Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter Penguin Counting to 20 freebie!

Hey ya'll! It's been forever! I just created this little goodie to help my preschoolers practice counting! I've decided to share it as a freebie since I'm too lazy to upload stuff to TPT anymore (It's a process ya'll!) So you're in luck! Here are some penguin counting (ten frame) cards you can print, cut, and laminate. It includes numbers to 0-20.

Here is a recording sheet to go with the counting cards in case you need one for a center!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Metro School Chosen As National Model For Behavior, Discipline Fairness

Hey all! I have a future post in the works about all the fun stuff we've been doing in my Pre-K class this year! Now that I have a year under my belt with the PreK curriculum and after starting in a new district, I have a little more extra time to devote to my teacher blog. =) If you've read my past few entries, you know that we are a worksheet free school. Metro Nashville Public Schools received an amazing grant to provide a developmentally appropriate education for our preK students. We currently have 4 early learning centers, that are for Pre-K students. I work in one of those early learning centers, so if we wanted to use a worksheet- we are encouraged to find alternate ways to teach and gather data on our students through play. It's been a game changer for me. But that's a whole other post! =)

I'm so excited because our school was chosen as a National Model to provide a social-emotional education to our students to provide equity among ALL children when it comes to addressing their behavior. Once this went public, my favorite news station came to our school to share the story. And they filmed my class and I for some of the footage as they told the story. I was so nervous, but excited! :) Below is the footage, but they came in at the end of the day between nap and dismissal... and funny story! Right before they came in to ask if they could film us, I had just spilled my coffee ALL OVER my desk and floor! hahaha I was mortified but didn't want to pass up a cool opportunity, so I said come on in! =)

(And how cute are my kiddos? I just love them! Clearly, some are a little sleepy in the footage after just waking up! But they really are an energetic, happy, silly, lovable group of kids that I am so lucky to teach!)

And thank you to everyone who has continued to support me on TPT and following me on here. I know I've been on a hiatus... but the fact that people still read my old posts, email me with questions and support me on TPT is such a blessing! I'm so grateful for you all! <3

Monday, January 4, 2016

A tour of my PreK Classroom

So if you're anything like me... You LOVE seeing pictures of other people's classrooms! Today, MNPS gave teachers a planning day. Because I finished my plans before break, that gave me all day to clean and rearrange my classroom. We dusted all the shelves with pledge (and it smelled amazing), moved the furniture around and swept underneath all the shelves (the floors never looked better!) and I organized our huge closet and my drawers. It looks fantastic now!

You'll notice my PreK room is not AS bright and colorful as my Kindergarten room. (This is not my choice. lol) We are "encouraged" to keep bright colors to a minimum and keep with neutral colors with some blues and greens. But my rainbow loving heart has an extremely hard time with this OBVI. 

So here's your tour....
My pathetic word wall to the left. It has housed my student's pictures and name's all year. (And nothing else. Definitely an area of improvement.) The library center and cozy corner. The cozy corner offers my students an area where they can go to calm down, be alone or read a book. I've made it a rule that only one student is allowed in there at a time all year, but thinking I may start letting 2 friends as long as they are reading.

Here's a view of the coolest hanging lamp ever. (All the classrooms in my building have them!) Below is our dramatic play center. We are in the middle of a music-making study, so my para is a creative genius and made a "Center Stage" with red curtains for the kids to perform in. This also houses our puppet theatre to the left. The bulletin board picture shows the kids different problem solving skills. My para is going to add a title to the board tomorrow while I'm at CPR training. I'm excited to have the board to refer to when the kids may need some help with solving a social problem.

Block area. We post pictures of different styles of buildings for the kids. I actually have one who LOVES trying to build each one! He'll come get me from whatever I aim doing to show me his structures! I love it!

A better view of the block shelf and some more building photographs.

Gotta have a little literacy and social studies in the block center!

The Discovery center. Thanks to my awesome work friend Dana for the stump stools. The gray tote to the left houses or class worms. (Yup... and the kids LOVE holding them. Well most of them anyways... lol)

A view of our toys & games center.

The back of our math center.

Other side of our math shelf.

Another view of our word wall and some fun charts we have done! (They LOVE the Chubby Snowman!)

Art center #duh

Nothing exciting in the sand table right now, except... sand. (Need to switch out some fun toys for Jan!)

