Monday, August 1, 2016

When the shoe doesn't fit...

  Wow... has it really been over 6 months since my last post? Things have changed ALOT in that time... Hmm, where do I begin?
  Well, first off, I want to say that No- there have not been any huge life changes, like the loss of a family member or the addition of a new one! That hasn't been what has kept me away for so long.
   This past school year has just gone by so fast and I have learned alot about myself in my career as an Early Childhood Educator.
   I will say though, that the best part of relocation is that it allows you a chance to recreate yourself and explore new things and opportunities in life! The past 5 years of my life have been full of so much change and it has been a struggle in trying to find the right fit and the right teaching position.
  Our move from Chicago to Buffalo, NY back in 2011 had proven to be a hard four years for me, as I felt that my teaching career was put on hold. The opportunities to land a district job in the field of Early Childhood, were slim to none and the teaching positions that I wanted were not there.
  When we moved from New York to California in the summer of 2015, I knew that the change was going to be good. It had to be. I needed it to be. And thankfully, I immediately landed a job as a Spanish teacher in a Montessori School. It was a new experience for me to get a chance to step away from traditional education and experience another way to teach and see another way in which children learn. I jumped into it and enjoyed it right away!
   BUT then...I stopped posting on my blog right after the Christmas holiday. It wasn't that I left the school or life became too busy. It just stopped being worth blogging about, without noting the disappointment that I was feeling. I felt I wasn't working to my potential because of the position that I held as just the Spanish Teacher. To become a Montessori trained teacher is a entirely different (and long) process that I was not sure that I wanted to explore. There were so many ups and downs... I know that teaching isn't wonderful 100% of the time and there are times where we just have to suck it up and just keep moving forward.
  But it was only a few weeks after the holidays, that I realized that it just wasn't for me. I learned that although Montessori principles make a great teaching philosophy and it works for some children and teachers alike, it was just not the kind of teacher I was and it was not the kind of teacher I felt I wanted to be.
   The shoe just did not fit.
   I am grateful for the opportunity I had to teach in a Montessori school and learn a little more about Montessori Education. But if I were to be completely honest, I have missed working in a school district. I have really missed the comraderie of working & collaborating with other teachers in and outside of my grade level. I have missed the feel of a bigger school community. I lost all of that when I left Chicago...and I wanted it back. I wanted to be working in a school, within a school district again. I was willing to give up my love for PreK, and explore other grade levels, in order to do so.
   This spring, a new job opportunity came up to teach Kindergarten and I was all over it!

  So this upcoming school year, I will be moving out of the PreK  World and I will be teaching Kindergarten in a Dual Immersion School! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am; not only will I be exploring a new area in my teaching career, but I am excited to be working in a school district again and to be working in a bilingual school community, that I feel will be similar to the one that I left behind in Chicago!
   I have only taught Kindergarten for one year, while in Chicago, before I moved along to teach in the bilingual PreK program. So, teaching Kindergarten, in Spanish, will be something very new for me! And I am really looking forward to it!
   YAY!!  I'm Going To Kindergarten!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

La Leyenda de La Flor de Nochebuena / The Legend of the Poinsettia

   I hate how time has gotten away from me once again! This year has been by far, the fastest that a school year has gone...I cannot believe that it is already December 13th!
   This past week, we started a Holidays Around The World mini unit. In the primary classroom, the children learned all about Hanukkah, made a Menorah, learned how to play Driedel and we even had applesauce and latkes for snack on Friday!
Menorah
 Driedel
Applesauce & Latkes
   In Spanish class, I have begun to teach the children how Christmas is celebrated in Mexico. Growing up, I remember the traditions that my family had and some mirrored the traditions I read in the books that I chose to read to the children. So it was kind of nice to go down memory lane and remember the good ole days! This past week we read the book "The Legend Of The Poinsettia" by Tomie dePaulo. It is quite a detailed story so I had to paraphrase and summarize, but I made sure to highlight the main idea...that being that the legend was that the Poinsettia first bloomed on Christmas Eve and is now known as the Flower of the Holy Night or La Flor de Nochebuena.
   A simple craft followed as they each made their own poinsettia. Some wanted to take them home right away to put on their tree, while others wanted me to hang them up around the school!
  This coming week, we will be learning more about the Story of Christmas, the traditions of Nochebuena and Las Posadas. We will learn more about how Christmas is celebrated in Mexico...and I am excited to teach the children a little bit about some of the traditions that I had while I was growing up!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Keeping The Munchkins Busy with Cute Fall Crafts!

