Friday, September 11, 2015

Five for Friday- First Week Back!

Before I get started, there's still time to enter to win a $100 Amazon card, a $50 TPT card, a $25 TPT card, or a $10 TPT card at our blog hop!  The drawing is September 12th, so hop right over to enter if you want!
Main Graphic Laborless

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Thank you for hosting, Kacey! 

Let's just get right to it.  Here is how my year started before it even started.  

In my head, I saw these darling hand cookies with a Hershey kiss in the middle.  I saw me taking each child's picture to add to my sweet poem after we read, "The Kissing Hand," and sending this keepsake home on the first day of school.   However, in real life, in my real kitchen, the story was not as darling. I knew I was going to have to  1) quickly write a book called "The Kissing Mitt" where a baseball player is scared to go to school, and his mom kisses his mitt- so these ridiculous cookies matched the story or 2) let my sweet family eat these because they wouldn't even complain. They would just be happy they had ugly cookies to eat, and I would do something else for that first day of school.

They did taste good and they made me laugh when I opened the oven, so ...  

Luckily, we always practice my name on the first day of school, because I tell the kids it's the hardest part of kindergarten.  I have a little picture with a Hershey Kiss (for "Kis"),  kids singing (for "la"), and someone skiing (for "ski").  If they can say my name for me, they get a Hershey kiss!  So - problem solved with the Hershey kisses.  

We then go on to say how glad we are that my name isn't "Mrs. Broccoliloski" or "Mrs. Spinachloski," so I didn't have to give them broccoli or spinach.   

At our school, the kindergarten teachers meet our classes in the gym for the first few days, and then walk together to the classroom.  I take my clipboard with a class list- to see who is packing/buying, and keep any notes.  Here were some notes I took in the first five minutes:

"I know my dad is having a great day!  He's going to rest and watch TV all day."

"I had to poop at my mom's- and I'm afraid I have to poop now. "  (He would later go on to talk about having to poop quite a bit throughout the day... poor sweetheart.)

"Guess what my favorite movie is?"  "College football."

I love this group.  At snack time, I was trying to explain why it was polite to wait for everyone to have their food before we started eating, so I asked if anyone knew why we waited.  One little girl said, "So we can say the Lord's Prayer."  And a little boy said, "We can all say it in our heads if we want."   LOVE them.

Here was one of my favorite moments that I had to capture.  You know, reading, writing, and math are important, but...  look at that sweet, loving, caring moment.  How can people NOT let children play and explore in kindergarten?  I have learned more about my students in the short amount of free choice time we've had,  than in weeks of teaching "at" them.

Here is my "secret weapon" the first few days of free choice. Ready? It's very high tech...

OH my goodness.  We laugh and laugh.  It's great because anyone who wants to come over to play can play.  I just sit at a table (as the center of attention) with my crocodile, as the kids are playing. If anyone wants to, they just come over and bravely touch a tooth.  We  take turns each pushing down a tooth.  Then when it chomps down (which does NOT hurt at all, by the way), we sort of all scream and laugh.  A few of the children just like to stand and watch- and sometimes get brave and touch one tooth.  It's fun to watch and see the different personalities.    I like the kids to see me have fun and be real.  We're going to be a family for 180+ days!  Plus, I do genuinely scream every single time it chomps down on me because I can't even help it.  

I put together a lot of the ideas I like to use for teaching letters, and typed it up.  If you'd like a copy, click HERE.  Sometimes it's tricky to think of  a food idea or an activity for a certain letter! 

I also wrote ideas I have used for letter anchor charts for the classroom.  I outline the letter with glue, and glue on items that start with that letter.  It's a cute bulletin board idea and the kids love it.  

I wanted to share these ELA apps that my friend Anne, from Common Core Connections, and her son Keith made.  They are fabulous for reading comprehension.  What great practice for the kids!  I love them because they're easy to use and not too busy looking. Sometimes apps get so busy and cluttered looking that it's hard for the kids to follow.  These are perfect. The apps fit each reading level, so  you can monitor exactly what you want each student to work on. Anne is my "real life" friend who lives near me!  I'm so proud of her - and her son!  

Finally,  I got the most exciting email on my first day of school.  Emily Kate Moon, who wrote Joone, one of my all time FAVORITE books, emailed me!  

She's writing another book about... the water cycle- of all things. It's like she reads my mind. If you read my blog, you know that I'm strangely obsessed a little with the water cycle. Because, for some reason, teaching about the water cycle is one of my favorite things to do.  Not sure why.  The kids just love learning about it- and now I will have yet another reason why it will be my  all time favorite.  I can't wait for her book. I will be sure to tell you the minute it's out!  

If you haven't discovered Joone yet- well- she is just fabulous. This is from Amazon:

Joone likes the color orange, ice-cream sandwiches, and playing outside. She lives in a yurt with her grandfather and her pet turtle, Dr. Chin, who rides around on her hat. Grandpa teaches Joone something new every day. Sometimes Joone teaches him something new, too, like how to make a daisy chain. Together they enjoy life’s small joys—sunsets, tree houses, and most of all, each other.
Emily Kate Moon’s debut picture book is a charming tribute to the outdoors and a tender portrait of a grandfather and granddaughter’s loving relationship. Fans of Ladybug Girl, Freckleface Strawberry, and even Dora the Explorer will fall in love with this independent, free-spirited little girl. 

The story is so much fun for the children, because Joone shares lots of fabulous small moments about herself- which is EXACTLY what we want our children to learn to do in their writing.  What a perfect mentor text for Writer's Workshop.  The kids really "get" the small moment idea from the book, because Emily added so many wonderful little details about Joone.  The kids see that those details are exactly what makes someone special, so they start thinking of their own life details.  Perfect!

AND- this may be my favorite page of the book.  It's actually the moment I knew I was going to love the book so much.  You know how some things "speak" to you- well, this did.  I would love to spell my name with a smiley face.

Emily has a wonderful print out at her website to teach children how to make a daisy crown (one of Joone's FAVORITES!) I cannot wait to do this with my class in the spring (except we'll need to use dandelions because we have LOTS of those, but...  it will be a beautiful flower crown, nonetheless! Joone would approve, I'm sure.) You could also send this paper home with the children after you read the story, so they could try to make a crown at home. She has a sweet coloring sheet for Joone, as well.  

Emily also shows her art for Joone at her website.  The children will love this, because they can see that REAL authors/illustrators sketch and plan before they actually publish a book, just like we're teaching them to do!  How cool is that?!   

Maybe you all know about Joone, and I'm late to the party- but this book is a treasure, and I'm so glad I found it.  

For some reason I thought I had discovered Joone and was so excited to share her with people at school.  Then, when my class made favorite book iMovies in technology, guess what book our technology teacher used as her favorite for an example... YES- my (well, Emily's!) Joone!   I loved it, and  smiled just like Joone's name!  

By the way, my birthday is in June, so from now on,  it's in Joone (with a smiley face!).

Thank you so much for stopping by!


  1. Great ideas in your post! I love the apps and letter ideas!
    Reading in Room 11
    PS I'm a NY blogger too =)

  2. Your class sounds adorable!!! I love your little kissing hand cookies. Even if they look like mitts :) I bet they're glad your name is Mrs. Spinachloski!!! :) Enjoy your weekend Carolyn!!!



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