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Friday, June 29, 2012

Fiction Friday - Press Here

       There are so many children's books that I love.  I like the idea of writing about a favorite book each Friday, so I am joining The Teaching Thief's Linky Party.  One of my new favorite books is Press Here by Herve Tullet. It is so simple and yet young children are fascinated by it.  
         On each page the child is directed to follow a simple direction. The first page has one yellow dot and says "Press here and turn the page." The second page  has 2 yellow dots and says "Great! Now press the yellow dot again."  The pages continue like this with different directions to press, rub, shake, tilt, or blow on the page. Each time, the readers are rewarded with some kind of action on the subsequent page. Rubbing the yellow dot may make it change color. Shaking it moves all of the dots around. And blowing on the page just might send all of the dots flying. I guess that in some ways it is like an ipad game, except its made with nice thick paper and relies on children's imagination rather than batteries.
         This is my "go to" big sister or brother gift that I give when I am giving a baby gift.  I know the siblings will love the book and that they will get a few minutes of special mommy or daddy (or grandparent) time when they ask to have the book read over and over - and that the adults won't mind rereading it because it's fun for them too :)
        I wasn't sure how the book would work as a class read aloud and whether my 5 year olds (who do play on ipads at home) would be too sophisticated for it and find it too simplistic. I didn't need to worry. They LOVED it!  I read the directions and then followed the directions myself.  By the end of the book they were jumping up and down and cheering because they were so excited. I can't say enough good things about this simple book. I'm thinking I might try to have the kids make their own Press Here books this year. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I can read here or there, I can read anywhere!

        I love making class books.  A few years ago, I made a class book with my kindergarteners and our reading buddies from 2nd grade.  Our book was titled I Can Read Anywhere!  First I read Green Eggs and Ham to the whole group.  We then talked about writing our own rhyming book and decided on a reading theme because that is what we did together (and because I steered the enthusiasm that way:)  We then came up with a really long list of places we could read (I figured that was a good exercise in and of itself). Although we had initially planned to have the kids draw pictures of reading in rhyming places, the kids suggested that we use photographs of them reading.  Although this made the book a little harder because we had to find rhymes that we could take pictures of around our school, I think it made it easier for my kindergarteners to read the very predictable book.  The result was really cute and a favorite in our class library.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Turn the Music Up Linky Party

       I just found a new blog with lots of great ideas.  Amanda Madden at Teaching Maddeness  is hosting a linky party about music in the classroom. There are three parts to this linky party.

1. Favorite Educational CD to use in the classroom:

Without question, Dr. Jean's CDs are my absolute favorite. The first Dr. Jean CD I bought was  Sing to Learn and its still my favorite.  I love Alphardy (or "A for Apple" as my kids call it) for teaching letter sounds and Macarena Math for teaching skip counting.  Although I own lots of her CDs, I think that it is wonderful that I can now go to her site and order just the songs that are appropriate for my class. 

2. Just for fun CD to use in the classroom:

Although I don't actually listen to much classical music outside of school, I love using classical music during quiet time in my classroom.  This CD is great because the music isn't "dumbed down" for kids ... it's engaging, upbeat music played by famous orchestras.  When I taught kindergarten, I would put this on and turn off the lights when we came in from recess so the kids could have a few minutes to quietly unwind.  The kids soon learned their favorite composers and loved "conducting" the orchestra with their hands.   

3. Music I'm thinking about buying but would like feedback about:

Has anyone heard this new Jack Hartman CD?  I like the idea that the music is directed toward preschoolers but I can't find much about it online. 

