Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inauguration Fun

Hi all!

My class had lots of fun with the inauguration so I thought I would share some ideas for you.  Although there won't be another inauguration for 4 years, President's Day is only a few weeks away.

Since the inauguration was on a holiday, we celebrated on Tuesday.  I invited my students to wear red, white and blue that day.  (However, I had so many ideas that some of these ideas were used on Wednesday.)

Meet President Barack Obama (Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: Let's Visit the White House)
Biography of President Obama

I began by reading a biography of Barack Obama.

Then we created pictures of President Obama.  This art project is from TLC.  It was a bit complex, but my kiddos did a great job!  If you haven't created TLC projects with your children, I highly recommend you check them out.  Kaye Espinosa is the brains behind TLC.  These lessons were created to teach children the kindergarten curriculum using art.  All of the TLC projects begin with rectangles.  Students then cut and paste to create amazing artwork and along the way, they learn a lot about math.  The Barack Obama lesson is in the America book, but it is currently available as a free download at the TLC website.

Then students had to pick which color in the American flag was their favorite.  We made a tally chart and then graphed our results on a simple worksheet I created.  Later, I kicked myself for not doing an art project about the flag.  Hmmm ... please remind me about that four years from now.  Pretty please!  

                                              Then it was time for another read aloud:
If I Were President

After reading this book, we brainstormed what we would do if we were president.  Then the children wrote about it.  I gave my kinders paper that already said, "If I were president".  My firsties used regular lined paper.  I LOVE what my kiddos wrote!!

Here is a kinder sample:
If I were president, I would take a nap and eat whatever I want.

This is a first grade sample:

I love this one because it is so balanced.  Maybe this is how I should lead my life: play with kids, work real hard, take care of the whole world, play with my DSI, and take care of the family.  Love, love, love!

Then we did another art project.  I created a guided drawing lesson about the White House.  My sample is first and then student samples follow.  I LOVE doing guided drawing with my students!  Each piece of art turns out unique and wonderful. I tell them step by step what to draw.  Example: "Draw a large rectangle in the middle of your paper."  (More math incorporated into art.  LOVE IT!)

Whew!  The children had so much fun and hopefully learned a lot!

Love to all,


Monday, January 21, 2013

The LONG Weekend

Hi all!  How are you spending this amazing three day weekend?  The first two days of my weekend really were AMAZING!

Up here in Northern California the annual Kindergarten Conference takes places during this weekend.  This is my second year to attend.  It is about 30 minutes from my home so very convenient.  It is one of those conferences that has you sign up for sessions months ahead and then you completely forget what you signed up for and hope, hope, hope that you chose wisely.  Well, for the most part I chose very wisely.

My sessions consisted of guided drawing, insects, motor skills, curriculum mapping, singing, and buddy classrooms. I will talk more about some of these sessions in later posts. 

But the best part of the conference was being surrounded by so many wonderful teachers.  The teachers that attend are true learners.  They want to improve their skills.  They want to meet the needs of their students.  They are passionate about teaching.  Just being in their midst was inspiring.  One of the amazing teachers I met up with was our very own Fran.  Just in case you are new to the blogging world, Fran has a wonderful blog called Kindergarten Crayons.  If you only have time to read one kindergarten blog, this is the one.  Trust me on this!!!!  I love spending time with Fran because she is so wise.  One of my favorite qualities!!!  I always learn a lot from her.  Sadly, I have no picture to post of the two of us together because we forgot to take a picture.  Next year!  Right, Fran?  (Or maybe in Las Vegas?  I am considering going.)

Anyway,  now I am off to the classroom to get caught up AND to incorporate a few of the new ideas I gleaned at the conference.  (I want to start using EVERY new idea, but my head is spinning so I will limit myself to just a few.)

Love to all,

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Favorite Snowflakes!

Hi all!  Just wanted to share one of the projects I have prepped for next week.  I shared it last year, but love it so much that I am sharing it yet again.  I love, love, love these snowflakes!  (Maybe I love them so much because these are the only snowflakes we will see in my neck of the woods!)

Pattern Block Snowflakes

Here is a closeup from a year I used light blue construction paper for the background.  (I like the dark blue even more!)

