Friday, August 30, 2013

Five for Friday

Hello Five for Friday! Thanks to Doodle Bugs.
Some of you may know that I live smack dab where the big fire is burning. It's been a week of ups and downs with acres and acres of beautiful land burned and many people evacuated from their homes. School has been cancelled until after Labor Day because of the smoke and because many of our evacuated families are displaced and have left the area. Here's a sign we made that looks so sad without all the kid art on it. We have paper prepped for the kids to make firemen and policemen when we finally get back to school.

A big thank you to all of the firefighters, police enforcement, PG&E, Animal Rescue, Evacuation Centers and on and on. It's been wonderful to watch all the support. The homemade signs lining our tiny town's street thanking the Firefighters is heartwarming!

This week I want to touch on some of the things I do during the first week of school to establish our classroom atmosphere. I don't claim to know it all, but I have been around a long, long time and I have found that the following things work well for me:

1. The Think It Over Chair:
Years ago I asked a good friend and teacher who I admired how she managed her classroom. Whenever I went in to visit, her class was very respectful, quiet and it just felt happy! The way she spoke to the children was genuinely kind. Her simple explanation was wonderful. She told me that the kids knew that she truly cared about them. It was sincere and the kids returned that love too. When you know that someone cares about you, you don't want to disappoint them.

Don't get me wrong, there were behavior issues. She had one of those "Mom looks" that could stop even me dead in my tracks (I've practiced and practiced but mine will never come close to hers. No one is afraid of me).  She dealt with them quickly and logically. The consequences were fair.  Then she moved on. Forgiveness was a "for sure" and no grudges were held. The kids at our school adored her.

Get to know your kids. Listen. Build the relationships, the community and let them know you care!

Here's what I tell my kids (the condensed version) :
You will make mistakes! Mrs. Welch makes lots. When you do:
1. Own it (lots of adults can't do this)
2. Fix it (if you've hurt someone, take care of them. If you've hurt something, fix it)
3. Apologize
4. Learn from it
5. Forgive and move on

If you need time to do that, go to the Think It Over Chair.

The Think It Over Chair comes from a discipline philosophy called Love and Logic. You might take some time to check it out. MY interpretation of The Think It Over Chair is that it isn't a teacher-imposed time out chair, but rather a chair that the child chooses to place him/herself in to calm down and think things over. It doesn't buy you a free pass though - we will still deal with the issue responsibly!

Our current chair is not great; it's hard and uncomfortable. I really want the Think It Over Chair to be a big, soft easy chair (I'm not sure how the Love and Logic people would feel about this). I've had little ones actually fall asleep in that chair, their rascally behavior usually the result of being tired, poor babies! Rocking chairs don't work; we found out that kids can rock really fast and loudly when they are unhappy! I wouldn't recommend pillows either, they can fly really far when you're mad!

2. Clean up songs
Find a really fun one. We used "Firework" last year by Katy Perry. Hilarious is all I can say. The dancing and dramatic singing were priceless. Our rule was you had to be at your circle spot before the music stopped. Everyone worked hard to get there early so they could break out the really special dance moves! I taught them how to sit down like Ellen DeGeneres does on her show. Made me smile every time!

3. Teacher Land
Anywhere that the kids are not allowed to get into is Teacher Land. Some examples are my desk, my computer, the area around the white board, the science cubby, the little refrigerator where I keep my secret stash of bon-bons, etc. I'm sure you have a few of these yourself.  Once we have located all the Teacher Land spots, I play M.C Hammer's song (not the video) "U Can't Touch This" and we dance around the classroom pointing at all the Teacher Land places  (Please be aware that this is a super long song). One year the Principal came in to welcome the Kinders to school during this little show and it was sort of awkward. I got observed five times that year (and I haven't worn my parachute pants ever again!).

4. Good Morning Greeting
Have a great fist bump greeting for every morning when your kids come through the door. I purposely goof it up sometimes just to make them giggle. Ours is a hand bump sort of thing that goes like this:
  A little bit of this, this (hands clap forward 2xs)
  A little bit of that, that (turn to backs of hands for 2xs)
  A little this, a little that ( hands forward once, back of hand once)
  A little, little this that (front and back)
5. Hall Song
Everyone needs a good hall song. My favorite:

Here we go a-just a walkin' down the hall
Singing doo wah ditty ditty dum ditty do
Teacher sings: We look Good.
Kids repeat:  We look good.
Teacher: We look fine.
Kids: We look fine.
All together: Don't we have a pretty line?

