Friday, March 16, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Been trying to post for awhile, Blogger was being stubborn!

If you have a boring job to do... you know the kind... where you are thinking "for this I went to nine years of college?!" try letting the children help you out. For instance, I had a bajillion magnetic letters that I needed to sort so I could create sets and start making word games. Did I want to sort them? No. Did I trust the parent helpers to sort them? No. (More on this later in a post entitled "Bad Help Is Worse Than No Help At All".)

The obvious choice? The children. This gave them letter recognition practice and I have to say they LOVED it. I used empty strawberry baskets and propped a letter card in each one. Then I gave them a bowl of letters and let them sort away. The LOVED this. Like, more than I would have expected. And they did a pretty good job. It was fun to see what letters I had a lot of, what letters I needed more of. And be sure to provide a basket for "things that are not letters" because well, you know.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mr. Potato Head Does Room KE

I got this idea from Journey of a Substitute Teacher. I was very very excited to find Small Cowgirl's long forgotten Mr. Potato Head over Winter Break when I attacked her room. She had a fit when she saw me stuffing him in my backpack to take to school but I promised he would go unharmed. The children are NOT allowed to touch him but as a class reward I pull out one part at a time until he is complete. A quiet calendar time? Feet. A courteous sharing? Body. Lining up without me yelling to be quiet / hands to themselves / come out from under that table? Eyes. Etcetera.

I also pull parts off. Screaming at the top of their lungs? (Yes that did happen, and it was because they were excited, but REALLY.) I yanked off an arm and threw it back into the box. Ouch. We haven't made much progress this week.

They loved it... last week. We actually got him all put together in four days and the envelope on the back (labeled with a big question mark) revealed their popsicle party prize. Then, as is typical with this group, some lost interest and have been wrecking it for the rest. I find managing this class is like keeping deer out of my garden: I have to mix it up. One thing works for awhile (lights, sprinklers, mountain lion urine) and then bam, they are wreaking havoc again.

Sixty more days to go.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Journals In Kindergarten

When it comes to teaching writing in Kindergarten I find the journal process invaluable. I don't do a lot of fussing about it, just model the way I want them to write on a giant chart paper pad and then send them on their way. Of course I narrate my thought process, sounding things out in an exaggerated way, talking about capitals and lower case, periods and spaces. And of course most of them just hear "blah blah blah."

BUT when it comes to topics this class loves to come up with ideas. At the beginning of our journal journey they actually generated this map ON THEIR OWN. I think it pretty much covers most areas of interest for five year olds (and for me most days as well) BUT I still like to ask them each afternoon what they would like me to write about it. One of their favorite topics is "my best class", an imaginary class sometime in the distant past that was perfect in every way. I write about how wonderful that class was at listening and being quiet and all the incredible incentives they received for their amazing behavior. Inside I am dying but they take this topic very seriously. Other favorites include what I do in the morning before school and all about my horses and the farm. Then I throw a similar topic idea out to them and send them off to write.

Anyway if after ten minutes of guided instruction they STILL can't come up with a topic I am glad to have this map hanging up for the non-listeners to see.

Monday, March 5, 2012

We Are Quiet As A Mouse

Have I mentioned how much my class likes to talk? Like talk talk talk talk talk until the cows come home. There is not much of an impression I can make on these Little Darlin's and yelling does no good at all. I actually told one of them today that my horse listens better than he does. Sad but true. Can't wait for the email from his Mom.

Of course the books will tell you to focus on positive behaviors and the other problems will magically disappear. With this in mind I created these little table signs. I ripped this off from a veteran teacher, she actually taught Kindergarten for FORTY YEARS yes you read that right. She had these adorable signs and I copied them shamelessly. I found the little mouse picture on Google Images and added the text, just glue sticked the whole shebang onto a tripod of pink paper. The pink paper is essential in the adorableness factor here, along with the yarn tail of each mouse (there is one on both sides). Of course your sweet little students will pull the darn thing off and you will have to replace it endlessly so be ready with extras.

I drop this little sign on the table that is being the most quiet. Sometimes it actually works. Anyway it does look adorable.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What To Do With Your Valentines

Teachers have a special talent for making a book out of just about anything. Here is my collection of Valentine Books. I got this idea at the California Kindergarten Conference about ten thousand years ago and have enjoyed making books out of my Valentines ever since.

Nothing is easier to make and the children adore them. Just glue the selection on some construction paper and add stickers or other embellishments if desired. Or not. Laminate. Punch holes and tie the pages together or just staple them.

If you already threw your collection for this year out, I will pause while you grab a Kleenex.

The past couple of years I have been so lazy resourceful that I just slipped the pages into some plastic sleeves and used metal rings to put them together. Do it. I promise you will love having your own collection!