Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memory Lane

He's back!!! Our elf Zippy returned one last time to wish my kiddos good luck in first grade. They were soooo excited to see him! A few even thought he grew since his last visit! ; )  Zippy showed up right before we began taking our little trip down memory lane in my class.   He couldn't miss out on all the fun!   Like many other Kindergartens my class created a memory book to help them reflect on their year in Kindergarten. Years ago I used to focus on making really "cute" memory books that required me to spend hours assembling. The end result was adorable but really it was more of a collection of my memories from the year and not so much those of my students. Plus, it left me frazzled and a bit crabby stressed until they were finished. Now I choose to enjoy the last few days with my students in a much calmer way. Throughout the year I collect a few work samples to assemble in a simple portfolio. It always includes a first day of Kindergarten photo and a first day of Kindergarten self portrait. We usually include drawings of the students families and special school events throughout the year. Towards the end of the year the students begin choosing their own writing samples they would like to include in "their special folder."  Once their collection is complete we begin our memory pages. Our technology teacher always creates a slide show for our Kindergarten parents that showcases the highlights from the year. My class LOVED watching this and it sparked lots of conversations about all of the fun we've had this year! We began by making a list of our memories starting in the Fall. The kids began rattling off things they remembered from the beginning of the year. It was so cute to see their faces when someone mentioned a memory they may had forgotten! One memory that kept popping up was the visits from Zippy! So needless to say I was very happy he chose to visit them one last time.  

So instead of making a memory book on it's own I include their memory pages at the end of their portfolios. Once I started this I loved it. It gives an "ending" to their portfolio. You could make the pages very cutesy of course but I've chosen just to keep them simple and focus on the brainstorming and writing with my students instead.  I love to see what they have to say about the year! We not only discuss special events from the year, but their favorite centers and recess games as well. Here's a few of my favorites that my students recently completed:

"My classroom is big. Our classroom number is 144. The classroom is white and we have a lot of popcorn words."
"My classroom was big. Theres tables in the centers. My teacher is awesome. I like centers."
My personal favorites are always the center pages. I love to see which centers were their favorites!  I am really going to miss this class! They are a very special group and I loved going down memory   lane with them.  I can't wait to see them again next year!
                                                                 Mrs. M

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I have been so excited this entire Spring about having a student teacher! Ms. W did an outstanding job and now I'm so thrilled for her because she just landed her first teaching position! She will be teaching Kindergarten in a nearby district. =)  I was so lucky to have such a talented student teacher. Now I can't wait to visit her room and steal share lots of teaching ideas! This is the goodie basket I put together for her....but once I found out that her teaching assignment would be Kindergarten I cleaned out my storage closet and gave her lots and lots of other items for getting her room started. Yea!!

Now onto the summer journals...
Ms. B down the hall shared this with me. I love the idea of sending something for my students to work on over the summer but I don't want it to be a "chore." I have always encouraged my kindergartners to write over the summer and have sent them home with extra journals and materials. Ms. B took it one step further and created a Summer Journal Idea List.

I love how she blended Kindergarten skills (letters/numbers) with writing about first grade.  Another idea we discussed was to offer a "prize" to the kiddos that finished the journals and brought them back to us in August. Oh well....that's an idea to add to the file for next  year!   Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is hanging in there if you are still in session! Enjoy the rest of your week ...
                                                      Ms. M

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Touring First Grade...Kindergarten Map Makers

Each year I have a tradition of taking my Kindergartners on a first grade tour. This usually helps relieve some of the jitters of going to first grade...at least for now! My class this year has LOVED Junie B. Jones books. So for them I began our "transition" by reading  the book about Junie B. going to first grade. We spent time discussing how Junie B. described first grade and how it seemed different than the kindergarten in the other Junie B. books.  We also discussed how June B. was having a hard time at first but in the end everything worked out just fine.  So before we actually went on our tour of first grade classrooms we brainstormed a list of things that we thought we may see in the rooms. The kids listed many of the things that we have in our room now (block center, house center, reading center and art center.) The did get VERY excited about the possibility of having their own desk! I told them they would just have to wait and see when we got there!  
Finally the day came and we went on our tour! While touring they were as silent as could be and were taking everything in! Once we got back to our room we discussed what we saw and compared it to the prediction list we had made earlier.  Most were okay with not having a block or house center ...still others were very disappointed about this.   Some noticed the math tubs and reading centers in the rooms. However, what seemed to catch their attention the most were the desks (of course) , the larger calendar walls and the HUGE lockers-cubbies! Also, one kiddo noticed that one of the rooms did have a "car rug" for driving toy cars on. Yay! 