    It has been a whirlwind 4 months since I moved to California and started a new teaching job within 3 weeks of relocating from NY. Because of this, I am SO excited that we have the entire week off for Thanksgiving! No big travel plans here... the cross country trek this summer was enough traveling for me! This is my week to relax and just do whatever... 
   Last week, as we prepared for our big Thanksgiving feast, we had the keep the munchkins busy and focused as best we could. We know they love art projects, so we went with that.
   We have been collecting leaves for quite some time and put them in our leaf press. We took the leaves out of the leaf press and added them to the art center, along with scissors, a gluestick, a marker, a turkey body, a circle to cut out, wiggly eyes and yellow and orange strips of paper. 
 Check out these adorable Leaf Turkeys that they created:
And in Spanish class, we have begun to learn about the names of the different shapes. I had out different activites for them to do to learn the shapes in Spanish throughout the week.
Turkey Shape Matching Game:
 Shape Owls:
(I used this FREE template from Crafty Bee Creations)
Lots of fine motor practice!
As you can see, they really do love crafts! And they all do such a great (and cute) job!

    Well, back to my vacation...even if I have a long To Do List to plan and prep for the next 3 weeks, which I know are going to go by really, really quick!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

¡Estamos Agradecido Por Nuestras Familias! We Are Thankful For Our Families!

  There are two days left in the week and then we are off for a whole week for Thanksgiving! I am so excited about this because I have never had a full week off for Thanksgiving! Woo-hoo!
   The munchkins have been working hard to prepare for our Thanksgiving Feast that takes place tomorrow. They have learned some fun, cute songs to sing and made some cute owls and turkeys as decorations. I am a little bit nervous as to how everything will play out. Our Montessori Preschool has 52 families...and almost all of them will be participating in the feast tomorrow. That is a whole lot of people... easily over 100 people will be there. So, I have been juggling teaching and some party planning these past 2 weeks or so! But it should all be fun!
   And since it is the season of giving thanks, it was the perfect time to talk about what all of us are thankful for: Our Families! So we learned all about Nuestras Familias in Spanish Class.
   One of the books I read was "The Family Book" by Todd Parr, It is in English, but was simply translated. It is a nice book to portray different types of families. And the cute word wall cards were purchased from Primary French Immersion.
We learned the names of all family members:
And then we focused on the immediate family members (that may or may not live in the same house), 
to prep for our drawing activity.
Each student drew their family members and I am so happy and impressed with how cute they came out. 
A few of my older kids labeled their portraits themselves!
I have framed them all with colorful construction paper and they will all be displayed for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Feast!

I think I need an early bedtime tonight, seeing as tomorrow may going to be a huge, busy, chaotic day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fall Has Arrived!

    Well, it is finally Fall out here in Northern California! It arrived right when they said it would... in November! This year is predicted to be an El Niño year and lots of rain is expected this winter. We shall see... I will take rain over snow any day! For now, I will enjoy my November, filled with chilly mornings and weather in the 60s and be grateful that I do not have to even think about dealing with snow!  =)
    Things have been busy on the school front, as usual, and time is going by just way too fast! Am I the only one that feels this way?? I feel like we are doing so much that I can't wrap my head around it, let alone try to keep up with writing blog posts about everything.
     Recently, we learned how to say the name and color of pumpkins in Spanish. 
We also learned all about the La Vida De La Calabaza and created a mini book!
They created their own calabazas (jack o' lanterns, really, but who cares?) They are cute! 
And the kids really love the independent art actvities that I put out for work time. 
There seems to always a line at the Art Table!
And I kept a few pumpkin themed math activities out on the shelves through last week:
Roll & Cover:
 Counting Pumpkins:
    With Thanksgiving right around the corner, things are likely to get crazy hectic. The past few weeks, I have found that I feel frazzled and can't seem to get organized with my afternoon literacy lessons and activities. I really need to get on that because the literacy activities that I have done with my small afternoon group have been a hit and they are ready to learn more and keep moving forward.     We have the week of Thanksgiving off and I intend to use that time to get organized and keep those munchkins focused during what is always the craziest time for teachers... Christmas! Anyone counting the days yet?  I sure am not... because at this rate, I know it will be here in the blink of an eye!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Learning About Día De Los Muertos!

