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Friday, January 13, 2012

Beware of the Yellow Snow...men

Here is another Winter thing that we had at school this week.  I got this idea from...can you guess?  Yes, Pinterest it was.  I thought these little magnet snowmen were such a good idea that I would try to make some myself.

Of course, I must admit that I didn't actually read the original instructions on how to make these cute little guys.  I just saw them and said, "Hey, I've got this."  And I kind of did, but in hindsight their way of doing it was much better than mine.

My way was to use a paper punch to cut out circles from white cardstock.  Then I drew the little snowmen faces on the white circles.  I then used glue to adhere clear flattened marbles to the snowman face.

Their way was to paint the snowmen faces onto the back side of the magnets.

Reason their way was better: Their snowmen faces were nice and crisp.  Mine - not so much, because I at first used a water-based marker to draw the carrot noses (because I did not have an orange Sharpie).  Unfortunately, regular marker + glue = complete carrot smudge.  Once I figured this out, I drew the noses with colored pencil, which still didn't get a very vivid result.

Then there were the flattened marbles.

Their way was to use smaller marbles.  Very cute and concise.

My way was to use the larger size of marbles.  Actually, they really are a nice size for the Little People.  They just feel more - substantial than the smaller ones.

Unfortunately, I decided to go cheap and get my marbles from the local dollar store.  I knew when I bought them that they weren't very clear, but unfortunately, once they were glued on and dry they were worse than clear:  they were yellow.

So sadly, my cute little snowmen magnets were now Yellow Snow Magnets, and we all know what Yellow Snow means.  They weren't even evenly yellow.  They all kind of have yellow streaks running through them, which make them look like they were - well, streaked with yellow.

However, perhaps the Little People do not know about the Yellow Snow, because most of them have never seen snow of any kind.  As a result, they played and played with them  today.

So remember, follow instructions on new projects, don't eat the yellow snow...and don't make snowmen out of them, either.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Snowmen Windsocks

Another fun Winter activity that we did this week was our Snowmen Windsocks.  This is another one of those activities that is definitely on the “crafty” side of things, but I still like it for the sheer value of how they look when they’re all hanging from the ceiling.  Plus, it turns into a nice conversation about mouths, noses, eyes (and carrots) for those English Language Learners.

The main part of the activity that the kids get to do is draw their snowman faces.  Last year’s class had a lot more trouble drawing the faces where they needed to be on the paper, so this year we tried a trick to help them find the right place.  We gave them a 9 x 12 piece of white construction paper for the body.  Then we covered up the sides of the paper with two scrap pages of paper (not white), so they could only see the middle third of the piece of paper.  Then we had them draw the snowman face only in that exposed area.  This really helped them hone in on where to put everything .  I think they did a super job on them – only one drew a round head and then filled in the face parts, and we had a lot more of that last year.  Then they turned their white papers over and used a glue stick to glue on six or seven strips of colored paper. (Mine were 1" wide and 15" long.)

Later that night (during Teacher TV Time, which is my usual time to work on my teacher jobs) I glued on the hats.  The hats are black construction paper cut to 3"x12".  You cut into the rectangles as shown - cut on the solid lines, and fold on the dotted line.
Then you glue the hat on the top of the head, being careful not to glue the flap down.
Snowman not drawn to scale :)
After you do this, you can "roll' them up into a tube and then glue them this way.  If the flaps are folded, they will stick out like so:

Then you can punch holes on either side of their little snowmen heads and tie yarn to it for hanging.

Here they all are, ready for transport to school...all set to blow in the breeze of our classroom.

Well, Winter Fun continues on at school this week.  We’ve done several different Winter activities as the sun shines every day and the temperatures waft up around the mid-sixties.  However, we’re determined to Keep Calm and Winter on, and so we do just that.

One of our activities was to make these name snowmen that I had seen on Pinterest.

Obviously, the idea is for the Little People to write one letter on each “snowball” and then stack them up to make their complete name as a complete Snow Person.   Of course, for people who are just learning to write their names, this can be a daunting task to assign each of these still-foreign letters to any paper, much less one-per-snowball.  However, we managed to make it work just fine.

