Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Linky

I love New Year's Resolutions.  It is always a time to think smart and act smarter.

One year I decided to read 15 minutes a day!  Lost count of all the books I read. So happy I did that one.

Found this linky party and thought posting my resolutions will help make them really happen.

Click here to see all the other bloggers who have joined in the game.
My Personal resolution -
I simply need to drink more water.  I tend to pour it my great water bottle and then never get back to it...  So that will stop. 
Mp Professional resolution -
I will create some packets and get them posted to Teachers Paying Teachers.  I am terrified as I feel there is so much good work out there and I cannot begin to imagine making that.  And yet, I know I can.  Just need a good mentor and the right tools.  Thinking positively!
I look forward to being inspired by all my fellow bloggers.
Here's to a Happy New Year 2013!  And lots of success!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Liebster Award

Second Grade but First Class blog has nominated me for the Liebster Blog award!  Click on her blog to see who else she nominated.

I am so excited!  This is for new bloggers with less than 200 followers.  As a recipient, I must:

1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see whom you nominate.

Here are 11 random things about me.

1. I live near the beach.
2. I have 5 sisters.
3. My son and I share the same middle name.
4.  I have 2 children in college.
5.  I teach Kindergarten but never attended Kindergarten.
6. I have lived in 5 different states.
7.  I like to crochet and to sew.
8.  We used to have a pet newt.
9.  I love to read.
10.  It is hard to go a day without chocolate.
11.  I was born in the Midwest.

Now I must answer questions posed by my nominator.

1.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was in high school.  My best friend was deaf and I was fascinated at the learning she went through and wanted to do that for someone one day.

2.  The hardest part of teaching for me is organizing all the papers we create and use.

3.  At the end of each day, I stay at school until around 5:30 or 6:00.

4.  We change our bulletin boards in the hallway at least monthly.

5.  Besides teaching I do some tutoring for students at our school.

6.  Parents are included in our classroom for class parties (We have centers and parents help with them for the parties.)  and birthdays (parents are welcome to come in and read a book.)

7.  I do my lesson planning weekly with my partner (there are 2 kindergarten classes.)

8.  Where do I find cool graphics/ideas for my blog?  I am always looking for cool graphics.  Definitely could make my blog more exciting in that regard.  The ideas come from the work we do in the classroom.  If it works and the children love it, I want to share it.

9.  Our school eats family style and I eat with students every day.  (However, it is mixed K - 4th graders at each table.)

10.  I wore a school uniform for 12 years, so I am not interested in having a teacher uniform.

11.  My class, fellow teachers, and laughter get me through a long school day (as well as, some chocolate and lots of water or an occasional Diet Coke.)

11 Questions for the new nominees - Liebster Award Winners:
  1. How long have you been teaching?
  2. What is your favorite holiday to teach/prepare lessons for?
  3. Where is the farthest place you have traveled to visit?
  4. What teaching tool can you not live without?
  5. How long does it take you to get to school every day?
  6. How many grades have you taught?
  7. How do you like to spend your free time?
  8. Will you make New Year's Resolutions? If yes, please share at least one.
  9. What is the best thing about the grade you teach?
  10. Do you work during the summer?
  11. What made you decide to start your blog?
My Nominated Blogs:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Polar Express Train

All Aboard!

What a great day.  We had been talking about doing a pajama day.  My partner suggested a "Polar Express Day!"  Perfect.  Then we found an incredible packet Polar Express Packet.  Click on those words to it thanks to Beth at

We made a train crossing sign at the entrance and the students came in pajamas (slippers optional) and our day began.

Each student received an "engineer" hat (blue engineer style cut out attached to sentence strip) and we were ready to go.  The first order of business was making gingerbread cookies in the school kitchen.   Next we listened to the book "The Polar Express" read by our lower school head.

Each student received a ticket with the numbers 1 2 3 4 5 added to it.  As they completed their various jobs throughout the day, they could hole punch the numbers.

They just loved it.  The best part was listening to them talk about whether or not the train was coming.

We took pictures of the whole class clad in jammies and put on top of a folder.  Each child got their own folder to store all of their work.  We took individual photos and added to them to a simple train engine.  They made great keepsakes.

