Thursday, June 28, 2012

Daily 5 Chapter 3

I just finished re-reading Daily 5 chapter 3 and can honestly say that this chapter made an impact on me the first time I read the book! As I was reading it again I could see methods/ideas that I tried before and YES they did work! I even continued many of these things when I decided to go back to traditional literacy centers and they worked with those as well.  When I posted about chapter one I wrote about myself trying to implement the Daily 5 two years ago. I had a very challenging class and it was just too much for me to take on that year. However, chapter 3 suggestions work very well for traditional literacy centers as well as for the Daily 5.

This week Mrs. Freshwater's Class blog is hosting the Daily 5 book study.  Go check her site out if you haven't already and see what everyone else has to say about this week's chapter. here are some things from chapter 3 that have worked out great for me:

Establishing a Gathering Place
I love this idea! Years ago when I had a HUGE room I had a kitchen center, a reading center with a claw foot bathtub and a "living" room center we used for our gathering space. It seemed like each year the kiddos called it that on their own without me introducing it as such. It was very homey and inviting. Once I moved to a smaller room it took me a while to establish these different areas. I think I finally have it now though.  I know I've read (or saw it on their website...I can't remember) that the sisters suggest to keep math gathering spaces separate from literacy gathering spaces.       It's taken me some adjusting but now that I'm used to it I LOVE this approach.  In the picture above you can see my reading center that the kids call the "stage."  The materials/shelving gets rearranged from time to time but you get the general idea. 
In this picture which was taken at the very end of the day (and end of the school year) so it's a bit of a can see our gathering space next to the stage. In between the two blue chairs in the corner I have my teaching easel.  We didn't have a special name for the space this year. I would love to return to calling it the "living or family" room again though.  On the other side of the room we have our calendar wall and another carpet space area for math meetings.  My tables are scattered throughout the room in various centers.  Although I am known for moving my room around A LOT, this general arrangement has worked out great for me. 

Good Fit Books

This concept has helped me so much with assisting children in finding books for their familiar reading book boxes! In chapter three the sisters use a shoe as an example. For some reason I seem to use pants! It seems as if each new school year I have kiddos coming in with new school clothes that are just a wee bit too big. Soooo...we discuss that when you go shopping that you wouldn't want to shop for pants that are too small and not be able to be buttoned. You also wouldn't want your pants to be too big or they may fall off! You want pants that are just right. The kids always seem to get a kick out of this analogy and refer to it throughout the school year!
Here is a picture from last year with our book boxes and book tubs.  I do have plans for re-designing this space for next year but the concept will remain the same.  My white tubs are numbered 1-10 and the children use these tubs to "shop" for books for their own book boxes.   Each child is able to begin with book tub number one at the beginning of the year.  As I hold reading conferences with the kiddos we discuss together if we think the child is ready to move on to the next book tub. The upright book bins and colored tubs have thematic books in them that I allow the kids to  check out and take home to read. We also use these for book studies on specific topics.  I love when I watch the kids during "read to someone" time and they begin discussing whether or not they have a book that is too hard or just right! Another exciting time for them is when they realize a book is just too easy and it's time to return it to the tub it came from!   It just wouldn't be as powerful if I  were the one telling them the book was too easy/hard.  

Anchor Charts
Like many of you I love anchor charts!! I use anchor charts to introduce just about every expected behavior or activity in my room.  I really like the sisters' concept of the "I" chart! When using the "I" charts the children can really grasp onto what they should be doing and what the teacher will be doing. I do keep most of these up at the beginning of the year. As the year continues I stack them near my easel and pull them out when we need to review a behavior or activity.  

Checking In and Short Intervals of Related Practice
This is so hard for me but it does work if implemented correctly!! I just have to remember to s-l-o-w down with my kiddos at the beginning of the year and not rush them. By allowing the short periods of practice they are not overwhelmed and will have moments of success.  I've noticed that when I push it and try to do to much too soon it always backfires and I have to begin again.  

