Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Currently December

It's that time again...Currently December with Oh' Boy 4th Grade!

{Listening} I love watching inspirational shows, and I know that the contestants on The Biggest Loser work out way more than the average person, but it helps to get me motivated.  If they can do it, I can find 30 minutes or an hour to exercise!!!
{Loving} We've only been in school twelve weeks and my students have made some amazing progress!  I sat down with a student yesterday, who a month ago only knew 1 letter, and today she knew 8.  Being a preschool teacher, and not isolating a letter a week, I often wonder if my students are learning and they always find a way to surprise me and make me proud.  I can't wait to share their progress with their parents next week at parent/teacher conferences.
{Thinking} I am counting down the days until Christmas break for two reasons:  1) It just doesn't feel like there are many more days of teaching left.  After January, it seems like the end of the school year comes up fast, and things always come up to take away valuable teaching time.  2) It is also Christmas break, and I only have a few days left before the word "Christmas" is the only word spoken in my class, and focus is short-lived!
{Wanting} I need to find a day planner that works for both school and work to better organize all of the things I have going on in my life.  Once I became a mother, not only is just about every thought I have fleeting, but I have more priorities in my life, more appointments, music & movement class for little ones, church activities, and I have to schedule my workouts or they just don't happen!  If you have a planner that works for you, I'd love to hear about it. :)
{Needing} See thinking...I just need more days with my students!
{Favorite tradition} Every year, my mother-in-law has a cookie party.  She collects $2 from every person that comes to pay for cookies and frosting.  She spends the week before making dough, baking cookies, and making frosting.  Then, we bring a $10-$15 gift to pass for everyone that wants to participate.  We spend the evening enjoying each other's company while we decorate gingerbread, sugar & spice, and sugar cookies.  After the cookies are decorated, we take 2-3 dozen home to share with our families.  It's something I look forward to every year and I am thankful for the tradition!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sharing a Giveaway, a Blog Hop, and FREE Graphics

This morning, I wanted to share with you a giveaway, a blog hop, and a secret diamond in the rough I have found to get some amazing FREE clip art to create my TpT products!

To start off with, the ladies from Down Under are doing a Christmas Blog Hop.  I participated in their Back to School Blog Hop to get an amazing art project to do as a class with my preschoolers.  At each stop, you get a FREEBIE, and I would encourage you to join each of their blogs because they have some creative ideas and products they share all year long!  The first stop is Mrs. Ward's Land of the Little Learners.  Click on the image above to head on over to get started.

Next, Mrs. Poultney's Ponderings is doing a celebration for reaching 200 followers!  Her rafflecopter asks you to be a follower of almost all of these blogs.  Several of them are participating in the Christmas from Down Under Blog Hop, so if you follow their websites as you are blog hopping, then you'll save time when you take part in her celebration.  All of the blogs above are giving something special away, and Mel at From the Pond is giving away a $10 voucher so you can purchase some graphics!

...Which leads me to the best part!

If you love clipart, whether you use it to add to your classroom newsletter, create labels, or are interested in making TpT products to sell, add this button to your blog!!!  Mel at From the Pond gives away FREE graphics to clip art addicts who are members of her Facebook group and add this button on their sidebar of their blog.  She then uploads them to TpT and sells them for approximately $3.75 each.  I have saved a lot of money, and gotten some really adorable graphics this way!  Click on the link above to find the direction of how to add this button and don't forget to send her a message asking her to add you to the Facebook group!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and I hope you take advantage of these fantastic little tidbits!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Stuffed with Thankfulness!

Look at all of the things we did this week in preschool...


{1} The theme this week was, "We are Stuffed with Thankfulness!"  During small group, children chose what color paint they wanted to use for their handprint to create their turkey.  Then, they chose a different color/colors to paint their fingers for the turkey feathers.  They did very well painting their own hands and fingers for this open-ended art project.  They placed their handprints wherever they wanted, and it actually turned out better if they made the turkey body wider with more than one handprint.  Finally, they glued on the eyes, nose, waddle, beak, and feet.