The train whistle was used all day to signal end of centers, lining up...  We even moved around the school as a train.  This will surely become an annual event.

Holly Bloggy Exchange

I participated in the "Holly Bloggy Exchange" for the first time this year.

It was fun finding things that suited bloggy friend, Linda.  Here is a picture of what I sent her.

I realize now the picture is not great.  Sorry.  Her favorite color is pink, so she got 3 pink little dollar store bags filled with some of my favorite things, some Ghiradelli dark chocolate for those afternoon chocolate fixes, peppermint sticks, a magnetic notepad, some stickers for the students, my favorite pink nail polish "shell we dance" (has to have a good name), chamomile mango tea, biscotti, a pink snow scraper mitten (I really can't stand getting my gloves all wet... as I scrape the snow off my car...) and lastly, a new creation of my own, "My Book of Word Families".  Hope she likes it.

I received a great package.

Kimberly Ann sent me some hand cream, lip balm, great red polish, a nail file (so needed a new one for school), Dove chocolate, Ghiradelli peppermint bark, (Never had it before but loved it, Thanks!),and special socks that come with lotion to keep your feet soft...  What fun! Thank you, Linda.  Perfect!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Count down to winter break and Random Acts of Kindness

We have had a great time counting down the days until we start our winter break.

I found a great candy cane clip art and added a nice big square - each student wrote a number on it and then got to color it.  I hung the finished products from some garland and they are loving it!  Each one gets a little heart attached to the back with a suggest act of kindness for the day.  I read the book

It is about a little girl who leaves a basket of freshly picked blueberries at a neighbor's door.  She does so leaving no note.  This leads to the making of blueberry muffins... and so on.  The best page is the page where all the random acts are added up... it is in the millions.  Great math lesson, combined with social studies and good vocabulary, as well.  So we were very ready for the starting of our random acts of kindness.

Some of the acts included:
*making decorations to be hung on various classroom doors - (Love how they are hung at their eye height and can be found all over the school.)  One teacher actually came in and mentioned how happy she was with the surprise decoration on her door..  We said we did not know anything about it.  Such fun.  In fact they liked it so much, they just keep doing it.  The appeal lies in the secret delivery...
*notes made to be left for their parents at home on their pillows, or in the bathroom...
*notes for the kitchen staff.
*paying compliments to a friend.
*letting someone else go first.
*holding the door for a classmate.
and more.

This is the first time I have done this.  I will definitely do it again next year!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silence ifor Sandy Hook Elementary

There is a great quote:
"Perhaps strength doesn't reside in never having been broken...
But in the courage to grow strong in the broken places."
These are tough days ahead.
Live the love you feel for your family, your friends, and your students.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Practical math

December is here.  I am excited to be back in Kindergarten this year and to celebrate Christmas with my class.  It is a bit overwhelming to think about all I'd love to accomplish and the few weeks I have to get it all accomplished!

My class sits at tables in the classroom.  The year began with free seating as I got to know each student and their learning styles and strengths.  Now they are assigned seats.  My motto of "smarter not harder" works well with this plan.  Each boy has an assigned number.  I love that they clearly know each others numbers.  We love to do a roll call.  I call out a number and they answer "here."  They can even gather in numeric order if I ask them.

There is so much buzz about the common core.  Having taught 2nd grade for 5 years, I value the confidence and mastery of the tens frames.  With that in mind, I am determined to have them master this before they leave in June.  Seeing the tens frames in the classroom with purpose and value can only help serve this goal.  So, for this month, I used holiday notepad snowmen.  I wrote a number in digit form, followed by the word, and then added the tens frame.  They have been taped to the chair back and are clearly visible for the students to see and hopefully absorb.  Here are some pictures.

I hope my class likes it. I know they will notice it right away.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fun with the Alphabet

I love introducing new letters to the class.  We always use a full sheet of construction paper and then make a silly but memorable alliteration such as "Practically Perfect Purple Pianos." Then we assemble the "letters" to form a capital and a lowercase letter to match the one we are studying.  Here it letter "Tt."

The class loves watching it come together.  It is silly but they "totally" get it. Pun intended.
The "T" to the left has a speech bubble saying "T - is for Totally Terrific Tom Turkeys!"