The kids listened to music and we "felt" the music as we drew. 
The next few photos are some examples of tallying we did before Winter break! I was so amazed at how well the kids did on their own with this! They came up with their own question to ask their classmates. Then they walked around the room with a clipboard and crayon, asked their peers the questions and tallied their responses. I had them bring it to me when they were finished and I watched them count their tallies and I wrote the numbers down for them. Then I asked them which had more/fewer. 

I love this question!

He did a great job!

This one asked how old my para and I were, so we wrote down our age since we are neither 4 nor 5! 

Before winter break, we had some visitors come in and talk to the kids about their musical talents. Before the visitors came, the kids helped come up with some questions to ask them. Ya'll... these kids are AWESOME! I didn't prompt any of these questions! They came up with them all on their own! 

The visitors would share with us their talent and perform something for the class. Then we asked our visitor the questions and I wrote down their responses. The kids loved this! (And I just realized I forgot to take pics of the instruments the kids made below this chart! Well shoot! Maybe tomorrow! *wink *wink)

You'll notice there is no clip chart or behavior management system in my room. That's because we have an amazing Social-Emotional curriculum we use called "Second Step" and we also use CSEFEL. The reason why....? Because we are teaching the children problem solving skills and self-management skills. I thought I would hate this... but actually, I love it. The kids are responding very well and I've seen them put the new skills into place! Plus, now that I have the bulletin board in dramatic play center, I can refer to that when needed also! It's great! I also have the benefit of seeing all the parents when they drop their child off and when they pick them up!

Sunday, January 3, 2016


So here we are, 2016! It's been a long time since I've even thought about blogging until recently. I have actually been thinking a lot these past few months on how much I miss teaching Kindergarten. And then I slap my forehead and remind myself how great my current job is.

As you may already know from my last post (back in May 2015) I got a new job teaching Pre-K in Nashville. I was psyched and so ready for a new adventure in my life. So I packed up my classroom of 6 years, wiped my tears after saying goodbye to some of my best friends and made the hour drive to my new home! (Well.... technically moving came 2 months later after I started teaching in Nashville. But that's not important!)

Anywho- I'm so honored to be a part of a Pre-K grant we have in Nashville. I get to work in 1 of the 3 "Pre-K hubs" in the district. If you are like me, when you think of public school Pre-K teachers, you envision maybe 1 or 2 pre-K teachers in an elementary school, right? Well, that's true for most of Nashville. But now we have 3 "hubs", which are school buildings filled with ONLY preK classrooms. So in my building, there are 10 pre-k classrooms. It's AMAZING. I love it. I get to work with so many creative, fun, friendly "experts" in our field! It's my dream job! My principal is so knowledgeable of early childhood and she really knows her stuff and encourages developmentally appropriate practices! Ya'll... I'm talking PLAY. These 4-year-olds actually get to play while they learn. I've been ranting and raving about how we need more play in schools for kindergarten-3rd grade. And now I get to do it!

We have a wonderful curriculum that provides books, small group ideas, instructional transition activities and more! Planning is a breeze b/c we are encouraged to use the curriculum to fidelity because the research behind our curriculum has shown how effective it is. We do 6 week studies on things like:
  • buildings, 
  • trees, 
  • clothing, 
  • reduce, reuse and recyling
  • exercise
  • balls
  • music making
  • boxes
  • pets
  • roads
  • bread
We also use a "Beginning of the Year" study the first 6 weeks and a "Getting Ready for Kindergarten" unit the last 6 weeks of the school year.

So if you're any good at math, you might be thinking "How on earth do you teach all of those units in one school year?" Well... we don't! We figure out what the children are interested in and use the kid's interests to determine what unit we'll dive into next! So after I finished the beginning of the year study, I thought about how great it would be to do the buildings study since they were doing a lot of construction in the front of our building so we could take walks outside while the weather was still nice and see how it changed as the year went on. I also thought trees would be fun with the leaves changing colors in the fall. So I talked to the kids about it. I told them the things we would investigate and the fun activities we could do. Then they each got to vote on what study they would be more interested in. Buildings won, so that was our next unit! The kids had a blast on our walks around the building and watching the different construction vehicles in action!

