Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finally - Classroom Pics!! (Freebie!)

Whew! We had a great day, followed by a great Open House tonight! I got to meet with 5 parents (which out of 24 isn't great, but I'll take 5 interested parents over 0 any day!) I love talking with parents and letting them see what we're doing and how I plan on teaching their kiddos. I always get valuable feedback and info about the kids too - like the fact that one of my daddys is deploying next month and he's only been home since January. Now I know to be extra supportive of this precious little girl and I won't be wondering if her behavior/academic performance suddenly changes!

We are on day 8 of the school year and are still working on procedures. I have one word to describe this group - CHATTY! Oh my WORD! They could talk all day. I've tried giving them time to talk, letting them talk in whispers, doing talk and teach etc. They still aren't managing to keep the talking a) to acceptable times only and b) to acceptable volumes during the allowed times. It's getting better, but I am switching table/carpet assignments again tomorrow to see if that helps lol!

I took a few pictures before Open House that I'm going to share. My room is still not 100% complete. I add a little every day or so. This way the kiddos aren't overwhelmed with too much "stuff" on the walls/cabinets and I get to actually involve them in putting things up which means they might actually remember where it is and thus use it! I was going to wait until everything was "finished" but I realized it will always be a work in progress, so I'll share what's going on now, and then more as I add it :)

 Here's the view to the right of the door. I tried to get all matching chairs but had to settle for mostly greens with a few random yellow and red ones thrown in - so annoying to my perfectionist side! I have the one desk for a little guy who is having trouble keeping his hands and feet to himself :(  hopefully we will be able to move him back to a table soon!

This is the back wall, to the left of the door - here's our art cart, 4-person easel (rolls out when in use), our computer desk (one ball chair deflated, it's in my garage awaiting my husband's expert care) and my computer desk.


Here's a close-up of my teacher area, can you tell I love ladybugs?!

Also to the right of the door is our sink area:
The kids loved the apple Tagxedo!

This is our cubby wall - lots of empty space still! Our clip chart is up as are our 8 Expectations. Ignore the wet spot on the floor - one of my sons spilled soda right before this pic was taken. Soda that was bought for him by his former teacher who should know better lol! She's forever feeding or watering this kiddo and he definitely does not need any more snacks! He loves food and she loves him though, so I think I'm fighting a losing battle on that front!
Next up is my tease of a Smartboard - it got installed on Friday but we still don't have the projector so it's just a big tease for now. My Lakeshore Calendar is my favorite part of my morning - I also love that its up all day to refer to. Here's a close-up of my alphabet boats:


This is my front desk area - where I'll put the laptop for the Smartboard and where I sit to read aloud. The bulletin board above the desk will hold our BragTags once I get them started later this week! My classroom tree got a fresh coat of paint and a garland, but no further decorations - yet!
 It's in back of our Listening Center and should soon be an apple tree for September!

It was really hard to get the next few pictures as the afternoon sun was pouring in:
 Here's our puppets, some still-living plants (amazing!) and our hermit crabs! The two boxes with polka dot ribbons are where we store our math and writing journals.

 Here's our reading center - tucked into the corner next to my desk at the back - and the addendum to the reading center is in the middle of the room with two comfy pillows for overflow readers:

I hope you enjoyed that mini-tour of our classroom! As I said, I'll share more later on down the road as I add things!

Now for the freebie! I got a very sweet comment on TPT asking for some of my Roll & Cover Addition & Subtraction Games to be made into Number Recognition games! She particularly wanted the Nursery Rhyme, Fairy Tale and Zoo ones, so I got to work right away. I finished up the Nursery Rhyme one tonight and decided to share it as a freebie :)  Click on the picture below to grab it - and please let me know what you think if you do - I love receiving feedback and requests!



Another new thing in my store is my "Classroom Helper" sets! They were also the result of a request! Someone wanted a set to match the Center Signs she had purchased - I made them up in Bright colors pattern and Animal print for now - I will get around to making them with backgrounds to match all of my Center Signs soon! There are twenty-five different classroom jobs represented, plus a choice of two different "Classroom Helpers" signs. They are on sale for $3.50 in my store :)


Alright, it's time for me to go watch Face-Off with my oldest (a reality show about movie make-up artists) and give my youngest some snuggle time. Have a great night, and as always, I'd love it if you'd Rustle Up a Response below!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tweet!! Twit! Twitter?