Here is a picture for our letter "P" and we only did the capital letter.

Each letter was too big to form both upper and lowercase letters.

Try it in your classroom.  They will love it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Teachers Helping Teachers

My family and I live in Milford, CT.  So many people here have had water damage, homes destroyed, cars hit by trees... The power of water is really amazing.  The rectory of our church is in  Time magazine.  The water actually pulled the concrete steps off the building and ripped up the concrete patio.  People are resilient and everyone is helping.  We have been without power since Monday and might get it back on Tuesday.  School is opening tomorrow even though buses will not be running...  We were very lucky.
   If you are interested in helping teachers who need help, link up with Laura at The ESOL Odyssey who has put together a linky to connect resource donations with teachers in need. If you can help, or need help, please click on the link.  Good luck to all!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hillebrand the Wicked Witch

I feel that we cannot do enough creative drawing with our classes.  Just spending time drawing and coloring is something most kindergartners do very little of these days.

I came across a wonderful poem that describes "Willebrand - a Wicked Witch."  Working with older buddies, (I have done it with 3rd and also with 8th grades buddied with my kindergartners.) the students use their listening skills and their imagination to draw a witch as described in the poem.

Wicked Witch Willebrand

Wicked Witch Willebrand was scary indeed,
A nose like a banana, eyes like seeds.
Her mouth was so wide it dimpled her cheeks,
And made it quite difficult for her to speak.
Willebrand’s ears were large and very furry.
Her hair was bright red and always quite curly.
On top of her head was hat oh so tall,
If she didn’t stand up straight, most likely she’d fall.
Very long fingers were on her broad hands.
She wore rings of many colors, purple, red, green, and tan.
Her nails were two feet long and pointed like a steeple.
Wow! What a scary sight she must have been to people!
Her black dress was long, usually dragging on the street,
But the funniest part was her tiny little feet.
Her five toes were curled up as she walked to and fro.
But where could such a funny lady really go?

Here are some samples our final products this year. I highly recommend it.  Not one student said they couldn't do it and all were quite proud of their uniquely individual final products.

Red and yellow make orange!

One of my favorite fall projects is creating a pumpkin patch.  It begins with having my class mix red and yellow paint to make - yes, orange.  After it dries, the students cut out their own pumpkin, add a stem and make a "vine."  The vine is make from cutting "snake" out of a circle. The pumpkins find a place in the pumpkin patch and the fun begins.  The varied shades of orange - red/orange are amazing. Some years we add corn stalks and scarecrows, fencing... This year we went with the simple addition of bats.  This involved tracing the "head" and "wings."  They boys added "scary" red eyes and sharp teeth.  

On "Halloween" the students will carve their pumpkins.  I think that is my favorite part. Equipped with a fresh sharpie, the pumpkins get their "faces." Here is the patch as we see it now.  I will add the photo after the "carving" is completed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"P" is for pirates, and pirate patches!

We are having such fun with the letter P.

At one of my many trips to the Christmas Tree shop, I found Pirate moustaches for only .59 - really?  Yes, for less than one dollar.  The beards look so real!

I happen to teach all boys.  Tell me any boys that does love and/or love to dress like a pirate!

It just so happens, that my partner had saved a pirate mask from one of her son's old birthday parties he attended.  The final effect was amazing.  I printed the photos in a poster using "wallet" size pictures.  The class loves to look it and guess each pirate's name!

Learning Addresses

My class has been working on learning their addresses.  They were promised that once they "knew" their addresses we would mail a letter!  Well they finally did it.

I had them each "address" an envelope.  All they had to do was to write their name in the right place.  Next, they dictated their address, and I wrote it down. Then they drew a picture on a paper that said, "I know my address!"  at the top.  I added a little note and some Halloween stickers (they did not know that part!)  I stuffed the envelopes.

In advance, we scheduled time in our mailroom.  With our letters in hand, we headed to the meet with our helper and put our envelopes in the machine to get our "stamps!"  The best part was that they barely were able to reach the machine.

Here is hoping that they get them tomorrow!  They were so excited!


In math we have been working on making graphs.  We made pictoral graphs, vertical graphs and horizontal graphs.  Needless to say, they have had lots of practice. 

