Reflections of Chapter 3 of The Daily 5

 I am starting to get excited about how I am going to set up my classroom this year! I was talking to a friend of mine who teaches second grade and she was telling me how much she LOVES the Daily 5. I asked her if they were using it in kindergarten and she said "Yes, but kindergarten was the last to get on board because our teachers did not think that their students could do it." She told me that their kinder teachers love Daily 5, though,  and plan to continue it. One area that her kinder teachers REALLY had to work on though, was stamina and finding Good-fit books. She told me that as kindergarten teachers we will probably have to do some adaptation and A LOT more practice than the older kids!

So, here are my reflections on Chapter 3 of the Daily 5. Click on the image to take you to Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten for other reflections and some nice Daily 5 freebies!

We have always had a gathering place in my classroom and it has always been our colorful rug that I call "the carpet." Not too original of an idea, though! So I need to come up with something with more jazz, I guess! At our gathering place, I have my Promethean board, a large white board, an easel, and the books that we are reading for our thematic unit. Our carpet area is where we learn as a group and I agree with the Sisters that classrooms need a place like this!

I think this will be challenge at the beginning of the year, but with practice, I think most of my students will get it. I love the idea of using shoes to illustrate good fit and I plan to do this the first week of school. I PICK is an interesting concept that will need some work. I think my kinder kiddos will be able to:
1. I choose a book.
2. Purpose - Why do I want to read it? I think most kinders come to school knowing what kinds of books they like to read. Will they be able to give purpose? I think so. Mainly they are deciding if they want to read the book for learning or for fun.
3.  Interest - When I was first thinking about this, I didn't think that my students would have any trouble at picking out a book that they are interested in. But then I began to think about those kiddos who want someone else to make a decision for them, so I think this will take some time to teach, too!
4.  Comprehend - Am I comprehending what I am reading? Of course, most kinders come to school not being able to read, so I do not think this will work right away. 
5. Knowledge - Know the words - Well....... this will take some time, but we can begin the process of searching for words that we know - maybe this will start earlier than in previous years??
I need to redo my classroom library set up. I think it is too complicated and therefore will make it hard to choose books.

This will be challenging at the beginning of the year. We do an informal assessment of our kiddos in May so maybe I can use the results of this assessment to begin book box set-up. I was also thinking that when we have our "Drop in and Meet the Teacher" morning, I might ask my students their interests then. I need to do some thinking and research on this! But since most of my students are not reading, I think that I will just pick some fun picture books and fill the book boxes that way. I also do not think that I am going to set up book boxes right away. Instead I am going to give my students some "explore time" to look through our classroom library books for a few days.

I am going to have to figure out a place to permanently display my charts. I do not have a lot of wall space. I have always used charts, but usually have only current ones displayed. I want to continue my word wall, but I might have to redesign this as well to make room for my Daily 5 charts. I will probably make a lot of my charts standard size (8 1/2 x 11) and not use large chart paper.

Oh yes, yes, and double yes! Practice at the beginning of the year is the key to making the whole year run smoothly! I already do this and plan to continue it. My challenge will be to stay out of the way while they are practicing! I like the idea of bringing the kids back to the carpet after practicing and discussing what worked and what did not.

When I was visiting my brother who lives in San Francisco, we stopped into a music store. As I was browsing, I found a chime that makes a beautiful sound. I bought it thinking that this would be a nice sound for transitions. I used it for awhile, but stopped it because the sound just did not seem to make enough of an impression on my students. Instead I have been using a buzzer which is LOUD and obnoxious! I would really like to try the chime again as a a signal. Part of the Daily 5 routine is quiet transitions, so maybe I will be incorporate this lovely sound into our day!

I like the idea of kids checking in and being reflective on their own behavior. Again, this is going to take practice and time before they understand what is proper and improper behavior.

Asking kids to model both correct and incorrect behavior has always worked for me, so I am pretty certain this will work when we are learning proper routine for our Daily 5 schedule.

Next week - The Daily 5 in Action! Can't wait!

