December 31, 2015

5 Reasons I Am Taking Down My Behavior Chart in Kindergarten


This may be the craziest thing I have done yet. But it's true. I am taking down and getting rid of my behavior chart. Now, let me tell you why.



Take a good look at it, because this bad boy is being retired. I first saw the idea from Jennifer @ Simply Kinder. Check out her blog post about behavior charts [here].

Now the more I though about it, I grew to loathe my behavior chart. Here are some reasons I came up with for why I should get rid of my behavior chart.

1. Too much weight is put on a color. 
Almost all of my kids will leave school to go home and tell their parents what color they were on. In addition, some parents greet their children with "what color are you on?" Seriously, it is a color. It does not define a child as good or bad. 

2. We all have bad days.
Think about yourself for a second. Would you be on green everyday? Nope. I know I wouldn't. I am pretty positive that there are some days when I was not the best for my students. But hey - that's called life. 

3. Not fair.
I hate having to tell a child to move their clip down. But why do they have to do it? Because I decided it was time. Because I finally had enough of trying to change the behavior. Because of me, Let's be honest with ourselves, again.I know that I probably put up with a behavior longer for some students than for others. This chart is based on my opinion. Yes, I understand that it should be because it is my room. But it is not the same for every child. Half the time I am more focused on remembering to move clips down, than up!

4. Peer influence.
There it is. Hung up, with everyone child's name on it. I will say, that when I move a child's clip down that I typically try and do it in private. But the entire class knows who is on the "bad" colors. Wait. I thought I was supposed to be building self esteem. Not putting their behavior on display for all to see.

5. Who does it benefit?
We know our disruptive students. The class knows the disruptive students. So having them move their clips isn't really going to benefit anyone. Sure, the behavior may change for a little while. But there are other ways to achieve that goal. I mean honestly, why do I need to bribe a child to behave. The expectations are that they should behave. It's the same reason I did not do the Elf on the Shelf in my classroom. 

So now what?


Jennifer had some great ways to manage behavior. Some of them that I will be implementing:
 - color coded cards to give to the child at the end of the day. This will serve as communication with parents. (I am undecided if I will continue to use my behavior calendar that I mark each day).
- cashing them in. LOVE THIS! This year I was not giving out rewards in my treasure chest for behavior so I will be using that as a reward. The cards will be worth so many points and it will take x number of points to cash them in.

We will see how it goes. I know that I will be needing to send home a letter to parents to explain. And it will be interesting for the kids. I feel that it will work. This is a great year for me to experiment with this idea. I will keep you posted as I continue to reflect on my teaching. 

(Do it) :-).

Here are some other teachers who are doing the same. Click to read their ideas. 
             













December 30, 2015

New Year's Goals/ Link Up

Typical I do not make new year's resolutions. Not because I don't believe in the "new year, new you" motto, but because I always want to better myself. 
But here I am, writing it down, making a solid effort to make 2016 great. Even though I know it will be. :)



Commit to myself - I need to take time for me. Between teaching and working a second job I tend to forget. So making time for myself and being good to my body is at the top.

Be in the moment - Life can be hectic. I do not want to let it pass me by. I need to take time to enjoy the things that are important to me.

Reorganize - oh goodness, everything! But I especially need to take time to get my paperwork in order. I really dislike paperwork.

What are your goals this year? Link Up at 


December 29, 2015

FREEBIE Sequential Writing in Kindergarten

I hope that you all have enjoyed your winter break and will be returning to work well rested! I know, I know - break is not over yet! Enjoy the final days. I know I am. 

I have been using my days to work on new products for you all! When we get back to school my students will be working on growing their writing. I created this cute (freebie) to practice writing multiple sentences. I will be getting into this lesson by making a jelly sandwich (we have nut allergies). I am going to have the students walk me through how to make the sandwich. The goal is that they will see how important it is to provide details in their writing. 





Combine my freebie with this cute and simple craft and you have a common core aligned activity for your hallway!

Happy teaching!
Kristen


December 26, 2015

Savory Saturday

So I decided to dedicate my Saturday blog to delicious dishes! Typically I try and live a Paleo lifestyle because that is when my gut feels the best. Obviously the Christmas season was rough lol. Too many goodies around and my students just had to bless me with more chocolate! But time to get back to feeling good all over. And good food that is good for the body is the way to go!

Today I woke up not feeling my best. Lovely. I hoped to do nothing for the day, but that's something I struggle with. In college I was so good at being lazy! Well, I ran out of coffee so to the store I went. I figured since I was going to the store I would get some supplies.

