new year, new goals

Well, hello again! Sorry for my extended absence from this little slice of the internet. I hope these few snapshots help to explain my neglect of my blog.

That’s right! The highlight of my summer was traveling to Egypt and Jordan and taking in a TON of ancient history! Egypt has been an obsession of mine since I was a little girl, so it was a surreal experience to cross off the #1 item on my bucket list. If this was a travel blog, believe me, you wouldn’t hear the end of it – haha!

After a fantastic summer (that FLEW by!), I am feeling ready and excited to begin my third year of teaching and to be back in Hudson Bay. I am extra eager to get started, as I have a new role in half of my job this year: I am still teaching my absolute passion (Pre-K) in the mornings, and get to teach one of our homerooms of Grade 1 in the afternoons!

I am really looking forward to using play-based and place-based education in both of my roles this year and continuing to explore authentic early learning with my students in Pre-K and Grade 1, as well as furthering my knowledge of Early Childhood Education in general through the start of my online Masters program through UBC! It is gearing up to be a busy, but fulfilling, year full of growth and learning!

My new teaching strategy interests of Place-Based Education and Walking Curriculum came from 2 professional reads that I explored this summer. Both of these were quick and easy reads, with lots of detailed examples of how schools around North America have implemented Place-Based learning and a great collection of ideas for curriculum-linked walks. I would recommend either of these books to educators looking to involve their students more meaningfully with their natural surroundings and communities outside the walls of the school.

“Walking Curriculum: Evoking Wonder and Developing Sense of Place (K-12)” by Gillian Judson

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“Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities ” by David Sobel

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In a nutshell, I can’t wait to see where this year takes me on my learning journey as an early years teacher! I hope you will continue to follow along on my escapades. I’ll leave you with some snaps of my classroom set up, which is also fresh and new this year! More pictures of the students actually exploring the space are coming soon – promise!

Until then,

-KKF

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a sprinkle of fairy dust

DISCLAIMER: This post is lengthy and focuses specifically on Early Childhood Education topics. It includes my personal reflections on different PD topics that I have explored as part of a conference. If this does not interest/apply to you, please feel free to find some of my more general education posts – no hard feelings ūüôā

fairy dust

I think this may be one of the fastest back-to-back posts I’ve done on my blog. I stumbled across Fairy Dust Teaching¬†somewhere on social media (I can’t remember if I first followed her on Facebook or Twitter), and I was constantly inspired by the many posts she had about Early Childhood Education.

When I saw that Fairy Dust Teaching had an online, Winter Conference, where videos with presenters were posted for participants to engage with in their own time (PD in your pyjamas, if you will), I was instantly intrigued. I decided to sign up for the conference, with intentions of watching the videos over the February break. Well, in the true whirlwind fashion of a teacher’s life, I didn’t get to the PD over the break, but decided to put away some time today to start watching through the videos. Boy, am I glad I did!

Please enjoy some of my thoughts, musings, and reflections on some of the sessions. I would love if you had any comments to leave in response to any of the topics in this post.

Session #1: LOOSE PARTS TO PROMOTE STEAM 

If there is such a thing as a celebrity in the ECE world, these ladies are it! Loose parts has become a HUGE buzzword in the early years, and I’m sure that most Pre-K/K educators have seen or looked at one of these books in their travels. Miriam Beloglovsky and Lisa Daly, who wrote the Loose Parts books 1, 2, and 3, were giving an interview-style presentation on how loose parts can promote STEAM education.

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After some wonderful PD this summer, I decided to incorporate a permanent loose parts centre in my own classroom this school year. While this centre has changed locations periodically and the objects found there have been swapped out several times, I have seen consistent play and exploration happening with my students at this centre/with the materials found there. Most often, students will be exploring Encapsulating/Enveloping (putting objects into another container or carrier to transport around –> think putting objects into a purse, box, crate, etc.) and Mixing (putting a variety of loose parts in a large container to mix together –> think creating soups and potions).

