Monthly Archives: February 2009

Celebrate good times…

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Today we had a class pajama party!  It was in honor of Ms. Bennet’s birthday!  The children were very excited because even Ms. Bennet and I wore pajamas!  They just couldn’t get over that.  Ms. Lezze-Faire even got into the spirit – she came to visit our class for a few minutes today and joked about how we all forgot to get dressed on the same day!  The children laughed and told her she was being silly – we were having a pajama party of course!  It was great.

We did our usual morning routine of journals, morning message, and circle time.  Then we had our snack of cupcakes and juice – and sang “Happy Birthday” to Ms. Bennet.  We told them they could bring a stuffed animal to school (which is very special since I don’t usually allow toys from home) and so we went around and everyone told us about the special friend they had brought with them to school.  Next we let them all take their shoes off and get comfy on the carpet with their stuffed animal to watch a movie.  We watched “The Sword and the Stone” – Ms. Bennet’s favorite children’s movie.

After the movie I let the children dance with thier stuffed animal.  They loved this part.  Then I told the children we were going to play sorting games.  First I told them to sort themselves into boys and girls.  Done.  Then, short sleeve/long sleeve.  Got it.  Then by various pajama colors: pink, purple, red, and blue (everyone’s pajamas fell into one of these color categories).  This one took a little work – but we got it.  Then I told them to sort themselves by sock color, white/not white.  They got that easily.  After each sorting we counted each group to see which one was the biggest.

Fun times.  Sporatically throughout the morning I would turn into the “Tickle Monster” and run around tickling various children that came near me!  They loved this too!  Then as a special treat we ate lunch in our room with our stuffed animals!  This excited them because we never eat lunch in our class!  It was a great day!

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Tall Man

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We’ve been having a problem in class on and off now for about two months.  It’s called:  The Middle Finger.  I’m sure you can see where I am going with this.  This all started one day when a little boy came to school and just started sticking it up at everyone – he thought it was very funny.  Ms. Bennet and I explained to him that “tall man” (for those of you who don’t know – this nickname is from the song “Where is Thumbkin?”) is never a good finger to put up by itself!  We thought the problem was solved – until a couple days later when we saw two more children in our class doing the same thing!

It was frustrating but we took it with stride and had a class discussion about not putting our middle finger up by itself – ever!  Once again, we thought the problem was solved.  But no – we keep catching children doing this!  I am about ready to send a note home to parents.  I am at my wits end – I just don’t know what to do.  I have never had this problem in my class.  Usually one student will do it – and a small talk with that child will solve the problem – but boy are these kids persistent!

I understand that children this young don’t really understand why it’s bad to put up the middle finger.  They don’t see any difference between putting up the middle finger or putting up their pointer finger.  Usually I don’t make such a big deal about it as I have this year.   But this year other teachers brought it to my attention (the first time it ever happened we were on the playground with another class and the other teacher caught the boy who started this trend) and were very concerned and talked to him about how bad this is to do – but now they won’t stop!  I think that the children might think it’s funny.  I think that they think it’s silly for a finger to be called “bad” – and I get that – but they still need to stop.  I don’t know – I’m hoping today’s talk (because it happened again this morning) will put an end to the situation – but who knows?

Any suggestions would be helpful…I’m just stuck for some reason.  Hopefully tomorrow’s fun won’t be spoiled by anyone giving the finger…

Unforgettable

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Today was chapel day.  This is the time each week where all the classes gather in the church sanctuary to sing songs and hear a Bible story.  The past couple of weeks we have been learning about Moses.  So the children learned how the “bad king” wanted to kill all the baby boys and how Moses’ mother put him in a reed basket and floated him down the river.  We also learned how the kings daughter found and raised Moses.

This week the chapel teacher was telling the story of how Moses found the burning bush and how God spoke to him through the bush.  She explained to the children how God told Moses to throw his walking staff on the ground and how God turned that staff into a snake to prove to Moses it was actually God speaking.  Then, to make her point, the chapel teacher asked:  “So, who turned Moses’ stick into a snake?”  The sanctuary was silent until a little girl in my class yelled (very loudly):  “Satan!”

Yes – you read that right – Satan!  All of the teachers turned and stared.  There was a mix of shock and horror on their faces and at first no one knew what to say.  Then the chapel teacher said, “Well, no – that’s not right.  I think you might be thinking of a different Bible story.”  And she continued on with the lesson.

After the shock had worn off, however, I found the entire situation quite funny!  I know exactly what my little friend had been thinking!  I started to laugh (as quietly as I could) and had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard!  There was also a mixture of disappointment (for not listening to the story in chapel) and pride (from remembering a story we’d learned a month ago) going through me.

