Thursday, December 18, 2014

elf hat and ears

Every Christmas needs some elf ears.

At least in we do in my kindergarten class.

This year we "elf"ed ourselves - with elf hats.

Each child chose their elf hat colour.

9 x 12" construction paper was cut down to 9 x 10".  

The extra strip was put out to be used for trim for the bottom of the hat - or anything else the elves dreamed up.

The remaining rectangle was cut into a elf hat triangle.

The "waste" triangles from the sides were not wasted.

I cut a 2" square from each to be used as a pom pom on top - or anything else the elves  dreamed up.

And I put out the remaining bits and pieces to see how the elves would create.

Ears.  I drew some elf ears.  Pretty proud of my ears, since I am no artist.    You can download and print your own elf ears.

The ears were cut out - and were supposed to be glued on near the base of the hat.  Some elf ears tended to migrate north.  Oh well.

There were no requirements, or criteria (other than 2 opposite ears, not 2 for the same side) - just that the kids communicate with their inner elf, and decide what their hat should look like.

I am so glad that I did that rather than insisting that everyone choose a pom pom for the top and a zig zag strip for the base of the hat.  

Because I think our elf hats reflect the little elves' style and creativity.

And for elf hats, creativity beats criteria -- hands down!

Not one to be left out of the fun, I donned my own elf ears too.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

sparkly Christmas sensory bin

Christmas has sparkle.

And a little (well, a lot) of magic.

So, what do you put in a Christmas sensory bin?

Sparkle - and a little bit of magic.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

outdoor decorating for Christmas

A bright sunny afternoon (rare in a part of the world where winter is grey and rainy).

About 50 children.

A bunch of Christmas tree decorations.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bear Stays Up for Christmas: read and play

One of the many joys of Chrismas is sharing Christmas books with children.

Books that capture the magic of kindness and giving. Books that remind us what the season is about.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas
written by Karma Wilson
illustrated by Jane Chapman
published by Simon and Schuster, 2005

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Starry Night sensory tray

Sometimes things are so simple and glaringly obvious, I just don't see them.

We have been thinking like Mr van Gogh and painting Starry Night.  The movement of the swirling wind, the twinkling stars.  

We talk about how you can almost feel the movement that Mr Van Gogh was trying to paint.


There's the word.

And the simple and glaringly obvious - a Starry Night sensory tray.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

reindeer fun for children ... and cash giveaway

There's something quite intriguing about reindeer.

They are both real - and make believe.

Here is a quick kid friendly video about the [reindeer of Lapland].

Lots of info about Santa's reindeer [here].

And the Reindeer Cam app crosses between fiction and non-fiction. Feeding time is pretty cool; we have taken a kindergarten break to watch Santa feed his reindeer.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Turkish Bazaar sensory bin

Turkey is a country that is a feast for the senses. 

The colours of the landscapes, the local produce and the wares sold at every market.  The bustling noise of the markets.  And the food.  I was not prepared for how delicious the food would taste and smell.  

Walking through the markets, I knew that a bit of Turkey would come home to start off a Turkish Bazaar Sensory Bin. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

poppies for Remembrance Day

Every year we talk about why we wear poppies for Remembrance Day.

I tell my kindergarten kids that we wear them to honour people who risk getting hurt or dying so that we can be peaceful.

We also make poppies.

(These poppies were inspired by poppies created by Crafty Morning.) 

This year my student teacher was in charge of a poppy picture  (I was in charge of a poppy wreath).

It was a day for red and black paint.

Miss Jane showed the kidlets how to make poppy petal prints.


Thumbs for the petals

and (supposed to be) pointer fingers for the black centres.

When they were dry, Miss Jane showed them pictures of real poppies to inspire the creation of grass and leaves.

Green crayons made stems and leaves.
Beautiful projects remembering ultimate sacrifice. 

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Book Whisperer: chapter 7

Halloween has come and gone for another year.  I love it (so many wonderful books to read!) - but I am exhausted.  So grateful that Halloween landed on a Friday this year.  
I will 'fess up that I did not not dress up as a character from a book.  Thought about it.  Thought that it might be fun to be Captain Underpants.  But my K students would not have "got" it - and would just wonder why on earth I was wearing a towel like a diaper and a cape (yes, unlike the real Captain Underpants, I would be wearing a shirt too).  And the parents might quietly ask each other if it was okay to leave their kids with me every day.  Maybe if I taught grade 2 or 3 ....