What we did is to prepare a short sentence strip for each child with small post-it notes on it – one for each letter of their name.  So, for example, Suzie would have a sentence strip with five blank post-it notes lined up on it.  Then, when we sat down with the child, we would write the letters of their name on the post-it notes, talking about what each of their letters were, and how many there were in the name, etc.  After we did that, we attached each post it with its now-written letter to the edge of a paper snowball, so they could copy each letter one at a time.   With very few exceptions, they were all able to copy their letters well, one at a time in the order that they went in.

Later I glued the snowballs together, and then the next day they made their faces and chose their crepe paper scarves.

One of my favorite parts of the activities was when the kids later wandered over to the art table where we had put out different sizes of white circles and started making their own name snowmen:

 Here they are, all lined up on our bulletin board like a little snowman picket fence.

Fun, seasonal, and with a purposeful - an all around good project.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sensory Bins

Here is our "Giving and Sharing" sensory bin this week, as the Little People got one last "hurrah" with it before I switched it out for a more winter-themed set.  They really loved this set of holiday objects.  They looked at them, talked about them, and sorted them out into groups.

Of course, there are some downfalls to this type of open-ended exploration.  See the white cubes below marked by the red ovals?  These used to be cute little wrapped presents, wrapped in the shiny paper marked with the red arrow.  It appears that someone thought that there was something good in those little packages.

Of course, on the other hand, look how nicely the kids sorted them out, even in their unwrapped status:  Styrofoam blocks in one group, cast-off wrapping paper in another.

Yep - that's when you know that you're putting out stuff  that's good for them - when they even keep learning in a state of  post-wrapping disappointment.  :)

Back to School

Well, the long winter holiday is sadly over, and we're all back to school again.  This week we're talking about winter at school, which is kind of funny, because (at least in my opinion) it's not very winter-y outside.  Sunny, highs in the 60s, cool at night - quite nice, actually.  But not very winter-y.

However, we forge ahead with our Winter Theme.  It's also Letter S week, so we're talking a lot about snowmen and snowflakes.  I put out a basket of circles and black hats on the art table, and the Little People started making the most wonderful snowmen.  I wish I had taken a picture of some of the other ones, but here's a great representation.  I call them Happy Snowman and Wee-Bit-Tired Snowman:

 Today I'm taking up some of these cute tags to use for our winter songs:

I found them at the Dollar Tree.  They're made from thick card stock and are actually very glittery.  I put magnets on the back of them to make them more functional.

I had struggled a while back trying to figure out the best way to use tags like this.  I wanted to use them at large or small group time while singing songs like "Five Little Monkeys" or in this case "Five Little Snowmen".  My goal was for the kids to be able to participate and add/take away an item at a time.  However, I didn't want to take the time for each child to come up to the front and put/remove one from a pocket chart.  I knew magnets would work, but the same problem existed with a magnet board - it would take too much time for the all 23 kids to approach it and then sit down.  Plus it can be kind of hard to take things like this off of a flat magnet surface - the items easily slip and fall during the process (which kind of interrupts the counting/singing flow).  A metal ruler would have worked, but then again, metal rulers can  have sharp edges.

So I wandered around the Dollar Tree for awhile until I found this - a metal wreath hanger for a door.  I simply bent back the end of the hanger that would hold the wreath like so:

This gave me a non-sharp metal object to hold onto with the magnets on it.  Then as we sing our song I hold it right in front of the kids so they can easily reach out and add/remove the magnets to go with the song.  After our group time I just put the metal bar/magnets in a basket and put it in our Library center for the kids to work with it on their own.

Fun, functional, and cheap - what more can you want?

Gingerbread Houses

This week was Gingerbread People week with the Little People, and that turned out to be lots of fun.  We didn't do gingerbread people last year as a theme, but I found lots of fun ideas on Pinterest and other places.

