Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School Freebie

They can be quite difficult for some students, especially kindergarten students transitioning from half-day preschool a few times per week to all day, everyday kindergarten.  This is the boat my soon-to-be students are in.  Every year, I have some parents that become concerned about their child's behavior during the adjustment period.  This year, I have tried to be proactive about this issue, and created this table of commonly seen behaviors in transitioning kindergarten students.  Parents can see from the table that I am aware of these issues, and what I do to help in the classroom.  I also offered suggestions for home.

I hope you can use it for your open house or parent information meeting :).

Click the picture below to download for free at my TpT store.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kindergartners Come in as Little Babies!

I'm just thinking about what little babies kindergartners are when they first come's a shock to the system after you've just worked with almost first-graders!  I have to admit that last year, when I switched from an inner-city school to a suburban school, it was a big surprise when half my class was crying for their mommies on the morning of the first day!

Of course, things get better quickly, and one way to help ease the transition at any grade level is to have a wide variety of activities to build community, teach character education and expectations and establish routines.  It helps if this can be accomplished in fun way!

I have tried many different activities at the beginning of the school year, and have tried to narrow it down to the most effective things... I really like to teach about the Golden Rule, have students come up with our class rules, share our hopes and dreams for the year (okay, this works better with some kindergarten groups and others just don't get it), and teach students to take an active role in the conflict resolution process with their peers.  I use a Peace Table to assist with the conflict resolution process.  I have an old post about that here.
My classroom "Peace Table".

I also think it's very important to remember that some students are very shy, and to start with some more gentle ice-breaker songs, greetings and games in your morning meeting--that it something that I overlooked during my first couple of years and being aware has really helped those shy little guys!  For example, on the first day of school I introduce everyone during morning meeting, since some little ones are too afraid to say their own names.  We do not jump right into sing-songy name games!

I'm sure most of you can tell that I'm a big believer in the Responsive Classroom model!!  What do you all like to do at the beginning of the year???  I love to hear what works for others!

I had started working on this Character Ed/Community Building Activities unit for TpT all the way back at the beginning of June, but just managed to finish it this morning.  I have included All About Me activities, a fun partner interview, a passport to help teach students the expectations around the school, several class books, a get-to-know-you bingo game,summer vacation postcard writing activity, a hopes and dreams writing template, and instructions for making your own Peace Table.  I am planning on using almost every single activity at the beginning of this year (the bingo game and postcard are for first grade up).

I hope you'll head over to my TpT store and check out the unit!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Who Uses HM Journeys for Kindergarten?!?!

I just went into school for the first time all summer!  This has been my first summer not  teaching summer school and it definitely was strange being away for so long...however moving, getting married, going on my honeymoon and visiting family filled in the time and summer has flown by!

I am SO excited that my Promethean board got delivered finally! I was the only teacher in the whole dang school without one last year.  Now it just needs to be installed...which of course won't happen until the Friday before school starts!

I was also excited/anxious/panicked to see that boxes upon boxes of our brand new reading curriculum have been stacked up in my already hot MESS of a room.  We switching to the Houghton Mifflin Journeys curriculum.  We previously had Harcourt but mine had been used by at least three teachers before me and was a hodge podge that I never could fully make sense of, so last year I did a lot of improvising.

My questions are:
1. Do you currently use Journeys curriculum for kindergarten?
2. If so, how do you like it--pros/cons/things to be aware of
3. Have you created SMART or Promethean lessons or activities for it?
4. Do you know of any great TpT or blog resources for Journeys?
5. Has anyone adapted it for use with the Daily 5 format?
6. Do you have any tips for differentiating with it--especially for gifted kiddos?

Please, please, please comment back!!!:) It would mean the world to me, especially since our curriculum got delivered so late and we only have 3 weeks until the start of school.  Thanks!!