I'm looking forward to finding new music to play in my class.  What are your favorites?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Using Funny Pictures

            A couple of years ago, the school I was teaching at had a door decorating contest regarding drug awareness.  At first I was not going to participate because I thought my kindergarteners were too young to know about drug and alcohol abuse.  I was really glad that I decided to ask them what they knew.  Unfortunately, several of my students talked about parents or siblings who were in jail because of drugs.  I decided that these kids needed to hear about the problems of drugs, alcohol, and teen pregnancy from someone they loved and respected (and fortunately kindergarten teachers are very loved).  Although my kids were only 5 years old, they lived in a community where crime and teen pregnancy were part of their daily lives.  I choose to talk about how using drugs or alcohol (or getting pregnant) would limit what they could do when they grew up.  I know that what I said might not make a difference but, in school districts where the kids are up against so much, I think that the teacher's role in teaching morals, manners and talking about consequences of dangerous decisions is especially important.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eyes, Hearts and Hands

          Before snack each day, my students say the following grace: May we have eyes that see (point to eyes), hearts that love (put both hands over heart) and hands that are ready to help (hold hands out, palms up).  We then all hold hands and "in our own brains" think about something we are thankful for.  This moment of silence lasts pretty long - between 15-30 seconds.   I end the moment of silence by saying "please give a gentle squeeze and enjoy your snack."  I absolutely love the grace and the moment of silence.  This year was really funny because as soon as we did the "gentle squeeze" all of the kids would blurt out what they were thankful for...mommy, family, friends (by name often), the whole universe, school, was a really thankful group :)
         When I taught kindergarten in a public school, we always started our day by doing the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language. I used the version that I learned from Dr. Jean.  I describe the motions here. I found that the kids really understood the words when we added the sign language.  In fact, when I brought out a balance scale for math one day, one of my little ones piped up..."that's just like justice." After the pledge we went right into our Kindergarten Pledge: "May we have eyes that see, hearts that love and hands that are ready to help." (sound familiar?) I'm not sure if it was appropriate for a public school but the school pledge that the older kids did (and that we could never hear in our classroom because the nearby loud speakers didn't work) was really long and not age-appropriate. The simple words and motions meant much more to my little ones (and summarize quite nicely what is most important).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blogger Pet Peeves Linky Party

       I just found a great post at Mrs. Stanford's Class.  She posted about her blogger pet peeves including the word verifiers that you need to get through before you can post a comment on a blog.  I had no idea that my blog had a word verifier (I know I'm still pretty naive about this whole blogging thing).   What the Teacher Wants has a simple tutorial about how to get rid of the word verifier (go to settings, then comments, and then check no on "show word verification").
Mrs. Stanford is now having a Linky Party about blogger pet peeves.

       I agree with everyone who linked up, word verifiers are my biggest pet peeve.  Another pet peeve that I have is that some blogs have become nothing but advertisements for the author's Teachers Pay Teachers products.  I certainly have nothing against TpT. In fact I have been really happy with the things I have bought and understand that a blog is a great marketing tool.  That being said, there are blogs that I loved in the past because of all the great ideas that were shared that are now absolutely devoid of anything other than "advertisements" for their TpT products. I now tend to skip those blogs and go to the many that regularly share great ideas ... not just "freebies" but also descriptions of what is working in their classrooms.

Monday, June 18, 2012

FREE from Vistaprint

          I know that lots of teachers use Vistaprint but I thought I'd share some of the things I have "bought" from them. Actually, almost everything I have ever got from Vistaprint has been free. I have paid quite a bit over the years for shipping but I always choose the slow shipping (because it really isn't as slow as they say). When I know I want something I start by going to google and put in what I want and "free Vistaprint." Look at all the different sites that come up. There are always different deals at the same time. It helps if you don't need to get something right away but are willing to look at what is free right now. In fact,  I have sometimes created items I want when I have time and then just kept them in my Vistaprint portfolio to order when I see that they are free. If you sign up for their emails, they will send you notice of special deals. 
        Here are some of the Vistaprint items I have created for my class:
This past year we got these magnets for our families.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Teaching in the Digital Age-Book Study Blog Party

       I was initially disappointed when I saw that the book chosen for the book study blog party that several bloggers that I follow are participating in is titled Teaching in the Digital Age.  I feel pretty strongly that digital tools do not belong in my 1/2 day preschool program.  However, I was intrigued because  Dr. Jean was involved.  I have just read the introduction and first chapter of the book and it looks like the book will help teachers use technology both for assessment and as a teaching tool.  I understand that technology does not refer only to computers and ipads but also to digital cameras, audio recorders, webcams, projectors and smart boards.   However, what I worry about is the notion that young children should be using computers or ipads in class or, for that matter, any technology that that takes time away from interacting with classmates and teachers and actually "getting their hands on" toys, books, crayons and scissors. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Father's Day Super Daddy

