for themselves. One of the ways I find success in this area is by giving them something to take ownership of. Each week my Kindergartners receive a classroom job from our “Busy Bees Job Board,” where they learn the importance of responsibility and self-worth. Taking pride in their job is what they love best because of the outcome given by the completion of their specific task. This simple poster brings so many special gifts to our classroom: responsibility, cooperation, and respect of eachother just to name a few, with added opportunity for growth in self-worth by feeling like important and valued members of our classroom.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Flight of the Bumble Bee.

The excitement of bumble bees began near the beginning of the day when a little one discovered a giant bumble bee hanging out by the ceiling lights in our classroom. I was quietly helping one of the students with their writing at this time when I heard an abrupt commotion coming from the corner of the classroom. "Miss Molly, you have to come look at this bee!" they called me over. Without going near to see what the ruckus was about, I naturally encouraged them to find their seats. The excitement quickly became such a disturbance they couldn't let go of it, and I soon discovered that this bumble bee was a much bigger deal than the one I didn't make out of it.

"OK, let me take a look at this silly bee," I gave in, thinking we could have a short moment of awe and then continue our work. Apparently, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. "You've got to be kidding me!" I exclaimed. "That has to be the biggest bumble bee I've ever seen!" I'll admit, sometimes my enthusiasm gets the better of me and I tend to exaggerate, but this was not the case. Amazed by it's size I pulled out my camera to take a picture of the thing. Suddenly everyone went to hide behind desks, where there was no topic of discussion other than bumble bees.


The picture ended up not doing it justice, but the bee was then left alone until...

"OK bumble bee, you have overstayed your welcome. It's time to leave," I called out as the kids ran in from recess an hour later and still in awe with this bee.

"Bumble bee, go away!" I shouted once more with a book in hand.

"Maybe he thinks your talking to yourself," a little one informed me.

I began to get serious as I propped open the outside door, stood on a chair, and began waving a book at the bee. Before long, I gained an audience with the 1st through 3rd graders peaking by my window laughing hysterically as I had it one-on-one with this bee. It was quite the fight, but the bee finally flew out of door and chased away 15 screaming children.

"That was AWESOME!" a third grader informed me. And of course, with the thrill of the moment, many of my Kindergartners from last year just had to come give me a tight squeeze.

Nothing like a bumble bee to throw of the day, but thanks to him I ended up being that much more of a hero.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Together, We Love The World.

It’s a pleasant feeling knowing that you are loved. It’s an even more pleasant feeling knowing that those same people you love in return know that you love them back. There's no doubt I love my students, so I am quite satisfied knowing this feeling is recognized by them as well. This morning’s journal entry may have seemed like nothing out of the ordinary, yet it make me feel loved in an extra special way.


Decoded, this story says, “We love each other; actually teacher and me love the world.” This picture delicately portrays me, the teacher with glasses, and my dear friend together walking under a sky of hearts with pumpkins at our feet. Why she decided to draw pumpkins in February gets me, but I can only assume that our field trip to the pumpkin patch was a more than memorable event.

Seeing this picture of her and I loving the world together showed me that with these five-year-olds I don't have to be "extra"-ordinary. I don't have to try to be anyone I'm not. I only need to love on them and help them succeed the best way that I know how. Just being in the classroom and guiding them every second I get makes them feel secure and loved. For that simple reason I am blessed to be called their teacher and friend. Friends that together, love the world.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What's In Your Pocket?

I’ve heard that you can tell a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse, but what I never thought about is the same can be true for a five-year-old. I am always intrigued by the objects that come out of these little people’s pockets.

There is one student in my class who is particularly known for little goodies coming out every day. On any given day you can guarantee that he will have something in his pockets. Yesterday was a harmonica, the day before that was a Nintendo DS screen cleaning cloth, and today was a toothbrush. I couldn’t even guess what tomorrow's pocket surprise will bring, as it’s always a completely random and surprising object that never has any relation to the previous days.

