Thursday, September 29, 2011

Does One Bad Apple Ruin The Bunch?

I always thought that this idiom was right on target. I am very susceptible to "negative Nellies" - you know, those people who always have problems, always have something negative to say, never look on the bright side etc. If I hang around someone like that long enough, I start thinking along the same lines. Suddenly the things I looked forward too are kind of boring, my students are always out of procedure etc. So, I try to avoid those "bad apples" when I can! The flip side is the "fabulous Fannies" - you know, the ones with the awesome husbands, the children with straights A's, clean rooms and amazing community service projects, whose classrooms are always clean, students who always do their work and follow procedures etc. Those personalities make me question myself - what am I doing wrong? why don't my students/children do that? Why am I the only one unorganized, juggling working and parenting and sometimes dropping a ball in either location? Well, yesterday I got my answer!

You see, my darling middle child, who is painfully shy and very susceptible to peer pressure, brought a bullet to school to impress his friend. It fell out of his pocket during music and the music teacher (a good friend) had to turn him in to the principal. She felt terrible about turning him in, the prinicipal felt terrible about suspending him and I had to reassure them that he NEEDED to be suspended and learn his lesson. My other 3 kiddos are independent and self-confident, they're leaders rather than followers. Unfortunately, my little red head is the exact opposite - and he needs to learn that there are consequences for his actions. He was grounded to his room for the 5 days (he was suspended on Thursday so today was his first day back) and spent his time in his room, with reading as his only available past time. We had some stern conversations with him regarding touching daddy's ammunition, knowingly breaking the rules and doing the wrong thing to seem cool. He took his punishment without complaint and seemed almost relieved to be punished. Yesterday I had to take the day off work so I could stay home with him as daddy couldn't take any more time off.

Well, seeing as I was off work, I used the time to run some errands. We were out running around past lunch time so we went to McDonald's - I actually wrestled with this decision as I certainly didn't want to reward him with a fun lunch on one of his suspension days. But, I decided that one lunch would not erase the 4 previous days of punishment and to be extra sure I had a talk with him about regaining trust and ways he could show us that he was trustworthy again (raising his grades, making different friends etc).

Anyways, I ended up at McDonald's at 1:30 on a school day. Something that would never happen normally. We ate lunch and headed out to the car. As I was opening my door and putting my Diet Coke in the cup holder I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was a little boy, about 2 or 3, holding his shoes in his hands and running up and down the sidewalk outside of McDonald's with a worried look on his face. I scanned the parking lot for his mama, but no one was in sight. I considered minding my own business and driving away, sure that someone was with him, but I waited a few more seconds to see if maybe his mama was just putting a sibling in the car or something and was coming right back. As I watched, the little guy darted toward the busy street, stopping at the last second and teetering on the edge of the curb. That decided me! I went over and picked him up (trusting little fellow too!) and looked around the parking lot again. No one raised an alarm that I was picking up their kid. I asked him where his mama was and he said "She's not here." I asked where his daddy was and he said "I don't know."

I carried him back into the restaurant, scanning for a worried parent and no one seemed to be looking for him. I asked if he saw his daddy and he said "No." I took him into the play area and finally he said "There's Daddy!" and there indeed was Daddy - a tray of food in his hands, looking for a table, with no idea that his son had been mere inches away from the busiest street in town. Apparently the little guy had been playing in the play area while Daddy ordered the food. Little guy got freaked out when he couldn't find Daddy, so he grabbed his shoes and went outside into the big world to look for him. Can I just say that I am so thankful that I was off of work and happened to be in the parking lot at that moment?


Now, it doesn't excuse what my own son did in any way. But, it does make me think that maybe there is a reason for the way things work out sometimes. And, if I was a super parent with super children like I sometimes stress about not being, then I would have been at work yesterday while that little boy tried to cross the busiest road in town to look for his Daddy. So tonight I am thankful that I have difficulties and problems, that my life is not perfect, there's a reason for everything, even if we can't see it at the time.


AND, there is a reason you read this far as well! Since I was thinking of idioms and this is Science Week, I decided that next week we should test the idiom "One bad apple can spoil the bunch!" Here's the experiment and recording sheet, I'm hoping it will lead to some interesting discussions in my classroom even aside from the scientific process. When one person is out of procedure is it tempting to start talking too? Do you want to be the bad apple that spoils it for everyone?
Does One Bad Apple Really Spoil the Bunch
 
I'm linking this experiement up here, click the picture to go find some more experiements!

