Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kinderland is an Adventure!

I must say that the first two weeks of kindergarten have been amazing, full of laughs, and exhausting. I knew that the switch from second to kindergarten would be a change of pace, but I had no idea how different it would be. We have been practicing, modeling, practicing some more, and then for extra measure, we practice again! What I am learning quickly is that I need to be flexible, over-prepared, and well rested. On the flip side, I don't think that I will ever leave this grade. I am exhausted, but in love with every little nugget in my care. I leave my class filled with giggles and true joy! This is what teaching is all about.

Here is a little peek at some of the fun things that we have done thus far.

I spy fun! They loved this fun activity that comes from Marsha at A Differentiated Kindergarten.

 This was our first art project this year. The students water colored and owl, cut and glued, and added cupcake liner eyes and oil pastel details. The owls are "perched" on their names. The kiddos loved this and it served as a great assessment tool. I knew in a very short time which students where going to need some additional fine motor intervention. The owls are connected by colorful clips to a wire that runs the length of my counter. It has turned out to be a great use of space. Check back tomorrow for the owl art freebie!





On the board above the owls is a fun letter project that we did using oil pastels and watercolor. The resist process was like magic to my nuggets. They loved it! This was inspired by Little Miss Kindergarten. You have to check out her fabulous art explorations for the littles.

 We have really been practicing our Daily 5 routines. They are doing a fabulous job! Something that I have found to be a valuable tool for read to self are our "space ships (hula hoops)." I place them prior to rotations. The students find one, sit inside, and turn on their "force field." The space ship runs on reading power, so they have to read the whole time.  When the chimes ring, they have landed and are ready for their next adventure (rotation). The kids have loved acting out this "story" and within two weeks are easily doing a 10 minute rotation. I will say that I still have one who likes to insist that he must battle the approaching aliens (with the hoop swirling around his neck), but we are working hard to make smart choices and fly our space ship correctly.



We also have been learning about counting and digging into The Very Hungry Caterpillar. To celebrate our counting skills we made these little caterpillar hats. The nuggets could not wait to wear them home! They were quite a hit. I will post this as a freebie tomorrow so check back!


 Here is a little peek at my parent quick guide that I handed out back to school night. I even filled it with QR codes.  My parents LOVED it!!



I will leave you with a recent giggle. There is a little girl in kinder named Candy. During our read-aloud time one of my little divas was fussing about not being able to see. I promptly told her to please stand up and sit next to Candy. The little diva looked at me with a terrified look on her face and said "I can't sit next to Candy! My mom told me that Candy will rot my teeth!" To which I replied "I promise you sweetheart, this Candy won't touch your teeth." Only in kinderland!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ta-Dah! My Classroom is Ready!

Well, I am finally posting pictures. This has been a HUGE project, but I am almost finished and I absolutely love my new room.  There are a lot of photos so grab a cup of coffee before you begin. Let's begin with the "before" so that you can see how far it has come.

The sad part is, this was after two days of sorting! It looks like a bomb went off in kinderland!

First up is dramatic play! I LOVE this space. 
 The playhouse is simply a doghouse with two windows on a raised open platform. It is painted a dark green with a lime green glaze that has been knocked off in areas to give it an aged appearance. It is shingled with repurposed shingles (love the mossy covered ones!). To give the inside a finished feel, I "upholstered" the walls with fabric. To do this I cut foam board to fit each section (exact measurements are essential) and then covered the foam board with fabric, being sure to have a tight fit and plenty of wrap to the back. Next, I just pushed them in place. They aren't moving for anything! The "carpet" is a fun glittery green shag rug that I found at Hobby Lobby in the spring. To embellish the outside I added a felted bunting that I found at Target last Easter, a welcome sign (Hobby Lobby) and a big butterfly. The butterfly is made with fairy wings from the Dollar Tree (wings), giant fuzzy chenille stems (antennae and sectioning of body parts), an old sock (head), and a section of pool noodle wrapped in black fabric (body).


 To the left of the playhouse one of my trees. I LOVE to build these. They look so cool when they are finished. They are made of fadeless bulletin board paper that has been twisted and crushed like crazy. This gives it a really cool texture. I usually add tulle to the greenery, but this year I used a metallic Magic Mesh. It came out great and added dimension. I then added glittery butterflies and an owl peeking out of a hole in the trunk for fun details. As you can tell, I am still in the process of adding the tivoli lights, but need to get the ladder!

