Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why you shouldn't smoke - a.k.a. big kids do funny things, too

Kindergarten is the best. I'm totally biased. But, it is. 

However, this is a great post of hilarious pictures brought to you by BIG KIDS! :) 

Last week, our school celebrated "Red Ribbon Week" -- a week full of lessons and activities promoting a drug-free lifestyle. The big kids at our school made posters for a poster contest. The theme was: "Why you shouldn't smoke."

I honestly walked around the hallways today with my camera. These are some of my favorites. They made me laugh so much. They're blunt, to the point, and funny in a way my kinders could never be.

Enjoy! :)

The bottom left caption says: Last coin in the vault.

The caption says: This is a not right thing.

Blow up cigarettes with firecrackers if you see a cigarette.

This one is my favorite...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We have a little author on our hands...

It happens about this time every year. One of the kinders starts writing. And, I mean really writing. It's magical how the lightbulb just suddenly switches on -- like they finally realized, "Hey! I can do this!" 

[SIDE NOTE]... In my opinion, many pre-schools nowadays are REALLY overdoing it with letters and letter sounds. Read the research. Most three- and four-year-olds are not developmentally ready nor cognitively mature enough to handle all that knowledge. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with exposure to letters and sounds, especially the ones in a child's name. In addition, it is perfectly acceptable for a little one to come to kindergarten being able to identify all the uppercase and lowercase letters. No problem -- that's a great knowledge base! 

However, so many pre-schools are trying to overdo it with teaching little ones how to read and write. Even teaching formal handwriting! Let the pre-schoolers play! Let them learn how to get along with each other, share, solve problems, accept differences, wait their turn, zip their coats, etc. 

It's amazing how the "magic switch" happens in kindergarten. They finally understand -- Oh! This is how you put sounds together to read. This is how you take sounds apart to write. I have so many little ones come every year with so much letter and sound knowledge, but no idea how to use it. They just weren't developmentally ready until they got here.

[BACK TO THE POINT]... One little one always sticks out as the first author of the class. Well, we have a little author on a our hands in my room...

I don't know how many of you know this book -- Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni -- but it's a sweet little story about two colors (yes, the characters are actually just colors).


The two colors and are best friends, but when they're playing one day, they hug and turn into green! They go home to their respective color families who, of course, do not recognize them. Don't worry... it's a happy ending. :) I love the simple torn paper illustrations, and the kids love this sweet little story.

Well, my little author wrote a book at home. She brought it to school to share with the class, and I about died. It is the cutest little book ever. I was simply amazed not only by her writing, but by her concept development and complex illustrations. I just had to share it here. If you have read Little Blue and Little Yellow before, this will be even better for you!!

[As always... "kinder translation" is provided for those of you who do not read invented, phonetic spelling all day long!]

I present to you...

Little Red and Little White

Little Red and Little White lived across the street from each other.

Everyday, they would play with each other. And somedays, they would play hide and go seek.

And Little Red was lost!

And Little White came looking for Little Red.

And they hugged. And they hugged. And then they turned into pink!

And they went home. Little White's mom and dad said, "You are not our Little White."

And then they went home again and Little White's mom and dad said, "You ARE Little White!"

The End.

 Adorable. I might just have to e-mail Leo Lionni. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Adorable things that make me think

It goes without saying -- one of the best parts of teaching kindergarten is the cute things they say. It's the reward, the silver lining, we all get for teaching a grade that somedays is like chasing a bunch of headless chickens. Their cute words are more than cute though. They hold such innocence, such insight into the eyes of a child, and occasionally, such knowledge. 

One thing I love about the cute things kinders say is the way they can make me think. I know, it sounds strange. But, every once in a while, my little ones say something that doesn't just make me laugh, but makes me really reflect on life, teaching, or just the way a five-year-old thinks.

But, just to be fair, there are things they say that are just meaningless and hilarious. 

I thought I'd share a couple of the "thought-provoking" cute quotes I've heard lately.


Student: "Mrs. Anderson, what letter does your phone number start with?"

This one just made me chuckle. Maybe because he even said the word number in the sentence. However, this little saying just reminds us -- whether it's a number or a letter, it's really just a bunch of lines. Honestly. Two vertical, parallel lines with a connecting horizontal line really doesn't say the /h/ sound. They are simply a symbol that represents that sound -- something decided by our language and culture long ago. And what exactly about a straight line down represents the quantity of one? Nothing. 

Just a little thought that reminded me that our little ones are not only learning a confusing language everyday, but are also working with completely meaningless symbols that adults insist have innate meaning. They don't. They have meaning because we assign meaning to them and we, as adults, have lived our whole lives simply accepting these meaningless symbols. Five- and six-year-olds don't automatically assign meaning to symbols, nor do their brains automatically accept these claims. A beginning student sees a number or letter for what it really is -- just a bunch of lines. So, no. I didn't correct him. I giggled and answered his question without hesitation. 


Mrs. A: "Okay boys and girls, we are going to brainstorm a list of as many habitats as we can." (We have been learning all about animal habitats this week.)
Students begin listing habitats, such as dessert, jungle, grassland, farm, etc.
Mrs. A: "I'm thinking of a habitat where a polar bear lives. Or a penguin. The arc.... arc....."
Student: "Architect!"

Ha! This was just cute. Man, he was trying so hard. And the pride that lit up his face was priceless. He was incredibly proud, and probably amazed, by his important-sounding answer. I just laughed. What a great attempt. I mean, what else could we expect out of him? It started with the right sound, it sure sounded like a fancy science word, and it's definitely a "grown-up word." It's amazing how many words our little ones know, even if they don't use them appropriately. Remember moms and dads... those little ears are always listening, even when they don't appear to be.