The biggest takeaway from this session for me was the role of the educator to relinquish control and the urge to direct the play or jump in to assist (something that I am still working on in my own practice each day). As an organized person, it is often difficult for me to let students create a mess. The part I have to remind myself, though, is that I cannot restrain my students to play in the way that I, an adult, think is appropriate. This session made me reflect on how my actions truly showcase my view of children and their learning. Do I genuinely believe that students are capable, confident, creative if I shut down their play or immediately swoop in to help them? I will definitely be focusing on allowing students the freedom to experiment, problem solve, and get messy when I head back to my classroom!

The other great phrase that was used in this session was “look for the verb, not the noun,” or really pay attention to what big concept or topic the child is interested in exploring, rather than being caught up in the object they’re playing with.

The example that was given was a student playing with purple gems on a lazy susan and spinning them around and around and around. The teacher thought that the student was interested in the colour purple, rather than realizing that their true interest was motion and rotation.

This was a big “Aha!” for me, as, just the other day in my classroom, one of my students had taken all of the loose parts into our upstairs “fort” area and dumped them out on the floor (Hello, alarm bells going off! Mess! Mess! Mess! Must clean!). When I approached, I immediately asked her to clean up, and sort the objects back out into their respective containers. Now, I feel quite guilty about my reaction, and I wish I would have taken a few moments to simply observe what the student was doing with the items to truly understand the intentions of her play and what direction it may have been going – such a missed opportunity to understand this child’s learning better. This is a great reminder for me to step back, watch, and think about what a child is doing before I step in in the future.

The final thing the presenters discussed that I want to incorporate into my classroom is swapping out commercialized, closed-ended objects in the classroom for loose parts that can be transformed into anything the mind can imagine. Lisa discussed how all of the play, plastic food has been exchanged for loose parts such as beads, gems, stones, etc. and dress up clothes have been swapped out for scarves, sashes, and fabrics. I would like to start slowly switching out some of these items and see what the students’ reactions will be (I actually don’t think they will mind at all, as they already use many of our loose parts to make stews and soups and pretend they are foods).

I think this photo sums this idea up quite nicely:

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Session #2: THE THIRD TEACHER: REFLECTIVE PRACTICE

This session, a powerpoint collection of wonderful photos, quotes, and key points by Rosalba Bortolotti, discussed the importance of the third teacher.

For anyone unfamiliar, the third teacher is a widely known practice in ECE, with the 3 main teachers in an early years program being as follows: the teacher, other children/classmates, and the environment. The classroom space, in and of itself, can be a teacher to the children in the classroom, by inspiring learning and collaboration.

Having studied Reggio Emilia approach in-depth throughout my university career, I am quite familiar with this idea of the environment being a key component of early years learning. The environment should be flexible, responsive, with frequent modifications that are created by adults and children together.

If you are familiar with my Instagram or Twitter accounts, you’ll often see new furniture configurations and learning opportunities I have set up in my space. I often reference the joy that these new transformations bring me, and discuss how much I enjoy changing up my room or the materials offered within it in order to respond to student interests and spark new learning. It is such a pleasure to know that part of my job to plan for and facilitate learning in Pre-K is to simply design an environment that inspires play and exploration.

This presentation was a re-affirmation that my environment has many of the criteria for a quality early learning program. However, as a reflective practitioner, there are always improvements to be made and questions to consider. Some of the questions I came out of this presentation with are:

-What messages is my environment sending to others (parents, staff, etc.)? What thoughts do they have about the quality of education and care that are given to their child in my classroom?

-What enhancements can I make to my outdoor learning space so that it more efficiently addresses student learning and exploration? (In the fall, our outdoor learning space had a large valley filled in and three large, dead trees torn out, and is now filled with gravel/dirt that is not aesthetically pleasing. I am looking to beautify this space so it can be used more meaningfully in the future)

-What are the main purchases or additions I can make to the classroom to make it more aesthetically pleasing and calming? (I would like to add more soft lighting in our classroom, such as lamps – although finding a place to plug in in our classroom is a struggle)

-How can I involve children more in the changes/transformations that occur in the classroom? How can I bring them into this process and give them responsibility and control?

