Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sweet goodbyes

Yesterday was our last day. I'm absolutely heartbroken over "letting go" my kinder babies! This class was simply amazing. Everyday with them was easy-going and wonderful. Even a parent volunteer from yesterday's "Fun Day" stopped me after school -- "I just wanted to tell you that your class was the best class our station saw all day!"

One of the highlights of the last week of school are the sweet goodbye letters and pictures I find in my mailbox and gift bags. I thought I'd share a couple of my favorites here:

This one came from a former student. I had her little brother in kindergarten this year, and she wrote this in the card from their family. So sweet!

This little guy really loved kindergarten - [Awesome, sweet, happy teacher. I love you. Bittersweet.]

I love this picture - adorable! And, it was drawn by a little boy! 

[Thank you for being my teacher.] Simple and perfect.

[You are the best teacher. I hope I see you next year. I love you.]

I hope my class next year is as wonderful as this year!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kinder Riddles

I do riddles with the kinders all year long. There's something innate in a five-year-old that loves a challenge, a surprise, a guessing game. They eat them up.

Well, my kinder authors have started writing their own riddle books at the writing station. I am just floored with their awesome writing -- I'm so proud! But, most of the time, the riddles go something like: "I have orange and black stripes." Answer: tiger. They're usually pretty simple.

Yesterday, one of my little darlings shared this gem. I LOVED it! The riddles cracked me up -- and her writing is so cute! So, here are this little author's riddles for you:

[I am blue. I like peanuts. I squirt water.] -- that says PEANUTS!! :)



[I am exercise. You use me in P.E.]


Jump rope!

[I was today. I am blue.]



[I come in the summer. I wreck down houses.]


Tornado! -- This one's kind of sad. :( I wish our children didn't have to see these types of tragedies!

[I am purple. I am fruit.]



[I am a body part. I pump.]



[I am up in the sky at night.]



[You use me in the rain.]



Thursday, May 23, 2013

[Thursday!] Monday Mailbox

Okay, I'm a little late this week. But, this is the time of year when I REALLY love their letters and drawings.

I've been "bragging" about this class all year long -- on my blog, to other teachers, and especially to their parents. This class is amazing, and everyday teaching them is a joy. 

I cry every year on the last day of school -- it's just so amazing how far they've come. They started as my little kinder babies... and they've become readers, writers, and motivated learners. This year... I know will be extra hard. 

My kinders and I have been counting down the days until the last day of school. My kids this year seem to "get it" a little more than years in the past. They totally understand the bittersweetness of this time of year.

I have been getting the sweetest, most heartfelt letters and drawings in my mailbox to say "goodbye." I treasure these notes so much -- I will make sure to share more on the blog over the next week! 

I love this sweet little picture. Just darling.

[I will miss you after kindergarten. I will miss you a lot.]

This one killed me! So sweet. I taught the kids the word "bittersweet" when we started talking about the end of the year. I told the kids the end of kindergarten is bittersweet for me -- a little happy, a little sad. This letter nearly made me cry:
[Dear Mrs. A - Bittersweet to you. I am so sad.]

[Dear Mrs. A - I love how you teach kindergarten.]

Love my little writers!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A captivating read-aloud

My kinders this year love our daily chapter book read-aloud.

Every class has always enjoyed this part of rest time... but this class is really into it.

They laugh out loud. They can literally recall every detail -- from names to the sequence of events to unique adjectives. I love every minute of it because I know that while they think they are simply enjoying a story, I know they are strengthening their listening comprehension and gaining a true appreciation and love of reading.

My kinders literally beg me to read a second chapter everyday... but I never do. :) I love keeping them intrigued.

It's difficult to find a perfect chapter book to read-aloud to kinders. It has to be funny, engaging, and concrete -- with relatable characters. Oh, and of course, the chapters can't be too long!

Every year, I read The Buddy Files series. It's about a dog that's also a detective. It's perfect for little ears. However, there are only 5 books in the series... and we finished them all this semester! All 50 chapters!

So, I let the kinders pick the next chapter book. I picked a few from my personal collection that I knew would fit the requirements. I read the back cover description and let them vote.

Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary won the vote by a landslide. I mean, it doesn't get any more intriguing than a mouse on a motorcycle!

However, I knew it was a little wordy and pretty long for my kinders. The chapters were nearly twice as long as The Buddy Files chapters. But, I was willing to give it a shot.

They loved it. The kinders ate up every minute of the fifteen-minute daily read-aloud. They laughed at all of Ralph's antics, wrote about him in their journals, and couldn't stop guessing what would happen in the next chapter. It was awesome.

We finished the book yesterday and started the sequel, Ralph S. Mouse, today. To celebrate, we watched the movie version of Mouse and the Motorcycle and they watched all 40 minutes with wide-eyed laughter.

But, that's not the best part of this story...

If you've ever seen me teach, or if you've read my blog at all, you know I'm absolutely ridiculous. I'll admit it -- if adults ever saw me do my job on a regular basis, I would be so embarrassed! But, my kids love my energy, silliness, and theatrical style. It keeps them engaged and I have so much fun.

Whenever I read books to them, I use my best character voices. What teacher doesn't?! It makes the read-aloud so enjoyable.

Especially with Mouse and the Motorcycle, I "developed" signature voices for each character. There is so much dialogue in the book, I got sick of saying "Keith said" or "Ralph said" every other sentence. So, Ralph's voice was nice, squeaky mouse voice and Keith's was a nice, normal human voice. The kids always knew who was talking this way.

