Monday, January 31, 2011

All About Bears

Last week our class did a unit on hibernation and bears. We had so much fun with it! I made this super-cute hibernation KWL chart to encourage students' prior knowledge, as well as to guide our hibernation "research" throughout the week.

I used Post-It notes to record student responses,
that way I can use this chart again next year. :)

I also made a Venn Diagram to compare Jan Brett's The Three Snow Bears,

and Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Caralyn Buehner. I can't find the picture of my soon as I find it I'll be sure to upload it!

Don't worry - as any good early childhood educator would, I read Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr.

We had a BEAR-y super fun week!

Link up to ABC & 123

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New posts coming soon...

I know it has been over a week since I've posted, but my son has been sick since last Tuesday. He is fighting a losing battle against strep throat. He missed three days of school last week, and I missed one to take him to the doctor. I am praying for a happy, healthy start to the week in the morning.

As soon as I get my house back in order, I'll post pictures of the exciting lessons we did in kindergarten last week.

~Mrs. Beck

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our kindergarten class had fun learning about the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work for human rights this week. I had a full week's worth of activities planned, but school was canceled Wednesday due to snow and ice, so we didn't get it all in. Such is the life of a kindergarten teacher!

On Tuesday I read a simple book about Dr. King. The kids loved the "old fashioned" black and white pictures. They really got a kick out of the clothes people wore during King's era. We discussed how unfair life was back then, and the kids had a lot to say about it all. Their little hearts are so loving and caring.

We then worked on a "Diversity Quilt" project that celebrates our differences. Each child had to choose something unique about themselves, draw a picture of it, and write a sentence to explain their special quality. I then mounted each picture on a piece of construction paper (the kids chose their favorite color), punched holes along the edges, and tied it all together with yarn. We talked about that even though each of us are different, we all belong together.

Here is our quilt! I think it is adorable.
I found the idea in a weekly e-newsletter from The Mailbox.

Isn't this just too cute?!

Dr. King advocated for peace among all people. On Thursday we made peace doves using paper plates. Once their cute little birds were done, we used them to sing a song about MLK. They {LOVED} it!

How do you celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday in your classroom?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Daily Calendar - With a Technology Twist

One of the first duties my mentor teacher, Mrs. R, asked me to take over was the calendar each morning. I love doing calendar time because it is the perfect activity to integrate all subject areas as well as reinforce important skills.

Mrs. R has the super cute pocket chart type calendar. Although hers is cool, I decided to see how I could make calendar time with Mrs. Beck different. After a simple search on the Smart Exchange site, I found an AWESOME daily calendar to use on the SmartBoard.

Check out Smart Exchange {here}. Smart Exchange has teacher-created lesson plans and resources for every subject and grade level to be used on your SmartBoard.

Side Note: I am a SmartBoard freak! I {LOVE} to use the SmartBoard as much as I can because it keeps students engaged and enhances their learning. I'm also an advocate for allowing students to use as much technology as possible while they learn. It's a win-win for all of us!

This morning after the kids were at their special, I snapped a few pics of my calendar. The quality isn't the greatest, but you can at least see the important aspects of it.

When the kids first arrive in the morning, they move their name from "At home" to "At School." This helps me get attendance done in a snap!

Here is the calendar slide. Each morning my calendar helper comes up, slides the date into the right spot, then uses the pointer to say "Today is [day of week], [month], [date] [year]." I then draw names to have three students come up and fill in the "Yesterday was, Today is, and Tomorrow will be" spots.

When we get to this slide, I sing the "What's The Weather Like Today?" song (to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down). My weather helper moves the proper graphic up into the day box, then marks the chart below.

We use this slide to mark the days of school. Students slide a marker up to the ones place, and when we get to a 10's marker, I simply clone one of the others. We're getting close to 100's day!

How do you use the Smartboard in your classroom? Send me a comment!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Teaching Adventures in Cambodia

In May 2010, I had the opportunity to teach overseas in Cambodia with the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity within Defiance College. While I was there I conducted two teacher training sessions on the direct instruction teaching method.

What an adventure it was! I grew leaps and bounds professionally, personally and spiritually. As bad as we teachers here in America think we have it, one trip to a classroom in a third-world country will make us thank our lucky stars for all that we are blessed with. Take, for example, air conditioning. I know I take it for granted, how about you? I have never felt heat as intense as in Cambodia. As soon as I stepped off the plane in the middle of the night I was dripping with sweat. During the day, the temperature rose to 110 degrees, and dropped a whopping 15 degrees to 95 at night. Imagine yourself teaching in an open-air classroom with 30-plus students, and you'll understand why I look so terrible in these pictures! (That, and the fact that my luggage was lost the entire three weeks I was gone!)

I love the pictures of the King, Queen, Prince, and flag above the chalk board.
The Khmer people have a strong sense of nationalism.

This was a highlight of my trip. Our organization paid each teacher in attendance to cover the wages they missed (plus a little extra) by taking a day off from their classrooms.

I {love} these kids!

This trip constantly stretched me out of my comfort zone, and hardest of all was being away from my husband and son for a month. The time that I spent with the children at the schools and women's centers encouraged me each day while strengthening my teaching skills.

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to share my skills with teachers across the globe.