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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's OK NOT to Share... Book Linky!

http://mrsjumpsclass.blogspot.com/2014/06/thanks-to-everyone-who-linked-up.html
I'm linkin' up today with Deanna Jump to share a parenting book that I have pretty much fallen in love with.  No I'm not yet a parent, but the "renegade rules" in this book are extremely applicable to life in the classroom.
http://www.amazon.com/Share-Renegade-Raising-Competent-Compassionate/dp/1585429368
This book is controversial, although it's not quite as controversial as the title may imply.  The author shares ideas that center around the concept of "letting kids be kids."  She is definitely an advocate of child-centered thinking, and she is very in-tune with the developmental stages of young children.  I don't agree 100% with everything in this book, and not everything can work in the classroom the way it might in a home setting, but I want to share my favorite ideas that I will take away from it and use in my teaching.

1. Stop Forcing Kids to Share
So imagine the scene.  A young couple in love, playing footsie under the table, quite sure they have found "the one."  The sweet girl bats her eyelashes as she reaches for a french fry on her date's plate.  SKERRRRRRTTTT.  The boy barely stops himself from slapping her hand and immediately declaring the relationship doomed to fail.  My food is MY food!
Why yes, that girl was me.  Luckily, I learned how to keep my stray hands focused on my own food, and we are happily married.  And now that I don't grab for his food without permission, he usually sometimes offers me a bite out of the kindness of his heart.

It is not unreasonable to allow someone to eat all of their food without sharing it.  So why do we expect kids to share everything?  There are plenty of my possessions that I am happy to share with others, but there are also several that I want all for myself.  And when I do share, I certainly don't do so because it's demanded of me.  I share because someone asks nicely, and I share when I am ready (i.e. not using it myself).
I know I'm definitely guilty of this... Bobby comes to complain that Susie isn't sharing the teddy bear.  Rather than talking them through the situation or hearing Susie out, I simply command - "Susie, share with Bobby."  But this isn't how sharing works in the real world and as Shumaker points out, it just causes Susie to now associate negative feelings with sharing.

Instead of forcing children to share, we should teach them how to take turns.  "Susie, Bobby would love the teddy bear.  Could you please make sure to give it to him once you are all through using it?"  Now Susie can continue her play with the bear and then decide when she's ready to share it.  In the meantime, Bobby can practice patience, or find something else to play with.

2. Don't Force Friendships
Shumaker titles this Renegade Rule: We're Not All Friends Here.  Throw 20+ adults into a room, and certain sub-groups are going to naturally form.  You and I are not BFFs with everyone we meet, and that's okay.  Children shouldn't be forced to play with other children just because they are all young.  Let students choose their friends, while maintaining respect for all.  

Another rule that goes hand-in-hand with this idea: You Can't Play = A OK.  We as teachers should not force kids to play with one another.  This is a common theme at recess.  Sarah complains that Mia won't play with her.  Instead of commanding that Mia play with Sarah, we can instead help Sarah find another playmate who will genuinely want to play with her.  The book gives detail scenarios for how to help students handle this rejection and say no to playing appropriately while staying respectful.

Bottom-line: I don't want anyone telling me who I must spend time with during my own free-time, so why should we force children into friendships that they aren't genuinely interested in!?  We can empower and guide kids to make their own decisions about friendships while showing kindness for everyone.

3. Let's Let Kids Play!
It's clear that this rule is very near and dear to Shumaker's heart - it's the very 1st Rule in the book: Don't Steal Play!
 
This one is a bit hard for me to embrace entirely, as she makes it clear that she believes modern-day Kindergarten is forcing children to learn in a formal academic setting before they are developmentally ready.  I do understand where she is coming from, although I know from my 8 years in the K classroom, that many children are ready and raring to go.

There are still many valuable lessons to be learned from this rule in regards to the early childhood classroom.  We must save time for play.  And not structured play - FREE play.  I feel so grateful to teach in a district that still values and supports "Centers" in Kindergarten.  They provide us with puppets, blocks, painting easels, toy furniture and play food, the whole nine yards.  Equally important to this precious Centers time - letting the kids freely choose where they play.  I do not assign students to certain Centers on certain days.  Children need to have the choice to play as they wish.

We also have to allow kids to move in the classroom and take frequent breaks.  Most 5 and 6 year-olds can physically not sit still for more than a few minutes at a time.  A child wants to stand or lay on his belly while doing his work?  Why not!?  A child rather walk around at the back of the room while you read a story?  What's the harm!?  We need to be flexible and remember that today's educational system requires young students to conform to a set of classroom norms that they developmentally are just not ready for.

If you have some free time this summer, I highly recommend reading this book.  Despite some of her unconventional or "old-school" advice, she maintains the rule that what children do is okay as long as it doesn't hurt people or property.  Respect is a common theme - not only in the child's actions and words but in how we treat children as well.  I'd LOVE to hear your feedback.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the ideas I've shared and how I plan to use them in my own teaching!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kindergarten Memory Book

My students will be busy during our last few days together reminiscing as they write and draw in their special Kindergarten Memory Books!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Kindergarten-Memory-Book-1256675
Not only do these books keep the students nice n' busy, but they lead to fun end-of-year discussions.  They make a great little keepsake for the students to share with their families over the summer.  I still can't believe we're almost there!  As hectic as this time of year can get, don't forget to enjoy every last second with your precious students!  :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

10 Day Balloon Countdown!

Today was #10 on our countdown for the year!  I'm freaking out a little bit!  I don't want it to be over!!!  The last 10 days of school are always absolutely crazy a bit hectic, so I decided to just add to the madness with a balloon countdown!
I typed up 10 surprises for my students and printed them on small pieces of paper.  I rolled up the papers and shoved them inside 10 different balloons before they were inflated.  I then labeled each balloon with its countdown number!
The surprises are mainly activities... class picnic, dance party, bubbles & chalk, etc.  I labeled the papers with the appropriate color so we wouldn't accidentally pop a balloon announcing a popsicle party on a day I didn't bring the popsicles!  [I made sure to plan out the 1st day of each week with something I wouldn't have to remember to bring or buy.  I'm so not a Monday person...]