Overall, this session gave me many ideas and questions to consider further in order to make my third teacher as effective as it can be for my students. It also left me with an itch to get into my classroom and switch some things up again. I love my ever-changing classroom. ‚̧

Session #3: Natural Learning 

The third (and final) session I will be posting about today (as there are still 7 more sessions for me to watch) was put on by Suzanne Axelsson, an early childhood educator in Sweden. She discussed all of the benefits of including nature experiences for early learners, as well as what components need to be present in order to be most effective. Suzanne was absolutely astounding to listen to, and I recommend you check ¬†her out on some of her social media handles below (maybe you’re even interested in joining in on her annual event, International Fairy Tea Party, happening in September).

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The 7 components for her Natural Learning program were:

  • Wonder
  • Joy
  • Curiosity
  • Risk
  • Time
  • Collaboration/Interaction
  • Reflection

Her presentation included a wealth of knowledge, photographs of joyful learning moments captured, and a ton of stories from her experiences.

A few standout moments for me:

  • How social emotional skills of responsibility, self-regulation, comfort-giving, and collaboration were implicitly taught and infused throughout her practice. Suzanne told many stories of how her students showed empathy, compassion, and teamwork in their outdoor adventures. She also explained how she built some of these skills bit by bit through daily interactions and modelling. It was fascinating to see how these little people became caring and involved members of their learning community. This sense of belonging is something I strive for in my own practice.
  • How “risk” involves more than just the physical risk of getting hurt. Suzanne explained that there is an element of ¬†“social risk” (someone being mean to you or hurting your feelings) as well. I see this as very relevant to some of the learners we have in our classrooms today, who may struggle with this type of risk more than any other, especially with the rise of mental health struggles such as anxiety, depression, and trauma (which, yes, unfortunately, begin showing up in early childhood for some). It was a perspective that I have never heard of before, but will definitely consider if I see a child who is reluctant or struggling to engage with others – perhaps they are avoiding social risk. This also involves me, as an educator, explicitly teaching and modelling what to do in these social situations if someone DOES hurt your feelings.
  • The idea of children doing the reflecting. Reflection is so prevalent in education, that it often becomes used to the point of being comical (i.e., “as a teacher, I reflect on my lesson and then reflect on my reflection – an inception of reflections”). While it is true that teachers must be reflective in their practice, I often forget to include students in this critical process. If we are to give students responsibility and ownership of their learning, they, too, have to be involved in the reflective process. Suzanne touched briefly on how documentation, such as photographs, can be a vehicle for this reflection. This is something that I am interested in exploring more in my own practice in the future.

Well, I think that is enough for today. Thank you for coming along with me as I delved into some PD topics of interest in regards to ECE.

What professional or personal goals have you set for yourself this school year?

What buzz worthy topics are you exploring in your own practice?

How do you like to engage in professional development?

 

Until next time,

-KKF

hands on is, hands down, the way to go

Internship is drawing (very quickly!) to a close – only four days left ūüė¶ ¬†I realized that I have a lot of recapping to do. Here are some pictures of my lovely little learners engaging in some of the activities I have planned over the past month… (Never again will I put off posting this long – lesson learned!)

One thing I am extremely proud of is creating this Word of the Day program during my internship. This idea was taken from a Kindergarten teacher from Kindersley (check out¬†@PamelaSawatzky‘s Twitter handle – she is a wonderful K teacher!) during a Phonological Awareness PD event at the beginning of the school year. It involves breaking down simple CVC words into their individual sounds and then placing a dot into a box (these are called El Konin boxes and are great for students to visualize the breaking down of words into sounds) for each of the sounds heard.

In the above example (“tack”), students identify the sounds they hear:

/t/  /a/  /k/    Then, Leaders for the day get to drag a dot into a box. We then practice pulling the sounds apart and putting them back together to create the original word. We also discuss which letters make the corresponding sounds.