I love the check in method described in this chapter! Having the kiddos give a thumbs up or a sideways thumb is so positive in comparison to a thumbs down.  This gives a great message that we all are working to do better each time! 

Correct Model / Incorrect Model
By having the children model the different activities in the Daily 5 it gives everyone a chance to shine! I try to let different students model each day until everyone has had a chance. I've even observed students who would typically be acting out during Daily 5 volunteer to model the correct way to participate! 

I am really enjoying reading what everyone else has to say about this book so far!  So many great reflections and ideas.  I can't wait to get started with this again next Fall! 
                                                                                                 Mrs. M

Monday, June 25, 2012

In Pictures and In Words Book Study...Section One

Summer....I just LOVE it! I love being able to create my own schedule and do things I just don't have time for during the regular school year.  However, I do "try" to accomplish some school things! I've picked out new paint and fabric for my room, bought new labels and name tags and have begun to organize my binders.  I'm also looking forward to attending a Whole Brain Teaching conference later this year. Before it gets too busy though I decided to take part in the Kindergarten Daily 5 Book study and knowing that I desperately need to update my math stations I've decided to read Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations.

So, I really didn't plan on taking part of the book study taking place over at Mrs. Will's Kindergarten. The book In Pictures and In Words by Katie Wood Ray  looked interesting and 

I planned on reading it. I wasn't planning on taking part of the book study but I would just read along with everyone else to see what they had to say.  

Then I began reading. 

And reading. 

This book is amazing and I now I can't wait to take part in this study!

Reflections....chapter one

Before I began reading this book I knew that I was looking for something "more" to add to my approach to teaching writing in my classroom.  Writing with Kindergartners is my absolute favorite activity and subject to "teach." However, I've felt recently that I could be accomplishing more with my young authors. Like many schools we are feeling the pressure of the trickle down effect and the expectations that young five and six year olds should be writing novels (not really... but you get the idea) before they go onto first grade.  I sometimes wonder as teachers if we put this pressure on ourselves?  We of course always want our students to do more and do better each time. While reflecting I decided that of course I want my students to do better but what I really want is to make writing fun and something that they can't wait to get to during the school day! Lately I've felt as if my students were rushing their writing in order to write more and more books. The quality was going downhill in some cases. I knew before this book study was even introduced that I needed to slow down with my kiddos and begin encouraging them to take more time on their illustrations and elaborate more on their chosen topics and characters.  

When I began reading about teaching out of illustrations and into words as quickly as possible I realized that  I have been guilty of this.   I read and re-read this section of the chapter several times. this makes sense.  I've been so focused on teaching word wall words and writing sentences that the meaning the children are trying to convey in their stories gets lost in the frustration of trying to write when perhaps they are just not ready for it yet.  I loved the author's example given on bats. Can you imagine trying to learn about bats in a book and not being shown detailed illustrations or photos. The meaning would have a hard time being conveyed of course.  

Reflections....chapter two

Building stamina.   

I've been thinking about this a lot since doing the Daily 5 book study.  Building stamina in a Kindergarten classroom takes lots of time and practice. I LOVED how the author wrote about curriculum of time in regards to teaching writing!   "When children regularly fill time with work they've made for themselves, they will come to understand what it means to do the creative work that writing demands. On the other hand, children who spend their school days completing work that is laid out in front of them for them to do, work they can see - a puzzle for math, a worksheet on colors, a match the animals game sheet-they are doing scooping poop work all day long." ( Page 22)  If we want children to develop stamina for writing then we have to give them the TIME to be creative. They need to learn how to deal with the demands of having a blank page in front of them. What will they fill it with? What types of creation will take place?  

Now, I've always given my students time to explore with journals and free writing time. You can see a post here on my typical approach to teaching writing. I believe that if you don't give them time at the beginning of the year it will be hard to expect them to "just create" as the year progresses.  I do believe that after reading this chapter that I need to devote even more time for my students to explore illustration and telling stories through illustration rather than focusing on just the words at the beginning of the year.  

