Week One: Wiggles Learns the Rules at School, The Homework Bell, Calendar Book Updates, and More!

Phew! One week down, 41 more to go! The first week of school seems to be the most stressful week of all as we establish routines and get to know our new students. But for some reason, this year has been much less stressful than it normally is- (and I praise the good Lord in heaven for that!) I have no explanation other than the blessings of prayer! I actually can’t remember having such a smooth and stress-free start to a school year. I did wind up with about 15 requests from siblings of former students, and that sort of thing, and that always really helps take the stress off, I think.  I LOVE those repeat "customers!!!!"  As I looked around at the group of parents that came to my parent orientation meeting, there were so many familiar faces that it seemed very comfortable and easy. I sent them all home that night with a DVD, and I know that some of the children must have watched their new teacher on television when their parents got home, because a few of them had “stars in their eyes” when they entered the classroom the next morning, and gazed at me with this “I saw you on TV!” look on their faces! (That always makes me chuckle!) One of them even remembered to thank me for the DVD, which I thought was sweet.

At the moment, I have 23 students, and most of the crying at the AM drop-off has stopped. (Hooray!) Yesterday when we watched a part of the Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds DVD, I heard one child say, “Hey, teacher! That lady looks a lot like YOU!!!!” Amazingly, none of the other children pointed out that the lady on the screen actually IS me, LOL!  Last year, a mom told me that her son said that the lady on the screen couldn't be his teacher because the one on the screen is much younger!  :)

1. INTRODUCING: Wiggles Learns the Rules at School!

Well, I did it. I set a goal for myself of making a children’s story book to help children learn the rules at school, and the book is now finished! We hired an illustrator for this one, because there was no way I could find the time to illustrate this one myself. And I LOVE the way it came out! We sent the illustrator some pictures of me in my classroom with my students, and also some pictures of the playground. The funny thing is that the teacher in the book actually looks like me- (on a good hair day, anyway!) I also recognize some of our toys in the classroom and some elements of our playground. We also sent her some pictures of our dog Jasper to copy, and she did just that- but added some spots to make the dog more fun to color. So now I have an illustrated story book with pictures of me, my students, and my cute little dog that is posing as one of my students, trying to learn the rules! This is WAY too much fun!!!!

 Heidi and the "Real" Wiggles!

Anyway, my students are just LOVING the book! I have a plush Wiggles puppet and I have the dog act out the story as I read it, and I talk to the dog about the rules. The children love chiming in with the repetitive text, and laughing at the silly dog, who forgets the rules each and every day. Every single day so far we have read the book and enjoyed it to the fullest. The children don’t realize it, but this is how we have been learning the rules in our classroom. We actually haven’t done any other formal lessons as far as school rules are concerned, and the kids are generally doing very well so far in following them, so I think it must be working!
(Maybe this accounts for some of the reduction in stress I am feeling?  Who knows?)

Some time next week, the children are going to make a paper bag puppet to go with the book. (The download of the book includes the pattern for this puppet.) They are not very proficient at cutting yet, so we’ll probably do it with our book buddies so that they will each have a helper to go around the head. I know that they are going to love it! There's also a student sized copy of the book for kids to color and take home that is a part of the download, and we'll be making one of these soon, too.  I'll have the children look for certain letters and/or words in it, such as the word "the" and highlight it each time they find it, so that it will double as a reading activity as well.  Fun!

2. The Homework Bell!

Here’s an idea that I am going to try! Do you have students that do the homework but seem to have no interest in turning it in? I always seem to have about six or seven little ones to whom it never occurs that it might be a good idea to look for that piece of paper and put it in the homework box, no matter how much I beg or plead. (At my school, the vast majority of the Kindergartner’s parents make them do the homework, but they often forget to turn it in.) So I have decided that this year I am going to encourage my students to turn in the homework that is surely sitting in their binders (See my blog on this topic here) by allowing them to ring a bell when they put it in the basket. I’m thinking of using a Staple’s “That Was Easy!” button for a little while, at least until they get tired of it. Then I’ll think of another bell or button for them to push. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will at LEAST help encourage them to pull it out of their backpacks and turn it in! Wish me luck!

3. Spinzone Magnetic Whiteboard Spinner

I found this Spinner at the Learning Shop exhibit booth at I Teach K. They also run a mail order teacher supply company. The owners, Dave and Doris, are a very nice retired couple that run their business by following many of the SDE conferences and exhibiting at them if it is not too far from their home in Indiana. Dave and I have gotten to know each other over the past year, and when he saw me, he asked if I had seen the new spinners that he had in stock. I replied that I had not, so I went over to take a look.

The spinner is a very simple design with just a bolt glued onto the back of it, which is attached to a magnet on a spinner. So you can place it on a magnetic whiteboard and it will stick, and then give it a spin. After drawing the rest of the spinner “fields” on your whiteboard, it can be used like any spinner. If you would like to see a little video of this spinner in action, just check my HeidiSongs Facebook page! It’s pretty neat. I noticed that on Amazon, they sell these spinners in packs of three for $19.99.  I can’t imagine what they were thinking of; what teacher is going to need three of them when you can clearly only ever use one at a time?  Some of the sellers on Amazon and also my friend Dave at The Learning Shop has split them up into singles and only charges $7.99 plus shipping for each one. I don’t know what he charges for the shipping, but the spinners are light so it couldn’t be much. If you want to order one, you can fax them an order at 1. 317.842.1723 or call them at 1.800.369.6792.

4. Calendar Book Files Updated!

If you are doing the calendar book in your classroom and have been waiting for the updated "Write the Date" files, here they are! Here is the file for 2018 and 2019!! :) If you are new to calendar books, then click on the link below for more information. It is something that I sometimes do in the spring with my class when we start going full day, depending on how well my students are able to focus and cooperate in whole group situations. Click here to read a previous blog entry on how I have used calendar books in previous years.

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