new year, new adventure

So, I’ve been sitting on some exciting news for a while that involves my teaching assignment next year…

As many of you know, I currently teach Pre-Kindergarten in the morning and an assortment of prep classes in Grades 4, 5, 6, and Kindergarten in the afternoon. There have been some changes in class sizes and staffing next year, and I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to keep my beloved Pre-K in the a.m. and teach Grade 1 for the other half of my job next year! 

With the end of the year in sight, this news has finally started to truly sink in and become real for me (even though I have known for quite awhile already). I am starting to picture what teaching Gr 1 will look like, and how my job next year will be drastically different from the last two.

I seem to recall saying that June is a time of reflection and reminiscing on my blog this time last year, and I find this go around to be no different. As I think back on my last two years of prep teaching, I can’t help but count all of the ways that prep teaching has been a blessing to me as a brand new teacher:

  • It made me step out of my comfort zone and teach 3 grades that I had never even thought about teaching before (Gr 4, 5, 6). I never envisioned myself in upper elementary, so this was an adventure in getting to know what students at these ages are like. I think I can affirmatively say, now, that each age level offers its own unique challenges and joys.
  • It helped me get to know the staff and students a lot better, a lot quicker. I came to Hudson Bay as a brand-spankin’-new teacher straight out of university and didn’t know anyone in the community. Teaching a variety of grades helped me to learn about the student population and put A LOT more faces to names than I would have been able to if I was strictly in one grade. It also allowed me to build relationships with many different colleagues that I teach prep classes for. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be as connected to the staff and students here if I had been in a single-grade teaching assignment.
  • I got to learn a lot of new technology that I couldn’t have used in Pre-K. As an early years teacher, I believe that my young students are capable of a lot, but some things are simply not realistic for them to do. Teaching older grades allowed me to try out many tech tools that are not developmentally appropriate for 3 and 4 year olds, such as Recap, Plickers, Google Classroom, Kahoot!, Padlet, QR codes, Garage Band, etc.
  • I got to navigate teaching more “traditional” curriculum and discover how to assess it. The Pre-K curriculum and environment is vastly different from a numbered-grade set up. Getting to teach some of the older grades helped me figure out my personal teaching style and assessment practices. I can proudly say that I have stuck true to one of my teaching philosophies coming out of university and have yet to give a test in any of my prep classes, opting instead for a variety of different assessment strategies that are more product-based than rote memorization and regurgitation (although, those certainly have a place in other subjects that I do not teach in those grade levels).
  • I had many new and diverse experiences. Getting to organize the Culture Fair (a Grade 6 Social Studies tradition), working with Public Health nurses to facilitate Puberty curriculum in Grade 5 Health, video chatting live on Skype with a Saskatchewan-born musician for Gr 4 Music, the list goes on and on! Teaching upper elementary provides a lot of different opportunities than an early years classroom for sure!
  • It gave me a taste for and appreciation of prep teachers! Much like my views on the general public and serving/waitressing, I think every teacher should have to get some experience with prep teaching during their career, just to understand what it is like. Prep teaching is a very unique and diverse teaching assignment that, while not usually sought-after, is absolutely essential! At the end of the day, I could rest easy knowing that my job is providing my colleagues with their much-needed and well-deserved prep time!

To sum this all up, I have enjoyed my time prep teaching and tried to take all the learning out of it that I possibly could. I have to be honest and say that prep teaching, along with all of the benefits that I listed above, also includes a list of challenges and struggles, and boy, did I have my struggles!

While I look back fondly on my time prep teaching, I am also delighted to see what next year looks like when I am teaching Gr 1 and have more of a “home,” rather than bouncing around from place to place. I know that this new teaching assignment will have many more new lessons to teach me!

Do you have a new teaching assignment next year? 

What is the role of change and evolution in your teaching practice?

Have you ever taught prep classes? What was your experience?

 

Until next time,

-KKF

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pre-k FINALLY started!!!

Well, my friends, after the first two days of Pre-K, I can finally say that I feel the school year (and my career) has begun!

Was it messy? Yes.

Was it completely chaotic at times? YES.

Did I almost lose my voice after the first morning? Yes.

Did we have a few tears? Yes (but way fewer than I mentally prepared myself for).

Did I have to run after a wandering student several times? Yes.