I'm sure you can imagine these objects becoming a distraction, yet I still allow them bring their own toys from home. However, they are warned that if they are not careful, it may get locked up in the “Distraction Box” (or for those who like to mispronounce it the “restraction box”) where their cherished belongings will be safely kept until the end of the day.

Keep in mind that this box is no bigger than a shoebox. In a moment that was completely unrelated to the subject of the distraction box, I told one of my munchkins today that their continuous sounds were becoming a distraction to their classmates. “You better stop, or you’ll get put in the distraction box!” a friend shouted. I had to laugh with the cleverness of the thought, which implied the knowledge that all distractions end up there. No, I have not ever tried to stuff one of those five-year-olds in a box, although I guess some days it seems like an excellent idea! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back To The Basics.

It came to my attention today that there is a need to get back to the fundamental reading skills that my Kindergartners have acquired from the start of the year. I was encouraged to see how quickly these bursting buds picked up basic reading concepts this year. They began to read much sooner than I anticipated. My overflow of encouragement boosted their eagerness to read and their confidence that they can do it.

As they have dramatically improved, however, it seems like we've all of the sudden hit a wall. I'm not sure if I'd call that wall 'laziness' or 'over-confidence' but they have started to develop bad habits. They begin to guess words they think they know based upon the beginning letter and sometimes the end, rather than taking the time to sound out every letter and not forget about the middle letters. So today, I implemented a new rule. We must go back to the basics and sound out ALL letters of every word, even the ones that are labeled easy. It's time to implement some new techniques so our middle letter friends are not forgotten!

I suppose this laziness or over-confidence can be found in any of us. As humans, we tend to fall into monotonous routines that run our everyday lives and sometimes forget the need to keep things fresh. It therefore becomes important for everyone, not just five-year-olds, to get back to the basics. Who wants to get stuck creating bad habits? Just a thought, but this appears to be something we all can learn a life lesson about.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bigger Than a Box of Crayons.

It is a known fact of life. Sharing is one of those life lessons that we all will continue to perfect for the rest of our lives. For a five year old, the tolerance for the practice is much more difficult to maintain. They are slowly beginning to understand the concept of sharing and face issues on a daily basis that allow them to discover the benefits of sharing on their own. They find out that it's easy to share when there's plenty to go around and become truly tested when there is a need for a specific sacrifice to be made. They must make a choice to share something bigger a box of crayons.

We were all happily playing a game in circle time today when I slowly watched a boy pull back from the class. He was enjoying himself one minute, and it seemed like within a few more moments he was doing his best to not let his sad countenance be seen.

"What's wrong Michael," I asked.

I could tell that he really wanted to be tough about it. "Nothing," he replied.

"We care about your feelings, and we wont make fun of you for feeling any certain way. If you want to tell us we will help you settle whatever is bothering you," I said trying to reason with him.

"It's nothing," he said again as he was at this point almost fully in tears.

"It's OK if it's something. You are our friend and we don't want you to be sad, " I encouraged.

In the saddest voice he could make and with the biggest heart-broken look he replied, "I'm not sad. I'm mad. I wanted to sit on the blue mat."

Ahhh, yes. The blue mat. One of the three circle carpets we have. The only blue one and clearly the most popular. Somehow I wasn't surprised this was the issue, but before I could say another word one of two boys who happened to already be sharing the blue mat said, "You can sit here Michael." The other friend gave in as well and said, "Yeah, I'll scoot over."

At this point, we had three boys cramming onto the tiny mat that was clearly not meant for three growing boys, but who was I to stop them from sharing? Apparently I wasn't the only one to recognize this choice of sharing. Before I could even attempt to make it public, a friend decided to share her opinion of the situation, "I think they both should be on purple for being nice and sharing."

Wow! We now have a first time nomination of a friend for purple. I didn't even know that was possible. "What a great idea!" I replied.

I'm glad we took those few moments to settle the situation. It turned out to be a big lesson for all of us, and put an extra smile on our faces.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Better Than Video Games.