{2}  During Centers, children got the opportunity to strut like a turkey during our Turkey Trot.  We painted one of their feet, and then put their footprint on a white piece of paper to use later.  Then, they strut across the paper, flapping their wings, and gobbling like a turkey.  And again, after their footprint was dry, they created a turkey using feathers, eyes, a beak, waddle, and feet.
{3} For another small group (we do one small group a day, so they go to all of the small groups by the end of the week), students drew a picture of a turkey on a paper, and they named the turkey.  We wrote the name of the turkey on the bag (for example, Mr. Tom or Tom the Turkey), and they had to think of things that started with the same beginning sound.  They drew the picture of the animal, food, or object on a small white piece of paper (i.e. T says /t/ = train, tooth, turtle), and put the picture in the bag.  Then, children shared the name of their turkey and what they were able to come up with to put in their bag that started with each sound.
{4} One of the things we have been working on is making patterns.  We have used linking cubes, gears & plates, letters, buttons, and objects we use to sort.  Earlier in the week, I was working on making patterns out of linking cubes with one of my students, who began making a tall tower out of them.  He stood the tower up on the table, then let it fall off onto the floor, and it broke apart.  Though he wasn't making a pattern out of the blocks, he was engaged and discovered something new he could do with them. 
The following day, I noticed the same child was making a tower out of the linking cubes, and it was longer than the table.  Seizing a teaching opportunity, we attempted to stand the tower up and it fell apart.  This started a frenzy of children helping us to build the tower taller and taller until it almost reached the ceiling.  Then, we all counted to three and let go of the tower, watching it fall to the floor.  The linking cubes being made out of plastic, some fell apart, and some of them bounced!!!  This was an activity that started with a math concept and turned into an activity about discovery, and working as a team to make something together.  I was amazed at how well all of the students worked together, and the critical thinking that was taking place to solve problems and create solutions during this activity.  :)

{5} Previously, I posted about our color songs we sing each week, which you can view here.  We learn a new song each week, along with the sign language for the color word.  I print out the words to each song, along with real pictures of the items mentioned in the song (i.e. a fire truck and stop sign for red).  If you would like the words for each color song, click on each color below to access the song on YouTube:
I was unable to find the green song on YouTube, as it looks like the video has been deleted.  So, I provided you with the words!
To the tune of: Row, Row, Row Your Boat
G - r - e - e - n
G - r - e - e - n
I know how to spell green
G - r - e - e - n
Caterpillars are green
And grasshoppers too.
I know how to spell green
G - r - e - e - n
This week, I put all of the other color posters in the Book Corner for students to practice reading with a pointer.  The children were interested in reading the posters, but they were too tall to fit on the Big Book easel, and children were having trouble standing them up so they could read the words.  Today, we placed them along the wall to encourage them to continue practicing tracking print, and to gain more confidence that they are readers!
Be sure to check out all of the other blogs that participate in Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday by clicking on the image above!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Five for Friday - Opening Day

Well, it's time for Five for Friday and I haven't posted in a while.  I know it's Saturday, but I was stuck to the couch yesterday with the stomach flu!  UGH!!!  After lots of sleep, I feel much better, so hopefully I'm over that!

I've been quite busy getting everything set up for my evaluation.  I find out Monday how it went, but she sounded quite positive when I spoke to her afterwards.  It's quite nerve-wracking having someone in your classroom all morning long, writing down every detail about your classroom and taking pictures. 

Now that that's finally over, I can make my way back to the blogging world and hopefully start posting some of the things we've been doing in my classroom!

