Monthly Archives: August 2009

counting fish

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Well, I’ve been sick for a few days now…to be honest, I’ve been waiting for it to hit – and it finally did on Friday!  For some reason I always manage to get sick within the first month of school – and it was no different this year!  I think this is the worst cold I’ve had in months!  I don’t remember feeling so bad in a long time!  But today there was some semblance of normalcy back in my life and I didn’t feel like death warmed over all day – so that was good.

This morning we did some goldfish cracker sorting to go along with our ocean theme.  We sorted them by color, and then colored in a graph to record how many of each color we had.  Then we talked about what color they had the most of and what color they had the least of.  I got through about half the class today and they all did really well!  Afterward I let them eat their crackers – and this was of course their favorite part!

Well, this is it for my little update – maybe a longer post will come when I feel a little better (and less tired)!  For those of you who are back at school – good luck with your new classes – and have fun!  🙂

my scientists

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We’ve been low this week – and (shock to me) it’s actually been going really, really well so far!  The children have been very involved in their work (I call play time work time when I’m in class) this week – so the noise level has been brought down a couple notches (thank God!).

Today Ms. Bennet started our sink/float experiment.  I first talked about it and demonstrated it to the class.  I had a few different objects and we guessed if we thought they would sink or float then we tested our hypothesis to see if we were right!  The children enjoyed this a lot!  Then I had a small tub of water and some more objects on our science table for the children to experiment with during choice time.  Due to the fact that I apparently “need” to send paperwork home, I found this sink/float paper (scroll down to the last page of the PDF file) for the children to record their findings on.  Ms. Bennet sat at the table and helped them.

While I do this experiment every year, this is the first time I had the children record their findings.  Instead of having them draw or write what objects were – I had small pictures of each item (I made from clip art) that they glued in each box.  This seemed to work well – but it was a very slow process!  I was surprised by how good they were at guessing what would happen to each object!  We will definitely be doing this for the rest of the week!  Or until everyone who wants a turn has had one – and it looked like they all wanted to try!  🙂

a little update

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I was thinking this weekend that some of my faithful followers (thank you!) out there might be wanting an update on the dilemma I am having surrounding the dreaded worksheet.  This is a topic I have vented/complained/bitched (sorry for the vulgarity) about before and it is something I am being forced to do in my classroom this year.

Here’s how it works out for me:

One worksheet I send home each week pertains to the Letter of the Week (something I also hate doing because it never seems to really teach the kids the letters – in my experience).  Since I simply refuse to do any tracing in my class I had to go another route.  I found this paper to go with every letter of the alphabet.  I  modify it by using white out on the bottom to get rid of the boxes and just leave a line.  There is no way my 3/4 year olds can write small enough to fit in those little boxes – and I wouldn’t expect them to!  Sometimes I type new directions to say something like put a square around the letter or highlight it a certain color.  I try to switch it up – keep it interesting.

The second page I send home each week is a blank piece of paper that I put 4 black lines on.  I made the lines with my word processing program so I know they are straight.  On the first line I write the child’s name in red sharpie and on the lines below I have each child try to write their name (they basically try to copy what I wrote for them at the top).  I make sure to leave a nice wide space between each line so the children who write big have plenty of room.  The lines are basically there so the children don’t write random letters all over the page or write their name vertically.  It seems to be working so far.  Right now we are only working on our first names – when I see a child has mastered their first name, we will move on to their last name.

The last page is usually some sort of science or math paper.  This last week it was recording the length of ocean animals.  Next week I think maybe a sink/float recording sheet.  At other times it might be sorting or counting or something like that – whatever I manage to find free online (usually through teacher websites) that fit our theme or look appropriate for a preschool aged child.

At parents night I told my parents to only expect 2 – maybe 3 – papers a week.  That’s all we feel are necessary as we don’t want to overload the child with paperwork.  Also we want all the part time children to complete one paper so we can all move on to the next together.  I wanted to tell them I was being forced to do worksheets and that I was sorry for offering materials to their children that were not developmentally appropriate – but I felt that would be out of line.

I do feel guilty though – and I just can’t seem to get over it.  Everytime I sit a child down to do a worksheet with them I think, “They could be doing something way more productive right now!”  But, we do what we must.  If anyone has any good resources for paperwork (free) post a link on a comment – I’ll be glad to give it a look!

Hopefully my parents are happy this year and don’t complain a lot like my parents last year.  I’ll keep you posted if any worksheet drama pops up in the future!  🙂

how long?

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If you read my post from yesterday, you know how frustrated I was with my classes behavior.  This morning at circle time I had a talk with them about how they are big boys and girls and it’s their job to follow the rules and listen at school.  Then, instead of us (the teachers) going over the rules – I had them take turns telling me the rules.  I don’t know if it was the talk or the fact that we had 5 less kids today – but finally – after days of frustration – we had an almost great day!  YAY!  I am so happy!  🙂

Today we did a math/science activity that the children were really excited about.  We talked about how big things are  and how we measure using a ruler or measuring tape.  Then we talked about how we could use other items to measure with – like hands, feet, blocks, or in our case, unifix cubes!  I have a bunch of plastic ocean animals and I took out a few and asked the children to guess how many cubes long we thought the animal was.  After I took a few guesses, Ms. Bennet showed the children how to snap the cubes together until we had a line of cubes as long as the animal.  Then we counted the cubes and compared our guesses with the actual amount.

