Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Mother’s Day Gift

May 07

About 6 months ago, my son was cleaning out his room and making a pile of really great stuff he could give to Goodwill. His really great stuff included a box of 30 Memorex Jewel Cases. Mind you these were brand new, never been opened and he was giving them away. While the teacher in me just couldn’t let him go through with it, so while his back was turned I took them for my stash of “things my kids might be able to use in class one day” pile.  I searched for something to make with them on Pinterest and Google and finally found all kinds of picture frames and boxes that other bloggers had made. Although none of the ideas fit my needs perfectly, they did inspire me to come up with this picture frame for my kids to make for their mom’s for Mothers Day this year.




All I had to do was cut the cardstock to fit the two inside panels of the case and take pictures of my wonderful students. These pictures or of the example I gave them. They glued, used tons of stickers (way more than they should of in most cases) and had an all around wonderful time making these for their moms, aunts and grandmas depending on who was raising them.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! I hope you will be able to enjoy it with those who are the dearest to your heart!!!

100 Ornament

Dec 19

As a gift for their parents for Christmas this year, my students and I decided to make 100 ornaments. Not 100 of them, but one ornament with 100 items in each ornament . It was great fun. The kids enjoyed all the sparkly things they got to use to make the ornament and I enjoyed all the counting they did. I gave them each a counting cup from our math center and they had to put:

20 pony beads

20 plain sequins

20 shaped sequins

20 pompoms

17 pieces of glitter paper

And 3 feathers into their cup.

I had purchased big clear plastic ornaments at Walmart after Christmas last year for only .o5 a piece for them to use this year. I purchased everything else at my local dollar store.

The kids transferred everything from their math cup into the ornament, we wrapped them up and they went off to home yesterday.

This was a fun, education activity and they turned out really great!!!

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November Is Over!

Dec 01

Wow, where has this time gone. I can’t believe November is over today! And with that all my good intentions to get things onto my website for the fall have now fallen to the wayside (Sorry!!!!) So I am going to continue to try to get all my fall stuff on here throughout the next two months while still trying to get my Christmas stuff on here as well.

I love this time of year, but the craziness of trying to get my family Christmas ready, while still getting the Christmas stuff done for my students is an overwhelming job every school year. These next three weeks will be flying by as I try to squeeze as much fun stuff as I can into the curriculums already set from my school district.

So, today will be my first lesson to include a Christmas theme. I am planning to do a interactive read aloud with the story “Too Many Tamales” by Gary Soto. I absolutely love this book for a variety of reasons. Most importantly because it is fun and the kids can relate to both the problem and the solution the kids in the story come up with. Gary Soto has filled the book with a great life lesson as well as great language in both English and Spanish that you can discuss with the kids and they can discuss with their reading partners.

That said, let’s talk interactive read aloud. They are by far one of my favorite lessons to teach. I wish I had more time to include more of them into our class learning but I only have time for once a week on Monday afternoon. (I choose Monday for the interactive read aloud since Mondays are a hard day for everyone to be at school missing our weekend and this teaching brings both me and the kids a lot of joy).

Each week I focus on two things during the read aloud- 1. A discussion strategy for the students to work on with the reading partner and 2. A craft that the author has included or used in the story. Since I teach in an ESL classroom a lot of my focus is also on language during the year.

This is an example of the chart I use with my second graders during the read aloud. We use it both as our expectations for the session and as a reminder of what we are working on.

reading poster1

Here are some of the books I use throughout the school year for my read aloud time. I have also tried to list what strategy or focus I use with the book. Also, since I am now teaching second grade (after many years in Kindergarten and first grade), I have listed my 6 favorite books ( and it was so hard to just pick 6) by the grade level I used them in. I am sure many of you use these books in other ways or for different reasons than I do. I would love to hear how these books are resources for you in your classroom and what strategies you use them for each year.

Have a great last day of November!



Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (Reading the pictures)

The Napping House by Audrey Wood (Great for showing the passage of time as well as cause and effect)

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen Fletcher (using picture clues to understand the story)

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann (problem and solution)

Clip Clop by Nicola Smee (Reading the pictures and adding those ideas to what the author has written)

A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown (Voice)

First Grade

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (the pictures set the mood, what is the mood or emotion the author wants you to feel)

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (Wonderful language with what does the author mean by)

The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog by Cynthia Rylant (Making a connection to your own life)

Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie (A story within a story, or inferencing to understand the deeper meaning of the two lives in the story)

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Time passing)

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (connections within the story between what is happening to the baby bear and Sal and how it is the same)

Second Grade

New Shoes for Silvia by Johanna Hurwitz (Time passing)

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin (making a connection)

The Wall by Eve Bunting (the pictures set the mood, what is the mood or emotion the author wants you to feel)

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto (problem and solution)

Going Home by Eve Bunting (Wonderful Language and what does the author mean by)

Abuela by Arthur Dorros (Telling the difference between realistic fiction and fiction within a story and how both genres can be used within a story)

New Old School

Oct 19

Last spring I wrote about having to pack up my classroom for the second year in a row and move to another building. The new building is old, really old, and hasn’t been well kept up over the years by my district. It is a temporary school. Each year an entire school moves into while their building is either remodeled or replaced. So last spring the entire staff and all of our junk was moved to the temporary school.

