January 1, 2019

Simple Christmas Activities in Kindergarten

Okay teachers, we made it. We have finally earned our well deserved break. The last week of school before break is NO JOKE!

While I love all the fun activities we do before we leave for winter break they are EXHAUSTING. I love my job, honestly, I would never do anything else. But those days before break I was in bed by 8:30 most nights.

Our students are typically off the walls because they are excited for break just as much as we are. So to compensate we plan all the fun things. However, this is more work because our students are off their routine and ultimately makes one tired teacher.

This year I decided to keep things simple. For example, my team was making gingerbread houses one day. FUN! Or so it sounds. I have never made houses with my students before. Why? Well for one that is a lot of messy work. 2nd - EW. You build the house around a milk carton. The kids can't eat that! Or at least they shouldn't. So I saw an Instagram post by KinderCraze and just knew that I needed to not conform and make myself go more crazy. The alternate? Decorate Christmas Tress.

Decorate Christmas Trees

This was my teacher win of 2018, hands down. Not only was it practically zero mess, but my class of 5 and 6 year olds were SO engaged. The focus they had on spreading the icing was amazing.  


The Materials

Tree decorating materials

I have 19 students and used:
3 cans of frosting
Green food coloring
2 Packs of sugar cones
2 bags of sugar cookies
1 bag of m and m's
Plastic cups - I ordered these and have enough for next year.

The Plan

Ahead of time I used food coloring to make the frosting green. I used frosting and attached the sugar cone to the sugar cookie and also then used the frosting to attach it all to the lid of the cup. I did this a day ahead of time. The next day I passed out their cups with their cone inside (so clean, sanitary and easy to transport home on the bus.) I gave each student a dixie cup of frosting and and a thick Popsicle stick. While my students were coating their tree I passed out some candy for them to decorate the trees. I was so impressed at how hard they worked and how creative they were. I had one student who was a frosting pro and other doing awesome patterns. Some even used a candy as a star on top. (Note - I'll bag a bag of the regular next year so they can each have a yellow).

The Outcome

Super cute trees to decorate the outside of our gingerbread classroom! I think these are much more age appropriate for my Kindergartners. They didn't even know what they were missing by not making a house. 


After we made our trees we went and saw the gingerbread village the 3rd graders did. They were super impressive!


Parent Gifts

In addition to keeping yourself sane and doing simple things - let's talk parent gifts. I always like to make sentimental gifts with my students for their parents. (Also - do not feel guilty if you do not make gifts with your students. It may not be appropriate, affordable or possible. Do NOT FEEL BAD). Last year, post Christmas I purchased ornaments, ribbon and boxes in anticipation of my gift this year. I helped them make the ornament with ribbon to show their height. Simple and a super success.


Another ornament I make every year is the hand print reindeer. I laminate the handprints with my personal lamination because it is thicker. Then my students help place on the eyes and the nose after I hot glue. I give them the choice of a red or black nose and tada! Simple and so CHEAP!


A few days before the start of break I send home their boxes filled with these special ornaments. 


I truly love the holiday season, however, I can not burn myself out because I have my own loved ones to give my energy to. While I did things cheap and easy, I do not feel that my class noticed or missed out in any way. We had a special week and I hope they treasure that!

Student Gifts

This idea goes hand in hand with the parent gifts, do not feel obligated. Maybe you can't afford it (zero zero shame in that!) or it is not appropriate for your school community. I have found that my favorite gifts are coloring books for my class. This year I gifted them two Scholastic Dollar Books I purchased earlier in the year, one for them to work on reading and one for the family to read together. (The reality of the family reading them together is that it may not happen. So I read it to them first.They love following along and reading along with their own book). My mom very kindly bought them all a coloring book and new box of crayons. Ultimately about $4 a student was spent. The first thing my students opened was their crayons. That moment filled me with so much love that I nearly cried. You guys, they screamed they were so excited and yells of thank yous. It was a magical moment that made the rest of the unwrapping even more special.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. These words hold true in so many things. You students love you and you love them. That love does not mean you need to spend lots of time or money. In addition, not doing any of this will make you less of a teacher and they will not love you any less. 