We culminated the week with making the houses gingerbread, which of course were not really made of gingerbread, but rather from graham crackers.  (We did, however taste gingerbread cookies and graph whether we actually liked the taste of gingerbread.  Surprisingly, most of them did.)

I was going to go with the traditional "frostingglue graham crackers on milk cartons", but I was not excited about the whole idea of collecting the milk cartons and then cleaning them before using, etc.  (The only mental picture I could summon when thinking about it was a bunch of used milk cartons and several bottles of bleach, which wasn't a really good combination to me at all.) Fortunately, I saw a great idea a friend at church had for making gingerbread houses in a much easier way and decided to try that.

You still use graham crackers of course, but you don't actually build any kind of cube with them.  Instead, you cut the tops of the crackers at an angle, as shown below.  You just do this with a regular sharp knife.  (According to my friend, you really need to use "real" graham crackers, meaning Honey Maid and not the generic ones.  This is because the generic ones are too crumbly and just - well, crumble when you cut them.)

I used a cracker that she had cut as a pattern, and then cut mine.

 I was cutting enough pieces to make 25 houses, and since 25 X 5 = 125, it was a lot of cutting.  I started out cutting one or two crackers at a time, but of course, it wasn't long into the process before I decided to start layering them up and cutting a bunch at once.  Because why cut two at time when you can cut eight at a time?

However, when I did this they didn't cut straight and got all cattywampus on me, and of course that will never do.  (Although, in truth, if I were going to assemble them myself I would have just cut on them some more to make them work.  Of course, all of this recutting might have made the house about two inches tall, but we would assign those houses to those height-challenged gingerbread people in the world.  However, since I was handing them off to a helpful parent to be assembled, I felt that they needed to be straight and well-cut.)

To actually make the houses, you take five cut pieces and frostingglue them together, as such:

Then you take two rectangular graham cracker pieces and frostingglue them on like this.
I was thinking about peanutbuttergluing this model together for clarity, but then thought - nah.  (Although that would have killed two birds with one stone, because I did end up eating peanut butter and graham crackers for lunch that day.)

I did use the royal icing recipe with the meringue powder in it, because my friend said that was the only way to go - that regular icing just wouldn't do.

Of course, when I finally got done with this long cutting process, I of course had a bunch of cut-off corners and rejected cattywampus pieces left over.  And a whole lot of crumbs everywhere, which can be good or bad, considering your perspective.  Bad if you're in charge of cleaning.  Good if you're a dog.

However, despite the lengthy process (and I didn't even have to frostingglue them together), they turned out to be very hardy little houses for the kids to decorate.  And they had a great time.

Here are some of their completed houses:

The "heavy on the roof and moderate on the front" design:

The "heavy on the roof and heavy on the front" design:

The "heavy on the roof and stockpile the ground for later" model:

All in all, it was a great project for the Little People, and hopefully we can do it again next year.

The Turkey Hats

This week we made turkey hats to wear Friday for our Harvest Party/A - Z Potluck.  Now, I have to admit that this is true craft project, and not my favorite type of art project for the Little People.  Usually I try to stick to the projects where they can create anything they want.  However, these turkey hats are very cute, and the parents love them.  So, I just put them in the "Following Directions" art category while the kids make the faces, and then end up putting together most of the project at home.

I did, however let them choose any color of pom poms they wanted for eyes, and while the parents might wonder at this, I think they turned out wonderfully.

Some of the kids went for brown or white pom pom eyes.  (I added the Sharpie pupils later.)

However, some kids branched out a little bit.  We had "alarmed" orange eyes:

"Stressed out/Been Dipping into the Eggnog" Pink Eyes:

"Have Pink Eye Must Stay Home" Pink and White Eyes:

And mismatched "Turkey Lurkey" eyes:

Ahh, so cute, so parent-pleasing, and yes, still a little bit creative.