It wasn’t a shock to me that the school was in bad condition. We had visited it twice before the other elementary school moved out. But once I actually got into the room in August, I wanted to cry. I just couldn’t imagine how I could make this classroom, which very badly needed to have holes filled, walls painted and spiders killed, into an actual classroom for my wonderful students.

So, I got on Pinterest, started making things out of paper and fun stuff from Hobby Lobby and this is what I came up with. I think I might be able to make it through the 2 years we are in this building while our new school is being built if I can survive the lack of air-conditioning in the spring and the radiator in the winter. I hope you enjoy my before and after pictures.












Jul 06

Please make sure your child gets plenty of rest. I know that in our crazy, hectic world it is often hard to make sure everyone in the family goes to bed on time each evening. And children are often tired at school due to work and daycare schedules or special events the night before. Occasionally a little less sleep is not going to hurt their education, but not getting enough rest night after night makes for tired kindergarteners. And tired kindergarteners have no interest in learning or socializing with their peers.  Remember setting that all important bedtime and sticking to it as often as possible will be a wonderful gift to your child and their education.

Y Is For A Year

Jul 05

A school year! It is really hard sometimes to imagine how much a 5 year old grows in just 9 months of kindergarten but they do. I find myself telling parents not to worry or let’s see how it goes for a couple of months and then look at things again. This is especially true when it come to the CCSS standards. Often parents look at those standards and their immediate reaction is, “Oh No!! My child can’t do that!!!!” So this is my please don’t panic entry!!!

  • Your child’s teacher is going to assess your child and then add to the knowledge they are coming in with.
  • The CCSS or standards are what we want a child to accomplish by the end of their kindergarten year, not come to the first day of school with.
  • If your child is behind and continues to stay behind, we will be discussing it with you and coming up with alternative teaching styles, ideas, curriculums, etc… Schools have a wide variety of resources we can pull from to help.
  • Remember some children are slow starters! It often seems that in January a little lightbulb goes off and they know, “That’s what you are talking about! Or that’s why I come to school!!”
  • Kindergarten is a huge growth year for children both educationally and socially! It is a hard transition from pre-school to kinder! Give them a little bit of time to adapt!
  • Remember that kindergarten today is not what kindergarten was 10 years or longer ago. We now expect kindergarteners to leave us reading, adding, subtracting and doing all kinds of other skills that were not expected in the past.
  • We need your help! Please help by making sure homework is completed and turned in, that your child comes to school regularly and on time, and that you emphasize to your child how important their education and working hard is to their future.
  • Lastly, remember these 9 months are a huge learning time for your child! But we are going to take it one step at a time!

The most important thing I would like you to know is please be an advocate for your child throughout the school year! We both want the same thing! Success for your child in their first school setting. We need to all be involved in order for that to happen.

X Is For Extra Clothes

Jul 03

Wet and/or dirty clothes can be extremely uncomfortable. If your child has an accident at school, these extra clothes will allow your child to clean up and change without having to wait for someone to come to school and get them. With busy schedules of work and errands we often have a hard time getting in touch with someone who can come to school in a moment’s notice. For those reasons we ask parents to please consider putting an extra set of clothes into their child’s backpack. A couple of pointers on extra clothes:

  • Put the clothes into a grocery bag, push it into the bottom of the backpack, and leave it there until needed.
  • Remind your child that these are for emergencies and not to be taken in and out of the backpack. We don’t want your extra clothes lost.
  • Check the clothes sizes at winter and spring break. Kindergarteners grow really fast and the clothes may need to be changed out for bigger sizes.
  • If your child does have an accident at school, please don’t worry. Accidents happen, especially when kids are at recess and don’t want to miss out on the fun. It’s no big deal; we will simply talk about a different choice next time they need to use the restroom. Kids are learning!!!
  • Some schools (like mine) will call you to let you know your child had an accident, but all schools may not. Check with your school office to find out their policies on phone calls home for wet and/or dirty clothes.
  • Finally, please remind your child to let you know if they used their extra clothes so you can replace the dirty ones.