Well, the other day, I was reading a picture book to the class with a dog in it. The dog's talk bubble said, "Hey! That's my bone!" and I read it in a silly character voice.

One of my students gasped with big eyes, turned to the kinder next to him, and said (completely seriously) - "Hey! That dog sounds just like Ralph in our chapter book!!"

I had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing. It was so innocent, so genuine, and so funny.

I love that my kinders literally believe in our books -- they live the stories. How awesome!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Addition -- the kinder way

I have random favorite units to teach... and beginning addition is one of them. Here's why:
  • It's fun and hands-on.
  • It lends itself to great games and activities.
  • The kids feel SO COOL when they learn how to do it.
  • For some reason... the kids just get it. All of them. It's pretty amazing.
Anyways, here are my favorite things we did this year for our addition unit:

First, we start by learning number stories -- or number families (using the words "and" and "is" in place of the + and =)

We wrote a class book about animals and number stories...

This is always a favorite station -- the Domino Express. It's a great way to teach "number families."

And... my favorite game! Shut the Box. So fun for a small group, pair, or even individual practice. Check it out! It's a classic!

Then, the kids are so excited to learn how to use a + sign and = sign...

This was a really fun small group activity. The kids loved the ice cream theme -- and I loved the genuine practice. E-mail me or leave a comment if you want the printable!

This is another great practice for just learning the + and =... domino addition. E-mail me or leave a comment if you want the printable!

My kinders love it all -- I hope yours do, too!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Two funnies


Mrs. A: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Golden Boy: "I'm having a hard time deciding between two things."
Mrs. A: "Well, tell me and maybe we can decide together."
GB: "A spy or a ninja."
Mrs. A (laughing inside): "Well, I don't know bud. That's a tough decision."
GB: "I think I'm going to go with spy because I like all their gadgets."
Mrs. A: "I think that's a good choice. Plus, a spy is kind of like a ninja sometimes."
GB: "Yeah, and an assassin." 


I just got a great e-mail from a parent this morning. After telling me something about our field trip to the zoo tomorrow she said:

"Oh, and I just wanted to tell you that 'R' told his dad last night that there is 'No one awesomer than Mrs. Anderson.'"

Seriously?! I have the best job ever!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Training them "too well"

Any teacher knows it. Great classroom management is all about training.

We have to train our students (especially the little kinders) on everything. How to hold a pencil. How to push in their chairs. Where the pencils go when they need to be sharpened. How we line-up. How we walk in the hallway. How we greet each other in the morning. How to wash their hands. Everything. It's all about the training.

I have always felt like classroom management was my strongest "teaching quality." Especially this year, I have learned that a well-oiled classroom can roll with the punches, be flexible with the schedule, and spend a whole day going off what the kids are interested in. I have learned that a well-managed classroom (with a "well-trained" class) is simply more joyful to be a part of -- for me and the kinders.

Over the years, I have had a few times during teaching when I have realized I have trained my kids too well... I've praised them a little too much for their "good behavior." Reflecting on these always makes me laugh...


I used to be in a classroom separated from the other two kindergarten classrooms. This room did not have its own bathrooms, so my little kinders had to walk down the hallway to the "big kid" bathroom. This, of course, took a lot of training -- especially on how to walk in the hallway, staying quiet, cleaning up after ourselves, etc. 

Well, once, another teacher came to my classroom and praised a few of my kids for picking up paper towels on the floor at the bathroom - even though they weren't theirs. In true teacher nature, I made a huge production of this and doted on these few kids endlessly. Over the next few months, the minute a paper towel touched the tiles, my kinders hit the deck. 

After a few times of "catching" kinders taking care of our bathroom, my kids had it down. They were just good citizens. I was so proud.

One day, during our quiet time, one of my kids walked into the room shaking her head and mumbling to herself. She quietly stomped her little feet to her seat, sat down, and sighed a big sigh. I asked her, "Honey, what's wrong?"

She replied with the fed-up expression of a housewife, "I am just so sick of picking up poop on the bathroom floor!"

I, of course, replied with a, "What?!"

She clarified, "Uh yeah. I'm just so sick of picking up poop."

Oh my. I think I over did it this time. 

Enter: the conversation about hazardous substances... and body fluids... and boundaries for clean-up. Oh my.

I didn't laugh at the time... but I do now. The sigh and look on her face was priceless.


My kinders know how much I love the earth. Let's be honest... I breed a group of tree-loving hippies in my classroom. It's amazing how naturally kinders "take to" being green. I believe children have a natural connection with our world, animals, and nature. We simply lose it as we grow older.

Well, let me tell you, do not try to throw away a piece of paper in my classroom this year. You might be swarmed. If tarring and feathering was still acceptable punishment today, I'm pretty sure my class would impose it on any litterers without even blinking an eye.

This year, my kiddos have taken to recycling, picking up litter, and reusing like no class I've ever seen before. I think it's because they are just a naturally caring, gentle group of children.

In the last couple months (since we had our "Earth Week" celebration), I have had to stop my kinders from the following "too well-trained, too green" acts:

  • Picking up empty beer cans at recess (yep! the local teens just love our playground)
  • Yelling at adults throwing away paper in our school ("That goes in the recycle bin!!")
  • Pulling papers out of the trash can to re-use the backs of them... oh, with snack on top of it
  • Recycling tissues ("Hey! They're paper, too!")
  • And lastly... being too good at finding litter. One of my kinders earlier this year literally found a pipe and lighter buried in the sand on our playground.


Ah, the moldable minds of a kindergartner...