The Lesser of the Two Evils

Yesterday was a "Choose the Lesser of the Two Evils" day, playground-wise.  Despite having three Little People out sick, our class was still bursting with energy, and when I received the news that the playground was really muddy, it was a true quandary for me.   On one hand, we could have skipped the playground altogether and gone inside and had extra center time or perhaps even watch a video.  However, my experience with this is that it never turns out as good as you might hope it would.  First of all, even on the coldest, rainiest days the kids rarely ever snuggle up and sit quietly to watch even the most entertaining movie.  They talk.  And move around.  And comment about every scene.  And argue.  ("I'm Buzz Lightyear!"  "No, I'm Buzz Lightyear!")  And on and on.  And if you go straight to extra center time, it's always way too long, and all that unspent energy manifests itself in a veritable plethora of frightening and hard-to-handle ways.

So, you could see why I was against that option.  However, the second option was to sanction some of the playground as "okay" playing space, and sanction some of it as not. (I'm not sure that's the correct use of the word "sanction", but you get the idea.)  Of course, that idea was a little shaky to being with,  because if there are two things that just don't mix, it's four-year olds and invisible boundaries.

Of course, anyone that knows me know that I chose the "Limited Playground" option.  I just couldn't stand the thought of all that wildness inside, so we went for option #2.  Much to the dismay of my coworkers, I'm afraid.  They in general seem to be colder than I am most of the time and seem to romanticize appreciate the "watch a movie" scenario much more than I do.

So, as a result,  we played outside.  I did try to create some visual boundaries by lining the grass area with cones, as well as by stringing some crepe paper banners around the forbidden area.  Some of the Little People did quite well with these boundaries.  Some were completely oblivious and wandered out into the mud - multiple times.  Wood Chip thrower drove his bike into the mud at least twice, and then wondered aloud in an amazed fashion as I pushed him back to the concrete, "I got all muddy!"  And some of the others just embraced the possibilities of it all, running and breaking through the crepe paper as if they were the winner of the Little People Mud Marathon.

But we got through it.  And we had a rather peaceful rest of the day.    Which was worth a little playground chaos in my book, hands down.

His Bags Were Packed and He Was Ready to Go

Source: google.com via Emily on Pinterest

Oh, the things these Little People say.  Today I heard such interesting things during our Small Group time.  I read a book about Thanksgiving, and we talked about what it means to be thankful for something.  I then asked them what they were thankful for.

Actually, I was surprised at their quick answers.  One said right away they were thankful for their family.  Another said they were thankful for their toys and stuff.  One said they were thankful for their two cousins.  "Oh," I said.  "I thought you just lived with one cousin."  "Well, Dan and Rex," he answered.  Dan is in fifth grade.  Rex is a dog.  He's two." Oh, well, okay then.

But the funniest to me was the little girl who said that she was thankful for her cat.  "I had a fish," she explained solemnly.  She then shook her head in a flabbergasted kind of way.  "But it ran away from home, just like the other one."

Oh, ran away from home, did it?  I had no idea these fish were so clever.

Then again, at least it didn't pop.

F is for Fish

This week was Letter F week.  That means that we talked and talked about the Letter F.  We had Letter F Show and Tell.  We talked about things that start with F.  Our theme this week was Food, so we talked about that, too.  We made Fingerprint Fishes and we Fingerpainted on Foil.  All and all, it was great Fun.

We did have several out this week from sickness.  In fact, my entire class could have been poster children for the health department and symptoms of the common cold, as every one of them was either stuffed up, sniffling, or coughing greatly.  No fevers, though, so that just meant that most everyone came to school and sniffled and coughed - everywhere.

On Thursday we had only sixteen, which gave us more of a chance to talk to everyone and hear their interesting stories.  Like the one from my little Wood Chip Thrower.

Of course the story came as I was talking about the letter F and what starts with F, and one of these was fish.

"I had a fish," he said.  "But it died."

"Oh," I said.  "That happens sometimes."

"Yes," he continued.  "It died - and then it popped."  He paused solemnly.  "My mom said I fed it too much food."

"Yes," I said, trying hard to keep a straight face.  "That happens sometimes."

So there you have it:  Fish die.  And then they pop - sometimes.