I'm  linking up with Jennifer @Simply Kinder for a Twitter Link-Up! This is a great way to access information and stay up to date!

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Math Freebie for Freebie Friday!

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' AND Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie Friday!



The last two days I have been assessing my kiddos using the end-of-year Title I Kindergarten Math test. This is all stuff that they should have mastered before leaving kindergarten. Guess what? They didn't!

This makes me kind of sad and kind of happy. Sad because they are behind already but happy because there's so much room for growth! I also love teaching math, so this gives me all sorts of opportunities to create fun activities for my classroom!

Quick quiz: Name these shapes:

Did you say "Reftangle, oxen and square thingy"?? I kid you not, that is exactly what one of my more adorable firsties told me today. She is a sweet, precious little thing, but clearly not up to par on shapes! A lot of my others are similarly shape challenged (although their answers were not as cute as hers). That's ok, my Common Core 2D Shapes Packet will get a good workout now :)

I also have a bunch of kiddos with attention problems. One of the things that I love to do is Read & Write the Room because this gets those kiddos up and moving with a purpose.With R&WTR they get to walk around the room and search for the cards, something that grabs their attention while allowing them to get a little energy out. This is also great for those kiddos that don't get enough sleep at night and start to doze off - get them on their feet and walking around to increase the blood flow to their brains and wake them back up again!

So, without further ado, here is my Addition Read and Write the Room freebie! Included are 16 basic addition cards and a recording sheet! Please let me know if you like it, as I have a vision of doing a whole slew of R&WTR Math sets! Just click the picture to download it for free!


Have a great night! Look for a Center Series post from me tomorrow!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Update and Therapeutic Thursday

I swear, I totally forgot how the first week of school actually felt. I'm writing it down now, so it doesn't catch me off guard next year. The first week is horrendous, horrible, horrifying and hair-raising! At the same time it's stimulating and energizing and heart warming! I am falling in love with each of my kiddos and I'm happy to say I've got a pretty good bunch. That's not to say we're not without our behavioral problems (sticking paper into outlets is not following procedure!) but they love listening to stories and ask for multiple readings of the same books (quickest way to my heart) and they are genuinely nice kiddos - the issues that we have will soon be worked out with further exposure to consistent rules/procedures I'm sure.

Kindergarten interviewed an aide today, so it looks like I will be staying in 1st grade this year. I am considering changing the blog name to either just "Herding Kats" or "Herding Kats in Primary". What do you think? I am looking forward to this weekend so I can get firmly settled in my first grade curriculum! I will also get those classroom pics finally!

I realized yesterday that I have also been remiss in not offering a freebie lately, so look for one tomorrow! Not sure what it will be yet, but I promise I will have something :) It will probably be K/1st appropriate because I do have some sweeties who definitely shouldn't be in first yet - not sure how they got passed on since I don't have their files yet, but oh my word most of them are low! I guess that's good since we will show lots of growth this year!

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' today for Therapeutic Thursday. I'm supposed to share what I do to unwind after a stressful day. I have to tell you, I'm actually really bad at this! Part of it is because my 4 kiddos come back to my room after school each day and that's when I deal with homework, listen to stories and try to get them to a) keep it down and b) help me clean up for the next day. Once we get home there's still dinner to figure out, clothes and dishes to wash etc. After that it's baths and bedtimes! Once they're all in bed though, is where the unwinding part comes in!

First up, a nice hot cup of Chai Tea! I am not a big tea drinker (my mother used to make us drink a cup of Earl Grey after school each day - she steeped it extra long too so it was very bitter) but I make an exception for chai! It is so mellow and smooth, I can feel the tension seep from my shoulders with each sip!


Next up, trashy romance novels! Love them! Especially paranormal or Victorian settings.Here are some of my favorite authors:


Finally, a nice hot bath (with the tea and book of course!). One of my teaching buddies works at Bath & Body and alerts us to sales, so I usually have some lovely scented bath wash to use. My favorite scents are anything with vanilla:

I know, there's nothing earth shattering about my stress relief ideas, but they're simple and inexpensive so they work for me! Head over to Blog Hoppin' if you want to read more!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Funnies, Stress and Happy Dance!

