Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mailbox Monday (2 days late!)

I love Mailbox Monday. :)

"Merry Christmas to the best teacher in the world." Darling.

I am constantly finding these tiny scraps of paper in my mailbox with the sweetest messages. :)

Yes, that is an apple, banana, watermelon tree!

That's me.... I'm fishing, and apparently having a bad hair day!

Cute, cute, cute -- in her words, "That's you and me!"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The essence of a kindergartner

I was finally able to put it into words this morning. I was talking to my mom, and I was describing how I felt yesterday. I said:

"I think it bothers me so much because they were kindergartners. And, the thing about kindergartners, is that as much as the world and culture may change around them, they will always be kindergartners. To me, they are one of the only groups of people who do not change with 'the times.' Whether they are kindergartners in Nebraska or New York, there is a certain set of characteristics every five-year-old shares. All I could think about yesterday, was they were just like these kids."

What is the essence of a kindergartner? It is the way they...
  • Look on the first day of school -- a mixture of nerves, fear, excitement, and curiosity. 
  • Walk slightly off-balance because of their new backpacks.
  • Laugh out loud at a funny story.
  • Raise their hands and cover their mouths simultaneously in an attempt to hold in what they have to say.
  • Fall into your arms when someone hurts their feelings.
  • Sing while they're swinging... and coloring... and lining up... and going to the bathroom.
  • Run. Everywhere they go.
  • Light up when they realize they just read a book on their own.
  • Count everything.
  • Talk just like their teachers.
  • Tell you how it is - with no filter at all.
  • Compliment their teachers everyday.
  • Hold their library books with pride.
  • Gasp at every surprise.
  • Love to get messy.
  • Smile on their way in the door every morning.
  • Trip over their shoelaces, get up, and just keep on running.
  • Proudly hold out their pictures to show you, with two hands and a smile.
  • Have no sense of time or age.
  • Trust the world around them.
I know that's what bothered me the most. That they were kindergartners -- just like kindergartners everywhere. The last two points are what hurt the most. For, to a kindergartner survivor from yesterday, that trust has been stolen... and there is no way to explain just what "forever" means. 

"Only the best die young," they say. And for this tragedy, it is true.

Can't catch me... I'm the Gingerbread Man!

Every December, I do a unit on the Gingerbread Man with my kinders. It's one of my favorite units of the year-- and every year it grows! Here is a recap of a few of my favorite things from this year:

First, we read about 10 different versions of the story -- from the original "Gingerbread Man" to "The Gingerbread Girl" to "The Gingerbread Pirates." The kids loved every one of them -- and the different versions provided the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast. For each version, we identified the main character, setting, chant, other characters, and the ending. 

Later that week, we decorated cookies and graphed our "first bites."

I'm not going to lie to you... the cookies looked pretty gross! Ha ha! But the kids loved every minute of it.

After taking our first bites and adding them to the graph, many students were given the opportunity to "defend" their choice. For example, one little guy said: "I bit off his head so he couldn't see where he was going! That way, he couldn't run away from me!" 
Math + cookies = fun, fun, fun!

One of my favorite parts of the unit was our "science experiment." In all of the versions of the story, the Gingerbread Man never wanted to get wet in the river! Why?... we wondered.

So, of course, we had to find out. First, each kinder was given a cookie. We drew what he looked like before his "swim."

We added our cookies to a cup of water (one cup per group), and waiting for a minute or two. As you ca see in the background, we also had a quick snack while we waited. :)

When we tried to take them out... they crumbled into pieces!

And, we drew the results. Great fun -- and the kids were very surprised by the results.
Click HERE or on the picture above for a printable of our Gingerbread experiment worksheet.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Today is one of those days I know I will never forget. When I walked into an eerily quiet teacher's lounge at lunch, I knew there was a tragedy.

I knew because I remember the last time it was that quiet.

I only stayed for a minute, because I knew I had to teach for three more hours. I knew I had to put on my happy face for a classroom full of kindergartners.

But, it was impossible not to think about it. For, after all, they were a classroom full of kindergartners.

Fifteen minutes later, I walked down the hall to the cafeteria to two tables packed with ridiculously happy and energetic five-year-olds. I smiled as I told them to pick up their trays and line-up.

But, as we headed back to our classroom, and they all rested their head for quiet time, their innocence overtook me. 

I looked at them -- and I looked at the door. I could just imagine how it happened in Connecticut. 

