Monday, September 19, 2016

My Endless Summer

This past June marked the end of my tenth and last year of teaching for awhile. I decided to take some time off to raise my little one. It was a tough decision to leave a job, grade level, and team that I absolutely loved. All year long, my heart had played a fierce game of tug of war between my dream job and wanting to be home with my sweet little boy. In the end, it wasn't a difficult decision to make at all. I packed up my classroom, which was no small feat! 40ish bins and boxes later, I left my classroom for the last time. Here is my classroom's new home for awhile!

I had an amazing summer with my little boy. I enjoyed every single minute
of not having to rush him to get up, get dressed, and get out the door! We took our sweet time and did things when we wanted to! I had time to play, explore, and just enjoy all the little moments I felt I had been missing out on with him.

September has been a weird month for me! I feel like I should be labeling all the millions of things, planning, and decorating! I decided to channel that energy into planning my own little version of preschool for Daniel! It is so much fun planning things for my own little boy to learn! 

I've decided to document some of our adventures here on this little old blog! In my spare time (otherwise known as nap time for Daniel!), I am going to continue working on Kindergarten materials. I will definitely post those types of things as well! Hopefully now both teachers and stay at home mommies can find some fun ideas in Munchkin Land!!! 

Here are some of the things we did last week! We practiced counting with rocks, fingerpainted, played hop-on-a-number, and cut letter A's out of play doh!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Teaching Kindergarten in September is like Herding Cats!"

If you teach kindergarten, you have to watch this!!!!!!!!!!! This video is absolutely adorable! I am helping teach the incoming kindergarten class for VBS at my church this week! Haha...getting them into their small groups looks JUST LIKE THIS!!! It takes forever and somehow we still end up with some in the wrong place! "We have a situation!!!" 

I thought I would just post a few quick things that I do to keep my little September munchkins in  place! These are my top 5 tips for keeping kinders in their place! :)

1. Duct Tape!!!! I reread that, it made me laugh! is not for their little motor mouths! ;) Anyway, I do not have a fancy carpet with those cute, colorful squares, but what I do have is a roll of duct tape! I use it to make my own squares on the carpet. The awesome thing about making your own squares is that you can make the boxes as big as you want! It holds up remarkably well too! I did have to re-tape it mid-year last year because I had a lot of "pickers!" It's so cheap, easy to fix, and there are so many cute colors and designs now! 

2. Line Up Stars- I tape down some line up stars by our door. This really does help to eliminate crowding and pushing. We walk in two lines instead of one. We have a boy line and a girl line. This makes it easier to travel. I feel like they stick together much better this way. It also helps when you go around corners! Two shorter lines are way better than one giant line! The stars don't hold up all year, but usually by the time they are a complete hot mess, the kids get the general idea of leaving some space in between each person! 

3. Nametags, Nametags, Nametags!!!! I put a nametag on my munchkins the minute I pick them up. I write their name, my name, and their bus number. This way, in case they get lost throughout the day or at crazy bus time, someone can help them get where they need to be! Haha....because the little cuties seriously forget their own names in times of crisis, let alone remember yours! I have my kids wear their nametags all day, each and every day until the end of September.

4. One Group at a time! Whenever I call my munchkins to move anywhere, I call one group at a time. This definitely helps with the kitten syndrome! The more kids that are up and moving at the same time, the more wanderers and stragglers you will have! When transitioning from the carpet to the tables, I call out only one table color at a time to move. When they are set, I call the next. This also gives me opportunities to have the students model for each other. I say things like, "Wow, look at the way each kid at the purple table is using their walking feet!!!" Then like magic, the next table I call will use their walking feet! Remember that Kindergarteners are like little sponges for praise!!! When lining up at the door, I usually just call the girls first, and then the boys. Sometimes I mix it up by calling the kids with sneakers on to line up, or by colors they are wearing, eye color, etc. 

5. Table Garbage Containers! I picked up this idea from visiting at another school a few years ago, and it is BRILLIANT! Whenever students are working on an activity that will result in table scraps (this could be paper or food!), I put out mini garbage cans on each table. This gets rid of the problem of 20+ kids needing to get out of their seats. Remember nothing good comes from 20+ children being out of their seats every time they snip off a piece of paper! I found my cute little garbage cans from the Dollar Tree. They have these cute colored ones this year!