Draw, Cut, and Create Pets and Basic Shapes Packets

First of all, I just figured out how to add a "Follow Me by Email" button, so if you wish to do that, it is now a possibility. Someone asked me  a few months ago if it was possible to subscribe to my blog by email and if I had known then how easy it is to add a button, I would have done it long ago!

Second, I just finished two new "Draw and Cut" packets. The first one is "Draw and Cut Basics." Basics is just what it says - simple steps to creating simple pictures. I always do this with my students at the beginning of school, but never really had anything concrete to show. So I decided to put together a packet that would be easy for even the littlest learners to accomplish as well as provide basic steps for older students. I truly believe that creating books instills so much in children. Creating their own illustrations brings the book alive for them. When they have illustrated a book, they truly are immersed in its content and their learning becomes real.

Before we begin any illustrating, though, we must begin to look at the world through different eyes. When we look at a tree, we see rectangles and cloud shapes. When we look at a house, we see squares and trapezoids, and rectangles. When we look at faces, we see ovals and crescents and rainbow shapes. Once children start to see the world in this way, they are then able to take pencil, paper, and scissors and create something that looks real to them. That is why I always provide a real-life photograph in my packets - this is a great way to differentiate between real and make-believe, too!

I provide step by step directions to my students for many reasons. A big reason is to get them to see objects simply as shapes. When they see this, they are able to create any object! The step by step directions also provide sequencing and visual discrimination practice which is so important for young learners to grasp. Instead of simply cutting out pictures and putting them in order, they are creating something real to them. I  like to look at photographs and find shapes in the photos as well. My students illustrate books for literacy, math, science, social studies, and religion

"Draw and Cut Pets" provides step by step directions for creating a book about pets. After my students have gotten a feel for how to create pictures from shapes, I want them to write about their picture and we start right away with labeling. For those children able to write sentences, I provide word wall cards that can be used for differentiation.

Here is a look at Pets:

If you are interested in either of these packets, click the picture to take you to my TPT store!

I will be sharing my thoughts on Chapter 3 of the Daily 5 later this week!


A Fun Ocean Scuba Diver Freebie Project

My students did this fun scuba diver project at the end of school and I have been meaning to post it and am just now getting around to it!

Anyway, we did this at the end of our Ocean unit. After discussing the ocean and its many inhabitants, we talked about the ways that people learn about the ocean. Of course, there are many ways, but the two that we discussed in depth were scuba diving and snorkeling. We talked about how scuba divers wear a special suit and they have to bring their air with them because they are going under the water where you need gills to breathe and people have lungs! We talked about how the flippers that scuba divers put on their feet copy those of many water animals. The flaps between their toes allow them to swim much swifter and more smoothly through the water. We compared scuba diving to snorkeling and discussed the differences. Many of my students were familiar with snorkeling gear which is interesting since we live in the middle of corn and bean country here!

Each child created themselves as a scuba diver. Actually it looks more like a snorkeler, but we called it a scuba diver! I showed the kids a picture of a girl swimming underwater and how her hair goes up. So when they made their portrait, they made their hair going up, too! We discussed what they would see in the ocean and they drew pictures and wrote about it. Click on the picture to take you to the free product in my TPT store if you would like it!

Garden Update and a Lonely, Summer Classroom

I visited the garden today and took some pictures of Pumpkin Jack! He now has yellow blossoms and his leaves are HUGE! The vines have also spread and are starting to take up a lot of space!

The corn is growing, too, but it grows much slower than the pumpkins. The little pumpkin seeds that my kiddos planted in May are sprouting up all over the garden - not sure how many of them will make it because Jack is growing MUCH faster than they are!

I  planted a few Canna bulbs a the beginning of June and they are starting to grow, too. I like the big, red Canna flowers because they attract hummingbirds and bees. When I walked over to the garden this morning, there were 2 brown bunnies running around the school property, but I did not see them in the garden. I think Mr. Scarecrow and the shiny CD's might be keeping them away!
I still haven't gotten my interactive garden idea firm and final yet. When I do, I will post it here for anyone who might be interested! :)

I popped into school to check on a some things this morning and took a few photos of my sad, sad classroom. Does your classroom look like this in the summer? We have very little storage in our classrooms, so much of our "stuff" must be "stuffed" onto the counter.

