Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Week to Celebrate!

Whew! What a week we had in room 103 :) Even with a Monday off, we managed to accomplish a whole lot of learning and fun!!! One of the main reasons I can call this past week a success is because of the new planning that I have adopted from Kickin' it in Kindergarten's Elizabeth Hall! The concept of visual planning is amazing, but the result....EVEN MORE AMAZING! I was a bit nervous to try  it out but decided to take on the daunting task after my mentor (and amazing friend) tried it and loved it! As I sat down to plan my week, I picked a theme for ELA and a theme for math. After figuring out my ELA (presidents) and math (subtraction) I hopped onto Pinterest and found different lesson ideas and activities were adorable and perfect for my kinder babes! I screenshot all the pictures that went with the ideas I was going to be utilizing and with the format available in the link below, started to put everything in its place. The results: PHENOMENAL. And I mean it. I always have had pretty thorough lesson plans that outlined my day, but having each activity with a picture to help remind me each day what was in store was such a weight off of my shoulders. I could not be more pleased. It is EASY to say "oh, we will work on subtraction this week" and then google some games before the lesson. It is EFFECTIVE to write out daily plans and have engaging activities written out and prepared for each lesson. To be a quality teacher, i don't think it should be easy but I DO think it should be effective :)

I think my favorite part of using these plans was when one of my babes saw them on my desk and said, "Hey Miss K!! These look like what we got to do this week!!" And when I told her that I planned our work each week, she was shocked! "You mean, you have, like, homework?" What a little gem!! 

Below is the link to the template that I used along with my examples from last week! The mapping out of these lessons will forever change my way of thinking!!

Our week began with our first President related assignment! We wrote about what we would do if we were President. Before I introduced the writing, we talked about what a President did. I was pleasantly surprised to hear some students respond with answers such as "Oh, I think President Washington is on money!!" "So is Mr. Lincoln, isn't he Miss K???" The connections my kids were making was so exciting! When I asked the students what they would do if they were the President, I received quite the array of answers. Some of my students decided that they would cancel school, some decided they would shop all the time. I had one boy proclaim that he would make people give him foot massages!! Oh, how I love my babes!!
An activity I found on had my students and I turning our picture into President Washington. My students loved this craft! I had their pictures printed and supplies set out on their desk before they arrived. They were so curious about what we could be doing. I had all of them come sit on the carpet while we watched a quick clip on President Washinton and then had them describe what he looked like. A lot of the babes said 'old', 'gray', 'smart'. When I asked them what his hair looked like I received a lot of 'FLUFFY!!!' 'so soft!' and even one 'it looked like marshmallows!' I then showed the students the model for our work: a picture of me with cotton ball hair and a blue army hat! The hoots and hollers my students bellowed out was worth it! They could not believe Miss K did that to her picture! I had them go back to their seats and we worked as a group to put ourselves into George Washington mode!!

We continued to do crafts centered around the Presidents (we made our own dollar bills and log cabins!!), watched many clips on BrainPop Jr about Lincoln and Washington, and even got to delve into some Kid President clips on Gaggle! My kids LOVE Kid President! We watched Kid President meet President Obama and we even got to watch a few clips of him that connected with Integrity and Kindness (two values we work REALLY hard to show). As all teachers know, being able to use one outlet to connect multiple lessons is truly helpful!! Our final President-related task was to create a president worthy treat of course :) What fun is a unit of learning without getting to create our own snack?!?! I found an adorable George Washington treat that I could not wait to make with three simple ingredients: vanilla wafer cookies, frosting, and marshmallows. I started to make the snacks and then realized, wait I teach Kindergarten!! Last time I checked, Kinder babes love creating and getting their hands sticky with frosting!! I made all of the faces on the cookies with a black edible gel. I demonstrated to my students how to get the marshmallow hair to stick to the cookie, and then we got cookin'!!!! Boy were they excited to make these treats! While they worked quietly (yes, I said quietly!! Give them some food to work on and they are SO quiet!!) I asked them questions that reviewed some of the things we learned about the Presidents throughout the week. Their little memories were hard at work as they compiled all their answers!! I was so happy that they were able to recall the videos and proud of their hard work!

