I am so thankful that my principal arranged for me to observe my colleague, Jodi. I learned so much! I have to say that when I ask to observe because I want to learn something, I learn much more than when I am required to observe. I wish I could say that I am always open to all training I receive. I think that when I feel I am being respected and my experience is valued, it is much easier for me to want to learn ways to improve my practice.
I started giving a small treat to the kids that starts with the letter of the week. Last week it was one Skittle each for “S” and this week it was an “M & M” for….well you guess what the letter of the week is.
Also, when we transition from the carpet to our tables, we think of a way to get there that starts with that letter. Last week we skated, skied, slid, skateboarded, and swam. Today we moved like mice, motorcycled, moseyed, meandered, and did the merengue. It was fun!
Wow! in the last week and a half I’ve had four kids throwing up at once and a little boy who broke his nose by accidentally running into a little girl!
Medical emergencies for little ones seem to be more extreme than anything I’ve dealt with. The importance of my quick, compassionate, and calm responses to these emergencies struck me as so much more important for kindergarteners than for any other grade level.
Poor, little ones!
Sitting in a Circle (Tune of “Following the Leader”)
We’re sitting in a circle, a circle, a circle.
We’re sitting in a circle
As round as it can be.
We see each other’s faces, our faces, our faces.
We see each other’s faces
As cute as we can be.
No one’s in the middle, the middle, the middle.
No one’s in the middle,
So everyone can see.
Forming a Circle Song (Tune of “Ring around the Rosie”)
Ring around the Rosy
A pocket full of posies,
We all sit down. (Whisper last line.)
Transition to the floor or to the chairs Song(Sing to the tune of “Shortnin’ Bread.”)
Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat, Everybody have a seat on the floor. Not on the ceiling, not on the door… Everybody have a seat on the floor.
Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat, Everybody have a seat on your chair. Not on the ceiling, not on the stair… Everybody have a seat on your chair.
I just got my 33rd kindergartener. That’s right. Count them: 33! My husband asked me why so many. The only answer is: Californians don’t want to pay taxes.
Well, 33 is closer to 3.7 million. But at least I don’t have quite that many….yet!
The Perfect Girl
By Jane Medina
Susan Lamb was the perfect third grade girl. Besides having the perfect name, she was pretty, smart, polite, friendly and blonde. Her cotton jumpers were always perfectly pressed. Her symmetrical ponytails curled ever so slightly at the ends. Her lacy white socks were always perfectly folded above her perfectly polished shoes. And her smile was perennially sweet. In other words, she had “teacher’s pet” written all over her. Fortunately for Susan, our third grade teacher was the crotchety, old Mrs. Armitage. So instead of hating her, we kids felt sorry for Susan having to be the pet of our repugnant teacher. Our compassion for Susan was understandably limited, of course, because she had also been the second grade teacher’s pet and would probably be the fourth grade pet, as well.
Naturally, all the girls wanted to be her friend. Who wouldn’t? Beside the fact that friendship with Susan carried quite a bit of prestige, unlike most third grade girls she never said anything hateful. No one really cared that she didn’t make interesting conversation or that she was just too clean to play with. Just sitting next to her at lunch was an honor. I remember watching Susan and her friends chew their bologna and American cheese sandwiches demurely and giggle delicately, while I wolfed down my peanut butter and jelly so I could grab a swing before they were all taken. I’m sure my passion for recess did not put me in good standing with Susan’s set, but Susan always treated me as if I were a friend.
My mother had arranged with Susan’s mother to take me to school whenever the weather was too bad. Consequently, I loved thunderstorms. Mrs. Lamb had the most exciting car in the world: a Volkswagen bug. Traveling by bug is rather like riding inside a covered bicycle, you’re never completely protected from the elements. I remember bumping along in the Lamb’s family bug to Longfellow Elementary School during a torrential rain. Not only did the wind and thunder shake the tiny vehicle, but the pelting rain seemed it could penetrate the dome-shaped roof at any time. A satisfying number of raindrops were able to make their way through the windows that never completely closed, spraying our faces with a gentle mist. The thing that made these rides the most exciting, however, were the eight or nine other third graders all crammed into the cab. The discomfort of having two or three other eight-year-olds sitting on one’s lap was almost possible to ignore as we laughed and sang and joked our way to school together. The very best thing about that Volkswagen was that it had two beige plastic straps on either side of the cab, which lucky kids got to grab on to and pretend they were in a crowded subway or a cable car. Mrs. Lamb was surprisingly tolerant of noisy children, and she even joined in the fun by making precariously sharp turns so that the kids hanging onto the straps got the full effect. Susan Lamb had the perfect car and the perfect mother to go with it.
My envy of Susan might have come to a head on Valentines Day that school year. Naturally, Valentines Day was also Susan’s birthday. As all children know, there is no more perfect day for a birthday than Valentines Day. Christmas is no good, because everyone forgets your birthday. Every day in December and the first week of January are out for the same reason. Summer birthdays are iffy, because you never know who’s going to make it to your party. And all spring and fall birthdays have no special meaning. Having a birthday on Valentines Day, on the other hand, is both practically and symbolically significant. You had an automatic party at school every year when kids passed out their Valentines cards. And a Valentines birthday meant that your mother loved you enough to have you on the day most closely associated with love. This meant that God and all His angels probably loved you, too. I had about the worst birthday possible: June 13th. It was an unlucky number and it was usually the last day of school. Who’s going to remember to sing happy birthday to you when in a very few hours everyone will be reprieved from school for an entire summer?
