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Have a safe summer!

As the end of the year comes to an end, its unbelievable the amount of activities that my class participated in this year. It began with a Gingerbread Hunt and ended with a field trip to a local butterfly garden. Not to mention everything in between!

This summer I encourage all educators to relax and enjoy their summers. Parents take time to spend precious moments with you child. My exciting trip will be to China to teach teachers for six weeks. If anyone has been, please share your story.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog this year. I am going to send the last few days of my school year with my soon-to-be first graders! Have a great summer!

Back from Spring Break!

Yesterday was our first day back from spring break. The students were quiet as they walked into the classroom and continued to be quiet as the day progressed. They seemed to be tired after a week of going to bed late and waking up late. I was tired! I had to force myself to get out of bed.

During spring break, I had the opportunity to visit the Scholastic headquarters in New IMG_1114[1] York City. The Scholastic building is located in SoHo near some of the best shopping in New York City. Amelia, one of Scholastic hard workers and a good friend of mine, gave me a tour around the building. Something I did not know is that the Scholastic building includes a store that sells books and educational games. The store even allows children to celebrate their birthday there.

IMG_1115[1] After surviving the freezing weather, it was well worth the hike to Scholastic. I have visited New York City several times and I was able to explore a new part of the city. I even got to shop for books!

Spring Break!

We will be on vacation until April 13. Have a safe spring break!

More Planet Movies

Here are two more planet movies:

Planet Movies

I wanted to share with you the space activity I did with my students. I had the students create their own planet on Kidspix. I encouraged them to be creative. I had a balloon planet and a planet that only cooked blueberry pancakes. After they were done creating the planet, I printed each child's planet and gave it to them. They then had to write about their planet. I told them I wanted at least 3 sentences but most of my students wrote more. They had a great time coming up with new ideas for their planet.

After they were done writing about their planet, I recorded them reading about their planet using Audacity. Each student had a chance to record. They are now so comfortable recording, it only took 19 students about 20 minutes total to record. I was impressed.

When the student were done recording, I exported their planet pictures out of Kidspix as a JPEG and took the MP3 from Audacity and created a planet movie using Microsoft MovieMaker. Here is one example:

You are Cordially Invited to the Wedding of Q & U

This week we prepared for the wedding of the letters Q and U to make the "qu" sound. IMG_1048 Many arrangements were made. The vowels were invited and presents for the bride and groom were made. Girls wore veils and carried flowers and the boys wore top hats. The bridal party marched down the aisle to Cannon in D as the shushers held Quiet signs. The flower girl threw the paper letters and our principal conducted the ceremony.

IMG_1063We started having this ceremony last year to help remind our students that Q always needs U during spelling. The week leading IMG_1035 up to the ceremony, we did activities and read books that helped the students understand the concept. One of the activities is a word blend sorting. I made index   cards that have words begin with "qu", "th", "sh", and "ch" blends. I have the students sort the words and then type the words onto an alphasmart.

After the ceremony, we opened the gifts that the students made for Q and U. The students brought in quarters, Quaker oats, Q-tips, a quarterback, quills, a quilt, and a crown fit for a queen. The students had a blast during the ceremony. They enjoyed sharing their gifts with the class and they will always remember the wedding of Q and U!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

"The more that you read, The more things that you know. The more that you learn, The more places you'll go." Dr Seuss - Oh, The Places You'll Go!

In honor of Dr. Seuss birthday, I read as many of his books throughout the entire week.DSC03180 The students love hearing the stories and enjoy reading along with me. I think it is important to read as much as I can with my class. Reading is truly a meaningful learning experience that opens many doors for the reader.

One of my students brought in the Dr. Seuss book "There's a Wocket in My Pocket". This book is filled with tongue twisters and there is a warning in the beginning of the book that states that this book is dangerous. The class thought it was hilarious to hear me reading the book that they actually started counting each mistake I made. I'm proud to say I only made nine mistakes.

We also made green eggs and ham with another kindergarten class. As Mrs. Miller made the green eggs and ham, I read the book. I tried to have each student try a small amount but I did have some students refuse to touch it. I love asking the students if they think they might like it before hand. I get so many wrinkle noses and scrunched up faces but after they try it I have many begging for seconds.

I always take time to share facts and pictures of Dr. Seuss because I have many students who do not realize he was a real person. The students find it fascinating to hear how he came up with his stories and that he illustrated his books. I always have fun during the week of Dr. Seuss's birthday.

Picnic Lunch

With all the reasons to stress this week, I decided to enjoy the weather and take my students outside to IMG_1017 the playground for lunch. It was a picture perfect Florida day. The students thought this was the best day ever! I even had a chance to relax and enjoy the day.

It still amazes me that something as simple as taking my students outside for lunch can excite the class greatly. I remember my teachers spending lunch time with us. It was something to look forward to. Now, I realize what a scarifice it is to give up my quiet lunch. I strongly believe eating lunch with my students is a wonderful way to build a relationship with my students but I do give up my bathroom break and time to check my e-mails. I think it's worth it though. I normally eat lunch with my class on Fridays and I think I have just as much fun as the students do.

How is your state doing?

With the economy the way it is, I am seeing and hearing the changes throughout the state of Florida with our schools. Our schools are hurting. This week, the county I work in announced that 400-1200 jobs will be lost. Teachers with annual contracts, like myself, are thinking worse case scenario a back-up plan. Teachers are not the only ones fearing for their jobs. Bus drivers, custodians, and assistants are up for the job cut.

My county is one of the lucky ones. I have heard that counties are thinking about closing schools and laying off all the annual contracts. Recently our kindergarten team was denied a field trip because of the cost. We are now unable to attend certain field trips. This past Saturday, a rally was held at the University of Central Florida. Teachers from all over the state met to demand more state funding be offered to our schools.

I was wondering how the other states were handling the economic crisis. Is Florida the only state hurting during these hard times? If not, how are the other states making things work? Please leave a comment below. Thanks.

Homework

This week our kindergarten team met with our first grade teachers. We had a discussion about homework. I always viewed homework in kindergarten as practice and a way for the students and parents to get in the routine of sitting down each night and doing homework. I was surprised to hear the amount of homework some of the first grade teachers send home and I became scared I was not preparing my students enough for first grade.

I started thinking about what I have my students do each night. I do not believe in sending home hours of work to do each night. The homework I send home is max 25-30 minutes and that is if the students are truly taking their time. I send a homework calendar home at the beginning of each month. I also send a book at the student's reading level home on Mondays and the students return the books on Fridays. Every once in awhile I send home a project for an activity we do in class. I do not have the students doing homework over the weekends.

I do not feel that I need to send anymore homework than I do. I thought since I have the opportunity to reach out to other Early Childhood educators I could ask for your opinions on homework. I would love to hear what other teachers do and share ideas. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Teaching Space with Bookflix

This week I introduced space with books with Scholastic BookFlix. Bookflix is a book resource that takes a subject and presents it with a fiction and non-fiction book. Each book provides users with additional resources that help students expand their knowledge on the topic.

Since we were learning about space, I had the students begin the day with watching Happy Birthday Moon by Frank Asch. The students enjoyed watching the story on the computer. The story is presented with animation and background music that sets the mood of the story. The students are able to follow along as the narrator reads the story as each word becomes highlighted.

Happy Birthday Moon has follow Puzzlers that help the students build their comprehension questions. I enjoyed the puzzle Which Came First? Here the students place the sequence of events in order. I thought it was clever that Scholastic provided ways for younger users to listen to the direction. The students click on the ear and then are able to listen to what they need to do.

After watching Happy Birthday Moon in the morning, I had the students watch the non-fiction book Updated: The Moon. Here the students were able to physically click through the fiction book on the moon. They could either drag the top corner of the page to switch pages or click the green arrow. Students have the option to read the story on their own or listen as the narrator reads the story. Words are also highlighted through the book. These words are vocabulary words. The reader can roll their mouse over the words and listen to the definition.

There are puzzlers for the non-fiction book as well. One of the puzzles is a word match that follows up with the vocabulary words. There is one more puzzle that compares the two books and asks the students to decide if the statement is fact or fiction. 

I also found that it offers a biography on Frank Asch. I thought it was a great way for the students to relate to the author. Again for young readers, it has the option to listen to the biography or for older readers to read it. For teachers there is also a section to extend the lesson online. Scholastic provides websites that reinforce the lesson on space.

Overall, I was impressed with the product. I will always believe teachers should not let the computer to the teaching but let technology enhance learning. This site does have a free trial that I strongly believe you should check out. There are many stories and many topics to choose from!

Valentine's Day

My class was excited for Valentine's Day. A week before our Valentine's Card Exchange, I sent home a note to the parents with a list of all the student's names for the students to make valentines for their classmates. I had valentines coming in the next day! The entire week leading up to the exchange, the students could only talk about the cards they were making.

Finally Friday was here and we exchanged the valentines. The students had decorated bags for their IMG_0909 cards. I gave them a white paper bag and let them use markers to decorate. There was a peaceful moment as the class was decorating their bags. Some students were talking quietly and some were not talking at all. I allowed them to take as long as they wanted to color the bags.