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five for Friday

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Five for Friday
I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for another round of Five for Friday.fiveforfriday2
I'm sticking with my Five Words for Friday version of this linky party. I already wrote this post once and it disappeared into bloggy world and I'm just too tired to do it all over. Five words will have to do! You probably prefer it too!

1. Yellow+Blue=Green means a magical year ( I know this was more than five words- I'm doing my usual warm up).
2. Gotta love those monsters (thanks to Growing Kinders).
3. Ready for that rascal David!
4. Some fun "Kissing Hand" props.
5. Driving towards our property. Yikes!
Here's a picture of the roadblock right in front of our property (I get to say more than 5 words for this). What you can't see is the huge plume to the left of this picture.
27 years ago we sat on our store porch and watched as a fire came over the ridge. We were 27 years old and new land owners. That night the fire crew staged from our property and saved all but one cabin. I'll never forget driving up afterwards to thank the firemen and seeing a sign that read "Welcome to Hell." It looked like heaven to us. We couldn't believe they had saved it.

Today we sat on the same porch and watched all the action again. The most amazing thing had to be the DC 10 dumping retardant near by. WOW! We grabbed more pictures off of walls and left. As we were driving away, I noticed a horse walking down our road. Apparently, people let them loose and leave. I felt broken-hearted and called someone I thought might be able to help. I hope everyone and every animal is safe tonight.

A very sincere thank you to every firefighter and police officer. They're amazingly brave and dearly loved!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

I don't know if there is a Throw Back Thursday but I'm throwing back anyway!

I want to address birthdays! I try to make them special and I don't know if this is because I am one of eight children. My birthday was at the end of a three day birthday celebration. My two younger sisters had their b-days right in front of mine (how dare they!) and by the time we reached my birthday, we were all sick of cake. I may need therapy because I felt a little deflated...that's a different post.

 Anyway, in our rush to cover common core, I hope you don't forget to celebrate. You can incorporate plenty of academics. I say celebrate!

Here's my old post about birthdays:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Birthday celebrations

A word about birthdays!

I think birthdays should be special.

One year a little boy told me that his family couldn't afford a birthday for him. Well, that pretty much did it for me, and from that moment on, we have celebrated classroom birthdays in a big way!

I start off by asking the parent what they remember about the day this amazing child was born; what the weather was like, how much did the baby weigh, who visited...any details they can supply. We make a fuss and interview our birthday child about their hopes and wishes for the day.

Next comes the crown (this is all done at circle time). After they tell me what color paper they want, I cut out a fancy crown in front of the class and use a border  punch along the bottom edge. They think it's magic already!  Next, we all watch as our birthday child picks out glitter (I have an amazing collection - every color under the sun) and stickers for their crown. I handle the glue and they sprinkle (and sprinkle and sprinkle) the glitter. They end up with a unique crown that I know they love because they refuse to take it off. The crown above was not as bedazzled as usual. Kindergarten is famous (maybe infamous) for these crowns and even big kids will come to let me know it's their birthday! Our secretaries, principal and cafeteria people love them. I'm telling you, everyone wants to be/look special on their birthday, even adults!

Next, we let them bake a cake! That's right, a cake! I ask them about the flavor and buy the ingredients ahead of time. Everything is out on the table and ready to go when they arrive! I have written and illustrated the recipe on a large piece of butcher paper for all to see. So, once we are done decorating the crown, all the kids bring a chair over to the cooking table and, after we have stopped arguing about the seating arrangement, we begin. You could hear a pin drop! Once I have witnessed the washing of the hands, (very important) and the b-day apron is tied, we take a look at the recipe. First, we highlight all the sight and cvc words in the recipe. Then the b-day child touches each word with the magical birthday pointer as we have a reading lesson and clarify the instructions.

After we have discussed the different utensils and measurements, we are off.  I have to hold my breath sometimes as the bowl nears the edge, and they do spill a lot, but I am proud to say they make the batter completely by themselves! Yes, sometimes there are egg shells that I have to retrieve but mostly, it is uneventful. I usually end with a grand stirring of the batter (to get the lumps out and practice our counting). Lastly, the birthday child tries to get the batter into the pan (another hazard). Ha!

We either walk the pan to the cafeteria oven or I take it at recess. I fill the class sink with sudsy water and let the b-day child and a friend wash the dishes. Surf's up!!

Once the cake is cooled, the b-day child will frost it under close supervision! Then, after I move the cake out of reach, I let them take a few licks from the spatula, just like you do at home! I take a picture of the birthday child with a chocolate face and crown, sing happy birthday, make a wish and we gobble that cake up! I hope they feel loved. We made a kindergarten memory!