{1} Since I'm in a new classroom and a new grade this year, I've been working on ways to get organized and to make the classroom my own.  I took pictures of some of the items in my classroom this week to make labels.  Instead of putting items out on the tables for my students to use during Centers, they pull the items they want to use off of the shelf, and this helps them to know where to put them back.  This way, they are more likely to stay engaged in the activity for longer, and are willing to try out more activities because they have choice.  They don't get full reign of the classroom.  4-5 choices (at most!) is all they need, and it can be different activities that practice the same skill.
{2} During our Morning Meeting, I choose a Teacher Assistant to help me with calendar, the weather, and draw the Morning Message on the whiteboard.  At the beginning of the year, I started by drawing a person, talking about all of the body parts a person has.  Some days, we will make a list for our Morning Message, or I taught them how to draw a cat and a pumpkin, and we discussed how they are similar to drawing a person because they all have similar shapes.  After my Teacher Assistant draws a person (of their choice), they find their name strip in the Writing Center and write that person's name.
{3} I encourage students to take what they have learned from our Morning Meeting and use the information to practice during Centers.  I am fortunate to have another whiteboard in my classroom that is just for my students so they can practice writing skills.  This student wrote the letter "A" and said "It's in my name," and then he drew his mom.  He told me, "This is my mom.  Her eye hurts."  The conversations I have with students during this time really helps me to understand their thinking, and to help scaffold their skills to enhance their learning.
{4} This was my favorite activity this week, and also the one I was most nervous about, but pleasantly surprised!  The preschool teacher next door brought in golf tees and hammers so students could pound the golf tees into the pumpkins we had left over after our pumpkin discovery activity from the week before.  My students were so careful during this activity, working together, with one student holding the golf tee, and the other using the hammer.  And they were so patient to wait their turn!
{5} To conclude our pumpkin unit, students glued pumpkin seeds and yarn to a foam pumpkin cutout for an art project.  After it was dry, they cut out an orange construction paper pumpkin (that we traced from the foam pumpkin) and we stapled it on top.  Then, we wrote "This is what my pumpkin looks like on the inside."  I got the idea for this project from a pin I found on Pinterest.
Thanks for reading and have a blessed weekend!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Currently October & Five for Friday

Wow!!!  I cannot believe 3 weeks of school has come and gone.  Now that the beginning of the school year is over, and the kiddos are getting into the routine, maybe my head will stop spinning long enough to blog...which means my Currently October with Oh' Boy 4th Grade is a little late, but better than never!!!

{LOVING}  I am absolutely loving the teaching staff I am working with this year.  There are ideas flowing from everywhere...almost too many and I want to do them all!  One of the ideas I received is doing a color of the week. 

{ONE}  This week, we talked about the color orange.  I taught them the orange song, and created an orange poster with the words and pictures to teach them one-to-one so they can practice reading the chart on their own and tracking print.  Here we are writing the word orange at the end of the week!

Then, on the last day of school for the week, we all wore the color orange and in the afternoon, we brought in an orange item to share with the class.  One of my students brought in a pumpkin, and I taught them how to play Hot Potato, and how to dance to this song by the Wiggles.  This was a fun impromptu game that they really enjoyed! 
Next week, we will be learning the yellow song.  This is the front side of my yellow poster.  The yellow song is the longest song of them all, so I had to put the rest of the words and pictures on the back!
 {THINKING}  I am new to teaching this preschool program this year, and to having it be an all day program.  We are getting evaluated on October 30th, the day before HALLOWEEN.  Not only do I need more time to get into my schedule and routine, and get used to the program, but this might be a bit of a challenge for classroom management. Oh boy!
{NEEDING}  With the start of the new school year, taking graduate classes, learning about the new way to record assessments online, and getting evaluated in a few weeks, I am in need of a good book to de-stress!  If you enjoy reading fantasy, murder mysteries, or historical romance, and know of a good book or series, I'd love to hear about it so I can immerse myself in a good read!
{TRICK for the kids, TREAT for you!}  My teaching partner had the wonderful idea of having her students cut up cooked spaghetti to practice fine motor skills.  I decided to hold off a few weeks, and do it the week of Halloween and add gummy eyeballs to make it creepy!  Muahahaha!!!!! :)

{TWO}  We reread the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom from the first week of school, and created activities to go along with the story.  Students did an art project by painting a trunk for the tree, and we painted their hands.  They put on as many handprints as they wanted, and glued on letters to create a coconut tree.