I had the balloons inflated with helium last night, but this happened when I took them out of their bag this morning in my classroom...
#BalloonFail  I mean really!??  I know helium doesn't last forever but I was hoping for at least 12 hours... 

Despite the helium disappointment, the balloons were still a total HIT!  My kids squealed the minute they walked in the room this morning.  I hung them from the ceiling and created a balloon chandelier over our learning rug.  (Thanks, ceiling tiles!

They were so excited to pop the first one this afternoon.  I can't wait to see their excitement as they pop each one over our last 9 days together.  I'm also looking forward to the experiences we will share as a result of what's inside each balloon.

Are you doing anything special during these last few days!?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fish Frenzy: Literacy Resources + a Rainbow Fish Freebie!

The weeks leading to summer seem like the perfect time for fun, ocean-themed activities!  The weeks leading to summer are also filled with testing, so I've got to keep my non-testing students quiet busy and engaged.
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/5x5-Ocean-Animals-Literacy-Printables-1242517

This pack contains 29 printables (I added 4 bonus pages) that are perfect for station work!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/5x5-Ocean-Animals-Literacy-Printables-1242517

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/5x5-Ocean-Animals-Literacy-Printables-1242517http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/5x5-Ocean-Animals-Literacy-Printables-1242517

If you're feeling up to a little cutting and laminating, the Fish Frenzy pack contains 5 literacy games that your students will LOVE!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fish-Frenzy-Ocean-Animals-Literacy-Games-1227255


I blogged previously about our use of The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big, Big Dark to learn about similes.  The students wrote their own again this year, and I just have to share a few.
"I'm as tough as a giant."

"I'm as silly as a clown."

"I'm as brave as a ninja."

"I'm as pretty as a princess."
"I'm as lazy as a teacher."

SAY WHAT!?!?!  Good thing the cutie that wrote this one assured me it was a joke.  And ya gotta love the Whole Brain Teaching speech bubble... "CLASS!"

An ocean unit wouldn't be complete without Rainbow Fish!  Here's a coloring and writing FREEBIE that you can download in my TPT Store.  



 
And if you love thematic snacks, this ocean on a graham cracker is an easy, crowd-pleaser! 

If you'd like a chance to win the Fish Frenzy Literacy Games Pack, head over to my Facebook page and leave a comment!  =)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mother's Day FREEBIE + a Double Sale!

My SuperKids are busy this week creating many masterpieces for their amazing mothers!  If you are looking for something special but easy, and most importantly FREE, I created this fingerprint poem with picture:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mothers-Day-Fingerprint-Flower-Poem-1236441
I took the photos of my students holding a bouquet of faux flowers and prompted them to give their best "I love you Mom" smiles.   =)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mothers-Day-Fingerprint-Flower-Poem-1236441
I printed them on white cardstock and will be laminating them so they can be cherished for many, many years.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mothers-Day-Fingerprint-Flower-Poem-1236441

The page is free for download here in my TPT Store. 

And speaking of that TPT Store... there is currently a DOUBLE SALE happening over there in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week!  TPT is offering 10% off everything and I have added another additional 20% off EVERYTHING in my shop!  So head on over and check it out.  Sale ends tomorrow night at midnight!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Nora-Davis

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fraction Action

So I really do try to avoid turning everything into a cheesy rhyme, but sometimes it's just too tempting to resist!  ;-)  My new Fraction Action Mega Memory Match Game Pack is the perfect fraction resource for the primary grades.
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fraction-Action-Mega-Match-Game-Printables-1196901

The pack contains playing cards that represent fractions as parts of a set and as parts of a whole.  The pack also contains differentiated student activity pages for guided or independent practice - or to be used for assessment!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fraction-Action-Mega-Match-Game-Printables-1196901

There are 372 cards playing cards in the pack ranging from one-half to eight-sixteenths.  Print and use all of the cards or just ones that are appropriate for your students.  The cards are organized with coordinating backgrounds by numerator and by denominator so you can decide which makes more sense for you.  The backgrounds can also help children self-check when working independently.

 I use the cards for a memory match game, but they could also be used for a math word wall, comparing fractions, or finding equivalent fractions!
This game gets a thumbs-up from my SuperKids!  :)

In addition to the playing cards, the pack contains 3 differentiated student activity pages.


Find Fraction Action in my TPT Store.  Thanks for bearing with my corny rhyme.  I promise to refrain from any others for awhile.  ;-)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fan FREEBIE: Little Fish, Little Fish Emergent Reader

We are studying ocean animals this week, and I created another little emergent reader in my fave Brown Bear, Brown Bear style for stations.

Instead of putting this in my TPT Store, I decided to make it free for all of my Facebook friends!  If you haven't "liked" my page yet, click here or on the picture below to go visit Kindergarten SuperKids on Facebook!  When you become a fan, you gain access to fun freebies, including this ocean animals emergent reader.
https://www.facebook.com/kindergartensuperkids

I already have several ideas for new fan freebies that will be coming soon, so make sure to go hit "Like"!  I've been a Facebook user since college, but I love love love how it's now being used for more teacher connecting and sharing! 
https://www.facebook.com/kindergartensuperkids

I hope to see you soon over on Facebook!  :)