Nest Making

As part of our Bird Inquiry unit, I was constantly adding to and changing our authentic nest centre. It ended with this evolution, where students had the chance to create their own nests. It was so interesting to see what students came up with and what strategies they used to make their nests. On one of my observation days, some of my students were eager to teach my faculty advisor how to make a nest. Such a cool thing to see! Nest Making 2

Here are some of the finished nests:

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Another endeavour that was on my internship bucket list was Outdoor Winter Centres. These were a lot of work (and took up a lot of freezer space – haha) but SO MUCH FUN! Take a look…

I filled spray bottles with coloured water for students to ‘spray paint’ the snow with. This was definitely the biggest hit. I wished I had had more spray bottles!

Winter Centres 8

Students also used the cookie cutters to create coloured shapes in the snow.

I also made ice cubes in every colour of the rainbow for students to create snow castle creations out of. This was also very popular. The spray bottles also become a tool for decorating the castles (of course the students thought of something I didn’t).

The students above are trying to save some ‘frozen’ animals (plastic figurines I froze into clear water) using warm water. Students also tried to refreeze the animals by adding snow into the water.

Frozen Animals

 

This is a fun activity that can cover a lot of Science outcomes, but those icy animals melt a lot faster than they freeze, so have A LOT on hand.

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I thought a frozen treat was appropriate for our ice and snow themed centres. Some apple juice, ice cube trays, and popsicle sticks did the trick real quick!

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Lucky for us, this December has included GORGEOUS weather, so it was cold enough to keep the snow on the ground, but still nice enough outside that mitts could be taken off for periods of time without frozen fingers. The perfect medium!

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I loved doing centres in my Math Patterns unit, so tried to do some hands on work for our Number unit as well. Some of the centres pictures in the slideshow above are:

  • putting the correct number of eggs into nests (to tie in with our Bird Inquiry unit)
  • putting the correct amount of coloured tiles into a ten frame
  • counting objects and finding the corresponding numeral to match up
  • building block towers of a specific height
  • playing a board game with a partner and moving a specific number of spaces using 10 sided dice
  • counting the number of stars in a ‘parking lot space’ and parking a car with the corresponding number in that spot

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I also added some centres to our letter learning work. Students could choose if they wanted to do work in their ABC books, draw items that started with the designated letter, make that letter out of play dough, or trace that letter on sheets in page protectors. Although this made Learning Time pretty hectic, I think it really affirms that students all learn in different ways and that these different learning styles are represented and planned for. This also gives students choice to try several centres that suit their interests, or hone in on a specific one.

One other cool thing we did for our Bird Inquiry unit was research on the iPads using QR codes that I created for websites, photo galleries, and videos all about birds. We were lucky enough to have the Grade 6 class come in and buddy up with our K’s, who loved this! 21st century learning at its finest!

 

 

To learn about the colour Blue in November, we discussed Picasso’s blue period and tried our hand at creating masterpieces using only shades of blue.

Picasso Blue Period

 

And just to end on a sweet note, here is an adorable Snowman and Reindeer cupcake that we all had (messy) fun making.

 

Stay tuned for a post in the future that sums up my internship experience.

Yours truly,

KKF

so much to do, so little time

To start this post off… a¬†few recent KinderQuotes!

One of our students (we will call her Gracie) was at home sick.

Student: “Where is Gracie?”

Me: “Gracie is not feeling well, so she didn’t come to school today.”

Student: “What, is she sea sick or something?”


Student (holding up her middle finger to show me): “Miss. Fidelack, this finger REALLY hurts!”

I have to say, I didn’t expect to get flipped the bird in Kindergarten. :p I couldn’t help but giggle at this occurrence.


We are doing patterns in math, and during a hands-on activity with manipulatives, this conversation happened…

Student: “When do we get to do math?”

Me: “This IS math!”

Student: “But, like, real math. Because I already know what 2+2 is!”


My co-op teacher quietly called me “Kara.” A student working nearby overheard this and piped up, “Ms. Haas, why did you call Miss Fidelack “Kara”? That’s not her name!” I got a kick out of this. I feel like I have a secret identity! haha


One student often comes up to me and exclaims, “Free hug!”