You can find great Halloween stamps at Joann Fabrics.  For under $3 I got a small bag with 12 different stamps.

Each boys chose 2.  We typed the names of each student at the bottom of the page and made a simple T-bar chart at the top of the page.  Using the all wonderful clip boards, the students went around asking their friends which of the 2 stamps they chose, was the one they liked best.  After each child answered, their name was crossed off the bottom.  Great reinforcement of the names...

The next day, they used the answers to complete both a horizontal and a vertical graph.  Sadly, I did not photograph the graphs, just the collection of the data.

Sight Word Trees

We are loving learning our sight words.  The class is always excited when they see them in books we read.  We are using the melody to the song "Bingo" to practice the words, too.

"There was a sight word of the week and
"See" was it's name-o!
S - e - e  -  See!
S - e - e  - See!
S - e - e  - See!
And, See was it's name-o!"

I am just crazy about fall, and we made fall "sight word" trees.  They traced their hands on brown paper, cut them out and then added leaves (made from a die-cut machine.)  Lastly, they added background.

Here are some photos.  The class loved them!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"A" is for Alien

We introduced the letter A last week.  We made alligators and the boys enjoyed that.

Then we read the book "Aliens Love Underpants."

Needless to say, the class (all boys) loved this story.  So we made our own Aliens.

I found a great site with directions on how to draw our own.  See here.

We did a "quick draw" as a practice and then made our own.

I cut them out and glued them onto yellow paper.  We loved them. 

Here are some samples.

This one has a  special "Tic-Tac-Toe" shirt and 3 eyes.
This one has a rainbow shirt and 6 legs.

Pokey Pin Fall Leaves

I just love Autumn.  I love the smells, the colors, the holidays, all of it.  I was married in October, and my husband and son both celebrate their birthdays in October, as well.

So to celebrate the beautiful changes that will be happening to the leaves, we made our own fall leaves.

We cut yellow, red and orange crepe paper into 1" squares.  Next, we cut wax paper sheets equal to the number of students.  Each sheet was about 14' long.  Fold it in half so that a regular sheet of paper fits inside.

We copied a fall leaf shape onto the white paper and used a black marker to boldly trace the outside edge of the leaf. 

Next, we cut out the center of the leaf.

The class then spread Elmer's Glue on the bottom side of the wax paper.  Then you collage away. When you are satified with the collage, spread glue on the other side of the wax paper and close the "book."  Use your hand to spread the glue evenly and to ensure that the wax paper is sealed.  Let it dry and then glue the leaf shape on top of it.  Once that dries, cut out the shape.

The final step was to "pokey pin" (use a push pin and poke holes evenly around the black border of the leaf shape.) along the bold black outline of the leaf.  You need to do it on a rug or get a few carpet samples to put on a desk.  Also, it is great to "store" the push pins on an eraser.  So easy. 

My class was so very proud of the final products.  And they look amazing in the windows.

Monday, September 17, 2012

"I can" lift the flap book

We finished our first full week of school, Monday - Friday.  It was a terrific week.  Parent-Night was on Tuesday and it went very well.  Now we can get to the business of teaching!  You know all that work that had to be completed for the bulletin boards...  But it was all worth it.
The boys enjoyed beginning centers.  We started slowly with very simple centers and they rotate through all three in one 45 minute period.  The sight words "I" and "can" were introduced.  It is fun to be word "detectives" and find them in all of our books.
Friday, we made simple lift the flap book.  The boys wrote "I can" on the front of each flap and then illustrated something they "can" do on the inside.  Of course, the majority of the pictures were action sport shots. 

I can ... play in my yard.
I can... "build stuff,"  "play baseball,"  "Swim underwater with my eyes open!"

The best was an illustration one boy did based on a connection to a book I had read earlier in the week.  It was a big book that goes with our reading series.  "Animals in the Park, an ABC Book." 

I joined many bloggers and read "In Pictures and in Words" this summer.  Click here, to see earlier post with more info about this terrific book.  That has really influenced the way I read now.  There is much more conversation about the illustrations and the choices or decisions made by the illustrator, as I read to my class.

