Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Pumpkin Palooza!"

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been directly affected by Hurricane Sandy. Here in Buffalo, we are feeling some effects, like rain and high winds. School closed today because of flooding and power outage concerns.
    So that gives me time to post a few things that my little munchkin and I have been doing.
    We have been having lots of fun with our own little “Pumpkin Palooza”!

    “Pumpkin Palooza” started last weekend, when we took a trip to the Great Pumpkin Farm! It turned out to be a perfect Pumpkin Picking Day!
      It was tons of fun and we ended coming home with quite a few pumpkins, in many different "small" sizes:
   Anyhow, on another note, I have been researching and learning about Five and Ten Frames and have been trying to find a way to introduce it with my little one and eventually, in my classroom.
To make things simple, I decided to begin with smaller concept of Five Frame.
    I created these Pumpkin Five Frame mats (and found the candy corn mats on TpT) to introduce my little munchkin to the concept. Of course I had to make it fun and used candy corn and candy pumpkins!
    I started by just having her counting candy pumpkins on each mat , then moved along to simple adding problems, such as “If you have 2 pumpkins and I gave you 3 more, how many would you have?” So we started with the math strip with 2 dots and I had her add 3 more pumpkins onto it and count the total.
 Then we moved on to Candy Corn Ten Frame. I found these mats in a Candy Corn Math unit (freebie), at Oceans of First Grade Fun. It’s geared towards 1st grade, but very adaptable for lower grades too. Make sure to stop by and pick up a free copy and have some fun counting candy corn!
    The part she liked the best was when she was able to fill up the mats and then was able to eat them all up! (Well, not ALL of them!)

     And then we made Pumpkin Pudding!!

One can of Canned Pumpkin (I used a little more than half of the can)
One Box of Vanilla Pudding
Vanilla wafers or even Graham Crackers
YUMMMMM!!  Deliciousness! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"9 year itch?"

    Wow, so ok... Teaching Munchkins has been on a bit of a hiatus. But rest assured, I am still alive! Stressed to the max... but alive and well! 

    I have always considered myself to be a reflective person, always looking at aspects of my life and determining where I have done well and  where I have fallen short. Some may say that I am probably very critical of myself (especially when it comes to anything about myself as a teacher and my classroom), but it is because I am always looking to improve who I am and how I live my life. And a big part of that reflection takes place as I look at my career as a teacher. 

    This is my 9th year as a teacher; all 9 years spent in the realm of Early Childhood-- with 8 years of my experience in a preschool age classroom and one year in Kindergarten. ( It was so scary, I taught it for one year and then went crawling back to a preschool classroom!  Just kidding!!)
    This school year will mark my 1st full year as a preschool teacher in a city other than Chicago and I think I am feeling something similar to the "7 year marriage itch"...Except it feels more like a "9 year teaching itch"!!

    As I sat down at the computer tonight, thinking about what cute teaching activity that I wanted to blog about, I stopped and started thinking about the past few weeks.  And the only conclusion that I came to was that I am run down and in desperate need of a Mental Health Day!! This year I have 15 boys and only 4 girls in my classroom. Even with 2 awesome aides, it is ALOT to handle. And once again (3rd time this month), it has taken its toll on me. I  usually hit some kind of wall in mid-November, so this is really early for me!
    And I keep asking myself: "What am I doing wrong?" OR "What am I NOT doing that I SHOULD be doing?"  And that is where all the reflection sets in.

    This year, my Head Start program is undergoing its Federal Review, so the pressure is on for everyone! And as all teachers know, the field of Education is turning into a nightmare, where everything revolves around results and numbers. And with all that is: PAPERWORK!! Yes, the dreaded paperwork!
   Maybe it is just the paperwork that is stressing me out the most. Why? Because it takes me away from what I feel I do best: Teach young children. And with the group I have this year, the children need my undivided attention.
   Or maybe I have not yet mastered the ability to teach young children and meticulously keep up with data and maintain files. Maybe I procrastinate too much when it comes to entering data and pushing papers around. I don't know...but whatever it is, it has got me stressing out and seeking more out of myself as a teacher.

   So on that note, I am in the process of taking a deeper look at my classroom, the needs of my children and how I can better meet their needs. After 8 years of teaching in the same city and this being my first full year as a teacher in a new city, I am realizing that it is time to change things up. I am reflecting alot and I am seeking out ways to revamp aspects of my teaching.
    It is time to take a deeper look at my teaching practices & techniques and see what needs to come undone and what needs to be developed.

    In the time being, I will only be blogging about the learning fun that I am having with my own little munchkin at home. And we have been up to quite a bit of fun stuff!

    So, for now... My classroom and my teaching practices are currently:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Some Leaf fun with my little one!

   My little munchkin has been patiently waiting for more leaves to fall from the trees so we can rake them up and have tons of fun jumping around in the piles! Last year we did it for the first time and the pictures I took were absolutely priceless!

    In the meantime, while we wait for those leaves to a fall and for autumn to be in full effect, we will continue to talk and have some fun learning about the change in weather and all that comes with it.
   We went outside in our backyard to collect leaves and came back inside and talked about the beginning letter in the word “leaf”.  I pulled out some fall scrapbook paper, drew the letter Ll and let her glue her leaves onto the paper.
   And I found a cute Fall Tree snack idea in an old Mailbox magazine and put my own twist on it:
   After that yummy snack, we took a nice nap! 