A student taps me on the shoulder and reminds me, “We forgot to do milk today!” I love how good these kids are at remembering things and keeping me on track. ūüôā


Today, I accidentally got called “Grandma” and “Mom.” This cracked me up to no end. Happy that I am comparable to the wonderful grandmas and moms out there!


Some¬†cool things I’ve done lately…

Introduced hand signals that correspond to a student body action. I use these as integrated brain breaks, during Calendar/Leader time especially (when students are expected to sit and focus for an extended period of time). These are great when there is a small lull, as it breaks up student sitting and also motivates students to keep their eyes on me because they never know when I am going to do a hand signal! Here are a few pictures of the class learning them:

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This hand signal. a closed fist, is “Turtle.” The students curl their bodies up like a turtle in its shell.

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This one (flat hand, palm out, thumb up) is “Shark.” The students make a fin above their heads and circle their table one time.

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This (five fingers splayed) is “Starfish.” Students stand up and spread their arms and legs to make a star.

The kids love these and even requested additional signals. I have since introduced “Jellyfish” (thumb tucked in, four fingers pointing downward and wiggling), where students stand up and wiggle all of their arms and legs.

I also did an impromptu talking circle and hope to incorporate these more often, as students are never quieter and more attentive than when their classmates have the special ‘talking stick.’ This is also culturally responsive and integrates Indigenous ways of knowing.

I have been noticing a lot of students raising their hands to tell stories during morning routines. I wanted to think of a way to get them to hold their comments until a more appropriate time, but still be able to give them each a chance to share. Thus, Story Snack Time was born! I made a deal with students that if they can hold their stories until snack time (when we don’t “have a job to do”), I will circulate all of their tables and listen to a story from each of them. This has been amazing so far! Fewer interruptions and strengthened relationships all in one! I love being able to get to know these students’ personal experience and have one-on-one time with all of them each day. I think they are enjoying this opportunity to ‘be heard’ as well.

Finally, I did a math lesson yesterday that was one of my best lessons yet. It was set up similar to our morning “Centre Time,” when students can freely choose what they would like to do. I was focusing¬†on the skill of extending a pattern, and students had three different centres to pick from that all worked on this concept.

At this centre, students could create a pattern with the manipulatives and have their peers extend it.

At this centre, students could create a pattern with the manipulatives and have their peers extend it.

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Another centre had several different versions of these worksheets I created. I love putting these in page protectors so students can draw on them with dry erase markers and erase them later. Paper saver tip!

The third choice was a pattern book full of worksheets that my cooperating teacher usually does during this unit. I was surprised at how many pages of the books some students were able to finish! Another example of me underestimating my little geniuses.

This lesson was a hit with students! They couldn’t believe that they actually got to choose where they wanted to go. Some students jumped around a lot, and others stayed at one centre almost the entire time. I loved that students with different interests and strengths were all able to find a centre they liked. Some students are truly ready for the book work and pre-reading/writing skills, so they LOVED the workbook centre. Others are very kinaesthetic learners, so ate up the hands-on manipulatives centre. I loved this lesson because I got to interact with almost all of my students in a different, yet meaningful, way. I learned so much about what they can do and what they like to do in a small amount of time. This is why I love centres and play-based learning – if offers a world of possibilities. I am going to try and do more student-centred lessons like this in the future. Oh, and another bonus: Almost ZERO teacher talk and¬†whole class instruction time for students to sit through! Yes!

Here are the 3 worksheets that I had in the page protectors:

Extend pattern 1

extend pattern 2

extend pattern 3

Welcome to my brain…

Here are a few random thought blurbs I have had over the past week or two.

When I was home over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was somewhat irked to hear that there was a Boil Water Advisory for the tap water, as the town is working on putting in an RO system. Later, I felt guilty for feeling so inconvenienced, as I realized that we take access to clean, safe water for granted. Not only do we get water at the flick of a tap, it is usually ready for our consumption, whereas others in the world walk significant distances to get water, or have to risk drinking unsanitary water every day. That was definitely an eye-opening moment for me.

