Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Summer Flashback

I love this linky party with My Day in K and Teach Talk Inspire!  Tell All Tuesday is a fun way to get to know one another!  The theme this week is Summer Flashback!

I have so many fun summer memories.  When I was little we would go to upstate NY every summer where my parents grew up and most of my relatives live.  We would visit and also get a camp in the Adirondack Mountains.  I have so many fond memories of swimming in the lakes, hiking, and spending quality time with family.

During college I worked in Yellowstone National Park for 3 summer seasons (and one winter).  Those were amazing times and I am very grateful to have that experience.

Summer also means spending time with my love and traveling.  I wrote in a previous Tell All Tuesday post about visiting with family and exploring National Parks. 

However, my new favorite summer memory is our wedding.  We have been together 13 and 1/2 years and will celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary on July 5th!  We had the most amazing time on our special day.  We had our wedding at a local hotel property (McMenamins Grand Lodge) and we stayed the weekend along with our guests.  It was amazing to see my friends eating with my brother, and everyone getting to know each other.  It was a fabulous 4 days (most people arrived FRI night; rehearsal and Welcome Dinner for everybody on Saturday, Wedding Sunday, breakfast Monday and then many guests left - family stayed though.  We honeymooned a week later in Kauai!)  We had a very intimate wedding - 27 guests - and our relationship just keeps getting stronger each day.  I feel so blessed!

Make sure you check the linky party to see what other memories more bloggers have to share.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Must Read Monday: Must Read Books About Math

The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read books about math.  I must admit that I struggled with math as a student in school.  It just wasn't a subject that clicked with me.  The irony of this is that my dad was a mathematician (as well as a meteorologist and had a career in the Navy).  He would try to tutor me and some of those sessions were difficult.  I didn't understand it, and he didn't understand why I didn't "get it" and a few of those sessions ended with me in tears!  Anyone else have this experience???  Fast forward to present day, and teaching math is probably my favorite subject to teach.  One of the reasons I love it so much is that I am determined to make math meaningful and I want it to make sense for my students.  I want them to understand math, to like math, and to feel successful!

The Kindergarten Connection and I would love to know what your favorite book(s) about math are.  You can link up with us and/or leave us a comment down below!

Click, Clack, Splish, Splash by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin is an adorable and simple book about counting to 10, and then counting backwards from 10 to 1 at the end of the story.  This book is by the same authors as Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.  I like reading this at the beginning of the year since the words, pictures, and objects to count are clear, and made for beginning readers.

Chicka Chicka 1 2 3 by Bill Martin Jr and Michael Sampson is a great book to read at the beginning of the year, and then also to revisit throughout the year.  My students love this story and want to hear it over and over again.  It counts from 1-20 and then by 10's to 100.  It also addresses a little bit of place value with the number zero.

Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews is another wonderful book with cute rhymes and counting objects up to 10.  Each page has a different number of dots and those dots are integrated into a picture.  Children can easily relate to this book.  As an extension activity, it is fun to give your students 10 black dots and construction paper, and have them create their own design.

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston is a lovely book that rhymes and focuses on subtraction.  This story starts with 10 turkeys, and then through a series of events, the turkeys leave one by one.  This leads to good conversations about making numbers smaller and I always write the subtraction sentence on the white board and we practice reading the number sentence together.  This book is just one of many that has this particular style (starts with a group of 10 and gets smaller as the story goes on) and they are all great to read throughout the year!

The Mission of Addition by Brian P. Cleary is another fun book that talks about math.  It rhymes and explains what addition is.  There are various scenarios in the book which allow your students to add objects together.  It helps children count "all together" and then also create addition number sentences.  

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Must Read Monday: Must Read Books About Friendship!

The theme this week for Must Read Monday is must read books about friendship!  Having friends is such wonderful thing!  It is great to spend time with friends - laughing, talking, and being comfortable just being you!  This is an important skill to talk about in your classroom as well.  Some children need reminders about how to be a friend and stories are a great way to share this information.  The Kindergarten Connection and I would love to know what your favorite book(s) about friendship are.  You can link up with us and/or leave us a comment down below!

