Showing posts from September, 2011

Six Weeks Down: Counting Creatures!!

Well, I don’t mind telling you that it’s been a tough week, and Friday couldn’t have come soon enough!  I had to make a heart wrenching decision on Tuesday to put my older beloved dog “Hunny Bun” down due to congestive heart failure, as she was suffering greatly.  But knowing this didn’t help my broken heart at all; she was my baby, and she was born in our house!  Needless to say, the tears didn’t stop falling for a couple of days, and I keep finding them welling up in my eyes even now.  Luckily, the kids themselves are a good distraction from this type of grief, as is teaching itself!  And as hard as it is to force myself to get up in the morning and just GO and DO IT, it is much better if I do!  Just as I assumed they would, their bright smiles were the perfect distraction from a very difficult, emotional situation. To make matters worse, my district seems to have gone DIBELS crazy, and planned a training for the afternoon of our weekly Compact Day, so I lost ALL of my pr

Tips for Teaching the Alphabet to Struggling Learners

Do you know how to teach the alphabet to children that struggle to learn?  The 52 letters that are necessary for children to learn, along with the minimum 26 basic sounds of each letter, can sometimes seem like a giant mountain to climb at the beginning of kindergarten!  In this post, I will tell you all about my best ideas in my "bag of tricks" that I have developed over the past 25 years of teaching kindergarten in a low income, Title One school in Southern California. California now has state standards for preschool that say that children are supposed to learn the alphabet in preschool and pre-K. Children in California are supposed to start off Kindergarten only needing a short review of the alphabet and letter sounds, and then it’s on to the big adventure of learning to read!  But preschool is not compulsory, and times are hard.  Most parents in my community do not send their children to preschool, (though know most would have liked to,) and now I’ve spent the l

Teaching Kindergarten: What's Working? Week #4

Welcome to week four of Kindergarten!  Here is what has been working well in my classroom! After four weeks of half day Kindergarten, I am definitely ready to move into our extended day schedule!  On Monday, the children will begin staying from 8:15 until 1:20.  (Up until this point, they have been dismissed at 11:35.)  We will continue on this schedule until the end of the second trimester, at which point they will go home at 2:15.  I think that all of the children will be happy to have a little bit more playtime now! AND, by the way, those glue bottles that I “lubed up” in August have been working GREAT!  Not a single one has clogged, so I declare myself the winner in the war on glue bottles- at least so far!  Read this blog post for more info on how I "Declared War on Glue Bottles!" So what have we been doing?   All kinds of fun things, including making some  Wiggles  paper bag puppets, as you can see in the photo above.  We made them to go with our book, Wi

Teaching Kindergarten: What's Working? Week #3

Well, it's official!  I've already fallen in love with my little cherubs!  They really are a sweet group of children, and they have been really quite easy to train into the routine of things!  They do have their moments when they are noisy, etc., but they can be brought back "down" easily enough.  And though about 12 of them came with really no knowledge of the alphabet at all, I am pleased with the progress that they are making.  Of my 24 students, about seven of them came in knowing most or nearly all of the letters, and sounds, and the rest knew about half of the letters.  The group on the whole, though, is able to sustain attention long enough to practice the alphabet and rhyming words, etc., so I do think that we will be able to get somewhere! I will keep you posted on my progress towards the goal of getting everyone to know the entire alphabet by the beginning of November.  This may be a real trick, because remember:  the cut-off date for starting Ki

Teaching Kindergarten: What's Working? Week #2

Welcome to Kindergarten, Week 2!  In this post I am going to tell you about five different lessons or activities that worked well for me in teaching kindergarten, week two.  Enjoy! My class is now off and running, and we are now in the routine of small group centers.  It was a fairly smooth transition, thankfully!  You may have noticed that I posted a mid-week piece on Sight Word String-Ups, and that’s because I wanted to get the word out early in the week about a good idea for using those pencil boxes that were on sale this week for one cent at Office Depot.  (They usually sell out of them quickly around here, and I didn’t want anybody to miss out that might be interested!)  So if you are interested in reading up about Sight Word String-Ups, scroll down this page a bit and you will see my last post about that.  Meanwhile, this is what we are working on, and here are some things that are working well this week.  I hope that some of these ideas are useful to you.  I am also esp