Reflections....chapter 3
Writing and Illustrating as Parallel Composing Processes

I found it interesting that as the author discusses the "writing process"  she says that teachers don't really need to teach the "writing process."  That it just occurs naturally. So true. Now I will admit to discussing the writing process to my students. However, I agree that it does occur naturally  and in a Kindergarten room too much time is not needed to discuss this cycle.  The process of creating words to tell a story is very similar to creating illustrations to convey meaning. You must create and revise continuously until the meaning you are striving to convey is there. 

I totally agree with the author's stance that students should not have their markers and crayons taken away during writing time. These tools are just what they need to create and convey their meaning through their color and texture. 

Reflections...Chapter 4
Teaching an Essential Habit of Mind

I had to laugh as I read about the author building a house and she would be checking out specific details in her friends homes as she was working on her own! I am an HGTV addict who LOVES old houses. Whenever I am able to see a show on an old house being remoldeled or I'm actually able to visit another older home I am constantly checking out the little details and comparing them to my home. I'm in a constant state of thinking about ways that I could bring out the best in my eighty six year old house.  I believe that young author's naturally do this as well. I see it during our sharing times. When they are able to have time to focus on a friend's story they do NOTICE the details. I see their little minds reflecting and thinking about how they could create something like that in their own work. I will admit that I've not spent much time on studying illustrations as a book study with my class before.  This is something I am looking forward to starting with a new class this fall.  I think that by really looking at picture books and noticing the details the possibilities for what they may create are endless.  

Reflections...Chapter 5 and Chapter 6

Learning Qualities of Good Writing from Illustration Techniques

The Writing Workshop

Writing and pictures are connected of course. As I mentioned earlier I love the idea of a book study that is not focused on a specific topic, but rather the illustrations instead.  This may be what I'm looking for to help get my writer's workshop off to an amazing start!  I love the idea of giving them time to work as individuals and in pairs to explore the illustrations. The use of stickie notes will of course be a positive resource to help the young author's reflect on what motivates them. Besides...who doesn't just love stickie notes?????  

As I read chapter six something really caught my attention on page 79...."In a prepared unit, students are recipients of curriculum.  In a unit of study, students are active cocreaters of curriculum. And students need to be active, helping to generate curriculum around the framing question: What does it mean to make smart illustration decisions?"   This simple phrase reminded me so much of what I learned about The Reggio Emilia Approach when I first began teaching.  As I visited classrooms in Reggio theory based schools I was always amazed at the detail in their artwork, stories and how they could convey such meaning by using a variety of materials. The children were engaged in so many meaningful learning experiences!   Of course the focus was on the children, their interests and their questions. They drove the direction of the curriculum.  Now of course we have set curriculums in our schools but, I do find it worthwhile to let the students guide the direction of the book study. I can't wait to do more of this and see where their interests and observations will take them!  

Now as summer continues I have lots and lots of family activities planned. I may miss the next part of the book study but I'm so looking forward to what everyone else has to say.  As the new school year begins to inch closer and closer I'm really looking forward to begin implementing all of the new things I'm learning from the rest of you. Thanks for reading!
                                                                                     Mrs. M

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study...chapter 2

So this week Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles is hosting the book study and I'm really enjoying reading everyone's responses to chapter two! There are so many things to think about in this chapter! For some Daily 5 may not be the literacy framework that they are looking for....especially if traditional (Debbie Diller influenced) centers are working out for them.  For others it may be just the amazing answer to what their classroom needs in regards to literacy.  For me, reading chapter two really made me think about the type of teacher I am and what I would like to become. Caitlin's questions for chapter two are very helpful for self reflection of your "management" style in your classroom! we go with chapter two:

1.  Do you trust your do you build trust in order to allow them to be independent?
I must say that reading this section hit home big time. The sisters wrote about trusting your teenage son/daughter as they begin DRIVING.  Well just yesterday I took my oldest to get his driver's license! Yikes!  There has to be a HUGE amount of trust in order for a parent to give the keys to their child and let them venture out on their own. This amount of trust does not happen overnight of course. Nor does the type of trust needed for meaningful learning in a Kindergarten room happen during the first few days of school.  