I feel like there is a great deal of trickery going on when teaching my students. We play a variety of learning games. They find it fun and entertaining, and alternately learn a great deal in the process. It should come as no surprise that learning doesn't have to be boring. It's especially easy when teaching the younger ages to surround them their specific learning style: FUN.

I have discovered a great need in the review of writing numbers. I have targeted it from many angles already this year, yet decided a new type of game was needed in hopes to promote their learning in this area further. I ended up developing a game just for them.

The game focus: Tracing numbers 2-9. Normally, I am not a big fan of general "tracing" numbers, but because many of our number writing activities have already involved a primary large motor skill connection, I was in support of trying it from this new angle.

The primary task: write numbers 2-9, not once or twice, but fifteen times in less than two minutes. I put the practice sheet with 15 outlines of the same number in a page protector, gave them a dry erase marker, and hit the play button for a short song on our Alphabet CD.

The process: race to see if they could finish all 15 numbers by the end of the song. It became an alternate task in promoting teamwork. When one finished, they encouraged their friends to get done. "Come on, you can do it!" they would encourage. If they were successfully ALL done with every number, I threw in an extra compliment in our compliment jar.

To finish, we wiped off our boards and passed our papers to our neighbor, ready to conquer the next number.

The outcome: Their numbers have been better ever since. I found that one of the reasons why it worked so well was because we were able to make a race of it-- not for bragging rights, but for the sole purpose of "I did it." They felt accomplished and encouraged that learning to write letters doesn't have to be so laborious. I can assure you that if I had given each of them a page to trace 15 numbers they would not have been so motivated to finish in a timely matter. Every number wouldn't even be completed in the less than 20 minutes it took for this activity.

The bonus: They loved it! "This is better than watching the movie Ice Age," someone happily shared. "This is even better than video games!" a boy added. OK, now if I can come up with an activity that's better than TV and video games, then we have a real winner. They are looking forward to the next time they get to practice their numbers in this fun and memorable way.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Case of The Broken Apple Timer.

Every once in a while I will read a book that my students absolutely adore. Reading them once isn't enough. It must be read until the kids are only partially bored of it, and Miss Molly is desperate to find another quick fix favorite. Surprisingly, their favorites are usually ones that I would never expect them to really get into. Recently, a book ended up on my desk. I have no idea who gave it to me, but it was clearly someone who knows my secret obsession of children's books. The book: Detective Dinosaur. I can't figure out why, but this book became one of those favorites, even by the girls. Besides the mystery, they probably find it thrilling listening to me pronounce the big dinosaur names. Who wouldn't find that enjoyable?

Thanks to Deputy Diplodocus, he has inspired some of my sprouts to become detectives themselves. They were eager to help me solve "The Case of The Broken Apple Timer," without any knowledge to what actually happened. "I'll help you Miss Molly. I'm a detective you know," a willing assistant informed me. All he knew was somebody broke Miss Molly's apple timer, and there had to be a missing piece laying around. I smiled thinking that the case became how it was broken, and not who broke the timer. Nonetheless, neither part of the mystery could be solved. I'm OK with that, but Apple Timer, you are already missed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to catch your breath.











I'm sure you all have heard the phrase "catch your breath." During recess today, a five year old gave me the most unique translation of this phrase. Read carefully, it will give you new insight in how to exactly do it.

Hi Miss Molly, I’m out of breath.

Oh no! What are you going to do?

Catch it.

And how do you do that?

By running as fast as the boy in the Incredibles.

Isn’t that how you lost it?

Yep! But now I have to go catch my run. See ya!

[comes back all out of breath] Miss Molly, I caught it again!

And what exactly did you catch?

My breath, silly!

I love this age. I am amused by the many things they take literally. The phrases like "catching" your breath throws them off, and makes me wonder who was the crazy person to come up with it in the first place. I bet you didn't think that catching your breath could be so exhausting!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Silly Story.