{THREE}  We've also been talking about the first letter of their name.  So, we punched out the first letter of each students name with the die cut machine, and put them on our very own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree.

{FOUR}  Last week, we went on a nature walk around the school grounds and collected leaves, nuts, seeds, pine cones, sticks, and rocks.  This week, we placed them in a science tub with magnifying glasses for the children to look at and explore the natural environment.  They really enjoyed this activity, and we even found a few baby ladybugs!

{FIVE}  One of the observations my classroom aide and I have made about our students' interests is that they created a campfire out of blocks.  At one point, they even asked to move chairs so they could sit around the campfire!  To encourage their interests, we turned the dramatic play area into a campsite today so they could go camping, and moved the blocks into this area so they could build their campfire there.

I am going to use a flashlight this week to tell ghost stories during Read Aloud.  Among other stories, I am going to read the story The Dark, Dark Night by Christina Butler, a story about a frog that gets scared by his own shadow.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Five for Friday

It's time for Five for Friday.  I missed it yesterday because I went grocery shopping after work, which meant a 45 minute trip into the closest town!  But I bought $400 worth of groceries for $66 using my coupons so I can't complain!

{One}  Because I teach preschool I don't have any students on Friday, so I asked my nephew if he wanted to each lunch with me.  He's in first grade, and he was really excited.  He even gave up his gym time to come each lunch with me in my classroom!

{Two} With a new classroom came a new aide this year.  We happen to go to church together so that was a nice surprise.  When I told her I wanted new curtains to cover my shelves, she bought the fabric and took on the whole project herself!  The previous curtains were red with tiny stars, and there was nothing wrong with them.  I just needed something that would go with my theme (or any theme if I decided to change it from year to year), so black with white polka dots it is!

{Three} I hung lanterns above the book corner to fill some of the space.  We have nice, high ceilings, that I was able to staple right into so those lanterns are not coming down!  Hehe.

{Four} Our first day of school with students is on Monday.  Our program went all day this year, and I can't imagine having 4-year-old's for 7 hours on the first day!  We are only having school for one hour so our students can see the classroom, explore some of the centers and then we're going to read a story and do an art project.  Hopefully this will help them (and their parents!) with their transition to school.

I created an area in my dramatic play center for a "Photo Booth" so parents can take pictures and they can dress up to take silly photos if they want, to calm the nerves and help them feel more comfortable in the room with all of those new faces!

{Five} I had this pole in the middle of my room, and what was I to do but make it into a coconut tree?!  I tore the leaves by hand to make the palm leaves look more natural, and it was looking a little bare.  My aide suggested crumpling up paper into a ball to make coconuts, and of course, I was like "Why didn't I think of that?"  (It's been a long week of home visits and paperwork!!!)  So now we have our very own coconut tree!

Have a wonderful weekend all!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Coloring Clothespins

While setting up my classroom, I've attempted several craft projects I found on Pinterest.  The newest one I attempted with relatively good success was coloring clothespins for my behavior management clip chart.

I did not have RIT dye, but knew you could use food coloring to dye the clothespins, so I did what anyone would do...I googled it!  You can click on the image above to find the directions I followed for this project.

I have several glass jars I've been saving for a project this fall.  I used those and then washed them out afterwards to use them later.  Glass jars work better because they don't stain, but you could use plastic containers if you don't mind.

The directions said to soak them for an hour, but I soaked them overnight, just in case!

This is what they looked like when the project was finished.  I used Neon food coloring, and the green did not take as well as I wanted it to.  Next year, I will definitely try this again, adding more drops of food coloring, and experimenting with mixing traditional colors with neon to make more fun colors.  I love all of the bright colors and shades Kaley Ann made!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Five for Friday

Wow!!!  Between Labor Day, the first day of school, and my son having surgery yesterday, the week has flown by and Friday has arrived again.  Time for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching!

{One}  As I mentioned above, my son had surgery yesterday so we spent the morning at the hospital, and we were able to take him home afterward.  The surgery went well and Noah was such a trooper through the entire procedure.  The nurses couldn't say enough about how successful the surgery was, and the staff at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital is absolutely amazing!  I wouldn't dream of having my son go anywhere else. :)

{Two}  On Wednesday, we had our Parent Night for preschool.  The night was a success, and I can't wait to meet my students on home visits next week!  

{Three}  My computer broke this Spring, and I finally ordered a new one!  Now that I have started blogging and taking more pictures (so my blog isn't so boring...hehe), I am excited to be able to get started on creating some of the teaching products to match my classroom theme.  

{Four}  Until I start teaching, I have to do something so I've been catching up on episodes of Downton Abbey.  I am not happy with how Season 3 ended.  121 days, 6 hours until I can find out what happens!

{Five}  This time last year, I was teaching kindergarten and had started school already.  I started out the year reading The Kissing Hand and found this FREE 99 page(!) activity from Kinderbabies at TpT.  It is packed full of literacy and math activities to start out the school year.

Monday, September 2, 2013


It's September already!  Where did the summer go?!  I feel like I had the month of June to relax and the rest of the summer was gone.  I am linking up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for CURRENTLY September.

LISTENING/LOVING - My grade level partner next door told me that she heard somewhere "Clutter makes you fat" because when you walk in the door at home, you get overwhelmed and go to the fridge or sit on the couch and vegetate.  I made my classroom and my house "skinny" last month because once I got started organizing in my classroom, I couldn't help myself at home.  I'm still working on my house, but I feel better about the progress I've made, and my thoughts have become less frantic as I've gotten more organized.

THINKING - Now that I have my room organized, and we still have two weeks before the school year starts with my students, I know I can make some time in there somewhere to put up a tree!

There's a pole right in the middle of my classroom that would be the perfect focal point.  I think I'm a little afraid to get started and have it turn out horrible because I'm a bit of a perfectionist so this will be interesting!

WANTING - I need your help with this!  I am looking for graphics from TpT that have all of the essential school supplies (i.e. glue sticks, scissors, pencils, crayons, markers, paper) so I can make my own labels for my classroom.  In my search, I will find a few items from each seller, but it's difficult to know if they have them all in one pack.  If you know of some or have used some yourself (or better yet, SELL some), I'd love to know about it!!!

1. Exercise 4 days a week - Now that I'm starting to get into a work routine, I need to extend that into having more of a daily routine that includes exercise.  I feel better and have a much better attitude when I do, and I need to make it much more of a priority.  I love Turbo Fire because of how powerful I feel when I doing it and the motivation her one-liners give me to keep I can accomplish anything!
2. Leave work by 4:00 - Every year, I choose a time that I need to leave the classroom.  I always feel like everything needs to be done RIGHT NOW or it is never going to get done.  But, I can't live in the classroom, so I organize what needs to be done and finish items with the highest priority first.  This year, working in preschool, I will have Fridays to work on prep for the following week.  I have to say, it's going to be difficult to leave all of my prep until Friday because I'm afraid it won't get done in time for the following week!  But I have to leave sometime...

3. Delegate responsibility - I am definitely one of those people that wants to do it myself so it's done right!  In preschool, I'm not the only person in the classroom and I can't do it all myself, so I need to be very intentional and specific about what I delegate to my classroom aide.  At home, my husband is a stay-at-home dad and takes care of our son, who has special needs.  I feel awful about giving him chores to do around the house (and I have to write a list or they don't get done!), but I'm getting better.  It definitely takes a lot of stress off me if someone else can do the work, even if it's not done the same way I would do it.