And So the Worm Fun Continues

Source: marthastewart.com via Claudia on Pinterest

And so the Worm Fun continues.  We have discovered worm after worm on our playground these past few days, an accomplishment that thrills our worm lovers to no end.  Of course, I am beginning to suspect that the multitude of worms is coming not from rain, but instead from the moisture that is coming from the sprinklers that apparently have been running every single night in an attempt to grow in a large bare patch on the playground.  As far as I can see, no grass is coming from this moisture - just lots and lots (and lots) of mud.  And in my opinion, a large bare patch on the playground is much less evil than mud everywhere.

Anyway.  Every day one of us sits with the kids and digs for worms.  Well, one of two of us dig for worms.  One of my coworkers has so far shown no interest at all in digging for worms.  And that's okay.  She's more into Duck, Duck, Goose, and other those organized games that I have no interest in leading.  And that seems to work out just fine.

In the face of so many worms, we have had to instill some Worm Care Rules.  In fact, we've had to extend our rules beyond "We do not clutch the worms tightly in our hot little hands" and "We do not put the worms in our lunchboxes".   Now we have the "We just let the worms wiggle as they please around in our hands or in our cups - we do not pick them up with our fingers and stretch them out to see how big they can get."   Along with this we have the "We do not deafen the worms by yelling at them"  rule. Yes, I have one little girl who seems to have a fascination/repulsion relationship with the little guys.  She will hold them, but mainly she likes to put them in her little plastic teacup (a sand toy) and watch them.  And when they do something she doesn't like, she yells at them.  She'll lean over so her mouth is right by the top of the cup and yell at the top of her voice:  "HEY!  WORMS!  HEY, CUT THAT OUT!"  And then she'll lean back and look in sweetly to see if they have cooperated.  But alas, they have not.  Because if those worms had ears to begin with, they are now completely hearing impaired.

Fortunately, these Worm Care Rules have cut down on any overt worm abuse and hopefully will keep the SPCW off of our backs.  Which is a good thing, because I imagine that our Worm Fun is going to stretch (no pun intended) far into the days ahead.

W Week, As Well

I mentioned in one of my last few posts that last week was "F" week, and that we did lots of fun "F" things.  However, by default it was also kind of "W" week, as in W for Worms.

One of the Little Peoples' favorite things to do on the playground lately is to dig for worms in the wood chips.  They get their heavy-duty shovels and hoes out and dig great big holes looking for the little creatures.  Unfortunately, given that we get very little rain here for around nine months of the year, the worms can be few and far between.  However, now that we've officially entered the "Rainy Season", we have found a lot more of them.

In fact, one day last week was such a plentiful worm day that all the hunters had at least seven or eight apiece.  (Not all of the Little People hunt for worms, of course.  Some just turn their nose up in disdain, and some act like they really would hunt worms if they could, but they just can't.  "I'm allergic to worms," one girl told everyone last week.)

One of our biggest Worm Hunters clutched his catch in his hand for quite awhile on Thursday until we asked him to show us and discovered that he was tightly squeezing a whole tangle of them.  We then encouraged him to put them in one of our plastic bowls for safekeeping.  Of course, then we had to watch carefully at the end of playground time to make sure that he actually put them back in the dirt - although bless those little worms' hearts, I would imagine they're still in that bunched up ball shape even now.  (We learned from his mother that two days last week she found dead worms in his lunch bag.  He, of course, insisted that the teachers said it was okay for him to take them home - hopefully she realized that that was not the case.)

So, it was F week and then again it was W week.  Considering the rain we had over the weekend, it will probably be W week again this week, too.

As long as we can keep them unsquished and out of lunchboxes, I think that will be just fine.

But What About the Cupcakes?

Source: flickr.com via Megan on Pinterest

Well, the first week of new preschoolers went pretty well.  I went into it a little doubtful, thinking as a second-time mom does:  How could I love this new batch of preschoolers as much as the last?  But here on Day 5 I am seeing how this might just turn out to be a good class, too.

