Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where are you today?

Kindergarten teachers,
OMG!  I am sitting in a comfy chair in my own home attending a FANTASTIC professional development!  I paused it midway just to make sure all of you know this is happening and that you are also invited to attend.  The cost? $19.95 and that includes lots of freebies that you can download.  Do these names sound familiar?  Crystal, Fran, Hadar, Krissy??  Yeap, your favorite kinder bloggers are presenting today and $19.95 is the cost for ALL four presentations.  When you add all of their presentations together it comes to about three and a half hours.  That's a lot of great information!!!  I am hurrying back to do some more viewing and learning!

Love to all,

Can't attend today?  Not to worry, their presentations are available from now on at this link.

Miss Kindergarten
Kindergarten Expo

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hundreds Day!

Hurrah for the hundredth day of school!

Every year I ask students to bring in 100 items to help us celebrate this special day.  For homework, the students write three clues to help us guess what their 100 items are.  But this year I am trying something new; I am asking that the 100 items come to school in a plastic bottle.  I saw this idea on the web and LOVED it.  Think how much easier it will be to move the collections around.  Also, we can easily weigh them and talk about volume.

Here are the links for the letter I will send home to explain the assignment AND the clues worksheet.  I copied my forms into Google docs and had to delete the lines from the clues form because I was using a non-Google docs font.  Sorry!

Disclaimer:  I know I saw this bottle idea on the web, maybe from a blog, but that was before the days of Pinterest and I cannot find the original posting.  If it was your blog, PLEASE let me know and I will credit you and link to you.  (Or if I am breaking blog rules by posting something that was YOUR idea, just let me know and I will take it down.  Sure wish I could remember where I got the bottle idea from.)

Love to all,

P.S.  Our one hundredth day isn't until February 6 and I am feeling very proud of myself that I am actually ahead of schedule.  : )

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Half Day!

Dear Bloggets,
I have to confess that I am still trying to find my voice as a blogger.  I had to laugh when I looked back at my recent posts and saw art, art, and more art.  Even I began to wonder if art was all I ever did in class!!  So ... I am going to try my best to present other aspects of my class.  Here goes!!!!

I love math so I take every opportunity I can to celebrate numbers.  Friday was a very special day in my class ... "Half Day" which is our halfway point in the school year.  On this special day I expose my students to fractions.  Our California math standards make no mention of fractions until second grade.  But I believe it is important to expose children to fractions earlier than that.  So on Friday my kinders and first graders took part in several simple activities relating to halves.
For example:

  • I read several books on fractions including Eating Fractions.
  • Students put halves of matching snowflakes together
  • Students drew lines to cut shapes in half on our (new, beloved) Smartboard
  • Students folded papers in half.
  • Students completed HALF of a worksheet (oh, they loved this one!!!).  The first graders started cheering when I tore their worksheets in half (prior to passing them out) in honor of Half Day.
Throughout the day we did half of this and half of that.  By the end of the day, the children had a beginning understanding of fractions, but more importantly, they had a great deal of fun!  They can hardly wait for our next number celebrarion: Hundreds Day!

Love to all,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Monday is Chinese New Year!  My dear friend Julie will be coming to read a book about the Chinese New Year to my class.  I am excited because Julie has the BEST taste in books and always finds amazing books to read that are unknown to me.  After the story my class will be making banners that will hopefully look like this:

I used to do this project with second graders, but have never done it with first or kinder.  I had my second graders use black paint to paint the characters for Gung Hay Fat Choy ("Happy New Year").  If I am feeling super courageous I will have my kinders and first graders paint the characters.  (Plan B is to have them use black crayons.)  My plan is to have the paper prepped and ready to go.  The red paper is 18" X 6" and the black paper is 6" X 3".  I wanted to post a link to the actual characters BUT I can't find one.  (The paper I use is copyrighted so I can't post it.)  I will keep looking because I know there must be a place online where I can find the characters printed out for us.

