Friday, June 24, 2016

Play Isn't A Luxury. It's A Necessity.

Sorry, this post is a little late. I am currently on vacation in the mountains in Tennessee and our internet is spotty. We’ll be moving on from here tomorrow, so I will be on track.  Any who, I can’t express how excited I am about this book study. I can’t wait to get into it more and hear all of your thoughts.

Chapter 1
Play Isn’t A Luxury. It’s A Necessity.

This chapter starts off in a kindergarten classroom where there are children playing in different areas. There are children playing with Magna Tiles building, others playing in the kitchen area, and others making a haunted house with blocks. The teacher is observing her students playing together. Two girls in the kitchen area were having an argument over who would play mommy, since both children wanted to be mommy and another student stated that they both could be mommies. After observing for some time, the teacher determined that this was a teachable moment and that she needed to discuss the differences in families and what families are. 

Why Choose Play? Answers to Common Questions About the Role of Play

We Follow the Common Core State Standards. How Does Play Fit with Meeting the Many Standards?

The Standards are our endpoint. They are what we need to accomplish with our students by the end of the year. How we choose to get there is not dictated. There is no set map. The authors state that play allows for multiple opportunities and modes to reach the various standards. For instance, a standard in Speaking and Listening states that children need to follow agreed-upon rules for conversations. By implementing play into our classrooms, students have the opportunity to engage in discussions with peers and develop problem solving skills while playing. This can be demonstrated by their communication in building structures with blocks and even cooking in the kitchen. Another standard that can be  integrated   is the standard for reading fiction that states that a student should retell texts with key details. Children often during play will re-enact their favorite stories or even stories that were just read.  

How Can There Be Time for Play When There Is Such an Emphasis on Academic Rigor?

First off, the authors define what academic rigor means. According to Barbara Blackburn, author of Rigor Is Not a Four-Letter Word, “Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each students is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels” (2013, 13). The authors believe that play is one type of environment where children can be rigorous in their learning. Play is a natural environment for children which allows them to feel free to take risks. They will often use their imagination to explore their creativity and become flexible thinkers and build their communication skills.

But What About My Students Who Need Extra Support? Wouldn’t Their Time Be Better Spent Engaged in Small-Group Instruction?

In this section the authors discuss the importance of small group instruction. Yes, small group instruction is important, however, play should not be replaced by it. Some students who have difficulty in certain areas can benefit from play because it gives them access to content and higher level thinking in a variety of modes. Play gives them opportunities to express their thinking through multiple sign systems. Sign systems are the different ways of communication and can be done through art, music, drama, and language. (Short, Harste, and Burke, 1996). Children can also engage in choice time, which is another type of play. This gives them the opportunity to build with blocks, paint, and dramatic play. Choice time allows students to tap into their own strengths and gives them access to learning at higher levels.

How Much Time In the Day Do Children Really Need to Play? Can’t Children Just Play When They Are Finished with Their Work?

In the beginning, we often struggle to develop our students’ stamina in reading and writing. However, when our same students are playing either during recess or choice time we can often see the stamina last for a longer amount of time. With this, we need to look at play from a different point of view. Play is the work of children. While playing, our students are developing ideas, creating, discovering, taking on and assigning roles, collaborating, developing and negotiating rules, and being active listeners with each other. If play is there work, then how can we incorporate it across the curriculum.

After reading this chapter, it has gotten my brain into motion on how play is beneficial to all learners.

3 Take Aways
1.    Students need play everyday to build on their strengths and develop key communication and social skills.
2.   Play is natural for them.
3.   Play can be incorporated into daily lessons to achieve goals.

What are your thoughts about this Chapter? My mind is in motion on how to put play back into my classroom. I can’t wait to share with you all and get your ideas.

Don’t forget to join me on my  book study on play by  reading  Purposeful Play.  Find it  HERE. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

I'm Bringing Play Back Book Study

For years now, I have been wanting to bring back play into my Kindergarten classroom.  We have been told over and over again to take it out of our daily routine. I  know it isn't my administrators fault. It comes from the higher ups. I would occasionally break that rule and allow my students the time to play. I know, I know, I'm a rebel. (Smack the back of my hand.)  But guess what? My students  still succeeded and were able to get a little time to develop the necessary developmental skills they  need. I have been searching for that research based text to help me show those who question me  the proof they need.  Well, I HAVE FINALLY FOUND IT! Woohoo!!!!!!!! (Sorry, for so many exclamations. I am to excited.)

