Monday, February 28, 2011

Names for Bear

Over the next three weeks, we will be doing a unit on bears. To kick off the unit, I introduced our class bear. During group time, I let every child suggest a name for bear. Then I chose my 4 favorites. (sorry, but Hannah Montana, Michael Jackson, and Phineas and Ferb DID NOT make the cut!) I made a graph on the board and wrote in the 4 choices. The kids came up one at a time and marked their vote. After everyone had voted, we counted the tallies together. Our bears name is Ella.

Every night during our unit, Ella will go home with a different child, along with her journal. Each child and their parents can write about all the things they did with Ella. Before we sent Ella home, I had a few of the kids decorate her. They used construction paper to cut out a pair of pants, a shirt, and a bow for the bears hair. I had the bear laminated, an off Ella went to spend the night with one of our friends. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tiger Stripes - Patterns

In our classroom, we work on patterns everyday during calendar time. This activity was a great way to measure individual progress and have a great artifact for each child's portfolio.

Missouri Early Learning Standards:
- Recognizes patterns
- Duplicates and extends patterns

- pre-cut black and orange strips
- glue stick
- white paper
-pre-made example

- Show the child your paper and explain how you followed the pattern black, orange, black, orange, black, orange. Just like a tiger.
- Give the child their supplies to make this activity.
- Because I used this activity to measure the child's ability and to keep for their portfolio, I used minimal teacher guidance. Below are a few of the results from my classroom.

left: child age 3

right: child age 5

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Drawing the Music

We just completed a two week unit on music. The second week of our unit focused on the orchestra. We exposed the children to vocabulary such as; tempo, conductor, and composer. During our morning meetings, we read the book Meet the Orchestra written by Ann Hayes. This book was a great resource. I read the first half of the book one day and the second half the next. After we had finished the book, we reviewed the different types of instruments; strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Then I had the children close their eyes and we listened to a song by the Philharmonic Orchestra.

After our morning meeting, I pulled four children at a time into our studio. We talked about tempo and sound. Then I played Beethoven music and had the children draw what they heard. Here are some of the pictures the children drew with their comments about the pictures.

Top Far Left: "The purple melt into the brown. I heard the sound."

Top Left: "The music made me go fast and slow and medium and tempo. I drew tempo went slow or higher. I went fast when the music made me do it.

Bottom Far Left: "Drew different sounds. I changed it to this color then this color."

Bottom Left: "I wanted to go fast and I drew slowly then I drawed a little faster. I heard the music."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Candy Heart Count

This is a great way to use all those candy hearts from Valentine's day. This activity is a great one to save and put in the child's portfolio.

- candy heart count paper
- 15 candy hearts per child
- pen
- highlighter

First, I had the child place a candy heart on every one of the hearts on the paper. Then I asked the child to count all of the pink candies. Then we counted together to check and see if the child was right. The child wrote the number under the pink column. I wrote the number in highlighter for the children who are still learning to write their numbers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Fun

I'm sure many teachers dread the Valentine's Day craziness, but Valentine's Day has long been my favorite day of the school year. Something about all the red and pink, hearts, friendship, and love. I think it's great that there is a day to stop and be reminded to cherish all the special relationships in my life. Today provided many meaningful conversations about friendship and the joy of sharing. Below are a few of the activities we did today.

The first part of our day was spent in "The Post
Office." Each child was given a turn to play mailman and pass out their Valentine's. This activity teaches friends name's, sorting, letter recognition, and sharing. The display
cases at the front of our class, worked out perfectly for setting out the mailboxes.

Next, the children played Pin the Heart on the Elephant. The kids thought this game was hilarious. I had them sit on the back edge of the carpet in two rows. Then I sent one to sit at the table with my TA to write their name. After they wrote their names, they came over to get a blindfold and get spun. I spun them, and spun them, and spun them. The kids laughed and laughed. Then they tried to pin their heart on the elephant. This game covered literacy, fine motor, large motor, good sportsmanship, turn taking, and following rules.

We also provided the children with a craft. The easiest/fastest way to prepare the materials, is to die-cut hearts and then cut out the extra on each heart. Draw two lines on each "half" of the heart. These are the lines the children will cut. Then, help the children weave the pieces together. This activity covered following directions, fine motor, scissor skills, patterns, and

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Math with Hearts and Dots

Small Group Time - In my classroom, small group time is known as star teacher time. Sometimes I work with students one on one, and other times I work with them in groups of 2-4. When I finish working with a group I let them choose a star sticker. The sticker works as great motivation for effort.

