Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten - Kindergarten Blogs

Tomorrow is my official first day back to work.  I've been into my classroom twice to start setup and I will post pictures when it looks decent. Tomorrow is a full day meeting about how to teach kindergarten.  I think (hoping) there will be some relevant, usable information presented, but I feel very fortunate in that there are some FANTASTIC kindergarten blogs out there that share fabulous information and experiences about teaching kindergarten.  I follow many (about 50) and they are all wonderful, but these are the ones I frequent the most. I would like to thank all of the teachers that blog and put themselves out there.  I really appreciate your willingness to share your ideas with me and all the other teachers. You are an inspiration!

1. Welcome to Room 36 ~ A Kindergarten Blog
I REALLY enjoy reading this blog from Mrs. Williamson.  Here is an idea she shared about writing for the second day of school.  (I've already put this is my lesson plans)
2. The Very Busy Kindergarten
Sue's blog is very well written and she has some wonderful resources on there.  She just posted some pictures of her classroom and I'm so envious!  I wished mine looked that good. She's doing an owl theme this year (like me) and she shared the directions for this polka dot owl tree.
3. A Place Called Kindergarten
Mrs. Bell has the most wonderful resources for teachers - especially kindergarten teachers.  She also offers all her resources for free (because we are all teachers who don't make a lot of money and already give so much of our time & money to our classes)  I'm already in the process of making these super cute bookmarks for my parents on open house in September.

4. Kindergarten Kindergarten
What can I say - this is an established blog that has oodles of ideas, tips and resources.  I LOVE this activity for teaching cafeteria manners.

5. Gluesticks, Games and Giggles ~ Tales from a Kindergarten Classroom
Jessie is very new to the blogging world, but I so appreciate the resources she offers on her site.  She's posted loads of pictures of her classroom.  I'm putting together my calendar and math area and will be using her calendar cards she created.  Thanks so much!

6. Keen on Kindergarten
Meredith is also very new to the blogging scene. I used her classroom library as an inspiration for mine.  Don't you just want to curl up and read a good book?

7. Kinder FuN!
Michelle is from Texas and what I adore about her blog is that she offers many of her resources in English & Spanish.  So great of you have a bilingual class or an Hispanic cluster of students in your room.

8. Not Just Child's Play: Teaching Gifted Kinders
Miss Trayers offers ideas and resources for what to do with those children in your classroom that are gifted and talented.  You know we all have them and it's important to serve the needs of those children as well as our kiddos that some in with no school experience at all.  One of her recent posts was about the importance of playing house.

9. Mrs. Wills Kindergarten
DeeDee's blog was one of the first blogs that I found.  She offers excellent resources and ideas and pictures.  Fantastic!! Here is an example of her anchor charts for her daily routines.

10. I couldn't choose a 10th!  There are so many other fabulous kindergarten blogs I follow I didn't want to leave anyone out  - so number 10 is the entire blogging world of teacher, moms, runners and everyone else who takes the time to share yourselves with others.  Thanks again!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Blank Canvas (& some Reader's Workshop plans)

Yesterday I finally made it into my classroom. I spent 3 hours there and I was able to arrange my desks the way I wanted them, but I have a loooonnnnnggggg way to go. I like to think of my room as a blank canvas, ready to be transformed into a kindergarten classroom.

This was what I accomplished in 3 hours, I guess it's better than nothing at all!

Luckily I have 2 more weeks (and boy will I need it!)
At least I know what I will be teaching.  Here is my plan for the first 30 days of Reader's Workshop in kindergarten.  There is a LOT of lessons on listening, turn & talk, listening, taking care of books & listening.
Reader's Workshop the First 30 Days of Kindy

Thanks again to everyone for your thoughtful comments on my last few posts.  If I haven't got back to you, be patient, I will.  Again please feel free to ask questions, leave comments, this is all new territory for me.  There are not a lot of resources out there for Reader's workshop in kindergarten.  Most of them start in first grade.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten (One day late because I was out enjoying myself last night!) My Favorite Things About Going Back to School

I fully intended to write this post last night, but I went back to school shopping with a friend and by the time I got home I was too tired.  Imagine how I'll feel in two weeks when I have to actually go back to school!  My shopping trip inspired me to write about my favorite things about going back to school.