This particular book, "Animals in the Park" is about animal statues that come alive and having some fun in the park at night.  As we are reading, we notice there are 3 stars in the sky... and then one page has 4.  I ask the class, "Are you thinking what I am thinking?  You know how the stars come out slowly at night.  Maybe as I turn the page there will be more stars and then more stars... Let's see."  Sadly, that does not happen.  The rest of the pages all have only 3 stars in the sky.  So fine.  We take a little time to talk about making predictions... and sometimes they don't happen that way.
Well, one of the students did a picture on his first flap with 2 birds in the sky.  He was very excited to share it with me and for me to notice the birds...  The 2nd flap had 3 birds in the sky.  And yes!  The last flap showed him playing soccer with 4 birds in the sky!  Love it!  I, of course, was so proud of him.  "This reminds me of a book we read this week!"  He says, "I know!"  And we talked about the connection we had made... Priceless!  It actually made my week!   I was so excited I forgot to get a picture of it.  That's ok.  I will never forget it!

Friday, September 7, 2012

1st Week in Kindergarten

Well, we made it through our first week in Kindergarten!  Happily it was only 3 days.  The heat was incredible and the first day we all had sweat running down our faces just sitting there!  Fortunately, a fellow teacher had a spare fan and we were able to get the air moving at least.

We took it simple and got acquainted with the routine, completed a few projects and survived lunch in the cafeteria with the rest of the lower school.

On the first day, we took a tour of the school.  My partner and I (there are 2 Kindergarten classrooms) had given 6 places a pair of letters.  "Kindergarten" happens to be 12 letters, so we each collected 6 letters.  We visited the headmaster, the front office, the science room, the nurse's office, the kitchen, the library and more.  Some, not all gave us letters they "found" as they were preparing their rooms.  Trust me when I say that the students caught on very quickly, and were soon asking everyone if they "found" a letter. 

Today, we got the 2 classes together and put the letters together.  The boys were surprised to see it spelled "Kindergarten."  Amazing, right?  Here is the photo we took as we celebrated!

That was inspired by all the great photos seen on Pinterest.
I had done a "Welcome" sign for my classroom yesterday.  I do not have a sink in my room, and it was just too hot to do the painting... so I went for the heart shape with the hands.
They were too happy to put their hands together.  Keeping them only on the outline of the heart was just not working no matter what I said.  Still great though!  Thanks, Pinterest! 
Here's to a year of helping hands and happy hearts!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Thanks to the many teachers out there who have posted photos of their birthday goodies.  I love working "smarter not harder,"  What a great idea to have all of the birthday goodies wrapped and ready before school even starts!  No more scrambling to put it together when the birthday creeps up on you.  I have always had the "stuff" purchased but not all set.  I even have the birthday crowns ready with their names on them...  LOVE it.

My theme this year is "Reach for the Stars!"  So this looks great. I have a crazy straw and a "bird" plane (you know those wood-like put-together kind.)  They look adorable out and ready.

Simple and cute!


My room!

Well, it is finally ready!

There was such anxiety getting here.  I am not good with physical intelligence.  Give me a room all set... and I will live in it a while, and change it to suite me.  Setting up from nothing is stressful for me.  The former teacher moved her things out at the end of the year.  I moved all my books... down and just put them up on the shelves.  Clearly they were not to stay there, but at least I got it all there.  Of course, there were things left, as they were thought to be of use/help to me.  That involved so much work.  Wish I had taken before photos because it would have been amazing.  The idea of taking those photos gave me stress.

My room is amazing as it has windows on three walls!  It is only a few years old and I have the room at the very end.  The playground is along one side and a tennis court - turned sport court for field hockey and basketball is at the end.  So I LOVE the windows, but it leaves little wall space.  With the help of my partner, I covered bulletin boards and brought the paper to the floor.  I put paper up where there was not bulletin boards.  Sadly, this room is mine for only one year.  So I did not invest too much.

Here goes,

So, there it is.  My meeting area, entrance, word wall, reading corner, desk, birthday wall and play area.

School starts on Wednesday.  We have new family orientation on Tuesday, so some of the students will come to that.  They will come see our room, listen to a brief story... and head back to Mom and Dad.

I must say that I was inspired by so many of you who have shared your photos.  Here's to a great year!