It was such a successful and WORTHWHILE week in Kinder room 103!! This new lesson planning is helping my professional development and reflections in so many ways!!! I am scheduling my visual lesson plans for this coming week and SO excited to finish February STRONG!!!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Celebrating Kindness Day!

The scariest days to be in Kindergarten hall are at the same time, the best days!! I have been looking forward to Kindness Day (Valentines Day) for quite some time while still being a little apprehensive about the chaos that would ensue. But to be honest, what better thing to celebrate than a holiday where we focus solely on friendship and being kind. I had placed a lot of thought into the week of Valentines Day! Each day, the activities and lessons related to kindness related things.

The first thing we did was read Valentines Day Books. Nothing gets my kinder babes quiet like a book on the carpet. There is something about their eager eyes and listening ears when we read a book that excites me and reminds me of their desire to learn! Especially when we can relate the book into our lives. This week with our books, I focused on asking higher order thinking questions about the text. I wanted to make sure that my students were hearing and comprehending what they listened to. They blew me away with how invested they were with our reading!!

We talked about Kindness Day and the L word that makes them squish their faces and say collectively "ewwwwwww!!". I tend to forget that to five year olds, the thought of love is connected with kissing. And clearly that was icky for them!! I explained to them that love can mean so many things! I started with examples about loving a puppy, about me loving them, about me loving my friends, and shared with them how I show my love. When the babes started to hear that I showed love through actions (other than kissing!) they got fired up with their own examples. They started to make connections about how they love friends and family by helping them. I must say, they were so adorable talking about how much they like to help out!! Our writing element focused on who we love and why. I asked each student to think of someone that they love and explain to me why they love them. We did our sound spelling which really pushes them to think! They then got to draw a picture to show what they wrote. I love our writing time because I get to go around and see them at work. They have been doing an IMPRESSIVE job at showing me their 'first grade writing' skills and constantly ask if I can show the first grade teachers!

The next craft we did was an idea I found on Pinterest (still thanking the creator of Pinterest because it has made this Kinder teacher's life SO much fun!!!). Thanks to Blair Turner at One Lesson At A Time, I was able to incorporate a cute idea that allowed for us to talk about kindness to everyone at the same time!!

My students loved the craft, and we got to talk about friends who have different needs. I told them about sign language and how it is used for people who cannot hear or speak. This got us to talk about how each one of us is different and we all like different things, but we still are KIND to each other and show everyone respect! I couldn't help but smile as some of my babes started to explain that they love everyone because they all have "just the most adorable smiles".

Another fun idea that I thought of out of the blue was a Kindness Scavenger Hunt! Throughout the week, I took little notes of things I saw my students do that were acts of kindness. I made one heart for each student and wrote what I saw on it. I placed them around the room and explained to my kids that while we were at lunch, our kindness burst throughout the class!! They got a list of each student in the class and had to walk around recording what each student did! It was a fun twist on a write the room that got them up and moving!! At the end of the lesson, the students got to share a few from their clipboards and explain why it is important to be kind! I was also able to tie in our core value: integrity! I told them that these were all things I saw when they didn't know I was watching. They were displaying integrity the whole week! This really got them excited!!!

When Friday finally came, I was nervous and excited for all that the day had in store! I had my bouncy heart headband on and was ready to celebrate with my kinder babes!!! We spent the day counting heart manipulatives, writing valentines, decorating bags, and then came our party!! After explaining how to pass out Valentines, I watched as the chaos began with each student trying to read names and remember where their friends sit. Let's just say when the passing out stopped, my heart smiled a bit!! I passed out our treats and we started our photobooth! I had made some props (mustaches, lips, and hearts) and the students got to stand in front of a scene and take pictures! They LOVED it!!! Photobooths will become a monthly thing in Room #103 :)

As I reflect on this crazy week, I cannot help but feel thankful and blessed with the opportunity to teach my kinder babes. They truly make me a better person and inspire me to push myself to be even better! Spreading kindness and love got us through the week :) Let's hope it will last us awhile!!!!