Just a few funnies to start off with:

"Mom, I think math teachers must sell their souls to the devil or something." said my 13 year old daughter. Aghast, I asked if she meant math teacher was mean? "No," she replied, "they must sell their souls in order to understand math because this stuff is hard!" I nearly choked on my Pepsi Max at that point, but I managed to keep it together long enough to help her figure out how to multiply mixed fractions - and we both kept our souls in the process!

"Mom! I need to get my backpack out of the car! There's something I have to show you!" cried my middle son at dinner time. He raced out to the car and brought his backpack in. It was completely empty save for a crumpled piece of lined paper on which he had carefully copied the words "Altai Mountains". "This is where I want to go on vacation!" he exclaimed. Apparently he had been reading a book about fossils at school today and found a reference to a burial site in the Altai Mountains and decided it would be a great place to go on our next vacation (the rest of us were talking about Disney Land lol). It's going to break his heart when I tell him we're not going to Siberia for Spring Break!

Moments like these are a great way to unwind from the stress of my day! What stress you ask? Hmmm how about a fire drill that occurs when the kindergarten classes are in transition to Music - halfway between the new wing and their classroom in the old wing. When the fire alarm went off, the magnets on the doors immediately disengaged, thus trapping 10 kinders on one side of the doors and 15 on the other side. One of the 10 on my side immediately launched into hysterics because of a prior fire experience at her house, thus prompting the other 9 to start crying as well. Their teacher had to go back for the other 15, who of course were panicking and crying on the other side of the door that almost crushed them! Luckily my kids were actually still in the Music teacher's custody so I was able to grab the 9 (I sent the screamer to her mother who is my teaching partner lol) and drag them out the door, having to go back several times to round them all up as their first instinct was to cover their ears and stare up at the alarm, thus missing the fact that we were leaving. Since I didn't know their names, and the alarm was so loud, I had to start and stop several times. By the time we got them all out into the field and rounded up against the fence I was almost crying lol!

I also had the bright idea to get out the paint and play dough at the same time today! We tried to do a 3 station rotation, which actually worked pretty well until my 2nd rotation of play dough decided it would be more fun to stack all the play dough cups and crash them onto the floor rather than actually clean up. We have brand new carpeting and I live in terror of the custodian/principal deciding that my stations are too messy, so needless to say, play dough on the floor was not something I was happy about!

There are good times though. For instance, I introduced my clipchart yesterday and have had very good results. It is so much nicer to be on the lookout for kiddos to clip up rather than focusing on the negative! We are also loving our callbacks. So far we have two:  I say "Did Pete cry?" and the kids say "Goodness no!" (yes we love Pete!). Our other one is from "Where the Wild Things Are" of course. I say "We'll eat you up!" and the kids reply with "We love you so!" which I think is just precious every time they do it!

I also have to share how in love we are with a book that I pulled out of my stack as I was unpacking boxes this year. I don't know where/when I got it, but I flipped through the pages as I was putting books away and fell in love. I've read it 3 times so far this week and the children keep clamoring for more. It is such a powerful story, but told in a way that the kids can understand. I love the illustrations! It is called "One" and is the story of how the color Red was a bully to Blue. None of the other colors stood up for Blue and so Red got bigger and bigger and started bullying all of the colors. Until One came along who told Red "No." and empowered the other colors to take a stand as well. I am now adding this to my permanent back-to-school reading list as it is such a great way to teach students how to stand up for themselves and others and is a good jumping off point for talking about bullying.


Oh! and I almost forgot one of the best things!! We got word that our Smartboards should be installed on Friday - I'm doing a major happy dance! Oh! and speaking of happy dances - there is nothing like doing Dr. Jean's "Hello Neighbor" song! There's absolutely no way anyone can be cranky or moody or a stinkin' patootie while that song is playing. That's it for me tonight - I'm heading for bed so I don't fall-back-to-sleep-after-turning-my-alarm-off and end up almost late to school again tomorrow lol! Have a great night and great Thursday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wild Things, Made It Monday and Technology Tip Tuesday

Whew! Day 2 was a blast! A hectic, chaotic, nothing-went-as-it-was-supposed-to blast! From the breakfast line that never ended - (seriously we were in there waaay longer than we had planned)- the nosebleed that incited hysterics, and the hermit crab derby, it was a wild day! I also discovered why it is not a good idea to have the music room next door. They're called boom whackers and they're INSANELY loud. Even with our door closed we could still hear them!