The week started off with a bang, with the usual general chaos,  very protective parents, and random crying.  I fortunately went into the experience armed with the knowledge that  I gleaned from my  notes about last year's class.  I just kept reminding myself that "They know nothing", and "It's just going to be crazy at the beginning."  And both us those things went right along with my expectations.

It was nice that we had three birthdays to celebrate at the beginning of the year.  We celebrated one on Monday and two on Tuesday.  It was a fun and festive way to start the year, but I knew that it just might mess with how the kids were going to view preschool.  Sure enough, we got to the end of day yesterday and when I announced that it was time to go home, I had at least one very confused and disappointed preschooler on my hands.  "But we didn't have cupcakes yet," she complained.

Ah, yes.  Cupcakes every day would be nice, but sadly, that's not how preschool really is.  And perhaps that's why they were a little more rowdy today - they were mutinous after realizing that this preschool business was not all it had been made out to be.

But I'll bring them around.  Sooner or later.

The Classroom Tree

The tree is back up in my classroom, with a new and improved look.  I had to pull last year's tree down at the end of the year, but enjoyed it in the room so much that I wanted to put up another one this year.  Fortunately, I learned several things last year that I wanted to improve on,  which helped me improve on the tree design a bit. 

One thing I learned last year was the need to secure the tree "hole" better so that it didn't dip down into the trunk.  The hole is made from a flower pot secured to a big piece of folded cardboard.  Here's how it looks on the underneath all that paper:

This year I tied a piece of string on the back/bottom of the flower pot and secured it to the "roof" of cardboard above.  This hopefully will keep it from falling down in the trunk).

My friend Gay was unable to help me tree-build, but Jacob came along to help.  And the teacher from the morning class was there that day, as well.  The only problem was that I really didn't know how to tell them to help until I fumbled through the process by  myself.  And by the time I figured out how to do each part, each part was already done. 

You can find ‘Making a Classroom Tree” here  and here, and “Decorating a Classroom Tree” here and here.

I admit that I did despair a little bit during the building process, for a long moment losing hope that I had any tree-making ability in my at all.  I believe that was the stage where I was trying to hold up three or four random tree branches over my head that were splayed out like unconscious octopus legs while trying to attach them to the wall.  But then I pulled it together.  Whew.

I did do something different for the leaves this year.  Last year I just made leaves out of butcher paper, and then we added hand print leaves and other things as the year went on, as you can see here:

This year I bought some shiny, sparkly fabric and decided to make fabric leaves:

My original thought was that I would use the die cut machine at the Teacher Center to cut them all out, but this proved to by way too time-consuming, since you could only cut out two leaves at a time without the die cut machine making strange cracking sounds.  (And believe me, that ladies that work there frown on that.)

So instead I brought them home and cut leaf shapes out with scissors, since I could layer them and cut them  seven or eight at a time.  I then decided they needed a little shaping, so I ran each leaf through my sewing machine to put a little tuck in the top of each one.  After that, I layered the leaves into groups of three and ran them through the machine again without cutting the thread, resulting in long chains of leaves.  (Yes, I know.  I am a glutton for huge, time consuming tasks like this.)  Then I could attach them to the tree in long pieces, giving the tree more leaf coverage:

Finally, I added some animals to the tree.  Right now I have a raccoon, a couple of birds, and this monkey.

So that is Phase One of the tree this year.  Phase Two will be to add apples, and then we'll move on to Fall Leaves (Phase Three).  You might have noticed that I bought fabric for fall-colored leaves as well, but I will need some more time before I have the energy to even consider taking on that sewing task again.   

The good news in that category is that leaves here don't even begin to change until around November, so there's plenty of time to rest up for Phase Three...and beyond.

The Counting

Well, Week Two of the Little People went pretty well, all things considered.  Basically they just rode that ride that I like to call the "Little People Adjustment Rollercoaster", where one day things went pretty smoothly, and the next day I was asking myself, "What is WRONG with these children?"  And then the next day would be a little better.  

