Sunday, September 28, 2008

The "new" Kindergarten

For any of you that know anything about Kindergarten, you are familiar with the "old school" and the "new school" approach. The old school approach says the Kindergarten day should focus on play, socialization, rules, and routines. The new school approach agrees with that, but adds in lots of phonics, whole language skills, and eventually reading strategies. This new school approach has also been referred to as "Kindergarten as the new first grade."

I subscribe to both. I believe in both. I would consider my classroom closer to the new school approach, but with some old school thrown in.

I'm slowly getting to the point of this post. Hang in there.

I was at a wedding this weekend in Boston and my cousin was telling me tales of his daughter's experience with Kindergarten. She will not be 5 until the end of October so they enrolled her in a private school. She came home one day and asked if their cat was nocturnal. He, being the funny guy he is, admitted to me that he wasn't even sure what that meant. She also asked about exoskeletons. She can now identify nocturnal animals and those with exoskeletons.

Now, the new school teacher in me responds with, "oh, they must be learning about ants and squirrels!" The old school teacher in me thought, "holy crap, who is this teacher who is teaching her 5 years olds about nocturnal animals and exoskeletons?!" I immediately felt inferior.

Tomorrow I am throwing out my plans to learn how many syllables are in our names and teaching cell mitosis and photosynthesis. I need to get my kids up to speed with this smarty-pants New England kids!

Kidding.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Boo on Technology

So we went on our first field trip today and it was GREAT!! We traveled to a farm museum and made apple cider, ran in apple relays, and learned so much about apples. We also got to play some good ol' fashioned Duck Duck Goose and have a picnic in the grass.

I captured all these wonderful moments on my digital camera. The pictures were great - really great.

And now they're mysteriously gone.

Wah...wah...wah...

What a bummer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do what I say...

We are on our 35th day of Kindergarten and while my kiddos can walk in a line remarkably well (better than most of the upper grades I may boast), they still need reminders about staying on the silver line, keeping their hands behind their backs (ducktails) and keeping their eyes forward. To dole out these reminders I tend to walk backward for most of the trip. It's the sign of a Kindergarten teacher... we walk backward really well.

Today there seemed to be a rash of kiddos turning around and then proceeding to bump into the person in front of them. After 4 reminders in a row, I launched into a mini-lecture about why we need to look forward. Just as I finished with the warning of, "it's just not safe to walk with your head turned around," I tripped over a chair left in the hallway. Newman. There was no way to save that one other than saying, "See?!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Best Story Ever...

"This is my mom and my brother and they are going to the hospital because my brother ate a magazine... no, I mean a magnet."

(turn page)

"This is my brother getting an x-ray and here is my mom and the doctor, and my brother is not happy."

(turn page)

"This is my brother pooping out the magnet. He was happy."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Hangover Cure

No... come on, I don't mean a real hangover. I mean that hangover of being with your kiddos all week and if you teach little ones, you know that by Friday afternoon, you are done and they are done. You just need to get to the end of the day. Here is the perfect recipe: nice music and Choice Time. You put on your favorite kid friendly music and the kiddos choose their favorite activity. They strengthen their social skills and you... well, you survive.

In Harmony (a childhood favorite of mine)
Housekeeping
Coloring
Gears
Blocks

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Poor Spacey vs. The Pooper

Before I tell this tale, it has to be noted that a few faithful readers have complained that I do not post as often as I used to. They're right, I don't. I just don't have as much material this year!!!

Until today.

During math I am the only adult in the classroom and I've just set up centers for the kiddos to work at. This allows me to sit with one table to take notes and assessments while everyone else is busy - and productively busy.

About halfway through math time, organized chaos walked in the door to deliver some pictures of toilets that my co-teacher was copying. Toilets you ask? Well yes. You see, The Pooper, while poop and pee free, still doesn't understand when to use the bathroom. So we are posting pictures of toilets next to the appropriate times. Unpack, snack, and lunch. 18 out of my 19 kiddos are able to stick to this schedule with the occasional emergency that I have no problem granting. I am confident that The Pooper will learn.