Join me on my  book study on play by  reading  Purposeful Play.  Find it  HERE. I know many of you may be busy with travel plans, but you can always come back and follow along when you can. 

Below are a list of  the dates in which you can come back and  share your thoughts and comments. I can't wait for you to join me. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Where have I been?

Wow! It's been awhile since I have blogged.  This year, I have been  stressed out. I needed to take a step back and do more for myself as well as my family.  See this year, my daughter started Kindergarten.  Well, being a Kindergarten teacher and having a Kindergartner at home really takes a toll on you. LOL! I am surrounded by Kindergarten 24/7. Eeeekk!!! Yup! That's my life! I'm not going to lie. At times, it did take a toll on me, but you know what? I wouldn't change it for anything. I LOVE my kiddos! I LOVE my little girl! I LOVE ALL the Kindergarten CRAZINESS!

Well, over the past few months I have fault guilty. You know that guilt.  The Teacher Mom Guilt! 

I came across this blog post  on "Keeping Up With Mrs. Harris" and it spoke to me. 

It got me thinking about all the sacrifices my daughter faces with me being a teacher, as well as, my husband being a teacher.

Meals-  My daughter eats breakfast, lunch, and snacks at school. Due to the fact that I have to be at work so early each morning, she has to eat breakfast in the car or in my classroom each morning. I felt guilty for not being able to give her that time  each morning that  a normal child sits down at the table and eats their breakfast.  I felt guilty.  This  needed to change. I make it a point to  sit down with her each morning and eat breakfast at my teacher table . It has now become routine and kind of a mommy-daughter date.

Long Hours at School-  You know we  all spend those long hours at school. We never feel like we have everything done. I was the same way.  Majority of her day is at school.  I  felt bad. Many days she just wanted to be home and playing with her toys. I made the decision that no matter what I needed to leave at a decent time. Whatever  wasn't done by that time would have to wait until the next day.  

School Work at Home- This was a BIGGIE for me! I always, ALWAYS brought things home to work on. I would come home, cook dinner, and right after dinner start working on things for my classroom, TPT store, or even my blog. This had to change. I wasn't giving her my attention.  Now we come home,  we read together, play together, and she  plays while I cook dinner. It's our time together. I make sure that  I don't touch any thing for school until after she goes to bed and I have had a little down time for myself.

Overall, I needed to take this time to be with my family.  I needed the time to figure out  how to balance everything. Yes, I LOVE my students. I didn't want to take away from making learning fun for them,  but I was overworking myself and it was taking a toll on my family.  I needed to be there for my family. I needed to  step back and figure it all out. I have! I'm back and I'm ready to get back into things again. I can't wait to share more with you all.

Leave some love and let me know how you balance everything in your teacher life.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Scarecrows Galore

This year I have a lot of students who are struggling with  their fine motor skills. I have  many who can't hold a pencil or scissors correctly.  I have been working with them a lot. Some have picked up very quickly, while others still need more practice. 

To practice our fine motor skills, I have found that doing crafts has helped them a lot. I find that having them trace the patterns onto the construction paper instead of already having the patterns on the paper helps them a lot. They have to hold down the tracer while tracing around the pattern.  After tracing the patterns, they cut out the pieces and start putting them together.  We have been doing this with crafts based on the topics we are learning about. This past week, we have been learning  about Fall. I created an adorable scarecrow craftivity that we created. The first one is my example.
For the patches, I cut out different sized squares of scrapbook paper. I chose patterns that were fall or  country pattern. Here are my students scarecrows.
(Notice  the one with the pink shirt and purple pants. My student wanted it  to look like it was walking. So creative!)

You can definitely see my students different abilities. Many of them have come a long way. I absolutely LOVE how these turned out. They are ALL precious in their own way. 

Check out my Scarecrow Craftivity to  add some fall into your room. I would love to see  your students creations.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ziggedy- What is it?

Have you heard of Ziggedy?  I hadn't until just recently.  It's a new  site to help teachers earn money for their classrooms.  How does it work? Well,  it's just like ebates,  where  you get free cash from the online shopping that your parents, family, and friends do.  There is no cost for the the funds and the funds go directly to you to use in your classroom as you see fit.