It takes time. 

Lots of time. 

I must admit that I am the type of teacher that loves to jump in and try new activities, programs and approaches. I've learned though that I must take TIME to gently introduce new things and expectations to my students. I must allow them time to practice, make mistakes, review and practice some more.  Eventually as we complete the first few weeks of the school year trust between myself and the students builds and we can move onto the the meaningful learning activities I know they are ready for.  

2.  How much choice do your give your students during the day?

I used to give my kiddos an INCREDIBLE amount of choice during the day! However, I've tightened up a bit over the last couple of years. I've had some challenging classes that required a bit more structure and guidance that I began taking over things that I used to let up to the children. I was so lucky to have such an amazing class this past year. I have no doubt that if I would have given them more choices throughout the day that they would have handled it just fine. It restored my belief in giving children more choices. Now I'm looking forward to once again involving the children in making more choices in our classroom. When they take ownership in what is taking place in the classroom they work harder and try their best.  Caitlin asks about daily schedules..I do have a daily picture schedule that I go over with the class each morning. We turn the picture cards over as we complete each activity during the day. Besides literacy centers and math stations I do have a "traditional" center time. I allow the students to choose which two centers they would like to work in during this time.  I've also had years where we've not used assigned seats in the classroom. This has worked out BEAUTIFULLY some years and some years I needed to go back to assigning tables. I'm hoping to not have assigned seats after the beginning of the year this year. I've found that when engaged in a meaningful learning experience it doesn't really matter who they are sitting by or where they are sitting.  

3.  How do you create a sense of community?

Our supplies and materials are "community" in our classroom. We share and the children do feel a sense of responsibility for keeping our materials in order. My children do use individual writing tubs but we also have community crayons, markers, pencils and paper located throughout the room.  Helpers are also in charge of keeping our classroom library and other centers organized.   

We make many anchor charts in our classroom. We review these charts often and discuss what we need to improve on as a class. I love to see the kids reminding others of what we've discussed and what we need to work on!

We also work together each day to earn points on our WBT scoreboard. If the class earns enough points they can choose something together that they would like to have as a special activity at our traditional center time in the afternoon.

4.  How do you instill student ownership in learning?

Lots of praise, motivation and goal setting! I love to let the students read aloud or share a story they  have written during sharing time. It's a great motivator for the other students!! 

I'm also hoping by returning to Daily 5 instead of traditional literacy centers that the students will take more ownership in their behavior and work since they are choosing their Daily 5 activity. Often when assigned to a center I always have a few that end up where they don't want to be and their behavior shows it. Usually this results in my small group being interrupted several times.  

5.  How do you build stamina for your students in the classroom?

I have to remember to s-l-o-w down at the beginning of the year. Our "read to self " time may only be one minute at first. We review, practice and review again.  When I've remembered to slow down at the beginning of the year it has greatly helped to set a foundation for the students to build their stamina. I believe this is true for Daily 5 or traditional learning centers.   On years when I have rushed everything I've spent more time going back and starting over again and again. If I would have taken it slowly to begin with I probably wouldn't have had to do this.  

Finally, I love the last part of this chapter about staying out of the way of the students!! Once they understand the expectations and have practiced they are ready to go! Great advice to stay out of the way of a five year old who is ready to learn don't you think?

Have a great week!
                                                                               Mrs. M


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Daily 5 Journey

I have been interested in the Daily 5 for a couple of years now actually. Two years ago I read the book and was HOOKED! It seemed to be the answer for me and I was looking forward to not planning for 10 different literacy centers each week.

But then school started.