The number has actually changed to 17 out of 19, so let me bring you back to organized chaos's arrival into my room. After she dropped the toilet pictures on my desk she began circling around the tables on her way out and discovered a pee-colored puddle next to The Pooper's chair. But The Pooper wasn't in his chair, Poor Spacey was. I am unclear as to the conversation that Poor Spacey had with organized chaos but the result was that a) It wasn't Poor Spacey that peed, she was just sitting in it, and b) it was assumed that The Pooper had peed without alerting anyone and then moved along to another center.

This is when I got involved. We examined The Pooper's pants and saw that they were dry but I know what we were thinking - "did it just go right down his leg and onto the floor?" "Boys can do that right?" This seemed unlikely, but this is The Pooper we are talking about. We just assume it was he who had an accident. So we asked him in a variety of ways only to discover that this line of questioning was useless. A variety of one word answers were given - juice, water, his table-mate, etc. He had no idea what we were saying. The Pooper's poor communication skills and our confusion were a hindrance at this point.

Meanwhile, Poor Spacey had moved to another table and was going about her business as if her entire butt wasn't soaked in urine.

Finally I gave up, and asked organized chaos to take Poor Spacey to the clinic for dry clothes. The other children were swarming like bees wondering who peed their pants and I had pee to clean up (not to mention teaching math, but obviously that's secondary). I piled on a layer of paper towels and Clorox Wipes and got to work on cleaning up the mysterious puddle.

20 minutes later...

Because that's how long it takes Poor Spacey to put pants on...

And through questioning from organized chaos and our school nurse...

It was deduced that Poor Spacey peed in The Pooper's chair and then allowed him to be rolled under the bus. She said she didn't know she was doing it...

REALLY?!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh my...

I eat lunch with a couple of kiddos a week and the conversations are really funny. Today's made me snarf my soup:

"Are you having a baby?"

"Yes I am!"

"Your boobies are going to start way up and then go down when you have a baby."

Ah, thanks.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

All you need is love...

I have a kiddo who doesn't have behavior problems, but certainly was on my radar as someone who needed more reminders than others. I wasn't sure how to address it early on and opted for the fair-and-consistent method (my standard). I consistently expected her to follow our rules and when she didn't, she faced our classroom consequences. This didn't work very well... she'd have great days and many more not-so-great days. Her moods seemed to swing wildly from way high to way low.

Then I was filled in on her family background. Horrible. Just horrible. Horrible doesn't even describe what this poor thing has been through in just the few years she's been alive.

So I thought about what home must be like and if I were in her shoes how I would want my teacher to treat me. I had to realize that it's all negative at home. Every bit of it.

I decided I needed to smother this kiddo in love. From the minute she walked through the door to the minute she walked out I ignored the bad behavior and praised the good behavior. And guess what? Dur, there wasn't much bad behavior. There was over the top great behavior with amazing extras. She wrote a book - A BOOK! - in Writing Workshop. She wrote another book in CHOICE TIME. Most kids clamor for housekeeping or blocks and this one chose to write and she wrote a book on how she loves me.

I almost burst into tears.

I'll always be that fair-and-consistent teacher, it's the way I am programmed, but she helped me realize that it doesn't work for everyone, and sometimes all you need is love (everyone sing along!)

Dream in my dream

I was having trouble falling asleep last night. While I was in that weird dozing-but-not-sleeping stage, I was dreaming that my kids were interrupting my dream. Does that make sense? So I was "shhhing" and reprimanding them so I could continue to dream. Then I woke up annoyed. Annoyed at non-existant kids. Oy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hips loosen?!

When I found out I was pregnant I decided to keep it somewhat separate from this blog -- not a secret by any means, but my blog is about my room and my kiddos, not my personal life. For the past 22 weeks, this hasn't been much of a problem. Now, on days like today, the only thing I can think about are my hip joints that are rumored to be loosening (really?!) and my aching back.

19 Kindergarteners and my wackadoodle body is not a good mix right now. I hope that in a few days I will acclimate to this because the idea of being in this mood until Christmas break is really depressing.