Our third-grade year Susan’s Valentines/birthday was more wonderful than all school Valentines parties and birthday parties put together. Instead of the same old boring cupcakes other mothers send to school, Susan’s mother had made each third grader an enormous sugar cookie with each person’s name beautifully inscribed in red icing. I remember staring at the lovely cursive letters that formed my name, feeling like Mrs. Lamb probably loved me, too. I have never heard a more rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” than the one we sang to Susan. That day no one was envious of Susan. Those sugar cookies with our very own names on them made us all vicariously experience her mother’s love. It was the most perfect day in third grade for all of us, not just for Susan.
What innocence so sweet
as innocence asleep?
If you have ever watched a child, especially your own, asleep, you will know the sweetness of which I speak.
MaryAnn, a dear former kindergarten teacher, gave me the idea of choosing two “rest time fairies” who will wake the resting kindergarteners by tapping them gently with magic wands. I tell my little ones that I will choose the two best resters to be the “rest time fairies.” It’s amazing how sleepy children get when they have a chance to use a magic wand. Playing a selection from “The World’s Most Relaxing Classical Music” helps an awful lot, too!
Wow! Everyone told me that kindergarten is a different world. Boy, are they right. I’m enjoying learning my way around this new planet. Fortunately, I have lots of natives who are taking me to their leader. I understand now why kindergarten teachers always refer to the other kinder teachers at their schools as their “partners.” You can’t do this job alone! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you (ad infinitum) to Jodi for all the planning, copying, advice, patience, and insight about kindergarteners and their parents. I’m blessed to get to work with her!
A zillion thanks to Carmen, my daughter Annie, and Sherry for volunteering so much! Sherry is volunteering four days this week! I’m not certain how I’ll handle 32 kindergarteners without another adult in the room!
And last, but certainly not least, my sincerest thanks to our new principal Jeremy Mortensen. He is changing the whole atmosphere of our school from one of fear and oppression to one of respect and excitement about teaching. It’s amazing what a good leader can do!
Here are some ideas I got from MeaningMatters.com, as well as another one I’ve used when I was teaching music years ago. The literacy key is to write these on charts with name tags to insert where the children’s names go. I used foam name tags, hoping they’ll last a little longer.
Songs and Poems Using Students’ Names
1. Old Shoes New Shoes
(child’s name) is wearing (color word) shoes
1, 2, 3, 4 see (her/him) stomp them on the floor.
2. Hickety Pickety Bumblebee
Hickety, Pickety, Bumblebee
Won’t you say your name for me? (child’s name)
all say it (children say it emphasizing syllables)
Let’s all clap it (children clap the syllables)
Let’s all whisper it (children whisper it)
Let’s all stomp it (children stomp it)
3. Who Stole The Cookie
(can also be adapted many ways. We have also substituted “stole” for took.)
- Who stole the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch?
- Who stole the apple from the apple tree?
Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?
(child’s name), stole the cookie from the cookie jar
~ Author Unknown
4. Dingle, Dangle, Deary me
Apples on the apple tree,
Falling down on (child’s name)‘s head
Dingle, Dangle, Deary me.
~ Author Unknown
5. Nursery Rhymes
Children’s names can be used in almost any Nursery Rhyme. They are also perfect because they are familiar to children and the amount of text to put on a chart is minimal.
Jack Be Nimble
(child’s name) be nimble,
(child’s name) be quick,
(child’s name) jump over the candlestick.
You can also use the first part with the name “Jack” and add this component
(child’s name) be nimble
Jump it too,
If Jack can do it,
So can you!
Jack and Jill
(1st child’s name) (2nd child’s name) went up a hill,
to fetch a pail of water.
(1st child’s name) fell down and broke her crown,
and (2nd child’s name) came tumbling after.
6. I like You
I like (name). There’s no doubt about it.
I like (name). There’s no doubt about it.
I like (name). There’s no doubt about it.
(He/She) is my good friend.
I have about two minutes to take a breath and write a post.
I really love my students already! They’ve got a long way to become students, though! Thank God for my daughter, Annie, who volunteered on day one and helped little crying Marco. Thanks also to my dear friend Sherry for overseeing my 32 (Yes, count them…32!) little ones figure out which crayon is red and which is blue. I have so many stories already. Suffice it to say that the kids are the best part of kindergarten. Juggling my administrative tasks and getting all those critters to sit in one spot at the same time is close to performing a miracle. Thank goodness for my wonderful new principal. He really ran interference when I was facing some heat from people who wanted perfection the first two days of kindergarten!
I have as much to learn as my students, I think.
Oh, by the way, I’m getting a new student on Monday who doesn’t know his name because his parents only call him Monkey!