I soon realized that I had one of  those groups that was going to be VERY challenging. Ugh.

I didn't let it discourage me though. I kept at it and really tried to implement the Daily 5 to the best of my ability. The year proved to be a very difficult one and although I loved the idea of the Daily 5 by Spring time I was craving the familiar structure of Debbie Diller type literacy centers.

The next summer I decided that I would order the CAFE book and join the Sisters website in order to learn more about the structure of Daily 5 and CAFE.  I also made the decision NOT to implement the Daily 5 last school year while I was taking my time reading and learning about it. I needed a year to learn at my own pace while implementing something I was more familiar with.

So now that I've had a chance to regroup and rethink my approach to literacy I'm joining the Daily Five KINDERGARTEN book study at Live Love Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten.  I can't wait to see how other Kindergarten teachers are already implementing the D5 or how they plan to.

So here we go with the reflection questions for chapter one.......

1.  How do I teach new behaviors?
     Well like many other Kindergarten classrooms we  PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!! Isn't that what we all do in Kindergarten for the beginning of the school year?  I have found that it works best for me to teach new behaviors in short mini-lessons and then have the students role-model for each other.  For traditional centers in the past I've always picked one center a day to focus on the desired behaviors. The same can be done for Daily 5 in my opinion but I would stretch it out over a couple of days.

2.  How do I teach expectations?
     One aspect from the D5 that stuck with me from the first time I read the book was the use of "I charts."  This is one type of anchor chart that I have found to be very helpful! I've used them for not only literacy centers, but math and other daily activities.  I have found that reviewing these frequently at the beginning of the year to be a great start.  Throughout the year we have revisited some of the I-charts when our behavior was slipping a bit. This seems to be a great reflective practice for the class in general.

3.  How do I monitor student behavior? (Whole group, small group, individual)     AND
4.  What do I do when a student is not exhibiting desired behaviors?
     Our school embraces Whole Brain Teaching and I have found success with using the The Score Board for monitoring the whole class. If their behavior is meeting expectations then the class earns a point. If not I earn a point.  We usually have a class daily goal of something that they are working for at the end of the day if the class has more points.  In addition, as I'm working with groups or individuals I take mental notes of who is needing some extra practice or guidance with the expected behaviors.  This is something we can work on together during their end of the day thematic centers  and not involve the entire class.  They usually HATE to give up any of their center time so after a practice round or two their behavior usually greatly improves. =)

5.  Whose classroom is it?
     The classroom belongs to all of us.  If things are not going smoothly then we are all effected.  When we respect each other, the materials and our procedures then we are all learning from each other.

6.  Locus of control?
     Right now I have name sticks that go in a box.  If your stick is drawn at the end of the day your earn a pass to get a prize from the office. The more sticks in the box the better of your chances to get your name drawn.  I'm not sure if I'm sticking with this for next year but it worked like a charm this past year!!

7.  Where are supplies stored?
     We have both community supplies located throughout the room and my students use writing tubs to keep individual materials in. These work great for us to store our journals, word rings, writing folders and writing utensils.  They can take their tub whatever spot they are working on in the room and have everything they need.

I can't wait to read everyone's responses to chapter one! Remember if you are interested in D5 for Kindergarten go check out Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten's Linky Party.  Have a great rest of the week!
                                                                               Mrs. M

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pinterest Overload

Ah...Pinterest! So many teachers are just loving Pinterest this year! I also know of many that didn't have time to  explore the site during the school year and are now making up for lost time. =)  When I first discovered Pinterest I became obsessed with the decorating ideas and then moved onto the clothing and style pins. I didn't even catch on to the fact that there were EDUCATION pins until much, much later! I have no idea how that even happened..... 

So once I discovered some pins focused on classroom design and activities I was so excited and created my Kindergarten page.  At first this was enough for me but then we had a couple of snow days.

Snow days, fire in the fireplace, hot chocolate and PINTEREST...what more could a teacher ask for?