I got a new cookbook for Christmas and I am just so excited to put it to use!


Today I made a a dish from her blog.   Find the original recipe here. I so will be making this for Thanksgiving next year!

Mushroom and Brussel Sprout Au Gratin. So delicious.

And well, because Brussel sprouts are always a good idea, and bacon!


 Let me tell you. This smells delicious! And tastes just as good.



December 24, 2015

An empty classroom

Finally. We are all finally on break! Can you believe it!? Yesterday our day ended at 11:45 and I left school around 5pm. Right after school we had a little ornament exchange with our staff.

How cute is my ornament?! My secret gift giver knows me so well. I currently have her daughter in my classroom and she gave her the final decision. This one won! I love it so much and can't wait to see it on my tree every year.

Afterwards I took down most of the Christmas decorations. Not all, as we are still in the Christmas season when we return to school. I switched over our calendar, changed our monthly books and made my desk visible again. LOL




Bring on January!

I have to say, it felt good to stay and work in my classroom. Monday thru Thursday I am leaving right away to go to my other job. I appreciate any time I get in there. I do plan to go up at least one day over break to get some paperwork done. 

But as for now, we are on break. Enjoy it!


Happy (no)Teaching!

Kristen

December 23, 2015

Gifts for the Parents

So I have seen some great ideas for parent gifts floating around. I make the same ornament that I made my first year of teaching. It is just too cute. I love using anything with their hand print. I got the original idea here from Step into Second Grade.



This year my aide also made an ornament that she used to make for her classes. It is so pretty. The best part, it is made with the song that they sang in our Christmas program. 

So many sweet memories. 

December 22, 2015

Grinch Day in Kinder

So let me admit, this day was totally just thrown together last minute. But I was reading all of these blogs about classrooms celebrating Grinch Day, well I just had to as well! Then I found out my first grade teacher was doing it as well, icing on the cake!

So Sunday I spent part of my day making plans. Now what I really wanted to do was find a T-shirt with the grinch to wear to school on Tuesday. I ran over to Target and they only had one left! Unfortunately it was two sizes too big. I picked it up anyway, with hope I'd find one that fits beforehand. (That didn't happen - but you better believe I am ordering one for next year!)

I have used how The Grinch Stole Christmas in the past, so I had some literacy activities to use. I created a quick grinch story problem for addition since it is a skill we are working on in class. I created it has a full sheet so I could included it in their math portfolios. The rest of the day just sort of all came together.

We started the day by reading the story. Afterwards I re-created this awesome punch a bunch. 






Included inside was a comprehension questions for the story.  My kinders loved it!


During our reading we created a list of adjectives that described the Grinch. 

After reading we were able to compare the Grinch from the beginning of the story to the end and discuss his changes.

As a whole group writing activity we respond to the prompt - How would you make the Grinch grin? 
  


Then I re-created these cute and simple Grinch crafts to go with it. So cute. I have to say, my aide and I learn a lot from each other. She is a retired Kindergarten teacher and has been such a wonderful resource. One thing I learned was to pre-cut pieces for projects and place them in individual baggies. Duh Kristen! Such a lifesaver for wanting to make certain activities go more quickly.

With our final time before lunch we did this 100s chart coloring project. I loved having them work on the floor because they made their own little groups and naturally were helping each other.





Phew and that was just the morning! This afternoon we spent in church doing a Jesse Tree program and celebrating our Sister in the lunch room with cookies and hot cocoa.

So all in all the day was awesome. I can't wait to do more with it next year.  Now tomorrow is the final day before break. Woohoo! And we get to come to school in our PJs and drink hot cocoa. Sounds like a great day.

Check out my pinterest for more awesome ideas from creative teachers! 

Happy teaching,
Kristen

December 21, 2015

Polar Express Centers

Well, I know many of you are finished for the year. However, up in PA we are going strong until December 23rd. Fine by me -because we end with one of my favorite days - Polar Express Day! 

Last week I sent home this letter to parents to let them know their kids are to wear PJs to school on Wednesday. I have been finding a lot of teachers doing a grinch day, something I was going to look into for next year but - change of plans! 


So here is my plan of attack for the week.


Today we read the Polar Express Story. Yes, complete with train tickets. As they had their tickets punched they sat on the train in pairs. Of course I had to wear a conductor hat for the story!

Afterwards we had our Sinterklaas Party. (Hop over to my post on teaching Christmas in the Netherlands.) The ornaments and riddles turned out better than I expected!