At one point one of my sweet boys raised his hand and said "Can I go tell them to be quiet?" LOL!
"Sorry darling, you cannot go tell the music class they can't play their instruments!"

I am getting out my Chicka Chicka Boom Boom box tonight and bringing it in as many of my students seem to have forgotten 1/2 of their letters (if they even knew them in the first place!) Thankfully the children who came from our school are doing well - it's those kiddos from other schools who have me scratching my head, wondering what in the world happened in their kindergarten class!

Speaking of scratching, one little darling was doing just that - scratching her head incessantly. I went to check (oh please, no lice in the first week of school!) and realized that mama had oiled her hair down with olive oil - a sure sign that she's either been around someone with lice or had a case of it herself. I didn't see anything live, but my skin felt creepy crawly the rest of the day!

Oh, and there's nothing like having a child break out into hysterics because he's bleeding when you're in the middle of reading a story. I looked up to see him completely panicked and freaking out the other kids around him. My mind was racing - how on earth did he get injured sitting at carpet?! How am I going to write this up?! And then I realized that it was a simple nosebleed, probably caused by his own finger being where it shouldn't have been. I was able to calm him and the other children down and get him cleaned up, but not until after I saw him remove a thick, long, mucousy string of blood from his nose. I swear I almost lost my lunch right on the spot!

Speaking of lunch - we now eat in the cafetorium (the old gym which was our auditorium but is now our cafeteria - isn't that name silly?!). We are expected to keep everyone completely silent as we eat and get completely finished in 15 minutes. It was put forth that perhaps the teacher should read aloud as the kiddos eat in order to keep them quiet. Hmmm...and when exactly would I have time to eat my lunch then? We eat lunch with our class and the only break I get is from 9:25 - 10:05. Sorry, if this teacher doesn't eat, she's going to be either passing out in the afternoon or snapping kids' heads off! My solution is to bring my cd player down with a book on tape. Although, I am firmly in the camp of  "How about we let the kids be kids and talk a little while they eat?" They get to talk and eat at home and at restaurants - let's teach them how to manage their time and moderate their volume. Guess the socialization aspect of eating doesn't apply at school!

I also decided to give an informal assessment. We created our own Wild Things! I let each child choose two different pieces of construction paper. They had scissors, glue, crayons and pencils (all at once! talk about living on the wild side!) I showed them how to fold a paper and draw a half circle to get a full circle. And I told them since I had never met a Wild Thing, it was completely up to them as to what they made. I gave them 25 minutes from start through clean-up.I now know who is artistic, who still can't use scissors, who my slowpokes are, who has trouble following directions, who needs lessons in glue usage, who can't stand to stop until they're finished etc. I put them up in our hallway as I was leaving tonight - I think they all turned out super cute and have so much personality - I love crafts like this without templates! Here are a few of my faves:

 This is the whole group of monsters - gotta think of some fun title to put above it - Open House is next week! Note the 3 at the far right that elected to glue their monster to their other piece of paper!

This one is cute in a way-too-many-eyes way - maybe it's the pink & purple?

Remember, they had absolutely no guidance! I think this one is very demonesque - especially with those horns and the tail!
 
This little guy took the red cap off the tip of the new glue and stuck it on his monster - how creative~!

We also got out the play dough - I know, brave me doing play dough on day 2! I confess though, we didn't get through a whole rotation as the clean up procedure was not acceptable. Tomorrow we will try again! I have letter stampers form Lakeshore that we use:
This little guy was practicing "the".
And this is "When all of the letters fell out of the coconut tree!" - love that she made that connection to the pink play dough!

