Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sharing the news with the kinders

Today, I told my kids the "big news."

I had paper and pencil ready to go because I knew I wanted to remember what they said. :)

So, here is how it went:

Mrs. A: "Boys and girls... I have some news I want to share with you. But first, I was wondering if you have noticed anything different about your teacher lately."
Student 1: "You have a new shirt on."
Mrs. A: "Good guess, but it's something about my body."
Student 2: "Your hair is messy today."
Mrs. A: "Thank you for that... but no."
Student 3: "You're really happy."
Student 4: "You aren't wearing your step counter today." (pedometer - ha!)
Mrs. A: "Good guesses, but that's not it. It's something on me that is getting bigger."
Student 5: "Your tummy!"
Mrs. A:" Yeah! You're right. My tummy is getting big and round. Why do you think that is?"
..... silence....

Mrs. A: "Well, let me help you with that. I'm going to put up a picture on the screen. It's a picture I took of you guys a couple weeks ago. Do you remember when I had you hold up those letters and I took your picture?"
[Students nod.]
Mrs. A: "Well, I'm sorry but I didn't tell you the truth when we did that. I told you the signs said 'Happy Valentine's Day' and they actually said something else. But, I think you will like what they say." (I had used the picture as my "reveal" at work a week ago).

Mrs. A: "Let's read it together."
All together (as I point to the words on the screen): "Mrs. A.... is.... having... a... baby."
.... silence...
The kids start to slowly read it over and over again.
Student 1: "(gasp!) You're having a baby!"
Mrs. A: "Yes I am! Where do you think the baby is?"
Student 2: "In your tummy!"
Mrs. A: "Yes, and that is why my tummy is getting bigger. Because the baby is getting bigger."
Student 3: "How big is it going to get?"
Mrs. A (holding my hands out): "Probably about this big."
Students: "Whoa."
Mrs. A: "So, I wanted you to know why it's getting bigger -- because there's a baby in there. If you have any questions, you can always ask me."
Student 4: "Wow. That is going to be tough." 
Mrs. A: "What is? Taking care of a baby?"
Student 4: "No. Getting the baby out of there."
Student 5: "I know it's going to be a tiny baby because your tummy isn't that big."
Student 6 (and about ten other kids): "What are you going to name it?"
Student 7: "I know something about babies. They come out on their birthdays."

Too cute. They were super excited. A couple of my little darlings just smiled and said, "Congratulations, Mrs. A!" It was a big day in our classroom -- and I'm pretty sure they're going to be super excited tomorrow. :) One of them told me as he was walking out the door: "I can't wait until your tummy gets bigger I can talk to the baby."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Rainbow Fish story

Time for an "oldie" but a "goodie." This is my sister Jessica's favorite story from my classroom. She literally cannot stop laughing when I tell it. 

My first year teaching, I was really excited to use everything I had learned in college -- including all the materials I had acquired and been saving for my first classroom. Late in my college career, I took an amazing drama class about play through drama. It was amazing -- all about using imagination, pretend play, and drama in the classroom and other therapy settings. We played drama games, created improv skits, and just had a wild, fun time in class.

As our final project, we were put in groups to create a puppet show for the local library storytime. In groups of 4-5, we adapted popular children's picture books into elaborate puppet shows. We even learned how to make our own puppets! I'm not talking paper bag or sock puppets -- real puppets. Fabric, working mouths, movable arms... they were legit. My group did the story, Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type

Strangely, I was the only elementary education major in the class. It seemed bizarre to me because the content fit so perfectly! So, at the end of the semester, all of my classmates graciously donated their puppets to me for my classroom! I was pretty excited and couldn't wait to use them with my own kindergarten class. One of my favorites was the Rainbow Fish puppet. This character, from the popular Rainbow Fish series, is perfect for the kindergarten classroom. I always utilize these books for social studies at the beginning of the year. Rainbow Fish is a special fish because he is the only one who has sparkly scales. He realizes, however, that even though he is beautiful, he is lonely because he doesn't have any friends. He ends up sharing all but one of his scales, but is happier because he has friends.

After reading the story, I decided to get out the Rainbow Fish puppet. I thought this would be a great way for the kids to recall the story and discuss what Rainbow Fish did and how to make friends. So, I told my students to close their eyes while I went to get our "friend." They did.

When I came back, their eyes were as big as dinner plates. They excitedly turned to each other saying, "Oh my gosh! It's Rainbow Fish!" It was seriously hilarious. This was my first year teaching, so I honestly didn't think they would be this excited/naive. I thought they would say something like, "Wow! A puppet!" Nope. In their minds, it was legitimately Rainbow Fish.

So, I played it up. I changed my voice for Rainbow Fish, talked to Rainbow Fish, nodded his little head -- the whole deal. I asked the kids questions about the story from Rainbow Fish's perspective, like "Why was I so sad at the beginning of the story?" I (Rainbow Fish) would call on the kids by what they were wearing. Something like, "You, pretty girl in the pink dress." They would immediately look down at what they were wearing, and our little friend in the pink would say, "Me?!" - totally shocked he was speaking to her. It was classic.