Today I utilized my centers to accompany The Polar Express theme. We are only doing two of each center so that a teacher can be with each group. For math we have a roll and color. These combines addition as they roll a dice and then add one to find what number they are to color. 

Then they will complete a marshmallow addition activity. Since the marshmallows are included they need to count and write the correct addends in the addition sentence. 

In the afternoon we completed our literacy centers. The hot chocolate craft is a favorite that I have been using for a few years. The kids love it and it is such a cute way to practice the ch sound. 

Last they will do a read and sequence activity. This center asks them to recall the events of the story and place them in the correct sequence.I worked with them on this center and read what each rectangle said. However, do to the pictures they could really complete it independently! Even better, it shows me they can recognize numbers 1-6 ;). 




As always, my kinders loved their centers time! Today was the perfect way to get in solid teaching time with fun activities.

Later in the day we traveled to Nigeria. To accompany this trip we made Christmas cards for our parents!





Tomorrow I am giving Grinch Day a go! 

And for our final day together we are having our annual cookies, hot cocoa and Polar Express movie. Hang in there all!

Happy teaching!
Kristen

December 19, 2015

Christmas in Mexico

Yesterday my kinders and I traveled to Mexico! We began the lesson on Thursday by making a poinsettia to take home, after reading The Legend of the Poinsettia By Tomie dePaola. We started early because I just knew that we would not have time for everything on Friday.


These poor students have had to look at this giant star piñata in the classroom for a whole week! But they did so well, they knew it was happening Friday so they didn't really ask about it until Friday morning.




So here was our plan of attack. We "flew" to Mexico and learned about Las Posadas and other Christmas traditions during our "in flight" movie. After we landed we put our new stamp in our passport and colored out Mexican boy and girl while listening to La Navidad musica. Then we took a break for lunch and recess.

When we came back I read them 'Twas Nochebuena. I requested this book be ordered for our library last year because I knew I would use it during my unit. It's a fantastic story set to the layout of the traditional Night Before Christmas.  It takes you through a families Christmas Eve celebrations. Now, imagine my complete excitement when I saw that 'Twas Nochebuena was on Scholastic Book Club! Yay! Ordered it for my classroom right away, along with the Spanish version as it was only a $1.00.



After reading the story we had an impromptu sing along to Feliz Navidad. They were so excited that they knew what it meant. Then on to our own Posadas! We traveled to three rooms. At each we asked for lodging.  Twice we were turned away. But at the final room we found lodging and a place to lay baby Jesus. At this point we sang Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus and headed back to our classroom.




Then it was time for the craziness, piñata!




I often wonder why I do these crazy things. Then I realize it is because we are making memories in Kinder, and they will not forget this lesson for quite some time. We yelled Dale Dale, hit it, before every strike and every kid had a turn. Finally I took a swing at it and broke it open for the run to the candy.

What an awesome day! Our candle for las Posadas went in our suitcase as our souvenir and we flew back to PA and headed home for the weekend.

Phew! I am so tired this week! But I am also have the best time with my students. On Monday we travel to Nigeria and also have our Sinterklaas surprise! Woohoo!

Happy Teaching,
Kristen.


Stop over at my TpT store to grab my Holidays around the World Bundle - complete with Common Core Aligned Activities!



December 18, 2015

Gifts for the Neighbors

I just love Christmas! The spirit of the season just changes the world around us. Snow on the ground. Lights on the house. Fires in the fireplace. Spending time with those you love. And presents! I love giving presents. It can be so hard to find the perfect present. Especially for coworkers. So, what is a girl to do but head over to Pinterest!

My other half's neighbors are a couple around our age with a five year old. They are so sweet. This year they even invited us over for Thanksgiving. So I ran the idea past D about giving them a gift this year. And he was so onboard. Yay!

I haven't quite narrowed down my final gift idea for them, but here are my favorites.

Thanks to Pam for the first awesome idea at Over The Big Moon.

1. Redbox Promo Codes - who doesn't love a free movie night. Pam included some cute printables to take advantage of.

2. Snowman Soup - Ginger made these adorable printables to pair with you "soup"!

3. Cozy blanket From Alexis 


So what to give? Well if I am perfectly honest, I am thinking of gifting all three items for a cozy winter's night in. 

Have you begun your Christmas shopping yet?! Tis the season!





December 16, 2015

Winter Break Homework

It's almost here! The anticipation is filling the classroom, the elves are in full gear and presents are being wrapped. That's right! It's Christmas break this week!! Anyone else exhausted? Just me? I didn't think so.

