I got them at Deals. If you don’t have one, it’s affiliated with Dollar Tree. They were $1 for each color/4 pack. I wish I had brought dry/wet erase markers home. I’m hoping either wet erase markers stay on well enough or a sharpie will come off with my old pal Mr. Clean. I like that they’re weighted and the clip isn’t too easy for some fine motor building. I’m thinking of having students clip them onto a strung ribbon in order for numbers or letters. Possibilities are endless.
- 12th June
- 9th April
My kids got in trouble at lunch. I have NEVER had a class get in trouble at lunch. Not teaching 8th grade or 3rd grade or Kindergarten. I may never have a perfect class but I pride myself on putting up a good showing in the halls and in public. We constantly get compliments from other teachers and in Specials about being well-behaved. A few friends have their moments, but as a class, I definitely work my butt off to whip them into shape.
When I walked into the gym, it was dead silent. We have lunch with one other K class and that class had suckers. I had three kids away from the group, one standing and just one with a sucker. My kid who speaks little English.
I got filled in on what went on. I heard burping. I heard throwing forks on the floor. I heard milk bubbles. I heard loud voices. I heard banging on the table.
So I did what any teacher would do, I made them apologize to the lunch aides and lunch lady and then.. I pretended to cry.
Oh, the guilt! I love the guilt.
They tried to console me. I told them I didn’t want to talk to people who made me sad.
They apologized. I said I didn’t want to hear it. They needed to worry about everyone in the lunchroom accepting their apologies.
I canceled the plan for a game we were going to play. “It’s brand new and it was going to be awesome! But I don’t play games with rude people.”
Rest time was the quietest it ever was. [I actually got a lot done..]
I made them write apology notes and draw pictures that they thought would cheer up sad people.
The whole time they were working, I just kept walking around mumbling, “I really hope these apologies work.” and “I hope that’s enough to cheer up Mrs. So-and-so.”
Sometimes it’s fun to be the bad guy.
PS: I’m not trying to make light of the situation. They were rude and they should feel bad. Which most did. I’m not going to let them get off lightly and with 5 year olds, sometimes you have to exaggerate your feelings to make sure they understand.
- 8th March
All we wanted to do was read our poem on the pocket chart so that someone could use the pointer.
We turned around the chart stand (Calendar on one side, pocket chart on the other) and someone spotted it.
A tiny little piece of paper that read: “Hello, Room 104. -Lucky the Leprechaun”
He had completely mixed up our poem so we had to take the time to put it back in order. Good thing we know it by heart now.
He also left some gold glitter in the pocket chart and Dereon and Jaelyn found shamrock coins in their glue and scissor bags.
Leah wanted to go and get the security tapes.
Efrain wondered how he got in since Mr. J took our doorstop so the door is always closed.
Jamela is apparently scared of leprechauns (oops).
Jorge tried to get the principal to listen but she is an imagination crusher and said they weren’t real (thanks a lot..). Good thing no one was listening to her.
Mrs. P played along and said she’s seen leprechauns in her backyard and next time she’ll take a picture.
Terrell said we should call the cops.
Noah, Jalen and Jamela tried to leave their glue and scissor bags out to see if he’d leave them coins.
Then of course Denzel basically ruined it all by complaining he didn’t get to see anything. But guess what pal? If you’re never in the room, you don’t get to be part of the fun.
Next week we start switching chairs and cups. :)
Feel free to leave tricks you think Lucky might pull and I’ll try to do as many as I can. Remember, leprechauns go back to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day so we’ve only got 5 days.
- 7th March
We started our “I’m a Little Leprechaun” poem this week for St. Patrick’s Day.
Every year I do it the same way. We start practicing the poem. We put it together line by line, continuing to read it until we have it memorized.
Then we do a color/cut/glue leprechaun activity. The next day, I pass out the poem we’ve learned to attach to our project.
That’s when we notice it.
Leprechauns have stolen the words to the poem.
Can you believe those sneaky little men?
So we have to spend our precious time fixing our poem back up by filling in all the missing words that the leprechauns took.