I went on a pinning frenzy and my Kindergarten board grew and grew. After realizing I needed to organize my pins I made my literacy and math pages.  So, fast forward a couple of months and now I'm on summer vacation. I've really taken a break from all things school related, blog related and even Pinterest related. I've browsed the site but really haven't been searching for ideas at all. 

However, now I'm beginning to think about next year....just a little bit. 

I'd like to use Pinterest for more than a visual scrap book of ideas. I'd like it to be a useful tool in finding ideas that can make my classroom/teaching life more organized, creative and of course effective.   I've been browsing through my pins and am looking for those that will help me get off to a smooth and organized start at the beginning of the school year.  So here are a few of my favorites that I think would be helpful with beginning of the year planning.

This pin is from a wonderful post on  Kindergartenworks to help get your teacher binder off to a very organized start!

I love seeing how others organize their materials in centers!

Great idea for a substitute folder! 
I'm always looking for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom activities for the beginning of the year.
Back to school means learning first names again. I love this name center activity!
I thought this would be a great activity when starting math stations at the beginning of the school year.

I've also used Pinterest this past school year to pin some of my own items. I'm hoping that using Pinterest for this will help me remember some of my favorite activities instead of "reinventing the wheel" every school year! Here are a couple of my own favorites from this past school year that I'm hoping to use again.

As I continue searching Pinterest for pins that will help my beginning of the year go smoothly I'm on the hunt for some behavior management ideas.  I love the rainbow system shown below but I'm not sure that this is the one I want to use for sure.  So...........the search continues!

Now that I've visited Pinterest again I believe it's time to take a break. It IS summer after all isn't it?? Hopefully you are on summer vacation yourself and enjoying some well deserved downtime!  I am curious though when I see all of the fantastic pins that other bloggers are posting...just how are they organizing and using those pins?  I'd love to hear how Pinterest is working for you....please share!
                                                                                        Mrs. M

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Keeping the Desk

I just love this pic of a teacher's desk from long ago

At the end of every school year I'm always amazed at how cluttered my room is! It starts out beautiful at the beginning of the year and actually isn't too bad until May. Then suddenly the room seems to be closing in on me with anchor charts, student art work, books and center games.  Ugh. Then if that is not bad enough my desk usually looks as if it's a landfill. I'm always embarrassed if anyone goes to my desk to get a pencil, etc. Well this year I had the luxury of having a student teacher at the very end of the school year. It gave me a chance to really look at my room (good, bad and ugly) and reflect on what I really need to keep or change.  

I know there have been countless blog posts on whether or not to keep "the teacher desk."  I too thought about removing mine. My reasoning was that I never sit at it during the day and I of course could keep my things at a table with shelves nearby instead. I've also had some interesting issues with my teacher desks over the years. At one point when we were building our new school building we had to get rid of EVERYTHING. They wanted everyone to have the same furniture in each room and sold all of our existing furniture in an auction. I loved my first teacher desk and later located it (by accident) in a local antique shop and bought it for me to use at home! The wonderful new desk in my classroom was awful! The legs literally fell off one day in the middle of class! I also had quite a few bruises from trying to get the drawers to stay shut.  I finally pushed it off on  shared it with a new teacher and brought in a different antique desk from home. Now that we are in this building for over ten years we have all accumulated different furniture.  (By the way, the teacher that has my old desk loves it just as much as I did.) So considering my issues with desks I didn't think I would give it a second thought about not having one.    I took time drawing out floor plans of my room without a desk, I looked up blog posts on this topic and I gathered drawers and shelves that I could use. I organized my guided reading materials and was ready to put a table near this shelf and set up shop. I was all set to get rid of the desk!

Then one day after school and it was quiet in my room I sat down at my desk and got busy working on some long overdue paperwork. It was soooo nice having my own little space that was mine and I could keep all of the items that I really don't want the kiddos getting into. Plus I looked at all of my junk teacher materials that I would have to find new homes for. You can see some of this mess in the pic below.  My desk sits along side of my "stage"/reading center. It is right next to my storage closet and filing cabinets. Although I'm known for moving my room around (A LOT) during the school year, I do love having the desk near my teaching materials.