1. Back to school clothes shopping ~ Those of you that have kids I know you go back to school shopping for your kids, but do you ever go for yourself?  My friend and I, for a few years, have been going back to school shopping for us.  We pick out a new outfit to wear on the first day of school and enjoy what summer has to offer because we return to the hustle and bustle of the school year.  Last night was no exception (except that we didn't time it well, we had a drink before and talked A LOT, and only got to one store!)

2. Back to school book shopping ~ Just when I think I own every book there is about going back to school, I find new ones.  I get so giddy when my Amazon.com package arrives and I open it with my new books!

3. Back to school classroom shopping ~ I always try to get a few new things for my classroom to liven it up and change things up a little bit.  This year I bought all the materials to make those wonderful crate seats.  I'm going shopping for material over the weekend and by Monday I will have 8 new create seats for my classroom. 

4. School Supplies ~ I love new school supplies!  A fresh box of crayons, newly sharpened pencils, undisturbed water colors, all with the possibility of creating something wonderful!

5. New possibilities ~ This year I am teaching kindergarten for the first time and I am nervous yes, but getting more and more excited.  I think as teachers it's good for us to do new things.  Getting stuck in a rut, or in our ways just means that we are NOT giving the best possible education to our students.  What's that saying, "If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow. "John Dewey 

6. The weather ~ Odd choice, but in the Pacific Northwest we have the most beautiful Septembers.  Warm and breeezy and wonderful!

7. Seeing my teaching friends ~ I keep in touch with a few of my friends over the summer, but not as many as I should.  I love going back on that first work day and seeing everybody!
8. New set of lesson plans ~ I think this goes back to the idea of new possibilities.  I love looking at the blank lesson plans and thinking of all the wonderful things I get to do this next year!

9. Seeing my former students ~ It's so fun to see how your students have grown over the summer!

10. Meeting my new class!  September 6th will be here before I know it and I cannot wait to meet my new kindergarteners!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Thanks so much to everyone for your kind and supportive words.   I really appreciate it!  I have had several e-mails asking about the resources I use for Writer's Workshop.  My favorite resource is No More I'm Done by Jennifer Jacobsen.  Right now you can go online and read it for FREE!!  Jennifer also has a website you can go to here!

When I taught first grade this was my Writer's Workshop bible:

As you get to know me you will find I'm a a very type A person (Mr. M would say A+) so whenever I dig into a new book I always read it cover to cover first.  Then I go back and reread it and pull out the pieces I want to incorporate in my classroom.  Then I make myself a study guide.  Here are the study guides I have made for these two books.  I would absolutely recommend buying the books or checking them out from the library and reading them yourselves, but these guides might help you to see if they have material you would be interested in and if they fit into your Writer's workshop.

I'm almost finished with my 30 day plans for Reader's Workshop and I hope I can count on your continued feedback and support.  This kindergarten thing is a little overwhelming for me, but very exciting.  I told my team last night that these plans are like my security blanket right now!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back to school dreams, planning & a little HELP

Now that August has arrived I've been thinking more and more about school.  It's been slowly creeping up in the back of my mind.  Last night I even had my first (of what will be many) back to school dreams.  Do you eve have these?  I do every year.  Last's night was not a terribly bad one.  On the first day of school I had over 100 messages from parents and I had to return all the calls before the bell rang.  I've had worse, usually involving children that won't listen to me or getting fired.