Ziggedy has partnered with many popular retailers, such as, Target, Walmart,  Amazon, Home Depot,  Best Buy, Groupon,  and so many more.  

How does it work?

Once you have created an account, you will have access to custom templates to send out to your parents, family, and friends. There are  flyers, emails, and even social media templates that can be used.  After setting up your account and sending out the information, you will be able to see your supporters who have signed up in your Piggedy Bank.  

After they sign up , they sign onto the Ziggedy site and follow the links to make purchases. When they make their purchase, you will receive a certain percentage back to your account. You can see how much each supporter has earned for your classroom.

You will receive a check for your classroom at the end of each quarter (January,  April, July, and October). Then, you can take the money and use it towards your classroom needs.  Who doesn't LOVE free money? Click on the Ziggedy Banner below to get started.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Kindergarten Prep Activities

At the end of each year,  my school gives a Kindergarten Readiness Test to our incoming students. After the test, I am often asked by the parents about what they can work on with their child over the summer.  As a kindergarten teacher, I know that I will receive a wide range of students with varying skill levels.  The test just gives me a snapshot of what they know coming into kindergarten. I try to stress to them  to not stress about what their child doesn't know and to trust me that they will learn it. 

This year is a little different for me, as my own daughter will be entering Kindergarten.  I know that all to soon,  she will be entering a classroom which may or may not have a lot of exploration time. I want her to work on the skills that I know she will need when she enters her classroom, but I want her to do it in a fun way.

The transition into kindergarten  is a major milestone for  the child and their family. Many of them will be going to a school where they may or may not have nap time. They will be eating lunch in a cafeteria with many other students from different grade levels, which they are not accustom to.  Here are some things that you can do over the summer to make the transition easier.

-Wash their hands. (Kindergarten kids are very germy and this is a big one.)
-Snap, button, zip, and buckle. ( secret to avoid the buckle part  is to cut off the belt loops. Trust me! I have had several students tighten their belts way to tight while trying to get  it undone. I thought  I would have to cut the belt entirely to get it off.)
-Tie their own shoes. (This is a BIG one. Many kindergarten teachers won't tie shoes, so start practicing now. If they do, they will stop after Winter Break.)
-Put on and take off a jacket.
-Open and close containers in lunchbox , as well as, open and close their lunchbox on their own. (Many times they are eating in the cafeteria and while their are aides in there for assistance, they may be busy.)
-Can use bathroom without assistance.
-Ask for help when needed.
-Listens and follows simple directions.
-Respects personal space.  
-Plays well with others and takes turns.
-Know their first and last name.
-Write their first name.
-Say their ABC's.
-Count  from 0-10. 
-Knows colors.
-Knows shapes.
-Holds pencil appropriately.
-Holds and cuts with scissors properly. (Surprisingly there are many students who can not do this.  This is very important in building their fine motor skills. One simple way to practice scissor skills is  getting a plastic tub  and  place strips of tissue paper or paper inside.  Allow them to cut up the strips into small pieces into the bin. The best scissors to use are the child scissors with the blunt tip. I recommend the Fiskars brand.)
-Cutting on a line. (Simply draw lines across a paper and have your child cut on the line.)
-Play with play doh. (This will also help with fine motor skills and build their muscles. Have them  roll it to make letters. Another fun one is to  tell them a number and have them roll balls of play doh to show that number. When they get it right, they get to smash the play doh balls.)
-Let them play outside. Have them run, jump, skip, and just play. (You will be surprised by how many of my students don't know how to play tag or hide and go seek outside. I know that if I give them an iPad , they will be able to tell me everything  about it and even show me new things. However, they don't know how to play on a playground or with other students at recess.)

Besides they simple things, I have also included a FREEBIE that  you can use for some fun  review  for kindergarten. Click on image to grab it. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Teaching With Intention Book Study: Chapter 3

Hi,  everyone! You will all have to bare with me as I am writing this post while on vacation.  (I am currently in the mountains of Tennessee and  haven't had to much access to the internet or even pictures of my classroom. I literally ended school , packed up, and left on vacation.  Really it was a much needed break!) Anywho,  I wasn't able to blog about the first 2 chapters, but am linking up with the 3rd chapter. 

This chapter  is all about the classroom environment from the book Teaching With Intention. This book study is brought to us by Kindergarten Smorgasboard. Thanks, Greg!