    Wow, did October fly by or what? And I have already fallen behind in posting and keeping up with my blog...yet again! What else is new? Things just happened so fast and then BAM- Hello November!
   Anyhow, I was very excited to teach the munchkins a little bit about Día de los Muertos this year. I have celebrated it in past when I worked in a bilingual preschool and the holiday was one that all the children were already familiar with. So, this was my first time actually teaching children about this holiday that they really did not have any experience with.
    The book that I read to introduce the children to this holiday was called Día de los Muertos, written by Roseanne Greenfield Thing and Carlos Ballesteros. It was a great book for the children to learn about the holiday!
    The book focuses on different aspects, symbols and traditions that families partake in during this celebration. And it portrays the celebratory aspect of the holiday, stating that it is not a scary holiday, like Halloween. The holiday is not one of sadness either, but rather one of joy and celebration.
     I will admit, this particular holiday is not one that I celebrated regularly as I was growing up with the traditions and so forth...until my father passed away 6 years ago. Now I use this holiday (and every day, really) as a way to remember him and talk about him with my children, especially my daughter who never got the chance to know him, as he passed away when she was only 3 months old.
   So, in explaining about the holiday and the altars that are built in memory of deceased loved ones, I created a small altar, in my classroom, for my father. I brought in some of his items and explained why I brought each one and how each item reminded me of him. I did get a zillion questions about him (and of death and dying in general); which I was prepared to address in simple terms. 
     Each child had to opportunity to create their own calavera art to take home...and wow! I was impressed by some of the coloring skills! 
     We made tissue paper flowers in memory of someone who has past away. (I was touched when some kids left their flower at my father's altar.) These were the easiest tissue paper/napkin flowers to make. All we needed was small paper napkins in different colors, green pipe cleaners and scissors. 
They cut long slits into the edges of a napkin, then opened it up, gathered it up, twisted the bottom and attached a pipe cleaner!  Easy and quick!
(Take a closer look at the ones on the table for the end result)

 For the most part, teaching about this holiday was either hit or miss with the children, which is what I expected. Some understood it, while others really had no clue and were fixated on the fact that skeletons and skulls are scary. But I expected that, too... 
I had fun teaching them a little about this holiday that is celebrated in most Latin American countries, in honor of those loved ones who have passed on. 
It was a great way, too, for me to share and honor my father's memory...he was a great man!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Waiting for Fall Weather....

   Even though the temperatures here in the Northern Bay area feel more like summer than autumn, we have been learning about the Fall Season in Spanish class!
   I am discovering that the munchkins are really enjoying learning new words in Spanish (despite the one comment about not singing enough, made by one of the older kids as she compared me to the previous teacher) Yea, someone said that... I wasn't offended though because there is so much more to learning Spanish than just being able to sing words in Spanish! While we do sing, I try to keep a focus on learning words and phrases in Spanish and have the children practice how to speak those words and phrases...hence "Learning Spanish"!
  Anyhow, sorry for the rant and enough on that. Back to learning about Fall...
Here are some of the words that are on our word wall:
We tied in colors when learning these words and my K group worked on color word sentences:
 
 
   (I am tweaking these printables, along with my Spanish Color Pack and they will be uploaded on TPT later this week!)
    I again took a look at my work shelves and thought about what activities were meaningless and basically unpopular with the kids. I went ahead and replaced those activities with other fall related activities to spark their learning interest and put some focus on some fun math activities.
So, as we wait for Fall to arrive, enjoy my Fall Literacy & Math Packs available on TPT: