Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's ALL About Me!

Can you believe September is almost over?? 
Time flies when you are having fun, right?

The first few weeks have definitely been fun, BUT they have also been hectic and some days just have not been going according to my lesson plans--… surprised?
    So our All About Me unit ended up being a lot longer than planned, which is okay! =)
    After working with name puzzles and getting familiar with what our names look like, I had each munchkin do a different type of name puzzle. This time, I gave them a sheet of paper with their name on it, then gave them the letters of their name cut up into squares. Their job was to match the letters. 
    For the most part, they all did a great job with the matching! Some show a need for extra practice in letter identification; which is normal at this point in the school year!  I am just glad that they can all recognize their name b/c it makes Morning Sign In a lot easier!
    I brought a whole stack of sales papers in and one day, we made an All About Me collage. The munchkins selected a few things that they liked (ranging from toys to food). Either I cut the pictures that they chose, or they cut the pictures out and pasted them onto a sheet on construction paper. 
That particular day, I was just glad that everyone actually came to the table to make one!  That is a BIG accomplishment in my room these days! =)

    And the best part of my All About Me unit is always when I ask the children to draw a self-portrait. I put out some small mirrors and demonstrated how they can draw a picture of themselves.
      I absolutely LOVE the way they draw themselves!  Aren’t they awesome??
And check out this one! WOW... 
Yes, THAT was drawn by a 4 year old!!
    I just HAD to share these with the whole world so I posted them outside of our classroom:

   Last week, I sent home my first Family Project. Instead of doing a Family Tree, which EVERYONE does, I decided to put a different twist to it and asked my children and their families to create their “HOME”. The directions were to decorate the House template we provided with family photos and/or any kind of collage materials that they wished to use! Creativity was greatly encouraged!
    I really love to see the end results of family projects like these! I can’t wait until the Family Homes start coming in later this week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Clifford !

Happy Birthday Clifford!
    So how many of you have heard that today is Cliffords Birthday?
     I was excited about it all last week....This weekend my little munchkin and I had a little fun in honor of the Big Red Dog.
    We made a cute little Clifford craft, with a red solo cup, some red craft foam and googly eyes.It didnt turn out as cute as I had imagined... but it was cute nonetheless!
.      Then we painted some bones just for him, using a bone shaped play doh cutter as a stamper.

      We read a few of her Clifford books and I tried to have her point out all the times we saw the name Clifford in the books
      I had a few other ideas in mind for celebrating Cliffords Big Day... but with her and I both being sick this weekend, this was all we were able to get done!  

Happy Birthday Clifford! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Magnets & Velcro... My new BFFs!

   I bet you are wondering what happened to all the learning fun that I was doing with my little munchkin, huh? Well, obviously now that school has started and she is back in daycare/preschool during the week, our Learning Fun time is back to weekend learning fun! =)
   She is learning so much in her little daycare/preschool! 
    I use the two words interchangeably because I can see that it isn’t “just daycare”… she is learning a lot and having lots of fun!  Two thumbs up!!  =)
   Even though I am all over the place with the start of the new school year, I have TONS of learning fun in mind for my little one!
   We had done a few more shape activities before all the Back To School madness started.
To give her some On-The-Go Learning, I made this little Shape Match game/ busy book with shapes and Velcro dots!
    We also used craft buttons to sort by shape, BUT before we even did an activity, I changed gears and I used a glue gun to make them into magnetic buttons for play , by gluing on magnet dots that I found at Walmart awhile back. (These are just like the ones I made for my classroom science center.) 
    She then used the magnetic buttons to count and sort buttons by their shape!
    Last weekend, as I browsed through my teacher bins in the garage, I started to brainstorm new, fun activities for my little munchkin, and I couldn’t wait to get started this past weekend!
   In her preschool, she is learning about the first letter in her name and that just happens to be exactly the kinds of activities that I have in mind for her at this point in time!
   I took the same idea from the Shape Match game/book and made her a "Letters in my Name" Velcro activity.
   I took the name activity that I had done last week with my preschool munchkins and had her do the same kind of activity. And she surprised me at how fast she finished it! =)
    I had also found these foam letter squares at Dollar Tree. 
I slapped some magnetic strips on the back and made a quick magnet game for her that she used on a cookie sheet after pasting the letters of her name in order! 
    Can you sense my obsession with magnets & velcro yet??
**Do you have any fun magnet and/or velcro activities 
that you want to share??**

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"What's My Name?"