We also had a hermit crab derby where I gathered everyone around the carpet and rewarded them for their hard work learning procedures by letting them watch the hermit crabs crawl on the carpet. For 5 and 6 year olds this has all the excitement of the most intense sporting event in history. Each crab leg that emerged was greeted with squeals and glee. Only two of the crabs deigned to actually walk around on carpet, but all of the kids loved watching the process so much that it will now be an effective motivator for getting the whole class working and following procedures -"If you get your work done on time, I'll let the hermit crabs out!"


 Also, here is my Made It Monday (linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics!)- a day late and not so very dramatic (that one is coming, promise!), but I absolutely love it:

 Yep, those are the thumbprints of every child in my class (plus me!). How stinking cute did that turn out?! We got to talk about how everyone has different fingerprints, and that it's a sign of our uniqueness and we need everyone to make our class fly!

I am also linking up with Blog Hoppin' again today for Technology Tip Tuesday!

My tech tip is something I just tried out yesterday, but have seen and heard about before. It's how to get those pixelated faces on pictures, like this:
This is perfect for sharing pictures of your classroom without sharing pictures of students!

Go to Picasa in Google+. 
 Upload a picture directly from your computer into Picasa.(this is a picture of my youngest).


 Select the photo you want to edit, click "Actions" and then "Edit in Creative Kit"


 This first screen is where you can crop, rotate and fix the exposure, but you can mess around with that on your own :)

Click the "Decorate" tab and scroll down to "Focal Pixelate"

  Click directly in the middle of the face and then use the scroll bars on the left to change the size of your circle (focal size) as well as how large or small the pixels are. Once the face is pixelated to your liking just click the blue "Save to my album" tab on the top right!

Easy peasy right? So sad that it took me this long to learn it lol! Alright, I'm off to the trenches again -have a terrific Tuesday everyone!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Must Have Monday with Blog Hoppin!

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' today for Must Have Monday for Teacher Week!

I tell you, as someone who just moved into a new room, where the SmartBoard is sitting in the warehouse, awaiting the techie guys to come install it, my main must have is for that work order to be fulfilled! I did not realize how much I rely on my SmartBoard until I tried to teach on Friday without it. Sure I have a ton of cds on hand, but it's so much easier to just go to my youtube play list for all  those brain breaks, phonics or math songs! At one point, trying to keep them occupied while I went over bus lists with our counselor, I even had them doing The Itsy Bitsy Spider (with gorilla and ant versions for good measure)! Had my SmartBoard been installed I could have quickly put on a phonics sound and allowed them to get in some review time while I conversed with the counselor. (and here's hoping there are no similar interruptions today - I swear I had 20 people tromping in and out of class on Friday for one thing or another!)

 My other must have is a night of continuous sleep!  If someone can figure out how I do that, please let me know! Last night I woke up at 3am and couldn't go back to sleep until 5:30am! The night before that I tossed and turned all night with leg cramps. The night before that it was nightmares about school - losing kiddos, getting in trouble with my principal etc. This mean that I spent a lot of Saturday and Sunday either taking a nap - time I could have used for other purposes, or so tired that I might as well have been asleep! I am going to take some Tylenol PM tonight and hope that helps!

Other than those two issues, I have all I can wish for - 22 happy, relatively well behaved firsties, a beautiful new room, an actual schedule and great coworkers! I am excited to start this week!  Have a great Monday everyone!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Survived! (1st Day plus a Linky!)

Whew! Friday was our first day back with kiddos and it was a hectic, chaotic, FUN experience!

But wait, let me rewind to the day before when we were halfway across town at a presentation on Common Core. It wasn't scheduled to end until about 4pm and our Meet the Teacher night started at 4:30! Somehow our group ended up in the front row, all wearing our school shirts. Imagine the embarrassment when our principal signaled us to leave at 3:45 and we had to get up and walk out as the presenter made wisecracks. We raced out of the parking lot and back to school and were still beaten by the parents who were already lining up at the door at 4:00! I was frantically stuffing things in cupboards and totally threw my organization system out of whack, but the room looked nice! I saw 17 out of my 24 kiddos that night - which is something of a record for our school!


