Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Coin Sorting

I love teaching money. It is so much fun -- and a very high interest area for the kids.

I love that money lends itself so well to so many math workstations and small group activities. We spend about a month on money -- introducing all four coins, counting and making combinations. Don't get me wrong, we could buzz through the coins in a week. But, it's a great unit and the length of it really emphasizes mastery.

Three years ago, my teammates and I spend three days of professional development creating a huge math workstation binder. I love pulling activities from it -- there is always something ready to go! This is a great practice station from our binder.

Here is a great activity/workstation for sorting coins. Because counting and making combinations is so tricky, spending some time comparing and sorting coins is a great place to start. My kids have loved it so far -- and been very successful!


First, put a handful of coins in four ziploc bags labeled A, B, C, and D.
Print out the coin sorting mat and laminate (or be ghetto and put it in a page protector with a little tape on top -- like me!)

Then, the kids pick a bag of coins, sort them on the mat, and record how many of each on the recording page.


Click on the pictures above for printables. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Recent favorite things

Best part about snow days and extra days off? Lots of time for baking and sewing! Here are some of my recent favorite things...

Insulated Casserole Carrier

I made this as a birthday present for a friend over the weekend. I had to talk myself out of keeping it. :) Turned out beautiful, and the best part? She loved it. I'll definitely will be making these for everyone on my Christmas list!

Check out the tutorial at 2 Little Hooligans.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

These are sinful. So good. They take up the whole morning, but it was the perfect recipe for a snowed-in day. Amazing without frosting... but the cream cheese frosting is to die for!

Check out the recipe at Six Sisters' Stuff.

P.S. -- use heavy duty thread to cut the rolls! They keep their shape this way!

Simple Shredded Chicken

We eats tons of chicken in our house. But, I seriously hate shredding chicken breasts. I recently saw somewhere that you can use your Kitchenaid mixer to shred hot chicken. Worked perfectly! I literally threw the hot chicken breasts in, turned it on for 1 minute, and it was perfect.

Monday Mailbox

My favorite way to start the week. 

[Dear Mrs. A, I love you. You are smart. I like your reading. I like red.]

In his words, "Don't you like it? It's a rodeo!"


[Dear all Andersons, I wish you a happy, loving Valentine's Day.]

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pure gold

Every year, you have one. One student who makes you laugh out loud everyday. And not because he/she is trying! Just because everything that comes out of his/her mouth is pure gold.

I have a little boy in my class just like that right now. He literally makes me laugh everyday. And, to top it off, he raises his hand probably 200 times a day. I try to call on him as much as possible -- because I know it's going to be good -- but he would comment all day if I let him! He has a comment for everything.

Well, over the last week or so, he has been on fire. He has no idea the comments that come out of him are hilarious -- but they are.

He simply reminds me to not take things so seriously. I thought I'd share some of his "gems" from the last week:


Student: "Mrs. A, why did you want to be a teacher?"
Mrs. A: "Well, because I love kids and I love to read. And it's so much fun!"
Student: "Really?! Because I think it looks like a whole lot of hard work."


Student: "Mrs. Anderson, I know why that policeman has a gun."
Mrs. A: "Why?"
Student: "To make bad guys put their hands up!"


Mrs. A: "Today, boys and girls, we are going to read a non-fiction book about Antarctica."
Student: "Oooh! I've been there!"
Mrs. A: "Are you sure? Remember when we read that only scientist go there?"
Student: "Well, yeah. I mean, my dad used to be a scientist, so he's been there."
Mrs. A: "Are you sure?"
Student: "Well, you just never know. I make stuff up all the time."


Visiting teacher: "Kinders, since we've been talking about being good friends, let's all turn to the person next to us and tell him/her a compliment."
Mrs A. (turning to student): "I like your writing you did in your journal today."
Student: "Thanks! I like your purple pants."
Mrs. A: "Thanks."
Student (turns to other side... sees only a chair) completely seriously: "Chair, I like you because you're strong."

*I literally cried laughing*


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The sweetest letter

Yesterday, I received the sweetest letter. When I brought my class in from recess, it was sitting on my desk. I nearly cried, it's so darling.

There's no better feeling than when a former student writes you a note. This letter is from one of my most memorable students. I had him in kindergarten three years ago. 

I just had to share it here. It's so stinkin' cute.

Dear Mrs. Anderson,

Thank you for being a fabulous teacher! I just wanted to write you a letter telling you some of the reasons why I liked having you as a teacher. First, you are so delightful. Second, you always have been my favorite! Third, you've brightened my life! Fourth, your beautiful blond hair reminds me of the sun! Last, your beautiful blue eyes remind me of the sky! Thank you for impacting my life! Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Name stamping

I love this quick, easy, valuable station. It's great classification practice... and the kids love using the "grown-up" stamps.

The kids stamp letters that ARE in their names and letters that are NOT in their names. 

I don't know why I never thought of this before... but egg cartons are the perfect "holders" for letter stamps. They keep the table clean and make it easy for little fingers to find the right letters.

Click HERE or on the picture above for a printable.

Excuse me, officer!

There are not many experiences more exciting for a kindergarten class than a police officer visiting. The only possible rivals are a firefighter (most exciting for Mrs. A!) and an athlete of any sort. 