Have a wonderful Friday!!!

W Is For Weather

Jul 02

Weather and recess are not always a great mix. When school starts in the early fall or ends in the late spring the weather is usually unpredictable. It is hot, than cold, than hot again the next day. When you add air-conditioning and heating systems and the placement of vents over certain tables or areas of the classroom to the outside weather, you’ll find kids changing between being hot or cold several times during the school day. Here are some quick suggestions to help your child out while they are at school during the day:

  • Always keep an extra sweater or sweatshirt in their backpack. These are often used by my kids in the fall and spring when we have rain showers or storms that cool the air down. Or because the air-conditioner is making the room to chilly in the afternoon.
  • Make sure their shoes are appropriate for the precipitation (tennis shoes and snow are usually not a good mix).
  • Hats are great in the winter but they are often discarded by the kids once they get outside and start running around. These discarded items usually end up I the lost and found. Hoods on their coat or sweatshirt work almost as well and they get to come home every night.
  • If you can’t afford snow boots, or you live in an area where it isn’t worth the money because your child will only use them a couple of times a year, consider having your child wear two pairs of socks.
  • Many of my students chose to wear pajama bottoms under their pants to school each day instead of purchasing long underwear. They seem to work great at helping the kids stay a little bit warmer.
  • Remember layers are the key to being comfortable at school. They can remove or put back on sweaters and sweatshirts throughout the day depending on how they feel.
  • Lastly, if you can’t afford gloves, hats and boots, please check with your school office. Many communities and schools have programs to help you find these items for your child with little to no expense.

If you have concerns about the temperature in the classroom, playground or on the bus it is always to better to be prepared then uncomfortable.

V Is For Volunteering

Jun 21

I love parent volunteers. I don’t know what I would do without them. They help me make things, clean my classroom library and work with my kids that need extra help, etc. etc. etc… Volunteering is a great way for you to stay involved with your child’s education and support the leaning they are receiving in the classroom. It doesn’t matter if you can volunteer once a year for a field trip or once a week to help in the classroom throughout the school year. All help is welcome.

Before you go into your child’s classroom to help you need to check with the school office to see if they have any type of process you need to go through before you can be in the classroom. In the districts I have worked in you must fill out volunteer forms which are then checked by the state police. I know parents are sometimes offended by this but please don’t be. This is for your child’s protection. Neither you nor the school district would want anyone in the classroom working with your child that cannot pass a state police background check.

A couple of things to remember about this process:

  • The background check can sometimes take up to a few weeks to come through. Especially at the beginning of the school year when a lot of parents are filling out the paperwork. So, if you are able to, fill it out at the beginning of the year and be done with it, even if you don’t have plans to help immediately. And give the district a little bit of time to get the forms processed.
  • If you are filling it out last minute because of a special event, please let the office know. They can sometimes expedite things.
  • Make sure you know how often this paperwork has to be filled out so yours does not expire. Some schools require it every year and others only require a new check every few years.
  • Once you’ve filled out the paperwork, don’t assume it has come back to the school. Check with the secretary or classroom teacher the first time you are planning to come in earlier in the week to make sure.

On a different note, when you are volunteering please remember you are not there to only help or work with your child. You are there to help the class. I often ask parents to help a child that is struggling that is not their own because their child is doing well in class. Or to work with a small group of kids instead of just their own child. Take this time to get to know your child’s friends, classroom and teacher while using your skills to further everyone’s education! Volunteers are the greatest!!!!

U Is For Unique

Jun 20

Your child is a unique individual and that should be celebrated. In a time when some kindergarten classrooms have up to 35 kids in a room, it is very hard for a teacher to get to know the kids quickly at the beginning of the school year. If you have special concerns for your child’s educational or social skills please let the teacher know within the first few weeks of school. You know your child better than anyone and we want to hear your insight into their thinking. This will help us to make sure we keep an eye on things and work on the skills your child needs.

That said; please realize that we sometimes see a little bit different version of your child at school. Sometimes kids who are talkative and outgoing at home become very shy and quiet at school. Kids who are not use to sharing often struggle the first few weeks with not being able to be in control. There may be times when your child’s teacher will approach you with an issue or something that has happened at school and your mouth will drop while you’re thinking “not my child”! (This happened to me more than once as I raised my five children.) Please, please remember, kids are kids, they make mistakes, then turn around the next moment and do really great, generous things. They are learning as they go!!! All your teacher would ask for in any situation is an open dialog. Remember ultimately, both you and your child’s teacher want what’s best for your child and you can only reach that goal as a team. Enjoy your child’s unique journey through kindergarten by being involved, and working with your teacher and school to get the best year ever!