You see, about a month ago, we taught them all about Adam and Eve.  We talked about how Satan had turned into a snake when he talked to Eve.  This is what she was remembering.  Her only reference of snakes in the Bible was this story.  In one of my first posts (Bad Snake) I talked about how some of the children got a little confused while learning about this topic.  But I was somewhat proud of her for remembering and being able to reference this fact a month after we’d learned it!

Perhaps this exact moment was not the right one…but believe me – this will be a chapel that is not soon forgotton! 🙂

Playing with Math

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We got pattern blocks and pattern cards out today like we have so many times before.  The children went over to the table and dutifully started putting the colored blocks on their coorresponding place on the card to create pictures.  However, I noticed the children were lacking the excitement today they usually have when playing with the pattern blocks.  I went over to the table and started playing with them and talking about the various colors and shapes of the blocks as I built my picture.  But it just wasn’t working – they were losing interest -and it occurred to me that they were bored!

So suddeny I picked up my patterning card and flipped it over.  The children starred at me – a little surprised – then one girl asked what I was doing.  She told me there was no picture on the back for me to put my blocks on!  I told her I knew that but I didn’t need a pre-made picture – I could make my own!  The children at the table watched quietly and closely as I created one picture after another.  Then, quietly I got up and walked away from the table to see what they would do.  Suddenly I heard the little girl yell:  “That’s right – we can make our own pictures!  That’s what I’m going to do!”  She flipped over her card.  The other children at the table cheered and did the same!

The concept had never occurred to them before.  Yet I had never told them they always had to use the cards to make pictures.  I simply set the cards out as a starting point – to spark their interest and give them ideas.  But they were intrigued to do this activity in another way and were quick to try it out!

Their excitement was back!  Their interest re-sparked!  They kept getting me from where I was in the room to take me back to the table to see their pictures.  And there weren’t only pictures.  Some children were sorting.  Some were counting.  And others were patterning – one little girl kept asking me to look at her “beautiful AB patterns” she was making!  It was great to see them demonstrating all the concepts we have been trying so hard this year to teach them!  They make me proud.

The Joy of Books

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I love my class this year!  This is the first class I’ve had in the past few years that I absolutely adore!  Don’t get me wrong – I always like my classes – and I have always loved my job – but this year – everything has just fallen into place!  I am sooo going to miss them when they leave!  It will be one sad day.  I also love that they play so well together.  They all just get along so well!  There is almost no fighting and the tattling is down to the bare minimum!  I think it’s a miracle.  They work out their own problems and don’t seem to hold grudges – a near perfect class!  I LOVE them!

One thing that they love to do is “read” books in our book area.  I constantly find a group of 5 or 6 sitting in the book area with one child pretending to read a book to the others!  It’s sooo cute!  Our book area always has children in it “reading”.  I have gone out of my way this year to teach the children that books are special and we need to treat them that way.  Ms.  Bennet and I have made a point to teach them the various parts of a book (the covers, spine, title page, etc.) and what purpose those parts serve.  We repeatedly go over how book are to be held, how pages are to be turned, and how nicely we put books away.  We are trying to teach them to be respectful to them.  And I think our hard work has paid off!  As a book lover – that excites me!

Today I overheard this conversation between two children in out book area:

Friend 1:  See how nice I can hold the book?  (Places the book in her lap and opens it)

Friend 2:  And we turn the pages like this… (Gently turns a page in her book)

Friend 1:  That’s right because books are special!

The two of them continue to “read” their books as a few more children come to the book area.

Friend 1:  Let’s play teacher!

Other Children:  Okay!

Friend 1:  (Holding up her book)  I am going to read this book for you.  Let’s go over the parts:  This is the front cover.  (Turns book around) This is the back cover.  (Turns book to show spine) This is the spine – it holds all the pages together.

She opens the book and “reads” it as the other children listen.  When she is done:

Friend 1:  Can someone show me how we hold the book? (Another child demonstrates)

Friend 2:  Who wants to show us how you put the books away nicely?  They are on the floor!  (Two children volunteer and clean up the books)

Friend 2:  Good job class – you are good listeners!  Remember, books are special and we always need to take care of them!

Friend 1:  That’s right – now you all can go play!

This was just too cute!  I enjoyed watching them and they seemed to be having a lot of fun!  I’m glad that what we’re trying to teach them is actually sinking in and that they are listening!  It was great too see!

Deep breath, calm down – and vent!

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A couple of weeks ago Ms. Lezze-Faire came to Ms. Bennet while I was on my break and started questioning her as to what our curriculum was and what we did in class.  She of course had no idea.  Apparently two parents had complained that their young child couldn’t be learning anything in our class because they weren’t bringing home worksheets.  And, of course, the parents couldn’t just come directly to the teachers and ask – that would be too easy!  They just HAD to involve Ms. Lezze-Faire!