So I've decided that for next year I'm keeping the desk! I do need to make some changes though in order to keep it organized and a place where I can actually get some work done during planning periods and after school.  My desk is hidden for the most part. This would be an issue if I sat at it regularly during the day, but since I'm reserving it as an organized retreat for me to accomplish some work I'm actually happy it's in it's own little area. I also plan to keep some basic supplies at my reading table so that I'm not having to get things from my desk constantly during the day.  When I was blog stalking for organization ideas when not using a desk I did LOVE the  suggestion of using little drawers for basic office supplies! My desk has two big drawers and two little drawers. All four drawers have turned into bottomless pits these past couple of years. I ended up taking EVERYTHING out of the desk. Oh my was a 
mess.   I couldn't believe some of the stuff I had in there! So I decided to use the two large drawers strictly for files.  I then put many of my smaller office supplies that get lost easily in the organization drawers I had previously bought when I thought I was tossing the desk. They sit just fine on the top and make items easy to find in a hurry.
Don't you love my beach wall paper? I think I was really ready for summer vacation the day I took this photo!

My extra supply items actually fit quite nicely into the newly cleaned out smaller drawers!
So there you have desk transformation! I am still working on "decorating" the actual work space but that may require a few trips to Target. Oh well! Now that I've tackled the desk delima I need to start addressing some of my other organization issues in my room. It's a good thing they are using my room for summer school or I would end up spending all of my time there. For now I can sit back and enjoy my time off. I hope you are all getting a chance to do the same!

                                                         Mrs. M

Friday, June 1, 2012

Advice From the Kindergarten Class

Summer vacation has arrived...finally! I just wanted to share one last end of the year activity.  After observing how excited my kiddos were to draw their maps of the first grade rooms I thought it might be fun for them to create a book for my incoming kindergartners.  We discussed how nervous they were about first grade...that is until they saw the rooms and talked to the teachers and first graders themselves. They had many of their questions answered and their nervousness subsided (at least for now!)  They were very excited about the possibility of helping the new kindergarten class feel less scared about coming to school! We began by drawing maps of our own classroom.
I love how this student concentrated on what was on the walls and labeled everything.  The map at the top of this post shows more of the objects in the room. I was amazed at how long (and quietly) they worked on their maps! Each one was very different and it seems that each student concentrated on his/her favorite parts of our room.  

The next day we began discussing "advice for new kindergartners."  We brainstormed a list of ideas that we felt were very important for the new kindergarten class to know about.  It was so cute to see how serious they were about this topic! They worked as a team to come up with many suggestions but here is a list of some of their favorites:
1. Be nice
2.  Don't be is fun!
3.  You will need to learn your popcorn words.
4. You will need to learn your abc's and 123's. 
5. Keep your teacher happy =)
6.  If you are nice you will make new friends.
7.  Clean up when it is time to.

Once we completed our list together I asked the kids to pick a few pieces of advice that they felt were the most important. They were to write their own page of advice to be included in a class book for next year's class.
"Don't be scared. It is fun. You have to learn your popcorn words. You will do good. You will probably be the best one."
I thought that this advice page was just so sweet! I love how encouraging she is to the new students!  

"Be nice. Know your popcorn words. Keep your teacher happy. Make sure you have fun!"

"Kindergarten is fun. Kindergarten is better than first grade."
I would say this little one may still be a bit nervous about going to first grade! I know they'll be just fine though...sniff, sniff.

I plan on either making this into a book to be available during our meet the teacher night or I may hang them in the hall for the parent's to read there. I haven't decided which would be the best just yet.  After "meet the teacher night" it will be the first student created book available in our reading center. I'm sure it will be one of their favorites next year! 
                                                              Mrs. M

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