Gung hay fat choy everyone!
Love to all,

Addendum:  We did it!!!  My students did a fantastic job painting these banners today!  I suddenly got the idea of having them begin with pencils.  I did a directed drawing lesson of the four Chinese characters.  After they finished drawing with pencils, they painted over their pencil sketches.  Here is a picture of the banners hanging with the lanterns we made at a different time (but also in honor of Chinese New Year).  We are not allowed to string any type of wires across the classroom so I had to be content hanging all of these from the blinds.

As usual, Julie read a book I had never even heard of!  She read A New Year's Reunion which is a sweet book.  It was very appropriate for my young students.  This book was originally written in Chinese and has been translated into English.  I like that the author's voice is authentic - she truly understands what it is like to celebrate the new year in China.   Here is a link to Amazon.

Product Details

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rainy Days

January is the perfect time to study weather because this is when we get the biggest variety in my sunny California location.  Although we haven't had any rain yet, we are about to so here is a book and an art project all about rain.

        The book:

Wet World
Wet World

This is the perfect book to read on a rainy day. I love the rhythm, the repetition and the use of adjectives.  But more than anything I love the illustrations.  They look like they are done in watercolor.  So, of course, I had my students get out their watercolors.  (I LOVE having my students paint with watercolors and am always looking for ideas.)  One page in particular inspired me:

This photograph doesn't do it justice, but I love the way this page looks.  So I drew a blank umbrella and copied it on white construction paper.  (I could have had my students draw it themselves, but some of them would get very frustrated and the lesson would be more about drawing the perfect umbrella than using watercolor.)  Then I had my students use a black crayon to trace over the black lines of the umbrella.  Then they drew their own designs on the umbrella, along with a handle.  Next they used watercolors to paint the umbrellas.  I wish I had stopped there, but I really liked the look of the black background in the illustration from Wet World so I had my students add a lot of water to the black paint to make a wash.  The results are below so you can judge for yourself.  My other idea was to have the children create designs with crayons, then do a black paint wash over that.  However, I really, really wanted them to watercolor the umbrellas.

Whoops!  I took so long creating this post, that it is now raining here in my sunny city!  I hope all of you are safe and warm tonight! 
Love to all,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ode to Dr. Jean

The last few days have been absolutely amazing!  I am in awe of all that has happened: Dr. Jean's visit to my school, attending my first Kindergarten Conference, meeting up with other bloggers for dinner.  I want to pinch myself to find out if all of this really happened.  But I know it did.  (...or did it??? I may wake up from this beautiful dream any minute.  Sigh.)

This blog post will be devoted to just one of these amazing events:  Dr. Jean's visit to my school.  (I promise to write about the other two AMAZING events in later posts.  Yes, I know I am overusing "amazing", but really it all was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  REALLY!!!!)

I have waited a few days to post about Dr. Jean's visit because it is really hard for me to find the words to describe how wonderful it was.  If I had to sum it up in one word it would be:  MAGICAL!!!! 

I have loved, admired and respected Dr. Jean for a long time.  But now all of my feelings for her have grown tenfold.  So what words do I use?  How about if I say that she is even better in person than on her cds, dvds, and YouTube clips?  The children and adults in the cafeteria were mesmerized for the entire 30 minutes she was with us.  She was enchanting and personable.  The children were eating out of her hand and so sad when the assembly ended (even though it was time to go home).  They wanted her to stay forever (and so did I).  When my class lined up to go home, several children spontaneously began singing Tooty Ta.  So we all joined in.  The children wanted to know if Dr. Jean would be back tomorrow.  When told no, the children asked if we could write letters to Dr. Jean.  (Which we did the next day.)

The next day several children reported to me that they went home and taught their parents ALL of the words to the songs that Dr. Jean taught them.  These children told me that their parents loved the songs, too.  What fun!

In case you are wondering why Dr. Jean came to my school, read all about it here.  Yes, it was a complete (and wonderful) fluke!!!

... and to be inspired by Dr. Jean visit her here.

Love to all,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Really BIG News

Make sure you are sitting down when you read this, because this is big, big, big, big, big!

Are you ready? Really, really ready????

 Guess who is coming to my school today? 

