KinderGals: June 2014

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Working On It Wednesday—Vegas!!

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Megan and I have been working on different projects this week. So first, what have I been working on?  VEGAS!!!!!
I can’t believe it is almost here! Time to go to Vegas! I am working this week putting finishing touches on all of my power point presentations, collecting and packing things to display in my presentation room, and finishing up a few new units for tpt. Two of my newest sessions, Math Small Group and Words Mini Lessons, will make their debut appearance in Vegas! So, I’ve spent a lot of time working on those two! I love the presenting, but it is crazy how much time it takes to prepare for a 75 minute session! First, the topic! Trying to decide what is the best topic to present on seems easy. But, there are so many things I want to share that I have a hard time narrowing it down. Then, there’s the title! Oh my, it is hard to think of a name that is catchy while still letting teachers know what the session is about.  Then it’s time to plan the outline for the session, come up with the ideas, take the pictures, make the power point, take more pictures, pick clip art, fonts, frames, and backgrounds…..But, when it is all done…there is nothing like it! It is such a moment of excitement and nervousness all at the same time. Will the teachers like it? Will you remember what to say? While it make a difference in the lives of the children we teach?
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Another thing I am working on is a series of units that we use to help differentiate our small groups during math. I’m super excited to be partnering with Michele again! We are working on a series of math units that will be helpful when we are trying to differentiate our small group during math. We finished Unit 1: Shapes this past week. Even before we were done with it, we started talking about Unit 2: Counting. I’m super excited that it will be done by this weekend!
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Now how about Megan? Megan is working on remaking some classroom d├ęcor/management items. See that tablet? It has a list of all the things she wants to get made!Slide5
Oh…and we have managed to squeeze in some fun…to go to Lane’s Packing Shed a few times, swim with friends and family, go to lunch to our favorite place—The Perfect Pear, plant a few more flowers and snuggle with babies! We can’t wait for the weekend to once again cheer Tyler on in his bike race! He will finish up the season taking over all first or second place.  So proud of him! So grab the button and link up with what you are working on.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Planning an Open House to WOW Your Parents

Last week I was so focused on blogging, I blogged every day! This week, well other things seem to be the focus! Here are the three things I am working on this week: Fitness, Family, and Back to School. This post shares how Megan and I organize our Open House to be sure and WOW our parents!
 Fitness
Now to say that I love working out, would be a big lie! As a matter of fact, I kinda hate it! So… many of my blogging buddies have joined this “get healthy” life style inspired by my good friend Rachelle at What the Teacher Wants.  She has also started a fitness blog, For Blogness Sake.  They are all looking so good! Now they will tell you that they are doing this to be healthy, not skinny, but I bet none of them mind the weight loss they have seen! To be quite honest, I want to be thinner! I know healthy has to be the real goal, but I will take skinny! So….Megan and I have started. We have printed out our 12 week calendar that tells us what to do each day and we are finishing our first week. I know a week isn’t very long, but it’s a start!
Family
Of course you all know that I am crazy about my Matthew and my Brody! Megan and I keep Brody every Monday and Wednesday while Ginny is finishing her masters! One more week and she will be done! This week on Tuesday I had my 3 littlest nieces and nephews. Who knew that you could have so much fun with some old badminton racket puppets. I sat them out earlier in the week to give to Ginny to put in her Home Living Area for her prek class. It was hilarious watching the girls hide behind the trees and bushes and make their character voices. We had a little play time in the water table and a shopping relay with an old shopping cart from my classroom! They spent 30 minutes pushing the cart up and down the driveway while I told them what to go and buy. I would tell them what to go and buy. They had to push the cart to the car, “buy” the food,  push the cart back and tell me what they bought. Could they remember what I sent them for? You can tell they don’t eat Brussel sprouts at their house! When I sent them to buy those, along with a few other vegetables, they came back with “pretzel plant”! We almost died laughing!
Open House
It's never too early to start thinking about Back to School Night, Meet the Teacher, or Open House. This is your first chance to make a first impression! A good first impression will serve you well the rest of the year.  Can I get an Amen?
STATION 1: The first thing we made was an Open House Folder for each child.  In each folder we place all the information that parents need...School Rules, Daily Schedule, Lunch Menus, etc. We put each child's name on one of the folders. This way we know exactly who received their folder.
Station 2: In station 2 we put the first homework project. Each parent finds the paper with their child's name. The directions tell the parents to scrapbook the paper with photos, etc to help us to get to know their child. We bind these together into a class book! It is the most loved book in the classroom.
 STATION 3: In station 2 we placed a copy of information that the parents needed to sign THAT night. We wanted each parent to sign in, tell us how their child would go home, and if they wanted to volunteer in the classroom...the three most important things to know!
Station 4: In Station 4 the parents have the opportunity to select some tags for things they would like to donate to the classroom. If you want supplies...now is the time to ask. Ask for enough to last the whole year whenever possible!
Station 5: Station 5 is the most fun station of the night. Here the parents use the props to pose for family pictures. I  leave my phone or ipad in the center for taking the photos. They love this! I use these photos all year as a way to build a home/family connection.
Station 6: In this station the adults and the children make this fun craft.  I provide picture directions so that they can do this independently.
Station 7: In the last station, the parents pick up their gifts. It's amazing how far this simple gesture gets you. Parents see you as a giving, kind person! This make them so much more forgiving when we  make mistakes!
There is also a little gift bag for the kids.
All of these ideas, as well as many more, are from our Open House Ultimate Scavenger Hunt unit.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Open-House-Back-to-School-Scavenger-Hunt-Pack-1276805
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Easy Steps to Manage and Organize Your Class Meeting