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear some of your favorite tips for managing stray munchkins!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Guided Reading...Managing those Groups!!!

Hello all! I wanted to share with you all something that I did last year to organize my guided reading groups! With groups ever changing, it was such a hassle to constantly update all of my post-its in various places with the names of the kids. I was tired of wasting time! So.....I got a strip of velcro and placed a strip on the folders for each group. Then I made a small name tag for each student, laminated it, and stuck velcro on the back of each tag. 

I actually ended up making three sets, because I did the same thing with my guided reading/math drawers. The drawers contain the books/materials I would need for each group for the week. Oh my word, this saved me last year! It made changing students in and out of groups a piece of cake! And don't we all love cake?!?


Friday, July 8, 2016

Five for Friday!

Hello lovely, little teaching community! I have neglected this poor, sad blog for a long time! My busy 2 year old is fast asleep, so I decided to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching and her Five for Friday!
 Five for Friday
1. So does anyone else feel like summer just started, but for the rest of the world it is almost over?!? I went to look for cushions for my wicker loveseat...oh, sorry...we're out of those! I went to look for flowers at my favorite flower shop...oh, sorry...closed for the season! Target has summer on clearance, and is moving in the school supplies! Craziness! And even crazier....I actually looked at them! And I definitely bought alphabet and number magnets for Daniel! Ahh!!! It's a sickness!

2. anyone??? If you haven't checked it should! You may or may not be thanking me later. There are so many good deals! I love it mostly for shoes, scarves, and cute two year old stuff! I'm currently thinking about this scarf and the black HP shirt for the little one! And don't forget to keep checking it. If you missed something you really love, the deals usually come round again!
Tassel Detail Infinity Scarf Blowout | 4 Colors  

3. I am enjoying every summery, sunshiney moment I can with this cute kid! Ahh! I can't take the cuteness! I love the feeling of just being able to relax with him. All year long, I have hurried this boy. Hurry to eat breakfast and get dressed. Hurry to run to daycare. Hurry home to make and eat dinner. Hurry to get ready for bed. Ugh! I pretty much hated it. I love these slow, lazy summer days!

4. The Simply Kinder facebook group! I am loving all of the cute ideas that people share! This is the cutest bulletin board ever! I think I need the shirt too! :)

5. And here's a little something I've been working on...Click on the picture below to see it in my TPT store!
Alphabet Super Pack

This Alphabet Super Pack comes with my ABC song chart. This is literally my favorite teaching tool ever. I keep this handy little guy everywhere! I make copies for my students to keep in their book boxes for independent practice. How cute is it to hear them singing their song during read to self! Gotta watch out, sometimes those quiet kids are the loudest singers! I love it because it helps them connect letter names with sounds. It also helps with some tracking practice!

I don't have a picture of it hanging up, but I had these gigantic posters of it blown up for all of our Kindergarten classrooms. I started each morning off with my munchkins by singing this song. The song is Barbara Milne's original alphabet song. You can find it here, We sing it just a little differently, instead of singing the sound three times, we sing it twice and sing the name of the letter last. This helps students to link the letter and the sound together. 
I also stick it in their writing bins! This little chart is a huuuuuuuuuge help with writing. When writing, students don't always know what letter is making the sound that they just said. Because the song links the letter and the sound together, they can easily find what letter made the sound. Some students just have a hard time knowing what the letter looks like in order to write it down. I always hear, "How do you make a j?"Now I can say back, "Use your alphabet song chart to help you!"
Once I made the chart, I decided I wanted my classroom alphabet line to match it! So....the sparkle alphabet line was born! This isn't the greatest picture of it hanging in my room, but it's all I have!

Here is a picture of one of the posters up close! I kind of love this happy lion! And anything that glitters is right up my alley! You could also make these posters into an alphabet book for your classroom library. If you print it in landscape, it makes a smaller book that students could put in their book bins. 

It also comes with alphabet flash cards! There are large ones that could be used for large group practice or a focus wall display card. The small ones are good for individual practice or take home practice. I like to keep my small ones on binder rings. 

And finally, we have a matching game for some extra practice!

Happy Friday everyone!