Keep in mind, my elbow is literally hanging out of the bottom of the puppet. Literally. But that, of course, did not matter.

It was time to wrap up the lesson and move on. So, I told the kids to say good-bye to Rainbow Fish. One little guy in my class was waving his arm and just about to jump out of his skin if he didn't get to say something to Rainbow Fish. So, I (Rainbow Fish) turned around and said, "Yes, Jason - what do you want to tell me?"

Poor little Jason turned white as a ghost. His chin nearly hit the floor.

After a moment of silence, I said (from my voice), "Jason, are you okay?"

Poor little, scared-to-death Jason nearly started to cry and said, "Umm... how did he know my name?!" 

Hilarious. I nearly exploded with laughter. Before I let myself go, I immediately remedied the situation: "Well, of course, I whispered it in his ear."

Never underestimate the trusting, innocent, and adorable nature of early kindergarten. Their ability to suspend reality is truly amazing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Kinder Valentine's Day... & move over, Mom!

What a week! I am utterly exhausted from a week full of evening parent-teacher conferences and sugar-fueled Valentine's day parties. However, I have had some really sweet and funny "high points" to this week and I'm glad I am taking the time to reflect and remember them.


First of all, Valentine's Day in kindergarten is pretty darn cute. They are extra sweet on top of their normal adorableness. We recently worked on writing letters in our room and the important aspects of a letter (dear, from). So, this week, we cut out hearts and wrote Valentine letters to people we love.

I told the kinders they could write to anyone they wanted to outside of school. Basically, I was telling them they had to write to someone other than me. :) Ha! I've kind of become a "safe" writing topic and I'm trying to expand their horizons a bit.

I took pictures of some of my favorites. They are adorable and so genuine. 

[Dear Mom and Dad, I love you guys! You are funny. I like your cookies. I love you the best in the family.]

The next two are funny because these little ones always call their parents by their first names (which seriously cracks me up when they tell stories!)
[Dear Jon, I love you. You are funny. I like your smile. You are awesome.] a.k.a. Dad

[Dear Sarah, I love you. You are awesome. I like your hugs.] a.k.a Mom

Gotta love the little ones who write to their pets. Don't ever underestimate how much an animal can mean to a child! 
[Dear Fish, I love you! You are beautiful. I like your nice fins.]

[Dear Dog, I love you! You are cute. I like your licks.]

 The last two wrote to their siblings. I sure hope my children one day love each other this much!
[Dear Jackson, I love you. You are kind. I like your smiles.]

[Dear Lyra, I love you! I love when you laugh. I like to play with you. From your sister.]


Then, of course, I found some pretty adorable letters in my Valentine bag today. You would think these things get old after five years. But, they just don't. There's something so amazing and genuine about a kindergartner applying all they know about letter sounds, words, and handwriting to create a message for you. 

[Dear Mrs. A, Be my Valentine.]

[Dear Mrs. A, You are the best teacher in the whole wide world. I love to write.]


Last, but not least, a hilarious and adorable story from a mom at parent-teacher conferences. I think an appropriate title for this story is "Move over, Mom!" This mom and I laughed about this for at least five minutes. My heart was just overflowing.

I had one of my great conferences last night. You know, one of those conferences when the parents sit down at the table and I can just say, "Your child is wonderful! Perfect!" Those are always fun. :) Well, I was explaining to this mother and father about how great their daughter (we will call her C in this story) is doing at school. I was telling them how much I really love their daughter and how much joy I get out of seeing C blossom in reading and writing. So, our story begins:

Mom: "Well, I can assure you the feeling is mutual. Because C absolutely loves you."

Me: "Yes, I love all the pictures and letters I get everyday. I always tell her how much I love every single one of them (laughing because there are about 10 a day!)"

Mom: "You should see all the letters that don't make it to school. I swear she writes you 5 love notes every night before she goes to bed."

Me: "Ha ha - she is so sweet."

Mom: "Yes, but I don't think you understand how much she loves you. She wants to be exactly like you. Before Christmas, I got a pair of brown riding boots like the ones you are wearing. With zippers on the side and buckles. C kept saying how she really wanted brown boots. So, I found matching ones for her for Christmas. She opened the box at Christmas and started gasping. Here I am wearing my boots and she starts screaming, 'Oh my god! They are just like Mrs. Anderson's boots! With the zippers and buckles and all!'"

We both laugh...

Mom: "Oh, it gets worse. That one wasn't as bad as the last thing that happened. I love how you have taught them to write letters -- and I love that you write the kids back."

Me: "I try to write back as much as I can because they like it so much."

Mom: "Oh yeah, she loved it! C got it out of her backpack right away and showed me. Then she ran to her room with it. Later that night, when I went in to put her to bed, I saw it on her night stand. She had taken a picture frame with a picture of her and I in it... taken the picture out and put your letter in the frame!"

Ha ha -- adorable right?! We laughed and laughed about it. On the second 13 hour day I had worked in a row due to conferences, that story was just what I needed to keep me going. 

Happy Valentine's Day!