On Tuesday, a police officer visited as part of a school event. My kinders were absolutely star-struck. I could not stop laughing at the dreamy-eyed looks the little boys were following him with. Let's be honest -- it was probably because he had a gun (which he thankfully did not bring out).

It was hilarious because the kids were so eager -- and so cute! Here are my favorite quotes and notes from the day:


Student: "Mrs. Anderson, I know why that policeman has a gun."
Mrs. A: "Why?"
Student: "To make bad guys put their hands up!"


Officer: "What makes my uniform extra special, boys and girls?"
Student 1: "Your badge!"
Officer: "That's right. What other jobs wear a badge?"
Officer: "What kind of person wears a badge and might come to your house to help you if you're in danger?"
Student 2: "Oooh! A cowboy?"


Officer: "We've talked a little bit about never going with strangers or never taking anything from strangers. But, there are a few people you can trust -- your teacher, a firefighter, a doctor... who else? What people have you known all your life and you trust?"
Student: "Jesus."

We have been working on writing letters in our class - and we even have a dramatic play post office in our classroom! Well, I found this little *gem* today in our "outgoing" mailbox. [Kinder writing translation provided!]

Outside envelope [Policeman]

Inside letter [Thank you for coming and thank you for showing your tazer.]

Hilarious! Love these kids.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Advocacy [A letter]

Today, I had an unfortunate encounter with a visitor to our school. It was disheartening and quite disgusting -- especially knowing her expertise and profession. I thought I would share the letter here... it explains it all. I am not sending the letter to the author because my administration is taking care of it. However, I posted my feelings here because this letter is for anyone who loves a child with a disability -- or anyone who believes every child, regardless of ability, deserves compassion. 


February 5, 2013

Dear Ms. Cook,

            I am writing to unfortunately express my sincere disappointment. What promised to be an exciting and inspirational school visit from a well-known author quickly turned to a disheartening and angering experience for me. As a kindergarten teacher, I am paid to nurture and teach children of all abilities. The doors of my classroom have no prerequisites – no stipulations. Every child is accepted, every child is valued, and every child is loved. These beliefs, have afforded me the most wonderful relationships and experiences with children of widely differing abilities – including moderate to profound developmental disabilities. In fact, because your picture books focus on behavior, self-control, and classroom experiences, they have been a natural fit for my diverse classroom.

            Due to the love of my job that resides deep in my heart, every one of my past and present students is special, unique, and important to me. This is why your visit to our school today disturbed and angered me. A past student who is very dear to me was included in a primary grade presentation. Although I should mention her profound cognitive impairment and multiple disabilities, in our school, these characteristics do not exclude her from activities with her typically-developing peers. I don’t know what type of students you worked with when you were a teacher and counselor, but the students at our school are far from “perfect.” In our school, every child has the right to be included in daily school routines and special events, such as your visit. In our school, her loud vocalizations are simply a part of this child beloved by her peers and teachers.

            My disappointment and anger stems from not only your comment that her vocalizations and presence were disruptive to your presentation, but also the disgusted looks you frequently directed at her and nearby staff. I feel the need to remind you that, regardless of her abilities, volume level, or attention to your presentation, she is a human deserving of your humility, compassion, and tolerance. She is a valued child in our school – the school that paid for your presentation.
            I believe that intolerance often stems from ignorance. Although your collection of book topics and counseling/teaching background would suggest otherwise, perhaps you are in need of some education in the field of disabilities. Children who do not communicate through traditional language are called non-symbolic communicators. Although their communication may not be directly tied to a specific meaning as words and speech are, I assure you that their attempts at communication serve a purpose and function. Through vocalizations, gestures, and body movements, even children with the most profound cognitive impairment are attempting and learning to communicate with the social partners in their environments.

            So, you see, as disruptive to your presentation as her vocalizations may have seemed, our student was simply attempting to communicate her desires and needs in the only means available to her. On your website (http://www.juliacookonline.com), you quote yourself: “In order to teach a child, you must enter their view of the world.” I would challenge you, Ms. Cook, to view the world through the eyes of a non-symbolic communicator… to enter our student’s view of the world. A world in which, unfortunately, intolerant and insensitive people still exist.

            I find it strangely perplexing how in a room full of five-, six-, and seven-year-olds, the only person distracted by this communication was the professional and role model standing in the front of the room. Because all of our students are lucky enough to attend a school grounded in inclusive practices, what you were hearing and seeing is commonplace. After all, our society thrives on diversity – and our students are simply becoming more prepared to face the world with tolerant, kind hearts.

            From the looks directed at our student and your comment today, I assume you are expecting some type of apology – some sort of apology for disrupting your important presentation to kindergarten and first-grade students. Although I cannot, nor do I want to, apologize for our student’s expression, I am sorry for several things. I’m sorry that I once read your books and felt an optimistic sense of tolerance in my heart. I’m sorry that somewhere along your path, greed and money became more important than acceptance and love of children of all abilities.

            Although your behavior will not be forgotten, I hope some piece of this letter affords another child your empathy and tolerance. I hope some piece of this letter reminds you to live the understanding and accepting messages you preach in your books.

Jamie Anderson
Kindergarten Teacher
Omaha, NE