Sunday, March 11, 2012

Last Night's Read Alouds

One of my Goodwill finds- $1.50 for a spotless hardcover with the dust jacket.  Hilarious ABC book about a kitty gone bad, then good, then bad again.  The kids LOVED it.  There are lots of other Bad Kitty books with continuing adventures that we'll definitely be checking out!

This one I didn't actually read.  We'll call this the creative lazy parent's way of reading bed time stories.  This can be a great bedtime story solution for exhausted parents.  Check out Online Storytime by Barnes & Noble.  Famous people reading bedtime stories to your kids for you! 

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Kids Have a LOT of Books

My kids have a lot of books.  It's because their mom is a book addict teacher.  I might be a little out of control- especially now that I know that Goodwill sells children's paperbacks for 75 cents and hardcover books for $1.25.  And let's not even discuss the ones that are 50% off of that because they have the "color of the week" sticker on them!  Be still my heart!!  It really didn't help the situation any that last summer I went & found a teacher had retired & turned in what looked like her entire collection.  Imagine- barely used & beautiful books for such a steal.  This is where I go to load up for my classroom library, and inevitably some awesome special find makes it's way home for my own kids.  

Reading research says that reading aloud to your kids is one of the best things you can do for their reading, writing, auditory, and oral skills; plus it's a lot of fun- so we do a lot of it around here.  I'll be posting some of our favorites here on my blog- check them out! 

One of the kids favorites, we just returned it to the school library after having it for a ridiculously long time.  (Thank goodness our Media Specialist likes me & didn't come hunting it down!)  Monkey fell in love with a ripped up, pages missing copy of this at Peanut's ballet school when he was 2.  We never knew what happened in the great hall with the knights until we got a copy of the book with all the pages intact.  A wonderful book with repetetive text that the kids can start to help "read" along with you once they're familiar with the story.  Great for "reading" the pictures also- once they know the story they can retell it easily by reading the pictures. 
I'm not sure who loved this story more- the kids or mommy!  Hilarious story about all the things Mr. McGreeley does to keep the bunnies out of his vegetable garden.  Fun, repetetive text that the kids can help read along with you, GREAT vocabulary building- talk about all the different names he calls the bunnies, lots of great synonyms in this book.  If you have a preschooler, check out the lapbook resources for this story at Homeschool Share.  This classroom guide to the book with garden-themed teaching ideas is great.  For some cool writing lesson ideas to use with this book, check out Two Writing Teacher's Site

Last one for tonight- the book that I SWEAR is the reason Peanut knows the letters of the alphabet.  Between the time she was 1-2 I lost count of how many times I read this book at night-night time.  She loved it, found it hilariously funny, and sat patiently listening while I pointed out the letter/sound each of the letters made on each page.  Not the quickest book to get through, with 26 letters, but so enjoyable you won't notice, I promise.  Wonderful illustrations, rhyming verse, & each monkey's name starts with the same letter as the naughty thing that s/he is doing on their page.  This book is just plain FUN to read & share with someone you love- you'll laugh together as you read.  After enjoying the book check out some of the fun activities at Shannon's Book Nook

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cool New Teaching Blog & Contest!

One of my favorite bloggers, Jodi from Littlest Learners & Clutter Free Classrooms, has started a new blog devoted entirely to organizing your classroom- visit here to check it out:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Numb Butt and Other Sunday at 2 am Thoughts....

For anyone out there (and I'm sure that doesn't include those of you that actually read my blog!) who thinks teachers have it easy because we have our "summers off"- my butt is completely numb from sitting here for hours working on my work blog for the week.  I haven't even made a dent on the 3 sticky notes worth of other stuff that I need to do for work this weekend, never mind the laundry sitting in the washing machine downstairs and other assorted & sundry household chores that are being ignored.  On the upside, pretty soon our toilets and shower will be a great science experiment for my 2 kids at home- observe what happens to a __________ (insert offending item here) when it doesn't get cleaned for _________ (insert # of days). 