Hint #1:  Think F.A.M.O.U.S.
Hint #2: Think kindergarten.
Hint #3:  Think singing.
Hint #4:  Her initials are J.F.
Hint #5:  If you kiss your brain, you can figure this out.

YES!!!!!  The one and only Dr. Jean is coming to MY school.  That's right, the school that I teach at EVERY day is going to be visited by Dr. Jean.  MY school!!!

Why my school?  It is an amazing story (at least to me).  It all started with a blog post titled "Miracles" (which is so appropriate!!)  

On Monday, January 2, Dr. Jean wrote a blog post and called it "Miracles".  I read the post and loved it so I posted a comment telling her she was inspirational.  I mentioned that kindergarten teachers in California were so excited because she was coming to the annual kindergarten conference in Santa Clara.

Then the amazing thing happened.  Dr. Jean wrote back to me (TO ME!!!).  She thanked me for my comment :) and then asked how close my school was to the San Jose Airport because if it was close, she could come and do a music concert at my school when she flew in on Thursday.  What?  WHAT?  W.H.A.T.?!?  So I did what any blogger would do, I checked Mapquest to make sure I was absolutely correct in my answer.  According to Mapquest my school is 15 minutes from the airport, which was close enough for Dr. Jean to make arrangements to come to my school.  Did I mention yet that Dr. Jean is coming to MY school?  Yep, it's true Dr. Jean is coming to my school.  Today.

I am so nervous!  I have tried to take care of every little detail so that Dr. Jean feels welcomed and loved and appreciated and, and, and ...  you get the idea.   My hope is that there are no details that I have missed.  I just really want Dr. Jean to have a marvelous time!!!  I know that my children will!!!

If it goes well, I will share details in my next post.

Love to all,

Monday, January 9, 2012

It Happens Every Month!

This is a special project that my class does every month.  When I started teaching first grade ten years ago, the other first grade teachers shared this idea with me.  At the beginning of the month, the students create a calendar to go home and hang on the fridge or bulletin board to remind their families of upcoming events.  (Or at least that is where I hope the calendar ends up.)  I supply the calendar and then lead my students through an art lesson so the calendar becomes beautiful.  I used to create the actual calendar by hand, writing in all of the important dates, but that was before I owned a Mac.  Now I do it the easy way.  Since I already add all class and school events to my class calendar in iCal, I just print out a copy of that.  No, it doesn't look cute at all, but it is fast and accurate.  I tell my students that the calendars are boring, but they get to decorate them and make them beautiful!  The photos are my samples for January and February.  I give my students squares in January and they have to cut out circles for the snowman.  Then I lead them in a directed art lesson to decorate their snowman.  In February they have to turn their squares into hearts.  As always, their calendars turn out much cuter than mine.  But since we send them home the same day we make them, I have no student samples to show you.

Love to all,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

My internet has been down for a few days (boo hiss!!!) and while it was down, I was given an award.  Wow!

My first award is the Liebster award.  Liebster means "dearest" in German.  I like that!  It is for blogs that have less than 200 followers (that's me!).  Special thanks to Stacey from Mrs. Johnson's First Grade blog for honoring me with this award!  Stacey is special to me because we share the same last name and teach the same grade!  Thank you Stacey!

In order to accept the award, we must do the following:
1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs 

Now for the naming of five amazing blogs that are "must reads":
(...and I apologize if you have already received this award.  If you have, just take it as a sign of how wonderful you are!)
1.  Miss Nguyen's blog
2.  Learning and Loving in Pre K
3.  Mrs. Smith's First Grade Class
4.  The Best Endings
5.  Ms. Kerri and her Crazy Kindergarten

Keep up the good work!

Love to all! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Our Snowflakes

I just had to show off our snowflakes display. One of my wonderful parents just taped up our pattern block snowflakes that I mentioned in my Snow! Snow! Snow! post.  I like to do this project early in January so I can keep it up as long as possible.  Aren't they beautiful?  (I had four students out with the flu bug the day we made these!  I debated waiting, but am not sure when I will have a full class.  Sigh.)

Love to all,
(who is off to Clorox her classroom AGAIN)