Do you have a teacher's desk? I have been reading so much about teachers who elect to not have a desk. But I need a place to call my own and plan to keep mine; despite the fact that it takes up so much room! If I didn't have a desk, where would I store my comfy shoes or my Chapstick? ! :)

Oh boy, I am not going to think about all the work it is going to take to put the room back together again!

Enjoy these lovely days! It's the first full day of summer on June 21! Hurray!

Summer Blogging Fun!

Here are some fun blogs to read and share! This linky party is hosted by Lori from Teaching With Love and Laughter. She might be adding more links to blogs than what I have listed here, so make sure you click her link and check!

Reflections on Chapter 2 of the Daily 5

I have read Chapter 2 twice and skimmed it at least 2 more times - there is so much included in this chapter! Here is the link to Tammy's thoughts from Live, Love, Laugh Kindergarten and Caitlyn's thoughts from Kindergarten Smiles. They provide some cute printables for organizing your thoughts for Chapter 2.

My thoughts are included here:

Do I trust my students to make good choices? Yes! I absolutely believe that I can trust my students to make good choices. But, as with anything, we need to teach our students FIRST how to be independent and trustworthy workers. Starting structure the first week of school is key, I feel, to gaining trust between both student and teacher.  The Sisters write "When students execute the skills of independence they have been taught, teachers are free to focus their time and energy on instruction."  I will admit, that sometimes I feel like I am the lid on the top of a boiling pot! I spend a lot of my energy containing my STUDENT'S  energy and re-directing behavior. I would love to be able to focus ALL my energy on instruction and not behavior! What teacher wouldn't?!

I totally, totally agree that choice is an important part of life. How many of us as adult enjoy being told how and what to do with our time? Not too many! Making choices helps to mold us into the people that we are. But, I admit that giving my student total choice over which centers and tasks that they will participate in each day gives me shivers! The Sisters say that we must teach our students purpose to their choice. I do understand why this is important. Last year when planning my centers, I always asked myself this question "Is this a  LEARNING center or a BUSY center? In my opinion, cut and paste activities that have no meaning are just time fillers and therefore are a waste of time.  In my younger days, I was a sales clerk in a retail store. The worst times for me were the slow times when I was straightening shelves or cleaning up the register. I was filling my time until my shift was over.  I have to feel that when our students are told to do activities that have no purpose or meaning to them, they must feel that their time is being wasted, too. As we all know,  when our students are bored, all sorts of behavior challenges occur! When our students become active participants in their learning, behavior challenges decrease and the learning increases!

Yes, yes, yes - classroom community is so, so, so important! Feeling safe in your environment, knowing the rules, and being able to share knowledge and experiences is an essential part of a classroom of learners. The Sisters say that we must hold our students accountable for their learning. Hmmmm......... this is an interesting statement and one that I want to explore further.

 I agree that our students need to know why they are being asked to complete a task. Once kids understand why it is important that they do something, they take ownership of the activity and feel the sense of urgency to complete it because it is important to their learning. Again, busy work just does not give our kids a good reason to complete a task.

This answers my earlier question: Can  kindergarten children sustain reading to self or others for more than 5 minutes? The answer to this question is "Yes, but it cannot be accomplished immediately." Kindergarten kids need to build their stamina for sustained reading. The Sisters say that once students build up their stamina to remain on-task, we as teachers, are free to teach small groups. So, I think what this means is to do what I have always done at the beginning of the year: Start the year teaching s-l-o-w-l-y and build on each step daily!

This section was very, very interesting to me because I am guilty of this and do not know if I can change my ways here......
The Sisters write that when they started the Daily 5 they walked around the room praising each child for how well they were doing and reinforcing the good work that they were accomplishing. Then a few days later when they stopped giving immediate reinforcement, behavior fell apart. Their students didn't know what to do without constant reinforcement. This made the teachers lose that precious time needed to teach small groups because they were reteaching independence.   So now, they say, they give their students the tools to accomplish their independence and then stay out of their way. I am not sure if I can take the leap of "no praise", but I do understand what they are saying. I have students coming to me all year showing me their paper and asking me what I think about it. And they OFTEN bring me their work during small group time despite the fact that my rule is to wait until I am not teaching small group. I guess I programmed them to expect reinforcement from me......again, this is something for me to explore and think about this summer........