Dont Fidget A Feather by Erica Silverman is one of my all time favorites for sure.  It is the story of Duck and Gander, two friends who are competitive.  They want to know who is the one and forever champion of champions so they decide to have a freeze in place contest.  Whoever moves, loses.  They stay still while bees buzz around them, rabbits hop through them, etc. and they even stay still when a fox comes along and puts them in a bag.  The fox wants to eat them and is preparing a pot of boiling water.  The animals still don't move.  However, when the Gander is about to be thrown in the pot of boiling water, Duck is faced with a dilemma.  Is Gander too afraid to move?  Does he move, save his friend, and lose the contest?  Who will end up being the one and forever champion of champions?  This is a story of true friendship!

 The Ice Cream King by Steve Metzger is a cute story about how things are more fun with a friend.  A young boy goes to an ice cream shop with his mom and ends up in a dream world of ice cream, castles and everything he could possibly want.  He is all alone and finally he realizes something is missing.  What is that you ask?  A friend!  Life is better when you get to share things with others.

Corduroy by Don Freeman is such a sweet story.  I don't think this story is new to many of you, but it is a sweet tale for sure.  It is quite the adventure for a little teddy bear and a little girl who end up finding each other.  When they get together at the end of the story, they realize that they are friends...........and they always wanted a friend!

How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague is a great story of friendship and also a good one to read at the beginning of the year.  This story talks about how to play with friends nicely, how to share, and how to listen.  I like this story because it gives non-examples of friendship and ends with good examples of what it means to be a friend.  

Are you always on the lookout for new books?  Do you have favorites to share?  Follow along each Monday this summer, and if you like, link up with us!  You can also leave a comment about your favorite books down below.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tell All Tuesday! Summer Snapshot!

Tell All Tuesday is a fun linky party hosted by Jayme from Teach Talk Inspire and Diana from My Day in K.  The theme this week is Summer Snapshot!  Summer is a wonderful time to relax, catch up on things around the house, and spend time with my hubby and family.  Our family lives in New York and Colorado, so we try to meet up each year for a visit and vacation.

Lately, the theme for our family vacation has been to visit near National Parks and then spend our time hiking and exploring an amazing area.  Some of these snapshots are from NP's that we visited with my family, and some are of trips with just my husband.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, New Mexico

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Canoeing in Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone holds a special place in my heart because I worked 4 seasons in the park during and after college.  This past summer was the first time I had been back in many years and it was the first time my husband had ever been.  My heart felt so happy to be back in such an amazing part of this world we live in.

This summer we want to visit Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park in Washington.

Thanks for stopping by!  Make sure to link up with other bloggers to find about their Summer Snapshot!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Must Read Monday: Books for the End of the School Year

I am so very excited for the first week of Must Read Monday, a sumer linky party, with The Kindergarten Connection!  As teachers, we all read to our students and Alex and I are curious - what are some of your favorite books to read to your class?  I am excited to share mine each week and to also hear about yours. I have a large book collection as it is.............but I know I'll be purchasing more books at the end of this summer after reading all of the blog posts.  You can never have too many books.  Right????

The theme this week is must read books for the end of the school year.  Here are mine:

The Last Day of Kindergarten - by Nancy Loewen.  This is a cute story about a little girl who thinks back to the beginning of kindergarten and then ends up continuing the story on the last day of kindergarten.  It is a great way to reflect on things we did as a class at the beginning of school and where we are at the end of the school year - just like the character does in the book.  She also talk abut what summer will be like - which is cute to hear what my students say.  This story does have a graduation (which we do not do at my school) and that allows for another conversation about comparing and contrasting how her school is the same and different from our school.

The Night Before Summer Vacation - by Natasha Wing.  I love how this mirrors The Night Before Christmas.  It follows the same pattern and also rhymes.  It gets the children excited about possible trips they may take in the summer and allows us to turn and talk about places we'd like to travel.

First Grade, Here I Come! - by Nancy Carlson.  This story starts at the end of the first day of first grade.  It is a cute story because this child doesn't know how to feel about first grade.  He tells his mom all about his day (while comparing it to kindergarten).  He misses kindergarten, but ends up coming around to being excited about being a first grader.  This is a nice story to talk to my kiddos about what first grade will be like.  It also lets them know that is is OK to miss kindergarten, but that they are moving on and are ready for new adventures!

Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten - by Joseph Slate.  I love all the Miss Kindergarten Books!  This follows the same format - it rhymes, focuses on the letters of the alphabet and also has a repetitive line "Miss Bindergarten celebrates the last day of kindergarten."  It is a great opportunity  to talk about how the end of the school year compares to ours (like cleaning the classroom, children being excited and children being sad to leave).   The class also has a party at the end and shows Miss Bindergarten leaving the classroom where Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten begins.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! - by Dr. Seuss.  This is definitely a favorite book to read at the end of the year.  My guess is most of you know this book.  It goes through the many stages of life.........good times.........bad times..........good times..........hard times.........all the ups and downs in life.  But I love it because it talks about their future.........and how their whole life is ahead of them.  Kinders are little and don't fully grasp the brevity of this book, but it is wonderful to plant the seeds of a bright future.  I always get teary eyed at the end too. Do you?  When it says today is your day, your mountain is waiting, get on your way!  Ugh! Gets me...........every.........time!

Are you always on the lookout for new books?  Do you have favorites to share?  Follow along each Monday this summer, and if you like, link up with us!  You can also leave a comment about your favorite books down below.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Five for Friday (and Tell All Tuesday "Lie" Revealed)

Hello!  I am in a feeling swell kind of mood - today was my last day of school!  Woohoo!!  Well, my last student contact day to be truthful.  I have two work days next week to do report cards and close up the classroom and then two days of training for a new supplement to our current literacy program.  But, essentially, today was my last student work day - there is a difference!  Honestly, I can't quite believe it.  This year went by really fast!  I had a GREAT group of kiddos and a GREAT student teacher (who got hired at my school to teach 3rd grade next year - yahoo!!!!!).  I got a  text from my hubby today saying that I was almost there and I had to text back once my kiddos left..........

Does anyone else sing "Schools Out" by Alice Cooper at the end of the year?  It is a little tradition for me.  But, I crack up with the song b/c it is not forever............I'm not even close to retiring so school is only out until late August. :)

Since it is Friday, it is time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching and a Five for Friday!  The last week of school was jam packed with amazing activities.  Some I posted on my Kindergarten Planet Instagram account so I will *try* not to double up.

My husband is an organic chemistry professor at our local university and on Monday, he came into my classroom to do some chemistry experiments for the three kindergarten classes.  The kiddos LOVED it!  He kept it simple with solids, liquids, and gasses.  He brought in dry ice and balloons filled with hydrogen and helium and performed a variety of engaging experiments for the children.  It was a great learning experience for everyone and it is always one of my favorite end of the year activities.  I really enjoy when our two worlds can collide.

I loved linking up for Tell All Tuesday with Teach Talk Inspire and My Day in K.  The theme was two truths and a lie.  Here is what I said:
  1. I play the ukulele.
  2. I love brussels sprouts.
  3. I have traveled to Australia.
Well................my two truths are...............that I love brussels sprouts and that I have traveled to Australia which means the lie is..........that I play the ukulele!  I am cracking up that so many people guessed that #2 was my lie.  

I didn't grow up with brussels spouts, but I totally dig them now!  About 7 years ago my husband and I (more me!) decided to buck our tradition of camping on Thanksgiving and we stayed home and cooked a huge vegetarian feast.  I found this recipe (below) and fell in love with sprouts after eating them and haven't looked back since.  


I love eating brussels sprouts now.  We love them sautéed, roasted, and even raw and shredded in salads.  Mmmmm!

I went to Australia and New Zealand in the summer after my 8th grade year.   My dad retired from the navy after 25 years and my mom and dad and I celebrated with a huge trip.  My older brothers decided not to go b/c they were older and wanted to explore on their own.  My parents said this was a a family vacation and so they decided to stay at home doing there college thing.  I was most excited and it was a wonderful trip! I'd love to go back as an adult with my husband.  I have many pictures from that trip, but some of my favorite are pictures of me feeding a kangaroo - with my "Annie" haircut and all!  I should try to post a picture here.