            I had wanted my class to make the adorable Super Dad cards that Heidi Butkus showed on her blog Heidi Songs  but we ran out of time.  Today I went in to help with lunch bunch and we made the cards.  I think they are sooooo cute.  I ended up quickly cutting the paper as the children were working on them (I just worked with 2-3 kids at a time).  I started by giving the kids a square that was approximately 2"x2". They cut off the corners to make a circle and then glued the head towards the top of the paper (I put an x on the paper where the head belonged as Heidi suggested).  I then gave them the yellow cape to glue right below the head.  I then asked them to look at my sample and tell me what they needed next.  They loved putting the picture together.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's Not Fair! - Teaching Fairness Linky Party

          This month, Maria Dismondy's Make a Difference Monthly Character Linky Party is focusing on Fairness. When I was growing up, one of my Dad's favorite sayings was, "It's an unfair world." In fact that was his only response to a complaint that something was "not fair!"  While this might have taught me not to complain about fairness (his response really was annoying to a child), I learned about treating people fairly by his actions.  I love the Jackson Browne quote, “Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you” and no one exemplifies treating people fairly better than my Dad. I  believe that our actions are the only way we truly teach character. That being said, I think that it is important that we help children understand that while fairness is critically important, it is not always the same as being treated equally.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Follow Me On Facebook

        I now have a Facebook Page.  I will post on it when I add a post to this blog. I think that means that if you like Mrs. Goff's Pre-K Tales on Facebook, you will know when there is a new post. (Does that make sense?) Anyway, here is the link: Mrs. Goff's Pre-K Tales .  I'm off to go sailing with my husband... I love summer vacation :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

REALLY Cool Magic Bubbles!

       Today we made Magic Bubbles in our Messy Fun Camp.

These bubbles are really cool because when you pop them, you get a puff of smoke!

 I found the directions for creating these bubbles at Familicious.  The bubbles aren't really filled with smoke but contain the condensation of water vapor that is created when dry ice (carbon dioxide) sublimates (turns from solid to gas) when warm water is added to it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Toe Painting!

       Today we did "toe painting" in our Messy Fun camp.  It was lots of fun to use our feet to mix colors.  It was really hard to write our names with our toes!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Messy Fun!

       Today was Day 2 of our Messy Fun camp.  We experimented with diapers today.  We tore apart disposable diapers and took out the "fluff".  We decided that it looked like cotton.  The kids predicted it would "explode" when we added water... I guess having younger brothers and sisters helped the kids come up with that hypothesis :).   

Monday, June 4, 2012

Messy Fun

          Our preschool has a summer bridge program that runs for the 3 weeks between when our school ended and last day of the local public school.  This week I am running the camp with 2 other teachers.  Our week is called "My Mom would never let me do this at home - Messy Fun."  This week we have 24 kids who are between the ages of 3-5.  Today we had lots of messy fun. We put paper on the fence and just let the kids paint if they wanted to.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Giveaway at Welcome to First Grade Room 5

         One of my new favorite blogs is Connie's Welcome to First Grade Room 5 .  Connie's ideas are always really practical (and clever).  Since  many of her ideas involve how her classroom is set up and how she manages centers and the class in general, I have been able to use lots of her ideas even in my pre-k class.  She is currently having a giveaway of giant pipe cleaners that she uses for word work (and I am so going to use for letter and number recognition and formation).  Check out her giveaway!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thank You Candy Bars

       Last year my kindergarteners delivered candy bars to all the people who had helped us during the year (specials teachers, principal, secretaries, other teachers, volunteers, lunch ladies, etc.).  I made these candy wrappers with a free template I found online.  I printed them and then simply wrapped them around candy bars that I had bought at Trader Joe's (the ones that are sold in a pack of 3 near the cash registers).  I didn't use Hershey Bars because the wrappers they come in now aren't wrapped around the candy.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Blogging Break

         I just spent a wonderful 5 days in Puerto Rico with my daughter Kiera.  It's fun having your children grow up!