Oh, the innocence of kindergarten. More coming soon...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Conferences, nice things, and the itches

This week, our school has parent-teacher conferences.

I. am. exhausted.

There is nothing more exhausting than teaching kindergarten all day and then staying until 8:30 p.m. talking to parents. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy meeting and talking with parents at conferences. I really do -- I'm not just saying that. There's just something not right with leaving school at 8:30 p.m. and returning at 7:00 a.m. two days in a row. Exhausting!

However, I love the things kindergarten parents say at the first round of conferences. Many parents I have seen once, even twice, before with older siblings. Some parents are new to our school -- and new to parenting. Some parents are even younger than I am! But, they all come to conferences proud of their little ones, and I love being the one to tell them, "Your child is doing great in kindergarten." It feels good to light-up a parent's face telling them how wonderful their child is [although... not all conferences go this way!! :)]

Here are some of my favorite parts from conferences this week:

  • All kindergartners love their teacher. Correction: all kindergartners are obsessed with their teacher. This is not unique to me -- they just do! I always laugh how every parent says the same thing, "He/she looooves you, talks about you all the time, tells everyone in our family about you..." I love it. There is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of happiness and love.
  • Well, one of my little girls made her parents and I laugh with her love for me. I thought this was truly hilarious and so darling. Last week, our class went to the pumpkin patch. Don't be fooled: In Omaha, the pumpkin patch is really an amusement park. Because the kinders split up into groups with parent chaperones, I put a sticky label on each child that read: "If I am lost, please call my teacher." and I listed my phone number. However, I'm not crazy. The minute we returned to school, I had each child put theirs in the trash can. I don't need parents calling me on my cell phone! :) Well, according to one of my little darling's mom, she found something in her little one's pocket. The little girl grabbed it from her mom and immediately ran to her room. When she came back, her mother asked her where she had put the sticker. The little one replied: "I hid it in my room where no one will ever find it so now I can call Mrs. A anytime I want!" Ha ha -- sneaky and oh-so-cute. I'm still waiting on that phone call...
  • One mom (who sent her first baby to school this year) was happy as can be with her daughter's progress so far this year. She handed me a card at the end of the conference with a big thank-you. Inside the card was such an awesome message. I hope when I have children of my own, I remember to go out of my way to do things like this for my child's teachers. The card read: Mrs. Anderson - This was my Facebook post on Sept. 18. A few of my friends suggested I pass it along to you. I hope this isn't too forward. -- "Dear Mrs. Anderson (Maggie's kindergarten teacher), You are crazy good. I adore you. My child has full-out blossomed in the last month. Will you please be her teacher until 12th grade? Love, Maggie's Mom." 
  • Oh, and my favorite comment from a parent at conferences this week -- "We want you to know that we have had many conversations with him about how he can't marry you. But, it's just not getting through to him yet." Ha! What a cutie.
Last but not least, a cute little something from one of my kinders. We had just finished reading the classic book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly -- a favorite of mine and the kids! After, we colored and cut out an old lady and all the animals she swallowed so the kids could re-tell the story to someone at home.  

Mrs. A: "Honey, I love how you colored your old lady."
Student: "Thanks! Do you like the spots on her face?"
Mrs. A: "Sure."
Students: "Those are the itches."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ever wonder what my job is like?

Have you ever wondered what my job is like?

Besides the cute and funny things they say?

This video shows it better than I could EVER explain. I cried I was laughing so hard. I feel like this all the time!!! :)


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What would you wish for?

One of my kinders said something that stayed with me today. It dug a little hole in the bottom of my heart and just stayed there. It's a heavy thing -- it's weighing me down just a little bit.

Most of the times, my little ones say funny things... things that make me laugh inside (or sometimes out loud). Or innocent things that remind me just how naive they are in their darling view of the world. Or just cute things like how much they like my necklace or how the tire swing looks like a tornado or how today at school was the best. day. ever.

But, sometimes they say things that break your heart. 

We were reading a book before our "big buddies" came to visit our classroom. When we finished our book, our buddies hadn't arrived yet. So, I was filling a few minutes while we waited by having a mini-discussion (we, teachers, get really amazing at filling 5 minutes here and there all day long). There was a shooting star on the back cover of the book, so I told the kinders how some people like to make wishes on shooting stars. Here's how it went:

Mrs. A: "What would YOU wish for if you saw a shooting star?"

Student 1: "I wish ice cream didn't melt." [How awesome is this little guys?! Genius!]

Student 2: "I wish my brothers would be nice to me all the time."

Student 3: "I wish I could fly."

Student 4: "I wish Halloween was everyday."

They all had cute little wishes. Ahhh, the innocence of childhood. Well, then comes the heart-breaker...

Student 5: "I wish my dad would read me books at night." 
Mrs. A: "What do you mean?"
Student 5: "You know, like at bedtime."

Ugh. I can't stop thinking about the way he said it. So serious, so genuine, and so very sad. Here I had a class full of 19 kids wishing for candy, never-melting ice cream, puppies, and new Transformers. And one little guy who simply wants to be read to.

Our big buddies arrived immediately after he shared his wish, so we quickly moved on to reading books. But, that sad little wish didn't leave my heart. Not five minutes after and not tonight either. That's the thing about parenting -- there's laws that say you have to clothe your child, bring them to school, feed them breakfast, and take them to the doctor. But, there's no law saying you have to be a great parent. There's no such thing as educational or literacy neglect. 

Every child deserves to be read to. I know he doesn't need it -- but he sure deserves it. Every child deserves to wish for ice cream, kittens, and super powers.