And if anyone says you are taking away from academic minutes, be sure to mention: the reading lesson, finding sight and cvc words, liquid to solid, following a set of verbal directions, measurement, counting, discussion of temperature and lastly, sink and float! Allow them to be a child and celebrate!

What do you do to celebrate birthdays? Please leave me note!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Motivate Me Monday

I'm so grateful for a quick little linky party! Thank you First Grade Buddies for hosting.

I'm exhausted and in full swing with school. We were supposed to start school tomorrow but there is a fast moving fire right outside our mountain town. It's very close to our property and I spent time frantically grabbing family treasures that we have stored out there in a container. Very scary to see the helicopters and planes right above me and the plumes of smoke so close by. Let's hope we wake up to good news.

So, after a tough day I saw this and was so charmed. It made me even more excited to meet my new crowd of kinders! I love to sit and just listen to their stories, don't you? I could do it all day. Their enthusiasm is so endearing.
Oh my goodness....she tells a very interesting and made-up-as-she-goes French. It did not take long for tears to come to my eyes. Adorably sweet.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Smorgie Turns Into Monday Made it!

This started out as a Sunday Smorgasbord post. Well, I  found out there is no more Sunday Smorgie so I am turning it into Monday Made it! Whoops! Thank you 4th Grade Frolics for hosting! Here we go! 

Before I decide on bulletin boards, I always go check out the card section of my favorite  store. There are so many great ideas there. If you've never done this before you might give it a try. They're always ahead of the holidays, so it gives you plenty of time to look. Halloween cards are already out!!

I spent the week cleaning and prepping my bulletin boards for all the art work that goes up that first week of class. Whew! It's a ton of work but I love getting it done.

Here's my welcome to Kindergarten bulletin board. I got a little carried away on the trellis; too many flowers . The kids make a giant sunflower and place seeds around the center circle. I'll glue their pictures in the middle and our "Kinder-garden" will be complete. I love this project but someone always tries to eat the sunflower seeds with glue on them. I have thirty kids enrolled so this board will be bursting!

We also take their picture on the first day of school with the picture frame. I'm sure you've seen this idea all over Pinterest. I'll put them up on this bulletin board.

Here's the calendar: It's not done and yes, I know that December is missing. I'm so mad, I swear I had it in my hand... The only thing different may be the Diary of Days monthly book (hard to see in this picture). The special person of the day will illustrate a picture of something they decide was important that happened that day. I act as scribe at the beginning of the year but they take over later. At the end of the month we can look back at all the fun.  I got this from a teacher conference probably 20 years ago and have found it to be a really fun thing to add to our class library.
I got these  cute little guys from the First Grade Parade. She uses these fellas in a similar way. Make sure you check out her post about it. She has done lots more with it than my example. I also always use food to teach whenever I can and if you look closely, you can see the number 16 on a little cookie in Even Steven's hand. I use a pile a of real cookies to divide between the special person and Mrs. Welch. If we both end up with the same amount, it's even. If one person gets more (they become very pushed out of shape if it's me that gets more), it's odd. You've all done this but I thought adding the cookie for a visual might help. I have a little cookie jar that I keep the paper cookies in. Thank you First Grade Parade!

Surf's up! This bulletin board says "I went flip floppin'." I wrote a really long poem that I actually think would be fun as a book where you just see the feet throughout the story until the end when you find out it's the teacher. One more thing on my list... Anyway, we make flip flops and the kids tell me where they went this summer. I also let them wear their flip-flops that day.

Because of the length, this poem would be better suited for a reader's theater for second or third grade. I just pick a few of my favorite lines to use with kindergarten! I'll post the short version but if anyone wants the longer version,  let me know!

My flip-flops are my favorite shoes,
I wear them every day.
I take them on vacation
And always out to play.

I wear them to the swimming hole,
I wear them to the sea.
I wear them to my friend's house,
And when I climb a tree.

I wear them to the movies,
I wear them to the store.
I always make sure they're on my feet
When I head out the door.

I love the way they show my toes,
The way they go "Thwack, thwack."
And when I'm walking by myself
I sometimes "thwack, thwack" back.

I guess it's time I changed my shoes,
And came up with another plan.
But even after I put them away,
I can keep my awesome tan!

Or as an alternate ending you could use:

I guess it's time I put them away
They're looking sort of old.
Besides, summer's almost over,
and it's starting to get cold.