While it was still fresh in their minds I asked the kids to draw a map of their favorite first grade room.   I was amazed at how intent they were while working on these! They discussed with their table mates which room they were going to draw and what they were going to include on their maps.  I also found it very interesting that they each focused on different things from the rooms. Some were amazed with the huge popcorn word walls..while others were happy that the desks were squished together! Here's a peek at a few of my favorites!
I love how he labeled labeled everything! You can see that for the word wall he listed a few of the words he noted. He also has "our books", carpet, lockers and the much larger calendar wall.
I love the details in this one! She has the desks that are "squished" together, the extra center tables and of course the math problems.
This map maker included the squished desks, a bookshelf, the calendar wall and the HUGE lockers.

Now a project in my class is not complete unless we write about something of course! So, for this project the kids listed" What I know about First Grade!"  They again discussed with their table mates what they know and even what they still had questions about. Many seemed to be on the same track. They discussed the desks, lockers and that the centers were different. 
"Their lockers are big. They have desks. They have a reading center. The desks are squished together. They didn't have much centers."
"Their lockers are big. They have desks. They have a reading center. The desks are together. They don't have much centers. They have something on their desks."

Now I must admit having my kids complete this tour and project is as much for me as it is for them. As I'm holding back tears and sniffles on our walk back to our room I am reassured that they will all be just fine by their excitement and eagerness to discuss all that they saw.  Even those experiencing some disappointment for the lack of a block and house center seem very excited about other things they saw in the rooms. I assure each and everyone of them that first grade will be amazing and they will LOVE it!  So how do you help your little ones transition to first grade? I'd love it if you would share!  Have a great week!
                                                           Mrs. M

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Summer Reading Linky Party

With only five school days left my mind is just now starting drift towards summer and thoughts of the free time I will have. Well actually not too much free time with three kids to chauffeur around but you get the idea. Anyway, I do LOVE my more relaxed schedule and the time it leaves for reading. I always catch up on the books I just didn't get to during the school year. I'm joining the summer linky party that Mrs. Stanford having.  Here's a peek at some of the books that are on my list but I'm getting great ideas for more by checking out everyone links!  

I've read this one and plan to reread...Kimberly Wilson is a favorite of mine! She also has a blog ...Tranquility DuJour that I ADORE.

Okay...actually the upcoming book will be number 19 in the Stephanie Plum series but it is not coming out until June I believe. I never miss a new Stephanie Plum book. So. So. Funny. Love them!

I have more "non school" books that I can't wait to read but I thought I should list a few of my educational must reads of the summer.  The above writing book looks good and revamping my math stations is top on my priority list for next school year. My Debbie Diller Math Stations book just arrived and I can't wait to dive into it!  

I'm also excited about the blog book study that Mrs. Wills Kindergarten is hosting!  Well I know I'll be adding more to my list but this is it for now. Go on over to the linky party for some great inspiration for your own reading! Summer is almost here! 
                                                                Mrs. M

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bye-Bye Jungle

With only 7 days of school left it's time to say goodbye to all of the jungle fun we have been having. We've had so much fun with this unit but we have SO many end of the year projects to get finished during this last week.  I have to say that this has been one of my class' favorite units this year! My student teacher did a fantastic job of planning some fun and creative projects for them!  I wanted to share the last few moments of jungle fun....enjoy!
At our painting easel the kids chose what paper plate jungle animal they wanted to make.  Our elephants (adorable) are still works in progress!
Ms. W looked at a zoo map with the class. In their journals they wrote about what they would like to see at the zoo. Some of them drew their own maps. I love the word lists she created for the different tables! She used zoo stickers for the pictures!  During literacy centers they also wrote about what type of jungle creature they would like to be.

In one of the math centers Ms. W printed a jungle scene and put it in a plastic sleeve. The kids used stickies (with the stickie part left on) and dry erase markers to create their jungle number stories.

Well the butterflies have been released, our plants have been sent home and we've even had our end of the year program! I can't believe how fast this year has flown by. I'm looking forward to the last few days of fun with this amazing class!