So, since I've spent several hours on the blog I have to do & none on the blog I want to do, you might as well have a look-sy at what I've been up to.  If any of your kids are between 4-7, you may find something on there that you can use! 

The Kinder Camp Chronicle

On a home note- here is what happens when your 3 year old comes up to you & says, "I want to make a tree mommy."  You put down your stuff you "need" to do, think fast, start pulling out construction paper and glue, and spend the next 1 1/2 hours watching your 2 kids rip paper to their hearts' content to make apple trees. 
We also worked on the letter L a few weeks ago and made these cute Lions and Love (hearts)/Lollipop painted Ls (let your kid dip the lollipop in paint & paint with it- the paint doesn't show up great on black paper- sorry!)  Be sure to have an extra lollipop for them to EAT after!

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's All Coming Back to Me....

...slowly but surely. Whew! First 12 days of school down and still alive, despite the apallingly short periods of sleep I've been getting each night. I feel like all I do is race from point A to point B this year. Race to point A usually begins with me shutting my alarm off & waking up thanks to my full bladder, yelling some epithet, and making it from the bed to the front door in 3 minutes flat. Then all day at work I run around like a chicken with my head cut off (bonus that I don't have time to think about, much less miss, my own 2 kids). Then the end of the school day is a race to get home before our wonderful nanny turns into an extra-$10-an-hour pumpkin. I'm tired just thinking about it all.

I've been gone from Kindergarten for 4 years and I've found out (usually the hard way) that there are a LOT of things I've forgotten. Here's a small sampling:

1. Watch your fingers c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y when holding the paper for the 4 year old who is cutting. Watch the scissors they're holding even more C-A-R-E-F-U-L-L-Y!
2. Tape the ends of the strings before attempting to string fruit loops to make AB pattern necklaces.
3. Don't wear anything you care about on days that painting is going to be done. Even if you aren't the adult in charge of the painting activity & you are all the way across the room at the time....somehow you will end up with paint on you.
4. They miss their mommies. And sometimes that makes them cry. New discovery- their crying will make me think about missing my kids and make me cry. Kind of like the student-teacher version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
5. Their attention span is about 10 minutes max at the beginning of the year.
6. The beginning of Kindergarten is VERY, VERY similar to playing Whack-a-Mole at Chuck E. Cheese's...or dropping a jar of marbles and then running around & trying to collect them. You pick which form of torture you prefer. I have chosen to teach Kindergarten.
7. Cut and staple all the books together before having the group. If not, all you're going to get done at this point is cutting & stapling....forget coloring or reading.
8. Since I am unable at this time to clone myself, I have come to understand that the new reality of my life as a "Kindergarten teacher with 2 small children of my own at home" is that I just physically can't do it all. There are not enough hours in the day no matter how organized & efficient I am. My type-A personality recoils from this fact, but a fact it is. It's killing me. I will adjust to this new reality...eventually. Until then I'll continue to see how the human body functions on about 4-5 hours of sleep a night.

I was planning on there being 10 items on this list, but right now I'm too tired to remember any of the other bazillion items I've re-learned these last couple weeks. However, I have found some amazing teachers to borrow ideas for some great lessons this week. We read Where the Wild Things Are, Go Away Big Green Monster, and Leonard the Terrible Monster this week and did the monster glyphs, graphing, and writing activities from the August section of Mrs. Jump's Kindergarten site.

On one of the MANY sticky notes covering my desk (see #8 above) I have a reminder to put together the calendar binders. I got the idea from Kristen's Kindergarten. I had planned to start them in August, but the new reality is now hoping for sometime next week & we'll "practice" with a catch up of the August calendar & then really do well at it in September. Same thing for the actual calendar. I have forgotten to do calendar several days in the past 12 days. Somehow the day is just getting away from me, we're so busy. For various reasons I didn't have it first thing in the morning this year and that's just not working for me, so I need to make another sticky note and add "re-do schedule".