Unfortunately, I LOVE, LOVE to give out stickers and stars for good work and behavior! And I LOVE, LOVE to tell my kiddos what darling workers they are or to ay things like "I like what I see, Honeybee!"

So I can't wait to read Chapter 3 which is about how to develop this independence! :) And then I will decide how to continue stickers and praise without programming my kids to expect them!

Reflections on Chapter 1 of The Daily 5

My "Daily 5" book came yesterday,  wrapped in its brown mailing wrapper, undisturbed as I went about my "To Do" cleaning activities throughout the day. This morning I woke up, put on my swim suit and went to the pool at 6:00 a.m. to participate in a water aerobics class. The air temperature was 57 degrees and the pool was 72 degrees! Needless to say, it took a lot of moving around to stay warm. When I returned home, I took a warm shower, dressed, and went out to the kitchen to eat breakfast. While eating and checking email, my sweet husband brought me my favorite chai latte! Ahh...... I love the summer!  As I walked past my desk, I noticed the mailing wrapper lying there undisturbed and I thought.... "Okay, I'll open it after I have done a little gardening!" So I walked over to the school garden, inspected the plants, but it looked fine and didn't really need to be weeded and watered. So then I walked back home and checked out my own flower gardens and they didn't really need me either! So when I walked back inside, I spied the brown mailing wrapper once again and thought "What the heck, I am going to open the package, go out to the patio, and read chapter 1!

Wow, wow, and more wows! I cannot tell you how excited I am to read this book and adapt it to my own classroom! As I said previously, our third grade piloted the Daily 5 and they loved it! We in kindergarten said, "It just sounds like what we are doing now with our literacy centers. We have our students rotate from group to group. Our students are staying busy and we pull children to us for small group interaction. How is the Daily 5 different?" Well, after reading both the Introduction and Chapter 1, I think I am going to find quite a bit of differences!

Gail and Joan stress the importance of routine and structure the first week of school. I feel good saying that I start routine and structure the first week of school, too. I feel this is so important to help my students feel safe and comfortable in a new environment. I also start learning centers the first week of school. Teaching the structure of the Daily 5 encourages independence early in the school year which makes learning to read and write begin early as well.

One area of the Introduction and Chapter 1 that keeps circling around in my head is the relaxed feeling they both have at the end of the day. I know that I am guilty of spending all my time preparing for centers the next week. After my cleaning is done on the weekend, I spend the rest of my free time planning literacy center rotations. I fret over which kids should work together where, which children will feel challenged by the centers, and which ones will be bored by them.

During center time, my expectation is that each child should be working independently in their assigned center. If they have questions, they are to ask each other and not bother me as I work with small groups. But it takes MONTHS for this independence to set in and I spend much of the first of the year jumping up from my small groups to settle problems, find lost pieces, and encourage kids to keep working. The idea of allowing my students to make their own decisions and cooperatively encourage and work together sounds to me like Nirvana! :)

Some questions I have: How many kindergarten kids come to school able to look at or read books for more than 3 or 4 minutes? How many kindergarten kids come to school able to write or even draw pictures for more than 3 or 4 minutes? How many kindergarten kids come to school able to operate a CD player or headphones? (Maybe in this digital age, it is more than I think, though!) How many kindergarten kids come to school able to do Word work or know how to use the Word Wall? Mary from Sharing Kindergarten has some wonderful answers to these questions and I plan to spend time taking notes from her thoughts as to how to integrate these activities into a 5 year old's brain pattens early in the year!

I am excited to continue studying the Daily 5 and would love to hear thoughts from anyone who has used the program. Click the picture above to read Tammy, from Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten's blog post about Chapter 1. Caitlyn Clabby from Kindergarten Smiles will be hosting Chapter Two.  Tammy is hosting a linky party for anyone who would like to link up with reflections!

I also am participating in a book study for "In Words and In Pictures" and when that arrives in its brown mailing wrapper, I will begin reading that as well! 