Did I tie shoes, zip zippers, and pull sweaters over heads? Yes. About 100 times. And we are going to start working on independence with these tasks ASAP – haha.

Did I absolutely love it? Yes!

 

Having my mornings filled with Pre-K now makes my day go a lot faster! The time really flies when you spend your time with 15 three and four year olds. And boy, do they keep you on your toes! Never a dull moment.

I would say that the first two days were a major success! We are working on learning basic routines and procedures at school, and I think this next full week coming up will help solidify these expectations.

I even got all of my students sitting in small groups doing table work on the SECOND DAY!!! Sure, it may have only lasted a few minutes, but I call that a victory!

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I think this picture perfectly sums up Pre-K. It looks chaotic and messy. But all of the students are engaged and learning in their own way. That is what I think our entire education system should strive towards. 

As I looked back through pictures of the two morning we spent together, my heart soared. I was overwhelmed with pride and love for these amazing little people I get to call my students. It truly is amazing that I am getting paid to spend my day with these lovely, blossoming little learners and be a part of their lives. I promise I won’t take it for granted.

-Ms. F

 

new beginnings

Hello, blogging world! In the past 8 months, I have been grossly absent from this little slice of the internet, but I am happy to announce that, with the new school year (my FIRST as a teacher!) approaching, I am setting a goal to get back into it with gusto! Ideally, I would like to post once a week about my journey, but I also want to be realistic and give my first-year-teacher self a bit of leeway, so I am hoping to post every 2 weeks (or twice a month). Who knows, maybe I will pleasantly surprise myself and use blogging as a welcome break from planning – haha.

Just a little refresher and catch-up on my life…

I moved to Hudson Bay and into my adorable little house this past Sunday (July 31). I am absolutely LOVING it! I feel right at home here; having grown up in a small town, it feels familiar and comforting. I know that small town teaching is definitely my niche.

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Home sweet home 🙂

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in this room – the couch and chairs make a great spot to sit and plan.

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My little slice of home – all my friends and family.

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Of course, as soon as I got keys to the school, I was in my classroom and rearranging furniture (thank goodness most of it is on wheels!). I loved how the previous teacher had the room set up (everything in there is so ECE friendly, calming, and beautiful), but I decided to change it up completely to give the room a fresh feel and to put my own spin on it. That definitely helped to make the room feel like mine, and hopefully it will signal a fresh start to students as well!

I decided to have areas in the room that served a specific purpose. I have a quiet/calming/comfy area for students to curl up in if they need a break from the hustle and bustle of the other things going on (it’s complete with a leather sofa and recliner – both miniature, of course!). Then I have a block/construction area and a house (complete with baby dolls, another child-sized couch, and a kitchen and table) area. I have a numeracy/literacy centre where targeted letter/number/fine motor work will be set up. My story corner/morning meeting area is carpeted and features a “VIP/Leader” leather chair, the SMART board, and a book display/shelf. There are 2 large tables in the open space of the classroom for eating snack/doing activities. At the back of my room, I have an art and exploration theme going on – there is a shelf with art supplies and a two-sided easel, as well as the sand and water tables. Finally, near my desk in the back corner is a natural items/small parts/FNMI area (pictured below).

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See the circular basket divided into four quadrants?  I am going to use that as a Medicine Wheel!

 

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This is the visual schedule that is displayed at the morning meeting area. I made it myself – can you tell I’m pretty proud?

Once I have everything set up and picture perfect, I will post pictures of all of the areas of my classroom. I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

For now, I am spending most of my days planning and prepping. I made an interactive SMART notebook file at the school today, which students will use to check in each morning for ‘attendance.’ Can’t wait to share more of my adventure with everyone!

Stay tuned!

-KKF

P.S. Did I mention I went on a two-week cruise/land tour to ALASKA with my lovely mom?! We were celebrating being finished our respective educational endeavours – me my degree, and my mom the Educational Assistant course through Sask Polytech. Here are just a couple of the 1000 snapshots I took! It was an awesome getaway and bonding experience that we both adored!

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Our first port of call – Ketchikan, AK

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Checking out historic totem poles

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Whale watching in Juneau – highlight of the trip!

