Saturday, August 20, 2011

Oh The Things They Will Say.....Happy and Younger

The Kindergarten classrooms at my school use Dr. Jean Feldman's "The Rules Rap" to teach our rules.  I created a slide presentation and social story as visuals to go along with the song.  On the last slide/page I included a picture of me smiling with the sentence, "When we follow the rules it makes Mrs. Pearce happy."  

On the first day of school I introduced the rap and the rules using the social story.  When we arrived at the last page N. asked me how old I was in the picture.  I laughed and asked him how old did he think I was.  He matter of factly replied, "In your 20's."  I then asked him how old did he think I was in person.  "He said, "In your 30's."

Yesterday was the second day of school, and we reviewed the rules by rapping the rap and reading the story again.  The kids did great and remembered many of the rules.  When we arrived at the last slide/page I asked the group, "What does this picture tell us happens when we follow the rules at school?"

Several kids in the group chimed in and answered, "It makes Mrs. Pearce happy."

Without delay N. added, "and younger."

I think we're off to a good start.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff

1. the material of which anything is made: a hard, crystalline stuff.
2. material to be worked upon or to be used in making something: wood, steel, and other stuff for building.
3. material of some unspecified kind: a cushion filled with some soft stuff.
4. Chiefly British . woven material or fabric, especially wool.
5. property, as personal belongings or equipment; things.
I have spent the last week setting up my classroom for the new school year.  Finding the perfect physical location for my developmental centers and work tables was the easy part, because I really liked the classroom setup I finished the last school year with and decided to use it again.  Placing all the stuff that goes in and on the furniture...well that's another story and here's why:
  • In Kindergarten there is so much stuff.  Big stuff and little stuff.  It takes up space fast.  And space is what we always want more of in a classroom.
  • It is important to place the stuff in just the right spots.  For example, you don't want to place math manipulatives too close to homeliving because then you will have hundreds of little pieces of stuff mixed in with plastic food.
  • I have to make sure that all stuff is clean and working properly.  Nothing is worse than me or a student getting ready to use stuff and it not work. Kinders expect stuff to work all the time.
  • You want to ease your kids into stuff.  If you put out too much stuff at the beginning of the year then you have the potential for chaos and mess.  I like to interchange my stuff throughout the year to keep things interesting for my students (and me).
  • Stuff has specific rules and purpose.  The purpose and use of all stuff must be explained during the first weeks of school.  A Kindergarten teacher can never take for granted that students know how and when to use stuff appropriately.
  • We got new Science curriculum from "National Geographic" this year.  It is wonderful.  But it is three big boxes of more stuff that I have to find a place for.
  • I know that during the first week of school I am going to get all the supply list stuff from each of my Kinders.  I have to have very specific places to store all this stuff and gently explain to my Kinders that we will not use all of it during the first week.  (They get very excited about their stuff).
  • I must have all stuff discreetly and compactly organized before the Fire Marshall visits during the first semester of the school year....or me and my stuff will be in hot water (no pun intended).
Seriously. I am thankful for the stuff I have. I am thankful to work in a school district that provides funding for me to buy stuff every year and maintains a beautifully equipped school to put it all in.  I am thankful to the parents of my students who so generously provide stuff to my classroom so that their children can have a wonderful Kindergarten experience. 

I also know that even without all the stuff, my students CAN learn and I CAN teach. If we come to school every day with a heart and a brain ready to learn, then we can do it.  All the stuff just makes it even more fun. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ready to Read! by Dr. Jean

Watching this video of Dr. Jean Feldman explain the basics of reading readiness is the next best thing to sitting in one of her workshops. This is a wonderful FREE resource. I think it could be shown during the Kindergarten Parent Night that we hold within the 1st month of the new school year to reinforce those basic oral language and prereading skills to parents.

The video also affirms why I love teaching young children so much.  Isn't readiness readiness exciting!