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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pay It Forward - A Wonderful Social Studies Lesson

       I just got the most wonderful package in the mail from one of my very favorite bloggers - Sandi at Rubberboots and Elf Shoes.  Sandi teaches kindergarten in Chemainus, British Columbia Canada. 
 The package she sent to me (and to two other bloggers) included all sorts of wonderful things that represent Canada including two books by Canadian authors, a map, tattoos, a Canadian Flag Banner, a CD of children's songs sung in English and the local First Nations Language, a Canada tote bag and a Chemainus dollar bill (they have their own currency ?!?). 
I love Robert Munsch but I didn't know this book.  As Sandi suggested, I am going to use this silly book about sharing at the start of the school year.
This is a beautifully illustrated book about a little girl and her inquisitive younger brother and their visit to the beach. I am so glad that Sandi introduced me to this author.

It is so much fun to learn about another area of the world (and its so cool that a teacher whose teaching philosophy I respect so much teaches 3,000 miles away in another country). I can't wait to share the package with my class.  Thank you Sandi!

        I also had so much fun following the trail of the Pay It Forward Packages that preceded my package (thanks again to Sandi...this time for tracking down this list:):  
Sandi got her package came from Greg at Males in Early Childhood in  Australia. 
Greg got a parcel from Keirna from Learning for Life in Northern Ireland. 
Keirna got a package from Karen from Flights of Whimsy in Melbourne, Australia.
Karen got a parcel from Maureen at Strongstart in Comox, BC, Canada.
Maureen received a parcel from Sherry and Donna at Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning in Melbourne Australia.
Sherry and Donna's package came from Scott from Brick by Brick from Tenessee, USA.
Scott got his package from Mom and Kiddo at What do We Do All Day in Brooklyn, New York.
Donna received a package from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns in California.
Her package came from Kylie at Our Worldwide Classroom in  Australia.
Kylie received a package from MaryLea at Pink and Green Mama.

Now it’s my turn to Pay It Forward.

So if you would like to play AND are willing to pay it forward from your own blog, then here is what you do.

Leave a comment on this post stating that you want to play, and I will randomly choose three players.
You can be from anywhere in the world!!
The rules are:
• To the three participants I will send a fun package representing Philadelphia Pennsylvania - but you must be willing to Pay it Forward to three more people.
• Comments will remain open until September 30th.
• If you are chosen you will need to send me your address so that I know where to send your package.
• After you receive the package you will need to Pay it Forward in the same manner on your blog

Thanks for playing!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Wall of Smiling Faces

       My very favorite decoration in my kindergarten classroom was my wall of smiling faces.   I always had the kids paint their face during the first week or two of school.  I worked with just one child at a time so I was able to use the opportunity to do an informal observation as we talked about their facial features.
        I started with a tracer I made from a file folder.  I traced the outline on a piece of bulletin board paper.  We then talked about the fact that our eyes are actually just about even with the tops of our ears and about what colors they would need for their eyes, lips and hair.  I would usually use my pencil to show where the eyes should be.  The children then painted the whites of their eyes, their lips and hair.  They decided what color shirt they wanted and then painted that and the colored part of their eyes. Finally, they added details to the shirt, and "ballies" and barrettes to their hair.  Some children added their nose and eyebrows.
When I cut around the face I could cut out some of the "extra" painting such as the outline Shakira added.
        When the paintings dried, I cut out the beautiful faces and added the children's names.  I love, love, love these!!

The poem is actually one of the first songs we learn.  It is sung to the tune of Frere Jacques.
        At my nursery school, the Pre-K students are traced in Science class and they then paint their "people" as we call them.  I LOVE these too.  In fact, for many, many years, my basement was decorated with the the life size paintings of my 4 children.

Pre-K People 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Please help me ...What color is best for classroom walls?

My room is being painted next week and I get to pick the color.  I'm looking for recommendations for wall colors and also advice about what colors to avoid.  Any thoughts??