I spent Saturday at the store picking out fabric for my aprons. Those women were so tired of me, let me tell ya! I even heard one say, "I'm going to lunch. She can torture you now." I can't seem to make decisions by myself and kept asking anyone who was nearby for an opinion. Geez! Here are some of the combinations. What do YOU think? HA!
How sweet is this? A wish bottle for emergencies!

I'd love a comment...or two! Happy Sunday!

Thursday, August 8, 2013


This has been one of my favorite sayings for a very long time. In fact, I had no idea where it came from until Carolyn from Holding Hands and Sticking Together put it in a recent post. I believe in it, and if there is one thing I hope I've taught all the children in my life, it is this sentiment. So...

We have the most wonderfully cozy bookstore in our small town. I love to spend hours there, sitting on the floor reading all the children's books. I think they don't have a cozy chair for me on purpose because they know I would become a permanent fixture! 
On one of my recent visits I found the sweetest book that I have to share with you: "Because Amelia Smiled", written by David Ezra Stein. It's a story that begins with a child's sweet smile that inspires kindness and love to spread around the world and then back. It teaches that we are all connected and even the smallest acts of kindness can touch many lives, even people we've never met. What an important lesson for our children! I love this book and can't recommend it enough. 

An extra plus is the wonderful geography lesson the books provides as the kind events travel around the world. I'm going to have our world map handy as we follow the story.

I love the quote that they have on the back part of the jacket from Martin Luther King: "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Check this book out! I bet you'll love it!

I've been in my class working to get my bulletin boards up and ready for my kid's artwork. I'm close but they aren't ready to share yet! 

Also for those of you who know about my apron- that should be ready soon too, please be patient.  I have learned so much in this process and I'm trying hard to provide a quality product! I'm super excited about it and can hardly wait to share it with everyone!! Hang in there!

I love the quote below and really thought about how much I want to protect my student's childhood playfulness as we push those common core standards! I could spend hours on Pinterest looking at all the brilliant ways to teach our little ones and keep it fun. Thanks to all of you for the inspiration!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Made it Monday

Made It Monday takes on a whole new meaning at this time of year! It's Made It Madness for me as I scramble to complete new projects for my classroom. Thanks to all of you for giving me a million wonderful ideas! I think. A big hug to 4th Grade Frolics for hosting! I love this linky and told a first year teacher to check it out. What an amazing resource of fabulous ideas!!!!
I got busy this week and went shopping. I've been sort of protesting the end of summer. I'm on the move now! The first thing I did was buy a laminator. I've wanted one forever and I can't tell you how much I love, love, love it!

I got right to work and made my file holders for lesson plans. These labels are from Maria Manroe at Kinder-Craze! Her blog is amazing! Hop on over if you've never been but put aside lots of time, you'll be there for hours!

 Each week I try to be sure to have everything I may need organized by the day so these were perfect. It really helps if you need a sub too.

 Where's Friday, you're asking? Friday needs a really neat and fun looking file holder. I've found that parents seem to think that on Fridays we don't do anything so it's the best day to not send their child to school and go on a trip or shopping. So... I try to jazz  up my Fridays with special projects. It's the day we get to go to the library and the computer lab, I try to have a special art activity or science experiment, and we have sharing and Indoor/outdoor Day. The kids beg to come on Fridays! Yes, there's academic time too but they don't notice because it's been disguised!

I made new additions to my calendar! I found this idea on Pinterest. It's from Mamma Jean. Her calendar advice is great and I recommend you check it out! We needed a change. And I wanted to use the laminator!
Weather chart to add to the classroom calendar... great way to keep track of weather for the week and talk about how it can change daily. I would break each day into two weather words, how it looks (sunny, snowy, rainy, foggy) and how it feels (hot, cold, warm, chilly).

Weather chart to add to the classroom calendar... great way to keep track of weather for the week and talk about how it can change daily. I would break each day into two weather words, how it looks (sunny, snowy, rainy, foggy) and how it feels (hot, cold, warm, chilly).

Look at these little shoes! I found this idea at Party Frosting on Pinterest. I'm going to have these on their desks with two new pencils poking out AND I'd like to encourage them to go home and work on learning to tie those shoes (I spend a ridiculous amount of time tying shoes. How about you?). I think I'll print something like Let's Get Off On the Right Foot! Here are two rough drafts:

If teaching doesn't pan out maybe I could design tennis shoes!!

Lastly, sad news about the Think It Over Chair.