So, Ms. Bennet explained that we don’t do worksheets because we feel that they are not developmentally appropriate for young children.  She also explained to her some of our hands-on activities that we do to get the children involved in their learning.  She also mentioned that we conducted and sent home progress reports in December (and will do so again mid-March) and that the majority of the children were right on track.  She also explained that we don’t follow the schools “Letter of the Week” curriculum – we have made the choice to introduce the letters that correspond to our thematic units – and so far it has worked because 90% of my students know 3/4 or more of the alphabet (both upper and lower case).

When I got back from my break Ms. Lezze-Faire and Ms. Bennet got me up to speed on the conversation.  I asked her who the parents were that were concerned.  She wouldn’t tell us.  I don’t know why – maybe she was afraid we would actually say something to them and work the problem out!  She finally broke down and gave us a small hint – implying that this child went to a different school last year. That narrows it down to 2 friends in my class – I just wish I knew which one it was! She also said the other child has a sibling in Kindergarten right now – and I only have one child in my class who fits that description!

She went on to say that she loves how every teacher has their own teaching style.  But in that same breath she told us that we should start doing a couple worksheets a week just to “appease the parents”!  Umm – no.  I don’t think so.  If these parents have such an issue with how we teach – they need to come to us and let us know!

I told Ms. Lezze-Faire if they had bothered to come to parents night at the beginning of the year – they would have known and fully understood how we teach our class!  But God forbid a parent can sacrifice one evening for their child!  She agreed but said there was nothing we could do about that.  It still irritates me that only 3 of my parents showed up that night – and I have 20 children in my class!  But I digress…

I asked Ms. Lezze-Faire  who cares if we do worksheets as long as the children learn what they need to know?  Her answer:  Apparently the parents care!  (gasp) Wow!  This is the one time they actually seem to care!  Go figure.  Then she said she didn’t know what else to tell me;  I’d just have to work it out as best as I could.  In my head I rolled my eyes and sarcastically said, “thanks a lot!” but on the outside I smiled and thanked her for telling us.

So this last week I made a point to talk the parents of our friend who has a sibling in Kindergarten.  I told them how bright he was and how he would be ready for Kindergarten come fall.  I went on and on – I really laid it on thick because I know he will be more than ready!  (Although he does have a tendency to sometimes act like a two year old!  Boys can be so immature.)  Anyway, his mother smiled at me and said (this is a direct quote), “Oh I’ve been wondering about that!  We haven’t enrolled him in Kindergarten because we didn’t know if he’d be ready!  But now we can sign the papers!  Thank you!  He likes school so much – he even does his sisters homework!”  Yes, you read that right.  Apparently, he does his sisters homework!  His sister who is in Kindergarten!  Yet – she wasn’t sure if he was “ready” for Kindergarten!  How does this possibly make any sense!  It makes me want to scream and pull my hair out!

And in case you were wondering, I have no plans to “appease the parents”.  If they have an issue – they can come and talk to one or both of us – end of story.  I am here to do what’s best for the children.  They come first and are my priority.  And I will not compromise that for anyone.

Wind Part 2

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I had meant to do this yesterday, but Ms. Bennet was called to jury duty so I waited until today.  Seeing how much fun the children had Wednesday with the wind experiment, I thought I’d do one last activity to show them how the wind moves in different directions.  For this activity, Ms. Bennet and I used bubbles!  What child doesn’t LOVE bubbles?!

First, we sat the children down on the circle time carpet and blew bubbles for them to observe.    We had them observe the general movements and speed of the bubbles.  They were super excited!  We don’t do bubbles very often – hardly ever – but after seeing how excited they got – maybe we will do them more!

Next, we asked them how they thought the bubble speed and movement would change if we blew them outside?  We got a variety of answers ranging from, “Nothing will change!” to “They will go crazy!”  Then, they all got their coats on and we went out to see if their predictions were correct!

It was a clear, sunny day with a bit of a breeze.  Perfect for what we were going to do!  We had them stand in a line and Ms. Bennet and I blew some bubbles for them to observe.  Of course, the bubble flew up and around and everywhere in the breeze!  Then we let the children run after and try to catch the bubbles for about 15 mins.  They had an awesome time!  Good thing we were outside because this is not a quiet activity!

Lastly, we went inside and talked about how the movement and speed of the bubbles was different outside then it was inside and why.  They all got it!  They understood it was the wind moving the bubbles and making them go in different directions!  I absolutely love it when the children can be so actively involved in their learning!  Good times..