Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Unicorn Theme

I believe it's important to tap into the interests of your students. Not only because it will engage them more in learning, but they can learn new things in the realm of their passions. I have several girls who are obsessed with unicorns. No matter what we write about, they bring it back to unicorns. They ask questions all the time about them. So when I was deciding on our themes for these last few weeks, I decided to choose a unicorn theme. There are a surprising number of books on the subject:

Introduces them to words like "frolic" and "prance". Can't go wrong with a Little Golden Book. :)

One of my all-time favorite stories. Our protagonist orders a unicorn and is a little disappointed in what she receives. But they make it work. Sometimes you get the pet you need, not the pet you want.

Thelma was an ordinary unicorn until a mishap turned her into a famous icon. However, she learns fame comes at a price. Great story to talk about problem/resolution in writing.

Yeah, apparently unicorns are a lot of work!

A parody of Good Night Moon. After I read this story to my students, I asked them to write other parodies of stories they knew using "unicorn" instead of the original character. We talked about what other details would change if you changed that one thing.

Love this illustration-kind of a goth Fern too. :)

My kids love the story Ninja Baby. :)

Unicorn Sleeping Beauty (I love the z's to show she is sleeping).

Instead of the Wild Robot.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

A Teacher's Dream House

I am often inspired by Terri Eichholz over at Engage Their Minds. She wrote this post: . I thought this was just a brilliant idea. It allows the kids to think from their mom's perspective and also brings in that design thinking.

Since it was Teacher Appreciation Week this week, I did a similar activity-but they designed a house for me! For a teacher. Here's what they came up with:

Dude!!!! They know me soooo well! :) 

I love that she included an elevator. They LOVE to ride the elevator. 

We lock ourselves out of our room on a weekly basis-so this was actually pretty thoughtful.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Cute and Creative

One of the biggest challenges for me working in the world of early childhood education is that I'm surrounded by "cute" ideas. I see them in my hallway, on Pinterest, on Twitter. Now I am not judging these teachers, but "cute" is just not my philosophy. If all the products are exactly the same that is not an art project, in my opinion it's a craft. For me, it's important that the students learn how to be creative and develop their imaginations. Not to mention, everything we do is an opportunity to apply what they have learned. And if the teacher is doing more work to cut out and decorate a cute template, then how are the students showing what they learned? We can add rigor to an activity without losing the developmental appropriateness.

So holidays like Mother's Day are difficult for me. Many teachers send pre-printed poems and again, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. But I need my projects to show my students' creativity. This is what I have done for the past few years. I take a picture of them and they do the rest of the work. They paint the canvas and then place the star stickers as they would like. We end up with a variety of designs and they can be proud of the work they put into it. To me, it's not important that it looks nice, but that the students can express themselves creatively and their personalities come through. It will always be "cute" the parents anyway.

Here are some examples from this year:

This student even wanted to leave the white heart when she painted the background.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Student Evaluations with the Little Ones

I am always looking for ways to grow, for ways to be better. I look to my colleagues, my administrators, my tribe for feedback and suggestions. I also look to my students. When they are young, it's often not as easy as just asking for their opinions-they have more difficulty understanding this process and putting their reflections on paper. So this is how I do it-I asked them to answer a few questions for me and their answers give me so much valuable information. I ask them:

My teacher always __________________.

My teacher likes ___________________.

My teacher always says _____________.

My teacher smells like ______________. (to lighten it up a little bit).

I like when my teacher _______________.

I do not like when my teacher _____________.

Now it takes courage to ask your students these questions. I cringed at some of the answers. I am a very loud person-so just me saying "everyone sit down in your seats" is considered "yelling" or "screaming" in their eyes. I learned this year that I need to focus on having more patience and using a lower voice when I need to fuss at them. I have the rest of the school year to improve in that area.

On the plus side, they know I like kids. They know I always read books. Almost everything I say is positive.

Be brave and take a pulse of your classroom throughout the year-the outcomes may surprise you!

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Roz and Her Memories

I'm in the process of reading:

to my Kindergarten students. They LOVE it! I don't know if it's because this is the 2nd installment in the series and they have developed a relationship with the characters or if, like me, they just want to find out what happens in the end--but every day when we are getting ready for dismissal they chant "We want Roz!". 

Just to give you some background-Roz is a robot created to work. She gets stranded on an island and learns how to be a contributing member of that society. She adopts a goose as he son (Brightbill) and also becomes a mother. The robot ends up being discovered and returned to the factory. In this part II story, she ends up working on a farm-however she still remembers her past, even though for a while this is a secret she keeps.

One part of the story really struck me. She was thinking about the island and her son one day and realized that she could probably erase those memories from her computer brain and be relatively happier. So that is the question I asked my students to answer. Should Roz erase the memories of her past-it makes her sad to remember and to miss everyone or should she keep those memories.

Although my students really have only made about 2 years of memories in their little brains, I was impressed by the logic some of them used to answer the question. They also were pretty split in their answers-half keep/half erase.

Erase them-if she doesn't see her son again she will always feel sad.

Keep her memories of the island-just erase the memories of her son.

Keep because she's going to get in control.

Erase-because she might forget anyway.

Keep-to remember her cute little baby.

Erase because then she will be happy.

Keep because she will go back to the island again.

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