Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ode to "Teacher Heaven"

Every so often during our lunch break, us lower elementary teachers brainstorm completely ridiculous, highly improbable solutions to our everyday teacher problems. The conversation sometimes starts with "In teacher heaven..."

These conversations were the inspiration for this poem.

What would make a teacher's job easier you ask?

 Let me tell you...

A lie detector for when homework is due,
"You say your dog ate it? Let's see if that's true."

Teacher nap time on Mondays - uh, no. Every day!
Students who'd rather study than play.

Free lattes each morning, a massage after lunch,
Self-correcting worksheets and chocolate to munch.

Nose picking repellent, less paper, more time,
A handy mute button for students who whine.

Emails that can't be interpreted wrong,
In-service meetings that never run long.

A copy machine that can read your mind,
That never gets jammed, that always is kind.

A force field around my desk so that I...
Can get my work done... or at least I can try.

A potion that helps students to all get along,
To listen, solve problem, tell right from wrong.

A way to speed up students who work like snails.
For observed lessons to be successful - no epic fails.

Self-tying shoelaces, slightly more pay,
To have energy left at the end of the day.

That all students come from a supportive home,
That no one on the playground would feel all alone.

All of these things, would indeed help a ton,
They'd make our job easier - maybe more fun.

But these things wouldn't help us reach a young heart,
inspire, encourage, or build a good start.

You don't need these things to keep on reaching,
Because if our job was easy, it wouldn't be teaching!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Five for Friday: Wild about Learning

As we inch closer to the end of the school year... the kids get a little...well... WILD and CRAZY! Why fight it? I say - Go With It! We learned about WILD animals and visited the zoo this week.

I'm linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching with five highlights from this week.

It rained every day this week except the day of our zoo field trip. Answer to prayer! It was a little chilly, but the animals were active. Everyone had a good time!

My kids brought quarters to feed the petting zoo animals. The petting zoo only had two goats the day we were there. They ate about $5 worth of food. It was a good day to be a goat!

 The peacocks are always my favorite. Simply beautiful.

My kids were intrigued (and slightly terrified) by the dear antlers and skulls adorning the wolf exhibit (even though they were on the outside of the fence).

When we came back from the zoo we sang the following chant to share what our favorite animal was before writing about it.

"peacock, peacock",
I said at the zoo,
"peacock, peacock
I like you!"

How sweet is this? The second graders invited grandmas and moms with culinary passion to help them make lefse as part of their social studies cultures unit. They blessed all of the teachers with a piece of deliciousness. (I've learned to "pour" the sugar out of the lefse before eating it. Evidently there can never be "too much" sugar according to second graders.)

With our wealth of critter knowledge from the last two weeks we wrote animal riddles for each other to solve. I let each child pick a different animal to write about. Can you guess?

I have a confession.... I secretly adore pandas. I couldn't resist throwing in a mini unit.
I have another confession. I am sick of "can, have, are" charts. We've done them for ladybugs, frogs, spiders, polar bears, penguins. Ugh.

To change it up, I decided to introduce the concept of "fact and opinion" with the panda topic. It's a big concept for kindergarteners, but I think they understood the general idea.

First we sorted statements such as "pink is the best color" (opinion), "bananas have a peel" (fact). It got a little dicey with the statement "My teacher is the best teacher in the whole world!" (opinion). They all shouted out "FACT!"  I wanted to say "correct!" ... but that would have jeopardized the lesson.

Each day we read a chapter about pandas. Here was our final product:

"I would like if they had mustaches!"

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5...4! Four days left of school and four more surprises to reveal. Our favorite so far? POPsicles!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Five for Friday: Start the Countdown!

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching with five happenings from this week.

The countdown is on! There are only 10 days left of school! Can it be true?

We are celebrating with a Balloon Bash Countdown.

Each day we will pop a balloon to retrieve a note saying what our special activity or treat is for the day.

Shhh! If you promise not to tell....

10. Mystery Reader! (This class hasn't met the Mr. yet. They keep asking if he will visit. One little girl wrote me a note this week: "I love you, but when is your husband going to come to school?" No joke!)
9. Books and Beach Towels
8. Nature Hunt and Sidewalk Chalk
7. Lunch in the classroom
6. Visit the Zoo and Pick a Prize
5. The Principal is our Sub for the morning!
4. Game Show: Bible Trivia
3. Movie with POPcorn
2. POPsicles
1. Extra recess and "Blasting off into First Grade" science experiment

We talked about all of the wonderful things our moms do for us. All of the things they teach us.  Happy Mother's Day! Moms - we love you! You do so much for these little ones. You are selfless love in action!

We decorated pots and added some flowers to surprise our mothers with. (*fingers crossed* Please make it home little plant.. the bus ride home on a Friday is... well, ... the odds are not in your favor!)

Mother's Day cards

Things are getting "wild". (And I'm not just talking about my kids!) We are going to the zoo next week, and started our wild animals unit in preparation. On Wednesday, we left the safety of our classroom and went on a safari (the halls of our school). You wouldn't believe the wild animals we saw! The zebra were always spotted by the watering hole (water fountain).