I am a super, organized person and can drive my family, and even some of my friends...absolutely crazy! I like things put away in the right place, I like things to be cleaned up as soon as you are done, …you get the point. Now, I have tried to lighten up a little, but I still think the ability to organize and get things done, have played a big part in who I am as a teacher. This post shares one of my favorite organization tools, the carpet bag. Let's look at the things that are stored  in a carpet bag.
The first step in setting up carpet bags is to purchase the bags! I pick mine up at Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Target, etc.  The bags usually last a few years before they need replacing. I use the carpet bags to store all of the supplies that we use regularly during any large group instruction. Here are some of the things we keep in them:
Each child has their own traveling word wall. When I add the new words to the class word wall, the children add them to their traveling word walls. Don't worry about the handwriting. That's not what is important.  By inviting the children to write their own words, they develop ownership, they learn how a word wall is organized, and they become independent.
My kids also keep their unit vocabulary journals in their carpet bags. Each week we brainstorm words that are related to our science or social studies unit.
As I add them to this graphic organizer, the kids add them to their own unit vocabulary notebooks.
We also store our Academic Vocabulary journals in the carpet bag.  Each week I select a math or literacy vocabulary word that I want to develop a deeper understanding for. The kids draw a non-linguistic representation of the word as well as generating their own linguistic description of the word.

We also keep our Word Family Journals in the carpet bags. Each week I select a word family and build the words. As we build the words, the children record them in their journals.  We start with the short "a" word families and move through all of the short vowels before moving to the long vowel word families.

Each week we use our Book of Lists to....make a list!  It could be a list of shapes, number words, animals, family members, etc. I tie it into something we are learning. We stretch the words as the kids write them. I fill in the letters for the sounds they don't hear. This means all of the words are spelled correctly.
Each child also has a supply bag in their carpet bag. This holds all of the supplies we use each day. For example, if we are going to be using 2 sided counters in math, they keep them in their bag until we are finished using them.
They keep their sound cards in the carpet bag, too. We use these to play games and when we are practicing writing letters or determining the beginning sound of a word.
We keep our nursery rhyme books close by in the carpet bags! Each day, we sing the nursery rhymes using music from our favorite artists. As we sing, the kids sing and follow along with the text. This helps with fluency!
They keep their yes/no response sticks inside the bags. We use these as a way to answer questions!
Want to save a TON of time? I took all of our math mats and bound them together into a booklet. Each child has a booklet containing every math mat and graphic organizer that we use. When the kids are coming to the carpet, I can easily say, "get out your math mats and turn to the domino page." Super fast way for the kids to be ready instead of you passing everything out.
During the day, the carpet bags stay on the carpet! It can look a little messy, but ohhhh the rewards! Kids are engaged, they are ready, and there is no wasted time!
At the end of the day, the bags are returned to these baskets for overnight storage.
All of the supplies, expect for the academic vocabulary journal, are from this unit. “Pack It! Learn It!”
The Academic Vocabulary is in this unit.