I'm linking up with this week's hosts: Surfin ' Through Second, The Learning Chambers, and Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching.

The first thing that is discussed in the book is about a new teacher who is overwhelmed in her classroom with  stuff that has been left there for her. Who hear has ever felt that way?  I know I sure did my first year of teaching. I was just like Katy. I took over a classroom from a teacher who retired and left everything for me.  Some of the things were great and some of the things were so old. I'm talking  about the purple ink ditto machine copies. Who remembers those? Yup, I was so overwhelmed! I ended up  getting help from other teachers and tossing so much.  Well after reading this chapter, it began to dawn on me that I'm starting to see the same thing happen to me again. Yup, I have become that teacher! You know the one who saves things because of the "what if I need it someday" mentality. Raise your hand if that is you? Come on, I know you are out there. Well, ya'll!  It's time for me to  "Clear the decks!"  I will be  going into my classroom and taking charge like a pirate. I will be "swabbing" my classroom clean.  I'm going into my 10th year of teaching. I have taught Kindergarten through 3rd grade. I have been carting around  things that I haven't used in years. I need to get rid of those things.  What better time than now! Especially, since I am moving rooms.

The next  thing that Debbie Miller wants us to think about is...

I have been thinking about this a lot during the last few weeks. Yes, I know summer has just started but I can't turn off my teacher brain. My  husband who is also a teacher says I'm driving him crazy. LOL! Oh well! 

In my classroom, I need a classroom meeting area, library,  cubbies, small group area,  word wall,  and data wall (that is  mandatory school wide).  Here are a few pictures from my classroom this past year.  Remember, I don't have access to many right now. 

This year, I want to have 2 meeting areas. One will be  in front of my Calendar Math and Morning Meeting Board with my easel, while the other will be in front of my Interactive Board. This one will be new to me and I'm not sure if I will have enough room. I'm going to try  my best to make it fit. I will also me moving my small group area to a different part of my room.  My classroom library needs to be revamped and easier for my students to access and put materials away better.  There is so much to think about. My brain is on overload. 

Next up,  is how will I set up my tables. Yes, I have tables in my Kindergarten classroom. I have 4 circle tables and 3  rectangular   tables. I have been racking my brain on where I will be placing them.  With the new meeting area, I'm not sure yet where the tables will fit. I want them to be in an area where they can easily see the board  yet be together to work with each other.  I am also toying around with the idea of having personal work mats for with they are at their learning stations and /or working independently. I love Greg's use of the bath mats. Check it out here!

Organization is key in any classroom. This is definitely one of my downfalls. There are so many ways for teachers to have their students keep their items.  I have  community supplies on each table.  I just simply replace the items that are running low into their tubs. I also have a little scrap bin for them to place their paper scraps in instead of getting up and throwing things away repeatedly while working.  I have areas for all of my students items, but I need to organize myself better. I am one of THOSE people who has everything ready for a lesson and then BAM! Something is missing! It was right there a minute ago and now I am looking around everywhere for it.  This even goes for those papers needed by admin or even ESE. Yup, I'm one of those. I have been scouring Pinterest looking for ideas on getting myself better organized. Any suggestions, please share!  I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on these topics. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

March Currently

I can’t believe it is already March!  Man, February flew by! It's that time again for a new Currently. I love doing these and  getting to know others. 

Listening: "The Big Bang Theory" I love this show. 

Loving: This whole week, we will be celebrating Dr. Seuss. I can't wait to show off the  shirt I made for tomorrow. I'm going as "The Cat In The Hat". 

Thinking: I have SO much to do on my list and I keep adding more things.

Wanting: Yup, I want a change. I'm not sure exactly what kind of change, but I need a change.

Needing: I have paperwork that I was handed today right before I left for an IEP. Don't you hate getting things right before you leave and they state that they need it back tomorrow.

Spring Break Plans: We're going to Disney World!  Our daughter doesn't know it yet as we are surprising her. We only live 3 hours away so we go quite often. I can't wait ! We leave on the 20th.