Since being placed in Kindergarten for my internship, I have been reflecting back to my days in K. I was pretty shocked at some of the things that were required when I was in Kindergarten, specifically:

  • counting to 100 every day (students have to know numbers 0-10 in today’s curriculum)
  • tying our shoes independently (which I still remember struggling with and being very frustrated over)

I just thought it was interesting to see how much things had changed since I was in my early childhood years. I think that today’s focus on play-based learning and exploration are so much more fitting for students’ developmental needs at this wonderful age.

I finished my midterm assessment with my cooperating teacher today – what a strange feeling! I can’t believe that I am approaching 50% completion of my internship! I am happy to say that I have already grown so much since we did my pre-assessment at the Internship Seminar in September. I also targeted a few goals that I will be working on as I continue my journey! Stay tuned!

-KKF

patterns and promises, patterns and promises

The past two days have been a whirlwind in the Kindergarten world. Today was school pictures, which meant that, for the first time, I got to see all 30 of my students in one day! Things went surprisingly smooth, considering one class of K’s didn’t even have regular school today and had to come to the school specifically to get their pictures done.

My pattern unit in Math is progressing extremely well. I am so impressed with how quickly my students have caught on to the concepts and how easily they can spot patterns around them in their daily lives. I was tickled pink when a student came up to me at Meet the Teacher night on Monday and told me she found a pattern in her bedroom at home – it’s great when students are interested in what you are teaching them OUTSIDE of the school walls.

The latest lesson we did was all about manipulatives! I set up three different centres for students to rotate through, at which they copied a pattern using different types of objects around the classroom. The hands-on work was obviously a good fit, as the students had minimal problems staying on task or doing their assigned jobs. I was preparing myself for the students to be distracted and disruptive, but they were focused and showed effort. I really enjoyed this type of lesson – it was lively and fun for myself and the students! “Never a dull moment” is becoming a theme for my internship – and I love it!

Here are a few photos I snapped:

Making small, big, small, big patterns with buttons.

Making small, big, small, big patterns with buttons.

Cut up construction paper is a cheap, quick, and easy way to make patterns. The students made a more complicated pattern with these: orange, orange, yellow, purple.

Cut up construction paper is a cheap, quick, and easy way to make patterns. The students made a more complicated pattern with these: orange, orange, yellow, purple.

Students copied patterns with whiteboards. One thing I didn't anticipate was students having trouble with drawing triangles. Note to self: Only use very simple and easy shapes, like circles, lines, X's, crosses, smiley faces, etc.

Students copied patterns with whiteboards. One thing I didn’t anticipate was students having trouble with drawing triangles. Note to self: Only use very simple and easy shapes, like circles, lines, X’s, crosses, smiley faces, etc.

Here is a copy of my lesson plan: Lesson3Pattern

A big realization I had this week is that I need to let go of my mental image of an ideal, perfect classroom. After teaching this lesson for the first time, I felt that it was rather chaotic. When reflecting on my lesson with my cooperating teacher, she kindly pointed out that it was a successful lesson and that “this is what Kindergarten looks like.” She is absolutely right – Kindergarten is messy, and noisy, and all-over-the-place, and full of hands-on exploration. It can definitely look and feel like chaos, but as long as meaningful learning is taking place (which I have discovered is pretty much ALWAYS happening), you have to let go of the idea that all of the students will sit nicely at their desks and do exactly as you originally pictured. This is one of the best things about Kindergarten – I am always surprised at what students will bring to the table and how differently they will view a lesson than I do.

It is going to be a continued learning experience for me as I keep being introduced to what exactly a Kindergarten class looks like.

Also this week, I covered a lesson that I am extremely proud of and excited about: a Treaty Ed/Social Studies crossover all about Promises. Here is the lesson plan: PromisesLesson

I was extremely impressed with how well the K’s watched the video book (link here – “The Promise” read online) and discussed its main elements in detail. They had a much deeper conversation than I expected going in. They also sat for an extended period of time in the talking circle – maybe this was increased stamina due to a change of scenery (sitting in a circle versus all facing one way)?