For, after all, they are just kindergartners. Happy. Innocent. Beautiful. Full of life.... and absolutely defenseless.

I walked by each table and gave each of my students a little hug.

I put on my happy face, and we decorated gingerbread cookies after quiet time.

The day went on, but I know I will never forget the way I felt today. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

All I want for Christmas...

Mrs. Anderson: "What do you want for Christmas?"

A sample of responses...

"A bodyguard."

"A butler. They can do like anything for you. You don't even have to get up!"

"A ninja."

"A brother."


Hmmm... not sure many of those will be filled. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Tis the season

Is there anything more beautiful than kindergartners singing Christmas carols?

Answer: No.

I love the holiday season with my kinders. Their joy and innocence is at its absolute best in December. The mixture of true belief, the promise of Santa, and simple joyful cheer cause the most darling sparkle in a child's eye.

This year has been difficult to "get into the spirit" -- at least if you live in Omaha! After four years of living here, I have learned to equate December with feet of snow. December brings the buzz of snowblowers in the early mornings, a frisky dog running in from the yard, and the 15-minute battle with snow gear before recess.

But, not this year. In fact, today, on December 12, my kinders were digging in the sand with shovels and buckets. This just does not feel like Christmas in Omaha!

In addition, every year, Christmas is a strange time for a couple with no children (like us!) Yes, I love the holidays. Yes, we put up a tree and our stockings. But, besides wrapping up an unnecessary amount of dog toys and treats, Christmas feels a bit disconnected at home with no children. 

But, I'm lucky. I have 17 little bright lights to bring my Christmas spirit to life. Even the biggest Scrooge among us couldn't help but light up when you see a five-year-old pumping her legs on a swing, singing "Frosty the Snowman" at the top of her lungs.

My kids breathe air into my life -- and remind me of the simple joys in life. Snow, or no snow, my Christmas spirit lives in my students. And I know, no matter what the weather, December will always mean joy, cheer, and unbridled excitement in a kindergarten classroom.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quotable Quotes

My kids seriously crack me up. I never laugh during the moment... but I always giggle later. They are so honest and so hilarious. 

A few memorable quotes from this week...

Female student: "Whew. That was good exercise. I'm sweaty."
Male student (looking shocked): "Um, girls don't sweat."
Female student: "Yes they do."
Male student: "No, they don't. And they don't fart either."

[This little guy has only sisters - and he adores them. Too funny!]
Student 1: "I like all our books."
Mrs. Anderson: "Thank you. I love books, too. That's what I'm asking Santa for this year -- some books."
Student 1 (looking puzzled): "You still ask Santa for things?"
Mrs. Anderson: "Of course I do!"
Student 2: "That's because she's not like a real grown-up. Y'know... she's not a big grown-up yet."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trim the reading tree

I love this new workstation -- and so do the kids. This is one of those ideas I wish I had thought of 4 years ago!!!

Simple and festive.

  • Pick a felt ornament from the bucket.
  • Read the "star word" (sight word).
  • Put in on the felt tree (felt sticks to felt!)
  • Record the words on the paper tree.

I made the tree with a large triangle of green felt and hot-glued on a yellow felt star and a brown felt trunk.

The ornaments are simply felt shapes with "puff paint" words. 


Click HERE or on the picture above for the printable.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Red Kettle

It's Red Kettle season. I can't walk past one without dropping something in. I just can't.
There's something about a ringing bell and a red kettle that just makes it feel like Christmas.

But, the Red Kettle always reminds me of something else -- my husband. It brings me back to a sentimental place.

I know. Weird. But this is why...

It was 2007, and we had been dating for about 6 months. I was still living in Kansas and he was living in Omaha. I loved making weekend trips up to "the big city" to see him. We always did lots of things together -- out to dinner, the zoo, walking downtown, etc.

This Saturday night, we were going to see a movie. And I can't see a movie without candy. I have a serious sweet tooth.

So, we headed to Hy-Vee nearby to pick up some candy before the movie (I carry this giant purse for a reason!). Tyson and I were chatting at the check-out counter as he paid with his debit card. The checker handed Tyson the receipt with the $20 cash he withdrew. I grabbed the candy, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Tyson fold the bill into a tiny square and put it in the palm of his hand.

As we walked out the door, hand-in-hand, Tyson dropped the tiny square in the Red Kettle and just kept walking. He turned to me and said, "I can't walk past a Red Kettle without dropping something in. I didn't have any change."

That's the day I knew I was going to marry him.

And I did.