My students love directed drawings and guided art lessons that introduce them to lines, colors, and different mediums, and I very much enjoy seeing how their sequencing and fine motor skills develop over the course of our year together. I remember this particular lesson appearing several years ago at ARTventurous, a fun blog full of creativity that continues to provide plenty of inspiration for regular education and art teachers alike. My Super Stars created their versions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with our school's art teacher just in time to brighten up our classroom for the holidays.
You can print your preferred picture cards, cut apart and laminate. Display the cards at a table OR hang them throughout the classroom, since students LOVE to search for pictures with their recording page on a clipboard! Both color and black-and-white cards are included in this pack.
and my Hanukkah Write the Room Pack:
Two copies of the recording sheets will print from pages 7 and 8 to help your copy quota. Page 9 includes all of the pictures in this pack.
A bonus color-by-number page is included at the end of the packs for a center activity or fine motor sample.
Me: Uh... wait... come here please (both a buy-myself-some-time-so-I-respond-correctly AND good-lord-I-need-these-two-to-stop-shouting-this-across-the-room-right-now tactic).
~Stars 1 and 2 approach my desk~
Me: Now, with an inside voice, please explain what has happened.
Star 1: We were playing with the dolls and puppets, well, I was playing with the dolls and puppets and HE was playing somethin' else and-
Star 2: I don't want to play with the dolls and puppets. I was making dinner (dramatic play center).
Star 1: Yeah, he was making dinner, and I showed him, well I wanted to show him that I put the clothes on the baby AND on a puppet, but he wouldn't look, and I asked him again, and he wouldn't look, and then he said my farts fly.
Star 2: I didn't want to look at the doll. I was busy making dinner, and I was almost done.
Me: Did you say something to her when she tried to show you the dolls?
Star 2: Yeah, I told her "I'm cooking. I can't look right now."
Star 1: AND THEN HE SAID MY FARTS FLY!
Star 2: (sighing) No, I didn't say your farts fly. *** I SAID*** I don't give a flying fart if you dressed up the baby. I'm cooking dinner!
Me: (dying on the inside, amazingly straight-faced on the outside) Honey, is that a nice way to talk to a friend at school? Next time please tell her that you'll look in a little bit, or ask her to show another friend.
Star 1: Yeah, don't tell me that my farts fly! That's not nice.
And then I sent them back to the dramatic play center.
That's right, I GAVE UP.
There was no neat and tidy resolution.
I couldn't embrace the teachable moment because I was too filled with desperation to not let loose with wild peals of laughter.
Do you have any idea how *awesome* this week's parent teacher conferences are going to be?
I tell families before they ever get to school that I'm going *to sit*, and I explain how I don't want to make kindergartners even more nervous or anxious (or wound for sound) than they already are as they see and explore our learning space for the first time.
Sitting works. The cautious ~eyeball~ me as they wander, put supplies away, and explore. The confident and/or practiced come right up and offer to shake my hand, and say "nice to meet you," while parents lip sync "nice to meet you" behind them. Some kiddos pull up a chair with me at the reading table much to the surprise of their parents. Two or three might try to hide behind Mom's or Dad's legs, with one outright refusing to so much as take a peek at me. Through it all, *I sit*.
Then there are the take-chargers... they don't always talk to me, but I notice a little side-eye action as they navigate the room, dictating to parents which supplies go where, explaining the correct use of play-dough to their siblings, and expressing their approval over some, many, or all elements of our classroom that they've critiqued. Because I'm sitting, they know exactly where to stop with their peripheral glances.
One take-charger did it all tonight, then gave me a thumbs-up as he walked out the door, saying "I'll be back tomorrow. I am going to be one of your best helpers. Your chair must be really comfy."
It's the end of another school year (my twenty-first as a kindergarten teacher), and goodness, what a difference twelve months can make. Different students, different stressors, new goals and new paths. Unanticipated problems, incredible solutions, mucho appreciation, and copious amounts of laughter left indelible marks on each month, August through May.
While my Stars bloomed in all the right ways, I'll admit that I do love a good double entendre, so "blooming" seemed like the right inspiration for this year's summer send-off gifts for my colleagues. Our students bloomed all right, but ~some~ parts of the job were blooming ?!@*#! awful.