I also wanted to take this opportunity to say a BIG thank you to Vanessa from Kinder Love for the lovely blog award!  However, you should really check out her blog! It is quite lovely!
                                                                     Mrs. M

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I feel like a real blogger now....I finally have a button!! I want to give a HUGE shout out to Leslie from KindergartenWorks!

She designed my button for me...check it out in the sidebar! I love it!  I couldn't believe how quickly she made this! I tried once to make my own button. It took me three times of sitting for at least an hour each time to create a fairly "okay" looking button. The problem was figuring out the code. I had no idea of what I was doing. The result was an extra picture on my sidebar.  So making a working button was on my summer project list. Now I guess I'll have extra time to clean my closets after all! Unless I can come up with another more interesting project that is....

THANK YOU Leslie!!!

Release Time!

Well today was a big day in our room...we released our butterflies! Many of the kiddos were sad to see them go but it was such an exciting event! Here's a peek at some of our butterfly activities from the past few weeks. =)
In our science center we kept our butterfly journals. As part of our literacy centers each week the kids would draw/write their observations of the caterpillars and butterflies.  In this center I also have specimen models of the different stages of the life cycle of butterflies.  
Our butterfly life cycle floor puzzle. My class LOVES floor puzzles!  In our block center we have some plastic models of the different stages of caterpillar/butterflies. I didn't get any pictures of these but they have been quite fun for the kids to build houses for in the block area!
Ms. W made some very cute butterfly shape books for our writing center! The kiddos used our butterfly word list in this center to help them with their stories.
The art center was a very busy place for some time with all of our butterfly projects! Ms. W discussed symmetry with them (see the beautiful example at the top of this post) and they made some gorgeous butterfly "super reader glasses" (masks).  You can also see the classic coffee filter butterflies as well in this photo.  
The big day is here! Our release day! My poor butterfly net has seen better days...time to buy a new one for next year. I actually had to staple the top to keep the butterflies in.  
This little one did not want to leave my side!

The butterflies were released successfully (and my pathetic net was tossed in the trash.) Now it's almost time for our plants to go home! Soon...very soon...it will be time to start taking things down from my walls.  It's amazing how fast this year is gone! I hope all of you are enjoying those last few crazy wonderful days of the school year!                                                            
                                                                  Mrs. M

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Window Cling Jungle Books

 We are experiencing the end of the school year excitement (only 11 more days) and at times my kids minds are thinking about playing outside rather than writing. Anyone else have this occurring in their room??  However,  I'm thrilled with the jungle stories that are coming together and just wanted to share!! The jungle books that I'm posting are actually just blank books that are in our writing center. The animals are window clings! Ms. W found these at Target and came up with the idea of using them on our blank books. Yea for creative student teachers!!  Take a peek at a few of the stories that I just loved this week:

"I see a elephant. It is gray. My baby brother wants to go under it. Mom said NO!" 

"But he didn't listen to mom. She was not happy."

"My brother had to take a bath and me too."

 "The cheetah is very fast! The Cheetah eats meat."

"Cheetahs are not nice."

Tomorrow Ms. W has some fun monkey activities planned, our butterflies have emerged and our plants are FINALLY growing! So much excitement at the end of the year! Hope your end of the school year is going smoothly...enjoy the rest of your week!
                                                        Mrs. M

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sponge Capsule Writing

My wonderful student teacher, Ms. W, just did the most creative writing activity with my kiddos! After visiting Target (We love Target!) she picked up these jungle themed sponge capsules.  During a group meeting the kids gathered around and they anxiously awaited what type of animal their capsule would end up turning into.  Just in case you are not familiar with these types of capsules...you just put them in warm water and as the capsule melts away a sponge animal emerges. 

Once all of the animals had emerged they brainstormed some story ideas about the different types of animals. Each kiddo then completed the following writing template about their animal. 

Here's a few of  the finished writing samples...
My animal is a giraffe. It is red and it is sparkly!  I like tall animals because  sometimes  I even think about going under a giraffe!

Alligators live in the swamp.  They have sharp teeth. They eat meat and they eat snakes. And they eat rats.

This upcoming week will be our last week of jungle activities. I can't wait to see what Ms. W has in store for them! I know we have a few more writing and art projects that are in the works and I can't wait to share them with you. Until then...have a great week!
                                                   Mrs. M

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...