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Cup Is Overflowing!

Oh my, I think the weekend went by much too fast! I always feel like I'm being pulled in 10 directions - I have to grade and prepare lessons, clean the house, spend time with my husband, spend time with the kids and somehow still find some "me" time (aka blogging time lol). Yesterday I was dragged away from my work for a quick lunch with my husband at Chili's and then I went to A Pigment of Your Imagination with my daughter. I painted the cutest little owl Christmas ornament, I can't wait to see what it looks like fired! Last time we went Moira and I painted gnomes - didn't they turn out so sweet?!

 Although I resisted going at first, I really do enjoy spending the quiet time with my daughter. It is very relaxing to just sit and paint in a calm environment - even if you're not an artist! It's also nice to reconnect with my sweetie without the kids around. Sometimes I think we, as both teachers and women, forget that we need to fill our own cups before we can fill others'. We have to make sure we take the time to recharge so we have something to give back to those around us.
Speaking of giving back, and filling our cups (buckets!), I was grinning from ear to ear today when I happened to see that Vintage Teacher gave me an "I Heart Your Blog Award"! Seriously?! I was looking down her list of awardees, seeing if there was anyone new I could stalk, and I was floored to see my darling button. Having this little blog recognized really, really makes me happy!
Here's the story behind this award:
I Heart Your Blog  Award: A dear friend of mine taught me a profound lesson several years ago when she shared her personal mantra, "There Is Only Love". Since then, I have realized that by adopting this mantra in my own life, I have changed my whole approach to everything I experience. That being said, as a total newbie to the teacher's blogging world, I discovered this gold mine of amazingly creative and talented teachers out here in cyber space. There are so many of you spreading the teaching Love around the globe by sharing your ideas and experiences. I just had to create a blog award to celebrate those of you who have touched my heart and inspired me, increasing my LOVE of teaching.   

Thank you for sharing your talent with the world! 

When you are awarded the I Heart Your Blog Award you are asked to do the following things:

1. Give the "I Heart Your Blog "Award to your favorite Top 10 Blogs that have touched your heart and inspired your teaching by listing them on your blog.
2. Contact that person and let them know of their heartfelt award.
3. When you receive the award, copy and paste the graphic on you blog and give a shout out to the person who nominated you.
4. Spread the LOVE by passing the "Heart Your Blog" Award on to your Top 10.

My top 10 favorite blogs are:

Mrs. Bainbridge's Class





First Grade O.W.L.s 
 
Ocean Of First Grade Fun
 

Photobucket

 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Was Featured!

Thank you so much to Laura over at Kinder Kraziness for featuring me on her "Someone New Sunday" blogpost! I read her blog religiously because she has so many creative ideas! I grabbed her apple sorting game for my own little guy Joshua this year and I will definitely pull it out again next year when I'm back in Kinder (cross your fingers!) If you head over there to read about me, be sure to grab the Apple Digraph freebie I made!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Favorite Online Resources Linky Party

Today I am linking up with my favorite websites for Ms. Kerri's linky party! She's going to compile all of the suggested websites into a list of handy resources so make sure you check it out!

Here are just a few of the websites that I use on at least a weekly basis. I am lucky enough to have a smartboard, so I can use a lot of websites in my whole group lessons!

1. Fun 4 The Brain - this has fabulous games for math and language arts. Our favorites right now are the Popcorn word game where you serve monkeys their movie popcorn and the Pumpkin planting subtraction game!

2. Fun Brain - this site has books that you can read (Tess's Tree is a favorite) and some fun games. This week we are studying plurals, so we will be using The Plural Girls game.

3. Storyline Online - stories read aloud by different members of the Screen Actors Guild. Stellaluna, Harry the Dirty Dog, The Rainbow Fish and A Bad Case of Stripes are just a few titles. There are also related activity suggestions with each book.

4. AOL Kids -  this also has online stories - including Toot and Puddle! There are some kindergarten level alphabet math games as well!

5. PBS Kids - specifically the Between the Lions games and activities. In their story section they have a selection of folktales and fables that are read aloud. They also have some great video clips of songs too - we really like the "If you can read.." songs and the digraph songs (sh and ch).