But this year, I wanted to wear a tutu. 

And that led, naturally, to being Starry Night (in a tutu).  

Now you know too much about my rather random and haphazard thought processes...

Donalyn Miller, closes her book with her thoughts about assessment. And her students moving on from the community that they have built together through their mutual excitement about and love for reading and books.

The final chapter of Donalyn Miller's book The Book Whisperer is titled:  Letting Go

To me, the book has come full circle.

We started off by needing to let go of our beautifully manicured lesson plans that offer students wonderful extension activities to the class book that is being read (likely popcorn style) by the entire class.

Teachers need to let go of our tightly held control of what is read in the classroom.  And how it is read. And what work/activity is required as a response to reading it.

Instead, we need to coax, nurture, fan the flames - whatever it takes - of a love of reading. 

We need to see our students as voracious readers - even if they don't - until they grow into that expectation.

We need to delight in books and reading ourselves. So much so that it is contagious.  We need to be reading role models for our students. 

How does this look in kindergarten since we are still learning to read... 

It is my responsibility to nurture a love of story, of curiosity what we can learn from books, a delight in the surprises and gifts that a new book can bring - so that every one of my students sees themselves as a reader of pictures, a reteller of stories and a just-about reader of the words.  

I need to nurture to a community who revels in the mystery and joy and soul expanding-ness of reading.

And once we have shared that joy and mystery with our students, we have to trust that it will stay with them.  We can hope that they have future teachers who will grow it again. But we have to trust that the community build with our students will stay with all of us, even if we don't get to spend every day together.

We have to 
let them go, let them go
we can't hold onto them any more

yes, we did have a few Elsa's at school on Halloween

more thoughts ...

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Monday, October 27, 2014

The Book Whisperer: chapter 6

I think I have renamed Monday, "Read More Monday".

That seems to be the essence of Miller's words of wisdom: get the kids reading more. And make sure that teachers are reading "more" too; teachers are reading role models for students.   

I've got to share some book excitement with you.  Friday was a Professional Development Day for us.  And you know how they always have displays of amazing books and toys and resources for the classroom.  Well, a few things just called my name so loudly, I was compelled to buy them.  (And a few colleagues added their persuasion when I erroneously thought that I did not really need a new underwear book!)   

Here are my buys.  

Only four books and an amazing puppet - but the school book fair is only a couple weeks away.  I have to pace myself.

Chapter 6 is titled Cutting the Teacher Strings.  It's time to take a good hard look at things I do because they are things that I have always done.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

dancing skeletons

The toe bone's connected to the foot bone.
The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone.
The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone.
These bone's are gonna rise again.

We don't have our anatomy quite right.  But we're okay with that.  

Because our skeletons have personality

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pete the Cat headband and book

Do we love Pete?

Goodness yes!!

We could not resist starting off our school year with Pete.

He is pretty much the coolest cat in school.

And we are learning from his groovy attitude.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Book Whisperer: chapter 5

It's two weeks before Halloween.

I know that this statement does not seem to have a lot to do with The Book Whisperer. But it does.

Two week before Halloween I get out the Halloween "stuff".  

Including the Halloween books.  

I am not crazy about the ghoulishness and blood and gore of Halloween.  I definitely am not a fan of kids having Halloween candy for breakfast  and then coming to school -- and then a crapload more if of it in their lunches.

But Halloween books.  There are so many wonderful Halloween books.  Today we will be reading The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.  A wonderful book for retelling.  Pumpkin Pumpkin is a lovely, gentle story about the life cycle of pumpkins (and all plants).  The Big Pumpkin is also great for retelling and is an adaptation of a folk tale (thinking book genres from chapter 4).  I love reading The Runaway Pumpkin aloud for its rollicking rhythm.  And there are so many others?  What are some of your favourites?

Chapter 5 of Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, Walking the Walk, is all about sharing enthusiasm for reading with students. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

classroom tour 2014 - 15

I love peeking into other people's classrooms.

Here is your invitation to peek into mine.  

My goal is to make our classroom a welcoming place for my students and their families.  
I want it to be a backdrop for the kids' learning and their work. 
I want it to pique their curiosity without being overwhelming. 
I want it to be about the kids who spend a year learning and growing in kindergarten. 

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