Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dog's Colorful Day

My niece is expecting her first baby! Yay! So what's an aunt to do? Of course, I am cyber-stalking her "future mommy" page on Pinterest. I was so excited to see her pin and re-pin many felt board and felt play activities. So when it was decided that instead of giving a card at her baby shower, we would give her a children's book; I had to start thinking about which felt board books I loved so I could send her some felt play along with my book. One of my favorites is "Dog's Colorful Day" by Emma Dodd.

Dog has some very exciting, messy and colorful adventures throughout the day. The readers are encouraged to count and describe the spots that start to appear on dog's fur as the evidence of his adventures. For example, dog starts off with one black spot on his left ear, but after passing the painted door he now has two spots. One black spot on his left ear and one blue spot from the paint. The adventures continue throughout Dog's day.
My preschoolers loved interacting with this book with a felt board activity I made. As we read the book, the children would sequence the item that caused the spot on Dog at the top of my felt board in left to right progression. We would also add the appropriate spot to dog. At the end of the story, we put dog in the bath to get clean and then finally in his bed. This is a lesson the kids wanted repeated time and time again. They loved playing with the colors and the sequence of the story through the felt pieces.

Consequently, I got to have lots of conversations about colors, numbers and retelling stories through play. Isn't that the best?

 Photo credit:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Networking and Socials

For the past few days I have been thinking about the many people who have helped me develop my teaching skills.  Obviously, I have learned from college courses, trainings and observations.  However, I have also learned and developed skills in a more subtle way....simply socializing and talking with others in the field of education.

One of the teachers on my team from five years ago and at a different school e-mailed me to let me know that someone in her hallway was throwing away SRA Reading Mastery teacher presentation kits.  These kits are expensive: $1,200-$1,500.  I was thrilled!  I have access to all of our comprehensive reading materials that the district requires us to use, but I like to have a bank of supplemental materials on hand for those kiddos who need more.

After I went to her school to pick them up, I ran into some other teachers and assistants that I used to work with and they invited me to join them for lunch.  I'm always up for a summer lunch with fun people so of course I agreed.

When I got home I started thinking about this.  We did some talking about school, but lots of talking about summer activities, vacations, families, etc. etc. etc.  However, because of these relationships that were built and then held on to by keeping in touch; my friend gifted me with almost $3,000 worth of materials.

Now I'm not suggesting you go out and make friends so that hopefully you will profit from it!  I'm just saying that sometimes those lunch dates, happy hours, chatting over coffee and socials at conferences help you build up a network of people who are happy to help if they can.  We don't always have to be actively discussing curriculum or Common Core or classroom management.  Sometimes those relationships we build with other colleagues help to support us when we are running on empty or they surprise us with happy gifts in August!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Daily Five Chapter 3

With all the concepts about setting up your room and gathering materials in chapter 3, the thing I most focused on was teaching my studetns the concept of a "good fit" book.

My assistants and I implemented the lesson outlined in the book that shows kids the concept of a good fit compared to the concept of shoes fitting well.  I brought in my husband's golf shoes, my scuba diving fins, my niece's tennis shoes (who is 3), a pair of high heels, etc.  The kids really started to understand that there was a difference to purpose and interest.

We have all of our books in bins and labeled according to their levels.  The students had their individual levels assigned to them and posted in the reading log folders.  I was in for a BIG surprise, however.

Shame on me....because they could pick out books in the library according to their levels and because they could tell me their levels, I assumed they could find them from our classroom library too.  Wrong!  They didn't understand the concept of a range.  So when I pulled out books and was showing them how to return them to our classroom library, I got lots of nods.  When I handed each child a random book and asked them to return it to the classroom library, they couldn't do it.  They didn't know that the bucket labeled 2.0-2.4, included levels 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4.

When I figured out they couldn't return books to the right spot, I decided to ask them to show me which buckets they would look in if they wanted to find a book at their level....again, they didn't know how to do it!

We had to have several days of practicing cleaning up the books and finding books in their ranges before they understood this.

That was a good wake up call for me.  I didn't really even think about understanding the concept of a range being a prerequisite skill for be able to access books quickly and easily at their levels.