Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This week, we studied Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and had a blast.  Here are some examples of activities we create together.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom- Look Who's in Mrs. Cates' Room

Chicka Chicka Tree
Special Snack

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Five Year Old Funnies

I don't know about y'all, but my five year olds say some FUNNY stuff :)  Since my friends all enjoy hearing it each day, I thought I would share it will you all as well.  Here is a collection of their "funnies" from last year and I plan to post a new collection each month because, let's be honest, everyone needs a little child-like humor in their lives :)  So here it is, straight out of the mouths of babes- you just can't make this stuff up !

"All old people have cracks in their faces that MIGHT make their lips fall off."

"I know that it is a boy peacock because he has pretty feathers so he can show off for the ladies."

"I would like a hamburger with no ham please."

"Calling someone a big fat lollipop is different than calling someone a big fat boob."

"The best part about Spring Break was seeing the waitress dance on the table."

"This is my penguin, his name is M.C. Hammer."

"Did you know that when baby black widows are born, they can eat your brains AND they are afraid of lizards?"

"Look Mrs. Cates, I am walking so carefully because I am carrying the Torah (aka a tower of unifix cubes)."

"If I had some water right now, I could show you how I can suck water up through my nostrils."

"I am never EVER eating at Chick-Fil-A again because they are mean to Mr. Tim and he is nice to our family."

"This is my new deodorant! Mom said I have to put it on my armpits every day so I will smell delicious."

"You know, the opposite of heaven is badder than a spanking."

After asking a student to explain their poor choice to me, he replied "I just really think my rememberer doesn't work that well."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We have had a wonderful first week in Kindergarten:)  Aside from setting up a community of learners in our classroom using the fabulous teachings of The Morning Meeting and Lucy Calkins' Reading and Writing Workshop; we have also been creating some really cute crafts.  We have really had a blast getting to know one another and sharing new experiences together.  Below are some pictures of a few activities we have worked on so far.

First Day Treat
I made these cute little lady bug cupcakes for my K friends on the first day of school and wrapped them up in a clear cup and bag with a tag stating "I am so glad we are in the same spot."  these were SUPER easy- 1) Dye icing green and spread on as the "leaf" 2) Dye icing pink and put in a plastic baggie with the tip clipped off so you can quickly pipe on ovals for the ladybug body 3)Stick on Junior Mints for the heads and mini chocolate chips for the spots.  They were a huge hit.

 The Kissing Hand
Who doesn't love reading this book to little ones during the first week of school?  I read this book to my students at Meet the Teacher and gave them a little heart sticker to put in the palm of their hands just like Chester.  On the first day of school, we shared our "first day feeling" and recorded them on the big hand.  Afterwards, we made these cute Chester's out of hearts.  (It was the first day, so of course, I cut  all of the hearts out except for the gray one the night before.)  I love having at least one piece of my K friend's artwork up already- it really gives them ownership of their classroom.

Meet the Cates' Crew
We made these to display in the hallway outside of our classroom to introduce ourselves to visitors.  Each child wrote their name and something that they liked starting with the same letter (Example:  Mrs. Cates like cookies). Then, they used scrap paper to make a self-portrait.  They turned out really well and were both cute and purposeful:)

Friday, August 17, 2012

A New Kindergarten Crew

Today was our Kindergarten Open House and I had the pleasure of meeting my 18 new K friends!  Of course they are all adorable- it is going to be a great school year.  We are making so many changes in my classroom this year!  Not only have I completely revamped my classroom decorations (pictures below), but we have also revamped the way that we will be teaching reading this year.  My K team was given the amazing opportunity to go to NYC and attend a course at Columbia University's Teacher's College and hear from fabulous minds like Lucy Calkins and Kathy Collins (I am still in awe).  I truly feel as if my outlook on teaching literacy to K students has been changed forever.  More to come about Reading Workshop in future posts- once we have gotten further into it :)

Sign In
(Thank you Pinterest for the pencil idea)

Community Circle/ Promethean Board

Word Wall/ Computers/ Small Group Table

Art/ Sink/ Cubbies

Pink, Yellow, Green and Blue Tables
(Marked with tissue paper flowers and polka dot labels)

Puppet Theater/ Book Boxes/ Couch/ Writing Center

Math Centers

Morning/ Afternoon Jobs

Table Baskets/ Some of our class library
(Cute polka dot labels that are on everything- available at my TPT store)

"Bee"havior Management

Accomplishment Door
(All individual strategies worked on in workshops will be put in their pockets to be celebrated at every nine weeks.  I really want to emphasis successes- no matter how small)