The students then made their own promises that would help to keep our classroom a safe and happy place. They then illustrated them. Here are a few samples:

books promise

follow rules promise

What a cute (and smart) promise!

What a cute (and smart) promise!

play w friends promise

Notice the cowboy hats - too cute!

Notice the cowboy hats – too cute!

Today, the students went outside for Phys Ed (as the photographer was in the gymnasium). They soon noticed an abundance of lady bugs and, in true Kindergarten fashion, we quickly grabbed some handy bug houses to collect them in. Emergent curriculum makes its first appearance in my internship: we are going to have an observation centre and a KWL/mini-inquiry lesson on lady bugs tomorrow! All I have to say is: Thank goodness for teacher librarians! We let her know (at the end of the school day) that we were looking for books about lady bugs and not too long after, she magically appears in our room with several options (fiction and non-fiction to boot!). I will be sure to snap lots of pictures and post about our lady bug inquiry soon.

Until then,

-KKF

tutoring highlights

I have been tutoring an awesome little guy 2 days a week this month. I am trying to do lots of fun and hands-on things that relate to real life skills. Here are a few highlights of the activities we have done together.

Vowel hunt with fridge magnets and a cookie sheet

Vowel hunt with fridge magnets and a cookie sheet

Order the alphabet correctly (can be timed to compete against last time's record)

Order the alphabet correctly (can be timed to compete against last time’s record)

Two-digit addition and subtraction with pebbles (ones) and twigs (tens) - great way to bring natural resources into math as manipulatives!

Two-digit addition and subtraction with pebbles (ones) and twigs (tens) – great way to bring natural resources into math as manipulatives!

Fractions with licorice and chocolate bars - make math yummy

Fractions with licorice and chocolate bars – make math yummy

Went to the grocery store, picked out and bought items to make smoothies! They were dee-lish!

Went to the grocery store, picked out and bought items to make smoothies! They were dee-lish!

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Smoothie recipe

Smoothie recipe

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Nature scavenger hunt - something fuzzy Love this activity, because it gets kids reading the clues and they are responsible for finding all of the items. You can make a list tailored specifically to things in your immediate area that kids can easily find.

Nature scavenger hunt – something fuzzy
Love this activity, because it gets kids reading the clues and they are responsible for finding all of the items. You can make a list tailored specifically to things in your immediate area that kids can easily find.

garage sale haul + internship pd event

On the weekend, I was out of town visiting a high school friend. It was an absolutely beautiful day outside AND there were a ton of local garage sales for us to hit up – WIN WIN! In true teacher fashion, I bought items entirely for future classroom use. Most of my finds were influenced by a recent PD event I attended through Sun West School Division (the school division in which I will be doing my internship).

I traveled to Rosetown (the location of the division office) to take part in an event for Kindergarten teachers that focused on “Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide,” which is a resource that supplements the curriculum for Early Childhood Educators. It focused a lot on the vision and principles of a quality early childhood education program and I am very excited to try out some of the ideas in the fall. We all had a chance to try our hand at creating an engaging ‘invitation for learning.’

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My invitation focused on objects and items that were round or circular. I thought this would tie in well with Medicine Wheels and other Indigenous elements – drums, sun, earth, moon, etc.

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This centre encourages students to explore the letters of the alphabet in a variety of mediums.

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An invitation to delve into shapes.

At the workshop, I had a chance to meet my cooperating teacher for the first time. She greeted me with an embrace as she said “I’m a hugger!” That was an instant moment of happiness and comfort. My coop teacher has been teaching Kindergarten for five years, and told me that she is hoping to try some new things next year – “We will learn together” as she put it. She was very informative and answered my jumble of questions eagerly. I am so excited to embark upon this awesome journey with such a bubbly and helpful cooperating teacher by my side.