Dr. Seuess wrote, "Every day, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." One of the reasons why I love teaching Kindergarten is because you get to be silly. In fact, you practically have to be silly if you want to be most successful. The other day, I gave my students an opportunity to write and illustrate their own silly stories, after reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Suess. If you've ever read it, it's full of rhyming, nonsensical short stories that the kids love to laugh and laugh about.

After giving them a moment to think creatively, I handed them their papers and let them run with their imaginations. Here's some of the silly stories they came up with:

1) My funny is a girl on the potty. And a rainbow was shining at her.Photobucket

2) Goop and the Vilgaks. Goop is fighting Vilgaks with a sword. But Goop won.Photobucket

3) Play, play, play, play until it was dark.
Photobucket

4) She went to the restroom. Mariah is her name. It was the boys.
Photobucket

5) Pop. He is on the cap. He is cool. He has three eyes.
Photobucket

6) My snack is Ed. Ed jumped.
Photobucket

So what's your vote on the funniest?
1. The girl on the potty?
2. Goop the Vilgaks?
3. Play play play play?
4. A girl in the boys restroom?
5. Pop with three eyes?
6. The snake that jumped?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Meet my friend, hani-tizer.

Germs, more commonly known as "practically invisible little monsters that can make you very sick." They seem to be a teacher's worst nightmare. (Okay, I could think of worse, but it's definitely up there!) They can spread so quickly that pretty soon half the class is missing within a day. And if you're not careful, you just may be too. I made the decision from day one to not let germs get the better of my class this year.

The first day of school day came, and I made sure to cover all the basics. You know the simple practices that keep those germs away like: wash your hands often, how long to wash them for, how to wash your hands properly, sneeze or cough into your sleeve, use facial tissue, clean shared surfaces, what not to share, etc. If it had to do with germs we talked about it, I modeled it, the Kindergartners practiced it, and then some more, repeatedly.

I still remember the first time a princess used the bathroom in my class. I heard her in the bathroom washing her hands while faithfully singing her ABC's. Yes, this was something I modeled to teach an appropriate length of time for hand washing and was quite proud that I had made such an impact that she remembered herself from the start.

Hand sanitizer was formally introduced as "my friend." Now, I know that washing hands often is the most efficient way of keeping germs away, but there are a lot of little hands to wash, and to be honest, we just don't have that much time in a day. That said, I made a big deal out of how wonderful my friend was. I was happy to share my friend with them, and they we re more than eager to let "our friend" help out. Hand sanitizer became so much our friend that I would catch my little ones giving hugs to that bottle, and with shining faces saying, "Hani-tizer, my friend!"

I believe that if you build something up from the beginning, making it fun and memorable, they are far more likely to stick with it and remember it themselves. But I will also tell you, that this technique would never be as successful if it was not followed up by routine. In my case, routine has been so much built up that friends are more than happy to hold each other accountable if one ever were to forget.


Half-way through the school year now, I had a student eagerly shoot up his hand out of nowhere while teaching a lesson. Thinking that this random outburst had to be important, I called on him, "Yes?" In abrubt panic, he precisely informed me, "Yesterday, at school, Kyle forgot to use hand sanitizer!"

I could barely contain myself from bursting up with laughter. He was so serious about this issue, I could certainly not laugh in return. After all, I happened to be the one who made this topic such a delicate matter. Holding every smile within, I said "Oh no! That's terrible..." and continued the lesson.

"Hani-tizer" (the shortened name one of my munchkins gave when the length of the name was found difficult) has saved my class on numerous occasions, and kept those nasty happenings of large numbers of students missing down to the number zero. Thank you, I owe you one.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Biggest Valentine Ever.

Our Valentine's Day party was a big hit. Each child contributed to this event by bringing something for our party. Easy, yet I was surprised at the outcome of how the kid's responded to it. "What did you bring?" one would ask. "I brought the carmel dip!" another would shout. Or my personal favorite, "Who brought the grapes? They are not good!"