This idea came from my teaching partner Marlene.  (THANKS Marlene!!!) To prep,  I use a pattern block template and copy all of the different pattern blocks onto white copy paper.  Then I get a helper (usually a middle school or high school student) to cut out the various pattern blocks.  For each child,  I cut a blue (either dark or light) 12" X 12" square (or circle which I LOVE) and glue a white hexagon in the middle. Each student is to create a symmetrical snowflake using the white pattern blocks.  The hexagon in the middle gives them a base to build from.  These snowflakes always turn out beautiful (although a few are always .. well, interesting) and they make a great bulletin board display.  Plus this is really a math project!  I expect students to use the correct names of the shapes as they work.  Plus we have lots of discussions about symmetry.  Here is a link to the templates for the pattern blocks.

One project prepped ... many to go!!!

Love to all,


Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Goals

After a million years of trying to keep New Year's Resolutions, I know better than to write resolutions that I won't keep.  So instead, I am writing goals for myself.  Long range goals that will help me stay focused on what is most important.

1) Put my students at the forefront of my teaching.  Not the mandates or even the curriculum, but the students should come first.  Enough said.

2) Read two entire books that will help me grow as a professional.  The key word here is "entire".  I have a HUGE library of professional books.  I have read a few chapters (or sometimes just a few pages - sigh) of each of these books.  But I get sidetracked and put the book to the side.  I have this mistaken notion that professional books are magical and all I have to do is open the book and I will become a better teacher.  But then I start to read the books and realize there is no magic, double sigh.  So my goal is to completely read COVER TO COVER two professional books in the near future.  I already know which two and have started reading them.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
Look Me in the Eye
Book Number One:  Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison

This is not your typical PD book.  It is the autobiography of a man diagnosed with Aspergers at age 40.  It is the story of his struggles growing up and finding his way.  I am reading it because more and more Aspergian children are in our classrooms.  I want to become better at loving and nurturing them.  This book will help me do that.  In some ways it is a tough book to read because parts are heartbreaking.  But it is also humorous and sweet. I have read quite a few chapters already and know that I will want to finish this book!

Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator
Book Number Two: Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess

Check out that sub-title; how could I not want to read this book?!?  Plus I put it on my Kindle so double love!  I have actually already read the first two chapters and am loving it.  Highly creative, engaging just like the title says!  Maybe, just maybe, even transforming.  Time will tell.  I am actually thinking of doing a series of blog posts on this book both to inform AND to hold me accountable.

1)  Keep my little family (my dad and sisters) at the center of my personal life, especially my dad as he deals with so many health issues.  I know our time on Earth is limited and I want to sit at my dad's feet and learn from his wisdom as much as possible.

2) Pray.  Not just quick one sentence prayers, but spend time in conversation with God.

3) Exercise.  I so hate it.  I mean really, really, really H.A.T.E. it!  My favorite physical activity is turning the pages of a book (or pressing the page turning button on my Kindle).  So my hope is to find a class that I can at least not hate and then commit to it.  (Oh, commitment is also hard for me.  Remember my issue with not finishing professional books?  It is true in many other places as well.  Once I make the commitment, I am very loyal, but actually making the commitment is soooooo hard.)

4) Eat healthy.  When I get stressed (which is a lot), I turn to food.  Chocolate especially.  Yum, yum, and yum.  The stress is still there, but chocolate makes me forget about it.  Hmmm ... I guess chocolate is like a mind altering drug for me... scary!!!!  My goal is to turn to fruits and vegetables instead.  (I think I am in trouble because I couldn't even type that with a straight face ... I started laughing hysterically.  But I will try!!)

5) Have some fun.  I tend to be very serious and gravitate toward work related activities.  I want to have a fun activity at least once a month this year.  (Which would be a HUGE change from last year!!! Oh, don't worry too much about me ... I do have fun in my classroom.  Teaching is my outlet for my humor and creativity and everything else!)

6) Blog at least once a week.  In some ways this is a professional goal, but it is also a personal goal because you all are my friends.

Whew!  Too many goals I think, but they are all doable (except the fruit and vegetable one).

Love to all,