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Dog sledding in Skagway

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Hanging out with some sled dogs 🙂

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I just think this photo is about the cutest thing ever. Sled dog puppies ❤

OT kit

I created an OT (Occupational Therapy) kit for an assignment in one of my Education classes. This kit is geared towards Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 1 and is focused on developing pre-printing skills, such as pencil grip and hand strength (as well as some hand-eye coordination activities). The materials within each activity are every day objects that can easily be found around the house. All of the activities are meant to be fun and challenging, so students will actually enjoy practicing these skills.

If I were to implement this kit in my classroom, I would have students choose an activity to work on for 5-10 minutes before a printing/writing class in order to warm up their hands. These activities could also be turned into centres in a Pre-K or Kindergarten classroom, too.

Food Olympics

Playdoh SpagPenne

This station consists of two different activities. For the first activity, students hold a piece of dry spaghetti in between their thumb and index finger and attempt to pick up a dry penne noodle off of the table. In the second activity, students stick spaghetti noodles into a lump of Play-Doh on the table and use their thumb and index fingers to pick up Froot Loops (or Cheerios, beads, etc.) and thread them onto the spaghetti.

Modifications

  • use the coloured Froot Loops to make a pattern on the spaghetti noodle (ex. pink, purple, green, pink, purple, green)

Mr./Mrs. Ball

Mr Ball

Making Mr. or Mrs. Ball is really easy – just cut a small slit into a tennis ball (the bigger the slit, the easier it is to open Mr./Mrs. Ball’s mouth, so you can have a few with differing sizes to make the activity more challenging as students progress).

Students have to use their thumb and index finger to squeeze Mr. or Mrs. Ball so their mouth will open. Then students hold the mouth open and use their other hand to ‘feed’ the ball some buttons, round chips, etc. When Mr. or Mrs. Ball is full, just hold their mouth open and shake out the buttons to start all over.

Modifications

  • count how many buttons you feed Mr. or Mrs. Ball one by one

Cotton Ball Push

Turkey Baster

Students use their turkey baster to blow the items off of the edge of the table (note: make sure you use your thumb and index finger to pinch the end of the turkey baster). This activity is a lot harder than it looks! Students may need to hold the small end of the turkey baster with their other hand to ‘aim.’ Materials of different sizes (ex. packing peanuts, cotton balls, small foam beads, etc.) can be used to increase difficulty.

Modifications

  • blow the cotton ball into a certain area of the table (marked off with tape)
  • count how many items you can blow off of the table in 1 minute

Tweezer Pick Up

Tweezers

Students use their thumb and index finger to pick up various items (pom poms, cotton balls, beads, popsicle sticks, buttons) with the tweezers.

Modifications

  • have various items all mixed together and students use their tweezers to sort them into categories (type, colour, size)
  • count the items that you can pick up in 1 minute
  • count how many of each item there are as you pick them up

Fishing

Fish

This activity uses triple the hand strength/finger grip! First, place the fish on the floor and have students stand when they use the fishing rod. Students must hold the rod in between their index finger and thumb and move the fishing rod so that the binder clip on the end touches one of the fish (this will be a test of hand-eye coordination as well). Once they touch a fish, students bend down and use their pencil-grasp fingers to open the binder clip and clip it to their fish. Finally, students use their index fingers and thumbs (on each end of the pencil) to turn the rod around and around in order to ‘reel in’ their fish (as the string gets shorter and shorter from being wrapped around the pencil).

Modifications

  • challenge students to touch the binder clip to a certain colour fish
  • see how fast you can reel in all of the fish
  • math: “We started with 6 fish and you reeled in 2. How many are left to catch?”

Firefighter

Firefighter

Students will love to be a hero and put out the fire on this burning building! Make sure to laminate the colouring page (or put it in a page protector) so that it can be used again and again. First, students colour in the flames on the picture with washable marker. Then, they dip their sponge into the small cup of water and use it to ‘put out the fire’ by washing off the marker.

This activity would go great with a Social Studies unit learning about community helpers or a Health unit on Fire Safety!

Crazy Straw Maze

Crazy Straw

This is another activity that can be surprisingly tough (especially with very bendy straws). Simply cut out some shapes from felt or foam and add holes in the middle. Students thread the shapes onto the straw and attempt to get them off of the other side of the straw by maneuvering the straw and shapes with their index fingers and thumbs. Note: Do not use crazy straws that make a complete loop (shown below), as the foam shapes will not be able to pass through this obstacle.