It drives the kids nuts.
I love it.
Tomorrow, leprechauns will begin visiting Room 104. Sometimes they leave shamrock coins (party store), sometimes there’s a tiny puddle of glitter where they’ve been. Sometimes they move chairs or cups or other things that make Ms. Gonzalez really angry. Sometimes she blames the really good kids. But she apologizes because she is polite.
The seeds have been planted. We know they’re magical and you have to believe if you want to see or catch them. We know they live in Ireland but they’re probably smart enough to get to the USA. We know they are very tiny so you have to keep your eyes peeled.
Will this be the year we catch one?
- 9th February
- 16th January
- 14th December
Jalen was pleased to tell me he went to visit Santa and that even his mom told him about his good behavior.
This is my favorite time of year and here’s why:
I answered back, “I’m glad she shared that. I should be getting his phone call soon then since you’ve already talked to him.”
Jalen’s face: priceless.
Jalen: You don’t have to talk to him, I already did. And my mom.
Me: Santa always calls. Especially if you’ve already gone to visit. Your mom can tell him how you are at home, but he needs my information for how you are at school.
Jalen: Oh.. Do you tell him about the stoplight?
*By now, more kids are listening.*
Me: Absolutely. That’s the first question he asks. He loves the stoplight idea. It’s the reason I do it every year. He likes the sticker charts too.
Jalen: So when are you going to talk to him? Today?
Me: Well, he usually calls on the weekend because he knows I’m busy at school a lot. But I’m sure it will be this weekend. And I can always let him know if something else happens after the phone call.
Marcel: You have Santa’s phone number?
Me: Email. He’s busy calling other teachers so it’s too hard to get through.
Jalen: Can you tell my mom?
Me: Nope. Teacher secret.
I’m a good person. I swear. :)
- 9th October
Someone asked for ideas for kids that seem weaker in their classroom. As a Kinder teacher, I get a lot of kids that tend to have poor motor skills. Some gross, mainly fine.
While I know that the question was more for left handed kids, I don’t have much experience with them. I’ve had one 3rd grader and one Kinder last year that ended up leaving my class but this year I have three.
Two are concerns. One is getting a full OT/PT work-up and one is in a PT RTI group. While the divide is noticeable from some of their peers, it’s pretty similar to the right-handed kids that have similar needs.
I’d say that the main issue I notice is attempting to write from right to left. One student in particular has the tendency to start on the right side and work her way to the left. With practice, it has gotten better. Sometimes I’ll put a little star for her to start her name so that she then moves away from the star rather than over it.
But getting back to actual ideas, here are a few:
- Seek guidance from the OT/PT. At the beginning of the year, ours send out a little sheet and if you have a student that’s a concern, you fill out and they pull the student and do a quick screening. Glaring issues move towards an eval for services while kids with fewer needs get put into an RTI group. This is huge because these people are trained for this. Anything I do in my classroom is just secondary.
- Clothespins: I like the plastic ones because they’re sturdy and a little harder to squeeze. I’ll play pass the clothespin where I clip the back of their shirt so they have to reach and get it off then go to someone else and put in on the back of their shirt. I also use half a sentence strip and put small dots around the edge. Then I give them a cup of clothespins and they have to put one on each spot. Some kids that need extra movement (my wigglebottoms) will have the cup of clothespins dumped on the floor so they have to move around to go get them.
- Tweezers: I have a few pair from the teacher store that are plastic. I also have a metal one that’s for strawberries I think. It’s V-shaped to fit between their thumb and pointer finger. I use these with pom pons, crayons, dice, or anything small to pick up and put in a bowl or cup. Again, my wigglebottoms often get them dumped on the floor. They love it, I swear. :)
- Pencil grips: We do a lot of writing in K so a poor grasp needs to be worked on. I have a few different kinds that will be put on pencils depending on the kid. I have the fat pencils but I haven’t found that to really remedy a grasp.
- Tiny pencils: A pencil that’s about 4 inches long or shorter needs to be pincer grasped. I prefer this over the grips. I like golf pencils (or Ikea ones).