That's all I can think of for now, I'm looking forward to seeing all the fun sites that people link up!





Apple Freebies!

I am linking up for Show and Tell! I thought that these little apple activities would be perfect to share as we head into fall!
abc button


I have created a couple of activities for apples and thought I'd gather them all into this one post. I hope you enjoy!
Apple Dice Graph
Apple Digraphs
Plural Apple Sort
Plural Word Recording Sheet

Friday, September 23, 2011

TGIF!!

This week went by so fast! Today was a great day - we went to the library for the first time this year, had a great spelling test and made ice cream in a bag! I am totally bummed that I forgot to take pictures. It was not messy at all and sooo easy! I am making it with my own kids tomorrow :)

I found a new youtube video that I am loving for building our classroom community. It is so sweet to see my little firsties giving each other back scratches and high fives.It's from Mr. Harry Kindergarten of course!


 

Next week we are starting our apple theme, so I'll be working on some games for that. We usually try different varieties of apples and graph our preferences etc. I buy apple pie and we eat it after reading The Apple Pie Tree, then we drink apple cider after reading Apple Cider Making Days. I've even brought in caramel apples (wouldn't those be cool to make at school?!)
Apple Cider Making DaysThe Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall: Book Cover

Then, I read Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. In this story, a bunny family goes apple picking, choosing different varieties for different purposes and then end up making applesauce when they get home. After reading this book we make applesauce in the classroom and it is  fantastic! Seriously, it is so good that I make another batch for my family and it lasts all of 30 seconds. My kinders from last year are still talking about the time we made applesauce!
Apples, Apples, Apples
Now, there is a recipe included in the back of the book, but being paranoid, I had to Google a few other recipes to make sure I had the "right" one lol! The final product was a compilation of a few different recipes, so I don't have an actual link for it.

The first step is to get the apples - for my unit I ask each of my kiddos to bring in about 5-10 apples. Some bring more, some less, but they all bring in different varieties! This is great because good applesauce is made from a mix of different types of apples. Some of the good cooking varieties are: Pippin, McIntosh, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Gravenstein, Red Delicious, Winesap, Golden Delicious, Mutsu, Honeycrisp and Pink Lady.  My kinders last year brought in McIntosh, Gala, and both Red and Golden Delicious apples.

Here's the recipe I used:

1. Peel, core and cut into small chunks about 20 apples. (I do mine by hand, so some I peel in front of my kids and the rest while they are at PE & Music lol)

2. Place in crockpot on high with 3/4 cup of water

3. At the 3 hour mark stir in 1 cup sugar and cinnamon to taste (I just let one of my kiddos shake the jar until he was satisfied - probably about 2-3 tsps)

4. At the 4 hour mark use a hand mixer to blend to desired consistency - I leave mine quite chunky.

I serve mine hot out of the crock pot in plastic cups. They always ask for seconds! This weekend I will work on making recipe cards and some recording sheets for the applesauce, so check back soon!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wooot! My First Award!

I was having a horrible day (insurance woes - if your house ever catches on fire, just let it burn to the ground, trust me a total loss would be way easier to deal with than the colossal headache I'm dealing with between the contractor, mortgage company and the insurance adjustor!) and then I saw that Mrs. Bee had given me the Versatile Blogger award!
I really, really needed this pick me up and I am so grateful that someone actually reads what I'm writing! Mrs. Bee's Kinder Garden is an awesome blog too, I love reading it because it feels like I'm listening to a friend talk aboiut her day. Receiving this award means following these rules:


1.  Thank the person/people that nominated you and provide a link back to their blog. 
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3.  Pass this award along to 15 other blogs that you have discovered

Oh boy, 7 things about me?  

1. I've been married for 13 years now - I met my husband during training in the Army. We knew each other for 3 weeks when he proposed and we got married the next weekend! Yep, we knew each other less than 30 days before we got married! He is my best friend and I am so glad I took that chance!