Goals: Number Recognition, Counting, One-to-One Correspondence

  • 10 Hearts numbered 1-9, and a star
  • Dots
  • Bell
The child reads the number on the heart. Then they place that many dots on the heart. When the child is finished he/she hits the star. If they are correct the teacher rings the bell. If they are not correct. The teacher and child work together to get the right amount.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Faith of a Child

Today, I sat down at the table to eat lunch with my students. The girl across from me put her elbows on the table and clasped her hands together. Then, she tilted her head down on her hands. She said, "Thank you Lord for this food, in Jesus Name Amen." It was short and to the point but it filled my heart with joy. The Bible talks about having the faith of a child, but today I witnessed the boldness of a child. A child who knew no different. In her mind, when you sit down to eat, you pray and give God thanks. She didn't think about what people would think of her. She wasn't insecure about saying the wrong words. I doubt it ever crossed her mind that "you shouldn't pray in school." I don't even know if she thought about just praying to herself in her head. As an adult, I saw it as a bold move. But in her mind, she didn't think twice about it. Today I was blessed by seeing Christ in one of my students. I pray she never looses that innocent faith. If she's teased I pray she'll stand strong and continue to display the boldness she showed today. I pray that I can learn from her 5 year old faith. I pray that God will continue to use her as an encouragement to me. Whoever knew that something as simple as a child's prayer would affect me so much?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Things Kids Say . . .

Kids really do say the funniest things. One of the things I love about working with this age group is their simple understanding of the world. How so many things make sense to them even though it doesn't actually make sense at all. Looking back, I wish I had started this blog back in September when I started teaching. That way I would have these funny sayings and special moments written down. Unfortunately, with time, the best and funniest moments are often forgotten. Sometimes it's easy to forget to enjoy the simple times in life when their are so many "more important" things taking up our time. I'm glad I now have a place to reflect on the daily events in my class. But anyway back to the funny stuff.

This is my desk. I have a picture of my fiance, Charlie, and me on my desk. This picture has sparked many hilarious conversations and quotes. At the beginning of the year I was often asked,

"Ms. Kristen who is that in the picture?"

to which I would reply,

"That's Charlie, my fiance."

Eventually the other students started answering for me . . .

"That's her beyonce!" - student KR

It was way to funny to correct her. So she still pronounces it beyonce. It makes me laugh every time. Does it make me a bad teacher letting her pronounce it wrong? And teach every one esle how to pronounce it wrong? Nah. They'll figure out how to pronounce it eventually . . . right?

A few weeks later I had a conversation about Charlie with two of my other students.

"Why he won't let you go?" - student KW
"KW sometimes in pictures, people put their arms around each other and smile for the camera." - Ms. K
"Well I don't like him." - student KW
"But KW you haven't even met him." -Ms. K
"But he ugly. I don't like him."- student KW

at this point another student chimed in,

"He tight. I like him!" -student KE
"He ain't tight!" - student KW
"Yeah he is. He tight!" - student KE

We eat lunch with the students. It's part of licencing. I love eating with them because it is a great opportunity to talk to them and get to know them better. Many of these students never sit down at a table to eat at home. This gives us the opportunity to model things like using utensils(you'd be surprised), using our napkin, what's appropriate at the table and what isn't.

On Monday, I had this conversation with one of my students. I was encouraging her to drink her milk. One of the other students said its good for your bones. She replied,

"My bones are broken." - student BR
"Your bones are broken?" - Ms. K
"Yeah all my bones are broken." - student BR

A few minutes later the same student said,

"Ms. Kristen, I stop eating every time my heart beats." -student BR

Friday, February 4, 2011


Here is a look into my classroom. These pictures were taken in September. The room has been rearranged a few times since then. There are also way more toys! I have 18 children in my class and a teacher's aid.

This year has had its challenges, including a high turn over. Unfortunately, about 7 of our friends have left since the beginning of the year. We are excited that new friends have come into our class in the last few weeks.

Recently we changed part of our room into a beauty/barber shop. The children have had a blast playing in this new area. We put an old keyboard and an old phone on a small desk for the children to use to take reservations.