   All during the week, she bugged me to do some “work” with her paint stampers. Yes, she actually tells me “I wanna do work.” So we tore up some brown paper and glued them onto a sheet of white paper to make a tree. Then she went wild, adding red, yellow and orange “leaves” with her paint/bingo stampers.

   During the week, I had her act as my little guinea pig and we did some letter and spelling work on the Fall Spelling mats I created. This is one creation that I am so proud of! She enjoyed finding and matching the letters, so I knew it was a winner and I printed and laminated a set for my classroom! J
Grab your copy here, in my Tpt store!

    My Tpt product list is slowly growing!  Yay!

    If you purchase and download anything from my little store, please provide me with some feedback! I am working on the quality of my work and any feedback would be greatly appreciated!  THANKS!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Deadlines & Stress...so here is a Freebie!

    Well, I am coming up on the 45 day deadline! What is that? 
  Well in working for Head Start, there are many things (aka tedious paperwork) that need to get done and it has been quite the rush (and a pain in the butt) to get it done; all the while trying to teach and maintain a consistent classroom routine for a wild bunch of munchkins!
    In addition to the required paperwork, as a Universal Pre-K teacher, I have to administer a test (yes, I said test) called CIRCLE to all my little preschool munchkins. For those Kindergarten teachers who are familiar with the DIBELS assessment, CIRCLE is just that--- for preschool. Wow. Yes, I know. It’s ridiculous.
   SO needless to say, it has been a painful process. Some of my kiddos are still adjusting to preschool and some are still trying to get used to our routines and transitions! And to have to sit and test these kids in 4 different academic areas--- OUCH!
    As I have been trying to balance testing and paperwork and actually teaching, I have become quite overwhelmed this week! BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel and soon the 45 days will be past us and I will actually be able to TEACH again! =)
    Anyhow, enough on my testing woes…
   This week, my preschool munchkins have been continuing to celebrate FALL !

    When October began, I introduced a new math skill on my calendar: Patterns.
    Every day this week, we worked making AB patterns with different objects, during circle time and center time, using manipulatives, such as linking cubes and colored leaves. Some children were even eager to try AABB patterns!

   Today I had the munchkins try out their new math skill on their own!
    Click here to get your Fall Pattern Freebie!
I am also featuring this on TBA's Freebie Friday!

   We have also been working a lot with the letters in our names and name recognition.
    I had seen Crayon Resist artwork before and I was eager to try it with my students. We had the children use a white crayon and a white sheet of construction paper to write their name. For the ones who did not know how to do so, we wrote their name very lightly onto the paper and had them trace the letters.
  Then we gave them some watercolors and thick paintbrushes and showed them how to brush the watercolor over the letters. They were thrilled to see the letters appear on the paper like magic as they painted!

    Now after an overwhelming week (which was only a 4 day week!), I plan to relax a bit and have some fun with my own little munchkin as we work on our own fun, Fall projects! 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Super Hero Sunday!

    Currently, my little munchkin is obsessed with “The Avengers”. She was so excited when it finally came out on DVD!  I think we have probably watched this movie at least 7 times since we bought it!!!!

    I love that she is a little girl at times and is all about dolls and dress up; and she can switch over to a little tomboy and love trains, cars and superheroes! 
    I found this cute Superhero Pre-K Pack at Over The Big Moon, and I wanted to share it with you! There are some fun activities that she and I enjoyed doing today!

    First we tackled the puzzles of Hulk, Ironman, Captain America, and Thor.
    Then we worked on a Letter Ss search. She complained that her hand hurt after coloring the first few letters! 
    (Although she can grip a crayon correctly, she tends to press pretty hard when she is coloring, so she gets tried pretty quickly.)
    So I made it into a game and we each took turns finding a letter and coloring it.

    And then we worked on some Super Hero Patterning Fun!

    Click here (or the picture above) to check out this Super Hero pack, and use it with your little one! There is more learning fun in this packet that she and I have not done yet!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fallin' in Love with Letters!

Fall is here! Yay!! J
The chill is in the air and the leaves are changing colors! 
    The Fall season is probably my favorite season when it comes to fun crafts and activities. I have many  ideas in mind…let’s see how much I can actually accomplish in the classroom or at home.
    In my classroom, we are Falling in Love with Letters! We have been doing lots of work with letter identification, but more specifically, our focus is on the letters in our names.
    I made these fall tree mats into an alphabet matching game.
    The munchkins used our new alphabet stampers to stamp out the letters of their names.

    And my aide had her heart set out on this Fall Tree art.  Isn’t it the cutest thing?

  And my munchkins even got some fine motor work when I put out some faux leaves, a Fall Scene Mat and some tweezers!
I had some little cheaters...but that only showed me that they need some more fine motor practice to strengthen those little muscles in their fingers! 
And then I had some kiddos that really were focused on the task!

     I even got my own little one excited about Fall!
     I recently subscribed to Scholastic Weekly, for my own personal use at home. We read through “Busy, Busy Squirrel”, and had fun with the “I Spy” type activity on the back. 
And then, I decided to start our own Fall unit at home!
     Here, I took some foam leaves and wrote the letters of her name on each one and had her stick them onto a Fall Tree Template I created.

     Click here to get your own copy of this tree and I am sure you can come up with several fun ideas on how to use this!!