August 13, 2018

Golden Pineapple Awards

Do you incorporate Character Education into your classroom daily?


I began my teaching career in a Catholic School. The main reason being that it was hard for me to get into Public School in PA. However, I believe in Catholic Education and am a product of it myself. Those years at my little school were some of the most trying, most special and most rewarding. Teaching Kinders about God's love certainly brought me closer to Him and made me stronger in my faith.

At my school we did a student of the month for each grade based on a virtue for the month. When I transitioned into Public Education I wanted to use those same virtues in my teaching. I am a strong believer in teaching morals and values to our students. So was born The Golden Pineapple Awards.

Why a pineapple?

Simply because of this quote: stand tall, wear a crown, be sweet on the inside. Everything I want to instill in my students. 

The Awards

I dedicated a spot in my classroom to showcase our student of the month. These awards make it super easy for you to begin them in your own classroom. Click here to see them on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Golden Pineapple Student Awards

Using the Awards

The same way I teach so many things is going to be the same way I teach about these values: using picture books. I will begin each month by reading a picture book for that value. We will then discuss what it will look like in us and our classmates. I will explain that those are the traits I will be looking for in my student of the month. 

Below I have included lists of the picture books I will utilize to teach each value. I will begin the year in September with the Peacemaker award as I focus on a lot with peace for September 11th and International Day of Peace. From there I do not have an order. I will pick the value that I feel my students need most.

How to Get the Books

If you are looking to purchase the book for your classroom library you can click on the covers. You will be redirected to Amazon. However, I highly suggest you ask coworkers and check the library before buying.
Also, when in doubt - any book by Maria Dismondy is a fabulous addition to your character education read alouds. You will see many of her books featured below. 

Peacemaker

There is so much heartache in this world. At times we can appear to be a nation divided. I stand by teaching my students all year long how to be good individuals. Peacemakers are important in the classroom and the world. 


Perseverance 

When something is hard it takes all we have to not give up. We need to consider all of the things we wouldn't have if we just threw in the towel when we were met with a roadblock. You can simple google "Famous People Who Failed Before Succeeding", and you will be presented with prime examples to share with your students. 
 

Considerate 

When we are considerate of others we learn to not always put ourselves first. 




Cooperation

Working together will help you achieve a goal so much faster!



Generosity

To be generous does not mean giving of just your money. Show your students how to be giving when they have extra. There are so many people in this world and by considering others we make the world a better place.

Respect

How can kids respect us if they do not truly understand what it means? Also, I think it is SO SO important that we model respect to our students. Just because they are small humans does not mean they deserve any less. 



Friendship

We need to understand what it means to be a friend. How often do we see kids want to be friends with someone who does not treat them kindly? This breaks my heart which is why I also teach my students to stand up to others.



one

Empathy

It is so important for our students to be able to put themselves into someone else's shoes. However this is HARD for kids and adults. Modeling empathy through read alouds is a great start to having them make connections. 



Responsibility

If you say you are going to do something, you need to stick with it. Teaching our students to be accountable for their actions will carry them in responsible adults.


Honesty

In my experience, students are quick to not tell the truth if they think they are going to get into trouble. I always tell my students that I will be more hurt if they lie to me.



Citizenship

We all have a job to do in this world. It is important to help out students recognize the impact they make each and every day.



Gratitude

November isn't the only time we should be teaching our students to be grateful. Be grateful for what you have and help those when you can. 


Compassion 

I find that kids can do this more easily than adults. Maybe we can learn something from them. If we see something wrong, we should try and fix it. 

Image result for If You Plant a Seed


Forgiveness

If we hold on to anger and frustration it does not do any good for anyone. Sometimes it takes courage to be kind and forgiving, but it is worth it. 



This list will continue to grow. Have any that should be included? Comment and let me know!


Looking for more books on character education? Check out this list from Scholastic.