I also have to share this super cute note that we sent home to all of our sweet K friends to read the night before the first day of Kindergarten.  I found it on the Sunny Days in Second Grade blog and it brought a tear to my eye (and I don't even have kids yet).   Go check it out for a the PDF link :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


This year, our school has focused on the idea of partnering with our students.  Our faculty has been challenged to become less of the "sage on the stage" and allow our students to discover their own learning through quality, guided questioning.  I have to admit, as a teacher of kindergartners- this was a little intimidating at first.  We have already taken a role as facilitator while teaching math, through Investigations, and language arts, through The Daily 5- so I don't know why I was apprehensive about science.  We figured that our Farm unit was as good of a place as any to start :)  We used 5 simple steps to make our partnering successful.

Step 1:  Divide and Conquer
We divided the farm animals up into two weeks:  birds on the farm and animals on the farm.  After we felt like we had a game plan, we started gathering materials for our students to use while they researched .  We checked out tons of books from our school and local library, asked our coworkers to lend us books and complied an Internet resource- found here- for our students to use.  (Before you start thinking this is too involved, hear me out and remember- most of our students are not fluent readers.)

Step 2:  KWL Charts
Before we could go any further, we had to figure out what our students knew about farm animals and what they wanted to know.  This would guide their individual research and our class/small group discussions.  Most of them shared really great information and asked good questions (of course, I did have some super silly answers- gotta love Kindergartners).

Step 3:  Individual Animal Selection
I let each of my students choose what bird/animal they were interested in learning more about for the week.  After they chose their animals, I split them into small groups around the room and passed out the resources that matched their selection.

Step 4: Research
This was the scariest part and they far exceeded my expectations- I mean WOW!  I started off by challenging my students to find at least three facts to share about their animal that others might not know.  Some took the challenge and ran with it, while others were more comfortable with somewhat basic information.   I provided them with several options for recording their facts, an all about book, a poster or a pre-made fact sheet to fill in.  I had a pretty good variety of each chosen.  This is where the facilitator part came in- I let them manage their own research... and it went really well- crazy, I know.  They were able to learn a lot by "reading" the pictures, talking with others in their group who were more fluent readers and flagging (thanks to my obsession with post-its in all shapes and sizes) areas in the book where they wanted me to read aloud to the group.  Again, for the most part, this was painless and managed itself.  We spent two whole days researching in our classroom and an hour researching in the computer lab, using the web page link above.  As they researched, they were doing their "Kindergarten Best"  to record their findings (some were more legible than others) with words and pictures. 

Step 4:  Creating Our Animals
I am a huge fan of fun crafts, just in case you couldn't tell by my earlier posts :)  I feel like you have to let them be little and that means allowing time for them to be creative- I mean, they are only 5 years old and they have the rest of their lives to be grown up.  All that being said, I allowed a day for them to bring the farm bird/animal they studied to life.  I did not want them all to look the same, so I showed them some examples I found online and old ones from years past, got out all the good stuff (feathers, pipe cleaners, google eyes, etc.) and let them have at it.  We put the finished product on our big red barn in our classroom.  They turned out so much cuter than I imagined; here are some examples:

Step 5:  Presenting Our Learning
The thought of 16 individual presentations in one day was too painful to ask any of my sweet friends to sit through, but I wanted everyone to have an opportunity to share.  I came up with two different solutions and I'm not sure which way I liked best, so I will share them both.  During bird week, I had them share their learning in small groups.  I assigned everyone a number 1-4 and put them in groups of 4 to start off.  After they shared, they formed new groups with one of each number in every group.  (I tried to make all the chickens as 1's, ducks as 2's and so on to ensure that their was a good variety of birds in each group.)  During animal week, I assigned half of the group to sit around the room while the other half moved from person to person at the sound of my chime.  To settle any arguments, I had the person who moved share first.  This way everyone got to share and they all heard a good variety of information.  I polled my kids to see which way they liked best and found that it was about equal :)

* At the end of the day, I feel like everyone learned a lot and had a really good time doing it.  I got lots of positive feedback from parents saying how their children came home telling them about farm animals.  Any time they go home excited about something they learned at school, I count it as a success !

We also took some time for more typical Kindergarten farm activities.  We had daily read alouds

 We also worked in committees of 3 and 4 to retell Mrs. Wishy Washy. I think it turned out really cute  and they had a blast doing  it.

In math, we made barn number sentences to practices combinations up to 10.