I did start Counting last week.  You know Counting - where you give them to three to shape up, or else unfortunate (and yet appropriate) consequences  happen to them.    This particular method is based on a book called "1-2-3 Magic" that is very effective.  I think the large part of this effectiveness stems from the fact that when you look straight at a child and say, "That's one," you are no longer pleading, cajoling or waffling while trying to convince them into a better way of acting.  It's clear cut.  Plus you use that Serious Teacher Voice and stern look, which can prove to be quite shocking to them.

In fact, the first time I did this in front of the group last week, it was because Little Johnny kept turning around on the carpet and making faces at Little Sammy to make him laugh hysterically.  I had already explained to Johnny why we didn't do this on the carpet and I had reinforced my expectations several times.  Finally I was fed up, and I gave them the Stern Look and used the Stern Voice to say, "Johnny, that's one.  If I get to three, you will take a time out at the back table."  Immediately, silence fell over the whole group and a little voice from the front said, "I want to go home now."  You would think that I had hissed the words or something.  

However, Johnny didn't turn around anymore, and every since has been keeping an eye on me cautiously, as if a second head would sprout on my shoulders that permanently held the Stern Look and Voice.

Of course, Counting does have its challengers.  Like the child who catches on really quick to the system and just starts counting for me.  When I say, "Little Ricky, you need to keep your hands to yourself and not swing them around in your neighbors face," he says cheerfully.  "Okay.  That's one." And then in then cafeteria when I say, "Ricky, your lunch box stays on the table," he says, "Oh, okay - now that's one," as if he's starting the count over for me.   Why thank you, Ricky.  I needed a little counting help there.

So far I haven't counted higher than one.  But then again, this was only Week Two.

It Might Be a Roller Coaster...Or it Might Be a Train Wreck

Well, remember when I talked about the "Little People Adjustment Rollercoaster"?  Well, this  is how the roller coaster looked today.  More, in fact, like a train wreck. 

Source: royarden.com via Gemma on Pinterest

Actually, the first part of the day wasn't too bad (except for the fact that they would not stop talking to me for a second ("Teacher, teacher, teacher...").  But then just after Outside Time it took a quick dive downhill.  Of course, "After Outside Time" is the time when they're required to actually sit on the carpet and listen and - most of all - stop talking.  ("Teacher, teacher, teacher...") 
It was in fact a steep and sudden downward turn, and the Little People just loved it.  They threw their little hands in the air and screamed in delight as the Roller Coaster cars plummeted downward.  Their hair stuck straight up from their heads and their eyes rolled back in an ecstatic frenzy as it went faster and faster and grew more out of control.  The foamed at the mouth as they realized the strength and potential of their Little People Mutiny.  They held hands with their little Roller Coast Car Neighbors, cajoling even the calmer and more on-track students down into the abyss with them.  And all the way down they chanted in their high-pitched voices: 
("Teacher, teacher, teacher...") 
Oh, it was chaos.  And a very good reminder of why I don't like roller coasters.
The good news is that no one was harmed in the Roller Coaster Plummet.  Even the child who sat and on the carpet and angrily threw wood chips at me was not harmed. 
They all went on their merry way after school, wiping the foam and drool from their cheeks as they went.  And hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Oh, No! Poor Joe.

This is a book about Joe.  It's a book I use during this part of the year to help teach body parts - at least those body parts above the shoulders.  I read the text and the kids fill in the missing body part.  They in general really love it - once they get it.

For example, the first time I read the book this year I started with this page.  I said, "Oh no, poor Joe!  He has no________".  And immediately a voice piped up "moustache!".

Well yes, yes this is true.  He also has no mouth, which I would think would be the greatest of his problems, but I suppose you can never overlook the importance of a moustache.

Enough Said Here

Source: joann.com via Julie on Pinterest

Picture Day

Source: weheartit.com via Kelly on Pinterest

I had to go back through the blog posts from last year to see if I wrote anything about Picture Day.  And I did not, except to describe how one Little Person was going to pose like a boxer for his picture.   In hindsight, it is quite amazing to me that Picture Day escaped with so little comment, because the truth is that Picture Day is crazy.  I mean almost out-of-control chaos.  It's a wonder that any preschoolers anywhere survive it. Or Preschool Teachers, for that matter.