    Alright, it is time for me to get focused and get this school year off to a great start!
     I have been so focused on the Chicago Teacher strike and have spent my evenings keeping updated on all of it via Facebook, and text message/calls to my teacher friends in Chicago. 
    As of today, things are looking okay. Progress has been made, there is a framework for a FAIR contract, and the teachers of Chicago have found Solidarity with teachers (especially inner city teachers) all over the nation.... Very inspiring! =)
    Well, seeing as I am no longer a Chicago teacher, I am not on strike, and it has been work, work, work for me!!
    Week #2 had its challenging days (and when I say days,  I mean challenging ALL DAY!.) But it wasnt all bad and I think for the most part my little munchkins are getting familiar with our daily routine! =)
    Anyhow, here are some additional pictures of my classroom. 
    I have now introduced most of my centers, with the exception of the Writing Center (it is still under construction) and all centers are available for Free Choice Time!  Yay!!
    House Keeping/Kitchen:        
    Math & Science Center:
    The feature activity was Magnet Play. I took some random magnets and then used a glue gun to glue magnet dots onto buttons and pom poms.
    I really enjoyed watching their faces as they explored the magnets Some children even discovered that the magnets stuck on the legs of the table and on the file cabinet!
    Art Center:
    Every 3 days in the past 2 weeks, we have switched activities in the center and showed the children how to use the tools (such as glue , paper, play-doh) and how to properly clean up the art center. The activities were the usual favorites: Play-Doh and Collages.
    Listening Center:
    This is the one center that I need to spruce up! Thanks to my renewed teacher account with Scholastic Book Clubs, I hope to build up my Listening Center library this year!
    So there is my classroom!  I will try to get a large snapshot of the whole room. Oh, and the ONE center I forgot to take pictures of is our Sand/Water Center!!

   Anyhow, aside from learning the rules of the classroom and getting accustomed to our Daily Routine, our focus has been name recognition.
    Here is our Morning Attendance Check In Chart:
     I had each child decorate their own name tag with all sorts of stickers, in hopes that it might help them to recognize it more quickly. And for the most part, they have been doing a pretty good job during Morning Check In.
    I also made some simple name puzzles with their pictures and as they completed the puzzle, I asked them to attempt to write their name on another sentence strip.
(For the ones who had no clue, I wrote their name in pencil and demonstrated how to trace over the letters with a marker.) This activity enabled me to observe how each child utilized writing tools and allowed me to see which children are going to need some additional fine motor practice.
   With just observing the munchkins in centers everyday I have gained a good sense of where they are in their development, in each area.
   It's a good start!! =)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dirt...Strikes...and Classroom Pics...

    Well, so I failed in trying to get classroom pics over the weekend and with good reason!!!  I was busy getting DIRTY at the Dirty Girl Mud Run held in Western New York this past Sunday morning with a few of my friends… and that wiped me out for the rest of the day…all the way into Monday!
     Anyhow, in other former employer, Chicago Public Schools/ Chicago Teachers Union is on strike... for the first time in 25 years…and I think I have been feeling a little homesick lately. My husband says I should be glad I am not there… but I WISH I was there… fighting for what teachers want and what teachers and students DESERVE. THAT is an IMPORTANT fight to be fighting!!
    I stand by my teacher friends in Chicago 100000%.  It is not all about the money, it is about what it has always been about… RESPECT for Teachers and RESPECT for Education.
    I can rant on and on about this but I will probably lose all of you.  Just wanted to note that my heart is in Chicago, it is where my teaching career began and if it wasn’t for the experiences of working with inner city children and families in Chicago, I would not be the teacher that I am today! Stay Strong Chicago Teachers! =)

   So back to my teaching life here in Buffalo… one reason why it has been so hard to get classroom pics up is because, even in week #2, I am still changing something in one way or another! I am still working on my classroom arrangement so that it suites the needs of my preschoolers. And it seems like those needs change constantly and the room has to be adjusted everyday!
   So… here is what it looks like today! (It will probably change 3 more times before the month of September is over!) 
   And actually these pics are only one half of the room b/c at the beginning of the year, I slowly ease the children into centers, so that I can teach them how to play and clean up in each area. The pics of are the only centers/ areas that were "open for business" LAST week.
Circle Time / Rug Area

Puzzles & Blocks

    This week, I have introduced and "opened" the Art Center, Listening Center, Housekeeping Center and Sand & Water Center. 
    More pics later... I am exhausted with all this Strike Business (and I don't even teach in Chicago anymore!)....time to sit down and watch the 1st of my Fall Shows Lineup: The New Normal... =)