The next morning was complete chaos. We didn't have a schedule yet, or a procedure mapped out for getting breakfast so the kiddos were sent straight to our rooms and then we had to play the "wait and see" game as to when it would be our turn to go get our trays. I was trying to come up with something the kiddos could do that would be engaging but not involved, so that we could drop it and go when it was our turn to line up. Luckily I hadn't put all my books on my display cart yet so I dragged over a box of books and set the 1st three kiddos to arrive to unpacking the box. As more trickled in they automatically started helping. If they found a book they liked, they just picked a seat and sat down to read. By the time my last kiddo was dropped off I had a class full of readers! It was also a good way for me to see who was actually reading and who was still at the "looking at the pictures and making up words" stage!


Right after breakfast we started talking about our classroom rules. The kiddos were very good at coming up with the rules and with just minimal guidance from me we came up with these 4:


1. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
2. Say nice words.
3. Use supplies the right way.
4. Be safe.



We were interrupted once by the principal who explained that the church that had donated the backpacks and supplies for all of our kiddos wanted a photo op. I quickly set up some of my little girls with new backpacks and was pleasantly surprised that the rest of the kiddos stayed in procedure at carpet!

Then we had to take our first restroom break. I have never had to do a restroom break before because in my old room we had a bathroom in the classroom. Let me tell you, taking 22 kids to the bathroom at once is a lot different! The fancy new bathroom also has a light sensor, so when the kiddos first approach the bathroom it remains dark until they round the corner where the sensor is - let me tell you, that is a bit scary for new firsties! We also have fancy new water fountains that are hands free too! Only they take a few moments to turn on and then abruptly turn off in mid drink, forcing the kiddos to continually reposition themselves in front of the sensor - and the hands off part was all for naught as each and every one put their hands on it at some point because that's what their used to. Alas there was no time to practice proper drink procedures as we had to get right to assembly!

Yep, a whole school assembly on the 1st day! Nothing like a 35 minute assembly in the middle of the morning to throw all your plans to teach procedures out the door!! The assembly was also about rules, which seemed a bit redundant to me, as all of the teachers were doing that in the classroom anyways. Again though, I was pleased with my kiddos who for the most part managed to pay attention and sit criss cross applesauce for the whole 35 minutes!

Lunch was again a "wait and see" event. Waiting to see when kindergarten would get called down to start lunch, then waiting to see how long it took them to get back to their classrooms with their trays so that we could go down. I am pleased to say that my class did not have a single dropped tray the whole day! Heck, we didn't even spill any milk! How's that for a wondrous first day?!

After lunch was recess - no one was hurt, no one used the equipment inappropriately. I swear I heard angels singing (it may have been the 100 degree heat though). The only fly in the ointment was that kindergarten was still out when we got there and then 2nd grade came out early, so there were a lot of kids in transition on that playground!

I honestly can't remember much after lunch. I know the director of Early Childhood ed popped her head into my room at one point and loved my classroom setup (pictures to come soon -  promise!).  I read "Where the Wild Things Are" of course, and we did a first day of first grade writing sample paper. I have some lowbies and some highbies as usual. I also had to give out planners and backpacks and take each one's picture with my frame:


Note the quick conversion from "1st Day of Kindergarten" to '1st Day of 1st Grade" lol.

Have you noticed that I did not have a break? One of our specials teachers watched my kiddos for 5 minutes while I ran to the bathroom at 2pm and that was it - 8:30am-4:00pm with my kiddos! Talk about trial by fire and getting-to-know them all at once! I also didn't get to do my 1st day school-wide scavenger hunt since I didn't have time to get it set up - I am planning it for Monday though!

Also, the bell does not work on our section of the hallway, so I actually had most of the parents waiting it in the hallway by the time I was ready to dismiss. After school we had a quick meeting to discuss breakfast and lunch plans and managed to hash out a doable plan in less than 10 minutes, go figure! I also got my schedule which gives me the first specials slot of the day. My planning time will be 9:25-10:05 each day, which will give me about 15-20 minutes after breakfast to do calendar time before specials, so it works out perfectly!

Hmm I have a dearth of pictures for this post, so I'm going to go ahead and jump into a linky party! Jeannie over at Kindergarten Lifestyle is having a "You know it's Back-to-School-Time when..." linky! Here are mine:



Make sure you head over to the linky to join in the fun!

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