Cue the sunshine-loving plants, simple pots, a quick printable, glittery cardstock and some colorful party straws:
I added three or four flowering plants to each white pot, and then created a quick printable (I love PowerPoint) for the stakes.
I glued the printable onto a punched glitter flower, and then used an x-acto knife to cut slits on either side of one end of each straw, creating a pick:
The cardstock flowers were still a little wobbly, so I secured them by adding some hot glue to the backsides where the flowers were tucked into the slits of the straws. Then I slid each straw pick into a pot.
I hope these pretty little pots bring a happy splash of color to porches and picnic tables this summer!
With only one and a half days of school left with my Super Star kindergartners, I have to tell you, I've learned something new from them every day this year.
Sweet, sassy, inquisitive and inclusive, next year's teachers are going to love my soon-to-be former students. They'll appreciate their eagerness, kindness, and energy, and something tells me they'll love their humor, both accidental and purposeful.
Here's what I learned yesterday:
Star: Mrs. Sommerville, Mrs. Sommerville! Do you know Indiana Jones?
Me: Indiana Jones, you mean the movies about him?
Star: Yes! The boulder and skeleton and snakes movies!
Me: I've seen them before, yes. Why?
Star: Well my mom let me watch them with her, and they're kind of scary.
Me: You're right, there are parts of the movies that are scary.
Star: My mom isn't scared of the boulder or the skeleton, but she DOES NOT like those snakes!
Me: I don't blame her, that many snakes would bother me too.
Star: Uh, Mrs. Sommerville, you don't *really* have to worry about those snakes though.
Me: Oh? Why not?
Star: 'Cause they're just, uh... they're just... special... SPECIAL EFFECTS!
Me: Special effects? What are special effects?
Star: My mom told me that special effects are when scary parts look real but they really aren't. That boulder probably wasn't a REAL boulder, it was just a big lumpy ball that looked like a rock. And the skeletons were just plastic or something.
Me: What about the snakes?
Star, dropping voice to a whisper: Oh, those were probably real.
Me: If they were real, *HOW* did Indiana Jones stay safe?
Star, looking around to make sure no one else could hear: *~Movie~* *~Magic~*
Me, also whispering: ~*Movie Magic~*?
Star, nodding, with a wow-can-you-believe-it expression on his face: Yeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhh. ~*Movie magic.*~
How many days do you have left in the school year?
When I began my teaching career in 1994, Kindergarten Cop, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, had already been seen in theaters. For whatever reason, I didn't watch the movie until after I had taught for two years, and like everyone else, I thought the most entertaining and hysterically charming scene was the one featuring a student sharing his prior schema about anatomy:
Over the next fourteen or fifteen years, I could watch maybe ten minutes of the movie at most when I'd stumble across it while channel-surfing, especially the comedic scenes of the first fire drill, and the awwwww Gettysburg address. I had the predictable and appropriate visceral responses when Mr. Kimble hit the father who had a history of wife and child abuse, and when firearms were taken into the school and used by the father/grandmother villainous duo. When introduced to someone unfamiliar with teaching, I'd occasionally be asked "Oh, so you're just like Kindergarten Cop, right?" to which I'd jokingly respond "Yep, only they don't give me a gun." Laughter all around.
Then around five or six years ago, I couldn't bring myself to watch any of the movie at any time, anywhere, for any reason, thanks to the day-to-day routines of my profession evolving to include the real life possibility of school shootings, standardized test overkill posing as pedagogy, and kindergarten being turned into the new first grade. There was no charm to be found in the movie any longer. My husband even noticed that I wouldn't watch it, so we moved on to establishing a new list of ol' faithfuls and preferred standbys for our movie nights, none of them kindergarten or teaching-related.
Last weekend we were flipping through cable channels on a rare afternoon of not having a Netflix mini-series to watch, and there it was, Kindergarten Cop.
We didn't watch all of it, but we did see enough to generate some fresh questions, such as "Who gave Kimball a jeans day coupon on his first day of work?" and "How did the custodial staff refrain from hiring a hit man to off Mr. Kimble?" Seriously, LOOK at the walls and floors.