Modifications

  • name the shapes as you get them through the maze
  • put shapes through the maze in a pattern (square, then circle, square, then circle)
  • see how many you can get through the maze in 1 minute

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DO NOT USE CRAZY STRAWS LIKE THIS —->

Hang the Laundry

LaundryStudents simply hang up baby or doll clothes onto a bungee cord or string. Ensure that students are using their thumb and index finger to pinch the clothespins open.

Modifications

  • hang up the laundry in a pattern (yellow, green, pink OR sock, sock, mitten)
  • math: how many people can you dress with the clothes that are on the line?

Hockey

HockeyA Canadian classic! Popsicle sticks as hockey sticks (use your index finger and thumb!), pom pom as a puck, and masking tape to make lines/goals.

Modifications

  • play in teams (you must pass to each partner before attempting to score a goal)
  • shoot to the goal on the other side of the table from behind the opposite side

Penny Flipping

PenniesLay all the pennies out in a line on the table (this works best if all of the pennies are the same way – all with heads showing, for example). Have the students flip the pennies over, one by one, using their index finger and thumb.

Modifications

  • use coins of different denominations and have students count the total as they flip (ex. for dime dime dime they would say 10 cents, 20 cents, 30 cents)
  • have students start at opposite ends of the line and see how fast they can flip all of the pennies over as a team

Tug of War

Rubber Bands2 students form an ‘O’ shape with their index finger and thumb (like the gesture for A-OK!) and hold the rubber band within the ‘O’ they made with their fingers. Students rest their elbows on the table, wrists bent, and slowly move their arms (from the elbow) apart. Try to make the other person’s ‘O’ break. Note: try to have thick rubber bands or bands covered in fabric so that they won’t snap and hurt the students. Emphasize that students use caution – we aren’t trying to hurt each other, just make our fingers stronger!

Beading

BeadsHand-eye coordination, hand strength, and fine motor skills are rolled into one. Students can take home whatever they make in this station, which is a bonus!

Modifications

  • use your beads to make a pattern
  • practice tying knots in your string
  • count the beads as you thread them

Mazes

MazesLaminating or putting mazes in a page protector means they can be reused many times.

Pom Pom Sort

Pom Pom SortStudents use their thumb and index fingers to pick up the pom poms and put them in the corresponding colour-coded tube. This is also a great way for students to learn their colours.

Modifications

  • primary-secondary colours: have pom poms in the primary colours and tubes in secondary colours. Students have to put the two primary colours into the corresponding secondary colour tube (ex. red and blue pom poms go into purple tube)
  • math: I had five blue pom poms at the start and I have one left in my hand. How many pom poms are hiding in the tube?
  • quick pick up: how fast can I sort all of the pom poms?

Ring Toss

Ring TossDecorate your paper plate rings any way you want. You can make a base for the paper towel tube post or have one student hold the post while the other partner throws the rings.

If students make their own paper plate rings, cutting the holes in the plates is a great hand-eye coordination and hand strengthening exercise.

Hope you enjoyed my OT kit!

What OT activities do you incorporate into your classroom?

Until next time,

-KKF

pre-kindergarten ideas

I did my ECS 100 Field Experience in a Pre-Kindergarten classroom, and the teacher had so many great ideas that I would love to steal!1) Pictures of the students as attendance.
When the children come in, they find the picture of themself and stick it to a large board with velcro. At this age, some of them have a hard time distinguishing which picture is theirs, so this is a beneficial activity. The teacher says that as the year progresses, children have to match their picture to their name.

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2) Names on felt squares.
The teacher cut out differently colored felt squares and placed each child’s name on a square with tape. In the morning, they have to find their name square on the rug and sit down on it. Again, this helps them recognize which name belongs to them (and allows a teacher to decide where the students will sit – talkers/wigglers at the front, chatters not beside each other, etc.).
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3) Ouchie/ Boo-Boo book

It has actual band-aids in it! So cute. Also, the teacher mentioned that the kids love these books because they are the stars.

4) Guess Who? book

Then the next page shows a front-facing picture of the child with the caption “It’s _______!”

5) Other themed books.

-My Favorite Candy
A blank line where a picture goes and the words “‘s favorite candy is…” and underneath a wrapper of their favorite candy.

-Halloween Costume Parade
A picture of the child in their costume. Underneath, the words, “I see ______. He/she is a ________.”