This week is going to be hectic, to say the least. But - my favorite day is right around the corner, POLAR EXPRESS DAY!! Oh how I love it. Hands down it is my favorite Christmas movie. Check back tomorrow to see what I have planned for the day.



This packet is used during the winter break to keep students in the routine to homework. Each day they are to complete one component of the packet. 

I strongly remind parents that the packet is to be completed over time and not in one sitting. 

Does anyone else assign homework over the break? What do you have your students do?

December 15, 2015

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas in Kindergarten

Okay, we all know my love for Pete. If you don't - this post will seal the deal for you on my obsession. Yesterday I decided to give my kiddos their Christmas presents early, for various reasons. 1 of them being I wanted them to enjoy a new book without it being crazy Christmas season and 2 - I really needed a project in the hallway! Shameless! But look how cute they are! And there was a little writing project to go with it.

Need help fitting it into the standards - Check out this fabulous resource here. This is the overview of the books from this teaching guide for the Pete the Cat.


 Random Acts of Kindness. In Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, Pete says Christmas is a time to give to others. Discuss how even the smallest act of kindness can mean so much to someone else. Have the students brainstorm a list of ways they can show kindness (e.g., ask someone to play at recess, help a parent cook dinner, share a snack with a friend). Then have students choose an idea from the list to write about and/or illustrate. Display their work in the classroom. CCSS: W.PK.3, W.PK.11, W.K.3, W.K.8, W.K.11, W.1.8, W.1.11; SL.PK.1, SL.PK.4, SL.PK.5, SL.PK.6, SL.K.1, SL.K.4, SL.K.5, SL.K.6, SL.1.1, SL.1.4, SL.1.5, SL.1.6
 Over break I really want to try and scan the pattern for you all. But for now check out this cool freebie for a different version of Pete. 

 Now, how cute is this door! My aide is the best! I got the idea from here

 The kindness that comes from these kids is just the best.





So glad we got to read out story today and create our craft before our practice for the Christmas program. Today we will be doing at least one more literacy based project. Here is a little book by Heidi Songs that I am going to use to retell the story. There is also a color by word family worksheet.

How cute is this ornament?!

December 14, 2015

Math centers

Instruction in Kindergarten can be challenging. Yes, the curriculum is easier but you need to provide time for hands on instruction and small group centers. 

This was the first year that I took on Math centers in my classroom. The real reason we started them was because of the budget issues in PA and well, it's December and we have no books. So! Since I had so much extra time during my math block - centers emerged. 

I have a class of 16 so it works out perfect for doing small group work. To group my centers I originally did a leveled grouping based on academic ability. I don't know about in your classroom but my highest group can be a challenge. They are all leaders and therefore struggle to work together. Before we leave for Christmas break I am regrouping them. I feel that kids need to work with all abilities and they learn so much from each other.

 I feel that my reading and math center time is some of my best instructional time. Students get to work with the teachers in a small group setting and they are gaining confidence because they are completing tasks and reading independently. 

But, I can always use new ideas. Especially for math as this is uncharted territory for me. So imagine my excitement when I saw KinderGals post about a free webinar.  you can register here for their webinar. 



Check out this subtraction FREEBIE by my co-worker Inspiring Growing Minds. 



December 13, 2015

Sunday Scoop

Here is a look at my week. 

This is the last full week of school before Christmas break!



Have to do:
I am a TSS 10 hours a week after school and data and timesheet is due tomorrow.
I have been slacking on inputting grades due to the fact I need to leave for work right away for my TSS job. However, I am not doing them over break! No way. 
This week we travel to Mexico for one of our countries around the world. Can't forget the pinata!

Hope to do:
Well, since I need to leave from school right away, my desk is not the most neat.
Hopefully I can wrap my student's presents as well because I would like to give them their early so we can enjoy it together.

Happy to do:
This week is our Christmas program! My kids are doing such a goo job practicing their song and I can't wait to see it come together. We have a show Tuesday during school and Wednesday at night.

Hope you have a great week all! Link up over at the Teaching Trio for the scoop on your week.

December 12, 2015

Holidays Around the World Centers

Happy Holidays all!

On Monday we travel to Israel and I can not wait to teach about Hanukkah. Check out the collaboration project I participated in with the Global Glitter Tribe. This mega freebie includes multiple holidays and is designed for grades K-5.

I created math and literacy centers to accompany your Holidays Around the World Unit. Grab them here for quick no prep activities.



All of the centers are common core aligned to help you easily address your standards. You can utilize these centers in a variety of ways. Most activities focus on a particular country, therefore you could also use the activities as a supplement to your country for the day. Or, as I utilize them in my classroom, use them as your centers for the week. 