To give you a better understanding of this traumatic event, let me just tell you all of the elements that must go together to make Picture Day.  First, you have the Picture Day setting:  Lunchtime.   Not only is lunchtime a noisy and distraction-filled time on any given day,  the combination of a noisy room, any kind of food and 21 dressed up, curled up and/or slicked down Little People is generally not a good one. 

Then you mix in the fact that everyone in the school is getting their picture taken, so despite your best wishes, the Little People must actually start eating their lunches before it is their turn.  (See point above.) We can only be thankful that there was no chili or ketchup on the menu that day.

Then you add in the fact that  the actual pictures are taken on the stage of the cafeteria.    The stage with a four-foot drop off that naturally serves as a magnet for any three or four year old.  Plus a live microphone, which my aide wrenched out of Little Johnny's hand just in time before he gave his own personal broadcast to all of the upper elementary grades.

In addition to the elements already mentioned, you also have  one grouchy Picture man in a very deceptively happy-looking Hawaiian shirt.  I'm not sure if he just didn't like preschoolers or was just feeling resentful to allchildren needing their pictures taken.  (Which would be sadly ironic, since that was obviously his job.)    Either way, he wasn't very friendly, nor was he the least bit accommodating to our Little People.   In fact, even though he had his own photography station that he had been using before we got up there, he didn't even take pictures while my kids were up on the stage.  This left them to wait through just two photographers.  Then he came to me and said I would need to line all my remaining kids up behind just one of the photographers so the bigger kids could come to the other two cameras.  I furrowed my brow at him and asked as sweetly as I could, "Or perhaps could they just stay with the two photographers they're at now so they can get done quicker -- because they're  four."  He said huffily, "I know they're four," but he didn't make me move them.  And obviously he didn't really know that  which he said he knew, because anyone who really knows that knows that you don't try to line up a class of preschoolers on a stage with a four foot drop just feet away from them.   In fact, the words "line up" and "wait" don't even go together in Four Year Old world.  I definitely don't think he knew that.

Finally, the final part of this is that fact that the three teachers also have to get their pictures taken.  We just took turns after we finally got everyone back to their seat (where they were too distracted to eat any more and were largely just either yelling as loudly as they could or were flinging their lunch boxes around wildly at their neighbors).  I tried to wipe the sheen of sweat and Picture Day stress off of my face before they took my picture, but I'm not sure it worked.

I think I just looked Harried.  Which I suppose captured the entire experience perfectly.

Fro Pinterest to Real Life

**A note to readers - I have no idea why this post is looking so blockish and cattywampus.  I just know that when I copied some of the texts from my personal blog to this teaching blog, something weird happened in between.  Sorry.

Well, my Pinterest boards and pins are growing and growing.  Lately I've been finding lots of ideas for school, and have been organizing them into categories:  Art Ideas, Alphabet Ideas, etc.  

Apparently I'm not alone in my Pinterest obsession.  Lots of people like to Pin, and once I even saw a blog offering up a challenge for people to show what they actually made from all these ideas they were gleaning (which to me insinuates that lots of people Pin ideas that they never actually get to).

I didn't send in any projects for that challenge, but I have made several things from the ideas I've found. 

Here are some in my classroom:

A height chart:
Pinterest Version
My version.  I used this wonderful colored masking tape to mark the height lines, and it turned out really colorful. 

A balloon wreath:

Pinterest Version
My version.   I made different "Happy Birthday" tags and we put it out whenever someone has a birthday.  Unfortunately, the kids love to pull the balloons out, and I caught someone actually trying to blow one up one day (while it was still attached to the wreath).  They were - unsuccessful.

This project wasn't actually a Pinterest one, but I thought it turned out really cute regardless.  The kids did a pretty good job picking out a color that was close to their skin color.

So, all in all, a good gleaning from my Pinterest boards...plus some other inspiration, as well.