The wall that runs across the back of the dramatic play area is my word wall. As always, I love using black fabric for my bulletin boards. I created simple letter headers using photoshop and the KG What the Teacher Wants font. The sections are divided using white acrylic yarn. The board is double trimmed using white Bordette and lime/white polka dot borders from Teacher Created Materials (I used the same thing for ALL of the boards in my classroom).
Below the word wall in the dramatic play area are mirrors (Hobby Lobby) for the students to look at. They are attached three different ways, so these puppies are not coming off. I accented them with a black and white chevron grosgrain from Hobby Lobby. The background is a very heavy wrapping paper that I found last Christmas at Hobby Lobby. This is the good stuff! It is much thicker than normal wrapping paper. 

At the entrance to the dramatic play area is a short table. I used contact paper (Marshalls) to give it a pretty surface. On it is a light table that the students can use to examine items (transparent toys, old X-rays, search and finds printed on transparencies, etc...) that are kept in the chevron basket (Hobby Lobby). I also added a cute clipboard stand (Hobby Lobby) that I repainted to match the decor. 
This is an earlier picture (as can you see by the unfinished tree), but you can see the bookcase where I am storing costumes, puppets, and other dramatic play essentials. Their is also a bench with seat storage for the littles to use.

Here is the "full view" that shows of my strawberry rug (Pottery Barn Kids eons ago) and to the left the three piece kitchen set.


Next Space: The Art Studio/ Small Group Area
I must say that this is one of my favorite spaces in the room. It all came together so nicely. There are LOTS of pictures of this space. Instead of detailing each one, just scrolled below them and I will give you a quick breakdown of what I used and where you can find it.














So, this space is full of fabulous finds. I LOVE that it is so organized. Everything truly has it's place. The calendar and calendar stand (not normally in this space) are from Discount School Supply and Learning Resources. The calendar is super sturdy! If you are looking for a new calendar, check it out!!  Behind the calendar is my new art drying rack from Discount School Supply. The chevron rug is from Rugs Direct. I opted for a stool (Hobby Lobby) instead of a teacher chair at this table so that I had a clear view of the room at all times. I am very funny about not having lots of things that block my view.  All of the green and black (and other colored) organizers are from Diaso (you can order online if you do not live in Northern Cali). These are only $1.50 each, and the quality blows all of the other organizers I have found out of the water! The clear plastic shoe boxes on the far bottom shelf are from Costco and the larger ones are tackle box storage from Plano (I bought these at RAFT for $2 ea!).  The glass lidded jars were purchased at Big Lots. They look FAB in the space! To turn my table into an easy art table, I used an eye screw, attached a rope, strung it through my IKEA paper roll, and used a screw-in hook to hold it on the other side.  This makes it easy to replace the roll when it runs out. Also, if I don't want the paper on the table I can just roll it off and it stays put. My label graphics are from Pink Cat Studio. Her graphics are amazing. The blue handled caddies are from Hobby Lobby. There is one for each of my learning groups (Fee, Fi, Fo, and Fum). In each one are hard plastic organizers to hold group specific materials.

The next space is my Science/Investigation Station. This space is not quite complete, but you will get the idea.
This space is adjacent to the art studio. It is divided by two low media stands from IKEA. Along the back wall are two bookcases containing student mailboxes (Staples online), math workstation tubs, metal lunch boxes (RAFT) that hold misc. supplies, colored acrylic lidded boxes (Target), blue baskets that hold extra student supplies (Dollar Tree), magazine boxes for unit specific supplies, plastic open organizers with regularly used class supplies, white boxes that hold specific supplies, and plastic drawers for my stamps, Sharpies, and Velcro.
 Underneath the media cabinets are Diaso baskets that will hold my student book bags for Daily 5 (there are in there, but need to be filled). On top of the media cabinet there is a seating section on the left and sensory exploration tubs on the right. On the back counter is the class computer, big screen microscopes, additional laptops for group work, and cordless keyboards for letter/word work. To the left of the laptops is my repurposed letter/word work storage unit. The was an old Powerbar display that was being tossed out. I grabbed it, painted it, embellished it and filled it Daiso organizers. It is AWESOME!





 
No science station is complete without Beaker!



Yet another space, listening to reading. I have an old Tugboat filled with soft cusions, and the computer is just off to the side. The listening to visual reminders will be posted after we learn about this space. The blue shower caddies (Hobby Lobby) will hold listening to reading response forms (on mini clipboards) and pencils. I hung the caddies on curtain pull backs from Target.  Oh... you also have a little peek of my office door! It use to be an ugly brick red. I covered it with the same contact paper that I used in the dramatic play area. It is actually teal, but the picture faded it out. On the bottom of the door I used chalkboard contact paper.