So what are you Working On this week? Grab the button and link up your post on what you are doing to make for a smoother start to your year.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Me Time Monday Linky!

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Today I am linking up with my friend Amanda at One Extra Degree to share how I spend my “me time.” To tell you the truth, I’m not very good at it! Probably like most of you, I am pretty much in “go mode” most of the time. Most of my life is spent working on presentations and traveling to workshops. It is sometimes hard to find that balance between work and play. I have a few distractions that are helping me find that balance—Brody and Matthew. My most favorite way to spend my “home time” is with these two boys! Yep, that’s right, TWO! Baby Brody was born just two weeks ago!  Matthew and Brody are 1 year, 3 days apart in age!  I just can’t imagine how much fun they are going to be growing up just a few miles from each other. I have baby proofed my den, kitchen and breakfast room. Andy built us a rather fancy gate in the hall to keep them in those areas. Tyler built us an awesome playscape (calling it a swing set doesn’t do it justice), the gate has been secured on the pool to keep them either in or out, picnic tables and water tables are added to the back porch, toys are organized in bins placed on a bookshelf hidden behind the sofa, books are in a basket placed on the “school table”, baby swing, changing table, bottles,  sippy cups and diapers are stocked….I am sure there are many things we will find that we need to do as they grow older but, yep I would say we are ready. Andy and I are so excited to be Gam and Pops! We can’t wait to build forts, go swimming, camping, hiking, cycling, scouts, baseball, “mud boggin”…All this fun, and we don’t have to worry about bedtimes, getting up at night, or any of the other “not so fun” things that come with being the parents.

BUT….when I  want some me time. alone time….

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you will find me outside. I love being outside, especially in the spring and summer. I don’t mind being hot. Sweat doesn’t bother me. I love to dig in the dirt! It’s a perfect stress reliever. I started loving yard work after my kids were born. After a long day of parenting, when Andy would come home from work…I would hand them off and tell him I was going to mow or edge or plant something. It was quiet and peaceful. No one calling Mom, or fighting, or chattering…just me and the good ‘ol outdoors. But, it also made me fell like I had accomplished something! I am super task oriented!

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I do a lot of container gardening as it is so hot and dry. Containers makes it easier to keep things watered. The pot in the bottom left is a special pot. It was made by one of my room mothers 10 years ago!

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I would rather be on the back porch than inside! We are still wanting to add that outdoor kitchen, but …..$$$$$$! Someday!

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Here are some pictures from my back yard.

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The other day I was cleaning up this baker’s rack on my back porch. I picked up the vase to put it away when out flew a bird! I looked inside and there was a nest with 5 little blue eggs. I carefully put the vase back on the shelf. This weekend my 10 year old niece was over at the house. I told her to go and look in the vase to see the eggs. She carefully approached the vase and tried to peek inside. She said, No eggs! Could it be, did the cat or the squirrels find the nest?! I carefully picked up the vase and looked inside. And there were baby birds! So tiny, like just hatched tiny! I have loved sitting on the back porch watching the mama bird fly back and forth carrying things in her mouth back to the babies. As I was writing this post, I was thinking, how does that mama bird find any down time? She is much like “my girls” Megan and Ginny. Busy being a mom. Flying around, taking care of her babies, but still takes the time to fly to the tree, sit on a branch and sing!

Be sure and hop over to Amanda’s blog and read how she, and other bloggers, spend their “me time”!

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