- Who brought their muscles to school today?: I say it constantly. And I continuously pick the kids who are weaker to do things. Generally, if I ask for muscles, the boys are more willing to carry a crate of something, hold a heavy door or move something.
- Cutting: We cut and glue at least 3 times a week. Some kids coming into Kindergarten have never held scissors so I like to do a lot of cutting papers to get practice in.
- Play-doh: The first few times I use Play-doh, it’s like a seminar. We practice making a big ball, then smash it down into a pancake as thin as we can. We roll it into a long snake, then smush it back into a ball. We ask friend to say numbers and we make small balls then squish them between our thumb and reading fingers. I also like to print out large shapes/letters/numbers and put them into a page protector and they have to follow the lines to practice. I also use cookie cutters.
- Word Wall: We do word wall actions for 4-6 words a day including hula dancing, writing on an imaginary chalkboard, pretend throwing, acting like a robot, etc. A lot of kids don’t even know how to execute some of these gross motor skills. I have about 20 different choices to practice spelling our words.
- Zipping/Snapping/Buttoning/Shoe tying Professionals: It’s a privilege to be called a professional in my room. I love when the weaker ones are the ones that are good at one of these because they become a go-to friend to ask.
- Clipboards: Unless I get another student, I have a class set of clipboards. Just the simple act of putting in and taking out a paper takes concentration and strength. I try to use them a couple times a week as well as always have a Center where they have to use one and walk around to record information. Watching them learn to balance the board and writing while standing is a show in itself at first.
- Passing out: papers, crayon cups from the crayon caddies, little books, buckets, marker boxes, etc. Anything where they have to handle multiples while walking around and distributing.
I use almost all of these in Centers in addition to throwing them into the day. Most don’t know it’s a test or practice of strength when they’re being asked to do something. At least at the Kinder level, they all just want to be a helper.
If you need any more ideas or want more specific examples, feel free to ask! I’m sure there are more that I don’t even notice I do. Everything can help.
- 6th September
Today was Jaelyn’s birthday and since I’ve already had zero parent response to anything, including the birthday note, I knew we had to party hard.
We started getting hyped Tuesday when we saw a birthday tag in the week on the calendar. She didn’t know until I told her that it was her birthday. This isn’t unusual in Kindergarten. Most of the kids can’t tell you the exact date. However, most will know when it’s close.
So, we started as soon as she got off the bus. Birthday Girl this and that. First in line. Birthday Apple Jacks at breakfast. Made sure she got the morning announcement and her giant sticker. She led the way everywhere and got first choice for things. We rocked out to Happy Birthday and she took home her birthday goodies.
I always feel bad when there’s no additional fanfare and other kids asked where the cupcakes and stuff was, but I just explain that not everyone celebrates at school. Sometimes they just want to celebrate with their family and that’s their choice. But I know that Jaelyn probably went home to nothing.
How do you guys make birthdays special for kids that you know will go home to nothing exciting?
- 29th August
Just in case some teachers need extra ideas. This is one from a middle school teacher in my district. She offers her 8th graders the chance to earn SWAGGER awards. They keep track and can then cash them in for things like Homeroom in the computer lab, snack foods, school supplies, even staying after school to help separate the recycling (this is not torture, they like helping out with it), etc. SWAGGER stands for:
Show up every day
Wear your uniform properly
Arrive on time
Get to each class in the appropriate manner (teachers pick up and walk students to the next class so this one starts and ends in the hall)
Give your best effort
I can’t remember what the E is but can find out if someone needs me to or if you can’t come up with something to fill the spot. I feel like it’s something like “Extend learning to my home” or something with that phrasing that means you’re working at home and doing homework.
The “awards” are small business card size pieces of paper that say SWAGGER AWARD with her name stamped on it. They only get the stamp when it’s given out and she keeps that on her at all times just in case little thieves get ideas or someone decides to whip up some awards on a home computer. I work in a district where even my Kinders know about swagger so it’s something that is coveted. The rewards work well for her kids and not much usually does at that building.