Here is a before picture of my teacher door

Here are my dressed up bathrooms!


Before is on the left and the almost finished on the right. I covered the doors in chalkboard contact paper (Amazon) and the decorative contact paper. On the door I took an unfinished wooden frame (Michaels), painted it, and covered it in glittery goodness. Below is the finished product.
I even made and open/in use sign so that no one would be interrupted I just screwed and eye hook in the door, put the sign on a swivel clip, and connected the swivel clip to the eye hook. It has been super easy for the kinders to use so far!
The open side has a blue owl and the in use a pink one. So, if they can't read the words, they can look for the correct color.

Next to my bathrooms is my library and teaching table. There is yet another tree in this space. The poofs are made from a pattern that I created, and the bookcases are actually repurposed shelving from a wallpaper store that was going out of business. Above this book shelf is my emergent CAFE board. I forgot to take pictures of the other two sides of the space, but I will post them after I go in tomorrow! It is a fabulous, functional space.





The next space includes my student tables, primary classroom storage, and the front morning meeting area. The owl nametags are from Pink Cat Studio. The table name stands are wooden spoons glued to wooden tags and painted with homemade chalkboard paint (equal parts unsanded grout and acrylic paint). I found my crayon caddies in the kitchen section at Target this summer.



In my classroom I have a very long counter that was completely open underneath. After creating organized storage underneath, I used white upholstry fabric, pleated it, and attached it with velcro. I topped it off with lime polka dot grosgrain from Hobby Lobby.


Here are my crate seats that I store my unit books in.


This is the morning meeting area of the classroom at the time of this photo I hadn't finished the front bulletin board. This space is where I now have my active listening reminders and behavior levels. Below the board is a fabulous cubby space. I purchased more organizers from Daiso that fit the shelves perfectly! Now I can keep all of my math goodies in organized, sorted spaces.


 Last, but not least in this space is my teaching easel. I must say that I am very proud of this piece. It is actually an old movie rack that I picked up at Blockbuster when they were going out of business. It cost me a whopping $20. It is crazy sturdy, on wheels, and has so much space it is unbelievable. It use to have shelves on both sides, but I placed one at the bottom and put the rest on the back for storage. It is a great place to keep read alouds, puppets. etc... To hold my chart paper, I just attached two giant screw in D rings. It is also tall enough that I can store my lapdesks and three drawer chest right underneath. Did I mention that I love this?


There is still so much more to show you (it is a huge room), but I will close with one last thing, my bulletin boards. They are waiting for student work, but I would love to show you how I set them up! Every board is covered in heavy weight black fabric, white bordette, and lime polkadot borders and embellished with a variety of handmade tulle pom poms, tissue pom poms. feathery flowers, delicate paper rosettes, pinwheels, silk flowers, glittery butterflies and ladybugs, and tons of grosgrain and glittery ribbons. There was no science to how I placed them. I just look for visual balance and interesting combinations of textures.


 My yearlong unit board. In kindergarten I.B. we have one unit that is revisited throughout the school year and 5 other units that are completed along the way. This board is for my yearlong unit. There is another board with a very similar set up that will be rotated as the other units change.
 This is the corner of my other unit board. All of the owl graphics are from Pink Cat Studio.



This is one of my student display boards. It is going to be for their writer's workshop projects, but because I found these super cool printed dry erase board (Hobby Lobby) I can easily change up the title at any time. I have two boards with the same dry erase boards for title headers.



 My learner profile board. The plain white "attribute" cards will each have a photo of a student or students emulating that attribute (hopefully they will all be filled by the end of the month)!



 This is a wooden wreath that my dad cut out for me. It is wrapped in the same fabric that I used on my crate seats. In a few days it will be covered in student handprints (printed on cardstock and cutout) along with a way they they will use their hands to show the attribute of being caring. I will switch the wreath as we focus on different attributes throughout the year.


 My birthday wall: Pink Cat Studio graphics and handmade tissue and tulle pom poms


The school motto posted in the corner of one of my boards




This is my little corner of the room where I have pictures of my family, drawings from my kiddos when
they were in kinder, and other things that make me smile.



WOW! If you made it to the end, you deserve a 10 finger whoo-hoo! I still have more photos to post, but I definitely need to call it a night.  I would love to hear what you think of my new space. 


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