Even if it was only mom sticking a package of heart-shaped plates in their backpack and sending them off to school, I'm glad that everybody had something to contribute. I think we all need those moments to feel important and involved.

As we were sitting at the table eating ever so quietly, I read to them a new story, "The Biggest Valentine Ever" by Steven Kroll. The book became a perfect fit for my class. Clayton and Desmond worked together to make a valentine for their teacher, but ended up fighting and ruining the whole thing. At this point in the book, we all had serious looks of concern. It was a sad thing to see best friends fighting, and somehow I think we were starting to relate. The two went home that night to make one of their own, but neither valentine turned out to be as wonderful as the one they made together. In the end, my class smiled with congratulations as Clayton and Desmond stepped it up and made the biggest valentine ever!

This sweet moment didn't seem to last long. The major rush of sugar kicked in, and before I could blink an eye I had my entire class running out the door to look at the water puddle that was mischeiviously created in the bathroom. It seemed like just as I had taken care of that little moment of spontaneous creativity, I caught intentional napkins being glued to innocent faces with carmel dip. [Time for a chill moment!] No games. Only happy songs and fun finger plays for the rest of the day.

I think I can officially say now, I'm all partied out. I don't deny that I love to throw special and memorable events for my students, but two days in a row of almost uncontrollable excitement has been the two most fun and exhausting days. Good thing I have a long weekend to recover with an extra two days off!
Happy Valentines day. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The best day of my life.

The day we have all been waiting for finally arrived. Today, our 100th day of Kindergarten, became the most memorable event ever. Better than Disney Land. Better than Chuck E. Cheese. Better than Christmas. From the moment they walked in the door I had something special planned. They were in awe with the wall decor, and even more fascinated with the "100th Day Passports" sitting on their desks. Since the first day of school I had been telling them that on the 100th day of Kindergarten we would have a 100th day party. Yes, it was a party, but unlike one they've ever been too. There was no cake, ice cream, or musical chairs, but by the end of that day none of that mattered. I have a feeling I spoiled them enough, and don't feel bad for the slight bit of trickery I had going on with another day of work.

Only minutes into school, I had them asking, "When can we count to 100?!" We've been working so hard towards this goal, they were so eager to show me what they were made of. As we put up the final number 100 on our Daily Doodle Bug and counted flawlessly to 100, I couldn't have been more proud. I want to instill in these bursting buds a love for learning, and by seeing their blossoming eagerness proved to me that I'm doing something right. Moments like this are why I teach.

Today, my little blessings, filled up all ten pages of their "100th Day passport" with a 100th day reward sticker from each of the ten centers they visited. I tried to incorporate as much variety as I could including exercises, fine motor motors, music, writing, building, crafts, music and so much more. Every center had to do with the number 100, and it was a joy to see their faces light up as each center was completed. I could feel their proud sense of accomplishment as they each earned their sticker to add to their passport and all proclaimed at some point today, "This is the best day of my life!"

To top it all off, they had been so focused on counting to 100 that by the end of the day a few had completely forgotten that their 100th Day projects would get to be shared today. It turned out to be a real special treat, especially taking part in the 100 shaped cookie with 100 m&m's on it.


Today was the best day ever, but apparently "tomorrow is going to be even better!" It appears that I now have some stiff competition and high expectations to live up to for our Valentine's day party. However, with the built up anticipation for the delivery of Valentine's in our glitter glue'd up mailboxes I think I have it covered.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Glitter Glue.

Glitter just seems to be the biggest hit in my classroom this year. They get more excited about glitter than they do about recess or candy. Glitter is so exciting for them in fact, that whenever we do a craft, they jump up and down expecting that glitter is going to be next. As a side note, I usually buy dry glitter and sprinkle it over their white glued designs. It turns out to be quite the mess, but I'm not scared of messes. If I was, I would not be teaching Kindergarten! Depending on the craft, I usually comply with their glitter requests, but one day I informed them that glitter would not be next. Pure disappointment struck the entire classroom. Of course they loved what their project looked like without it, but it seems that nothing is quite complete without glitter. That is, until they met "Glitter Glue".

