Friday, December 25, 2015

A Very Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Chaos

Happy official first day of Christmas Break!!!

I have to say there were a few days this past week and a half that I wasn't sure we were going to make it.  There is nothing in the world like the week before Christmas break.  It's complete Christmas madness.  Just take my word for it.

I've had so many things I wanted to talk about in our weeks leading up to Christmas but between Christmas activities and programs and elves on the shelves and parties and cookies and sugar, sugar, and more SUGAR the weeks just slipped by.  So here's a little recap of the Christmas season Kindergarten style.

This was our Christmas bulletin board outside of our classroom.  I think I've mentioned before that I used to LOVE the idea of doing bulletin boards when I was student teaching.  Now?  Not so much.  However I do LOVE the holly berry leaves we use as the border every year.  On the inside were very short letters to Santa my students wrote.  I told them they had to choose the top three items on their Christmas list and we had to condense them to one or two words because we didn't have enough space.  They did a great job brainstorming, writing, and very neatly decorating their letters.

We were visited by a very special elf sent directly from Santa at the North Pole.  I started this tradition last year.  You can read about last year's elf on the shelf and where I got some of my ideas HERE.  We have the BEST kitchen staff at my school.  They are all so loving and friendly to our students.  For the majority of our students these ladies are the first people to greet them each morning and they really make the cafeteria a special place to be.  Our Kitchen manager delivered our package from Santa again this year and even read the letter he sent with it! 

Naming our elf is always an ordeal.  We have to establish rules like 
"You need to think of names that remind you of Christmas"
"No we can not name the elf after a person in our class"
"No we can not name the elf after your mom, your sister, or your best friend"

We come up with a list of possible names and vote and after a few grueling hours we usually settle on three names for our elf.  It's interesting but it's the best compromise we can come up with.
Allow me to introduce you to Lulu Frost Holly.  Who just happened to appear in our classroom right in the middle of reading stations.  No one could believe it.  She must have tiptoed right past all of us and climbed to the top of one of cabinets.  She sat very patiently until one of the girls spotted her.  After that, all holy elf mania broke loose.
Unfortunately Lulu only hung out in the highest spots in our classroom.  I'm sure one reason was so that she could get a good view of everyone and the other reason I'm sure was that some of us had a hard time understanding the number one rule of elf on the shelf.....NO TOUCHING.  

We had our annual Christmas concert.

Packed our bags for a trip around the world in search Christmas traditions all over the globe.
Our Christmas ride began to wind down with some reindeer games at our class Christmas party.

Finally, the last stop came with our school wide Polar Express day.  It was chaotic and fun and everything in between.  I also feel fortunate that we have the freedom to wish each other a Merry Christmas throughout the season.  So many places around the country are limited to the amount of Christmas decorations and activities to do in school as well as only using the phrase Happy Holidays.  Christmas is an American tradition and it makes me sad that so many students miss out on learning about and celebrating these tradition all for the sake of being politically correct.  

So with that said MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you.  I'm off to finish wrapping gifts.  I've actually been completely done shopping and wrapping for over a week but for quite some time now I've also played Santa elf and helped my dad with his shopping and wrapping so I'm actually finishing his.  

Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year.  See you sometime this weekend for Five for Friday! 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

FfF weekend before Christmas style

It's Saturday!

And a very happy Saturday at that!

The weeks leading up to Christmas at school go from crazy to insane in no time flat.  Here's what happened in Kindergarten this week.

I can't complain much about this week considering I only spent three days there.  I felt a little strange Monday when I came from school but I was sure that I was just tired and a nap would solve the problem.  I woke up Tuesday feeling much worse but it was too late to call off and I was not prepared for a sub.  I stuck it out Tuesday, wrote lesson plans for two days, and went straight the doctor after school.  I was really afraid that I had strep throat but that test came back negative. I didn't have the flue either.  So they gave me an antibiotic and said "hope you feel better" UGH! She also asked me what grade I teach.  When I said  Kindergarten she said "oh that's your problem," "they're cute but they carry lots of germs."  Tell me about it!

We've been learning about Christmas traditions around the world.  On Friday my class and the other classrooms on the bottom floor of my school had a big Christmas Around the World celebration.  Each class rotated through all of the classroom and did a little activity in each "country."   Our students wore boarding passes around their necks and carried their passports from country to country,  My classroom represented Sweden.  We learned 10 Christmas words in Swedish, listened to Swedish Christmas Carols, and learned a traditional Swedish ring dance.  Before each class departed to their next country they sampled cinnamon rolls and hot cocoa.  Not too shabby for a teacher who just the day before couldn't get out of bed!

We've been enjoying our elf on the shelf this year but sadly she's been pretty silent.  Not much action other than her reappearing in different spot every morning.  I told my students that I think she's too afraid to do anything fun.  We've had to have several conversations about not touching her.  As a result she only hangs out in highest spots in our classroom.  Smart girl.

Earlier in the week we spent some time talking about symmetry as part of our shape unit.  We used one of my favorite IPad apps, geoboard, and practice making shapes that were the same size and same shape.  We also used it cut our shapes in half with the line of symmetry.  