2. My closest family lives in Canada! We don't get to see them nearly as often as I'd like either :( However, I did get a chance to reunite with my oldest brother and his family when we unknowingly both went to Florida at the same time! My husband and I took the kids to DisneyWorld in March and I just happened to see that my brother had posted a pic on Facebook of his family in front of their favorite restaurant in Florida. I think they heard my scream of delight all the way in Antarctica! They were staying on Anna Marie Island so we drove down and spent a day with them - it was the most fun ever! I have terrific pictures from that day, here are a few of my faves:
 My brother, his wife and two kids, plus me and my four!
 Love this pic of my daughter!
 Nothing beats an ocean sunset!
 His cousin taught him to boogie board (sort of!)
Right before I took this pic he yelled "I'm swimming out to sea!" lol
3. During the school year I am a caffiene fiend, which is crazy since I'm normally wired enough without it! Two cups of coffee in the morning and a soda in the afternoon and I have a great day lol!

4. I am a total Gleek. I have every cd they've come out with and I play them in the car every day (and sing along!). Last night I missed the season premiere and I seriously called Direct Tv to see if I could upgrade my programming to get the Los Angeles channel that was showing it later in the evening (no such luck!)

5. I am a recovering World of Warcraft junkie. I have spent many, many hours playing online, and I still miss it, but between school, blogging, housework and kids I just can't play during the school year :(

6.  I love reading. Seriously. To the tune of about 5 books a week. Not that I'm reading anything highbrow or character building, give me a steamy romance or a fantasy adventure and I get so engrossed that I can tune out anything (quite a feat when there are 4 kids and a husband trying to get your attention!) Of course a lot of that is at night when everyone else is asleep. I have horrible insomnia, every time I lay down my mind starts racing with all sorts of stressful thoughts and I can't sleep, so I read instead.

7. I am currently doing a low carb diet, trying to lose 15 more lbs. I started in the spring and have lost 30lbs so far! My husband went to Korea for a year (Army) and while he was gone we ate way too much fast food (first year teaching, first year as a single mom, 'nough said). When he came back he was jonesing for all of his favorite restaurants so we kept eating out. That lifestyle piled on the lbs of course, but it didn't hit me until it got to the point that I realized I was the same weight as when I was 9 months pregnant with my youngest! So I started low carbing and its working for me, but it still makes me cringe to post pictures of myself (like the Pirate pic from Monday!) 

Alright, enough about me, here are the 15 blogs I'm passing this award to: (I tried to pick ones that haven't won the award yet because there's nothing better than finding a fantastic new blog right?!) 

Heather's Heart - I love her freebies and she has some super creative ideas!
The First Grade Parade - again great freebies and fun ideas!




The Polka Dot Patch



Kreative in Kinder


Keen On Kindergarten




Precious Perks



Thanks again Mrs. Bee!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's Working Now

I am becoming more comfortable teaching my firsties, because I've finally gotten it into my head that I don't have to completely change my style of teaching just because I went up a grade level. We can still be hands on and have fun and be mostly worksheet free, even if we are in first grade now! I am much more relaxed and my firsties are too, which has cut down on some of our behavior woes.  I reintroduced the clip chart after rereading Rick Morris' ebook about it and it is working! Now that I have students taking ownership of moving their clips up and down (before I was doing it!) it is a much better behavior tool.

I have started doing more small group rotations rather than so much whole group time and we are enjoying the change. My only problem is that my high group is very rambunctious so when they are not at my station they get loud very quickly. I am going to try to break them up tomorrow to see if we can remedy that. My favorite station this week is Play Dough! This morning we stamped subtraction equations and in the afternoon we stamped our spelling words. I try to keep my camera handy throughout the day for pictures, but especially during rotations. If my firsties think there's a chance of getting their picture snapped during the rotation they are much more likely to stay on task!


My happiest moment of the day? Our cute little construction paper pigs that we made this afternoon - less than 40 minutes from start through clean up! Great fine motor practice (because I have a bunch who need all the fine motor help they can get!) and clear evidence of who can follow directions and who can't. The great part was that they all turned out super cute, which was amazing since I didn't actually have a template or anything. I merely gave them 1/2 a sheet of construction paper for the body, 1/4 sheet for the head and then four 2 inch wide strips for the legs. We curled 1/2 a pink pipe cleaner around a pencil for the tail and used my glue gun to stick it on. We drew on the snout and mouth and used googly eyes. Since they were still drying I didn't get pictures, but I will share them later this week!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Aaaarrrr Mateys! Talk Like a Pirate Day in review plus a farm freebie!