Now most of you may not realize that I have a type A personality. I'm very much a planner, the more planning the better (however you all know that when it comes to teaching all the planning in the world doesn't matter, kids are so surprising and wonderful) Nonetheless I am a planner.  I started making a year long plan for kindergarten (which I am teaching for the first time). 
There is a super fun website where you can make your own signs.
This is very much a rough draft, but I wanted to share it for feedback. All you wonderful, fantastic, wise kindergarten teachers, please take a look at it and let me know what you think.  I really would appreciate it. (I really liked the format that Jackie Gray used over at Here We Go Loopty Loo, she also did I year long plan that gave me great inspiration for mine!)
Kindergarten Year Long Plan Version 2.0
I also begin to plan out the first 30 days of kindergarten.  I began with writer's workshop because that where my comfort level is.  I've been teaching WW in first and second grade for over 5 years so I just took what I knew and adapted it to kindergarten, but again I would really love some feedback. Eventually I will share my Reader's workshop and phonics plans too.

For WW I would like to know if I am planning too much?  Is this a realistic expectation for 5 year olds?  Am I setting them up for writing success? What did I leave out?  What should I expand on?
Luckily I am still several weeks away from starting.  My first day with my sweet kindergarten class will be Tuesday, September 6th. Lots of time to plan, dream and worry about whether or I not I will make a great kindergarten teacher!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Top Ten Smells of Summer and the Winner of the Cold Stone giveaway

Last night when I was lighting the coals on our Weber grill to make grilled pizzas (a staple for us during the summer) I was struck by an idea for my top ten today ~ My favorite smells of summer!

This may seem an odd choice, but you have to agree with me that there are certain smells during the summertime that you can't smell during any other season.  They force you to relax and slow down and take in every moment that summer has to offer.

1. Grill - you know when your neighbors are grilling.  You can walk outside and within an instant you can smell the smokiness of the charcoal or the chicken or salmon that is getting crisp and juicy.  It's making my mouth water just talking about it!

2. Campfires - We are a camping family and one of my favorite smells is the campfire smell that settles into you clothes and hair and reminds me that I am back in nature. (and about to make some s'mores!)

3. Sunscreen - I LOVE the smell of sunscreen because it means I am about to enjoy a day in the sun (which feels rare this summer in the northwest)

4. The beach - almost every year we take a trip to the Oregon or Washington coast and I always know when we are getting close because you can smell the saltiness of the ocean and the crisp breeze.

5. Peaches - When the peaches arrive at the farmer's market they have the sweetest smell (did you notice my entries today revolve a lot around food, maybe I should have made this post after I ate breakfast)

6. Freshly mown grass - I know this also seems odd, but I really go love the smell of freshly mown grass. 

7. Tomato plants - This year I was not able to grow my garden since Mr. M & I are reworking our backyard, but I did grow some tomatoes in pots and every time I water them I love the smell of the fresh leaves and the tomatoes growing. 

8. Farmer's Market - you know my obsession with Farmer's Markets and for those of you that frequent them they have the most wonderful smell - it's freshly baked goods, and fresh produce and food vendors ( again my mouth is watering!)

9. Wind (bear with me here)  - Where I live we occasionally get this east wind that is warm with a slightly summery smell.  I can't really describe it but I do love to sit in my backyard and read a book and feel it on my face - pure summer!

10. Ice Cream - there is nothing like a trip to the ice cream store on a warm, sunny evening and the sweet smell of sticky ice cream as my two year old gets it on everything!!

Now for the winner of the Cold Stone Creamery $20 Gift Card . . . .   Congratulations to . .

True Random Number Generator21Powered by RANDOM.ORG
(If anyone knows how to capture the random screen and print it on their blog I would love some pointers)

Tanya @ First Grade is Fantabulous said "Happy birthday. I'm a follower!
☺ Tanya "

Please e-mail me with your address so I can send you your gift card - and thanks to everyone who entered.  I really enjoyed reading all your ideas for how you celebrate birthdays in your classroom!

PS - Tanya I noticed you just had a giveaway and was able to post the random generator pic on your blog - could you please tell me how you did this?  Thanks!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to school . . . already?!