My husband pointed out that it's a stool and not a chair. I also decided I need a real chair and maybe more along the lines of a big, cozy, wicker chair (it needs to be cozy because I've found that often, my grumpy person is just tired and needs to take a nap. That would include me!). Actually, I have learned that wicker can be bad for upset people because they pick at it. Then the janitor is mad at me because those little pieces ruin his vacuum cleaner. Most important rule ever: never upset the janitor (or the secretaries)!  So, I found an alternative use for the Think It Over Chair; it's in my laundry room and it couldn't be more perfect for me when I have to climb up high to find things. I'm on the search for a new Think It Over Chair. Drat.

I can't wait to go see what everyone else made!!!

Please, if you think of it, follow me on Bloglovin' or Google Plus! And your comments mean so much to me-it's the first thing I look for!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Five Words for Friday

Yahaoooo! Five for Friday is back! Thank you Doodle Bugs for hosting!
The strangest thing happened to me this morning. I posted a Five for Friday and then it disappeared! I was stunned and then I threw a major kindergarten tantrum, and you know what I'm talking about (I've got them mastered 'cuz I've seen the best!). I'm glad no one was home to see. It's been a tough week (see yesterday's post). I spent over an hour writing the first version so I've decided to go back to my husband's original challenge of making it Five Words for Friday. It must have been a sign from heaven that I was being too yappy again! I listen to those messages...

1.Think It Over Chairs (new/old) I know that 's 6 words- I'm just warming up!
2.  Chalkboard door. Bus or Pickup?
3. Aprons, aprons and more aprons!

 4.Time to make those portfolios!
5. My sad, sad flower planters.
Done! That's way easier anyway!
My last five words are...
work hard + be kind.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School...

I went up to my classroom on Monday to start my bulletin boards and turned around and went home after two hours. Here are some pictures of what I found. Brace yourself...We have wonderful janitors (some of the best friends a teacher can have, by the way) and the pictures I'm about to show are no reflection upon them. Matter of fact, the fingerprint picture is my fault. How did I miss these?! Note to new teachers: Disinfectant wipes will become your best friend. UGH! So gross!!!!

Now, I don't expect anyone to know that I had spent hours ironing these curtains last June so that I wouldn't have to iron them in August. They had to take them down because they were cleaning. So sad.
Here's how I have to store my furniture so they can clean.

Next, it was time to take a look at my bulletin board space. Do you ever find yourself asking who designs classrooms? Certainly not teachers. Check out the placement of the fire alarm, TV (obsolete by the way, we don't use it. It's right in the middle of my alphabet) and I forgot to take a picture of my wall clock which is placed in the middle of the other bulletin board space! Haha!
I've been in this room for 200 years so I'm very good at dealing with that fire alarm and clock. No biggie, but really? Do you have this going on in your room too?

I decided to put up my "Kinder-Garden" bulletin board and wanted to redo my Mrs. Welch picture. You'll recognize her from my header. Anyway, this method is definitely old school and I just bet someone will know another much easier way. It does take awhile to complete but you'll have it forever.

Find an overhead projector hiding in the closet or an older teacher's room (that would be me). Make a transparency of the picture you want and place it on the overhead to project onto the wall where you have hung a large piece of paper. Trace, paint, outline.
Brush Modge Podge to seal. I used shiny but they have all different types. Let it dry folks before you move it. ANYWHERE. 
Here's what happened. I decided to take it home to work on and tried to move it to my car. No prob. Right? Wrong! The wind caught it and folded it over. The only other people around were the construction crew guys. I'm pretty sure they think I need counseling. I was bent over the folded mess saying in a hushed but panicked voice, "No, no, noooooooooooo!" It stuck together like glue. Check out the picture on the left. Then, as was driving home I decided to open the windows because the fumes were too much. It tried to fly out the window and folded over AGAIN. I had to pull over on the side of the road and fix it AGAIN. I finally got home and haven't been able to look at it for two days! I got up and fixed it today. The kids will make the sunflower with their parents when they come for the Meet-the Teacher meeting. It's a good thing because I can use them to to hide the boo-boos!

I'll post the finished bulletin board later. I'm not ready to go back there yet!

Here's the sunflower they make:
I also make these little sunflower faces to do with our 5 Little Sunflowers poem. I made one without sunflower seeds. I like that one better because you and I both know that someone is going to try to eat the seeds with glue on them! It's not my first rodeo... These make adorable pictures with their little faces poking through. Make a larger version for some of the more round faces!
I think orange tissue paper around the center would be better! I hope that this helps someone. 

I read a wonderful post recently about thinking about my purpose for having a blog. I love the community of positive teachers that I've met and have so many wonderful resources for ideas and support. I want to give back and hopefully help someone who might be new to teaching. I'm constantly impressed with the teachers I've met through blogging. You are AMAZING!

Thanks for visiting!