My "lie" is that I play the ukulele.  Truth be told, I have played "Itsy Bitsy Spider" before for my class.........but that was plucking and with LOTS of practice.  I would love to play the ukulele and guitar.  It would be amazing to play in my classroom.  My kinder kiddos would love it!!!!  I want to be able to play like Gillian Welch..........but that takes time...........and I don't practice.  It is something I would like to do, but have not mastered, or even attempted to try to play since last year around this same time.

I happened to log into my IG account and noticed that I had hit the magical number of 1000 followers.  WOW!!!!  I am floored...........flattered..........honored............excited...........just overall excited.  If you are an IG follower.........thank you!

This kiddo!  LOVE HIM!  He is seriously the sweetest kiddo!  I adore him.  He is happy, and kind, and showered me with love and excitement.  He was totally happy in school (as you can see from the photo above) and decided to draw in sidewalk chalk "I love you Mrs. Cordes" on the last day of school when we went outside to do sidewalk chalk.  

He started the year crying and not wanting to leave mom........and by the end of the year constantly drew me pictures, talked about how he loved school, and loved learning, and loved me.  He was pure joy!

I received this very sweet note today from some parents on our last day of school.  That warms my heart and makes me smile.  Words mean so much and this made the end of our school year so lovely.  Don't you just love when you are given a kind end of the year/thank you note?

I hope you are having a fabulous Friday and enjoy checking out what other bloggers are up to in the Five for Friday linky!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tell All Tuesday Linky!

I am happy to be linking up with Jayme from Teach, Talk, Inspire and Diana from My Day in K for Tell All Tuesday!

This week the theme is "Two Truths and a Lie: All About Me."  Hmmmmm.  This was a little tricky for me.  I feel like I have posted things here and there and so I didn't want to give anything away, or make it too easy.  You know, because you all remember every tidbit I write on my blog, IG or FB........right?  Ha! Ha!

Here is how it works: I will post three "facts" about myself and you guess which ones are true, and which one is the lie.  In three days I will "announce" which one is the lie.  I wonder what your guesses will be!  Are you ready?  Here are my "Two Truths and a Lie."

  1. I play the ukulele.
  2. I love brussels sprouts.
  3. I have traveled to Australia.
I hope my "lie" does not stand out.  I think those are all believable facts about myself.  Please comment below on which one you think is the lie.  

I will let you all know soon enough!!!!!  Can you handle the suspense?  Teehee!

Don't forget to link up with other fabulous bloggers and get to know them through this fun Tell All Tuesday linky party!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tips to a Kindergarten Teacher, From a Kindergarten Teacher

This is a wonderful linky party hosted by Mary from Sharing Kindergarten!  Kindergarten is such a unique grade and I love it for so many reasons.  The end of the year is so sweet.  They know the expectations, they know what to do, and they are capable of working well together.  I always love this time of the year because we are in a rhythm with school.

But, I always have to remind myself at this time of year that there is always September (or August depending on what state you teach in!).  We arrived at this sweet spot because of September and all of the time we put in to practice the rules and expectations.

Here are some of my tips.......I could list many more.............but these are four that I think would be helpful to new kinder teachers and believe seasoned kinder teachers would nod their heads in agreement (and want to add in many more...........like I kind of do!).

1. Be Patient.

All teachers need to practice patience, but there are many days in kindergarten where patience becomes an art form - especially at the beginning of the year!  They are 5 years old.  Many have not attended preschool.  You have have a lot of ELL's in your class and they don't understand what you are asking them to do.  Everything takes a long time.  They just want to play when they come in your room and see how welcoming it is and how it is filled with wonderful items and toys.  They all want to ask you a question at the same time.  They don't understand how to take turns.  They don't "get" that when you are talking to one student in class that it is not OK for them to constantly call out for your attention (they do this ALL year!).  When a child doesn't listen, or follow a three step direction (or even a one or two sometimes), or can't remember the sound of /m/ even though you have just practiced it for 5 days...........be patient.

They need to be taught with love, kindness, and patience.  You need to be extra patient in the beginning days of school because it is so different.  It is the "front lines" as a friend of mine says and we are responsible for so much of the "training" that lets children know what school is like.  Being patient makes a big difference - in all of it - for you and the students!

