Sunday, August 29, 2010

Favorite Read Alouds

I've thought alot about the read alouds that will introduce our new school year together. (Just in case you don't know, I loop to first grade with my class.) I want to read some of our old favorites but also add a little bit of newness.

This year, I want to start with a character study. I have choosen characters that we can easily relate to or learn from. I've also added characters who perhaps persevere or take risks despite what others may think of them.

Take a look at what is on my bookself.
I love Olivia. She is free spirited and independent minded.

Suki's Kimono
Suki is a first grader who wants to wear the kimono her grandmother sent her on the first day of school although her sisters say "it's not cool."

Hello My Name Is Bob
Bob is not like other bears. He's not adventurous or witty. He's a "very boring bear." This book is filled with great descriptive words.

I Don't Want to Go To School!
This was absolutely our favorite school related read aloud. "No way" says Simon about going to school.

Wemberly Worried

Simon reminds me alot of Wimberly. Who couldn't relate to Wimberly and his anxiety? Aren't we all a little anxious about the first days of school?

A Bad Case of Stripes   [BAD CASE OF STRIPES] [Hardcover]
A Bad Case of Stripes makes you wonder what would you be willing to give up in order to conform to what everybody else says or is doing. Would you give up your individuality to be like everyone else?

Other books will include:

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
I'll be reading lots from Mo Willems!

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Junie B. Jones, No. 1) (Book & CD)
Junie B. Jones will also become a daily reading in our classroom. We'll read a few other chapter books but I hope to get through the kindergarten series this year.

The Name Jar Marianthe's Story: Painted Words and Spoken Memories
These two books always make me cry. They are so beautifully written.

This is just some of what I plan to read this upcoming September. What's on your Back to School read aloud list? What are your must reads?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Helping Parents Say Good Bye

My son had his first sleepover this weekend. He was so excited to spend the night at his cousins. I was too; except for the fact, that I kept thinking, my baby is not here with me. He's three. As a mother, it's hard to let go. As a teacher, I know it's in the best interest for the child to smile and say good bye.

Here's how my school helped families and children begin the school year.

Our kindergarten team had a parent orientation for the first hour of the school day. As a team, we presented a power point presentation of key items we wanted parents to know-school hours, snack policy, dress code, etc. Then, we read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Wood. The story is about Chester, a raccoon, and his fears about the first day of school. His mother provides him with a touching solution, called the Kissing Hand. We thought that parents would enjoy this heartfelt, beautifully written story about first day jitters. As we read, we could see that some parents were really moved by the story and seemed to be holding onto their child just a little tighter than before. As the story concluded, we had parents give their child a kiss on the hand to say good bye. Although, there were still some tears, this story helped parents understand that it would be okay. Their baby would be safe.

If you are looking for something to help ease separation anxiety, perhaps, you'll try this idea.

Happy teaching and learning!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Favorite Thing

As I said before, I am on summer vacation. I work year around and began summer vacation in mid-July. One thing, I promised myself was not to going into school until the middle of August. Lucky, for me, I have one of my favorite things at home. I brought it from school intending to let me son use it while on vacation. He has and loves it. As a matter of fact, this was the tool he used to learn his colors. At 18 months, he could name colors and sort them! I may have a boy genius!

Well, here it is! My favorite thing is the DVD collection from Preschool Prep Company. The collection has Meet the Colors, Meet the Letters, Meet the Numbers, Meet the Shapes and Meet the Sight Words 1, 2, and 3. What do I love about this DVD set? First, are the memorable "characters" created to help children learn. My class loved each of the characters. At times, they would argue over who would pretend to be which character. We finally agreed, that we could all pretend to be any one we liked. Next, is the repetition. The key concept is repeated several times. At the end of the DVD, there is a brief review of the entire content. What makes this great, is that the content is presented in an engaging format. Kids don't feel like they are learning but rather "watching a show."

How do I use it? In early kindergarten, I used Meet the Colors during my color unit the first few weeks of school. I teach a full day kindergarten and in the afternoon this was just the right thing to settle us down. I incorporate Meet the Sight Words into my Listening Center during Daily 5. This DVD set is my favorite! It was also a great alternative to a movie during crunch time at the end of the trimester. I hope this has piqued your interest. For more information go to

My First Post

Thank you for spending a few minutes reading my blog. I was inspired by all the wonderful websites, blogs, and creative energy, I have read about and witnessed. As a teacher, there really is no such thing as "summer vacation." Although, I enjoy all the free time I have, it is not surprising that some of that free time has been devoted to thinking about improving my craft. I love teaching. I have taught since 1998; all in Title 1 schools. As a result, I've learned to be explicit, making learning engaging, and to see each person in the classroom as a learner; myself included.

I wish I could say that my classroom looks like the cover of a beautiful magazine. But the reality is, my classroom is an organized chaos. Like most of you, there are days when I just can't seem to find where I left the copy of my math assessments. I thought I had just placed it right here, only to find I moved them. I may not have everything in its place but I have thought a lot about my teaching and best practices.

In this blog I hope to share some of my favorites things about my craft. Enjoy.