This week marked another chemo treatment for my mom.  This is a process that moves so slow yet so quickly at the same time.  Unfortunately I had to miss this treatment with her.  I was really disappointed.  I had been feeling better but I didn't want to risk spreading my Christmas illness to her or any of other patients in the infusion center.  She sent me a picture of her with my dad so we could still document this treatment.  We have been on this road for five months now.  Each day is a different experience.  It's challenging, humbling, and inspiring and my gratitude for doctors, nurses, and the wonderful support system of family of friends grows more and more every day.  

So there it is.  The week before Christmas.  I would love to say that I'm celebrating my first day of winter break but sadly we have school Monday AND Tuesday of next week.  We still have our class Christmas party and a school wide Polar Express day,  Yikes! The Christmas Chaos continues.  How was your week?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Five for Friday Back to Reality Style

Happy Weekend!

First let me start by saying we survived our first week back.  Maybe it was the fact that we had an entire week off to regroup or maybe it's the fact that my little minis are finally getting the hang of school but life Kindergarten went really well this week.  For me it was a week of highs and lows.  The highs included my class and their rock star behavior this week.  The lows included me missing two meetings, showing up for one a day early, and basically having no clue where I supposed to be all week as I was constantly finding myself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Ouch! Luckily that all happened mostly early in the week and it worked out by the end of the week.  Here's a little peak at what happened.

I already said that I completely lost track of my schedule this week.  I'm blaming that on the fact that I had an observation schedule for Tuesday.  My school is participating in a school improvement program and one of the activities of this program includes a grade level observation.  Basically, I was observed by our trainer for the program, my two Kindergarten teammates, and a substitute teacher.  Did you hear me? I was observed by not ONE but essentially FIVE people if you include my teaching assistant, but she's there every day so you can count her only if you want to.  

That's right.  FIVE people.  Or FOUR.  Either way...I was a nervous wreck.  I'm always a little nervous when anyone observes me but normally it's only one person..not four or five..and not on the second day back from break.  YIKES!

Honestly.  It went well.  My students were angels.  Really they were.  And the best thing about this program is that when I met with the trainer and my team afterwards they only wanted to talk about the good learning that was going on in my class.  I can't explain the enormous amount of relief!

This little beauty showed up on facebook this week.  Truthfully I'm not a fan of all of the time hops and snap shots of this day 3 years ago or 2 years or last that often show up on social media.  It reminds me of how fast time flies.  In this case it reminded me of how much I've changed and grown as a teacher.  This was my Christmas tree in my classroom my first year, before we put ornaments on it of course.  I decided we were going to "unwrap a book" every day until Christmas break.  Brilliant idea right?  NO WAY.  I guess I didn't explain it well enough because they saw the wrapped the presents..assumed they were actual presents...and thought the idea was that they unwrapped a present that day only for me to replace it with a new present the next day and every other day until Christmas break. Fail.  They were a little less than thrilled by the idea but we did read all of the books.  Now I just read a different book every day and we are all much happier.

We started a unit on shapes this week.  I LOVE teaching shapes.  There are so many fun activities and I never have time for all of them.  This week we talked about sides, corners, and angles of flat shapes.  We also built our own shapes using pretzels and marshmallows.  I was a little nervous about how this would go.  Especially since the first part of the lesson was during my observation.  

They did awesome!  We had a little chat session after day 1 of our pretzel lesson so I could tell them thank you for working so hard when we had visitors in our room and how proud I was of them for how well they made their shapes.  I was really surprised by how well it went.  I was really feeling good about myself at this point.  One student raised his hand and said "I love math!"...(a teacher's dream response).  Yep this was going to be the best day ever.  I asked him what he loved about math.  He said "I love that we eat!"...back to reality.
We've been using our letter sound detective skills to break analyze words.  We took a few letters that they already know and used the short a sound to make cvc words.  I love doing this because they all tell me they can't read and within five minutes they're sounding out all kinds short a words.  It's fun.  We continued on our detective work by writing and sounding out our short a words and drawing pictures of each word.  I gave each student a magnifying glass to help them with their seat work during reading stations.  This is something I REALLY wish I had a picture of.  They were so serious about their task and I had every intention of capturing it with a picture but I was busy with my own group and forgot.  This is just the beginning of our detective work so I will be sure to get some pictures for you later. 

Finally, we did a little writing activity on Friday.  This is one activity I DO have a picture of.  We made a short little list for Santa to display on the bulletin board outside of our classroom.  Each student chose the top 3 items on their Christmas list and I helped them spell some of the bigger words.  Truthfully. I didn't know how to spell some of them.  I guess I'm out of the loop on the hottest items in Santa's Workshop.

And that's a wrap for our week after break.  No more turkey and DRESSING.  Now it's Santa, reindeer, cookies, lights, trees, and craziness.  We are kicking off the Christmas season tonight with our town Christmas block party.  It's a little tradition that keeps growing and growing every year.  It's a lot of fun and a little stressful considering it usually competes with the SEC championship every year.  We take college football very seriously around here.  Especially BAMA football and we hope to also be celebrating some touchdowns later tonight, too!

Let the Christmas season begin! Have a great weekend and Roll Tide!