At the workshop, I learned that it is important to have a quiet corner in your classroom for students to decompress and have alone time, if needed. This can also double as a reading corner. Inviting and comfortable furniture is a must to implement this kind of area in your classroom, which leads me to my first garage sale purchase: two wicker benches perfect for little bodies to curl up on. The drawers are a perfect hiding spot for inviting books. I also found two natural-toned pillows that could pair with benches as cushions, or be put in the carpet area for sitting.

These could also double as a centre area for activities  if plastic trays or blankets were placed on the top. The drawers could hold blocks, drawing materials, props for dress up, etc.

These could also double as a centre area for activities if plastic trays or blankets were placed on the top. The drawers could hold blocks, drawing materials, props for dress up, etc.

The small bench is perfect for one.

The small bench is perfect for one.

The larger bench of the two.

The larger bench of the two.

These could also be incorporated into a dramatic play centre such as an office, restaurant, or house if the right props were added.

These could also be incorporated into a dramatic play centre such as an office, restaurant, or house if the right props were added.

A comfy place to sit and read a favourite book with calming, natural colours.

A comfy place to sit and read a favourite book with calming, natural colours.

The other thing I learned at the workshop (which echoed many of the ideals I learned in my ECE courses at U of R) was that invitations require aesthetically pleasing and organized presentation. This means you need a lot of containers (to display, sort, organize, and store all of your items). So I stocked up on a variety of trays, containers, and organizers to inspire, encourage, and direct student exploration.

Baskets of differing sizes, colours, and shapes provide variety to satisfy many uses.

Baskets of differing sizes, colours, and shapes provide variety to satisfy many uses.

These beautifully filigreed silver boxes reminded me of delicate treasure chests. The smaller one can nest inside the large one to decrease storage space. These would be perfect to hold numerous kinds of materials.

These beautifully filigreed silver boxes reminded me of delicate treasure chests. The smaller one can nest inside the large one to decrease storage space. These would be perfect to hold numerous kinds of materials.

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I fell in love with these wooden fruit-shaped trays. They are all separated to inspire sorting and classifying - great for math tasks.

I fell in love with these wooden fruit-shaped trays. They are all separated to inspire sorting and classifying – great for math tasks.

Displaying interesting objects

Displaying interesting objects

Sort object by colour, size, shape, texture, etc. Or use to count as you move objects from one space to the other.

Sort object by colour, size, shape, texture, etc. Or use to count as you move objects from one space to the other.

This square glass tray was too cute to pass up - I love the design and colour. Perfect for sorting and displaying.

This square glass tray was too cute to pass up – I love the design and colour. Perfect for sorting and displaying.

I got a whole box full of these blue plastic containers. They came in a multitude of sizes and shapes. They all came with lids too, which is a bonus.

I got a whole box full of these blue plastic containers. They came in a multitude of sizes and shapes. They all came with lids too, which is a bonus.

Aside from providing storage, I thought students might also use these as building blocks!

Aside from providing storage, I thought students might also use these as building blocks!

Circular trays perfect for sorting, arranging, displaying, or organizing. Could also be used for liquids or solids such as grains of rice, beans, seeds, etc.

Circular trays perfect for sorting, arranging, displaying, or organizing. Could also be used for liquids or solids such as grains of rice, beans, seeds, etc.

I really loved these 4 square trays. The wood grain looking texture is very natural. Could serve so many purposes!

I really loved these 4 square trays. The wood grain looking texture is very natural. Could serve so many purposes!

I chose this oblong silver tray because of its reflective properties - perfect for exploring light and reflections. These three lady bug stones were just too cute to pass up.

I chose this oblong silver tray because of its reflective properties – perfect for exploring light and reflections. These three lady bug stones were just too cute to pass up.

This ice cube tray was free! They are perfect for sorting or counting. Here I showed how they could be used to distinguish hues and shades of the different colours.

This ice cube tray was free! They are perfect for sorting or counting. Here I showed how they could be used to distinguish hues and shades of the different colours.

What was your best garage sale or bargain find for your classroom? 

Until next time,

-KKF