For example - for math centers, I prepare the 4 activities and have my students work in one of those four groups. Throughout the week they will rotate and be able to complete each activity by the end of the week.

This time of the year is quite hectic! These centers could also work for you as a quick time filler, as they are designed as no prep. Grab them here.

I hope that you find them useful and easy to use in the final days before break. Many of us have a week and a half. Those of you that are finished on the 18th, your week will most likely be hectic and I hope you take advantage of these!

Happy Teaching!
-Kristen

Christmas in Sweden and a FREEBIE!

Kindergarten is off and exploring a new country! Next stop - SWEDEN!

What an awesome trip this was. While I teach in a Catholic school, a big part of Christmas in Sweden is the celebration of St. Lucia Day. 


So who was St. Lucia?

 St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith. Saint Lucy is the patron saint of blindness and her feast day is December 13. 
The story of St. Lucy is a sad one. She rejected a marriage and therefore was punished as her faith was reveled (grudges!). The first two attempts failed as they were unable to move her. Finally, guards used their swords to remove her eyes, which ultimately led to her death. (Some say she plucked out her own eyes!) So tragic! But, when they were preparing  her body for burial - her eyes were restored! Now that part may not be appropriate for your Kinders but the rest is! 

A more common story that is told about St. Lucia is her kindness. She brought food to the Christians who were persecuted in Rome and secretly living in the catacombs. Legend has it, she placed candles on her heard so that both of her hands would be free to carry the food. Lucy means light, and for her that is an accurate description.

To honor this - children in Sweden dress up as Saint Lucia. One girl (often the oldest of the family) dressed as St. Lucy with a white dress, red sash and a crown of candles. When the  girls are old enough (12+) the candles are real and lit!

Here is the oldest girl in our class dressing up as St. Lucy! She was over the moon! I hope she will remember this for many years to come.

The girls dressed as St. Lucia often visit hospitals and hand out gingersnap biscuits. Our class visited the classrooms and handed out gingerbread cookies. 

Finally my class headed to the kitchen to make our own Santa Lucia buns. (You can find the recipe in my freebie) and my class will attest that they are delicious. My fantastic aide made the dough for us and then we came down and go to roll out the dough and form them. The best part! These are approved for nut allergies! Obviously check with your parents first, but mine approved them.





It only takes 15 minutes to bake so it was more than enough time for us to color our kids for the globe.




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Now as you are research about Christmas in Sweden, I bet a goat is popping up. This goat is called the Yule Goat. If you search "Gävle goat", you will find a giant goat that is placed in the square in the city of Gävle. Each year it is assembled over two days at the beginning of Advent.  The Yule Goat is often a symbol of Christmas and is made out of straw and tied with red ribbon. 

Christmas gifts may be brought by Jultomten (Santa) or gnomes/spirits called Tomte.

Merry Christmas or 'God Jul' from Sweden!


I have created the above FREEBIE as part of a collaboration with the awesome bloggers of Global Glitter Tribe. Hop on over to check out all of the awesome freebies to get you through the holiday season.

Happy Teaching!


December 10, 2015

Little Quack

This week our Read Aloud is Little Quack

I am quite impressed that I am right on target with last year. WOOHOO! Now, that does mean that in order to get all my stories in this year we are working like crazy over the next two weeks. But, I have faith in my kiddos!

I don't know about you, but my classroom is just crazy right now. We are (as you know) traveling around the world every few days. And I like to take on a lot, but it is worth it. All for the kiddos right?! In addition to our worldly travels, we are preparing for your Christmas program. Honestly, the only thing I taught today was Religion, centers and a math daily problem solving. WHAT! Oy. Kills me a little. BUT BUT BUT, they learned so much today! Almost everything I do is cross-curricular. And today we had a special guest speaker. A priest from the local Byzatine church came and told us about the Christmas traditions he celebrates with his family that are from the old country. I loved it! He talked with us for an hour! And whats better, my kids were so engaged and respectful. Such a proud teacher moment.

Now, since centers are really the main part of my instruction this week. They better be good! Here is what's happening in our Reading Centers:

Writing: We wrote about our favorite little duck.  I love our writing because this is when my aide can work on skills with a small group. Ya know, since we have not gotten any books yet. Yup 66 days of teaching without books. Interesting things in PA.
 Phonics - letter of the week is Rr. And I am loving these letters wheels from My Happy Place.
 Listening and Guided Readings - This is where I shine with my little ones and grow them as confident readers!
 Drawing pictures of objects that begin with /r/.

Happy Teaching!