2. Practice routines and procedures, and then practice again and again.

This one is sooooooooo very important.  Kinder teachers basically start school with a group of children who come from many different educational backgrounds.  Some have attended preschool while some have not. Either way, they need to learn about kindergarten routines and procedures.  For teachers - be organized and have structure in your classroom.  Children thrive and do well knowing the expectations. September, or the first month of school, is so important for teaching the routines and procedures of your classroom.  

Take for example, getting in line.  I do a line order and the children get in line alphabetically.  To them, it seems so very random, but eventually, they do get it and then there is not a fight about where children stand in line.  I say "Please quietly get in your line order for music" and they can do it.  But, we have to practice this - over, and over, and over.  Patience is VERY helpful in this procedure.  

You can't show them something one time and think they will have it.  You need to show them over, and over, and over again.  (Don't worry, remember what I said earlier in this post..........this will all pay off!).  If you practice at the beginning, and put in time with how your classroom runs, it will pay off in the end and you will be grateful you spent the time at the beginning of the year.  Think routines on everything: getting in line, sitting on the carpet, heading to their tables, getting supplies, sharing responses, "turn and talk" (there are many different names for this activity), getting water, going to the bathroom, etc.  This list goes on and on and they need to be told about ALL of it..........again, and again, and again.  Think back to tip #1!  Ha! Ha!

3. Spend time practicing fine motor skills.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have explicit lessons on how to hold a pencil, and how to write the letters in our name and how to hold scissors.  After we look at pictures, or sing songs, or talk about it with our friends, we go to our seats and practice.  I create name pages for them to practice and walk around and look at how this child is holding the pencil.  I help them move their fingers to the correct placement and I have grips that I put on pencils for some children to hold their fingers in place and start getting that routine of pencil placement in place.  There is a lot of writing in kindergarten so get them practicing and comfortable with the pencil at the beginning of the year.  You will find many children need to build stamina in holding pencils and crayons as well.

We also talk about how to hold scissors and I show them - open, close, open, close..............we talk about how our thumb goes on the top and in the small hole............I show them how the opposite hand holds our paper...........and then we go to our seats and practice cutting.  I have lots of pages where we just practice cutting nothing in particular.  We practice cutting straight lines and curved lines and shapes.  Often the children want to keep their scraps (I'm fine with that!).  Eventually, we will cut an art project, or parts of worksheets, so I want them to have plain ole' practice before we need to do it "for real."

4. Create lessons that incorporate movement, song, dance, and visuals, etc. and give them time to explore and play.

You will find that at the beginning of the year you need to incorporate so many different modalities of learning to keep them engaged.  They are 5 years old and need to move.  They can't sit for long periods of time.  Children love dancing, singing, walking around the room waddling and quacking like a duck, looking at pictures that represent your point, etc.  They NEED this movement and it is better for your sanity and their learning if they are given this movement.  As the year goes on, you still incorporate all of these activities within your lessons, but the length that they can sit and listen slowly increases. However, singing songs to teach children rules, or high-frequency words, or about shapes does help, so keep singing!

Children need to time to explore.  Before giving out math manipulatives for a lesson, give them out and let them play with them, otherwise your lesson will not go as planned.  We spend a few days with manipulative at our tables and on the carpet just exploring.  I rotate them around (practicing for center rotations here as well!) and let them play with each manipulative without any expectations.  Then when we need to use unifix cubes for counting, they can do it.  They will still try to play, but they understand the difference and are capable of using the manipulative appropriately.

Children need time to play and just be children.  I call it "Activity Time" in my room and they LIVE for this time of the day.  They love to play, engage in building complex castles with foam blocks, work out social situations in the playhouse, create projects for their parents, or me, or their friends, or for themselves in the art and writing center, etc.  Yes, they are playing, but they are learning and talking and sharing and working and practicing language, etc.  Play is learning and learning is play!

Phew!  Keep in mind, this is ONLY 4 tips :)  Kindergarten is loads of fun and the pay off with their end of the year learning is amazing.  Have a wonderful start to your year.  I hope this was helpful.  I can't wait to read what other kinder teachers have to say in this fun linky party!  Thanks for stopping by and make sure to link back to Sharing Kindergarten to read and learn from other kinder teachers.