Then I laid out our container of unifix cubes, 4 plastic ocean animals, a couple pencils, and an ocean animal measuring paper I made to record their data.  I showed the children how to use the paper to record their data and told them that only two children at a time could work because it was a small table.  I also put out a sentence strip with numbers written on it to help them out with writing their numbers.  I made sure I sat very near the table to help any children that didn’t feel like they were ready to tackle this on their own (there were quite a few – but I expected that)!

In the end the children really enjoyed working on this activity and I told them that they did the kind of work a real scientist would do!  They were excited to take home their papers and show their parents how they wrote numbers (most for the very first time)!  And I was excited to see them so excited about learning!  We will keep this activity out until everyone who wants to has had a turn!

desprate times…

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I’m at my wits end!  I need to vent!  Badly.  It’s 3 weeks into the school year – 3 whole weeks – and these kids in my class still don’t get it – and I can’t figure out why!  Usually by this time we have found our rhythm and are a happy class! Usually it’s just a couple kids that need a little extra guidance – but everyone else is fine.  Not this year.

Just yesterday 3 books in our book area were destroyed – the covers ripped right off – and no one will admit to doing it! (Why did I turn my back for so long?!)  And this after we constantly go over how to treat books and how special they are!

They still can’t walk in a line – if I’m not constantly telling them wherever we go to follow the person in front of them – they simply wander off! If they don’t wander off they bump into things and I have to keep from laughing!  I know that sounds mean – but really – the stunned expression on their face is quite amusing!

And there is no use giving them simple instructions – they don’t seem to understand.  I told one child, “Please go put this book on the brown table for me.”  (We only have one brown table and we use it daily at circle time – it was about 6 feet away and I pointed to it).  The child proceeds to walk in the opposite direction in which I pointed and refused to listen to my redirection.   He walks around the classroom with a lost expression on his face for a few minutes before comming back to inform me we don’t have a brown table!  When I showed him the brown table – he gave me a stunned look as if I must have made it appear out of thin air!

Some can’t even go to the bathroom without being walked through the process (i.e. telling them to wipe, flush, wash hands with soap, dry hands, and throw the paper towel away).

I have never had a class like this!  And they have absolutely no attention span!  They also have a complete lack of respect for adults.  They talk back, tell us no, and laugh in our faces when we correct their behavior! Where did they learn this behavior?!  I certainly hope their teachers from last year didn’t let them act this way!

I need help!  I.AM.DONE.

(deep breath…or two or three)

There.  I feel better now.  I vented.  But seriously it’s not good.  I wrote about my frustrations with the class here – but I would have thought 2 weeks later we wold have had some progress!  We have our good moments – don’t get me wrong.  And it’s not every single child – but it’s about half of them!  And for me – that’s too many!

I will take suggestions!  If anyone has any games or stories to help teach listening and following direction skills – I will be more then happy to hear them!  Also, they don’t know spacial concepts such as in front, behind, over, under, next to, etc.  If anyone has any good ideas for teaching this, it would help as well.  I need to find away to get this class together!  I can’t go through the year like this – and talking to parents or writing notes will only get me so far – any suggestions are welcome!  🙂

parents night

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Tonight was our annual Parents Night (A.K.A:  Back to School Night).  A night when parents are invited to come and meet their child’s teachers and see the classroom (without the children present).  8 out of my 19 parents showed up.  Better then last year when I only had 3 out of 22.

Here’s how I prep for my parents night:

First I make a handout to give all my parents which outlines our curriculum, our teaching philosophy, our discipline policy, and our daily schedule.  Next, I lay out various activities on each table which demonstrate some of the items we use to teach the children.  There is a literacy table, a science table, a math table, and a creative arts table.  We try to fill each table with enough activities so that the parents are really able to see what their child does each day to help them learn.

The actual night is spent with us briefly going over the handout, taking questions, and letting the parents explore the room and activities while talking with us and with other parents.  All the parents who showed up seemed to be excited about this school year and happy with how we run our class.  Overall, a pleasant evening.  It does make me sad that more parents didn’t decide to show up – but I will give them the handout tomorrow and answer any questions they might have.

I must say that Ms. Bennet really helped carry me through the night!  I absolutely hate getting up and talking in front of people – something I know I need to get over – but since she loves it she did a lot of the talking!  She’s just great!  I couldn’t have done it without her!  🙂

tasting the ocean

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On Friday we taught the children that the water in the ocean is different from the water we drink (or the water in lakes and rivers).  I told the children that the ocean was made up of salt water.  Then I made some salt water and together we looked at it, smelled it, and then tasted it!  Each child got a small cup with about a tablespoon of saltwater (I only gave them this much because I accidentally made it REALLY salty!).  After I gave them their cup I asked them to smell the saltwater and tell me what they thought.  Some thought it smelled “dirty” others said they “just smelled the cup”, and others said it smelled “like salt”.  Then I asked them if it looked different from the water we get from the drinking fountain – and we decided it didn’t.  Then I let them drink their water – and it was about a 50-50 split on who liked the saltwater and who didn’t!

I then gave them a small cup with freshwater in it and we repeated the same process.  When I asked the children what they fresh water smelled like some said “clean” while others said “nothing”.  We agreed it looked like saltwater and most of us said it tasted better then the saltwater!  It was a good discussion and I’m glad we got the opportunity to talk about how the animals in the ocean have to live in a special kind of water.