Sunday, September 25, 2016

All About Apples

Happy Fall Y'all- I love this time of year. The leaves start changing on the trees, pumpkin spice lattes are back at Starbucks and I get to teach one of my favorite units-  All about Apples.
12 Best Books to read about apples for kindergarten and first grade.  All about apples and John Appleseed.
I start by reading lots of apple books and talking about apples.
We will graph our favorite way to eat an apple.
Apple Graph from All about Apple Unit- Time4Kindergarten
We will make the Apple Life Cycle step book from my All About Apples unit.
Apple Life Cycle Step Book from All About Apples unit- Time4Kindergarten
Apple Life Cycle Step Book from All About Apples unit- Time4Kindergarten
Apple Life Cycle Step Book from All About Apples unit- Time4Kindergarten
We will be also learning the parts of an apple.
 We will make apple patterns for math and
apple paint prints for art.
apple patterns for kindergarten math: all about apples
Apple paint prints art: All About Apples Time4Kindergarten
 We will taste apples and we will finish up our unit with making apple sauce.
making apples sauce in kindergarten: time4kindergarten All About Apples
making apples sauce in kindergarten: time4kindergarten All About Apples
making apples sauce in kindergarten: time4kindergarten All About Apples
making apples sauce in kindergarten: time4kindergarten All About Apples
Crockpot applesauce is so easy to make.  Just peel and dice the apples add about a cup of water and cook on high for about 4 hours.  I added a few teaspoons of sugar and some cinnamon to taste.  Then let it cool and refrigerate over night. 

You can find my All About Apples unit on TpT 
All About Apples: graphs, poems and sequencing activities for kindergarten
Over the years I have collected quite a few books. Here are just a few of my favorites all of which can be found on Amazon.

The following contains affiliate links.


Hope you are having a great start to your school year and are enjoying the beginning of fall.  

Saturday, September 10, 2016

What My College Professors Forgot to Teach Me: The Sad Truths Behind Beaching

When I first set out to begin my life as a teacher I had all these ideas of what teaching would be like. I sat there listening to my professors preach their beliefs and philosophies about teaching reading, writing and math. They talked about making lessons meaningful and engaging.  My reading professor bashed the reading basals and phonics and spoke only about Whole Language.  They made sure I could write the perfect 5-step lesson plan following Madeline Hunter's.   format. On paper, I was prepared. Never, however, did they prepare me for the real classroom experience.
The truth about teaching: What they forgot to teach me in college
I do not think one can be prepared for every single classroom experience, but I do think there could have been some warnings, some trainings, something to help prepare me for the experiences I have had to go through these past 25 years.   The only training I did have was about the child abuse. What they fail to leave out is the emotional mark it can leave on you as a teacher. Those students take a piece of your heart with you. My very first year of teaching I had a student who witnessed his father abusing the step mother repeatedly.  The child was angry and physical in class, he would overturn tables and throw chairs at me.    I was not prepared for this. My college professors did not prepare me to handle these types of situations. This is one of the sad truths behind teaching.

Another sad truth is when you experience the death of a student.  This past week I attended the funerals of two of our students. They were sisters who died in a tragic car accident. Again, my college professors did not prepare me to handle these types of situations.  Something this devastating was never even discussed. Although one can never be truly prepared, I do think, there could have been something said, there could have been a class- the truth about teaching.   I know when you think of teaching you think of happiness and joy and making a difference in the lives of children.  What you don't think of is all the bad, sad things that come with our job.  Sadly, this isn't the first funeral of students I have attended.  One can only hope it will be the last.

When I said I wanted to be a teacher, my college professors never told me being a teacher would require me to be so much more and to give so much more of myself.  In the past 25 years as a teacher I have been known to wash clothes, brush hair, provide toothbrush/toothpaste,  provide snacks/lunch, help find housing, help find daycare, get counseling for students, get kids sponsored for sports, help parents find jobs, help with emergency dental and more that I can't think of off the top of my head. None of these require me to teach children,but my kids need all of these things to be successful before they can even begin to learn.

My college professors left out some truths about being a teacher.  They only gave me the philosophy and the textbook version.  They neglected to tell me it could take a piece of my heart each time I lost a student, or haunt me in my dreams each time I filed a CPS report.  Perhaps they did this on purpose, or perhaps they were lucky and never had to experience these truths.

Don't get me wrong, had I known these truths, I would still be a teacher.  I love being a teaching.  I find it so rewarding when I see a students' face lights up and they exclaim "I DID IT!"   I love that I get a ton of hugs a day from past and present students.  I love that I can feel like a celebrity when I walk past the lunch tables becasue all the kids are shouting hello.

Being a teacher today isn't easy, but it is still rewarding.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Fine Motor Activities With Rainbow Names and Fish

At the beginning of the school year I like to work on developing fine motor skills with my students.  One of my favorite art projects that remains displayed on our wall all year our their Rainbow Names.
Fine Motor Activities for kindergarten: Create a rainbow fish and rainbow name to develop fine motor skills with young students
Although this activity may take some time to prepare, the outcome is always worth it.  Using 6 x18 inch tag or white construction paper, I write each students' name in rainbow order. For example, Jeremy would be written like this with markers.  

The student would then glue the corresponding colored paper squares on top of their letters. I cut the paper into 1/2 inch squares. For easy storage I keep each color separated into ziploc bags.  I use these sorting type trays from the dollar store that are used for parties. 
Once complete I mounted onto construction paper to give it a little more pop.  We have really large paper, (18 x24) but poster board would work too.
Rainbow Names- A great Fine Motor activity for the beginning of the school year

This project leads into my next favorite project, which I call Friendship Rainbow Fish. Reading Rainbow Fish at the beginning of the year is a must.  It is a great way to introduce the lifeskill of friendship.  