Another cool thing I'm trying this year are my CAMP books. I decided on a camping theme so we could be the Kinder Campers...and I love a good theme, so when I do it, I do it all the way. Man oh man have I made the camp stuff (or found it online). I'll come back & post files to share when my 2 remaining brain cells have recharged. For now, back to the CAMP books. Basically it's a binder that the kids take home & bring back for communication. I think they're working great & it seems to be helping to organize the chaos of notes, lunch $, important schedules, etc. I call them CAMP books to go with my theme (stands for Communicating And Managing Paperwork), but the idea is based on BEE and MOOSE books I found on other teacher's sites.

Lastly for tonight. God bless the powers that be in CCSD for the wonderful Math RAP stuff they've posted to be used on the new Smart Boards we have. I had "beginner" training at the end of last year, then got laid off & missed the intermediate summer training, and got a condensed version Wednesday. On my own I discovered this stuff, so now I'm thinking, "Bye bye paper calendar whose space could be used for something else", hello to doing calendar on the Smart Board every morning.

Okay, going to see if I can break my record and get MORE than 5 hours of sleep tonight!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Amazing Deals

I found an online coupon for Office Depot (visit to keep up with any deals they're offering for teachers) that was $10 off of a $25 purchase, so since there are several things I need for the beginning of the year- off my 2 little helpers and I went to Office Depot. I ended up spending $0 and here is what I got:

*22 green folders with brads (these were 5 cents/each with a limit of 5 per person/household/day, but I lucked out & got a REALLY sweet cashier who, without me asking, did 4 transactions so I could get them ALL for 5 cents each!)
*2 packages of large printer labels (these were buy one get one free)
*5 packages of wide ruled loose leaf paper (25 cents each/limit 5 today)
*1 package of 100 clear plastic sheet protectors

I had a $25 gift card that the PTA gave us last year & I hadn't used. The coupon said you couldn't use gift cards with the coupon, but again- REALLY nice cashier who I thanked profusely!

So, I ended up actually using $24.75 of the gift card & then handed the card with 25 cents left to the guy behind me...figured it was good karma!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Big Changes

In May the county I work for laid off all part time teachers, so I found myself for the first time in my life contemplating unemployment- not fun. I almost became a middle school Family & Consumer Science teacher, probably not the best job for someone whose blog is all about what a mess she makes & how she's totally domestically challenged! I have a very domestically inclined mom AND a best friend who is like the Italian Martha Stewart (who would have been in the room next door- big upside & #1 reason I was pursuing the job)- so I figured we'd have lots of "guest speaking" opportunities. In the end, I got re-hired at my previous school and will be teaching KINDERGARTEN again, full-time. I'm thrilled to be going back to Kindergarten, not so sure about how the full time thing is going to go with the kids & responsibilities around the house. We're all going to have to adjust.

For right now the plan is that daddy has the kids in the morning, we have a sitter come to the house from 12-4/3 days, 1:15ish-5/2 days (Pnut will be going to Pre-School 2 days/week!!- more fun changes!!) and I'll be home hopefully earlier than 4/5. I'm feeling pretty good about the arrangement since the kids will still be with daddy all morning, they nap from 2-4 and then I'll be home. I'll really only be missing 2 "awake" hours with them that I had previously. Of course I'll also be missing the 2 hours that they nap where I got stuff done, but we'll just have to figure that out when we get to it!

In preparation for going back to Kindergarten I've been doing a lot of online research & reading K teacher's blogs, so now I'm going to get to post some of the great stuff I've found & want to use on here! I'm seriously cringing a bit when I think about ALL the stuff I gave away when I left K 4 years ago. There are SO many things I have to re-make or re-buy. I spent 2.5 hours the other day writing out some poems for the poetry center- did 24, filled up a whole $7.50 chart tablet (that I'm now going to bring to my mom to have her illustrate- thanks for volunteering mom!!) and realized that I had only made a very small dent in the poetry notebook. Of course all the research has created additional work/$ spending plans to incorporate all the cool ideas I've found...c'est la vie of the full time Kindergarten teacher! Twist my arm...