I also had the students make a tissue paper heart. The students cut out a heart and glued pink, red, and purple tissue paper to the heart. We were also learning symmetry that week and I had the students create another heart that was symmetrical. We had a quiet morning as the students worked hard on their work. I had a thought that we should have more morning like this where the students can relax and work at their own pace. Some mornings, I feel we do too much and the students never have a time to just sit back and relax.

When it was time the students to pass out their cards, I handed each one their pile to pass out. TheIMG_0908 class was so excited to receive cards from their friends. I had students helping each other pass out cards. I let them go through their bags for a short amount of time. I didn't want them to mix up their cards with their friends at their tables too much.

Now when I'm looking back on Friday, I think I had one of those "a little goes a long way" moments. I didn't go overboard with the Valentine's activities but I feel that the students had just as much fun, if not more, than if we had done a big Valentine's party. We had a simple Valentine's Day where the students truly cared about each other. That's what Valentine's Day is all about!

Outback Field Trip

For our unit on Australia, my class took their second field trip to Outback IMG_0881Steakhouse. For many of my students it was their first time on a school bus. Before we loaded onto the bus, I had the students who have been on a school bus share with the class the rules of the school bus. We talked about how to be safe and listen to directions. As we were on our way to the restaurant, there were many nervous giggles as we went over bumps and made wide left hand turns.

Outback is one of my favorite field trips. The Outback staff does a wonderful job keeping the students interested in Australian culture. The staff gives us a tour around the restaurant showing us Australian artifacts and explaining the different Australian traditions to us. The last part of the tour is through the kitchen. The students watch as the cooks make French fries and Bloomin Onions.

IMG_0897 The last part of our trip is my favorite. We are served lunch! As a teacher, I cherish this moment because I never eat lunch out. The students sit at the tables with their chaperones and munch on Bloomin' Onions until their chicken fingers and French fries are served. The Outback policy is to serve all the children first and then the adults. I walked around until all the students were served. This was a great time to take pictures. For dessert, we were served ice cream!

The students had a great time. Outback always does a well organized trip for us. Everyone leaves happy. Parents love to hear that we are taking a trip to Outback and I had more than enough chaperones volunteer. I enjoy this field trip because I feel secure and I do not have to worry about a child wondering off. We took this field trip on a Monday. Throughout the rest of the week, I had opportunities to reinforce Australia by reminding the class the facts we learned at Outback.

100th Day Podcasts

This week, I noticed I haven't done any podcasting with my class in awhile. I decided I wanted to do two podcasts with my students for the 100th day of school. While we were recording our podcasts, I noticed how comfortable they were talking into the microphone compared to the beginning of the school year when they were afraid to talk. Podcasting is just like anything else. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become.

The first podcast we recorded was our class book "If I had $100 I would ______". The students had aIMG_0902   blast coming up with ideas of what they would buy. I had many students ask me what I would buy and when I told them I would buy an IPhone, I had one student tell me that I would need more money because an IPhone cost $200 instead of $100. All I could do was laugh. Below is our podcast. Please be patience as it downloads.

Download If i had $100

Our second podcast was the entire class counting to 100. In the beginning of the school year, I had my students listen to my previous class count to 100. I had many students ask if we could record our class counting. I made a deal with them. I told them when everyone in our class could count to 100 we would record. I had many determine students come to me and count. Before I knew it, my whole class knew how to count to 100. I decided to wait to our 100th day of school to record them. Below is our podcast count to 100. Enjoy!

Download Count to 100

100th Day of School Activities

It amazed me this week when my class celebrated our 100th day of school. Every year after the holidays, my mom always says "now the rest of the school year is going to fly by". She's right. I feel like we just had our winter break but instead, I'm looking for 100th day activities and searching for Valentine's Day activities.

For our 100th day celebration, I asked the students bring in 100 items from home. I asked the students to group the items by 10s and mount the items on a poster board. IMG_0864 Some of the items the students brought in were 100 pennies, 100 balloons, 100 buttons, and 100 green items. I allowed each student to briefly share their poster to the class. During math, I had the students count the items on each poster. We rotated around the classroom allowing each student to count each classmates items. I heard students counting by 1s, 5s, and 10s. I had the students rotate with a partner. I saw many groups working together IMG_0870 and helping each other count. The students loved counting their friends items. After the students had a chance with each poster, I laid all the posters on the floor and we counted by 100s to discover we had 1000 items. My class thought it was "very cool" that we had 1000 items in our classroom. I like to show them how much 1000 looks like.


At computer, the students created 100 items using Kidspix. Our computer lab teacher had a template for the students to use. The template had 10 boxes required the students to fill each box with 10 imagines from Kidspix. Here are some examples:

IMG_0872    IMG_0873

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Early Childhood Teacher are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.