At the conclusion of our safari, we discussed our graphs: "What animals did we see the most of?", "Which animals did we see equal numbers of?"

Two years ago I decided to go back to school. I figured if I didn't do it now... I never would. I decided to pursue a Master's degree in Curriculum & Instruction with a focus in Literacy since I thought it had the most application for teaching kindergarten.  Teaching reading has always amazed me. I wanted to gain more strategies in successfully unlocking the gift of reading for each student. It's been a long road, many lesson plans, quizzes, projects.... but I submitted my last assignment this week. I'M DONE! Forever! Time to burnt that APA manual.

Can't wait to read a book... that's not a textbook! A book for enjoyment? What a novel idea!


Math journals were a new endeavor this year. I plan to continue doing them. I liked the sense of ownership they gave my students. (Since we have quite a few pages left, I plan to send them home with a list of journal prompts to work on over the summer for added practice.) Here was our journal prompt yesterday:

(If you're wondering..."dics" = dice, "Phoun" = phone,  and "melck" = milk.)

Enjoy the weekend!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rockin' Science Exploration

This year I added a lesson on rocks to branch off of our fossil/dinosaur unit. I'm always looking to add more opportunities for hands-on science explorations.

I personally think rocks are awesome! (Especially when they are sparkly. And on my finger.) Fine, I like other rocks too!

A few years ago, when I taught Pre-K, a parent (with a masters in geology) donated a suitcase-full of cool rocks!

There was petrified wood, marble, pink quartz, granite, hematite, pumice, jasper... (am I impressing you with my rock knowledge yet?) Even a cool leaf fossil!

My mom also had quite the polished rock collection that she so generously lent me for this lesson.

During free choice, I called over a small group of kids at a time to tour our "Rock Museum".  I couldn't help but laugh at the crazy things they said while exploring: "This rock feels like chocolate - I just want to eat it!" (Don't worry, I kept a close eye on him!) Another student, while looking at the fool's gold, "I've dreamed of seeing this rock...in my dreams."

At the end of their "tour", I had them choose their favorite rock and write a description.

My favorite rock is "purple and smooth and also my favorite color".

The inspiration for this "rock report" idea came from Kindergarten... Kindergarten...'s Rock and Roll blog post. Head on over for more ideas that "rock". Hehe! (I can't help it!) Kathryn also has a PowerPoint download titled Rocks are Everywhere. I had this projected on the whiteboard when my students returned from recess and I overheard our future worship leader singing "Rocks are everywhere, rocks are everywhere...even in my shoes!" (That's some good material. I think Harry Kindergarten could work some magic with those lyrics. Don't ya think?)

This book briefly touched on some more advanced rock concepts like classifying rocks and how they are formed.

Earlier this year one little boy came up to me and said: "Do you know how God is like our rock? Because when we build our life on Him, when trouble comes, we will stay strong! I could not have put it a better way! From the mouths of babes!

My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. ~2 Samuel 22:3

Friday, May 1, 2015

Five for Friday: Life Cycles

How crazy is this? It's May and I have 4 "Five for Fridays" left until school is out! I don't know about you, but it's time! The weather is screaming "Go to the lake!"

Here is to the first of the "final four". Thanks as always for hosting Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching!

We've been learning about frog and butterfly life cycles this week.

I broke up the abundance of nonfiction texts we read with this adorable new book:


In a nutshell, this little frog doesn't want to be a frog. He wants to be a rabbit, owl - something else! But in the end, he learns that being a frog is a not so bad after all.

And what better week to introduce using a number line for solving addition problems? Mr. Ribbits taught us how to make one BIG jump for the first number and then little hops for adding on to find the sum.

This took some time... but so cute! On the cover is a butterfly's life cycle. And on the inside...

...we wrote about it!

We are Fluttering to First Grade! These will be the last pieces of art to adorn our wall before kindergarten graduation.

These were designed after looking at The Butterfly Alphabet. On each page of this alphabet book there is a photograph of a butterfly wing with a letter on it!


Here is a poster with some examples of the amazing photographs.

Perfect timing for our butterflies to make their grand entrance! My kids were enamored!

Aren't butterflies utterly amazing!?! What a wonderful creator!

We discussed how we are like butterflies... God's love and forgiveness transforms us! We are new creations in Christ!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Today's journal page

Just as the top of my desk was starting to see the light of day... End of the year staff meeting happened.

Papers, forms, inventory records, supply request forms, evals.... more paper....

Anyone relate?

(Sorry desk! Better luck in June.)


It's easy to get overwhelmed with end of the year stuff, but don't forget to take a moment to stop and reflect over all the wonderful learning that has happened over the past 8 months! 

Celebrate with your students! Celebrate them! They are uniquely wonderful!

 I easily get stressed, but I'm making a conscious effort to choose joy this May! How about you?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13