The excitement began with shoebox after shoebox coming in to our classroom. These shoe boxes would be used for our mailboxes to deliver all of our Valentine's in. For weeks prior to our final project I had eager faces asking, "When can we decorate them?!"

"When we get all of them in," I told them. Not even one munchkin knew the surprise I had coming for them.

The day came when all eight shoe boxes arrived. I announced to them that we would be decorating them the next day, but first I was sending them home with a parent to get them wrapped in white paper. That night, I had all the supplies ready, but made one last stop to the craft store for glitter. I went above and beyond with glitter and instead of buying dry glitter, I found glitter glue. I knew this would be thrilling for them. I picked out four at first, but I thought I'd really give them a thrill with eight different colors. OK, so perhaps I wanted to save myself the headache of fighting over who gets to the glitter glue first. I like to think ahead. :)

I placed all the supplies in a clear plastic container. Saving the best for last, I stored the glitter glue at the bottom. They spotted it right away. I pulled out every other supply first, and the anticipation was driving them nuts. "Glitter glue! Look! Teacher got us glitter glue!" Shortly a
fter, I let them go free with all the supplies they could have ever imagined.

We had a blast. I enjoyed myself so much that I happened to be the only one who ended up with glitter glue on their pants. "Miss Molly, you look cool," a friend told me. I never could have imagined that I would be cool because of glitter glue.



Monday, February 8, 2010

Upside-down.

Have you ever come across something written by a child, backwards? It is actually quite normal for this to happen. In my world, this happens all the time. When I encounter this, I usually give a gentle reminder how to write it correctly and add loads of encouragement for doing their best. Writing can be frustrating at first, so I make sure to give extra support so they don't feel discouraged if it isn't perfect. For those discouraging days, I love to build confidence in my students by saying one of our favorite phrases, "The more we practice, the better we get!" This will usually turn that frown upside-down pretty quickly.

Aside from backwards, on a more rare occasion I have had students writing letters upside-down. They can typically write their names completely upside-down and backwards. Sometimes I stand there amazed. All I have to do is flip their paper upside down and there you have a perfectly written name. This seems even complicated for me to try.

While working with a student today, I noticed her writing her letters perfectly. On the line. Nice and round. Proper direction. When she finished one of the roundest O's I've ever seen I watched her as she then began to erase it.

"What was wrong with that O? I asked.


"It was upside-down," she replied.

I couldn't help but smile as I let her continue. I still can't quite figure out what about her O was upside-down, or even what changed the second time around, but I delighted to know that her writing standards far exceeded mine. :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Birthdays.

When doing a review of our birthdays, I had one boy couldn't remember when his birthday was. A helpful friend ran to our birthday calendar to look.

“June 11th,” she announced.

“That’s not when my birthday is!” he replied, positive his birthday was on a different day. “That’s when it was last year!”

It became apparent to me that even though a five-year-old may know when his or her birthday is, they might not know what their birthday is. There is no need to be concerned, however. Now, if you ask any one of my students what a birthday actually is, I can be proud to say that they will be able to tell you.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Giraffes Can't Dance.

During story time yesterday I brought out the book ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’. Now if you know children, they love to tell you every little detail of their lives. They not only love to be heard, but acknowledged. That said, one of the students began saying repeatedly, “I had this book in Louisiana!” Although I heard what he said, I continued on with the introduction of the story without acknowledging his remark. As I read on, he was now waving his hand frantically trying to get my attention. Before I could finish the page to finally call on him, he shouts, “I’m doing rule number two!” Even if he is raising his hand WHILE speaking, at least he’s trying. :)

Our classroom rules are as follows:
Rule number one- I know my job.
Rule number two- I raise my hand before I speak.
Rule number three- I listen to the speaker.
Rule number four- I work without bothering others.
Rule number five- I clean up properly.