I still have a few more weeks to soak up the summer sun before I return to work, but I know that many of you out there are beginning work today (or even last week).  I want to wish you a wonderful first day.

If you haven't had a chance, stop by here to enter my birthday giveaway ~ the prize?? A $20 gift card to Cold Stone Creamery!!  What could be better than treating yourself to some ice cream after your first week back to school!

I will be choosing a winner tomorrow morning!

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's My Birthday & I'll Host a Giveaway if I want to!

Today is my birthday and although I usually celebrate it quietly with my family, I thought I would also celebrate it with my followers.  My favorite thing in the world to have on my birthday is an ice cream cake (I'm lactose intolerant so it's a VERY special treat)

This is the YUMMY ice cream cake my sister got me for my birthday!!
For the winner of my giveaway I'm offering a $20 gift card to Cold Stone Creamery!!!

 It's summer, it's hot, let's celebrate!  In order to win it's very simple:
1. Post a comment letting me know you are a follower
2. Post a comment telling me how you celebrate birthdays in your classroom
3. Post the giveaway on your blog and leave me the link.

That's 3 entries per person

Now for the best part - BONUS entries!!

Mechele over at Barrow's Hodgepodge is hosting a postcard exchange for the 2011-2012 school year.  We are still in need of a few states.  If you are currently teaching in one of these states we would LOVE to have you join up with the postcard exchange.  AND it will earn you a bonus entry into my birthday ice cream giveaway.

We still need teachers from the following states:
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming
The giveaway will end Monday evening and I will choose a winner on Tuesday morning using Random Generator.  Good luck!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten is back! (and the story about how I became the accidental runner)

So I've told the story about how I became the accidental teacher and how I became the accidental mom, so I guess it's time to share about where the runner came into the picture.

For about 20 years I've considered myself a beginner runner.  I do enjoy running very much, but I've never been competitive at it.  I do it to stay healthy and to escape and get some fresh air.  I started running quite by accident.  When I was 14 my family up and moved from our cozy home in Seattle, Wa to Brussels, Belgium.  Now I've always been pretty good in school, but when my dad told me we were moving to Brussels I asked why we were going to Germany. (For those of you parents out there that have teenagers, imagine taking your said teenager and moving them from their friends and familiar setting to a brand new country where they speak Flemish!!!)  We moved in June and needless to say my summer was awful.  Awful for me, awful for my parents, awful for everyone.  Finally school started and I began to make some friends.  I settled into a extraordinary life of a teenager in Europe. I wanted to be more involved in school life and I played a little soccer, but was not ready for the varsity soccer team, so I ended up joining the cross country team.  They had space, I didn't have to try out and my best friend had also joined.  I ran for the team for 3 years and have been running off and on ever since. 

My sister & I
I've taken breaks here and there, but now I have finally gotten back into running.  I have run a few races and duathlons with my sister and friends and even was ready to run the Hood to Coast until an injury prevented me. But I'm back and ready to rock ( I signed up again to run the H2C but our team didn't make the cut) so my newest endeavour is The Warrior Dash!

Yes you actually get to leap over fire!!!
 I've been training/running more than I normally would to prepare myself.  I used to run faithfully with my ipod, but started to run without it because I was able to focus more on listening to my body. I now actually prefer to run in silence but every now and then I crank up my ipod and run with my jams. 

Here are my top ten favorite songs to run to:

1. The Man in Black by Johnny Cash

2. Drown by Smashing Pumpkins

3. The One by Foo Fighters (actually ANY song by the Foo Fighters will work)

4. Run by Gnarls Barkley

5. Cat and Mouse by Nikki and Rich

6. Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis

7. Girls and Boys in Love by The Rumble Strips

8. 22 by Lily Allen

9. Tightrope by Janelle Monae

10. Violet by Hole

So there you have it, the entire story behind the name of my blog.  Although I don't blog a whole lot about running, it is the thing that keeps me grounded and sane when the other facets of my life get a little crazy.