Oh my word I had fun today! AND there was not a single worksheet in sight all day! This is good, because I am way behind on grading. We are required to keep 3 grades a week for math and reading and I am drowning. In kindergarten we kept anecdotal records and used our Title I math test and Literacy 1st assessments for report cards, so I didn't actually keep weekly grades. I really, really hate worksheets, but I obviously have to have at least some each week, just so I can grade. I am going to try to keep worksheets to a minimum and have more "fun" days like today.

Here's a picture of the super cute shirt I made - I was a Pink Pirate for International Talk Like a Pirate Day. One of our stations this afternoon was playing the "ar" memory game I shared yesterday. The kids loved it! I had about 5 students who were really ready to learn r controlled vowels, another 6 or 7 that seemed to benefit form the exposure and the other 6 just had fun playing the game and commenting on the rhyming words.

At the end of the day we followed the directions on our pirate map - mostly to reinforce left and right since some of my firsties still don't know those. At the very end we came to our classroom closet and inside was my "treasure chest" with mini chocolate bars. Needless to say, the kids were so excited. I am sure they are going to be talking about this for days!

I realized that I had not yet made a dice/graph set for my farm unit so I remedied that very quickly and I'm sharing it today. I really like these because the kids can do them independently, and they enjoy them! I included a recording sheet this time, just in case you want to have some accountability for your station.
Farm Unit Die

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Consonant Blends Farm Freebie

I am up to my eyeballs in paperwork, still trying to finish my lesson plans and progress reports, but I just wanted to pop on to wish everyone a Happy Sunday! I'm still working with my firsties on consonant blends, so I created a farm themed game to reinforce them. Check it out!
Farmer Blends

I just finished making the t shirts for tomorrow, I think they're super cute! I'll post pictures tomorrow after work so you can see how our International Talk Like a Pirate Day went!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Monday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and I am taking that opportunity to introduce "ar" words. Now, according to the pacing calendar we don't introduce R-controlled vowels until the 2nd semester, but I couldn't resist this opportunity. I have a handful of students that are actually ready for this, and the others can only benefit from exposure. I'm making shirts today for myself and my firstie partner, along the lines of the one on The Inspired Apple (by the way, totally buying her pirate unit when I teach this in depth 2nd semester). I also made a memory type game with some adorable clip art from Pixelpapers. It can be used as an individual matching type of activity or a small group memory game. Some of my firsties are reading way above grade level, so some of the words are a bit harder, but since there are 24 words you can choose the ones you want your kiddos to work on and only play with those. Check it out and if you like it, please leave me a comment, they really make my day!
International Talk Like a Pirate Day Game



Friday, September 16, 2011

Question about Rewards and Ocean pictures!

Whew! It's Friday again! I have a TON of work to do - progress reports are due Monday! I am absolutely flabbergasted that we have are sending progress reports home already. It seems like just yesterday we were starting school! I am still struggling with grading - what to grade, what criteria to grade by etc. The hardest part is assessing what is "grade level" and what is "above grade level" work.

I also have to tweak my behavior plan. I'm using the clip chart behavior system (found here). because we still do not have a budget and therefore we haven't bought our yearly planners yet. I ran my behavior plan letter by the principal but she wants me to offer a reward for students who go above green on the chart. Now, everyone who is green or above all week gets a trip to the treasure box, but I hadn't planned on offering extra incentives for the extra levels. Does anyone have an idea for this? I was planning on blinging up their clothespins - every 5 times they are above green they get a sticker and after 5 stickers they get a new clothespin, but I wasn't intending to offer any other extrinsic rewards. Last year when I only had a 4 step system (4 was great, 3 was good, 2 was had to be reminded about procedure, and 1 was interfered with learning and had to be removed from class) I didn't offer a special reward for 4's and students still worked to get them. I really am resisting the idea of offering more "prizes", especially since I am trying to save up for desperately needed books! (By the way, if you don't vote for anyone on Limeades for Learning, would you consider supporting my class? It's quick and free, just click the icon on the top right sidebar)

In other news, here are the pictures (finally!) of our ocean of creatures! The shark and orca came from Deanna Jump's Ocean Animals Math and Literacy Unit.
 Look how long our display is! I had to make a super huge ocean to fit all of the creatures we made!










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