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.