After reading the story, I pair my students together, usually with someone who I think they do not already know.  Together they create their own rainbow fish collage. This is another great activity for developing fine motor skills.  It involves gluing small pieces of paper precisely in between the lines.  If the paper is too large it needs to be cut in order for it to fit. properly  The students must work together cooperatively to create their fish.
Rainbow Fish: A FriendshipActivity-working in pars students create this colorful rainbow fish,great activity for developing fine motor skills
The following is an affiliate link
  You can download a copy of Friendship Rainbow Fish Here
Rainbow Fish Craftivity a free craft pattern for fine motor development for kindergarten
I hope the beginning of your year is off to a great start.  I am looking forward to our three day weekend.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Back to School With Procedures

I am officially back to school. We have completed 8 days and let me just say how I truly forget how the beginning of school is oh so tiring.  The days seem so long and the kids are so young.  Some days it wasn't even 8:30 and they wanted their moms or to go back to their daycare. The first few days were rough, lots of repetition of the rules and procedures. I was worried  it would be a long year, but by Friday things started falling into place.
Back to school with teaching classroom procedures.  Make the rest of your school year a breeze if you teach consistent procedures in the first few weeks.
I can't stress enough how important it is to review procedures every time you transition and enter the room.  I am once again using WBT .  You can download my classroom posters here for Free.
Free Whole Brain Teaching Posters for the Classroom
Just remember to breathe and take baby steps.  I review procedures continually from the moment I open my door, my students are greeted with "Good morning "I'm so happy to see you, put your lunch box on the cubbies, backpack on the hook, and meet me at the carpet." Next it is Rule #1-Follow Directions Quickly... Then I review Attendance-procedures "When I call a name only the person who I have called can answer- here." Procedures, procedures, procedures. We practice everything from sitting on the carpet, pushing in chairs, hanging up backpack to lining up.  Remember it is all new, so they have to learn how do it and they won't learn the very time you show them.

Our lifeskill this week is Friendship.  We discussed this a lot this week as so many of my students did not know each other.  I asked my students a few questions about friends.  They had really great answers. 

Teaching Friendship using Character traits lifeskills posters with a superhero theme
"What can you do with a friend?"
go to the park- have a sleep over- play Legos- ride bikes together. 

"What is a friend?"
someone to play with--they help you- make you laugh- when you are hurt they take you to the office.

Each week our school focusses on different lifeskills.  I try to incorporate them into my read alouds and my oral language time. Later in the week I modeled how to introduce yourself to a person and then ask that person what their name was.

Hi, I'm Mrs. Mugurussa, what is your name? 

Next, I asked the kids to stand up and walk about the carpet and introduce themselves to each other.  Before I knew it they were putting their hands out and shaking each others hands.  I even heard my Vietnamese student participating. This was one of those lessons that just came to me as I was teaching, but will be a keeper.  It helped the students to learn their classmates names and meet new friends.
These are the posters we use at our school.
Character traits lifeskills posters with a superhero theme

That's it for now.  I'll share a few more lessons later this week with a few freebies so make sure to comeback.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Back to School With ESGI

As I say goodbye to summer vacation and welcome the new school year I am very thankful to be starting the year with ESGI.

back to school with ESGI
This year we will be trying something a little different with our kindergartners. In the past, we assessed our students before school started then placed them into classes.  However, not all students would come to our assessment days so we would have to randomly place students into classes.

This year, we will be assessing students the first three days using ESGI, then we will build our class lists.  With the help of our support staff we will be able to assess all of our students rather quickly. We will assess each student on the following skills:

  • Letter ID  and Sounds
  • Number Recognition 0-20
  • Counting to 20
  • Basic Shape Recognition

While students are being assessed teachers will be working with the students. During this time the teachers will be observing their cutting and coloring skills as well as their group interactions and social skills. Once each student is assessed we will be able to print out results and do our best to make balanced classes of students.

Why use ESGI?
It's fast-It's easy to use- no papers to shuffle- no flash cards or manipulatives to carry around. Everything you need for assessment is on the screen. All questions are recorded with a yes/no format.  Either the student got the answer correct or they didn't.

If you haven't tried ESGI- Give it a try- You can sign up for a FREE 60 day trial. That is what My teammate  and I did a few years ago at the start of the school year.  Then after using it to monitor our students progress we shared it with our assistant superintendent.  She loved our enthusiasm and we had data to prove how much time we were saving.  She bought it for all kindergarten teachers in our district.  Now, it is what we all use.

I can't tell you how simple and easy it iss to use.  It comes with a ton of pre-made assessments or you can make your own.  My teammate and I are now in charge of making all of our district assessments which of course we make in ESGI.

Another fabulous feature is the parent letter.  This letter tells the parents what skills their child knows or doesn't know.  We actually print this letter out and attach it to our report cards.  We love it becasue it is available in Spanish. You can edit the letter as well.
ESGI data report parent letter from ESGI
ESGI also offers teachers the ability to print individualized flash cards for students. For example if I wanted this particular student to work on number recognition I could print out just the number flash cards they did not know.

back to school with ESGI
So what are you waiting for?  Click the ESGI icon above and sign up for your free trial use the Promo Code B928.  New trial members will also be entered into a raffle to win one of ten $50 TPT gift cards.

If you decide to purchase ESGI use the Promo Code B928 for a discount of $40.

Test it out then show your district how wonderful it is. Be sure to tell them how much time you can save on assessing students and actually spend quality time teaching if they were to purchase the program for you.  After all, in the end isn't that why you are there, to teach?

Have a great weekend!!!

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