Peace and blessings, 

In Pictures and In Words - Book Study

I love, love, love summer! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that I can do things in the summer that are impossible to do in the school year - like read! I love to read! One of my favorite things to do on a summer afternoon is to take a good book out to the patio, stretch out on my deck chair with a cool glass of lemonade, and read! I enjoy all kinds of reading and I admit, novels are my all time favorite thing to read. I am presently reading "Lone Wolf" by Jodi Piccoult. I downloaded it on my Kindle, but the next book I read will be a REAL book! And what I mean about a REAL book is a book where you can actually turn the pages and smell the paper! There also is something about perusing a book store that is just plain peaceful!
I also like to use the summer to read professional books that I have no time to read in the school year. I happened upon this blog book study that is being hosted by 5 wonderful teachers. They are Deedee Wills, Kim Adsit, Deanna Jump, Kathleen Pedersen, and Cheryl Saoud. They will posting their thoughts on this book: In Pictures and In Words by Katie Wood Ray. The study starts on June 22 and I have ordered the book and I plan to participate in the study.  Here is the link to Deedee Will's blog post. I will also be posting my thoughts on the book as I read along as well.
  Another book study I am going to participate in is the Daily 5 in Kindergarten hosted by Tammy at Live, Love, Laugh Kindergarten. Here is the link to her first post. Our third grade teachers piloted Daily 5 this past school year and loved it! As I listened to them, I kept wondering how it would work in kindergarten. Well, Tammy's book study is for kindergarten teachers who want to use the concept, but have also wondered how to organize it for kindergarten!

I ordered both books and haven't received either one yet, though, so as I wait for them arrive, I will enjoy my easy thinking novels and prepare my brain for more professional reading in a week or so!

Peace and blessings,

How Does My Garden Grow?

 Hello Friends,

I spent most of the day yesterday working in my school garden. In July, I am taking a class that is about  gardening with children. It is one of those classes where you take all the classroom hours in one week spending time from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. with the instructor. Then you have 3 - 4 weeks to write the paper or do the project. Well, my family and I will be driving back from our summer vacation on the first day of class, so I wrote the instructor and asked if I could still be allowed to attend despite the fact that I would be missing the first day. She wrote back and said, "Of course! To make up for the lost time, though,  I would like to bring the class out to your school garden and I would like for you to do a presentation and lesson plan about your garden." Yikes! This was more than I bargained for! :) So....... since a class of teachers will be visiting my garden, I thought that I had better make sure that it is alive and well when we visit in July! I have some ideas for making it interactive for kids and will share those ideas when I have them refined. In the mean time, here are some pictures of what is happening currently in the garden. If you have been following me since January, you will notice something familiar about the scarecrow. He was our polar bear pal for our Polar unit! I took these pictures at dusk, so that is the reason for the darkness.

Here is a picture of Pumpkin Jack. He is getting big! The kids also planted some pumpkin seeds the last week of school and they are finally coming up!

A wonderful parent built a raised bed for us and the perennials that we planted last year came back! My students also planted marigolds and surprisingly (despite the HOT weather we had at the end of May), some of them survived! I planted herbs in one section of the bed. I wanted herbs that had a strong smell that the kids would be able to smell when we return to school in August. They are: basil, lavender, sage, lemon verbena, and parsley. I also planted some annual flowers just to give the garden some color. The corn that the kids planted is also coming up!

Because we have a rabbit problem, I tried to create a barrier to keep the rabbits from tasting the herbs. You know those old computer CD's that are outdated and take up space in your classroom? Well, I took a few of them and strung them together. Then I attached them to a dowel rod and stuck the rod into the ground. Hopefully the motion of the CD's and the reflection off their backs might detract a few rabbits! I also cut the bottom out of a plastic shopping bag and attached that to the top of the supports as another way to scare away varmits! ;)
We have heard so much about the loss of honey bee populations - at least here in farm country, we have been hearing about it! So I am always on the look out for these little creatures and tonight, there was a little girl gathering pollen from our flowers! I tried to take a picture of her, but my photography skills are pretty amateurish!

Hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of a lovely summer! I'll be back soon with more summer news!

Until next time!