The walls are currently a light green (not blue like they look in the picture).  I also want to spray paint the big ugly metal cabinets like Camille's from An Open Front Door.  Any advice on that front would also be appreciated.  Thanks!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Make It Monday - Birthday Crowns and Bags

I am trying to follow the example of so many of you and get ready for birthdays now.  In the past I made a simple crown out of a sentence strip and wrote "Happy Birthday (student's name)" and then let the student decorate his or her crown with stickers.  The student then stood on a chair while we sang Happy Birthday.  I loved the many verses the children in Chester (where I taught kindergarten) always added.  After we sang "Happy Birthday" and "How Old Are You Now?" the student sang "I'm 5 years old, I'm 5 years old, I'm 5 years old," then the class sang "May God Bless You (also 3 times)" (all to the tune of Happy Birthday).  It took forever but there was no stopping it because that just the way birthdays were done in that community:)

But I digress, this year I decided to get all my crowns and birthday goodie bags done in advance.  I fell in love with the birthday crowns that Kathryn at Kindergarten...Kindergarten... made.  She has a very detailed tutorial here. This is what my crowns turned out like.  I think they are really cute.  I will simply attach the cake to a sentence strip when it is time to celebrate that child's birthday.

I also decided to make a little birthday bag for each birthday child.  Mine are much simpler than the adorable ones that Cara at The First Grade Parade made.  I took colored bags that I had and glued on a birthday cake shape that I found at Target's Dollar Spot (24 for $1).  Inside the bag I put a rubber ball, a notepad (88 cents for 4 at Walmart - I have these little pads at the writing center and they love using them), a pencil (that I broke in half and sharpened because we use little pencils in my class) and a small airhead. It cost me less than 50 cents to make each bag. I also put in the little birthday card that Cara shared here.  I know my little ones will love this special treat.

Check out the amazing things other teachers are making at Tara's Make it Monday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Helping Children Stand Up For Themselves - Kelso's Choices

           Last year I had one of those kids that is a natural born leader but, who could also be a bit of a bully because things always had to be his way. After just a couple of weeks, I got a call from the parent of another child who said that her son was upset because "Tom" always told him what to do. I decided to introduce a modified version of the Kelso's Choices program that I had used in the school district where I had previously taught. Kelso's Choices is a conflict resolution program that helps kids handle "small problems" on their own instead of going directly to the teacher to tattle.

          There are two things I like about Kelso's program. The first is that the program begins by discussing the difference between big problems (where someone or something is being hurt or might be hurt or where the child feels scared) and small problems (such as a friend not sharing or a friend cutting in line). If there is a big problem, the students should tell a grownup right away (and getting help isn’t tattling). For a couple days, we spent a few minutes during Circle Time just getting good at identifying big and small problems. I started out by naming a problem and having the kids tell me if it was a big or small problem. The kids also suggested problems that they thought were examples of big or small problems. The kids were very good at this but I think it is really important that teachers explicitly talk with how we expect children to handle different types of problems.

          The second thing that I like about the program is that it tells the children that they have 9 different choices about how they handle small, kid-sized problems. I started the discussion of choices by telling the children that they are smart enough and old enough to try to resolve small conflicts by themselves. Kelso's 9 choices for how to handle small problems are:

Talk it Out
Share and Take Turns
Ignore It
Walk Away
Tell Them To Stop
Make a Deal
Wait and Cool Off
Go To Another Game
They sound repetitive don't they? But that is the beauty of this program. I think parents and teachers are very quick to tell a child to "ignore him or her" if someone is teasing them or "play with something else" if someone is bossing them around. What the child hears is "Do Nothing." While we, as adults, know that ignoring a teaser is a quick way to make the teasing stop, it's hard for children to see this as anything other than letting the "injustice" continue. Kelso's Choices encourages children to make affirmative choices about how they will handle a problem. Children are also told that they should try two different strategies before getting an adult involved.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Make it Monday - Alphabet Rocks

           I've done almost nothing to get ready for school (except "pinning"and I don't think that, in and of itself, is going to help come September).  However, although I personally have not been very productive, I am thrilled that I have something cool to share as part of  4th Grade Frolic's Make It Monday. I have spent the last 2+ weeks at my family's home on Keuka Lake in New York with my extended family.  It's been wonderful!  One of our annual traditions is to bring paint to the beach so that the kids can paint rocks (and themselves).  This year I asked my daughter and nieces to paint alphabet rocks for me.  I know my class will love alphabetizing and playing with these fun rocks.

The "best" rocks were done by my artist niece:)
Next week I might actually try to make something myself for Make it Monday.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Days

I'm feeling very melancholy as I start to get ready for next year.  I LOVED my class last year and the one thing that I hate about teaching pre-K in a private nursery school is that my little ones all leave and move on to elementary school.  I know I will occasionally see them around town but I also know that these little sweeties who loved me so much will soon feel uncomfortable around me ... especially  when their parents try to remind them of that previous devotion to me :)

In the mean time, they are making me very happy with lots of letters and even Facebook postings:)
Will is posing next to the sunflower seed he brought home from science.