My dad, who's an engineer, came in with a hammer and nails, screwdriver and screws, wrenches and more! He showed the kids how to work all the simple tools using scrap wood from his garage. He even brought in some toy construction vehicles for the kids to play with in block center, left a small level for them to use and some orange cones to warn their classmates that they are hard at work! We made "blueprints" in our journals of what we would build in block center, and Ms. H (our para) painted boxes with the kids and made different buildings.

Some great activities we did was after reading The Three Little Pigs! Out in front of our building, I grabbed some straw (or hay!), an old brick and a stick. I passed the materials around and asked the kids what they think was the most "sturdy". We made predictions and tested them out by pretending we were the big, bad wolf and "blew the house down!" They had a blast. So I put the materials in the Discovery Center for them to examine and play with during centers.

I also printed off some characters from the Story on a Three Little Pigs unit I bought off TPT (I'll link it here later!) and put some velcro on the back for the kids to practice retelling the story in library center. (We did this in a small group first. And before the small group, we acted out the story with puppets I made!) The kids did AWESOME!

So during center time, I noticed the kids LOVE the music center. So I decided to do the music making study next! We have had a BLAST with this! We've made jingle bells with sparkly pipe cleaners and bells, guitars with old tissue boxes and rubber bands, and shakers with empty paper towel rolls, tissue paper and beans. My AMAZING para changed out our dramatic play center by adding some red curtains to a big wall, and putting the words "Center Stage" in yellow above it! She brought in her son's musical toys so the kids could pretend they were in a rock band or symphony!

I posted musical words all around the room that I found online. (I'll post that link also, later!) Then our music teacher gave me the idea of sorting the words by the type of instruments they fall under. So made posters for "strings", "percussion" and "wind". The kids love to refer to the posters as we are reading stories and listening to music. Our music teacher has been letting us use different instruments each week such as a banjo and bells. I brought in my sister's old guitar and let the kids play them during centers. They LOVED it! I hope to find some next instruments when we return this week! =)

Something that I personally love is that we are not allowed to use worksheets AT ALL. We incorporate the learning through games and their play. So I'm going to make it my goal the rest of this school year to post some of the ways we do so... in hopes that inspires other pre-k and kindergarten teachers to do the same in their rooms!

To assess, we use an app on the ipad (which is part of our curriculum). The app allows us to record video, voice, take anecdotal notes, take pictures, and more! Once we get the learning documented, we are able to go into this app, attach the learning objective that's being met and then SCORE IT! The best part is that the app gives examples for each level so we can have a "level playing field" when scoring out kids.

The only downfall is that it's A LOT OF WORK. Like.... we need to be doing it every single day and sometimes I find it hard to teach and get the good, quality data. (I know... I'm preaching to the choir! I struggled with this in kindergarten too!)

Some other wonderful things about my current job? We have a garden! And the kids helped plant everything in it. Every class has an hour time slot each week, where we split the class in 1/2. The teacher takes one group down to the garden and our "Plant the Seed teacher" does a mini garden lesson and then breaks the kids into garden centers or a fun garden activity. The centers are things like "watering plants, potting station, library (they can grab a garden book and blanket and read anywhere in the garden, art (painting or sidewalk chalk), journals and digging. The kids get their hands dirty and they love every minute of it! When the clean-up bell rings, we gather under the gazebo and sit on the hay bails and sing our Plant the Seed song. Then I meet my para 1/2 way and we switch groups. (Her group stays in the room and works on social-emotional skills with our school counselor. It's a fabulous program.)

And one of my favorite parts of my school week is our Global class. Nashville's Global Education center provides a 30 minute lesson for each class in our building to teach multi-cultural lessons. We've done zumba, learned to play Djembe drums, learned a song to sing with a berimbau, learned about Native American culture and got to play with their toys, their drum, sit in a teepee and more! It's a wonderful program and the children love it!

I cannot say enough great things about my school!!! Everything we do is so beneficial for these children and they WILL be ready for kindergarten! And I can say that after teaching K for 6 years in a low-income area! I wish all kids could go here!

My goals for 2016:
-Post small group ideas, transition activities and center activities we do to inspire others to incoporate learning through play
-Work harder in changing out my centers and making them relevant to our unit of study each week
-Be more consistent with teaching activities EVERY DAY
-Be more purposeful in interacting with the kids during play and have high-quality conversations to build their language skills and vocabulary

Well if you made it through this whole post, I appreciate you! Let me know if there is anything you'd like to know in my next post!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hoping 2016 is the best year yet!!!