Check out all the other Currently's at Farley's site. Click below to head on over.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shape Pizzas

This week , we worked on two dimensional shapes. Each year , I usually do an activity with food and sorting the food by shapes. I would use corn chips, cookies, Cheez Its, Cinnamon Toast Crunch,  etc. This year with so many food allergies, I had to get creative. So , we made shape pizzas. We used construction paper to make our pizzas. Each student was given  paper for the dough, sauce, and then 5 different colors for the shapes. Our curriculum only has them learn 5 shapes for Kindergarten.  I do cover more, but this is what is required for them to know. The shapes are circle, triangle, square, rectangle, and hexagon. I gave each student their materials, modeled it for them, and then let the little chefs begin.

Some stayed at their seats to work, while others wanted to spread out and work on the floor. 

They had a lot of fun making their creations. There were so many variations . Here are a few:

They had  also had to write how many of each shape they made and what color they used for the shape at the bottom. I love them! Share with us what fun activities you do with shapes. I can't wait !

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bee My Valentine

So, yesterday was one of those days at school where you have to wrangle your little ones back in from a fun event.  We had our Annual Shark Shuffle which is our school's version of a Walk-a-thon. Kindergarten and First Grade was outside first thing in the morning.  They had a blast! The weather was perfect compared to the day before . We had a cold front come through the day before which brought a  lot of rain. Yesterday, was in the  high 60s in the morning. I know, I know, many of you are  sitting in snow.  

Trying to reel them in after the event was definitely a task.  Super excited Kinders who just  participated in  their first Shark Shuffle was  definitely a daunting task.  I decided before  getting back into the curriculum that we would  work on our fine motor  skills by  making a Valentine craft.  We made  my super cute and easy Valentine Bees. 

Aren't they adorable?  I am so proud of them.  We have come a long way  with our fine motor skills since the  beginning of the year. I had many students who couldn't trace or  even hold their scissors properly. I love all the different versions that they  made.  You can snag  the  tracers for this fun project  here.

Have a  great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

January Currently

Happy Almost New Year Everyone!

I can't believe it will be 2015 in about 6 hours. I'm doing this a little early as I'm sure I will be busy tomorrow. I LOVE linking up with Farley. (Click here to check out others and link up.) I enjoy getting to learn a little about everyone. Don't you?

Listening: "Vanilla Ice Project" on the DIY Channel. I find it very interesting. I guess it's because it's all located about 40 minutes north of me. 

Loving: My hubs is also a teacher so we are both off at the same time. We are enjoying spending time together with our beautiful 4 year old girl.

Thinking: I have to make the dip for the party tonight. I'm making a Buffalo Chicken Dip and a "Trailer Trash" Dip (Chili Cheese Dip). Both are super yummy and simple to make.

Wanting: We are in the process of finding a bigger house. We don't mind fixing up a place. We just need to find one that we like and that we don't get out bid.

Needing: I need to get back into blogging more and creating more. I really MISS it. I took some time off and would post every now and then. I'm definitely going to be blogging more regular. 

Yes: I need to loss weight and I am determined to do it. I'll be blogging about it and hope that maybe others can hold me accountable along this journey.

Maybe: I want to try new recipes and step out of my comfort zone. 

I wish: I really wish to go to the I Teach K Conference this summer. It all depends on finances with getting a new house. Fingers crossed that I'll be able to go.

Can't wait to read your currently and hear your comments.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Native American Craftivity

Wow! I haven't posted in awhile. School and life have finally slowed down. I don't know about all of you, but the first couple months always seem so hectic. I don't know if it's just trying to get my Kinders into the routine of things. This year has definitely  been one of the more challenging years for me and I have been at this for 10 years. Well, I can't believe that it is already November. Does anyone else feel this way?

This is one of my favorite times of the year. I LOVE the holiday traditions that happen over the next few months. We have started learning about Thanksgiving this past week in our class. This past week, we learned about Native Americans. Many of my students didn't know what a Native American was this year, which I was shocked. At least in the past, they knew a little bit about Native Americans. So, we learned a lot this past week. I wanted to share with you our super cute Native American craftivity that we made. 

(I don't know why one is crying. LOL)

I love how cute these came out. My boys and girls had so much fun making these. They enjoyed being able to create their own pattern on the headbands. Many of my students have come a long way with their fine motor skills. By doing these craftivities, my students have improved on their scissor skills and tracing skills. You can get the patterns to make these cute Native Americans by clicking here

I hope ya'll are enjoying the rest of your weekend. It's raining here, so I am off to play with my little darling (who now wants to make one of here own...hehe) and some things around the house.